Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Worst. Baker. Ever.

Betty Crocker, we have a problem.
I am in the middle of my week of party preparation and have been baking up a storm. Last night was pecan squares and Barefoot Contessa warned me that the filling would bubble over during baking and to place another pan underneath. Done. Safely in the oven, I went downstairs to tend to something terribly important, like blow drying my hair or something. A few minutes later I came up to the kitchen and entire first floor filled with smoke with more smoke pouring out of the burners on the stove.

I learned the following things:

- Fires require oxygen to thrive - it's true! The second I opened the oven door the fire expanded into a fire ball and spread quickly.

- I am not calm under this kind of pressure. I just started yelling "Help" and the names of the tenants upstairs for no real reason while I frantically panicked and planned my next move.

- Using a fire extinguisher isn't that hard. However, having never used one before, trying to read the instructions through smoke and fear is fairly difficult. "Pin? What pin? Where is the PIN??!!!"

- Fire extinguishers (at least mine) are filled with powder. I had no idea. I thought it was a liquid.

- Said powder will cover every surface in your house. You will be pissed.

- My legs shake uncontrollably when faced with that kind of adrenaline and panic.

- My tenants cannot hear me when I call for help, nor do they seem at all concerned with their home filling with smoke. It's clear that I'm on my own here.

- I hate pecan squares. And I'm pretty pissed at Barefoot Contessa too. How about this, INA, make the squares in a container that won't spill over and ruin my entire evening??? Huh, INA!?

- I can ingest a considerable amount of fire extinguisher powder with little to no effect.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Means to the End

Have you seen this billboard around town? Now, I consider myself very blessed to not yet know the cost of a funeral, however, this seems to be a new level of depressing. In a perfect world, I believe that a funeral should represent the person's life and attempt to be a remembrance. I certainly don't want my funeral to be 'basic'. Hmmm, perhaps I should start saving up now.

I've already mentioned a song that I'd love to have play at my funeral and it might be strange to say, but I've got some other ideas as well.

If fact, when I was in high school (believe it or not, the most heightened period of my self-absorbed introspection) I would often think about who would attend my funeral. It was morbid, but would my crush from calculus come? My boss at the golf club where I worked? That person I don't like - have they been able to tell?

I care a lot less these days about who would be there because I know the people in my life and what I mean to them and vice versa. So now that the guest list is intact, I should start thinking about how to ensure they'll have a great time. I am nothing if not an eternal host.

Food:Selfishly, I would like the food to be only ones that I like. Or liked.
- sushi (and none of the seaweed salad filler)
- sandwiches (I am currently undergoing a lifelong search for the perfect sandwich artist in my absence. This is what wills are for right?)
- Nanaimo bars and other squares baked by someone's grandmother. Obviously not mine.
- pie, and lots of it
- cheese, and more of it

Beverages: (How else do people deal with grief and spill crazy stories about me?)
- Cosmopolitans
- Manhattans
- milkshakes
- pink lemonade

Activities:Yes, this will be an active funeral. In fact, I'd like it to have a theme somehow. Ok, fine, "How Awesome She Was" will suffice.
- trivia - You know how at weddings sometimes they ask trivia questions about the couple to get them to kiss? I like this idea for my wake. The prize for each correct answer: I won't haunt you.
- Dance Off - I'm already expecting to come down to Ryan and Paul in the finals.
- Distributing of my greatest assets: 5 vintage Spice Girls dolls in original packaging (Dan, you're the front runner for possession), and my hand written journals (these should go to someone with the tact to delete sensitive passages)

Venue:- If Westminster Abbey and New York's Bloomingdales are unavailable, try any other place of worship.
- Outside would be cool, but only if it's a perfect day. I really like Gage Park, but then there is the risk of random weirdos wandering into the service. Try to avoid that, unless they're my friends.
- As far as ashes being scattered somewhere, I like the romantic notion of this, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't look the way it does in the movies. I've still got some time to think about this. Right??

Ok, it's Friday afternoon, I think it's best for me to stop dwelling on the end and get out and live my weekend. It promises be a good one! Lots of Christmas baking, live music with talented musician types, a holiday party, last minute shopping and sushi. Viva la Winnie!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tree Trimming

Since it feels like April outside I thought I should throw on my galoshes and get around to fixing this:
The forlorn emptiness.

Armed with fresh greens, the bottom branches of my Christmas tree and detailed instructions from my Mom, I gave it a shot.

Hmmm. Not sure this is how it was supposed to turn out. And that's its best side.

