30.6.11

Dear Gavin DeGraw:


Oh Gavin, I'm so happy you're back. 

Back in the day, circa 2005 (man that makes me feel old), I was obsessed with your album, Chariot. By obsessed, I mean that I listened to it EVERY SINGLE DAY. In the car, in my house, at work, even on the bus that I (wo)manned as a camp counsellor. For me, it was one of those rare albums where I loved each and every song, didn't have to be in a specific mood to listen and could sing along at the top of my lungs. If memory serves, I believe I even looked up the lyrics so I'd be sure I was singing along correctly.  Yeah, I was THAT into it. In fact, I was SO into your croony voice and piano talent that I illegally downloaded live performances with songs that weren't on the album because I couldn't get enough. 

When you came to Toronto, I dragged a friend down to The Opera House to watch you perform. I was BLOWN AWAY by your REMARKABLE talent there, as well. As I was well-versed in your non-released songs, whenever you'd call out for a crowd request, I'd scream "Dancing Shoes," or "Tracks of my Tears," and although you didn't play either, it was still (and is) one of the best concerts I've been to. 

Then...well...something got lost for me with your follow-up album. "In Love With A Girl" was all right, but the only other track I got into was "I Have You to Thank." It was incredibly disappointing that your second album fell flat for me.

I kind of lost track of you after that but then itunes told me you released another album in 2009. Imagine my UTTER DELIGHT when I saw a studio recording of "Dancing Shoes." It's such a beautiful version that it was a good thing I was alone the first time I listened to it because I ended up bawling like a little baby. (Side Story: when I first heard the illegally obtained version, I actually wrote you a letter to say how much I loved it. That's right, you got the first and ONLY fan letter I've ever written. I included a return envelope with prepaid postage...but never got a response. It took some time for my 22-year-old heart to recover but it's cool now). 

Aside from "Dancing Shoes" and "Never The Same" on Free though, I wasn't really feeling the album. 

So when I got an email from your fan club (which is interesting as I hadn't received anything in years and thought that I'd removed myself from the list) telling me you were releasing a new single, I must admit that I dismissed it at first. Well, yesterday I was perusing itunes, looking for new jams and previewed your new single "Not Over You."

Well, shutthefrontdoor, Mr. DeGraw! 



It's AMAZING!!


AH. MAZING.  


I cannot BELIEVE how INCREDIBLE this track is. It makes me want to take lyrical dance classes and learn how to pirouette. The lyrics are beautiful and the composition - WOW - it's just phenomenal. I've listened to it almost twenty times since I downloaded it (legally). For reals. It's like my early-twenties obsession has come back tenfold. The Hubby's ecstatic (not really).

So thank you Gavin Degraw for writing another song that makes me wish it were a turkey sandwich so I could eat it. I will SO be stalking itunes for your next album release and my fingers are mega-crossed that there'll be more just like this one.

For those who haven't heard it yet, take a listen and prepare to have your brain explode from its awesomeness.





ps. As if it was even possible, you've somehow gotten better looking. Nobody can rock a fedora like you can. Whatever you're doing, KEEP IT UP!







25.6.11

Makeover

It's hard for me to believe that it's been over a year since I've started blogging (it was actually back in May, but as per usual, I forgot). What started out as a way for me to kill time has ended up being an almost-daily activity that I now love. Since I spend lots of my time trapped in my house, it's been an awesome way to connect to people. I also love that when something happens, I can share it IMMEDIATELY!


As it's been so long, I can't believe that I still had the same layout I started with! I believe I tried to change it once but ended up back to the original because it wasn't quite right. 


 So after MUCH consideration and trial/error, I've come up with 

THIS


*points left*


*points right*


The new layout is MUCH more reflective of my personality (I'll leave it to you to decide if that's a good or bad thing) and I think it's easier to read. 

