How The Bachelor Prepared Me For Buying A House

Let me start off by saying something that won’t surprise you at all: I am a lifelong fan of The Bachelor. Judge me if you will, but there’s something about the simplified, fairy tale-esque love stories and over-exaggerated one-dimensional characters that appeals to my childlike brain and keeps me tuning in every season.

Throughout my bachelor fandom I have also learned a lot of important life lessons: Like first impressions are EVERYTHING (especially when you burst out of a giant cupcake);

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a career is what you make it;

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live your truth, girl

and, most importantly, make sure to always sleep with a full face of makeup on in case your date decides to surprise you with a helicopter ride at 5 a.m.

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But I never expected that the Bachelor could ever teach me anything about real estate.

Despite warnings about the crazy market, my husband and I began looking for a house in Toronto in February of last year. After months of frenzied open houses, we finally found the perfect place: a small, detached home in Toronto’s east end that was dated, but liveable- the perfect place to add value. Having been warned that the listing price was “more of a loose guideline” than an actual cost, we thought we would secure it by offering over asking- a number that already hurt.

We submitted our offer and held our breath. Almost immediately, our agents came back to us. Rejection. With 8 other bidders, the house ultimately sold for nearly 30% over asking.

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We were disappointed, but told ourselves that in this market, no one gets it on the first try.

A month later, we struck again. This time it was a charming, semi-detached in prime Greektown. Just one little hiccup: no parking.

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That’s a thing??

We accepted it as yet another compromise, and this time, got more aggressive in our bidding. Strike two: 7 bidders, not even a trip to the second round.

The third house was by far the most devastating. This time, it was in the Annex. No parking, but a lush, beautiful backyard, and a glassed-in front porch that just screamed out for enjoying a nice glass of wine (or three).

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I knew immediately we had to have it.

A friend recommended writing a letter to attach with our offer to make ourselves stand out from the pile. I initially dismissed it as a bit hokey, but in the end we decided, what did we have to lose?

I pulled out my laptop and got to work. My goal was obviously to make this letter as heart-wrenching as humanly possible. The more tears it evoked, the better. I pulled out every stop imaginable. I talked about how the open concept kitchen brought me back to my East Coast roots and having Ceilidhs (kitchen parties, which for the record I NEVER had). I rhapsodized about watching my yet-unborn children frolicking among the hydrangeas as my husband and I gazed into each other’s eyes, marveling at the beautiful life we were blessed with.

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If this letter didn’t get us the house, NOTHING would.

It just so happened that offers for the house fell on the same evening we were scheduled to fly to France on vacation, so we deputized my father-in-law to do the bidding. I pressed the letter against his chest and asked him to guard it with his life. We gave him our max number and said goodbye, not knowing if we’d  get the house until we landed the next morning.

I didn’t sleep a wink that entire flight- visions of enclosed porches and galley kitchens dancing in my head. As soon as we landed we turned on our phones and checked our voicemails.

Although the buyers LOVED our letter (obviously), we were edged out by another bidder and narrowly missed out on the house of our dreams.

This one stung like no other before. Through the letter writing process, I had allowed myself to become emotionally invested in this house. I had totally let my guard down. I had fallen in love.

And that’s when it hit me.

This is EXACTLY what it must be like to be on the Bachelor!!

I suddenly had a new-found respect for the women (and men) who were burned for “keeping their guards up” and “not being open to the process”. While they ultimately missed out on a chance at love, at least they weren’t the ones crying in the back of a limo, embarrassing themselves on national TV.

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While my recovery was aided by the fact that I was strolling the streets of Paris eating copious amounts of unpasteurized cheese, it still took me a long time to get over that heartbreak. We didn’t bid on another house for nearly four months.

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I’d never have another shot at love. Er. I mean, a house.

There were of course, a couple of flings. We tried out some houses in completely different neighborhoods. Some with styles we hadn’t considered before. But these brief flirtations ultimately also ended in misery.

And then finally one day, nearly 10 months and 7 bidding wars after we began looking, our realtors sent us a listing they thought looked interesting. It was a fixer-upper, but in a good neighbourhood. I wasn’t enthralled by the photos, and even less so when I saw the house itself. It was an estate sale, and most of the house hadn’t been updated in decades. The front of the house had an unsightly facade, and the basement, which was a separate apartment, was downright murder-y.

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Our agents assured us that it was just a bit of an “ugly duckling”; with a bit of work, it could be a great house and a great investment.

I had serious reservations, but agreed to think it over. Clearly, the “type” we had been going for- the shiny, good-looking, charming houses- wasn’t working. Maybe we needed a shift in perspective?

So we went to look at it again, channeling our best Property Brothers to imagine what it COULD BE.

On a second look, we discovered that with some new floors, a fresh coat of paint and some new furniture, maybe this could be something.  To be sure, it wasn’t the house of our dreams, but the bones were good, the foundation was there, and it had the potential to last. We just needed to take the chance.

And then I realized that much like skydiving, rappelling down a building, or conquering your crippling fear of sharks, buying a house, too, is also lot like falling in love.

(Come on. Don’t you watch the Bachelor?? There is ALWAYS a love metaphor.)

On the day of offers, we decided to go for it. There was only one other bidder (which we tried not to take as a bad sign), and after two rounds of bidding, we FINALLY became homeowners.

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Alas, much like with the Bachelor, the final rose has proven to be only the beginning of our “journey.” With countless renovations and issues on the horizon, I can only hope our love story ends up more “Trista and Ryan” than “Lauren and Ben”

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Question of the day: What was it like when you bought your first home?

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Tour de Open Houses

Newly married and quickly outgrowing our single closet 500 square foot condo, my husband and I recently began looking for a house in Toronto.

Friends and family gently warned us that the real estate market in Toronto was “tough”, and that we may want to adjust our expectations. We listened politely, but remained firmly ensconced in our naïve, hopeful bubble: we had our expectations in check, thank you very much– a semi-detached was just fine. Plus, we had what we thought was a healthy budget.

We set up an initial meeting with a real estate agent, and over beers, peered down at a giant, dry erase map of downtown. She handed us a marker and suggested we circle the areas we were interested in. I drew careful circles around our dream list of preferred neighborhoods, reserving a heart for our favorite neighbourhood of all.

“So, the magic question”, she asked,”what is your budget?”

I relayed our amount confidently.

“Ok, so that rules out here” she said, proceeding to break my (literal and figurative) heart with the back of her hand. “You might be able to get a semi here,” “here, it’s not likely but we’ll give it a shot”.

“Don’t worry,” she reassured us, correctly reading the terror on my face, “we’ll find you something”. We left with a stack of pamphlets on home inspections, termites and standard terms and conditions, already convinced we couldn’t afford to live in Drake’s compost bin.

The next morning, we began receiving daily listings of houses in our selected areas. At first it was exciting; I would roll over in bed, pick up my phone and scour the listings like a little kid on Christmas morning. But quickly my enthusiasm began to fade.

“They want how much for this dilapidated shoe box?” I’d ask my husband, incredulously, “I think I see crime scene tape! Is that blood??”

Still, we soldiered on, and began what I call our weekly “Tour de Open Houses”

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that visiting open houses is basically an endurance sport. Each weekend morning began with making a list of 6-7 homes we wanted to check out. Some were on opposite ends of the city, and since we don’t have a car, to make them all within the 2-4pm open house window, we plotted our mission like a high stakes jewel heist.

Our initial strategy was to take the subway to the farthest destination, then physically run to the next house on the list. We soon realized that a) we are in horrible shape; and b) we were wasting precious time lacing up sneakers. Also, some of the agents didn’t take too kindly to us sweating all over their beautifully staged furniture.

So despite the frigid February weather, we switched to flip-flops (what’s a little frostbite if you find your dream home?) and Ubering between houses.  At one point we had our Uber driver wait outside each house in his cherry red Mazda 3 like a getaway car.

We had a checklist of must-haves (3 bedrooms, eat-in kitchen, parking, finished basement) and approached each house like a sting operation, scouring the rooms with maximum speed and efficiency.  At one point, my husband wanted to take a closer look at the shed in the backyard and I was like:

Of course, there were plenty of diversion tactics designed to lead us off course. Like when the agent at one open house was literally baking cookies. As soon as we walked in we were assaulted by the delicious smell. “Don’t fall for it- It’s a trick!” I hissed at my husband, who had already begun walking, zombie like, towards the plate of cookies on the counter. I grabbed his arm and pulled him back to me. “Can’t you see the smell is masking a tiny kitchen and already lifting floorboards?!”

I successfully sidestepped the wine and cheese at the next house (which for me was a MAJOR accomplishment), but ultimately succumbed to the fresh cannolis at the next (you guys, cannolis! From the bakery just down the street!).  We actually considered putting an offer on that place, until the fog of sugar and fat lifted and I realized it was directly across from a derelict gas station that appeared to be an illicit drug front operation.

Interpreting the adjectives realtors use is also like deciphering code.

  • “Cozy” = shoebox.
  • “Renovator’s Dream” = asbestos paradise.
  • “Recently updated” = cheap flip job where the doorknobs fall off in your hands.

I even saw one house described as “Artisinal”, which I thought was a term reserved for hipster restaurants and small-batch coffee producers.

We also learned to look past the cheesy staging furniture and decor, sidestepping the “Keep Calm and Carry On” pillows that assaulted our eyes at every turn. And we quickly got wise to the tricks designed to make the rooms look bigger- like the doll-sized furniture, and stripping all signs of life and clutter bare, absent a few, classic novels,  discarded casually on bedside tables as if to imply “You, too would read Tolstoy if you lived here”.

So, after nearly 6 months and almost 100 homes visited, where does all this hard-earned intel leave us?

Nowhere.

Although we have yet to achieve the pinnacle of home ownership, and are still engaging in a shoe turf war, at least we’ve narrowed down what we are looking for so much that we skip open houses and go directly to the source with our agent. Which, on the bright side, means I can now spend my Saturdays doing what’s really important: watching everything I PVR’d from the week and eating bottomless bowls of cereal.

Question of the Day: Have you bought a house? How was the process?

 

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30 Lessons On My 30th Birthday

It’s coming for me. Rearing around the bend like a freight train. I can’t run. I can’t hide.  All I can do is curl up in a ball and accept my fate of crows feet, fiscal responsibility and mythical two-day hangovers.

Tomorrow, I will be turning 30.

Ok- so maybe I’m overreacting a little bit. There are some good things about turning 30- like never having to wear cut-off jean shorts or attend a music festival again. Plus, I’ve picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way. Here, in no particular order, are 30 things I’ve learned in 30 years here on earth.

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1. Never trust anyone with bad eyebrows. NEVER.

2. No juice cleanse is ever worth it

3. You can’t change genetics. The body you’re born with is going to be the body you have to deal with for the rest of your life, +/- a few pounds…. No matter how many juice cleanses you (don’t) do

4. Speak up in meetings. Even if you think you have nothing to say, find something so people can hear your voice and know that you’re there

5. The 5 minutes between when you wake up and when that sweet, sweet caffeine hits your veins are invariably the worst of your day. Soldier through, and it can only get better.

6. Take the job/opportunity you feel unqualified for

7. Jennifer Anniston movies are always going to get approximately 37% on Rotten Tomatoes.

8. Being able to do your own winged eyeliner is a highly valuable and transferable life skill

9. Time spent watching The Bachelor is never time wasted

10. Listen to your mama about who you let into your life. She can always sniff out the bad seeds (and the good ones) long before you can.

11. Don’t worry if you suck at driving. Google is inventing self-driving cars by 2017 anyway. Along with hoverboards, automatic tooth flossers, and that machine that spits out food from the Jetsons.

12. Going to bed at 10pm is never a bad idea.

13. You CAN learn to love (or at least not loathe) exercise if you force yourself to do it enough

14.  If you realize you’re not smelling so hot on the way to a fancy event and the only thing around is a bottle of Febreeze, it will do as a makeshift deodorant (I may have just learned this last night.) Ain’t no shame in smelling like your aunt Marg’s spare bedroom.

