Category Archive for Alternative Canada
My Fashion Blogger Apartment Tour! Mid-Century modern minimalist home decor, furniture, interior design.
Welcome to my apartment! For the first time, I’m revealing this intimate tour of my living quarters. I’m overjoyed with how the interior decor came together, creating an environment that feels 100% “me.”
Ready to see how a fashion / travel blogger decorates her home? Come on in, and I’ll take you through each room.
(Each item of furniture or decor is highlighted in this house tour. At the end, there’s a summary of the items — along with design tips for maximizing a small living space.)
I’m a design-nerd, so let’s begin with the aesthetic concept. I’d sum up the apartment with four “M-words”:
Mid-Century Modern – Minimalism – Marie Kondo – Miffy!
1. Mid-Century Modern. I’ve long admired the mid-20th century design movement, which emphasizes organic / geometric forms and modernist clean lines. My high-rise one bedroom apartment in Vancouver has giant windows and a balcony, which bring in lots of natural light — a must for “MCM” homes.
I chose a mid century color scheme for the entire space: tangerine orange, aqua (light turquoise or teal), and avocado green. I also looked for furnishings reminiscent of this era, made with space-age white, steel wire, and natural wood.
2. Minimalism. I’m naturally drawn to minimalist aesthetics, especially Japanese Zen and Scandinavian modern. However, minimalism also has a key function in small spaces: it keeps the environment from feeling cluttered and claustrophobic.
I significantly pared down my belongings, and carefully chose beautiful pieces that served multiple functions — such as a coffee table that is also a cat scratcher, multi-purpose chairs, and lamps that double as sculptures.
However, in another way, the Japanese “Konmari” method has made an impact on my choices. “Sparking Joy” sounds a bit silly, but I realized I wanted every part of my home to reflect what makes me happy. And so, I’m surrounded by items that have meaning: favorite cute characters, souvenirs from travels, mementos and art from friends. That leads us to…
4. Miffy! I’m mad about the Dutch bunny, created by Dick Bruna as a children’s book character. Miffy (or Nijntje) also happens to be a minimalist design from the mid twentieth century (she debuted in 1955), which ties together all of the above points.
Now, it’s time for the apartment tour! I’ll take you around, and end with decorating tips for small condos and apartments.
The happiness begins when you walk through the door, and onto this starry rug from Scandaffaren, purveyors of Scandinavian modern design.
The bold, geometric stars make you feel as if you’re on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This slim runner (long rug) is also strong and waterproof: making it the perfect entry mat.
Scandaffaren‘s online shop has an eye-catching selection of home goods made in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland: modern, cutting edge designs that are impossible to find in regular furniture stores.
For instance, Scandaffären has a large selection of Swedish rugs in various sizes, colors and patterns. They sent me this Papellina Viggo Metallic Stone / Vanilla Star rug, which immediately conveys the minimal, pop culture mood of my apartment.
The unique design is reversible, so I can choose between metallic grey or white as the base color. (I plan to switch it up, since both look lovely.)
Pappelina’s rugs are made in Sweden from environmentally-aware materials: 90% plastic foil ribbon, and 10% warp thread. These durable materials are woven together by hand in the traditional Swedish method: on looms that date back to the 1950s.
These rugs are made be trodden on by Vikings. They require minimal care, and the color and quality don’t fade.
With this rug, I feel like I’m making a grand entrance every time I come in. My hardwood floors have a grey undertone, which complements the Viggo Star Stone Metallic shade. The geometric forms also harmonize with the other pieces in the apartment, including the towels, chairs and lamps (which will be described later on in this post).
Scandaffaren’s Pappelina rug may have three stars… but it gets a 5-star rating from me!
You might notice that I chose a longer runner, as opposed to the standard “welcome mat” size. People often forget that they need room to close the door and take their shoes off. At 28 x 60 inches, this one gives enough space for several people to comfortably step in, and undo their laces.
Big up to Scandaffaren for elevating my entry-way. They’re an independent company, which I love to support, and have a wonderfully curated selection of Scandinavian / Finnish designs.
Based in Devon, Pennsylvania, they’re the only US retailer for several Swedish brands. If you’re in North America, this is the place to get your hands on Scandinavian home decor — here is their website.
Now, let’s move into the kitchen. (“Thanks for the flowers! Can I make you a cup of tea?”)
The cooking area is small, but there’s plenty of counter space, with large cupboards that hide equipment and utensils. All the external objects are stainless steel for a unified look.