I also love all of the white space. Frankly, if I could live in an all-white house, I would (although I'd end up living by myself  because I'd fear that the boys/hubby/friends would get it dirty. It'd be lonely at times but extreme beauty requires extreme sacrifice). The next best thing to THAT is a wonderfully clean looking blog but with a little PIZAZZ! I need me some PIZAZZ! 


 (Side note: that word is not only fun to type, but also to say out loud. Try it!)


There's definitely some room for a little MORE pizazz and at some point I'll get someone to make me a banner, but for now, I think it's looking good! Don't you? 


*fishes for compliments*


Yay for makeovers!




24.6.11

Book Club Friday: House Rules


Wohoo! Time for Book Club Friday!



oooooo, fancy new button



This week, I read this *points below*



From the Back: Jacob Hunt is a teen with Asperger's syndrome. He's hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, though he is brilliant in many ways. But he has a special focus on one subject--forensic analysis. A police scanner in his room clues him in to crimes scenes, and he's always showing up and telling the cops what to do. And he's usually right.

But when Jacob's small hometown is rocked by a terrible murder, law enforcement comes to him. Jacob's behaviours are hallmark Asperger's, but they look a lot like guilt to the local police. Suddenly the Hunt family, who only want to fit in, are directly in the spotlight. For Jacob's mother, Emma, it's a brutal reminder of the intolerance and misunderstanding that always threaten her family. For his brother, Theo, it's another indication why nothing is normal because of Jacob.

And over this small family, the soul-searing question looms: Did Jacob commit murder?


My Take: Jodi Picoult is a workhorse author. By that, I mean that she must spend MONTHS or perhaps YEARS researching before writing because she seriously knows her business. Although there are five points of view (Jacob, his mother Emma, his brother Theo, police officer Rich and lawyer Oliver) the plot isn't spread too thinly between them and I was able to get emotionally invested with each character. The combination of five POVs, legal jargon, police procedure and aspects of Asperger's syndrome could've meant a confusing story, but instead, it's seriously engaging. Like, 'Holy cow it's 2:00 am?!' kind of engaging.

It's a slow start in the beginning, but if you push through, things get BANANAS! I was convinced, on several occasions, that I'd figured out what was going to happen next and I was only right ONCE! Sometimes I was SO wrong that I'd put the book down and look around to see if anyone else was as surprised as I was. Marc was happy when I finished as he didn't really appreciate my outbursts of, "can you BELIEVE that?" and "shut up!" in the wee hours of the morning. I also cried during one part, which is EXTREMELY unusual (sneaky, sneaky,  Ms. Picoult).

House Rules is like a murder-mystery-women's-fiction hybrid with just a dash of YA (two perspectives are under 18). Frankly, I haven't read anything quite like it and I'm definitely going to read more books by Picoult. She's pretty much one of the best new (to me) authors I've read.

Happy page turning!

22.6.11

Shattered Nails


As you may know, I love nail products. OPI has a product called Shattered that's been around for a while, but only available in silver, gold and black. 

Well not anymore!!

I've been waiting FOREVER for the white to come out and I got The Call that they'd come in last week. I rushed back from the store and immediately gave it a go.




It's SO pretty and super easy to apply. The instructions say to use a thin coating, but I used a normal amount of polish and it turned out great. I actually took the photo five days later, so you can see that it's pretty resilient! Shattered is slightly more expensive than standard OPI polish, but it's totally worth it for such a cool-looking manicure!


Up next: toes!


ps. In unrelated news, Julie over at downtime is having a MAD MEN GIVEAWAY! Click here to see what it's all about! With over six months to go until the new season, there's some goodies up for grabs that'll make the wait slightly more bearable so head on over there, people!



21.6.11

In-Law SWAG

My wonderful father-in-law works for Pearson publishing and has the GLORIOUS opportunity to raid the company's staff bookstore on a semi-regular basis. Books that are returned to a bookstore often wind up in the staff bookstore for BARGAIN BASEMENT prices (I'm talking about a buck a book). 

