Why I Stopped Drinking & Started Buying Art Instead

I have a complicated relationship with alcohol. While I really enjoy a good craft cocktail or glass of wine every now and then, there’s been times when alcohol wreaked havoc on my life – namely my early 20’s when I used booze to self-medicate; drinking myself into oblivion on a regular basis. It wasn’t that I couldn’t stop drinking – I didn’t want to. I liked the feeling of being out of control. However, after a lot of soul searching, growth and (let’s be real) therapy, I’m much better at setting healthy boundaries.

Although I can have one or two drinks and stop – the urge to just keep drinking is still there (& probably always will be) and it’s unnerving. Last year I slipped back into my old habits for a month and frankly, it scared me. So, combine that with the fact that booze makes me feel terrible in the morning (hangovers when you’re 30+ are no joke); it’s just easier to avoid drinking.

Lately I’m like the opposite of a Drake song: I’ve been working hard, wearing more clothes and going out less. 

The upside of not going for drinks and/or buying wine on a regular basis is that it’s freed up some money to put towards other pursuits – like building up a small art collection. I’m not yet at the place yet where I can buy a lot of original art works (unless they’re made by family members) but I have been investing in prints of pieces I really love.

My taste is art is pretty eclectic, but I’ve noticed that I tend to be drawn to pieces that are bright, modern, pop-art influenced and/or California-esque. I love images of influential women, men, palm trees and pools. Always lots of pools (I blame my grandparents.) Anything quirky and colourful is also fair game.

Here’s some of the artists I’m really into lately.

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M. Tony Peralta of The Peralta Project  is a New York born artist that “mixes New York City Latino grit with hip-hop culture to create designs that resonate with people from all walks of life.” The result is art that’s bright, pop-y and irreverant. I just purchased this Frida Con Rolos print and am eyeing up his take on another icon: Selena. He also makes pins & a host of other clothing + accessories!

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Kii Arens is an American contemporary graphic designer, pop-artist best known for his concert prints. He’s created visuals for everyone from Diana Ross to Radiohead. I discovered his work on Instagram and fell in love with his Sade & Lauryn Hill prints (two of my all time favourites.) I visited his LA LA LAND gallery when I was in LA and was able to pick up both for my collection.

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Scott Listfield is another artist I love. I discovered his astronaut paintings on Pinterest and have been obsessed ever since. His work is full of pop culture references that beautifully illustrate the feeling of being alive in this time and place – connected yet disconnected. Also, I discovered that he has a painting named Simone (!!!) and used to carry around a small plastic dinosaur (a la Joe the Intern) whenever he’d travel – so, basically I have a major artist-soul-crush on him. I recently added the pieces above to my collection.

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I also really enjoy the work of LA-based illustrator Chris Turnham. His work focuses on everyday scenes around Los Angeles that aren’t typically illustrated – like the 6th street viaduct. All of his illustrations have an authentic dusty, smoggy quality. I have his Two Palms (above) but I’m dying to get my hands on his Yuca’s Taco stand print. As someone who recently spent 12 days in LA eating almost nothing but tacos, it feels very…essential. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.04.25 PMMy current big ticket dream purchase? This oversized print by photographer Max Wanger, appropriately titled “The Dip.” Someday it will be mine. Oh yes, someday it will be mine.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to shift my focus to making some art myself. Ever since I saw Judy Ragagli’s work in Palm Springs, I’ve been toying with the idea of turning some of Joe the Intern’s photographs into full sized art pieces.  So, I was happy when the team at BestCanvas.ca got in touch with me. BestCanvas.ca takes your favourite photos and turns them into canvas prints. Whether it’s photos of your wedding, vacation, pets or (in my case) a very muscly GI Joe, BestCanvas.ca transforms your favourite memories into ready to hang art for your home.

When I told Joe about my plans to immortalize his image on canvas, he responded with his own set of demands. (“My one request is that you prominently display my image in a place of leisure – preferably over the bed.”) Joe and I don’t always agree about everything.

While I won’t be hanging Joe’s anywhere in my bedroom (I’m really trying not to alienate future suitors), I do think there’s potential to make some great wall art.

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(photo credit)

What do you guys think?!

This post was brought to you by BestCanvas.ca. All views are my own because that’s how I roll. Thanks for supporting posts that support Skinny Dip. 

The Single Ladies Guide To Decor Books

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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

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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)

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

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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.

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3.  The Good Life: Palm Springs by Nancy Baron

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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?!

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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.
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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. 

 

Styling Tips | When Your Bedroom is Your Office

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Here’s a little secret: I’m obsessed with online home tours. When I’m not writing, you can find me glued to sites like Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl and Homepolish, drooling over the gorgeous living spaces of strangers.

