29.1.13

My Dogs Are Traitors But I Win In the End


If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: Pickle (furbaby #1) loves The Remix more than me. It doesn't matter that I spent hours training him, or did a ridiculous amount of rehab when he broke his back and leg, when it comes down to it, Pickle just loves The Remix more.


(Not At All Bitter) Evidence:


(a) Pickle ALWAYS gives The Remix kisses; I get none. Okay, not NONE but a fraction of the amount that he gives The Remix. Like, for every kiss I get, The Remix gets 2,305. I'm no math genius, but that's not a great percentage.


(b) Pickle will give me "the eyes" to lift him on the couch, where he will proceed to walk directly over my lap and nuzzle next to The Remix. Apparently, he doesn't want The Remix to exert himself. 


(c) Every morning, I wake up to Pickle's ass in my face as he gives morning kisses to The Remix. Yes, this is kind of an extension of (a) but since it involves his ASS in my FACE, it gets its own point.


(d) Pickle and I will be involved in a serious game of fetch when he'll totally ditch me and beg The Remix to play.


So, to sum it up...




Over the last six years, I've learned to accept Pickle's preference. Yes, it still smarts when I'm blatantly overlooked but I've gotten over it (not really). There is one thing that makes me feel better, though. And that is furbaby #2, Pepi. When Pickle was two, we adopted Pepi after we were at an animal shelter and Pepi licked The Remix's nose (sound familiar?). Obviously, The Remix fell in love but I had doubts. After all, I already had one furbaby who thought that The Remix was The Most Amazing Human Ever while I was just Some Lady Who Wants To Pet Him. I really didn't need another. But, The Remix insisted, and Pepi was pretty cute, so we adopted him. 


Imagine my joy when Pepi turned out to be my little buddy. He loves being close to me, naps with me in the middle of the day, and gives me all of the kisses I can handle. Sometimes, even too many kisses. Yeah, I can't believe I wrote that either. After being deprived for so many years, it seems contradictory but he'll legit lick me until I make him stop. 


Well, all of that's over now. My worst fears have come to fruition.


The Remix has been sick for the last couple of days. And when he's sick, he sleeps upstairs in another bedroom (because I don't have much of an immune system). Normally, Pickle will sleep with him and Pepi will sleep with me but, last night, PEPI CHOSE HIM!


"Wait? Where are you going? Don't you want to sleep with Mommy?" I asked, somewhat desperately from the bottom of the stairs.


He looked at me through the railing, thinking about it, and then RAN INTO THE EXTRA BEDROOM, following his brother.




Have I mentioned that I spend ALL DAY at home with these guys?! ALL DAY, EVERY DAY! Toys, treats, food, walks (in the warmer months), opening and closing the front door one million times...it's all ME!


Traitors, I tell you.


T-R-A-I-T-O-R-S


So, with exactly NO company in bed last night, I was sad. That is, until I realized a few things...


First off, I didn't have to be on one side--I could be right in the middle of the bed! Secondly, there was no blanket hog situation. Normally, Pickle's under the covers next to The Remix while Pepi's on top of the covers, pinning my feet in place. But, last night, NONE of this happened! I was totally spread out and in non-confining duvet heaven. 


The Remix is still sick today. In fact, he stayed home from work and will probably stay home tomorrow, too. And that means that he'll be rocking the bed in the guest room again. But tonight, I'm not so sure I'm going to be disappointed if/when my traitorous dogs abandon me again. In fact, they may be banned from the bed all together.


*wraps herself up like a comfortable warm taco*


How do you like them apples, boys?



28.1.13

Hoping To Get Shot (for the first time), Again


About a year ago, I entered my first contest over at Cupid's Literary Connection. It was a Blind Speed Dating contest, which meant that agents anonymously bid against each other to read unpublished manuscripts by firing arrows (each agent has a certain amount of arrows they can bid with).


As an aspiring-to-be-published author, it was a dream scenario as the querying process (submitting the manuscript to agents) can take forever but with this set-up, I'd find out if there was any interest in only a few days. Ballin'. 


