simplify your routine: 5 easy updos

I love sleep. And when I say I love sleep, I mean, you have no idea the lengths I will go to in the morning... just to grab an extra minute of shut-eye.

A while back, I wrote about 5 secrets to looking chic every day, which was about putting together a nice outfit together on regular, non-fancy days. Secretly, that blog post was also about saving as much time as possible in the morning before work, to allow myself extra time to sleep (guilty). But besides the clothing, there is another part of the ensemble that you must master in your 20-Minutes-And-Out-The-Door routine - your hair.

So here are 5 tutorials for the easiest, quickest updos that will make you look like you spent twice or three times as long getting ready in the morning. Sleep away, my snoozy friends!

1. the fishtail.

There's no way I can successfully describe how to do a fishtail without a video of it, so here you go. Girls are usually intimidated by how complex it seems, but it's so easy! Practice a few times and it'll be as easy as braiding.

2. the braided bun.

Simple - braid your hair in pigtails. Tie them in a knot. Bobby pin back the stray ends. That's it!

3. the messy french twist.

Tutorial here.

4. the headband hack.

Yes, this style is as easy as it looks. Put headband in hair. Pull hair up from tips and wrap loosely around headband. Repeat until all the hair is in.

5. and of course.... the messy bun.

Tutorial here.

quote of the day: anne lamotte

Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.
Anne Lamotte 

quote of the day: a strong woman

"a strong man can handle a strong woman. 
a weak man will say she has an attitude."


disputing the myth: "no black in summer"

"But SUZANNE", people say, "it's SUMMER. Why are you wearing black?"

Because black is the new black - no matter how hot it is outside. People say you look silly wearing black in the middle of 30 degree heat and I say to those people, "once you go black, you never go back".

The trick is to wear black in light fabrics, sheers, flowy skirts, denim shorts - all of your favourite summer items. If you want to make it a bit more summery, spice it up with some brights over top, or bring in some fun, summery accessories or a floral bag.

Don't listen to those fashion rules that tell you when to wear what. Wear black all summer if you want to (I know I will)!

36 things i wish i figured out sooner, by whitney kimball

"Fluff rice with a fork, never stir it with a spoon.
Vaseline is the best night time eye cream on the market.
You can buy alcohol and chips with your parents’ gas station credit cards.
If you force something, you’ll break it. That could be good or bad.
It’s important to read the care tags on your clothing and follow those instructions.
Related: don’t wash and dry j. crew wool sweaters.
Changing your car’s oil is not optional.
Whatever physical objects you acquire you will one day have to put into a box and move.
You’re allowed to disagree with negative feedback.
It’s always worth reading the instruction manual.
Nostalgia, like any drug, can be a poison or a remedy.
Pets are like human friends but better in every conceivable way.
Good doctors listen more than they talk.
You can’t fix a burned roux.
Just because someone is an authority figure does not mean they are intelligent/competent/right.
Measure twice, cut once.
Get your nice jeans and dress pants tailored by a professional.
If you’re uncomfortable wearing it you will not look good.
You’re not required to drink alcohol while in a bar.
There are a few things that cure all ills: the beach, your favorite album on vinyl, and fresh garlic.
Kindness is not weakness.
Baking soda is not baking powder.
Taking Excedrin P.M. while still in public is not advisable.
Terrible people will succeed. Wonderful people will fail. The world is not fair.
Appropriate footwear is always key.
You can absolutely be too forgiving.
Real humor punches up, not down.
Reading the assigned chapters will actually help you learn the material.
There are no adults. Everyone is as clueless as you are.
Applying eyeliner well is a timeless art.
You can always leave. Awkward dates, suffocating jobs, hometowns that you outgrow, relationships that aren’t growing in the right direction.
You can always come home again.
But it won’t be the same.
Life is too short for bad books, boring movies, shitty people, and margarine.
Never underestimate the importance of eyebrows."

5 essential life skills absolutely everybody needs to learn

A while back I wrote an article about 10 essential skills for every bad-ass, independent women. And then I thought, By George! I am onto something here. But this time, I won't discriminate. This list is 5 essential life skills that EVERYBODY needs to learn.

1. how to not get way too drunk and be "That Guy".

We've all done it, my friend. Maybe you forgot to eat during the day, or you got swept up in the excitement of an open bar, or you volunteered to take those shots no one else wanted. We've all been the guy who got (accidentally) way drunker than everyone else at the party and woke up the next morning regretting being born. And sometimes, that's fine! It happens to the best of us. But sometimes, it is NOT fine... like if you were at a work function and shared way too much information about your personal life, or if you were at a wedding and let out what you really thought of the bride, or any number of other horrifying scenarios.

- The first step to not being That Guy at an inopportune time is realizing where you are. It sounds simple, but this is the first mistake most people make. Are you at the bar with pals after work on a Saturday night? Go crazy! Are you at a work function on a Tuesday afternoon? Tame yourself. Just because there is booze doesn't mean you have to drink it.

