WHO IS
ARLETTE?

February

03

It Takes Two


Quote - quotespin.com

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

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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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Twitter Iconhttps://twitter.com/shopnewclassics

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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

October

13

She’s Hee-eere!


“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

1 Chronicles 16:34

I’m not the first and I won’t be the last to wonder whether labor, with its unforgiving twists and turns, is meant to make us stronger or make us cower before the Great Inventor. I’ll stick to thinking of it as the greatest double-edge sword blessing known to humankind: you’ll come out of it grateful for the gift, but will certainly pay for it in contortions, screams and the will to die before finding deliverance.

It’s on Wednesday, October 8th, that Baby S decided to make her big, can’t-stop-me-now entrance into the world, all ten fingers and toes perfectly extended and her booming, crying voice announcing that the newest CEO in town (Chic and Effervescent Orellana) was here to stay. The journey started at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Center, where I was scheduled to deliver my little mami through a drug-free, natural water birth (judge my lack of sanity if you must, but please do it silently). However, when evidence showed that my dilation had only reached 4 centimeters after 7 hours of severe contractions and uncontrollable shaking, I had to consider whether the descent into hell was worth my life. Elodie, my too-cool-for-school Parisian midwife, offered to break my water and I relented…leading to the unexpected surprise of meconium (little mami’s first stool). Given that this is considered a fetal distress sign, I had to be moved to the Ottawa Civic Hospital for monitoring.

Sophia's Birth9 - PNP

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For the last couple of hours of labor, as I experienced the last echoes of what I would characterize as birth’s own version of “death row”, I entered the transition phase, sensing that I was one sentence shy of calling it quits on my drug-free stance. But I was reassured by my midwife that I had come this far and could do it, and the thought of seeing my daughter come to the way I had planned it gave me the incentive to get it done…and I did; the belly building soon collapsed like a deflated parachute. From the moment her body emerged, she appeared alive, eager and ready to take on whatever this new environment presented her. If there ever was an opportunity for hubby to pass out cold from the sheer spectacle of blood and bodily fluids, this would have been it, but surprisingly, he handled himself in a cool, calm and collected manner, cutting the life source that linked me to our daughter for 9 months without wincing one bit. At last, free to be together without the assistance of the “Alien-like” cord.

Sophia's Birth3 - PNP

As she was placed on my chest, tears of relief fell freely from my eyes. I inhaled her scent deeply for the first time and looked down at that tiny body and that puffy face, amazed by the black, silky hair framing her features. Her mouth opened wide to yawn and I laughed imagining that perhaps introductions lagged a bit more than she would have liked. Then she opened her eyes: beautiful brown almond-shaped eyes that twinkled under the window’s sunlight. Hubby stood over me, admiring the new woman in his life, the one I know trumps me in his eyes, but for whom jealous contempt will never enter this heart.

The time for her to latch on and have her meal came and she clang on eagerly. I hummed lightly, contemplating her tiny fingers. Once satiated, she smacked her little bow-shaped  lips together. Hubby whispered: “how could anyone be so perfect?”

#ItMustBeLove

Sophia's Birth1 - PNP

After being weighed, measured and cleaned, little mami was given to her father for “skin-to-skin” contact and my eyes softened at the sight of him looking down at her with pride. His expression said it all: that he now understood that “feeling”, that this is what real love feels like.

WilAndSophia001

Sophia's Birth19 - PNP

My brother, now present in the room, proceeded to snap a thousand pictures that would rival a September issue of Vogue: The Infant Edition. Soon thereafter, my father arrived from Montreal citing the frustration of being subjected to a few detours, but he soon let the memory of the trip that delayed him vanish from his mind as he laid eyes on his only granddaughter.

Sophia's Birth17 - PNP

Sophia's Birth18 - PNP

I took up this time to sneak in a nice, warm shower to clean off and be with my thoughts, which ran the gamut of:

Have I really given birth without the assistance of drugs? (Answer: Yup!)

Did I really manage to keep myself from screaming all kinds of expletives to relieve my pain? (Answer: You bet!)

Wait! Did I really just give birth to another human being after 13 years? (Answer: Hey, yeah! Hey, yeah!)

Was it all worth it? (Answer: Go ahead and borrow from American Express’ PRICELESS tagline).

Once back in bed, I was offered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which in my mind, morphed into the best meal I ever had…if a P&J sandwich came anywhere close to tasting like a medium-rare steak with a side order of sushi!?

After a few hours, I was released from the hospital. Off we went, little mami fully bundled up for a surprisingly mild and sunny fall day. As I sat in the front while my mom took up residency next to S in the back, I thanked God silently for the gift of seeing our little family of three suddenly grow to include this lovable munchkin.

Sophia's Birth5 - PNP

“Ready to go home, little mami?”

