Favorite Things: July Edition

IMG_3862Image source: pensando la bronca

Does anyone else feel like they’re suffering from a permanent heavy heart this summer?  Between Orlando, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile & Dallas (+ other things), it feels like the world needs a giant get well soon card (heck, say what you will – I’m still reeling from the passing of Prince.) I imagine many of you feel the same way. So, in lieu of a more serious blog post, I’ve decided to keep things light today. I’ve learned that it’s important to stay politically engaged but also participate in things that make you feel joyful whenever you can. For me, this means spending time with people I love, tuning into my favorite podcasts, listening to amazing music & reading good books. In the spirit of sharing, here’s some of my favorite things this month.


Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.46.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.56.33 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.33.51 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 8.33.59 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-11 at 10.36.16 AM1. Becca by Rebecca Virtue swimwear – In case you haven’t heard, I’m all about one-piece bathing suits.  bought this gorgeous black lace (crochet?) bathing suit when I was in LA and it’s honestly, the most comfortable, flattering piece of swimwear I’ve ever owned. It manages to be sexy while at the same time “sucking everything in” (without making you feel like you’re wearing a sausage casing.) The fabric is gorgeously soft & the plunge neckline is all kinds of magic. As someone with larger boobs, it’s still super supportive and keeps everything in place just like in the photo. Like I said – magic. I’d never heard of this line of swimwear but now I’m completely obsessed.

2. Kimonos – I’m late to the kimono scene. I did however, pick up a really cute one (like the one above) to wear as a poolside cover up.

3. Retro lapel pins – Raise your hand if you’re also excited about the return of lapel pins! As a kid I had a bunch of lapel pins that I would attach to my denim jacket – making me feel totally bad-ass. I’m particularly excited about this Prince pin (naturally) from one of my favorite stores in LA, Hemingway & Pickett and this Frida Kahlo pin (via Found Retail.) I’m eyeing up this Larry David pin for my sister.

4. Sex Object by Jessica Valenti – Not exactly light reading, but I could not put this book down. Some people may find Valenti’s experiences with sex, violence, sexism and feminism disturbing or jarring, but I recognized so much of my own experiences within the pages of this memoir.

5. I Will Find You by Joanna Connors – One of the best books I’ve read this year. A Cleveland journalist who was brutally raped in her early 30’s by a stranger, goes back 21 years later to investigate the man who raped her and find out who he was. The result is a memoir that’s totally riveting and full of emotional gut punches.

6. It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright – Spanning centuries and cultures, this laugh out loud book covers some of the historically worst breakups from ancient Rome to 1950’s Hollywood. Witty and informative, this is history of heartbreak-replete with be-headings, uprisings, creepy sex dolls, and celebrity gossip-and its disastrously bad consequences throughout time.

7. 2 Dope Queens – Most of the podcasts I listen to are…how should I put this? Very murder-y. I love true crime and legal podcasts like Undisclosed and Truth & Justice. This podcast hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson is the polar opposite (and let’s be real – probably good for my mental health.) Along with their favorite comedians, Jessica & Phoebe discuss dating, sex, race, pop culture and more. The result is totally hilarious & life-affirming. I highly recommend it & literally cannot wait for season two. Joe the Intern is also a fan.

8. Dear Sugar Radio – How did I not know that one of my favorite authors Cheryl Strayed co-hosted a podcast?! I’m also late to the party here, but this podcast gives me all the feels and is just so, so, good. If you loved Dear Sugar the book, you’ll enjoy this too.

9. Reply All: On the Inside podcast series OK, so this one is totally murder-y. If you’re looking for something to soothe your cravings for Serial Season 1, this four part series (“On the Inside”) is the closest thing I’ve found yet – and it’s fantastic. Listen. You won’t be disappointed.

10. Gavin Turek – Love soul music? You need to check out Gavin Turek. She’s a mix of disco/soul and toured with Mayer Hawthorne. I went to see her twice while I was in LA because she was doing a residency at a local club. She’s amazing. I’ve had her “You’re Invited” album on repeat ever since.

What are you loving, listening to and/or reading this summer?

This post was brought to you by armcandyhouston.com. Thanks for supporting posts that help support Skinny Dip.

When Your Life Becomes an Alanis Morissette Song

56309fb15d787902b1c186ec55aa6861

(photo credit)

A few months ago, I was wandering around Value Village, late on a Tuesday night looking for records (as one does when you’re single and childless at 35.) I was digging through the crates of dusty LPs in hope that maybe, just, maybe I might find a copy of Prince’s Purple Rain. I had a copy with my childhood record collection but it’s since gone MIA – which has been distressing me to no end.

He saw me first.

He was digging through a crate a few feet away.

“I’ve looked through everything, so if there’s something you’re looking for I can probably tell you if it’s there” he said.

I told him about my Purple Rain record conundrum and we bonded over the fact that our town is basically sold out of all things Prince – except for commemorative magazines (one glance at my local newsstand and it’s clear that those are multiplying like gremlins.) This fed into a conversation about how it’s hard to find good soul music in Victoria. Our thrift shop adventures. Hip hop. Record shopping in LA. The best places to eat in Harlem. Music, music and more music.

I told him I’d gone to see the Miles Davis movie while was playing at the local repertory theatre.

“What was the crowd like?” he asked.

“What you’d expect. A theatre full of white haired senior citizens, one elderly black man and a hippie guy eating lentil stew out of a tupperware container.”

He then told me that he’d found an unopened copy of Guns and Roses’ Appetite for Destruction on vinyl for a $2 at a thrift store recently.

“I have so many questions for the previous owner of this record, starting with WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?” I replied.

That’s around the time that I noticed that he was kind of cute. White guy. Horn-rimmed glasses. Small nose stud. Denim vest. Black baseball cap. It was clear that he was trying to cultivate a 1980’s Beastie Boys vibe and I wasn’t hating it.

I was in awe. It’s so rare that I meet anyone in this town, let alone someone with common interests that I can immediately jump into a conversation with without it feeling weird. This guy seemed cool – or at the very least, extremely musically literate.

I’m sure my face looked like the emoji with the heart eyes.

He confessed, “it’s kind of embarrassing, but I like to collect new age CD’s. There’s so many of them here and some of them are really cool if you actually listen to them. Weird, but good.”

“Hey, no judgement” I replied. “If it makes you feel any better, I collect  ken dolls of 90’s celebrities. I have an MC Hammer doll that sits on my desk.”

“No way. I have that exact doll – STILL IN IT’S ORIGINAL PACKAGING!”

Clearly, this man was my soulmate. 

That’s when my phone buzzed and I saw that my Mom was looking for me in the store. (She’s my #1 thrift shopping sidekick.)

I floated over to the other side of the store, found my mom, and floated back towards the cash register where he was getting ready to pay for a stack of new age CDs.

“Enjoy your CDs!” I said.

“Thanks! Hey, you won’t believe what I found!”

I looked down to see a copy of a Little Sambo book (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read up on the history here.) On the cover was an illustration of a small white child, leading a small black child on what appeared to be a leash.

“OH DEAR LORD” I gasped.

At first I assumed he was going to turn the book in to the staff so they could take it off the shelves. That’s what I would have done. But, then he spoke.

“Isn’t it awesome?! I collect all of this shit. I have a whole room of black face stuff at home. I love it!” he said.

My face turned from heart eyes to whatever emoticon signifies “OH HELL NO.”

“Nice meeting you!” he said as he strolled out the door and into the night.

People always ask me what it’s like to be 35 and single.

I think Alanis Morissette said it best when she sang, “It’s like meeting the man of your dreams, then meeting his collection of super racist artifacts.”

 

The Single Ladies Guide To Decor Books

NancyBaron_BackyardMorning11

This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

I’ve always thought that one of the best parts about being single is having free reign over how I decorate my space. Whether it’s creating the perfect office/bedroom or making the executive decision to hang that vintage Janet Jackson poster that I bought in LA  front and center in my living room — the choice is always mine and it’s utterly liberating.

Why does this matter? Because I’ve been an interior design nerd ever since I moved into my first solo apartment in my early twenties. In between homework and part time jobs, I’d spend hours poring over decor magazines and (later) blogs, soaking up inspiration. However, back then “decorating” often meant throwing a pillowcase over a Rubbermaid bin and calling it a nightstand. Now that I’m in my thirties, I enjoy having the ability and resources to create a more adult space. This includes being able to collect books that I can use for inspiration.

A few months ago,  Overstock sent over a collection of (now classic) home decor books that I’ve been lusting after since my Rubbermaid bin days. O.co has been my go-to spot lately for all things home (see my nightstand update & home office posts), but it wasn’t until very recently that I discovered they also have an awesome collection of home decor and coffee table books available at prices well below what you’d find at a bookstore. But as I’ve learned, when it comes to both love and books, not everything (or everyone) lives up to your expectations.

