27.2.12

Pepi: The Dog Who Thinks He's A Cat



It's been a while since I've done a post about our puppies.  Last week, my Mum came out for a visit. She loves her grandpuppies and her grandpuppies love her. They spent a long time, cuddling on the couch and then my Mum recorded one of the stranger things one of our dogs does. I've been meaning to video it for years, but it just never happened....


Anyway...


When we adopted Pepi, our youngest furbaby, from a local animal shelter after a puppy mill raid, they told us that he was a Pekinese.


We took him to our vet and she was like, "Pekinese? Not even almost."


After some investigation, it was decided that he was most likely a Japanese Chin mixed with something else. The deciding factor was that Pepi had some unusual habits: perching on the sides of chairs, chasing flies, petting bugs, eating feathers...all things that were more cat-like than dog-like. Our other puppy, Pickle, wasn't impressed that we brought home such a strange guy. Not one bit.


And then Pepi blew us all away when he started doing this:





He literally cleans himself for hours. Then coughs up hairballs. For reals. 


Love that my Mum was able to get such a good recording of it (and then make an iMovie - amazing). People really don't believe us when we tell them but now there's proof!


Oh Pepi, you're just such a weirdo. Good thing you're so cute!




22.2.12

20.2.12

Hope I Get Shot By An Arrow Today







Well, even if you don't (it's cool), I'm going to tell you anyway because TODAY is February 20! If you're a new follower, perhaps you've clicked on the About Me tab just over there, to the right. If not, then let me sum it up for you: For the last two years, I've been writing novels and submitting them to agents in hopes of becoming a published author. So far, I'm still un-agented. Le boo.



Okay, so now that everyone's all caught up...



Two weeks ago, I was wasting time on Twitter when I noticed an announcement for a Blind Agent Speed Dating Contest. Considering I think that most activities become significantly more fun with a blindfold, I was intrigued. 



There's a blog called cupidslitconnections, which is run by Cupid, and his/her aim (ha) is to "bring writers and agents together to form magical literary connections." Awesome. The Blind Agent Speed Dating Contest required entrants to send in their query letter (letters of submission to agents) and the first 250 words of their manuscript. Only 100 entries were accepted over two days. It was first come, first served. 



And I got in!



Then there were two weeks where the queries/250 words were judged by "bouncers." In order to make it to the actual speed dating round, you needed to get a bouncer to "let you in."



And I got in!



So now I'm in the final round and I feel like this is going to be the longest week of my life. The agents have been assigned code names so nobody knows who they are - not even each other. Agents receive four "arrows" today and then two more on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. A request for a "partial" (usually the first five chapters of a manuscript) costs an agent one arrow. A request for a "full" costs an agent three arrows. There can only be two partial requests per entry and each day, the price for requests goes up. And let me tell you, although the agents have code names, we know who is participating and there are some serious biz agents in there. Serious biz!



Here's why this contest is freaking so fantastic. Often, you wait anywhere from a week to a few months to hear back from an agent after querying them. A fellow author made this YouTube video which I feel accurately represents what the querying process is like:



You can follow her on Twitter, if you like: 



Here, though, I'll know by Friday if any of the 12 agents are interested in reading my work! It's amazing! AND, when you get "shot" by an agent, you don't know who they are until Friday when the code names are revealed! Fun and nerve-wracking...that's a fun combo, right?


Rounds run from noon to midnight from now until Thursday. How I'm going to be able to tear myself away from the internet will be a wonder. Oh who am I kidding, I'm obviously going to get carpal tunnel. And as if that isn't enough, there's a hashtag on Twitter when the agents can trash-talk each other about which queries they want!


Although nobody's allowed to comment on entires except agents, here's a link to mine. Hopefully by Friday there'll be a few arrows in there! 


(And I woke up this morning to read an email from another awesome contest that I won! I get a book about writing AND a query critique from Linda Epstein! Hopefully this is the start of a FANTASTIC week!)



