Facebook’s On This Day feature loves reminding us about things we don’t always want to think about. Frequently, they remind me of my dead dog, my dead grandmother, or to change the privacy settings to “only me” on a lot of old photo albums, but today was different!
Today’s On This Day photo was from a seven-year-old Facebook album with photos of a day trip my mom and I took in 2010. At 19, I had never been to Kensington Market and was vintage-clothes-obsessed so I knew I had to go. My mom and I took the Go-Train into Toronto and explored the Kensington Market streets together (my mom brought her digital camera [neither of us had smart phones yet]), getting smoothies, browsing retro jewelery collections and racks of vintage dresses. That day I bought a 1960’s dress, a 1940’s turquoise hat, and a tie-dye Twiggy print tshirt (I still own the last two).
I remember this day quite well and it’s because my mom and I had such a great time! I’m lucky to have a mother who I also consider a friend. I feel like we’re even closer now than we were seven years ago and it’s probably thanks to adventures like these – I appreciate our time together (even if this appreciation is amplified in retrospect!).
Last Friday, April 21st, my friend Natalie and I got makeovers on The Marilyn Denis Show (see the actual episode here)! It was a great experience and I wanted to give you the details on how we snagged the opportunity and what it was really like.
A couple of months ago, I was entering a long list of online contests (as per usual) and came across a casting call/contest for two best friends who needed makeovers. I did the required blurb about why we needed them and submitted a couple photos of us together. A couple weeks later, I got an email from one of the producers letting me know that we were on a short-list, she asked for a more detailed write up as to why we needed the makeovers and some photos of us from head to toe. I quickly wrote a one page essay explaining how thrifty we are and describing our student lifestyles that have carried into our recent graduate lives. I sent the producer a reply letting her know that our write up was completed, but that I was waiting for an opportunity to get together with Natalie to take the photos. The producer told me that they had already filled the slot! I was shocked at how quickly the process really was since I had messaged her in under 24 hours. I sent her our write up anyway, along with a dozen photos of Natalie and I together. She told me that she would keep it in mind for future opportunities, but I didn’t think I’d hear from her again.
Two weeks later, I received an email from the same producer letting me know that she loved the write up so much that she and her team were inspired to give us makeovers with the general theme of “Thrifty to Thrilled!” I was over the moon excited and we quickly exchanged the proper information and I jotted down the scheduled makeover dates.
A field producer and cameraman came to my house one Friday morning and we filmed the backstory/home interview footage that was shown as our “befores.” For someone who sings, hosts events, and talks almost non-stop, it may come as a surprise to hear that I was pretty nervous about the interview sequence because talking on camera can get you tongue-tied. I definitely took multiple takes and had to have Natalie stand out of view because she unintentionally made me laugh, but otherwise it went well. Natalie did so well on camera and needed less takes than I did! Summit (my dog), although gorgeous, didn’t manage to get any air time, but luckily neither did a lot of embarrassing footage!
Our next part of the Marilyn Denis Show Makeover Experience was to go downtown Toronto for fittings and hair colouring. While waiting in the Bell Media building lobby, I noticed how many good-looking people work there! I was surrounded by beautiful, fashion forward media workers, but it felt like I was already on TV and the extras were prettier than the star (that’s me). Upstairs, we did more waiting (a common and understandable requirement when getting free services) and were eventually taken to try on our curated outfits separately. They wanted us to keep our finished looks a surprise from each other and somehow neither of us spilled the beans on what we would be wearing before the taping!
From the fitting, Natalie and I Uber’d to our scheduled hair appointments at The Cellar Salon. We had a bit of a wait and fawned over the salon dog (which every salon should have), he was a bit skittish, but cute to watch all the same. Aaron Obrien, Marilyn’s hair stylist, went gave us hair colour consultations. He really wanted to make me a redhead, similar to Emma Stone, but I knew that the up-keep would be too difficult and expensive while still searching for a job in my industry. He very accommodatingly agreed to do a darker blonde balayage so that my hair could grow out without having to touch up the roots and Natalie was to get a lighter blonde balayage. Over a few hours, two female stylists dyed our hair and we looked sci-fi-chic in our cling-wrapped hair. After a painfully long day, we headed home to our fur-babies and slept well later that night.
Our hair was dyed, our clothes were picked out, and we were ready to be made over! We were each allowed to bring a guest so our moms excitingly tagged along to Toronto for
filming day. The show was filmed on a Friday morning and we were both very appreciative of the makeup foundation they gave us for our appearance on the show pre-makeover. They cleverly tied our hair into ponytails so that it was harder to see that our hair had been dyed earlier in the week and we wore casual clothes. We did one stage rehearsal where we were shown x’s that marked the spots and the crew gave us some tips (like how we should hug each other because people like that).