When Marc flew back to borrow his Dad's car for the summer (have I mentioned how AMAZING my poppa-in-law is?) I told him that if he didn't bring back some books for me that he'd be coming home to divorce papers. Obviously, I was kidding (maybe) but Marc seemed to get the point because he did a serious raid of their 'already-read' stockpile and brought back two BOXES of books!


They were bursting! BURSTING!


Hello, lovers.


There's mysteries, thrillers, romances, women's fiction and a few historical fictions. I'm just about finished with Jodi Picoult's House Rules and am VERY excited to pick out a new one from the STACKS!


Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!


*spins*


THANK YOU MOMMA & POPPA G!!



20.6.11

Style, South of the Equator



So this HAS to be one of the GREATEST things I've ever seen. 

*points*

It's like a Nair kit, but with stick-on STENCILS!


EIGHT of them! The dollar sign is freaking hysterical but my fav is the bow-tie. Nothing like a little formal wear to REALLY show that you care.


There will be NO follow-up photo (obviously, yikes) but I just HAD to show how far personal grooming kits have come. If you REALLY want to take things to the next level, they also have dye kits. 

One of the colour choices: hot pink.




19.6.11

Father's Day Photo Montage


So it's that time of year again: Father's Day!


In honour of my Dad, I thought I'd share a few pictures. For his 60th birthday a few years ago, I put together a slide show and got the unique opportunity to root through my Grandmother's house for childhood pictures. Here are some of my faves.


As a little baby.


Not only is he chilling in a wicked flyer but the dog devouring itself in the background gives this photo a little something extra.


Check my Dad's bowtie! Ah. Mazing. Also, my Grandmother's wearing a see-through blouse. Holla!


Probably my favourite picture of my Dad as a kid. The threatening fist shake is amazing.


Biker-in-training.


Here he is around seven years old.


Here are a few that I love from my own childhood/life.


We played a lot of tennis when I was growing up. Here I'm helping dry the court after a rain shower.


My Dad's Halloween costume for the better part of my childhood. I'm talking about YEARS, people. 


I love this picture of us.

Our Wedding. 


So there you go. A photo montage through time. Well, not quite a MONTAGE, but a good collection nonetheless. 


Happy Father's Day, Dad!

xo


aaaaaaaand, just because it IS Father's Day, here's one of my favourite pics of Marc with our boys.


We'd just gotten Pepi (left) from the SPCA. The Pickle thought it was appropriate to wear his fancy sweater to mark the occasion. I agreed.



Truer Words...



18.6.11

Sweet BBQ, Man


I'm going to a BBQ at my Hetero-Life-Partner's house tonight and it's been AGES since I've baked sugar cookies and after seeing THIS, I was inspired!

A little computer-time later, I'd made templates for burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken legs. I have circular cookie cutters, so I used those for the donuts.

Going through the process, step-by-step would take about a zillion pictures and Bridget does excellent tutorials. Here are her instructions for hot dog cookies.



So here they are! Welcome to my Sweet BBQ! 


*hands plate*






Would you like a burger?
Some fried chicken, perhaps?


A hot dog?


Make sure you grab a donut for dessert!


I had the BEST time decorating these. I think the burgers are my favourite. When I added the sesame seeds, it took the design to the next level. I'm SO excited to show up with these tonight!

Now I just need to go hide them somewhere so Marc doesn't eat them. He HATES when I make things and he can't have any. I made him a custom cookie though, so I'm prepared...but still...I'm gonna hide them.

*sneaks away*


17.6.11

Book Club Friday: Bossypants

It's FRIDAY! YAY!


It's not raining! YAY!!!


Time for BOOK CLUB! YAY!


So first, off, I was planning on reviewing Sweet Valley Confidential, as I started it last week, but I had to put it down. It's not often that I stop reading something I've started (like, I can't even REMEMBER the last time I quit a book) but after about fifty pages, I just couldn't TAKE IT ANYMORE.

What was the problem, you ask?