And, to my utter delight, I made it into the finals! YAY! It felt amazing!! Then, I spent the rest of the week biting my nails down to the quick (haha, not really. I love my nails too much to actually bite them but you get my drift) and waiting to see if I'd get shot.


The bad news is that not a single arrow was fired at me.



Emerging from the contest without holes, I was seriously bummed. However, that's how it goes sometimes. I got some helpful comments, and did some revisions, but eventually shelved that manuscript and got started on another.


After a feverish few months of getting the first draft down, I spent the summer and fall revising it. Then, as some of you may remember, I got into another contest in November, which had a similar set-up to the Blind Speed Dating one. Alas, I didn't get any agent interest in that one either. However, I focused on the comments people left and revised some more. Then, I bought this ah-mazing book called The Breakout Novelist and, after flying through it, realized that my manuscript was lacking in a few areas and got down to serious business fixing it. Two months later, my manuscript is about one kazillion times stronger and I'm feeling more confident than ever.


*high fives self (mostly because there's nobody else around and my dogs don't get the concept)*


So now, I've entered my brand-spanking new first 250 words in Cupid's 2013 Blind Speed Dating Contest, along with my query (which is a short letter explaining the just of one's manuscript). It went live this morning and for the next few days, anyone can read it--and comment! YAY! And then, hopefully, one of three Bouncers will pick me for the final round, where the agents can fire arrows (that happens in late February).


If you're interested, click here to read my entry! From the perusing I've done so far, there are a lot of great women's fiction manuscripts so competition is fierce but I'm up for the task!


*crosses fingers to make it past the velvet rope*




25.1.13

Book Club Friday: How To Be A Woman







I’ve wanted to read How To Be A Woman for a long time. It was always full price, though, and I was too cheap to buy it. Then, I just happened to be online and found a coupon for Chapters, so into my shopping cart it went! And boy, am I ever happy that I picked it up. Err…should that be “Girl, am I ever happy that I picked it up?” After all, this is a book about feminism. Or, at least, that’s how it was advertised.


Really, I guess it is a book about feminism but not in the way I was expecting. In fact, the first three chapters read like a Chelsea Handler book, but raunchier. Yes, RAUNCHIER.


But Jennie, how is that even possible? Chelsea Handler is the pinnacle of raunchiness.


Trust me. It’s true.


I wasn’t even sure that I would keep reading because it was slightly too much. But, again, I’m happy that I pushed through because the rest is fantastic.


Here’s the deal: I’m sad with the rap that feminism has been getting lately. To be frank, I just don’t get it. I consider myself a feminist because, well, I’m a woman and feminism is about women’s rights. Are things better than they were in the past? Totally! But does that mean that I’m disinterested in keeping it that way? Not at all. And when I speak with people about feminism, the most common thing I hear is that women don’t identify with feminism because they don’t hate men. Well…neither do I! Well, not all men, anyway. Some are d-bags but, then again, so are some women. Let’s just say that I’m an equal-opportunity person hater.


But I digress. Let's get back on track, shall we?


Caitlin Moran has come up with, in my opinion, the greatest way to find out if you’re a feminist. Don’t be scared, it’s not intense, but...errr...you may want to do it in private. You'll see why in a second. 


Are you ready? Here we go.


From page 75:

Put your hand in your underpants.

(a)  Do you have a vagina?
(b)  Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you answered yes to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.


See? What a fantastic summation of what feminism means (to me)!
No man-hating at all! Feminism isn't about being anti-male, it's about wanting to be in charge of yourself (if you're a woman, that is).


*high five for Ms. Moran*


After the gruesome first chapters, Ms. Moran settles into a hilarious and insightful groove. In particular, Chapter 10, where she discusses her wedding. I laughed so hard at points that I had to close the book to catch my breath. Unfortunately, I was on a plane while reading said chapter and the dude next to me did not appreciate my shakiness. However, if he hadn’t been such a LARGE man, he wouldn’t have been touching me so, really, he shouldn’t have been so annoyed. Who said that you can have the ENTIRE armrest and a fifth of my personal space, buddy?


