I'm happy that you found my little corner on the interwebs. Here, you'll find links to other places on the web I frequent. As you'll soon find out, I'm not shy and share a rather lot about myself. Proceed at your own risk.
If you want to get in touch, please drop me an email. Otherwise, happy exploring!
I have spent 20 years helping to grow some of the world's most exciting brands and businesses around the globe. Starting my career at Procter & Gamble as a financial analyst means my approach to any business/marketing challenge is rooted in a strong analytical case, but I am always sure to let my creative side play a strong role in the final solution.
After almost 15 years working at/on Fortune 500 companies ( e.g. P&G, Amex, Unilever, eBay, Yahoo!) across 3 countries, I took the plunge in to the internet start up world 5 years ago first joining MOO.COM. It was a spectacular ride building the business in to a thriving, profitable, global and much loved brand.
Then, in early 2013, I've taken on the business leadership of an innovative and sustainable fashion brand - WOOL AND THE GANG - who offer a unique fashion experience. Our customers can either buy unique sexy stylish pieces hand crafted by our network of global makers or make it themselves with our KNIT KITS and our online wool school. WOOL AND THE GANG is rebooting home manufacturing to bring our customers beautifully crafted, unique pieces, never from a factory.
Specialties: general management, revenue growth, business strategy, ecommerce, marketplaces, community products, global/international marketing, brand marketing, online marketing, product marketing, consumer marketing, consumer internet, b2b marketing, customer acquisition, social networking, social media, web 2.0, partnerships, business development, community building, viral marketing, product strategy, brand management, online marketing, CRM, direct marketing, analysis
2013 - Present
CEO / Wool and the Gang
WOOL AND THE GANG is a sexy, stylish and aspirational fashion brand. Online we offer our gorgeous hand-crafted designs made unique by our network of makers OR you can make it yourself with our innovative Knit Kits & online video Wool School.
Whether you choose to knit or buy a piece, the outcome is the same. You're part of our Gang who embraces the caring face of fashion and re-connection to our creative selves. WOOL AND THE GANG is championing the return to traditional craftsmanship, education, individuality and social awareness while disrupting the fashion industry by delivering fast fashion responsibly and collaboratively.
Chief Revenue (Marketing) Officer / MOO.COM
As Chief Revenue Officer at MOO.COM, I have been responsible for MOO's revenue and top line growth through setting and executing MOO's product and marketing strategy while ensuring our brand is loved by all. MOO.COM cater to Prosumers, SoHos and SMEs.
We are passionate about great design and the difference it can make to our customers and the world. Launched in 2006, MOO aims to disrupt the $100 billion global print industry by combining the values of professional design with the accessibility and reach of the web: making great design available to all. Our product line includes remarkable, custom print products (starring business cards) to customers (SOHOs and SMBs) in more than 180 countries. In September 2012, MOO bought Flavors.me, a beautifully designed personal identity site. Flavors is great way to promote yourself, your business and your activity online – which complements MOO’s range of personal identity print products. We also announced a NFC-enabled business card
By applying Web 2.0 principles to a 500 year-old market, MOO has leveraged modern design, technical innovation and social media to achieve rapid annual growth and a global reach since launch. With a product range spanning business cards, greetings cards, stickers, post cards and accessories, today MOO prints millions of cards a month and has close to a million customers in over 180 countries. MOO has also become a much-loved brand, with a 75% NetPromoter rating.
The company has won 3 Webby awards (the web's Oscars), has been profiled in the Financial Times, and was ranked in the top 10 UK start-up companies by the Guardian Newspaper. MOO currently employs 100 full-time staff and has offices in London, UK and Rhode Island, USA. MOO has also raised over $5m in venture capital from the Accelerator Group, Index Ventures and Atlas Venture, the investors behind Skype, Betfair, Lovefilm, Last.fm and MySQL.
VP Marketing & Product / MOO.COM
As VP Marketing & Product, my role was focused on driving revenue and growth through the creation and marketing of MOO's product line.
We are passionate about listening to our customers and using it as a guide for future success and innovation. It is through a dialogue with our customers that we are able to come up with winning products, but also how we maintain such a loyal customer base who regularly recommends MOO to their friends. Dialogues regularly occur on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, Instagram and through our own channels.
While MOO's initial success was through online partnerships with social networks, we also use more traditional on and offline marketing vehicles to reach new customers. The combination of PR, brand and online marketing has driven MOO to new levels of world-wide success.
Director of Audience & Communications; Europe / Yahoo!
My team had overall responsibility for identifying key target audiences for Yahoo! in Europe, developing the appropriate propositions to meet their needs, and ensuring that the Yahoo! user, product and brand marketing strategies were executed effectively and consistently across all consumer touchpoints. Specifically, my team was responsible for brand strategy, off and online communications, word-of-mouth initiatives and our community outreach programmes. In addition, the team looks at how best to editorialize the front page (one of the most trafficked page on the internet) to make it most engaging and relevant for our users.
