28.11.11

I'm Very Versatile.




Yesterday, I was perusing the blogosphere, checking out my faves when I noticed something AMAZING!


Julie over at Tri-ing To Be Athletic gave me an award!! YAY!


*squeezes airhorn*


20111101-222814.jpg
That's ME! I'm versatile! 


So, the award means I need to share 7 new things about myself. After spending ALL DAY yesterday thinking, this is what I've come up with:




1. I've started collecting Nutcrackers. Not just ANY Nutcrackers, though. They need to be special and socially diverse. The Little Person Fireman is this year's addition.


2. I feel a kinship with Zooey Deschanel's character on New Girl because I TOO like to sing things instead of just saying them. You know, like: "It's time for supper," or "Would you like to go for a walk, little puppy-pants?" (ps. I feel like I'm in a Harry Potter book with this picture. HOW is it doing that?)



3. I spend all day by myself and sometimes like to channel my inner stripper. I picked up a few wigs during Halloween sales, which have obviously taken my Fireman spins to the next level. I would also like to say that the disco ball makes me better, but I'm still not that great. How do ladies make it seem so easy? And yes, sometimes I just wear the wigs while doing mundane things around the house - like washing the dishes. The postal delivery man might think I'm imbalanced but long blue hair is awesome.


4. I LOVE SPARKLES! Okay, so that's not new info but OPI's new Muppets collection IS! When it was released, I scoured the city for a bottle of Rainbow Connection - the best of them all. Don't worry, someday you'll find it...bahaha!


5. I recently discovered that my shampoo is made by Captain Planet as: the elements of earth, wind, fire and water represent a unique combination of certified organic botanicals and incredible style. 


6. I have the best Mum ever. Yeah, yeah, everyone's Mum is the best but mine SERIOUSLY is! Even though she lives in Scotland (Oban, to be specific) for half the year and we don't see each other much, she's super supportive. The last few years would've been even more brutal without her. Props to her. *hands GIANT bag of props*

7. Sometimes I wish I was Jiggy from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 



So, now I get to pass on the award to others! Who shall it be...WHO SHALL IT BE?

Heather at Blonde...Undercover Blonde writes about all sorts of stuff. She's also the go-to gal for giveaways - she knows about 'em all! I also love her Book Club Fridays, which I link up with when I have a review to share. 

Julie at Velvet & Shag always has ah-mazing interior design ideas AND she has an etsy store where she sells Mad-Men inspired home furnishings. Her weekend warm-ups are awesome too.

Heather at Fine Wine and Diapers has the CUTEST family and she's always doing fun stuff with them.

And finally, Diana (my mother) at What Is It All About. She does lots of cool stuff and has started a blog to write it all down. 


Thanks again for the award, Julie! And if you haven't checked out her blog...GO THERE IMMEDIATELY! She has the best cartoon drawings EVER! Plus, you might learn a thing or two about triathlons. 



26.11.11

Face Stabbing & Ego Stroking


Since I was 15, I've wanted to do something. All my friends beat me to the punch though, and since I don't like looking like everyone else, I shelved the idea. When Marc and I moved out here, it took me a while to notice that my group of friends didn't have them.


What am I talking about?


A nose piercing (sorry Mum).


I know, I know, they're not for everyone but I've literally wanted one forever and I decided to treat myself last week. I was super nervous about getting it done, so I asked my Hetero-Life-Partner to come with me on her lunch break. She did, which was great.


When I got to the piercing place, about ten minutes early so I could fill out the paperwork, I was greeted by a dude with huge spacers in his ears and a surprisingly attractive double nostril piercing. His name was Adam and he was the piercer extraordinaire. As with most people who meet me for the first time, he wasn't quite sure how to take me. Before long, though, I won him over.


Ten minutes later, Adam became the president of my fan club and proceeded to inflate me with so much self-esteem that I had trouble fitting through the door on my way out.


Ego Stroke 1: I have perfect nostrils.


Ego Stroke 2: My glasses have lots of style.


Ego Stroke 3: I'm cute when I crinkle my nose (which meant he had to change where the piercing was or it'd stick out every time I crinkled - what a pro).


Ego Stroke 4: Apparently I didn't flinch, which made me "pretty bad-ass." I'm not 100% in agreement with him there but I'll take his word for it.


Ego Stroke 5: When told that any jewelry would be fine once it's healed, Adam clarified a moment later with: "Except stuff from Ardene." 

My response: "Adam, does this look like someone who wears jewelry from Ardene?" (I then pointed to my face). 

His answer: hysterical laughter. (For those who don't know, Ardene is a place where the cheapest jewelry of life is sold. Since I'm allergic to nickel, just walking into that place makes me break out in a rash....sorry Ardene, but you know it's true). 


So, if I'm ever having a bad day, I might just mosey on down to the tattoo studio and get something else pierced. Not only did I leave with a pretty purple stone in my nose but a with a little bit of swagger too.


Thanks Adam!


