WHO IS
ARLETTE?

March

29

The Return to #WMCFW (or The Tale of Mother Guilt)


Although there’s much cause for celebration when a child enters one’s world, there’s also the reminder of the things one must oftentimes give up (or put aside temporarily) to assume their parental role. In between caring for a newborn, guiding a teenager and being a supportive wife, I’ve tried my best not to lose sight of my own wants and needs and have sought to strike that elusive “balance” that women often make mention of in conversation: that ‘One Woman Show’ magic act titled The Tale of Mother Guilt.

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My balance, unfortunately, doesn’t come courtesy of the ‘Nanny-All-Day’ brigade the way many celebrity mompreneurs rely on their Mary Poppins to keep their tykes in “joie de vivre” bliss as they go on to build empires (my Playdate Platinum card sadly cannot seem to cover the premium portion of that membership). But regardless of the logistics, I count myself blessed to have an ally who understands my need for a “time-out” every once in while so that I may go feed my curiosity and creativity and come back stronger and better for it. World MasterCard Fashion Week ended yesterday and although this was only my second season, I was thrilled to return to the tents, especially now that proximity and time off work are no longer an issue.

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I’ve been paying close attention to the happenings of Canadian fashion for years: from the reception of new collections, to the newly heralded kings and queens of the catwalk, all the way to the street style darlings who keep us running reblog marathons on Tumblr. But above all, what keeps me engaged (other than each designer’s inventive runway take) is the “observation study”: the plethora of styles, faces and candid moments and realizing the irony of it all: despite the aura surrounding that world and the bravado scrawled across many faces, all who are present appear far more like school-aged children on their first day of grade school than fully assured adults.

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There is a sense of hesitation, of fascination: first, with others, and then, with this specific moment in time as publicists run around seating VIPs, industry insiders and sponsors, photographers congregate to the pit and guests pile in to fill a space to the brim. All this energy builds up, hangs in the air and keeps us guessing as to what we’ll be witnessing in the coming minutes; observers become observees. But then the lights go down, the musical notes rise and all eyes collectively transfix that shiny catwalk, where for less than a dozen minutes, hopes and dreams of speed, shock and self will take flight…crash…die…and be reborn.

In that moment, the cool kids, the misfits, the high society priests, the rebellious convention knockers, the money makers, the broke hustlers all mesh, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and social economic status — fashion is the one and only definitive thread running through each one of our stories.

Wake up kids
We’ve got the dreamers disease
Age 14 we got you down on your knees
So polite, you’re busy still saying please
Frenemies, who when you’re down ain’t your friend
Every night we smash their Mercedes-Benz
First we run and then we laugh till we cry
But when the night is falling
and you cannot find the light
If you feel your dream is dying
Hold tight
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget you only get what you give
Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile
were flat broke but hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God’s flying in for your trial

This whole damn world can fall apart
You’ll be OK, follow your heart
You’re in harm’s way
I’m right behind
Now say you’re mine

Fly high
What’s real can’t die
You only get what you give
Just don’t be afraid to leave
Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they’re multiplying
Fashion mag shoots
with the aid of 8 dust brothers Beck, Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You’re all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We’ll kick your ass in!
Don’t let go
One dance left

– You Get What You Give (New Radicals) –

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 Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: C. ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

March

09

(What’s the Story) Mommy Glory?


Here’s my statement of the day: I’m LOVING maternity leave – it’s the business, son! What’s not to love about having days to yourself in the presence of a little one who stares at you adoringly, coos joyously, burps (or farts!) loudly in ways that prompt you to laugh or feel embarrassed, and relies on you so completely and without reserve that you could never imagine not loving them wholly? To me, that’s what motherhood is all about and it’s a role I feel at home in, no matter how the world chooses to rate a mother’s contribution to society. Since leaving Ottawa, my daytime party of two with Miss Sophia has grown into a ride-or-die trio with hubby on weekdays and further grows into a Quatro Dynamo with The Kid on the weekends. We fill our journées with play time, scheduled naps, breakfasts, lunches or dinners out on the town, shopping, museum visits, IRL dates with social media friends, IG moments, and when the day finally wounds down, evening events or intense catch-up work for Mommy and Daddy once la princessa has succumbed to slumber.