Director of Marketing - Search & Yahoo! Answers; Europe / Yahoo!
Develop and oversee the implementation of the European marketing strategy for Yahoo! Search.
Most recently this includes the launch of the fastest growing Yahoo! property in Europe - Yahoo! Answers.
Head of Marketing -Yahoo! Personals; Europe / Yahoo!
Develop the European Online Personals Business for Yahoo!. My team is responsible for acquiring new users and retaining them through a keen understanding of their needs.
Marketing Director, Activation / eBay
My role at eBay Canada was to increase member trading activity and revenue developing a comprehensive customer contact strategy . Ultimately, my team was responsible for getting new eBay users to start buying and selling while increasing the usage among older members. This meant using a targeted approach to on-site merchandising, email marketing, education and community relations. My team was also responsible for the eBay PowerSeller programme.
Group Director / Ogilvy & Mather/OgilvyOne- London, Prague, Toronto
Over seven years at Ogilvy, I worked across 3 different offices (Toronto, Prague and London) and 3 different communication disciplines (advertising, direct marketing and interactive). Throughout my tenure at Ogilvy, I was priviledged to work with some of the top brands and businesses both locally and internationally. Some of my clients included: IBM, American Express, Unilever, Nestle, Motorola, PeoplePC, Robin Hood Multifoods. In addition to client work, new business development and pitches was part of my mandate in both Prague and London.
Senior Financial Analyst / Procter & Gamble
As anyone who worked at Procter & Gamble will know, Procter is an amazing training ground for both brand and general management. Thanks to P&G and my amazing managers for that experience. I was fortunate enough to work on a number of key consumer brands and product launches while there. My role focused on providing the financial analysis and recommendations on all brand/product investments within my remit. I also was responsible for the yearly budget process for these brands.
If I remember correctly, during my tenure I was the financial analyst on: Dental brands (Crest and Scope), Food (Pringles, Duncan Hines, Sunny D) and Laundry Profit Centre (Tide et al).
Finance trainee / SJ - Swedish State Railways
I was an AIESEC trainee, stationed in Stockholm for 9 months. At the Swedish State Railways, I worked first in their corporate finance department supporting the team in day to day financial tasks. In the second part of my traineeship, I worked in the accounts receivable department
School of Business
Activities: AIESEC - Vice President
Hello, Gentle Reader. Both LHR and I have been missing in action for many months. Life gets busy! I’ve been pretty occupied blogging over here recently, and LHR is up to her ears in work and puppy training.
BUT, in the meantime, I have also taken up a new pursuit, something I have always wanted to learn to do. Yes, at the ripe old age of (mutter mutter mumble), I have started swing dancing.
How I got into swing dancing is a long story, one I promise to share in another post, but you won’t be surprised to learn that it was clothing that got me started. Tonight I am off to my weekly Lindy Hop class with the amazing Natalia and Luis of Lindy Hop Revolution and I am going to trial run a new outfit. Yes, I am keen to learn to dance well, but I’d be lying if I said I do not spend a lot of time planning my swing dancing outfits.
Here is the thing that no one really mentions about the swing scene:
dancing that hard is Mighty Sweaty Work.
Which means that wearing the kind of original vintage clothing that got me started on this whole journey is simply not an option; you do NOT want to be working up a sweat in a 1940s frock.
Nor do you want to expose fragile fabric and seams to vigorous physical activity.
So, I am always on the hunt for outfits that are cute, have a bit of a retro flair (if possible) and are comfortable for dancing. Tonight’s outfit is the following:
1. I quickly learned that wearing my hair up is critical; it is marginally cooler to keep my hair off the back of my neck. Tonight, I am borrowing a look from Rosie the Riveter– 40s girls wore headscarves to protect their pin-curl sets while they worked. Mine is not a full headscarf because I don’t want to be too warm; I left the top open and just tied the scarf around my usual messy up-do. That way, I get a retro vibe, but don’t have to go to all the work of setting pin curls.
2. I prefer skirts and frocks to trousers– first of all, they twirl nicely and (I hope) can serve to distract from the fact that I am frequently busy making a mess of my footwork or forgetting to listen to the music and losing count… Secondly, as long as one chooses breathable fabric (cotton!), they are cooler for dancing; I am all about trying to remain ladylike despite being all sweaty. This little frock is a cheapie from H&M– I don’t feel bad about making it work hard.
3. Flats. Yes, I know. I have had to leave my beloved heels on the shelf lately, Interweb. Lindy Hop can be very fast. Heels and learning to dance do not mix. At all. So, I am always on the lookout for cute, flat (ish) shoes that look cute with dresses and skirts. They also need to be comfortable. For this evening’s lesson (for most of my lessons, actually), I opt for my Chucks. They are comfy and they are flat.
