I've posted a blog on the LinkedIn blog platform for the first time! I think it's the right place for some of my more work-specific posts. I don't generally add someone on LinkedIn that I haven't worked with or that I don't know in real life, but I would love it if you would follow me on LinkedIn as I explore some of the tips and tricks I have learned managing social communities for various companies.

Read my first post here.
Follow me on LinkedIn here.
I'm just going to put this out there first: I am a green thumb. If I put the effort in, it seems that I can grow any variety of plant without too great an effort. Keeping plants in the house has many benefits, not only for your decor, but they do help to keep air clean and improve overall health. Yes, there's some science behind that claim as well; plants can help reduce stress, make you feel better in general, while improving your ability to concentrate.

I recently passed some advice on to a friend and it has inspired this blog post.

What kind of plant should you get if you are a brown thumb?

image source
Now, I don't entirely believe anyone is a "brown thumb" (or a green thumb for that matter). I believe that taking care of plants is a learning curve like anything else, and until you have some experience with it, you can fail miserably. The first mistake I think most people make is using too much water; when the plant doesn't seem to be doing well, panic sets in and since all most people know how to do is water their plants, they go overboard and eventually drown the poor thing.

In this blog post I don't intend to give a complete course on keeping houseplants alive; there are too many varieties to profile here, and there's a houseplant that is right for every house and windowsill.

In this post I'm going to profile a single fool-proof plant variety that even the brownest of thumbs can maintain; the sansevieria trifasciata.

That name is difficult to pronounce so let's use it's common name, the snake plant, or Mother-in-Law's Tongue.
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The snake plant is a tropical variety native to West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. It is easy to find in stores in North America as they are often brought in with flats of various tropical plants in 11" pots. They are quite affordable to purchase and to me appear like over-sized blades of grass. In that sense, they are quite contemporary and stylish.

If you purchase a snake plant in a simple plastic pot, you will want to add a nice heavy pot as this plant can grow quite tall. Be sure to pick one that has drainage holes and a tray, allowing excess water to drain away.

A simple potting soil will do. If you prefer a more streamlined look, you can pot the snake plant directly into a planter with no hole at the bottom, but be sure to line the first two inches of the pot with pebbles and rocks, or even pieces of a broken pot, to allow the plant to drain properly.

The reason I recommend this plant is because it is virtually impossible to kill. The snake plant is incredibly tolerable to low light levels, so it can be placed in a room with no windows and only occasional lighting, such as a basement or bathroom. Of course It also has a very low water requirement, and in the winter months, only needs to be watered every couple of months. Like many plants, it will rot if over-watered, but that is easy enough to avoid. Just give it a half cup of water at a time, and no more. It will survive beautifully.

If you're really concerned about how much to water a plant, try a self-watering planter, which will take all the mystery out of it. Pictured at left is one I love for it's simple contemporary style. (Click the image to view on Amazon.)

I love that the snake plant is architectural and simple, it doesn't shed, and is completely care-free. But what makes it even more awesome? A study by NASA found that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.

Happy planting!
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Last weekend I popped over to Montreal with some friends to visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and see the exhibition Warhol Mania.

The exhibition looked specifically at his advertising, illustration, and poster work, which spanned his entire career; from his early days illustrating fashion magazines to his later years producing iconic imagery for big brands like Absolut and Levi's.

In the early days of his career, illustration was incredibly important in the magazine and publishing industry. This exhibition had some examples of magazines where the fashion layouts were completed with illustrations of the clothing on models instead of photographs.

As photography became the standard for these magazines illustration took a back seat and many artists were left struggling to find work. Warhol took to showing his work in galleries and painting instead of illustrating. But he too experimented with photographic imagery, for example in his famous soup cans or pictured here with his cow print.
The MBAM even had a wall of the cow wallpaper in bright pink.

According to Warhol, the inspiration for the cow theme stemmed from art dealer Ivan Karp: "Another time he said, 'Why don't you paint some cows, they're so wonderfully pastoral and such a durable image in the history of the arts.' (Ivan talked like this.) I don't know how 'pastoral' he expected me to make them, but when he saw the huge cow heads — bright pink on a bright yellow background — that I was going to have made into rolls of wallpaper, he was shocked. But after a moment he exploded with: 'They're super-pastoral! They're ridiculous! They're blazingly bright and vulgar!' I mean, he loved those cows and for my next show we papered all the walls in the gallery with them." (source)

Much of the exhibition was focused on Warhol's poster art, which spanned his entire career. Examples were all commissions that began post-1964, when Warhol began to receive notoriety for his work.

