Making it all bearable

Hey kids.

First off – LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL THE SKY IS GOOD GRIEF IT KILLS ME.

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Seriously, I near but froze my toes off, tip-toeing around my balcony yesterday morning trying to get these shots.

But are they not oh-so worth it?

And then, because I’m one who can never just leave well enough alone, I had to take a second round of shots as I walked to the metro (plus one final snap when I arrived at the skytrain station.)

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Honestly, I’m surprised that I don’t catch more people taking snaps of the sunrise. I mean, am I the only sap left in the world who’s moved by this kind of thing?

Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I was some kind of high-flying migratory bird, or climatologist, or Greek god in one (or all of) my previous lives, what with how pathologically OBSESSED I am with the sky.

P.S I’m calling dibs on Athena, here and now and NO SWAPSIES ALLOWED! That badass gal is my homegirl through and through, ya dig?

Anywho, I can only hope that we continue to have good weather so I can carry on getting all shirty over cloud striations, and the way the early-morning horizon looks like a giant space toddler’s blue and orange finger painting project.

(p.s. I think I’ve been reading too much Drew Magary, hence the current love affair with CAPS LOCK. Do not be alarmed. As with all crushes before it – both written and otherwise – this too soon shall pass.)

In the interim, fry up time!

All that glitters is not gold.

So my fabitty fab sister in-law Vanessa is engaged to be married, and her wedding day is coming up daisies (or within the calendar year if you will). As such, she is on the hunt for a gown in which she will be fit to wed her dearly betrothed.

Now, I love weddings like the wedding-mad fool that I am, so I readily agreed to accompany her shopping the second that she asked. We spent last Saturday afternoon together, along with my mother in-law (or CAPTAIN C as I like to refer to her), visiting the various shops that line downtown New Westminster, perusing their incredibly diverse wares.

Now, my sis is a lady of discerning taste, and to say that there were some stores that didn’t quit fit the bill is a bit of an understatement.

For instance, I managed to covertly snap this picture of one of the prom dresses available for purchase at one of the shops:

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WHO?

WHY?

HOW?

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY SOMEONE WOULD MAKE A DRESS OUT OF THE SAME MATERIAL USED TO CREATE THE SPACE SHUTTLE.

Seriously, somewhere out there Rumpelstiltskin just rolled over in his grave.

(Also, that pink number isn’t anything to write home about either.)

Needless to say, we didn’t last long in that shop, and quickly moved on to a store where everything Ms. V tried on brought tears of happiness and joy to my eyes (and not, you know, a panic attack.)

Different strokes and all that, but my capacity for completely gaudy get-ups is limited, especially outside the confines of an H&M dressing room.

NEXT!

To a Tee.

Remember when I wrote about how awesome my little sister’s butcher shop is?

Well, check out these smashing Highland Drive t-shirts HOT OFF THE PRESSES:

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Don’t you want one?

I have already placed an order for both M and myself, so you should probably think about procuring some of your own. All the cool kids are doing it!

Find out how you can get your mitts on these sweet things by following my wicked sister on the FACEBOOKS HERE.

(And while you’re there, you should probably stop by Ye Olde Rant and Roll and like that too. SHAMELESS PLUG Y’ALL.)

Techno queen.

Sometimes I feel as though I am overrun by gadgets.

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(This overwhelming sensation definitely played a leading role in what kept me from getting a cell phone for so long.)

I mean, I go to work and sit at a compute – writing, reading, researching, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, e-mailing, scheduling, etc., etc.

Then I come home and use my laptop or tablet, like some Asimov inspired cyborg.

And it is because of this that I make such a concerted effort to make sure that I unplug at every available opportunity. I read like a reading thing as much as I can, go for walks with my husband, take endless photos of my cat (and the sky), cook, listen to the radio (what would I do without the CBC!?), talk on the phone with my far-away loved ones (ACK! I have just realized that most of these things are gadget related!), or just sit and think my madcap thoughts, all alone and on my own.

However, on this last point I really need to get better at “just being.”

Growing up, we used to always call it “bear by yourself” time. I want to re-learn how to be bear by myself.

That’s all she wrote this Friday my loves.

Wishing you all a very fabulous weekend, whether it is adventure filled or quietly serene!

Take each moment, and enjoy.

Sisters are doing it for themselves

I have two sisters with whom I am desperately in love. Most of the time I miss them like a missing thing due to the fact that they both live miles and miles away and make their homes on the Canadian and American eastern seaboards.

But when we’re together it’s magic.

Which was why this past Christmas vacation was so brilliant – we had the chance to spend an extended amount of time together and really get up to some sisterly mischief.

It’s so crazy when I think about how similar we are in so many ways (our strong work ethic and passionate natures are two traits that immediately spring to mind), while at the same time being so, so different.

My older sister is the social justice champion; I am the academic drama queen; and my little sister is the business-minded chef.

And when I say that I am in awe of everything these two brilliant and beautiful women have achieved (and continue to achieve) it is no lie – these ladies are doing incredible, important, and brilliant things.

So whenever I get to witness these things in action, it pretty much blows my mind.