You’ll notice my little decor elements that “spark joy”: illustrations and cards from friends, tiny succulents in white triangle pots, a geometric hand towel by Sunday Minx (more about them below, in the bathroom section.)
As Halloween-loving Goth, I always smile when I see my pumpkin-shaped coaster / placemat. In fact, this is a cutting board from Crate and Barrel.
Don’t be afraid to get creative, and use objects for purposes other than their original intent.
“These are a few of my favorite things.” The fridge holds magnets featuring George Costanza from Seinfeld, and Miffy the rabbit. And look who is working the cat-walk… Basil!
I spend a lot of time in this cozy white Miffy bathrobe. The robe has bunny ears and embroidered pockets, and was a gift from my cousins in the UK.
My minimalist centerpiece is this exact Miffy Cotton On lamp. It’s visually appealing, and also a useful portable light.
Little apartments can only have limited amounts of furniture — so I encourage you to choose carefully, and invest in a few quality pieces.
Anyone who loves modern design knows the name Herman Miller. This American furniture manufacturer rose to fame during the 1940s-60s, producing iconic pieces such as the Aeron chair, Noguchi table, Marshmallow sofa, and Nelson bench. Today, they remain the leaders in modernist, experimental home furnishings. (See examples below, and click for more info.)
When you order an Eames chair, you can customize the material, upholstery, color, base and finishing. I went for the Aqua Sky and Orange hues, with chrome-finished steel wire legs and a standard glide base.
Charles and Ray Eames are the American design gurus behind this chair. When the first Eames chair came out in the late 1940s, it was a sensation (for the first time, molded fiberglass could create a curving, one-piece seat).
Many stores sell knockoff “Eiffel chairs,” but I encourage you to honor the designers and save up for the real deal. If you compare these with replicas, you can see an enormous difference in the finishing and quality. (Shop for authentic Eames dining chairs below.)
I paired my seats with this Tavolo XZ3 table, also from Herman Miller. Once again, you can customize the shape and legs — I went for the round white tabletop and chrome legs.
The Tavolo XZ3 is an in-house design by Magis, the Italian furniture brand that makes designs by Jasper Morrison and Philippe Starck. The table material is a study white MDF with polymer cover, and the angled legs are made of steel rods.
My round Magis Tavolo doubles as a work desk (for writing, cooking, etc) and dining table. As you can see, the legs go perfectly with wire-based Eames chairs. Plus, the floating effect keeps the small apartment from feeling crowded.
The photos speak for themselves: Herman Miller is the mid-century and contemporary furniture master. Pro tip: if you are a qualified interior designer or architect, you can get a significant “designer’s discount” on their products.
Below are more designs to inspire you (click to view).
Shall we mosey over to the living room? There are cute, fuzzy white animals waiting to sit with you…
… including my stuffed polar bear from Korea. (I’m trying to be a bunny to fit in.)
There’s no cozier place to catch up on shows, read a book, or gaze out the window at the spectacular view (I’m on a high-level floor).
I’m in love with this retro sofa: the Cavett Loveseat by Crate and Barrel. The sleek lines capture the feeling of mid-century modernism — particularly the American walnut frame and tapered legs.
The cantilevered seat, angular arms and striped wood slat back are attractive from every angle. My Cavett love seat is so comfortable to curl up on, with built-in upholstered cushions. (You can chose from a variety of fabric finishes; mine is the Lemongrass green).
This elegant sofa is the perfect choice for smaller spaces. A longer, overstuffed, bulky couch would overpower the room.
Head over to the Crate and Barrel website, and search for “Cavett Loveseat” to find this timeless piece. Hint: C&B also has an architect / designer trade discount program, which takes 10% off the total.
The lemongrass green sofa pairs well with my Departures pillows from Airportag. Their travel-inspired home goods are made for globetrotters like me — Airportag has accessories, posters, cups, tote bags featuring airport codes from around the world.
The retro flip-board look also fits in with my mid-century modern vibe. These pillows are soft and fluffy to lean on… like a certain Scottish Fold cat!
Here’s another look at how the living and dining spaces flow together.
When you have limited square footage, a harmonized color scheme / aesthetic can help make the rooms look bigger (as opposed to creating separate areas with different looks). Notice how the orange and blue chairs match the planter and table, and everything has a unified mid-century modern look.
In tiny homes, multi-function modular furniture is key. (That is, pieces that can be moved around and used according to changing needs).
