Hair How-To: 50’s Chignon

With the end of September also comes the end of wedding season.

After four months of having my Facebook news feed littered with wedding photographs and actually attending a wedding myself, I’ve had the opportunity to view some gorgeous up-do’s that are easily translatable to any fancy affair. As the years go by, we will all be attending weddings by the dozens and it’s by no means affordable to have your hair styled by a professional each and every time.

I played around with a few different looks this summer and after deciding to channel 50’s glamour, I ended up with a low, twisted chignon that looks beautiful from the from the front and back. The style takes about half an hour to accomplish and is extremely easy.

You will need:

A curling iron

Hair spray

bobby pins (galore)

Two medium sized alligator clips

Follow below for a quick fix to your hair how-to woes:

1. Curl your hair backwards, starting from the front and working your way to the back.

2. Separate your hair into two sections

3.Pull forward front section and leave. You will clip this piece back later.

4.Twist the right side over the left. Repeat until hair is almost completely twisted, leaving ends loose.

5.Clip each of the two sections underneath the chignon. The loose chignon should be able fall over the clips to cover them.

6. Pin back the front section

In a nutshell, it’s really quite easy! Happy hair-styling nuts!

Fall Favourite Music Video

The edge of Blue Mountain, Collingwood

Despite the fact that one of the greatest parts of Toronto is the unexpected abundance of green space throughout its downtown (truly some of the most spectacular parks I’ve seen within a city), when September rolls around – it only feels right to escape to the countryside for just a quick minute. Although trendy trench coats, knit scarves and ankle booties have already indicated we’re well on our way into autumn, there’s nothing that embodies these months like the layers of coloured treetops on a drive outside the concrete jungle.

I was lucky to have spent a large portion of the last five days in a car. I never thought I would say that, but I suppose at this time of year it’s hard to be overly opposed to the idea of back-to-back road trips when the great outdoors are at their best. Last weekend, the nuts ventured off for a little ladies retreat to Howe Island – a tiny escape in between my native Kingston and Gananoque – which involved three or so hours of car time in between Toronto and our destination. The leaves were semi-golden and not yet fully turned, but the air was a September kind of crisp, causing the water to curl in the breeze. Lovely.

As soon as I got back from Howe Island, I hopped back in the passenger seat to head to Collingwood for work – a part of Ontario that, much to many people’s dismay I’m sure, wasn’t conducive to flying or rail travel. This, again, I was surprisingly fine with. I’d never been to Collingwood, specifically Blue Mountain – the man-made mini-Tremblant-like resort village that’s surrounded by leafy hills and Georgian Bay waters. And let me tell you, somehow, half a day of traveling later – the leaves had begun their transition, and it was scenic.

Needless to say, being back in the office seems kind of tragic. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised that during my assembling a typical little YouTube playlist to get me through the rest of the week, I stumbled upon a favourite (by no means new) cover of mine that I never realized had such a pretty fall-themed music video to accompany it.

Elton John’s “Your Song” is indisputably one of my favourite songs, seeing as I spent my childhood belting out his likeable anthems alongside my Dad – squealing with laughter whenever he’d goofily mimic John’s falsetto mid-“Bennie and the Jets.” Not only does the “Your Song” timeless melody hit a chord, but the lyrics – those lyrics – go down in history as some of the most memorable. When British indie-pop artist Ellie Goulding covered it a few years ago, I wasn’t sure if her pixie-like yodel would do it proper justice, but I immediately adopted it as one of the better covers of John’s tunes. When I saw the cover’s video, featuring an obviously adorable Goulding but, more importantly, picturesque shots of my favourite season, I grew even fonder of the old classic.

So, as we edge towards Thanksgiving – the prettiest weekend of the year – I thought I’d share this little clip to get you through your week. Happy Fall.

Announcing the Winner of The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Contest!

After going through many entries received over the past week, we are pleased to announce that Brittany Goving is the winner of our latest giveaway sponsored by The Body Shop! We’re so excited for you to try out the full Tea Tree product line pictured below! Please look for our message to arrange the delivery of your prize!

We’d like to once again thank The Body Shop Canada for sponsoring a wonderful contest that lets us spoil our readers! We’d also like to thank our readers and everyone who took the time to enter the contest – we wish that everyone could win!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop with our most recent posts and contests! And once again, thanks to all for your continued support of inanutshell.

