Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Sana and Ramez Get Hitched

Here are photos of my co-worker Sana's wedding! She was the most beautiful bride. I ate delicious food, caught up with co-workers, and even got a little teary-eyed during the speeches. I felt like I was at an award show! There were three hundred people there. Here are some photos from the two day affair. 

My Eva Franco dress I wore on day one, at the Mehndi. 
Erisha dressed up traditional eastern style. I love Erisha. Her last name is Lowe, too! She and I didn't get a long when we first started working together, but she's become one of my favourite people to work with, and someone I love hanging out with. She's all sass and class. 
The ONLY photo of me and Sana. 
Lowe squared. 

Look at the groomsmen dancing! 

Day two - reception. 
Erisha and her daughter, Jada. 
My and my work ladies! I love these girls. Sad I won't be working with them much longer, as I've handed in my notice! 
Sana and Ramez's entrance! Sana had her dress custom made in Pakistan (where her family is from). I'd seen sketches and photos over the last few months, but was blown away when she came down. Not going to lie guys, I teared up when she came in. 

I love weddings! I can now tick Muslim wedding off my list. All the best to Sana and Ramez while they take Dubai by storm. 

Charmaine x 

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Colourful Weekend, and Showing Gratitude

I had a truly spectacular weekend. After a real crap week, three days full of fun and festivities warmed my soul. Colourful is the perfect way to describe my last few days. On Friday I enjoyed over-the-top costumes and tongue-in-cheek dance numbers performed by ladies of all shapes and sizes at the Edmonton Burlesque festival, followed by an amazingly grand, sumptuous Muslim wedding of a favourite co-worker who looked like A PRINCESS, topped off with coffee and a lazy sunday afternoon perusal of a local outdoor festival downtown with my mother.  I also saw my friend Henry who is visiting from Vancouver. I am full of joy! 

I am happy because this weekend reinforced the importance of perspective and showing gratitude. People act like it's lame to be schmaltzy, emotional, saccharine, but sometimes that corniness is exactly what you need to shut-up those negative thoughts. It's bizarre, I have zero to complain about or be unhappy about, and lately I've been feeling stressed about stupid, small things, and more introverted than usual. This week was really cold, and trying to balance my work schedule while transitioning into being a student again has been harder than I anticipated. I've also put on some weight recently due to some meds I am on, and I've broken out in stress acne that just won't seem to go away. I hesitate to even mention this on my blog because would I HATE being one of those people that seem like they are fishing for compliments or pity. But there really isn't anything more personal than your body, and how you feel about your body can majorly influence your thoughts and feelings. While being bigger doesn't bother me, not fitting any of my clothes sure as hell does. In a way it kind of ruined my summer, having all these beautiful clothes in your closet that won't even do up. 
And then I'll have a weekend like the one I had and I remember that all these negative thoughts are meaningless in the grand scheme of things. I got to see someone I adore get married and experience my first Muslim wedding. The last few weekends have been crazy fun, filled with all the laughs, dance parties, cards against humanity, and Denim Daddy cocktails. Being back in school is exciting. I am learning interesting things, joining clubs, and meeting new people. It's GORGEOUS outside despite the wasps, and the leaves haven't even started turning yet. There's fun stuff going on in the city. And gaining weight has taught me a lesson in appreciation, if only to snap me out of whatever body dismorphia I've had in the past. I am learning to love myself at any size, and if I ever magically fit into my smaller clothes again, I won't even dare belittle or doubt that body again. I didn't appreciate it when I had it, but I sure as hell will from now on. 

Also corny but effective: when feeling negative, write down five positive things. About yourself, your day, your life. It really helps me with getting over downer voices in my head when I get in a funk about something. 

Here's an outfit from the weekend. I bought this 60s dress in Portland last February, but have found it surprisingly hard to style. It has a really specific colour palette, and any variation just seems to clash. Here's how I styled it over the weekend when I visited the Kaleido festival on 118 Ave.
This soda is so goood! 

Anyways, I hope you all are well, and had wonderful weekends too. Expect a photo dump from the wedding over the next few posts. 

Talk soon! 

Charmaine x 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Ukrainian Village

Random fact about Edmonton and Northern Alberta: we are home to the largest diaspora of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine. Chances are if you're white and grew up in the Edmonton area, you've got a little Ukrainian in you - myself included! Last names containing "sky" and "chuk" abound in these parts. Ex: Chernezky, Cocotsky, Shewchuk, Farinowski  - these are all the last names of people I know.  Almost everyone I know views Ukrainian cuisine as the ultimate comfort food. The Edmonton Public School system offers Ukrainian immersion, ornate Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic churches dot the city and random small towns, my alma mater offers a minor in Ukrainian studies, and there are several professional Ukrainian dance companies from my city that travel the world. Lately, there's been many Ukrainian flags waving proudly as people express solidarity with Ukraine over the current political situation regarding Russia. Seeing as Ukraine was the "wheat bowl of Europe," Ukrainian farmers were wooed by the Canadian government to come populate Canada and implement their agricultural expertise to work the prairies. Entire towns in rural Alberta report almost a 100% Ukrainian population at certain points in time. In honour of the rich history of Ukrainian settlers immigrating to Alberta in the early 20th century, an entire provincial historic park exists 30 minutes from the city. Not so originally named the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. It's an interactive historic park, with a small gallery space in the interpretive centre. I went recently with my mom and pop. Here are some photos from my excursion! It's well worth an afternoon if you are in the area, especially if a festival is on. Cabbage rolls, perogies, and colourful, kitschy dancing? Yes, please! 