15.  Wear sunscreen. Every day. Even in a snowstorm. Even when you’re sitting on your couch watching an Extreme Weight Loss marathon. Seriously. The sun is not your friend

16. Know your limits and when to say no. If you have a hard time with that, here are some GIFs you can use as inspiration:

 

 

17. Family is BAE. Even when they’re acting a fool and driving you crazy. Protect them always and never make excuses for them

18. Having thin hair is not a death sentence in this wonderful world of cheap and plentiful hair extensions

19. Sometimes you just gotta admit you’re the problem.

20. Don’t waste your time looking for the next best thing

21. You will have the frequent occasional Low Self-Esteem Tuesday. Drink a big glass of red wine, call a good friend and sleep it off.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

22. Patience is a virtue and one not many people possess. Having it will set you apart

23. Never let anyone see you sweat. Except at hot yoga cause ain’t no way you’re avoiding that

24. Embrace your quirkiness (I don’t know, maybe even start a blog about it)

25. Demand more for yourself. Kick anyone to the curb who isn’t giving you 150%

26. No one’s life is ever as good as it seems on Instagram

27. Being vulnerable once in a while is OK

28. Nutella makes everything better

29. Don’t be scared to take the occasional risk. Fortune favors the bold (although, mostly just rich people)

30. You can always find the humor in everyday life- you just need to look for it

Question of the day: Anything to add to my list? 

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Pumpkin French Toast with Caramelized Apples

At the risk of sounding completely basic, I will admit that I absolutely love pumpkin. Every year, when September rolls around, I’m like:

I even wrote a whole post devoted to all the different things you can do with leftover pumpkin.

This was not one of them but obviously should have been.

And since my other BAE is brunch

I thought why not marry the two?

What about….. PUMPKIN FRENCH TOAST!!

I decided to top it with some caramelized apples because I went apple picking in Caledon last weekend (and by “picking”, I mean stood around directing Colin to get all the high ones) and have about 30 left to use. Plus, isn’t the best way to enjoy fresh, seasonal fruit smothering it in butter and sugar?

For the caramelized apples I used a slightly modified version of this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butt-aaaah
  • 4 apples cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I used mostly MacIntosh. Some recipes say to peel them but I enjoy the skins)
  • 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until it begins to brown. Next, add apples, brown sugar and spices, stir to blend and sauté until tender (about 10 minutes).

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aww yeah

Now set aside that delicious noise and move on to the toast.

For the French Toast (makes about 8-9 pieces): 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond because I am a weight-conscious yuppie but you could use any variety)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix- use the real sh*t) 450
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp of Pumpkin pie Spice (recipe here)
  • 8 pieces of bread (I used day-old egg bread, similar to Challah)
  • Butter or margarine for the pan
  • Maple Syrup to top

First, pre-heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat (or griddle if ya nasty) and butter that sh*t. Combine the milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and Pumpkin Pie Spice in a bowl until well combined. Pour into a shallow dish.

Next, dip the bread into the egg mixture one piece at a time, coating both sides (Tip: use your hand to dip the bread. I initially tried to do it with a spatula and it was a hot mess). Transfer to the skillet and cook until golden brown on one side, then flip to the opposite side and cook until golden brown as well.

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Guys, this smelled SO GOOD. I had to hold myself back while cooking.

Once done, transfer to plate and top with caramelized apples. I also had some leftover toasted hazlenuts because I am basically Martha Stewart so I threw on a few of those as well.

Serve warm with real maple syrup. No Aunt Jemima bid-nass up in here. (I also made some turkey bacon on the side. If you close your eyes really hard it ALMOST tastes like regular bacon.)

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Voila! Oh MAN. Let me tell you,

The only thing missing?

Question of the day: What is your favorite breakfast food? 

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Be Our Guest

While I am by no means a natural “planner”, I like to think I’ve risen to the occasion on this whole “bride to be” thing. Over the past few months I have somehow overcome my paralyzing laziness and successfully managed to set a date, pick a venue, order a cake and even source the perfect, realistic looking human hair extensions (seriously guys, I look like a Real Housewife in them. In a good way).

I was beginning to feel confident- dare I say, even a tad cocky- in my wedding planning abilities –

Until we met with the event coordinator at our venue last week.

We were there for our food tasting, but as soon as I took the first bite of my grilled Cornish hen, she pulled out her clipboard and launched into a line of questioning.

“Have you thought about your seating arrangement? Colour of the chairs? What time will the cake cutting be? What about favors? What about a candy bar? Everyone is doing a candy bar these days. And how many speeches will there be and what is your social insurance number and can I please have your first-born child?”

I was like:

“And what about a guest book?” She added, not missing a beat “Have you thought about what you’ll do?”

“Of course!” I lied

“Because you know there are so many interesting things you can do these days besides just a regular old, boring book for people to sign. You should really do something that’s meaningful to you as a couple.” 

“Go check Pinterest,” she continued, “there are tons of ideas!”

I stumbled out of the venue like a survivor of a zombie apocalypse, visions of flowers and place cards and candy bars swirling in my head.

I spent the next couple of days in a haze of anxiety, stress eating my go-to bulk barn candy (aptly named “OMGs”). But one thing you should know about me is that I’m competitive as hell and never back down from a challenge. So I logged onto Pinterest. She wanted a unique wedding guest book? She was going to get a unique effing guest book.

I was immediately bombarded by hundreds of ideas- each more ridiculous and involved than the next. Was I really expected to compete in this world of extreme Bridal DIY? I thought I would share a few with you, just so you see what kind of intensity I’m up against.

1.”Encourage guests to sign small squares of fabric. After the wedding day, pay a local seamstress to fashion the squares into a sentimental quilt.”

2. “Hire a silhouette artist to come to your reception and create custom likenesses for all of your guests to be placed in a keepsake album.”

What,you don’t know a silhouette artist? I have one on speed dial, right between “Artisinal Moustache Wax Purveyor” and “Theremin Player/Reiki Healer.” Come to think of it, this is a great idea. I’ll set him up right between the build-your-own fixie bike station and the DIY taxidermy bar. Maybe I’ll even throw in a vintage ferris wheel and an organic candy apple dipping station! Adult coloring books are so 2015. 2016 is all about the adult wedding carnival!!

3. “Have guests sign decorative plates for a beautiful wall hanging for your new home!” 

                                             Plate Guest Book

4. Or how  about a wedding tablecloth?

“Ask guests to sign well wishes on a tablecloth you can use for festive occasions! Just be sure to buy a clear plastic cover since you won’t want to wash this baby often!”

5. Have your guests create a thumbprint work of art!

Ok, so this is actually kind of a cool idea and kudos to those brides who can make it work, but I have a feeling that instead of this splendid, beautiful peacock/hipster lovers with balloons:

I’d end up with this:

HELP!

Question of the Day: Any realistic guest book ideas for me? (MINIMAL EFFORT REQUIRED) 

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You’ve Changed

I was standing at the stove the other day, toasting some cumin over low heat (just long enough for it to become fragrant- not too dark), when I suddenly had an out-of-body experience. Who was this woman, patiently coaxing the flavors out of Indian spices on a Tuesday night? This woman who, 2 years ago,  would have been hard pressed to boil a pot of water, let alone cook an entire meal of food. 

I floated above myself, taking in the olive oil, chopped fresh parsley and other detritus of the World’s Most Involved Potato Salad strewn around me. Clearly, I was no longer resident in my own body- I had been possessed by the demon of The Pioneer Woman, doomed to make twice-baked potatoes and blackberry cobbler for the boys on the ranch until the cows came home.

But then I thought back on my other culinary exploits over the past few months- the dry-rubbed salmon; the homemade salsa, the ambitious (and indulgent) mini NutellaCheesecakes-

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Awww yeah

and I felt an unexpected surge of pride. Could it be that I have actually grown to like cooking?

This episode forced me to reflect back on some of the other changes I’ve made over the past few years. There’s the ironing. The regular yoga attendance. Somewhere along the way I miraculously developed an ability to drink in moderation. I’m engaged to be married. I even have a wedding website for god’s sakes. A WEDDING WEBSITE.

Shortly after coming to this realization, I was walking down Queen Street West, internally debating the merits of monogrammed cocktail napkins, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by this sign:

Immediately, a wave of shame washed over me.

It felt like a giant, accusatory finger pointing directly into my soul.

HOW DID  IT KNOW? Was the yuppie, grown-upness emanating from my pores really that pungent? Someone must have told it about that time I did a juice cleanse.

I’ll be honest, part of the reason I’ve been absent from blogging for so long is that I feel like I no longer fully identify with my former BreezyK persona. When I read back on old posts about crying into my poutine at 3am, I laugh (cause let’s face it, I was hilarious), but with a sort of detached objectivity. The girl who wrote those words no longer feels like me, but a lovable, misguided younger sister.. sort of like Cameron Diaz In Her Shoes. (Aughties movie reference anyone?).

And it’s partially a fear of being told by my readers and friends exactly what that billboard asserted that has kept me away.

“You’ve changed”. It’s a loaded statement. Rarely uttered in a positive tone, and often followed by a long, judgmental silence, it typically implies that the speaker liked the “old you” better.

Would people accept the new, wedding-planning, green-juice-drinking BreezyK? Or would they mourn the passing of my lonely, junk-food-binging single girl persona? Would they think of me as a hypocrite? a phony? Or, worst of all, basic? 

I cursed this stupid billboard, whose entire purpose seemed to be thrusting passersby into shameful spirals of self-reflection.

And then I had another thought: Maybe…. just maybe… I was projecting. Maybe this billboard wasn’t accusatory at all, but more of a silent high-five, congratulating you on finally getting your sh*t together.

Because to be honest, the old me kinda had some room for improvement. I started this blog when I was 25. 25! That’s like, Miley Cyrus + 2. Now that I’m staring down the barrel of 30, it would be slightly concerning if I was still unable to cook, clean, do laundry or pay any of my bills on time.

Sure more of my life is devoted to grown-up pursuits like doing hand-written thank you notes and seasonally rotating my closet, but deep down, I’m still the same old BreezyK. I still watch more reality TV than I’m proud of. I still deeply prefer books to human interaction. And god damn if I still don’t love me a good cat meme.

Hehe.

Maybe I’ve changed, but I think I’ve changed for the better. And the biggest part of me that still needs to change? The part that gives a sh*t what people think about it.

Question of the day: Has anyone ever told you you’ve changed? How did you feel?

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10 Things That Happen When You Get Engaged

A few months ago, I got engaged.

Exciting for sure, but also a little bit terrifying.

Because with my shiny new accessory, I was thrust into the weird and wonderful world of wedding planning – a veritable parallel universe where words like “charmeuse” and “pave” abound, and everything is made from precious unicorn hair and costs $10 thousand dollars.

For a girl who has spent more time envisioning her ideal rap name  than her dream wedding (“DJ Breezy Beatz”, in case you were interested), this was completely overwhelming.

So to save you from the same shock I experienced, here are 10 things that happened to me- and will very likely happen to you- after getting engaged.

1. You Will Have To Use The Word “Fiancé

2. You Will Join The Pinterest Army

Even if you’ve never considered joining the visual bookmarking site; even if- to borrow a phrase from Lena Dunham- you think you’re “not that kind of girl”, within weeks of getting engaged, chances are you’ll be pinning your little heart out- perusing photos of elaborate centerpieces and DIY crocheted ring pillows until your eyes cross. You will feel a new-found sense of social media validation every time someone follows your carefully curated “Rustic-Modern-Victorian-Tropical-East-Meets-West Wedding” board. You will question what this says about you, but you won’t be able to stop. Before you know it you will be down a rabbit hole of mason jar snow globes and  mini lights; seriously contemplating giving your guests live Maltipoo puppies as wedding favors.

RESIST the urge, ladies.

3. You Will Watch Wedding Shows with a new-found purpose and enthusiasm.

Because staying in on Friday night to watch Say Yes To The Dress is no longer sad.. it’s productive.  (Ok, it’s actually still just sad).

4. You Lean More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Flowers

If you’re a horticultural rookie like I was, prepare to be SCHOOLED in the art of wedding flowers. Hydrangeas, Calla Lillies, Amarylis, Briar Rose, Gladiolus, Sage Moonblood.

(Ok, so at least two of those are actually celebrity baby names. But god help you if you can guess which ones).

By the time you’re finished visiting with florists and decorators you will feel like you’ve received an unofficial Bachelor’s Degree in botany. And, incidentally, the perfect name for the protagonist in that Victorian Romance Novel you’ve been working on.

5. You Will Discover “The Wedding Premium”

The bridal industry is one giant racket. Like the world’s suckiest magic, whenever you attach the word “wedding” to a good or service, the price skyrockets 300%.  No matter your budget, chances are you’re probably going to blow through it. Hope you like eating Campbell’s soup for every meal!