Headscarf:Ardene Dress:H&M (I went a size up for comfort while twisting, hopping and twirling.) Belt:Winners (also a size up) Chuck Taylors:SoftMoc
I’m hoping the hairdo holds up– I have plans to match an outfit to a buddy’s this weekend and I want to wear my hair like this. If it works for class tonight, I know it will work for my weekly Saturday night dance, too!
I wondered to our little corner of the web and realised that neither YYZ nor I had posted in months. I saw the snow falling on a photo of me in shorts and I thought this can’t go on. I must post and be appropriately dressed for the weather. So, I’m doing a quickie all about hats.
Clearly YYZ and I have been preoccupied of late. YYZ has been very busy creating loveliness as she has always done, but now she’s sharing it with the world over at her other blog.
I have also been preoccupied as I started a fantastic new woolly (and cotton too) adventure at WOOL AND THE GANG. I don’t think I have ever mentioned where I worked before on this blog but given the relevance of my new gig, I thought it made sense.
Today’s post is all about WOOL AND THE GANG. We recently launched this cool collaboration with knitters in Britain. They’re all cool, hip, stylish and amazing knitters. Our designers designed the bags and the knitters made and customised them in colours of their choice. Of course I bought one (and in case you are wondering, it was at full price), here is the one I bought. I LOVE IT!
But first, here is a shot of the personalised packaging. Nice touch eh?
GET YOUR KNIT ON, Rodwellian!
As you can see below my maker was Hannah from Britain. You can browse the whole collection as I noticed that Hannah’s clutch is sold out. I personally also love Emma’s Hold Tight Clutch which is not sold out.
Inside the box, I met my maker
Another super cool thing about this bag is the yarn. WOOL AND THE GANG calls it Jersey Be Good yarn and it is made from the off-cuts of fabric in traditional fashion production. Think the bits that usually fall on your sewing room floor that are destined for the rubbish. Not these, they were collected and cut in to strips and tied together to make this yarn. So, one for the environment and looking good. YAY!
Now here’s a few outfits with my clutch. It’s been hot, so loads of shorts were worn.
What I wore above: Shorts – Levi’s jean shorts from my youth – circa 1984 Shoes – Silver Office Oxfords – they are looking very loved these days Socks – white nylon stripey sockettes from Wolford bought on Vente-Privee Top – Grey and White little number worn 4 years ago here (wow, my shoes and jeans look dated… it was 4 years ago) Necklace – White Vintage Number bought in NYC this year with YYZ at a market in Hell’s Kitchen
Are you addicted to Instagram? I am. It leaves Twitter in the dust, as far as I’m concerned. Instagram is all about the pretty. I am sure there are people somewhere who are using it for great social good, but I am not one of them and, sadly, I do not follow any of them. No sirree, my IG feed is all about the fluff. Pictures of cats (LOTS of pictures of cats!), pictures of pretty things, of food, of decor, of outfits. Yes, Interweb, I am as deep as a petri dish and Instagram allows me –nay, encourages me– to embrace that fact.
So, one of the folks I follow on IG is the very sweet Timnah of Created and Collected. Lots of ladies who sell vintage post pics of their lovely wares on their feeds. And the other day, Timnah posted the cutest, 1950s, bustled, bombshell, cotton dress. I casually inquired what size it was. Gentle Reader, it was MY SIZE.
Now, you know my #1 Vintage Shopping Rule: if it is your size, it is your dress. Period. The end.
There can be no dilly-dallying– a vintage frock is truly one-of-a-kind. A girl has to strike while the iron is hot. So I did. About a week later, this sweet little item arrived in the mail.
It’s home-made and I will need to do a bit of work to get the bustle (heck, yeah– I said bustle!) to sit properly, but I love the tucks in the bust region and, since it is vintage, the bodice is short-waisted, just like me. I know it’s a bit risky and probably not very smart to wear a bustle– who needs more junk in the trunk? But I am gonna do it anyway. I love that some girl made herself a bombshell dress with a BUSTLE!
I bet she had a great time in this dress.
I bet she was a total dish.
So, as you probably know, Pantone (they are the official, world-wide gods of colour trends) have declared the colour of the year to be Emerald Green. Congratulations, Emerald Green– you deserve the honour!
If you have been following this blog, then you may have guessed that I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER.
I love this colour. I wear it every chance I get. It is one of my favourites. EVER.
Which brings me to this blazer. I love love love love it.
I love the inside (black cats on the lining!) and I love the outside.
I love the fit, the fabric and the way it feels when I wear it.
I love that I can put it with pretty much anything (yes, I do think that bright green is a neutral– don’t you?)
and I do wear it with pretty much everything.
