#WomanCrushWednesday – @kittenrainbow

image00 by Amarina Norris  |  photo via @kittenrainbow

As this is my very first post, a brief introduction. I’m Amarina, owner of Ursa Major+, a longtime lover of Fat Girl Food Squad, and newly appointed Fashion Team member! I’ll be contributing to future fashion and style content as well as sharing my Instagram #womancrushwednesday posts every week.

For my premiere Woman Crush Wednesday with Fat Girl Food Squad, I chose a favourite human from my early Instagram days, @kittenrainbow. A fellow Canadian, this West Coast lady makes the most darling vintage outfits look totally badass. Thrift sorceress and body positive queen, she’s babein’ all day long (I stole “babein’” as a verb from her, I highly recommend using it).

You can find Amarina babein’ it up with her vintage and handmade plus size clothing line, Ursa Major+, on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
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[VIDEO]: Drunk Cooking with Simon & Ama – Episode 1

Introduction written by Simon Gilbert

“Some of my most liked things on Instagram are just us being stupid,” Ama confided in me one night.
“Well, yeah. We’re kind of hilarious,” I replied, half joking.
“Do you want to film us getting drunk and making food?”
“Um, obviously?”

And that was the inception of Drunk Cooking with Simon and Ama.

If you’ve ever hung out with Ama and me together, you’ll know exactly what to expect from Drunk Cooking with Simon and Ama. If you haven’t, you’re in for a night of bizarre segways, strange noises, and delicious foods.

Basically, on every episode we’re going to be cooking with booze and making some kind of cocktail. We don’t have many kitchen gadgets (we currently don’t know where the corkscrew is), so this is going to be stuff you can make yourself too!

Because this is the kind of stuff we do on a nightly basis, you can expect an episode on the reg. Ama’s day-job is going into crunch time at the moment, so the next episode won’t be until mid-March, but after that you can expect them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Finally, we want you guys to be involved with this. Is there something you want to see us make? Do you want the shopping list before hand so you can cook along with us? Do you want SEXY NAKED COOKING?! Let us know in the comments or on Facebook. It would also help us out if you like/favourite/subscribe, but we don’t want to be those people. So do what feels right!

(For the sake of full disclosure, Sobeys gave us a $25 gift certificate if we talked about their app. That being said, it was pretty easy to use, and that’s where we found the shandy recipe. Give it a shot if you’re a regular Sobeys shopper and don’t like using paper shopping lists. We’ll keep you posted if we get any sponsorships in the future.)

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Atmosphere – Gray Nook

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I’d recognize this breakfast nook of San Francisco photographer Cindy Loughridge any day of the week as it’s featured in a good many for her family’s Instagrams. Follow Cindy right now!

2. Coffee – Samuel James Coffee

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Beautiful light in the Harbord location of Samuel James by Toronto photographer Celine Kim.

3. Big Bites – Winter Abundance Bowl 

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Trying out this recipe from My New Roots pronto!

4. Little Bites – Lemon curd con miele e cardamomo

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Everyone knows I’m a sucker for lemon curd.

5. Big Bites – Stacked

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And the straight-up foodporn of the week goes to this smoked meat sammich.

Say No to Bad Food: Chef Edward Furlani’s Inspired Brunch Pop-Up

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Photos by Yuli Scheidt

For some time now, both Yuli and myself have been following the epic food ‘Grams of a chef who went by the name of @PrettyBoyLarge (real name Edward Furlani). He would throw down photos of incredible dishes following his Italian kitchen upbringing and nods to his Spanish roots (with family living in the Dominican Republic) and inspirational hash-tags/quotes (#SayNoToBadFood).

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After many comments and mutual admiration’s shared over Instagram, we decided it was time to sit down and finally have the in-person meeting over food that we had been longing to have. Thus, we were invited to Furlani’s newest kitchen venture: pop-up brunch at noted Argentina/Mexican cafe, El Almacen Yerba Mate Café (1078 Queen Street West).

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Walking into El Almacen that cold Saturday morning, we were greeted with PrettyBoy’s large smiling face inviting us into “mi casa”, as he called it. Hugs exchanged and deep chats regarding all things food and drink. Edward told us that he started the brunch at El Almacen as fun but also in memory of his father. “For my Dad, breakfast was something special. With my mom living back in the Dominican and my little brother in London, all I’ve got is feeding the masses!” With his inspiration leading the way, we were more excited now to try his brunch menu.