23.11.11

Another New Brunswick Kijiji Gem


This time, it comes from Moncton (about 2 hours away).

Enjoy (and you're welcome)



11HP/29" Snowblower





Do you like shoveling snow? Then stop reading this and go back to your pushups and granola because you are not someone that I want to talk to.

Let’s face it, we live in a place that attracts snow like Magnetic Hill attracts cars, only that ain’t an illusion out there. That’s 12 inches of snow piling up and, oh, what’s that sound? Why it’s the snow plow and it’s here to let you know that it hates you and all the time you spent to shovel your driveway. Did you want to get out of your house today? Were you expecting to get to work on time? Or even this week?

You gave it your best shot. You tried to shovel by yourself and I respect you for that. I did it, my parents did it, some of my best friends did it. But deep down inside, we all wanted to murder that neighbor with the snowblower who was finished and on his second beer while you were still trying to throw snow over a snowbank taller than you are.

So, here we are. You could murder your neighbour, which could ensure that you won’t need to shovel a driveway for 25 to life, but there are downsides to that too. What to do?

Here’s the deal. I have a snow blower and I want you to own it. I can tell you’re serious about this. It’s like I can almost see you: sitting there, your legs are probably crossed and your left hand is on your chin. Am I right? How’d I do that? The same way that I know that YOU ARE GOING TO BUY THIS SNOWBLOWER.

I want you to experience the rush that comes with smashing through a snowdrift and blowing that mother trucker out of the way. The elation of seeing the snow plow come back down your street and watching the look of despair as your OTHER neighbour gets his shovel out once more while you kick back with a hot cup of joe (you don’t have a drinking problem like that other guy).

Here’s what you do. You go to the bank. You collect $900. You get your buddy with a truck and you drive over here. You give me some cold hard cash and I give you a machine that will mess up a snowbank sumthin’ fierce. I’ve even got the manual for it, on account of I bought it brand new and I don’t throw that kind of thing away. Don't want to pay me $900? Convince me. Send me an offer and I'll either laugh at you and you'll never hear back from me or I'll counter.

You want a snow blower. You need a snow blower.

This isn’t some entry level snow blower that is just gonna move the snow two feet away. This is an 11 HP Briggs and Stratton machine of snow doom that will cut a 29 inch path of pure ecstasy. And it’s only 4 years old. I dare you to find a harder working 4 year old. My niece is five and she gets tired and cranky after just a few minutes of shoveling. This guy just goes and goes and goes.

You know what else? I greased it every year to help keep the water off it and the body in as good as shape as possible. It's greasier than me when I was 13, and that's saying something.

You know how many speeds it has? Six forward and two in reverse. It goes from “leisurely” slow up to “light speed”. Seriously, I’ve never gone further than five because it terrifies me. I kid you not, you could probably commute to work with it dragging you.

You know what else is crappy about clearing snow in the morning? That you have to do it in the dark. Well, not anymore! It has a halogen headlight that will light your way like some kind of moveable lighthouse (only better, because lighthouses won’t clear your driveway).

Oh, and since it’s the 21st century, this snow blower comes with an electric starter. Just plug that sucker in, push the button, and get ready to punch snow in the throat. If you want to experience what life was like in olden days, it comes with a back-up cord you could pull to start it, but forget that. The reason you’re getting this fearsome warrior was for the convenience, so why make it harder on yourself?

By this point, you’re probably wondering why I would sell my snowblower since the first snowpocalypse is upon us today. I’ll tell you why: because I heard it was time for you to man up and harness some mighty teeth and claws and chew your way to freedom, that’s why.

This is my snow blower. Make it your snow blower.

And people still wonder why we moved out here....go figure!




21.11.11

Canada Post Sucks. Big Time.


I've just gotten off the phone with the rudest customer service rep I've had the displeasure of speaking with. Since moving to our fabulous house in Hanwell, NB, I've noticed that the Xpresspost packages I pay a premium for - to be delivered to my door - haven't been arriving. Instead, I get a little tag in my mailbox that makes me go into Fredericton to pick them up. I've made calls before, inquiring why the packages weren't being delivered to my house.


Finally, I got a phone call back.


To say that I'm writing this post because I'm VERY VERY ANGRY would be an understatement. I'm actually VERY VERY FURIOUS!


Why?


First off, the Canada Post rep called me at 7:43AM on a Monday morning. I guess it's impressive that they work that early, but my mother always told me never to call before 8:00am and past 8:00pm because that's when families are getting themselves together for the day or winding down afterwards. Case in point - I was washing The Pickle for the upteenth time since he got skunk-ed in the face last week. 


Then, she launched into her "explanation" as to why the packages weren't being delivered to my door. Apparently, I live 0.5km from an urban area, therefore designating me as a "rural delivery." That means that the post office delivery person doesn't have to come to my house. Instead, they'll leave the packages in the community mailbox at the end of my street. Interesting how not ONE Canada Post employee has EVER informed me of that. I've been paying a premium for shipping and now and ADDITIONAL fuel surcharge for a service that they had NO INTENTION of making good on.


