Thursday, June 30, 2011

Short Week for a Short Chick

Well, it's a short week here in Canada since it's a holiday tomorrow (Happy Birthday to my lovely country!). So, even though today is Thursday, it's technically my Friday.

Take a minute to let that sink in. I know, it's a mind-twister.

The best thing about this long weekend is that they are predicting SUN ALL WEEKEND! Trust me, we are lucky to get that here in Halifax, especially lately when the heavens have apparently deemed us to be experiencing a drought and decided to drop the entire Nile River on top of us. Thanks for nothing, Gods; you would think we would deserve better treatment for worshipping you all day long...

Anyhoo, suffice to say I am excited about the long weekend. Here are some other things I am excited about right now:

> The Canada Post strike is over, which means I am FINALLY receiving things in the mail I have been waiting on for at least a month. I got my heart necklace from Heart of Haiti, that I received for my participation in this blog promotion. It is really cute (see!) and I can see myself wearing it all summer with many different ensembles. I am still waiting on a book I ordered on Amazon, and a fun gift bag I won through a blog giveaway. It also means I won't have to go a half hour out of my way on the way home to pick up my paycheques anymore (usually they are mailed to me, but obviously with the postal strike - no mail, so I had to go to the office in person which is an annoying chore when you don't have a car and your city's bus system sucks balls).

That's right, the temp agency I work for does not have direct deposit. Apparently they are living in 1911 and not 2011. Though can't complain too much, because without them I'd pretty much be living in a box at the Dockyards.

> My boyfriend and I are planning on visiting Thomas Raddall Park down the south shore of Nova Scotia tomorrow to pick up the 3rd geocache in a series I wrote about here (post may not be up yet because they have a backlog). I'm looking forward to a little road trip and getting some fresh air and exercise. Friday night is bringing a free concert back in the city for Canada Day, featuring The Trews and The Stanfields (which are awesome local bands that have made it pretty big, at least in Canada)*. And, of course, fireworks. It wouldn't be Canada's birthday without fireworks.

> On Saturday we are hoping to go on a bike ride. My boyfriend bought a bike recently and really wants to get back into biking regularly. I have not been on a bike in, oh, 10 years I would say and even when I was skinny and fit enough to ride one I didn't do it that often. It will be interesting to see how this goes. Looking forward to it though, despite what you might think. Not looking forward to the wiping out part, but maybe that won't happen. More than twice.

> On Sunday, I will be getting a new roomie! She's part ginger, has a great personality and is apparently really funny and entertaining. Here she is:

Isn't she cute?? via Twin Bridges Photography
Meet Bella! She is actually my friend's mom's cat. Her poor mom has to find a home for the cat because she has a new little grandchild running around plus another on the way, and the cat does not get along well with the kids. She needs to be in a home with no kids and no other pets, and it just so happens that I have been really wanting to get another kitty (I have been so missing have a pet since I had to put my Nutty down last Fall) and have a quiet home with no other pets or kids (just me!). I'm taking her in for a trial for a few weeks starting Sunday. We will see how we click and if we are living well together than I will keep her! I'm really excited to get to know her. I will be back with an update in a few weeks, I'm sure. (side thought - wouldn't it be cool if you could do "trial runs" with people roomies? If after 2 weeks, they are not picking up their dirty clothes or washing their dishes, you can boot them out the door! Sweet, huh? I think I'm onto something...)

Other places I have been this week:
* Check out my first True Blood mini-recap on You Know You Love Fashion!
* I posted a couple reviews on Yelp this week - one for a local Irish pub, and one for a new favourite cafe in my neighbourhood that serves amazing gelato
* I went to see Bad Teacher on Tuesday and it was really funny. I have to say, even though Cameron Diaz's character is a jerk, it's refreshing to see female characters in movies that have sass, independence and a little bit of crude. Women need to see characters beyond the scope of the sickly sweet rom-com heroines that are constantly shoved down our throats (IMHO) *endrant*

What are you excited about this week? What are your weekend plans?

*ok, all the bands I really like seem to start with "The" - what is that about? I'm sure there is a Freudian theory of some kind to explain such things...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Insane in the Membrane

Coincidence? I think not.
I have to be honest - I have been feeling anxious and stressed this past week or so. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think I can attribute it to various factors - generally speaking, I have been taking on a lot of new things, which is great and is something I love to do! But I think I spread myself a little too thin and exhausted my brain a bit.

Do you ever have phases like that? Where you feel mentally exhausted? I think we all do - really, it's a part of life - but it's important to pay attention to these times. Listen to what your body and mind are telling you - you will know in your gut if you are burned out and need to take a breather. I think my brain and body were giving me that message loud and clear Saturday night because I was up for hours just pacing restlessly, anxious and unable to sleep, with a sore throat and ear.

So, what did I do? I pulled out of a volunteer commitment that I made for early Sunday morning (I wasn't proud of this, but again, you have to listen to your body sometimes), slept in and spent the first part of the day just relaxing (i.e. watching a movie and laying down). I felt much better by the afternoon and definitely feel I was better equipped to tackle the week because of it.