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The menu is changed from week to week, with the offerings scrawled out on a simple white piece of paper. Edward tells us they try to include both the Argentina and Spanish roots in all of the dishes, which was evident from the offerings. All of the brunch dishes fall into hugely affordable range ($7.75 – $13.75) for some inspired brunch. For my dish, I decided to take in the Huevos Coramajo ($8.75) which consisted of 2 baked eggs, home fries, onions, red peppers and ham. Yuli took in an order of Chorizo Benedicto ($13.75) which consisted of house-made chorizo, 2 poached eggs, hollandaise and home fries. To round out out brunch, Edward suggested we try out the Argentina tea ritual of sharing the Yerba Mate.

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As we sat around the table in the bright and open cafe, passing around the Yerba Mate in its traditional guard, our brunch dishes came out quickly after ordering. They were complex but simple. For my Huevos Coramajo, the plate looked like a piece of art being presented with finely chopped veg and perfectly cubed home fries sprinkled a top the plate. The eggs were perfect and inviting me to eat them as soon as the plate set itself down on the table. First bite: heaven. All I could think was, “this is so fresh and doesn’t feel heavy, yet there is so much food.” It seems like my sentiments were echoed across the table with Yuli and our beautiful brunch companion for the day, Kristina feeling similarly about their dishes.

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Edward has told us that what started out as a fun brunch pop-up has turned into something a bit more and they have extended the run into the New Year. So if you’re looking for new and exciting places to check out with a passionate chef in the kitchen, you should check out this brunch pop-up on Saturday and Sunday at El Almacen Yerba Mate Café from 10AM-2PM.

Lookin’ Good Girl: Our Fave Crafty, DIY & Fashionable IGers

When I started Lookin’ Good Girl back in May it was with a simple (and totally awkward) braid crown video tutorial. I started LGG with the intension of bringing easy, fun and affordably as well as crafty, DIY how-tos to our readers. Under the LGG umbrella we’ve been able to publish a lot of sweet, funny, personal and powerful posts from our writers. It’s become increasingly apparent that those posts need to have a home on the site. They’ve become a huge part of our voice and also given people a voice on subjects close to their heart. LGG has been the home to where a lot of ideas about body positivity have been shared and that’s an essential part of who we are. But equally important I think is that Lookin’ Good Girl returns back to it’s DIY roots, so that’s why we’ve made the decision to break up Wednesdays on the site a bit.

From now on every second Wednesday will continue to be Lookin’ Good Girl, but on the alternating Wednesday will be Real Talk. In Real Talk we plan to post videos like our recent In Conversation With… post, and things related to the more personal and political. We know a lot of our readers have come to love reading the posts on Wednesdays, and we hope the change up makes as much sense to them as it did to us when me made the choice to do it like this.

With that here’s this week’s Lookin’ Good Girl. I polled some of contributors and found out who their favourite DIY, crafty, home-cookin’ and just plain fashionable Instagrammers are. I present them to you  in no particular order!

elaineho

@elaineho – I’m a huge fan of all the jewelry makers I’m seeing around online making things that are vaguely occult like out of raw and natural materials.

mingdoyle

@mingdoyle – mega talented freelance illustrator and comic maker, a favourite of many FGFS writers.

topshelfpreserves

@topshelfpreserves – small batch badass in Ottawa (branding done by another IG fave @RossProulx)

woolgatheringottawa

@woolgatheringottawa – wicked crafty wool and thread lady in Ottawa

truefat

@truefat – this girl has got it going on. fat, fashionable, foodie. plus cats.

dltvo

@dltvo – this lady makes vegan and microbiotic look damn easy and beautiful.

lagusta

@lagusta – Jodie nominated this one because “@lagusta has great vegan chocolates, is the biggest sweetheart, AND the best colorful vintage get ups. BOOM.”

crystal_cave

@crystal_cave – basically the most fierce fat babe on the West Coast or any coast. She runs with the illest crowd and I live vicariously through dat life.

megmakins

@megmakins – Like most IG accounts I don’t remember how I found this one, but I can’t stop loving her. DIY lifer to be sure.

doorsixteen

@doorsixteen – this lady did the ultimate in DIY, she gutted her kitchen and titled it herself. Dreamy white subway tiles with black grout of course.

franallin

@franallin – a girl with wicked rad style of her own but also the provider of the best Toronto #streetstyle captures your bound to find on IG

Hey, Little Sister: Talking Shop with Vanessa Stachiw of Winnipeg’s Little Sister Coffee Maker

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By Jodie Lanye, photos by Cindy Titus.