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The 2001 “New Mommy” I was then didn’t jive well with maternity leave: the days seemed to go as fast as a snail running a marathon. The solitude, coupled with the sudden slowdown in pace, lack of sleep and demands of a little person whose needs I couldn’t decipher without words, drove me to curl up in a ball on my kitchen floor in complete baby blues desperation. And although I later grew to appreciate this new presence in my life and made peace with the less-than-perfect fantasies of cradling a cute ‘Mini Me’, I found myself longing for the working world and went on to act on that impulse 6 months into The Kid’s existence. Certainly, I loved my child, but I loved grown-up time more, and given that I hadn’t figured out how I could reconcile then made me feel like I was continuously strapped to an ‘F’ bomb (Fatigued, Frustrated, Failing and a Fraud!). I couldn’t imagine how my two worlds could coexist harmoniously when I was the only 21 year-old I knew who bore the eclectic “Girl Scout” badge of wife, mother and fun-having/club-hopping dancing queen.

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The 2015 “Mommy Again” that I am now has a new appreciation for what constitutes this journey that is motherhood: not only because trial and error are great teachers in and of themselves, but because I can forgive myself the things I couldn’t grasp with enthusiasm then, be it the solitude or the responsibility. What should have been a year of me marveling at this little person during my uninterrupted time in ’01 was intercepted by my haste to escape what was out of fear and boredom. But this time around, the awareness of time and its worth, and most of all, the regrets one stands to face when they’re not willing to slow down and ponder the beauty of a moment, are what make me see this maternity leave in a different light than my 20-something self.

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There isn’t a day that goes by without the gratefulness of waking up to a little girl who smiles up at me brightly, unaware that her actions from the previous night have me shooing away the Fatigue Monster’s taunting come morning; or the greetings of this man of mine who fixes me breakfast and a mean cup of java and who reminds me that I mean the world to him and our kids; or the 5-minute shower I get to enjoy to be with my thoughts as water washes away anything unworthy of my mind space; or the impromptu outings at any moment, for anything, to meet anyone, without that rushed feeling that plagued me most of my life and made me feel like I would never manage to get anything done well (or at all!) no matter how much I tried. Thankfully, I do not adhere to the Stepford Wives Club: nothing in that bastion fits “my wife/mother/fun-having/crib-bopping/dancing queen” self.

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Yes, maternity leave has me singing a different tune this time around: that of a snail running its marathon however slow it wishes to, but who remains on-the-go nonetheless, knowing that it’s time well spent to learn to love perfectly in an imperfect world.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: C. ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana.

March

03

Sweet as Candy


A girl knows she’s officially landed when she receives her first invitation of (hopefully!) many social events in the Big City; luckily for me, this is one instance where the saying that “one never forgets her first” doesn’t conjure up regrettable memories in the vein of “losing it to some guy named Junior with bad breath in the back of a van at a Guns N’ Roses concert…”, but I digress (although I admit that the writer in me has never felt more grateful for cinematic metaphors and quotable moments).

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This “first”, the Hard Candy S15 media preview at the swanky Cosmopolitan Hotel Toronto, was a well-spent couple of hours that temporarily made me forget our collective angst against dreadful Old Man Winter and gave me a nice reprieve from mommy duties. The suite that welcomed blogging darlings and press certainly rivaled Katy Perry’s colorful SuperBowl half-time show in cheerful, electric hues reminiscent of early 90’s color explosiveness (Saved By The Bell collage-y prints, Vuarnet fashion, Caboodle kits…); yes, a time that was positively wondrous for the TNBC generation before the decade took a turn to dirty, somber Grungeville.

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As it is commonplace at these sorts of events, details are de rigueur in keeping attendees in good social graces: from the signage of the brand’s social media accounts with ‘call-to-action’ hashtags, to the test-drive of the latest makeup and lacquers, all the way to the complimentary makeup retouches and manicures by a team of Hard Candy beauticians, and savory and sweet nibbles and wine aplenty, everything came together like a well-oiled machine…except this well oil-machined brought the experience up a notch thanks to a spectacular view of la grande ville‘s hustle and bustle seen through the suite’s giant bay windows, a remarkable spectacle if there ever was one as the night fell upon the city. Those are the kinds of firsts one can count themselves lucky enough to experience once in a while, in addition to unleashing the 14-year old inside on a “Rebecca Bloomwood/Warm-Butter-Sliding-Down-Hot-Toast” high.

