HOW TO KICK THE WINTER BLUES

Now that moody skies are an everyday thing, you just want to stay curled in up in the cocoon you made with your duvet more than usual; summer is long gone and no longer can you throw on a T-shirt and bike to wherever; you don’t want to think about how many layers you have to pile on to stay warm, and the last thing you want to do is trudge through dirty slush to get to work. Yes, seasonal depression is a thing. So, I’ve compiled a list of five things to help combat this lack of motivation and dreariness.

1. Stay Active

Yes, I know. Maybe not the first thing you wanted to hear, but now is not the time to lose your workout motivation. Although it may be horrid outside, it’s important to get out there, even if it’s just for a brisk walk. Half an hour outside will help provide a little bit of mood-boosting Vitamin D. If you want some motivation, there are plenty of motivational YouTube videos. But remember, nothing happens if you don’t actually get off your butt and do something.

Trying something new will also help boost your mood and fight total hibernation. Sign up for a workout class you’ve never tried or buy some new colourful leggings to help get through the dreary colour scheme of the next few months. After all, summer bodies are made in the winter.

Photo:sosasha.com/tag/running/
Photo:sosasha.com/tag/running/

2. Plan a Staycation

I can’t stand the cold but some of us don’t have the funds to run away to California to warm our toes for a week. That’s not to say you can’t still get a change in scenery staying where you are. Get away from the city and escape to a cozy cabin for a weekend, or go on a ski trip. Even a trip to the spa will boost your mood.

Or literally stay right where you are, at home. There’s no harm in taking a day off and wrapping yourself up in a blanket, tea in one hand and a book in the other. Just remember to relax. It’s not a day for running errands or catching up on work you didn’t finish. It doesn’t count when your staycation includes you deep-cleaning the house.

Photo: http://www.tiphainemarie.com/2015/12/a-cozy-winter-night-at-home/
Photo: http://www.tiphainemarie.com/2015/12/a-cozy-winter-night-at-home/

3. Eat Chocolate

Let me explain. People who go through Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the winter blues, are more likely to crave a natural amino acid called trytophan, which helps produce the feel-good hormone serotonin. This is produced in our bodies when we’re exposed to sunshine, which, in the winter months, is obviously not as abundant. If you don’t produce enough serotonin, you naturally crave trytophan. The important thing is, it’s found in chocolate. So yes, chocolate can replace sunshine in this way. The amount of trytophan also depends on the amount of cocoa bean content and usually, the more expensive the chocolate, the more cocoa bean content. They also contain less sugar. This means they’re healthier right? So go ahead, indulge.

Just balance it with leafy greens, avocados, oats, eggs and anything rich in vitamins, B, C, and D that will also help boost your mood. 😉

Photo: http://www.godiva.com
Photo: http://www.godiva.com

4. Give

‘Tis the season after all, and what better way to spend it than giving to other people. It’s not just about monetary donations. Spending time at the local shelter helping prepare lunch and volunteering your time not only makes you feel satisfied but also really improves mental health.

Photo: cruxnow.com/
Photo: cruxnow.com/

5. It’s the Holidays. Embrace it

As much as you may want to hibernate all winter, don’t fight the holiday feels. Just give in. Put on an ugly Christmas sweater, make a gingerbread house, play Christmas music on loop and watch Home Alone at the same time. Do all the cliché Christmas things.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, there are plenty of things to do around this time you probably don’t get to do the rest of the year. Going out with friends and family will brighten your mood on the darkest of days, even if it’s just for a hot chocolate or a round of ice-skating at Nathan Philips Square.

Photo:http://anotherangle.eu/posts/christmas-nathan-phillips-square-toronto/
Photo: http://anotherangle.eu/posts/christmas-nathan-phillips-square-toronto/

 

Toronto Gets New Dance Studio

From left to right: Aaron Aquino, Aaron Libfeld and Roy Urbanozo. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Voted the best in Toronto, The Underground’s dance classes are getting a new three-storey studio with a rooftop skylight this summer.

In just about two months, the new Underground Dance Centre will take the space above Yuk Yuk’s comedy club at 224 Richmond St. West, which is only two doors down from the original. Compared to the 3,700 square feet old studio with two rooms, the new space will be around 8,500 square feet with four rooms, including a rooftop with glass windows, which all the teachers are excited about.