Must-See Spring/Summer 2013 Collections: Part 1

On September 4, style bloggers took to the streets, models were fitted, designers tweeked, buyers examined, socialites posed, and all turned to fashion in New York City. It was day 1 of fashion month, kicking off ten days in New York, five in London, six in Milan and, the grand finale, six in Paris. It can be exceedingly overwhelming to browse lengthy collections as they are published (seemingly live) on the web. Some are for the Daphne Guinness’ of this world, unwearable and fantastical all the same, others are just plain ridiculous, and most are eye opening and beautiful. Part 1 of my Must-See Spring/Summer 2013 collections gives you everything from a Sicilian getaway to a classic trench with a twist, and thank goodness, a whole lot of inspiration for the every day.

DVF:  Diane von Furstenberg is known for her bold prints and wrap dresses, but each year she never ceases to amaze by continuously reinventing the wheel while staying true to her brand image. Diane is all about empowering women, and this is evident in these confident, bold looks that are incredibly current. Nothing says “I’m fearless” like giant hoop earrings or turquoise paired with soft pink and a plunging neckline. Diane not only gives us a lesson in colour blocking, but equips us with styling tips for our next wardrobe blunder.
See the full collection here.

DKNY: A great pencil skirt, perfectly tailored pants, and killer colour combos. DKNY, in a nutshell. No matter how many wild collections I peruse, I always find myself enthralled by those minimalistic shows that introduce high fashion to the street. You know those women that pass you by, impeccably styled? Imagine a whole collection of them, without all the guilt of staring. Tuck a denim button up into a fitted skirt and pair your favourite khakis with a punch of yellow and some black detailing.
See the full collection here.

Dolce & Gabbana: A collection that transports you to a far away land in a heartbeat, is a special thing. Chandelier earrings inspired by street puppets, souvenir scarves worn as hair accessories, colourful patterns, bold stripes, embroidered detailing and all things traditionally Sicilian, embodied the Dolce & Gabbana Spring show. It was hardly a departure for the brand, but you can’t help but love it. Draw inspiration from the designers’ daring use of colour and accessories, and look to your inner Italiano for that signature confidence.
See the full collection here.

Burberry Prorsum: The days of traditional beige and classic trench are long gone for Burberry, and what results is utter reinvention. Designer Christopher Bailey was inspired by the 1940s this season, materializing in a collection stacked with capes, corsets, peplums and pencil skirts in the deepest of colours. A dark berry lip unified each look, and colour pairings were major eye candy with the likes of royal blue and emerald green followed by classic scarlet and deep purple. A lesson in colour blocking is dominant here, but there’s also a dramatic transformation of classicism that we can all begin to master in the every day.
See the full collection here.

Badgley MischkaFeminine, romantic, pale; Badgley Mischka brought this and so much more to the runway this season, showcasing just how interesting these three qualities can be. A rosette adorned peplum top, scalloped skirts, embroidered detailing, a tuxedo jacket tucked into a draping skirt, and a colour palette different from any other bright-eyed collection out there. Infuse a little soft romance into your wardrobe, with unusual and obscure floral touches mixed with modern cuts and small details that catch the eye.
See the full collection here.

 

Which Spring/Summer 2013 collection most inspires you?

Listen To Your Body: In The Water

One of the greatest concerns of any athlete – the damper, disappointment and heartbreak that’s always a scary possibility during any physical activity – is an injury.

Whether a rolled ankle, blown knee or weak shoulder, there is nothing more discouraging than being in the wonderful throes of an exercise routine before realizing that if you want to heal properly – you might just need to rest.  I, myself, have had this happen on a few too many occasions, much to my dismay; with an old soccer knee that loves to ache after lots of impact or a still-healing torn hip flexor that has the tendency to feel tight during oodles of continuous movement.

If you enjoy exercise, the endorphins and the time alone, realizing that you might need to take a break almost feels like a non-option. If you’re half-witted about it, like we’ve all been, you’ll try to push through the pain or find a (not so) happy medium that will most likely still aggravate the problem. Sometimes, it takes an overly painful realization or dose of tough love before understanding that you have the options of two weeks to a month of continuing your routine before losing a joint or muscle for life – or two weeks to a month of moderate activity that will soothe your injury, and your mind when it comes to knowing that all hope isn’t lost.

