Monday, August 30, 2010

London vintage-esque compass to guide my way

I'm leaving on a jet plane TODAY to see a lovely Brit gent.

He also happens to be a pilot from London, so when I saw this lovely retro-esque bauble at the brand new Haute par Periwinkle store in Eglinton Way, I picked it up - it was under $30!

Periwinkle is a local designer boutique where you kind find tons of handmade bling by local designers.

I loved this piece for so many reasons: one, the compass will help guide me to my lovely mannie, who, as a pilot, is used to navigating the skies. Two, it has "London" at the bottom as you can see, and well, that's where he's from and we may go there if we have time. Three, I loved the little birdie the artist put on top. I will be winging my way to him soon!

Posts may be spotty for the next little while but I hear some of his pals want to show me around to the vintage shops in his town -- so there could be a special British edition of Grunge Queen coming soon!! Stay tuned and have a fab last fling at summer!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Twiggy-boho outfit

Preppy look, begone: this is an outfit I put together as a result of a second-hand jaunt along Mount Pleasant Rd. in midtown, Toronto.

Love the boho-esque dress I picked up at Act Two boutique at 596 Mount Pleasant for $30.

Owner Inga carries mainly high-end vintage couture, but this isn't a designer label or anything.

I paired it with a pair of Gerard Darel shoes from Paris, practically new, that I found the same weekend just down the street from Act Two, at Second Nature Boutique at 514 Mt. Pleasant.

They were part of the summer clearout sale and were five bucks!

I thought the floral white stockings (that I got at a sample sale last spring) were very Twiggy-like, a la 1960s.

To be sure, the look isn't mod Twiggy, more bohemian inspired.

I rarely wear earrings these days, but I picked these ones up recently at a new antique shop on Keele just at Dundas St. West in the Junction called Mr. Antico.

They're vintage 1970s and I love them - they actually match a pendant I picked up for cheap recently. Not sure if you can see them but they sport a paisley motif with a bird.

This is a different look for me, but it's a pretty girly look and it was nice for a change - I will be bringing it with me when I go on my England trip!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Swap Meet this weekend

I can't make this one, alas, but if a garage and swap meet appeals to you, check out Swap Sity's annual event in Toronto:

Date: August 28th, Saturday

Time: 10:30am to 12:30pm (Vendors can set up tables at 10:00am)

Location: Walmer Road Baptist Church, Lower Hall, Ground floor, enter from south side
188 Lowther Avenue (Spadina & Bloor)

Garage Sale Admission: $2 (The first 50 garage sale attendees get in for FREE!)

Swap Meet Admission: $5

Garage Sale and Swap Meet Admission: $6

Table Rental: $20 (Please book in advance)

For more info check out

Garage Sale Info:

Swap Meet Info:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prep look a la 1980s, with vintage accessories

I'm still groovin' on my fall prep look, and though the boy blazer was bought new and the striped wool/cashmere ballerina top picked up recently at Club Monaco, I'd like to show how you how an oft-ignored vintage piece called THE PIN can make or break an outfit. To the left, you'll see the outfit without the pin.

I was dark wearing skinny jeans (thrifted of course) and pointy silver shoes.

I not only needed a pop of colour; I needed some understated pizazz (a bit of a paradox, I know, but you can't do too much pizazz with prep!) to complete the look.

Check out the outfit with the pin.

I love this vintage 1980s enamel pin (and it can be worn as a pendant as well).

The vertical line motif picks up the stripes of the tee, and the bright blue adds a bit of zip to the ensemble.

I wear a ton of blazers when the cooler weather arrives, and I often accessorize with a vintage pin on the lapel - provided my necklace isn't too much (the understated vintage one here works well with the pin and creates a clean, non-fussy look).

These red 1970s shades pick up on the primary colour scheme of the pin and add another pop of colour to a basic neutral outfit.

Hopefully this post shows how great vintage accessories can make (or break, without them!) an outfit.

So next time you're in the thrift shop take a little dig in the jewellery case, or rummage through that basket of old sunglasses -- there could be a little gem hiding in the rough!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall preview: preppy thrift

This is my new fall look, semi-preppy and inspired by a recent trip to Second Nature Boutique, which this weekend wrapped up its mega summer sale where everything was $10.