The three packages I called specifically about were very small. One was slightly larger, but totally fold-able as it was a jacket. They would totally have fit in the community mailbox, but the rep "explained" that all of the boxes must have been full. 


I asked her if that meant I'd get a refund for the difference between regular and Xpresspost because I've clearly been paying for a service that Canada Post NEVER INTENDED on fulfilling. Surprisingly, she said no. She went on to say that there would be a new community mailbox installed soon with more space. 


"And when would that be installed?" I asked. 

"Sometime before Christmas," she responded.

"Well, will there be some sort of notice sent out or something?" I asked.

"It's not just for you m'am. It's for the community. We don't send out notifications," she said snarkily.

"Not just for me?"

"Yes. It's for the community."

"So, basically, you're saying that I'm paying for a service that you don't actually make good on and there may be a new mailbox installed some time before Christmas where I still won't have packages delivered to my door but they may be left at the end of my street?"

"It's not the responsibility of rural delivery drivers to take packages to your door, m'am."


Really?!? It ISN'T? Then why is the service advertised as such?! How is that NOT stealing my money? Please, someone tell me.


This type of bullshit is enough to make me pull out my hair, which is BAD because I don't have a whole lot to begin with. 


I really hope that this phone conversation was recorded "for customer service training" because she was a serious bitch. An uninformative, unapologetic bitch. 


*hears doorbell*


Oh, wait. There's the Purolator delivery guy. Although I apparently live in the middle of nowhere, he always seems to find my address just fine. How interesting. 



18.11.11

Swallowing Constructive Criticism


So it's been three months since I began querying my second novel. Three months that have felt like three years. In total, I've queried fifteen agents and have just heard back from the last one. I'm sure you can guess by the lack of exclamation points that all have passed.


However, all is not lost! (ha)


Of the fifteen agents, I received personalized rejections from seven. Some were more detailed than others but they all basically said the same thing: I hate your MC.


Okay, so they didn't actually say that, but rather, that my MC wasn't very relatable. One agent said that she wanted to like my MC, but just couldn't. Another mentioned that I had a "meandering start."


Yikes and yikes.


After curling up into the fetal position going over my beta reader notes I noticed that there were hints of what the agents had said. I couldn't believe it, really, but it was true. My MC is a strong female character but I crossed over the line of relatability. I'd gotten so focused on her strength that I had alienated her.


Not.Good.


I remember that when I first read over the beta reader survey, there were a few things that I didn't agree with. Sure, that happens. People disagree all of the time. As with all criticism (from people that you can trust, that is) there's a reason behind it. I've learned from experience to "take what helps and leave the rest," but what happens if you really are going down the wrong path but don't know it? Isn't that the whole reason you're getting others to read your work?


Well, I got snared in that trap. The trap of not really listening to the feedback my readers gave me. Combine that with the SAME feedback from agents and it's clear to me that I need to do some major revisions.


May-jah.


I let the MS rest for about nine days as I dealt with my medical issues. In the meantime, a lot of authors I love blogged about how they dealt with constructive criticism (Tawna Fenske in particular, click here for her post). I also read a Twitter from an author that offered suggestions on how to tell if your characters are working or not. The information swirled around in my big sexy brain for a while and when I came back to my MS, it was like reading it for the first time. That was both a good and bad thing.


The good thing was that I fell back in love with my MC and her journey. In the last few months, I'd sort of grown to hate her. A natural part of writing that can leave some raiding their freezer for the latest Ben & Jerry's flavour. Luckily, I've moved past that phase (but can unequivocally recommend If I had 1,000,000 Flavours...mmmm).


The bad thing is that I can now clearly see what everyone was talking about. It's not so much of a bad thing, but I see now just how much work I have to do. I've spent the last week ripping my MS to shreds. 


One read-through focused on flushing out my MC's vulnerability. 


Another gave a secondary character a lot more space and influence. 


The third (where I currently am) is amping up the drama because, after all, this is a work of fiction. And fiction doesn't have to be real life. In fact, it shouldn't! People read to escape and since I'm writing chick lit, I need to pick up the pace. Why have something almost catch on fire when it can erupt into flames, evacuate a building and earn my MC the nickname of "Arson Annie?"


I'm sure that you see my point. Haha. 


I think I have a few more read-through's to go and at first I was a little stressed about it because agents are starting to close for queries until the new year. If it takes me that long to re-work my MS, then so be it. I'm not going to rush. The goal is producing the best work I can and I know that my MS is already much stronger than it was when I started querying in September. 


So, at the end of the day, I might of eaten the first round of constructive criticism but am now in the process of chewing and swallowing it. It doesn't taste particularly good, but the more I grind out the juices, the better the outcome is. I've lost count with how many revisions I've done on this MS since I finished the first draft because it doesn't really matter. However long it takes me to get there, I know that I'll eventually see the top of the publication mountain.


