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?

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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?

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7 Slang Words I Learned in 2014 (And How To Use Them)

At the ripe old age of 29, I am slowly coming to the realization that I may no longer be “hip”.

Evidence of this includes:

  • my growing reluctance to stay awake past 10pm
  • unfamiliarity with the majority of award show performers (Ariana who now?)
  • increased disillusion with music festivals and all other non-seated events
  • the fact that I used the word “hip” in quotations in the preceding sentence.

Perhaps the biggest, and most troubling sign, however, is my complete and utter hopelessness when it comes to today’s slang. This was made clear to me recently when a friend described an online date she went on as “a total catfish”.  Say what? “You went on a date with a sea creature??” I asked, imagining the two of them at a fancy restaurant, plates full of plankton.   

“Uh, no” she said looking at me like I had three heads “it means when someone pretends to be someone they’re not online… like the MTV show?”

I wish I could say that was the only time this happened – but alas, over the past year, there have been a number of times I’ve been left with a blank stare, scrambling to urbandictionary.com to break the code, like a less-cool, worse-cheekboned Alan Turing. 

Because I love you and don’t want you to suffer the same fate, I’ve compiled a list of the top 6 slang words I learned in 2014, together with definitions, and how to use each in a sentence so you can be just like the cool kids.

1. Salty

Bitter; angry; used to connote a general bad attitude.

E.g. “She was salty when she discovered Real Housewives of Miami had been cancelled” 

2. Basic

Common; unsophisticated; transparent; generally unoriginal

e.g. “Homegirl bought a year’s supply of Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix. She’s so basic” 

3. Sharewithal

An inherent understanding of what to share on social media, when, and on what platform.

E.g. “Did you see that terrible status Alyssa posted on Facebook? Girl has ZERO sharewithal” 

4. Webisode

Overly dramatic

E.g. “Sorry for being such a webisode last night, I had way too much Pinot Grigio” 

5. Bae 

I’m sure most of you know  this one now that Pharrell has sung it to death, but did you guys know it is actually an ACRONYM? It stands for “Before Anyone Else” and can be used to describe your significant other, bestie, something incredibly cool etc.

E.g. “Nutella is, and always will be my bae” 

6. Turnt Up

Getting loose/wild; crazy partying

E.g. “I drank TWO glasses of wine while watching Extreme Weightloss Last Night. Sh*t was turnt UP”

7. Swerve

To Dodge or dismiss someone.

E.g.

My Friend: “Do you want to do a juice cleanse with me?”

Me: “SWERVE, b*tch!”

Question of the Day: What Slang Words have you learned recently?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/countdown/

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?

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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.

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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.

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Gushers

Unless it’s these guys.

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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.

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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)

 

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uhhh. yeah.

Fun Dips

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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?

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Back In The Old Country…

When it comes to comfort food, you really can’t go wrong with good old-fashioned, cheesy, delicious pierogies.

These pierogi mascots should be the mascots of my life.

Which is why I was pumped to attend the annual Polish Festival a few weekends ago here in Toronto. Pierogies + beer tents + POLKA = a guaranteed good time. 

The festival took place along Roncesvalles avenue, a mostly commercial strip between College and Queen streets, and it was bumping. Food trucks, cotton candy, bouncy castles- you name it. Only thing was, it wasn’t very Polish…. at all.

I mean, don’t get me wrong there was one (Grammy nominated) Polka band busting out tunes… right next to the Fillipino adobo cart.

And there was one pierogi stand, but the lines were so long that we eventually gave up and hit up a nearby Cuban place.

The real fun for me anyway was checking out all of the permanent retailers along the strip. Roncesvalles is an up-and-coming Toronto hot spot, and a number of cool new boutiques and restaurants have opened up there over the past few years. The neighborhood still retains a lot of its old-school charm though, and there are still a number of Eastern-European small businesses holding it down amongst the hipster-fication.

Like the Old Country Gift Shop:

When I first walked by, I was struck by the vintage-looking sign, and the eccentric display in the front window – a veritable hodge podge of stuff. There was a mannequin modelling a pearl necklace, an array of various deodorants, a selection of power tools, and a large display of Ritter Sport chocolate bars.

Needless to say, I was intrigued

I walked inside, and with the sound of the jingling bell was transported back in time nearly 50 years. I felt like Marty McFly, only without the cool DeLoreon.

Along the yellowed, gondola shelving sat everything from specialty jams, to vintage cutlery, to a comprehensive collection of mint condition Ty beanie babies.

At the 1960’s style cash register stood two spunky older ladies with white bouffants, extolling the virtues of a blown-glass ash tray to what I assumed was a regular customer.

These foxy ladies I later learned, were Karin and Helga, German (again, not Polish) sisters who grew up in the store and have worked there for nearly 50 years. Turns out the Old Country Gift Shop is family-owned, and has been serving the customers of Roncesvalles with their random treasures since 1962.

Obviously, things haven’t changed much since then.  the walls are lined with what looks like the original wallpaper, and the floor is covered in a well-worn, checkerboard-patterned linoleum.

Sort of like this. She knows.

The nostalgia in the air is palpable- each shelf dusted with memories of days- and times- gone by. As I made my way to the back of the store, I spotted a wide assortment of Octoberfest aprons, and an entire section of unopened, pristine VHS tapes. I wondered who the audience for this collection might be, but then I got distracted by the large, menacing chunk of the Berlin wall.