If there is anything I have learned about myself as I've gotten older it is the importance of taking care of myself. I have discovered that - even though I am generally an active person who has to be "on-the-go" and have things to look forward to in order to be content - I am not someone who can go-go-go non-stop. I have to have balance in my life and I try to structure my time to ensure that I have this. Obviously this is sometimes easier said than done, but I try my best.

I have learned to place "quality" over "quantity" in terms of the activities I pursue in my life. What good is having 50 things on your plate if you only feel luke-warm about each one? Why not have 5 things that you feel really good about? Does that not make more sense? To me it does, but for some reason our culture (and I would say this is particularly a North American affliction) has this focus on doing MORE - like the more busy you are, the more productive you are, the more you contribute to society.  It's like we are all competing to have the fullest resume or the most experiences to brag about so we are pressured to just keep running on to the next thing.

There is this implication that if you take time for yourself and time to relax that you are somehow lazy or selfish, and I just don't get it. Taking time for yourself does not make you a bad person. If you sincerely feel you cannot follow through with something 100%, then it's ok to say so. Obviously I would never advocate making a habit of pulling out of commitments or dropping plans with friends at the last minute (that's just rude), but there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first once in a while.

If rushing around makes you happy then, by all means, do it! But it sure doesn't make me happy. It makes me stressed. I would love to be one of those people who can "do it all", never rest and seem ever-content, but I just can't. I am an anxious person by nature, so it takes conscious effort on my part to slow my brain down and "eat the elephant one bite at a time", as my mother says.

The thing with relieving stress is, it doesn't have to be a lot of work. There are a lot of small steps you can take to bring a little more balance, peace and calm into your life.

Here are some of the ways I like to relieve stress:
* Schedule at least one night per week to stay home and either relax or get things done around the house. Also, schedule at least one night per week for a social engagement - doing something fun with a friend, family member or the boy. If I have a day that I know will be rushed and busy, I try to keep the next day for relaxation and rest. This seems like a simple thing, but I think a lot of people forget that THEY are the ones that control their schedule - their schedule doesn't control them. It is your choice how much free time you have when it comes right down to it (obviously if you are a parent or have a high-profile job, this doesn't really apply to you, but free will still comes into it on some scale).

* Read a fashion magazine or book

* Sit outside and "people-watch"

* Cross something off my "to-do" list that I have procrastinated on for a while (it can sometimes take some extra motivation for this one, but if you can muster it up you will feel really good afterwards)

* Make something - a craft, paint or draw something, etc

* Go outside - a walk around the block, a hike, a road trip - something unstructured with no particular schedule or agenda except to move and take in the scenery

* Go see a movie I have been looking forward to, or watch one at home (some fav pick-me-up films: You've Got Mail, Julie & Julia, Juno, Yes Man, Kung Fu Panda). Or watch a fun tv show (some favs: Friends, Sex and the City, Glee, currently watching Season 1 of Angel with the boy-never seen it!-and enjoying it very much)

* Put music on and dance around my apartment

* Cuddle an animal

* Visit a funny and cute website and browse the videos and photos. These are a few of my current favourites (be careful - this could easily end up wasting several hours)

* Bake or a cook - this can be very therapeutic - especially if you are doing it for no other reason than to eat something tasty

* Write a blog post!

What I do to relieve stress really depends on my mood, the weather, and circumstances, of course, but these are a few things I try to incorporate into my week, every week. Everyone should have times where they don't HAVE to be anywhere or do anything, and they are not obligated to another person so that they can just enjoy their own company and renew their spirit and mind.

Obviously, different people need different amounts of stress-relief and "down-time" but I do think it's something that everyone needs at some point or another (a lot of people just don't realize just how much they need it).

What about you - what do you do to relieve stress or relax? Do you find that you like being constantly busy, or do you like to try your best to find balance like I do? Any stress-relief tips?

Monday, June 27, 2011

She's Not There

Just a quick note to let y'all know that I'm now a staff writer over at You Know You Love Fashion - a site that specializes in snarky recaps of tv shows with a focus on fashion. I'm really excited to be writing about two of my favourite things - tv and fashion. I'll be writing the "Mini-Recaps" for True Blood Season 4! Check out my first MR, which was posted this morning here.

I really enjoyed last night's episode! I thought they did a nice job of picking up where last season left off, while also showing some growth and changes in the character and community of Bon Temps. Well, actually A LOT of changes. One of the things I love about this show is that it always keeps you guessing - every time you turn around, a new plot device has been revealed that makes you go "hmmm" or the action has veered off in another direction out of nowhere. I don't want to give away anything in case anyone reading follows the show and hasn't seen the episode, but suffice to say I'm excited for the rest of the season.

Check out my MR's every Monday morning for the next 10 weeks! Feel free to leave a comment here or there to let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Midnight in Paris

I saw the most delightful movie Sunday night. It's called Midnight in Paris.