“This is the floor I’m going to fight for,” said hip hop teacher Aaron Aquino. “I just want a sunny roof and fresh air coming through.”

Right now, the demolitions are complete and the team is collecting quotes from different contractors and deciding on who will build the new studio, said studio manager Roy Urbanozo.

The Underground Dance Centre gets a rooftop skylight studio this summer. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

The price for a single class increases from $15 to $17 starting May 1st, according to twenty-eight-year owner Aaron Libfeld. He added that still “a competitive price” around the city comes with new values. They are doubling the number of classes from 120 to 240, adding more hours for the teachers, and hiring more dancers to teach new styles. The old studio will continue to operate and customers will be able to use their passes at both locations. 

“Everyone is excited to see the new schedule,” said Libfeld. “There’s going to be a lot more of the popular styles, such as hip hop, dancehall, heels, Beyonce… We gonna have more k-pop and disco theme.”

Libfeld grew up as a competitive dancer, who took ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and acro at Vlad’s Dance Centre in Richmond Hill. The first thing he is looking for when hiring teachers is their personality. Even though someone is the best dancer in the world and they come with a bad attitude, they are automatically disqualified,” he said.

Excellent dance experience, understanding of the style, and ability to teach are the other requirements.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Teachers are not the only ones who create the mood in the studio. There are 20 young volunteers, who help at the front desk and receive free classes in return. Urbanozo will hire about 20 more volunteers to create positive vibes and a loving atmosphere in the new studio. 

Another innovation, prerecorded classes by choreographers from New York and L.A. is coming to the old Underground in just about a week. It’s going to be a unique experience, different from a simple online class, said Libfeld. “Even though they are [following] prerecorded videos, they are in a dance studio, in a dance environment, with other people,” he said. “Online classes are kind of the Netflix, but we wanna be like the Cineplex.”

Technology and social media have been a huge part of The Underground since it opened in 2014. Libfeld, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and used to run a technology company at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), said he applied all those skills to run his dance studio.

It’s very focused on working on the idea, getting feedback on that and continually innovating it,” he said.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Videos of every class on its Instagram, which now has almost 80,000 followers, helped the studio attract most of the clients and won the title of the best dance classes in Toronto by blogTO and Yelp within the first six months of opening. The Underground hosted the space for celebrities like Nelly Furtado, who rehearsed at the studio twice during her visit to Toronto.

“It’s exciting to know that we are providing the great content and sharing our love of dance in the world,” said Libfeld.

Both, Libfeld and Urbanozo said they are happy to expand their business, but the new studio is not the end of their vision. They will keep working on the main concept: providing their customers with the best experience. “We do our best because we want them [the customers] to come back. We want them to feel exclusive,” said Urbanozo. “There’s still a lot to learn about the industry and how to treat our customers.”

“We’ll only stop when we have to stop,” said Libfeld. “We are obsessed with the customer experience. For us it’s the worst thing if anyone walks out unhappy. So we make sure that we only hire the best teachers, keep the beautiful facility with professional cleaners every single night. That creates the whole experience which I think is different than anyone else does.”

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Your 420 Playlist

Happy 420 Novella readers! We wanted to provide you with a chill play mix for the day that went beyond the reggae and pot cliche (not that reggae isn’t fantastic). The tracklist consists of everything from pop, indie and electronic. We hope you have a lovely time listening to these tunes and lighting one –or a few– up.

Rihanna -James Joint

People Under the Stairs – Acid Raindrops

Sharon Forrester – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Erykah Badu – On & On

Wilson Tanner – Sun Room

De Facto – Cordova

OutKast – Crumblin’ Erb

Sean Nicholas Savage – Propaganda

Aquarian Foundation – Mind Miniatures

Rhoda Scott – Molybdenum

Devendra Banhart – Seahorse

Space Dimension Controller – The Love Quadrant

Devin The Dude – Doobie Ashtray

What Novella Loves — Spring Edition

Our content team is a motley crew, each member with their own quirks and stories that define our stranger than usual weirdness in the ways they clash and meet over pitches and wine at every meeting. But if there is a consistency in the diversity, it is our impeccable — yes, impeccable — taste in all things stylish and beautiful. What Novella Loves showcases these two defining qualities of our team.