Last week, I had one of those days when you get up in the morning and have no idea what to wear. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, the best outfits are born that way.
I have to say, I am pretty smitten with this one. I want to wear it every day.
It’s comfy, it’s cute and it involves my green blazer!
Blazer & Trousers:H&M One-Shouldered (you’ll have to trust me) Top : Jacob Blue Suede Shoes: Globo
It’s March Break! (cue sound of angels singing) Which means a LOT of errands. Which means comfy shoes.
The first time I wore these shoes, no one said a word about them. Not one person. Not one word. It freaked me out a bit. I mean, they sort of make a statement, don’t you think? I thought the statement they were making was along the lines of, “Holy crap! COOL.” But then, when no one had anything to say about them, I began to wonder whether what they were really saying was, “The woman wearing these is a certifiable fashion victim.”
In the end, I decided I didn’t care because what matters is what I think and I still think they rock.
I wear them all the time.
It was love at first sight for me when I saw these shoes. After all, they are an unholy marriage of all that I love: patent leather, Oxford brogues, black & white, STUDS! And I was not deterred at all to learn that the person behind them (okay, maybe it’s just her money is behind them) is none other than Madonna.
Yesterday, we went to Rob and Ann Marie’s wedding. It was filled with lots of great moments including Lucha Libre thumb wrestling, a brilliant band – tragic roundabout and lots of other surprises.
Ann Marie decided that the wedding attire should match the formal setting (one mooregate place) and for that in particular I thank her. I’ve been dying to wear this vintage number I bought with YYZ about 5 years ago in a store on Ossington in Toronto. I believe it was I Miss You. However, YYZ will correct me as her memory (at least related to shopping) is impecable.
When I bought the dress, I imagined I would cut it off at the knees so I could wear it more often. As you can see I never did cut it off and I’m glad I didn’t. Don’t worry, I never will. Like most dresses, my short-waistedness causes a little of an issue and should probably get the back adjusted, but it’s probably a thing I’ll never get around to. Other than the back, it fits like a glove and is SUPER duper comfortable. In a few pics, I see the girls need a bit of hoisting. Oh well. That’s age for you.
With the Opera Coat (bought again with YYZ but in Brooklyn)
My diamond engagement ring.
The gapey back
There was fun with light sabres.
The happy couple
The cake was truly sculptural. Look at Flickr for robot bride/groom
The bride’s shoes.
One of the many guests in a mask. Love that it is tartan.
What I wore? Dress: 60’s vintage number by Ruth Dukas (Canadian – born in Poland) bought with YYZ (read more about her here) Ring: complete trash bought with YYZ on this trip to NYC Earrings: Vintage silver screw-ons. I lost one :( Shoes: Silver Gucci (bought 2nd hand and worn here) Jacket: Green Opera Jacket with blue lining bought with YYZ (no label – perhaps homemade) Bag: Silver bag bought with YYZ (there’s a bit of a theme here). I believe Aldo.
In case you are wondering why there were all these Lucha Libres, Ann Marie is studying at Lucha Britannia. (Her Lucha name is Chow Mein.) If you are visiting me, ask me to take you to a night there (if they have one on). It is brilliant albeit a little scary.
This is the usual soundtrack that runs through my head here in London. It rains a shedload in this country. I find it rather depressing sometimes. In fact, right now I wish I could hit the slopes for some snow, but it isn’t going to happen this year. I have some big things on my horizon (work-wise) and need to focus on that and ski later.
So, in the rain I stay and I might as well make the most of it.
Worn here on the day of the most uncomfortable shoe day ever!
I realize I didn’t take a shot with the coat unbuttoned. It looks really swanky with the top buttons undone. It changes the look and the collar again. Oh well. Perhaps another day I will post such a picture.
Anyone who really knows me already knows this fact. My best friend knew I needed some cheering up of late. That's why she sent me this brilliant performance by Neil Patrick Harris at the 2012 Tony Awards. Enjoy!
Queen's Silver Jubilee Brownie Badge I recently found this relic from the Queen's Silver Jubilee while going through all my stuff in my parents'basement. I thought it was worth sharing given the fact that the Queen is celebrating her 60th Diamond Jubilee this year.
As a Canadian, I'm often pointing out Canadians and Canadians' achievements to my British colleagues. I'm sure they're sick of it by now. If you know a Canadian, you'll know I am not alone in this obsession.
Why do we do it?
We do it because we live all our lives in the shadow of the most powerful country on earth. We are innundated by US news, culture, music, movies, finance, business, politics etc. We're just looking for a little way to be noticed. So, when we have our chance we jump on it. That's why we bother pointing out that Michael J Fox, Christopher Plummer and more recently Ryan Gosling is Canadian (even though he's probably spent most his life in the US). It's our little way of jumping up and saying "we exist".