This background is my most favourite painting - EVER

I decided that, if I were to live in Paris, this is the Paris I would want to live in. In fact, I take that back: this is the WORLD I would want to live in. A world of sparkling parties and dresses, lively dancing and conversation, intellectual and creative stimulation everywhere you turn. A world of genuises that think on another level from mere mortals, a world of wine and champagne, of moonlight and amourosity (and I don't even care if that is a made-up word, because it's the perfect one to describe what I mean).

Life would be one big artist's gathering by candlelight, and I would love it.

As I walked home alone after the film (yes, I go to movies alone - you should try it!), I found myself seeing this Paris everywhere I turned - a couple walking by me speaking in french, the smell of lilacs and the fresh, crisp feeling and dusky haze of a summer evening, the historic homes sleepily winking at me as I strolled past - hinting at the myriad stories and dreams behind their doors - a chalkboard on a front porch with an excerpt from a poem about death.

I thought to myself how much I love my city in so many ways. Sure, there are good and bad points, but there would be good and bad points to living anywhere! Even Paris. You still have to commute to work, you still have to pay taxes and run errands to the bank, and you still have idiot politicians who seem to practice kama sutra more than they practice, you know, ACTUAL politics. I was reminded of the fact that there is poetry everywhere if you only open your eyes...

...just then I looked to the left and saw an SUV careening towards me and heard a screeching sound as it stopped just short of the crosswalk I was standing in. Stupid moron obviously missed the two giant boxes hanging above the road with pictures of a crossing stick figure, most likely because he swerved out from behind a car that was apparently taking too long to turn right and therefore holding up his progress to what, I have no doubt, was a very important engagement (you know, like a frat party or something).

Aaaaaand moment gone. Ah well, I thought to myself...I'm sure people almost run over pedestrians in Paris, too.

And even if they do, I still wanna go, like, yesterday *Sigh*

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A (belated) Father's Day Wish

Father's Day is  a bittersweet day for me. For the most part, it goes by unnoticed, just another day in my calendar. Because, you see, I don't have a dad to celebrate.

When I was a kid I had a dad - he wasn't he greatest dad ever, but I still thought he was pretty cool. He would spend hours talking to me about planes and various technical things and I would sit fascinated thinking how amazingly smart he was. He was an engineer and a pilot, and he skydived hundreds of times - I mean, rockstar, much?! He would let me play hairdresser with his (very sparse) locks and would take us on fun outings canoeing or to his office, which was like a playground to me at the time.

I still remember the day my mom told me they were getting divorced; like it was yesterday. I was 12 years old, feeling quiet and awkward and I not knowing anyone else whose parents were divorced. As if I didn't feel like enough of an outsider already.

We still saw my dad often at first - we would go to his house every couple of weeks and he even bought my mom a Christmas gift that first year. But things started to change, eventually we didn't go over as often, and then one day he just fell off the face of the earth. He came to my ninth grade graduation and after that I didn't hear from him for two years.

Two years of no phone calls, no cards, no emails. Nothing. He emerged again when I was in 11th grade and my sister and I went to his house. I thought things were going to go back to normal, that we would start to see him regularly again, but alas it didn't happen. I wasn't 13 anymore - I wasn't completely naive, and I started to find things out that I had never known before.

I witnessed the messy court battles that carried on for years between these two people who used to love each other, over various financial issues. I started to learn about the affairs (which, according to my mother, were consistent from the day they were together), the alcoholism and associated drama. Stories of mistresses calling my mother at home, of her dragging my drunken father home from another bender, and of horrible insults hurled. Turns out during his two year "hiatus" as dad, he had moved to Ontario to take a contract engineering job. I was never told about it; I had to hear this from a family friend who worked with him. I heard even later that he came back because he was fired from that job for coming to the site drunk and basically making a scene with his boss.

After his return in my 11th grade year, we only spoke sporadically. I really couldn't tell you how many times I spoke to him or saw him in the next few years, but I could probably count them each on one hand. The veneer had vanished for me - the awe and admiration I had for him when I was a child were replaced with pity and anger. I simultaneously hated him for basically abandoning my sister and I and pitied him for letting drinking take over his life to such a degree.

I still have a mixture of pity and pain towards my father. I have had ZERO contact with him in probably 5+ years, even though he lives right in my city and I could drive to wherever he lives in 10 minutes. That is, I could if I knew where he lived. I have no idea where he works, or if he is even still working (he would be 67 by now). I don't even know his phone number, and even if I did I wouldn't call it. The only indication I have that he is even alive is the occasional call he makes to my mother's place (she still has the same phone number as when they were together, even though she has moved a few times), usually drunk and nonsensical. Sad, sad phone calls where my mother can't bring herself to hang up the phone out of pity.

From what I can tell, he is alone now - no girlfriend (or so I've heard), and certainly no contact with his children (he has two children from a previous marriage to my mother that I am pretty sure do not talk to him either) - and spends the majority of his days drunk.

