Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Supergirl

Today, I am supergirl.

I am the girl who answers customer requests within seconds.

I find gemlike sources of precious book information buried deep in University websites, and steal them away, Indiana-Jones-like.

I help blind people get on the bus, and I have witty comments to trade with local shopkeepers.

Instead of a cape, I have a fabulous new eReader, that I figured out how to charge, factory reset, and load books onto ALL BY MYSELF.

I am awesome. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear lord, life is busy! Swear to snowflakes I've been too busy to think for the last month, and baby it ain't getting better...until next week. Maybe.

So, I got a new job, which meant leaving the company I'd been with for the past five years. That is a surprisingly big change, and it took some adjusting (the weeks leading up to the move were filled with a heady mix of excitement, nerves, glee, and panic). Those if you who know me well know that's just par for the course- I'm about as welcoming to change as a house cat, and knowing this, the smart thing to do would have been to schedule a break in between the ending of one job and the start of the other. People, I am not smart. I had all if a weekend in between, and that weekend was spent getting ready for and attending a friends' wedding. Yay for her, heart attack for me.

Anyway, it was hard to leave all the people at my old job- I have good friends there, and even the people I was just 'work acquaintances' with, after 5 years, were sad to leave. But this move really is good for me, in a variety of ways, especially career-wise. I kind of hate having to think/worry about 'career' (the same way I hate to think about money), but whatever, you pick a direction and then get off your butt and go there.
The new job is good but super busy (it's the time of year; things will be much calmer later... just not now). I'm in inside sales now. I have yet to really sink my teeth into the 'selling' part of the role, but the 'planning to sell' part, I'm all over.
The office is new and gorgeous- I have a million windows. It keeps snowing here and I get to watch it. But the cubes are all half-height, and it's open concept, so in order to keep disturbances to a minimum, they like it quiet. Like, beyond library quiet. Morgue quiet.
And who can work in a morgue?! It took me all of two weeks to lose it over the uber- silence, and start bringing in my headphones. I've become anti-social headphone girl, but frankly it's too quiet in there to be social anyway. We're social at lunch. I was social the day I brought in cookies. Want friends at work? They can be bought through flour, sugar and butter.

Anyway. There have been brief sparks of life in my life over the last month- they dot my calendar in a pitifully occasional way, like chocolate chip cookies that have been under-chipped.


I had a Hanukkah party. The girls came over and I gave them the most garbled explanation of Hanukkah that ever was, then we decorated a gingerbread house- which I had MADE from SCRATCH. (Shout out to Calgary Aunt for invaluable construction advice, without which we would have been decorating gingerbread ruins). There was food and enough people to freak Esme out. We had fun.


And I'm going to Calgary! Every time I have a moment away from work, I get to pause and get excited over this. I get to spend not-my-religious-holiday with Calgary relatives and the Mom and the brother and even the Egg. I am anticipating the getting there will be a bit of a gong show- picture if you please, Christmas eve in an airport with the brother, our luggage, everybodys gifts, snowboarding equipment, and the dog. And the dogs luggage. And possibly my work computer, if I can't get it all done. At least the dog won't be snowboarding.


The brother is so excited. He keeps contacting me with ridiculous things. Case in point:


The brother: "You think well go ice skating?"
Me: "I dunno"
The brother: "The likelihood of ice skating probably would go up if you brought your ice skates."
Me: "I am not packing ICE SKATES!!!"


At this point, I have no idea what I am packing. The list, which would normally be long and complete (save for a few minor additions and edits) by now, is woefully thin. I think it says things like 'clothes' 'Mom gifts' and 'that hair thing I bought last week'. That might be the entirety of the list at this point, actually. I just havent had time! We had Holiday Party at the Robins yesterday (super fun; she cooks up one heck of a Yule log, people), and I wrapped all the gifts that morning, in about 20 minutes, with my hair still dripping from the shower. That was possibly one of the saddest showings I've had in gift wrapping in a long, long time. My mother would be ashamed. But everyone liked their stuff, so that was great. It doesn't help with my list, though.


It's 9pm and I have less than an hours' work left for today, though (not working on it now cause I'm in a cab- boss had his reps out for dinner- yum). I think I can get home, finish work, and I *might* just have a few minutes to whip the list into shape!

Merry xmas, people!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

French Day

I am having a very french day. I slept in - very relaxing - then met up with a friend and we went out for lunch, then hit up a patisserie. Yum.
Hit the bead store (can't figure out how to make that French, but whatever), and then the culinary shop down the street. I came home with beads (of course), and a quiche pan.

Gotta go make quiche.


Wow, I meant for this post to be significantly longer. Guess I'm just not in the mood. Later.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Rage

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
no more miss nice girl.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Check this out!

So after work today I had an appointment at the dentist, who filled a cavity for me. Then I took my frozen-mouthed self to the grocery store to buy soft things for dinner (no chewing while frozen) and rushed home in time to catch the new ep of Glee. And (hello awesomeness), there's a dentist on Glee and Britney had to get cavities filled! I love when random stuff mirrors my life.

Also, I love that's its so easy to communicate by typing. Sorry about the phone convo I couldn't have with you tonight, Mom.

Now, please let this freezing wear off - I want my smile back.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Dark

Woke up this morning at the usual time, and the sun hasn't risen yet. I hate the first day when you realize that has happened, that the year is advancing toward those days when you'll miss every short ray of sun cause you're in the office. Don't get me wrong, I still love fall and winter - they are my favourite seasons. But if I had to pick one thing about them that was most unpleasant, the dark would be it. Ugh.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tomato Cobbler

...yeah, I'd never heard of it, either.

Its finally come to the time of year where if you're not getting your produce from local farmers at a market like St. Lawrence, there's something seriously wrong with your modus operandi. End of summer is fantastic - peaches, plums, cherries, zucchini, tomatoes and herbs...


And it just gets better from here on out. I'm thrilled that fall is noticeably on its way (more cloudy days, cooler nights, and a teeny drop in humidity), and that means harvest season is almost here - my favourite market-shopping season, of course. Recipes get better -warmer, thicker, more complex flavours.


But for this weekend, I wanted something that tasted really fresh. There's a website I found a while ago, that I consult when I know I'm on my way to the market - The Pacific Coast Farmers Market Association (PCFMA) website. The org is based in San Francisco, and they have some fantastic recipes on their site (I've hotlinked the title of this blog if you're interested in checking them out).


And I found something I'd never heard of - Tomato Cobbler. As ususal, I figured that this was a common thing that was new to me, but when I spoke with the Mom (far more worldly and experienced in the kitchen than I), she admitted this was a new conept to her, too. Well, turns out, its a good concept!

You start by sauteeing onion and garlic (1 large and 2-3 cloves). While that's going, cut up tomatoes - lots of tomatoes. I used like three pints and wish I had more - they cook down like crazy. I also used red and yellow tomatoes - this time of year they're all so pretty, and the cooking is so gentle that they won't break down or lose their colour too much. Resist making the chunks too small - big works well! Also, if you have the patience, remove the pits and gooey gunk - it just adds liquid in the end result.

Mix the onion/garlic (once its cool) to the tomatoes. Add in 1/3 cup of fresh basil, one tablespoon of cornstarch, and salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

I got to use my mixer! You need one cup each of flour and cornmeal, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 4 tbsp cold butter, and salt (don't be gentle with the salt, either!)

Mix it, though it will still look dry. To make it more dougy, add 1 beaten egg, 3/4 cup each of buttermilk and cheese - Gruyere and/or parmesan and/or asiago... (I used a combo of the first two). When that's all mixed, fold in 1 cup of raw fresh corn kernels. Yum.

So the rest is just the mechanics. Pour the tomato mix in a large casserole dish, cover it with the batter (the batter is thick, so drop it in glops and then spread them out to cover it). Don't spread the topping over the edges like a pie - steam needs to get out of the tomatoes when it cooks. Bake it for 35-45 mins @ 375 degrees, until its golden on top and bubbly underneath.
Let it cool a lot before you serve it - that way the tomato juice isn't all runny. I had it with breadcrumb and balsamic baked chicken and homemade Caesar salad. Yum!


Now I just have one question: what do I do with a litre minus one cup of leftover buttermilk? Any suggestions?

Monday, August 02, 2010

Travelling Home

The train is shaky, but i'm tired enough that it's not really
bothersome.
I'm on my way home. 'heartbeats' is playing on my Mp3, and it matches
my mood well.

