Too Close For Comfort

In university, I was an English and international relations double-major plagued by extreme fear of plagiarism. The "P" word, instructors warned us, encompasses the deliberate or accidental use of another author's ideas and/or words without giving due credit. Committing "P" would lead to automatic expulsion. "P" prompted me to be extra careful when I researched my term papers. In fact, I have a plagiarism-proof research method which I'll share with university students in the Comments section if they care to know. (Note: It involves a lot of note-taking and the utmost meticulousness--definitely not for procrastinators.)

It's ironic and disheartening now that I find myself in the real world, not the ivory tower of academia, and I discover that plagiarism is either unaccounted for or rewarded rather than punished. I mean, sure, on a benign level, I plagiarize where possible at my job as a technical writer and am rewarded for it. New content costs the company a pretty penny to translate, so if technical writers can reuse sentences and paragraphs that have already been translated, they're encouraged to. But what about more insidious forms of plagiarism?

This is what happened to bring up such negativity: I'm disappointed and upset that my words and ideas have been echoed in another blogger's post without due credit. About a month ago, I was reading a blog I follow regularly and discovered a sentence that sounded all too familiar because I'd written something similar almost a month before this blogger published their post. The wording and ideas conveyed in the sentence were uncanny when I compared it to what I'd written. Yesterday, I revisited the post and, looking for a third opinion, sent the links to that blogger's post and my post to a guy friend.

His succinct response: "Holy crap." He was stunned at the similarities.

I've been harbouring negativity for a while because of this incident. I won't name names, partly because it's not my style, partly because I believe this person is ultimately a good person who just made a bad mistake unintentionally. Besides, the blogger had rearranged the words just enough so that it's vaguely passable as their own original thought. I can just imagine the reaction I'd get if I were to actually confront this person: "You're being way too sensitive. Besides, we have similar tastes. I can't remember who came up with this first."

Again, I'm sure it was unintentional. The blogger's post was written in a rush under great stress, and in the eleventh hour, the brain tends to grasp at ideas in vain, hoping that these ideas will turn into something. However, in their rush to come up with something, anything, they lifted my words and ideas, words and ideas I'd spent a long time perfecting because the post was short and I wanted to capture just the right tone.

This does make me rethink being too close to this blogger and talking too much about fashion and blogging with them. I'm reluctant to discuss things as candidly as I did with this person in the past because I don't want this to happen again. If this person has figured out I'm referring to them, look long and hard at what each of us has written, and see if you can spot what made my guy friend say "Holy crap."

I haven't been in the blogging world long enough, nor has my blog ever been big enough, to know whether this sort of thing happens to bloggers a lot. Has something like this ever happened to you? How would you handle it if it did?

Update: So, the day I complain about how people who plagiarize never get caught in the real world, I read an article in The Globe and Mail about Stephen Harper's speech writer resigning from the Tories campaign after admitting he plagiarized large portions of Stevie's speech from the Australian PM. You can read about it here. Oh, the irony! At least it's nice to know there is such a thing as karma.

Another update: After I published this post, I was contacted by the blogger in question and a lengthy discussion ensued. The blogger conceded that there were striking, albeit unintentional, similarities between the pieces. We've chalked it up to a bad coincidence and left it at that, and I appreciate this blogger taking the initiative to contact me. I didn't intend to humiliate anyone, which is why no names were mentioned, links provided, or specific details recorded. I'm glad we settled our differences.

The Ban Is Broken!!!

What kind of crazy masochistic bi-atch denies herself much-anticipated retail indulgence on her birthday? Not me. I decided I'd proven to myself that I could refrain from impulsive spending, and that I could start looking for quality instead of spending on cheap crap. Just in time, too, because this weekend was the big Banana Republic 30th Anniversary sale when everything in BR was 30% off.

