What to Do with All That Leftover Yarn (and other helpful holiday tips)

The holiday season is filled with a plethora of emotions: from the excitement and anticipation of Christmas Eve, to the rush of Christmas morning, to the inevitable food coma and the boxing day hangover blues. (Stick close to your Russell Stovers for this one, folks.)

boxing

When all is said and done, you’re left with that long stretch of  idle time between boxing day and New Year’s, where the days  feel 80 hours long and it’s a struggle just to get out of your PJS, let alone think about anything besides those delicious scotch cookies your mom hid in the downstairs fridge (ostensibly, from you).

Don't eat me, Breezyk!

Don’t eat me, Breezyk!

So what’s a girl to do with all of this free time on her hands? I tried filling the empty space where Christmas used to be with  daytime TV; but I could only watch Kathy Lee and Hoda drink so many glasses of pinot grigio before I got too jealous tired of it. Then I tried watching Holiday films, but they just made me angry.  Like, what classifies The Sound of Music as a Christmas film anyway? Cause I’m pretty sure it’s about Nazis.

soundof

And why there is so much conflict in the Polar Express? I tried asking Tom Hanks this directly on twitter, but he never got back to me.

Weird?

Thankfully, I’ve found a new way to occupy my time: by perusing my mother’s seemingly endless  collection of  women’s magazines.

Women’s World, Chatelaine, Best Health, O. Her collection is enough to make Martha Stewart weak at the knees.

I decided to begin with the December 24th edition of First for Women magazine, since it featured my #3 life model, Marie Osmond, on the cover.

marie

I was immediately struck by how this publication seemed to really identify with, and understand the plight of today’s modern woman. It contained so many helpful time-saving tips! Not to mention all of the groundbreaking,  empirically proven, scientific studies and weight loss plans.

And since many of you are modern, self-actualized women yourselves (or at least have one in your life) I knew I had to share to share them with all of you.

So let’s get started, shall we?

First off,  if you’ve been searching for a way to remedy that dusty holiday wreath of yours, then look no further, Cause First for Women has got you covered!

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A paper bag and a salt shaker! Who knew?

If you’re anything like me, then while doing your daily 8 hours of lady-cleaning this Holiday season, you’ve thought to yourself: “Gee, I wish I had a festive use for all these piles of extra yarn I’ve got lying around!”

Well sister, you’re in luck- because I’ve got not one- but THREE festive uses for that yarn for you!

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A picture frame! How delightful.

And it doesn’t stop there. First for Women is FILLED with time-saving tips: from Stain-Proof recipe cards, to 10 brilliant uses for orange peels, to decorative napkin folds, to a selection of “OH WOW! Holiday appetizers”, these tips will save you so much time, you’ll finally be able to get back to all of your other important lady tasks: like pumping out babies, honoring your period,  and talking about your vaginas.  Just think of how much  more time you’ll have for Pinterest!

Not only does First for Women contain countless household time-savers, it also features some fail-proof diet plans.

Looking to shed a quick 5-7lbs to squeeze into that holiday dress of yours? Try the “Grapefruit diet!” So simple it’s foolproof; this involves eating nothing but grapefruits for several days. But won’t I get hungry? You might be asking.

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Not according to Dr. Al Sears! “A grapefruit fast is surprisingly easy to do,” he assures. “Since grapefruit contains a fulfilling combo of carbs and fibre, I’m totally satisfied on 3-4 hours a day!”

There you have it ladies. And if grapefruit’s not your bag, how about the “Christmas Cleanse”? This involves drinking nothing but a combination of unsweetened cranberry juice, water and cloves for 24 hours before the big event. You might pass out after your first cocktail, but the results will be worth it!

There’s also a Q&A section, targeting some of your hardest-hitting women’s health issues. Like “What’s Causing my Itchy nipple?” and  “Do PH-balanced tampons really make a difference?”

There is even a  fashion section, featuring countess Holiday glam looks that can be achieved with items right from your own closet!

Like this timeless fab look, for example. Just start with “your own monochromatic pantsuit” and add some chunky accessories!

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The only problem will be narrowing down which of your monochromatic pantsuits to choose from! I’ve got 8 just in the purple family alone!

Off to get started!

Question of the Day: How have you been combatting post-holiday boredom?

Coffee Talk

Did anyone else automatically think of Linda Richman when they read the title of this post?

linda

No? Just me?

So I flew into Halifax around midnight last night and crashed on my sister’s couch for the night.

I was then  awoken at 6:30 a.m. (that’s 5:30 Toronto time) by my 8-year-old niece Lola standing approximately 10 centimetres from my face, whispering “BREE” emphatically.  I jumped about a foot, and was justifiably freaked out before realizing it was her.

“You grew your nails long”, she remarked. “They look nice.”

She then proceeded to hop up on the couch with me and start downloading games on my iPhone.

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The culprit

Ahh, the joys of home.

