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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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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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!

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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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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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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.

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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

The Fantasy Boyfriend Draft

It’s that time of year again, folks- when body paint, beer and tailgate parties abound, and the men in your life fall into a state of temporary insanity for the next few months.

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That’s right it’s football season!

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How do I, a girl whose only knowledge of football stems from the movie The Water Boy, even know this, you might ask?

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Because for the past two weeks, I have listened to nothing but my male coworkers and friends discuss their fantasy football leagues.

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While at first I sat there bored to tears, praying for imminent death, after a while the idea of a fantasy draft started to sound kind of appealing to me. Not the football part of course – more the plotting, scheming, strategizing and overall shit-talking involved. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a fantasy draft focused on something I actually cared about?

…. like boys.

You guys… what if there was A FANTASY BOYFRIEND LEAGUE??

A dream-like place where a roster of all of your ideal boyfriends would compete against teams of other ladies’ choosing in all of the manliest of activities? I’ m talking wood chopping, moustache growing, outdoor survival skills, shirtless acoustic guitar playing, and of course- the manliest of all artisinal crafts: furniture making.

Or maybe they would just fan you with palm fronds and feed you bunches of grapes all day. I haven’t quite figured it all out just yet.

But what I HAVE figured out, is who would make up my team. Hold onto your hats ladies, because the draft is about to begin!

Round 1: Ryan Gosling

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You knew it was coming. Like 99.999% of the other women on the planet, I’ve loved this piece of sexy Canadian man-candy since he first stole my heart as Sean on Breaker High.

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That pleather jacket! My heart be still.

Round 2: Bradley Cooper

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In the event that the reigning Sexiest Man Alive happened to still be available, you better believe he’d be coming home with me as a second round draft pick. Not only has homeboy got the whole rugged, charmingly befuddled thing going on, he also loves his mama.

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Awww.

Round 3: Seth Meyers

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The lovable SNL head writer and Weekend Update host always had a special place in my heart- despite the fact that he is already engaged to a (different) sexy lawyer. Well, Seth- I just have one thing to say about that:

Really? Really?

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Round 4: Joseph Gordon Levitt

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Hey JGL, what’s that vest made of? Oh yeah… BOYFRIEND MATERIAL.

Ever since I saw him rocking out to The Smiths in 500 Days of Summer, I knew the indie heart-throb had to be mine. In fact, I’d take him even with this haircut:

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That’s love.

Round 5: Rafael Nadal

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Since every fantasy boyfriend team needs at least one professional athlete (<– I just made that rule up right now), I have chosen the 12-time Grand Slam winning tennis star and sexy Spaniard that is Rafa. Admittedly- his English is a bit touch and go – but something tells me I could learn look past that.

…..with these biceps. (Please ignore the fact that he looks a bit like Michelangelo in this pic)

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Round 6: Jason Sudeikis

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Damn you and your perfect cheekbones, Olivia Wilde! Why must you take my perfect man away from me!

Round 7: Colin Firth

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This one needs no explaining. If my boy Mark Darcy isn’t the penultimate boyfriend, then I really don’t know who is.

Yes, I like you very much, Colin – just as you are.

Round 8: Chris O’Dowd

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This one falls into my “up and comer” category. I first developed a crush on this Irish hottie when he portrayed Kristin Wiig’s love interest in Bridesmaids. This crush later blossomed into a full-on stalker flower while watching him HBO’s Family Tree. He’s cute, tall, funny, loveable- and I kinda wanna pinch his cheeks.

It’s not weird.

Round 9: Joel McHale

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Joel for me falls into the “underrated” category. He cracks me up every day on The Soup and is hella handsome, but for some reason hasn’t reached leading man status just yet. Don’t worry Joel.. you’re a leading man in my heart.

Round 10: Thomas Mars

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This might seem like a strange pick, given that he is not all that conventionally good-looking, but I’ve been seriously crushing on the Phoenix lead singer since I saw him crowd surf at Lollapalooza.

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Plus, he’s married to Sofia Coppola which officially makes him 1/2 of the coolest couple of all time. Sigh.

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P.S. Did I just use the expression “seriously crushing”?

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Round 11: Jay Baruchel

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I’ve loved the Canadian funny man since I used to watch him on “Popular Mechanics For Kids” alongside Elisha Cuthbert.

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Yes, this really happened.

Since he only lives a few hours away in Montreal, I actually kind of like my chances on this one. It’s all about pipe dreams, kids.

Round 12: Prince Harry

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I was about to cut it off at 11, but then I remembered that every fantasy boyfriend team needs a royal! Enter Prince Hot Ginge (or “PHG”). While the reality of ginger babies would be a risk I would have to take, I’m confident PHG’s playfullness, charm and winning smile would outweigh the potential downsides. Plus, I just love attention. Bring on the paparazzi!!

Question of the Day: Who would be on your fantasy boyfriend (or girlfriend) team?

Love Lessons From My Childhood Pen Pal

I got a letter in the mail the other day. It was a bit of an unexpected thrill, considering my mailbox is usually filled with nothing but Domino’s pizza flyers. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate.) 

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While reading it, I was reminded of a time in my life when letters weren’t quite so infrequent.

………. Cue the flashback (you knew it was coming)

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The year was 1995: I was 9 years old, bookish, and heavy into Blossom Hats and The Babysitter’s Club. I was teetering on the verge of what would soon become my five-year “awkward phase”, but didn’t know it yet. Life was good.

It was also the year I made my first Pen Pal.

*Not me or my dog.
*Not me or my dog.

