Archive for the 'Alberta' Category

KD Faustino, the girl with the messy hair in Calgary

in Alberta, Blogging, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, Personal Blog, Photography, style diary and Web Designer


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thegirlwiththemessyhair.com

KD Faustino is a fashion blogger and ‘style diarist’ based in Calgary, Alberta, who describes herself as ‘a 20-something fashion buyer and social media extraordinaire who left her sunny tropical islander life in the Philippines to live in freezing cold Canada.’  She has a lot of energy and is a prolific blogger; only four months after her arrival her blog was named one of the top fifteen Canadian fashion blogs of 2010*.  Her effortless style and discerning eye for fashion, made her blog an instant hit.

The girl with the messy hair is a style diary that KD (Kristine Diane) Faustino started in April 2009, while still living in Manila, to chronicle her daily outfits.

“I blog today simply because it makes me happy,” she says. “As narcissistic as it may sound, I blog for myself. It might seem shallow, but there’s really no hidden agenda behind my blogging, just that dressing up and fashion makes me happy. The compliments/recognition I get, inspiring other people with finding their style and the perks from brands/designers are just a plus for me.”

Faustino is a social media professional, and works as Social Media Head for Fashion Night Out Canada, Fabricated, and a fashion buyer for Citizen’s Planet. Her expertise in social media is apparent throughout her blog, and she’s a PR natural: “I think what makes my blog (or any blog for that matter) unique is the individual behind the blog itself,” she says. “If you stay true to yourself, your style, why you are blogging, your overall brand–it will show. You have to come to terms with the fact that blogging can be a serious business but at the same time, still having fun while doing it!”

Hailing from the tropical Philippines, KD’s had to adjust her style (not just fashion-wise but lifestyle as well) to Canada’s often frigid temperatures. Her islander spirit has brought a fresh new style to Calgary’s fashion scene and she’s embraced the challenges along the way–and posed for many a picture featuring piles of snow in the background instead of a beach. “I live in Calgary and the biggest [influence] it has on my blog is the weather!” she says. “As silly as it may sound, that’s the challenge of dressing in a bipolar city (in terms of weather) like Calgary.

#1 Holts Muse KD Faustino“I think the best thing that ever happened to me due to blogging was being recognized for something that wasn’t meant to be recognized at all,” says KD. “When I started blogging I was just doing my own thing but then I started getting recognized and awarded [Top 15 Canadian Fashion Blogs*, Honorary Blogger of the Year in the 2011 Calgary Fashion Honorary Awards, Top 5 Best Overall Blog & Top 4 Best Personal Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards 2011, 1st Place Holts Muse by Holt Renfrew, MTV Blogger Looks we Love, etc.] by the industry and being on the same lists as the people I look up to, or just by random people in random places (which is more flattering, to say the least). What makes it special is the fact that I started this blog all by myself without the help of anyone–it is certainly my baby, something that I am proud of.” See two of KD’s personal favourite posts: http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2011/06/crochet.html, and http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2012/01/brown-hues.html. The worst part? “Definitely the haters,” she says. “But you know what they say, you know you’ve made it when you’ve got them.”

KD at workKD isn’t certain whether or not she’ll keep the blog going after her thirtieth birthday in two years. “The good thing about my blog is that I don’t feel pressured,” she says. “I am at this point in my blogging career where I feel like I’m not anxious to get anywhere. I can choose which events I want to go to or not, what brands I want to work with–I don’t need to be everywhere, unlike when I was starting. I must say, it’s a good place to be at. And who knows, maybe after 30 I’ll turn my blog around to a travel blog or something like that!”

In the meantime, however, KD will be focusing on maintaining the high quality of her blog. “The ideal blog for me starts with decent hi-resolution photos,” she reveals. “People tend to look at photos first and then they start to read if your photos are interesting enough. A short, constructive write-up with readable font is a must for me, too. Above all, [the ideal blog is about] keeping your stuff interesting and making people come back for more.”



XOXO Jes Pop Culture in Calgary

in Alberta, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger and humourist

XOXO JES This is me sitting on a hay bale. Self-explanatory.

