Tuesday, May 31 2016

Spotted: Glam. Gold. Balloon DIY.

A photo posted by Veronica Halim (@truffypi) on

Often DIY projects come along and I’m like, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” A similar phenomenon occurs with sightings of abstract art pieces that strike my fancy: I snap a pic and think I can replicate it for under $50 and have it up on my walls by the weekend. Oh yeah, that works out 100% of the time.

The results of doing something yourself aren’t always going to be display-worthy (I was less than heartbroken when I left my mini Jackson Pollock at an old apartment, for example) and that’s why I love this project I spied on @truffypi‘s Instagram this past weekend.

Yes, it’s working with metallic foil which is A MENACE, and the finickiest sticks-to-itself-and-everything-but-what-you-want-it-to substance, but getting a gold foil smear on a balloon? BABIES could do this (baby shower idea? hellooo) with the finished product looking nothing short of Lady Gaga-BDay, drop-dead fabulous. PLUS there are so many options. You could also do rose gold (heart eyes emoji) on white balloons for a wedding, or gold on mint, silver on navy—all great ideas you can put into production trying to use up the rest of your Martha Stewart foil transfer packet.


Martha Stewart Crafts Foil Transfer Sheets from Michaels (in copper, gold, silver). Could not get a decent photo of these to save my life.

Saturday, May 21 2016

The KonMari Method (1 Month Later)


When I was in Tofino for a work trip back in April, I picked up this little number at a local bookshop. I had heard my co-worker talking about this best-selling “tidying” book before and the moment I held Marie Kondo‘s work in my hands—and this is so appropriate, as anyone who’s read it will know—I felt a zing 0_0. I had to have it! I sensed strongly, as I have with so many new book purchases, that it was going to substantially change my life.

The thing is, I have a history with clutter and holding on to every last thing I’ve ever owned.


Came home to find this “love letter” from my boyfriend. He’s such a saint to put up with my ways!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up basically says, if you love it (does it “spark joy?”), keep it. If you don’t, say goodbye. This yardstick is so simple and yet I’ve battled with holding on to crap I don’t like (just in case it someday proves useful) my entire life. She recommends holding every single last item in your hands to help you decide (which takes a bit of time). To do the whole method, which brings you in stages from clothing to books to misc. to papers to mementos took me a whole week off work, and I didn’t even start the photo/memento stage (maybe next year).


The book says to pile all your clothes (every last item!) in one spot and go through it piece by piece assessing for joy.

I LOVED the section on folding where you get to put all your remaining clothes away. The closet you arrange from left-to-right darkest to lightest (this actually makes a difference) and Kondo even has a special technique for folding dresser drawer items so they’re all easily visible.


You’re supposed to fold them so everything is standing up. It looks tedious, but once you do it, it’s done and when I’m feeling too lazy to fold things properly, I dump them on top and then there’s only a couple shirts/pants out of place and I fold ’em when I have time.

The Result: It really is amazing when the only clothes in your closet are your absolute favourites—same goes with books on your bookshelf and the decor in your house. I needed to go shopping right after, because I had chucked 90% of my office-appropriate attire, but an excuse to frequent 8th and Main is hardly a downside. It’s a month later and the years of journalism clippings/school assignments/craft supplies I got rid of haven’t weighed on me in the slightest, and my overall home is feeling lighter and brighter. Just need to get these five garbage bags of clothes out to a Big Brothers donation bin and I’ll be laughing (and back in boyfriend’s good graces).

I found this video really helpful when it came to folding (which is hard to describe in a book):

Saturday, July 11 2015

What journalists don’t have time to tell you about your bad press release



(Step 1: Include a relevant photo.)

1. Get the name right (and gender). I’m not Mr. Dilworth. I’m not Jennifer. And if you can’t be *bother to type in my name, definitely don’t start your email with just, “Hi.” (This draws more attention to the fact that you couldn’t be bothered to type in my name.) *A test to see if you’re paying attention.

2. Fix your email subject lines. This is your headline, make it short, to the point and not any of the following:

  • Can I send you this??
  • Can I call you about this??? (Pop quiz: Do journalists want to be cold-called? NEVER EVER)
  • Serving notice. Legal SEO Division launched by Digital+ (I just got sent this one, what the hell does this mean?)

Remember: this is a headline that has to exist out of context. We may not know your company, your location, who you are—just tell it straight and it better be NEWS.

3. THIS ISN’T NEWS. I only care about what’s new. Even if it’s something under-reported, tell me why do readers need to know about this now? What has happened to warrant this email to be sent to my inbox today? Again, it better be news and you better LEAD WITH IT.

4. Know where I live. In a general sense! You should know which city I am based in, not my apartment number. It’s a waste of time to invite me to events in Toronto, New York or France unless you’re paying my airfare.

5. Know where my readership lives. All publications have a readership, take the time to find out where that readership is located. Normally the publication will tip you off. Western Living is West Coast. Vancouver 24 hours newspaper covers Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The Province covers the great province of B.C.

I write only about Western Canadian home design, travel and food, so don’t send me a release about some American author who has a new American book that’s launching at some American-only book store. You’ll get angry eyes and a DELETE.