I had a great weekend with Lauren. We listened to music, sat on
patios, laid on hot sand and swam in blue water for three days. We ate
food that was both good for us and not (we decided, in the end, that
we probably came out even), but it all tasted fantastic.
At the end of it, there was a bit of difficulty involving a closed
highway, a few kilometers if traffic, and my departure time, but VIA
was refreshingly helpful, and Laur is my saviour and a truly great
friend, and didn't grumble at all about driving me further than
originally planned. I owe her big.

It was good to get away, and it's good that the train has wifi so for
once I can blog exactly when the mood strikes me.
I know I have a couple of stressful weeks ahead of me, but at the
moment, that knowledge isn't touching me.
I hope you all had a lovely, destressing weekend like me.


Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gettin out of dodge

So, I don't want to write a whole big thing about what's been going on, cause I hate blogs that are all about "I haven't written in a while, and I'm sorry..." Screw that. What's been happening? Summer, dude. Summer is happening. Get off the computer and go get some sun.

Having said that, I (very suddenly and impulsively) decided that that was exactly what I need to do this weekend - get my butt out of the apartment, forget the stress of work, forget the city, forget everything for a while and go lie on a beach. Which, somewhat to my chagrin, my long-ago hometown has the best of. So saddle up, me mateys, we're Sarnia-bound or bust!




P.s. Dig through that mire of colloquialisms, I dare you!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Family Reunion!

Its my family reunion this weekend (strange to be writing about it, since like 90% of my readership is here with me).
The Mom and Calgary Aunt arrived yesterday. The brother and I gathered them from the airport and we all went out for the brother's ambrosia - shawarma. After hugs and conversation, I subwayed it home, cause I had to work today.
But work is done! I have Friday and Monday off to spend with the fam, hooray!
After work I met the Mom and Calgary Aunt and her friend Mary at the shi-shi mall just north of my office, and we window shopped. Then more shopping, then dinner. Much fun.
Tomorrow the Mom and Calgary Aunt are coming here for breakfast, then more shopping will ensue. Think I can make *real* poached eggs on my first try ever? We'll see...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earthquake

So...Toronto just had an earthquake. I'm at work and the whole building shook. Honestly, I don't know if I'm okay with this, and I think I'd prefer if it didn't happen again.
Thanks.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beach Ready!



Check out my beach ready self!

I've spent the last few days gathering those essential last-minute items everybody needs on vacation: sunglasses, earrings, hair defrizzer. And I'm pleased to say that everything is coming up Bethany, cause the sunglasses I wanted were 40% off when I went to lay down the plastic for them, the lapis I thought I would get for the earrings didn't actually match the bracelet I'd made, so instead I bought great blue Czech beads for much less moola (and they look great), and don't tell the drugstore, but they really really screwed up on the price of their hair defrizzer. Was supposed to be $7.99 - a savings of $1.67...instead, they charged me $1.67. The moral Bethany would have gone back and corrected the mistake, but the cash-strapped Bethany who is going to the very humid southern destination killed her.

Besides, this is just the Universe reimbursing me for the hair it gave me.

WIN!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life isn't fair, but sometimes it gives you good movies...

My friends' cat is dying. He's young, and she loves him, and its sudden, and it isn't fair.
So I went to her place after work, for takeout fast food and movies.
And the weather, which has been icy and wretched for days, turned sunny and breezy and nice.
And the food was unhealthy and good.
And the movies were unexpectedly wonderful, enchanting stories.
And the walk home was dark, and quiet, and there was wind in my hair and I picked lilacs for my desk.

So there's that.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Day off

First, how cool is it that I am in the middle of Yorkdale mall, blogging?

I took the day off work. I didn't really have a good reason, just that things have been busy and stressful for a while, and I wanted a bit of a break. And yeah, I have that trip at the end of the month, but I just couldn't wait.
Besides, I've spent my day off hunting down necessities for said trip. Like flip flops. Flip flop necessities.

I got shoes to match my dress for the wedding, and a wrap, too. It's been a good day, the hunter is victorious, and now she will head home with her bounty.
And she won't think about her bank account balance. No, she won't.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

My Saturday

Saturday was unexpectedy busy. Erica and I met in the morning to pick up her race package for the marathon she'll be running tomorrow (I will dutifully be on the sidelines cheering her on), and then grabbed delicious Thai lunch before going out shopping.  I freaking love Joe Fresh clothes. I got a new bathing suit and a little pullover dress for my Dominican trip, and a sun hat. I wasn't sure about the purchase of a large straw hat, but Erica declared "If you're getting anything, you're getting that hat."

I'm having a blast with her. Next week we'll be shopping for beads - she wants to hire me to make necklaces for her bridesmaids. 

As for now, I'm on my way home, and loving that I can write a blog on the subway before I get anywhere near my computer. Viva la iPhone!

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cat sitting for the Robins

...is a totally sweet deal! Their place is much nicer than mine, though I must admit, my place has been looking better lately, especially with the nice new TV I recently treated myself to. Until I get back there, I'm amusing myself. I used some of Robins nail polish on my toes. It's silver grey with sparkles. I'm calling them my cosmonaut toes.

Work on the jewellery for the Distillery portfolio is progressing well. I have four new bracelets done, so I think I have to start focusing on necklaces and other things.

I'm also starting to look forward to May. My friend Mark is getting married and a large group of us are flying down to Punta Cana to be there. I can't wait. Work has been busy and stressful enough lately and I'm dying for a break.
I bought a great new dress, and now I need to hunt for shoes and jewellery. Good luck for me that I'm right in the middle of shop central!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

March Madness

I'm aware how arbitrary it is to be writing about March halfway through April, but lets just say that March contained so much crazy, it spilled over into the next month. Things still haven't truly settled down.

Work was the worst culprit. March is always one of my busier months, but this one stands out among the crowd. Not that it was bad; just, well, a bit much, is all. And the time crunch (or, more accurately, the not-enough-me-to-go-around-ness) was increased when the company sent me to Vancouver to run a meeting near the end of March. Not that I'm complaining! It was actually nice to get away for a couple of days, focus on one event that I could prepare for, handle, wrap up, and forget about in a short, finite time frame. Plus, I got a free day and a half to spend with the Mom, who ferried in from the island just to see me. We had one great, grey day together exploring Granville island in Vancouver, bookended by an evening and a morning of blearily hunting down dining establishments and lots and lots of talking.

I loved Granville. I think the best part was coming across a fenced-off space (call it an open-air studio?) full of in-progress totem poles. I took pictures through the fence:



...and two days after getting back to my city, I was away from home again at another meeting. Like I said, madness.

But things are starting to calm down (I hope). We have an intern at work, who I am in charge of. Very helpful, but it surprises me how much work I'm putting in, managing another person. New perspectives.

April is calmer. April is getting downright...indulgent. March is when tax returns and work bonuses roll in, so April is when I SPEND! I have a couple of new toys - lets say I've become technologically impressive. Yay me. I feel a little more like a grownup. Except that I don't. Ha!

Okay, it's not that late, but I'm obviously getting punchy nonetheless. G'night folks!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Knocking things off my list

Listmania!

I am enamored with the list idea. First, I made minestrone:


...it turned out damn good, and it was a lifesaver on Monday after the snow-induced busstop nightmare. So nice to come home from a cold and wet and sucky day to beautiful homemade soup!

Also, I got to working on #13- make something with the wool I bought in Victoria. I am so freaking happy with the outcome of this project! Not only did I knock an item off my list, and make something cool, but I learned a bunch of new knitting techniques (check out the round needle AND double-pointed needle action I got up to- go me!).

Casting on

Halfway done!

Double pointed needles - I actually know what to do with these!

Hat!

Monday, February 22, 2010

I AM CANADIAN

Left work: 5:45pm
Stopped at the grocery store
Got to the bus stop: 6:25pm
Bus arrived: 8:11pm

Stupid snow, really stupid drivers. But I survived, so I call it a win.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

List

So, my friend Victoria started the year off with this list. It wasn’t a resolutions list, it was more like a goals list, mostly aimed at her artistic interests. Her list intrigued me, but I wasn’t about to go out and compose my own list…or at least, I hadn’t intended to.