It makes me sad that such an intelligent, accomplished person could just take their life and completely flush it down the toilet. That someone could be so averse to asking for help and admitting they have a problem, that he continues to blame his misfortunes on others. It makes me sad that I won't have a "father-daughter" dance at my wedding, and I can't help but feel a twinge in my heart when I see dad's and daughters sharing a touching moment - a look or a laugh. I like to joke that the only thing my dad gave me was his nose, and it's not even his best feature.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to rag on Father's Day or be depressing or whine. Honestly I debated whether or not to even post this because I didn't want to give the wrong impression. It's just that all the talk of Father's Day the last week or two compelled me to share my story, even though it's not the rainbows-and-roses type of tale that people like to hear.

I can't lie - hearing all the 'happy dad stories' made me a bit jealous, even though I also felt happiness for the celebration. Sort of like when my best friend got married last year and I felt a mixture of happiness for them, and depression because I was no where near that point in my life.

I just felt that maybe I could add something new and alternative to the mix. I'm sure there are others out there who have not had good dad's, and that can relate to my story.

And perhaps there is a lesson here. I am extremely blessed, and I recognize that. But there is no question that there is a small "hole" in my soul because I didn't have the full support and presence of two, stable, loving parents. I am not sure I will ever be able to forgive my father or if I will ever even get the chance to do this and there are residual affects of his abandonment that I am not sure I will ever be able to shake off completely. My life is fulfilled without him in it, and I am actually grateful for the experience because it made me who I am today, but it doesn't mean I do not mourn for what could have been - for the relationship we could have had, if he had only been there.

So, to those of you that have dads that are supportive of you, are encouraging, show you love and compassion, and are just THERE for you - hold onto them for dear life. Tell them and show them that you appreciate them, because there are lots of people that would love to have what you have. Nobody is perfect, but they should at least get points for trying.

Because dad's like mine exist is all the more reason to celebrate the GOOD dad's out there - the ones who are there for their kids, who support and encourage them, who fulfill their duties.

To all those dad's, I happily and whole-heartedly wish you a Happy (belated) Father's Day. YOU actually deserve it, even if mine doesn't.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Nova Scotia

Just a quick note to say that I'm a newly minted blogger over at!

This blog network is basically a tourism tool for the province - local bloggers write about their adventures in Nova Scotia to educate people about the province, and hopefully to encourage them to visit! I love exploring where I live and sharing those explorations with people, so I can't wait to get started. This is brand, brand new so I haven't started posting yet, but keep your eyes peeled! I'll make sure to link to here whenever I post over there so you can keep up with my adventures, too (or at least try to - I'm pretty speedy).

You can check out my profile and posts here.

(in case you are curious, the photo is from a hiking trip in Porter's Lake, NS back in March on a trail system called Crowbar Lake. I know you were just dying to know...)

Speaking of this gig (and hiking in Nova Scotia), this weekend the boy and I are going to Five Islands provincial park to kick-off a fun NS Parks geocaching challenge. We will also be heading to Caribou/Munroe's Island Park to complete that portion of the challenge, and possibly camping there for the night (though they are predicting rain all day right now, grrr). This will probably be my first NS Blogs post, actually, though we shall see...I may be hanging out with a couple of gf's Saturday night (if we don't camp) and just getting some housekeeping thingy's done at home. Pretty easy, breezy weekend, nothing set in stone. Except, of course, rain (one thing I'm NOT so hot on re. living in NS right now).

Happy Weekend! Any fun plans?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sin City

I am a very proud Canadian.

Whenever I travel, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be born and raised in this country - a country of free healthcare, friendly and humble citizens, and (thankfully) a stable government and economy that allows me many opportunities and assistance. It also helps that it's pretty darn beautiful to look at, coast to coast.

It's not often that people or events in my country waver this patriotism of mine, but in moments like this it is hard to be proud:

Via The Globe and Mail
You can read the full story here. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing when I turned on the news this morning. Not just rioting, but there was also word that someone was stabbed?! I was immediately disgusted and surprised. This is not the kind of image I want my beloved country to be projecting around the world.

The fact that this happened at all is completely shameful, but the fact that it happened over a hockey game is just plain ridiculous. What ever happened to sportsmanship? What ever happened to dignity and respect? I realize your team lost, but IT'S JUST A GAME. They have lost many other times and will probably lose many more times in the future. Get over it.

Now, I'm not much of a sports fan so I suppose I cannot fully understand the zeal and passion that people have for such games. But, even though I am not a proud sports fan, I am (as I mentioned) a proud Canadian, which means I am going to join every other person and their dog across the country in cheering on a Canadian team whenever they get to some kind of important event. I was as disappointed as anyone to hear that Vancouver lost - they must feel like shit - but that doesn't mean I am going to run out into my street and start lighting stuff on fire and turning cars over like the Hulk. I thought to myself "Aw, that really sucks. But good job Boston" and continued getting ready for work. It's disgusting how seriously some people take things that are so small, and how far they take their frustration when things don't go their way. I don't know why I continue to be surprised by such things, but I do.