This entire look was thrifted, and much was purchased at that sale.

The Parasuco cropped jean jacket: $10. The big Anne Klein embroidered scarf: $10. The red INC stretch top: $10. All in perfect condition.

The Guess jeans I found at Value Village a few years back for under $20.

Even the worn leather belt with the amazing silver-tone belt was thrifted for a couple bucks at my fave local thrift shop, Stretch Thrift.

The darling heart necklace is new, found at my fave costume jewellery boutique in Toronto's Junction area, Lavishy.

I am really digging the prep look this season, which is easy to do thrift: look for stripes, denim, oversize navy blazers a la 1980s with big gold buttons, skinny jeans and a simple cardi.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New shop in the Junction: Russet & Empire

So I was out in the Junction today and discovered a store that just opened this very day!

Russet & Empire ("Purveyor of Fine Goods from this Great Nation and Abroad", the tagline says - don't you love it?) carries vintage/retro and new decorative accessories, and is run my a design-savvy gal named Micah Lenahan.

Micah is still setting the store up and the official opening isn't until September 2, so it'll be interesting to see what develops. Clearly, Micah has a love for design, which shows in the carefully curated white-walled space.

Everything from candle holders to stacking totem pole stacking and bud vases from Sweden preside on the wood shelving built by Micah's husband, a furniture designer who works around the corner at architectural salvage shop and gallery space, Smash.

As you can see here, Micah carries Mor candles, soaps and lip balm, which she tells me are carried only at Holt Renfrew in Toronto.

Right now there are quite a few items from Sweden, like mason jars with crown insignia on them for about $15 a pop, darling bulbous bud vases and such.

Unfortunately this dude isn't for sale, but there's a great story behind it: there was a pair of these at an auction around the corner, and Micah and her Dad bid on them but lost. Turns out her Dad approached the winner in the parking lot and offered to buy 'em ... now one is in Micah's shop, and the other with her Dad. Cute eh?

Prices aren't thrift, but they're good: the bud vase from Sweden that you see here is $19; a pair of ceramic 'twin' head vases, $22.

I really like the feel of this place; it's gallery-like without being pretentious, and Micah's enthusiasm is infectious.

There are also new gift cards and a few books. The perfect place to pick up a hostess gift or a little pick-me-up.

390 Keele St., just north of Keele and Dundas St. West

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cheap n' easy natural beauty 'secrets'

Ok, so we had a couple fellow Vaseline users comment on yesterday's post - good to know I'm not out there alone!

But there are other natural beauty alternatives that are inexpensive.

I buy avocado oil at natural health food stores and use it as a moisterizer. Avocado is good to eat and put on your face - all those Essential Fatty Acids plump up aging skin! Actually my skin has never looked better since I've started using the stuff.

For the odd blemish I get around certain times of the month, I use a dab - a small dab - of tea tree oil. You can get it at the fancy shops but as you see here I bought the Life brand at Shoppers Drug Mart as it's cheaper.

Use sparingly and try a test patch with this oil first as it is quite strong. If I get too vigorous in my application I end up with a red spot. But it is good for drying up zits.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cheap beauty secrets - or cheap n' nasty?

Supermodels and movie stars swear by it: Vaseline as a facial moisterizer.

I typically use it as a lip moisterizer before bed, but the other night I tried it on my face. And reader, after a few days of using it, my face looks and feels like a baby's bum.

I bought two more mini tubs at the Dollar Store last night for $1.29 each. They even market it on the packages as the "No. 1 Skin Protection" and "The Ultimate Moisturizer."

Sure, it's 100% petroleum jelly. But are we saying here that the expensive creams we buy at the beauty counters are 100% chemical-free?

In truth we don't really know for sure the potential harmful effects of the chemical ingredients that go into Vaseline or all those expensive creams. Apparently the FDA has approved the former as a skin protectant. As for the cosmetics and skincare industry, the regulations don't appear to be be all that rigorous when it comes to what can go into the products, primarily because there either hasn't been a ton of research done on those chemicals or the research hasn't definitively shown anything.