I acquired my Pen Pal through somewhat unusual circumstances. My father, the son of Croatian immigrants, liked to keep ties with his Eastern European heritage. This manifested itself mostly in three ways: cooking obscene amounts of cabbage, hoarding things, and subscribing to a Croatian newsletter called  Zajedničar. 

Zajedničar, as I recall it, was a bizarre publication filled with ads for life insurance, way too many consonants, and people in weird costumes playing Tamburitzas.

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 I never paid much attention to it until one day, my dad showed me an ad offering a PenPal service connecting Croatian children across North America.  

Now this was something I could get down with. The opportunity to correspond with a real live girl in another country? Sign me up!

I immediately submitted my information to the magazine, and a few weeks later, received my first letter.  It was from a girl named Jessica in Erie, Pennsylvania. She was 10 years old, and loved Barbies, gymnastics and stickers- in that order.  She even sent me her school photo, in which she was wearing one of those Western bolo shirts that were popular at the time.

This was the best I could do on Google images. In reality, she looked nothing like this.
This was the best I could do on Google images. She actually looked nothing like this.

Her long, sandy blond hair was tied into a side braid with a fluffy white scrunchie on the end, and she accessorized with dangly troll earrings, gummy bracelets and a toothpaste-commercial smile.

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To me, she was impossibly cool.

I immediately began crafting my response. Besides just telling her my entire life story, I also spent hours researching her hobbies and interests in order to prove what a thoughtful and conscientious Pen Pal I could be. I even had my dad pull out the atlas to show me where Erie was on the map. 

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I was certain she would be impressed by such informational gems as:

Did you know your town is named after a lake??!”; and 

I heard toothpaste is great for removing sticker residue!” 

We corresponded for the next few months, sending letters as well as other totems of our respective 90’s childhoods: stickers, colorful erasers, POGS, temporary tattoos.We never spoke a single word about Croatia, but that was OK. 

Eventually, things kind of fizzled out. Ok, I’m lying. Jessica just straight-up stopped writing to me. I don’t really know what happened. I mean, maybe I was a little overzealous in my pursuits- spending hours drafting elaborate letters, consulting atlases and whatnot. And maybe I should’ve seen this one coming when my 10-page anthologies met with only a few measly paragraphs in response. “Maybe she’s busy practicing her tumbling,” my mother would say. But deep down, I knew the score. 

While being blown-off so coldly hurt at the time, in a way I’m thankful, because it probably prevented me from becoming a full-on stage 5 clinger in future romantic relationships.  

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Now I’m just incredibly closed-off and distant. I think it’s working out pretty well for me.

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So thank you, Jessica, for teaching me that there is such a thing as coming on way too strong. I  hope you finally found that Sailor Moon sticker sheet you were looking for, and that somewhere, out there, you and your side braid are tumbling off into the sunset.

Question of the Day: Did You Have A Pen Pal Growing Up?

When Did Valentine’s Day Get Such a Bad Rap?

The other day, I got a package in the mail from my mom and dad. In it, was a little Valentine’s day gift (yes, I know I am 27 years old.. what is your point, please?), as well as this vintage looking card with Raggedy Ann on the front:

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Curious, I opened it up to reveal that this was one of the cards I had given away myself in elementary school.

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Cute, eh? I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure I gave these out in grade 3. I also dressed up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween that year, so the timeline (and sadness) of it all would make sense.

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Grade 3 was a bit of an awkward year for me.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking about Valentine’s days past.

I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.
I will take any excuse to use this flashback image.

Back when I was a kid, Valentine’s day was invariably awesome. I’d wake up to some little treat from my parents; a card with some chocolate, some new barrettes, maybe even a Barbie (!!!) and then sit down to what I can only assume were my dad’s attempt at heart-shaped pancakes.

He tried.
He tried.

Then, I would deck myself out in red from head to toe (even the socks. I was a Valentine’s day extremist) and head to school, where we’d spend the morning fashioning little envelopes out of construction paper to hang on the edge of our desks to collect our Valentine’s bounty.

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After lunch was when the magic happened: Everyone brought in some food item to share with the class; (homemade cupcakes if your mom was fancy; a box of Oreos in my case) and there was often a bowl of punch, which, as a kid always made you feel very grown up.

Then, when it was time, you’d walk around the room and drop your painstakingly chosen Valentines into the newly minted envelopes of each of your classmates. No one was ever left out; as the rule in my school was that everyone got a Valentine.

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When all was said and done, I’d lay them all out on my desk; analyzing my haul the way I would my Halloween candy. Disney cards were always a constant; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Other themes varied from year to year. One year Power Rangers was big; another year I distinctly remember getting 6 separate Sailor Moon cards.

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I can’t help but wonder; when did it all change? When did Valentine’s day go from being this awesome day filled with treats, kitschy cards and self-assurance; to the polarizing, commercial holiday it is today? When did we start calling it “Singles Awareness Day”, rather than just “Best Day Ever”?

sadWas it once elementary school ended, and the safety net of everyone getting a card was cruelly ripped out from under us? Or was it even sooner? Come to think of it, I remember as early as grade four, poring over the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles card given to me by my crush, analyzing the cryptic message inside. “You have a Pizza My Heart” it read. Did this mean we were officially an item now? He had pushed me in the mud earlier that day…

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I can’t say for sure, but I kind of long to have those days back. I want to make sh*t out of construction paper again, and dress in monochromatic red with reckless abandon. I want to drink Hawaiian punch out of a fancy bowl and gorge myself on Grocery store slab cake. (Ok, that last part I will probably still do; though it will be in the solace of my own home rather than a classroom setting. And the punch will probably be spiked with the good stuff). Who’s with me? Let’s find a DeLorean and make it happen.

Question of the Day: When did your perception of Valentine’s Day shift?

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