Press Play Vol.1

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Hi. It’s been a while.

Not gonna lie, the pressure of being in my third year of uni and so close to stepping into “the real world” is getting to me. I am very much aware of the lack of updates on both my YouTube channel and on the blog here for the past while. No, I have not given up on them. They are very much on the back of my mind everyday. It has just been challenging finding a balance between school, work, and having a social life. And sleep. Sleep is important too.

But hey! I’m back. And first order of business: spread some good vibes.

I’m one of those people who cannot live without music. It really keeps me going, especially when life gets just a bit too stressful. So I decided to put together some tunes I have been listening to. There’s no particular theme or even commonality among these songs; the playlist is quite a mishmash of a bit of everything.

Press play when you are studying, doing chores, or just walking down the streets.

I hope you like it.

Michelle x

Sun Baby

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As the heat tails off in Ottawa, I am here to share with you perhaps the last summer dress I will be wearing until the season rolls around again next year. These photos were taken back in June yet I have been delaying this post for two months now. Procrastination really gets the best of me sometimes. My excuse has been that I am exhausted after a day of work, but now that I am finished with my summer job, I am ready to have some more creativity and freedom back in my life!

On a side note, I, like a lot of people, have yet to figure out what it is that I want to do in my life. But sitting in an office six hours a day, five days a week for the past few months have made me realize what I do not want to do, and it is exactly that. I want to be out and about, running from one place to another, always be on my feet, and literally be so busy that I do not have the time to drink a glass of water. I want to do that while I’m still young, when I still can and when life hasn’t yet killed the drive and passion in me. One of my ‘dream jobs’ is definitely doing photography and outfit styling, so I guess I’ve kind of combined the two here?

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Denim Diary

Happy August!

Mentally, I’m still stuck in the month of May. It’s hard to believe we are already approaching the end of this year’s summer! This four-months gap between the two school years is always a strange one. In the first month, my excitement levels are off the chart and I often find myself preoccupied with planning all the places I want to visit, people I want to see, and things I want to do in the next 90 days. Then all of the sudden, we are already in last month and I’m thinking “what have I really accomplished in the past 12 weeks?” By this point, I’ve probably only done 1/3 of what I had planned back in May and I’m kicking myself for all the would’ve, could’ve, should’ves.

Nonetheless, I am not here to rant to you about what I regret not doing but rather to document what I have done.

These photos were taken back in mid-May, which feels like just last week to me.

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An Abundance of Media

I’ve got a problem.

In the past few years, I have queued an overwhelming amount of, well, ‘stuff’, for the expected ‘when-I-get-bored’ moments in the future. Saved on my laptop and iPod are lists upon lists of movies I need to watch, TV series I need to start or catch up on, books I need to read, and podcasts I need to listen to. Over time, it sort of became a habit, a natural inclination to stock up on these things, an automatic mechanism I have unconsciously employed to rid myself of gaps of doing nothing – boredom, as we call it.

I’ve even got designated ‘Favourites’ folders (which I have so pretentiously titled ‘Films’ and “Reads’, because in my mind they somehow sound a little more sophisticated than ‘Movies’ and ‘Books’) to deposit website links to which I can easily access my abundance of media that very likely add up to hundreds of hours.

– Author Unknown – (Tumblr)

I feel as if I’m running out of the mental capacity to store all of this media madness.

What’s strange is that, although I have accumulated a rather extensive collection of all this ‘media stuff’, when those ‘I-have-nothing-to-do’ moments do come up, I still find myself thinking, “okay, so now what?”. What follows is often a Google search of “top 2013/4/5 movies”, or something along those lines, you get the idea (because I know you’ve done it too!). I have truly become a digital hoarder! No matter how much I already have stored, I am constantly adding new stuff to this endless media inventory. Once in a while, however, I do pay a visit to my ‘Films’ and ‘Reads’ folders. And that’s when I come to the realization that “wow, I’ve got a lot catching up to do”. That’s also when the pressure kicks in and the binge-watching cycle begins.

