About Me

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Christine Ama is a freelance fashion, arts and culture writer. She has contributed numerous articles to ADONE Magazine and SheDoesTheCity.com and worked for several years as a product copywriter for the Hudson's Bay Company. With a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an intensive Fashion Merchandising program under her belt, Ama is passionate about marrying her love for creative culture with the written word. In the past, she pursued music as a self-produced electro pop singer/songwriter called Christer (rhymes with "shyster" ;) releasing a full-length album, two music videos and touring internationally. After visiting over five countries in Europe, Ama temporarily relocated to Berlin, Germany where she worked and wrote for over a year. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Souvenirs from Home

Sometimes inspiration can arise from the smallest, most ordinary things. Erica Jong writes in Fear of Flying (my new favourite book) “The wonder of everyday life fascinates me more than the wonder of great shrines and temples...Somewhere between the bathroom and the bedroom, somewhere between eating an egg and taking a crap, the muse alights...” In this case, Jong was talking about exploring Beethoven’s modest 2-room flat in Vienna. In my case, it was re-exploring Home. Home with a capital “H” as my Mom likes to call it.

This Christmas vacation I experienced a great many “ordinary” things. A hefty twelve-day holiday in humble Hubley, Nova Scotia, sitting by an infinite vigil of cozy fires, enjoying endless conversation and an obscene amount of food and wine. After several years of travel, a trip to the ol’ homestead can provide one with just the right dose of peace and calm to reflect and gain new perspective. I thank my family for this meditative pause, paired with some good cheese and crackers. It was a vacation from vacation so to speak, and I look forward to sharing with you my top five souvenirs.

1) Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

I’m not the most avid reader out there. I’d like to be one of those people that can read a book a week, but often I’ll find something “easier” to do like surfing the internet of watching reruns of Mad Men. But every couple of months I stumble upon a copy of something that seizes me. In this case, Fear of Flying, an erotic novel from the 1970s, which has more brains and brawn than anything I’ve read in a long time. Isadora Wing, a strong but uncertain writer, accompanies her husband to a psychoanalytic conference in Vienna where she eventually embarks on an unbridled and adulterous adventure through Europe. This book is famous for being one of the first pieces of literature that fearlessly outed female sexuality. And when you put it in historic context, it is indeed shocking. The Sex and the City girls ain’t got nothing on this chick. But more so, Jong’s musings on art and writing (and all the wonder, self-reflection and anxiety that comes with it) is truly what makes this work so powerful. Isadora’s voice has become a soft, sympathetic comfort to me during a time of grave creative crisis.

Not only that but how funny is it to read a book called Fear of Flying when you’re flying on an airplane? Isn’t that ironic? No, that’s not irony...is it? God, I should read more.

2) Magazines

As with any long flight, it’s always best to come prepared. This includes a hefty supply of reading material. For me it’s usually about 30 bucks worth of magazines. Magazines are expensive and they tempt me to want things I don’t need. I didn’t know I wanted an opera coat, until I read this month’s issue of Marie Claire. But where a lengthy plane ride is involved, a trip to the airport is now always accompanied by a sinful splurge at one of YVR’s many newsstands. I stock up on stacks of fluffy fashion and gossip rags to get me through the rough 7+ hours it takes to fly across the country. Under the harsh white beam of that little cabin light, I’ll spend the majority of my time pouring over every swatch of trend and swig of Hollywood juice. For me it’s one of the few things that, aside from the destination, makes a long economy-class journey worth while.

And believe it or not, fluffly fashion rags are an unrivaled source of inspiration for me. Among many other things, I can’t wait to put my new eyeshadow brush to some good use and take a stab at Mila Kunis’ gorgeous smokey eye. And one of my all-time music heroes Patti Smith interviewing one of the greatest actors on earth, Johnny Depp? I mean, uh-mazing.

Also, I now NEED suspenders. And a flowy three-quarter-length skirt. And some restraint.

3) Luxe Utility

A long-time Vancouverite and Blanche MacDonald graduate, Larissa now resides in Berlin, Germany where she worked at projektgalerie, a contemporary showroom for Berlin Fashion Week. In November 2010 she also managed a tour for LA's beloved Polyamorous Affair, opening in venues across Deutschland for Vancouver's musical treasure You Say Party!