Case in point: this lightweight white leather chair (similar to this one) can be an extra living room seat, a dining chair, or a window perch for Basil!
The “coffee table” is another modular piece: it doubles as a cat scratcher, made by Kitticraft!
I didn’t want a TV stand or console, as these tend to be chunky-looking. I simply painted my family’s Ikea “Lack” table from the 90s, to match the exact shade of blue in my color scheme. (Ikea’s furniture quality was much better in the 1990s, and used real wood. I don’t recommend getting their current fiberboard and particleboard products).
Above the television, there are three paintings that “spark joy” like nothing else. They’re by my artist friend Naomi Rubin, and based around memories of our adventures together.
My white and blue zig-zag carpet is as as soft as it looks… it’s a hand-tufted Moroccan shag from Rugs USA!
Choosing a primarily white carpet with a simple pattern helps to make a room look more spacious. The blue zigzag is a minimalist take on the geometric carpets from the mid-century modern era. (The close-up shows the detail that goes into each tuft, and the multiple hues of blue in the design.)
My carpet is the “Marrakech Hand Tufted Spotted Moroccan Zigzag Shag Rug” that comes in blue or red, and various sizes (mine is 5 x 8′). It’s currently on sale at Rugs USA, if you’re looking for a great deal.
(It matches this sardine dish that my friends got for me in Portugal. I use it to hold the TV remote).
Rugs USA.com has thousands of chic carpets in all sizes and styles, from contemporary to old-school to funky. They carry most of their rugs in-house, which means they ship fast within the US and Canada (mine arrived in a week).
They’re a celebrated retailer, and I was pleased with their selection, prices, and customer service.
It’s a joy to sit on this lush carpet! You can see how the zigzag vertical lines draw one’s eye towards the view, and the light color makes the room look larger.
My windows provide plenty of sunlight for my snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata. This is “the” modernist plant, and it’s easy to keep (snake plants require little light and watering).
My Sansevieria sits in this magnificent orange Retro Bullet Planter, from Hip Haven!
Hip Haven is an Austin-based designer, creating home accessories and lights inspired by mid-century modernism. Everything is made in-house, with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship.
First manufactured in the 1950s, “bullet” style planters reflected the American fascination with the space age. Advancements in plastics also let designers create light, durable furniture with curves for the first time (such as my Eames chairs.)
Hip Haven pays homage to this timeless yet futuristic design, with a colorful curved planter nestled in a steel tripod stand. Doesn’t it look ready for take-off?
(My watering can is by Eero Aarnio, designer of the 1960s “ball chair” – another MCM masterpiece.)
I adore Hip Haven’s playful, contemporary twist on designs from the Atomic Age.
When you order a Retro Bullet Planter, you can customize the bowl color, stand height (16, 23, or 30 inches) and finish. (Mine is the medium size, in hot orange, with silver powder coat). They have a mini version of this planter as well (great for table plants), and other original home goods on their site.
I’m all for supporting independent designers with a heart, and Hip Haven is all of the above. The owner, Kelley Sandidge, founded her company out of her passion for mid-century modern decor.
She debuted the bullet planters to great acclaim, and now has expanded to decorative screen doors, fiberglass side chairs, lighting collections, and more. If you’re looking to spruce up your home with vintage-influenced accessories, give Hip Haven a look.
Hello, Brown bear from Line Friends! My Dutch designer friends MrMaria are responsible for this sweet lamp.
I have the Mr Maria Brown small lamp for reading and mood lighting. It uses fire-safe LEDs and has a dimmer, which lets me adjust the light depending on the situation.
And how can I resist their most iconic design, the Miffy XL lamp?
The MrMaria family includes an elephant, polar bear, smiley face, Japanese doll, and glowing white heart. When you order one from their site, you can select any type of voltage plug, and even pick up replacement modules.
Modern, minimal, “kawaii” cute… serving both form and function. No wonder Mr Maria is one of my favorite designers on the planet.
(In an upcoming post, I’ll show you my visit to their studio in Amsterdam.)
Many people overlook the bathroom as an area for interior decoration — but it has lots of creative potential. By choosing beautiful towels and bath accessories, you can elevate this utilitarian space.
I transformed a small bathroom with these luxurious towels by Australia’s Sunday Minx. As you can see, the colors are consistent with the rest of the apartment.
Believe me, these are not “regular” hand and bath towels. They feel like silky, fluffy clouds!
Sunday Minx exclusively uses 100% Turkish cotton with extra long natural fibers, which results in an incredibly soft, thick fabric. The long cotton loops are quick-drying and super absorbent, and the colors will last through time.
