Thursday, February 28, 2013

Working From Home

Working from home can be tricky.  Sometimes it is amazing and I thrive on making my own hours and working in my pyjamas while eating hot lunches.  And other times, I feel a bit isolated and it's difficult to remain motivated day after day.  So, when that feeling strikes, I start taking my work elsewhere, at least for a couple hours of the day.

Today, I worked from the Locke Street Starbucks for the early morning.  It's such a wonderful place to be for me.  Any coffee shop, really.  I enjoy working from Mulberry or Cannon Coffee as well.  Being around the bustle of the morning rush crowd, running into acquaintances, hearing the best coffee shop music mixes and, of course, the jolt of caffeine keeps me going.

I enjoyed listening to the group of Jewish men tell stories about their being served pork chops when they were 17 years old and meeting a girlfriend's family.  I enjoyed the awkwardness of staring at a woman while I tried to figure out if it was indeed my waxer.  Turns out, it wasn't.  You'd think I'd remember her face.  I enjoyed humming along to Adele, Amy, and Otis while doing the crossword and reading the paper.

Quite a delightful little morning.  Now, I'm back at my desk, riding the caffeine wave and being very productive.  Until the nap crash.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

They Do.

2012 was a big year for weddings in my life - two sets of my closest friends tied the knot and I was honoured to be involved in both.  I've already posted about being the Maid of Honour for Naomi & Tim and on December 29, 2012, I was the emcee for Ryan and Julie.

It's no secret that I enjoy having a microphone in my hand and certainly thrive on attention, but being an emcee was even more fun than I could have imagined.  It certainly helps that I am close friends with many of the people in the room and that the wedding came off as an intimate and warm affair, the perfect breeding ground for calming nerves and rolling with the punches.

Look how beautiful these two are. Seriously.  I had a line in my speech about them looking like a Michael Kors ad.  And I meant it.

I found the most perfect wedding card for them.  Here is them, dancing their first dance:

...and here is the card I found:

Go ahead, just try and find a more fitting card!

The wedding was held during that fantastic time of year between Christmas and New Year's Eve - the holiday hangover where days are lazy and long.  It was held at the beautiful Paletta Mansion in Burlington.

After the "hard" part was over, we all let loose and somehow I ended up being befriended by some dancing children.

Ryan and Julie sent me some proofs taken by their photographer that I feel really capture my night so perfectly.  These five pictures were exactly how it all went down:

The Best Man and I shaking a tail feather to our signature song.

My mom thought this picture looked like a scene out of a French perfume ad.  Love that.

The most awkward and robotic poses.

Yep, this is how I emcee.

Congratulations Dr. and Mrs.!!

Best of Badminton

My favourite things about badminton:

1. When a really great back and forth rally gets going, I get uncontrollably giggly.  I can't stop.

2. When the score is 10 to 4, I like to yell "10-4, good buddy" like I'm barking into my CB radio from my semi.

3. The smash, which I have yet to master.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spot the Difference

My Family Day long weekend involved a purposeful lack of plans.  I have been feeling incredibly stretched the last several weeks and while most of my activities are ones I enjoy, I was really due for a few days of small projects and relaxing.  This is how I spent my long weekend:

Now you see them... you don't!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pi, Purple, and Pottery

My weeks are starting to look almost identical, at least with regard to my set schedule from Monday to Thursday - Oscar movies, badminton, trivia, dodgeball.  Repeat.

This past Monday we watched Life of Pi and I brought 3.14 cherry pies, which actually looked like awful olive weird things and weren't great, and some sort of Indian hickory sticks.  Dru brought super spicy samosas (but apparently only to me and the two present children) and blue ocean cocktails while Jen made tiger cookies, without a cookie cutter.  Moms never cease to amaze me.

