Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Sounds of Summer

It may not look like Summer yet (or even Spring) outside, but something says its time. Time to swap my boots for sandals, bring the shorts out of hibernation, and start slathering on the SPF 115 (yes, it does go that high). But the most important thing about summer is listening to a differsnt type of music. You know the kind I’m talking about. The Beach Boys just don’t sound the same when there’s snow on the ground. So even though I’m not beach-bound yet (not that we have real beaches in Regina anyways), I’ve picked up the second slushy of the summer and am turning up the summer jams in the hopes that Mother Nature will get the memo. 

No matter how old you are, Summer always feels like a time of youth and rejuvenation. Our skin darkens (hiding blemishes), the days are longer (more time to get into trouble), and the mood is exploratory. Whether we’re delving into a new book, a new relationship, or just new pathways through our city, everything becomes about growing. 

The summers of the ‘90s were some of the best of my life, so my summertime playlist isn’t complete without at least one song from the album that defined those summers. I’m not talking Backstreet Boys, *nsync, or Britney Spears, but Much Dance 1997. It played in the background to front yard dance parties, was choreographed into cheesy routines, and sung on road and boat trips alike - Andria & Beth will know exactly what I’m talking about.

A classic reinvented, this song is all about the driving home after a day at the beach with your best friends, the lingering smell of campfires and cheap coolers, and sunsets after a day spent doing a whole lot of nothing - and everything at once. All summers have to end, but the memories never fade. 

Driving around looking for adventure was always a part of summers as we got older. And driving has to have music to sing along to. ‘80s hair metal is the best because it’s best listened to at a loud volume and screamed along to. We all know the lyrics (you’re lying if you deny it), so sing along kids. We won’t laugh too hard if you’re out of tune.

Chilling on the beach or at a friends place requires something a little more mellow, preferably with a smooth guitar and a decent backbeat. The latest from Mr Probz (expertly remixed by Robin Schulz) fills these requirements perfectly, and is sure to be a choice track this summer. 

So cheesy, but I can’t help but love it, since every awesome summer day feels like it is the best day of your life. Until that hangover hits tomorrow morning…

Ed Sheeran surprised me with this track, which reminds me a lot of Sexyback-era Justin Timberlake. It’s groovy, it’s jammin,’ and it’s beats are pretty damned infectious. I have no idea what’s playing in the clubs anymore (seriously, I’m too old for that, since the place is always filled with 19 year olds), but I would totally dance to this. 

Circa Waves is a new band that I’m totally obsessed with right now. Their sound is very California sounding (think the OC and Yellowcard), and goes right along with a day at the beach playing beach volleyball and sipping Coronas. 

Oh, summer romances. They’re doomed to end, but we just can’t resist them, can we? For when they inevitably end, this track epitomizes the bittersweet summer breakup. Like they say “together we saw the end in sight.”

Summer romances, playtime at the beach, dancing the night away, and road trips are all great, but we can’t have any of that without our girls, am I right? And for that we need some never-to-be-retired Spice Girls! Girl power!

If you want to check out what else I’m listening to right now head right on over the Socialize page (see that link? right but there at the top of the page? never mind, just click this link) and mosey on over to my BBC iPlayer track list (hosted on Youtube). You’ll also find all my social media links up and working, so come and hang out! Virtually, of course (haha).

Sunday, 13 April 2014


As some of you know I had a birthday last week. Unlike most people, I don’t have any issue with growing older. In fact I relish it, because it means that I get to experience more, learn more, and just BE more as I become more and more the person that I am. 25 was definitely the most interesting year so far, and I feel like I’ve gotten closer to the settled person that I want to be even though I had to go through some chaos to get there. I could regale you with lengthy tales of my adventures (some of which I’ve already shared with you, and the rest which will end up in my memoirs), but I’m going to take a page from Andria Parker’s playbook and give you a list of 25 things I learned at 25. After all, I like my lists just as much as she does!

I. It is absolutely possible to pack up your life and move across the country in 7 days. (Or 3 days).
II. The best bosses are bosses with dogs &; graphic novels. Chances are they’ll loan you both.
III. Missing your graduation ceremony is nothing to get upset over, but when they misspell your name on your diploma some Hell better be raised. 
IV. Whistler has three sub-categories of “bros:” snowboard bros, mountain bike bros, and intellectu-bros.
V. Never judge a band by their hipster reputation. 

VI. Hanging out with your psycho-Duck BFF is awesome, but exhausting. We are all getting too old for shenanigans.
VII. Playgrounds are always a good time.
VIII. Cosmopolitans are not to be consumed in doses more than two, or you will end up in the ER.
IX. Playing BBC Radio 1 at work is totally okay, as long as you contain your uproarious laughter when Zane Lowe belts out BSB’s “I Want it That Way” or Greg James imitates Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video.
X. There are still places in Canada without proper postal service (I’m looking at you Whistler…)
XI. If you walk your badly behaved dog people will always stop and coo over her, even when you explain to them that she is called “bad dog” (you’ll still love her anyways).
XII. Skateboarders are the scions of Hell.
XIII. If you ride the same bus every day with a person they will eventually start talking to you. Whether you like it or not. This is a great opportunity to tell them your name is Anastacia Beaverhousen.