It’s April, and for those of you who’ve been bemoaning the lack of definitive Spring signs, we bring to you this Spring Edition.

Even though I don’t own one, I believe it’s a must-have accessory. I am obsessed with the timeless and chic design by Chanel. What I love most about a classic black Chanel bag is its versatility. It can be worn with anything and never go out of style. I love the chicness it can bring to an edgier look like we saw on the streets during NYFW. A real original, the classic Chanel flap bag is something every girl should own.  Claire Ball, Editorial Contributor

Victoria Beckham which has recently announced her new collaboration with Target with a cool graphic T-shirt from her collection in LAX that was printed with the slogan “Fashion Stole My Smile”. I found this tee fun and amusing, as it shows a sense of humour concerning her poker face that has become her trademark. This shirt comes in black or white and is available for around $150, which might be a bit expensive for a graphic T-shirt but a reasonable price for a designer one.  Liat Neuman, Fashion Contributor   

I have to convince myself that it’s actually spring everyday. With the still inconsistent temps, if I am forced to bundle up, why not still be stylish. Montreal-based designer Xian’s wool blend coat with 4 snap detail closure can keep me warm and still looking good on the days where we go from sunny to grey and chilly in one day to the next.  Drew Brown, Editor-in-Chief

My pick for my spring must have is definitely going to be The Enchanted Forest by the Vagabond Prince.  The unisex scent comes from a very niche perfumer, so it isn’t the easiest scent to get your hands on outside of the US. However, I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to snag a bottle of this mysterious blackcurrant fragrance that has reviewers mesmerized by its fairytale scent!  Chris Zaghi, Fashion Editor

I love my Mer Bag. As our editor-in-chief likes to point out, I can fit my studio apartment in my backpack and still have room left — the smallest size available for a basic backpack is H24 W12, so you can imagine the possibilities. It’s waterproof, weatherproof, and made with industrial materials to last. The highly functional bags come with simple designs best suited for any purpose other than a gala dinner, unless the gala dinner involves cycling, bmx, or skateboarding, in which case, it’s even good for that. Every time you order a Mer Bag, Rob Nelson, who founded the company back in 2001, hand makes it himself at his studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Rob is also a really nice guy with an adorable dog the size of a bicycle.  — Hoon Ji, Managing Editor

The best bags are the ones that keep getting better with each wear. For the past two years, my go-to has been the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. The New York based company started with these iconic bags in 2012 and became the instant must-have items on social media. The bag comes in different variations with a wide range of colours for exteriors and interiors. The materials used in the bag are high-quality leather crafted in Italy. Over time the leather becomes buttery soft and makes you want to wear it more.  I love throwing everything in my purse rather than digging through compartments to find my keys; this bag is just effortless cool. — Michelle Cheung, Social Media Coordinator

The Most Stylish and Stunning Drag Instagram Looks of 2017… So Far

Ever since the rise of social media and queer-centered programming such as RuPaul’s Drag Race (airs Fridays at 8 pm if anyone is interested). The global appreciation for drag and drag culture has shot to astronomical heights over the last few years. However, drag has been an important form of entertainment and expression since ancient times. These days, drag and drag culture have expanded to become a very inclusive and supportive network of artists that bring their own styles and flavours to the broad spectrum of drag culture. For this round of Top 10 Instagram Moments, we’ve found a group of queens and drag artists whose stunning personal styles and personas have made for some really amazing Instagram moments. Here are the most stylish and stunning drag moments of 2017 so far!

@ALLABOUTVALENTINA

Valentina‘s has quickly stolen the hearts of drag race fans and social media perusers alike. With her infectious personality and uplifting optimism, Valentina has already shown herself to be a clear front-runner among the shows pick of stunning queens… and only two episodes too! Apart from her showstopping appearances on Drag Race, Valentina recently appeared on Access Hollywood for an interview about her career and experiences on drag race. It seems that this queen is making herself right at home in the spotlight where she belongs.

 

@RYBURKE

A staple of modern club kid culture, Ryan Burke is the go to Instagram account to follow if you’d like to see everything from Leigh Bowery inspired costumes to high fashion glamour looks. This look right here really encapsulates what Ryan is all about; graphic avant-garde looks are what she does best!