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Having suffered from a terrible bout of acne and hyperpigmentation most of my life, I often felt that makeup felt both like a worthy solution and a torture device as I tried to cope with my predisposed skin condition. In my teens, applying makeup often left me feeling apprehensive, while nail polishes left me darn right frustrated (which would explain why I consider professional manicures and pedicures my ultimate indulgence and no longer bother to “nail down” the self-application technique). All in all, makeup served as a shield from hurtful comments rather than an enhancer, and when all was said and done, it didn’t nearly cure me of my insecurities; it only exacerbated them! But with my maturing skin now making way for wrinkles and kicking my unsightly spots to the curb, I realize that it always boiled down to perspective: I can either roll with the punches knowing that nothing, good or bad, lasts forever, or I can throw punches, fighting myself to the death for a life that has been more than forgiving of my imperfections.

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As I stared down at the oodles of “face magic” goods staring back at me, I imagined what it would be like for the ‘teenage me’ to be here in this moment, not overthinking the process or the outcome, and just allowing herself to play, marvel and paint herself pretty, getting a bite of that Hard Candy…so I let her out to play, finding her relaxed, silly and smiling as she snapped a #selfiestick pose wearing her new favorite lipstick: ‘Wanted’. I’ve decided that she’s allowed to stay indefinitely; Ms. Hepburn was right: “Happy girls are the prettiest”.

Many thanks to Esther Garnick, Jessica Denomme and the lovely ladies of EGPR for giving this girl a memorable ‘first’.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

February

03

It Takes Two


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Two years ago today, this blog came to life (in a not-so-Frankenstein-ish kind of way!) and although it’s very tempting to rehash the good sentiments of why I launched it in the first place, I’ll spare you the sappiness (with its side of violin strings on this God-awful snow storm Monday) and refer you instead to my one-year anniversary recap; it sums up well what this online space was intended to be. But given that we’re in a new year now and hence, facing a new set of 365 days to ponder what’s next, I must really come to terms with some new realities, which are the following:

  • I still love WIA and my faithful readers the way Rihanna loves herself ‘ride-or-die chicks, but I do wonder if the blog continues to “thrill” me the way it used to. I now find myself asking a whole lot whether it brings anything of value to me or my surroundings. I do, however, know one thing: my love of writing has not waned and continues to grow with each typed word, experience lived and people encountered – this remains the only constant for me in this whole blogging affair. It’s not about the hoopla of invitations to events, getting free swag, being heralded the new ‘IT’ girl or being told that I’m a great writer (although I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to any of them being wonderful perks and compliments). Somewhere, in this chaotic mess made up of words, thoughts and vulnerability, must live this belief that I am enough and that I will be fine, with or without this space. If I am no longer as invested, do I die along with my words? I think that’s what scares me most: to be left without a thing to say.
  • Awareness brings growth, and growth fosters the need for change. In my case, my move to Toronto makes me want to explore my new environment and tap into different creative avenues, with one particular project strongly hammering at my brain as of late (more on that in due time IF and WHEN I should decide to fire the gun). Because I’m one who gets bored easily and is in constant need of a challenge, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I would eventually want to explore the scope of my various interests. Time and tide wait for no man and I’m not one to fight personal evolution, which is why I’ve chosen to qualify 2015 as my “transitional” year. Transition into what? Transition into whom? Who knows! But I can tell you that once I figure it out, I’ll take you along for the ride, whether on here or in a bigger, better dimension.
  • I want to support more people in their dreams and projects this year. I don’t know in which way this will take shape, but I just have a strong inkling that there are many more of us out there wondering who’ll be open to encouraging our dreams, listening and responding to them and helping us get them off the ground. Now, I’m aware that this is a grand declaration for me to make and I can already foresee some folks interpreting this to mean that they can hit me up with any old nonsense or random pitches that do not align with my blog or values (Dear Brands with pockets overflowing with generous marketing budget dollars who come asking for write-ups on X, Y, Z without any sort of return compensation? You’re uninvited to this party). Little entrepreneurs full of heart, talented students on the come-up, professionals reinventing themselves and big dreamers who hold the belief that they can make a difference? You are my kind of sauce. In a world where everyone is out for themselves and looking for their big break, it would be foolish of me to remain blind to the creative supply and demand food chain, especially when I could find myself at either end of the spectrum at any point in time. So, I want to give more where it matters and to whom it matters, but I also certainly want to get more, and that should not be shameful for me to say or admit. If this is a statement that rings true for you as well, then we can certainly do like Prince and GO CRAAAAZYYY…or Party Like It’s 1999 (because let’s be real, 1999 was the shiznit!).
  • While we’re still on the topic of change and evolution, it’s obvious that my world has changed greatly since February 1st, 2014, when a pair of Pink Ladies showed up in those tiny Life Show windows (well hello, #BabyO!). And now, my days are filled with activities that may or may not be of interest to some (if not!) all of you and that’s perfectly fine. If I choose to speak of things for which there’s no lost love on your end, I can certainly respect that; but in an effort to retain some of that magic I tried to create on here (which is to write about my life and opinions from a real, genuine place), I must let the good, the bad, the ugly AND the mommy transpire because it is part of who I am. I’m still that fashion enthusiast, pop culture junkie, detail-obsessed creative you discovered back in ’13 and I hope to maintain this tagline firmly in place because nothing is more endearing than a split personality ratatouille.