I've heard the view is just spectacular.


*straps on hiking shoes*




17.11.11

Book Club Friday: A Shore Thing


Bookity, bookity, book club!!




Hooray!!!



This week, if you can believe it or not, I read A Shore Thing by everyone's favourite guidette - Snooki.



Yes folks, I really did it. And the most unexpected part?


I loved it!


I know, I'm just as surprised as you are but it's true. A Shore Thing is freaking hilarious. I was hooked from start to finish.


Enter Gia, a character who's clearly based on Snooki. She's a take-no-prisoners gal on the hunt for her man and a good time. She goes to the Jersey Shore for a month with her cousin Isabella (Bella, Bells, Hells Bells), who seems an awful lot like J-Wow. While Gia's ready to get the party started, Bella's a little more hesitant, after coming out of a long-term and bad-news relationship.


Sound just like The Jersey Shore? Well, it pretty much is. Only funnier. 


There are juice-head gorillas, douchey out-of-towners, hilarious cougars and enough tequila shots to fill up every pool in Jersey. Throw in some amphibian rescues, a couple of fires, elaborate plans for revenge and a trip to the police station and you've got yourself a winner. 


I also picked up a few beauty tricks I'd been unaware of. For instance, it's possible to wear two sets of false eyelashes at the same time. Also, it's important to put cream on the bottom of your feet before getting a spray-tan. Oh Snooki Gia, you're a gold mine!


But for reals guys. It really is a fun read. Whether or not Snooki actually wrote it doesn't really matter. Her witty quips are all over the place, as well as the occasional "Waaa." So if you like watching The Jersey Shore, but are over The Situation and Ronnie-Sammie-drama, then pick up A Shore Thing. The female MCs are strong, fierce women who leave a wake of destruction behind them.


Destruction with broken hearts and a few bruises from a paintball gun.


All-in-all, I give this baby five fist pumps out of five. 


Eff, Marry & Kill 2.0


YAY! 

photobucket

So I didn't quite get a hang of this last time, but this time, I'm ON IT (sort of). I noticed last time that a lot of people had three related dudes but I couldn't find one show or single movie where three guys were appealing (or hadn't been done already). 


I put on my thinking fedora and came up with this (brilliant) idea!


The Batman franchise!! I know, right? Such a good idea! Haha. 


Here we go!!


Eff

Eff, Eff, a million times....Eff. Holy crapballs, is Christian Bale ever a hottie-Mc-tottie in The Dark Knight. I can't WAIT for the next one, even though Anne Hathaway's in it (don't get me started on her). His method-actor tendencies don't make him marriage material, but luckily, there's a category that'd let me stroke his beautiful abs.


Marry

Oh hello there George-y (it's cool, we're gonna get married so I can call him that). Although Batman and Robin wasn't the greatest of movies, there's no denying that Mr. Clooney is a stone-cold silver fox. As such, it's really more of an investment in my future than anything else. How he manages to get better looking as time goes on is a mystery, but one that I'm quite prepared to dedicate myself to solving.


Kill

Oh Val, he's got to go. With the other big-name actors fighting to be top bat, he fails on a few fronts. Most importantly (obviously), he's just not as good looking. Plus, his deep Batman voice was much more creepy than sexy. Oh, and apparently he's pretty short and has super-bad BO. Yiiiikes. 


Thanks to Heather & Michelle for hosting!

16.11.11

Illegal Advertising


After a day of tests at my doctor's office in Ontario, my part-time-hair-model pal and I were in the mood for pancakes, hash-browns and swiss-cheese-chicken-sandwiches. Naturally, that meant Denny's. I whipped out Fiona, my AyePhone (she's a pirate), and used the GPS to locate the nearest restaurant.

Downtown Hamilton isn't exactly a shiny and happy place, but it was the middle of the day so we didn't think much of the boarded up buildings and sketchy neighbourhoods.



Then, we stopped at a traffic light and I noticed something. Can you see it?



Yes, that's a professionally-designed sign. Advertising an illegal biker gang "hideout." True story.


You know you're in a sketchy city when gangs can advertise. Just sayin'.


Oh, and Fiona played the most awful trick on us, after leading us around the seedier parts of Hamilton. She claimed we were "at our destination" when, in fact, we were in an abandoned parking lot of a closed-down elementary school.


Needless to say, they didn't have any pancakes. 



15.11.11

Geometry Trickery

I've been a semi-competitive baker for quite some time. What does that mean? Well, it means that I love baking and LOVE when what I bake is better than other people's. Haha!

As such, I often don't use pre-packed mixes for things. Not only do I have the time to make from-scratch recipes, they really do taste better. However, in recent months, I've been hella tired and haven't made many things. During a recent trip to the States with my Mum, we found pre-packaged TollHouse cookies. 



According to the instructions, all you had to do was break off however many cookie's worth of dough you wanted. No cracking eggs and no sifting flour.

Sold. 