After the audience settled into their seats, the show started and we eagerly waited outside the set for our cues. The producer gave us the okay and we officially met Marilyn on stage! We had a lot of fun during the segment with Marilyn and fashion stylist Alexis, but watching the show when it aired made me realize that I may need to get a better bra… which in turn made me think about how many women must come to that same realization after seeing themselves on camera.
A joke here, a joke there, we held our own on stage and went down the hall to get made over (in separate rooms). I was lucky enough to have Aaron cut my hair and I really love it! We had a lot of fun in the dressing room singing Spice Girls songs while Aaron snipped away and the makeup artist, Amy Janisse, painted my face! I really loved both beauty professionals so much and couldn’t say enough about their amazing personalities. I changed into the floral pencil skirt, black top, and striped blazer, but waited to slip into the high heels until the last possible moment.
The next step went by in a bit of a blur and was the best part of the experience. I climbed into the back of the reveal box
and popped out with the cue of a shoulder tap. Natalie and I saw each other for the first time and I felt ten times more confident than the first time that we had shared the stage with Marilyn and Alexis. My other favourite moment was seeing our moms beaming with pride in the audience and looking like they were having the times of their lives. Marilyn and Alexis helped make us feel special and beautiful and we were also able to get a quick photo with Marilyn after the show.
All in all, I would definitely recommend the Marilyn Makeover Experience, but advise you to be patient and appreciative! It aired a few weeks after taping and we were showered with love once more from our friends and family. Thank you to everyone who watched and I hope some of you get inspired to look into casting calls after reading this post!
(I did not take photos of the paintings and the ones I am using do not do the colours or texture of the real things justice – this exhibition is a must see)
This past Tuesday, Chris and I had afternoon plans in Toronto so we decided to make a bit of a day out of it. We live approximately an hour away from the city and don’t go downtown very often. I am someone who really loves her hometown and usually visits small town antique stores rather than busy city boutiques – this only makes my treks to Toronto all the more special.
Fun Fact: I love crosswords and keep a pen in my purse just in case I happen upon one.
When we arrived at Union Station, we went upstairs to the Pilot Coffee stand where Chris bought me a hot chocolate (a child at heart) and a coffee for himself. We took our warm drinks and headed to the subway to save time. We rode the University line to St. Patrick and walked the short distance to the AGO.
After getting our tickets and checking our coats, we climbed the stairs to the Mystical Landscape exhibition. We chose not to opt-in for audio headsets; although the audio files are educational, I find that they can take away from the viewing experience. Instead, Chris and I moved to the paintings at our own pace, viewed them in our own order, shared discussions, and read the descriptions of pieces that we liked.
The spaces were dim with picture perfect gallery lights that highlighted the masterpieces that were hung on the wall. It was incredible. The rooms were packed with art lovers, listening to their audio sets, and taking in the different forms of expression. I was so excited to see pieces that I had once studied in art history books displayed right in front of me. As soon as
we walked in, I saw Paul Gaugin’s Vision of the Sermon (1888) to our left and couldn’t wait to see more. The first room really started the collection off with a bang, there were famous paintings that I recognized every few feet. Claude Monet pieces were outstanding, I hadn’t imagined them to be so large! as a fan of impressionism, I couldn’t get enough of the colourful shading in person, you could really see the flecks of warm colours mixing with the blues and purples to represent
shadows – no use of black. Two of Monet’s haystack paintings were there and were a favourite of mine, but they also had some water lilies and two of the Rouen Cathedral series (allowing us to see his practise of painting the same building at various times of the day for light and colour study).
One section featured four or five different artists that depicted scenes from World War I (WWI) – Chris deemed this the Battlefield 1 display. My favourite WWI themed painting was Frederick Varley’s Gas Chamber at Seaford (1918) and Chris’ was Felix Vallotton’s Verdun (1917). It’s always fascinating to see artists’ drastically diverse interpretations, as well as how subjective viewer’s tastes are. I really enjoyed seeing which pieces Chris liked and thought about how great it would be to study a person’s psychology based on artistic preferences. If this already exists, please lead me to a link for further reading!
Without a doubt, the most anticipated and most enjoyable painting to see was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles (1888). It was incredible to stand mere feet away from the colourful textured strokes
that are much more beautiful in person than they are in any art history textbooks. I pointed to the man and woman in the bottom right corner and told Chris that they were us and we should paint our dog Summit in. We made sure that we really allowed ourselves to take the piece in because it’s quite likely that we’ll never get to see it in person again.
If you are in or near Toronto before February 12, 2017 (the last day of the exhibition), I strongly encourage you to see Mystical Landscapes. You will not be disappointed, it was truly exceptional.