I started off my first weekend of shopping in more than 4.5 months with the Blim fall craft market up on Main and E. 17th. I was exhausted after a week of BC Fashion Week coverage for Stylefinds and was mainly there to chill out rather than write up the market as another post. It was there that I met Nicole of It's Your Life and fell in love with her vintage-inspired charm necklaces and earrings. A little too much time browsing the jewelry selection on the Urban Outfitters website had given me a taste for faux vintage jewelry, especially pendants on longish chains with statement charms. I picked up a brass chain with a bow charm and a cameo.

My 3 BR visits (I went to one location, went to another, then went to the first one to get a cardigan in a bigger size) led to 3 cardigans purchased, all of which fit into my fall must-have list.

A hot pink cashmere sweater was on my must-have list, but when I spotted this silk-wool blend cardigan I just couldn't resist. The raised rounded buttons are a whimsical touch on a wardrobe staple, and the punchy colour would look great paired with the white, gray, and black tees and tanks I've been wearing constantly.

Just a basic black cardi made almost entirely of fine merino wool. Again, not cashmere, but considering my limited sweater budget, it's better to buy a good wool sweater than a shoddy cashmere one.

I couldn't find my size in the reddish-orange version of this sweater. Then I tried on the sweater in brown and loved how refined it looked. Besides, I already have a reddish-orange wool coat with black buttons...getting a similar-looking sweater coat would be too much. (Incidentally, I like how I've used the words "bi-atch" and "refined" in the same post--because here at Solo Lisa y Nada Mas we're all about class.)

Today's Outfit: Beauty and the Boy

About two weeks ago, I stopped by The Bay's flagship store downtown for the Beauty and the Boy fashion show with my friend and fellow Stylefinds writer, Miranda. Miranda did a fantastic job capturing the fashion and fun of the event here. Anyway, this is what I was wearing that day. I seem to be loving the gray and the "tanks layered over white tees" look lately.
  • Gray racerback tank (from Mexico)
  • White V-neck tee (Suzy Shier)
  • Dark-wash skinny jeans (Banana Republic)
  • Diamond stud earrings
  • Silver heart pendant (Coach)
  • Flower corsage pin made from beige pinstriped fabric and netting (from an old RW & Co blazer)
  • Black leather pumps (Paolo Corelli)
I swear, that's the camera's shadow on my chest and not some weird stain! I didn't even notice it until I uploaded the photo.

Birthday Bows

Image from The Moves

"Being grown up is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to go from one childhood to another." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm another year older today and none the wiser. Want an example of my stunted emotional growth? The quote above comes from a card my coworkers presented me with in honour of my university graduation. I started working at this software company a week after my last final, and 2-3 weeks before convocation. Jumping from school to the working world seems like a very grown-uppish thing to do--until, that is, you consider that this card is pinned above my work desk, right over the heads of my growing Starbucks bear collection. How ironic and appropriate all at the same time.

To celebrate my birthday, let's look at some pretty bow-festooned clothes and accessories I'd never in a million years get a chance to wear but would love to wear today, shall we? It's fun to fantasize after all, and elaborate bows can make a chica feel like she's a perfectly wrapped present all unto herself on her special day.

Alexis Mabille (All images are from the fall 2008 couture and RTW collections on

Armani Privé


Christian Dior

Elie Saab

Birthday Wishlist: Urban Outfitters

I think the fact that my Urban Outfitters wishlist isn't nearly as long as my combined Anthropologie wishlist speaks for itself. I'm definitely more of a classical and whimsical girly-girl than a hipster.

BDG Workwear quilted jacket, $98. This jacket's water-resistant outer shell, fitted cut, and cheery red colour make it perfect for a gray and rainy urban landscape such as Vancouver's. However, it'd look equally at home on a farm-girl about to go on a first-date hayride, don't you think?

Free People lambswool fringe jacket, $168. A couple months ago when I was coveting the Free People 'Bird of Paradise' dress, I popped into the only Urban Outfitters in Vancouver and found out--much to my disappointment--that Free People items weren't available in Canadian stores. How lame is that?! It's such a shame because the fringe and thick gray and navy stripes on this sweater coat are so appealing.

Silence & Noise striped sweater hoodie, $39.99. This is such a cool variation on two classic staples--striped tops and hoodies. It's much more distinctive than the standard Lululemon hoodie.

