Pre-Dirty-Thirty FunTimes: Learning How to Surf

As most of you know, there are a lot of "25 Before 25" and "30 Before 30" lists floating around in the blogosphere. I too, had a "30 Things to do Before I'm 30" but the last four years of being sick completely destroyed that.

It's been a bummer, being in Life's Time-Out-Corner, but the more I thought about what I haven't manage to accomplish (yet) the more I realized that I've actually done a lot of sweet stuff already. 

So, I've decided to spend the next few weeks posting 30 of the most awesome Pre-Dirty-Thirty Things I've already done.

*waxes optimism*

*squeezes lemonade out of lemons*

*looks to the sunny side of the street*

So without further adieu..

My first Pre-Dirty-Thirty FunTime: Learning How to Surf!

I've always dreamed of surfing but it seemed like an impossible feat, considering I've lived most of my life in Toronto. When I was 24, I spent the summer travelling around the South of France. It was pretty much the best summer of my life. As such, they'll probably be a few posts about the highlights.

For two weeks, a pal and I stayed in Biarritz, which is in the South-West corner of the country.

In the mornings, we were in French classes with ten extremely annoying Germans (seriously, they were like 16 years old and just wanted to get drunk...at morning break. I kid you not. It was awful). In the afternoons, we'd walk through Biarritz's very hilly but extremely beautiful downtown to make our way to the beach. Just look at this cute street!

This is the beach where we learned how to surf, called Côte des Basques. Each evening, the tide would completely cover the rocks. It was freaking crazy and a pretty good place to hang out after surfing with a cold glass of wine (legal public drinking made our travels extremely relaxing, haha).

 It was at the bottom of a huge-ass hill. Our bums never looked better! What we didn't know is that the second week of our stay was France's annual surf festival. The entire city was overrun with extremely cute surfer dudes who bought us drinks. It was awesome (obviously).

This was our surf school, under the black tent. Yes, it consisted of a van, tent and sign. With surfers, that's pretty much as legit as you're gonna get. 

Our instructors and my pal. Side story, the one with zinc on his face accidentally gave me a full-frontal-flash on my last day. Despite the cold water, it was quite impressive. 

They nicknamed us "Les Petite Pippettes" which roughly translates to "The Chatterboxes." Yeah, they pretty much had us nailed.

Our first lesson lasted about seven minutes on land and then we took to the water. My arms have never been more sore and it took a lot of inhaled saltwater and sheer determination, but I managed to stand up. Briefly. Before wiping out again. Still, it was the best time ever.

On our last day, a photographer showed up and took some amazing pictures of us cruising into shore. Of course, I'm using the term "cruising" loosely. It was more of a 'please don't fall, please don't fall' kind of deal. 

However, on our glorious last day....

I managed to get up...

 and make it all the way to shore!

It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life! Like floating on a cloud...or water...whatever ;). 

If you EVER have the opportunity, just DO IT! I promise that you won't regret it (just make sure you have health insurance first...I kid, I kid, but not really). And if you have the chance to surf in the south of France during an international festival, well, get on it and book the freaking ticket!


Jack Layton - Classy Guy, Great Leader

Canada suffered a loss today. 

Jack Layton, the leader of The New Democratic Party passed away from cancer. He was a wonderfully charismatic leader who was adamantly focused on the greater good. Whether you think the NDP should be in charge or not, there's no denying that Layton contributed to Canadian politics in a major way.

When he learned of his treatment's failure, he wrote a letter and gave it to his partner to be released upon his death. 

It's truly inspirational and a testament to the kind of man he was.

Rest in peace, Mr. Layton.

August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario
Dear Friends,
Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.
Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.
I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.
I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.
A few additional thoughts:
To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.
To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.
To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.
To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
All my very best,
Jack Layton


Book Club Friday: Sizzle and Burn

Book, Book, Book Club Friday!!

This week, I read Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz.

Romance is the #1 selling genre of fiction.


As such, I figured that it was about time I give one a go. Unfortunately, the first two I started to read were so awful that I was forced to banish them from the house put them down. That all changed though, when I started the first page of Sizzle and Burn.

Heck yes, there's some sizzling in this puppy and a pretty good mystery too.

I usually don't like third-person POVs because I find that I'm being told the story instead of experiencing it alongside the charaters. Ms. Krentz is a super-fantastic writer because she gives just enough for me to know where the characters are coming from without pounding me over the head.

Not only is this a romance/mystery, but it's a paranormal romance/mystery.

Oooooooooo *cue scary music*

No, this isn't a vampire book, but rather, one of many in The Arcane Society Series. Let me break it down for you. The Arcane Society is a seriously old collection of people who have psychic powers. Raine is the granddaughter of a "sensitive" who got kicked out of The Society for trying to develop a Hero-esque injection to enhance powers and Zack is a Society investigator who's set to take over the Big-Cheese position (and be called The Master - slightly cheesy, but it works). Raine hears voices, whispers really, while Zack can feel residual emotional energy. The combo of their powers make them a pretty kick-ass team. 

