Friday, 29 January 2016

Curating Your Space

Image from

Goodbye, jungle house. So long, hoarded items. Hello, empty space! For years, a plot to get my own place was in the works - mostly out of desperation given that there was a lack of funds. Moreover, my cousin and I had been devising ways for me to be closer to her and to my favourite eateries. Prayers were answered with a financially feasible solution - finally! I mean, I have to go where the job is, right? In this post, I'm sharing the process and tips I found useful when decorating my dated but "new" apartment, but here's a link to a check sheet I made when I was on the hunt for a place to rent. I would also recommend printing off a copy of the actual listing when comparing apartments. 

After having gone through multiple listings, I opted for a place closest to work, had ample space for the cost, and had easy access to public transportation. I cried on the first night of possession. Perhaps it was because the air mattress was an uncomfortable blob as I stupidly forgot to charge the inflator. Perhaps I was overwhelmed with how drastically my life was changing. Perhaps it was because I was surrounded by cardboard boxes and the smell left by the previous tenants, and there was no sense of familiarity. I couldn't have that. So I devised a systematic method to conscientiously fill my space with character. 

1// Establish a budget
It's a no-brainer, but it's so very easy to get carried away. 

2// Shop around and compare
As with most people, IKEA is a great place to start when it comes to furnishing your first space. They're affordable, easy to assemble, the packaging is compact, and they're generally lighter than comparable items. However, I still want to interject it with home items from other places, and the Internet has made it a far less daunting task. Don't discredit the value of finding things the old-fashioned way. I was able to find the best deals, on high-ticket items, by rifling through the flyers.

3// Create a virtual space
You don't even have to be CAD-savvy to do this. I just copy-and-pasted images onto a PowerPoint slide and arranged them roughly how it would look in my space.

4// Have a shopping list handy
Shopping for furniture is already stressful as is. Having a shopping list handy will help you stay on budget, and it makes it easier to locate the items you're looking for. Aside from your furniture basics, what did I absolutely have to have? Candles, coasters, couch cushions, and a tufted headboard. At least, that was what I felt I needed in order to feel like a sophisticated adult. Furthermore, cushions covers are a great place to start for a simple sewing project. Easily update old cushions with covers either as an envelope or zipped to compliment your aesthetic

5// Make it a slow, intentional process
I spent weeks, prior to my possession date, planning out my furnishings, and it's still a process to this day. By building it up in increments, it allows you to curate your space that reflects your personality.

Thrifty Finds

Second-hand stores are great places to start looking for small furnishing items. Here are some of my favourite nabs from the thrift store!

Glass Hurricane, $3

They're incredibly versatile when it comes to changing up your decor. You can fill them with rocks/ beans/ candy/ whatever, place a candle in it, or use it as a vase for freshly cut flowers. 

Mug, $1/ pc

The tower of mugs is probably my favourite section in the store. There are so many colours and styles to choose from (these powder blue Corelle ones, for instance). Sometimes, you can find the the same one in multiples. Alternatively, you an create a kitschy vibe by buying an array of different mugs, and you can maintain a sense of cohesiveness by sticking with like colours.

Canvas Art, $3

It was only $3. 'Nuff said.
Bonus: I found this polka-dotted Tommy Hilfiger blazer for $15. I just have to take it in the sides and back for a better fit. 

Mirror, $5

This accent mirror can be hung on the straight or on the corner, and I'm drawn to the metallic frame. To my dismay yet unfazed by my clumsiness, I swung my arm in such a way that catapulted it from its nail and broke. Not the glass. Just the frame. I'm bad luck enough as is. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Rug, $7

It's reversible! I did, however, initially mistaken it for a blanket.

Wall Hook, $5/ pc

Although not a thrift store find, I still got a most excellent deal on these wall hooks. Frustrated with having to untangle all of my necklaces, and having forgotten to pack my wall hooks from home, I went to hunt for some at Anthropolgie. Initially, I picked one up for $28, but then I made my way over to the sale table to find these perforated metal ones. They only cost me $10 for both (with the additional 40% off) after taxes! Self high-five indeed. I opted for the copper ones, but they also came in silver and gold. You can also find neat wall hooks at Steeling Home. I came across them by chance because a man was following me, my cousin, and my sister, so we ducked into the nearest store.

Creating a comfy space is an intimate process, so languor in the journey, and make it your own!

xo Ann

Friday, 22 January 2016

A Speaking Canvas

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a canvas that captures the heart of words?

Since last November, I've re-adopted my interest in painting. I say "re" because I use to take art lessons and painting throughout grade school for academics and leisure. In my university years, I didn't have time to personally invest in my artistic side aside from the required art/design electives I had to take for my program. So with utmost joy, I can say that I'm delighted to pick up painting again because it's very therapeutic (like adult colouring books), helps me to meditate on a quote or verse, and also makes for a fabulous gift giving idea while exercising my creativity.