Needless to say this girl has accumulated more style status than she knows what to do with. Not to mention she's one of my best friends. With that in mind, anyone that's met her knows she's never quite short of opinions. I particularly enjoy our conversations on fashion. She and I often agree (and often don't) about many things, but we both concur that the above picture could very well be the beginnings of a hot new winter look. After inheriting two amazing foxy furs from her Oma, Larissa paired them with LL Bean boots, super skinnies, dark red lipstick and an easy up-do. Not to mention her mother's Lunenburg farm in the background. Yeah, she pretty much nailed it.

As celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe says: "I died, like, I couldn't breathe."

4) Annfield Manor, Little Bras d’Or, Cape Breton

Over a hundred years old and originally owned by a wealthy coal baron, my parents and I stayed in the gorgeous Annfield Manor for two days while visiting my sister in Cape Breton. The owners of this transformed B&B are lovely, quiet people that make these really good eggs in muffin-molded ham slices. But what inspired me most was not only the history, or the coziness (or that yummy breakfast) but the incredible Victorian decor. Damask embellishments, rusty red walls, crisp white embroidered linens, shiny mahogany woods and Christmas trees EVERYWHERE. if I were a fashion designer I would base an entire collection on this place. Transform those mahoganies into shiny leather miniskirts and britches, pair them with voluminous brocade dresses and blouses, and think of the wedding dress one could design based on those bedsheets! At this point I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

5) Ukrainian Christmas

Who needs one Christmas when you can have two? Luckily my Ukrainian mother makes sure to celebrate her version, based on the Orthodox calendar, every Jan 6. And forget presents. Those are for whiny North American suckers. Ukrainian Christmas is all about food, and lots of it. The delight I feel when Mom breaks out her aunt’s handmade embroidered tablecloth and all the good china is just the beginning. Forget turkey. Sip Beaujolais out of the good crystal and enjoy a six-course, meatless feast over a long, leisurely 4-5 hours. Here's a few descriptions of some of the highlights:

Course 2: Kutia
A dainty spoonful of this traditional sweet porridge made of boiled wheat, crushed poppy seed, assorted nuts, dates, figs, apricots and honey is traditionally supposed to be tossed upwards and the amount that sticks to the ceiling determines how good the year’s harvest will be. But considering we live in suburbia and don’t have much to harvest (not to mention extremely high vaulted ceilings) we usually skip this step.

Course 3: Borsche
Next to the perogies, this is by far my favourite part of the meal, if for the colour alone! I cherish the rich, red hue of cooked beets. The only thing better is their resulting sweet, earthy flavour.
This version is not your usual chunky everyday borsche. The beets are simmered for hours with a pile of assorted root vegetables and seasonings, then strained to create a clear, delicate broth. The “crowning” touch - Mum makes “vushka” (little ears), and serves three or four of them in each portion. These yummy bites of soft pastry stuffed with mushrooms soak up the delicious goodness of the soup. They are simply out of this world. Three of the vushka are shaped into little pyramids and represent the three kings. It’s considered good luck to get one, so naturally in our house the whole thing is rigged for our most special guests.

Course 6: Pyrogies (and a lot of them)
Two flavours. I was surprised to discover I enjoyed the sauerkraut ones almost more than the sinfully good potato and cheese. The acidity of the pickled cabbage is a nice contrast to the buttery pastry and sour cream. Mum also told me that in the summer one can make perogies stuffed with cherries or blueberries. This is an all-time must-try when the warm weather arrives.

To describe the end of this meal, I can only quote my mother:
“Since all this is accompanied by serious booze (unlike our effete wine) by this time everyone is bursting and maudlin and/or belligerant ("I love you, Man", "We will liberate the Ukraine", "your mother wears army boots", etc.). Thus endeth the evening (except that in the olden days, people actually went to Midnight Mass, before they started eating again).”

Thanks for taking the time to read about some silly, everyday things that get me excited. Plenty more to come on Bloodhound, so please follow and enjoy!


  1. Such a lovely read- through and through.
    Keep it up.

  2. Looking good so far Christer! Keep it up. Love the pics.

  3. Christer, This made me want to run and buy magazines, a new book, some suspenders (i have the flowing skirt and smoky eye makeup)and maybe get someone to make me some food. The power of suggestion is a mighty thing. Cant wait to read your next post XX

  4. Love it Christer!!!!