Needless to say, after that lovely little wakeup call, I needed some caffeine, stat.

At home in Toronto, I’ve got a Keurig, which my (other) older sister bought for me as a gift during a recent visit. I had mentioned to her I wanted one, and she went out one day while I was at work late and picked it up for me.

via keurig.ca

via keurig.ca

I cried when I got home and saw it. Long-term stress can do these things to you.

Anyway, since then Mr. K (a little term of endearment I like to use for him) and I have been in an intense love affair. Together, we have almost entirely eliminated those painful 30-60 minutes between initial wakefulness and walking through the door at Starbucks.  Now, I have Starbucks  on  tap (or in k-cups, as the case may be,) 24 hours a day.

Does life get any sweeter?

Now, if I could only figure out how to eliminate all those alcohol-less moments between 9-5.

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I even bought a travel mug for ease of transport. I hope the world doesn’t end tomorrow, or that will be a colossal waste.

And I don’t even mind that the damn machine takes up approximately 78% of the counter space in my 500 sq foot condo. Since coffee holds about 78% of my heart, I feel it’s proportional.

Anyway, this morning, I had no such Keurig luxury and instead was forced to bundle up and walk my tired ass to Starbucks in the freezing cold. (if you think I didn’t wear my pajamas for this endeavour, then you’d be wrong).

I grumbled to myself as I walked, cursing the snow and the damp Nova Scotia weather. Had I sprayed these new boots already?  I hoped so.

But I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed my Starbucks experience. Granted, everyone in Nova Scotia is at least 10 times nicer than everyone in Toronto (sorry, Torontonians), so I really shouldn’t have been. The barista met me with a smile and a cheery good morning, and when I asked for Soy milk in my coffee, he responded “Sure. After all, it is Christmas!”

like this but a guy

like this but a guy

I left happier, more energized, and significantly more caffeinated.

On the walk home, it hit me: I think I actually miss the take-out coffee experience. When you live alone and work long hours, you start taking pleasure in the limited social interactions you have every day.  Even if they are with complete strangers. And while my new Keurig has added a level of convenience and hyper-caffeination to my life, it has also served to cut out yet another connection I used to maintain with the outside world.

lonely

I thought about all my homies at my local Starbucks in Toronto. I hope they are doing well. Maybe I’ll start dropping by for the occasional latte on the weekends or something, just to say hello.

I guess it’s really just another byproduct of our generation: the more technology we create, the less face-to-face interaction we maintain. It’s all a little bittersweet, and I’m a little melancholy about it.

What I should really be focused on, though, is the fact that in a couple of days, I will be off to my parent’s house in a small town where the closest Starbucks is almost 2 hours away. How is this even possible?? Instead, I will be forced to drink the cigarette-butt infused tepid bathwater that is Tim Horton’s coffee (sorry, all other Canadians), and two chocolate glazed timbits to wash it down with. I’m willing to bet, however, that the small talk at the drive-thru will still be worth it.

Question of the Day: Do you make your coffee at home, or get takeout? What’s your favourite kind?

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my holiday mixtape giveaway!!

mixt2

And jut to eliminate any confusion, the “mixtape” title is pure hipster irony. It’s actually a CD. There may have been less manual labour involved, but I promise it was still made with plenty of love!

Nothing Says Love Like A Mixtape (Giveaway!)

Around this time of year, I start to get a little sentimental. I think about my family, my friends, my Starbucks barista, my Thai delivery guy, and everyone else who makes this sad, lonely existence a little bit more bearable every day.

Oh, and of course, all of you! Blogging keeps me (at least somewhat) happy and sane, and I love having readers like you guys who accept the challenge of wading through my mindless drivel every day. (I recognize this may be just a manifestation of your own self-loathing. I’ll still take it.) Reading your comments and all of your own hilarious posts keep me inspired on a daily basis, and for that I’d like to say thank you.

……………With a mixtape!!

mixt2

For those of you who have been following lately, you will be pleased to know that after much annoying posting about it research and consideration, the track list for Breezyk’s 2012 Year In Review Mixtape has officially been finalized!

My inaugural year in review mixtape features 16 of my favourite tracks from albums that debuted in 2012, and is a solid mix of indie, pop, hip-hop and other cool hipster genres that you’ve probably never heard of. (See some example tracks here, here and here)

It was tough work cutting it down to 16 tracks though. There might be a B-Side. Stay tuned.

Anyway, I am giving away 5 of these puppies to you lucky readers! (I realize it’s sort of presumptuous to think that 5 of you would even want it.. but let’s just play along shall, we?  I was up until 2:00 a.m. making this thing)

If you want to enter, leave a comment below telling me what you want for Christmas. Bonus entries are available if you follow the Camel Life on Facebook (see the sidebar) or on Twitter @thecamellife.  Tis the season of shameless blog promotion!