But with writing like this, how was I supposed to control myself?


From page 180:

My dad, meanwhile, has managed to spill candle wax all over his shirt and has—on the advice of others—taken it off and put it into a freezer in the kitchen, to harden the wax. He is now sitting at the table in his vest and jacket, drinking Guinness, looking bleary. My sister Col has disappeared—we find out later this is because Dad told her he’d considered having her put into care after that time she store all his Disney DVDs and power tools and sold them for drugs.

“I was only joking!” he says, eyes rolling into his head. “Or was I?”


Did I not mention earlier that this is a memoir-esque book about feminism? Well, it is and Ms. Moran has led a very colourful life which she has no shame in sharing. And that’s what makes this book so great. It’s not preachy but is very much in-your-face because, well, that's how Ms. Moran rolls. And as much as there were times where I was cringing, a few paragraphs later, I’d be laughing. So, really, it evened out.


She also has a chapter about Lady Gaga, who I think is one of the greatest role models for the new crop of women who are learning…well…how to be a woman. (Do you see what I did there? Haha!) They even hung out for a night, and it’s a fab story that’s worth reading in and of itself. Gaga is a polarizing individual but she makes people think and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, opens a dialogue. Agree, disagree, it doesn’t matter. The point is that she gets you talking. Much like How To Be a Woman, as I haven’t quite shut up since finishing (not that I often shut up, anyway, but you know what I mean). 


So pick it up, people! There’s some great stuff in there, but if you’re squeamish, I’d recommend starting with Chapter 4.


Thanks to Heather and Katie for hosting!


The Nail Files: Layered Like an Opulent Onion


The Nail Files Link Up


I took a wee break from nail art this week and, instead, decided to try layering polishes. Usually, I just do one colour and then a sparkle but I thought that I'd up the ante, people.


Up The Ante!


Spoiler Alert: It turned out really well.


Here's what I used:





One coat of Grape Juice, followed by one coat of Ivy, and then Divine Swine. For the feature finger: one coat of Immortal, followed by one coat of Whirled Away, and then Collage Overlay.


Guuyyyyys. The combo of Grape Juice, Ivy, and Divine Swine is the most multidimensional colour I've ever seen. For reals. This is an UNTOUCHED photo, aside from the vignette around the edges. It's seriously that sparkly in real life and I'm in nail polish love.


As to the large sparkles in Whirled Away and Collage Overlay, it took two additional coats of top coat to not feel the edges, which basically means that my feature finger took TEN YEARS to dry. Okay, so it wasn't actually that long but it sure felt like it. That said, this mani didn't chip at all and considering the layers upon layers of polish, didn't take much of an effort to remove. 


All-in-all, a manicure success!! Haha!!


Happy Friday, everyone!


And thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!


23.1.13

Baby Belly Photo Shoot (not mine...everyone can relax)


A very good friend of mine is a Pretty Preggy Peggy, so to capture her ridiculous good-looking-ness (and...err...the belly) we did a little photo shoot at my house on Saturday. She's having a girl, so I picked up some pink fabric for a backdrop, stalked Pinterest for posing ideas and then got to work setting up my basement (not as creepy as it sounds). It was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G, so we thought we wouldn't be able to go outside but there was a tiny break in the snow, so we managed to get a few out there as well. And since another good pal came over to help, we got it done in record time, which was awesome because it left me more time to edit.


I think I took just over 300 pictures and about 25 were awesome. I'm super proud of them so I thought I'd show off some of my faves!


(And as a way of paying it forward, if you like any of these poses, feel free to Pin them!)





















And because Pretty Preggy Peggy has a fantastic sense of humour, I couldn't resist some funny ones:













22.1.13

The Guinea Pig Diaries: A Cupful of Silver Linings




I had a fantastic post planned for this week but since Future Shop is holding my laptop hostage UNTIL THE END OF TIME (or, at least that’s what it feels like) I can’t get pictures off of my phone. Stupid freaking Future Shop.


