Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Current Obsession: Cole Haan

This weekend I stepped into Cole Haan to take a quick gander at their summer offerings, and, to the surprise of both me and my very discerning fashion friend, I fell in love with the American-classic styles and very affordable price tags!
Take a look at these very tempting current offerings:

Air Grant. An amazing driving shoe, light as a feather and well priced at under $150.

Air Yacht Club Boat. I love this washed-out dove grey colour. Looks like you've had them for years.

Air Yacht Club Canoe. All-American classics call for all-American colours.

Air Colton Saddle. A classic saddle shoe with the added comfort of Nike Air soles—what more could you want?

High Hat. There is something very Rockefeller about these boots. Walking sticks and top hats extra.

Woven braces. I don't have a nice pair of braces. These would be a good start.

Portage Shaving Kit. I'm always on the lookout for a great toiletries bag—this is so chic!
And the pièce de résistance:

Canvas and Leather Tote. Perfection. 

Side view. Slim enough to fall nicely on your side. Large enough to carry whatever it takes to get you through the day!
Dear Canvas and Leather Bag,
I will take you everywhere I go this summer. You’re the perfect bag because I can carry my gym clothes in you, or my laptop, or even groceries when I forget to take a reusable shopping bag.
I love your colour and the fact you have handles and a shoulder strap.
Yours truly,
Ricky from be-spoken
p.s. go on sale soon

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Classy? The irony is killing me!

You’d be hard-pressed to find a classier guy than Derek Blasberg. He’s smart, funny, handsome, a snappy dresser and a great host (if his mingling skills at the party recently thrown for him at The Bay’s luxury shopping mecca The Room are any indication). And with the recent release of his new book entitled—fittingly—Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady, he is the authority on good behaviour.

Buy it HERE

Enter Ricky, the authority on embarrassing behaviour: The day got off to a shaky start. At around noon I decided to smear a layer of self tanner onto my face, just like they to in Hollywood! It should be known that my bathroom is fully stocked with every kind of beauty product you could ever hope for: eye creams, hair tonics, bronzers, soaps, lotions. You name it, I’ve got it. Except recently purchased self tanner! Instead running to Shoppers Drug Mart to buy some L’Oreal Sublime Bronze (my go to) I rummaged through my stuff and found a tester of Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Golden Perfection Selt-Tanning Lotion for Face. This is actually one of the best self-tanning products on the market; however, when I squeezed it into my hands the consistency was runny and it smelled a little chemically. Did I turn back, wash my hands and forget about it? No. I continued to slather it on. And wait to see what happened.
Luckily, it turned out ok. I really should go buy some of that stuff. If it worked after sitting on my shelf for a year, imagine what a fresh bottle could do!
So, my face turned out relatively bronzed and ready to go. Then the big dilemma arose: What to wear (c'mon Torontonians hardly ever get a chance to dress up), ! I chose one of my favorite combos: bright shirt, bow tie, dark jeans and a blazer. Simple, classy and very much ME. As I tied my bow tie, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Classy, very classy indeed.” My pride quickly faded, though, as I boarded a streetcar and chugged along to The Bay while warding off stares of dismay from my local Leslievillians. Apparently nobody around here has ever seen a man wear patent leather shoes.
Fast forward an hour or so to the actual party. For those of you who haven’t been to The Room at The Bay, you really are missing something spectacular. It’s truly one of the best shopping experiences in Toronto, if not Canada... if not THE WORLD. Nicholas Mellamphy, The Room’s artistic director, has created a little piece of fashion heaven. Naturally, the party was a success with all of Toronto’s fashion heavy hitters—including Stacey Kimmel and Suzanne Rogers (and me)—present swirling around in luxurious couture. My two friends, J and G looked amazing in their towering heels and perfect hair and makeup. We saw several people we knew and began to mingle.
But I hadn’t eaten all day. And several glasses of white wine mysteriously found their way into my hands.
One glass of wine—I start to unwind. Two glasses—I start to get socially lubricated. Three glasses—I start to think I’m hilARious. I’m pretty sure I was well into my third glass by the time I met Derek. Needless to say I attempted several jokes to varying degrees of success, all the while not trying to spill my wine onto Mr. Blasberg’s nice suit. I told him that I needed a cute name, even cuter than Ricky. He suggested substituting an “i” for the “y.”

My claws are grasping at this book like I'm scared it will be snatched away by the swag thief

After meeting the lovely Byrdie Bell and Lyle Maltz, my friends and I decided to go home. But before we did, we made sure we said goodbye to our host. “Derek, we’re leaving," I said, "but before we go, I want your final verdict. Classy or trashy?”
“Ricky,” he replied (remembering names at parties is essential to being classy). He pointed at J and G. “Classy.” Then he pointed at me. 