I consider myself an entry level painter so I didn't want to invest in anything fancy when I start. All the materials and supplies I used can be picked up at your handy dollar store or at Michaels, but if you are looking for something of better quality then select the latter. Michaels sells canvases in bulk (with a range of sizes) and has a wide selection of paint, brushes and tools. Don't forget to download their 40% coupon before making your purchase! I got my easel for Christmas, but that you can find there as well. It helps aid with my poor posture, and it stabilizes your canvas. Painting on the floor is not something I would recommend based on my own experience.


  • Paintbrushes
  • Canvas
  • Acrylic or watercolour paint
  • Cardboard lid/box as a palette
  • Water
  • Easel (optional)
  • Paper & pencil


1. I almost always start with a quote I want to capture and draft it on paper of how I want it to look-the colours, orientation, style of writing, spacing, and decorative aspects. If I have a theme in mind, I will play with it until I find something that works with my aesthetic.

2. Next I paint my background. I usually enjoy the time it takes to mix my own colours as opposed from using it straight out of the bottle. Make sure you mix enough for the size of the canvas you are using. In this case, more is better as it will be harder to mix the exact same shade when you need more paint.

3. Once the background dries, I paint the decorative motifs. If the elements are outside the quote, its best to do this first prior to the quote itself to make sure you allot enough space for all of it to fit.

4. With a wet brush, I sketch out the placement of my quote. This allows me to see if the quote will fit, how it will be positioned, and if I need to make any adjustments without ruining the other elements I've painted.

4. The first time around, I tend to go slow and with a light hand in case I make a mistake.

5. After going over the words 2-3 times, depending on how intense you want it, I usually decide at this point if I need to add anything else to the canvas to fill up the negative space. I like my canvases simple in order to draw focus to the verse I'm capturing. But as you can see here, I added more feathers and colouring to bring out more details while maintaining a consistent motif.

6. Let your canvas dry and voila! I like to date the back of my canvas and write a personalized message if I am giving the canvas away.

Making a canvas is a wonderful hobby to do for yourself, but it's also a fabulous social event too. So be sure to call up some friends the next time you plan to do some painting!

xo Sarah

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Tuesday Thoughts: Reflections & Resolutions


Unlike prior "new" years, where I make ambitious categorized goals such as fitness and health regimes, intentionality in my faith, relationship-building with family and friends, and expanding skill sets and interests, this year is quite the opposite. Instead, I'm drawn to have a year summed up in rest, peace, and nothing short of expectations - without having to write them down. I simply want to embrace this year as it unfolds and accept the journey for what it is rather than make it into something I want it to be.

2015 was a very driven year for me. Being a lead representative in different ministries, challenged out of my comfort zone, accepting broken parts of my life that needed mindful healing, and opening myself up to new perspectives, there isn't find a single word to encapsulate all this. But in summation, I definitely learned to let go of the need to control, to release the yearning on how I envision my life to be, and accept it for what it is.

Having said that, I think twelve months is not long enough to assess whether or not I've achieve everything in 2015, so I think many items will overflow into this year as it progresses. As a person directed by emotions, thus, sometimes guilty of making emotional decisions, I hope to be more mindful of who I am and what I decide to do. Sometimes I can get caught up in what society or others want of me rather than being true to myself, so I think this will continually bring forth obstacles for me to navigate through. No pain no gain, right?

So besides just taking it easy and making myself seem without specific goals, I know there will be experiences I want to jump on, ideas I want to bloom, and passions I want to engage in as time passes. I guess you and I will just have to wait and find out what those are.

Cheers to 2016!

xo Sarah

Friday, 15 January 2016

Wearing Yellow

Image on Tumblr

One of my best buddies, Lauren, has done it again with great ideas for posts! She suggested I write one on how to wear yellow for Asian skin tones. I suppose with having yellow undertones, there may be a slight hesitation in wearing such a colour for fear of bringing out that warm hue. That seems to be the case when picking out a red lipstick. You want to find one with cool undertones so as not to bring out the yellow of your teeth. For a while, I did feel wary about wearing yellow, but I just loved how the colour could stir a peppier feeling. There's just a spring in one's step when you're a walking clump of sunshine - particularly in the winter time!

Although mustard is the easiest type of yellow to wear, it doesn't have to be just that. We've got bright yellow, pastel yellow, fluorescent yellow, chartreuse, yellow of the slightly burnished variety, and more. Whatever yellow you choose, you just have to wear it with gusto!

I would suggest starting small with accessories, a bag, or a pair of shoes. Once you become more comfortable with it, you can start adding separates into your wardrobe. I'm pretty sure I have enough to make an entirely yellow outfit of the most ridiculous nature. Playing it down with neutrals, greys especially, will help to make the colour more "wearable". But if you want to go big, shine on (although I think my pasty legs are the standouts here)!

If you haven't done so already, perhaps this is a way for you to try something new for the new year. Now go forth and beam in yellow!