- The second step is food. If you know you'll be imbibing, make sure to eat beforehand. Don't skip meals. Carb up! An empty stomach is a cheap drunk.

- The third step is water. "No way man, I need another drink, not a water. I'm not even drunk yet, you're so square". False. You will thank me later. Have one glass of water for every 1 or 2 drinks, and have a few big glasses of water before bed to help the hangover you will probably have.

- The fourth step is knowing when to stop. Think you're at a good level of drunk? For god's sake, stop drinking. A funny thing happens when you keep drinking... You get drunker. And it's all downhill from there.

2. how to make small talk, professional or otherwise.

I know. Small talk sucks. But your skill level with small talk can help you gain friends, score jobs, secure good contacts, and entirely change people's perception of you. You don't want people to meet you and immediately be looking for the exits. So a few tips for those who struggle:

- Ask questions. I cannot stress this enough. Way too often, I meet new people and they fill the conversation with stories about themselves, and I stand there listening without being able to contribute anything. As interesting as I'm sure you are, every person secretly wants to talk about themselves.
Instead of rambling on about yourself, ask the other person - what do they do, and how did they get into that line of work? What hobbies do they have (and do you have any in common)? Did they grow up in this city? etc.
Or if you're more adventurous, something ridiculous like -  what kind of cookie would they be and why?
Asking questions will give the impression you are interested and genuinely care about getting to know them. Hopefully that person also reads this article and they ask you questions back.

- Listen. Don't interrupt them mid-sentence to tell them about something related to their story. Absolutely don't check your phone. Don't let your eyes wander elsewhere. Focus on them and the body language they are giving you, and contribute to the conversation.

- Smile. Easy. Even if their story doesn't interest you but they are obviously excited about it, be excited for them. Engage in the conversation, be friendly, and smile.

3. how to own an event where you don't know anyone.

Remember that time I taught you all about small talk? This will save your frickin' life in an event where you don't know anyone. There is no terror like walking into a party of 10, 100, or 1000 people and realizing you don't know anyone besides the host. Time to pull your socks up!

- Find someone who is also alone. Other people who are also standing alone are easy targets to make conversation with. Once you have found a kindred soul, you two can go join other groups and make even MORE friends! Friends friends friends!

Small talk. Remember? Ask questions. Listen. Smile.

- Be honest. Make a joke of the fact that you don't know anyone at the party. Everyone has been in that awkward situation before, and I find I'm usually welcomed in even more if I'm flyin' solo! Some would call it pity. I call it: them realizing your potential awesomeness and independence.

- Know when to leave. There is nothing worse than accidentally finding yourself in a personal conversation where you are obviously not welcome. Politely excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, call the babysitter, refill your drink, or check if the host needs help. On your way back, find a new group to chat with.

4. how to take a compliment.

"You're really pretty!"
"No, YOU'RE really pretty! Oh no, my hair looks terrible today. You're like, way prettier than me. I hate this outfit. And I accidentally spilled something on my shirt."


This is something that almost every person I know struggles with, especially girls. Girls are the WORST for this! How about... instead of a) putting yourself down, b) denying the compliment, or c) pointing out something negative that they might not have noticed, you just say thank you? That's all. Just a big, genuine smile, and a big, genuine thank you.

5. how to be alone on purpose (and happy about it).

This is also something that 99% of people are bad at. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being by yourself - in fact, it's incredibly beneficial. Take time to yourself (on purpose!) to unwind and do things that you like to do. Take yourself on the best date you can think of. Want to go to a concert or a movie but have no one to go with? Just go! Really want to go for brunch? Take a book and sit by yourself and om nom nom all day long. Don't be scared or intimidated by spending time by yourself - cherish your time alone to recharge your batteries and find out what YOU like.

focus yyc: 9 more unique calgary date ideas

I get so sick of hearing the sentence, "there is nothing to do in Calgary". FALSE. You are just too lazy. So take yourself, your friend, or your significant other on a date and fall back in love with Calgary.

1. Recordland.

There are lots of record stores around Calgary, but in my opinion, Recordland has the most charm. Grab a coffee from a nearby Inglewood cafe and browse through the cluttered, crowded shelves stuffed with every album you'd ever dreamed of. Don't own a record player? Well, that isn't my problem, maybe you should.

2. Punk rock bingo.

Do you like bingo? Do you like beer? Do you like loud music? Do you like ridiculously cool and weird prizes like enormous tiger blankets, ugly sweaters, records, Star Wars 3D puzzles, and Sigmund Freud trivia cards? Well duh, take your significant other and head to Punk Rock Bingo. It goes on every Tuesday at either the Ship & Anchor or Broken City.

3. Farmer's market.

Who doesn't like food? Losers, that's who. And if you like food, you should especially like local food, because it supports your local community and all that good stuff. Check out the Kingsland Farmer's Market, the Calgary Farmer's Market, or Crossroads Market. Bonus points if you buy ingredients to cook a meal or go on a picnic together.