Small Rant: They’ve had my laptop for three weeks and when I called to check on it (as they said it’d be one to three weeks) they told me the timeline they gave me was an AVERAGE and as long as they have it back to me in S-I-X-T-Y days, they’ve honoured their contract. Lesson from this nonsense:  I should’ve bought Apple Care.


So, I’ve been trying to think about something I can write about. Between revising my latest MS like a crazy lady for a contest that starts next Monday (which I’ll blog about then) I haven’t exactly been swimming in time—it’s been more like wading ankle deep in a puddle of minutes. But then, an idea struck me. I know that I said that I’d use The Guinea Pig Diaries to talk about the emotional and physical components of being in a drug study but since I’m a die-hard optimist I thought that I’d point out one of the few silver linings that being a sicky face has brought me.


Mainly, boobs.


Yes, ladies and the few gentlemen who read this blog. I just wrote boobs.


Ever since I was little, I've boobs on the brain. Maybe it was the fact that I was super active, but I was always on the boob-light side of things. In Grade Seven, there was this mean boy named Craig who would pat the wall when I would walk by saying, “Jennie? Is that you.” Yeah, whatta dick.  And my Mum wouldn’t let me wear a bikini because until I had something to hold it in place (which, in retrospect was fair) so while all of my friends ran around in their cute bikinis, I was stuck in a tank-i-ni which isn’t even almost the same thing. In fact, I think that they cover even MORE than a one-piece. Thankfully, by the time I hit Grade 10, I was able to somewhat fill out a shirt. Barely.


Pre-sicky-face, my boobs were like a pessimistic glass, as in, a glass that was half empty. I clung to the belief that anything over a handful was a waste but that didn’t stop me from longing for a glorious handful-and-a-half. Heck, maybe even a handful-and-three-quarters. After all, I have broad shoulders so my frame could've handled more than my Baby B-cups. Yeah, not having to wear a bra all of the time was cool, but  strapping those babies into a severe push-up bra to actually have some semblance of cleavage was a tedious job. Ugh.  


But in the four years that I’ve been on daily steroids, I’ve swelled from Baby B’s to Double-D’s, like a second puberty without getting any taller. 


May I present pictorial evidence:


Me, on vacay, circa 2007.




The after effects of steroids, October of 2012.


So for now, I'm an official sweater stretcher and although my back hurts from time to time, there’s nothing like having a gigantic rack. Not only do I have previously longed-for cleavage with little effort, but big boobs distract from other parts of my body that have plumped up with the steroids. I'm not sure what state they'll be in when the steroids are no longer part of my life (which will hopefully be sometime this year, eeeeee!) but for now, I'm going to savour the moment. 


Just like The Remix does, obviously.









18.1.13

Book Club Friday: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)






A few weeks ago…actually, it’s been more than that. A month, maybe? Yiiiikes. Anyway, [insert some amount of time that isn’t as long as it’s actually been] I participated in Blonde Undercover Blonde’s and The Nerdy Katie’s Book Swap. And, awesomely, I was paired up with Myra, who didn’t flake out on me (like my very first swap partner, not that I’m bitter—okay, I’m actually still a little bitter, like bitter-lite).


There was a small snag when she sent me a book that I’d already read: Bossypants by Tina Fey, but Amazon is cool with exchanging things as long as you don’t download them, so I was able to pick another book instead. Keeping with Myra’s theme, I chose Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)


Now, to be fair, I think that watching The Mindy Project added to my enjoyment of this book. Mostly because I was able to hear it in her voice. I’m also a fan of The Office, so there’s that, too. And really, this is somewhat redundant because if you’re interested in reading this book, it’s probably because you also watch The Mindy Project and/or The Office. But if not, I’d suggest watching either because being able to hear Mindy’s mile-a-minute, somewhat nasal voice makes her punchlines…well…punchier.