Having been around the block once or twice on the dating scene, I have become adept at the "break-up".  And I use this term very loosely; I don't mean with actual relationships, I mean with those fleeting encounters that comprise of one to four dates.  These are not relationships, they are blips on the dating journey on my way to happily ever after.  They're trying people out to see who fits.  Very few fit.  Once I realize this, usually very quickly, I am insistent on treating the person with enough respect to be up front and straight forward about my interest, or lack thereof.  When it comes to dating, or any relationship really, there is nothing worse, more rude, more disrespectful and more hurtful than disappearing from someone's life without an explanation.  So, in this way, I am a big fan of telling and being told the truth, straight up, rather than dodging calls and ignoring texts.  Ok, maybe 'fan' is the wrong word.

However, since I insist on doing this with every unsuccessful date I go on, I have sent this text/email or made this call more times than I'd like to remember.  Sometimes it's easy and I feel a great relief at tying things up in a nice bow and other times I feel disappointed, dejected and emotionally spent.  This past week was one of those times.  Dating can really chip away at your optimism some days.  Most of the time I enjoy dating, meeting new people, the hope that exists that maybe you'll really hit it off, and the excitement and butterflies of a first date.  But once in a while, after going on yet another date with someone who you don't feel "IT" with, it can be really disheartening.  That was my week.

But on the upside, I did get an email this week that went like this: "Hey. What's up?  Your pretty."  Awesome.


Nothing cheers one up like eating French toast on Pancake Tuesday with a friend while being introduced to this season of "The Bachelor".  Andreana filled me in on all the crazy details (i.e. crazy ho-bags) and I found myself instantly invested.  It is a good thing I don't have cable at home.
Sample quote from aforementioned ho-bag: "I can't control my eyebrow!"


Wednesday was "Hamilton Day" for me as it brought both a HIVE meeting and a South Sherman neighbourhood meeting.  The South Sherman meeting was a presentation on women in our neighbourhood and how their sense of place is created.  There were about 30 people in attendance and quiche!  That was unexpected.  The funny thing about our neighbourhood is that it varies greatly.  It is a predominantly blue-collar, lower to middling income area, but a gentrification trend is growing and there are a lot of young professionals buying houses here.  So, at the meeting, it was quite a cross-section of residents.  My friend and I made up the "I'm-dressed-up-from-my-professional-day-job-and-wearing-a-fur-collar-and-heels-and-likely-giving-off-a-snobby-vibe" portion of the crowd.  Whatever.


It's almost Oscar night, the night where all these terrible movies I've been watching the past two months will be worth my while.  Or not really at all.  Either way, the hunt continues for the perfect (awful) Oscar dress.  The last several years have been all over the place, but I'm looking for an amazing taffeta confection with bows if possible.  This was a serious contender, but it didn't fit:

It also seems like I have a strong affinity for purple this year, but we'll have to see what my stylist says.  This contender, while is super droopy and makes me look like I have massive saddlebags, is really comfortable.  Doesn't that count for something when you're sitting around eating and watching TV, which is essentially what our Oscar parties are all about?


This afternoon, a friend and I tried our hand at pottery with a McMaster University alumni event at the Dundas Valley School of Art.  I've never done anything like this and I wouldn't say I'm that great at visual arts, but I thought it would be fun to try.

We did two types of pottery - one dry with our hands and one wet with the wheel.  Truth be told, we both signed up to use the wheel.  I was pretty proud of my dry one, especially when the instructor used it as an example to the rest of the class.  Until she told me that the sides were too thin and it would crack into a million pieces in the kiln.  Humph.

Using the wet wheel was exactly the opposite of the scene in the movie Ghost, but still really fun.  And messy.  I made...guess...a bowl.  Yep, that's pretty much what I could 'master' in a couple hours.  In two weeks, we come back and glaze/paint our creations and then presumably give them to our parents so that they can relive decades past by receiving a gift seemingly made by a child.


This week I had to replace my second car horn in the last several years.  The only explanation I can think of is that the craftsmanship of automobile noise makers has really declined recently.  Someone should really look into this.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Delinquent Sunday

Uh oh.  It's Friday.  I have sunk back into my delinquent ways and did not muster the effort to post on Sunday.  But, better late than never...  That's actually not true.  I remember a specific friend situation with a boy years and years ago where he frustrated me so much by being late that I would wish him to be as late as possible so that I could legitimately be angry with him.  It had dysfunction and passive-agressive written all over it, and shocker (!) we're no longer friends.