I was excited when I came across Sunday Minx’s towels. Their geometric patterns and colors add playful sophistication to a typically drab area of the home.
Sydney-based Brooke Rudzis founded Sunday Minx in 2015. This young label is gaining buzz worldwide for its bold prints and vibrant approach; everything is designed in Australia, and made in Europe.
My four towels are from their recent collection, inspired by the post-modernist designs of the Italian-based Memphis Movement. Sunday Minx encapsulates this non-conformist vibe with bright hues and geometric patterns.
Sunday Minx has just released the new Deco District collection: it’s Gatsby glamour meets tropical chic!
Think Art Deco motifs and beachside architecture. These soft towels convey the warm, retro glamour of Miami’s famous hotels.
Sunday Minx is a designer full of energy, and I can’t wait to see what they release next. You can pick up various sized towels, bundles, bathmats and more from their site.
(Also in my bathroom: cute mementos from my trips. The panda box from Hong Kong holds small toiletries. I got the cute sponge and soap dispenser from Japan, and my toothbrush holder is a Pompompurin cup from the Harajuku theme cafe.)
To the bedroom. I stuck to my color scheme and mid-century modern geometry, with luxury bed sheets from Allem Studio.
I always get a solid night’s sleep with plenty of lucid dreams, thanks to my natural memory foam mattress from Essentia.
Remember the Airportag travel pillows from the living room? I have them on the bed too. The “Boarding” and “On Time” flipboards have a 1950s-60s feel.
The shelf above the bed is basically a shrine to Miffy the bunny. There are also statues from the cat temples I visited in Tokyo, Japan.
You’ve probably noticed I have a thing for white-colored cute characters, depicted in minimal strokes. The San-X pig, Monokuro boo, and Scandinavia’s Moomin are two more examples. They look especially cuddly on my organic, top-end memory foam mattress from Essentia.
This fuzzy stuffed toy kitty is rather cute as well, no?
A Roadtrip in Remembrance of Rose. A beautiful BC Ferries trip to Sunshine Coast, Langdale, Sechelt.
As you may have seen on my social media, I recently lost a close friend — Rose Schwarz.
Many of you have followed our Gothic adventures over the years. Rose’s passion for life and artistic talent (especially her bold style) resonated with everyone who met her, or even just got to know her online.
This post is in tribute to Rose — but let’s not make it a sad one. We’ll dress up, have a road trip, visit her family, and marvel at her incredible collection of treasures ranging from freaky to kawaii. Life is short, so let’s live it as fiercely as she did! I can think of no better way to honor Rose’s spirit.
I’d like to first thank all of your for your kindness throughout Rose’s long battle. As you may have heard, Rose was battling undiagnosed Lyme disease, gastroparesis and resulting complications for over a decade. She was in constant pain, yet kept on fighting hard and looking to the future. Despite her family’s unwavering efforts to get her the best treatments and doctors, the disease had progressed too far. Rose passed away gracefully on Jan 11, 2017 at age 28.
I’m honored and grateful that I had Rose in my life. She inspired me to be myself to the fullest. She fearlessly expressed her passions, personality and creativity, regardless of what anyone else might think. Rose made friends everywhere she went; I’ve rarely seen such a magnetic, positive spirit. Above all, she was a wonderful friend to me, and I’ll miss her.
I know her parents well, and they put absolutely everything they had into Rose’s medical care. I’d love to help them get back on their feet again, after the loss of their only child.
● How you can support: You could donate directly to her family on Fundrazr. Alternately, I’d love to send you anything from my shop — come see my available items here and email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dot com), letting me know what you’d like. All proceeds this month will go direct to Rose’s family.
It’s a win-win — you get some fabulous fashion (I priced everything to clear!), and this will help them out enormously. You can browse my shop here and I’m happy to answer any questions.
As long-time readers know, I’ve had many incredible road trips with Rose over the years. We got in all sorts of shenanigans with like-minded, Gothic spirits! I know she’d want us to give her a send-off in the same fabulous style — so that’s what we did.
Rob and I are two of her best friends, and we met up to attend her celebration of life in Sechelt (on the Sunshine Coast, a 45 min ferry ride from Vancouver). It was an easy drive to Horseshoe Bay, the ferry terminal in West Vancouver. I hung an absinthe necklace from Rose on the rearview mirror; we played Garbage, Marilyn Manson and Sopor Aeternus CDs — and it was like old times.