6.  You Will Become an Expert At Telling Your Proposal Story

Like an unofficial ToastMasters class, getting engaged teaches you the art of telling the same damn story 17,000 times over- condensed, edited, and maybe even hyperbolized to its pithy, climactic perfection. Which is great, because for a while, it’s all you’ll want to talk about.

But  no matter how amazing your story is, you will eventually begin to feel a simultaneous sense of dread and validation every time someone asks you about it. It’s how I imagine Tony Bennett must feel every time he gets on stage with Lady Gaga.

7. You Will Realize How Horrible and Sexist Most Wedding Publications Are.

Guys, I’m convinced the target audience for wedding magazines is solely Aspiring Disney Princesses and contestants on The Bachelor.  

With their glossy-paged depictions of elaborate, $100,000 celebrations, and articles like: How to Lose 6 Pounds in 6 Days!” and “Choosing the perfect scent for your big day!“, these publications seem to suggest that if you’re not absolutely losing your sh*t about your wedding 24 hours a day and dreaming of giant Kim-and-Kanye-inspired flower walls, well then my friend, you’re doing it wrong.

This is totally reasonable, right?

8.  You Will Surrender All Privacy

Wearing a ring on your left hand is like an unofficial beacon that screams “Please, come ask me detailed questions about my personal life!” Before you know it you will be awkwardly navigating questions with near complete strangers about whether you’re going to change your last name, when you are planning to have kids, and- in the case of your Great Aunt Martha- if you’re nervous for the “big night”.

9. You’re Going to Think You Lost Your Ring… Like All The Time

76% of brides-to-be suffer from (<— made up statistic) Hyper Ring Awareness- a manic, irrational condition where you constantly check your left hand to make sure you haven’t somehow lost your ring (Spoiler Alert- You didn’t. You’re just crazy.)

10. You Will Feel A Compelling Desire To Use The Bride Emoji Gratuitously

Fight this compulsion at all costs.

Question of the Day: If you’re engaged -any tips?

Featured post

My Real-Life Elizabeth Taylor Moment

A couple of months ago, I turned 29. I didn’t make a big fuss about it because, who celebrates turning 29? It’s one year closer to 30 and, let’s be honest: 

 I figured I’d just pour myself a big glass of red wine, slather my face with anti-wrinkle cream and spend the day flipping through old Facebook photos, lamenting the dewy, uncorrupted skin of BreezyK past. 

My boyfriend however, had other plans for me.  He suggested we both take the day off work and hang out, which sounded good to me, because shameless self-pity isn’t really my best “office look”. 

I knew we had dinner reservations at 9pm, so I figured we would just kick until then. We were watching old SNL reruns when he turned to me and said “I have a surprise for you, but you have to pack an overnight bag”.

 “What is this, a Bachelor Fantasy Date?” I asked “Where are we going? And (more importantly) “how much time do I have to get ready?” 

 

“You’ll see” he said, “Just pack something to wear to dinner tonight, and some comfy clothes. We’re leaving in an hour”

Suspiciously, I began to pack. I am a notorious overpacker at the best of times, but with few parameters, this reached new extremes. I literally packed everything I own; including my passport (in case we were going to Paris), 6 pairs of socks (in case it got cold in Paris), and two different hair straighteners (in case one didn’t match the Parisian outlets).

“Whoa, it’s not like we’re going to Paris,” he said, correctly reading my crazy. “We’re staying at the Drake Hotel overnight.”

The Drake, if you’re not familiar, is a boutique hotel, restaurant, concert venue and general Toronto institution. I’ve been there many times to eat and drink, and have often said, “wouldn’t it be cool to stay here for a night?”

So I was really disappointed it wasn’t Paris pumped we were going there! (No really, I was. I don’t even look good in berets anyway.)

 Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so the concierge offered us complimentary cocktails at the hotel Bar. We sipped our Moscow mules and pretended we were fabulous people who regularly drink cocktails in hotel lobbies at 3pm.  

“Sorry for the wait,” said the concierge after we had finished, “we upgraded you to our nicest suite, and were just getting it ready. Looks like you have just enough time to change before your couples massage”.

Couples massage?

 

Our room had a very retro, mid-century modern feel with low light, teak wood furniture, and a big, sprawling chaise lounge. A bottle of champagne was chilling on ice. He must have mentioned it’s my birthday, I thought, adding two points to the mental tally I was already beginning to lose track of.

After our massages, he suggested we start getting ready for dinner early. “That way we’ll have time to drink champagne before we leave”, he said.

I was like,

 

He changed into his suit and I began the arduous process of getting ready. Two hours An hour later, with my smokey eye perfected, I emerged from the bathroom in my plush Drake Hotel monogrammed bathrobe. “I think I’m just going to wear this while we have our champagne,” I announced. “Then I can sit on that chaise in my robe and get lipstick on my champagne glass. It will be a very Elizabeth Taylor moment”.

Ok so she’s wearing a ball gown here. Whatever, you get the idea.

“Ok,” he responded, not missing a beat. After knowing me for nearly 5 years, he is used to my delusions of grandeur.

I sauntered over to the chaise lounge, folded my legs up under me in my best “White Diamonds Commercial” impression, and held out my champagne flute in front of me.

He smiled and poured us both a glass, raising his for a toast.

“Cheers,” he said, “I am so happy to be spending your birthday with you this year”.  

“Cheers!” I responded, clinking my glass against his and proceeding to down half of it in one fell swoop.

“Wait,” he said, “I’m not done yet”.

Something about the way he said it stopped me dead in my tracks. I slowly lowered the glass from my lips, dribblig the offending champagne back in. 

He reached behind the champagne bucket, and pulled out a jewelry box. Before I knew it, was down on one knee. He said a few sweet things, all of which I’m sure were carefully planned but now are a complete blur, before hitting the punchline:

“Will you marry me?” 

And how did I respond? Did I jump up and down? Cry beautiful, heartfelt, mascara-stained tears as Liz Taylor undoubtedly would have done? 

Nope.

I laughed.

And laughed.

And laughed. To say I was surprised was an understatement.  After about 30 seconds of solid giggling, I caught a glimpse of his face, which was registering pure terror, and I realized I still hadn’t actually SAID anything.

“Oh my god yes!!” I responded “Yes of course!! Sorry, it’s not funny, I’m just happy!”

 We decided to keep it just between us for the night, and to let our friends and families know the next morning. We went for a lovely dinner where we were so distracted by the enormity of what had just happened that we could hardly enjoy the delicious food. Just a note to newly engaged couples- TELL EVERYONE. Seriously, MILK that sh*t. We stupidly didn’t mention it until after our meal was over and had paid, and the chef literally ran out of the restaurant after us saying “Why didn’t you tell us! We would have given you free champagne and treats!”

 When we arrived back at the hotel, a long line was snaked outside of the Drake for their annual Halloween costume bash. We walked right to the front with our room card, and told the bouncer we were guests of the hotel. “Of course,” he said, lifting the velvet rope.

 “You know,” he said, once we were back in our room, “with our reservation, we have access to everything in the hotel, including the party. I think we should go- but we need some costumes.

 …….. Good thing I brought some!” to my utter disbelief, he pulled two costumes out of his seemingly endless bag of tricks- for him, a Mountie, for me, a Chef. (which was a relief, because I worried for a split second I was going to be The Pioneer Woman).

 Laughing, we switched into our costumes and made our way downstairs where we danced to 90’s hits and partied with kids too young to remember them. Although I had never imagined the night I got engaged to end like this, it was, strangely, perfect.

 So, in the end I guess I did get my Elizabeth Taylor moment-just not quite the way I had planned it.

meLiz

Question of the Day: Are you engaged? Tell me your proposal story!

Featured post

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2014

While my reading tally this year didn’t quite stack up to the 52 books I read in 2013, Intellectual Dachshund and I still managed to get through some 30-odd titles.

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This proved to be a much more manageable number, and one which actually allowed me to leave my apartment once in a while (whether I liked it or not.)

Also, can I just say that 2014 was officially the year of the female author? 7 out of 10 of these titles were written by unbelievably talented, smart, funny women.

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K I’m done now. On to my top 10 books!

1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

That is the question posed by Kate Atkinson in her wildly inventive novel Life After Life. Like a slightly heavier Groundhog Day, the book follows Ursula Todd as she lives- and re-lives- the events of the 20th century. From the opening paragraph, this book had me captivated and completely hooked. I had no idea what turn would come next, which kept me turning pages wee into the morning hours. More addictive than a Chopped marathon on the Food Network, I would highly recommend this for an exciting read. 

2.  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

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In this funny, ambitious novel, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, best friends and 12-year business partners, must save their beloved used vinyl shop Brokeland Records from the new “Dogpile Thang” music megastore opening two blocks away. It’s like a High Fidelity and Empire Records mash-up, with the end result becoming something new and original entirely.

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 3. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

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Way back in 2008, before Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize, she wrote The Rehearsal- a gripping little story (about 1/8 the length of the Illuminaries– a major reason why I chose to read it instead) set in the aftermath of a local scandal involving a young female student’s affair with her music teacher. Told from several different viewpoints in a non-linear plotline, I found this book inventive, captivatingly dark, and twisted. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.

 4. Us by David Nicholls

In Us, well-intentioned-yet oblivious scientist Douglas Petersen attempts to win back the hearts of Connie, his artist wife of 20 years, and the affection of his brooding, 17-year old son Albie, all against the backdrop of a family European vacation.

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I’m a big fan of David Nicholls, and loved his previous books Starter For Ten and One Day. I had high hopes for this one as well- but after reading several books this year about middle-aged marriages in crisis (see: The Vacationers, I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), I worried the theme might be a bit played out. Happily, this book differentiated itself for me with its clever plot twists and laugh-out-loud humor.  I expect this one to be adapted into a screenplay any day now. I’d cast Colin Firth as Douglas,  Rachel Weisz as Connie, and Ansel Elgort as Albie.

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See, don’t they look good together? I’m really in the wrong line of work.

5.  The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

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19-year-old twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay, offspring of Quebec folk singer, and notorious playboy, Etienne Tremblay, spent their childhood in the public eye. Now they are grown up and making their own mistakes on the streets of referendum-era Montreal – all of which ending up in the French Canadian tabloid Allo Police. It’s a slightly-offbeat coming-of-age tale with a hefty dose of family drama, and a side dish of Canadian politics.

6.  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

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I have a special place in my heart for this book, even though it is responsible for the one and only sunburn I received in 2014. (Seriously I’ve gotten much better on the tanning front since winning the nonexistent Miss Hawaiian Tropic competition in 2008). I could feel my shoulders getting redder in the mid-July sun, but my heart just wouldn’t let me put the damn book down. I didn’t want to stop reading about Nathaniel, the self-absorbed future literary star, with a similar penchant for breaking hearts.  This is also maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read told from a reverse gender perspective. I found it amazing the way Adelle Waldman really got into the mind of a man and wrote Nathaniel so convincingly. Seriously worth a read.  (And if you don’t believe me- according to her Instagram, Kate Hudson liked it too.)

7. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

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Part memoir, part coming-of-age story, part love letter to New York City, My Salinger Year  tells the story of Joanna Rakoff as a starry-eyed twenty-three-year-old who moves to New York with the dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she winds up in a crappy Williamsburg apartment with a crappy boyfriend and a crappy job as assistant to the literary agent for J.D. Salinger. Her task? To answer Salinger’s endless pile of fan-mail with a stock response. At first mind-numbingly boring, she soon becomes engrossed by the letters, inspired to craft her own replies.  As they say in the publishing world- it’s a “small story” , but it’s got a lot of heart, and is a great, light, entertaining read.

8. Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler 

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Fed up with the way his life has been portrayed by others, and in the media, thrice-married, aging TV producer Barney Panofsky decides to set the record straight by writing his own memoirs.  Rich in themes- including life, love, family, friendship and aging- I thought it was excellent. Romantic, captivating, hilarious, and uniquely Canadian, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Confession: I kind of want to be best friends with Amy Poehler. And if you don’t already, you will too after reading her hilarious book Yes Please. A hodge – podge of personal essays, life advice, Bossypants-esque memoirs from her time on SNL and Parts and Recreation  and straight-up randomness, it will both endear you to her, and leave you laughing uncontrollably. Do yourself a favor and read this one.

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10. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

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This short story collection by indie darling Miranda July (she also wrote and starred in a movie Roger Ebert cited as one of the best films of the decade) is weird, captivating, and slightly disturbing. Any summary I would give wouldn’t do it justice- so check it out if you’re in for a very different read.