But I think we all have a few ideas rolling around in our heads of things we want to do, dream of doing, keep intending on getting to…and it seemed natural to gather these persistent stray thoughts and set them down on paper (or at least in a word file). My list is neither as long nor as ambitious as Victoria’s (you can take a gander at her list here). It's not so focused on art (though it certainly includes some projects therein). Some things are beyond the mundane (check out #6), and it may be an embarrassingly short list (especially compared to Victoria's). But they are goals, and I do intend to get through them, within the year. At the very least, it’s a way to get some stuff done.

1. Make Minestrone soup
2. Upgrade blog template
3. Visit Textile Museum
4. Complete and submit Distillery collection
5. Create ‘frame’ print series
6. Make appointment with new dentist
7. Clean out closet, donate clothes
8. Bring books to used book store
9. Buy and install new shelves in hallway
10. Plant garden (sugar snap peas, green onions, lettuce, tomatoes)
11. Wallpaper closet doors
12. Take a looong walk at night with a friend
13. Use wool I got in Victoria

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meet Esme!

The good thing about my birthday is that, hello- it's my birthday. The bad thing is that (though I love February), its always cold, always grey. When I was young, this meant a decided lack of pool parties, as an adult, this means that I (and everyone else) is most interested in celebrating through hibernation.
Of course, hanging about the house (or apartment), no matter how cozy, sucks without a cat. So on my birthday we rectified my situation and got me a cat!

The brother and his roommate kindly drove me all over the GTA hunting. Well, not the entire GTA, just the downtown Humane Society and then the THS cat adoption centre out in Scarberia. The adoption centre was great! The cats weren't all shut up in cages, and there were cat toys and beds and scratching posts everywhere, and you could actually interact with the animals, which is the best (read: only) way to choose a new pet.


I chose a little 3 year old Tortie they called 'Oaks'. She's small and light (I'm actually guessing she might be less than three), and she's got zero fear. The car ride didn't bother her in the slightest, and when we opened up the cage in the apartment, far from hiding under the bed as I'd expected, she strolled out and started looking around immediately. She examined nearly everything, even ate a little, and then settled onto the couch for the brother to pet while we had dinner.


I discovered the next day that she likes to be up high! She made her way onto the tall shelf in my hallway, and she spent the next night curled up on top of my bookcase. I'm going to get a kitty mattress for up there (the book case is tall, but probably really uncomfortable).

After careful deliberation, I've decided to name her Esme. I think she likes the name- her cuddliness is improving!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beads!

So, this one kind of came about in a roundabout way.

For Hanukkah, I made my aunt a bracelet, and she got me a purse - it's a gorgeous, very unique stiff-felt purse she got in the Distillery district. I'd admired those purses before, so when the holidays rolled around, she went back there to get me one (thanks!). The problem was the store was low in stock, and they didn't have any of my colours. My aunt got me a purple one.
It was lovely, but it was purple.
In its defence, it wasn't pink.
But still...purple.

So a few weeks after Christmas, when we each had a spare day, my aunt and I and the purple purse went back to the Distillery district, back to the hip, unique little boutique from whence it came. And they had a pile of new stock! Gorgeous neat purses in all the good colours of the rainbow. It was hard, but eventually I settled on a heather gray purse with cobalt and grass-coloured dots. Sounds weird, looks unbearably stylish.

While we were there, we did some browsing. The shop features mostly jewelry, mostly very unique, elegant but edgy stuff that both my aunt and I admire (she buys, I don't). While we're walking around the glass cases, admiring the shiny wonderfulness that is being sold there, she speaks up, saying that the bracelet I made her would fit in well with the store's inventory.

Now, I'm a bead artist. Its just a hobby, but I have developed a few skills, though I've never made any real profit off of it. Selling has never been a big priority of mine. But the guy running the shop comes over with a business card and tells me how to submit images of my work for evaluation by the owner.

And I love this idea! I've been working a lot on new projects, trying to get a portfolio of sorts made up, to show the type of stuff I'm interested in making for them. Very sleek, simple, elegant, with a little fun thrown in. Beads, strung by hand, but no single-string silliness (the type of thing I dislike seeing in shops, cause it's so easy to make it yourself, often better, and probably cheaper). My friend Victoria (of Sonnet & Mayhem fame) gifted me with a new notebook so I could keep track of new ideas (which for the last month have been pouring out like water) and important facts on current pieces (time involved, prices of materials, etc). I've been beading up a storm. I've visited Sassy Bead Store four times this month, and the brother drove me out to Bead FX last weekend. I RAN OUT OF BEADS (seriously!) and had to special-order more. At this point, it's becoming obvious that if this venture goes forward (and I'm aware that there is no guarantee of it doing so - I am trying not to count the chickens, I swear!), I might have to start ordering my beads online, in BULK. I've never created pieces like this before, and I'm loving it.

I really hope the shop is interested in my stuff, if only because at this point, I'm having so much damn fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Empty home

It's sad coming home to an empty house.

I spent the day with my aunt, and we did some shopping, and eating of cupcakes, and watching of movies. It was a good day, and a good way to spend my first day back home after a week in Texas at a very busy sales conference.

But while I was away in Texas (and I feel very guilty for being there and not here at the time), my cat Punkin passed away. It was sudden (he had a stroke), though not entirely out of the blue (he was 19 years old, at least). Still, it was hard to come home to my brother and his dog waiting for me, rather than loud and insistent meowing. I regret that it was the brother who had to deal with all of that, without help. I regret that my Smelly Old Man (as I'd taken to calling him) was alone, even if it was for a short while. I loved him, and I'm going to miss him.

Especially when I come home, even after good days, to a very quiet apartment.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!

After much too little sleep, I'm up again bright and early Christmas morning...to clean. There are no presents, yet. Santa did not visit. But the Mom arrives in eight hours, and by then I should have my apartment looking presentable.
I'm joking, of course, if only a little. Mostly I'm just too wound up to sleep. I keep making lists in my head, of things still to do (put away that load of dishes, clean the mirrors...), and when I tell myself to stop, I end up with excited thoughts (Boxing Day sales? I want to buy boots! Black ones, tall, not thigh-highs though...) so finally I decided it's better to get up and be productive. If I get enough done, then I'll take a nap later.
I really shouldn't be spending my time blogging, but I decided to put on the TV, to that channel with the fireplace that they play all day- and there's two of them! How does one choose between 'Yule Log Carols' and 'Christmas Fireplace'? And I thought this day was going to be so simple!

Merry Christmas, all - from one who doesn't celebrate it (much)!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Busy holidays

So, this week is so busy that I actually had to make a list of the days and outline my activities for each one. And revise said list. Over and over again.
Keep in mind that I also use the outlook calendar on my work computer, and I have wall calendars at the office, and at home. Yes, they're all the same- its just how I roll.
So when I add to all those a list of daily activities, you know I've got a lot on my plate.

Lucky me, it's almost all really fun.

Saturday was my work holiday party. Kev went with me, and we sat at a table with a bunch of friends of mine from work. The dinner was good, the talk was good, and we left after a few dances. For once, there was no major winter storm the night of the event, as there has been the last three years running...that was nice. Did I win anything, I hear you ask? No, for the third year in a row, I did not. Planning for rigging next year's prize draw starts now.

Sunday I went shopping with Erica, a friend from grade school whom I've recently(ish) reconnected with. I love introducing people to fun shops and things I know about that they've never been to or heard of. We went all over Yorkville, and had a pretty productive day. Then I went to the Robins' place to hang out for a bit, and they let me borrow a mixer.

This morning was the one un-fun part of my week. I got to go to the doctor! I had to get a Havrix booster (protection against Hepatitis-something you get for vacations to places like Mexico). While I was there, the doc offered an H1N1 shot (that I've been meaning to get anyway), so I got that, and then she wanted to send me for blood work (basic stuff), and since I hadn't had time for breakfast I was good to go to have blood taken just then and there. So basically I spent the first half of my day impersonating a pin cushion. Woot.

But then I came home and finished a beading project (yes, its a gift), and made shortbread cookies, with the mixer I borrowed, which made it super fast and really easy. I decided to save the dishes for tomorrow, when my arm doesn't hurt so much.

Tuesday I get to go to the mall! after work to shop! for presents! YAY! Then I'm going to come home and maybe I'll make meringue cookies...I haven't decided yet.

Wednesday I have a holiday party and gift exchange with a bunch of girlfriends. Its a potluck and I'm bringing puff pastry onion tart I made, and some of my cookies (and maybe meringues).

Thursday Erica has invited me over to her place for dinner. I get to meet her fiance and her cat (though strangely I think she's more excited about me meeting the cat). Should I bring something?