Other favourites (see below) between Chris and I were: Henri Sidaner’s Moonlight, Bruges (1900); Eugene Jansson’s Dawn over Riddarfjärden (1899), Edvard Munch’s The Sun (1909); Lawren Harris’ Decorative Landscape (1917); and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927).
Remember that I mentioned my love of contests in an earlier blog? About one month ago I entered an online contest to win two tickets to the One of a Kind Show as well as $200.00 to spend while there – I won the grand prize! I was insanely excited as this meant that I would finally be able to go to the large classy craft fair that I have always heard such amazing things about and that I could actually have some extra money to spend on items without worrying about putting the money toward groceries!
The One of a Kind Show is held twice a year, once in the spring and again in the late fall. The show has been running since 1975 and encourages the tradition of gift giving to include supporting artisans by purchasing handmade products. With Christmas around the corner, the Enercare Centre at the Exhibition Place in Toronto was filled with beautiful twinkling lights, decorated trees, festive decorations, and a ton of potential presents to purchase from a long list of impressive vendors.
My friend Natalie and I decided to take the Go Train to the Ex to avoid any Toronto driving trauma. If you also forego driving, I recommend that you bring warm winter outerwear as it is approximately a ten-minute walk outdoors to get from the train stop to the Enercare Centre building (there is a coat check for $3.00). Neither of us had been to the One of a Kind Show before so we weren’t sure what to expect. We went yesterday afternoon (Monday November 28th, 2016) to beat the weekend crowds which worked out well as we never had to stand in a line.
When we walked into the immense convention hall, we were greeted by a beautiful tree that towered above us and was surrounded by past show favourite products on display. I adored the collection of pillows and an ottoman adorned in Toronto city skyline silhouettes. Natalie liked the golden goose sporting fashionable earmuffs, this type of headwear is a Nat-approved style this winter.
The show never slowed down in customer foot traffic while we were there from approximately 1pm-4pm, but the lanes were rarely overcrowded. We walked the entire floorplan and backtracked to pick up items that we had waited on earlier. Our legs and feet were killing us by the end of it all which made the train ride home a nice break before driving.
All the walking and perusing was well worth it as there were so many amazing finds to hunt for. I had planned on mainly buying Christmas gifts for loved ones on our list, but without definite ideas of what I was looking for I found myself feeling a bit unsure of what to buy. This was quickly remedied by seeing a million things that I liked for Chris and myself. I bought one gift for a friend’s birthday and the rest of the $200.00 went to fun house décor and a pair of earrings!
My Handmade Haul:
My first purchase of the day was a tea towel with adorable illustrations of animals from films! Claire Manning, the illustrator, hand prints her designs onto 17” x 27” tea towels as well as pillowcases. I enjoyed the design too much to pass it up; it combined my love of animals with my love of movies AND my love of original illustrations. A triple threat tea towel is serious business! Visit this vendor at Booth R31.
Next I bought an illustrated beaver pillow with a red and black plaid underside from Sparrow Avenue. Barbara, a former children’s book illustrator, now enjoys screen printing her characters onto textiles and selling them to animal lovers like me. This playful little guy officially sits on our couch and adds a fun style to our eclectic modern décor taste. Visit this vendor at Booth S53.
I am extremely pleased with the large print that I purchased from a very charming artist from Montreal. Baltic Club was founded by Melanie Ouellette and Brice Salmon, their pieces maintain a joyful quality whether it be found in the illustrated prints, cards, or pins that they sell. My husband and I really appreciate the country that we live in and I am so excited to show off our new watercolour print featuring province-relevant animals and produce – the artist admitted that he couldn’t think of a specific animal for Saskatchewan so he drew some corn! I am currently working on hanging it above our mid-century bar. Visit this vendor at Booth U24.
I was excited to find Double L Décor before we finished our rounds because I saw their geometric planter designs online before heading to the show! The engaged Hamilton couple, Laura Jaschke and Lucas McLellan, work together to design various modern shaped concrete planters that come with potted succulents and air plants. I purchased this geometric one for our dining table and an unseen surprise planter for a friend! Visit this vendor at Booth A08.
My last purchase of the day was all for me which is really nice to do sometimes! Another Montreal based brand, Femme Mecanique Designssells elegant jewelry with a strong modern design element. I purchased a pair of minimalist earrings, but I really fell in love with the dozens of choices in their ‘helicopter seed’ pieces – you know the seeds that flutter to the ground from maple trees (apparently, they have a real name that I do not care to learn)? You must visit their website to see these pieces of jewelry that are definite conversation pieces. Visit this vendor at Booth R46.
I had a wonderful time at the One of a Kind Show this year and will definitely return for future fun.
I suggest picking up a vendor map to circle booths that you’d like to return to, this would have been a huge help for us near the end of our adventure.