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When I set foot in Little Sister Coffee Maker on that first Wednesday they were open, I could feel my eyes widening. I’d known what to expect, to an extent, from their Instagram account – but the reality was so much better. It was official – I was in love with a coffee shop. I declared right out loud that first day, “I wanna move in here!”

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Housed in a tucked-away little spot below ground at 470 River Avenue, is the place that charmed me so. The LSCM team renovated the space nearly entirely themselves, transforming it in an impressive two months.

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While its previous incantation as a wine bar left memories of a half-assed opium den, Little Sister is blanketed with a surprising amount of light from its floor-to-ceiling windows making up the front wall. A beautiful blonde wood bar faces outwards at the perfect height to lean and sip espresso, flanked by a Marimekko tapestry. Glossy white subway tiles cover the counter and tiny hexagonal tiles lie underfoot as you move through the cozy, but lively shop. Herman Miller tables and chairs line the textured rock wall and, partnered with a bench, make up the seating area.

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It’s modern and minimal, but decidedly femme with its sweet details and playfully sophisticated splashes of pastel mint.  And, of course, they have the best hand-crafted beverages in Osborne Village – if not the city –  to back it all up.

Photographer and dream babe, Cindy Titus, and I made our way down to LSCM one night to chat and giggle with co-owner Vanessa Stachiw over prossecco and scotch.

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FGFS: So I just love this place the most ever. Seriously. Okay, now that I got that out of the way can you tell me a bit about how you came to love coffee so much and what your experience as a barista is?

VS: Well, I worked at the café next to my house in high school and I guess I just liked it! I thought coffee shop lifestyle was nice. Then I worked at Espresso Junction at The Forks for four years, which was not the nicest coffee shop, but lots of fun girls worked there and it was like a party all the time.

When I did the explore program in university, I went to Montreal and visited all the great coffee shops and was like, “I can do this. I’m gonna do this. It’s gonna be so great.” I remember emailing Nils (Vik, owner of Parlour Coffee) and Melissa (Nils’ wife/Vanessa’s sister) and said “I’m opening up a coffee shop when I’m done university, it’s happening.” And Nils emailed me back and said, “Actually I’m opening up a coffee shop now.” So, I worked there for two years and it was great and I was so happy. Then I graduated from university and me and Nils started talking.

FGFS: What did you take in university? 

VS: Oh, just a B.A. in French Studies. Pretty basic.

FGFS: Wait, you don’t sign B.A. in your email signature do you?

VS: Oh yeah, of course I do. (Laughing) No, no of COURSE I don’t.

 FGFS: Okay, good or I was going to have to make fun of you.

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 VS: So, I started thinking about doing my Master’s because that’s just what you do next. I started taking honors courses and was like, “Nope. No.” So I dropped out and called Nils and we started looking. We knew we wanted to be in Osborne Village and kind of cold called this place. We saw the ‘For Lease’ sign knowing that it wasn’t for this space. But they asked what we had in mind and we got the space!

 FGFS: Obviously! I’m so glad you did! So, it was strategic for you in be in Osborne Village?

VS: Nils and I have both lived in Osborne Village for several years and even though we recently both moved out of the neighbourhood, we just love it. It’s such a great neighbourhood! It’s nice to be part of something here, where everyone likes to support local everything. It’s so weird that there hasn’t been an independent coffee shop around here.

FGFS: Are there special things that you did differently with LSCM because you were in Osborne Village, or were those just things that came about organically?

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VS: We wanted to do everything different from Parlour. We wanted to establish ourselves as a different place than Parlour and not to make it like Nils is opening up a chain or anything. We’re using different equipment, brewing different coffee, our hours are different – the major things are the coffee and the equipment. 

FGFS: Is it purposeful that it’s a lot more feminine in here and that it’s called Little Sister?

VS: Yeah, well, Little Sister is actually a double entendre because we’re Parlour’s little sister, but I’m also a little sister. Nils and I designed this space with our friend Tom. Nils has a background in design, so he really brought it together. And yeah, there is a gal involved and –

NV: And I mean, look at this guy (references self)!

VS: Yeah, there’s a very feminine man involved(laughs)! But, yes, it’s on purpose.

FGFS: What has it been like so far, being open?