We are nearing the end of our Oscar Movie Mondays and this week's film was "The Master" with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix.  It was bad.  I mean, "I-fell-asleep-halfway-through" bad.  I'm just so tired of having to watch these nominated films when nearly all of them are dour, depressing and downright dull.  Come on Academy, give me something that can make me smile or laugh.  Remember the days of Slumdog Millionaire, Life is Beautiful, Chicago and Forrest Gump?

In any event, we did make our own version of Torpedo Juice, a home made chickpea spread that was NOT hummus and did NOT have anything to do with the movie (this was obviously my contribution) and cookies bought by someone with their MasterCard.  Well, there you have it.


One of my favourite Hamilton winter daytime food-related downtown events on a Wednesday is SoupFest.  In support of Living Rock, dozens of restaurants compete for the title of Best Soup and Most Creative, among others.  For me, it's a great excuse to come and eat soup on a cold February day.  This year, I went with Tracy and I sampled the following:

Baci Restorante - Salted Caramel Apple with Smoked Chicken
4th Course Bistro at Copetown Woods - Roasted Tomato with Pancetta & Mascarpone
Jack & Lois - Garlic, Double Smoked Bacon and Chive
Vicar's Vice - Cheeseburger Soup

As awful as it sounds, the Cheeseburger Soup was amazing and I was not at all deterred by the fact that I had dinner plans for super burgers at The Works later that day.  The Salted Caramel, while creative, tasted like melted candy and cavities.  But mostly, the afternoon was a great time to catch up with my friend and avoid mascots.  What is it about mascots that think grown adults want to interact with them?  I just keep my eyes straight ahead and ignore them.  Or try to trip them.  Those big dumb feet don't have a chance.


Secrets.  Is keeping them the worst?  Or is having them get out the worst?  I've been thinking a lot about secrets recently.  I find that I have a hard time keeping secrets about myself from my close friends.  I've always been a fairly open book because I think it's one of the best ways to develop and grow friendships.  What's the point in being friends with someone who doesn't let you in at all?  However, there are a couple secrets that I can see the purpose in keeping under wraps.  But I find it hard!  Sometimes it's all I want to do, is spill.

And then when a secret gets out, by choice or not, there is a whole other level of stress.  Keeping a secret inside at least guarantees that I am in control of the information and how it affects people.  Once someone else knows, it's out there and who knows what will happen?  This makes me nervous.  But when you get to unload a secret, there is a sense of relief as well.  It just depends which is more overwhelming: stress or relief.  I've been flip flopping between the two all week. 


It was finally time for our Annual Ski Trip to Blue Mountain.  In reality, only 2 or 3 people actually take advantage of the slopes while the rest of us juggle our time between the hot tubs, eating cheese and the snow roller coaster.  This year we planned to leave on the snowiest Friday in memory.  A crazy storm blasted Southern Ontario and I spent most of the morning shovelling my car out.  Once I finally got the car on the road, I was stranded no less than 20 feets from paved main road paradise.  There I sat, helpless, until someone offered me a shovel and three gracious men pushed me out.  It was awful and all this just to get to the end of my block.

Luckily, my parents lent me their trusty car with snow tires, heated mirrors and heated wipers - it handled beautifully.  We made our way to Collingwood and from door to door, including two friend pick-ups and a stop at McDonalds to calm my nerves, the drive took us 6.5 hours.  Somehow, our friends who left later from Guelph and Toronto arrived in only 2.5 hours.  The drive sucked, either way and we were relieved to make it there safely...and ready for a scotch.