So, do these classic home design books pass the test of time? Let’s find out.

1. Domino: The Book of Decorating

cvr9781416575467_9781416575467_hr

Before there were a bazillion different design blogs, there was Domino. This colourful and eclectic home magazine was a major design inspiration for me in my twenties — not to mention, a welcome reprieve from the ubiquitous “I just bought everything at Ikea yesterday” design aesthetic. Although some of the room concepts no longer seem fresh, the advice offered is solid. From how to style an entryway and hang artwork properly to small space solutions; the pages are chock full of helpful decorating tricks that everyone should know. Plus, there’s also a “decorators handbook” at the back that gives the correct terms for various styles of upholstery and window treatments so that you’ll never have to go to another home store and ask for “that scrunchie style with that doohickey attached.”

This magazine cover isn’t featured in the book, but I’m including it anyways, because I love it and Mindy. (image found here)

FullSizeRender-1000x1000

2. The Jonathan Adler Book: My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living

book_antidepressive

I’m completely obsessed with all things Jonathan Adler, so it should come as no surprise that this was one of my favourite books of the haul. As the title suggests, this isn’t just a home book. It also touches on the importance of mental health. I truly believe that your living space affects your overall sense of wellbeing. Adler agrees. As he writes, “Your home should be like a good dose of Zoloft […] Coming home should be an antidote to the troubles and traumas of everyday life.” With advice like “be inappropriate;” “paint everything white and add colour with abandon” and “do whatever makes you feel happy;” this book is a cheeky, colourful manifesto on how to add joy to your everyday life.

Top-Interior-Designers-Jonathan-Adler-4

3.  The Good Life: Palm Springs by Nancy Baron

Cover: The Good Life > Palm Springs

My grandparents used to go to Palm Springs every winter in the 60’s and 70’s. I think their love for Palm Springs and all things California has rubbed off on me. Although this book of photographs by Nancy Baron isn’t technically a home decor book, there’s so much inspiration to be had within its pages (especially for someone like me, who describes their decor style as “bright, airy and with a touch of mid-century modern.”) This book definitely lived up to the hype — and then some. Airstream trailers. Backyard pools. Swinging 60’s prints. If any of this resonates with you, don’t sleep on this book. It’s timeless.

PS. Isn’t this couple adorable?!

12_baron_webmike.jpg.CROP.original-original

Tricia-Guild-Pattern-Cover
Tricia Guild is known for her bold fabric, wallpaper designs, and an extraordinary sense of colour and pattern. As I’ve learned, adding pattern and colour can make a world of difference in a space, but it can also be intimidating. Following the success of her books on colour, this richly hued coffee table book shares her skills with patterns. Of all the books, this one feels the most dated. Do you remember a time when every bar, hairdresser and boutique had the same obnoxious black and white, baroque, wallpaper? Well, there’s a lot of that in Pattern (which, makes sense since this book just celebrated its ten year anniversary.) But if you’re able to handle revisiting 2006 every few pages, there’s a lot of good stuff here. Guild schools us on everything from Kimono fabrics to European checks and stripes; making the book a good resource for anyone who wants to learn about interior design and maybe, just maybe, add some more colour to their life.
Pattern-Inspiration-and-Creation-in-Progress
Do you have any go-to home decor or coffee table books? I’m curious and want to know!
Thank you to Overstock for facilitating this review. I received these products free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. 

 

Your Top Sex Toy Questions Answered

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.11.26 PM

Even though I haven’t been actively reviewing sex toys over the past few months, I still get tons of questions sent to me on a regular basis. I love, love, love receiving emails from readers. I’ve spent the past several years writing about sex toys online, so if I can use some of my self-acquiredContinue reading

Because, California is Always a Good Idea

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.10.16 PM

his is a quick message to let you know that Skinny Dip is officially on a belated Spring Break. I’ve been working on a new, exciting project for the past month (which, I look forward to sharing with you in the near future!) and on Monday, I’m heading back to Los Angeles for two weeks.Continue reading

Too Much on The Inside + Other Truths

0402d5ae9968c163d5d9db0d742611bc

hile I was writing my book, which is a coming-of-age memoir about (you guessed it) dating and relationships; I avoided reading anything similar out of fear that I might creatively psych myself out. Now that the manuscript is complete, I’m having fun binge reading female penned memoirs and books set in Toronto. Last weekend, IContinue reading