The font choice! When one of your MAIN CHARACTERS name begins with a "J" then WHY would you choose a font that makes a "J" look like a misplaced "L"? It was SO distracting that I couldn't continue. I didn't know I was a high-maintenance reader until this book.


So onto the ACTUAL review for this week...


Bossypants by Tina Fey

From the Inside Flap: Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off of the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon - from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy.

(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breast-Feeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)


My Take: This book almost killed me. For reals. I wasn't feeling awesome and laughed so hard at one part that I actually started choking. Despite the attempted murder, I couldn't put it down until it was done. 

Then I was sad because it was over.

Not only is Ms. Fey a hilarious comedian, she's also a very talented writer. I flew through the pages not only to read about her life, but also for how she'd describe the events. She's the undisputed Queen of chapter-ending sentences. 

Bossypants could totally be a beach read, but maybe not a public-transit kinda book as I guarantee there'll be at least one part that has you laughing out loud. There are stories from her childhood, her days of doing improv, SNL and 30 Rock. A few photos too, and instead of being all together in the middle, they're inserted into the text (my personal preference, so yay). I definitely wouldn't call this a memoir, so if you're looking for "deep confessions" from a celebrity...well...there aren't any. 


I'll share ONE spoiler; the one that nearly ended my life.

"Always on the cutting edge of beauty, I believe this haircut was executed by folding my face in half and cutting out a heart." - Page 108, below a picture of the described cut.




Not enough reasons to pick up a copy? Then read some of the Praise, found on the back of the book

"You'd be really pretty if you lost weight" - COLLEGE BOYFRIEND, 1990

"I hope that's not really the cover. That's really going to hurt sales" - DON FEY, FATHER OF TINA FEY

"Hilarious and insightful. Laugh-out-loud funny--oh no, a full moon. No! Arrgh! Get away from me! Save yourself!" - A GUY TURNING INTO A WEREWOLF

15.6.11

Not a Senior Yet

Infomercials, for the most part, are freaking hilarious. I'm not sure why insanely-usless items are so appealing between the hours of two to five in the morning, but they are. One of my favourites is the walk-in bathtub. 

I've been a sicky-face for the last few years and my illness has granted me a sneak-preview on what my life will be like when I'm a senior citizen. I get pneumonia, take naps to make it past 9pm, can't handle the heat, can't handle the cold, walk slowly and sometimes need to sit down to take a break, and I'm the proud owner of an assisted parking space permit (you can imagine the looks I get when I whip that baby out, being as I look relatively healthy. My favourite heckle came from a seriously overweight man, parked in an assisted spot, smoking and eating beef jerky AT THE SAME TIME). Anyway, what I'm saying is that I now have a soft-spot for anything senior related, which includes the late-night presentation of walk-in bathtubs.

Here's the commercial. 

Yesterday, while wandering around two major DIY stores, you can imagine my DELIGHT when we FOUND ONE!!



 Obviously, I was inside and seated in less than four seconds.

So I have to say that it's the WEIRDEST feeling, being inside one of these puppies. Although it's open above my shoulders, it was VERY confining. Plus, the overflow thing was around my elbows.There's that spray thingy, but the elderly population I roll with would have a hard-er time reaching their arm around for a rinse than stepping into a shower. 



Marc wasn't terribly impressed either.

Verdict: It COULD be a good idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. You have to wait for the water to drain before getting out and who wants to end a barely-there bath by sitting in the cold while waiting to get out? And my knees pretty much hit the door. Sitting in it made me wonder about those nuts who went over Niagara Falls in wooden buckets. Not the best image to come to mind as those people...well...they mostly died. 

Think of your demographic, people! Just sayin' (haha, but not really).



14.6.11

Bad Blueberries


My breakfast of choice for a while now has been fruit smoothies. Berries, melons, bananas, peaches, oranges...whatever we have goes in the blender with a little yogurt and some fruit/veggie juice.

Mmmmmmmmmmmm.....

This morning though, something BAD happened. 

A GIANT bag of blueberries slipped out of my hands and EXPLODED onto the floor.