So, while I wait on life to play its next hand, I’m yours in musings and life every-things.

Happy two year anniversary to this place, to me, to us: we made this circle the place we wanted it to be.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: quotespin.com

January

23

Where My Girls At?


My father emailed me an article several months ago that discusses how health, for men and women, rests on vastly different ideals. The article in question goes on to say that men mostly reach their nirvana through their achievements and activities, while women do so through cultivating friendships with other women. The former is rooted in the practicality of being in control of one’s actions and hence, outcomes, while the latter rests on that relational dimension synonymous with a woman’s disposition to nurture others.

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I, for one, didn’t need an article to point out this vital need in my life, although in my younger days, that need wasn’t as fundamental as it is now — I was that girl who felt more at home being around the bros than the hoes ladies. Up to a little more than a decade ago, it was a work in progress to get to a place where I genuinely believed in other women’s interest in being friends with me. But after careful observation of what great female friendships are made of, I can attest that I’ve made it out of the Mean Girls wilderness (though not necessarily unscathed). The journey, at times, felt like swinging from the girls-just-wanna-have-fun vines; at other times, it felt turbulent and left me seeking shelter from the occasional get-that-knife-out-now backstabbing or misunderstanding; but luckily, I’ve finally made it to the friendship contentment destination, due in great part to the empowering message of female-driven anthems from TLC, 702 and Destiny’s Child to keep me in Survivor mode along the way.

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I do believe countless women find joy in sharing their triumphs and struggles with their peers, especially when that Panic Room (the one where disclosure of raw emotions can often be dismissed as frightful, shallow or irrelevant by the opposite sex) leaves many women feeling more vulnerable than liberated. But in the Venus realm, said room ceases to exist! Certainly, we’ve all encountered the occasional nightmarish female who is more Malificent than Magnificent, but evil-doers aside, we continue to witness the good that prevails from the great stories often told about the female spirit. And let’s face it, those feel-good/make-me-laugh/you-hurt-I-cry stories are rites of passage that reflect the many life themes we’ve identified with at one point or another.

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I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some amazing friendships of my own, and while some of them have ran their course as a result of moves, commitments and unforeseen “fall outs”, others have thrived to become as vital to my life as my blood-pumping pulse. I’ve nicknamed those friendships the “Two-Hand Ladies” (in other words, they represent the number of loyal and faithful women I can count on my two hands). Some of us go back like diapers and pacifiers. Other friendships were revived during my teenage years after spanning years and continents, lives ruined, blood shed (a Veronica Mars reference just seemed so fitting here for a split second). The proof is in those artifacts from that primitive communication era (what are those called again? Letters, methinks). And again, others were born during my university years and into this thing called “adulthood”. Regardless of each friendship’s time stamp, I’m utterly grateful for each one.

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Last month, my BFF Roseline and I went to Her Majesty’s Pleasure to celebrate my arrival to the Big City as well as launch a new BFF tradition: that of a monthly day of pampering. Ro and I haven’t lived in the same city in 9 years until now, but find it funny that these two proud Montreal-born girls now call Toronto home (God’s divine doing never ceases to amaze me).

To find the proper words to describe a place like HMP simply wouldn’t do the place justice: if you fancy yourself a Queen whose opulent taste can’t be understood (let alone) catered to by the usual dingy Mom-and-Pop parlor, you’d be hard pressed to resist an environment that delivers the Grand Puba of royal treatments and only falls short of asking whether you want it all with a side of Grey Poupon!? It’s the kind of haven where the sunshine doesn’t sleep, ragged cuticles and overworked digits are massaged and primed for your millionth Tour de Likes, tired tresses are revived into Victoria Secret Angel sorcery, and scrumptious bites and tasty libations make you run up a bill like a car note. It’s the all-encompassing wet dream you wish you’d thought of yourself (“nail done, hair done, everything did…nai-nai-nai…“) — #lifesoundtrack. Ah, well, what can I say? There’s always next year’s resolutions to clean up your act…