Unfortunately, the actions of a small group reflect badly on the majority whether we like it or not. I am sure people are seeing this on the news and thinking Vancouverites (and maybe even Canadians, in turn) are a bunch of sore losing neanderthals. You can't tell me that when you watch riots in other countries on the news that you don't judge the entire country/city based on it. I hope that people around the world watching this remember that these riots were caused by a small group of people (probably mostly drunk young men - at least that's what it looks like from the photos and footage) and the majority of people in Vancouver (hockey fans and not) are also horrified over this behaviour.

The majority of people in Vancouver went home last night like normal, civilized people and did not participate in this senseless violence. I saw many people on the news this morning exclaiming their shame and embarrassment. And judging by the notes on Twitter and Facebook I have read this morning, people all over the country are shocked, shamed and embarrassed. I feel badly that the majority of people that live in Vancouver are experiencing this and have the eyes of the world on them over something so silly.

This event was posted on Facebook this morning, and it is proof of the wonderful humanity of the majority of people in Vancouver. It is really great to see the majority take the power back and refuse to let their reputations be tarnished thanks to a few drunken, angry people. It is proof that even though human beings can be enormous dick-heads sometimes, they can also be very smart and compassionate and just like groups can be rallied to commit acts of violence, they can also be rallied to help and make positive change.

Very classy, Vancouver. You rock.

So, even though early this morning I was extremely angry and disappointed with the events of last night, I am still proud - proud to see actions being taken to counteract the negativity, proud to see disgusted people speak out and condemn these events as unacceptable, proud to see people do something about it.

I didn't want to get on a soapbox about this, and I am sure I have not addressed anything here that has not already been argued and debated on other social media, but this kind of behaviour just really grinds my gears. One of the things I will never understand is how and why people cannot just act in a mature and civilized manner (one of those mysteries of life that will never be solved).

I can't help but feel connected to anything that happens in Vancouver. I was actually born there, we moved to Halifax when I was about 2 years old, so technically I am FROM there  (though when asked where "home" is I will always say Nova Scotia). I almost feel as though there is an invisible thread running from my heart, across the miles and many landscapes of my country, all the way to the opposite end, the other "bookend" of Canada, tying me to that place. And in that way, any events that happen to those people, also happens to me.

Weird (and corny) metaphor, but true.

I am not happy about what happened, but I am still happy to have this thread reaching to Vancouver, and I am still very happy to be Canadian.

In conclusion, may I suggest that those hockey fans take a little trip down to Boston? Looks like they could learn a thing or two from them about manners.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sweet Escape

Desserts are my downfall.
Everyone has one of those - you know, one type of food that you just can't say "no" to, no matter how hard you try. One type of food that immediately catches your eye when you enter a room where it is already a resident. One type of food that makes you drool and your pupils dilate immediately upon discovery...

...ok, it sounds like I am talking about drugs, not food, and that makes me sound a tad crazy (I am not ADDICTED to dessert, I assure you - close, but not quite) but you know what I'm saying!

Some people are inherently attracted to salty or savoury foods, and some crave sweets and I am firmly in the latter camp. Speaking of which, isn't that a strange phenomenon? Meaning the things that different people crave? Even people who are related by blood and very close emotionally (like, say, me and my mother) can have completely different food preferences. She is attracted to salty foods and I am attracted to sweet. But my grandmother has a sweet tooth too...I just find it all very fascinating! Humans sure are weird and wonderful creatures.

Anyhoo, pretty much anything sweet is pretty much my favourite thing to eat. Brownies, cake, cookies, squares, I love them all! Although I am particularly attracted to chocolate things. Have you ever had a whoopie pie? My mom has made these since I was a kid and they are amazing! Like a giant, soft oreo cookie.

OHMYDEARGODYUM. Uh oh, I think I have started something dangerous (the drool is starting to form)...

Beyond the taste, there is something that is rather nostalgic and romantic about desserts. For some reason they remind me of being a kid and things like birthdays, parties, visits to my friends houses for fresh cookies, walks to the local corner store to buy penny candy (no, I didn't grow up in the '50's!! I'm only 26!! I just actually, ya know, went OUTDOORS when I was a kid. I didn't have myriad electronics to keep me busy, unlike kids today *endrant*).

Biting into a piece of cake or a brownie connects you to a simpler time, a time before fad diets and processed meals and hyper-scheduling. It's comforting and a reminder that life should be enjoyed, not worried about. Desserts are about celebrating - think about it, when do you often eat desserts? At parties and celebrations! Weddings, barbeques, showers, birthday parties, etc; i.e. occasions when people come together to laugh, relax and appreciate each other.

Ok, maybe I'm placing too much emotional weight on something so small, but I can't help how I feel. Maybe that is part of the reason I enjoy eating desserts so much - they not only satisfy my taste buds, but they connect me back to the romantic and celebratory in life. This is something we could all stand to do more often (though in moderation, of course - as wonderful as desserts are, too many of them can drastically alter your waistline in ever-horrifying ways). Desserts are fun, and we all need to remember to have fun once in a while.

