Making DIY Art Dreams Come True with

It seems like just yesterday I was fantasizing about turning one of Joe the Intern’s photos into a piece of wall art. Well my friends, dreams really do come true. Almost a year later, the folks over at approached me about turning one of favorite photos into a canvas print. I knew exactly which one I would choose.

IMG_0084The  process was ridiculously simple. After consulting the minimum resolution requirements, I chose a large 40’’x30’’ portrait shaped canvas for Joe’s mug and uploaded my photo (the system lets you play around with different formats to see which works best). It was exactly what I had in mind, so I ordered it.

That’s the beauty of — you can literally take any high resolution photo — a favorite vacation shot, a photo of your pet or even a stock image that you really love and turn it into gorgeous, personalized art. Goodbye, generic home decor. Hello, conversation starting DIY statement piece.

About two weeks later, my print arrived on my doorstep and I ripped open the packaging like a kid on Christmas morning totally normal thirty-something anxiously awaiting a large scale print of their favorite man doll.

You guys, I’m smitten. I had no idea what to expect, so I was totally floored when I saw how vivid the colors are.  It’s so bright and happy and perfect.

IMG_0081I love how large, bold art can add an instant pop to an otherwise blank space. When I move, I envision hanging this piece in my breakfast/eating area because I like the idea of looking up from my smoothie every morning and remembering that sunny day wandering around Beverly Hills. However, since I’m currently without said wall space/breakfast nook, I’ve had fun experimenting with the print in various areas of my current home. Behold the proof that a life-size print of a half-naked G.I Joe is surprisingly versatile!

ACS_0029If I’m feeling lazy or don’t have a lot of wall space to hang art, I’m fond of leaning it against walls. I love how my Joe print looks propped up on my dresser.

Although I still think a large landscape oriented (lengthwise) print would better suit the space above my bed, Joe the Intern insisted I try it in the bedroom anyways — you know, because nothing sets potential lovers at ease like a large scale photo of a plastic man with rock hard nipples the size of quarters.


It doesn’t look terrible, but I think that I’ll stick to hanging this piece in less intimate areas. Sorry, Joe.

All in all, I really enjoyed my experience. The only thing I wish I’d known beforehand is that these prints are very high resolution (a good thing!) I wish I’d done a better job photo-shopping Joe before I uploaded the image because the small blemishes (ie. marks on Joe’s face) that were visible on the original showed up on the print. Just something to consider for next time.

Joe on the other hand, has no complaints.


So, there you have it. Art dreams turned real. What photo would you like to turn into a print?

This post was brought to you by I received this print free of charge in exchange for my honest assessment of the product. Thanks for supporting the branded posts that support this blog.

Here’s 10 Guys That I’d Like To Meet

Hi, it’s me. Still single. Still 35 (at least for another 12 days.) A few weeks ago, authors Blythe Roberson and Jason Adam Katzenstein posted in the New Yorker an illustrated article titled Types of Guys I Would Like To Date, If Someone Could Please Introduce Me to Them. I couldn’t help but giggle. I mean, what 30-something woman hasn’t yearned to date a guy that owns a rug? (“a huge achievement, as rugs cost millions of dollars and require vacuuming“). The piece also made me ponder the kinds of guys I would like to be introduced to. (Because, let’s face it — the singles in Victoria leave quite a bit to be desired.)

Because I don’t have the artistic skills of a New Yorker cartoonist, Joe the Intern and his friends have stepped in to help with this post.