Today, even Rick Mercer's antics can't bring a smile to my face due to this Canadian injustice. Yes, it's true GOOGLE of all companies has committed the biggest sin. They have decided that Canada is not quite big enough to have their own map in Real Time Google Analytics.
Let' me expand. I work in the internet. I was investigating the origin of the visitors that visit our website using Google Analytics. As a Canadian, I was particularly interested in the Canadian cities where our visitors were from at that moment.
So, here is what happened I clicked on the link "Canada". On the left hand side of the screen I saw a list of familiar city names such as Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Richmond Hill (a suburb of Toronto), Guelph, Grand Prairie, Unionville and many more. Seeing those names made me feel close to home. Yet, when I cast my eye on the accompanying map, it wasn't a map of Canada at all. It was a map of the United States of America. What the ****? See for yourself ...
In case you are not familiar with the Canadian map, this is NOT a map of Canada. This is the map of Canada.
I'm sure you will recognize the first map as a map of the mighty United States of America. Yet, all the cities are floating in a blue sea north of the US border.
I guess it has finally come to pass, Canada is just the 51st state of the US. Please Google, sort that out to make this Canadian a little bit happier.
The building across from us is the canvas for various graffiti artists. I captured some little men back in 2007 and J posted another find on his blog. Usually, the moment someone tags it, the authorities come in and paint over it.
About 3 weeks ago, I woke up to a horse outside of my window. Unlike our home in Primrose Hill, it wasn't a real horse, but it was still beautiful. Here's what it looked like:
there was a frog too.
About a week later, a horn was added and it became a unicorn. Unfortunately, I was a little slow to capture that transition on film because not more than a few days later some wings were added. I made sure I got that one on film (*ahem* digital I should say)
I was planning on making a short post about this unexpected surprise and that would be that. However, last weekend, a little tea shop and art installation (Urban Fog) popped up beside my winged unicorn in a soon-to-be renovated building. It turns out Stewy (see more of his work here) collaborated with the team at Urban Fog and added some animals announcing the tea house. I thought I would document these wonderful additions here as I am sure it will all soon disappear when the renovations begin.
More about the Tea House ...
The owner - Zoe - decided to use the space to create a wonderful fabric installation. It feels like you are inside a modern day cave with little cubby holes where you can sit, enjoy music and tea. You can read more about the concept and installation on their website.
So, if you're in Dalston before May 21, 2011, you should check out Stewy's and Urban Fog's work. (opening times are on their website)
Last year Dopplr sent to its users a beautiful map which outlined their business travel for the previous year. Here is an example of the map they did for Barak Obama for 2009. As you can see it was a really beautiful way of presenting data.
It seems that Linkedin has been taking a page from Dopplr's playbook. And, they've done a brilliant job. I now have a visual map of my Linkedin connections. The colours represent connected networks. If you create your own, you will see that you can decide who the colours represent by scrolling over the dots to expose the individual people.
I was surprised to see that the majority of my connections in Linkedin were associated with my time at Yahoo! This is incredible given it was only 2 years of my rather lengthy career. I guess I made lots of contacts during that time.
I'm now thinking I love my map so much I might make a set of MOO business cards with my personal map printed on them.
Yesterday I was meant to speak about social media and MOO at a conference in Germany. Unfortunately, the snow in Frankfurt kept me from attending. I was rather bummed as I had worked hard on the presentation ON THE WEEKEND! Oh well.
I found this cartoon in a recent Marketing Week and felt it actually provides all the rules of social media and brands. Hey, brands and people for that matter.
Fast Company is running an interesting experiment called the Influence Project. Evidently they are attempting to see who is the most influential person online. You would think that would be rather obvious, it has to be Ashton Kutcher and his 5 million+ followers.
It seems that influence is calculated on the number of people one can influence to sign up for the Influence Project.I have signed up as I was rather curious how it works. To date, I haven't managed to influence ONE person to do the same.
Now if you are curious and want to sign up for the project than please do click my link and show that I can influence ONE person on this interweb. If nothing else you can get your photo in Fast Company's magazine when the project is done.
The Project is in Flash (big surprise) and as a result, I had a hard time screengrabbing a shot of the collage of photos. It's probably best to visit the site yourself.
This project actually reminds me of a business version of the Dorito competition where J was a finalist. That is the winner was not based on the best ad but rather whether he was good at getting people to vote. (remember? I think I asked all of you to vote).
Tonight, I went to a stranger's home who I met on the internet. I know - I've broken all the rules.
Actually, I haven't been hanging out on dating sites and haven't been flirting in chat rooms. I met this stranger because of my desire to get a cat despite my allergies.
Huh? You ask.
Well, here's my story. About 3-4 months ago, I decided I really wanted a cat despite being super allergic to these creatures. YYZ was busy with her 3 new kittens and I wanted one too. I was determined to find one with whom I could live. That meant searching out a hypo-allergenic equivalent of the feline sort. That's where I discovered Siberian cats and their alleged hypo-allergenic nature.