*crosses fingers*



*refreshes*



*refreshes*






17.2.12

The Nail Files: VII


Ah Friday....it's so good to see you...


That must mean it's time for another edition of The Nail Files with Vicki and Tara


YAY!


The Nail Files


It was a crazy week but a good kind of crazy and that calls for a celebration! What better way than doing all-glitter nails?


 From the left: Rainbow Connection, DS Coronation and Crown Me Already!



One coat of DS Coronation for a holographic sparkle base, then two coats of Crown Me Already! and two coats of Rainbow Connection for an accent finger. I feel like I'm a walking sparkler with a hidden confetti cannon and I love it!


*sneaks behind couch*


*shoots cannon*


*spins in glitter*


Whee!!!







Book Club Friday: Night Road



Bookity, bookity, book club!


YAY!

 



This week, I sobbed my way through read this:

 Night Road by Kristin Hannah

This wasn’t my first time at a Kristin Hannah rodeo but MAN, did this one get to me. Once I picked it up, it was impossible to put down. I read it in four hours. At almost four hundred pages, you can see that means it was a really, really good book.


Really, really good and incredibly exhausting. When I wasn’t crying about something touching then I was crying about injustice. But I’m getting ahead of myself, you don’t even know what the book was about yet!


Meet the Farrahdays: Jude, an extremely overprotective mother to teenaged twins Mia and Zach and wife to her husband Miles. By “extremely overprotective,” I mean that she’s obsessed with her kids.


Ob. Sessed.


Mia doesn’t have a lot of friends, which is in direct contrast to her super-popular brother. On the first day of high school, a new girl named Alexa (Lexi) arrives. She's spent most of her childhood going in and out of foster care as her mother was in and out of prison. After her mother's death, Lexi finds herself living with an aunt she never knew she had.


Joyous Cry #1: Lexi finally finds a family.


The first bit of the book showed just how much Lexi had to overcome, which is why I cried approximately twenty thousand times. For reals, people. You NEED tissues for this one. Then the book skips forward to the twins’ and Lexi’s senior year.


And that’s where the real crying began.


The middle section of the book happens during senior year and it's filled with normal things: parties, college applications and the fear of leaving home for the first time. If you’re a smarty-pie, you’ll be able to see the plot “twist” long before it happens. I put “twist” in quotations, though, because the act itself isn’t nearly as important as how the characters deal with the aftermath.


Around page 200, my brain exploded.


Around page 230, it exploded again.


Then I was back to crying.


There’s a little bit of adult-preachiness but, frankly, it’s appropriate. The rotating points of view: Jude, Mia, Zach, and Lexi, delivers a well-rounded story, which is crucial with a heavy plot like this one. As heavy as it was, though, the underlying message is the unbreakable bond of family and how forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.


And that’s all I’m going to say about this book.


Except that you should read it. Alone. After taking off your mascara.







16.2.12

Orange Chicken



Another Pinterest recipe. Super easy, super tasty, (somewhat) super good for you.



Source: sixsistersstuff via Angela on Pinterest


Here's what you'll need:




1 cup orange juice
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
4 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs ketchup
1/3 cup flour



Cut up the chicken into little pieces and coat with flour.



Mix the orange juice, brown sugar, ketchup, salt, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 




 Brown the chicken slightly in an oiled pan. It doesn't have to be fully cooked, but it probably will be by the time it's browned on both sides. 



Put the chicken in the slow cooker, add the juice mix and set on high for 2 - 3 hours.


A little basmati rice and you're good to go! And I have to say that the longer you let this bad-boy cook, the more of a "fried" taste you'll get. The simmering juices really pack on after a while.


Deeelish!


OH, and a little something I learned: 1 cup of frozen concentrated juice is NOT the same as 1 cup of thawed juice. Use the thawed or it'll be a tangy disaster. You've been warned.