4. Blues bar.

I love the blues, and I especially love the blues when it's played to me live while I hold an ice cold beer. Such luxuries are offered to you at the Blues Can in Inglewood, where you can watch live blues every day of the week and indulge in some Creole nachos or fried pickles.

5. Calgary Culture First Thursdays.

Check these listings for unique events happening the first Thursday of every month in the cultural district of Calgary. Most are free! Or discounted! And who doesn't love a cheap date?

6. Check Urbanspoon's top restaurants.

Urbanspoon is a great resource for any food-lover, with a constantly updated list of the top restaurants in town. Why not randomly choose one of the top choices from any category and try something new?

7. Support some local artists at an open mic night.

There are lots of open mic nights in the city, but I'm particular to the open mic nights at Cafe Koi (100, 1011 - 1st ST SW).  They also do singer songwriter open mic on Tuesdays, jazz open mic nights on Thursdays, and occasional Hip Hop Improv nights on Saturdays. Come on, that's awesome and you know it.

8. Go to Comedy Monday Nights at Broken City.

Amateur comedy, as it turns out, can be extremely well done. A friend of mine invited me to watch his first stand up routine at Broken City a few weeks ago, and I had no idea such a thing even existed. A few of the acts were misses, but most of them were hilarious! I highly recommend grabbing a casual beer and having a few laughs in the dingy darkness of Broken City (613 11th Ave SW).

9. Take a cooking class.

I know, I've mentioned food a lot. But the fact is, Calgary is turning into a huge foodie city, and if you aren't taking advantage of all we have to offer, you are seriously missing out.  Food is good, food is great! So sign up for a Cookbook Co cooking class, or one at SAIT works too.

best quote for "intimidating" women

"of course I am not worried about intimidating men. 

the type of man who is intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in."

- chimamanda adichie

a bajillion beauty uses for Vaseline

I live in Calgary. For those of you who have never heard of Calgary, it is in Alberta, which is in Canada, which is in North America, which is on Earth. And I am very serious when I say that it gets cold here in the winter. I'm not talking -5 or -10 Celsius, I'm talking -35 Celsius, with a wind chill, and extreme dryness. But I have one little beauty trick that keeps me looking fresh & moisturized in winter (and all year round, but especially winter, cause it's a tough opponent).


My number one winter beauty trick is Vaseline. This is because it is the greatest (and probably cheapest) moisturizer on the market. So here are a bajillion uses for Vaseline that I bet you never knew about!

- If your skin is prone to dryness, slather Vaseline on your problem area before you go to bed, and you'll wake up smooth as a baby. If your feet are especially prone to dryness, cover them in Vaseline and wear socks to bed.

- And hey, you know when you're putting on foundation or concealer in the morning and it clumps funny on dry patches of your skin? As attractive as that is, here's a tip to bypass that travesty: dab some Vaseline on the problem area, take a dry washcloth, and buff it. Proceed to add concealer as planned. Voila, problem solved!

- You can easily turn any eyeshadow into a cream version by mixing it with a bit of Vaseline.

- Mix Vaseline with a bit of Kool-Aid and hey look, a new lip gloss that tastes oh so delicious!

- Tame those unruly, Gandalf-like eyebrows!

- Coat your eyelashes in Vaseline before bed for healthy, moisturized lashes.

- Frizzies and fly-aways? In a pinch, tame your tresses with a small dab (remember: a little goes a long way, chaps).

- Rub it on the neck of your nail polish bottles to prevent them from getting stuck to their caps.

- Used as a mask on your hairline, protects your skin from the chemicals of hair dye. Superhero of the day!

- One of your rings stuck on your finger? SLATHER IT!

- Put it around your nails when painting them, and easily wipe off any stray polish afterwards.

- Add some on top of your perfume application to make the scent last longer.

- Use it to remove your eye makeup - it takes off even the most stubborn mascara (I'm looking at you, waterproof)

- Chapped lips? Add Vaseline and buff with a dry toothbrush. Softy soft soft.

- Dab it on your cheekbones for a glowy, dewy look.

- Use Vaseline to remove makeup stains from your shirts!

- Rub a bit on your split ends to smooth them and make your hair look (and feel) healthier.

- Smooth & soothe your skin after shaving with Vaseline instead of lotion.

- Mix it with sea salts to make a DIY body scrub!

- Heat it in the microwave for a nightly moisturizing mask.

- Apply it to your new tattoo to protect & moisturize.

- Stretch out your favourite lotion's lifespan by mixing it with Vaseline.

Okay, I think you get the idea! I'm serious when I say it's a magical, magical beauty secret. So go buy a big tub of Vaseline or any kind of petroleum jelly and get moisturizin'. You'll be forcing your elbows in people's faces to show them how smooth you are in no time.