Last night, I had a craving for a cookie. Instead of making an entire batch that I'd only end up eating myself, I turned to the pre-made dough. 

How hilarious are the cutting instructions?

Now, the dough was divided into squares. Nowhere in the instructions did it say to roll them into balls. I wasn't in the mood for square cookies, but decided to follow the directions in their entirity. Baking can be tricky sometimes.


So, I chose to make 8 cookies. Yes, that seems extreme. Don't judge.


The instructions said that they'd take a mere 10 minutes at 350 degrees. The entire process of cutting the package and breaking the dough took less than two. So far, these TollHouse babies not only saved me from dishes, but also a whack of time.


To my UTTER SHOCK and SURPRISE, during the 10 minutes they were in the oven, the cookies changed from squares to circles.


SQUARES TO CIRCLES!


How is that possible? Perhaps it's elf-en magic - even though they live in a tree over at Keebler, there has to be some spillover or something. It just doesn't make sense to me.


That being said, the tricker-ous cookies were delicious! All four of them, leaving four delectable little puppies for today. Not that I plan on eating them for breakfast this morning....or am I?


MmmmmMMmmmMMMMmmmm!






12.11.11

Proof That I Really Do Have the Best Baby Brother EVER!


Look what came in the mail!!!


LOOK!!!


*points excitedly while jumping up and down and squealing like a 12-year-old girl*




EEeeEEeEeeEEeeeeeEeEeeeEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's the actor who plays Sam Swarek! And he knows my name!


HE. KNOWS. MY. NAME.


*swoons*


Heck yes I can't wait 'till season 3! Especially those shirtless bed scenes.


It's cool. The Hubby doesn't mind (much).


For those who don't quite understand why I'm SO EXCITED, click here. I'd also like to point out that a certain amount of my psych-ness could be that I've never had an autographed picture before! How cool is it that my first is personalized? (If this is standard practice for autographed pictures, please don't tell me. I'm digging the bubble of coolness that I'm chilling in right now. Thank you in advance for your co-operation). 



11.11.11

Book Club Friday: The Gap Year for Grown Ups


I'm back, I'm back, I'm back for BOOK CLUB FRIDAY!!!





It's Remembrance Day here, which is a holiday (yay) so The Hubby's upstairs still sleeping. Before getting into the book review, I'd just like to take a moment to thank veterans for their courage and extreme sacrifice so I can live the life I do.


Last year, I wrote a post about my Papa. If you'd like to read it, click here.


All right, moving on.


This week, I'm reviewing this....


*removes from jacket pocket*



Between the title and cover, I was pretty excited to read this book as it reminded me of Shirley Valentine. However, if I'd taken the time to flip to the back, I wouldn't have picked it up. I'll explain that later. 


So, this baby's about a middle-aged woman named Sarah Lewis who kind of freaks out when her twin children Claire and Tom go off to university. The freak-out results in Sarah deciding to move from England to the south of France. The catch? She leaves her husband David behind. He's not so stoked on the idea but Sarah doesn't care. She needs the break to find herself and she's just going to do it. Luckily, she has a pal Nathalie, who lives in France, and so she ends up packing a bag and heading out. 


I think the best way to describe this book would be to divide it into three sections. 


Section one is kinda boring, as we're shown just how mundane Sarah's life is. We meet a huge cast of characters - in-laws, friends, co-workers - and it's all pretty standard day-to-day stuff. Not terribly interesting, but it sets the stage for why Sarah left. 


Section two is the move to France. The first section meandered but I knew the good stuff was coming so I pushed through. We're shown the little country town Sarah's set up shop in, but somehow it just wasn't engaging. Things start to go badly for her husband David and her two kids, though, so those bits were mildly interesting.


Section three is where things really got going. And I mean, really got going. Thank god. Without spoiling things for you, let's just say that everything falls apart.


Everything.


Like, for virtually every character. It's a disaster. A disaster you just can't look away from (and thems the type of disasters I want to read about, haha)


Although the book's a standard 300 or-so pages, it felt like it took forever to finish. If I weren't on a plane with nothing else to do, I don't think I would have kept reading as the first 60% was very ho-hum. 


However, that's not really my beef with this book. My MAJOR beef with The Gap Year for Grown Ups is that I was duped. Duped into picking up a book that was actually written by two people. Oh yes. Despite the author's name being "Annie Sanders," it was written by Annie Ashworth and Meg Sanders.  I really didn't appreciate the trickery.


Now, the reason I DO NOT like books by multiple authors is because they don't flow well. I'm a flow-fanatic and hate when things stop me in my tracks and take me out of the story. That happened A LOT in this book.


Why?


Because each chapter included FAR too many POVs. It's written in third-person, which is fine, but there are way too many cooks in the kitchen. It was really hard for me to really get into because I'd get two or three paragraphs from Sarah's POV, then there'd bee a teeny space and - BAM - suddenly I was in David's head. A couple of paragraphs later - KAPOW - another switch and I'm reading from Claire's POV. 


Not. Good.