Some of the posters advertised cultural events (example at left), while others were to promote musicians or consumer products.

The posters in many cases elevated everyday products to iconic status; the posters themselves blurring the lines between graphic design and fine art. This is apparent in particular in later posters where "Warhol" is scrawled across images as an artist signature. Warhol's poster art is colourful, sensational, and communicates his message in seconds.

"Warhol liked to use colours in a range of mauve, red and violet shades together with orange and yellow. Interestingly, three recent psychological studies of memory and colour show that these colours in particular were the ones that participants found easiest to memorize. Warhol had understood instinctively something that science would prove only years later." (From the MBAM website.)

Warhol's influence continues in advertising art.
Warhol suggested to the company distributing Absolut in the United States, that he could design a poster to reward the bar owners who promoted the Swedish product. It was also Warhol who suggested that a large number of gifted artists could each create their own portrait of the celebrated bottle; up to now, 350 different versions have been commissioned.

You can explore the complete Absolut artist collection online at Absolut's interactive website dedicated to archiving the project, here.

Read more:

About the MMFA (MBAM) 
Visit the Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol's Biography found at the Warhol Foundation
This past winter has felt like the longest of my life. It's the first full winter I've spent in the Ottawa/Montreal region, and it was in the range of -30 for two months and I've never wanted to feel the warmth of the sun more intensely. I surely would have escaped to a all-inclusive vacation destination by now if I wasn't planning and budgeting for a wedding this summer!

Here are a the ways I'm improving the ongoing experience of this slow and painful ascent into springtime temperatures.

Learning to run using the Couch Potato to 5K app.

I'm not in terrible shape. I can complete an hour long high-intensity zumba class, I don't get out of breath running up stairs, and I routinely do some sort of exercise on a weekly basis. But when it comes to jogging, I last literally one minute before I get tired and just simply do not want to go on. It's partly motivation and partly technique, I'm sure.

This past fall we purchased a treadmill which has ended up being a great decision. Winters are cold and long and extremely snowy where I live, so getting outside to exercise isn't easy. So upon recommendation of my friend Heather (sidenote: check her design work out here) I am trying the Couch Potato to 5K app. The program is based on a book of the same name from the 1990's, and it is designed to get just about anyone running 5 kilometers or 30 minutes in 9 weeks. The philosophy is to get you running a little bit at a time, to ease you into the routine of doing it, stretching your skill and ability over time, until you've taught your body how to run. For me, it's been working quite well, and I'm finding that exercising to the point of sweaty exhaustion has been the best way to beat the winter blues.

The app is $2.29 and it has a number of great helpful features to get you moving and keep you motivated. Check it out here.

Retail Therapy/Buying floral denim. 

Speaking of the 1990's...

Floral denim is a perfect wardrobe transition item because they feel spring-like and fresh but they're also warm enough when it's only +2 outside and you probably should still actually be wearing winter clothes. Like these ones? Check out Maker's Denim, a Montreal-based denim company online for where-to-buy.

Virtual travel

Still life with flowers in a glass vase, Jan Davidsz. de Heem, 1650 - 1683

Travel isn't prioritized in the budget right at the moment on account of various tent rentals and catering deposits, but I'm still travelling online and a favourite destination of the moment is the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is a Netherlands national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. Their website is an incredible and vast resource of inspiration for me. And speaking of floral print...the Rijks has undertaken an ambitious digitization project, putting over 130,000 images of their collection online royalty-free.  What is especially cool about the Rijks Studio project (check it out here www.rijksmuseum.nl/rijksstudio) is that users are encouraged to download the high-resolution images and create products with them, remix them, or use them however they wish.

Listen to New Music

The XX album is one of my favourite things of the past few years, and I never tire of listening to it. Jamie XX's  debut solo album In Colour is due out June 1, and some tracks have been released online in advance. Check out the video for "Loud Places" below.

I can't wait to go on a nice summer evening walk and listen to the whole of this album through earbuds.

Other things I'm into right now:
Broad City  - watch full episodes online in Canada here.
Bucket handbags. - practical and fresh
XXYYXX - XXYYXX - a good album to listen to in the office.
Chanel Spring 2015 Couture - colour/shape/graphic