Okay, on with the review.


This book was funny. Not Bossypants funny, but funny nonetheless. However, it wasn’t Mindy’s accounts of her work that I found the most amusing. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy those sections but the parts I liked the best were her unique take on the world. As in, how she lives her life. Consequently, I now totally want to be her friend.


One of my favourite chapters was titled: I Love Irish Exits and it’s pretty much when I fell in hetero-love with her.


Instead of paraphrasing, I’ll quote her definition because that’s the only way to do it justice (my contributions are in purple):


Irish exists are supposed to be subtle, a way to leave without creating a disruption, and yes, on occasion, a way to perhaps escape notice for epic drunkenness (Ohemgee, I love her). The only snag is that you have to be comfortable lying directly to the faces of people you like (Seriously, Mindy. I want to be one of the people you have to lie directly to).


She then describes a situation where she needs to pull an Irish Exit because her ex shows up to a party with his new girlfriend (something that we can all sympathize with, right ladies?).


This is how she handles it (my contributions are, again, in purple):


A word about Chloe (the new GF, who coincidentally has the same name as my grade-school nemesis. Don’t worry Mindy, I hate her already). Chloe was so young (or young looking) she’d actually played the daughter of an actress four years older than me on a TV show. But the worst thing about Chloe is that she was sweet.


Chloe approached me.


CHLOE (shyly): Can I just say you’re my hero? I took the Long Island Rail Road out to see Matt & Ben when I was in middle school.


Don’t you dare, Chloe. Don’t you dare make it impossible to hate you. Quit looking at me, all earnest, with those Bambi eyes. Also, I’m your “hero”? What am I, ten thousand years old? I quickly said something weird like, Bless you, child,” excused myself, and walked briskly away. I went over to Louisa, who was standing with my friend Pete when I began to initiate an Irish Exit.


Another favourite chapter was: Non-Traumatic Things That Have Made Me Cry, which included: Valet guys who are her Dad’s age, Mark Darcy, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.


Mindy is also very much pro-male-chest-hair and dedicated a shorter, yet complete chapter to the cause. Awesome. 


Yes, there are times where Mindy is borderline racist but she manages to finagle her way out of those uncomfortable moments by (a) acknowledging that she's teetering over the line and (b) being funny. And, despite it not being a solid 10 on the hilarity scale, it’s still an 8. That is, of course, unless Mindy wants to hang out with me, which will bump that number right up.


Call me, girl!


Thanks to Heather and Katie for hosting!




The Nail Files: All the Right Angles


The Nail Files Link Up


This week's Pinspiration:

Source: pshiiit.com via jennie on Pinterest


What I used:





Step 1: Two coats of For Audrey on all fingers except feature finger, which got two coats of Paper Mache.


Step 2: Wait for this polish to dry for at least two hours or it'll probably peel off (as I learned the hard way...grrr).


Step 3: Criss-Cross striping tape from top edge to bottom.


Step 4: One nail at a time (except feature), fill the bottom triangle with Man Hunt. The Pinspiration instructions said to use a dotting tool but that didn't work for me because the polish didn't go on very evenly. So, I used a smaller brush and that worked better. Not perfectly, but better.


Step 5: Remove the tape right away or the polish will peel (as I learned the hard way, again...double grrr).


Step 6: Fill sides of feature finger with For Audrey and bottom with Man Hunt.


Step 7: Remove tape right away.


Step 8: Let dry and then add a cute little gem on the feature finger where the points meet.


Step 9: Gob on the top coat so the gem stays on.


So, this mani was pretty labour intensive. Mostly because the freaking polish liked to ruin my life peel off. I love it, though and now that I've learned the tricks, would totally do it again. 


Thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!




11.1.13

The Nail Files: Everybody's Dotting Around (Or Maybe It's Just Me?)




This week's Pinspiration:




What I used: 





Two coats of Brit and Renee, respectively. Then, with a medium dotting tool, I did dots of Paper Mache, Sparkle and Snowflake and, depending on the base colour, Brit and Renee. You can't really tell in this picture, but on the nails with Brit as a base coat, half of the lighter dots are actually Renee.