VS: It’s been funny – it’s been so great! Our opening day was so busy, we were really overwhelmed and so grateful. It’s mellowed out a bit since[that first weekend], but it’s been so fun and really great. Everything has gone way more smoothly than we imagined. I think people like it and they think it’s nice: we’re happy-go-lucky people and when happy people serve you, you’re happy too.

FGFS: So, tell me about all of these new coffees and – if I spy correctly, you’re doing drip coffee now too?

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VS: Our main roaster is George Howell and he is kind of the granddaddy of coffee roasting in the states. He’s a real guy and his coffee is so delightful. They roast just outside of Boston. He’s done so many things for the coffee industry, so we’re lucky and proud to have him and it’s new to Winnipeg. We’re also carrying Bows and Arrows from Victoria. They are getting to be the best roasters in Canada – they’re definitely in the running.

We are doing regular coffee. We have a batch brewer and it produces great coffee. The response from people has really been across the board. People’s reactions to having good drip coffee is funny.  Some people are just not interested because the last drip coffee they had was bad and gross from – wherever. Pick a chain. But here, it’s delicious and the machine actually mimics a pour-over situation.

FGFS: So, is running a coffee shop everything you hoped it would be?

VS: It is and it isn’t. It’s really fun and I’m really happy. It’s also a lot of work – I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to be this much work. The last two months have been renovations, but now that it’s open it’s a lot better. We have some super allstar staff that know how to do everything better than us, so that’s made things really good. Yesterday, in my first week, I was able to take the morning off! I definitely feel different, but I couldn’t have expected how this would feel. I feel really nice about what we made.

Vagrants from The Black Lodge roll into Toronto

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Recently a friend of mine contacted me about From The Black Lodge letting me know they were coming into Toronto. I admitted to her that I had not heard of them before, but she told me that if I already owned a Pizza Pentagram shirt – then I would be a fan of the self-proclaimed gypsy shop.

From The Black Lodge operates by bringing small batch and independent designers to the public. As previously mentioned, they are coming to Toronto as part of their Black Lodge Tour on Saturday October 19, 2013 at Double Double Land from 11AM-6PM.

I had the chance to chat with Amanda Moore and Jenn VonHaunt via e-mail who told me a bit more about the tour and From The Black Lodge:

(1) Tell me about From the Black Lodge?

The idea was to gather up the wares of designers that I respect and admire, and take them on the road. I wanted to create a space where people could share in my appreciation and admiration for hand crafted goods, and a traveling pop up shop seemed like a fun effective way to do that! So we have an online store, but we focus on pop up events, showcasing the goods we travel with as well as local artists, bands, and whoever else pops up on our radar in that city.

(2) Why did you choose Toronto for your next event?

When we were putting together our tour schedule, Toronto was an obvious stop. We have a great fan base on social media from this area and we know a few artists and designers that we wanted meet too. Jill Carr is here and she has been a good friend for some time and has been a critical part of setting up our Toronto party.

(3) You’re showcasing a vintage collection from Jill Carr, tell me how did you come to work with her.

Jill contacted me as an admirer of my jewelry company, Adelina Mictlan, to carry on her website. We hit it off and have kept in contact since.

(4) You describe yourself as gypsy goods, what does that entail?

We’re trying to convey the idea that this is a traveling operation, and a low budget one at that. The behind the scenes aspect of this Black Lodge Tour is that we are 3 people and a medium sized dog packed into a Honda Passport, crashing on people’s couches each night.

(5) Is the Toronto event free to attend?

YES! We have worked really hard to keep costs down and have been blown away by the generosity of people to open their doors, businesses, homes, etc to us to have these events where we can showcase what we’re doing!

(6) What inspired the Black Lodge Tour?

From The Black Lodge started as a traveling pop up shop that promotes artists and designers who primarily sell on the Internet. We wanted to get their work out there and into the hands of people who may not have known their work before.

(7) How long has Black Lodge been around?

This is our first “tour” but the idea started when I was invited, as a jewelry designer, to PsychFest in Austin in April of this year. I had this crazy idea that since I had the opportunity to show my wares, I wanted to share that opportunity with the friends/designers I’ve met along the way. So I took that idea and got a little carried away, and here we are now, living out of an SUV for 6 weeks.

(8) From your website, it seems you love working with other artisans and jewellers and designers. How do you make these connections.

I’m pretty all over the place. It started locally and then because of social media, spread really quickly. Now we find people on Instagram, Etsy, and sometimes at house parties.

(9) What inspires Black Lodge?