15.2.12

Dear Skin:



With all due respect...


What the hell is going on?!


In the thirty years that you've coated my body, I've never once had to worry about you getting dry. In fact, most days, I was more focused on sucking oil out of you instead of lathering it on. Recently, though, things have changed.


Obviously, I'm writing you this letter because the change isn't good.


Not good, skin!


The MOMENT I turned thirty, all of your moisture seemed to pack up and jump ship. Each morning, I wake up to scale-y chalky sections of you on my legs. Sometimes, even in the middle of the day! Even on my arms!


For the first time in my life, I finished an entire container of moisturizer. And not just ANY moisturizer but Bliss' Sage and Lemon Body Butter!



Did I mention that I cracked it open on Christmas? That's like barely five weeks! 


PLUS, I even added a few drops of Bio Oil.


That's literal oil, skin! I'm putting OIL on you and you're still DRY! How is that possible? What do I have to do? BATHE in it?


So please, dear skin, get it together. If this is what it's going to be like for the next thirty years, well, let's just say that it's not going to be pretty. Mostly because you'll force me to sleep in a moisturizing suit and, trust me, you don't want that. It'd be like sleeping on a plastic covered couch.


ps. If anyone out there has any massive-moisturizer suggestions, please share your secrets. I'm really out of my element and need all of the help I can get. Dry skin hurts!




14.2.12

Hubby Wanted a Hummingbird -- Cake, That is.


The Remix and I don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day but this year, we decided we would. I asked him if he'd like a special treat since it's been a while since I've baked anything. I opened up my Pinterest account for him to peruse but he stopped before really having a chance to look. Not that I could blame him. What he chose is down-right drool-worthy. 


What did he pick? 


A Hummingbird Cake.





HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

Modified from Country Home magazine (2008)

Serves:  12 -16 servings (I made 12 cupcakes and 2 6" round cakes)

·         Prep/assembly time: 45 minutes
·         Baking time:  25-30 minutes
·         Cooling time: 15 minutes

Cake Ingredients
·         3 cups flour (gluten free or regular)
·         2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1 cup packed light brown sugar
·         3 large eggs, room temperature
·         1 cup vegetable oil
·         2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
·         1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed (I used canned)
·         2 cups roasted bananas*, mashed (approximately 4 large or 6 medium-small bananas with peel left on)
·         1 cup chopped pecans
·         Parchment paper to line bottom of the cake pan


There are a lot of ingredients but what my baby wants, my baby gets, so off to the store I went.



Here's how you make it:


Preheat oven to 350. Put bananas on parchment lined baking sheet with the peels on. Bake for 12 minutes.


The skins will blacken. Let cool until they can be handled. 



Then mash them in a small mixing bowl and set aside. Keep the oven on.



In a sifter, over a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.



In a larger bowl, combine the granulated and brown sugar. In retrospect, I should have chosen a bigger bowl. You'll see how this almost turns into a bowl-mergency. Trust me, use a big bowl. Stir to combine. 




Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand until smooth. 



Smooooooooooth. Like this. 



Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar/egg mixture.



Add the flour mixture all at once and hand stir until fully mixed. It gets tough. Use those pipes. Dig deep.



Get the crushed pineapple (and juice), banana and chopped pecans. Mix together gently with a spoon. Don't over mix. Seriously, don't do it.



You see now why I should have used a bigger bowl. I stirred very slowly so nothing flew out. 


Divide the batter equally into whatever proportions you choose to use. I, errr, forgot to take a picture of that. Don't forget to butter, flour and line your pans with parchment paper. This is a sticky cake.


Then bake for 25 - 30 minutes, depending on what size cakes you make.


Let them cool in their pans for at least 5 minutes before removing. 


I cheated and used store-bought cream cheese icing. Frankly, this cake was pretty labour intensive and I ran out of steam. Kudos to you if you decide to make it from scratch. Because this was a Hummingbird Cake of Love, I decorated it with cinnamon hearts and silver nonpareils.