Here's the deal: I got Brit and Renee in a surprise clutch from Julep. At first, I was a serious sad sack because I didn't like the third polish AT ALL and Brit's one of those matte finish polishes (which I do not like). But, when I relized that it would turn into a normal, shiny polish with a top coat, I became a half-sad sack and decided to give it a go.


The Good News: I quite like Brit and, really, Renee looks an awful lot like Don't You Lilac It?, which is one of my OPI staples.


The Bad News: BOTH of these bottle had wonky brushes. What the frickity-frack is with Julep and all of their wonky brushes! I don't think that I've EVER had a wonky brush before and all but two of the polishes I've ever gotten from Julep have needed trimming. It's bizarre. And frustrating. 


The Better News: I've been seriously freaking out because my OPI DS Coronation has been running very low and I haven't been able to find it anywhere. When I went into Sally to get some purple hair dye, I noticed that all of the Christmas polishes were on sale and that Sparkle and Snowflake looked almost identical to DS Coronation. When I brought it home, I did two swatches and discovered that it's even SHINIER and SPARKLIER than DS Coronation! And it was only $2.50! SCOOOOOOOOOOORE!!! Haha!!


Happy Friday everyone!


And thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!




Book Club Friday: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared







Ermegerd guys, it's been FOREVER since I've posted a book review. Mostly, it's because I went though a really dry spell where I didn't dig a book enough to write a review but recently, I've read a bunch and am now seriously behind. So, expect MANY reviews in the upcoming weeks. Some that will probably not even be on Fridays because I want to share the amazingness that is the last few books I've devoured. 


For this week, though, I'm reviewing this:





Ever read Forrest Gump (or seen the movie)? Well, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is pretty much like that. Except that Allan Karlsson is Swedish and therefore, doesn’t speak in a southern drawl. Also, instead of a box of chocolates, there's a whole lotta vodka. However, the general vibe is extremely similar.


I’ll admit that when I first read the premise: that a 100-year-old man climbs out of a window so he can avoid his birthday party at his retirement home, I didn’t have high expectations. After all, what the heck can a centenarian get up to? The first chapter is his excruciatingly long walk to the bus station and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d keep reading but then there’s the second chapter and it’s BANANAS! Like, I-can’t-believe-my-eyes-are-reading-this-it’s-so-out-of-left-field, kind of bananas. My most favourite of all the bananas, for obvious reasons.


There’s also a lyrical quality to the prose, almost like a fairy tale. It flows amazingly well. So well, in fact, that you hardly notice that there’s very little dialogue. And by very little, I mean almost none. The overwhelming majority of the novel is narrative so it is the author, Jonas Jonasson (did that guy have mean parents, or what?) who is really the star of the show because books with that much narrative usually bore me to tears. This one, however, held my interests hostage from page 11, right to the end.


Yes, there are TONS of historical references; it’s the primary reason I (and others) compare it to Forrest Gump. The book goes between the present (2005) and the past, explaining Allan’s extremely colourful life. Wars, explosions, meetings with world leaders, prisons, asylums: Allan’s seen them all and, for the most part, conquered them all.  I’m no history buff and will admit that there were a couple of times that I had to Google things but that’s a testament to how great this book is. Very rarely, do I take the time or have the inclination to stop reading so I can look up an event or person, just so I can enjoy the book more. And that happened, more than a few times.


There’s literally no way that you would ever suspect what the next story would be about. Seriously. I’ll bet you a million trillion dollars that you’ll NEVER be able to guess. And because that’s the best part of The 100-Year-Old Man, I’m not going to say anything else. All I’ll say is that this book is totally worth the read. And if you get a hard copy, it has those really cool unfinished edges. You know, the ones that are all jaggedy and look like they’re old. Which is fitting, considering the MCs age (nicely linked there, HarperCollins).


Thanks to Heather and Katie for hosting!