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Here’s to great friendships that touch the heart and the joy of never growing apart.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

January

15

#That6life


“Hey lover, hey lover; this is more than a crush…”

I stared down at my outfit and curled my lips, uncertain: although my fitted jeans and lacy pink top with the right amount of skin showing appeared every bit the successful come hither first date look, it dawned on me that this was essentially the #firstworldproblem of first dates — not knowing what kind of bloke one is susceptible to encounter on that dreamy “we talked/we danced/we laughed/and then he kissed me” first outing. Would said outfit tip the scales towards attraction…or repulsion? Based on the perception of the dater, such a look could spell many-a-thing if taken into any given context, i.e. fishing for that first kiss (tame, possibly desperate); looking to get felt up (Skanky coming through!); or being one song away from Chasing Waterfalls (that creepy, one-word screaming doll inside your head is better known as SLUTTY). I quickly took it off and tossed it on top of the mountain of first date dressing dilemma options and settled on a simple red tee with my feel-good jacket. For all my troubles, I hoped that at least the talk-dance-laugh-and-kiss wouldn’t seem as farfetched as a Drew Barrymore rom-com.

The door rang and I stumbled down the stairs, grabbing my winter coat on the way. As I opened the door, there he stood, grinning at me. He looked even more handsome than I remembered from our initial introduction at a friend’s house a few weeks past and my knees buckled a little.

“Hi!”

“Hi!” I replied, stepping out and pulling the door behind me. He smelled wonderful.

He took my hand and I followed, trying my best not to dive to my death as I skated my parents’ icy driveway. The air was frigid, but I felt lightheaded. He helped me into his car and that’s when I experienced it: that unmistakeable, in-the-pit-of-your-stomach, close to fainting flutter. It felt odd and I thought for a second that I would either lose my dinner on the car’s mat or flat out pass out. As my best friend hopped into the car half a dozen minutes later, I turned to look back at her with obvious alarm:

“Are you okay?” she inquired.

“My stomach is in knots,” I blurted out quickly while my date was circling back to his door. “I’ve never felt this before. It’s like…butterflies running around!”

“Guuuuurl!” she said, amused. “The guy has you hooked!” she laughed. “Good thing we’re off to a party: not much chit-chat needed there!?”

I only remember bits and pieces of that night beyond the car ride: there are flashes of my best friend standing on an old chest in the dim-lit basement, dancing and singing along to loud hip-hop as the crowd looked on with admiration and proceeded to fall in love with her. There’s the memory of me getting envious looks from my date’s female friends, one of which could have reduced me to human road kill with her icy stare. But I do distinctively remember Pretty Boy placing his hands on my hips very gently as he asked me in my ear how I was doing before telling me how lovely I looked. Beyond that, the night is a blur, but what remains of it is that disquiet feeling a girl experiences when she’s very much into someone and hopes that the feeling is mutual, reciprocated.

The weeks that followed soon revealed that crushing this hard proved a bit much for the lad and everything came to a swift end during a night out with friends without me having to hear the damning words: his detached demeanor gave him away and just like that, it was over. I remember going home and crying myself to sleep: not because I had been unceremoniously discarded like an old sock, but because I couldn’t imagine that I would ever be blessed twice with that feeling of happy jitters I had experienced earlier that night, and it saddened me that the feeling had been lost on someone who would live to forever be a boy

Except, experience (like all things worth one’s growth) often proves us wrong on these matters as we get wiser and come to terms with love and loss, victory and defeat, life and death.

As I drove into Toronto last month, knowing that I was taking the big leap into the unknown, those happy jitters resurfaced. At last, my new playground and the place I’ve longed to call home, is just that and it feels wonderful, strange, exhilarating, add any-pleasant-adjective-of-your-choosing. But above all, as the night lights flashed overhead as we rolled into the city, I smiled, reassured by the flutters inside and the knowledge that whether or not the city chooses to love me back or not, I am worthy of that wonderful feeling nonetheless.

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Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: W. ‘Only1O’ Orellana

December

26

An #OClan Christmas


EPIC YEAR: this is what I called this year early on without a glimpse into the future and simply believing wholeheartedly that speaking those words into the atmosphere would make it so.After all…

Isn’t faith the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen? 