Serve it up with a little chocolate ice cream and your lover/partner/crush will love you for life.*


*results not guaranteed but highly likely



Happy Valentine's Day!



13.2.12

V-Day Swap Reveal



A little time ago, I heard about a V-day swap and it's finally time to show off our presents!!


YAY!!



I was matched up with Cassie from C Is For CatLady. Sure, it might have been because we're both Canadians but I think it's because we had so much in common! 


I had so much fun picking out Cassie's gifts after stalking through her blog for ideas. Because I'm somewhat obsessive and have lots of free time, her package was wrapped and ready to go way before the mailing deadline. Then it was waiting time. Although, not for long! Both of our packages arrived about a week before today. 


HORRIBLE, if you ask me as the package taunted me every time I passed by the dining room table, where it sat there...mockingly. 


On Feb 9th, I caved.


Cassie was thrilled as it meant she could open hers too. Haha!!


Here's what I got!


 The funny thing is that we both sent each other purple nail polish and heart-shaped cookie cutters! I'm so excited to try out the nail gemstone kit and...well...those chocolates are long gone. And what girl doesn't go through, like, a zillion bobby pins?



She even made me this cute card to describe why she picked what she did!



Please note #5. Adorable!



Thanks so much, Cassie! I love everything! Next time I'm in Toronto visiting, we'll need to meet up in real life!! You'll have to wear your boa so I can recognize you. Haha!!



Thanks so much for hosting the Swap, Tara, Meg and Celia


And sorry I'm so late posting this. Our power's been out since 7 this morning....

10.2.12

The Nail Files: VI


Thank goodness it's Friday. This has been a looooooooooong week. A good week but I'm ready for a little break.


That means it's time to link up with The Nail Files!



The Nail Files



Here's what I used this week:




It's So Easy Rite Stripe in Silver Glitter & OPI's Step Right Up.




This was my first time trying to do something funky myself. I went to my local beauty supply outlet and they recommended the sparkle stripe. I was too nervous to do stripes right off the bat so I decided on polka dots. It was a little tricky because the brush is very long and bendy (you know, because it's actually meant for stripes, haha) but I got the hang of it by the time I got to my left hand.



I did two coats of Step Right Up and then dotted the silver glitter, finishing with a clear topcoat. It's soft and pretty and makes me want to wear a tiara and wave a magic wand, just like Glinda, The Good Witch of The North from The Wizard of Oz.  The Remix will love rolling through Costco with me dressed like that (not really). 



I'm excited to see what everyone else did this week!



Thanks Tara and Vicki!



9.2.12

Eff, Marry, Kill: IV



Wohoo! It's that time again...



photobucket




For this edition, I'm featuring the men of Rookie Blue.




So look, I know that the far majority of you won't know what this show is or who my choices are but that's okay. I'll walk you through. Rookie Blue is about a bunch of rookie police officers working in Toronto. After two seasons, I'm completely hooked. Without hating on previous Canadian cop shows, this one is freaking fantastic.



I've been forced into watching repeats while they shoot the third season and all it's done is make me lust after the male actors love the show more.



So, without further adieu, let's get started, shall we?



First up...



Eff - Ben Bass

Okay, so MAYBE you've heard of this show before because I bragged all over this blog about my very first autographed picture. Ben Bass, the hunk in the personalized shot above, is the obvious choice for effing. I mean, just look at him! It's a wonder that the photo paper doesn't catch on fire from his hot-ness. Not only that, but the character he plays, Sam Swarek, is a smouldering and somewhat dangerous police officer who wears a leather jacket in his spare time.


Okay, someone get me a fan. Or a bag of ice.