When a few long runs of mine proved to end with a very tender left knee about a month ago, I stupidly pushed through the pain – thinking it would pass. When walking during the day, lifting my leg while sitting in the upright position or pointing my toes became increasingly difficult – it took that dose of tough love from a friend to tell me that I needed to cool my jets and find an alternate means of exercise until I recovered.

Have you thought of swimming?” I heard from about a dozen people. Insert rolled eyes and immediate disregard. Despite the fact that I swam competitively when I was younger and clearly understand the health benefits of the sport – something about this advice really rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn’t figure out why – but a number of other injured pals seemed to have the same ignorance when it came partaking in the watery activity. Did we not want to get wet? Would it be boring? Was it too much of a hassle finding a pool? Did we want to be sweating and pounding the pavement to feel like we’d exercised? Maybe so. But when I stepped back and realized that it might be my only option during this unwelcome hiatus, I have a pool in my building, and it couldn’t be that hard – I decided to dive in, literally.

I was wildly wrong when it came to all of my previous conceptions about swimming. First of all, it took about an hour of my time – the same as a good run or circuit/weights workout – and it went by quickly. Secondly, it required grabbing a pair of goggles, a swim cap and pressing the elevator button to get to this exercise. And lastly, it is hard. In fact, it’s a workout and a half. And I was incredibly cocky in thinking otherwise.

Water is 1,000 times denser than air. Powering back and forth in a pool while synching your breathing, kicking rapidly and rotating your upper half to pierce the water and pull your body forward with the most graceful of ease – all while somersaulting your weight to pound back off the walls and do it again, and again? Not a jog in the park.  It is, without a doubt, a full-body cardiovascular exercise that burns calories, tones muscles and challenges you aerobically.

How do I feel now, you ask? Infinitely better. Not only do my limbs still feel like jelly getting out of the pool (always a good sign), but after a three-week break from my normal routine – I no longer feel weakness in my knee when flipping my feet, walking or pointing my toes. And, two nights ago, I went for a light 5km run and didn’t feel a hint of pain. So, there you have it – swimming is actually a wonderful way to heal. Healing, while working hard.

The next time you feel like you need to take a knee, sit on the bench or simply give up – remember that it’s not the end of the world or your athletic career. Remember to listen to your body, no matter how quietly it’s speaking. We’ve only got one. And sometimes, dipping into something unknown isn’t such a bad idea.

Five beginner swimming tips that I’ve remembered since diving back in:

1. Keep your head down: When swimming freestyle (or front crawl, whichever you please), keep your head facing the bottom of the pool when your face is in the water. Any upward neck slant can cause you to drag through the water, as well as induce strain on the neck and back.

2. Kicking is everything: Don’t stop kicking when you come up for air or when you’re over-focused on arm movement. Swimming is a matter of full body momentum; each piece of your smooth-running machinery helps create a more effective and effortless motion. Keep your feet flexible like flippers and the rest of your legs powerful when scissoring under the water. Michael Phelps has said that, “If you’re a good kicker, you’re a good swimmer.”

3. Breathe quick and deep: Similar to most sports – especially Yoga or Pilates – breathing is, obviously, critical. We don’t want the lifeguards jumping in – that’s just embarrassing. Try not to focus on filling your lungs with these messy gasps for air while water spills off your face; when you  alternate turning your neck from side to side in freestyle (in line with the axis of your body), or pull up from a breaststroke, focus on quick and deep pulls for air that fill about 90 per cent of your lungs. This, again, will help with endurance and momentum.

4. Switch up your strokes: Like any exercise, doing it monotonously in the same fashion – especially without music – can get tired. So, switch from freestyle to breast stroke to backstroke or butterfly, and not only watch the minutes fly by, but feel as the different muscle groups are challenged. Although a tough core workout, the backstroke is a great recovery stroke after sprint laps. The breaststroke, commonly misconceived to be the most leisurely, is a great way to simultaneously build upper and lower body strength – while working each body half in unison to push forward. The butterfly is serious stuff. Ultimately, you’ll know you’re doing any stroke right when your lengths are clean and gliding; if water is flying all over the place, you’re flailing or you feel like you’re chugging along, something is off.