I think that's it for the exterior of my house this year - all we need now is some snow. How do people in California even pretend to get enthused about the holidays? A green Christmas is pretty sad.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I am officially adding this to the list of things I don't know:

What the heck is that thingy on lamps that hangs below the light? See it? It's like the wattle on the turkey, but surely it must have a purpose. Almost every desk lamp has one and it always baffles me. *insert dim bulb joke here*

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Face Time

Before this year, my entire life had passed by without someone creating a caricature of my likeness, and then this year, it's happened twice .

On Saturday night, my namesake friend and I were at a cocktail party and sat for a sketch. I don't know about you, but it's a

My one cheek looks like I'm storing nuts for the winter and my hand looks like melting wax. The other Melissa's hair looks great and I like both our eyes, however, although these girls look okay overall, I don't think they particularly look like US.

Oh well, maybe the artist was as tipsy as we were...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Class In Session

"Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." - Mark Twain

Everyone knows Mark Twain was a genius, and I particularly like his take on nutrition. However, I can admit that I eat poorly some/a lot of the time and while I wasn't all that concerned with changing it, I could start to see some of the repercussions of my grilled cheese sandwiches and sugar based meals. But, it tastes soooo good!

Nonetheless, after several years of my mother's subtle hinting I succumbed to taking the Lifewatchers class through Goodness Me! health food stores. I was dubious to say the least - like a stubborn child, I didn't want to change. But I'm 30 now, this is the decade we're supposed to be mature about these sort of things. Or so my favourite personal trainer tells me.

I dragged Tracy along with me as we'd had about a decade to get used to sitting next to each other in a classroom setting and passing notes without getting caught. Just like in school, the class had a bunch of keeners, a guy who is way too old to be there, the slacker burn-outs and a doofus idiot who loves to hear his own voice.

I felt like the teacher could tell I was faking it. While everyone else jumped right into all the principles and challenges (i.e. going 3 weeks wheat-free?!), I followed along and appreciated the lessons in theory, but went home and ate Wheat Thins and cookies. Who are these people who can make such drastic changes??

However, I was not a total skid, I did incorporate several changes to my diet and I learned so much. In fact, I couldn't stop talking about the class to everyone I met - I really do highly recommend it. Before the class, the few times I had thought about my diet and nutrition it was under the umbrella of my weight or shape, never about health. This sounds ridiculous to me now, but I never considered how the food I eat affects my overall health. And boy, does it ever.

The class on insulin freaked me out and convinced me that I am blissfully unaware that I am living the pre-diabetes years. I also learned that wheat is one of the worst things you can subject your body to, especially the modified wheat we have these days. Everyone should be aiming for 10 1/2 cup servings of vegetables every day. Also, fat is not the enemy, it's just all about healthy fats.

Each week, the instructor would make us recipes or let us try certain things and we had a healthy potluck on the last class. I was pleasantly surprised how many things were actually delicious...and colourful.

But then, of course, there was this smoothie sludge thing.

The class was 10 weeks each Tuesday from 6:30 - 8:00. Lorraine Caruso was the very knowledgeable and personable instructor. The class is offered at each Goodness Me! location around the city and I urge you to consider taking it. You'll learn so much.

My goal when I started the class was to be realistic and adopt 3 or 4 changes into my life since I knew that I'm not the type that can go cold turkey on anything. I reached my goals in the following ways:
- I've eliminated cereal from my diet completely and instead I have a healthy smoothie with Udo's oil each morning.
- I started taking magnesium after the insulin class - ask me in person and I'll explain includes a doodle of a cell.
- I'm using almond butter instead of peanut butter.
- I'm cooking with coconut oil/butter ghee instead of other cooking oils.
- I cooked a recipe with kale. Twice.
- I'm trying not to drink liquids while I eat since they wash away the digestive enzymes you need to break down the food.
- I'm adding ground flax seeds to things.
- I didn't buy bread on my last grocery shop *major* And, in fact, I only did a perimeter shop of the store, where the most healthy things are anyway. Well, except for that quick detour to get some more Wheat Thins.
- I'm drinking a glass of water with lemon every morning, since after an hour, it has an alkalizing affect on the body.

Small steps, people.

Check it out:

My, What Big Teeth You Have...

Why haven't I noticed this before? In the last 3 days, 2 separate people have brought up the fact that Tom Cruise's teeth are shifted over by a tooth. I had no idea what they were talking about, but now that I've looked at it, I can't NOT see it.

Didn't he have braces too? Maybe they didn't take. Or maybe he didn't sport the headgear that I'm so proudly displaying here. How I made it out of 7th grade alive, I'll never know. And, yes, Fashion Police, thank you for noticing, that shirt IS from Northern Reflections.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Art of the Deal

I've always scratched my head when viewing art like this:

Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman

The National Gallery in Ottawa paid $1.8 million for this in 1989. People freaked out. I have to agree. I know certain art can affect people in profound and inexplicable ways and investing in culture is important, but just think of how many great prints like these we could have purchased:

These are ones that I love and would make me smile each time I see them - and for me, this is what I look to art for.