I was excited to sail once again with BC Ferries. I don’t do enough exploring in my own backyard, yet there’s so much to see on the coast of British Columbia.
Rob and I had advance ticket reservations for the Langdale route, so we rolled right in to this scenic spot. (It’s easy to reserve on the BC Ferries site, and they have a lot of useful travel information). While we waited a short time for the ferry to open its gates, we took in views of the ocean — and snapped some photos of my Hello Kitty shoes. (I’m letting them go on my shop, with proceeds to Rose, in case you want to snatch them up!)
All aboard! This ferry is one of the smaller ones, but it has picture windows all around for stunning views of the Pacific Northwest coast and islands.
I can’t believe this was my first ferry ride to the Sunshine Coast. It’s only a 45 minutes journey: an easy day trip from Vancouver, and a way to escape the city and enjoy the wildlife.
Rose lived in Sechelt, and rode this ferry often. I felt like she was with us on the entire journey.
I’m wearing the pink feathered headband that Rose made for me — she was a natural talent at making accessories. My velvet body-con dress is by Black Milk — a bloody bleeding mummy design that she would have adored.
Rob and I went out onto the ferry deck. The view was mind-blowing (get it?). We’re lucky to live by the ocean, and surrounded by nature.
Tis a Pirate’s life for us! We enjoyed the ride so much that we’re already planning future getaways.
In April, BC Ferries is launching a new Salish Orca route from Powell River to Comox (from the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver Island) that sounds like a fun and scenic sail. The Salish vessels are also designed to reduce emissions, as they use either natural gas or ultra-low sulphur diesel.
Along the way, Rob and I reminisced about Rose. I’m glad I documented so many of her outfits, handmade accessories and makeup from these fun times.
I took a snap of Rob’s “Genuine Monster Parts” patch and spooky pins. Rose’s story is a sharp reminder to see your friends and family, and make good memories while you can.
My stylist, Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio, dyed my hair rose-colored in her honor. The undercut in the back is leopard print, as Rose used to do (see photo further down in this story). My bloody bandages dress is by Black Milk.
Getting close! We got back into the car, and drove off the BC ferry. Then it took about 30 minutes to reach Sechelt, where Rose and her family live.
I had never been to Sechelt, which has a population of 9000, and a peaceful hippie vibe. We stopped inside this Oracle store and browsed Buddha statues and tarot decks.
Many Vancouverites have vacation homes or summer cabins here. Even in February, the rocky beaches are some of the most beautiful in the region.
Secluded beaches and rugged coasts, framed by old-growth forests and the towering Coast Mountains — wow! We stopped to take in the panoramic ocean vistas.
This is Davis Bay: a long pebbled beach coastline with a wooden fishing pier jutting out from the shore.
We wandered down the wooden planks, towards the water. There was recently a lot of snow and rain, but the sun arrived for us.
Next to the pier, I noticed a statue of a fisherman casting a line. You’ll see lots of fishing boats around here year-round. In the summer, vacationers take part in kayaking, sailing, scuba and swimming.
There’s a reason they call this “Beautiful British Columbia.” I had also recently visited Victoria (on Vancouver Island) by ferry — here’s the post in case you missed it.
The blue sky blends into the mountains and ocean. It’s hard to make out where each one begins and ends.
The name “Sechelt” means “land between two waters” in the Coast Salish language. Double mind-blowing.
I asked for rose colored hair, to remember my friend. My stylist Stephanie Hoy at Sugar Skull Studio delivered.
She re-did my undercut… with leopard print spots, just like Rose used to rock! Stephanie buzzed off the lower layers, then painted the animal print pattern in blue and dark purple with her fingers.
Rose and I always loved funky, kawaii shoes (as you’ll see if you keep reading). She’d go crazy for these Sanrio booties.
Later that afternoon, Rob and I went to Rose’s celebration of life. The Sechelt community gathered to share slideshows, music and thoughts about her.
However, we first visited Rose’s parents at home to catch up in privately, and in person.
We arrived bearing Gothic red wine and roses. It was great to see her parents again, as we’ve known them for years. Around the home, they had framed photos of us and Rose.
Her parents had gone through the heartbreaking task of sorting out Rose’s belongings. I always knew Rose had a keen eye for collectables — but I was amazed by the mountain of cute Japanese stuffed animals! The lazy bear Rilakkuma is one of her favorite kawaii characters, as you can see. There’s also Doraemon and Disney’s Marie in there.