Marry - Travis Milne

Travis is a bit of a newbie and also Canadian. The reason he's a Marry instead of an Eff is because although Travis is also incredibly easy to look at, the character he plays, Chris Diaz, is so cute that I want to pinch his cheeks. He's sweet, caring but can also throw down. I'm all for effing the dangerous dude but he's not the one you want to marry. Nope. I want the hottie Mc-tottie who'd wake up early to surprise me with apple cinnamon pancakes. Pancakes with lots of syrup. Oh the things we could do with that syrup. Yes, this is a marriage I could get into.



Kill - Gregory Smith

Oh Greg, I'm sorry. It's not that I WANT to kill him but, as you can probably tell, he's not really my type. I prefer dark and mysterious and...well...that just isn't him. Greg's arguably the more famous member of the cast and was pretty cool in that one episode where he went undercover but, at the end of the day, he just doesn't make the top two power positions. Maybe if his hair was different? It's kind of Bieber-y right now, which just isn't good. It ISN'T GOOD, Greg! So, for this, he will be (theoretically) killed in the line of duty. It's cool. I'll throw him a great funeral. There'll be sandwiches and nacho dip. Maybe even a bite-sized brownie or two.



So what do you think, did I nail it? (pun obviously intended)



Thanks for hosting, Heather and Michelle!




8.2.12

Rollin' Like It's 2008



As if I wasn't having an exciting enough week already (teaser: that news shall be shared on Feb 20)...



Yesterday, we got our new (to us) car!



And it's a MINI!!!



MiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMini
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Back in the day, I had a Mini and I freaking loved it. Sure, there were minor electrical problems with the first generation models - I used to joke that my car was haunted because the clock would reset and sometimes the wipers had a mind of their own. But that didn't matter. I loved her. When we moved out of Toronto, though, she wasn't feeling it. She just wasn't made for gravel roads and steep icy hills and sometimes, she froze. Like, literally. 



In January of this year, The Remix got a great new job but it involves a little bit of a commute and since we live in moose country, it made sense for him to take the SUV and for me to get a little something for getting around town. So, off to the car dealership we went....


Turns out, any car that's not a POS is kind of expensive.


Boo.



But then, my F-I-L did an AMAZING thing for us by giving us car that we could trade in!



Wohoo!



And as if the cuteness wasn't enough, there are SIGNIFICANTLY more features than the one I had originally. There are heated seats in there, people. HEATED SEATS! As you can tell by the snow, this is amazing. It also has cruise control and steering wheel controls.



The Remix could barely contain himself.



We took it for a drive last night and it felt like we'd gone back in time to when we first started living together. It was awesome. 



MiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMiniMini



I have a doctor's appointment this morning and I've never been more excited to go. I'll be able to park anywhere! ANYWHERE!!



Wheee!!!








7.2.12

Banana Bread Pancakes


Curse you, Pinterest! CURSE YOU!


Just kidding!


I LOVE YOU (even though you make it hard to stick with WW)!


Why?


Because I'm finding the best recipes ever without having to actually look! My new fav site is Six Sister's Stuff and when I saw this picture, I drooled. 







Here's what you'll need:





2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used white pastry flour and it worked out great)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons butter, melted



(I halved this recipe because we didn't need 12 pancakes. That's a lot of pancakes for two people.)

 Mix flour, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.



 In a measuring cup, combine the milk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and stir until blended.



 The mixture will be dry. It's cool. Add the mashed bananas.




 Mix until incorporated.



 Then add the melted butter and mix again. It'll be just a little bit smoother.



Drop batter onto a buttered pan. I found the batter to be sticky so I needed to use two spoons to shape and even them. The original recipe says to watch for bubbles on top but I had no such bubbles. I just cooked them on each side for 2 - 3 minutes, keeping an eye on the bottoms.  




Vanilla Maple Glaze:

1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Combine the maple syrup, vanilla and icing sugar. Yup. There really isn't more to it than that. Whisk a few times and you're done.



A little bit of glaze and a few slices of fresh bananas.



Remix Approved!