Luckily, the binge-watching doesn’t usually last too long. Juggling between school, work, and (hopefully) a social life, I literally cannot squeeze 10 hours out of this sponge that is my time to listen to Radiolab or watch the newest Marvel movie (or Nicholas Sparks … heaven forbid). Thank goodness I’m still lucid enough to know that I need sleep. At one point during my first year of university, however, I was going back and forth between ten different TV shows… Why don’t I have that kind of motivation about the more important things in life?

I guess for me a big reason why I can’t seem to steer away from media, movies and television especially, is that, I find them to be huge conversation topics. To avoid the awkward small talk silence, I constantly feel the need and  pressure to know what people have been watching/listening/reading, so when the topic comes up, I can tell them how much of a badass Scandal’s Olivia Pope is or how ridiculous Samuel L Jackson’s lisp was in Kingsman. With that said, in my 20th year of life, I truly hope to instill a bit more control on my outrageous amount of media consumption and start paying a bit more attention to the more important things in life, like politics and doing my taxes or something … (jokes… I’m not ready to deal with that much responsibilities yet).

I’d like to consider this acknowledgement of my rather unhealthy relationship with the media a fairly good first step. The next is of course making actual substantial changes. While it certainly takes time and lots of discipline to avoid this element of modern life that has so deeply infiltrated our lives, I do believe it is possible. Fingers crossed that entries on this blog later in the year will see some positive changes in my digital hoarding habits.

x. Michelle

Graduate Exhibition: Revisited

It’s been  a month since I last put up any content, here, or on YouTube.

Back in Toronto I was constantly exposed to all sources of creativity. The food, the fashion, the architecture, the interior designs, and the people that made these things happen. Since I came back to Ottawa, I have been in this creative rut. I still want to put out content of course. But not just content, I want good content. Things that I can actually be satisfied and happy with myself. Not just some rubbish to temporarily fill up this lackluster gap.

So there I was, trying to get my creative juice going again, when I found the pictures I took at the OCAD graduate exhibition back in April. This annual event showcases the final thesis projects of both undergrad and grad students from a wide array of programs the school offers. Looking through some of my favourites from this year made me realize just how innovative people can be. These are the people I had surrounded myself with in Toronto. These are the people who had inspired me and motivated me to do more and do better. I guess that’s why I’m writing this today, to give myself that extra push and to instill some creativity back in myself.

I will take you through my a few of my favourite installations by the order I visited them.

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Before & Still

The artist (Peter was his name if I recall correctly) collected ten decades of Toronto’s history and stored them in these custom-made wooden crates. The spot where the Hard Rock Cafe sits in Dundas Square today could be compared with how it looked back in the 1940s. It was astonishing to sort of visually rewind back in history and see how much the city has changed. Peter also brought up an interesting point when he showed us the TTC maps in the 1920s and 30s and noted that though the 1930s saw more development in many aspects, the map of the metro system was a jumbled up mess compared to the previous decade.

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(I can’t remember the name of this piece. Sorry.)

It certainly is something we should all keep in mind. After living in Toronto for a few years, I have found that people are more accepting in this city, especially in terms of race and physical appearance in general. Ottawa consists mostly a Caucasian population whereas Toronto is much more diverse when it comes to race and ethnicity.

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Like Pixel, Like Paper

Alison’s project must have been an enormous amount of work. She had transcribed multiple books into several creative form: a portal, a traditional sized book, and a scroll. She even presented a video of her working process which shows how she transformed an idea into … well, into something big and solid. And that’s cool. I mean, the girl even marble painted the book covers! This kind of hard work and creativity inspires me. (You can find out more about the project, and about Alison here),

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Offline Survival Kit

Oh how I loved this piece. Poking fun at today’s millennial reality, Matthew Flute hits all the right spots with this project. The kit includes 5 “wearable emotions”, which made me chuckle and think back to all the times I relied on emoticons to fill up those yeah-i-saw-your-message-but-i-don’t-know-how-to-respond moments. And the “approval stickers” reminded me of thumbs up buttons on Facebook/Instagram/Youtube etc. Can you imagine a world where we stick paper adhesives on people when they make a contribution to our personal entertainment/level of happiness?