 I absolutely LOVE Ukrainian Orthodox basilicas. Photographing them around Alberta is project I've been work on for a while now - maybe soon I'll share the outcome! 

Charmaine x 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


I am officially a full time student again! Orientation was last week, and my first day of official classes were today. My books are purchased, locker rented, student card issued, and schedule finalized. I am feeling so excited about this course, and the challenges and changes the next year pose for me. The program is teeny-tiny, on a small arts campus in the west end of the city, about a 20 minute bus ride from the main campus downtown. All my classmates have similar backgrounds to myself, and we all share a passion for the arts. I've already gelled with so many interesting people! My instructors are all actual industry professionals who teach on the side because they love the course and are passionate about educating. Everyone is unpretentious and down to earth, which is such a contrast to my undergrad experience! My alma mater, the University of Alberta, is a research-based tier one university with almost 50 000 students, and in Canada's Big Five. While I LOVED my undergrad experience at a huge university, where being a student is a lifestyle, there are a million student groups to join, several lecture series, progressive professors with cadillac credentials, I don't miss the pretension or the competition. Who CARES about international reputations? No one cares about Canada or our universities anyway. Campus can also be overwhelming and anonymous at such an institution. The contrast to be attending a small program where there aren't upsets over budget cuts or funding, and where instructors are not competing to "publish or perish" is incredibly refreshing. My course is collaborative rather than competitive. Everyone wants to be there. The program is so well connected, I am already getting updates about work experience, internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs. Feeling SO HAPPY with my choice! The next one to two years are going to be all about resume building, connecting, and donating my time to causes I value. If you're in Canada and in my field of interest, definitely take advantage of Young Canada Works or SCIP! There are some amazing paid internships listed on these sites at arts, culture and heritage institutions across the country for students. 
My goals for this coming chapter of my life are as follows:

1) to say yes to as many volunteer opportunities through my program that I can afford to take on. My industry is all about connections and networking. It's also a really great way to give back to my community which is dependent on volunteers, and to make some new friends! 

2) Live in the moment more, and make more short term goals. I am not very type A when it comes to my personality or interpersonal skills, but I am when it comes to my academic performance and goal achievement. I sometimes get so overwhelmed with big picture thinking and life planning that I miss out on things in the present. Live for right now, or for a few months down the line, not the abstract concept that is the future. Enjoy the present! Toronto, or wherever I end up after this course, will certainly be there when I finish. 

3) not care about age so much. I thought life would look differently at 27, but some times life happens when you're making plans and you just have to deal with it. There's things I've done that some people might never get the chance to do, and vice versa. Some of the coolest people I know are in their thirties, forties, and beyond, and still reinventing. One can restart, change careers or locations at any age. How boring to decide at 21 what and where you should be FOREVER. Make mistakes! Take risks! Make memories! You'll be richer for it. 30 is the new 20 after all. So really, I am only 17.
Here's a little back to school ensemble. All American Apparel, shoes Samantha Pleet x Wolverine found on sale for almost 70% off the regular price! A nice back to school find for now poor student me. 

Until later! 

Charmaine x 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

King Edward School

Edmonton isn't the prettiest city. While the City of Champions (yes, that's really our motto) has many redeeming qualities, architecturally and aesthetically speaking, Edmonton is, at best, bland. It has fair share of beautiful neighbourhoods especially in the older areas of the city,  Old Strathcona, parts of downtown, and a scenic river valley. But on the whole, when people tell you Edmonton is unattractive, they are not lying. Predominantly an industrial, very young city, the majority of the city is a sea of industrial parks, big box stores, soviet-style functionalist architecture, and cookie-cutter McSuburbs. Pretentious as it is, visually striking surroundings are important to me, whether it be grand, historic architecture or graffitied streets and urban decay. But every now and again, I'll find something beautiful out of nowhere in Edmonton and it completely makes my day. During the fringe I saw a play called The Rat Wives in the gym of King Edward school, the grand cathedral like building behind me. I think it's an absolutely stunning building, with stained glass windows, fancy mouldings, tall ceilings and brick. Inside looks like a 1940s movie set! This building has so much character it kills me. I've been feeling rosy and excited about staying in Edmonton and about what the next year holds for me, and consequently I've been stumbling across beautiful buildings and spaces in random places more often. While it can take some effort to look for new and exciting things to do and see outside the handful of awesome places I go regularly, there is definitely more than meets the eye, and many hidden treasures. Nosh cafe is my most recent find, and thank goodness just steps away from my new campus. Delicious chai every day? Yes, please!

I had a lot of fun taking these photos. I caught the light at the right time and the green really played off the purple. Finding new places for photos is also a joy blogging brings me! This wee space has been the catalyst for so much urban exploration in a familiar place. Even what's commonplace can be made new again with a bit of effort or change in perspective. 
 My shoes are Chie Mihara, skirt $20 on the Top Shop sales rack, and my blouse is from Lucky Dry Goods in Seattle. 

Have a great Labour Day, North Americans! 

Charmaine x