Category Archives: Life

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.

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

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).

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

About two years ago, I switched from washing my hair everyday to every-other-day. I made the change for a few reason but primarily with the hope that my hair would look better between washes when I’m travelling. The first few months were rough but, over time, my hair eventually adjusted to the new routine. Now I can go one or two days without braving the small, spidery cottage shower with its terrifyingly unpredictable water pressure and temperature changes.

During my most recent trip to the cottage, I decide to try something different. This time, I didn’t pack any shampoo, conditioner or dry shampoo for the four day trip. I did bring a small bottle of lightweight argan oil that I like to use as a detangler on wet hair, which I applied it once after my last wash at home and once after a swim in the lake.

Now don’t get me wrong, my hair still gets super greasy between washes. To pull off a three day stretch, I needed to plan a few easy hairstyles. Specifically ones that would hide how sleek and straight the top half of my hair would become while the bottom held on to my natural beachy waves. I packed hair elastics, a few bobby pins, a cute hair clip, two ribbons and a wire headband. With only these few supplies, I can do just about any of my go-to hairstyles.

Day One

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I washed my hair in the morning with shampoo and condition and applied some argan oil before combing. I braided my hair into a pair of two braids for comfort in the car and containment on the boat.

Day Two

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I took my braids out before bed and brushed my hair thoroughly with a boar hair brush. I then slept with it down like I always do. The next morning, I brushed it again and loosely braided a small section to give my roots some visual volume. I secured it with an elastic. and put it in a ponytail along with the rest of my hair. Once it was all tightly secured, I removed the elastic on the braided section and let it fall apart, blending into the rest of my hair.

Day Three

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

After a swim that probably made my hair dirtier, I applied some argan oil again and combed out the tangles. Then using only two hair elastics and two ribbons, I put my hair into milkmaid braids. (You can find my tutorial for No Pin Milkmaid Braids here)

Day Four

Dirty Hair: Four Days, Four Ways | Sophster-Toaster Blog

On day four I was heading home. I put my hair up into a messy bun and used a colourful wire headband to cover up my greasy hair and give my roots a bit of support so they didn’t sit as flatly.

That warm shower when I got home was amazing but I love doing this to my hair every now and then. It’s worth it for how soft and moisturized it feels for days afterwards. It’s like getting a fancy moisture treatment except all I did was not wash my hair for a few days and let it moisturize itself.

All photos by me.

Winter Mood

Winter Mood | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Winter will be here soon. Although I’m excited to experience the first winter in our first house, I’m also a little worried about how my mood and emotions will fare once the Christmas magic and anticipation have passed. I used to have a really rough time staying upbeat, happy, optimistic and hopeful during the long and cold Canadian winters but I’ve been doing a little better every year since deciding to take preventative action. I’ve developed a few strategies I find helpful for avoiding or coping with winter sadness that I would like to share with you today in hope that you can find something that might work for you.

Winter Mood | Sophster-Toaster Blog

The first big change I made since growing up and not being too cool to wear and hat, scarf and proper boots, was to invest in good, cute and warm outwear. Over the years, I’ve collected a few different high quality coats, boots and accessories so I always have something the works. I have a cute toque for everyday, a gorgeous hand knit headband for when my hair just isn’t right for my tuque, light mittens, warm mittens, a scarves in different colours and styles, a fun coat, a more practical coat, and warm, waterproof boots. Being able to build up layers suitable for any weather, and actually being comfortably warm outside, has made all the difference. It’s no wonder I hated winter when I was standing outsize, freezing in just a coat, mittens and the wrong shoes.

Another important thing I now do during the winter is to go outside and appreciate the sunny, slightly warmer days. Hiding inside all winter just makes me more miserable. Now I try to get out and good for walks, making sure to visit the spots that were summer favourites. I’m always amazed by how beautiful and serene the forest can be on a winter day. Going out and seeing how much activity is still going on in nature, even though all the people have cowered away, can really change the way you think about the season that is supposedly dormant.

Winter Mood | Sophster-Toaster Blog

This time of year can feel like a losing battle when the days are getting shorter by minutes everyday. When all I want to do is put on my pajamas and watch tv from sunset (4:49 pm on the day I am writing this) to bedtime every night, I find it helpful to pick up a hobby to occupy those dark hours. This year I’ve been trying to make fun, healthy, homemade dinners with my husband at least five nights a week. When we put so much focus into preparing a proper meal, it’s easy to forget it’s been dark for two hours before we start eating.

On that note, something I’ve just started doing this year, is trying to keep the kitchen stocked with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I try to focus on the vegetables that are still in season locally while also mixing in some tropical fruit that is coming into season elsewhere. I ate grapefruit for the first time last week and really enjoyed it! (I know, I assumed I would hate it because I hate grapefruit juice.) I hope to make a habit of grapefruit breakfasts throughout the winter to bring a little bit of summer sunshine to those cold and gloomy days. I hope striving to eat a healthy and colourful diet, while everything outside the dining room window is drab and bleak, will help me stay happy and energetic during the winter.

My last tip seems so simple, but can be one of the hardest to achieve. I find it so crucial to my happiness in the cold months to ignore that desire to hibernate every night and try to get out with friends, family or my husband at least once a week. Just getting out of the house to go huddle with them in theirs – especially if they have a fireplace – and doing the same for them, can make a huge difference to the way I feel. Every year when it starts to get really cold, my husband and I go out to a great, a-little-fancier-than-usual restaurant, just to enjoy the intimate dining room with the huge, beautifully decorated wood-burning fireplace. We look forward to it all year. It gives something special back to the season where it feels like nothing happens after New Year’s Day.