Rose had a knack for finding intriguing taxidermy online, and customising the pelts with her signature flair. Rob took home the taxidermy kitten and white mouse that she gave devil horns.
In the last few years, Rose was unfortunately unable to even leave her home, as she had gotten too sick.
However, she never lost her passion for vintage / Japanese / cute design. She surrounded herself with collectables that reflected her personality and made her smile. If you shake the table, these cat bobble-head dolls will nod their heads in agreement.
As you know from our outfit posts, Rose lived for fashion. She experimented and combined styles, and rocked them all — from sweet pastel Japanese Lolita, to punk corset deconstruction. Many of her accessories were DIY original pieces.
Rose’s dad built a rack to hold her clothes. I see rainbow unicorns, Goth horror stripes, and tops from her favorite Japanese underground labels Hellcatpunks and Sex Pot Revenge.
Her family will be selling her clothing, although it will take some time to figure out the best way. If you’d like to contact them about purchasing something that belonged to Rose, you’re welcome to via their Fundrazr (but please be patient, as it may take some time before they can properly list all the items).
I’m sure you will recognise the pink hat from our wine hotel trip (there’s also a photo at the end of this post).
Rose and I always bonded over our love of cute meets Gothic fashion. Those cat shoes were tempting, but I ended up with the unicorn slippers instead.
There were tables upon tables of her belongings… in this Instagram video, you can see everything from antique bunnies to Sailor Moon jewellery.
Rose was fond of taxidermy — her interests and hobbies were wide ranging. She typically put a whimsical twist on them, such as the Cracker Jack box the paws.
When it came to retro kitsch, Rose knew her stuff. She had My Little Ponies from the 1980s, and this obscure Rainbow Brite plush cat from 1983!
I could imagine Rose having a successful online shop, or curating vintage, or designing… so many possibilities, if only she had time.
Rob holds up a 1960s Rushton rubber face doll. Hard to believe that children would have these in their rooms! The demented panda would give me nightmares… I’ll stick to Miffy.
Rose was motivated, intelligent, talented… there was so much she wanted to do, and would have excelled at. She did well in both arts and sciences, and dreamed of studying forensic pathology. She and I made plans to visit Japan and other destinations worldwide, but she never got the chance.
It’s tragic that her Lyme disease went undiagnosed, and I hope we can increase awareness so that others don’t slip through the cracks. I encourage you to learn more here about Lyme’s cause and symptoms, and the ways that we can help those who are suffering.
I hope you might consider helping out Rose’s family — this month, ALL proceeds from my clothing sale goes to them. (It’s also possible to make a contribution to her fund.)
1) Browse the available items in my store here, and email me (gothiccarmina att gmail dot com) letting me know what you’d like. No need to use the app, you can simply tell me what interests you.
2) I’ll send you a care package, and funds go direct to Rose’s family. I have cute accessories, makeup, clothing, Lolita dresses, scarves and much more. Thank you everyone for your kindness
I’ll leave you with dozens of old photos of Rose, which I uploaded to this Facebook album. I’ve changed a lot over the years, but she’ll continue to be one of my dearest friends, and inspire me for the rest of my life.
The last words go to Rob: “Rose was my sister and even when things were getting worse, I never thought she wouldn’t be there. Now that she’s gone, I’ve lost a small piece of myself. All I can really say is: I miss my friend.”
Thank you for reading, and lots of hugs.
Sailing with BC Ferries from Vancouver to Victoria! Chinti & Parker Miffy, Vysen Eyewear, Devilish 666.
Ahoy from British Columbia, Canada!
Although I’ve been to beautiful destinations around the world, it’s hard to surpass my home province in the summertime. Vancouver and its surrounding islands are paradise this time of the year: the perfect weather for whale watching and lazing on the beach.
I’ve been feeling the urge to sail away… So I booked a weekend getaway to Victoria, on BC Ferries! This popular ferry runs between various points on the coast and Vancouver Island.
As you know, I’m mad about Miffy, and even made a journey to her Nijntje Museum in the Netherlands. Chinti and Parker (the luxury ready to wear label) teamed up with Miffy on a capsule line. They’ve released the softest cotton shirts and cashmere sweaters, emblazoned with the X-mouthed bunny.
BC Ferries has frequent sailings between Vancouver to Victoria (and other parts of the island). I recommend making a reservation on their website so that you can walk or drive your car right on board.
Then, you can relax and enjoy the peaceful 1.5 hour ride, with some of the best scenery on the planet.