I recently discovered a great blog called Big Girls, Small Kitchen, which is all about providing tips for 20-somethings to cook easily and inexpensively at home and have fun doing it. This post the other day had me drooling all over my keyboard.

Brownie Pie - I mean, seriously, come on!! How could you NOT drool over this photo?! And, furthermore, why have I never before seen or heard of Brownie Pie?! It's a genius idea!
This recipe is from another food blogger, Cake Spy. You need to start following this blog now if you aren't already, and if you like sweets and pink things, and just awesomely cute things in general (and really if you don't, I'm sorry to say you just suck...and you're weird. Harsh but true, IMHO).

Another great blog to follow to get your sweet fix is Bakerella. She is known for her Cake Pops, but posts about many sweet recipes on her blog, as well as other sweet life tidbits. For example, her mom is donating her kidney to her, I recently read! It doesn't get any sweeter than that!

Ok, I spoke too soon.

One of my favourite sweets in the entire world is a cupcake. Really, there are not many things in this world that make me happier and more excited than a cupcake. I don't know what it is - they are just so darn cute (perhaps because I'm a midget, I am attracted to mini things?), they usually have a lot of icing on them, and they are just the right size for a treat. There are so many possibilities for them too! There are dozens of cupcake shops out there nowadays and they all put out their own sweet spin on this classic dessert, and judging by the number of baking shows that are on tv nowadays, cupcakes are quite trendy.

I'm not going to lie I kind of love watching shows like this, even though they are often silly and seem scripted. I just can't look away. It's even the same with Cake Boss, and half they time he really annoys me.

I just can't quit the sugar. 

For the best cupcakes though, I have to give props to local fav Susie's Shortbreads

God, I love that place. I'm like a kid in a cupcake shop when I go in there (literally). Speaking of which, I am looking forward to this show very much. Ummmm, best job EVER?!?! I think so.

Via. Two? Make it three, I'm not driving. 
Now, if you will excuse me, all this talk of sweets has got me craving a snack so you know what that means! That's right, time to grab those carrots and grapes from the fridge and chow down. No, really. Lets just say that doing what I ACTUALLY want to do at this point would not be very lady-like.

What kinds of foods do you crave? Do you watch food shows, if so, which ones? Time to put your neuroses right out there for everyone to read!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Go Your Own Way

I am a firm believer that style rules do not really matter so much anymore.

Style today is so much about variety and mixture - mashing together various eras and shapes and wearing what makes you feel good and flatters you, as opposed to what is expected. Of course, there are still instances wherein you must dress to a certain "code" (e.g., offices in general, public events such as weddings, etc) but a lot of the codes have relaxed at least slightly. One could argue that this more "relaxed" outlook is taken too far by some people (I am looking at you, 22 year old men), but that's another blog post...

One area of style rules that has always annoyed me is the one that dictates what women of my size and shape - see: curvy and short - should and shouldn't wear. It seems like every blog or magazine I read sometimes either shows NO examples of flattering looks for us, or very limited examples. Either that or the looks that they do show are ones that A)  are completely inappropriate for someone older than 16, B) assume I weigh about 100 lbs and/or have no hips or butt, or C) are, frankly, boring and conservative.

Just because I am 5 feet tall does not mean I can't wear a long skirt. Just because I have a round lower half does not mean I can't wear leggings. Just because I am curvy on the bottom does not mean I can't wear a graphic print skirt. I CAN wear horizontal stripes! Oh, I should be wearing heels all the time so that I can be face-to-face with people of "normal" height, should I? I don't think so. Heels hurt my feet, and I walk. A lot. Therefore it is flats 6 days out of 7, and I will wear heels only if I know I won't be standing or walking much.

It's all in how you wear it. It's about keeping proportions even - if you wear something full on top, wear something slim on the bottom (and vice versa) - and highlighting your assets (for example, I like my shoulders and chest so I try to wear things that are slimmer and lower cut on the top - tastefully, of course).

Don't feel relegated to the petite or plus-size sections in stores. I, for one, can't wear petite pants because I have a fairly high waist and big hips so the shorter rise on petite pants often does not cut it. I may look like a grandma under my shirts, but I often wear pants with a higher rise because they are more comfortable and flattering. Who cares?! Nobody sees the top of my pants! Heck, I bought a maternity top at H&M (mind you, I didn't realize it was maternity until after I tried it on) and it's one of my favourite tops! You might even find better-fitting shirts in the men's section, and that's really ok. No one is going to arrest you if you try on, buy and wear a men's shirt. Trust me, no one will even notice.

Who says you can't shop in certain sections or wear certain trends? You should shop wherever you can find clothes that you like and that fit, and that's that.

It seems like a simple, obvious concept but societal rules are so ingrained into our minds that many of us limit ourselves without even thinking about it. Look, finding clothes that fit (for all of us) is really, freakin' tough. Don't make it more tough by relegating yourself to certain sections, looks, colours, cuts and prints.