Friday I have more baking to do (in case you have yet to realize it, I've set myself out to be everyone else's worst influence this year!), and then the weekend is brunch and more shopping and more baking, and another holiday party and everything is just so much fun!!!

...if only my arm would stop hurting. Damn shot.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Yay Christmas!

So, Hanukkah is very early this year (like, it starts on Friday), and the Mom is coming to visit on the 25th. This means that presents (which would normally be shipped across the country) are being delayed. It means that the finger food night (a tradition from childhood that the brother and I have kept going) is being delayed. In fact, all the usual festivies are being timed to the Mom's arrival. And since she arrives on the 25th, that means that for the first time in years I'm kind of doing Christmas.

And its fun.
And totally going to my head.

I made cookies, with food colouring in them, and those little edible metallic balls on top. I'm planning menus. I've even bought those little LED lights and strung them up...on my potted palm.

I'm still lighting the candles, of course.
It's just the opening act to, well, a whole lot of cookies, as far as I'm concerned.

Yay Christmas!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ill fate

The signs were there. 

My lips have been chapped.

I got to bed at a decent hour last night, but felt like I'd only had a few hours sleep.

And on the way to work, I stopped at Tim's for a hot chocolate – a large one.  Hot chocolate in the morning is not a good sign.  Needing it even before I get to work is a really bad sign.

Add to that, I got in to the office at the same time as my boss.  The same time!  That has never happened.

 

In hindsight, I know I should have been much more cognizant of what was coming, that dark cloud that was looming on the horizon, that ill fate that was about to befall me.

Literally, ill fate.

 

But still, I find myself unprepared.  By halfway through the workday, I am down to four tissues.  Four.  Even my most carful rationing can only take me so far, and I tremble for the moment when that meager supply runs dry.  I'm sneezing at the office, and it's not a good thing.

 

My boss already commented on it.  A friend said I sound like I'm coming down with something.  I contradict them, I am not getting sick.  It's allergies, it's dust.  Cat dander.  The fact that there are no cats at the office makes no nevermind.  I'm not getting sick.

 

And yet, I've sent off an email to let the group know that I will not be attending our book club meeting tonight, after all.

I have plans to stop at the grocery store tonight for tissues.  And maybe soup.

And I want my large, warm sweatshirt really, really bad right now.

 

But I'm not getting sick.



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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inventory was a mistake

We're in the middle of a fabulously gorgeous autumn. Cold, yes, and a little rainy, but freaking beautiful. The view off my balcony is made up of all my favourite colours, and looks like it belongs in a magazine. Ironic, since the last time I went to buy my favourite magazine (a bead mag called Bead & Button), instead of a bright orange cover and projects that celebrated this very colourful time of year, it was all full of purple (meh) gold (ick) and crystal (ugh). I left it in the bookstore, and ended up buying Real Simple, which I've never read before, but the cover was very orange, so I decided to give it a shot.

And while I would be pretty disappointed that my newest bead-fix has been denied me, I'm not sweating it, cause the end of this month is the semi-annual Toronto Bead show (woot)! Not only is this an event I look forward to every day of the six months since the last show, but this time, I get to introduce a friend to the quietly wild bead show atmosphere. Victoria and I will grab brunch and then walk to the show from there.

In anticipation (and preparation) for the show, I decided to sort through my stores, take a note of what I have and what I'm lacking, and make up a shopping list. This, I believed, would solve two problems that I have run into before in my shopping: avoiding getting two or more of the same thing (what am I going to do with three vials of scarab-green beads, seriously?), and making sure that when I get home, I have everything I'll need (avoiding the I can't work on that project cause I'm out of freaking glue! moment).

This was a mistake. What started as a shopping list turned out to be surprisingly long, and evolved into something of a wish list as well. The result? Come next weekend, I'm likely to be broke.

Happy as a kitten in a yarn store, but broke.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Nuit Blanche - gone

This weekend was pretty good. I went to the market (it's well into autumn here, and the apples are amazing), then I went out to Nuit Blanche.

I ended up seeing five exhibits (I'd planned out a route that covered twelve, knowing fully that I wouldn't get to all of them), and only three of the five were actually on my list. I started at the Bata shoe museum, where they were taking pictures of people's shoes and doing an art-installation based on the photos. There was also supposed to be poetry, I thought, but maybe all the poets were on a break while I was there. Anyway, because there were no poets (just an empty microphone where the public were being encouraged to 'share their stories - and no one was), and because there wasn't a large group of people together (they were letting in small groups at a time, and there was no main large gathering place), the atmosphere was kind of hum-drum. Basically, what I had thought was an intriguing idea was executed disappointingly.
So after that, I figured I'd head straight downtown where more of the action would be. Lucky me, on the way back to the subway I passed by the ROM, and there was a street performer out front. He was great - nothing shockingly original performance-wise (a basic sword juggling routine, a really tall unicycle, and a bit of fire eating thrown in for flavour), but his showmanship was fabulous - he had the crowd laughing like crazy. He was good enough that I stayed until the end of his show, and I put money in the hat he held out.


Downtown I went to see a giant silver bunny balloon by Jeff Koons that was set up inside the Eaton Centre - very cool. On the way there I passed by this woman wearing a dress that was made out of an igloo-looking tent, doing a performance piece that seemed to be about waking up, though I didn't stay very long to see it.
Then I got in line for Massey Hall. There was a sound installation there called Space Becomes The Instrument by Gordon Monahan. I stood in line for 90 minutes- UGH. It was cold, we were standing on the sidewalk, which was decidedly uncomfortable, and there was nothing going on around us to take our minds off the wait. Clever me, I don't leave the house without a book in my purse, and it doesn't matter if it's 4am, in downtown Toronto, there's always enough light to read by, easily (for the record, I am against light pollution, but just this once it worked well in my favour). On the other hand, once I got in, it was pretty much worth it. The audience all sat in a group, on the stage. Just getting to see Massey Hall from that perspective, to be able to say "I've stood on that stage before" was neat. The performers were all in the orchestra and balconies. They had piano wires strung up, right to the ceiling and across the entire space from left to right, and there was a microphone attached to the point where all the wires crossed. Then one girl grabbed one wire, and dragged the mic along the wires, jiggling them and waving them and increasing and decreasing the tension on them, and the mic picked up all these weird tones and variations. That noise was combined with techno sounds and pumped into speakers all around us, with the sound moving from one to the next, so it seemed to come from different directions. It was very neat sounding, and kind of reminded me of the thunder storm we'd had earlier that day.
Then came the second part of the performance. Three people climbed up in the balconies, and held speakers that started emitting steady tones - each one different. Then they started swinging the speakers around their heads, at different (and changing) speeds. The sound was eerie, and it got more eerie when all the lights went out, and the three swinging speakers each lit up. The ceiling of Massey Hall is scalloped, and the lights made the shadows oscillate- it kind of looked like waves. The effect worked well, since the sounds made me think of Sirens (the mythic kind, not the ambulance kind). All of it was strange - I need a work halfway between music and noise, cause that's what this was. I liked it a lot.
By the time I got back outside, it was about 5am, and I decided that I was tired enough (and had enjoyed the sound installation enough) that I would end on a high note (no pun intended), and headed back home. I got in at about 530, took a little time to wind down (and eat something; by then my circadian rhythms were screwed up enough to leave me starving), and then I hit my pillow, hard. For about four hours, when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I was just trying to decide if I wanted to attempt doing anything (no), when Kev called - he'd been at a house party the night before, and was about as beat as I was. We decided that the best thing to do was as close to nothing as possible. So today Kev and I ordered in Thai food and watched nine hours of Boy Meets World.
Awesome weekend. Awesome.

Nuit Blanche - going

Ever heard of Nuit Blanche? Its this all-night modern art thing that fills up Toronto streets once a year, and it's tonight. Its very strange to be getting ready to go out at midnight, but here I go. Check out the webpage for the basics, and I'll blog tomorrow (after sleeping in, of course) about all the things I see.

http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fresh look

So, I spent the greater part of the weekend painting my apartment, and I'm super pleased with how it turned out. Check it out:

My tools

My intrepid helper
Getting started
Final result - gorgeous!

So, I hope you don't mind the image-based blog, but frankly, I can't think of anything else to say about a now-brown wall. Shockingly, watching paint dry doesn't make for scintillating commentary.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I bought paint!