So, gather around my friends while I cue up Michael Buble’s “I Still Haven’t Met You Yet” and press the repeat button. Here’s some men I’m interested in getting to know.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

40-something Musical Yogis with 20-something rockstar dreams, need not apply. Whether it’s a full time job or a side-hustle, this guy likes making things and he wants to make things with you (websites! music! photos! smoked meat! pickles! A new fence! Stop animation with Joe the Intern!) I know you’re out there. If your idea of a great Saturday is brunch, followed by creating something together, I want to be your Ride and #DIY. (photo credit)

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Sure, he mainlines kale juice and eats sandwiches that are made with thinly cut organic tempeh steaks instead of bread, but he doesn’t need to talk about it. He’ll never shame you for not drinking as many vegetables as he does, because he totally gets the concept of balance. I.e. there’s a time for kale chips and a time for diving face first into a stack of chicken and waffles.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

When I was in university, it wasn’t uncommon to meet guys who’d say stuff like, “oh, you like 2Pac? I only listen to conscious hip-hop or stuff from the 80’s.” These guys are still around. They read Pitchfork and the only Kendrick Lamar song they think is relevant is the one you’ve never heard of because “it’s so obscure.”  The Guy Who Isn’t Afraid to Shamelessly Rock out to Lil’ Wayne is the opposite of that guy. He’s politically aware and understands why something might be offensive but isn’t opposed to dancing around the living room with you as Weezy chants “a milli a milli a milli.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

The stack of Prince LPs and his turntable are the only church he needs. He thinks “Call My Name” is one of the sexiest, most romantic, panty-dropping songs of all time and to your delight, insists that you go as The Kid and Apollonia for Halloween. When you fidget in your costume, he says, “I don’t care that you’re not an ingenue of indeterminate ethnic origin, you look amazing in that leather bustier.”

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

No, I’m not talking about one of those greaseballs on Millionaire Matchmaker that owns a yacht. I’m thinking of something more organic, like you meet at a record store in Silverlake and you catch each other’s eye because you’re both wearing the same Prince pin on the lapel of your matching leather jackets. Flash forward to the future where you’re sitting out by your backyard pool perched high in the Elysian Hills, eating tacos and writing dialogue for Joe the Intern.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Feminist Ryan Gosling, but he’s Idris Elba. He would never use the hashtag #NotAllMen seriously and often says stuff like, “Hey, girl, you’ve worked really hard today. Let me do the dishes while you kick back and photograph your collection of weird Ken Dolls.”  

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

He’s like Colin Miller meets Jesse Williams. He’s tough, but kind & empathetic, and he’s unafraid to stand up for what he believes in. He’s not the guy who “doesn’t give a fuck,” he’s the guy who gives all the fucks. You catch each other’s eyes across a crowded movie theatre after a documentary about a depressing social issue has just let out. When you walk towards him, you realize he’s wearing a t-shirt that says #FreeEdwardAtes. (photo credit)

“I thought you only existed on the internet” you say to him.

He smiles and replies, “I thought you only existed on the internet.”

You spend lots of time listening to wrongful conviction podcasts together and admiring how he looks good in hats that aren’t fedoras.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Recently I texted my friend, “So, if a man is in his late 30’s and he’s still sleeping on a mattress on the floor, that’s a deal breaker, right?” She responded, “please tell me that’s a rhetorical question.” A few years ago I went on a couple of dates with a smart, very successful 30-something man who kept all of this non-perishable food in a small heap next to his bed (which was also just a mattress on the floor) so he’d never have to get up while watching Netflix to grab snacks. I know there are lots of men out there who have mastered the art of #adulting, but clearly there aren’t enough to go around. If you own a dresser that isn’t covered in stickers and you don’t use a upside down laundry basket as a nightstand, let’s talk.

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

Here’s a gentleman who is no stranger to having his hand all up inside some green felt. On Sunday mornings you like to create elaborate puppet shows that include lots of original songs and are heavy on  character development (“I mean, Barry the Sloth is basically a decent guy. He only drinks and bites people because he’s misunderstood – and that thing that happened when he was in the circus.”) 

Online Dating in Victoria BC: 10 Guys That I'd Like To Meet

It’s easy to find men who love dogs, but I’d like to meet someone who is crazy about felines just to see what he’d be like. I know he’s out there somewhere, happily whistling away as he meticulously cleans his couch cushions with a dust buster. Call me. 