5. Don’t quit your other strength training: Like other forms of cardiovascular exercise, you’ll immensely benefit from other strength or muscle-building routines. A short and rigorous core or upper body workout coupled with your swimming or running cardio can highly boost endurance and provide greater ease when slicing through the waves or running longer distances. When your various muscle groups are strengthened, your stamina and overall performance are as well.

 I also really don’t mind the smell of pool chlorine on my skin. Is that weird? Tell us about your injury healing routines below!

 

 

CONTEST: Win $100 from The Body Shop! **CONTEST CLOSED**

UPDATE: The winner of this contest has been chosen! Thank you to all who entered. http://inanutshell.ca/2012/09/27/announcing-the-winner-of-the-body-shops-tea-tree-contest/

Last month, in collaboration with The Body Shop, inanutshell was pleased to run an awesome contest for $100 in Cruelty-Free Make-Up. Our winner, Sheralee Huot, was sent a beautiful basket courtesy of The Body Shop, just for commenting on the post and engaging with us using social media.

We’re back at it again, and this time, we’re focusing on skin care! Reduce the size of large, congested pores and get make-up ready, matte skin with The Body Shop’s new Tea Tree Pore Minimizer. Inanutshell is offering you a chance to win a Community Fair Trade Tea Tree prize pack from The Body Shop, valued at more than $100! 

When I worked for The Body Shop years ago, their Tea Tree line was one of the best skin care lines that available. Fast forward 6 years, and it’s only gotten better. Personally, tea tree oil has saved my skin on more than one occasion, a miracle worker when dealing with acne break-outs and pesky pimples.

So, want to win this awesome prize pack? 

This time around, we’re asking you to get connected with The Body Shop Canada using social media! Either like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and send us the link showing that you’ve done it. You can send us the link by commenting on this post or sending us an e-mail at inanutshellca@gmail.com.

(And, while you’re at it, you might as well like US and follow US on both sites too!)

Contest entries will be accepted until Sunday September 23, 2012. Good luck!!

Barbour, baby.

As some of our readers may know, my mother and her mother and her mother before her have all been descendants of the British Empire. In other words, I’m from England. Not just from England  but from South Shields: a tiny town of seaside fare, simple pleasures and small town nature. But South Shields has made a name for itself in a brand that has yet to entirely penetrate North America. This brand is known as Barbour.

Born in 1894 in South Sheilds by John Barbour, its classic wax jackets are still manufactured in the flagship shop located in Simonside. Described as bringing “wit, grit and glamour to its beautifully functional clothing”, it is surprising that Barbour hasn’t been the next big thing in Canada. Designed to reflect the countryside, the huntsman and the outdoorsy type, this clothing (and particularly their jackets) are a potential staple of the Canadian wardrobe, for both men and women.

Despite it’s meager beginnings, Barbour has really found its niche in hipster Britain, with many indie folk donning the garments, sporting national pride and shunning Burberry’s elitism. One U.K. journalist put the Barbour trend simply,

“Barbour is succeeding where Burberry went wrong by inviting everyone to wear one of its jackets rather than vainly trying to limit them to just an elite few.” – Lanre Bakare

And that’s exactly what Barbour offers: accessible, high fashion. And what’s more is that, I think, Barbour is a perfect match to Canadiana. Our lifestyles encourage this type of style and it surprises me that more Canadians haven’t adopted the trend. Although, Canada has been known for being slightly behind the times once or twice…

When first spotted as a fashion statement almost 20 years ago, Barbour went from the farmside to the high streets when Princess Diana sported a rainproof Barbour in the 80’s. Since then, Barbour took the back burner until more recently when celebrities (and monumental fashion movers) such as Alexa Chung, Olivia Palermo and Kate Middleton were spotted wearing the rain proof fashion statements….

In a nutshell, here’s hoping Canada can catch on to a practical and fashionable brand, fit for fall, spring and Canadian style.

A New York City virgin

If you follow any major magazines, bloggers or celebrities on Twitter and Instagram, or are even the slightest bit fashion-inclined, you’ll know that the word on everyone’s lips for the past week has been: New York.

Backstage madness captured on Instagram at the Nicole Miller spring 2013 show at The Studio at Lincoln Center, in New York.

As New York Fashion Week took hold of the minds of the fashion elite, this year it was a little easier to feel close to the action with social media sites giving glimpses into the wonderful world of haute couture.