I've decided one of the walls in my apartments needs to be a different colour, so today after work (last day of summer hours, so I took advantage) I went to the bead store and found a fabulous citrine to wear to a friends' wedding next week, and then I went to the hardware store and got paint! I'm so excited!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Stupid Tuesday

Everything at work blew up in my face today.

This morning I had to peel myself out of bed, and I knew it would be nice outside, and I have laundry to do and my apartment needs cleaning and I am very eager to start painting that one wall in my place that I've decided needs to be different, and I thought about all the things I could do that weren't work, and then I told myself to go to the office like a good girl, even if I do have plenty of paid sick days that I haven't taken yet this year.

I should have stayed home.

I had minor questions - minor!- about the process for using this new system the US is using, and what should have been very, very simple answers ended up being the openings of multiple cans of worms, which result in very very much more work for yours truly (and others). None of this is my fault, so there's none of the guilt I would have if I'd actually screwed something up, there's just that feeling of naivete that comes from weeks of people telling me that this would be 'simple to implement' and me blithely following, ignoring the voice in the back of my brain that was trying to tell me 'this will be harder than you think'.

I should listen more to my inner voices. More the one that whispers 'stay home' than the one that tells me new projects are destined to be nightmares.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

We saw a tempest, not The Tempest

Last week, several friends and I came up with the lovely idea of going to Shakespeare in the Park after work. We decided to meet right after work and have a pot-luck picnic before the show. I made pasta salad. We left work, and the sky got a little darker. We got to the park, and the sky got a little darker. We took out our picnic, and the sky got real dark, and started growling. We ran to the nearest gazebo (don't think round, arch-roofed romantic 'you-are-sixteen-going-on-seventeen' structure, think barn roof on stilts with lines of picnic tables beneath), and the sky opened up and...well, 'rained down hell' is only slightly melodramatic. Winds raged, rain came in sideways, lightening crashed like mad. We screamed a bit, laughed a lot, and once the winds calmed enough to let the rain come down more vertical-like, we shrugged our shoulders and unpacked our now slightly damp, but just as tasty, picnic, and finished our adventure...and dinner. By the time we were done eating, the storm was finished and the sky was orange and calm(ish), and we all went home- damp, kinda cold, and with a good story (bad decisions often lead to those).

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Weekend at the Cottage

So, late last night, we got back from the cottage. I love that place. It's very relaxing - I love not having any clue (or care) about what time it is...or what day it is. The weather was better than it called for (meaning that it didn't rain every minute)- we actually had some nice, sunny days. There was swimming and tons of reading, we played several games of Trivial Pursuit, great (and very plentiful) food...

I brought a chunk of soapstone with me (yes, the one I maimed myself with- see previous post), and the plan was to work on it a bit each day and have it done by the end of the weekend. Well, I kind of got into it, so I carved the whole thing in one, several-hours-long stint. It was great, especially as I had Steven (hereby known as my carving guru) sitting with me, showing me techniques and telling me what tools I'd need and such. Check out what I made!

I hope you all had a great long weekend like me!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Who knew preparing for the cottage was so hazardous?

I'm a freaking genius! (The English language really has to come up with punctuation that denotes sarcasm).

Tomorrow the brother and I are off to the Robins' cottage. Sweet! Though the weather hasn't been the greatest, we have high hopes. But, just in case, I'm also bringing along a lot of things to do- I bought beading magazines, I'll have a pile of sudoku puzzles with me...you know how much a brain weighs? That's how much candy I bought.

Also, I have some new pieces of soapstone from my trip to BC, and I wanted to bring some along to carve. I don't want to tote along ALL my tools and stuff, though, just a set of files and some sandpaper, so I was trying to do everything to prepare the stone ahead of time. Thus, I figured out (last night, in my head, in my bed, while I was supposed to be sleeping), that it needed a hole. Skip forward to this morning, which found me freshly showered and dressed for work, using a towel as an apron, and drilling into a piece of stone.



It's not a huge thing- I didn't need to get out my whole Dremel set or anything - I've got my grandfather's drill, this awesome, ancient hand-crank thing.






So, I'm trying to carve this hole, trying not to get dusty, and trying to not be late for work. I'm changing drill bits, which you do by either a) holding the crank still while you twist the chuck at the top open, or the reverse, by holding the chuck still while turning the crank. Now, you see those gears on the drill? See that space between them that doesn't exist? Yeah, that's where my pinkie finger went.
I spent all day at work doing my best to avoid typing 'cause it turns out I use my pinkie a lot when typing. Ow. I also stopped to buy band-aids on my way home - I'd used my last one.

Poor pinkie. On the other hand, now the damn stone is ready for the cottage!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Peas!


Isn't it beautiful?! It's one of my first batch of sugar snap peas that I grew all by myself! Seriously, these started out as seeds and now I have something edible, people.
I'm thinking of becoming a farmer.














Monday, July 20, 2009

Away too long, and not long enough!

Don't hate me because I'm busy!

Between friends moving, friends starting new businesses, friends getting married (not to mention my own venture across the country), I've been a busy girl!

Yes, life is busy happening in the big city. Unfortunately, the big city is also featuring a city workers strike that means all Canada Day celebrations were cancelled, not to mention that the trash is starting to pile up good n' high. Let's just say it was a good time to get out of the city.

I managed to do Canada Day in Victoria, which was lovely and sunny and had that small-town feel. There was a street festival and free watermelon and a nice dinner with friends, and it all culminated in a fabulous fireworks show (we're convinced that Toronto shipped its unused explosives to the coast).

The Mom and I also participated in a glass class, and made beautiful plates! This one is mine (forgive the awful photography, and for the record, that's a piece of white paper behind it- the plate is clear, and therefore REALLY hard to get a good picture of. I'll try to do better tomorrow). I'll try and get the Mom to send me a pic of hers for me to post...except I still have her memory card...sorry the Mom.
There was a lot of shopping (I seem to be surprisingly enamored of umbrellas lately...) there was a trip to Botanical Beach (while the tide was coming in..."JUMP, Mom, you can do it, you just have to get a running start!"), obligatory pickle-boating, lots of good food and a couple of really great markets. The markets there are different from most Toronto ones I've been to- here's it's mostly food featured, with some stuff (like art, hand-made items, etc.) There, it's mostly stuff with a little food thrown in, mostly for munching on there, while you browse. I got some great hand-spun wool for my knitting guru, a suitable appropriate bridal shower gift for my bride-friend, something called ice-wine tea for my tea-loving artsy friend, and piles of chocolate for piles of others. I also hit the museum there- it's a wonderful little museum, and right now it has a really fabulous show on loan from the British Royal Museum. REALLY worth going to- I had a great day.
But now (sigh) I'm back, and suitably recovered to get back into the proper swing of things, including blogging. I'm a little behind on all sorts of projects, which I will let you know about in time.
You may have noticed a new link to the right- Sonnet & Mayhem. This is the truly inspiring artsy endeavour of the above-mentioned tea-loving friend. She's opened up her own business making hand-carved and stamped cards, postcards, etc. She's got very much talent, and she's pouring it out into these lino prints, and they're turning out beautifully. I happily point you in her direction - go explore her blog, and her shop on etsy.com. Her stuff is great!

Monday, June 01, 2009

The cat killed my hairdryer

The Mom is visiting.
She says I'm not allowed to make fun of her on my blog, so I won't.

My pillows got soaked with water last night, but that was because of the cat.
My hairdryer is dead, but it was probably the cat.

Also, the cat can't answer my cell phone reliably and can't read without its glasses.

But seriously, we're having a great time. We went to brunch and the zoo, then we went to St Lawrence Market and shopping and to a BBQ at the Robins'. Then we drove to Jordan and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The weekend was wonderful, but exhausting!

And the visit goes on- tomorrow we're going to the movies, and then at some point we have to go shopping again...I need a new hairdryer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I am my mother's daughter

So, the Mom is visiting at the end of the week. I am very excited, and I have a lot to do - stocking up on groceries, doing several loads of laundry, cleaning everything, yadda yadda yadda. So, the minute I get out of work today, I rush off to (of course)...go shopping.
Whatever.
So I'm in Winners and I find sheets for a very reasonable price. And since I've needed new bed linens for some time, and especially since I'm soon to have a house guest, I consider this a fortunate find.
However, I also find shoes.
They are the same price as the linens. And they're great. And I can't splurge on both.