Other Books I read in 2014 (In no particular order):

  • Office Girl -Joe Meno
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tart
  • Fangirl– Rainbow Rowell
  • Listen to the Sqwaking Chicken– Elaine Lui
  • Transatlantic– Collum McCann
  • One more thing – BJ Novak
  • Run Rabbit– John Updike
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- John Berendt 
  • Not That Kind of Girl -Lena Dunham
  • The Vacationers – Emma Straub
  • I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You – Courtney Maum
  • American Pastoral- Phillip Roth
  • No Relation -Terry Fallis
  • Dear Leaves: I Miss You All – Sarah Heinonen
  • Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers– Mike Sacks

Question of the day: What was the best book you read in 2014?

Featured post

Brow So Hard

You may recall that a while back, I was the victim of a horrific crime against brow-manity.

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You can read all about it here, but in case you find that too traumatizing, here’s the cole’s notes version: some b*tch named Tina at The World’s Worst Salon waxed half my eyebrows off and burned me like a blank CD.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

Anyhoo, it’s been nearly four months since that fateful day, and with the help of countless dollars’ worth of miracle growth products a little patience, regular exfoliating and nightly prayers to Saint Jude, the Patron Saint of Lost Causes, my eyebrows are FINALLY starting to grow back.  

The only problem is, now that I’ve been burned once before (quite literally), I’m a bit gun-shy. I’ve been scared sh*tless to let anyone else touch my brows lest I suffer the same fate.

And let me tell you- four months of regrowth ain’t pretty. My brows began to slowly take over my face like misshapen, wayward caterpillars.

When she heard my harrowing tale of woe, a friend recommended that I check out the Brow House in Yorkville, a salon dedicated exclusively to eyebrow maintenance in Toronto’s most chi-chi neighbourhood.

“They put me on a ‘brow plan’,” she told me “I love my eyebrows now”.

A brow plan? Well if that isn’t exactly the type of ridiculous, first world sh*t I live for, then I don’t know what is.  Sign me up!

I booked a “consultation” on Saturday afternoon, right between my hair and nail appointments (the struggle is real), and spent the rest of the week with visions of full brows dancing in my head.

The salon is tucked-away in a brownstone walk-up on a quiet Yorkville street. Inside, it is is minimalist and chic: all white with a few, well-spaced red salon chairs, mirrors, and a coffee table stacked with aspirational lifestyle magazines.

I was introduced to my “brow artist”, Natalia.

“How can I help you today?” she asked.

I proceeded to recount my traumatic experience.  “That is horrifying” she said, taking my hand and looking in my eyes seriously. “I am so sorry you have gone through that. You have come to the right place. ”

She proceeded to explain that, despite their current Anthony Davis status, my brows were actually in OK shape.  She drew a line on my face to show me where my brows should be, and said that for the most part, they were growing back nicely. After a couple more months, my arches would be good as new.

As she waxed away the stray hairs, she told me about the Brow House philosophy. “We take a lot of factors into consideration when providing a brow recommendation,” she explained, “your hair texture, color, face shape. If you have a round face, you will need longer, more arched brows to balance it out. For a longer face, we recommend flat brows with a low arch”.

I nodded enthusiastically, amazed by this brave new world of brow theory.

Like me, the ladies at the Brow House are firm believers in the “full brow lifestyle”.

“Have you ever considered getting a tint?” she asked. “That way you won’t have to fill them in every day?”

I was skeptical. What if I looked like one of those old ladies who colored in her eyebrows with a Maybeline eyeliner?

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“No no, it will be subtle” she promised. Reluctantly, I consented, and held my breath as she coloured in my brows with a miniscule paint pot.

The result was, just as she had promised, natural and awesome.

“I feel like a whole new person!” I squealed, taking in my (arguably incrementally) changed appearance in the mirror.

I paid my bill (yikes) and booked another appointment in four weeks. Hook, line and sinker.

Exhibit A: Awkward After Pic I made Colin take of me in front of the microwave.

 

The price of beauty apparently knows no bounds, but god damn if I just bought me some good lookin’ brows.

Question of the Day:  What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for beauty?

Featured post

How To Make The Perfect Grilled Cheese

The ironic thing about my last post (get it? IRON-ic??) was that the majority of you seemed to just breeze right past my laudable domestic accomplishment, and instead focus solely on the photo of the delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

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I can’t say I blame you.

In fact, I was actually pumped you guys asked, since this particular sandwich involved serious time, effort, and months (yes MONTHS) of planning.

Let me start by saying that those of you who found my last post “too domestic” might want to turn back now. Also, this is not your typical, Kraft Singles noise, so you grilled cheese purists also might want to sit this one out.

But if you’ve got an adventurous palate and like eating delicious things, then read on to see how it’s done.

And when it’s finished, I PROMISE you will say:

 

1. The Bread

We used a nice sourdough from BlackBird Baking Co. in Kensington Market here in Toronto:

but  you can really use any artisinal or store-bought variety you want, provided that:

  1.  it’s not too holey (you don’t want to lose any of that sweet, cheesy nectar); and
  2. you don’t slice it too thick (otherwise the cheese won’t melt. Duh)

2. The Cheese

There are times in life when one should exercise restraint. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Feel free to pile on as much cheese as humanly possible. We used a combination of old cheddar, and habanero havarti.

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I briefly considered adding a third cheese, but then I thought

Each cheese needs its moment in the sun. (And by that I mean, in my mouth)

3. The Bacon

Oh yah. I went there.

We fried up some applewood smoked bacon for a little extra flavour and it was DELICIOUS.

4. The Tomatoes

In a rather unconventional move, we added roasted tomatoes to the mix.

We made these guys a while back using a recipe similar to this one,  using beefeater tomatoes from the farmer’s market. After roasting them for 5(!!) hours, were planning to preserve them in olive oil, until we heard that can cause botulism

so we froze them instead.

If this roasting tomato business seems way more effort than it’s worth (trust me, I had that thought too)  then you could always use store-bought sun-dried tomatoes instead.

5. The Spread

We used fresh pesto from Saint Lawrence Market, but again, you could also use store-bought. I honestly never met a pesto I didn’t like.

6. The Assembly

Heat up a heavy pan (we used a cast iron skillet) with a bit of oil. When that’s ready, take the bottom slice of each sandwich, and spread generously with butter (if you’ve made it this far, you’ve given up on being heart-healthy long ago). Set the bread butter-side down on the pan until it is evenly browned.

Make sure you watch carefully. We had a few casualties on this step.

Next, load up the cheese tomatoes, and bacon. We took another unconventional step here and broiled cheesy bread in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

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One the cheese begins to melt, remove from toaster oven.

Then, take the top slices of bread, and spread generously with butter on one side, and pesto on the other. Place butter-side down on the pan.

Once browned, flip over and place pesto-side down on top the sandwich.

Press down gently, and behold the delicious ooey gooey goodness.

If you really wanted to, you could probably do another flip of the whole sandwich on the pan- but ours were melty and delicious enough already.

So There you have it- a deconstructed, pesto and roasted tomato grilled-cheese on artisinal sourdough.

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Can you tell I’ve been watching too much Food Network lately?

We paired ours with tomato basil soup (I can’t remember the brand but we bought it at Loblaws) and some pickles and olives on the side. Perfection.

Like this aerial shot? Ive got mad photog skillz
Like this blurry aerial shot? I should totally be a full-time food blogger

 

Now, for once on my blog I can finally say- you guys should ABSOLUTELY try this one at home. And make one for me too while you’re at it.

Question of the Day: What are your tips for the perfect grilled cheese?

Featured post

A Million and One Things To Do With Leftover Pumpkin

I was deep in the middle of my Saturday morning routine (painting my nails and watching PRV’d weight loss shows), when my boyfriend announced he wanted to make pumpkin muffins.

“Great!”I said, “Love pumpkin muffins!”

“Want to help?” he asked

My immediate reaction was:

 

…but, in an effort to be more domestic, I decided to bite the bullet. Plus, he has  been watching a lot of Pioneer Woman lately, and I’m starting to develop a bit of a complex.

Damnit, Ree Drummond! Stop making the rest of us look bad!

“Sure” I responded, Tis the season right?

Since canned pumpkin just “wouldn’t do”, step 1 was  heading to the market to pick up an actual, real-life pumpkin. There, I entertained myself by taking autumnal instagrams

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while my boyfriend agonized over the perfect gourd. Since they were all $2, we ended up walking away with the biggest pumpkin we could find. Literally, it was like, country fair-winning, radioactive isotope variety.

It could happen.

With the help of a wheelbarrow, some patience, and a LOT of complaining on my part, we eventually got the beast home and set about de-gutting the thing.

“You want to do the honors?” he asked me

In my head, I was like:

But deep down I knew that the Pioneer Woman wouldn’t be afraid of a few pumpkin guts. She’d get her strong, ranch hands in there and tear those guts out with her award-winning southern smile. So, I got myself a rubber glove, and was like:

Suffice to say, it was not pretty- but in the end, we got the thing cleaned out, and used the pumpkin flesh to whip up these delicious muffins:

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Only problem was, even after making the muffins, we still had about 98% of the mutant pumpkin left.

“So, what are we going to do with the rest?” he asked “We can’t just throw it out”

Both my patience and will to live were severely compromised at this point, but instead of getting down, I thought to myself: WWRDD – What Would Ree Drummond Do?  B*tch would get in there and whip up some more delicious pumpkin specialties.

“Of course we won’t throw it out!” I choked, “let me Google some ideas!”

I found a website devoted to “50 things you can do with leftover pumpkin” and my mind was literally blown. Up until that point, my experience with pumpkin was  limited to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and the occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte, if I was feeling frisky. This website had everything from pumpkin risotto, to pumpkin flavored margaritas.

I found a recipe for lamb and pumpkin stew that sounded delicious, and decided to attempt it. Guess what? It turned out AMAZING.

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Next, I roasted the pumpkin seeds with some olive oil, smoked paprika and cumin:

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But despite these two further recipes, we had still barely made a dent in the pumpkin. I knew I had to take drastic measures, so I decided to roast the remaining pumpkin and make pumpkin puree.

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At this point, I was starting to get really into it.  I had become obsessed with using every last inch of the pumpkin – even the peel. My boyfriend looked at me with shock and awe as I peeled off the skin of the roasted pumpkin for later use.

“It’s for facials,”  I said, “Did you know pumpkin is amazing for your skin?”

“I think I’ve created a monster,” he replied.

With the pumpkin sufficiently disposed of, the only question remaining was: what to do with all of this damn pumpkin puree?

Um.. smoothies obviously!

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I started with this pumpkin pie smoothie recipe and it was damn delicious.

Ree Drummond better recognize!!
Ree Drummond better recognize!!

Things were going so well, I decided to try another smoothie- this time a “Green” variety. This one included pumpkin, spinach, frozen banana and almond milk.

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Uhhhh… guys- do not try this one at  home.

When I told my best friend about all of this, she couldn’t believe my domestic prowess, and challenged me to use the leftover pumpkin for her birthday cake.

Even though I had never baked a cake in my entire life , I’m not one to back down from a challenge- so I got my apron on and set to work.

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I won’t lie that the process was a little touch and go….

 

But with a LOT of help from my boyfriend, we did it:

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A three-tiered, pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting:

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The cake was a big hit at the party (mostly because I forced everyone to eat it while repeatedly yelling “Can you believe it?? I MADE that sh*t!!” in their faces) – and thankfully I have used up most of the remaining pumpkin (I was seriously starting to worry I was going to turn orange there for a while).

Do I have a future in food blogging? Probably not- but I’d still like to think I could give the Pioneer Woman a run for her money.

Question of the Day: What is the most ambitious thing you’ve ever cooked?

Featured post

Throwback Thursday: 10 Childhood Comfort Foods

I had a revelation the other day.

I was sitting at my desk, eating an overpriced kale salad and freshly pressed cucumber pineapple juice, when it hit me: somewhere, along the way, I became a healthy eater.

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This wasn’t always the case.  In fact, for the majority my life, my eating habits were less “disgustingly yuppie” and more “downright disgusting”. I spent my first 23 years  eating any junk I could get my hands on, and consequently, suffering the consequences. While I was never exactly “fat”, I was definitely what you’d consider “big-boned” as a kid.  There were times  I even tipped the scales towards “chubster” or “pleasantly plump”. Let’s just say I related a lot to the book Blubber by Judy Blume, and leave it at that.

