Category Archives: Personal Style

Thrifty Hike

Thrifty Hike | Sophster-Toaster

They don’t make them like they used to. My husband and I discovered, a few years ago, that the best place to buy warm, well-made and affordable sweaters is at thrift stores. He’s been lucky enough to find some great vintage pieces from the 70’s and 80’s while I’m still kicking myself for leaving without a matching set of classic 80’s ski sweaters (because my arms were already full of other cute sweaters). We’ve found the luxuriously thick, double knit, wool blend, not-quite Cosby sweater my husband wore today, cashmere cardigans, and the not vintage but classic cable knit + pom pom wool blend sweater I’m wearing with my (also thrifted) flannel. We just can’t find sweaters warm and hearty enough to hike in single digit temperatures like this at the mall or online, and certainly not for $6-10 a pop!

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Sweater thrifted
Flannel thrifted
Jeans Modcloth
Boots old
Hat ModCloth

Thrifty Hike | Sophster-Toaster Thrifty Hike | Sophster-Toaster Thrifty Hike | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me and Matt.

When Nothing Works

When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve held very few jobs that weren’t creative in some way. I mostly worked cooking in restaurants in high school and college and was deemed “the creative one” and given tasks that required craftiness or creative problem solving in my volunteer and intern positions. Yet, I never realized, accepted or admitted that I was a creative person until I was well into adulthood.

Working a creative job, like the dressmaking I do now, can feel like the easiest thing in the world one day, and the hardest thing I’ve ever done the next. It can leave you feeling extremely fulfilled or completely drained. Unlike with a creative hobby, you can’t stop and set it aside when you aren’t feeling creative. You have to push through everyday and search for the tiniest spark of inspiration that will allow you to do the thing you love, even when you hate it. Some days the creatively flows so intensely, you can’t capture it all. Then suddenly, you get a block and you can’t create anything useful. You have lots of ideas, but none of them will work. You have to keep trying and trying until you break through. The day I took these pictures was one of those days.

When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster

It rained all morning as I drank my tea, ate breakfast, got dressed and planned some gloomy day photographs. Then, as soon as I stepped outside, the sun came out and spoiled my plans. Every time I adjusted my ideas, and the settings on my camera, the weather would change and I couldn’t get the images on the screen to match the ones I had in my head. I took a break, played with Pepper, paced around, looked at some photographs by artists I admire, and tried again. My on-the-spot ideas were coming a little easier, working a little better now, but I still felt like I hadn’t taken many good photos when I ran out.

I sat down at my computer to look over my pictures and was pleased to find a handful of workable images. I had fun editing them and experimenting with my style, only becoming frustrated with a few things I wish I could do better, and put them aside to publish today, about a week later.

I was shocked, today, when I pulled them up again, to see that they weren’t nearly as bad as I had remembered. The lighting that frustrated me then, now looked kind of neat. The forces I had to work against were now points of interest. Running out of ideas and inspiration pushed me to dig deeper and try new things outside of my usual style.

Sometimes the hardest things about working a creative job produce the most rewarding returns and bad days become good days.

When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster When Nothing Works | Sophster-Toaster

Sweater Bluenotes
Top ModCloth
Skirt Le Bomb Shop
Tights Pretty Polly
Shoes ModCloth
Accessories old

All photos be me.

Fogged In

Fogged In | Sophster-Toaster

I came down with a bad cold while we were up at the cottage for Thanksgiving. I tried not to let it get me down. Luckily the cottage is a great place to rest and relax.

On one cloudy afternoon, feeling my worst, we decided we would make some tea and snacks and watch a movie snuggled up by the fire. We chose a mid-2000’s movie we had never seen before from the stack of entertaining-but-mediocre rainy day movies that seem to collect at cottages. We put some wood on the fire, surrounded ourselves with everything we would need, got cozy under some blankets with our backs to the lake and started the movie. When it finished, we got up and looked out the big windows behind us to see that we could no longer make out the treeline on the other side of the lake. We were completely fogged in.

After having already spent a few days with just one other person and a dog, alone on an island on a quiet lake, it was strange, but not unpleasant, to feel even more alone and isolated than we already did. It was a bit unnerving to not know how long the fog had been there or when it would recede.

Fogged In | Sophster-Toaster

Standing at the window, Pepper waking up and revving up from a quite couple of hours, I turned to my husband and said something like, “want to go look from the dock?” We bundled up, put Pepper on her long, bright orange leash to keep her safe and visible and headed out into the landscape that was now both foreign and familiar. By the time we got down to the dock, the fog had started to lift and we could again see the islands and coast that had been invisible to us just a little while earlier.

We wondered around the woods for a bit, took some pictures and went back into the warm cottage to make dinner and settle in for a stormy night.

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Coat ModCloth
Sweater thrifted
Hat ModCloth
Pants ModCloth
Socks Walmart
Boots L.L.Bean
Gloves ModCloth

Fogged In | Sophster-Toaster Fogged In | Sophster-Toaster

Photos by me and Matt.

Beginner Hygge

Beginner Hygge | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve always lamented the fact the Canada, a cold and snowy country with a long, dark winter, doesn’t have any winter culture to speak of, at least in the part of Southern Ontario I live in. We’re raised to despise winter and long for summer. We’re brought up to believe winter is something that must be endured but it’s worth it for our the summers in our beautiful country. Well, I disagree. I think winter, all 5 months of it here, can be just as charming, enjoyable and looked forward too as the other brief seasons. I don’t think there’s any point to a life spent hating half of the year.

That’s why, this year, I’m determined to embrace the concept of hygge. If you don’t know what hygge is, Alex from Hygge House puts it beautifully:

“Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.”

I want to dress cute and cozy, cook healthy, seasonal comfort food, watch movies under soft blankets, play in the snow, drink hot chocolate, spend time with friends, drinking wine by fireplaces, and, most importantly, leave home with a smile instead of a shiver. I want to wake up on gloomy days, to the sound of the heat coming on, under layers of fluffy blankets, with thoughts of tea and a warm breakfast and be happy for another winter day.To get started on these goals, I’ve been sneaking some early hygge in ever since the weather turned cool this fall.

Beginner Hygge | Sophster-ToasterBeginner Hygge | Sophster-Toaster

I spent Thanksgiving up at the family cottage with a small and intimate party of just Pepper and my husband. It was cold and cloudy weather that most people would find unlucky for a vacation weekend, but we loved it. We walked around in the woods, made a tofurky with all the trimmings, chopped firewood, mulled cider on the wood stove, and watched movies by the fire. I wore wool socks, turtlenecks, flannel, denim, warm sweaters and thick nylons throughout the trip. We got cozy and really enjoyed each other’s company. I can’t wait for more of this.

Beginner Hygge | Sophster-Toaster

Turtleneck ModCloth
Skirt ModCloth
Nylons Joe Fresh
Accessories old
Slippers White Noise Maker

Beginner Hygge | Sophster-Toaster Beginner Hygge | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by me.