I will pick 5 lucky winners at random who will be mailed a copy of my mixtape, along with a hand-written, non-denominational, environmentally conscious, fiscally responsible, gluten-free Holiday card. And maybe even a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven. We’ll see.

easybake2

Contest Remains open until Friday, December 21, 2012 at 5:00p.m. Eastern Time. Good luck!

Question of the Day: What do you want for Christmas?  

(or, if you don’t celebrate Christmas – what’s one thing you’re currently coveting?)

And just as a teaser, here’s track #4 for your listening pleasure:

On How I Ruined Christmas

The year was 1994, in the month of December. My best friend and I had just settled into a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos when the topic of Christmas arose.

“I hope I get SuperTalk Barbie,” I yearned. “Did you know she can say over 100,000 things?”

Truth

Truth

“Well I already know what I’m getting for Christmas,” replied my best friend, “because I snooped and found it all”.

I was incredulous. At 9 years old, I was a play-by-the rules-type of kid. I did my homework religiously, never talked back to my parents, and had an unwavering, self-imposed bedtime of 8:00 p.m. The idea that someone would snoop for their Christmas gifts seemed an affront to almost everything I believed in.

“But you couldn’t have found them all!” I pleaded. “What about the ones Santa brings on Christmas Eve?”

“Oh Bree,” she said, shaking her head, “You’ve got a lot to learn.”

She led me down the hall towards her parent’s room, checking to make sure they were firmly entranced by the TV on the way. She motioned for me to “Shhh” as we tiptoed into the bedroom and opened the closet door. There stood a large bag full of Christmas delights: Barbies, shiny new clothes and a few wrapped packages.

A pile of Christmas gifts in colorful wrapping with ribbons.

“That one’s The Lion King,” she said, gesturing to the colourfully wrapped package I was holding. “I already steamed it open and wrapped it back up.”

I was overwhelmed with emotions. Despite this stark evidence to the contrary, I refused to believe that Santa was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Maybe her parents just didn’t understand how the whole process worked. Did they even have a chimney? Perhaps they had worked out some sort of alternative delivery arrangement with Santa and were simply holding these presents in escrow on his behalf.

santa2

Seriously. That bag probably gets real heavy on Christmas Eve.

But try as I might to justify it, once this brain worm had been implanted, it was like inception. I needed to see for myself.

I waited until my mom was out grocery shopping and my dad was fussing with the Christmas lights outside to make my move. Given that I was a complete novice in gifting espionage, I didn’t quite know where to start, but figured I’d begin with the usual suspects. After striking out in the closet, under the bed and in the basement, I knew there was only one place left to look: the attic.

I had vowed never to set foot in our attic again after my two older brothers had locked me up there with a horrifying life-size Raggedy Ann doll almost 5 years prior. But sometimes, even your own rules are meant to be broken.

I took a deep breath, pulled the cord that released the rickety old ladder and began my ascent. Through the near pitch -darkness, I could make out a fuzzy pink blanket covering something big and oddly misshapen. I tip-toed closer, careful not to make a peep, and yanked the blanket off.

There before me lay Christmas morning: almost three weeks early. There was SuperTalk Barbie; just as I had dreamed of! There was a GT snow racer, a brand new SEGA genesis for my brothers, nerf guns, even a BopIt! And of course, the mother of all gifts: a giant, 12 disc rotating CD player (which, in 1994, was no small potatoes). It even had a double tape deck!

CDp2

But then a funny thing happened. Instead of feeling validated like I had expected, I felt sick to my stomach. My initial excitement over being able to tape a tape quickly faded and left me with nothing but guilt and anxiety. I had ruined Christmas. There would be no surprises now. And worst of all, this seemed indisputable proof that there was indeed, no Santa Claus. We had a chimney. And it worked just fine.

Riddled with guilt, I tried everything in my power to clear my conscience. I wrote tearful admissions in my diary. I became Santa’s biggest playground defender. I even went to confession. But no amount of Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s could repress the memory of what I had done.

When Christmas morning came, I smiled with a heavy heart as we headed into the living room to see what “Santa” had brought us. “Look!” said my mom, pointing to the CD player excitedly, “Santa must know how much you like making mix tapes!”

I nodded forlornly as I watched my siblings tear open packages, their eyes glistening with delight at each new surprise. Oh what I would have given to experience that feeling myself!

excitedc

Not me

“Hey guys,” said my dad, “come look on the roof! I think the reindeer left hoof prints!” I knew, of course, that there had been no reindeer. I had heard my dad up on the roof himself the previous night as I lay awake sleepless. He had spent almost an hour creating the perfect “tracks”. I was going to fake this surprise if it killed me.

I never did come clean to my parents about what I had done, and although I never snooped again, I still live with the residual guilt. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to repay this karmic debt, but I do know that when I become a parent, I’ll be certain to find a better hiding spot.

I mean come on mom and dad, have you never SEEN this movie?

Really mom and dad? The attic? Have you SEEN Christmas Vacation?

Question of the Day: Did you snoop for your Christmas gifts growing up?