We’ve Got a New Look!

You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here! After lots of tweaks, the new version of Skinny Dip went live on Friday and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I told my designer, Ashley, that I wanted something more editorial, yet still fun and playful – a look she totally nailed. I absolutely love the pink drop-cap detail at the beginning of each post and the custom heart-shaped pin-it button she added!

As anyone who works on the internet can probably understand, your website and blog is like your office. It has to feel like home. When this is no longer the case, things just feel off. Over the past year I’ve slowly started to feel like design I had (which had been more or less consistent since 2012), while I loved it, was no longer ‘me.’ A lot has happened over the past three years: I’ve become a Nationally syndicated columnist, I’ve finished writing a book and grown in many other ways, including turning writing into a full time career. It makes sense that my web design was no longer a perfect match (and because of this, it kept me from blogging as much as I wanted to.)

I liken this experience to jeans I (until recently) owned: a pair of gorgeous, Paige denim, dark skinnies. I got them about 5 years ago and they were honestly, some of the best pants I ever had the pleasure of calling my own. Like my blog, they were with me during some of the best moments (my first trip to LA) and some my worst (my very painful breakup with my ex.) I kept them around because they had once hugged my body perfectly. However, when I went to try them on a few months ago, I could barely get them over my hips. Instead of lamenting over the fact that I am no longer a size 23 double zero, I did what felt more joyful: I got rid of the jeans and spent some money buying pants that actually fit – a decision I never regret.

Even when you know change is the right thing, letting go can still feel a bit scary. However, I’ve learned that I much rather embrace change and the unknown than cling to situations, people and branding that no longer feels 100% in line with where I’m at in my life. Skinny Dip will continue to change and grow as I do.

In case you want to see the evolution of the site over the years, I’ve included a few screen caps!


newlook 1

2010newlook 2

2011newlook 3



I love looking at how much the site has changed! Because I was very attached to my old design, I decided it needed a proper send-off celebration. So, I enlisted the help of Joe the Intern and Hammer to ceremonially switch out the old design for the new and carry it off to the Skinny Dip hall of fame.


new look 1

Here’s to lots of new adventures and stories!


Things You Learn When You Date in a Small Town

After living in Toronto for 12 years, you decide to move to Victoria, BC as a single 30-something.

With a population of about 300,000, Victoria isn’t exactly a small town yet, it manages to have a small town feel. Everyone knows everyone. After living in a city of 4 million people you find this both strange and comforting.

You spend the first year in Victoria mostly hanging out with your best friend and being an honorary senior citizen. However, you slowly start to make new friends. You start online dating. You make more friends. When you get frustrated by meeting the same 20 guys online, you ask your friends to set you up. You date a friend of a friend. You date another friend of a friend. You date another.

Although you prefer meeting people in person, you come to the conclusion that this whole “meeting people through common friends” thing has it’s drawbacks.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownNamely, that some people don’t want to date you precisely because you have friends in common. When you ask a friend about his dating habits, he tells you that he likes to “date off the grid” – no small feat in a town like Victoria, where everyone is connected by one or two degrees of separation.  (photo credit)

You ask him, “I’m kind of off the grid though, right?”

“Simone, you know 30% of the people I know. You are the Grid.”

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownIn theory, we’d all be able to live within reasonable geographic proximity, date each other and still get along with minimal drama, like they do over at Seattle Grace Hospital. However, you quickly learn that this is a far cry from reality. In other words, life is not an ABC drama written by Shonda Rhimes. (image credit)

You have conversations that sound like this:

Ryan: “I can’t date you because you dated John.”

John: “I can’t date you because you dated my friend Ryan.”

You try and explain, “But Ryan and I never dated. He just sends me really weird photos of his penis, and I’m not sure why.”

However, it’s no use.

