Trendy Techie

Fashion, Tech, and Everything in Between

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Photo Diary: Seattle


Seattle is one of my favourite cities in the world. It’s a hub of business and technology, home to global giants including Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft, and it’s right on the west coast so it’s home to incredible seafood and gorgeous coastal views. Maybe I’m just lucky, but every time I’ve gone to Seattle the weather has been beautiful, and consistently warmer than back home in Toronto. When I was there in the first week of March, it was +13 degrees celsius, and -10 back home. Here’s a look at my latest trip to Seattle, a small pre-tour I took before my stay in Redmond to film my latest Microsoft Virtual Academy video.

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One of Seattle’s best quirks is the plethora of weird little details found throughout the city. Missing narwhals, a nasty gum wall, people dancing in the streets…

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And then there’s the food. The breakfast buffet at the Fairmont Olympic has an amazing spread of delicate pastries as well as delicious fresh entrees. The macarons in the picture below were coloured blue and yellow in honor of “The Dress” that plagued the internet with its confusing question of blue and black or white and gold.


It’s safe to say I’m pretty infatuated with Seattle. I’m happy to have been able to share this city with my mum and my boyfriend, who joined me on my little pre-trip. Traveling for work is an amazing experience, but it was so refreshing to be able to have two of the most important people in my life join me in this beautiful city.

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I learn something new about makeup every day, and I still don’t own a blending brush. I’ve perfected the ten-minute “this’ll have to do” look, which generally consists of winged eyeliner, a swath of lip something-or-other, and a hasty attempt at contouring blended with a kabuki brush. Until recently I didn’t own either compact in these images – so if you came here for a makeup tutorial, you’re on the wrong blog.


It was during my last stay in Seattle when my old Clinique compact fell to the floor and what was left of my perfect eyebrow shader shattered across the tile. In that moment I realized that I hadn’t actually purchased an eyeshadow or contouring palette for myself in at least four years, and I was simultaneously invigorated with shopping energy and grossed out by the fact that the same stuff touched my face for god knows how many days in a row. There and then I decided to buy new makeup, mainly a palette of neutral eyeshadows and an all-in-one kit that could maybe hopefully teach me how to contour my face and make my already high cheekbones like Angelina Jolie’s (she is forever my favourite Hollywood face). So I went out and bought these nice neutrals from Clinique and Pixi and, while I am far from perfecting the art of face shaping, I’m quite happy with the increase in options in my daily routine.

So why “opalescence”? Well, ever since my boyfriend bought me this large fire opal ring for my 21st birthday (opal is my birthstone and we just happened upon it while walking on Queen street on my birthday!), I’ve been on a bit of an opal binge. I bought these two more delicate ones from a stall in Pike Place Market, and since I started wearing the more rosy shades of these eyeshadows I’ve had a lot more comments on my eyes, some people asking me if they were contact lenses and telling me they looked like opals.

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Bonus shot: the nail polish I’m wearing here is “Swan Street” by Nails Inc. It’s a pale, icy blue with a teeny hint of warmth and I am totally in love with it.


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Photo Diary: Things Around Vancouver


Wealth, health and culture. Those are the three words that come to mind when I think of Vancouver. It’s a beautiful coastal city booming with chic people who walk quickly between the skyscrapers to get to their next appointments. Walking downtown you get the feeling that it was once a quaint place in which, one day, sharp glass buildings suddenly sprouted out of the ground, bringing with them an invigorating and youthful energy. Throughout the city there are surprising pockets of the quaintness that remains; a little church here, a steam-powered clock there, and hole-in-the-wall shops that serve espresso in tin cups and banana bread made from recipes older than the people baking it. Then there are shops that curate the latest high fashion from around the world, where you can’t touch the merchandise unless it’s handed to you by the glove-handed design consultant. There’s Japadog – one of many Asian fusion food spots that blend Asian and North American cuisines – that sells hot dogs influenced by classic Japanese flavour combinations with ingredients like teriyaki, tempura, and shichimi. And there’s a neverending supply of stunning views: mountains, waterfront, and cityscapes that morph into more beautiful shapes with every change in the weather. In short, Vancouver is breathtaking. Take a look.

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Cartems Donuterie


On my last day in Vancouver my 1pm flight was cancelled and I was put on the next flight, leaving at 4:55. That gave me a few more precious hours to discover some more of the city and, remembering a TV show I’d seen about cool donut places a few years ago, I discovered the wonderful gem that is Cartems Donuterie.

Cartems makes specialty donuts with unique, high-end flavours like Lavender Cream and Honey Parmesan. The Earl Grey donut – which is Cartem’s most popular – is surprisingly light and fragrant, with a distinct but not overpowering taste of tea. Being a tea lover myself, I indulged in the most heavenly creation: a cream-filled London Fog donut. I couldn’t resist the urge to buy a half-dozen donuts to bring back to my friends, and I’m happy to say that, though carrying a large box of donuts through the airport proved to be much more burdensome than expected, all the precious cargo made it safely to Toronto, soft and fluffy dough intact.

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So, yes, this post was dedicated entirely to donuts. Next time you’re in Vancouver, be sure to stop by Cartems for a delicious treat.