The most distracting part was when the authors had an entire chapter going back and forth between Sarah's POV and David's, while they were each at a dinner party but in different countries. Jumping from one scene to the next, it was quite jarring. And I don't like things that are jarring. It read like Ms. Sanders and Ms. Ashworth were each responsible for half of the cast of characters and then they just threw everything together. 


*shakes head*


So, this book was just "okay." The first two sections took some effort to get through but the last one was pretty good. That'd almost even the bad parts out, but the ratio is 2-1, and bumps this book from "good" down to "okay."


It really wasn't like Shirley Valentine


Side Note: if you haven't seen Shirley Valentine, you really should. It's about a middle-aged woman who freaks out and moves to Greece, but it's really funny, heartwarming and awesome. After the first few minutes, you'll be rooting for Shirley like crazy, which is exactly the opposite of how I felt about Sarah. Bummer. 







10.11.11

The $51 Pen-mark


You might know this if you're a regular reader of my little ole blog, but I hate paying full price for things.


Hate. Paying. Full. Price.


As such, I'm constantly scouring the internet looking for deals while wishing that I lived in the States so I could become an extreme coupon-er. 


*sighs wistfully* 


In the same outlet mall where I found my effing fantastic ballet flats, there was a Coach outlet. I LOVE me some designer handbags, but prefer ones without logos all over the place, so I don't often like Coach bags. That being said, I still get email deals for 30% Coach bags from a website mailing list. Not ever being near a Coach store, I usually delete them.


So, when I saw the Coach store, I immediately got my iPhone and started looking for one. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one that hadn't expired but my pal and I decided to look anyway.


When we got into the store, the most incredible thing happened.


A lady handed us a 30%-off coupon! Valid on our ENTIRE PURCHASE!!


Needless to say, we started seriously looking around. 


There were many pretty things, but most of them were covered in the "C's." Boo. 


Then, from across the store, I saw a flash of stunning sapphire blue. I walked over to the display and reached out to grab the softest leather my fingers have had the pleasure to touch. 


Hello, love.


Taking it from the shelf, I walked over to a mirror and saw how perfectly the bag sat on my shoulder. Like it was meant to always be there. Looking at the price-tag, I noted the original price:


$398.00


Yikes.


Upon closer inspection, though, I noticed that it was in the 50%-off section. Now I'm no mathematician, but I calculated that would bring the bag down to $200. With the additional 30%-off coupon, I figured it'd be around $140. Not bad, but I still wasn't convinced.


I reached inside the bag to see just how much stuff I'd be able to stuff in it and saw a brown tag with the hand-written price of:


$89.00


Yes, you read that right...EIGHTY-NINE DOLLARS!!


According to the label, there was a pen mark on the bag, which is why it'd been marked down to the almost-free price. I looked and looked and looked and couldn't see the mark anywhere.


Can you spot the pen-mark?


Thinking there'd been a mistake, I took it to the cash before anyone else could poach it. The lady at the cash said that because it'd been so heavily discounted, the coupon didn't apply, but that didn't faze me. I mean, it was a crazy deal even without the extra 30%. 


My pal (who also got a sweet deal on her very first designer handbag - green leather with a chain strap) and I practically skipped back to her car. Overcome with joy for our not-close-to-full-price purchases.


So, a few days ago, I was in the car and a small beam of sunlight worked like a spotlight, revealing the pen-mark that resulted in the best deal ever. 


Ridiculous, right? Who the hell can see that?


After a little application of leather cleaner, which I already had, the pen-mark completely disappeared. Why the store clerks didn't do that in the first place, I don't really understand, but it worked out great for me!


One woman's stain is another woman's ticket to heavily-discounted high-quality leather goods.


Luckily, I'm the latter.


*strokes the buttery leather*


*coos happily*





9.11.11

I'm Seriously Special, Are You?

In the year or so that I've been blogging, I've made a few cryptic references to my medical situation.  I haven't written about it detail because, frankly, it's a depressing and not terribly funny story, but I believe the time has come. Now, I'm no doctor, and this is all from MY perspective, but if you know of someone who has an undiagnosed breathing problem, perhaps my story will be helpful.


So, here I go.


*takes a (theoretical) deep breath*


I live with a disease called Eosinophilial Bronchitis (say that 3 times, fast) and it's most similar to severe asthma. The disease was discovered by my super-smart research doctor, who is the Chair at the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has so many acronyms after his name that he almost needs double-sided business cards. Dr. Smartypants found that people who died from severe asthma attacks often had an insane amount of eosinophilial cells in their lungs and concluded that the hyper-reproduction of cells played just as large a part in their death as the asthma.


Here's why I'm special: I have the disease without the asthma.


*brushes shoulders off*


So the basic breakdown of the disease is this:


Everyone has eosinophilial cells in their lungs, but for whatever reason, mine are involved in orgies - breeding and multiplying with no end in sight. Normal people's lungs have 2 - 5% of the cells. 