In my defence, I grew up in the 1990’s – the golden age of convenience food. Back before zealots like Michael Pollan came along with their “Eat Mostly Plants” ideologies, we all remained blissfully unaware (or at least willfully blind) to the dangers of  trans fats, aspartame and preservatives. Yes, we were free to sprinkle splenda into our coffee and to squeeze packets of sugary icing onto our toasters strudels with abandon!

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M-hmmmm Poppin’ Fresh!

And boy, did I ever. While I’ve cleaned up my act a lot since then (save for Nutella and Pinot Grigio, the saucy temptresses), every so often I can’t help but crave the delicious, processed goodness of my youth. Here were just a few of my favourite childhood comfort foods:

Pop Tarts 

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For a blissful two years in junior high, I religiously ate two S’mores flavored pop tarts and a tall glass of 2% milk every morning. That’s what they call a “balanced breakfast”, right?

Pizza Pockets

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Canadian readers will undoubtedly remember the epic pizza pocket rivalry: Pillsbury vs. McCain’s. While there has always been room in my heart for both, supporters of each were fervent in their camps. The battle culminated in a 1990’s ad campaign where each pocket was thrown against a wall and measured for maximum splatterability.

Gross? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

Lunchables 

When I was in grade 3, I  started  taking ukulele lessons at school. The best part about it (besides getting to play the ukulele… LIKE A BOSS) was staying at school for lunch. Usually this was just PB&J; but every so often, my mom would pack a Lunchable- the perfect trifecta of cheese, crackers, and some sort of mystery meat which I now know to be disgusting, but was like crack cocaine to me at the time.

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My love affair with Lunchables lasted right up until grade 11, when during a nutrition class, a guest speaker took out a Lunchable she had kept in the trunk of her car for over 3 years, and it was still in PRISTINE condition due to all the preservatives.

I wish I could say I swore off Lunchables forever after this, but alas- I will never fully resist the pull of their sodium-nitrate laden deliciousness.

Snack Cakes

The Canadian answer to Twinkies and Little Debbies, Vachon cakes were my jam as a kid. Passion flakies, Joe Louis. May Wests- so long as it was stuffed with delicious cream filling, I was on board.


Vachon cakes
Sugary Cereals

Ah cereal- my ultimate Achilles heel. I even wrote a whole post dedicated to my love for the sugary, carby goodness.

Homies

My go-to choices as a kid were Reese Peanut Butter Puffs and Lucky Charms. Sometimes, my mom would lay the smack down and force me to eat regular (non-frosted) corn flakes – to which I would respond by pouring sugar all over them to add sweetness.

Me at breakfast

I am crying into my bowl of organic quinoa muesli as we speak.

Dunkaroos

I mean, if there is a better mid-day snack for children than sugary, Kangaroo-shaped cookies dipped into pure sugar icing, then I certainly haven’t found it.

dunkar

Gushers

Unless it’s these guys.

gusher

These hexagonal delights detonated a wonderful blast of high fructose corn syrup “fruit juice” with each bite. My only complaint? There were never enough in the package.

Hot Dogs

My love affair with hot dogs ran deep. I can’t even tell you the number of days I spent at my window, longing for the Oscar Meyer truck to make its way down my street.

weinermobile

Alas- it never found its way to small town Nova Scotia, but that didn’t prevent me from eating hot dogs  nearly every day anyway. I would literally eat them any possible way- barbequed, boiled, MICROWAVED.

I know, I’m not proud of it either.

As an aside, does anyone else remember this unfortunate, coloured ketchup incident?

Ugh.

Kraft Dinner

Perhaps the most Canadian of comfort foods, I essentially survived my first two years of undergrad on this day-glo orange pasta alone (no ketchup, of course)

 

KD

uhhh. yeah.

Fun Dips

fundip

This childhood snack was literally 100% pure sugar. Eaten with a stick made of hardened sugar. Beautiful.

Question of the Day: What were your favourite childhood comfort foods?

Featured post

10 Great Things About Fall (Besides Pumpkin Spice Lattes)

Fall is right around the corner, and you know what that means: crisp weather, colorful foliage, and a barrage of pumpkin-spice themed posts in your newsfeeed.

Source: http://www.someecards.com

I mean, don’t get me wrong- I love a good PSL myself, but there are so many other great things about fall that don’t get nearly the airtime they deserve. Like:

1. No more excessive sweating 

If, like me, you spent the entire summer rocking a solid 10 on the Whitney scale,

then you will undoubtedly be pumped about the cooler weather. No more sweltering subway rides, no more giant pit stains by the time you get to work, no more looking at your hairdryer with murderous intent .

Aaaah.

http://www.shemazing.net

2. Goodbye crop tops and jean shorts, hello layers

and, on a related note:

3. Swimsuit season is officially over

Celebrate with all the pumpkin flavored deliciousness you want because  you’ve got almost a full year before anyone has to see your ass in a bathing suit again.

4. Thigh chafing is a thing of the past

Put away the body glide, ladies and slip yourself into some nice, comfy leggings- because thigh chafing summer dress season is o-vaa.

5. You won’t have to listen to this song on the radio 24/7 anymore

(…..at least until next summer)

6. People will finally stop asking you to go camping

Source: giphy.com

7. Your Instagram feed will contain way less of this:

….not that I follow Justin Bieber or anything

8. Good TV is back

……goodbye outside world.

Source: indiepepper.com

 9. No more constant crowds

No more wading through intense crowds everywhere you go and trying in vain not to photobomb shots of the CN tower.

…and finally:

10.  Stay home guilt-free

No need to feel guilty about missing beautiful days outside anymore- feel free to binge-watching  Netflix and stay home alone to your heart’s content.

Question of the Day: What are you most looking forward to about fall?

Featured post

The Complete Guide To Running Into People

We’ve all been there: that awkward moment when you run into someone you know, and aren’t sure whether to stop and say hi.

Your good manners tell you to make small talk, but all you really want to do is run the other way.

This happened to me just the other day. I was walking with my friend when I spotted a guy I knew from university. He was running, presumably with his girlfriend, which I thought meant I was off the hook. I know from experience that it’s virtually impossible to carry on a conversation while running-  just ask those Amnesty International kids that try to engage my panting, tomato-face.

But man, was I mistaken. Homeboy acted like seeing me was the highlight of his freaking day (let’s be honest- it probably was). He waved enthusiastically, and attempted to engage me while jogging on the spot. I didn’t really feel like catching him up on the past 8 years of my life, but then again, I didn’t want to be rude. So I slowed down into a sort of backwards half-walk, and after about 20 seconds, gesticulated that I needed to run. I even made the universal “let’s grab a drink soon!” sign.

Like a bad date, the entire experience left me feeling overstimulated, yet also unfulfilled. It occurred to me then that what the world really needs are a set of universal guidelines for situations like these. Maybe, dare I say, a FLOWCHART?

Say no more!

flowchart

The flowchart I’ve created relies on a number of foundational principles which inform each decision to engage in conversation. These include:

  1. Sexual History (do you know this person in the biblical sense?)
  2. Closeness of Relationship (“How tight are y’all?”)
  3. Location of the Interaction (“Is there time to flee?”)
  4. The likelihood this person will tell others and make you look bad if you ignore them (“Is this person a snitch?”)

Based on your answers to these questions, there are five potential outcomes:

  1. “Don’t even stress” – go on your merry way, no need to acknowledge this person whatsoever
  2.  “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That” – Make a U-turn and run the other way. NOW.
  3. “Holla At Your Girl” – engage this person in conversation unless you are a complete a$$hole.
  4. “Smile, Wave, and Keep On Walking” – nuff said.
  5. “Say hi, then make up an excuse to leave”

This last one  is the most complicated. While it may sound easy, making up an excuse on the spot can often be difficult and rife with potential awkwardness.

Never fear- there’s an app for that!

Fake Conver  is a free app that allows you to receive fake calls to your iPhone with the quick touch of a button. You can also choose from a library of excuses in advance- just answer your phone and repeat what the recording says.

Genius.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Or if avoiding people all together is more your style, there’s also Cloak, the self-described “anti-social network” that uses the GPS on your Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter feeds to show you where all your friends are on the map  so you can avoid them completely.

iPhone Screenshot 1

 

And, if all else fails, there’s always this face:

Question of the Day: What is your strategy for running into people?

Featured post

Tales of a Fifth Grade Weirdo

My niece Lola starts grade 5 next week, which is crazy, because last time I checked, she was like 2.5 and scarily obsessed with baby dolls.

Now it’s all iPod app this, One Direction that.

I remember my first day of grade 5 like it was yesterday.  It was 1996, and in keeping with the fashion of the times, I sported a shiny new pair of black Doc Martens, a red and black plaid jumper, and, in flagrant disregard of my baby weight, a black turtleneck crop top I stole from my 25-year-old sister.

Rounding out the look was a god-awful scrunchie in the style set out below,

Side note: is this look actually back in again?

And a hideous backpack covered in un-funny comic strips. Obviously, this was not my choice. In fact, so badly did I want a pink and white Jansport, I staged a full-on meltdown in the back-to-school aisle of Eaton’s, the ill-fated Canadian retailer.

A no-nonsense kind of woman to her very core, my mother showed no remorse, placing the atrocity at the cash alongside a fresh package of slouchy socks.

At the age of 10, I was, to put it mildly, at an “Awkward Stage”. I was prepubescent, mildly overweight, and extremely clumsy, but somehow blissfully unaware of all of this. Despite rendering me complicit in more than one crime against fashion, my mom still managed to somehow instill in me a sense of unwavering- albeit false- confidence. I was led to believe that no one was better than me at anything- even Taekwondo (everyone was better than me at Taekwondo. If there was a demotion from white belt, I would have gotten it.)

Although I am continuing to deal with the repercussions of my inflated childhood ego (wait- not everybody loves me?), I am still thankful to her for this.

In defiance of all laws of the universe, I was also extremely pumped about going back to school. This is understandable though, because I was a weirdo.

As a young child, I was so excited to go to school that I would pace back and forth at the end of the driveway and wait for the bus to come at least 40 minutes before its designated arrival time. I maintained this silent bus vigil even in the dead of Canadian winter- hands wrapped in double-layer gloves, face obscured by cat-eared balaclava.

 

Like this- but slightly less terrifying.

After concerned calls from the neighbors (“are you sure there’s nothing wrong with her, dear?”) my mother pleaded with me to stay inside, assuring me that I wouldn’t miss the bus; but I wasn’t having any of it. I’d heard the Kriss-Kross song. I wasn’t taking any chances.

Source: MTV.com Getty Images

This year was no different. At the end of July, I began collecting flyers from various stores and cross-referencing them against my ever-growing list of school supplies. By early August, I had completed an itemized list, by location, of where to find the best deals on each item. I presented this list to my mother, expecting her to be pleased with my due diligence, but instead she simply shook her head sadly and poured herself another cup of coffee.

After two weeks of  my constant haranguing, we finally went shopping, and I spent a full day alone in my room, proudly labeling my multi-coloured duotangs, Five Star binders and purple LeKit.

 

It appears that my niece has somehow inherited this trait from me, as last week I received these pictures of her proudly holding up her new school supplies.

Lo1 lo2

*Tear*

Never before have I been so proud!

Question of the Day: Were you excited to go back to school?

 

 Daily Prompt:  August Blues– As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?

Featured post

Love In The Time Of Shoe Racks

I  moved in with my boyfriend recently, and for the most part, it’s been great. Not only have the number of nights I’ve spent watching Teen Mom and crying into my Haagen Dazs drastically decreased, he’s also teaching me how to be more of a real-life adult. He cooks, he cleans, he flosses…. he even uses that fancy glass Tupperware that only grown-up people use.

I know, back off ladies.

Cohabiting in a 500 square foot space has not been, however, without its challenges. There was that time, for example, when I used the “special TV cloth” to wipe down the counters (SHAME). Or his continued refusal to accept the fact that books are like my children; they cannot simply be “given away”.

The biggest issue hands down, however, has been storage. Specifically, our shoes. As per my birthright as a female, I’ve got a lot of them. Surprisingly, he’s got even more (I try not to be too concerned about this). In an effort to get ahead of this problem and save our neighbors from experiencing the wrath of a full-on domestic, we purchased this over-the-door shoe rack from Bed Bath and Beyond.

The installation couldn’t have been easier- we hung the rack over the door, loaded all of our shoes on it, and did a little high five/victory dance.