Hmmm, most of these have to do with water. I think I'm thirsty.

By the way, many of these prints are $20 at, except, of course, for the one I really like...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Wish...

I love this photo.
It's the definition of cheeky happiness.
Presents, cake and revelling in the attention.
These things still make me smile.

**click on the picture to get the full effect**

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some Saturday in November

Such a great Saturday - kicking off the Christmas season in a princely manner.
First, Blan (Blake & Dan) and I headed up north to cut our own Christmas trees. My family has always had real trees, but I don't think I can remember cutting down our own. Or more likely, we did, but I was whining about it being cold. We had Mariah Carey's holiday CD and hot cocoa in summer tumblers. Sure, we saw people playing golf and wearing shorts while biking, but we had decided it's Christmas and warm weather wasn't going to stop us.

I had no idea I was so picky when it came to Christmas trees. We wandered around for hours until we found the ones just right for us. Seeing the sad and dead ones reminded me of that Friends episode where Phoebe is saddened that some trees don't get to fulfill their Christmas destiny. Dan did his part to help:

Dan found one that he liked and "I'll just put the saw on it so we'll remember which one it is" was followed by 30 minutes of trying to find that tree again and then promptly dismissing it as "too green".

After finally finding 3 perfect trees, or getting tired enough to settle, we set about cutting them down - this was not as easy as I had imagined. I'm pretty weak and I didn't know how to hold a saw. And Blake didn't really know how to hold the camera.

We dragged them to this shaker thing that rids them of any debris and hoisted them in the truck.

Within hours Blake and Dan had their trees lit and fully decorated. Mine had fallen over in the living room, spilling water everywhere. I eventually had to re-cut it. I love the pine scent that fills my house and I'm curious to see if it lasts longer than pre-cut trees. It was a really fun new tradition, but next year we're bringing helium balloons to tie to potential tree candidates. Yes, this is sure to be a great idea.

The second part of my Saturday involved heading to Toronto for a random concert - Prince. My knowledge of Prince consists of 3 songs and sort of thinking of him as Michael Jackson Lite. But it was Saturday night and I'm always up for any sort of plans. First, my Prince-ly partner and I went to Pizzeria Libretto on ever-hip Ossington. I've heard amazing things about this place which is one of the only official pizzerias that adhere to guidelines set forth by the European Union and the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association. Glad to see the EU is focusing on what matters. Sorry, Greece.

The pizza was really quite good, but different than pizza as Canadians know it. The atmosphere was great and they actually go to the trouble of calling you on your cell when the table is ready.

After a hellish drive through downtown during the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, we arrived at the ACC and found our thrones. Naturally, the stage was shaped as the Prince symbol. The guest of honour arrived in a sea of gold confetti wearing gold glitter pants, a silky top and heels. Let me tell you, Prince fans are hardcore. Since he hasn't put out anything recently, everyone there has loved him since the 80s. I've only mildly liked him since the car ride up.

He was a very lively entertainer (read: he humped the stage) and invited fans to come dance with him. The standing ovation was unlike anything I'd ever seen. After his finale, all the lights came on, the stage was swept and instruments dismantled. The entire arena was on their feet cheering and clapping for at least 20 minutes. Seriously. Not a single person left. It was like Occupy ACC. Was he not going to do an encore? Was he making us 'earn' it? Either way, the crowd went crazy when he returned to dance on the piano. Even after that, the crowd kept screaming for a second encore until the announcer came on and told everyone to leave already.

I've realized that unless I'm a massive fan of the artist and know almost all the songs, I'm not really a concert person. The Spice Girls reunion tour in Vegas was epic, but that was a teenage dream realized. I'd love to see Adele or Mariah Carey in the 90s, but beyond that, *shrug*. Still it was a fabulous Saturday night and I love random plans like this that end eating leftover pizza and humming Raspberry Beret into the next day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Would Like

These are the most amazing tights I have ever seen. Sexy, unique, very cool.
I think I'm going to buy them online - what's the worst that could happen? They'll be 2 sizes too small for my giraffe legs and I'll have to do what I did when I was 6 years old? That is, wear a second pair of underwear over my tights to hold them up. Less sexy and less cool. I think I'll risk it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Friend: My new thing is saying 'Yes' to everything. Accepting every invitation, saying 'Yes' to every opportunity - you never know what can come of it!

Me: Oh yeah, I've done that before - it's great. Hey, I have something you might like! Do you want to play in a badminton league with me?