With so much glam in the air it’s hard not to sit at your drab 9-5 dreaming of a seat with your name, written in calligraphy, right beside the runway.  Now imagine you had literally just missed the festivities by a hair, coming back from my own New York City trip at the end of August, and try to sympathize with my demanding desire to be back in the big city.

As a first-time New Yorker I wasn’t sure what to expect – aside from yellow taxis, neon lights and an almost a guaranteed run-in with either Katie Holmes or Denzel Washington. Right? But now, after spending two glorious days in a city I vow to return to, here’s the knowledge I gained and would pass along to any other first-time visitor of the Big Apple:

1) Don’t drive. And if you do, don’t drive a standard card. 

Sightseeing in SOHO at a snails pace. Not pleased.

Now, this obviously doesn’t apply to every reader depending on which location you’re reading this from. Obviously, if you live in Vancouver driving is not an option. But, from Ottawa it is not all that crazy of an idea… or was it? Eight hours of travel – piece of cake right? I mean, we’ve all been stuck in a Toronto traffic jam before. And who doesn’t love a good road trip? Throw on some jams, pack some snacks and a pal that can carry a conversation and you’re all set, RIGHT? Well, the drive up really wasn’t so bad, until, of course, we got to New York at 11 p.m. it was dark, people were jay walking in every direction and our GPS was telling us to go over the Brooklyn “BRAAADGE”? Pardon? Not to mention, New Yorkers say “Welcome to our vibrant city!” by railing on their horns as loudly as possible. Hello to you too, NYC. But, really it wasn’t so bad. The bad came when we were stuck in traffic, for 3 HOURS, trying to leave Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon. Crawl doesn’t even begin to paint an adequate picture of how slowly we were moving. So, look for a seat sale and do yourselves a favour. I will definitely be flying on my next visit.

2) Go for longer than a weekend. And if you don’t, accept the fact you won’t be able to do it all.

Welcome to the jungle.

One of the most attractive things about New York is the possibility that you can “stay for the weekend”. Again, given the proximity between Southern Ontario and NYC it can be the perfect weekend getaway. But, for a first-timer, know that you simply cannot see all you’re going to want to see in a weekend.
Things we did do: bartered on Canal Street, visited Time Square, saw a show on Broadway, shopped (a lot!), dined in cool restaurants, visited the East Village, toured Central Park, navigated the subways, enjoyed all that is New York City night-life.
Things we didn’t do: see the Statue of Liberty (from up close), take a moment at Ground Zero, go up the Empire State building, visit SOHO, visit Rockefeller Center, the Central Park Zoo … or my two personal wishes, visit the Seinfeld restaurant and the scene of my favourite movie – Serendipity.
I’m sure you could stay for years and still not “do it all” but a few more days to knock off some of those bucket list items would have been valuable.

3) See a Broadway show, even if it’s “not your thing”.

On left: lifelong Broadway enthusiast.
On right: converted Broadway enthusiast.

I can safely say I am a fan of musicals and all things arts related. Being a dancer my whole life, I’ve probably already performed to most of the soundtracks of every show in the city. So without a doubt seeing a show on Broadway, in New York, is something I’ve always wanted to do. But, for my travel buddy it just “wasn’t really her thing”. Being a good sport, we still purchased tickets to see Wicked, one of the most renowned Broadway shows of all time. And even if it “wasn’t really her thing”… she loved it. There’s something about getting dressed up, navigating the bustling streets of New York on a Friday evening, making your way through a glitzy auditorium and taking in some of the world’s best performers that could be appealing to just about anyone. Even you, men out there.

4) Take a guided tour of Central Park.

Our little carriage with Friends fountain visible in back.

Seeing Central Park was something I definitely didn’t want to miss out on. It is the true heart of New York City, geographically speaking, anyway. So as we made our way down to the famous place, we were content posting up under some trees, stretching out on a rock and watching New York pass by. The longer we sat, the more we loved it. A truly gorgeous setting that stretches on and on and on. It wasn’t long before we started planning a next-day visit to rent bikes and explore a little further. As we decided to walk on, we noticed the hundred of bike-tour operators lined up, just waiting for tourists like us. After a brief discussion and bartering the price a little lower ($20 / each) we decided to go for it and pay for the 30 minute tour. Thank goodness we did, because it was one of the highlights of our trip for both of us. Sure, it might seem silly to pay someone that amount to tour a park you could explore for free, but our guide had so much knowledge about our surroundings, we never could have known it all on our own. Pointing out Woody Allen’s penthouse, the fountain from Friends, the bridge from Home Alone, John Lennon’s memorial and the list goes on and on. We learned more about Central Park in our 30 minute tour than I probably could have learned in a full day on my own. Plus, our guide was a gem.