We were feeling pretty smug- until we realized the fatal flaw in our design. The rack was not fully secured to door, which meant that every time we opened and closed it, one or more shoes would fall out onto the floor- or worse, our waiting heads. After a solid two days of being pelted by rogue Nikes, we were both beginning to see stars – Sylvester and Tweety styles.

Obviously we needed a solution.

Luckily, we discovered some tiny holes where you could insert screws to secure the rack to the door, so my boyfriend immediately ran out to the hardware store to pick some up. (He literally ran. To Canadian Tire.  Between periods of a Montreal Canadiens game. This story would only be more Canadian if he’d snowshoed there.)

He came home, sweaty but determined, only to realize the screws he had purchased were too big. Dejected, he settled in to watch Coach’s Corner, vowing to tackle the problem the next day.

Since I’m generally content to let household chores linger, I thought little of it, carefully sidestepping the pile of shoes on the ground, telling myself he would take care of it. I even used the discarded shoes as inspiration for this impromptu photo shoot of my Nikes.

photo

But then, I received this fateful e-mail:

Hey babe I’m pretty sure Canadian Tire won’t have the screws we need. Any chance you could  hit up Home Depot on the way home? It closes at 7. You know what we need – a really narrow screw that’s long enough go through the plastic space and into the door. No worries obviously if you can’t swing it.

I took a long, hard look at the the screen. A hardware store? He wanted me, to go to a hardware store? Well, I guess this is my life now, I thought. Home Depot. Shoe racks. Maybe we’ll hit up Bed Bath and Beyond this weekend.  Have a nice little Saturday.

The last time I had been in a hardware store was in grade 6, and I have been trying to repress it ever since. My parents were building a new house and insisted on dragging my ass around for every piece of the torturous process. I remember sneaking off to a quiet corner in the light fixtures department to read my book, while my mom and dad debated extensively between two identical pieces of crown moulding in the background.

Needless to say, I was less than thrilled about the idea of returning.

Since I was late leaving work, Home Depot was already closed- so I googled around and found another independent hardware store in the area that kept late hours. Let’s just call it “Studleys”.

The bell jingled as I walked in the door, and I was immediately overwhelmed by the labrynthian aisles and 10 foot high ceilings- each filled with implements I couldn’t identify if my life depended on it. I worried I’d missed a turn and somehow ended up in Diagon Alley (<— lame Harry Potter reference).I jiggled a few screwdrivers, just to make sure they weren’t trap doors.

“Can I help you?”  asked a skinny, 40-ish man with serial killer glasses and a non-ironic moustache. He wore high-waisted pants and a polo shirt; and bore a striking resemblance to Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, only slightly creepier.

“Oh, I was just looking for some screws” I replied, instantly regretting the “that’s what she said” opportunity. Kip remained unphased. “What kind of screws are we talking?” he asked.

He listened intently as I explained my problem, stroking his chin, and lisping “Yes, Yesss” at random intervals.

Hollow door. Miniscule screws. I could tell from his furrowed brow we had a real doozy on our hands here.

“Well, I do have these small screws, but you probably won’t have the right screwdriver for them.” he mused,  furrowing his brow even deeper. Actually,” he said, a proverbial light bulb going off above his head, “What about double sided tape? Have you tried that?”

“No,” I said, surprised, “You think that would work?”

“Oh sure,” he said, “That stuff is like superglue. We have some here I can sell you”

“No, that’s ok,I uh…. have some at home,” I replied,  failing to mention that it was the “Hollywood” variety, used it to guard against “wardrobe malfunctions”.

“Thanks so much!” I exclaimed “You’ve really been a big help”

“No problem,” he said, interlacing his fingers behind his head and leaning back on his heels. “I just love problem solving, you know? That’s kind of my thing. I just want to help people.” I noticed that Kip was moving precariously close to my personal space zone.

“Yeah….ok” I replied awkwardly, backing out of the store. “Well, thanks again!”

I walked home feeling satisfied with myself. Not only had I successfully entered a hardware store, I had also found a cheap and easy solution. With the exception of eavesdropping on my neighbours, never before had I invested so much energy in a domestic project.

I put my boyfriend to work as soon as he got home, double-sided taping the hell out of that thing. Kip had advised us to let the tape cure overnight, and we awoke the next morning like two kids on Christmas- anxious to check if our experiment worked. We jiggled it a little, and it seemed solid.

Cue second high-fiving sequence.

Double sided tape! It was so simple! WHY had we not thought of this before! Thank you, Kip!

Back went all of our shoes, and for a few days, everything worked fine.

………….Until it didn’t.

Slowly the  illustrious tape began to give way, releasing its tenous hold on our footwear. Soon I was seeing stars again, and found myself defeated, standing amongst a pile of discarded pumps, sandals and golf shoes.

In a curious case of life imitating art, mine was beginning to resemble a prolonged scene from the movie “GroundHog Day”.

Damn you Kip and your “problem solving!”

I began to worry that this delinquent shoe rack was some sort of cautionary metaphor for our relationship. Were we, too, destined to fail? To come unglued, to fall apart, no matter what we tried?

No, I decided. I am not going to go down that easy.

So I marched my ass back to Studley’s- this time with a purpose. I blew through the door, past the walls of unfamiliar tools, and slammed my roll of Hollywood tape down on the counter.

“This? I asked? THIS was your solution?”

“I….I don’t know what that is?” replied Kip, staring confused at the roll of pink and purple adhesive.

“Uh, double sided tape?” I spat “your big solution to my shoe rack problem? Well, it didn’t work at all, and now I’m back to square one. How you gonna solve this one, problem solver?”

Kip looked taken aback. It had probably been some time since he had seen this much female aggression inside the walls of Studley’s. A part of me felt badly; but in my mind, he and his dusty little shop of horrors had become the sole authors of my misfortune. There was no turning back now.

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter.” I continued, “Just give me those tiny screws and the screwdriver I need for them. How much is it?”

Flustered, he grabbed the necessary implement “Uh… three fifty” he said.

“Three hundred and fifty dollars?” I choked, trying not to lose my cool.

“No, three dollars and 50 cents?”  He replied, looking at me like I had three heads.

“Oh ok,” I sighed. “That I can do”.

I walked out feeling like I had won a small victory. Ordinarily, I would have given up on the whole thing; tossed the errant piece of plastic down the garbage chute and lived out the remainder of my existence in a sea of disorganized footwear. Not this time, though. The new, domesticated BreezyK was triumphant.

I took home my bounty, and together, we nailed the rack into the door until it was as secure (and by “we” and “together”, I mean I ate FroYo and provided colour commentary while he did all the work).

Although our relationship with the shoe rack is in a state of détente right now, we’re well aware that this could change at any moment. There are one or two screws struggling to come loose, and every few days we have to nail their delinquent asses back in.

If I were a contestant on The Bachelor, I would draw some sort of analogy here between our shoe rack debacle and the continued effort it takes to maintain a stable and loving relationship… But I’m not. So I won’t… but… you get the picture.

Question of the Day: Have you had any household projects from hell?

 

Featured post

My Summer Reading List

For those of you who were wondering, I am still reading.

Granted, not to the same (crazy) extent as last year. I have decided not to read 52 books in one year again, because let’s be honest-

Plus, I want to take the time to enjoy what I’m reading a bit more.

Currently my total is hovering somewhere around 15, and I’m totally ok with that- because you know what they say….

But with summer now in full swing, I figured it was time to pick up some new reads. Specifically, light, fun ones- perfect for laying on the beach or lounging by the pool (or, in my case, sitting in my air conditioned condo and crowded office food court. Man I need a vacation).

So I ordered a few gems from Amazon- and since I have nothing better to do besides sit on my front steps and wait patiently until they arrive, I thought I’d share my summer reading list with all of you guys.

The Vacationers by Emma Straub 

When a Manhattan family sets out on a two week summer vacation to the beautiful island of Mallorca, what could possibly go wrong?

….Infidelity, heartbreak, delusion and scandal, that’s what!

Billed as a fluffy summer read made substantial by the “exceptional wit, insight, intelligence and talents of its author”, I can’t wait to crack into this puppy .

I am Having So much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

A “reverse love story” set in London and Paris, I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You tells the tale of Richard, a 34-year-old British artist trying to win his wife back after a brief “ellipsis” with an American mistress.

Still, I’m excited to watch him try.

The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

19-year-old twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay are the offspring of Quebec folk singer, and notorious playboy, Etienne Tremblay. They spent their childhood in the public eye; simultaneously performing with him and being abandoned by him. Now they are grown up and making their own mistakes on the streets of referendum-era Montreal – all of which ending up in the French Canadian tabloid Allo Police.

It’s a coming-of-age tale with a hefty dose of family drama (which sounds pretty much like my own life) so I’m excited to check it out

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

At twenty-three, a starry-eyed Joanna Rakoff moves to New York with dreams of becoming a writer. Instead, she winds up in a crappy Williamsburg apartment with a job as assistant to the literary agent for J.D. Salinger. Her task is to answer Salinger’s endless amount of fan-mail with a stock response. As she gets into it, however, she becomes inspired and starts crafting her own replies.

It’s a memoir about literary New York in the late 90’s, and the coming-of-age tale of a now successful writer.

Maybe I’ll be inspired? Naah. I’ll probably just sit on the couch and watch more Extreme Weight Loss. 

Question of the Day: What’s on your summer reading list?

Featured post

5 Summer Trends I’ll Be Skipping This Year

Summer is finally upon us, and you know what that means! Goodbye polar vortex– hello picnics, pool parties and patio drinks!

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……But with all of this all excitement comes one pesky little problem:

summer11

Realizing my summer wardrobe was in serious need of an upgrade (read: I “outgrew” most of it) I hit up the mall last week in search of some new threads. Unfortunately, what started out as a fun outing quickly turned sour when I realized that pretty much everything out there was either made for:

a) a 17-year-old;

b) Kate Moss; or, worse

c) a 17-year-old Kate Moss.

Needless to say, it was a bit disheartening.

summer9

So what’s a girl on wrong side of 27 25 to do? While I still haven’t quite figured that out yet, here are some trends I know I won’t be rocking this summer:

1. Crop Tops

In the words of the great Mugatu, Crop Tops are “so hot right now”. Everyone and their dog is wearing them. So when Mindy Kaling, champion of not-so-skinny-girls everywhere, recently sported one,

The Paley Center For Media's PaleyFest 2014 Honoring "The Mindy Project"

I was finally inspired to try it out for myself. Unfortunately, what I didn’t factor in was the key element in crop-top wearing- confidence.

I spent the entire evening all:

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Pulling my top down, my skirt up or both; praying for the moment I could go home and crawl into oversized sweatpants.

Still, I can’t quite bring myself to throw it out. It now takes up space in my drawer of broken dreams, along with my tutu, ill-advised harem pants and many rhinestone-encrusted belt buckles. So, so many rhinestones.

2. Super-Short Jean Shorts

Despite the fact that approximately 0.1% of the population can actually pull them off, these babies somehow continue to be ubiquitous. Everywhere I look, I see girls of all shapes and sizes sporting super-short cut-offs with their pockets – and everything else- hanging out.  And I just ask myself one question:

I don’t get it. Not only are they almost universally unflattering, they are uncomfortable to boot. (Trust me- I owned a pair for a hot minute. I spent half the time I wore them feeling extremely self-conscious, and the other half tending to the worst wedgie known to mankind.)

Plus, if I really wanted my butt to hang out, I’d just buy a pair of these novelty butt shorts.

Hehe. Butt shorts.

3. Supertight Maxi Dresses

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some maxi dresses- provided they are of the flowy, patterned, Mrs. Roper variety:

What I can’t get behind, are these minimal pieces of stretchy polyester that would make even the aforementioned 17-year-old Kate Moss look like she had a paunch.

summer1

4. Floral Headbands

I almost- ALMOST- subscribed to this trend back in the summer of 2013. I was headed to Lollapalooza (you can read about it here) and needed some boho-chic festival attire. I remember picking up a flower crown in Urban Outfitters and thinking.. “Can I rock this?”  but ultimately deciding to go with some multi-coloured sunglasses and 500 bracelets instead. And boy am I glad I did. There were so many 18-year-olds sporting these halos of fabric daisies that it looked like some kind of flower girl army. (Which, theoretically shouldn’t have been scary, but it totally was.)

Now let me just say I don’t really mind this trend when it is done modestly, e.g.