Me? Anywhere from 25 - 35%, depending on the day. The more they multiply, the more they fill up my lungs, making it incredibly difficult to breathe. The only thing that slows down the cells is Prednisone aka The Big P, which is an oral steroid. Not to be confused with steroids associated with GTL-ing. 


*looks at Ronnie*


The side-effects of The Big P are fucking awful. Yeah, I dropped the f-bomb because it's totally appropriate. Besides the anxiousness, lack of sleep, mood swings and weight gain, I've also developed a hump at the base of my neck and a seriously swollen face (I could go on as there are a few other doozies, but I'll stop before it gets mega-depressing). In short, the side-effects of the steroids - both short and long-term - are almost as bad as the disease itself. Boo.


As of now, there's nothing available to make the cells go back to normal. The Big P only slows the hyper-reproduction. That is, unless I get sick with a cold or some other respiratory infection and then they totally bug out, making it necessary for me to take an even higher dose. Double Boo.


Over the last two months, I've been on a stupid-high dose of The Big P (30 - 50mg) without being sick, which is super sucky because it means that I'm getting worse. My most recent trip to my specialist confirmed that's the case. Triple Boo.


There is a drug on the horizon that will hopefully be on the market in a couple of years but I just can't wait any longer. So now, I'm pursuing getting the drug on compassionate grounds (pre-FDA approval). The process is freaking AWFUL and will involve many invasive tests and a few rounds of alternative drugs (including oral chemo) but it may lead to me being able to get my little hands on the drug that would replace The Big P so it's worth it. Plus, I might end up with curly hair after the chemo and that would be awesome as my current locks are as limp as overcooked angel-hair pasta. 


The point of this post, though, is NOT to wallow in an ocean of self-pity. Nope. Not one little bit. I'm WELL aware that things could be MUCH worse. Aside from this problem, my life is quite blessed. 


The real reason I decided to share my diagnosis with all of the internet is because although I know I'm special, I'm not that special (despite what my mother told me). There are definitely people out there who are just as sick as I am and I can GUARANTEE that doctors aren't taking them seriously.


Why, you ask?


Well, I've learned A LOT about doctors and specialists while on my medical magic carpet ride and the biggest surprise of all is a previously unknown (to me) population of...


BIG FAT FAKERS


You heard me. There are some serious nutbags in the world who claim they're sick while being perfectly healthy. That, or they're actually sick but choose to lie about taking their medication properly.


Yeah, I don't get it either.


My biggest hurdle through this whole thing has been that I haven't really looked sick (well, until recently, that is). Sure, I couldn't breathe when I'd roll into an emergency room, but physically, I looked fine. My doctors think it's because I was in pretty great shape pre-sickness, but let me tell you - it's been a HUGE disadvantage because people didn't take my condition seriously (some family and former friends, included). It also wasn't terribly helpful that I'm hilarious and even during my serious flares, would joke with nurses and have The Hubby race me around in a wheelchair. It's become clear during my escapade that sick people who don't look sick or act sick (re: sad, cranky) are grouped in with the fakers. 


This is a bad place to be, but the alternative would mean that I'd never get out of bed, so I stand firm in my decision to constantly search for silver linings. No matter how small. Frankly, since laughter is the best medicine, I'm surprised that more medical practitioners don't get it, but whatevs. 


The only way to diagnose this disease is to have a sputum test, which is basically hocking a loogie into a cup and then analyzing whatever comes up under a microscope. I repeat, this is the ONLY WAY to find out if you have it. I know from experience that the Mayo clinics in the States have access to the testing machine, but for you Canadians, you'd have to go to Hamilton. Specifically, the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health at St. Joseph's Hospital.


Just tell em that Jennie sent you. I kid, I kid, you need a referral.


(I'm not sure about other countries. Sorry.)



So, if you or anyone you know has been diagnosed as an asthmatic but they don't respond to asthma medication (especially Ventalin) then you might want to shoot them a link to this posting so they can write down my disease. Like I'd expect anyone to actually remember it. 


Just so you don't have to scroll back, it's called:


Eosinophilial Bronchitis (or, if you have asthma already: Eosinophilial Asthma)
.

I'm a huge believer that you are your own best advocate, which is why I decided to reveal my big dark medical secret. Knowledge is power, so pass it on, people! As I mentioned before, this is a new disease that a lot of doctors are just becoming aware of. That is, if they keep on top of reading journal articles (don't even get me started on doctors who don't - how is that allowed?!).


So there you go. Now you know everything. 


As I mosey through the process of compassionate grounds, I'm not sure how much I'll be sharing. I created this blog to help pass the time and focus on much happier topics, but life isn't always bluebirds and popcorn. Bummer, but it's just the way things are sometimes.


All right, enough of the medical crap. I think I've covered what I wanted to. Now it's time for the new episode of The Real Housewives of Hotlanta. I've missed NeNe so much and don't want to be tardy for the party.