Raine's grandmother died while living in a nursing home so Raine travels back to Shelbyville to sell her house. Side Note: It was slightly distracting for Ms. Krentz to choose that name as it had me thinking about The Simpsons. Anyway, so Raine goes to her grandmother's house and - SURPRISE - an at-large serial killer had locked a naked girl in the basement. Turns out that the serial killer has a thing for burning witches, or those who s/he suspects is a witch. The Society doesn't really like that, so they send Zack to help figure things out.

The mystery storyline was super-engaging but so was the romance. It also gets going just as fast.


So, fellow Friday Book Clubbers, I'm a reformed romance-hater. In fact, I've already started a second from The Arcane Society Series. It's a little confusing because Jayne Ann Krentz writes under SEVEN pen names (crazy, right?) depending on the genre. Although the second book I'm reading is part of the same series, it's categorized as a historical/paranormal/romance. 

Let me tell you, it's just as good.

So pick up a romance, people! Don't be ashamed! They're GREAT!


Funny Francophones

Break-ups are hard.

We've all been there. They suck.

But what happens if you're the Mayor of a small town in Quebec and you just happen to own an excavation company?

Well, it means that your late-night revenge fantasies can become a reality.

 This past Sunday, the Mayor of St-Theodore-d'Acton decided to give his ex-wife a birthday present...

 A TWENTY TON boulder on her front lawn, complete with a pink bow and 'happy birthday' message.

Look at the size of it! It's almost as big as the house!

Apparently the wife always joked that she wanted a 'big rock.' The article quotes Mr. Mayor as saying that this one is between 18 - 24 "carot-tons."


It's kind of a dick move, but it also makes me want to high-five Mr. Mayor (if only to give him props for originality). I mean, he has to have a pretty great sense of humour to come up with a move like that.

If you want to read the rest of the article, click here

Oh man, it really is funny. Except, of course, if you're Isa.

Lesson for the day: Don't mess with The Francophones. They'll always get you in the end.



Two men and a small grey alien lit up by an spotlight

The Hubby and I have had rotten luck when it comes to renting Dvds. The last few months have been pretty brutal, as far as movies are concerned. Well, this weekend we rented Paul, an alien movie with some of the cast from Run Fatboy, Run (and other things, but I can't remember). Seth Rogan is the voice of the alien, named Paul, and it was freaking hilarious.


Maybe it was the British accents (which seem to make jokes funnier...man I wish I had a cool accent) and the most appropriate timing for dropping the f-bomb, but we were pretty much laughing from start to finish. I also may have cried just a little bit at the end.

The just of the plot-line is that Paul crashed on Earth 60 years earlier and now wants to go home. He escapes from some government facility and is in a race to get to the pick-up location before he's found by agents. The main agent is played by Jason Bateman. 'Nuff said. 

For reals, the cast is bananas. Virtually every funny actor is in it. 

So, two geeky British dudes, who traveled across the pond for Comic-con (amazing), decide to take a road-trip to all of the US's alien-sighting-hot-spots. While on their way to Area 51, they run into Paul and hilarity ensues. They're rolling in an R-V and meet up with some pretty great characters along the way, aside from Paul, who's pretty much the funniest alien ever.

If you loved Pineapple Express, you'll probably love Paul. The flick walks the fine line of crude humour, but didn't cross over into offensive territory (for me, anyway, and I have a pretty low tolerance for offensive stuff). 

I'm going to keep an eye out for a used copy as it's earned a place in our rotation for rainy day movies. Yup, it was that good. 


Just Throw it In the Bag

It's finally happening....

After years of having to drive over an hour and a half...

We're finally getting a COSTCO!!!

Ten minutes from my house!!

Maybe I should be a little embarrassed with how FREAKING EXCITED I AM, but....well...I just can't help it! Aside from the giant mustards, bulk paper towel and Sample Saturdays (theoretically, as the very last thing I do is eat samples...you know, cause of all of the germs and stuff - oh, except for when they give out Ferro Roche chocolates because those are individually wrapped) my INSANE LEVEL OF EXCITEMENT is really for their photo lab. 

For whatever reason, Costco is the shiz when it comes to photo finishing. Not only with the standard sizes, but with enlargements as well. Plus, I can email my pictures and then just pick them up when they're ready.


So as of NEXT FRIDAY I'll be able to fill the picture frames on our dining room wall.

They were laying on our dining room table for a little while, but then we needed to use it. We had some people over last weekend and they looked at the picture frames and suspected that I was a slight bit crazy, with the orange flowers and Asian children. After I explained that I'd be putting actual photos in the frames, they seemed relieved (sort of).