And when those things, whatever they may be in nature, materialize into something wondrous, uplifting one’s existence to new heights and turning faith into a trusted companion, we find ourselves springing to action and trusting the journey ahead even when there’s no way of knowing how it will end.

I could wax poetic about the magic of the holidays as the quintessential love fest of family and friends and fa-la-la-la-la it until your ears bleed, but I wouldn’t be spinning the formula into something you haven’t heard before. The redundancy of things already spoken does not erase the fact that it’s often easy to be merry and care for those closest to us this time of year, but then later turn against that very loving feeling the rest of the year, numbing our senses to the world’s calamities because we can’t be bothered. Are we careless, bored, devoid of good intentions? Where does that beautiful sentiment disappear to once the eggnog runs dry and the merriment has died? For me, defining my 2014 as my EPIC YEAR does not mean that the feel good sentiment expires when the bell rings on January 1st; it means that I must thoughtfully look back on the last 365 days for what they culminated into, which are blessings, lessons and reflections for each one of them.

Gratitude has kept me hopeful when I could have drowned in misery; hard work has kept me engaged when I could have fallen into mediocrity; perspective has kept me humble when I could have fallen into vanity; and love has kept me believing despite disappointment, hardships and brokenness. One cannot say with certainty how many days his or her life has been allotted; however, one can stay centered in hope and faith and the belief that the feeling of EPIC is theirs to dwell in anytime they so choose to.

This Christmas, my gratitude is for the gift of a little girl who has changed my world and given me the most unadulterated joy I’ve experienced in years.

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This Christmas, my hard work is for those who continue to stop by this space and show love to my writing even when I fall short of delivering regular content.

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This Christmas, my perspective is in recognizing that I could have lost someone dear to my heart the way friends of mine lost their two year-old son recently, while I’m still fortunate enough to hug my own every day and tell him I love him.

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This Christmas, my love is for all: family, friends and foes, because life is just too short to dwell in other dimensions that are nowhere near those of EPIC.

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Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases. Go ahead: dwell in the possibilities. Enjoy the pages of that wonderful book…that of YOUR life.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Wil ‘Only1O’ and Cindy ‘WhoIsArlette’ Orellana

November

20

WhoIsArlette’s 2014 Holiday Gift Guide


“Suck me dry, why don’t cha!”

This is the holiday siren call heard around the world that, suffice to say, sends many of us into “cut that plastic card” retaliation. With so much pressure to deliver on those perfect presents that will have loved ones feeling cherished rather than pukish, we find ourselves lining up to Warlock School just to learn how to decipher unspoken wish lists (unfortunately, even Harry Potter’s wizardry skills are powerless against these doldrums).

While it may be tempting to plunge into a cesspool of debt just to remain in others’ good books, nothing beats the gift of personal financial awareness and learning to make do with what you have. I love to challenge myself to come up with a shopping budget (one so modest that it feels as though the only thing I can afford are a couple of burritos!), head out on a mission and end up spending…even LESS! Am I a cheapskate? Not in the least! I do believe in finding beautiful and unusual things and lavishing them onto my loved ones every chance I get; but at the same time, I hope against all hope that whoever is on the receiving end of my gift giving will consider, first and foremost, the gesture and thought over the dollar value. After all…

A gift is only the “physical” embodiment of what we’re expressing to another, which is our ability to recognize what they love and be able to show them our love and gratitude.

But let’s not ruin the fun for you overgrown children out there! When it comes to your hard-earned cash, consider the impact of a gift on both the recipient and your own pockets and aim for balance. I’ve gone ahead and dreamed up a different kind of gift guide, one that is three-fold:

  • It’s inspired by my favorite color palette –black, white and gold–a staple of modernity and timelessness. This color scheme also conjures up lovely memories of my own wedding to Mr. O. and will likely pepper the main rooms in my future home. Some things can’t be fought…
  • Every item featured in the guide are (gasp!) under 100 buckaroos. Here’s to toasting to financial freedom in the new year!
  • And lastly, it’s entirely available via Pinterest! We all live on the platform of “make-your-dreams-and-visions-happen”, so it only seemed fitting to give you direct access to the goods for your own boards. Santa can take a much deserved break from you this year as far as you’re concerned — #itsinthebag!
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After all your shopping, why not score this lovely little set for you and the Mr., kick back and relax? Santa can take it easy this year — #itsinthebag!

If you’re looking for more ‘meaty’ options, you can do no wrong checking out the To & From Guide, which is chockfull of the pretty things that’ll have your family and friends screaming like a band of 1D fanatics. Here’s hoping the response you get is one of love, appreciation and gratitude.