Sorry, Mom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Call it Vitamin P

Summer hours at my office started this week; that means working an extra 45 minutes every day until Friday, when we get to leave in the early afternoon. And while I'm very much looking forward to Friday, right now, all I'm feeling is a full week of extra-long days piling up. This, together with the stressingly difficult Pilates class I just went thorough (I'm pretty sure this damn class is supposed to be getting easier, not harder as I go along) has left me decidedly drained; I didn't even have the mental fortitude to steer myself away from temptation tonight and so am having a dinner that is very much anti-diet. I bought something I've never purchased for myself before, ever: one box of Lucky Charms. I justified that if I was craving it so badly, then maybe it contained something my body needs that I was lacking (you know how sometimes you out-of-the-blue want a steak if you're low on iron?)
However, looking down at the remains of my 'dinner', I find it doubtful that my body was lacking in vaguely purple-tinted milk.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spring things

So, it's officially Spring, and the weather has become acceptibly spring-like, even if 'April's showers' seem to be spilling into May.  I've cleaned my house (to a degree, anyway), I've started my garden, I'm cooking with vegetables from Canada (as opposed to South Africa) once again!
This year, I've planted sugar snap peas (these didn't work last year, but I like them too much not to try again), red peppers, tomatoes, and spring onions.  Good luck to me, though I already have sprouted things poking out of soil, so I'm off to a good start!
 
I also went back to the Farmer's Market with a friend last weekend.  It's been a while since I've been there- winter doesn't make me want to get up early on a Saturday to trek across town to a large cold building that's probably mostly filled with withered carrots anyway- but now that there is sunshine in the mornings, it's great to go.  Which, for the record, everyone else seems to be thinking as well, cause it was friggin packed.
But I'm glad we went.  It always feels good to go to the market.  I feel very grown-up and sophisticated to buy things like fiddleheads and smoked paprika.  I also bought a large pink chunk of Himalayan rock salt, which I currently think makes me very cool in the kitchen.
I made fiddleheads with shrimp over cauliflower mash- and damn I'm good!
 
And I'm buried in the extra-curricular projects right now.  I'm knitting two things at once (scarf for the brother and messenger-style bag for me), I just loaded up with new beads at the Toronto Bead Show, it's finally warm enough for me to start stonecarving again, and I even picked up new sketching pens...and then went home and sketched...and then remembered why I don't sketch things...I suck at sketching.
 
In my down time (of which I have little left, after all that), I'm reading a book that has no real story; no character development, no antagonist to speak of, no rise or fall of action...believe it or not, it's not even fiction, it's NON-ficition (which I never, ever read), and it doesn't even have a plot, unless you consider the alphabet a plot, and even if you did, I doubt you'd find it a very compelling one.
And I tell you now, this is one of the most ticklingly wonderful reads I've ever read.
Ironically, it's a book published by Penguin that's all about an Oxford publication, but what can I say, sometimes the publishing lines get blurred.
It's called Reading the OED, and that's all it is, a book about a guy reading a dictionary- and its GREAT!  Seriously, people, go out and get this book.
I freaking love words.  Favourite new word so far: Cellarhood (n.) The state of being a cellar.  WHY DOES ENGLISH HAVE A WORD FOR THIS?!


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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Yay week

Why is this a yay week? Well, we had Friday off cause of Easter, and long weekends are always good. Also, last Tuesday, I'm sitting at lunch in the cafeteria, and the head of my division, along with the CEO come and sit at our table. We make pleasant conversation...a one point, the CEO asks if anyone is taking Thursday off work. I reply, jokingly "Well, if you're offering..." and he gives me baseball tickets! Four seats at Rogers Centre to watch the Jays beat the Tigers. Awesome. So, I get Kevin and the brother to take the day off work as well, and we (and the brother's roommate) go to the game, which the Jays win, so everybody's happy.
That night the brother and I have Passover dinner at the Robins (very tasty- fabulous lemon cheesecake), which goes on till 4am (all the best evenings do). While I'm there, I show off my first properly completed and successful knitting project: a short green scarf in variegated green and cream, done in straight knit stitch. Embarrassingly basic, but I'm so proud. I expect to be razzed for my geeky new hobby, especially by the brother. The family dutifully raves over my gorgeous scarf- and the brother asks me to make him one! I have a commission- how cool am I?
So I spend a good chunk of Saturday trekking to the good wool shop (which is all the way down in Queen West). I get wool for the brother's project...and more for a new project of my own. I also stop at the grocery store and make a slowcooker-full of curry that night. Sunday I have brunch with book club friends, then home for knitting and curry. Knitting goes fine. When I try to transfer the ceramic dish full of curry to the fridge...well, there's the fridge door, and the curry pot, and me juggling them, and for the record, I suck at juggling. Result? A very predictable shattered ceramic pot, curry everywhere...floor, fridge, cupboards, me. Super ick, and a waste of perfectly good food! I'm crushed as thoroughly as my slowcooker pot.
Whatever; it was a cheap slowcooker anyway.
Monday I have a vague idea to go to Victoria. I mention it to the Mom over the phone. She says 'anytime'. Today (tuesday), I find a seat sale on airline tickets- and there's 4 seats left. No time for thinking, so I book my travel (whirlwind; I usually think these things to death before going forward with plans like this). But its done, the tickets on my credit card...but when I get home, what do I find? My tax return?! Why thank you, government, you just bought me a flight to BC.
Like I said, its a yay week.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Spring Snow

Its snowing in Toronto. It's spring, it's Easter...and its freaking snowing. Not mostly-rain-its-almost-frozen-if-you-squint snow, but big, fat, cover-the-grass, stick-to-your-felt-coat, Merry-Christmas-Everybody SNOW. Ugh.
Tonight I made really good burritos for dinner. This week is Passover, so we're supposed to eat unleavened bread, and I figured tortillas were unleavened. The brother and I are going to the Robins' for dinner on Thursday, too. I'm looking forward to it, especially since there's no work the next day (three-day weekends are sweet!)
...that is, they would be sweet, if I could get motivated to do something with them. I don't know what the deal is, but the last couple of weekends I've been rather lumpish. Admittedly, I had a book for book club to get through this weekend, but it's annoying to have a couple of days free of the office and to spend the entire time inside. I think I have to start planning better for my time off.
Not that all my free time lately has been wasted, mind you. Three weeks ago the brother and I went to Ikea so I could buy a shelf unit that was on sale. Ikea was all out of the shelf unit, but I was with the brother (who loves to spend my money), so somehow at the end of that weekend I had a four-foot palm plant, several kitchen tools, a DVD player, and a new kitchen floor. For the record, stick-down tiles are fun- for the first four rows.
There's not much more of note right now- knitting and beading are fun for me, but not to talk about...so I think I'll go do that now.
Happy Passover, Everybody.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Belated Mexico

So, winter was brutal in Toronto – we broke the record amount of snow fallen, dangerous cold warnings went out, a lot, and we were just getting to the part of the winter where everyone’s aching for some sunlight, and yet they all know there won’t be any for another month, at least.
And that’s when I got to go to Mexico.
Sweet.

Everything about it was wonderful. Even the flight out was, like, the best flight I’ve ever been on- with snacks and food and wine and champagne. (Though the movie did suck, and they played “When the moon hits your eye” when we landed – classic Italian songs are the ideal way to welcome visitors to Mexico, I guess).
We made it to the resort, and saw the Mom, which was, of course, great.

The resort was large, but it didn’t feel huge. It was horseshoe shaped, facing the beach, and had three pools in the centre, with a ‘river’ connecting the pools, and a swim-up bar, and two restaurants. There were wild iguanas and cats and peacocks that all made the hotel their home (very cool – guests of the hotel would pick hyacinth flowers and feed them to the iguanas). That night we had dinner in an open-walled restaurant overlooking the ocean.
All the rooms face outdoors, so when we went to bed that night, we could hear the waves, and the sound was so perfect that we actually wondered if the sound was being piped in. (It wasn’t.)

We spent the next three days by the pool. The brother made fun of me for bringing four books, but we burned through those pretty quickly. Fortunately, there was an informal book exchange at the towel hut, and we got some more reading material there.
We spent some time on the beach, but I liked the pools better. Lounges everywhere, a little music, and guys in white who wandered around bringing us drinks and food and drinks and frozen towels and drinks…

There was a marina about ten minutes’ walk from the resort, and we went there one night for dinner. There were a couple of cool art places, a tequila boutique with free tastings, and a lot of restaurants, including where we went – Victors. I loved Victors!!! That place had the best tortilla soup I’ve ever tasted. And the tequila was free, and flowed like water. The brother had warned me before our trip that I was not, at any point, to turn down any offers of free stuff (this stems from the last flight we took together, when I was offered both a newspaper and a glass of wine that I didn’t want, and was later lectured for turning down). So you can imagine what it took to have the brother, by the end of the night, pleading not to be brought any more tequila, LOL!