The name comes from the TV Show, Twin Peaks, which certainly lends itself to a lot of inspiration. We like dark, occult themes and otherworldly ideas. The X-Files has been a big inspiration as well. Besides that, we’re inspired by designers and artists who are doing what they love and making a living off of it.

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Guest Pinner: Janine Isabelle of Belle

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In that round-about -way that is becoming the norm I met a wonderful person on Instagram recently. The story goes that I followed her all but randomly and the very next day I opened my email to see the sweetest email I think I’ve ever received, asking point blank if we could be friends because we so obviously should be. In Janine Isabelle, a designer and web developer working in Toronto, I’ve found an adventure buddy, someone to see Toronto anew with and someone to admire good design with; someone to bitch and moan about body politics and brainstorm about new, exciting projects with. Janine has a good eye, which is evident in every post on Belle, a design & lifestyle blog cataloguing her work and inspiration.

So, of course we asked this lover of good food, and beauty to be a guest pinner with us. Stars and schedules have alined and this week is the week! So head over to our Pinterest page and take a look at Janine’s board, and follow it see her updates all week long.

Favorite Gramming Chefs

We here at FGFS live for the food updates we get from our local and far away pals on Instagram. We love everyone we follow but we do have some favourites and we’d like to share them with you.

Today we bring you the best of the chefs!

Working in a kitchen can be just as much high stress and it can be awesome. Sometimes the kitchen can be a pressure cooker and a chef and their staff might break if it wasn’t for the weird and funny antics they get up to.

#PictureLessHunger: Supporting the Salvation Army

Squad Leader Ama is guilty of Instagraming food

With the increasing popularity and normalization of Social Media into our day-to-day lives food photography has become a growing trend. A tendency to glamorize and share our meals probably extends as far back as the rise of the blogging. From step-by-step recipe instructions to full on editorial spreads, images of food are a central and often expected part of our lives.

Some people don’t understand it. Some feel the need to go so far as to call it a disorder. It’s like most things where one section of the population is fascinated and transfixed and the others just stand by and name call. (The Squad is 100% guilty of food picture taking 85% of the time.)

But listen to this you food loving bleeding hearts. There’s a new initiative from theSalvation Army that allows diners in Toronto the opportunity to affect real change in the world. Picture Less Hunger asks Canadians dining out at select Toronto eateries to tweet, Instagram and Facebook their meal along with a statement of support for the Salvations Army’s efforts to lessen hunger for all Canadians. Patrons can also, at their discretion, have a $2 donation to the Salvation Army added to their bill. Additionally, there is a Donate Now option on the Picture Less Hunger site.

Cafe Belong Menu snapped by FourSquare user kel P.

One of the 15 restaurants participating in the weeklong initiative is Café Belong located at the Evergreen Brick Works.  Café Belong Owner and Chef Brad Long, one of Canada’s most acclaimed chefs and toughest food critics, was one of the first to commit to the Picture Less Hunger project. “Everyday I notice groups of people taking photos of their food and sharing it through social media,” said Chef Long.

Chef Long captures the simplicity and genius of the program by saying, “it turns the simple act of taking a photo into a chance to spread some good, and I have no doubt our staff and valued guests will be on board.”

FGFS Lead Photographer Yuli is also way guilty of Instagraming her food. 

So you can plan you visits, here are the other restaurants participating in #picturelesshunger:

  •        Caplansky’s Delicatessen 356 College St
  •        Fancy Franks 326 College St
  •        Insomnia 563 Bloor St
  •        Jules Bistro 147 Spadina Ave
  •        KO Burger 366 Bloor St
  •        L’Avenue Bistro 1568 Bayview Ave
  •        Lou Dawg’s B-B-Q 589 King St W & 76 Gerrard St E
  •        Lucien 36 Wellington St E
  •        North of Brooklyn Pizza 650 ½ Queen W
  •        Puck N Wings 362 Bloor St W
  •        Sweet Lulus 859 Queen St W & 350 Bay St
  •        The Firkin On King 461 King St W
  •        The Mad Bean Coffee House 519 Ave W
  •        The King’s Table 793 St W
  •        Toni Bulloni 156 Cumberland St

Access to good, nutritious and healthy food is a cause close to the heart of all Fat Girl Food Squad members. We encourage you to participate. Tag your images with#PictureLessHunger and say a few words about your support for what the Salvation Army does to bring dignity and basic necessities to some of the most marginalized people in communities across Canada.