6. Keep it short. This goes for the headline and the body copy. I want things I can scan quickly and unless it’s a newsletter, you’re likely only be telling me about one news event. So write a concise and newsy headline, put event specifics and the like in bullet points and include a relevant photo if it merits a photo.

7. One follow-up is good enough thank you. Just like in dating, reaching out multiple times without a reply looks desperate. Journalists get sent so many releases and emails on a daily basis, so it’s possible they didn’t see your email. It’s possible they didn’t see the second one either. But it’s also possible they saw each one and didn’t have time to tell you all the reasons it’s not a fit. And now you’re henceforth labelled SPAM.

8. You should have photos ready. So you hooked me, I responded, I’m going to write about this—wait, what do you mean you don’t have photos? No art to illustrate it at all? Am I expected to draw something to go with the online article? Commission a photographer to go back in time and take photos from your past event to use for this preview piece? Please have photos, have photos ALWAYS for everything you’re telling me about, as an article doesn’t exist without art!

9. I don’t write about this. And if you knew anything about my publication, or my beat, or me, you would know that I don’t cover Paris fashion shows and am not interested in hearing more or getting sent hi-res images. This could probably be number one. Because even if you screw up my name and you write a lame headline, at least if it’s a topic I write about you could get your release read. I get sent 1,000 emails by five different contacts from this one spammy PR company, and I actually just read and responded to one of their releases because they sent me something on home design that I actually could almost write about. It was American, but still, they were getting closer.

*Editor’s note: You know when you write a sassy letter and never send it? Looks like I published this one! PR is a hard job, and I work with so many people who do it really well.

Sunday, March 1 2015

Operation Vegan Breakfast


I knew today was DAY ONE of a self-imposted one-month vegan challenge, but I didn’t really prepare.

So it’s 10 a.m., I’m STARVING and scrambled eggs on toast isn’t a vegan option.

Cereal is my other go-to, but my boyfriend tells me that even though we’ve got almond milk, our cereal isn’t vegan. What animal products are in Froot Loops and Crispix?


FANCY MOLASSES? Interesting.

I don’t see any animal or milk products, but the Internet says that many cereals that have added vitamin D, get their vitamin D from sheep’s wool. Awesome.

To confirm, I headed to the Kellogg’s website:




Thankfully PETA offers a list of recommended vegan cereals that include at least one type of cereal I like: Life. Off to the shop I go.



Sunday, March 1 2015

Going Vegan in Vancouver (for a month): Day 1


cover_vegucatedI love meat, I love dairy, eggs and milk in particular. I’ve never been vegetarian, vegan or ever considered giving up meat because I don’t like a lot of vegetables — I HATE SALAD — and death by malnutrition seemed likely.

My boyfriend and I were perusing the documentary section of Netflix and checked out Vegucated, a movie about three people challenged to go vegan for six weeks.

I had avoided seeing videos of inhumane slaughter practices on animals for my entire life, but being faced with what’s going on in modern farms or “meat factories” in the movie, it’s difficult to not feel at least a bit shit about it. Pigs trying to swim in boiling water, castration without any anesthetic, perpetually pregnant cows strapped to milking machines for their entire lives, and chickens — chickens have it the worst of all.

The reason behind me trying to go vegan for a month is more about the experiment, because I’m just too big of a hypocrite to go full vegan forever. I have multiple pairs of leather boots, one leather jacket, one suede purse, down pillows, a down duvet, boatloads of makeup that’s tested on animals and then there’s my wardrobe.

For me, it’s going to be about baby steps, and trying to eat vegan for a month is where I’m going to start. In the least, I am hoping to add new healthy recipes to my repertoire (of three recipes), and expand my vegetable palate horizons.


Saturday, May 31 2014

Five ways to rock the air plant

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If you’re looking for some low maintenance greenery with endless decor possibilities — the air plant is it

My best friend had an air plant terrarium in her bathroom for a year before someone told her it needed to be watered.

That’s my kind of plant.

And one Vancouver creative has taken the soil-free sensation to new heights, using it as an accoutrement in the most unexpected ways.

Britt Schafer, of Treehaus Creations, first spied the air plant craze in Brooklyn a few years back and felt inspired to take up the trend at home.

Ahead of her appearance at Woodward’s Artisan Market June 7, Schafer shares with us five ways to accessorize the air plant.

How to:

  • Urchin shells: Just stuff ’em in and let them dry after watering before putting them back (or the base could rot and lead to untimely death).
  • Wood magnets: Boil driftwood for 15-20 minutes, rinse and repeat to be sure crawlies aren’t hiding in it. When dry, drill a hole to fit air plant. If you glue, Schafer recommends E-6000 as it won’t harm plants and is tolerant for watering. Before mounting, seal wood with satin varnish spray.
  • Terrarium: “Easy breezy! Collect rocks and accessories from wherever and decorate as you please!”
  • Skateboard wheels: Schafer simply painted used wheels and filled with a plant. Roughed-up wheels hold paint best.
  • Agate slabs: Schafer says, “I just show up with my glue and a plant and stick that puppy wherever I please.”

Basic air plant care:

  • Get plants wet one to two times a week. Shake off excess water so it’s not built up in leaf pockets — they like to be completely dry within four hours of being watered.
  • Bright, indirect light.
  • Air plants will also benefit from the odd one-hour soak, around once a month or before and after you travel and are away for more than a week.