We also took the hotel’s free bus tour of the city, which included time to shop and explore the city. The area we were in was busy and bright and there was too much to look at. This is also when I found a shop full of Huichol art – beaded art done by the Huichol Indians. We took some pics there, and I bought a Huichol owl to take home with me!

Then there was a ride up through the foothills of the Sierra Madres to a fabulous seafood restaurant. The Mom and the brother shared a drink made up of several different alcohols – including moonshine – which was served in a coconut decorated with flowers and straws…and a carrot. We never really figured out where the carrot came in.
We went back to the pool some more, and on our second-to-last day, we went on a real adventure, with speed boating and whale watching and horseback riding and snorkeling and a private beach with a catered lunch. That was an incredible day- we saw three humpback whales, and dolphins.
When we went riding, well, I think my horse on the way up to the waterfall was named ‘Glue Yesterday’, but I got a different mount on the way back, and he was minimally more ‘lively’. At the waterfall was a restaurant with drinks and munchies, and a swimming hole. Then we rode back and got back in the speedboat, to go to our private beach. Snorkeling was cool – I saw a tiny little jelly, and a blowfish and some long-nosed fish, and small sharks all in a group, and bright little tropical fish, and stingrays and sea urchins. Very cool!

By then we were tired, and starving, but the meal on the beach was so good (there was really delicious steak – I’m going to try and recreate here). Afterward I laid in a hammock strung between two palm trees drinking a pink drink out of a coconut, and knew it was heaven.
That evening we went to the upscale restaurant at the hotel, which was specializing in gourmet Mexican food. It was great, and we ate so much, and after we were stuffed, then the staff started singing and I tried to sink into the floor cause they were singing at me. They brought me a birthday cake, too, which was delicious, but we were so full that we mostly just picked at it. I should have brought it back to the room, in retrospect.
And the next day was travel day again. The Mom flew out early, and the brother and I spent the day by the pool before going to the airport. The flight back was a little delayed, and again the movie sucked, but was otherwise fine. The brother leant me his noise-cancelling headphones for the whole flight, which was very sweet of him – those things are amazing.
And then we were in Toronto again, where it was cold, and later, snowed. And all three of us looked back fondly on our trip…
…and decided to do it again, next year.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Too cold; must think of Mexico

My balcony looks like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man exploded all over it; giant mounds of fluffy whiteness everywhere. This fact, combined with my desire to try and save money made the decision to stay in today pretty easy to make. On the other hand, I'm bored as hell.

The holidays were quiet at home, busy at work - the usual. The brother went out west again, and I spent a lot of time at the office getting ready for the national sales meeting in Orlando. But the quiet was kind of a needed break, and I did all sorts of indulgent things (like ordering in Chinese food just for me) that I don't usually let myself do. Also, I got a ton of time to bead!

Gearing up to the business meeting is always a ton of work, and the meeting itself is kind of surreal; especially this one, which included the US side of the company, and a bit of the international side, as well. The days were long and crazy busy, the hotel was expansive, and there were no windows where we were, so the only daylight I saw all week was on the way from and to the airport. On the other hand, I got to room with a friend, so that was fun, and the food was really good. Still, there were so many of us (something like 1800 people), and the meeting is always like taking a break from your real life. It's interesting - challenging, exhausting, fun, stressful, all rolled into one- but I'm always happy to get home at the end of it. Especially this time; I flew home on Friday and then took Monday and Tuesday off, so I had a lovely four-day weekend.

And the Mom booked our Mexico trip! We're leaving in just a few weeks, and I'm pretty excited. I've already gone online for information on bead stores, local art, culture, food, and safety (all the things I find important!) Apparently Huichol art is a feature in Puerto Vallarta, and it's gorgeous! I can't wait. Especially when I look out the window, and know that I won't be able to play hermit tomorrow. Out into the cold and snow for me - for a few more weeks at least :(

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy month

So, I had the company holiday party two weeks ago, and it was a lavish affair. The ballroom was impressive, the meal was decent, and though I didn’t win anything, people did keep coming up to me and giving me drink tickets, so that was nice. I’m trying not to read into the fact that my bosses gave me lots of drink tickets.
The borrowed necklace got a lot of praise, and everyone looked great. Also, the company continued its habit of holding the holiday party on the first bad snowstorm of the year, so the roads were bad enough that we got there late. Much thanks go to friend Dani for the ride she gave me, no thanks at all go to her GPS, which can’t navigate its way out of a paper bag.
All in all it was a good night, and unlike last year, we didn’t stay till the bitter (overly liquored) end; I was home before the wee hours, and got enough sleep to avoid being a zombie the next day when another friend and I went to the ballet (and also the mall and out to lunch). That was great, though the ballet had a lot of kids in it, and was a different version of the Nutcracker than I remembered. I hadn’t known there were different versions of that play until I got home and googled it to make sure my brain wasn’t making up Christmas stories.
Since then there’s been book club (we’re watching the most hilarious version of Jane Eyre I’ve ever seen), shopping with the brother (spread out over two days cause there’s only so much you can get done before the shops close, and it isn’t helped by the fact that he doesn’t rise from his bed until afternoon). Also, there was a rowdy meeting with one group of girl friends that also involved a Secret Santa gift exchange- I got pretty purple earrings, a mini picture frame that is studded with beads, and a magnet that keeps track of when to feed the cat. I made a pair of earrings for my giftee, along with a Starbucks gc for a splurge; she was quite pleased, I think.
Then last night was a holiday get-together with the boys. Kev picked me up from work and we picked up my potluck contribution, then headed to their place. Hugh and his sister brought in a real tree, and I ate and played games and helped the gentiles decorate their pine. We had tacos with homemade tortillas, meatballs, bacon sweet potato soup, and more cookies than twelve of us would need (and there were only five there). It was a great night…
…that did not end when I got home, cause tonight I’m having another set of girl friends over to my place, and the apartment needed a lot more than a lick and a promise. I stayed up late and then got up early, but I got *most* of what I needed done. I’m meeting friends at the grocery store (wild plans, hun?) and we’re shopping for tonight, then crashing at my pad.
And the crazy month continues! I have Jane Eyre, part two tomorrow, along with a regular book meeting (Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein), Egg grooming and then holiday dinner with the brother on Saturday, Hanukkah dinner with the Robins Sunday…and then nothing except work until those few blissful days off that we have coming up.
I love December, even if all the snow has melted already. Thanks, global warming.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Blog drought over

Okay, so I haven't blogged in a while, and maybe 5am on a random Saturday in December is an odd time to get back in the habit, but then, odd is something I've never claimed to be.
For awhile I couldn't really blog because the only big thing going on was work stuff that I couldn't write about online. Then I just kind of got out of the habit for awhile, you know?
Anyways, fair readers (if there's still any of you out there), you want updates, and I plan to go back to providing them from now on.
So, here goes:
About three weeks ago we laid to rest Tripawed, a.k.a "Little Cat" "Three-legs" "Fat Girl". For those of you who knew her, she was a very soft, sweet little runt who grew to the size (and shape) of a basketball with three legs. She was quiet and meek and dumb as a post, and we loved her. She will be missed.
Also, we had a weight-loss challenge at work, and I totally won. Big $ for me, plus permanent bragging rights at the office. Not that I would brag, though. At this point I'm actually wishing my coworkers would stop mentioning it; I appreciate the kudos, but a month later, its just making me feel guilty for every cookie I might have (and 'tis the season for cookies, don't ya know).
And I went to the ballet with the Robins in my new sweater dress, both of which were lovely. The dancers wore tennis shoes, so my favourite part of the night was playing dress-up with Robins purses and make-up and jewelry.
There's been other stuff, but a lot of it is work and oughtn't be mentioned at this time (nothing bad; work is busy but good), and I'm probably forgetting a lot cause the clock is just rolling toward 6am, and this is a stupid time to be awake blogging.
Anyways, I'm going back to bed now cause I have a very big weekend ahead of me, folks. I have the dentist (big fun) in about 5 hours, then the company Holiday party is tonight, and tomorrow, hopefully, the ballet ('hopefully' because the possibility of ticket acquisition is yet to be seen). Will let you know how it all goes, but for now, goodnight, everyone.