Kimchi Blue voile slub mix tee, $42. Honestly, how can I resist a feminine top that mixes two shades of my current colour obsession?


Quoted: Dodie Smith

It's been ages since I've posted a quotation that piqued my interest and caught my fancy. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith is one of my all-time favourite novels, although technically it's considered a book for an audience much younger than I am. I've reread it many times, yet I still enjoy the escapist element of Cassandra Mortmain's story and her life with her impoverished artistic family, living in a castle ruin in the countryside and, alongside her sister, searching for love. The theme of learning to deal with unrequited love in the book is quite poignant as well; it's so refreshing in a world where most children's books deliver happy endings for their protagonists.

I love the concluding sentiment of this paragraph:

"I don't believe I could look a beggar in the face if my trousseau had cost a thousand pounds...Oh, come--Mrs Cotton wouldn't give the thousand pounds to beggars if she didn't spend it on Rose, so Rose might as well have it. And I shall certainly be delighted to accept clothes from Rose. I ought to be ashamed--being glad the riches won't be on my conscience, while only too willing to have them on my back."

Birthday Wishlist: Anthropologie (Part 2)

Yesterday, I posted the first part of my Anthropologie wishlist and the first in a series of pipe-dream birthday wishlists. Without further ado, here's the second part. Enjoy!

Midnight Freesia headband, $41.61. On closer inspection, this headband seems a lot less Blair Waldorf-inspired and a lot more like some odd fungal growth you'd find in a temperate rainforest. Oh well, I love it anyway.

Museum-of-Modern-Birds dress, $268.64. I'm attracted to a skirt that looks like an Impressionist painting and shoes with sequined palm trees or playing cards on them, so why not a sweater dress with swans? I can't stop staring at the whimsical hemline.

Paige Premium Denim 'Hidden Hills Barcelona' jeans, $192.81. These jeans epitomize everything I look for in my denim: dark wash, basic trouser styling, and a flattering bootcut. I also like the sharp crease lines in the front.

Playing-Dress-Up blouse, $84.49. Plaid is a huge trend this fall--but then again, when was it ever not trendy? I'm very picky about the size and colour of tartan prints, so it's a miracle that this strapless top made the cut. I'd layer it over a white V-neck tee for a demure daytime look.

Venation headband, $21.61. Another headband makes the wishlist. If the last one looked like fungus, this one looks a bit like neon-coloured palm fronds.

Quilted Corona bag, $485.29. The leather has a lovely finish and the perfect balance of structure, softness, and slouchiness. With the large quilting pattern on the front, it could very well be the Chanel 2.55 purse's boho cousin.


Viva La Musica

I was tagged by lovely blogger WendyB to list the last 25 songs I listened to on my iPod. Normally I'll skip between music websites and Internet radio stations while I'm at work and listen to whatever strikes my fancy, but I made an exception today: I set my iPod on shuffle and kept those little white earbuds in for a couple of hours while restructuring end-user content at my desk. (I did skip through songs I didn't want to listen to, though.) I don't know what this list really says about me except that I like pop, Latin pop, soundtracks, and good dance beats.

1. Gladiadores - Orishas
2. Somebody Told Me - The Killers
3. My Way Out - David Usher
4. Change Your Mind - The Killers
5. SexyBack - Justin Timberlake feat. Timbaland
6. Rosario Tijeras - Juanes
7. I'll Be - Edwin McCain
8. The Suicide of Dorothy Hale - Eliot Goldenthal
9. El fin de la infancia - Cafe Tacuba
10. Nostalgia - Oscar Lopez
11. I've Got You Under My Skin - Michael Buble
12. Si No Te Hubieras Ido - Marco Antonio Solis
13. Ay Chico - Pitbull
14. La Vida Es Un Ratico - Juanes
15. Live to Tell - Madonna
16. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera
17. Feeling Good - Michael Buble
18. La Tortura - Shakira feat. Alejandro Sanz
19. Self-Portrait with Hair Down - Eliot Goldenthal
20. Ending Start - Metric
21. Istanbul - They Might Be Giants
22. Hands Tied - Mobile
23. How Are You - David Usher
24. Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White - Perez Prado
25. Can I Walk By - Jazze Pha feat. Monica

I tag Anthea, Trisch, Teresa, and Ambika to list their songs.