Jes of XOXO is a humorous and often sarcastic voice situated in Calgary, Alberta, or “Calgs” as she calls it. She’s a prolific blogger that’s always up to date on the latest entertainment and events in her hometown, and she shares celebrity gossip from around the world. A self-proclaimed hater of many things, Jes loves writing; her blog is nominated in the categories of Overall Humour, Best Post and Pop Culture Blog in the upcoming 2011 Canadian Blog Awards.

XOXO Jes tagline is “There’s something fascinating about things you don’t need to know,” is a pop culture roundup (in the crass and vulgar tradition) of current events – its the only one of its kind in Calgary. “If I knew the secret behind people’s obsession with fame and celebrity I would totally capitalize on it,” Jes says. Kate Gosselin“All I know is that there is a large group of people who seem to care that Justin Bieber cut his hair and I would like to be the one to tell them…with some added sass and a couple zingers.”

Jes graduated university a year earlier than her friends, and she found herself watching a lot of Friends reruns after work while her real friends plodded through their homework. She was restless, and even though Friends has the distinction of holding an infinite place on her Love List, she knew she couldn’t watch the same episodes over and over forever. So, she turned to Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the rest is history: “Kate Gosselin annoyed me so much I would rage about her for hours, literally, to my roommate’s dismay,” Jes explains. “I finally decided to put in in writing and that’s when the blog was born. No joke, you can go back to the beginning and see that Kate started it all. Thanks Kate, you did one good thing. Only one.”

Jes didn’t start blogging with any intentions to be the next Perez Hilton–“there was no deep thought behind my first post, or any of the ones after that,” she jokes. “If I were to stop blogging today there wouldn’t be a domino effect of destruction or any kind of Backstage with Ben and Tyler of Said the Whale at Junofest void left in the universe. No, honestly, I started blogging because I like to write my opinions and I keep doing it because I still enjoy it and for some reason people seem to like it, grammatical errors and all.” Since that fateful first encounter with the Gosselin family, Jes has written over a thousand posts, interviewed some of her favourite entertainers like Vancouver band Said the Whale, been called a “Fairy Godmother” by a Juno winner, and even scored VIP access to the Cowboys Tent at the Calgary Stampede. “Trust me, it’s a big deal,” she says, adding, “Just kidding…kind of.”

Celebrities and entertainers choose a public life, and in so doing share their talents (and shortcomings) with the world. But why blog about them? “There are tons of crass rude blogs out there in every form, and since entertainers are such easy targets there are more of those types than others,” says Jes, although she’s the first to admit that her blog was not an original concept. What makes it unique, however, is that it’s the only one of its kind based XOXO Jes with Kevin Costner at the Calgary Stampedein Calgary. “Calgs is an interesting city that has hidden relevant-to-what-I-write gems that I explore,” she says. Of course, Cow-town celeb gossip is not an every day occurrence so I fill with various other Canadian entertainment stories or the more general stories of the hour. Most of my readers come from Calgary; [I’m] not sure if that is because they know me, heard of me or have searched something relevant to the city which has led them to my blog. All I know is that I have many Calgary faithfuls. That being said, I could probably live in the Yukon and still do the same thing. Live show reviews may be difficult, but I am sure they have the occasional performer up there…right?!”

It isn’t always easy for Jes to keep on top of work, life and blogging, but juicy celebrity scandals keep pouring in along with new TV shows, albums and viral videos. To maintain consistency, Jes established the XOXO Weeklies, three posts her readers can expect week after week: Top 5 comes out on Mondays, and lists a Jes’ top 5 picks for whatever is on her mind on a given week. Out This Weekend lists movies hitting theatres, and Jes’ pick for which one looks best. #NowPlaying: MG’s Pick of the Week is written by MG, a woman from Halifax, Nova Scotia–the only guest blogger featured on XOXO Jes–who recommends a tune every Friday.