Welcome to the world,

Sophia Maya Orellana

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! In all things, be thankful.

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: Proud uncle Patrick Narcisse

October

01

Dear October


October’s Party
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
George Cooper

At last, here you are again, dear October: you beautiful month of wonder

…shedding fiery-colored leaves into the crisp fall air like a visual symphony;

…dishing out heaping cups of Starbucks’ comforting PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte for the uninitiated!) to keep the masses in seasonal coziness;

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…giving city dwellers and suburbanites alike just cause to don grown folks superhero capes à la Olivia Pope, #BossStyle;

…inspiring breathtaking editorials from the industry’s finest and blurring the lines of fantasy and reality;

Alexandra-Tomlinson-by-Chris-Nicholls-for-Fashion-Magazine-October-2014

…holding the distinction of hosting Canada’s ultimate fashion affair outside of that “other” frantic, what-a-circus month;

…making us pause to count our blessings among our loved ones and regard gratitude as the right attitude;

Alexandra-Tomlinson-by-Chris-Nicholls-for-Fashion-Magazine-October-2014-8

…acting as the perfect accomplice to the self-professed “October’s Very Own” Grand Party Master in what is sure to be one of fall’s most unforgettable extravaganzas;

…marking another year in this life and welcoming another precious one to the fold.

Alexandra-Tomlinson-by-Chris-Nicholls-for-Fashion-Magazine-October-2014-3

You are lovely, sweet October; you are loved.

Welcome  back, dear friend — now let’s dance!

Avec amour,

- A

Photo Credit: Chris Nicholls for FASHION Magazine | October 2014, via inspirationbbycolor.com

September

25

The Waiting Game


I know what you must be thinking: this girl’s a joke! Coming on here, expecting there’ll still be readers when she’s made a disappearing act like Houdini without much of a word, except for that last time when she hit us up with two posts in a row, which was SO last month ago!? Does she really think we’re fools? That we’d be sitting here WAITING on her to show up late like Mariah Carey at the 11th hour?

First off, let’s remove all negative connotations linking me to diva behavior because there is none in these parts — I always hope that you find something compelling enough to tune in to WIA. I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it here: WhoIsArlette.com is NOTHING but lost words in the Grand Poobah online universe without my faithful readers. That being said, pardon my absence, my lack of musings, my wave of mommy brain forgetfulness, my erratic behavior, my…just forgive me already, please?!?!

Yes, things have slowed down despite my best efforts — when one can barely roll through the front door without causing a 5.0 earthquake with their hippopotamus frame, there’s cause for celebration.

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I’m now in week 38, which by the medicine world’s standards is all well and swell, but for me, this spells S-H-O-C-K; after all, Jamal “The Kid” showed up at 37 weeks, so I sort of imagined that nature would set the course for a repeat performance. WELL! Looks like Little Mami is already showing me she’s not about that life!? Needless to say, I’m restless and carry out many conversations with her about her peekaboo/running-game-on-you dictatorship and how I want (see NEED!) it to come to a swift end.

Hubby and I have been bombarded with texts, calls, tweets and direct messages asking for labour progress details and unfortunately, we haven’t been able to deliver “spread the news!” ferry dust yet. Hubby, who’s been nothing short of amazing, finally escaped the house for a few hours after I’ve begged him to repeatedly (I couldn’t stand to see him drown in another comatose support day). I’ve become pretty “chummy” with the ladies of The Talk and The Social — who else would be willing to keep me company, even if said relationship is of the one-sided kind and I have no say in the matter?

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I know I’m close: I can taste it. The nesting phase has kicked in a few days back and I went into overdrive with the cleaning, prepping and whatnot like a deranged Martha Stewart clone. I know I’m close because I’ve since adopted a middle of the night wake-up habit, listening to the breeze ruffle the trees’ leaves and trying to catch backyard night crawlers in their scavenging act. I know I’m close because…I JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE IN SOMETHING, K?!?! It’s the way of the world.

Going to attempt my own “break your water” dance in the hopes that things go off like a Soul Train revival…except not today. Reasons? 1) it’s hubby’s #forever25 birthday and the man still guards “his” day like a 5-year old toddler guards his favorite toy and 2) it’s “Shonda Rhymes owns Thursday TV” thanks to the return of my guilty pleasure drama Scandal (and the arrival of newcomer How to Get Away with Murder). Multitasking need not apply tonight — tweeting my anxiety over pushing out a little human being is all the sacrifice I can handle at this time.

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Keep me in your thoughts and prayers and por favor, resist the urge to prick needles into dolls that have a semblance of me because you found me to be less than reliable lately; we all peeples. Just know that your support keeps this train humming along the tracks, even when all parties involved are delayed…

Avec amour,

– A

Photo Credit: C. ‘WhoIsArlette’ and W. ‘Only1O’ Orellana

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