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but the problem is, they just keep getting bigger..

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…and bigger

summer7

…. and BIGGER

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Pretty soon flowers are going to be engulfing these b*tches whole heads. And then we’re gonna have a whole species of Human/Floral cyborgs running around….and no one wants that.

 5. Complicated One-Pieces

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While they might look chic, these puppies are damn near impossible get on. I once tried to wedge myself into one for nearly 20 minutes before ultimately collapsing into a pile of sweat, tears and self-loathing on the change room floor.

And if my cautionary tale wasn’t enough to dissuade you, then I’ve got one word for you ladies: TANLINES.

summer17

Unless you want to look like a human checkerboard or like you’e got some sort of weird, unidentifiable skin condition- I suggest you steer clear of this one.

Question of the Day: What Summer Trends will you be skipping this year?

Featured post

5 Hipster Food Terms Deconstructed

If there’s one thing we humans have in common, it’s that we all gotta eat.

food7

 

food6

food3

food2

And since I have yet to master the art of cooking anything beyond a can of soup and the occasional Toaster Strudel, for me this means eating out. A lot.

Seriously. It's that bad.
Seriously. It’s that bad.

Lately, I’ve  been noticing some strange menu items on my pilgrimage across the many hipster bistros, brasseries and gastro-pubs of this fair city. Obscure ingredients, pretentious food-related adjectives, you name it.  So much so that I have often had to consult Google, and on more than one occasion have been reduced to simply pointing at dishes I dare not pronounce.

This, my friends, is embarrassing. And extremely damaging to my hipster cred. So to save the same fate from befalling you, I thought I’d share with you all a few hipster menu items I have successfully decoded.

1. “Heirloom” Tomatoes

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While I have since come to love these multi-coloured, misshapen delights, the first time I saw “heirloom tomatoes” on a menu, I had a number of questions. Like:

  1. Who keeps a vegetable (fruit?) as an heirloom?
  2. Won’t it go bad?
  3. Were these tomatoes bequeathed to the chef personally? Or were they purchased at auction? (and if the latter, why haven’t I seen a TLC show about this yet?)

…. And, most importantly:

4. How much is this sh*t gonna cost me?

My fears of mouldy $300 tomatoes, were, however, dissuaded by a quick Google search, which informed me that heirloom fruits or vegetables are actually old varieties of plants that were commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture today. The seeds of heirloom tomatoes, in particular, have been passed down through generations due to their distinct color and sweeter taste.

Huh. Who knew?

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2. “Massaged Kale”

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When I’m too lazy to make my own lunch (aka: every day) there’s this yuppie salad place in my office building I sometimes like to go to. It’s one of those Organic/Wheatless/Meatless deals, where everything on the menu somehow involves Tempeh or Quinoa, and the motto is “Substitutions Welcome!”

eavesdropper4

Anyway, recently, they introduced a new $14  “seasonal hot box” which featured “Marinated Sesame tofu, served over a bed of massaged kale”.

Uhh.. massaged what now?

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Apparently, however,  kneading kale in your hands for a few minutes prior to preparation helps the tough cellulose structure break down, which turns the coarse, hard leaves soft and silky (and easier to eat without breaking a tooth). The pronounced bitterness also mellows, and the kale reveals some sweeter flavours.

Man, no wonder this place is so expensive.  They have to pay some mustachioed hipster just to stand out back and rub kale leaves all day! (I picture him listening to Bon Iver while he does it. He might even close his eyes).  Oh well, that sh*t is delicious so I guess what I really mean is, massage on hipster gentleman – massage on.

3. “Artisan” Bread

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about/have eaten “Artisan Bread” recently.

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The image of a young minstrel in medieval attire springs to mind; whipping up loaves of designer ciabatta in one hand; strumming a lute with the other.

As it turns out,  “artisan” is really just a fancy word to describe bread that is crafted, rather than mass-produced. In theory, artisan bread differs from prepackaged supermarket loaves in its lack of preservatives, fresher ingredients, and a special attention to detail.

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Given the number and variety of places offering these loaves, however, I’m guessing this definition hasn’t been strictly adhered to.  ‘Cause while I’m sure your local Subway Sandwich artist likes to think of him/herself as an “artisan”, I have my doubts.

4. “Craft” Beer

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The first time I saw the word “Craft” on a beer menu, I didn’t think much besides:

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But as I started hearing it referenced more and more in popular culture, my interest was piqued.

Craft beer, or “microbrew” as it’s sometimes called, is any beer with a distinctive flavor, produced in small quantities and distributed in a particular region. (Generally by bearded,-plaid shirt wearing men who also specialize in witty Facebook statuses, amateur furniture making and liking everything “before it was cool”)

Ok so I can’t back that last part up. But it’s probably true.

 5. “Deconstructed” Anything

Recently, I attended a work dinner where the dessert course was a “Deconstructed S’More“. This consisted of an “organic graham cracker”, “house-made marshmallow” and a block of semi-melted Valrhona chocolate.

While it was delicious, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I mean, isn’t the whole point of a s’more, it’s entire essence, in its construction?  That ooey-gooey, sticky handed goodness?

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Alas- I’m going to have to deal, because deconstruction- the idea of breaking apart ingredients traditionally combined together to make a dish, and serving them separately in a unique way- is a trend I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately.

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Deconstructed cakes, deconstructed sandwiches, you name it.  Someday soon I fully expect to be buttering a plate of yeast and enriched flour and calling it “deconstructed breadrolls”.

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Mark my words.

Question of the Day: What Hipster and/or Pretentious Food Trends have you noticed lately?

Featured post

Confessions of an Urban Eavesdropper

I have a confession to make.

I, BreezyK, am a serial eavesdropper.

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While some might consider this behavior rude, sneaky, or generally unbecoming, I prefer to think of myself as suffering from a rare form of chronic, insatiable curiosity. Eavesdropping, as it happens, is the only known cure.

Fortunately for me, a big city like Toronto is an eavesdropper’s paradise. Every subway ride, every elevator journey, every meal at a shoebox-sized hipster restaurant is a new listening adventure. While most of what I overhear is banal – mundane recounts of traffic, gym sessions, and other hallmarks of everyday urban life-  every so often, I catch a moment of greatness. A bit of salacious gossip, a funny anecdote, or some downright bizarre sh*t that can  keep me going for days. (Or, let’s be honest- at least 20 minutes).

My eavesdropping habit is further magnified by the fact that I live in a high-rise condo building, filled with hundreds of other tenants from all walks of life. While it’s rare that I actually speak to any them, I spend a lot of time observing my neighbours in elevators, hallways and other communal areas; slowly piecing together my own running narratives about their respective lives.

Me, but more discreet.
Me, but more discreet.
  • There’s Mrs. Yang, the elderly Chinese lady who only ever wears three pairs of pajamas (all at once) and I’m convinced is actually a Russian Spy concealing weapons;
  • “Speedo Guy”, a portly, middle-aged Eastern European man who insists on blessing our building’s communal sauna with his commanding presence, spray-tan and perpetually hard-working piece of nylon;

…….and, of course

  • “Shortie Superman”- the muscled, 5’6, Dean-Cain looking dude from my condo gym who I’ve been waging a cold war with  for the past few months now. He never smiles, hogs the freestanding bench, and holds the  TV remote hostage, insisting on playing terrible, testosterone infused programs for the duration of my workout. (I mean, does he not KNOW 7pm is my Real Housewives of Atlanta hour??)
  • Needless to say, I’ve determined that he is a miserable, vengeful asshole who abstains from alcohol and eats only spinach.

Anyhow. While some of these characters I know I’ve got dead on (Speedo Guy for SURE loves European disco music), I worry I’ve rendered others too fanciful (I mean, maybe Mrs. Yang just likes layers?).

As you can see, some surreptitious eavesdropping is often necessary to fill in the gaps.

So, you can imagine my delight when recently, I hit the eavesdropping goldmine. It was around 9pm, and I had just returned  home from a work event. Exhausted and slightly woozy from the firm-sponsored chardonnay, I opened my balcony door to get some fresh air. I was putting together my compulsory two-advil and a tall glass of water nightcap when I heard the unmistakable sound of tortured, emotional voices coming from the balcony of the apartment down the hall.

I immediately rushed to the door to get a better listen:

I’m just, so confused said a frustrated male voice, “I thought you wanted to be in a relationship”

“I did! I mean, I thought I did” replied an apologetic  female voice. “I guess I’m just not ready.”

“But you said you were ready”, he responded “You said I was the one!”.

“I’m just trying to be real with you”, she replied “there are just so many things I want to accomplish”

“Like what?” he asked

“Like, I don’t know… travelling? And like, working on my music?”

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“Oh, you mean your laptop DJ gig?” he countered

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I stole a quick peek outside, and spotted a distressed-looking dude, holding an iphone at a distance.

This sh*t was going down on speakerphone??

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…But something about the compact, glossy haired figure looked familiar, so I edged out a little further,  and confirmed my suspicions. The dumpee was none other than…………. Shortie Superman himself!!!

Just kidding this is a pug. He was actually a man.
(Ok so he wasn’t actually a pug)

I realized that in all of our passive-agressive gym battles, I’d never actually spoken to the guy. But now here I was -listening to one of his most intimate and painful conversations. And I felt kind of bad about it.

…. but bad enough to stop?

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Plus, all those hours of Man vs. Food he made me endure? This dude had it coming.

As I listened to each argument and counterargument unfold (“But I took you to meet my parents!”/”I love you, I’m just not IN love with you”), I realized that every breakup sounds vaguely the same.

One party is all:

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While the other’s like:

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And in spite of myself, I started to feel a little bad for the guy. With every blow she delivered (“You’re gonna find someone great!/Let’s still be friends!”) he seemed less like the evil caricature I created, and more like a real-life human being.

Because let’s be honest- we’ve all been there. And that, my friends, is a deep dark place.

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So maybe next time I see him, I’ll take it easy on the cut-eye and let him watch Swamp People unperturbed. Because God knows, dude could use a break.

Question of the Day: Are you an eavesdropper? Overheard anything good lately?

 P.S.  I changed my blog name and layout. Figured The Ol’ Camel was due for an upgrade. Hope you dig it!

Featured post

How to Read 52 Books In One Year (Without Going Insane)

I just finished reading my first book of 2014 – Barney’s Version by Mordechai Richler.

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It was excellent. Romantic, captivating, hilarious, and uniquely Canadian, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

(Or, you could always just watch the film. I won’t tell.)

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Anyway, as I delve into book #2 of the year (A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man… which I’m reading solely so I can use the term “Joycean”), I’m considering making a similar reading goal to last year.

As you may already know (because I can’t get enough of saying it), I read 52 books in 2013. Insane? Maybe; but it also was really great for me. Not only did having a goal keep me reading regularly, it also helped my writing, as well as my general conversation skills.

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I’m not going to say it was easy, because honesty there were times I thought I’d rather glue my eyelids open and watch a marathon of Hollywood Game Night than keep reading.

But like Tom Arnold with a particularly tough charade, I persevered! And if you’re feeling masochistic ambitious, here are some ways you can do it too!

1. Find The Time

I know that you’re thinking: This bitch cray! 52 books in one year?

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And I get that. You’re busy. I was too. (Mostly watching TV and Youtube videos on how to perfectly apply liquid eyeliner). But regardless, here are a few ways I squeezed in some extra reading time:

  • Always Keep a Book With You. Treat that baby like it’s your American Express Card (or- in my case, 17 different lipglosses) – never leave home without it!  You’d be surprised by the amount of reading you can get done waiting at the doctor’s office, in line for the DMV, or just generally avoiding human contact. It’s a lot more productive (though not necessarily as much fun) than playing candy crush on your iPhone.
  • Make the most of your commute. Read on the bus, train or subway on your way to and from work. Unless you get carsick.. because….

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Aaah Sweet Brown. I can never get enough.

  • Read on your lunch break. This was my specialty. Every day at lunch, I’d take my book to the food court and read for 30 minutes.

goal8I kept waiting for someone to write me a Craigslist Missed Connection but… no dice.

2. Always Have Your Next Book Lined Up

Making a list of books I wanted to read in advance helped keep me on track. It also motivated me to read faster, as I was always excited to get to the next book on my list.

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I found Goodreads to be an excellent resource for this, as well as suggestions from friends and blog readers.

Another tip is to check out the  “people who bought this author also bought….”. and “suggestions for you” tabs on Amazon.