That's almost FIVE POUNDS of blueberries.


There were tiny frozen blueberries EVERYWHERE!


(no picture as I was busy losing my mind)


I ran around like a CRAZED LUNATIC, trying to find our broom. By the time I'd checked up AND downstairs to no avail, they'd started to melt. Stuck with my hands, I scooped up the berries as they smeared across the floor.

Here's something I didn't know: BLUEBERRIES STAIN EVERYTHING!


As you can see, there are blue spots EVERYWHERE! It's like HALF our kitchen!

Despite SCRUBBING and SCRUBBING, this is as clean as I can get it. The grout, formerly somewhere in the cream family is now a bluey-purple.


As are my hands.


Stupid blueberries and their delicious antioxidants.

10.6.11

Book Club Friday: Fly Away Home

So Heather over at Blonde...Undercover Blonde has a weekly Book Club link-up and I've decided to participate!

YAY!!



Last week, I finished THIS *points below*



Synopsis from Amazon

Sylvie Serfer Woodruff is stunned when her husband, Senator Richard Woodruff, is exposed by the press for having an affair with a staffer. Though Sylvie is humiliated, she agrees to stand by Richard’s side during his mea culpa press conference. As soon as it’s over, she heads to a house in Connecticut owned by her family, not sure whether she wants to end her marriage or not. The Woodruffs’ two daughters are at similar crossroads in their lives. 

Diana, a physician with a young son, is carrying on an affair with a younger man after growing weary of her marriage, while her younger sister, Lizzie, a recovering addict, is trying to rebuild her life after a stint in rehab. Realizing she has always put Richard first before her children, Sylvie makes a bid to have her daughters join her out at the Connecticut house and is surprised to find their lives as tumultuous as hers has become. Weiner’s trademark blend of wit and sensitivity distinguishes this timely tale about a family in crisis. 
--Kristine Huntley


My Take

I love Jennifer Weiner. I loved Good in Bed, Little Earthquakes and Certain Girls. Although her main characters are much older in this one, she's a talented enough author to keep my interest.

Fly Away Home wasn't quite as entertaining as some of Jennifer's other books, but it was still an engaging story. I found it difficult to empathize with Diana, but really cheered for Lizzie. There's SO MUCH going on in this book that it seemed like two-thirds of it was backstory. It made for a slightly tedious read at times but with drug-use, affairs, surprise pregnancies, political spotlights, and the emotional baggage of three grown women...well, I guess it was necessary. 

I would definitely categorize Fly Away Home as "women's fiction" rather than "chick lit" as the pacing was somewhat slow. If you haven't read Jennifer Weiner before, DON'T start with this one. Pick up Good in Bed and give this one to your Mom. Also, if you're on Twitter, you should totally follow Jennifer. She's really pretty funny.




8.6.11

Bootleg Pan Pizza


For that two weeks, I've been chilling in solitary confinement. Between my lung's attempted-murder from a while ago and being down to one car, the house can sometimes feel VERY CONFINING. I had a mega-craving for a pan pizza from Pizza Hut but when I called to order one, it was almost $22!!


For ONE pizza!


No thanks, Pizza Hut.


So as I wait for The Hut to have a sale, I figured I'd try to make my own. Since I had nowhere else to go and not much else to do, I decided to take it to the NEXT LEVEL and make the sauce too (okay, you've got me, we didn't have any pizza sauce so I didn't have much choice)

Here's what you'll need to make your own pizza sauce.

Sautee the garlic for a couple of minutes in some olive oil.
Add the canned tomatoes and crush them up with a spoon. I pick out all of the non-breaking-down parts because I don't like my sauce to 'crunch' so I ended up adding half a can of tomato paste just to thicken it up a little. Let this simmer gently over slow heat for a while and move onto the dough.
Bread flour, all-purpose flour, water, traditional dry yeast, honey, olive oil and salt. Mix it all together until it's a doughy ball.
Tah-dah! Now let it rise for at least an hour and a half, preferably somewhere warm.