I interjected, “Trashy, right?”
Derek nodded yes. I knew it! Thankfully I now have his perfect little robin’s egg blue manual to educate me on how to go from this:

To this:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Current Obsession: Fratelle Carli Saponetta

It’s really important to love your soap. It’s one of those daily necessities that can turn a routine into a ritual. For this very reason, I have secured a few months supply of my favorite soap—Fratelle Carli Saponetta:
Now I buy it by the box!

I came across this wonderful lemon, herb and olive oil–scented soap quite by accident several years ago while rummaging through a sale area of a local Italian supermarket. I was instantly addicted to its amazing scent—which, incidentally, is how I think all men should smell after a shower—and used it up very quickly. Unfortunately, the supermarket I bought it from was out of business when I went back to stock up! So, like any obsessed consumer, I kept the wrapper in my dresser for years to help me remember the brand if I were to see it again.
Fast forward a few years: While browsing the amazing produce at Harvest Wagon in Rosedale and as if I was a bloodhound in search of the fallen rabbit, my nose lead me to my beloved Fratelle Carli Saponetta! It could have been the happiest day of my soap-loving life. Never again would I have to smell mass market.
I hope you have a soap that gives you this much pleasure on a daily basis. If you do, could you tell me what it is? I’d love to know.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Five things I WISH I Couldn't Live Without

Yoga. I WISH I liked yoga more than I do, because I have a vision of me decked out in Lulu Lemon drinking lemon water and talking about my core to a woman named Lemon. And in this vision I always have a great body. It’s not that I dislike yoga, I just get easily discouraged and intimidated by the scene—ironically, it’s the same scene that attracts me, too. I have been checking out unlimited monthly packages at various establishments (if I go for it, I’ll submerge myself immediately) and 889 Yonge in Rosedale looks amazing! www.889yonge.com

That should be me
Vitamins. I recently had the chance to learn about a great new brand of health products launched at Shoppers Drug Mart called Bodylogix. Their vitamin lines are gender specific and contain AM and PM formulas. How ingenious! And the list of ingredients is a who’s who of the nutrient world, with guest appearances by saw palmetto, pumkin seed and pygeum bark extracts, green food concentrates, enzymes and lots more. Unlike other vitamins that tend to make me feel nauseas, these ones go down nicely with hardly any after taste. So why don’t I take them? I always forget! Bonus: When you buy any Bodylogix product you receive a pin number that gives you access to their amazing website, where you can find customized workouts and diet menus—I have no excuse. www.bodylogix.com

Paper correspondence. I buy stationary all the time. And then I watch it disintegrate. I have every intention to be that person who sends letters, postcards and writes thank you notes. Unfortunately, to this point in my life, I’m not him.... yet. I think part of my problem is email: it’s just sooo easy to stay in touch digitally. Luckily I have found a wonderful website that incorporates the look of tradition stationary with the ease of email (they also sell the old-fashioned stuff, too... I can’t wait to order my customized letterhead asap): www.iomoi.com

Porter Cooper must be a classy man, but so am I! I need a calling card asap.

My own calling card design not yet in production

Last week my friend Amy sent me the most beautiful letter all the way from Australia. It was so nice to receive something other than a bill in the mail—I really love the retro envelop, too. I vow to write her back (and use up some of my stacks of beautiful paper).

Tea. I like tea, but I wish I LOVED tea. I love coffee and need it at regular intervals daily, but I really wish I loved tea just as much. And just like my stationary, for some reason I have a massive collection of beautiful teas on my shelf that I never use. One canister contains black tea spiked with lavender and rose petals! I even have the most gorgeous jasmine flower tea that unfurls from tiny balls into full blossoms. Do I drink them? NO. I didn’t even know a dedicated tea drinker until I moved to Toronto—where I come from it’s coffee, coffee, coffee. That being said, so far my favorite places in Toronto for a hot pot o’ tea are Moroco (if I can resist their sipping chocolate), Nadège (for their macaroons and Kusmi tea) and Red Rocket (for their Chantilly Grey by Tea in the Sahara).

A book a week. I used to read every day. I used to devour books. I now can’t even concentrate long enough to read a magazine article! I’ve gone down from a book a week to five books a year, if I’m lucky. This doesn’t stop me from browsing Chapters and buying the occasional novel, nope. So what’s the disconnect? I break it down to two factors: my favorite authors don’t put out too much material and I spend too much time on the computer. (Actually there is a third reason: I’m constantly looking for that “aha” moment in a book. I start so many that I never finish because I simply don’t feel like it’s going to move me in any way—damn you Book of Negroes for being so memorable, you make the other books quake in your presence.) I will solve this problem in a few way: first, take a book with me wherever I go and retrain myself to read in my downtime when I’m out and about; second, read before bed; third, try to get my book club going—I’m in the midst of organizing a good old-fashioned book club replete with fabulous members, amazing books, really tasty treats and good wine. Here are a few books I’m interested in reading this summer:

I've started this one before, but didn't finish. I love Roberston Davies, and LOVE a good trilogy!