Now isn't it clear how I ended up at a stranger's house? That's right, I went to meet a few of these furry felines to see if they could break me. That's right, super-allergy girl was in a house with 5 adult cats and 9 kittens - all Siberian - for an allergy test. I had an enjoyable 30 minutes talking to the breeder, scratching and holding the big guys and playing with the kittens. . I even got to hold my potential kitten - Aurora. I was hopeful as I was only just a bit sniffly
Only after I left the house, did the full on allergy attack happen. On my walk home, I sneezed non-stop for 10 minutes and found I was scratching wildly at my neck. That's when I knew. I knew that baby Aurora would not be moving in with me.
I was curious as to how long it took to make a video like this one.
So, I did a bit of internet research and found another video on OkGo's website which told the story behind the video. It looks like they went to the internet for the solution and Donkey Kong for inspiration. I actually thought of Mouse Trap.
This is another video from the same guys. It made its debut years ago on YouTube, but I was glad to stumble across it again. Remember, the treadmill dance? Of course you do. Why not watch it again?
Finally, I'll be quietly crossing every possible body part to ensure Canada succeeds at any competitive event, but knowing that usually we just can't rise to the occassion (we choke). Perhaps, we have a politeness gene that stops us from dominating.
It's important to understand what it is like to be a Canadian as we host the Olympics and I provide you my impressions of the Olympics Opening Ceremony. In typical Canadian fashion, we hire someone from *away* to direct our show. Yes, that's right we brought in an Australian, David Atkin, to define Canada as we take the spotlight.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay up long enough to watch the ceremonies live. However, thanks to a certain Swedish site for connecting me with someone in the US who watched and captured the NBC coverage.
Anyway, as I sat down to watch the ceremonies, I was REALLY nervous. All of a sudden the wallflower (Canada) was taking centre stage and I was concerned we might suffer severe stage fright and REALLY screw up. What exactly I thought would happen? I'm not really sure. Perhaps, that the ceremony would be similar to Canadian TV. What you don't know any Canadian TV shows? That's hard to believe. Let me paint the picture: think LOW production values with dull storylines. No, actually lower and duller. If you dont' believe me, here a few that I'd watch as a youngster when nothing else was on the tube. King of Kensington (set in Toronto), The Trouble with Tracey (deemed worst sitcom of all time), and of course The Beachcombers (which was filmed a stone's throw from Whistler - home of the Downhill at the Olympics)
Now, can you see why I was so nervous?
My Observations All and all, I thought the ceremony was beautiful, intimate despite the size of stadium and incredibly emotional. I loved the theatrical approach and the use of lights both on the playing field and on the audience itself. This was achieved by providing white capes to the audience which turned them in to a giant canvas. (wander here or here for some shots of the evening)
As the ceremonies continued, I was progressively prouder to be a Canadian. I loved the welcoming section featuring the 4 First Nations from the Vancouver/Squamish area. The glass totems and costumes of the First Canadians were spectacular. The procession of the athletes with a special focus on Canada made me a little weepy.
Generally, the *journey* across Canada featuring different parts of Canada's landscape and culture was wonderful. I loved the fact that Donald Sutherland was the English voice of Canada. Then, Sarah McLachlan surpassed any expectation I would have had. (she is still one of my all-time favourite singers).
The photo above featured one of my favourite moments. Donald Sutherland introduced the prairies with a quote from Who Has Seen The Wind by W.O. Mitchell. The aerial dance by Thomas Saulgrain was accompanied by one of my all time Canadian favourites - Joni Mitchell. It was utterly dream-like.
The 8 Canadians (listed below) chosen to carry in the Olympics flag were all deserving recognition for their unique accomplishments and provided a rich weave of Canadian fabric.
All this being said, I wouldn't be a Canadian without a big BUT. I would be remiss if I didn't mark a few of the cringe moments.
Where was the FRENCH? Honestly, I kept waiting for it in the cross-country poetic tour of our country. I didn't hear it ONCE. I loved the quotes and songs that were so carefully chosen from W.O. Mitchell (which reminded me of grade 10 English class) to one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs ever. Donald Sutherland's distinctive and soothing voice made each quote come to life. Yet, still I waited for a few French quotes or at least ONE. I kept saying to J "what about French?". We're Canadian, not American. That means a country with two official languages. What is this? Turns out, I wasn't alone in this concern.
Why did we screw with our national anthem? I think the young woman who sang has a wonderful voice and her outfit was fab (as YYZ points out Dsquared designed it), but I hated the jazz version.
The Olympic Cauldron was to be lit in a very Canadian manner - that is rather than choosing just one torch bearer, they chose 4. Sadly, there was some malfunction and the 4th column didn't rise and left one of the torch bearers without a column to light. I suspect someone was swearing profusely at the malfunction. Ahh... Poor Canada.