So until someone tells me that those expensive creams with the mega marketing campaigns are more safe and more effective, I'm sticking with the cheap n' effective Vaseline solution!

Do you have any cheap n' easy beauty secrets, or have you ever used Vaseline as a facial moisterizer? I have some natural ones I'll tell you about tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Prince Edward County wine tour

We interrupt regular Grunge Queen programming so I can tell you about the wine tour I went on yesterday hosted by the LCBO!

(Hey, it was for media so it was free, tee hee).

The goal: learn about Ontario wines.

We started having an informative tour at Norman Hardie winery - beautiful country, lovely wine and friendly host - and the lunch, made with veggies from the garden on site: amazing!

I highly recommend the County Chardonnay, unfiltered 2008 that will be coming to select LCBO stores in the Vintages section in November.

Next stop: Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co., where we learned about five different cheeses the diary makes and the best wines to go with them.

Tip from Andrew, who led the tour: pair younger, softer cheeses with white wine, and older, hard cheeses with red wine.

Pretty easy peasy tip, that's what I love!

They served the wine in these logs to keep the cups from blowing away - so Canadian cool eh?

It's only $12 to do a tasting like this, so easy on the pocketbook too.

Fifth Town is uber green, btw, with the only Leed certified green building, platinum level, outside of a couple government buildings in the province.

Last stop: the lovely Sandbanks Winery, where the equally charming proprietor and wine maker Catherine introduced us to her wines while we lounged on chairs on the outdoor tasting patio - brilliant!

Quite a bit of the Sandbanks wine is available at LCBO stores, and they're affordable.

My fave: the Riesling 2008, drier than most Riesling and yummy.

Catherine's mother, an artist, designed the labels and the artwork that adorns some of the labels and the winery shop.

Love that homegrown feeling.

Great happy energy here. Visit it if you can.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday morning no brainer

It's a simple thing, but sometimes it's the simplest of things that can bring the most satisfaction.

A shopkeeper gave me this rose as I was doing a shopping column last week. I didn't have a bud vase to put it in, so I plopped it in this glass when I got home.

As the rose got older I kept cutting down the stem, so that it eventually fell below the lip of the glass.

I love the way the rose looks like a living artifact, behind glass yet with life not extinguished.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four buck pick-me-up

If you're broke (like me) this weekend and trolling around for a cheap & fun activity, here's something you can do with a loved one ('cos don't you notice that you never go into a photo booth with anyone but someone you really care about?)

I only go into these things once every 5-10 years, again with peeps like my best friend, my twin sis and bro in law, and my hunny, as you see here.

I think they're $4 or so now. I remember their being $2 in the past, sigh.

I love these things not just for their cheapness — as you know the funny memories of squishing into a booth last forever!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thrifty past; thrifty news

This pic was taken of me three years ago by Town Crier newspaper photographer Francis Crescia, just when I was getting in vintage bling.

I look so different now. Let's just say I would NEVER wear an outfit like that now, even though that one was 100% thrift.

Speaking of bling, I have some little gems of information to dispense today: thrifter's news let's call it!

COMMON SORT 50% off sale TODAY
If you're a Torontontonian, get thee thrifty butt over to Nicole Babin's second-hand and vintage shop NOW (the line ups have probably abated) as she's having her famous 50% off sale today until 7 p.m. in her Queen St. E/Riverside shop.

Check out her fab new website Common Sort

AND look out for her NEW west-end Parkdale store at 1414 Queen West, opening in a couple weeks!!


I had a reader recently ask about local swap events, and the timing for that question was perfect as I just joined a group known as Swap Sity.

It's on Saturday, August 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and you can rent a table by the hour or two-hour period to sell and/or swap.

From what I understand you have to pay to get in as a shopper, but I'm not sure how much.

To rent a table or get more info you have to go to the site and then email them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vintage can be politically incorrect

Ever have a vintage piece you love, but just can't wear as you're scared of sending the wrong message?

Sometimes I really hate the politically correct world we live in in the western world.

But, while I love this vintage hand-rolled silk scarf by Vera that I've had for years, I just haven't been able to wear it for years.

Why? Because I loathe bull fighting.

Didn't think of that when I bought it in my early 20s.