Bike tour of Central Park. This guy was the man.

5) If you want to shop, head end of season.

If you go to New York City and have no desire to shop, you have a problem. Seriously though, that’d be absurd. So it was a no brainer that a lengthy perusing of some of New York’s finest shops was penciled into our itinerary. What didn’t dawn on us, however, was how we picked the perfect time to do so. Going at the end of the summer season meant CLEARANCE signs were plastered all over the city. With fall merchandise to make room for, store owners were anxious to get rid of their summer stock, leaving prices slashed and our wallets overjoyed.

6) Download the APP ‘HopStop’

Trying our hardest not to get lost.

Even if you’re staying in the heart of Manhattan, it would be rare that you wouldn’t need to take at least one subway ride while in New York City. And besides, it’s your first trip, you need to. However, navigating the New York subway system can be like trying to find your way through the Amazon jungle, sans guide. Deadly species en route, included. You get into ONE deep conversation and you’re halfway across the city with no idea how to get back, and worse, NO cell phone reception. Downloading the APP HopStop on my iPhone was a lifesaver. Even after having a few (read: several) pre-bar drinks we were able to navigate ourselves to the Lower East Side from Brooklyn without a wrong turn.

7) Ask locals.

Our night at our fingertips.

Imagine you were sitting in a restaurant in a city you’ve lived in for a while and a stranger asked you what bar is bumping on a Thursday night. You’d instantly know, right? Well, that was our thinking. So naturally, at lunch on Saturday afternoon we approached a group of girls who looked like they’d be the type to party someplace where we wanted to go and asked them to give us the scoop on New York City nightlife. Not only did they have a few suggestions, but they wrote down a detailed and numbered list of where our night should start and end. And even though we made a few of our own adjustments as we made our way through the venues, our Saturday night in NYC is one I’ll never forget.

Living it up at one of NYC’s most exclusive clubs.

8) Prepare for subway sob stories at every stop.

My heart gets melted pretty easily. And I will admit, I gave $2 to a man on the subway who serenaded me with jazz and told me I was beautiful – to which the person sitting next to me leaned over and said “sucker”. But, one thing you’ll learn quickly (like, within-two-days-quickly) is that on almost every subway car there’s someone who’s going to stand up and give you a story about how they just lost their job, or their mother, or just got out of jail (seriously :|) and will ask for your cash. I’m not saying to not give generously out of the goodness of your heart, but just be prepared. They are relentless.

9) Map out restaurants beforehand.

Cute little Mexican place in the East Village. BIG portions, good home fries and BIG drinks. What more could you want at brunch?

When you’re hungry there’s no googling a place, phoning a friend or deliberating at all. You’re stopping at the next place you come across. Period. This is what happened to us after waiting till AFTER our Broadway show to eat (bad planning). With the number of absolutely unreal restaurants in New York, make a point of mapping them out beforehand so you don’t miss out on an out-of-this-world fine-dining opportunity.

10) It’s okay to be cheesy. Really, go for it.

Excuse us while we look over our shoulder casually in the middle of Times Square. :)

Whenever you’re visiting a city for the first time I feel like you have a free pass to be as cheesy as possible. You NEED a picture in the thick of Time Square, you HAVE to eat a hotdog from a vendor on the street, it’s OKAY to have a huge grin on your face when you’re hailing a cab. You are in NEW YORK. Sure on your second and third and fourth and fifth visits, you might want to play it a little more cool, walk the streets like you own them and pretend for just a while that you really are an undercover movie star in the big city. But on your first visit, forget it. Squeal like a little girl and rock an ‘I heart NY’ shirt like it’s nobody’s business.

In a nutshell, you only get to be a first-time visitor once.

The Sheepdogs: Rocking A New Release

The deep American South.

Origin of some of the greatest classic rock of the century; everything ranging from Marshall Tucker Band to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels – all twangy strum-savvy legends whose bluesy tales finally decorated the airwaves after being carried in their empty, lovelorn and tattered back pockets.