Meredith Grey and Olivia Pope don’t have to deal with this kind of bullshit. Why do you?

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownYou try not to let this get you down until a guy tells you that he considers you “tainted” as a romantic prospect, because you briefly dated two people that he knows.

You’re single. You like dating. You like sex. However, sometimes dating in a small town can make you feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter. You feel like a double standard is at play and you can’t help but wonder if things would be different if you were a man. Although you don’t regret leaving Toronto, you start to remember why you left this one horse town in the first place.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownSometimes this town can feel small. Too small. This hits home when you bump into Fitness Guy at your local Thrifty Foods. You figured it would happen eventually since he lives around the corner from the store, but you still have a heart attack when you see him and almost drop an armful of groceries. Apparently, your case of sexually transmitted awkwardness is still alive and well. (photo credit)

Instead of going to the other Thrifty Foods where you’d surely bump into your high school nemesis (or that other guy you hooked up with), you buy most of your groceries at the overpriced yuppie-ster bodega in your neighbourhood. Your skin looks great, but your wallet cries every time you fork over $12 for a package of organic lunch meat and a pear.

You go out for a beer with a guy that you meet on OKCupid, only to come home to find the following message from another guy.

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small Town

This isn’t the first time this has happened. A few months ago you received a message that said, “I saw you walking through the Bay Center. Have you cut your hair? Maybe you noticed me, I was the guy in the red toque, eating an apple?” You haven’t met either of these guys in real life. Apparently, your online dating inbox has turned into Craigslist’s Missed Connections. (photo credit)


Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownDespite it’s drawbacks, you realize that dating “off the grid” is even more terrifying than dating people in your social circle. You notice the small town vibe is getting to you when you catch yourself becoming unreasonably suspicious of anyone who doesn’t know at least one person you know (“How do you not know Ryan?! EVERYONE KNOWS RYAN! You know, the guy who sends people photos of his penis?”)

You really start to appreciate the grid when you go out on a few dates with a guy who literally has no friends – that is, except for a guy he met while buying a stereo at Best Buy who goes by the nickname “Rapey” (“He’s always telling his female coworkers that he’s going to rape them. It’s hilarious! You’re going to love this guy, Simone.”) Luckily, you never have the chance to meet “Rapey” because according to your date, he’s been missing for some time and may or may not be residing at your local mental hospital. True story. (photo credit)

Dating in Victoria BC: Things You Learn When You Date in a Small TownWith that said, you know something has to change with your love life when you find a photo on your friend’s Facebook and tell yourself, “I’ve seen far too many of these dudes penises.” (photo credit)

So, life in a small town didn’t turn out like the ABC drama of your choice, but you decide to lean into it anyways. In a moment of frustration, you contemplate channeling your inner Emily Thorne from Revenge, printing out the photo and crossing the faces out with a red marker. However, you suspect it will just incite lots of awkward questions when you have to explain to people who come over, “No, I don’t have a revenge plot in the works. These are just people I’ve banged in the past 3 years.”

Mostly though, you just laugh. You drink wine with your friends. You laugh some more.

When a girlfriend of yours drunkenly comments on how incestuous this town is (“Everyone in Victoria shares a few bedpost notches”) you don’t disagree.

Instead, you laugh and drink more wine. What else can you do?

On Sex, Videos and Blurred Lines

One of the most challenging parts of being a blogger and writer is keeping up with the ridiculously fast pace of the news cycle. Thanks to the internet, stories spread faster than wild fire. If you don’t jump on a story right away, you can guarantee that someone else will write it. Life as a writer is busy. I always put my clients first, so often I’ll come across things in pop culture or the news that I want to write about, however by the time I have the space in my schedule to cover it on Skinny Dip, the moment has passed and it no longer feels relevant. This is exactly what happened when Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video was released last Spring.

