Waking up in the Woods

Waking up in the Woods | Sophster-Toaster Blog

There is something special about waking up in the forest. Everything is so quiet, calm and cozy from inside the cottage. The soft and hazy morning light filtered through the tall white pines and shining warmly through the old windows is what wakes you in the morning. I love walking the winding and sometimes steep paths surrounding the small cottage my husband’s great grandparents built in the early morning. The lake is still and clear. The air is humid as the first light of day lifts the evening rain from the forest floor. As you turn away from the lake and the cottage to walk up the path that weaves between the boulders you notice that the heavy roar of waves and wind from the day before have been replaced by the ethereal sounds of long ago fallen rain dripping from the leaves, squirrels chewing eagerly upon acorns, and the occasional steady beat of a woodpecker.

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The mornings in central Ontario can be a little chilly, even in August, but if you are lucky (and it isn’t your turn to make the morning meal), you return to a cottage with friends and family emerging from their feather down cocoons, the building warming up from tea brewing and breakfast on the go.

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Top Sophster-Toaster
Pajamas ModCloth
Shoes ModCloth
Blanket a gift

The best part: I don’t have to walk alone anymore.

Waking up in the Woods | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Adventures in Analogue

Adventures in Analogue | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I visited Panama for a week with my mother last year. In addition to my fancy DSLR camera, I also picked up and packed a disposable, waterproof film camera on a whim. I carried the disposable camera around me for a bit most days and just took quick pictures of anything I found interesting. It was fun and relaxing to not be constantly adjusting the camera and lens settings or checking the screen to see if I got the shot. Not every photo came out the way I had envisioned it – going back to a set ASA (ISO) and static focal length forces you to put your photography knowledge to work – but the ones that did have that special quality to them that digital photography just can’t replicate.

Adventures in Analogue | Sophster-Toaster Blog Adventures in Analogue | Sophster-Toaster Blog Adventures in Analogue | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Getting my film developed was quite the process. First I had to find a shop/store that would do it. I settled on the Shopper’s Drug Mart across town (the only one that offered the service) after my mom assured me that the Shopper’s she works for, in a different town, does good work. I could have taken the film to a fancy camera shop but I figured I would keep the cheap train rolling and get my disposable camera developed on the cheap. This was probably a mistake. Once I finally found a store that would do it and found the convenient reason to drive across town, I was met by a young person who didn’t know what I was asking for. After showing him my camera and asking for my film to be developed, he continued to ask me if I wanted my passport photo taken. After my 6’4″ burly bearded husband stepped in, we discovered that this youth did not know what film was. Eventually, another employee came to help and knew exactly what we wanted and how to do it. My film was successfully sent away! I go home and eagerly await the phone call to tell me I can come pick it up. Two weeks pass and I get nervous. A month passes and I start to fear the worse. After several more weeks of preparing myself for the inevitability that my precious vacation photos are lost and trying to find another convenient time to drive across town, I go to inquire about my film. Luckily they have it! It is one of two packages waiting to be picked up. The same helpful employee who came to my rescue last time apologizes for the lack of a phone call and assures me that they usually call.

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Even after the ordeal of getting my photos back, shooting several days of my vacation on film was worth it. There is something special that happens when you return to the old technology. Even a year after my vacation, I remember the days I carried only my little disposable camera around so vividly. I was present in the moment and committing every sight, sound, smell and feeling to memory because I couldn’t rely on my camera to do it for me. The days I carried my DSLR are a little fuzzier, even though the photos are so much clearer. I spent more time looking down at the camera or through the lens, perfectly lining and timing my shots than I did experiencing the beauty around me. This was definitely a fun little experiment worth making a tradition out of. Maybe next time I’ll get a roll or two of film for my old camera and really test myself.

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All photos by me, shot on a Fujifilm QuickSnap Waterproof Single Use Camera (ASA 800, 32mm, f/10).

The Joan Dress

The Joan Dress | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I remember being on the cusp of preteen-hood and seeing a double page ad in a magazine for a brand that claimed to have products to both make straight hair curly and curly hair straight. As a wavy, messy haired girl, I found this confusing and asked my mom about it. She told me that everybody wants what they don’t have. Luckily, she also taught me to love what I have and not worry about trying to change it.

The Joan Dress | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Even with all the self esteem reinforcement my mother gave me growing up, I still couldn’t help wishing for Christina Hendrick curves to fill out my new dress design. Her character, Joan Holloway/Harris, on Mad Men inspired the dress, so I wanted to have Joan inspired photos as well. I tried to mimic her poses and attitude but it just wasn’t working. Every time I looked at the camera roll, I was frustrated by how I failed to fill the dress out.

By the end, I had fun popping my hip out and twisting at my waist to try to fake the curves, but I couldn’t help thinking about what my mom told me back when I was a girl, just getting ready for the media bombardment all women face. It has stayed with me, mixed with the messages that I am not tall enough, not curvy enough and, somehow, at the same time, not muscular enough. What I always try to remember is the core of what she taught me that day: no matter what, you will always want to be more like someone else, and someone else will always want to be more like you; all you can do is try your best to love yourself for who you are.

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Dress Sophster-Toaster
Stockings What Katie Did
Shoes ModCloth
Necklace gift
Earrings a street market in Panama

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All photos by me.

Matchy Matchy Tonal Outfit

Matchy Matchy Tonal Outfit | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I love this skirt because it matches almost everything. The pink gingham flannel fabric can be dressed up or down and it works for at least part of every season. I get the least wear out of it in the summer but today was cool and rainy, so my eyes lit up when I saw it hanging clean and ironed in my closet. I paired it with one of my favourite old t-shirts and a matching pink gingham hair barrette to make one of my favourite tonal outfits.

Matchy Matchy Tonal Outfit | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’ve always dreamt about being one of those people who can pull off all black everything, but it never works for me. The closest I can come is the effortlessly put together look of the tonal outfit. It’s an easy way to look like you’ve put a lot of thought into your outfit when all you’ve really done is layered the same colours again and again. It’s also a great way to get a timeless look without really trying, since women have been falling back on this trick for at least as long as we’ve being recording images of them. Bonus points for nails already painted to match!

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Top Bluenotes
Skirt ModCloth
Shoes ModCloth
Barrette Got it Made/Oh Hello Bug

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All photos by me.