The ferry ride is pure enjoyment. Many passengers grabbed coffee and sandwiches from the on-board cafe (including selections from the much-loved restaurant White Spot). Then they stepped out onto the long wrap-around deck, and basked in the sun and Pacific Ocean views.
For the occasion, I dressed in Goth sailor style. My sunglasses are from Vysen Eyewear, a young label that creates modern-meets-retro designs with Italian craftsmanship. I’m wearing the Aviva Polarized frames: these lavender shades match my hair.
● My nautical stripes matched with the “Spirit of British Columbia: Victoria” lifesaver.
● The black pencil skirt is by my friend Erbert Chong, a talented young designer on the rise. He’s showing his collection at Paris Fashion Week on September 24.
● These unique high-heeled sandals are by Le Babe of Italy.
● Is there a ghost pirate ship in the waters? It looks like a bony skeleton hand grabbing my leg! This spook-tacular clear anklet is from Devilish 666. They carry devilishly dark chokers, harnesses and other nu Goth accessories.
Back inside the vessel, I relaxed in the BC Ferries Seawest Lounge. For $12, you get unlimited drinks and snacks, and can choose from a selection of newspapers and magazines. Best of all, you can enjoy the coastal views in a private, quiet space.
I curled up in my lounge chair, and watched Pacific Northwest islands float by. An announcement came over the speakers: there were whales outside! I didn’t manage to get a photo of the creatures, but saw them playing in these waters.
(If you enjoy my outfits, I welcome you to check out my wardrobe sale here. I’m selling a lot of my clothes at low prices!)
My Chinti and Parker x Miffy top has a Sailor Moon meets nautical vibe. How cute is the bunny, resting on a yellow crescent moon and surrounded by stars?
This label has a cat and stripes version of this shirt too, and more adorable fashion below:
In an hour and a half, the ferry docked in Swartz Bay. Time to explore Victoria, the capital of British Columbia and largest city on the island.
Tourists tend to see Butchart Gardens and the Parliament buildings (I went to all these places as a child). However, my friends and I prefer to enjoy the beaches and natural beauty of Victoria. There’s a hippie, laid-back feeling here that reminds me of northern California.
I headed south to Cordova Bay, located less than a 20 minutes drive from the ferry terminal.
I arrived at a warm, sand and pebble beach framed by cottages and cute restaurants. This is a local’s destination; you won’t find it crowded with tourists.
I tied back my hair with this “monstrous” black bow with a zombie eye, by Devilish 666.
Devilish makes this fetish-style Gothic choker as well, which is my current favorite. My berry lip gloss is this one by Anastasia Beverly Hills.
Grab some ice cream, go for a canoe ride, get drinks on the patio… this is how Vancouver Island shines in the summer.
If you’re in Vancouver, don’t miss out on Victoria and its surroundings. You can even ride BC Ferries to/from the mainland on the same day, for an easy getaway.
A sailor’s salute to BC Ferries for the joyful experience. Their fleet is spacious and reliable, and there’s so much to see and do that you might not want the ride to end!
(I recommend booking in advance on the BC Ferries website, which also has plenty of helpful travel info, packages and even gift certificates).
I’ll end with some bonus summer photos from Vancouver. I met up with my friend Mujitsu to explore the Powell Street Festival, which celebrates Japanese food and heritage.
Did you know there were summer attractions like these in Vancouver and Victoria? I hope you’ll visit BC, and pose with this fortune cat for yourself! (Above two photos by Daniel Wennerholm.)
Have you been enjoying the summer months? Did you travel anywhere, or do something special?
PS: I’ve been adding more videos to my Instagram, which are found nowhere else. You can see them at username @lacarmina.
It’s no secret that I’m a cat-lady… so I might as well dress like one! I hope you enjoy this CatWoman-style photoshoot, taken right before New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn, NY.
To further this theme, I’ll review Catfé: the newly opened Vancouver cat cafe that encourages adopting animals in need.
My photographer Joey Wong and I were in New York right at the end of 2015. I was staying at my favorite spot, NU Hotel in Brookyn (near Hoyt St station, right across the water).
We felt energized by the street art and brownstones around us, and wanted to shoot images that reflected the feeling of Brooklyn. Read on for a breakdown of my outfit, and where to get these items.
Cats are fuzzy… so I wore my new faux fur coat, from Pretty Attitude! It’s animal-friendly, and has a striking ombre fade from black to lavender-grey. Perfect for a pastel Goth look.