Then it'll look like this.
Despite my DIVERSE collection of baking pans, I didn't have one that was the size the recipe required, so I improvised. Stretching out the dough was pretty easy but next time I'd make it thinner.
Some cheese & pepperoni later and BAM! Pepperoni pan pizza!

It was pretty good but did NOT taste like The Hut. The crust wasn't greasy, so maybe that's why. That being said, the total cost of making everything from scratch was CONSIDERABLY less (mostly because I had everything I needed already). I usually make calzones, when I have a pizza craving and think that I'll stick to that recipe instead. The rising time is a lot less, so it's not as much of a process. Also, one batch of calzones makes 4, so 2 can hang out in the freezer for another time. Don't think I'll be making this one again but am glad I tried it out!


7.6.11

We've Been Benched


For the last couple of years, Marc's been amassing QUITE the tool collection. Despite the PLETHORA of things though, there was always 'something else' he'd need when I'd suggest a project. 

That is, until recently, when in a STRANGE twist of FATE, he suddenly had EVERYTHING he needed. Marc was both elated and disappointed because he knew that I'd start compiling a mega-list of things to do. He knows me well.

First up was our front bench.

So, off to the right, is the second of FOUR design attempts we tried.  Originally, the house came with a small table between the two benches but we were WAY too tall for it, so first we removed the table and made the cushion covers.

Then it became winter and we realized that there was NOWHERE to put our shoes. It sucked. Snow and dirt were EVERYWHERE. Thankfully, Marc was just as over it as I was. 
 


First up, remove the built-in benches.
SURPRISE, there weren't any tiles beneath the benches! Instead, particle board GLUED to the floor. Boourns. 
We decided to just build over them. Tiling the floor wasn't something we had planned on doing. So here's Marc, hard at work putting together the NEW bench. He's so hot when he's being handy, especially when he has a pencil tucked behind his ear (you can't see it but it's on the other side). 
A few un-photogaphed steps later, there's rubber matting where there were no tiles, the bench was painted white and we upholstered some MDF with GORGEOUS fabric. 

I LOVE IT! 

The project is SUCH a great example of how Marc and I work together. It took both of our strengths to make it happen and it turned out just as we'd (mostly I'd) imagined. Yes, aside from painting the walls, we also need to figure out what to do with the chipped tiles, but those are smelly projects that won't be happening for a while. In the meantime though, we have a comfy place to sit with our shoes neatly lined up underneath.


Yay for mini-home renos!



6.6.11

Roll Out, Ravioli

When I set out to the local butcher, who's slogan over the register reads: 

"We know our cows by the first names of their farmers"

I'd already decided to make a lasagna. When I got home and got everything out though, I discovered a long-lost and NEVER USED ravioli press. As such, I switched gears immediately and tried it out. The learning curve was about a 2 out of 5 so I'd highly recommend it!

Probably the most basic ingredients ever. 

Mix together, knead for 3 - minutes, let rest 20 minutes and then divide into 4 pieces. 

Filling. Ground beef, mozzarella cheese, eggs, garlic, salt & pepper.
Tools for rolling out the dough. My kitchen aid pasta roller (courtesy of the Ya-Yas, *holla*) and a ravioli press.

Roll out. 


Lay the pasta over the press, use the indent maker to...well...make the indents.

Add the meat.

Put another layer of pasta overtop and roll over with a rolling pin. Then pull out the raviolis. Dry for 2 hours (1 on each side) if freezing or cook right away!

The bigger the pot the better. This round took 9 minutes to be absolutely perfect!


It was super yummy and made enough for EIGHT servings! 

Not bad when the cost of the WHOLE BATCH was $12, including sauce. 

Yummy, cost-effective and somewhat healthy with the extra lean natural beef and (evil but delicious) white flour. I SUPPOSE it'd be better for you with whole wheat pasta, but I suspect the dough would be a little trickier to get sealed. 

Slightly more time consuming than lasagna but it was good to mix it up a bit!