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...