What have you found that has your heart singing?

Avec amour,

– A

Photo credit: furbishstudio.com

November

06

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’


RED is my favorite color: from the various light to dark hues in my arsenal used to achieve my signature lip, to the sultry make-him-drool Jessica Rabbit numbers, all the way to its dual nature of representing the good (strength, power, passion, desire and love) and the bad (anger, jealousy, revenge, rage and danger). Red energizes me and makes me come alive, so much so that I’ve dedicated an entire Pin board to its existence. But on the other hand, it also accurately depicts how my laidback demeanor can undergo a switch up in 2.5 seconds when “seeing red” is no longer just familiar parlance (injustice, opportunists and the use and abuse of those I love will do that to a girl).

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The latter exceptions aside, one need not fear for their life otherwise when in close proximity. In fact, the ingenious ones who bottle up any ounce of it into a #redhot item, like these “walking-on-a-cloud” Seven to 7 Gore Shooties in Windsor Wine, are sure to experience the Color of My Love à la Céline Dion. These ones are courtesy of Ottawa’s latest shoe retailer, Rockport, who graciously extended me an invitation to its media preview at Bayshore Shopping Centre last week. Additionally, each attendee was invited to take home the pair of their choosing to go floss like a boss! (in my mind, this scenario would include an entry into any party swaying to this 90’s anthem).

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These boots are made for walkin’, and that’s just what they’ll do; one of these days, these boots are gonna walk all over you… – Nancy Sinatra

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Child, I know shoes the way peanut butter knows jelly or Clyde knows Bonnie, but being in the dark about the retailer in question until that night, I made it out to the preview with all expectations stowed away in my “CONTAIN THY EXCITEMENT IN CASE…” drawer. Given a lack of knowledge about the brand (coupled with no previously heard fanfare), I wrongfully assumed that it was in the business of producing soles without soul — the kind your grandmother would rep to her senior community as the antidote to hip replacement problems. Yup, I committed the ultimate retail sin: pitting it against more colorful and better known shoe brands, or if you want to get bookish, totally judging the book by its cover.

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But then I slipped on the shooties: instantly, my tired feet met the nirvana of Adidas’ ADIPRENE cushioning technology, which the retail giant is known to incorporate into its sport shoes. I deduced that this could spell the end of any sentimental hoarder’s love affair with trusted, old beat-up sneakers (yes, the very ones that have gone incognito under black tie gowns and wedding dresses). Retail realization #347: in the shoe game, beauty and comfort are no longer mutually exclusive, no matter what Ms. Bradshaw and her posse had us believe when they walked on their expensive stilts. Their shoe game may have been tight, but it was far from making walk-all-day winning right, feel me!?

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With fall now in full swing, I initially thought of taking the #ootd game to the Gatineau Hills, my favorite place in Outaouais region this time of year…although, admittedly, the last time I paid it a visit was when The Kid was still small enough for me to carry!? With hubby away in Tdot, the bro (who’s quickly developing remarkable photography skills of his own) and I went off and did the damn thang in a wooded area near my parents’ place. In between shots, my eyes roamed our surroundings in case we were unknowingly being considered by a trio of bears as tonight’s dinner. But thankfully, no grizzlies had to be turned away with the #GoldieLocksSnub sign, putting us at peace with nature (sing it: Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya…).

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Many thanks to Esther Garnick and her team at EGPR for the invitation, the endless laughs and the trip down the reality TV memory lane — #TheHillsForever!

Enough talk; let’s walk!

Avec amour,

– A

 Photo credit: Patrick ‘PatsParables’ Narcisse (@PatsParables); Photo edits: Wil ‘Only1O’ Orellana

October

17

Head of the Class


“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

– Nora Ephron

Canada’s Wild Wild West has been brewing all kinds of marvelous things over the years and this statement is not in reference to the gold rush of the last few decades that still has get-rich-now hopefuls packing their belongings in a bid to score a golden nugget. While we’ve been sitting here feeling all smug about our own east-of-the-country talents, deeming ourselves superior geographically for being saddled by the country’s top two cosmopolitan cities that grant us access to, like (insert Valley Girl voice here) EVERYTHAAANG, there’s been a surge of goodness coming out of the Canadian Prairies that has been building like an epic Scandal-size revelation.