(Photo Credits: Kimmie Hoang)

xo Ann

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Tuesday Thoughts: Reflections & Resolutions

2015 was a year of major overhaul. There were some bold changes in my life both awful and exciting. It tested me intensely as I wanted to have my life figured out, to continually progress, and not be in a state of prolonged stagnation.

But that wasn't written in my books.

1.5 years post-graduation was spent job-searching with almost 40 applications sent resulting in 5 interviews. Hope was strained and the desire to continue searching was dwindling fast. The icing on the cake was having to terminate a four-year relationship of which I thought marriage was to be the natural course of action. But alas, it was not so!

Those were the nasty challenges that left me rather... bamboozled.

It has been a couple months since I've moved to a new city for work - and even one in my field thanks to the kind recommendations from my professors. When I tell people I've moved here for work, they express their surprise that I can even find a job in this sordid economy.

Along with that, I've had to find a place to live, budget my expenses so as to be able to make the rent and pay the bills and student loans, navigate the city, and apparently learn how to exit a bus. The back door requires that you manually open it unlike the ones in Edmonton. So I stood there, looking like an utter fool, asking the bus driver three times to open the back door. A swarm of people were filing in, and I ended up shuffling upstream to get out. It was a stupid incident, but I learned from it at the cost of a slightly bruised pride. Nevertheless, I've been yearning to move to a new city, and I have family and new friends for support here. I also can now decorate my space however I want, and trust me, it will be bloody colourful.

I've also been challenged to be content with being on my own. I suppose I've been known for moving on from one relationship to another without giving myself enough time to heal from the previous one. It has been months since, and this has made me come to terms with the fact that there were other relationships I should have strengthened, to really find out about who I am for myself and not what someone claims me to be, and to reassess what's truly important to me. I should also take my sister's advice and allot the time I would have spent lamenting and learn a new skill instead. That would probably be cooking. I'm no where near as crafted as my mom.

As such, this year's resolution involves me to be more vigilant with establishing boundaries in order to preserve my mental health. So here's to a year of being myself, being okay by myself, and improving on my cooking skills!

xo Ann

Friday, 8 January 2016


Early December, I was able to partake in an event I've been following for a while now. With a focus on local designers and a heart to support and uplift the artistic community, the PARK Show featured values that aligned with those of my own.

For those of you who haven't been acquainted with PARK, it stands for Promoting Artists Redefining Kulture and is a non-profit organization that helps growing artists build their businesses and gain exposure to a wider community. The PARK Show is an annual event that showcases young and upcoming entrepreneurs that consists of a fashion show and popup shop.  Founded in Calgary, the group has now taken the show to Edmonton to connect with our greater community of local businesses, designers, and bloggers.

For the second time now, the show was hosted at West Edmonton Mall, and this time in the vacant Target space. The space was transformed into an enchanted forest by the talent of Cory Christopher. An astounding inverted tiers of hanging branches stands as the focal point while the wintery trees surround the runway. The atmosphere was well-seasoned, buzzing with conversation, and interactive. There was a Bumble and Bumble hair station, treats from BLVD and North 53, and a drinks bar and lounge space available before and after the show. Attendees were gathered in fashionable groups and revelled throughout the night.

From a planning perspective, I thought the PARK team did a marvelous job including he staging and organization of the show, the arrangement of gift bags (lots of awesome swag from that night for the VIP), and the collaboration with sponsors and local businesses. I had a splendid time from beginning to end. If you have yet to see one, I highly recommend attending a PARK Show and supporting this remarkable organization!

To find out more about PARK and what they do, check out their website.

xo Sarah

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Tuesday Thoughts: Reflections & Resolutions

Seeing as the new year has begun it is inevitable that most of us have created new resolutions for the next 12 months. Stay tuned for reflections and resolutions from each of us throughout the Tuesday's of this month.

Although I'm not a strong believer in resolutions, I must say making lists and setting goals are the best way to find self accomplishment. 2015 for me was filled with an abundance of memorable moments where I found myself building greater friendships, fueling my passion for blogging, and attending a number of concerts. 

In 2016 one of my major goals is to downsize my wardrobe. This may be the most daunting tasks to someone who loves to shop as much as I do, but over the past few months I have felt this is necessary. After reading a few blog posts about capsule wardrobes and decluttering, I've found myself with a new mindset and questioning why I need to own so much. I want to challenge myself to live with less because someone out there needs it more than I do.

Along the way I hope at the end of the year I can look back and check off at least one of these items:
- Drink more water
- Read more books
- Meet new people

xo Steph

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye 2015

Well 2015 is officially over; with a fresh year beginning we are looking back at the great moments of the previous year. Developing this blog over the past year has allowed us to share our passions and create Meraki moments. Not only did launching this blog present a variety of opportunities, but also developed a greater connection within our friendship. We welcome 2016 with open arms to embrace new adventures and connections!

xo Meraki Connexion