A year later, the video still makes me throw up in my mouth every time I see it. However, I’ve been patiently waiting for Robin Thicke to show up in the headlines again so I can write about it without seeming completely late to the party. Lucky for me, that opportunity has arrived! Last week Thicke was the target on an online petition to have him removed as one of the performers at this year’s Juno Awards (The Canadian equivalent of The Grammy’s) Shortly thereafter, Thicke conveniently backed out of the Juno performance “to rest his voice.” 

For those of you who have been living in a yurt in Antarctica and/or cut off from civilization for the past year, Thicke  has been the target of widespread criticism because of the song’s lyrics and video which promote misogyny, rape culture and the degradation of women. The lyrics of the song suggest that there are “blurred lines” when it comes to sexual consent with it’s repeated refrains of “I know you want it.”  The song’s four-minute video, an unrated version of which has racked up more than 31 million views on YouTube, features topless women dancing around Thicke, Pharell Williams and rapper T.I. However, when it comes to inducing vomit, the piece de resistance is the mylar balloons that spell out “Robin Thicke has a big dick” near the end of the video.

To make matters more disturbing, Thicke has responded to the video’s backlash by saying the song is “a feminist movement within itself.” Clearly, someone needs to school Robin Thicke on the definition of feminism. Thicke told GQ,“We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women.” He later noted, “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before.” I find that hard to believe.

From Macleans to Jezebel to Vice, pretty much everyone has weighed in on the Blurred Lines situation. So, I’m not sure what I can add to the argument that hasn’t already been said and said very well. The video is gross and creepy. The lyrics are undeniably misogynist and “rapey.” And the whole thing just makes me want to slap the smug grin right off Thicke’s stubbled face. However, the video is merely a drop in the hat when it comes to the shift that’s taken place over the past 15 years in regards to the sexual politics of music videos.

When I think back to the music videos that I remember from when I was a teenager in the early to mid-90’s, things were different. Salt-n-Pepa suggested “let’s talk about sex.” TLC sang about “giving you the red light special” while in baggy pants adorned with condoms. Madonna discussed sexual expression, homosexuality, AIDS and asked us “Would this sound better if I was a man? Would you like better if I was?” all while proclaiming to be nobody’s bitch in the song Human Nature. Even the less mainstream R&B artists I was really into – like Adina Howard and girl group Nuttin’ Nyce – had songs that were really sexually explicit but in a way that was fun and empowering. With the exception of maybe Madonna, these women managed to do all of this while wearing what now seems like a shocking amount of clothing. Between the ample eye candy and groups like Jodeci literally ripping their shirts off on stage, if there was skin to be shown, a lot of it was male.

Don’t believe me? My inner anthropologist couldn’t resist digging up some evidence. Behold exhibit A, B, and C taken from some of my favourite songs & videos from the 1990’s.

1) One of my favourite girl groups of all time: TLC. It took me far too long to realize that it wasn’t a fried egg attached to Left Eye’s shirt, but a yellow condom. Now I think it’s cool. 2) From Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” video – a fun, ear-worm of a song that extolled the virtues of being in the company of a good man (& provided equally nice visuals) Once upon a a time, men were shirtless in videos too. 3) From Nuttin’ Nyce’s “Froggystyle” video which features a man in a doggy collar, surrounded by a bunch of women wearing actual jackets and shirts – imagery I doubt you’d see in a music video from 2014. 

Although I don’t watch that many music videos these days, when I do, I feel like the dynamics have completely flipped over to the other extreme. Today’s videos have swapped “sexuality” for “sexy.” Miley Cyrus sings about heartbreak while nearly naked. Lady Gaga (whom I actually kind of adore) sings bubblegum pop while in get-ups that would be better at home in a futuristic Siouxie and the Banshees video. Rihanna sings about “strip clubs and dollar bills”, while women expertly twerk and spin on poles in the background. The words and images often don’t connect, resulting in a kind of cognitive dissonance. When it comes to sex and music, we’re saying less but showing a whole hell of a lot more.

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