For Jes, a good blog is an honest one. She doesn’t necessarily have to agree with what the author says, as long as they say it with conviction. “Because my opinion is, more often than not, extremely negative I have a rule: I must always be honest,” she says. “I love what I love and hate what I hate, no compromise. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but I’d rather be hard-hitting than a puff writer who blows with Meaghan Smith at the 2011 Junossmoke up people’s asses to get on their good side. I may not always lean with popular opinion, but you know it is always my opinion and not someone else’s.” Jes’ frank, fierce and fearless approach is part of what makes XOXO Jes so appealing, but she’s had her fair share of haters, too. “I love my hate mail. It keeps me real,” she says. “If you are going to dish it out you have to be able to take it, so I appreciate that not everyone agrees with me.” Some of these strong opinions can be found in blog posts like the letter to the girl sitting behind her at a Ke$ha/Rihanna concert, an in-depth analysis of why she hates Nickelback so no one would ever ask her again, or this completely reasonable request she Standex electronics reed switch made of Oprah.

Jes has no plans to write her last blog post soon, or any plans at all, really. In an ideal world “some rich enlightened person” would pay for her to blog full-time, but until then she’s fully enjoying what she’s doing. “Hopefully I’m around for awhile and don’t get burned out trying to keep up with the many jailing of Lindsay Lohan,” she says. “Maybe one day I will go big and get an XOXO Jes Facebook page. Or not, again…no strategy here.”


Life in Cowtown in Calgary

in Alberta, food blog, gardening and Personal Blog

Life in Cowtown banner

Tatina Kharitonova of Life in CowtownTatiana Kharitonova uses both sides of her brain. The 29 year old accountant crunches numbers in downtown Calgary from 9 to 5, but after work and on weekends she follows her heart and explores a ‘million mini passions’ which she writes about on her blog.

Life in Cowtown was originally created to document Tatiana’s first ‘cold climate garden’, and just in case anyone cared to duplicate her experiments she decided to keep an online journal that she could also reference later. An early post shows her backyard in the winter before the garden occurs and describes the conflict that occurs inside her own brain – Tatiana is torn between her desire to be outdoors, and her general fear and contempt for insects, esp spiders and stinging bees.

Stable, secure and contemplative, Tatiana has been locked up in a good relationship with “a great guy” for eight years. She loves to read books and digests about four per week. She’s also a champion of free printable coupons and occasionally  posts offers right on her blog.

pepper plantSkilled in writing unbiased reviews, it’s not unusual to find Tatiana combining food and travel in the same post. She reviews cafes, shopping malls and Calgary Hotels and her journal entries are sometime punctuated with pictures of half eaten sandwiches and empty soup bowls. Unpredictable, she’s best categorized as an abstract gardening and pets blogger.

“I’m a generalist” she exclaims, ‘I like to learn a reasonably shallow amount on a variety of topics, and here anything goes – from ‘quantum physics for dummies’ to ‘how to make penicillin at home’. For example, Tatiana is an amateur mycologist and goes foraging for mushrooms in Alberta every year. I hope she writes a post on that subject this summer, and perhaps someday she will offer up a homemade mushroom hunting map to her readers.

Miss Kharitonova shoots all her own photos, and counts photography among her many interests.  Some great posts include her review of Millarville, which is typical straightforward account of her journey to Southern Alberta’s largest outdoor farmers’ market. That destination relates to her cold climate gardening objectives. Here’s a fascinating look at wall systems and how she replants peppers and takes her own advice, for once.

She loves her cats, especially Tweak, seen here.
Tweak the cat
Tatiana’s journal is not political. She doesn’t write to offend anybody, or propose radical change or protest society. But she did relate to me her frustration with the city of Calgary. What other city builds overpasses and sticks six sets of lights on them? Or purposely staggers their red lights so that you catch each one when driving?

In closing, Tatiana relates, “I do have a pretty dark side, but it doesn’t come out on the blog for several reasons. First, the nature of this blog doesn’t really encourage it – it’s hard to write about gardening and cats then switch to something nihilistic. I may have to get a second blog to express that side of me, but when I think about it, life is hard enough for many people, so having something to laugh at is more important than dragging oneself down.”