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NÜFÜD

The first thing that caught my eye with Alexia‘s installation was obvious the colors, they are so vibrant and in your face, I love it. She (literally?) highlights the amount of crap and preservatives that go into our food with a witty and satirical touch. From the rosy-pink pineapple to cyan cup noodles, there were a lot to see in one installation. My favourite piece though, was the flavour essence bottles, made with spray-painted, larger-sized cylindrical batteries. Aside from the ‘fried rice flavour’ I was holding here (let’s ignore my chipped nails, shall we?), there was also ‘mushroom soup’, ‘california rolls’, and a few others. The futuristic/dystopian-esque vibe from the packaging and coloring of the food is 10/10.

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One Touch Ultra 

It’s safe to say that this piece speaks for all of us. This phrase is in the back of all our heads, pushing us to go forward, to continue on, to pursue … something. I believe there are three types of people in the world: the ones working hard to change their lives for the better, the ones that have given up, and the ones that never tried and accepted failure from the get go. How we choose to live our lives is 100% completely within our control, especially those of us fortunate enough to have the opportunities to learn and explore at our free will. Nadia’s installation is a powerful reminder to all of us.

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This was so up my alley. It reminded me of the blogs DIY Pinterest posts direct me to. It’s just got that look you know what I mean? Besides the utilization of vibrant colors on the posters, to catch people’s attention she also included a video of the making of her copy of the journal, which started with “draw it”, “cut it”, then “glue it”, and lastly … “WACK IT!” Similar to the Wreck This Journal concept, I like that the artist encourages the free expression of art.

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This last one wan’t part of the exhibition, but a sticker I found on the wall while we were doing a photo shoot. The school is truly filled with creativity and inspirations. Thought it was cute, snapped a shot, and here we are. Enjoy.

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Spring Strolling

A few weekends ago I headed up (or west?) to visit a friend in Mississauga, which is only about an hour away from downtown Toronto. I was greeted with so much kindness from my friend, her parents, and even her parents’ friends. During the span of two days, I tried, for the first time in my life, real authentic Indian food and snacks (which were delicious), watched a Bollywood movie, had my leggings ripped by an easily excited and overly enthusiastic Maltese Shih Tzu, and got my fair share of vitamin D from a little photo shoot sesh in the park.

(see outfit details below)

DSC_0677editedDSC_0678edited2The Riverwood park is a lovely location completely open to the public. There were plenty of families taking an afternoon stroll and photographers trying to capture some signs of spring before it disappeared again.

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The West Side

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Just as last year, my exams once again ended on the last day. Luckily though, I had a bit more time to linger in Toronto this time. So this post, and the next few, are essentially visual records of my adventures with some awesome humans in the past week or so. Hope you enjoy this potpourri of photographs.

Toronto is known for a lot of things: CN Tower, Raptors, Drake, TIFF, Rob Ford, to just name a few. Did you know though, that last year Vogue rated the Queen West area of Toronto the second hippest neighborhood in the world! After doing some exploring there myself, I can say that the neighborhood truly lives up to its reputation. Queen Street West is filled with  independent boutiques, adorable stationery stores and countless highly Yelp-rated cafes and restaurants.

We strolled down to Trinity Bellwoods park where we relived our childhood on the playground and talked about how we used to swing a lot higher and climb the monkey bars a lot better… sigh.

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Outfit details: Sunglasses: F21; Top: Dynamite; Sweater: Gerry Weber (thrifted); Boyfriend jeans: Style & Co. (thrifted); Flats: China; Tote bag: MUJI

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Tote bag: MUJI (New York City map edition)

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A Vagabond in Velvet

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It has been a good week for a few reasons. I finally got a break from school after so many days of test-studying and so many nights of essay writing (which to be honest was really the result of my endless procrastination). And the terrible cold I was going through last week got a bit better and I can once again breath through my nose and talk in a relatively normal voice, so that’s some good news in the health department.

On top of all of that, the weather is warming up. Naturally, I had to take advantage of that. So on Friday, we took a trip to the Allan Gardens Conservatory and did a little photo shoot. The place was an absolute beaut, every corner was a perfect photo op.

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The greenroom was comfortably temperate. It was great to take off our winter jackets and feel the summer warmth when the snow is still visible on the pavement outside.

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