The plan is to make a collection of pictures from my cooking/baking adventures. Fitting for a dining room, I think anyway.

T-7 days!!!

Woot WOOT!

ps. The books that my in-laws gave us are currently in 3 very high piles on the edge of the table. Hence why you can see them in this shot. I've made some serious progress, but there's much more reading to be done!


1 1/2 Inches of Pure Pleasure

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

A lot. 

Tiled floors don't provide much cushion and as much as I theoretically want to wear slippers, I don't. When I go on a baking bender, which I've been on lately (and with my Dad and brother coming to visit in the next couple of weeks, I won't be slowing down much) my knees and back ache after a few hours.

Well, sore backs and tired legs are NO MORE!!!


Because I got me one of THESE


It's called a Wellness Mat and their motto is: standing is believing.

Let me tell you that I'm a BELIEVER!!

It's like standing on a cloud. A supportive and ergonomically designed cloud. 

If anyone out there spends more than a couple of hours on their feet, I'd HIGHLY suggest getting one of these. Baking a pie has never been more enjoyable!

And before you get all 'that mat will get dirty and germy' on me, let me tell you that it's completely stain and bacteria resistant. I know, it really is the best thing ever. The mat's about 1 1/2 inches high, which is enough that even when I stand on it, my feet barely feel the floor. The lady at the store said that people stand on them with stilettos and they never rip or leave a mark. I don't know exactly what it's made of, but it's clearly from space.

So go and get one!!

Right now!

You won't be sorry.


Gavin DeGraw, Attacked?!

DISCLAIMER: I swear a lot in this post. You've been warned.

Holy CRAP!

What the hell is going on? 


I just read that on Sunday night, Gavin DeGraw was ATTACKED in the East Village!

According to the article, he was assaulted by a GROUP of people! His nose was broken and he's in the hospital under observation.

Being attacked by a group of violent strangers is probably one of the most terrifying things ever.

What a nightmare.

His album's set to drop on September 6th. I wasn't going to buy an advanced copy because there aren't any previews (and his last two albums were 'ho hum' to me) but feel compelled to do it now. 

Oh man, I hope they catch the assholes who did it. And yes, they're definitely assholes, as only a total douche-bag would participate in a gang-attack. 

You got beef with someone and want to 'work it out' one-on-one. I've got no problem with that. Do what you have to do.

Cruising with a crew that beats up a single person for NO REASON? Well, that makes you a Douchey-Mc-Asshole-Pants (yes, with capitals).

*goes off to iTunes*


Cutest Puppy Rival

Here's the deal: Our two little furbabies are hella cute.

Yes, I'm terribly biased, but it's also kind of a fact. They're small, so they have a bit of an unfair cuteness advantage. That being said, they seem to have met their match.

Yesterday, while The Hubby was hard at work building our new deck, one of his buddy's girlfriends brought over their new puppy. Technically, they were planning on selling the puppies but two nights ago, one of them choked on a piece of dentabone and had to be rushed to the vet. Turns out, the puppy INHALED the bit of treat and it was lodged in his lungs. The vet said that he'd probably die.


This guy's a little fighter. He lived through the night and the vet called the next morning to say that he was eating and alert. 

Naturally, after such a traumatic experience (for my hubby's buddy's girl) that they've decided to keep the little guy and name him Onyx.

He's basically a two pound ball of fluff and I took about one million pictures of him yesterday.

The Pickle was ALL UP in Onyx's little grill. At first, he wasn't impressed, but then they started to play.

It's hilarious for me to see these pictures because they make The Pickle look big.

It was really hot, so we brought out the hose and soaked them. It was a wet puppy party.

Look at his FACE!! Too precious!

There's two left in the litter and The Hubby and I have had a few conversations about a possible third addition. Of course, that would be CRAZY, right? We're not really going to get another but MAN, are these puppies cute. It's a good thing Onyx is going to stick around because hopefully just being able to visit with him will get rid of the OVERWHELMING URGE to bring a tiny black fluffball home.

Fingers crossed.


Book Club Friday: Something Wicked

It's FRIDAY!!! 

*bangs xylophone*

Time for BOOK CLUB!

This is what I read!

From the Back:

Something Wicked is the story of a young woman who, surrounded by ugliness, seeks beauty in her life and in herself.

16-year-old Melissa's most recent troubles stem from a secret: her twenty-eight-year-old boyfriend, Michael, has just broken up with her. Even though the relationship is clearly over, Melissa clings to the past, riding a never-ending wave of hope and disappointment. Meaningless sexual escapades, drunken nights, and drug-induced blackouts help her deal with heartbreak, but her pain goes much deeper than her failed relationship. Along with a broken heart, Melissa has to cope with the memories of her younger brother's death; the non-existent parenting of her insecure, flighty mother; being juggled between social workers and psychologists; and getting kicked out of school and sent to a special program for at-risk youth. So when the cracks in her life threaten to tear her apart, Melissa has to decide whether to keep fighting -- or to let go.