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That Artist Woman in Calgary

in Alberta, Mom Social and Teacher

Gail Bartel is a happily married 43 year old mother of three kids aged 11, 9, and 6. These little people are the core of her being, and her first and best test subjects for new kids art projects. Gail’s blog details her gardening, cooking, love of art history, and her miniatures and dioramas. But besides all this good stuff, it has become famous for sharing unique art project recipes for kids. Gail lives in Calgary and teaches art to children.

That Artist Woman is the work of teacher, and a mother. This is a mini instruction manual that reminds parents how much some paper and glue can excite youthful imaginations and engender creativity. “My passion is to create art and to share this process with kids. I find young kids to be so self-confident when it comes to creating art…no limits, no self-doubt, which is so refreshing. When I teach adults or older kids I spend a lot of time working on that confidence level. This in turn has pushed me to be more experimental in my own work and made me more willing to take creative risks.

Gail painting with kids

Gail Bartel only started blogging July 8th, 2008 and she chose the name “That Artist Lady” because when she set up her blogspot, her real name was already taken. While pondering names and how to appeal to woman over 50 she remembered how parents of students would say “oh there goes that artist woman”, or “we need to ask you know…that artist woman”, so this unusual blog handle was familiar to her, and strangely compelling.

Artistic and prolific, fueled by her success, Mrs Bartel has already posted over 100 articles, including more than fifty clear and easy to follow tutorials. How to do Batik with Kids was the first post to get serious attention from other arts and crafts sites, and it continues to be Gail’s all-time most popular post in terms of traffic and insulated wall panelsThe technique is foolproof and has sparked a lot of creative projects from readers. One Mom made a quilt out of squares she and her kids ‘glue batiked’ one for every month of the year.” This author also recommends Glue Resist Dinosaur and How To Make A city Skyline art recipes.

What’s really fascinating is Gail’s own growth as an artist.

Gauil Bartel as Canadian watercolour artist

That Artist Woman is currently exploring and developing her own skills and abilities as a watercolour artist that clearly favours landscapes, street scenes and houses. “I love the unpredictability of watercolour as well as its ease. I can paint anywhere”.

Gail bought new basement flooring and recently acquired the complete set of The Family Creative Workshop, a reference book series from the 1970s. “I’m looking forward to a summer of reading and creating projects from this source material.”

When I asked her about contentious posts she remarked that, “I don’t tend to do anything to controversial. [But,] I do work at a Catholic school and I find any posts that have an art project with a religious theme don’t get picked up by the usual ‘high traffic’ blogs. The one thing I don’t do is show any faces of my kids or the students I work with. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I have had parents request that their kid be shown on the blog for different projects but it’s just a line I won’t cross.” And so Gail Bartel’s blog will never be accused of exploiting children to market her goods and services, which she gives away for free anyway.

Gail Bartel watercolour by That Artist WomanBecause children best understand conservation, Gail provides kid (classroom) tested art and craft projects that are unique, as well as use recycled materials and few if any purchased supplies.  Art intimidates a lot of people because anything is possible but yet kids get bored with the usual projects. Gail’s art project tasks children to imagine things they have seen and things they cannot see, but only imagine to exist in the real world.

Like most successful new bloggers Gail is very surprised by how supportive everyone has been, and so far she hasn’t received any negative comments. Quite the opposite, she’s formed amazing friendships with other artists. “I did not expect that I would get picked up from other sites and that the blog would be acknowledged outside my immediate community.” But because she is dispensing rare (and beautiful) data, Gail’s blog has become a hunting ground for a growing number of online arts and craft mavens.  Easter Bird decoration

Gail’s blog is a free resource for teachers and parents at school. Now when people write to her and ask for samples or advice on techniques and projects done throughout the year, she tells them to ‘go to the blog’ where it’s all laid out in a picture tutorials.

On so many levels That Artist Woman’s blog is a big success. This digital portal has become her dynamic resume, but more than that, it’s a functional index of her creative work, a useful portfolio of unique content. If anyone wants to know what this woman can do, they merely have to peruse the archives, or click on her tags to find wicked cool examples of her excellence.

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