P.S. I'm actually really psyched about this tag. Uber Mensh blogger WendyB tagged me!

Update: According to Blogger, this was my 300th post. Phew!

Birthday Wishlist: Anthropologie (Part 1)

My birthday is this Thursday and I'm expecting red envelopes from my staunchly traditional Chinese family. While the red envelopes are much more practical and environmentally friendly than conventional gifting (cash is a gift people never say no parents don't have to worry about getting me something I don't's easier and less wasteful to "wrap"), sometimes I do yearn for The Perfect Gift in a pretty box topped with a bow.

Today marks the first post in a week-long exercise of wishful thinking. I combed through the Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters websites and ogled to my heart's content, then compiled a list of goodies, any of which I'd love to see inside the aforementioned gift-wrapped box. The chances of this happening are slim to none; nevertheless, a girl can dream, can't she? The Anthropologie list turned out to be so long that I'm splitting it over two days. Enjoy!

Abbott coat, $384.16. This coat reminds me a bit of the pink one Renee Zellweger sported in Down With Love. It's classic and polished but still a statement-making coat.

Classical Antiquity blouse, $108.80. I like how this blouse comes across as feminine and ruffly but not overdone.

Floridian skimmers, $108.80. These shoes are just plain fun. The brown leather details! Turquoise floral print! Fluffy white bows! I think I've just hit cuteness overload...

Flower Thicket cardigan, $142.11. I like how the buttons don't line up all the way down the sweater and instead accent the flowers.

Gallery circle skirt, $219.83. Is it wrong to picture myself wearing this skirt while strolling through art galleries and museums in London and Paris?

Initial pocket mirror, $15.54. Lately I've been craving a pretty compact mirror I can tote around in my purse with me. This one comes with a small pouch which can double as makeshift jewelry or hair accessory storage when you're traveling.

Labyrinthine tee, $53.29. It's just a basic cotton tee, but the draping and delicate pale green make it anything but ordinary.


Haircut Dilemma

It's been about 3.5 months since I got my hair cut and tried a perm for the first time ever. I enjoyed the results and I loved the fact that I didn't have to spend ages blowdrying my hair. Just a dollop of leave-in conditioner and some hand-scrunching, and me and my wavy hair were good to go in the mornings. However, as autumn settles upon Vancouver, I am getting sick of my long wavy hair for these reasons:
  1. My hair is growing out and starting to become very thick and heavy once again, which weighs down the curliness. The waves aren't as pronounced as they used to be.
  2. Wavy hair looks best when air-dried, but I really don't feel like walking around with wet hair during the cold early morning hours of the fall season.
  3. Is it weird that I keep picturing how my hair will look with a hat on? Because I don't like having long straggly locks poking out from under a cute knit toque, whereas a shorter style with bangs would look more put-together and not like I just threw on a hat to disguise a bad hair day.
Once again, I found myself checking out the hairstyle pictures on Rasysa for inspiration. I found 3 front-runners which could serve as my potential fall hairdo. And yes, all three hairstyles would look excellent under a hat.

1. Loose bob with sideswept bangs. This is my favourite of the three so far. It's cute--polished but not too uptight, and relatively low-maintenance. Plus the model's hair texture looks a bit like mine. The only thing I'm afraid of is that this hairdo will look a bit soccer mom-ish on me.

2. . Medium-length cut with some front layers and blunt bangs. This style is basically a bit like a shorter, straighter version of the haircut I'm sporting now. It's fail-safe because I know it'll suit my face shape. However, do I want to play it safe or try something new?

