DENY Designs: Making Masterpieces of the Mundane

My darling friend Julie recently introduced me to DENY Designs.  If my description of poor Jules sounds somewhat flippant, it’s because it is.  Not because Julie isn’t, in fact, darling (she is), but because this website is AMAZING, and I thereby blame her for my new found desire to redecorate my entire house and the damage to my bank account that will undoubtedly ensue.  So thanks, Julie, both sarcastically and genuinely, from the bottom of my soon-to-be-even-poorer heart.

DENY describes itself as a “modern, think-outside-the-box home furnishings company.”   The concept: transfer unique and original works of art onto everyday household accessories, turning something as mundane as a shower curtain into show stopping statement piece.  Although also offering the option of transferring your own personal images, the artwork featured in the DENY Art Gallery is infinitely cooler than anything I could ever design myself.  Plus, the artist behind the design earns a part of the proceeds from every purchase from the Gallery and has the opportunity to have their work featured in homes around the globe.  Feel good arts community promotion aside, this stuff is just plain awesome.

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Go Eat: Seven Lives Tacos

Torontonians are being absolutely bombarded with tacos left, right and centre. Everyone claims theirs to be the best – some are truly authentic (Playa Cabana!), some are fusion (Swish by Han, Banh Mi Boys), some new shops are restaurateurs pairing up delicious new-age tacos with bourbon and yummy cocktails (Grand Electric and La Carnita). I’m the first to admit that I’m fully on board the taco train and have crossed the city to wait in (stupid) lines to try the next hottest and most coveted taco. While I believe a Taco Battle Review is in the works for an upcoming post (right, Kelly?!), I thought it couldn’t hurt to draw your attention to the latest contender.

I heard about Seven Lives through twitter, and although only open for about 2 weeks, the hype was already high. Hidden in the Latin American food court on the west side of Augusta, Seven Lives tacos are made in SoCal and Tijuana style. Seven Lives is not a traditional sit-down restaurant; there are only a few bar stools near the grill if you want to eat in. I was there right before close on a weekday night and was lucky enough to score a seat, but I can imagine that when they are busy (weekends), most patrons would be grabbing their tacos to go and eating them nearby. Kensington Park is steps away and would be perfect.

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Wood, White & Whiskey: Best of Ikea 2013

I’m thirty years old.  I own a house and a car.  I completed my undergraduate degree seven years ago.  Yet I still pour over a new Ikea catalogue like it’s the September edition of Vogue.  It’s cheap, generic and doesn’t last, and for all those reasons, I think it’s awesome.  As a chronic redecorator (and someone who has moved 3 times in the last 3 years) I appreciate that Ikea helps me customize and update each space without breaking the bank.  I also love the “hackability” of Ikea furniture (if you’re not already familiar with Ikea Hackers, you have to check it out) and the wide range of creative storage solutions.

The Ikea 2013 catalogue was recently released and my local Ikea has already been totally revamped to feature new products and put a fresh face on classic pieces.  Here are some of my favourites for 2013:

1) Raskog kitchen trolley $69.99 – This has to be my favourite new addition.  The turquoise is perfectly retro and is just screaming “turn me into me a bar cart!!!”

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Listen: Polaris Music Prize Winner and Nominees

The Polaris Music Prize has established itself as a credible and prestigious award in the Canadian music scene over the past few years. Founded by a former A&R Executive at a major record label, the Board at Polaris is made up of 7 respectable figures from various facets of the music industry (think journalists, PR, musicians, record labels and business execs), who pick the 200 jury members to vote on the Canadian album of the year.

The end of summer for me is often marked by the first announcement of the long list of nominees, followed shortly thereafter by the short list of nominees announced as contenders for the (arguably) coveted Polaris Music Prize. The prize is $30,000, which to some past winners (think Arcade Fire winning for The Suburbs in 2011) has been a gaffe of sorts, but for bands such as Karkwa and Fucked Up (winning in 2009 and 2010, respectively) this prize can bring them both funding for follow-up recordings and exposure to a mainstream audience.

Last night the Polaris Music Prize’s Gala Event took place at Toronto’s Masonic Temple. The twittersphere was on fire as those lucky enough to be invited to the event described the beauty of the performances by this year’s nominees. Listening in to the broadcast over the internet on CBC Radio 3 was the only way for the general public to get in on the fun (which can now be downloaded!!).

The 2012 winner of the Polaris Music Prize was announced at the end of the evening: Feist, for her album Metals. This win came as a surprise to many, including myself.  Although I had been rooting for Grimes or Japandroids – my two favorite Canadian albums of the year, I adore this part of her acceptance speech: “Winning the Polaris tonight is a bit like getting a Valentine from the right boy in school,” she said. “It just has a sense of being small and personal and quaint and real and rooted.” In light of Feist’s win, I”ll surely take some time today to re-listen to Metals with an open mind.

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Fall Goal: Fatness to Fitness

The gym.  It’s a place I vaguely remember attending a handful of times this summer when I had nothing but free time on my hands.  Now that I’m back at work I’m finding it nearly impossible to make exercise a priority, but the dropping temperatures and return of skinny jeans is necessitating a serious change in priorities. Enter lofty fitness goals that would typically be doomed to failure at the implementation stage.  If you’re anything like me in this regard, there are a couple of new smart phone apps out there that can help keep you on track.  And as an added bonus, I’ll introduce you to the magical blue ball that will help ease the pain when you put your atrophied muscles back to work.

First up, Gym-Pact.  This app lets you earn money for meeting your weekly fitness goals and fines you for each workout you miss .  Sign up with your credit card, make a pact of how many days you’ll work out per week, set the stakes of how much you’ll pay for each missed workout, check-in on your smart phone when you arrive at the gym/yoga studio/swimming pool/etc. and check out when you leave.  If you spend at least 30 minutes working out, the session counts towards your weekly goal. If you meet your goal, you profit, if you don’t, the collected fines get paid out to those who did.  The rewards and losses are generally relatively small, but if meeting your fitness goals also means paying for your weekly lattes, all the better!  The one major downside to Gym-Pact – that the check in function means you’re married to a verified facility – has recently been remedied by way of a partnership with RunKeeper.  Use RunKeeper to track your runs, walks, bike rides, hikes, ski runs, and more using the GPS in your smart phone.  Simply integrate RunKeeper with Gym-Pact, set your goals, and start making money off of other people’s fitness failures.

Here’s a sample screen shot:

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