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Microsoft Empowers Youth at YouthSpark Live Vancouver


It’s said that 50% of the job market requires basic technical proficiency, and that that number will increase to 77% in the next decade. With a shortage of qualified computer science graduates to fill these roles and the fact that computer science has not yet been recognized as a pillar of mainstream education, the income gap between entry-level employees who were exposed to technology early on and those who weren’t widens every year. YouthSpark, a global initiative dedicated to students and youth, is Microsoft’s commitment to help remedy this growing problem by providing youth with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship in technology, and providing them with a path to enter this competitive field.

As an intern at Microsoft Canada and, previously, a Microsoft Student Partner and YouthSpark Advocate, I have benefited firsthand from Microsoft’s investments in youth. I am very proud to have been able to contribute to Microsoft’s youth outreach efforts in a number of ways, including leading coding camps at the annual YouthSpark Live events two years in a row. This year YouthSpark Live took place at Robson Square in Vancouver, where 100 youth nominated by Microsoft’s citizenship partners – Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, Pathways to Education, SHAD, and Ladies Learning Code – joined us for a full day conference focused on skills and career development.youthspark_live_vancouver_2015_1

The day began with an inspiring keynote by Molly Burke, a young woman who, despite going blind at a young age, has overcome her disability and been able to reach thousands of lives through her inspiring talks and work with Me to We to provide opportunities to children in developing parts of the world. Following that, attendees participated in a “coding unplugged” session led by me, YouthSpark Advisor Genevieve L’Esperance, and two Microsoft software engineers, during which they got a feel for the way a computer processes information by applying the Bubble Sort algorithm to sort each other. During the Study Smarter session, representatives from the Microsoft Store showed students how to use OneNote to increase productivity and maximize study time, and then Genevieve and I taught the students how to code using TouchDevelop on HP Stream 7 tablets running Windows 8.1 during the coding camp. The day wrapped up with a career panel of interns from Microsoft’s Foundry program, led by Microsoft Most Valued Professional Stephen Ibaraki, followed by the exciting announcement that the tablets the students had been using throughout the day were their to keep. Many of these youth had lower than average access to technology compared to their peers, so these tablets not only enhanced the learning sessions at the conference, but will provide these students with the opportunity to apply all they learned throughout the day to their daily lives.

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YouthSpark Live was an uplifting and inspiring conference, but it doesn’t end there. YouthSpark is a fantastic initiative that encompasses over 30 major programs and opportunities for youth worldwide. You can discover these programs and opportunities on the YouthSpark Hub and access further resources for learning to code and building apps and games at As a student who was once new to the tech world, I recognize how meaningful those first interactions with tech are, and I am proud to be part of a company that invests so much in youth and students. Watching the students at YouthSpark Live building games was an amazing experience. The creativity and excitement in that room was exhilarating, and if we can encourage that positive energy in more youth across the globe, we can empower a generation that will build the future.


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Photo credit: Mark Kinskofer, Vision Event Photography

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Calm Water and Peaceful Stays at the Four Seasons Vancouver


Hello from Toronto! I’m back after a five day stay in Vancouver, during which I spoke at Microsoft’s YouthSpark Live event, swam in the west coast sunshine, and explored the beautiful city for the first time. I’ve got a lot of posts coming up about my adventures in Vancouver, but I want to start off by sharing with you my home for the week, the Four Seasons hotel. One of the most important elements of a good trip is a good home base, one with plenty of room, a good work space, and a comfy bed. The Four Seasons Vancouver was all of that and more, with an excellent indoor/outdoor pool and open space gym. Initially when I arrived they had me in the most basic room tier, but I upgraded to a suite to make sure I had a space I’d be comfortable working in during my stay. It was absolutely worth it.

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My #YouthSpark


Before I discovered code, I wanted to be a digital artist. My dream was to be a Pixar animator and be part of bringing joy to millions through cute, quirky characters and heartfelt stories. In the summer of tenth grade I went to a computer graphics camp at University of Pennsylvania, thinking I would learn the ins and outs of digital art and kickstart my career as an animator – but when the professor showed us an animation he’d made with code, my plan for my future changed completely.

I had heard about coding, but until I saw it used to make an animation of fire, I had no idea how empowering it was. Just one line of code could change the colour, shape or direction of the fire, and it was mind-blowing to see what a big difference just a few words on the screen could make. I was amazed. Coding was like math with words, and coders were people who knew how to speak to computers and make them do amazing things.

The very first program I wrote was Turtle.vb, a simple program that made an 8-bit turtle crawl around the screen drawing shapes. It was by no means complex, but making it work was exhilarating! The great thing about coding is that anyone who tries it can make cool things right from the get-go. Learning to code is so much fun because it’s creative and very hands-on – you learn by doing, and you get instant results. When my turtle drew a triangle for the first time, I felt like I had unlocked the beginnings of a new superpower; I could now communicate with technology.

Now, six years later, I am studying computer science at Dalhousie University in Halifax, working as a Technical Evangelist at Microsoft Canada, and writing and operating Trendy Techie. In the six years that I’ve been coding I’ve learned seven programming languages and used those languages to make dozens of apps, games and websites. What I love about coding is how versatile it is – once you learn to program you can work on projects across all industries.

Today the second annual #YouthSpark Live event brings together 100 youth from around the Vancouver area for a one-day conference focused on skill development, coding, and careers in technology. YouthSpark is Microsoft’s global commitment to empowering young people with opportunities for employment, education and entrepreneurship, and it comprises over 30 major resources and programs to inspire youth around the world to explore technology. In celebration of YouthSpark Live, I encourage you to tweet and share your #YouthSpark – what was it that inspired you to start down the path to where you are today? 

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