Here’s a similar ombre faux fur jacket, and more selections below — I love this style. Click to shop:
Cat-Woman, head to toe. My black heels with silver chain detail are by Michael Kors, who makes these exact same shoes in an ankle boot version too.
These types of shoes are a worthwhile purchase, since they are versatile for all types of outfits.
My stretchy, cut-out bodysuit is by Black Milk Clothing, one of my favorite alternative fashion brands. Once again, this is an item that you can dress up or layer in a variety of ways.
I may not have claws, but I have appropriately feline mittens from Hong Kong!
You won’t be able to find these online, as they are sold only in Asia. But Karl Lagerfeld makes cat face gloves that are just as adorable.
I’m sure you are curious about my necklace: it’s from Maison Birks. I got it in the 1990s, rediscovered it recently — and still love it. Plus, the silver dangling pendant looks like a subtle version of a BDSM slave collar…
Three cheers for my hair stylist and colorist, Stephanie Hoy. She’s the best in the business for alternative cuts, vivid dyes, editorial styling and more. You can make an appointment with her at Stratosphere Hair Salon at Granville and Davie, in downtown Vancouver.
I think Joey Wong nailed the mood of the neighborhood, in his images. In the background, you can see ‘Love Letter to Brooklyn‘, a series of quotes painted by Stephen Powers.
My tight black pants are by Armani, who makes these leather leggings too.
Dreaming that I live in one of these brownstone apartments…
… and ready to pounce. This eclectic street art is part of the Groundswell Community Mural Project.
What do you think of my DIY Cat-Woman outfit? Find the same or similar fashion items, by clicking below:
And now, a different type of meow! I was excited to visit Catfé, the first cat cafe to open in Vancouver, Canada.
Anyone can come to drink tea and play with kitties. Plus, you’ll be supporting a great cause — all the resident felines are from SPCA shelters, and available to adopt.
Cat cafes originally started as a novelty in Japan, but they found a passionate clientele (especially among people who cannot keep pets at homes, or couples looking for a fun date activity). Now, these cafes are found worldwide.
Catfe is located inside downtown Vancouver’s International Village Mall, above the Starbucks. (Address: Shop 2035, 88 W Pender St, Vancouver, Canada). There’s free parking in the lower levels.
Visitors can make advance reservations through their site to guarantee entry, or drop-in at any time if there’s space.
I liked the cafe’s bright, minimal design incorporating wood and glass. First, I went through the doors on left to pick up drinks and snacks. The cute cupcakes with cat-faced fondant were irresistible.
Then, I entered the glass doors on the right — this is the area that contains the cats. Usually, there are about six of them roaming around.
Catfe’s owner, Michelle Furbacher, warmly greeted me. She told me spent years researching cat cafes and visiting existing ones, including Oakland Cat Town (where I shot an ABC Nightline segment).
Like the Oakland cafe, Catfe has the meaningful goal of encouraging adoptions. All of the fuzzy residents are from the SPCA; many came down from shelters in less populated areas, such as northern British Columbia.
Many visitors come here to play with the kitties, and end up connecting with one of them. The re-homing has been so successful that the cafe had to bring in new cats at a rapid rate!
We couldn’t resist getting these chocolate cat-face cake pops, which were scrumptious. (Although we felt bad biting into the smiling face.)
We spent over an hour at the cafe, petting the cats and amusing them with the toys provided.
We also played the funny Exploding Kittens card game (highly recommended), and browsed the cat-themed merchandise on the shelves.
The space holds about 18 people, and the staff make sures that the cats never feel overwhelmed. High open ceilings, big windows and platform shelving: the ideal environment for cats to enjoy.
So much fun interacting with the sweet cats. You’re allowed to take photos, as long as they are without flash.
Best of all, we knew we were supporting a great cause: Catfe doubles as a foster home, and gives back to animal charities. Now that is the cat’s meow!
If you’re in Vancouver and looking for a cute alternative activity, come to this cat cafe with a heart.
And why not dress up as a pussy-cat too? Rowr!
Here’s a full-body shot of my Cat-Lady outfit again, featuring faux fur, pointed ears and a skin-tight black bodysuit.
Shop my look at:
More photos from NYC to come, including a Goth party and visit to the Morbid Anatomy Museum.
But wait — how could I write about cats without including my Scottish Fold baby, Basil Farrow? I’ll let his sweet round face wrap up this post!
(Enjoy more photos on my social networks @lacarmina, linked on the right top sidebar of this blog.)