*gets glass of white wine, just like Kim*




8.11.11

Dorothy, Eat Your Heart Out

Last summer, I was perusing Aldo's end-of-season sale and found a pair of purple sequined ballet flats. After recovering from my heart-attack-due-to-awesomeness, I ordered them. When they arrived, I was SO happy with them that I ordered another. You know, because sequin ballet flats don't exactly last long. Especially when there isn't much of a sole and absolutely no heel. I wore the first pair until they looked awful and then broke out the second. By the time September rolled around this year, the second pair were fit for the pit (gold stars for anyone who gets this reference).

This is what they look like now.

Not so great.


Especially up close. But with nothing to replace them, I kept on wearing 'em.


So, as I mentioned before, while on my medical trip to Ontario I found a new pair of ballet flats that blew these babies right out of the water.


Fact.


While doing a little impromptu shopping with my part-time-hair-model pal, I came upon them in an outlet mall. First, I stumbled upon a pair with a bow on the front. Boo, as that was the ONE thing that I didn't love about my other ones. I may have a penchant for shiny things but I don't dig bows.


Joking, I held them up to my pal and said:


"Who do I Twitter about these bows? They really need to go."


Then, I went to another aisle and - BAM - there they were. Minus the bow! (see how quickly Twitter works? Haha).


To my horror, though, there was only one pair left. Upon closer inspection, much to my total surprise, the final pair were my size! 


THAT NEVER HAPPENS!


With a gleeful giggle, I tracked down a clerk to find its buddy. Like I said, this was at an outlet and the organization of the store left a little to be desired. Just like Cinderella, they fit perfectly and my feet have never been happier.


For reals. They sent me a memo.


So, without further adieu, I am pleased as punch to present THE MOST AMAZING BALLET FLATS EVER!!


*bangs gong*



SEE! I wasn't lying! Aren't they just GORGEOUS?!


Un-doctored up-close sparkle. 



.....


Sorry, I got lost in the shine for a moment there.


Where was I?


Oh right, so now all I have to do is move to a warmer climate so I can wear them all the time. The Hubby isn't so into the idea, but I'll wear him down eventually. And speaking of "wearing down," these babies are from Nine West and those guys really know how to make a pair of sparkly flats last longer because they have a little heel. Not one little piece of fabric touches the ground when I walk. 


Nicely done, Nine West. Nicely done. 


*claps*

7.11.11

Breakfast of the Future

The last few weeks have been pretty brutal for me, health-wise, and I had to fly back to Hamilton to see my specialists. It wasn't a great appointment as my tests are showing that I'm getting worse. Boo. There's a plan in the works for me to start the process for getting a new drug on compassionate grounds, but it's fairly intense and there's a good chance that things are going to get worse before they get better. *sighs*


On the upside, at least there's a plan.


So, after running around southern Ontario (and buying THE most AMAZING sparkly ballet flats, which I'll show off in a separate post because that's just how awesome they are), I finally flew back home. My Mum got us a room at the airport hotel and since she travels so often, we stayed on the Executive floor. That doesn't really mean much except that there's complimentary breakfast in the morning and free Wi-fi. I'd expected the breakfast to be a bowl of fruit and maybe a muffin, so I wasn't too excited, but I was wrong.


So very wrong. 


It was basically the greatest breakfast buffet ever. I haven't been to a buffet in years (as germ contamination is QUITE HIGH) but we were there right when it opened - 5:30am - and nobody was there but us.


YAY!!


I wandered through the offerings and found some freshly sliced fruit, orange juice and bacon. Truth be told, I wasn't aware there was bacon until my Mum pointed it out, but then I was all about it.


However, this post isn't about standard buffet breakfast fare.


Oh no. 


This post is about the most amazing thing I've ever seen. In my wildest dreams, I never would have thought something like this existed.


TA-DAHHHHH!!!!


*draws curtain*


It's an AUTOMATIC PANCAKE MACHINE!!!


Say what? Yeah. It's true. This is an automated pancake machine, aptly named the ChefStack.


(I'll leave a little space here so your brain can explode.....................................)


All set? Great.


So, here's how it works. 



First, choose how many pancakes you'd like. I wasn't sure how this was all going to go down, so I chose one to start. It whirls for a moment and then gives you a countdown. On average, it takes about 90 seconds per pancake.


Then, get your plate ready! 


Cause it rolls out the other side, perfectly browned!


PLUS, it was basically as thin as a crepe. I HATE thick pancakes because sometimes the batter isn't cooked all the way through. But the ChefStack produces high-quality and FAT FREE and BARELY THERE cakes!


MMMMMMMmmmmmmm!!


So if you have an extra $3,500 lying around (as I'm sure the majority of you do, I mean, who doesn't - ha) - I'd recommend that you pick one up IMMEDIATELY!


Personally, I'm going to wait it out a bit, but that won't stop me from dreaming of the the almost-paper-thin pancakes that require no cleanup or prep. Whenever I have to go back, I'll be looking forward to the unexpected silver lining.


And what a delectable silver lining it is.