Winter Mood | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Between bundling up properly, and getting excited about it too, getting out to be social or stay active, taking up a hobby, and eating healthy (yay grapefruit!), I hope you can take at least one tip from me and work it into your winter self-care routine!

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Top Oast House Brewers
Jeans GAP
Socks H&M

Winter Mood | Sophster-Toaster Blog

All photos by me.

Favourite (Budget) Beauty Finds

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

For a long time, ever since I started wearing makeup in high school, I stuck to drugstore, budget beauty products. Money was tight, I wasn’t very good at makeup and it was what mom did. Some products were great, and I still use them today, but I suffered through others. I waited desperately for the day they would be nearly used up so I could justify trying something different.

Then I moved to a bigger city. I made an effort to learn how to do my makeup I found wonderful, small, handmade brands online. And then, a Sephora came to town! With a sudden surge in options, and a slightly bigger budget, I started looking for higher quality options that wouldn’t cost me too much more.

Sephora

I started with Sephora. Sticking to the store brand, I picked up some blotting papers. As a person with oily skin who hates wearing foundation, these blotting papers have become an essential staple.

Then during last year’s Christmas party season I decided to splurge and get my first ever non-drugstore eyeshadow palette. At about $31 Canadian, this is one of the most expensive items in my collection but I couldn’t be more pleased with it. I was shocked with how easy the higher quality eyeshadow was to apply the first time I used it. With more colours, more of each colour, needing less and the high quality of the makeup and packaging, I think this palette is definitely worth the price!

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Handmade

After these successful forays into big-girl makeup purchasing, I was confident enough to start seeking out small, handmade brands. There were a few things I was looking for when building my new makeup collection that I just couldn’t find from the big brands. I wanted makeup that was cruelty free and made in an environmentally responsible way with fewer, more natural ingredients.

After years of using strong antiperspirants that weren’t good for me and were damaging my clothing, I decided to look for a more natural/ old fashioned option. I stumbled upon an Etsy shop called Bunny Butt Apothecary that carried natural, vegan deodorant in a dozen amazing scents and fell in love. As it was a few weeks before my birthday, I choose the birthday cake scent and I’ve never looked back. It doesn’t work as well as antiperspirant, obviously, and usually needs at least one reapplication throughout the day but I’m so happy with it! I bought the 85g tube of deodorant two years ago and I’m only just starting to run out!

I then started to wonder if there was such a thing as mascara that didn’t clump and glob up. I soon came across the great (and somewhat local!) Batty’s Bath brand of makeup and skincare products. This is the best mascara I have ever used and I will be a customer for life! It’s a little pricey but the safe, non irritating ingredients (why did I put up with those for so long?), smudge-proof yet easy-to-remove formula, and conditioning elements are so, so worth it! After about a month of using this mascara, my eyelashes stopped falling out as easily and were therefore noticeably longer, thicker, softer and healthier. But the best part: a normal tube and wand the don’t fall out of the cupboard or make application overly complicated.

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Drugstore

There are a few drugstore brands that have stayed close to my heart all along. I have been absolutely smitten with Rimmel Moisture Renew lipsticks since my first tube. They are cheap enough to not worry about hating or losing but still feel indulgently creamy and moisturizing. My go-to, everyday shade is Rose Blush but I love the bold Red Alert for when I feel like getting all dolled up.

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’ve been around the block with just about every brand of nail polish and my very favourite is still the super cheap, like $2.50 cheap, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtream Wear. It comes in a rainbow of trendy colours, goes on evenly and doesn’t chip for at least five days. What more could you want from a drugstore nail polish?

My most recent budget beauty find is old fashioned Nivea Creme. I grabbed the classic travel/ purse size tin (now plastic) for a few dollars before my recent trip to Panama. I had never used it before and was shocked by how many jobs it could do. I bought it as a general moisturizer/ night cream but soon found it was also great for putting on a sunburn, removing make-up and softening up hangnails. It’s heavy duty, but not greasy, and, uniquely, still features the original early 20th century sweet floral and citrus scent.

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Some other great budget products I love are drugstore brand Rimmel universal lip liner, cheap amazon buy Real Techniques eyeshadow brush, and gorgeous Ombrelle lightweight SPF 30 face sun lotion.

I’ve found, through my many years of wearing makeup, that I can find most of my essential beauty products at the drugstore. What I save with these budget brands, I can spend on the few things that take a little more money to get a much better product.

Favourite Budget Beauty Finds | Sophster-Toaster Blog

The Details

1) Blotting Papers Sephora Charcoal Blotting Papers
2) Mascara Batty’s Bath Clean Slate Natural Black Mascara
3) Lip Liner Rimmel Moisture Renew Clean Lip Liner
4) Lipstick Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Rose Blush
5) Eyeshadow Brush Real Techniques Shading Brush
6) Cream Nivea Creme
7) Nail Polish Sally Hansen Hard as Nail Xtream Wear in Mint Sorbet
8) Eyeshadow Palette Sephora Collection Colorful 5 Eyeshadow Palette in No 10 Milk to Dark Chocolate
9) Nail Polish Sally Hansen Hard as Nail Xtream Wear in Giant Peach
10) Deodorant Bunny Butt Apothecary The Pits Veggie Protein Deodorant in Let them Eat Birthday Cake
11) Face Sun Lotion Garnier Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced Weightless Face Lotion SPF 30
12) Lipstick Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Red Alert
13) Makeup Bag Nara Rha (old)

All photos by me.