Saskatoon.

Not exactly the origin of too much musical genius. But, something relative about the endless plains and valleys managed to accomplish breeding the contemporary Canadian version of such righteous rock ‘n roll entertainment, better known as The Sheepdogs.

Similar to the old adage that an owner slowly begins to mimic their dog after years together – or maybe it’s the other way around – this scruffy foursome certainly look the part. The part being both country canine and free-spirited revivalist rockers.

Over a year and a half after the Canuck clan won Rolling Stone Magazine’s Cover Challenge – a contest auctioning off a spot on the coveted front page, record deal with Atlantic  and subsequent airwave acclaim in return for voter’s approval of submitted tunes – the band is full leaps and bounds outside of Saskatchewan small gig territory. Their nearly immediate release Learn and Burn spread like prairie wildfire – with the olden-rock anthem “I Don’t Know” and it’s velvety, Ewan Currie-led harmonies winning hearts north and south of the border at first radio spin.

And last week, after a year of festival hopping, opening for some of their genre’s biggest acts and pressing songs in between, the ‘Dogs were let out last week – in the form of their scorching full-length major label debut.

And it really is stage-melting rock. Some people will argue that rock music has gone by the wayside, and it’s my opinion those people lack the open-mindedness to embrace new and more eclectic variations of the genre. But, oof – if you’re looking for that drive down the dusty road, cold cracked Budweiser, head to toe denim, pressed up against your sweaty love interest at the front of the stage straight-up kind of rock reincarnation, then you’ve got our home-grown boys, and producer Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, to thank for this one.

Similar to early embodiments of what so many of us view as “real rock” – the kind “they don’t make anymore” (again, a moot point – they do) – The Sheepdogs have achieved that gooey kind of 70s feel-good intimacy on this album. The kind that’s captured through an unmistakably perfect male vibrato, growling and shaking alongside the amp-baking electric guitar solos and swirling psychedelic keyboard. The kind that’s equal parts croons and riffs speaking to love lost, love gained, the ride and all of the bulls**t in between. The real rock stuff of real rock artists.

On “Never Gonna Get My Love,” a sliding George Harrison guitar wails away alongside marching band percussion while Electric Light Orchestra choral harmonies chirp from the background. Golden time-machine highlights that preach carelessness and idle, ramblin’ freedom come in the form of Allman Brothers-esque anthems “Alright OK” and a trippy sitar-laden “In My Mind”; pacified ditties that highlight Currie’s bellowing and milky Morrison-meets-Fogerty vocals. Possibly most single-ready is “Feeling Good” – a buzzing boogie so obviously influenced by Carney’s production team with a rhythmic addictiveness that will easily coax concert goers onto shoulders and women out of their shirts, whether by way of the breezy lyrics or plodding clap beat. And all of the above, plus extras and a fall tour line-up, will remind any listener that rock ‘n roll is alive, very well and proud to be Canadian.

 

 

 

I’ll be seeing The Sheepdogs this weekend at Echo Beach in Toronto, ON – tickets can be found here!

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Over the weekend, I was seriously channeling my domesticated side. Not only did I complete some “Pinterest Projects” that I have had flagged for a while, but I also spent some time in the kitchen trying out a few new recipes. By far, the best creation from the weekend were Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries.

New York Style Cheesecake has been a baked good that I’ve always wanted to perfect, but have been nervous to attempt. One of my all-time favourite desserts, I know that it can be a finicky recipe and it will definitely take some practice. For now, these miniature versions are a more than suitable substitute!

What you’ll need:

-Large strawberries (I used 2 pints)
-1 container of cream cheese (I used the low fat variety)
-3-4 tbsp. of Icing Sugar
-1 tsp. of Vanilla

Directions:

1. Cut the tops of strawberries and core the middles. Set aside.
2. Mix together softened Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar and Vanilla. Beat until smooth.

3. Put stuffing mixture into a ziplock bag and cut the tip off to create a piping tool.
4. Squeeze a dollop of the stuffing into each strawberry.
5. Dip the top of each strawberry in Graham Cracker Crumble.

In a nutshell, these stuffed strawberries were definitely a hit when I brought them to my bookclub on Sunday evening. A cute and simple dessert that tastes like a little bite of heaven!