For all my short/curvy ladies: Just to illustrate that I know what I am talking about (and lets be honest, we all love pretty pictures, right?), here are some ways to wear some supposed fashion "don'ts" and make them work for your shape and size>


Victoria s Secret v neck tee
$17 -

Long skirt
$100 -

Dolce vita sandals
$30 -

Slimmer belt
20 GBP -

This is a huge trend right now, and one that is (admittedly) intimidating for someone with short legs. But as you can see from the above set, it's all about changing up the proportions - first of all, choose a skirt in a light fabric and slim shape (thin pleats and underskirt), either monochromatic or a basic print to avoid adding bulk and roundness. Cinching the waist will keep your legs looking longer and shoes with some height keep the skirt from drowning you. Keeping the top slim and the overall look simple will streamline the look further. I have used a t-shirt here, but a slim short jacket could easily be thrown over it for a more formal occasion.


MIH JEANS smock top
155 GBP -

Theory stretch blazer
$536 -

Dorothy Perkins cotton pants
30 GBP -

Topshop shoes
$80 -

Juma silk shawl
$175 -

I wear tops like this quite often actually. I try to keep the bottom slim when I wear a top like this to avoid looking sloppy, or if it is a longer top I will slim it down by belting or wear a slim cardigan/jacket over it (as I showed above). Leggings are a great choice (as long as they are a neutral colour and the top covers your bum, ladies!) as are slim black pants or jeans. Don't worry about a bright colour or busy print. Just make sure you keep the accessories minimal on top and don't wear a shoe that is too chunky (unless you enjoy looking like Ronald McDonald). I like that these kinds of tops can be very dressy, but are also comfortable (no Spanx needed here). I want this yellow jacket SOOOO bad btw

I realize it is sort of counteractive to state that there are "no fashion rules" and then present rules for wearing certain looks, but I like to think of these as TIPS more so than rules. The looks are also merely meant to illustrate my point that supposed "unflattering" shapes and trends can be turned on their heads and be worn by women who traditionally would be considered unable to wear them.

Bottom line is, wear what you want, regardless of your size and shape.

Though, it has to be said the one style rule I will ALWAYS promote is NEVER EVER wear pajamas in public. I mean, lets at least put a LITTLE TEENSY WEENSY bit of effort in, shall we? It won't kill you.

*Inspired by one of Mama Kat's prompts from this week*

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-Checkin' In

Man, I can't believe we're coming up on mid-June already! It's not even (officially) summer yet and I already feel like it's disappearing so quickly!

There are so many things my boyfriend and I want to do this summer, too, we got to the point where we had to start putting things in a calendar because we realized, if we didn't plan things ahead enough, we were going to wake up in September with nothing to show for it!

It seems kind of sad and slightly ocd to schedule activities for each weekend as though we are running a summer camp, but that's how it goes!

Some of our plans include: Road trip to the US (probably Maine or New Hampshire, since those are close - someone suggested visiting Mount Washington area so that's a possibility), camping a couple of times, U2 + Arcade Fire concert (!!!) in Moncton on July 30th, road trip to Cape Breton to drive the Cabot Trail and participate in a geocaching event, 2 weddings + a bridal shower, various festivals (Halifax Greek Fest is this weekend - can't wait! Also, looking forward to the Halifax Jazz Fest, Canada Day festivities, etc), at least one bbq and one beach bonfire, visit to McNab's Island, hike at Cape Split/Blomidon, possibly visiting Treego in Moncton to try out the ziplines, etc etc...

Do you see why we need the calendar now? What can I say, we're not lazy!

What other plans do I have in mind? Well, funny you should ask because I have many other things running through my mind for the near future (don't I always), in no particular order:

* Going to see Kung Fu Panda 2 tonight! The first one was hilarious, so looking forward to it

* I just finished reading Home by Bill Bryson (my favourite writer!) and have just started Beyond Belfast by Will Ferguson. So far, I am loving it and I am only a few pages in! btw if anyone wants to buy me a Kindle, please feel free!

* Drafting a freelance writing plan - this is something that I have procrastinated on for too long and it's time to get my butt in gear. I want to start pitching articles to publications and picking up various jobs here and there on the side. Project for the summer! I am working on setting up an interview with someone in the next week so that I can complete a profile on them for a local magazine I recently came on board with - this is a great start, but I want to do more here

* I am having a one-hour massage on Friday evening - my boyfriend got me a TeamBuy gift certificate for Christmas and I still haven't used it!! (did I mention I put things off?) Looking forward to this too because my muscles have been very sore this week and I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders so those areas need to be loosened up BIG TIME

* Continuing to apply for jobs as they come up (see neck/shoulder tension pain above) - hopefully I will either hear from my old boss in the next month or so about the  job she recommended me for, or that something will move forward in terms of making my current position more permanent. Getting tired of waiting (and not being able to go to the dentist)!