My Take:


Like, Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes.

So, this book came to me in the extremely large in-law-sponsored-book-drop-off. I've been trying to mix things up a little and since YA's so popular now, figured I'd give this one a go. Plus, it's set in Toronto and I love reading books set in places I know. The problem, though, is that this was one of the most disturbing books ever.

Okay, maybe not the MOST disturbing, but if I were to have a sixteen-year-old-daughter, I'd be moving her out of the city ASAP. I remember what it was like being a teen in Toronto, but Melissa's experiences are nothing like my own. She's hard-core into drugs, her mother really doesn't seem to care, and...yes...her ex-boyfriend was TWENTY-EIGHT!

Something Wicked is like that movie Kids, but everyone has their legs. I know I'm dating myself here, but that's the closest comparison I could come up with. 

The story moves along, but I found myself reading with my fingers crossed that things would start getting better for Melissa. 

Spoiler Alert: That doesn't happen. 

It may be my adult mind, but I found some parts to read much more adult-y than teen-y. The language was sophisticated at times, over what I felt would be appropriate for Melissa's character. And there's just SO MUCH SEX! Nothing too detailed, obviously, but Melissa sure gets around. She reflects on why she has sex, and decides it's because she likes the power. I'm all for female empowerment, but believe that 16's a little too young for genuine sexual empowerment. That, or I'm just a prude.

So, if you're looking for a fun summer read. This isn't it.

If you're looking for something to give your teenaged daughter. This isn't it either. Or, if you do give it to her, please talk to her about it afterwards. 

Seriously, Something Wicked is basically a glimpse into the world of a terribly unhappy teenaged girl who desperately wants to be loved and accepted. Unfortunately, Melissa's story isn't unique and that might be the most depressing point of all.

In sum, it's kind of a bum-mer. 


The Best Picture I've Ever Taken

I was combing through my posts this morning and CANNOT believe I forgot to upload this picture! 

It's the kind of picture that makes me even more excited for our Costco to open (T-2 weeks!!) so I can get it enlarged and then hang it on my wall to...well...brag about how awesome it is.

This Monarch was the best model ever. It moved around the post and kept showing off its beautiful wings. I think I took six thousand shots, but THIS one was the best! I freaking LOVE my camera! It really does all the work...and then I get to reap the benefits.


Mwuah, mwuah, mwuah


Floating...Floating...Floating Down The River

So yesterday was a glorious day!


The weather was lovely, the river water was freezing, but they balanced out nicely. We were on the river for 3 and a half hours and got to discover a whole new section of rapids, which were AWESOME!

There have also been some upgrades. Please note the THREE levels of tubes available for rental. Last year, there were only two, but now...NOW, there's a LUXURY option!

Oooo, lala!

Speaking of 'discovering' there was another group with us, two younger couples. Usually the river's packed on a weekend, but the only drop-off time we could get was at 11, so it was just us and them.

To call them annoying would be an understatement. 

Eventually, they got far enough ahead so we couldn't hear them anymore. When we did catch up, it was because they pulled over on the side of the riverbank. We saw the four of them, searching through the tall grass and when we got close enough, overheard them saying that they'd found beer hidden in the bushes! It was like a drunk Easter Egg hunt, the four jackasses using sticks to search for more undercover brews. Who knows how they got there, or how the two couples even found them in the first place, but it kept us giggling for the rest of the afternoon. 

The only really bad part of the day came at the end. There's a dock at the bottom of the giant staircase where you get out, which is where I saw the BIGGEST SPIDER OF MY LIFE!

BIGGER than the one that tried to attack me in my backyard last summer.

BIGGER than the one that Marc had to kill with a shovel.

In fact, my hetero-life-partner said that she'd NEVER seen a BIGGER spider in ALL OF NEW BRUNSWICK!

It belonged in a museum, under a glass box. Not all up in my grill.

The super-inconvenient part was that I discovered the spider, which was directly beside the ladder, while my two buddies were still in the water. After screaming for a while and tossing a few rocks, it went under a larger rock, so my girls could get up quickly.

Seriously. It was bigger than The Pickle and wanted to eat us.


ps. I'm really digging the song-parody-posting-titles. They're super fun! (you've been warned)


Why You Need to Follow Maureen Johnson on Twitter


Because she Twitters links like THIS!!

Maureen Johnson's Tweet: 

The proper response to being confronted with Monday:

I am literally crying with laughter. I can barely type.