XIV. Birthdays are not complete without Marble Slab ice cream or Denny’s Grand Slams.
XV. With age comes an increased fear of irrational death, if not realistic death. (Though maybe we should just stop watching so much tv).
XVI. Going to the club still requires the use of a fake name to fend off random guys. 
XVII. When you least expect it, you’ll find yourself crushing on the blonde barista-boy at Starbucks. (Since when do we like blondes???)
XVIII. Star Wars pizza nights never get old.
XIX. We’ll never get back to the Disney Renaissance if they keep releasing such terrible films. (I’m looking at you Frozen). 
XX. There’s no such thing as too many pairs of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.

XXI. Waiting for 3-inches of cable from China can drive a person mad. 
XXII. The frustration of explaining to people that you need a Master’s degree for your job will never go away. Thankfully you’ve honed your “look of incredulity.”
XXIII. Famous people are just like regular people in that they are extremely weird when they are around their best friends (looking at you Hemsworth-Hiddleston-Cumberbatch).

XXIV. -40°C is no big deal. 
XXV. Self-checkouts are the best thing ever. Especially when you’re only buying a slice of cake.

images from Tumblr

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Highland Games: a (mostly) Sunday Shoe Story

There are a lot of things that I love about being Scottish - tartans, topaz rings, the Scottish Play, shortbread, bagpipes, Robbie Burns to name a few - but I have never understood Scottish sports. Most people wouldn’t make the connection, but some of the world’s most popular sports have their roots in the Highlands. What intrigues me about Scotland’s most popular sports is that each has a rather unique fashion style associated with it. 

The point of golf has always eluded me. I can’t imagine that it’s any fun to hit a tiny ball with an oddly shaped stick across an entire field in the hopes of getting said tiny ball into a tiny hole. Even the traditional Scotch at the end isn’t enough to convince me that I should slog around an 18-hole course. Though I will admit to being intrigued by the idea of point-treaded shoes. Allegedly, they’re to stop the golfers from sliding around the mucky sod (golf happens regardless of rain or shine, and I can just imagine my ancestors uttering a hearty Scottish slur as they followed the mud down the side of a not-so-steep-seeming glen into a natural water trap between hills), but they seem altogether handy when considering my interest in warding off unwanted advances from odd men. Or kicking you opponent in the shins and running on ahead. What do you mean, golf isn’t supposed to be a contact sport? 

Golf definitely has a reputation for being a dapper sport.
Fore, old chap!

Curling, one of the many Scottish ice sports, has been in the news quite a bit lately due to the antics of the Norwegian Olympic team. These enterprising young guys were thrust into the sartorial spotlight seemingly by accident (the original funky-print pants were a result of mixed up shipping), but they kept up the theme to give themselves something to laugh at on the ice. Considering how intense some skips (the team captain) can get, I think that their joke is a good relaxation tactic as well as an ingenious marketing ploy!

Aren't they just adorable? (And ridiculous)

Now I wouldn’t be doing justice to my Scottish forebears if I didn’t mention the most ubiquitous of all Scottish sports: the caber toss. For those of you not in the know, it basically involves taking a giant tree trunk and tossing it so that it lands in a line directly forward of the thrower. The sport seems to be a test in accuracy, but it seems to me to be a test in ridiculosity. Did I mention that the traditional garb is the kilt? Clearly the Scots have their own idea of what makes a manly man, and it usually involves doing silly things in a skirt. Good on you, ancestors. 

Now bowling is a sport that I can get behind! It may have it’s modern roots from the Roman Empire, but the Scottish were the ones who standardised a lot of the rules, so I count it as an excellent example of Scottish sport. Like golf, curling, and the caber toss, bowling is a non-contact sport and basically involves throwing things at other things, so the destructive 2-year-old in all of us can get his/her satisfaction. Plus we get to wear ridiculous (often two-toned) shoes! My friends and I usually take this (as well as the oft-present disco theme and tacky/awesome 90s music) as our cue to concoct ridiculously themed group outfits. Glittery dresses, gangster wear, all white, and prom dresses have been some of our previous get-ups, and chances are we’ll continue to come up with even more themes as we go on. 

images from Tumblr and here

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lady of the Dance: a (Confessions) Sunday Shoe Story

I have a confession to make. 

When I was a child I did Irish dance. Yes, that’s right, the stuff you heard about during the  Riverdance fad that swept the world in the mid- to late-90s. Ankle turning, toe-pointing, hard-stepping and all. 