We were only able to arrange for a two night trip this time and it seemed to fly by, but it's always fun to get ten friends together in one place.  Our itinerary:

- Snow rollercoaster, screaming optional
- Hot tubbing, sunburned nose optional
- Cheese...all of it
- Smoked Salmon, Costco sized
- Giving fake names at Starbucks
- Basking in the sunshine in Adironack chairs by the frozen lake
- Ice skating
- Disgusting mouth pictures
- General show cavorting, slamming into snow covered stone wall optional, although not for me
- Charades
- Poker
- Laughing loud enough to get security visits three times in one night
- Engaging in snowball fight with hooligans
- Salted caramel brownies

*Those aren't all my coffees*

*Fake eating BeaverTail photo*

I like this wedding dress.  That's all.


I don't even feel bad that this block of havarti looks exactly like a pound of butter.  Or that I ate it all, over the past week.  Not bad at all.

Monday, February 4, 2013

So Soonday?

Another weekly recap...

For our Oscar Movie Monday viewing of Lincoln, I decided to make the ultimate American dessert - the apple pie.  It was added to the array of chicken fricasĂ©e with biscuits, President sparkling wine and these boozey bourbon pecan bites.  All delicious, which was lucky, because the movie was anything but.  Snoozefest 2013.

This week, we're watching The Master which is loosely (?) based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.  I've been trying to come up with cult-ish and crazy foods and again am drawing blanks.  What would Tom Cruise or John Travolta bring?


I have been driving around town laughing uncontrollably the last few weeks every time I see this billboard.  I think it is one of the funniest images I've ever seen.  Even right now, I'm cracking up.  That wig is hysterical.

Plus it appeals to the side of me that always finds it funny when babies fall down or freak out on America's Funniest Home Videos.


I often find it amusing or interesting or ... something, when places, people or experiences come flooding back from the slightest of influences.  Like a song being played that brings back all these memories from a time in my life so far from what my life is now.  Often these memories are associated with past relationships and I find it both comforting and strange that both parties can recall the exact same thing when a song is played and it's almost an involuntary memory recall.  It's just a small way to remember things long dismissed, but really nice to have the reminder.


As dodgeball gave us a bye this week, I was able to attend the live Hamilton taping of Q with Jian Ghomeshi at Mohawk College with some friends.  I wasn't really sure what I was in for, but it was a great evening filled with Hamilton focused guests, a speaker panel, performances by the Arkells and Rita Chiarelli and great hosting and Q&A with Jian Ghomeshi. 

I've heard of the Arkells for a while now, but never really sought them out to get to know their music - I loved them!  They have a great stage presence and there songs were kicky.  I like the word 'kicky'.  I'm going to go buy their CD.  I still like to buy CDs and I'm going to buy it from Dr. Disc, another Hamilton institution I've never actually been to yet.

I was also introduced to Rita Chiarelli, a Hamilton native, who has an incredible blues voice and a storied career.  Often times I find blues a bit slow and I have to be in a certain mood for it (duh) but she was captivating and I couldn't help but be wrapped up in her music.  Check her out here.

Jian's show draws huge names and really fascinating topics - Thursday night alone covered zombie actors, racist dogs, revitalizing extinct mammals like the woolly mammoth and the issues of the day including Idle No More and David Suzuki.  I've been inspired to listen to his show more often.


I'm pretty sure there is someone living in my garage.  These footsteps are not mine.


There was a family outing this week to see South Pacific at Redeemer University.  For a Christian school based production, I was mildly shocked with the amount of nudity and underage prostitution that danced its way across the stage.  But it was entertaining - amateur theatre actors are always the most keen.

Are these for real?


Doing quite well with my 2013 goal to become more involved in the Hamilton community and the young professional scene in the city, I was awoken to my Dad knocking on my door like a crazy person, brandishing a camera, pretending to be the paparazzi:  my picture was in the paper.  The Hamilton Community Awards I had attended last week feature a shot of me and my glass of wine. Look Ma!  I'm "Local People".


Superbowl lowdown:  BeyoncĂ© is my hero.  My friend Dru and I have discussed the feasibility and likelihood of us taking on the task of learning and performing that entire routine.  I'm betting against us...for so many reasons, chief among them, we don't look like that, we can't dance like that and we can't do this: