How to Create The Perfect Reading Nook With O.co

You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here! I’ve been craving a different look for this site for a while now, so yesterday I made the jump and changed things up. I’m kind of in love with the new design!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care.

When the term “self-care” started to make the rounds in the popular lexicon, I initially envisioned sepia hued scenes featuring lengthy candle-lit bubble baths, cucumber slices delicately placed on eyelids and gallons of herbal tea – all set to an Enya soundtrack.

My reaction was, “ain’t nobody got time for that” and “Enya? Really?”

I knew that self-care was important, but the more I was reminded that I wasn’t doing these things that everyone told me I should be doing, the more I felt like I was failing at being an adult human.

What I didn’t understand, was that not everyone’s approach to self-care is going to look the same.

For example, I love to read – especially new fiction and memoirs by female writers. I used to think my obsession with books was just that – but I’ve learned is that it’s so much more. I read every weekend morning and every night before bed. It’s not only an enjoyable hobby – it’s become part of my own self-care ritual. I go to the gym and do other things to look after myself but reading is always a constant.

Taking time to slow down and treat myself to new stories, perspectives and ideas, feels incredible. As someone with a naturally anxious mind, reading is my go-to reset button. Whenever things get foggy in my brain, I can always focus on someone else’s words. Re-set. Repeat. Plus, reading voraciously helps me grow as a writer.

I love the idea of having a specific area in my home to enjoy books (although, let’s face it – I read everywhere: the sofa, in bed, on my patio..) To my delight, the lovely people over at Overstock have once again stepped in to help me create the perfect reading nook in my home office/bedroom.

Because I’m all about keeping things budget friendly, I used some pieces I already had from O.co and mixed them with new items to create (what I think) is a pretty cozy nook in the corner of my office.

Here are some of my ingredients for the perfect reading nook.

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A comfortable chair.

This is going to be different for everyone. But, I decided to go with this Eames style armchair from O.co that I already had in my office, with the plan to upgrade to something more plush when I have a bit more square footage. 

Good Lighting

Even if you’re reading on a back-lit e-reader, good lighting is key. I’m a big fan of floor lamps. For my reading nook I chose this Catalina Chrome Arc Floor Lamp. I love the look of this lamp in person, but as you can see from the photo below, it’s much bigger than I expected (that’s what she said!) It’s a bit too big for the room and I’m pretty sure if I stay seated under it long enough I’m going to get beamed into space, but I love it and I’m excited to use it as over-the-sofa lighting in a different space. 

Glam Ottoman

There’s something really nice about being able to kick your feet up. I was so excited when I found the perfect Moroccan style Ottoman for my space. The gold leather adds a dramatic pop and doubles as a side table where I could rest a tray or a small stack of books. I’m kind of obsessed. 

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Luxurious Textures

The perfect reading nook needs to have a certain degree of coziness. I’m all about adding luxurious textures to your space. My go-to white mid-century chair got 110% more comfy when I draped this New Zealand Sheepskin Throw across it’s back.

Coffee

Always.

Great Reading Material

If summer had a literary theme, it would be “the summer Simone read all the female memoirs.” I really enjoyed This is Not my Beautiful Life by Victoria Fedden and am looking forward to picking up Jessi Klein’s You’ll Grow Out of It in the near future.

Unplug

Grab a good book, some coffee and unplug! Although I like to keep my iPhone handy so I can update my Goodreads account and take #bookstagrams of whatever I’m reading, I try to keep my reading time as free of tech as possible. Taking some time to unplug from your phone is an act of self-care in and of itself.

Et voila! 

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As you can see, the scale isn’t exactly perfect but everything is versatile and I’m excited to use all of these pieces when I move into a new space.

What do you guys think?!

Thanks to O.co for making this post happen. An alternate version appeared recently on the Huffington Post. I received all the items free of charge in exchange for my honest assessment of the product.

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

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?!

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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. 

California Dreams + Evolving as a Blogger

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Two weeks ago, I did something that I have been daydreaming about for the past 5 years.

In 2010 I went to Los Angeles for the first time and have been dying to go back ever since. Some girls love Paris. Others are obsessed with New York City. Maybe it comes from growing up on the West Coast or the fact that my grandparents always sent us postcards from their yearly trips to Palm Springs, but my drug of choice is California.

If you follow my Instagram, you know that I finally got my wish and (in the words of Biggie) finally went back back, to Cali Cali. A few Saturdays ago, The Secret Agent and I packed up Joe the Intern & hopped on a plane to go spend two weeks in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. It was our first official “family vacation” and it was lovely.

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We stayed in the heart of Hollywood (near Hollywood & Vine), where I finally got to visit all of the classic Hollywood landmarks (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre! Canters Deli! The Roosevelt Hotel! Sunset Boulevard!) and shop at the Melrose Trading Post (a flea market on steroids that’s a must-see for vintage lovers like myself.)

We spent a day exploring Downtown LA, where I fell in love with The Last Bookstore and a Record Shop that specialized in both Hip Hop records and dolls. I had an art-gasm at The Broad – LA’s new modern art gallery that’s currently free to visit (!)

We traversed the city from West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to Echo Park and Silverlake (two ‘hoods that also captured my heart.)

We saw gorgeous street art all over the city and I ate my body weight in Mexican food.

We met up with Almie, Jennifer and Lisa.

At 35, I finally lost my Disneyland virginity. It was extremely hot, a little overwhelming but also magical. Joe the Intern fully got into the experience.

I ate more Mexican food.

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We drove up to Palm Springs for a few days where we lounged by the pool, drank date milkshakes, shopped to our heart’s content and took in the mid-century retro paradise that is the city. FYI, I’m pretty sure that Palm Springs is my spirit animal. As proof, I present Exhibit A.

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We then drove back to Los Angeles to spend our last few days staying in the most Pinterest-Able guest house in Venice Beach. We rode bikes along the boardwalk, ate delicious things & soaked up all the sunshine we could. All of the sun & laid back living (not to mention ample Mexican food. Did I mention the Mexican food?) made it really, really, hard to leave!


One of the things I love most about travelling (even if it’s just a short trip), is that I always come back refreshed and with a new perspective that I can bring to my life and work.

If we’re being completely honest here, it’s been a weird few months for me work and blog wise. Weird but good. I’ve spent most of the summer working on putting the finishing touches on my book – something that’s still on-going. Whatever writing energy wasn’t put into that project, was used to create content for my clients. Something had to give. Instead of trying to do it all, I let this blog slip to the back burner.

I’ve also been struggling with what to post here. Let me explain –

On our first date, the Secret Agent asked me, “what’s going to happen to the blog when you get into a relationship?”

To which I answered, “I think my readers will be happy that I’m happy. I’m still going to write – just not about dating and being single. The blog will evolve along with my life.”

At the time, I thought this was the perfect answer. However, lately I’ve had a hard time envisioning what that evolution looks like.

Over the years, I’ve had people tell me “your blog is the best when you’re telling weird dating stories!” or “I prefer your funny posts!” or “I just skip over the sexy reviews and read the stories…except when you post photos of lingerie. That I like” (as told to me by a man) & so it goes.

I get it. The posts where I’m sharing things about myself and (hopefully) making you laugh in the process are my favourite ones too.  This blog started as a place for me to tell stories about my life. Regardless of what I’m writing about, I want great storytelling to remain the primary focus.

With that said, it’s hard to writing funny dating stories when you’re in a stable, normal relationship. I like sharing little things about The Secret Agent here and there, but I’m not about to start live blogging our entire relationship. It’s nice keeping some things private. And while I’m always down to help you pick out an awesome sex toy, lately I just haven’t felt like writing about my vagina on the internet. Sorry, people. However, are people still going to like this blog if I’m not writing about dating or my sex life? What kind of stories do I want to tell? 

I was hoping my trip to California would help me sort through some of these questions and give me a much needed jolt of inspiration. While the trip definitely did give me a new perspective, it wasn’t the one I expected.

I realized that what used to feel fun and liberating – spending all day, everyday talking about sex and relationships – now feels kind of claustrophobic. While the topic of sex and human relationships will always be interesting to me, I don’t want to just write about those things. While I was away I experienced so much great art, design, fashion, food and music. I want to share all of those things with you, by taking a more holistic approach to this blog.

Skinny Dip will still be about sexy things, but I want to write about what feels good in your life, not just your pants. 

(Because you can’t have happy, healthy relationships if you don’t love your life, first.)

While you’ll still catch the occasional sex toy review (oh, boy. I’ve got a good one coming up!), I want to write more pieces like this one that allow me to flex my creative muscles and hopefully inspire you to make other areas of your life a little bit more fun & sexy. I also want to share more of my favourite books and spend more time discussing mental health and overall wellness. How does that sound?

I hope you’ll join me! In the meantime, you can stay up to date by signing up for the Skinny Dip newsletter, that will be back to it’s regular weekly schedule very shortly.

Thanks for reading this for the past 6 years!

xo

S.

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