3. Asymmetrical bob. I love the sleek in-your-face cool of this style, but a part of me is groaning over how high-maintenance a hairstyle like this one would be if I want it to look good. This hairdo would require a lot of fuss with a straightening iron and hair products in the morning--and I am definitely not a morning person, nor am I fussy with my hair. Plus, I don't know if a really bold cut like this will suit my face.

What do you think? Which haircut do you prefer?

Topshop's Tops

The other week, I spent a whole night doing London trip research and looking up the attractions that I'd most like to visit while I'm there. The first couple of hours were quite productive. I found out most of the museums and galleries were free. I learned about loading my Oyster card with a day pass worth of money for the tube to get the most value out of public transit. I looked into potential daytrips to Hampton Court and Oxford. I even looked up whether I could catch Dirty Dancing: The Musical while I'm there. (Hooray!) However, all of this diligent work degenerated into questionable "research" as I grew more tired and started browsing the Topshop website to get ideas of what I can expect when I set foot in one of their stores.

Truthfully, there wasn't a lot that caught my eye, and of the items that did seem appealing, well, I'm not sure if I'd be willing to spend that much. I've heard good and bad things about Topshop's quality bar; if I see these tops in person and they seem like they'd hold up, I might splurge on one (or three). Anyway, here are the tops that are tops in my books. I see a recurring theme in all those delicate colours and bows.

Lace bow top, 28 pounds

Cornelli embellished top, 32 pounds

Chiffon bow vest, 22 pounds

Contrast bow top, 18 pounds


Today's Outfit: Technically Last Thursday's

I should've uploaded the picture and done this post last week, but you know how time flies, and what with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival and Mexican Independence Day, it just felt like I didn't have the right occasion to post my outfit from last Thursday. Oops.

  • Gray patterned sheath dress with wide belt (H&M)
  • White tee (Suzy Shier)
  • Diamond stud earrings
  • Black mary-janes (Point Zero)

Happy Mexican Independence Day!

The catalyst for the successful Mexican independence movement was Father Hidalgo's call to arms. This bell in Guanajuato is supposed to be an exact replica of the one he rang to summon the peasants to overthrow the Spaniards. ¡Viva Mexico!

Instead of finding random droolworthy accessories on the Internet and posting pictures of them, I thought I'd share some of the photos and treasures from my travels in Mexico. Enjoy!

I bought these silver filigree blossom earrings, the pendant, and the brooch in Taxco. Taxco is a small colonial town about an hour's bus ride outside of Mexico City and is famous for its cheap sterling silver jewelry. The town used to be prosperous because of its proximity to the silver mines, but like most mining towns, after the ore ran out, the town hit a slump. The twentieth century saw the revival of Taxco as jewellers and artisans moved there and reinvented the town as a mecca for silver products. Even though I missed the open-air market which supposedly has the best bargains, there was still plenty there to tempt me. The delicacy of the silver filigree and those coiled silver threads took my breath away. "Hecho por mano," the sales assistants told me--all done by hand.

Two silver pendants from Taxco: the Aztec calendar stone and a silver sombrero. Note that this is the only sombrero I brought back with me.

The Aztec calendar stone in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

I bought the trinket box on the left from an artisanal market in San Miguel de Allende. On the lid is an adorable cartoonish representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is regarded as Mexico's patron saint even though she's not officially canonized. According to legend, the Virgin appeared to a peasant named Juan Diego and asked him to have a church erected in her honour. Juan Diego described his miraculous apparition to a local priest; the priest asked him for proof. Juan Diego unfolded his cloak, which had been filled with roses the Virgin had given him, and imprinted on the cloak was an image of the Virgin. The original image from almost four centuries ago hangs in a basilica in Mexico City today. Its brilliance has not faded.

Guanajuato. Click to enlarge.

Guanajuato was where I bought the other trinket box. It's a bit off the typical beaten tourist path but well worth going to. This colonial town is famous for its naturally preserved mummies (yes, you read that correctly...I said "mummies"), UNESCO heritage site status, and within Mexico, its performing arts festival. By the way, the big yellow building is the Basilica; its interior puts St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to shame. Imagine having a wedding there, as one lucky couple was doing when I popped inside to admire the architecture.