Monday, August 18, 2008

UK adventure, Part 2

Our first day officially back in England was pretty tame. It involved a walk with the dog to rent movies, and a lot of lying on the couch. We were tired! But the rest was well-earned, and it set us up for the next week.

Monday Richard had to work, so Mer and I wandered Oxford. We hit the covered market, a walking tour of the colleges, and a tour of OUP (don’t let the people I work with know that)! It poured rain on the way back, but that doesn’t matter because we stopped for chocolate.

The next day we went to London. London is amazing- so busy, but there’s stuff to see everywhere, literally! Toronto is very spread out, compared to London. In London there is something to see every ten feet! We took a bus tour cause I wanted to see as much as possible, in passing. We drove past Big Ben, the parliament, tower bridge, The London Eye, The Tower of London, the queen’s house…
Then we walked through Covent Garden, ate Cornish pasties, went to a stinky cheese shop…it was a good day! We even went on the London Eye, and saw everything from above.


Wednesday and Thursday I was on my own, cause both Mer and Richard had to work. I spent one day in Oxford (it rained…a lot). And one day in London (it rained, a little). Oxford was cool, even in the rain. The architecture was amazing, and there are gargoyles everywhere. London on my own was crazy- I went north to Camden market (nuts), east to Brick lane (bought baigles), south to the Globe theatre (saw the lobby), and the Tate Modern (saw one FABULOUS exhibition), and west to Harrods (shopping!). At the end of the day I was weary and footsore and felt so accomplished. It was a great day. And my trip wasn’t even over!

It was over the next day. Mer and I discussed going on a day trip again, but instead we toured Oxford one last time. We bought cakes (not for us this time, I brought them home for various birthday celebrants), visited the Bodlean giftshop, and wandered a bit more. Then we rushed back to their place, changed at record speed, left for Stratford on Avon, and went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play was hilarious- a little over the top, in parts, but definitely the funniest version I’ve ever seen (and at this point, I’ve seen a lot of those). We splashed out at the giftshop and loaded up on last-minute souveniers. It was a great end to a great trip.

UK adventure, Part 1

So, my excuse is that it’s been a summer of doing, seeing, going, tasting- and not of writing. Now there’s writing. Yay!

So, starting from when I SHOULD have written: I flew to England at the end of June. The flight was shorter than I had expected, but not quite short enough, because of the cold I was fighting against and the very talkative youngster I was seated beside. No sleep was had on that flight, despite plans to the contrary. In any case, the plane landed, and I was in England! And there was a terminal and a real British guy put a stamp in my passport! (Okay, so that looks pretty lame in type, but at the time it was very exciting!) Uncle Richard picked me up (cause Aunt Mer doesn’t do mornings), and we drove to Oxford. I like the highway between London and Oxford. There’s this one hill on the right (if you’re heading away from London) that has a path winding up it, and there’s always sheep on it. It’s lame, but by the end of my trip I’d decided that that was my favourite hill. Anyways, we got to Oxford and Aunt Mer, and had breakfast. Please note that due to extreme tiredness and some jetlagginess, the first day was a little bit of a blur. There was reading and walking Levi, and there was purposely no napping. They took me ‘punting’ which doesn’t involve chucking stuff, as I’d originally assumed, but instead involves a long, shallow-bottomed boat that one pushes down a river with a big stick. Uncle Richard punted while Mer and I sat with Levi, and we went all the way up the river to a pub for lunch. I punted on the way back- and I did well!

First thing the next day we left for Ireland. Mer and Richard teased me cause I had less luggage than Levi. The drive through Wales was long, and I slept, though I didn’t mean to. The first thing we did in Dublin was break the law! Mer and I decided to go downtown even though it was evening already, so we bought tickets for the tram (called the ‘Luas’- Irish for ‘speed’), but we didn’t pay to go far enough (by mistake). But, we just stayed on the tram a little longer to get where we were going. If we’d been caught- well, we’re just helpless tourists, now aren’t we? The first evening in Dublin was great- I walked over the river Liffey, on the Ha’Penny Bridge! That was awesome. That was, pathetically, one of my major reasons for wanting to go there. And I did it! Yay! Then there was random shops and Temple Bar, street performers and drunks and ice cream for dinner and screaming soccer fans. Like I said; awesome. Two days in Dublin and we had the city core down. Tram to St. Anne station, walk north and cross the Liffey. Northeast is Temple Bar, northwest will get you to Trinity College (I saw the Book of Kells! It was amazing- but apparently, dangerous; there were signs everywhere warning tourists about pickpockets. Mer fell in love with the library upstairs. It was wonderful, and I cursed the lack of photos- but understood it. Further north and you get to the Museum block. The National Museum of Ireland is very interesting, but it needs lessons on labeling from the ROM. Mer and I had to keep a list of things to look up on the internet when we got back to the hotel. We saw a W.B. Yeats exhibit at the National Library (I liked the poems read by famous Irish people at the entrance best). There’s some shops across the street, which is where I got Lauren the Claddagh ring she wanted.
Walking along the shops, Mer and I ducked behind them when something colourful caught our eye (the magpie Atos gene strikes again). There was this gorgeous mosaic along a huge wall- of a parking lot. Amazing. I took many photos.
…but not as many as I took later, at Tara. Tara of the Kings, I was there! It was perfect. The long drive down along stone-walled winding roads, the lack of ticket booths and operating hours, the emptiness and the light at the end of the day. It was empty and desolate and magic. Tara is probably pretty lame to everyone who isn’t me. It’s a field with lumps in it, and one hollow hill with a locked gate on it. But it’s amazing because it was considered the spiritual, religious and royal center of Ireland. The Lia Fail is there, which is a large stone that screams if the future king of Ireland touches it. (We tested it; I’m not the king of Ireland. Neither is Merilee. Or Richard. Or Levi.)
I saw the Mound of the Hostages, which the past king used to use to keep the sons of his liegemen prisoner, to keep them under control. Scarily cool. It’s also a hugely significant archaeological site- experts believe that there are still up to 150 bodies buried under the mound. Tara was my favourite part of Ireland.

The next day we went to Newgrange. No one seems to know what that is but it’s a grave mound that is over 1000 years older than Stonehenge. It’s huge, and amazing, and surrounded by hand-carved curbstones. Very cool. And unfortunately, you can only get there with a guide, and that drives me nuts, in the bad way. Ugh. Still, we got to see it, which was great.
Then we drove to Clonmacnoise, which is the actual center of Ireland, where a monk built a church forever ago, and then they built another church when the first fell down, and then another, and then another. Now it’s this amazing religious site with a cluster of falling-down churches, and a very cool watchtower, and a castle that looks like someone smashed it with a hammer (mostly cause someone pretty much did, when it was invaded). It was cool. And we got chased by cows!

A long drive to Blarney, and then a long walk up a winding staircase through a crumbling castle, and Mer and I kissed the stone. (So, it took me like a month to write this blog; that doesn’t make it any less eloquent, does it?) After vague deliberation we decided to pass Cork up for Kilkenny, and we drove on. Kilkenny was neat, but there were supposed to be artsy shops that weren’t there (most notably a hand-made bead shop that had moved to a new town). Still, we did some great shopping, ate some great pastry, and laughed about the fact that pedestrian signals in Kilkenny sound like heart monitors. Halfway through our Kilkenny day Mer got a call that our ferry was leaving six hours earlier than scheduled, so the side trip to the bead shop was cancelled, and what was supposed to be a leisurely trip back to Wales became a sleepy early morning one. But we got there, and were exhausted, and hungry, and full of amazing memories, and pictures.

So ended the first half of my UK adventure.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bon voyage to me!

Okay, I'm calm again. Excited, but calm.
After finally getting my boarding pass last night, I went out with some old friends to have dinner. Hugh, Kev, Laur and I haven't done that in a long time (its been quite a while since we were even in the same place at the same time, and I loved it). There was good food, talk, and lots of laughing. It was a fantastic send-off.
And I even convinced Laur to stay over last night, netting myself a free ride to the airport, which is hugely appreciated. I've got a boarding pass, I've got a ride, I've got a friend with me- this all adds up to a totally unstressful travel day.
In any case, I should get on with it.
Bon voyage to me!