It was shameful, but I went along with it at the time because I was a big fan of Riverdance (before the endless repetition of the music and my stage fright got to me) and my Irish roots urged me to dance. Thankfully I’ve been able to keep my toes in check in recent years, but I can still recognize a Riverdance song or a step a mile away. I wasn’t even surprised when we tuned in to a radio station with “traditional” Irish music on St. Patty’s Day at work and they were playing “Lord of the Dance.” Maybe Riverdance is just following me, since it was also a feature of the only Olympics clip I watched from the Sochi 2014 games (from a rather disappointing figure-skating routine). 

Apparently you can take the girl out of the ghillie shoes (that’s what Irish dancing shoes are called), but you can’t take the ghillie shoes out of the girl… And if I have to suffer with endless Irish dance music running through my head you do too! (muahahahaha, you’re welcome).

image from Tumblr

Friday, 21 March 2014

A New Quarter Springs

I've been so busy Spring cleaning all day that I almost forgot to write today's post... Good job self.

Going to keep it short and sweet, and give a shout out to the man who tops the world of millines, and who happens to be Irish (in keeping with this week's theme). I am terrible at collecting hats, but if I could afford to buy a few Philip Treacy creations I would definitely work them into my wardrobe on a regular basis. 

To me, it doesn't get any more Spring-inspired than this mask/fascinator.
The curling leafy tendrils remind me of the designs for the Green Man and of Cernunnos, one of the original Celtic gods, and would hope that anyone wearing it would pair it with a Fey-inspired counter gown.  

Anyone up for an old English hunting party? Who cares about catching the fox, as long as we get to ride around through the woods looking fabulous in our tweeds (with a dash of glamour of course). 

What's Spring without a few flowers? Treacy keeps the size of the rose from dominating the design by sticking to a neutral palette. Normally I don't go for taupes of any sort, but this hat could be mixed into almost any colour story, which makes it a good investment.

Images from the 2014 collection

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Breaking Irish

Being Irish means three things to most North American people who claim descent from the shores of √Črie: being a red-head (or ginger-adjacent), being Catholic, and being on extremely good terms with alcohol. Yet, I am none of these things, and my family is most certainly of Gaelic descent.

Clearly I’m not a red-head - so far from it that a lot of people think that my dark brown hair is actually black. It’s not. It’s dark brown, and I’ve never dyed it, so there. The so-called Black Irish sect of the population is where this comes from, which has it’s own interesting backstory. This difference from the typical Irish hair and skin tone could have come about from a variety of places, but I chalk it up to the fact that Ireland got invaded by pretty much every race in Europe at some point in its early history and obviously population mixing occurred. 

The Steenson clan comes from the Northern part of Ireland (Warren Point & Newry), by way of the Viking invaders - Denmark specifically, hence the surname from the Danish given name “Steen” - and even from the early days we were not Catholics. Apparently we’re Presbyterians going back a bunch of generations, and besides the 3 years I spent attending the Catholic private school we haven’t had anything to do with the Catholic Church. In fact, my maternal Grandfather converted to Anglicanism, and years later when my mother heard that women were being ordained by the Anglican Church she went back to the church as well. So technically, I was raised and baptized as an Anglican, but I’ve never really had much use for any kind of organized religion besides as a social medium. And even that got old when I decided that being told that I had to live by someone else’s rules (rules created and perpetuated by a hetero-normal patriarchal organization) was not for me. 

And then comes the drinking… It’s a well-documented fact that alcohol and I have a tumultuous relationship. (Is that any different than any of my other relationships? Haha…) In the beginning I drank like a fish, walked off my hangovers, and never ever blacked out. Now that’s not so true, since the last time that I had 3 Cosmopolitans in a sitting I blacked out and ended up in the Emergency Room. I still have the occasional drink with dinner, but gone are the days when I spend St. Patrick’s Day running around town drinking green shots and then be functional the next day. Apparently we are getting old. 

So I’m raising a glass of Jameson’s to all the Irish-folk who don’t fit the mold - if you’re lucky enough to be Irish, then you’re lucky enough!

images from Tumblr

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Comfort vs. Style: a (German) Shoe Story

Why is it that when I Googled/Tumblred "German shoes" all I got was Birkenstocks & Croc look-a-likes at one end of the spectrum and dead animal carcases (Iris Schiefersein) at the other? I know that the Germans are endlessly practical, but the lack of interest (or far too macabr√© an interest) in style has gone a touch too far. Shoes are the best part  an outfit, and are often the place where we can get away with being a little weird, so why the heck is comfort completely dominating style?! 

The only brand that seems to be doing anything interesting in the footwear arena is Adidas, so I will temporarily lift my ban on anything sports related on this blog to laud the artisticly inclined runners. They even did a line of Star Wars inspired shoes. And you know how much I adore Star Wars :)

images from Tumblr