@BIGANDMILKY

Milk is another queen that came from the new era of club kids. Her conceptual, and more recently, gender fluid and androgynous looks always have either a political or social motive behind them. Recently, Milk showed the world just how she felt about her home country’s current president. Now, this look isn’t the most glamorous, but it serves to show that drag can be more than just female impersonation. It can be a cry for justice and truth in uncertain times.

 

@SASHAVELOUR

It seems like this season of Drag Race is going to have it’s most recognisable, copied, and envied queens of all the seasons. One perfect example of this is Sasha Velour. This New York city drag icon has been the face of Brooklyn for years now. Proving that New York produces some of the best drag acts in the world. And for good reason, just look at her fashion sense. It looks like she has Manhattan oversized Comme Des Garcon realness on lock.

 

@SIGOURNEY.BEAVER

The most beautiful thing about today’s drag scene is that inclusivity has become a main focal point for many of the world’s queer havens. In the past, drag itself was a strictly cis white male profession., now, drag has evolved to include everyone. No matter their age, body shape, skin colour, religion, and gender. Yes, that’s right, even gender too! Never has there been such a rise in women taking interest in drag like there is now. Take the ever stunning Sigourney Beaver. Who’s out of this world glamour and curvaceous body were the perfect mix to create this picture perfect Jessica Rabbit meets Daenerys Targaryen outfit.

 

@PEARLIAISON

Queen Pearl is part of the iconic Drag Race alumni of season 6. Along with winner Violet Chachki, Pearl is regarded as one of the most original and iconic drag queens in recent history. Recently, Pearl drag persona has evolved from vava voom blonde bombshell to fully realised drag artist. In this look, you can see her vast theatrical influences. Pearl has everything covered here, from Venetian carnival sleeves to a gorgeous Midsummers Night Dream headpiece.

 

@PEPPERMINT247

Peppermint landed her rightful place on this list for something extra special and important. Peppermint is actually the first contestant in Drag Race history to enter the competition as a transwoman. Unlike other contestants on the show who began their transitions after their appearances on the show, Peppermint walked into the workroom as a proud (and exceptionally stunning) transwoman of colour. Here we see Peppermint giving a taste of black culture and beauty, 1980’s flare, and New York spunk all in one.

 

@RYANXHEMMINGE

Like I mentioned before, Drag and Drag culture are no longer identified in a singular form. These days, everyone can express their individuality through makeup and costume. Take Instagram user Ryan H. Who’s stunning makeup looks go far beyond the realm of his Instagram makeup artist contemporaries. I definitely think CoverGirl should open up another more spot on their Cover boy roster for this uber-talented lad.

@CREMEFATALE

More and more women are finding empowerment in their sexuality and femininity by doing drag. Queen Creme Fatale is one of them. With some of the most outrageously beautiful and versatile painting skills. Here we can see the extent of Creme’s skills, serving a high fashion, high glamour club kid fantasy.

@URBANDECAYCOSMETICS

Lastly, we have Urban Decay Cosmetics. Who have realised that queens aren’t just an entertainment highlights anymore but they’re also great business women and marketers as well. With the launch of their  Makeup Meltdown and Rehab cosmetics products, Urban Decay invited queens @THEONLYALASKA5000, @JIGGLYCALIENTEOFFICIAL, @SUTANAMRULL, and @KATYA_ZAMO to test drive their products to see if they work to prep and wipe away the toughest of makeup looks.

Introducing LUSH Easter/Spring products!

LUSH has launched their exciting Easter-Spring collection of limited edition bath, body, and facial products! The unique invigorating products not only make you feel fresh, ready for Spring, but are also incredibly cute and fun.

LUSH Easter/Spring Collection — photo by Novella Magazine

Though the shapes and wonderful colors of the Easter products are sure to be the initial, if not the main, attraction, there’s more to LUSH to than the festivities. The clean and luxurious products are made according to the company’s ethical practices of never testing on animals. As such, they are vegetarian friendly, approximately 85% vegan, 40% preservative-free, and 35% unpackaged. Made with fresh fruits and vegetables, the finest essential oils, and other ingredients, they will also make you feel relaxed, fresh, and smooth all over your body and face.

LUSH Easter/Spring Collection — photo by Novella Magazine

Enjoy the transition into Spring with the blooming splashes of color and the fragrance to rival the best the season has to offer!

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