I think it's quite vintage. It has the Vera name printed on the silk, but I've never seen a tag like this sewn into the scarf - if they were a typical thing I guess they must fall off over the years.

I haven't had this vintage feeling with anything else but fur. I bought a second-hand fur coat a few years ago and wore it for a winter. It kept me super warm in the frigid Canadian winter, but I couldn't handle the implications and got rid of it. But I still wear a vintage suede coat that I featured on this very blog that has a fur collar.

Do you have any vintage pieces that give you this kind of angst?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stuff I've thrifted but will never wear

Ever thrift stuff you know you'll never use?

I do it rarely, but if the piece is special, I go for it.

These were a couple bucks if that at my local thrift shop.

Pierre Cardin men's shades made in France. The arms bend out to almost 180 degrees.

I just thought they were so 1970s (1980s?) cool. Maybe I'll find someone to wear them!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vintage belts & waists gone by

So it's been a reorg behind the scenes as I slog through drawers and closets in an effort to weed out and pair down.

I found this belt, which looks as though it was attached to a size 8 dress, in my Junk Drawer (more on the Junk Drawer another time).

It's not attached to the vintage wool dress in my closet because, well, I can't wear the belt anymore.

What freaks me out about vintage sizing is that peeps were so much smaller then. True, this was a size 8 belt, but the waist on it measures 22 inches!

The even freakier thing: this belt used to fit me and even be a little big on me.

As you may know I'm somewhat tiny. My waist is 27 inches, but as you see here, that belt isn't going to span the whole thing!

The first thing that popped into my head after trying that belt on my wast was, "That could be a headband!".

And ladies and gents, the scariest thing of all: it DOES fit me like a headband!

Maybe I can start a new trend of vintage belt-cum-headbands, for all the peeps whose heads are the size their waists once were!

Mmm, come to think of it, I haven't tried the dress that the belt was attached to.

Not sure if my ego could handle that today. Next time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reorg and divesting urge

I feel a reorg coming on.

I haven't done much in my place for months, and I am getting sick of the mess and how things look.

I also feel the need to cut back on large portions of my stuff. That could eventually manifest itself in a major Grunge Queen stuff sale.

If you're in or around Toronto and are interested in possibly coming to a sale where I divest myself of large amounts of my stuff, please email me at and I will start a shortlist of peeps to email when I am finally ready.

It may take a few months, but it is coming, dear readers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dollar store dress

I can't believe I found this dress in a dollar store on Danforth Ave. in Toronto.

It's 100 percent tie-dyed rayon, made in Thailand, and $25 to boot.

I love dresses like this; I'm a former dancer and the cut is very 'dance-y' and flattering for a body type like mine.

It's so easy peasy breezy for this grotesquely hot and humid weather we've been having; all I have to do is steam it, throw it over my head and voila!

Thanks to pal Chris for snapping this shot of me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My apt, back in time

Alas, I've been doing very little in the way or re-jigging or decorating my apartment these days, so I thought I'd show you some pretty and hopefully inspiring vignettes from last year.

I know, I'm a bad blogger, recycling content - but hey it's very Grunge Queen!!

I love the colours here and the drama of the black and the purple .....

The black head sculpture was a fave find at Value Village. The black tablecloth: fab dollar store find.

One of my fave paintings, a thrift store find that I had to buy as I loved the colours and it reminded me of what heaven was like as a child.

Can't remember what I paid for it. Perhaps $50, steep for GQ but when she gets emotionally involved, watch out!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thrifty yet not so effective idea

I have a dear little kitty who's starting to pee outside the box.

She still goes into the litter box, but her wee butt hangs over the edge, so a lot of pee ends up on the floor.

I've been using newspapers and buying expensive dog trainer pads to put under the box and soak up the urine, but the other day as I was cleaning out masses of papers, I hit upon an idea: instead of shredding my old resumes and bills, why not use 'em to soak up the pee?

It's not the most effective method as the papers don't absorb as well as, say, newsprint.

But at least I found something to do with my old resumes that would otherwise be shredded! But the downside is I don't think I can recycle pee-soaked paper.

And as you can see, Dinky is attracted to the pile of papers that she will one day pee over!