What are some things you wish you couldn’t live without?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ten things I can’t live without, as of May 13, 2010

  • Coffee, more specifically the Nespresso system. I need a cup or two each morning, and since this stuff is expensive, fancy and tailor-made for single servings, I don’t over-caffeinate. Favorite varieties include Fortissimo Lungo and Indriya—both are bold, spicy and perfect for Americano-sized cups.

  • Mac. Let’s face it, I’m glued to my iPhone and MacBook, not to mention Pages, Logic Pro and iTunes. These guys do it right. Next purchase? The iPad. At first I wasn’t convinced, but the more I think about it, the more I truly believe this machine will revolutionize the way people get their information. It puts the glossy back into glossies.

  • Twitter. It took me a while to realize how useful Twitter really is. This is the best way to filter information and feel linked to sources you want to be close to... like Rachel Zoe. I’m more of a follower than a leader. That being said, I really should actually “tweet” more.

  • Fragrance. I need to smell like something other than me (not like I smell terrible or anything, though). Like slightly rotten oranges (Terre d’Hermès), or an aristocratic lady on a horse (Daim Blond by Serge Lutens), or a Cuban jazz singer (Havana Vanille by L’Artisan Parfumeur). Other favorites include Infusion d’Homme by Prada, Lime Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone and Beach by Bobby Brown. (This category includes candles, because I need my home to smell great, too. I LOVE French Lilac by Pacifica, Fraser Fir by Thymes and anything by Jo Malone.)

  • Clinique Skin Supplies for Men Non-Streak Bronzer. I’ve often thought about what my desert island cosmetic essential would be, and I always considered this item... but then I realized that I’d probably develop a pretty good tan on a desert island, thereby rendering a gel bronzer quite obsolete. Oh, those scenarios are so complicated, and I take them so seriously! I do wish this product contained sunscreen, though.

  • Baléa 3 in 1 Cleansing Cloths. I recently came to terms with my lazy nature. Turns out I’m not as high maintenance as I once thought. The fact is I HATE washing my face at night! I know, seems terribly shameful for a beauty junkie, but it’s the truth. I keep a box of these amazing face wipes by my bed and “wash” my face with them as I lay in a semi-comatose state. They leave my skin clean and fresh, and they’re cheap!

  • Gillette Razors. The best a man can get, enough said. (I will be blogging a bit more about Gillette’s new Fusion ProGlide razor in a day or two—it’s really good!)

  • My Vespa and my bike. Seems as if I’m a two-wheel kind of guy. I’ve had my Vespa for a few years now and I absolutely love zipping around town in it. I truly think low emission scooters should slowly replace five seater cars holding one passenger. Just makes sense, right? Last year I bought a vintage Eaton’s Glider bike made by Raleigh and I LOVE it. 

(note my glamorous lifestyle: bike indoors, garbage can, recycling with high-sugar cereal in it)
  • My apartment. I absolutely love my imperfect apartment. It’s old and somewhat dingy, but it’s also charming and the consummate city residence. For every bad feature (questionable plumbing, cheap tile in the kitchen, there’s a good feature (high ceilings, big windows, lots of room). There’s something about the energy in my apartment that makes people want to convene there. And that makes me very happy.

  • My niece Versailles and my nephew Jacob. These two kids bring endless amounts of joy to me and my family. They are a constant source of laughter, wit and love. Versailles is currently very much into American Girl dolls (and her Cabbage Patch Kid named Sadie) and Jacob is a budding comic artist. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these two!

Runners up: Red wine, Club Monaco, bagged salads, olive oil, perfect omelets, macaroons

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Flower Power

I once said, “There’s nothing in the world I love more than fresh cut flowers.” Perhaps a bit of a hyperbole, but there’s a lot of truth in that statement.
Freshly cut flowers enliven any home. They are a true reflection of the season. Tulips, lilies, lilacs and peonies in spring, then lavender, freesia and sunflowers in summer.... the list goes on.
Sometimes I splurge on my flower purchase, but most of the time I buy a simple bouquet from my local florist, scrap the greenery and baby’s breath and create elegant little vignettes like these ones:

Here are some beautiful blushing pink hydrangeas I just had to have:

Of course, nothing compares to experiencing living flowers in nature, but then again, nothing compares to a wide array of cut flowers inside, too!