Friend: Maybe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Global Blog

I usually don't look at the blog stats because, let's face it, it's mostly just my mom and I who read it. Or at least it used to be! These are the pageviews for the last week - how is this possible?? And who knew that I have such a Japanese following? Canadians fall 3rd? Mom! Start reading again please.

United States 362
Japan 121
Canada 80
India 13
Germany 4
Australia 3
United Kingdom 3
Jamaica 3
Russia 3
Argentina 2

Ok, looking at these numbers, I think I'm going to go back and check. Something's up here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Angry Birds

For me, a sign of maturity is learning to recognize that disliking someone so strongly in no way improves my life. Harbouring a grudge and fervently clinging to hatred only makes me a negative person. Disliking them does not make me happier, richer, more in love, more at peace, funnier, more successful or more awesome. If anything, it detracts from my ability to find and be all these things.

Life happens - you meet people you like and you meet people you don't, relationships grow and they fall apart, friendships struggle and thrive, things happen to make you happy and also to make you cry. This is life. You're not expected to love everyone and everything, but I think we're expected to approach life with an open mind. And we're not expected to forget everything bad that happens, but I think we owe it to ourselves to move past it.

Being angry is not a 'right' that I think I deserve because of the way the cards have been dealt. I sometimes think it makes me feel better, but this peace feels much better. Letting go of the things that I can't change brings a sort of relief I didn't even realize I needed.

Let's save the anger for more important things - you know, like people who don't signal their lane changes, burnt cookies or when the DVD skips.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Photo Dump

As I meander through my life, I often take pictures of things I see with the hopes of turning these random shots into blog posts. Often, I can't make it happen. So, then I end up with a bunch of photos that I like and that made me smile or something at the time, but don't translate into accompanying text.

To clean up my desktop, I've decided to plop them all here. Can you tell it's a Friday and I'm feeling sort of lazy?
I took this photo after I got back from my summer picnic in the park - and was rooting around in my bag. I gave a little shriek and automatically starting coming up with a short list of possible culprits. Ryan and Paul top that list.

This past summer was absolutely wonderful - lots of socializing, being outside and relaxing. I wanted to capture the moments I was enjoying so wholeheartedly.

This one comes back to me so vividly - it was a July night that could only be described as 'sultry' and I was driving to meet a friend-ish person for drinks. I remember the freedom and excitement I felt as I drove over the Skyway Bridge, my arm dangling out the window.

Pink lemonade on a patio with a crossword - near perfection.

The late afternoon Manhattan in the most most idyllic of country houses.

This was in the airport on my way back from Melebration. As I sat down with my snack I realized how ridiculous the Vitamin Water looked next to the sprinkle donut. Take a guess which one I actually finished.

Summer dinner party that some how turned into shots and Dance Mix '95. Can't fight the beat.

Monday, November 7, 2011

That Would Be Bad...

Scene - Friday night, sitting at a Starbucks, reading the Globe and Mail and eating a Nanaimo bar - taking some "Me" time, texting with my friend.

Friend: How's your night going? What are you up to?

Me: Just sitting at Starbucks next to a really cute guy. Whoa, he just got a text and LITERALLY bolted out of the place. Weird.

Friend: Were you on a date with him?


Good to see the faith my friend has in my dating skills.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ah, e-cards...

Dreary November afternoon - this is what's making me laugh.

There are several gentlemen callers who fall into this category in my phone.

This was my commute anthem 2008 - 2010.

No, I do NOT have a key party story, just think it's funny. Look how miffed he looks.

We all have Facebook friends like this. I might even be one. I'm okay with that.

This cracks me up. And, yes I AM thinking it about you.

"Rats In Cuter Outfits"

It is a wilderness safari in my neighbourhood these days.

The squirrel situation is out of control - they rule the roost and I'm pretty sure there are gangs forming along racial lines. Yesterday I looked out my window to see that a punk squirrel had gotten ahold of an empty pudding cup from my recycling bin.

He just stared at me while he finsihed off the vanilla treat. The annoying part was that I left any pudding for him to eat. I really need to start polishing off my pudding cups more carefully.

His friend also found one and took food remnant stealing to new heights - the roof of my garage. Ok, fine, yes, I have eaten 2 pudding cups this week. Probably just 2. Leave it alone.

When the cheeky bastard was finished he had the audacity to drop the pudding cup in the middle of the lawn! Don't these animals know we're trying to save the environment for them. Well, and for Al Gore.

Speaking of neighbourhood animals, I saw this on Hallowe'en:

I think the white albino cat is 10 times more spooky than a black cat. It's been skulking around for a few days and always gives me the shivers. Plus, I'm pretty certain I heard it whisper "My preeeeciouuuusss..."