On Saturday, J and I were intent on starting our Christmas shopping. However, we also wanted to take in a bit of culture at the same time. We were in luck. Hidden Art was on and we figured we could pass a few studios on the way down to the East London Design Show which was part of Hiddent Art. (If Hidden Art sounds familiar, I've mentioned it before as we've been we've been a few times before- I wrote about it back in 2007).
We ended up seeing 2 groups shows and the opening of Gerry Juddah's Babylon show at Flower Galleries in Shoreditch. We just happened on the show and felt so lucky to have stumbled on such a powerful show.
I'm not much of a writer or art analyst. Although, I do know when I saw these scultped paintings, I couldn't take my eyes off of them. As you maybe able to see from the photos above, each painting/sculpture shows what appears to be a miniture city (but blown out) and all the details of the cityscape. The stark colours (they were painted white, black or wine/rust) on such a detailed sculpture ensured one would notice the details of the city even more than if the city was painted in technicolour.
If you are in London, try to visit the Flower Gallery. It is definitely worth the visit. The Small is Beautiful Exhibit that was exhibiting upstairs was also a pleasant surprise. Plan to take enough time to explore both.
I discovered this amazing video via our twitter feed at work which thanks to the lovely D and the other team members always has a wealth of fun stuff to distract you from your other duites. So check it out.
Here is a short video that should amaze anyone when you begin to think of the intricate work that went in to making it. I loved it and decided to post it here so I won't forget about it or lose it.
Thanks to my friend, Gosia, I was treated to an unexpected treat this evening. She sent a link to the following video out to some of us on her email list. I clicked to YouTube and within 10 seconds I was hooked.
Many of you may have already seen this video from Kseniya Simonova. She was on Ukraine's Got Talent and does she ever. She's 24 and created a series of sand pictures which depicted German's invasion during World War II.
I think it is amazing and in this day of short attention spans; I managed to watch for the whole 8 minutes. I would encourage you to do the same.
On Sunday night, I attended one of the best birthday parties I've ever attended. And, the best bit was it was a SURPRISE birthday party for me. I was caught off guard because like all surprise parties, there was a lot of secrecy involved. Also, my birthday was the last thing on my mind as I approached my Aunt's home. Remember,
I was visiting my Aunt's for dinner (natural event as I had not yet seen her since I had come back to Canada)
my birthday was over 15 days away
this year is NOT a big birthday
it wasn't my birthday
So, the last thing I was thinking when I walked in to my Aunt's home was that I would be met by all the wonderful women in my family* dressed up as their favourite Barbie waiting for me.Yes, that's right. It was a surprise birthday with a theme - A Barbie Birthday. And this big girl loooved Barbies as a child and was more than happy to partake in this fun-filled craziness.
My first thought was I wouldn't get to dress up as Barbie as I hadn't brought a change of clothes. Boohoo! I'd miss out on the dress up component of this soiree. Oh no! Thanks to my Aunt and her many visits to Value Village I had a wardrobe of clothes & accessories to choose from and felt right at home in my Barbie-wear. [I'll post all the outfits of the evening on my other blog.] However, I wanted to share some of the decor and silliness here that my Aunt Kathy had planned so perfectly.
Here's a few shots of the evening's antics.
Here's the amazing woman behind the craziness dressed in her Barbie outfit: yellow polyester pant-suit with wig (which no-one realized it was one)
All of my remaining Barbie stuff made an appearance at the festivities (including the United Airlines airplane, bungalow and bathtub)
Here are a few of the presents & cards I received: Did you notice the 41 year old princess card? I received a new carry-on suitcase (I think it's my colour). It's ideal for all my work travel
Turns out it's better built for Barbies than a laptop.
I also received a new matching handbag (backpack) and wallet. My cousin embellished the wallet with small hearts
My family thought this sleeping bag would be perfect to keep me warm on all those Trans-Atlantic flights. I'm tempted to pull it out on flight back to London on Virgin-Atlantic.
Given my reputation of being late for events, they felt an alarm clock was in order: And even more Barbie themed gifts:
Other gifts included a foot-care & massage set (for the days out in heels), a fun desk emoticon calendar and a Barbie Video.
Here is the dinner table with guests from the soiree: This was a special glass for the Princess Barbie (moi). In fact it was a glass from mygrandparent's 50th anniversary over 30 years ago.
My Barbie Pink Cake
Now for the thank yous. I want to thank everyone for coming to my birthday party and playing along (i.e. dressing up, bringing their Barbie and sharing their Barbie stories). In particular, special thanks to Aunt Kathy for the idea and the organization of the party. Plus a call out to my very own Aunt Barbie (who also happens to have the same last name as Barbie and is married to her very own Ken-- how cool was I growing up?) for hosting the festivities at her home.