So, I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into my own live/work space. As I’ve mentioned before, my bedroom and office space are one of the same. When you’re living with space restrictions, I’ve learned that details are important – especially when it comes to making your space feel grown up.

This week I’m over at The Huffington Post sharing tips on decorating when your bedroom is your office. I encourage you to check out the article, but in the meantime here’s the Coles Notes version:

1. Your workspace is important but it doesn’t have to be perfect.

I used to think that I needed the “perfect” setting to finally write my book (cue: sun-flare filled images of me sitting at a typewriter in a charming Tuscan monastery). But, that’s bullshit. There’s no perfect time or space. You just need somewhere that’s reasonably comfortable to do the work.

 2. White paint fixes anything.

Even a hideous looking desk found on the side of the road. True story. My desk is actually a former vanity table rescued from my neighbour’s trash.

3. Don’t work from bed if you can avoid it.

You won’t feel very professional when you work from bed everyday. Trust me.

4. Take ownership.

Make your space comfortable and surround yourself with items that inspire you. I like to decorate with fresh flowers and my favourite books, but if a basket of neon haired lucky troll dolls and poster of Tony Danza giving you the thumbs up is what gets your creative juices flowing, do your thing.

5. Be versatile.

Furniture and decor that can be used in more than one way is key.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

Speaking of versatility, a few months ago, I teamed up with O.co to replace my nightstand (which, I’m still in love with by the way!) So, I was thrilled when the team at O.co offered to send me some new pieces to help make my home office more functional and cozy.

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Skinny Dippers, meet The Paris Wire Arm Chair (aka my “dream desk chair”) and the Natural by Lifestyle Brands New Zealand Sheepskin Rug, the two new additions to my space.

I love, love, love, both of these pieces. The mid-century style Paris Wire Arm Chair is delightfully chic and non-office like, yet comfortable enough to sit in all day. The Sheepskin Rug is super soft and much more plush than my old Ikea sheepskin throws.

Both pieces are incredibly versatile. The sheepskin throw can be draped across the back of a chair or used as a small rug. The chair looks great with my desk, but also helps create a nice reading nook.

Here are a few photos that the team from folkalpoint took of me in my space (thank you!)

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Office tour #2

{My work days: 90% cat wrangling, 10% staring whimsically off in the distance.}

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 Matilda and I are very fond of our new workspace upgrades. Matilda is especially fond of the “fuzzy.” Whenever I’m not using my chair, she immediately hops on and refuses to budge.

Thanks again for O.co for making this post happen. Stay tuned for more photos & goodies from my friends at folkalpoint!

I received the products featured in this post free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. All views are my own. 

How To Style Your Nightstand 3 Different Ways

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Today I’m here to talk about one night stand – and not the kind I usually write about on this blog. I’m talking about nightstands of the furniture variety, not the “I overindulged at  99 cent margarita Monday and now I can’t feel my face” variety. While working my way through Mission: Make Bedroom Sexy, I’ve learned that when it comes to making your space feel like your own, furniture is important. Up until a few months ago, I was using a repurposed stool (that I’m pretty sure my parents bought at Ikea in 1981) as a nightstand/bedside table. While functional in the most basic sense, my stool didn’t exactly ooze sex appeal or offer any additional storage.

Now enter Overstock.com. This website has been instrumental to my bedroom makeover (remember those cute chevron pillows?) When the nice people at O.co offered to help me upgrade my nightstand game, I leapt at the chance.

For my nightstand I wanted something that would go with my existing furniture and offered both a drawer and a shelf underneath where I could display some of my favourite coffee table books. If it had a bit of a retro look – even better. I was really impressed by how many really great nightstands and end tables that I found on O.co. There’s literally something for everyone. However, I decided on the Daniella 1-drawer Wood Storage Accent End Table (below.) It had all the features I was looking for & had received really good reviews.

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The Daniella table came disassembled. I’m always weary of putting together furniture, however I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and straightforward the assembly was for this piece. From opening up the box to positioning the product in my bedroom, the whole process took about 20 minutes, tops.

Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the Daniella table. The quality is great. The piece is made from sturdy wood veneer and finished nicely. It’s also incredibly versatile – you can use it as a nightstand or an end table. I also love that it has a drawer to stash everything from your lipbalm and Kindle to your sexy time goodies.

To show off it’s versatility, I decided to take photos of “Daniella” styled three different ways. Not sure what to do with that awkward space next to your bed? Here are a few fun options –

1. BRIGHT & QUIRKY

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Although I was attracted to the Daniella table in yellow, I am so glad that I went with white. The smooth white finish looks amazing with bright accents. When you’re living and working in a  small space, it’s so important to surround yourself with objects you truly love, so for this look I chose to style it with some of my favourite books, pottery pieces, my beloved 2Pac print and cactus – a gift from The Secret Agent. The pottery animals are all from Jonathan Adler – including the zebra tray that I picked up on a recent trip to Seattle. The Jonathan Adler store = my happy place.