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…….Or you could just read the entire Baby Sitters Club series (again). No one blames you.

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3. Don’t Torture Yourself

As the saying goes, “If you hate a book set it free”…..Or something like that. In other words- if you start a book that you really don’t like or just can’t get into, move onto the next. Otherwise, you’ll just get discouraged and lose excitement and momentum.goal12

I struggled with Infinite Jest for about 50 pages before eventually realizing that a David Foster Wallace dissertation about a missing VHS tape was not the hill I wanted to die on.

There’s 75 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

4. Mix It Up

Although I was seriously tempted to read nothing but 52 emo romance novels in 2013, I knew that, like all great pop stars, I had to get a lot of plastic surgery and a white cane mix things up in order to keep it fresh and exciting.

Exhibit A
Exhibit A

Accordingly, my 2013 reading list was a serious hodge-podge of short stories, novels, memoirs & non-fiction. I also alternated between bestsellers like Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (wait for the movie) to contemporary classics, like On The Road by Jack Kerouac (must read), and the occasional Penguin classic, like Howard’s End by E.M Forster (there’s a reason I didn’t major in English Lit).

5. Break It Down

Let’s face it- the number 52 just sounds horrifying. (Unless it’s being used to describe chocolate bars, glasses of wine, or issues of US Weekly).

mmm... chocolate.
mmm… chocolate.

The point i’m trying to make here, is that the idea of reading 52 books in one year can seem a bit daunting at first- so break it up into smaller goals. 52 books in one year works out to toughly 4 books a month, or one a week. You can even set a number of pages you’d like to read each day.

You know that acronym about goal setting? SMART?

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Yeah- Use that!. But don’t tell anyone you’re doing that, because, well… it’s kinda lame.

So those are my tips! And remember kids, above all else- do it for yourself, and your love of literature!

…and maybe also to rub it in people’s faces.

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Just a little 🙂

Question of the Day: Have you set a reading goal for 2014?

Featured post

The Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

In case you missed my previous post, I read 52 books in 2013.

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I know, I’ve been trying to repress it too.

In all seriousness- setting a reading goal was actually good for me. I spent way less time watching reality TV and checking Craigslist Missed Connections. It also gave me something to talk about at cocktail parties, instead of just standing in the corner, mindlessly hoovering canapes and white wine spritzers, counting down the minutes until I could go home.

I also had the pleasure of reading a lot of really fantastic books…so many that I had a hard time narrowing it down to just a few. 

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But alas- despite being a millennial, I recognize that not everyone can win the prize.. so here they are: 

 The Top 10 Books I

Read in 2013 

1. Middlesex

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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I’m not one to make gushy statements, but this multi-generational masterpiece about a Greek-American family in Detroit may be the best book I’ve read not just this year, but EVER. (You can read my initial review here).

I will caveat my glowing recommendation with the fact that it is a bit of a saga. If you’re looking for something a little shorter/less dense, check out Jeffrey Eugenides’ other books, The Marriage Plot and The Virgin Suicides (since adapted into a film by that boyfriend-stealing b*tch Sophia Coppola).

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

by Milan Kundera

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This book made me feel a lot of feelings. 

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………. Which is saying a lot, because I sort of pride myself on feeling as few feelings as possible.

A love story set in Eastern Europe during the infamous Prague Spring of 1968, this book is chock-full of romance, tragedy, metaphors and emo-goodness. It made me want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a glass of wine and a big-ass box of Kleenex. 

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3. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

by David Sedaris

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The latest collection of humorous essays by my hero/life model/favourite writer ever David Sedaris did not fail to disappoint. As I mentioned in my initial review,  I was lucky enough to attend a reading of his back in April when the book came out. He responded to fan questions, told funny stories and read from the book aloud.

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What a treat.

Someday I will become his straight, female counterpart…. and no that is not weird.

4. How Should A Person Be?

By Sheila Heti

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If you like artsy shizz and the HBO show Girls, then this book about a young writer struggling trying to find her way in the world is most definitely for you.

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It’s also set in Toronto, which endeared me to it further. Maybe once you read it, you will finally be able to answer the age-old question:

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5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts

By Susan Cain

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Reading this book about how introverts are undervalued in today’s society made me feel empowered and (ironically) less alone in the world.

I even stopped wearing this sweater all the time:

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If you fancy yourself an introvert- even a closet one- do yourself a favour and read this book.  

6. A Hologram For the King 

By Dave Eggers

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This book follows Alan Clay, a middle-aged divorcee who, in a last-ditch effort to turn his luck around ,goes to Saudi Arabia to sell the elusive King Abdullah a new hologram technology.

Think Tupac at Coachella
Think Tupac at Coachella

Although it’s not big on action (most of it takes place in a single room), the raw, effortless writing made it a standout for me.

Aaaand if you’re really lazy, you can always just wait for the film adaptation  starring Tom Hanks. (It’s gotta be better than Saving Mr. Banks.)

7. The Rosie Project  

By Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Project centers around Don Tillman, a 39-year-old genetics professor who is somewhere on the autism spectrum- he just doesn’t know it yet.

Citing scientific evidence that “married men are happier and live longer”, Don sets out to find the “perfect” wife by creating an extensive, detailed questionnaire. Women who do not score 100% are summarily disqualified.

This book has all the makings of a great, offbeat romantic comedy- and in fact it has already been optioned by Sony Pictures. It would make a great book club pick, or to read on the beach for all you lucky b*tches going on tropical vacations this winter.

8. The Last Girlfriend on Earth

By Simon Rich

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You can check out my initial review of Simon Rich’s hilarious short story collection here. Each piece was incredibly clever, witty and well written- like a Saturday Night Live skit playing out right in front of me on the page. Loved it.  

 9. The Sun Also Rises

By Ernest Hemingway

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I feel like sort of a hipster try-hard doofus listing this as one of my top 10, but I swear that was not my intention. In fact, I initially chose this book because it was under 200 pages.

But as I started to read it, I was captivated by the beauty in Hemingway’s prose as he described a group of artistic expats attending the Running of the Bulls in Spain.

I even found myself quoting lines to friends- before realizing how much of a pretentious dink this made me sound. So instead, I just wrote them down in my journal of lame, private thoughts that are way too embarrassing to post on my blog. You know you want to read that, don’t you? Well you can’t! So go read this book!

 10. The Interestings

By Meg Wolitzer 

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The Interestings centres around a group of 6 friends who first meet as teenagers at a camp for the arts in the 1970′s, and follows them  throughout their decades-long friendship. Lives become complicated, relationships become strained, issues of class, money and power ensue, and in the end everyone is richer for the experience. You should read this book IF:

a) You have ever dreamed of a career in writing/the arts

b) You find New York City impossibly romantic.

Question of the Day:

What was the best book you read in 2013?  

Featured post

52 Books in 52 Weeks: A Quick Recap

Happy New Year friends!

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Is it? It’s -34 degrees here in Toronto. I looked around the subway this morning, all I saw was misery.

Shut up inner BreezyK voice!! IT’S NOT YOUR TIME

Annnyway, I know I’ve fallen off the face of the earth for the past couple of months, and while I’d like to say I spent this time cavorting around town, attending fancy parties and you know, engaging with real-life humans, the truth is, I spent most of it with my nose buried in a book.

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Remember when I said I was going to read 52 Books in 52 Weeks?

Yeah… whoever thought that was a good idea?

Somehow, I managed to stay pretty much on track for the first half of the year, but after slacking off considerably during the summer and fall, I left myself with a serious mountain to climb at the end of the year.

With extreme hesitation, I was forced to say goodbye to my online shopping (ok, browsing) addiction and nightly wine-infused reality TV marathons and get my head in the game.

Between November 15 and December 31, I read 11 books. ELEVEN. There were times when I thought I was going completely insane, and craved the warmth of human contact.

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By the time I got to the last book on my list, I was like:

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But alas- I did it! Read em’ and weep kids, here in random order (did that make anyone else just think of America’s Funniest Home Videos?) are the 52 books I read in 2013:

  1. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes
  2. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  3. My Boyfriend Wrote A Book About Me by Hilary Winston
  4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  5. Bridget Jones- Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
  6. Iris Has Free Time by Iris Smyles
  7. A Hologram For the King by Dave Eggers
  8. One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  10. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  11. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris
  12. Quiet- The power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  13. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  14. The Love Song Of Johnny Valentine by Teddy Wayne
  15. So Damn Lucky by Deborah Coontz
  16. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  17. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  18. The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich
  19. Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
  20. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  21. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  22. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  23. 10th of December by George Saunders
  24. Everything Is Perfect When You’re A Liar by Kelly Oxford
  25. The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thomson
  26. Candide– Voltaire
  27. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
  28. I Found This Funny by Judd Apatow
  29. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  30. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
  31. Contagious by Jonah Berger
  32. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Fall by Albert Camus
  34. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
  35. The Lowland by Jumpha Lahiri
  36. I Feel Bad About My Neck (and other thoughts on being a woman) by Norah Ephron
  37. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  38. Night Terrors: Sex, Puberty and Other Alarming Things by Ashley Cardiff
  39. Howard’s End by E.M. Forrester
  40. Dear Life by Alice Munro
  41. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  42. Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner
  43. Revenge Wears Prada– Lauren
  44. Stories From the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart McLean
  45. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  46. How Should A person Be? by Sheila Heti
  47. No plot? No problem  by Chris Baty
  48. Dear Girls Above Me by Charlie McDowell
  49. The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
  50. Orange Is The New Black by Piper Kerman
  51. An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield
  52. Levels of Life by Julian Barnes

Woot Woot! Can I get a little 80’s Paul Rudd dancing up in here?

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Thaaat’s right.

Lest you worry I am becoming too cultured and civilized, I should assure you that upon finishing the last page of book #52, I immediately parked my a$$ in front of the TV, where I have remained in a state of vegetative bliss  for the past 7 days.

One word, guys: JUAN-uary

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I have much more to say about my ambitious/extremely misguided goal of reading 52 books in one year,  including some of the best (hits) and worst (misses) of the year. I’ll also be providing some tips as to how you can achieve this goal yourself- so stay tuned if you’re a masochistic freak like I am!

Question of the Day: Did you make a reading goal last year? Did you hit it?

Featured post

License to Wed

It’s now less than two weeks until our wedding, and I’m like:

I’ve been following a checklist on a popular wedding website, and along with such feminism-destroying tips as “Start your wedding diet!” and “Explore teeth whitening options!”, it also informed me last week that it was time to obtain our marriage licence.

A marriage licence. Now this sounded serious. The term evoked Victorian imagery in my mind, and I pictured a court of high justice with bewigged elders bestowing this all-important document upon us. I prayed there wouldn’t be any kind of dowry involved because with this wedding I am seriously broke as hell.

We filled out a simple form online, printed it off, and walked into Toronto City Hall the next morning. Already, I was disappointed by the lack of ceremony. I would have liked to have been heralded in by velvet-coated trumpeters announcing our intention to marry.

Instead, we walked into a dreary scene and were asked to take a number.  There were dozens of people in line and my heart immediately swelled at the would-be married couples. Then I realized that the line forked in two directions, and that everyone except for us was waiting for employment insurance.

So we proceeded to the front of our line and were greeted by a middle-aged balding, bespectacled man in a sweater vest. Wow, this guy really won the city worker lottery,  I thought, gazing sympathetically at the sad, disgruntled employment insurance claim processor to our left.

But sadly, Tobias Fünke 2.0 didn’t seem to have picked up on his good fortune.

“ID’s please”, he said dryly.

As he looked over our IDs, I steeled myself for the long and formal interview process that would inevitably follow. After all, they don’t just let anyone get married, do they?

Instead, he looked up and said “Ok, let me just print your licence now.”

That was it? No interview? No quality control? I thought about standing up and screaming “I AM UNDER DURESS!” just to see what would happen, but in the end, thought better of it.

He walked over to a 90’s-era printer, and returned with a long piece of white paper. “Here’s your marriage licence” he said, nonchalantly.

I gazed dejectedly at the unassuming, legal-sized sheet.  I had been expecting a gilded scroll; perhaps tied with a peacock feather. Couldn’t they at least have thrown in a little parchment? Give me something to Instagram here.

“Give that to your officiant.” He added, unceremoniously. “And Good luck”.  Did I detect the faintest hint of sarcasm?

I walked out on to Queen Street in a daze, fully qualified to marry, and fully convinced I watch way too many movies.

Question of the Day: Are you married? Did you get swept up in the planning process? 

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