I often find myself peering over J's shoulder to see what's happening on his computer screen. Sometimes, I find it filled with designs for anything from chocolate to pitas to dog treats. Other times, I might get a glimpse of a travel company's brochure, signage for a gala event or even a dubstep video.
The last few days have been filled with dancing words for the Bach Festival in Montreal. I maybe biased but I love the idea and the execution. (Watch it full scren and turn up your sound to enjoy)
Last weekend we spotted this poster in the Tube for Stella Artois. As an aside, I never drink Stella Artois as I was once told that it was rated the worst in blind taste tests. However, the purpose of this post is not to discuss its virtues rather this poster.
The ad as you can see is eye-catchingly retro. It even features a suave French gentleman who definitely pleases my eyes. However, that is not what grabbed our attention. Surprisingly, it wasn't even the classic car for J.
No, it was the old CBC logo that was included in the poster that got our tongues wagging. We just couldn't figure it out. Why would they take an old logo and cut it in to pieces and include it here.
It is the CBC logo isn't it? (here's the 70's logo). Am I missing the idea of the ad? Is it supposed to be recycling old logos? I doubt it. Who in the UK even knows what the CBC is. Any ideas about this ad? Anyone?
I think the moment this is posted, I'll realize I am about 6 months behind its discovery, but I don't care. I LOVE it.
A bit of background. I work in an office that loves to share. We share commentary (on anything and everything), jokes, websites, technology, DVDs, books, advice, opinions and everything else you can think of. Most days I ignore what is being passed from in-box to in-box. However, tonight I happened to click on what one of my colleagues (who rarely shares) sent around. There was no commentary associated with this link but I clicked anyway.
The link led to a page filled with YouTube video screens. There was a line of text which read "play these together, some or all, start them at any time, in any order"So, I did. And, I loved what happened. I started with 3 screens and then quickly added another and another and another. Wow, I'm a conductor, DJ, producer all in one.So, not only did I get that good feeling of creating, it also gave me something to write about here which I haven't done in a LOOONG time (YYZ-LHR and the MOO Cryptic Quiz have been keeping me busy)
By the way this brilliant idea was conceived by Darren Solomen. Could someone now break it to me and tell me how out of touch I am with this find.
The summer before I started university, I worked at Lincoln Motor Inn in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This was 22 years ago (eek!), so I was rather excited to see that 1) Lincoln Motor Inn still existed and 2) it has a website. They've come a long way!
Having grown up close by and then working in Niagara Falls one summer, I've visited Niagara Falls probably 100s of times and I know I took them for granted. They are pretty impressive when you get up real close.
It's just that when people especially from the UK find out that I lived 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, they always seem in awe. Little do they know that after you spend 20 minutes looking at the Falls you then have to spend the next few hours in amusement hell on Clifton Hill surrounded by thousands of toursits. That's probably why I don't always think so kindly on The Falls.
So, when I saw this post today on Fubiz, my first thought was why would a cool site like Fubiz feature Niagara Falls on their site. Well I think the video shows that even amusement hell can be beautiful.
A few weeks back J and I decided to do something we had been talking about for ages. We decided to be spontaneous and take a day trip down to the seaside. We've lived here 4 years and have never gone for a day on the beach. We felt it was high time we found out what the fuss was all about.We jumped on a train to Brighton and spent the day down relaxing on the stoney beach and checking out the fun and games of the pier. And of course a lot of great people watching.Here's a few shots that capture our day:
A great shot of the deck chairs we didn't rent. We went for the slightly cheaper option of our portable beach blanket which we purchased in the post Xmas sales and have been waiting to use.
Merry Go Rounds and Pier Shot (oh, and some woman in the foreground)
We had a few hour rest on the beach. Ahhh bliss.
Brighton Boogie on the Boardwalk. Seeing these dancers made me a bit depressed that we have failed with our Swing Dancing lessons. We'll have to get back on that horse again. We helped another couple take their requisite postcard Brighton shot so they volunteered to help us. We had to oblige. We tried our luck at the penny arcade. Of course I lost more than I won, but did cut myself off at £2. As always J was attracted to the Star Wars connection.
We took a short break after our try at gambling sitting in the *free* deck chairs (introduced in '84) on the Pier overlooking the big blue sea. The Pier was built in 1899 and is the second most visited leisure facility (hmmm interesting term) in the UK according to the Pier's website. If you want to get a real sense of tacky fun the Pier has to offer, visit their website and make sure you have your speakers on.
We checked out all the crazy rides on the Pier. However, we didn't partake.
We found a cute little oyster bar along one of *the Lanes* for a glass of champagne and early dinner. We loved the communal marble tables, dripping candle wax and of course the fish.What a perfect end to the perfect Brighton Day!