* This weekend I am participating in the Weight Watchers 5k Walk-It event in Halifax (Sunday). I am looking forward to getting out, maybe meeting some other local WW ladies, and getting some exercise in the fresh air. I walk and hike every week, but there is something about the energy of a communal walk that is exciting *

* Speaking of fitness, I am hoping to sign up for either a weekly yoga or Zumba class. These are both activities I really enjoy, however I am on a tight budget so I have to search around for what I feel is the best deal, and for what is in the most convenient location since I don't have a car. I walk every day and hike on weekends (see below) but it's not enough to keep fit so I want to add something more to my routine. Also, part of what I want to work on in the near future is branching out my friends circle, and I am hoping that taking a fitness class will help me meet some people. A girl I work with takes a weekly yoga class, so I am looking into possibly joining that because it would be nice to go with her and get to know her better (which would strengthen both my personal AND work social ties)

* Continuing with weekly hikes with the boy on weekends, and cooking a new recipe every week are two things I want to keep focusing on - we are slowly making our way through some great trails in Halifax, and in other places we visit. I have come to really enjoy it - I just love the fresh air, seeing nature up close, and the physical challenge. In terms of cooking, I find I am also liking that more and more. I made a pretty awesome lasagna on Sunday that I'm quite proud of and will cover my suppers the entire week. This goes hand-in-hand with the fitness goals, and with my overall attempt at keeping up a healthier lifestyle and continuing to lose weight (it's a process, as I have said before).

So, what about YOU? 
What have you been up to lately? 
Do you have any plans or goals for the near future that you want to work on? 
What are your summer plans/hopes? 
Can you relate to any of the things that I write about above, or are you involved in any of these things too? 

I'd love to hear what's going on with YOU!

*My Weight Watchers membership runs out the end of this month, and honestly I don't think I am going to renew. I have nothing against it, and I have really enjoyed the program - it has definitely helped me develop better eating habits and I love the community that the online program cultivates. That being said, I am at the point where I am really tired of recording everything I eat and I don't feel that I need to anymore (at least for now). Also, I felt that (for me and my lifestyle) there were some limitations to the online system that I found frustrating - mainly the lack of variety in the food catalogue. There were a lot of foods that I could not find, and either had to go through a lot of work to find the nutritional info elsewhere, or estimate based on something similar with no way of knowing how accurate the points calculation was. Also, now that I have developed more positive eating habits, I want to turn my focus more to fitness for a little bit.  I have heard rave reviews about My Fitness Pal, and it's FREE (again, I am on a tight budget) so I think I am going to give that a try. NOTHING against WW whatsoever, and I would actually strongly recommend it for anyone who is trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose some weight because it's really helpful, but I'm just ready to try something else.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spread the Love

I really liked the idea I read about on this blog, and decided to participate.

I don't know about you, but I tend to be one of those people who is really hard on themselves. I tend to set the bar high and rag on myself if I don't meet it. But this is something I have been working hard to change. I have been trying to cut myself a break once in a while, and I think this is something that is important for everyone.

It is really important to focus on the positives as well as the negatives - sure, you made some mistakes and did some stupid things, but what are the things you have ACCOMPLISHED today/this week/this month? What goals did you set that you DID meet? What are the things you LIKE about how you look and act and think?

Everyone has gifts, qualities to be proud of, and it is important to celebrate these. That goes for physically as well as emotionally - many of us, women especially, are far too negative about their looks and spend more time comparing to non-realistic ideals then celebrating our own unique beauty. This just creates a vicious cycle of negativity and pretty soon that's all you focus on - and you begin to wonder why you are not attracting positive things in life (positive attracts positive = true story, although cheesy).

Look, you are human. You ARE going to make mistakes. You ARE going to mess things up. You are going to have a blond moment or two. It's just a matter of when. And it's ok! Everyone else does it too! And it doesn't mean you are a bad person, it means you are normal. The sooner you accept the fact that you are going to mess up, the sooner you will be able to embrace who you are.

Again, I am far from being an expert here, but I am working on it. I figured this challenge would help with that.

I hope that you will participate too, and link up here with Victoria with me. Lets spread some positivity!

I love myself because...I am open-minded and adventurous. I care about my friends and family and make an effort to be there for them whenever I can. I am creative - I am great at thinking up concepts for events, decorating, putting outfits together, thinking of cute plays-on-words, I play piano and write. I am constantly thinking about how I can improve and grow -  I have a thirst for learning and knowledge. I have great hair and teeth. I may be short, but I like my small but curvy frame! I have the ability to empathize and feel compassion. My attitude - I never give up, I never show if I am stressed, I am flexible and adaptable, I always try my best, I am level-headed and down-to-earth. I am self-aware and have a goofy sense of humour (don't take things too seriously). I value honesty and try to use it whenever I can. I like to support anyone and anything that is "different" or outside the norm - I like to give people a chance. I do not hold a grudge - I get over stuff very quickly and always look for what I can learn from an experience.

Please make sure you focus on the positive this weekend -
I can almost guarantee you will be happier come Monday!