(PS. I just finished Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance & it’s definitely worth checking out. I snort laughed throughout.)

2. ELEGANT & SEXY

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For the second look, I wanted to do something sexy and glamorous. Cheetah print? Check. Glam gold accents? Check. Erotic literature like The Story of O? Check. Handcuffs? Feather tickler? Sexy coffee table books? Check. Check. Check. Check. The lovely print is by Jen Ramos of Made by Girl. The vintage gold plate and hand are thrifted. The sexy products on the bottom of the shelf are by two of my favourite companies, Kama Sutra & Sliquid. Meow!

3. KIDS ROOM

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When I was putting together this post I realized that this nightstand could totally work in a kids room (in the case of this photo, a very hipster-y kid who reads Dave Eggers…) I paired a few of my beloved sock monkeys with some of my favourite pottery and voila! A cute & chic kids look (however, I’m not sure how well pottery would pair with tiny, curious hands..)

So, which one of these setups is actually in my bedroom? If you guessed the first one, you’d be right! Although I love how the ‘sexy & elegant’ look turned out ( I imagine this is what people think my bedroom looks like – you know, handcuffs lying around like no big deal), I prefer my nightstand to be bright & bookish with 2Pac looking over me while I sleep.

Which look do you like best?

This lovely nightstand was provided to me free of charge by O.com in exchange for my honest review of the product. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll.

True Story: I Can’t Have Sex In My Own Bedroom

Given that I’ve been living with my Mom ever since I moved back to the West Coast, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that there isn’t a whole lot of sex happening in my bedroom these days (at least not with a partner.) Although I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to live with family while I grow a successful freelance writing business (I couldn’t have done it otherwise), it hasn’t exactly been great for my sex life. Not only do I live under my Mother’s roof, her bedroom is right next to mine. It’s not exactly a set-up conducive to sexy times.

However, I’d be lying if I said nothing ever happened in my bed. My Mom travels a lot, so there are times when I have the house to myself. And sometimes I date people. At 33 it often feels like my hormones are raging and I want to have sex with everyone & no one all at the same time. So, when the opportunity for sex arises sometimes you just have to roll with it and make do with what you have.

This is exactly what happened the first time Fitness Guy and I hooked up last year. After a fantastic date, I invited him inside and things progressed from there. However, once we were making out on my bed, I realized I was completely distracted by my familiar surroundings. While I should have been focusing all of my energy on squeezing my pelvic floor muscles or how amazing his ass felt cupped in my hands, there was this inner voice that kept saying things like, “What if he looks away from my boobs and notices that I have an extensive wooden monkey collection? Oh god, did I forget to hide my Muppet memorabilia before he came over?! Oh no wait, that isn’t Gonzo’s nose, that’s just an errant purple Dildo I reviewed last week.”

It was Fitness guy himself who pulled me back into the moment.

Hey, there you are.” he said, as he tenderly held my face in his hands.

It was only when he forced me to make eye contact that I realized how distracted I had been. Our tryst was steamy and passionate, yet part of me couldn’t fully relax. It was silly, because at the end of the day I don’t really think Fitness Guy cared about what was on my walls or any of my strange collections of objects d’art. In fact, when we were finished he wandered around my room, thoughtfully looking at the artwork on the walls and eye-ing my book collection with admiration. If there was something about my decor that he found off putting, he didn’t let on.

With that said, I vowed that the next time I had a guy over I would make sure that my space was cleansed of anything that I might find embarrassing. Now, flash-forward to close to a year later, when I found myself in a similar situation with a new guy I was dating. When it was decided that we would move our make-out from the front seat of his station wagon into my bedroom, I asked him to give me a 4 minute lead so I could run inside and tidy up a bit.

Mainly I was concerned about Joe and Hammer (who at the time had been going through a particularly interesting week costume wise). So, I spent the next 3.5 minutes shoving everything (and everyone) into the closet as quickly as possible.

However, the same thing happened again.

Things were fine, until they weren’t. When my date noticed mid-makeout session that I seemed kind of distracted and asked, “What are you looking at?” I couldn’t tell him that it was this….

Sigh. Joe the Intern: always there when you need him and even when you don’t.

Whether it’s just casual or I’m in a relationship, I like my sex full of intimate eye-contact, playfulness and connection. However, for some reason I can’t quite get there when I’m in my own space. Instead, I find myself really holding back. The irony is that anyone who attempts to have sex with me in my own bedroom likely leaves with the impression that I’m a bit uptight and possibly have some detachment issues- which couldn’t be further from the truth.

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