And did I mention the chocolate? So much chocolate. One entire wall filled with bars of the good stuff from Germany, France, and Switzerland. Brands I had never heard of, and thought only existed in my dreams.

Sorry for doing this to you.

Obviously I couldn’t leave without a taste, so I picked up the Mozart Kugeln chocolate ball- a pistachio, nougat and marzipan sphere of Viennese deliciousness.

As I left the store and re-entered the world of 2014, I couldn’t get the gift shop out of my mind. Not only did I want to go back every day to revel in its weirdness, I also wanted to be best friends with Karin and Helga; to find out what inspires them, and makes them tick. While I may never fully understand the Old Country Gift shop, it’s still nice to know that places like it exist.

Question of the Day: Been to Any Cool Stores lately?

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?

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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?

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When It’s OK To Ask A Woman If She’s Pregnant

On the scale of most embarrassing things that could possibly happen to a woman, being matched with your coworker on e-Harmony is probably about a 6.

Having a “wardrobe malfunction” in front of millions of people, on the other hand, is a definite 10.

What happened to me fell somewhere in the middle.

My boyfriend and I were on our way to his parent’s house for dinner, and due to (yet another) subway closure, we were crammed onto a clown-car like shuttle bus with hundreds of other disgruntled passengers. All the seats were occupied, so we were forced to stand and hold onto the hand-rails.

This was particularly challenging for me, as after imbibing a bit too much at a wedding the night before, balance was not exactly my forte. I was minding my own business, trying not to topple over, when suddenly the young man sitting next to us took his headphones out of his ears, and looked up at me.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, “please, sit here”.

“Oh, no that’s ok” I said awkwardly, not wanting to leave my boyfriend to stand alone.

“No, really-I was on my phone, I’m sorry I didn’t notice before” he apologized.

I looked back at him, perplexed at his polite insistence.  He must have been about 20, with a head of shaggy, unkempt hair and a complexion resembling the lunar surface. He wore ill-fitting khaki pants and a t-shirt with an anime logo; possibly Pokemon.  He didn’t immediately strike me as the old-school-Southern gentleman type.

And then I noticed him gesturing towards my stomach, and a wave of understanding rolled over me like nausea.

Oh my god. I thought, Homeboy thinks I’m pregnant.

“No really, I’m fine” I stammered, struggling to hold back tears, “thank you though”.

Realizing what had just gone down; my boyfriend led me by the hand to another area of the bus, far away from my the Pokemon-sporting perpetrator.

“Are you ok, babe?” he asked tepidly. (It was clear that he was terrified.)

“I’m fine” I mumbled, “just give me a minute”.

For the remainder of the bus ride, I tried to maintain my cool as I cycled through the five stages of grief.

1. Denial

2. Anger 

3. Bargaining

4. Depression 

5. Acceptance 

I looked down at my slightly protruding belly. It wasn’t impossible to see where he was coming from. In my hung-over state, I had chosen one of those long, flowy maxi-dresses often sported by pregnant ladies (or Mrs. Roper). And I had overindulged quite heartily at the wedding the night before (late-night burger bar much?)

I would have said this was the most mortifying moment of my life……….. had it been the first time this happened.

A few years ago, when I was an articling student at a law firm, I had pretty much given up on putting myself together after a particularly bad stint of late nights. It was 11pm, and I was hunched over my desk, trying to finish a memo when the night cleaning lady came by to empty my garbage.

“Oh!“ she said, smiling and pointing to my ever-expanding midsection “Congratulations! You are pregnant, no?”

If two mistaken pregnancies aren’t enough to get your ass in gear, then I really don’t know what is. In an effort to “lose the baby weight”, I’ve started a new diet and exercise regime, which includes a horrific bootcamp class featuring countless burpees, tire flipping, and smashing things with a sledgehammer (which I imagine to be Pokemon dude’s face).

So for those of you who were wondering just when IS it ok to ask a woman if she’s pregnant?

The answer, my friends, is NEVER.

preg

Although you may be well-intentioned, it’s just not worth the risk.

Not only will it be super f*cking awkward if you get it wrong,

You could also cause some serious damage. At the very least, a slight ego bruise; but it could be much worse. You never know what that woman is going through.  Maybe she can’t conceive. Maybe she just had a miscarriage. Maybe she’s just having a really hard time right now and is coping with a family-sized jar of Nutella.

…. I know all about that  not that I know anything about that.

So mind ya bidness, ok?

All this being said, it has come to my attention that people will never, ever stop being idiots.

Which is why I have developed a few potential responses you can use if this extremely unfortunate situation were to happen to YOU.

BreezyK’s top things to say when someone asks if you are pregnant (and you’re CLEARLY not):

  • Yes and your husband is the father.
  • No… are you?
  • Nope, just fat
  • No, pregnancy would require me to stop drinking
  • I’ve been possessed by an alien lifeform! *Run screaming* It’s alive!! It’s alive!!!
  • Only if you count food babies
  • It’s an immaculate conception. JESUS HAS RISEN!!!

Question of the Day: Have you ever been mistaken for / mistaken anyone else for being pregnant?

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