Case in point #1

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Unless one has been living under a rock, ears everywhere have been happily tickled by Calgary-born Kiesza’s dare-you-not-to-dance Hideaway single for most of spring and summer. It’s made a huge splash on the music scene both at home and abroad, but also proved so powerful a summer anthem that it stood as the most requested song at this year’s TIFF #NKPRIT14 lounge, as reported by my would-be fairy godmother Natasha Koifman on her namesake PR company’s Twitter account. Not too shabby for a young woman who passed up the opportunity to become the Canadian Navy’s first female sniper. What can one say: exchanging one type of “hit” for another (and one far less deadly!) does have its benefits…

Case in point #2

Tatiana Maslany

Regina actress Tatiana Maslany, of sci-fi thriller series Orphan Black fame, has been so heavily lauded as the One to Watch by our media that it didn’t take long for her genius and multifaceted acting to be recognized by the Critics’ Choice Awards, earning her the ‘Best Actress in a Drama Series’ trophies of 2013 and 2014, where she beat out the likes of Homeland‘s Claire Danes, The Good Wife‘s Julianna Margulies and The Americans‘ Kerri Russell, to name a few. On any given night, Ms. Maslany appears on entertainment show eTalk as frequently as its co-hosts, leading me to suggest that producers should seriously consider a weekly WWTD (What Would Tatyana Do?) segment — this is one Prairie girl who clearly lassoed all of us with her charms, brilliance and very-Canadian modesty.

Case in point #3

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Their number may be continuously on the rise (style bloggers, that is!), but while it may be tempting to group all #ootd enthusiasts into the generic same ol’/been-there/seen-that pool, some of these style mavens have figured out ingenious ways to parlay their love of fashion into passion projects bound to turn more than a few heads. The latest newcomer to the genre? Alyssa Lau, the Edmonton-raised blogger behind Ordinary People, launched New Classics Studios yesterday, a women’s sustainable and ethical fashion e-commerce space. Forgoing her initial plan of becoming a biochemist in favor of pursuing the dream of fashion that many of us hold dear, Ms. Lau’s tongue-in-cheek blog name may soon be viewed as ironic rather than literal as far as this ambitious entrepreneur is concerned; but like any fascinating journey that pays homage to where one has been and is headed next, it remains as relevant a narrative as one’s evolution.

Hello Alyssa! Thank you for agreeing to answer the following questions for WhoIsArlette. Kindly tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Alyssa Lau and I’m a 22-year-old Chinese Canadian style blogger, PR coordinator and BSc graduate who is mildly obsessed with animal friendships, anime, and all things Zelda.

How did the idea for New Classics Studios come about?

A few months ago, I was working full time as a research assistant in a Biochemistry lab when I decided (rather abruptly) that I didn’t actually want to go through with graduate studies like I had planned to. So, that’s when my boyfriend, Eric, suggested I open an online store. And because I wanted my next project to be in tune with my own values, that’s where sustainable fashion came into play.

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You’ve already garnered a significant following for New Classics Studios on social media despite the fact that the brand still hasn’t launched officially. What has the response been like so far?

Everyone has been incredibly supportive, which I’m so grateful for!

Who would you say is the ideal New Classics Studios client and what can she expect from it?

I don’t know that there’s an ideal client for New Classics Studios, but I’m hoping that our customers or at least browsers will become more aware of the issues surrounding the mainstream fashion industry.

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Let’s dream big: if you could tap any celebrity or public figure to be a brand ambassador for New Classics Studios, who would it be and why?

Emma Watson! She’s already done some great humanitarian work and worked with sustainable fashion labels, so it’d be more than a dream to see her in our clothing.

Where would you like to see the brand go in a few years from now? Are there plans to expand into other markets?

In a few years, hopefully we’ll still be operating! Jokes aside, I would love for New Classics Studios to be an even larger curation of sustainable garments and accessories. There are just so many incredibly talented designers in the field of sustainable fashion that I would love to bring to New Classics Studios! As for expanding into other markets, for now, we will just be focusing most of our efforts within Canada. But, as always, New Classics Studios plans to be accessible internationally!

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Facebook Iconhttps://www.facebook.com/shopnewclassics

Instagram Iconhttp://instagram.com/shopnewclassics

It may be time to treat yourselves to some ethical dressing love — online shopping excursions are found to be most successful when a certain redhead belts out “oohs” and “aahs” in the background for added effect — just sayin’!?

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Picture of Kiezsa via the Huffington Post Canada; picture of Tatiana Maslany via emmys.com; all New Classics Studios pictures courtesy of Alyssa Lau

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