This lace shawl depicts Juan Diego unfurling his cloak to reveal the Virgin of Guadalupe's image. This amazing find was from an open-air market set up near the boats of Xochimilco. Agriculture proved to be a problem in the mountainous region where Mexico City is situated. The Xochimilca peoples (who pre-date the Aztec civilization) solved this dilemma by bringing the land to the water: they daubed dirt together into elaborate floating gardens resting on top of the shallow parts of the lake. Xochimilco is what remains of the floating gardens today. Here you can hire a pleasure boat with your friends or family to traverse the centuries-old irrigation canals, and just sit for the afternoon picnicking and drinking cheap litre cups of micheladas (beers with hot sauce, chili powder, lime juice, and salt mixed in). Food vendors and mariachi bands float by offering to sell you hot corn or a song for a few pesos. The district is notorious for lively parties thanks to the cheap alcohol and the local flavour.

Xochimilco's boats

Update: I just came across this article about a bombing in Morelia during el grito yesterday that killed 7 people and injured about 100. What a horrible occurrence in a small colonial town when the public square is filled with families celebrating. My condolences go out to the victims.

An Open Letter to Terminally Single Guys

Dear Terminally Single Guys (TSGs),

I feel your pain, I really do. It sucks being single sometimes, and to top it off, it's often difficult to meet people and form meaningful connections. I count some of you TSGs among my good guy friends, so I hear your complaints often. I also hear this refrain too many times for my liking: "When I meet the right girl, I'm going to treat her like a princess." Why, in the last week, I must've heard this one from 3 separate TSGs alone!

So, why does this rhetoric bug me so much, you wonder? It boils down to the underlying assumption that you guys are going to get over your boneheaded narcissism for The One when She comes along, and express your love in the form of grandiose gestures (hotel beds sprinkled with rose petals and all that). That's all fine and good, but until you find The One, how about extending some common courtesy and human decency toward the gal pals in your life? Too often I feel as though you TSGs treat us like second-class citizens unworthy of everyday thoughtfulness.

Case in point: After one of my TSG friends broke off a short-lived long-distance relationship, I invited him out for a party. He hemmed and hawed about it all week, saying he wanted to see if his friends were going and so on. I left him messages on voicemail and MSN last Friday saying that I needed a final head count by 8pm that night because I could pick up tickets from the promoter for him and anyone else coming. Not only did he not respond on Friday, he seems to have gone MIA all weekend. I received nary a message on MSN, Facebook, or my cell. WTF? I can't believe he could devote hours out of his day for 3 months straight to a girl he never got to see, yet couldn't take a mere 10 seconds to call a gal pal and say, "Sorry, my friends and I couldn't get our shit together. We're not coming."

Here's the thing you TSGs need to understand in order to not be terminally single. The high-quality girls who are truly worth it are looking for guys capable of courtesy on a daily basis, not guys who will shower them with diamond earrings and roses and poorly written love poems on certain days of the year and treat them like crap the rest of the time. If you find a girl you're crazy about, your romantic fervour will propel you into being extra good for the first few months. But what happens after the fervour fades? You revert to the non-courteous habits you've mastered in all those lonely months and begin treating her like you treat everyone else in your life. How you treat family, ordinary friends, and complete strangers reflects on your innate goodness as a person. If she's a smart, discerning, attractive girl--the type whom you hope to make your wife and the mother of your children someday--she'll see shabby treatment of others as a major red flag.

So, how do you TSGs stop self-sabotaging and start attracting the right kind of girl? There are many things you can do to get positive karmic payback. Start by responding to messages.


Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival!

Image from

I wish I were wearing this ring from the Chanel Comètes collection right now as I sit in front of my laptop, munching away on lotus paste-filled mooncakes. That pearl's phosphorescence rivals the moon's.

Elie Saab Fall 2008 Couture

The brown dresses in Elie Saab's fall 2008 couture collection have renewed my love for my Narcissist sample sale find.

The runway:

My way:

Now if only I can find the perfect occasion to wear this dress!
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