For instance, when we were in Halifax this past December, on Christmas Eve day I got to work in my little sister’s butcher shop and storefront – Highland Drive Storehouse: Butchery and Local Produce (she also runs a catering and cooking lesson business out of the store).

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She had given all her staff the day off (what a fab boss!) and in turn, recruited myself, M, my older sister Kate, and her fiancée to help out for the day.

It’s was a pretty bonkers, but brilliant shift, as we had many people coming in to pick up their turkey orders, as well as other last minute planners who were just desperate to procure something to cook for their family and friends, having forgot to request something in advance.

In the end we made sure that no one left empty handed, and I kid you not, for the entire day I was just swelling with pride to witness (and be a part of) all of the action.

I mean first – who gets to say that their little sister owns a butcher shop.

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This is pretty badass.

And then just to watch how amazing Jessi is with all of her customers; how much time and care she puts into providing a superior shopping experience – one that is equal parts positive, educative, and hilarious – whether it’s her relaxed banter with her regular shoppers (she easily recommends different cuts of meat and then offers up recipes for how to cook or prepare the dish) or the care she takes to speak with every new client who enters the store – she truly goes above and beyond to create a really fabulous atmosphere.

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Not to mention the fact that as she’s doing this, she is also making her own bacon and sausages, preparing orders, writing menus for her catering jobs, and coming up with easy, but delicious ideas for upcoming cooking lessons.

What can I say folks? The girl is a champ.

A TOTAL CHAMP.

So if you’re ever in the Halifax area, head over the Hydrostones (a fab historical district of the city) and check out Highland Drive Butchery and Produce.

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And when you get there, tell the beautiful proprietress that Ethel the Dean sent you.

And that she couldn’t be a prouder of her little sis.

Not even if she tried.

Get out there and just give ‘er

Happy labour day friends!

I am currently working down (or around?) my to-do list. Also, I cannot stop listening to Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans.

Because, THEY BE AWESOME.

I never really listened to much country growing up. Our family had a pretty eclectic taste in music, and it was a total free-for-all anytime we embarked on a long road trip, or family vacation.

But there was never any country.

It was no country for old country. Or new country at that.

I mean, when I wasn’t running around with my dad’s tai chi swords, dressed up in my highland dancing clothes pretending I was Sailor Moon, I was choreographing elaborate dance routines to such musical greats as The Rankin Family or Enya or Bruce Springsteen.

If I wanted to get really crazy I would break out the soundtrack to The Commitments and boogie down.

Of course I wasn’t just a-moving and a-shaking to these rad tunes – I was either lip-synching or belting out the words with everything that I had. Much depended on whether or not there were other people in the house, and if so, how close they were to my bedroom at that given time.

So having recognized my propensity for taking on the musical works of others and making it my own at such an early age, you can imagine just how much I loathe karaoke.

HAH.

Karaoke is one of those things that I very rarely do, but love anyways.

It’s also an activity that is strictly familial – I cannot remember the last time I sang into some broke microphone in front of a bunch of semi-drunk strangers without the support of my wacko sisters at my side.

I used to sing a mean Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” (doing the low voice and everything) but I just haven’t had the heart to sing it much since my friend Brent told me that I didn’t actually sound anything like Cher, and instead was just singing like a depressed man with a potato stuck in his throat.

He might as well have told me that I was a virgin who couldn’t drive. WAY HARSH TAI.

Anyway, as much as this was disheartening to hear, I still think of it as one of my all time favourite karaoke picks. Check-it:

How can you not want to sign along to that? Effin’ rights.

My other two top picks are very much in the vein of Mr. Corb and his hurtin’ band. Because no joke, nothing works quite as well as a sweet, sweet country tune when you’re up there embarrassing yourself for all of Canada.

If you want to get a ton of people on your side right away, I would recommend singing Tracy Byrd’ s The Drinking Bone:

People totally go nuts over this song because it scores absolutely off the chart in terms of ridiculousity and hilariousity.

Plus the lyrics are simple in the extreme.

Do. Seriously. DO IT.

Finally, (and while you may think that this would best for the ladies in the crowd, I’d bet a silver dollar that a dude could bring the whole house down with a solid rendition of this song) – I recommend Shania Twain’s Any Man of Mine.

Goodness do I ever love this tune.

It also scores highly on the outrageous and funny scale plus you have a whole pantheon of amazing lyrics to chose from, including:

“And when I cook him dinner and I burn it black, he better say, mmm, I like it like that.”

GENIUS.

Bonus – at the end of the song Ms. Twain talks you through a sort of mini dance that you can do on stage for all of your cheering fans.

This is a terrific song to do with a partner, or even as a threesome. Results may vary of course, but I’ve never known it to go down with nothing less than raucous, rousing approval.

So get out there and go for it.

But! Always remember to give it your all – nobody wants to see anything half-baked up on that neon lit stage.

Because if you don’t, Cher won’t be the only one waxing poetic about turning back time.

I get by with a little help

From my friends.

Today I spent my lunch hour with my beautiful, brilliant friend and colleague J, walking the streets of downtown Vancouver and trying on pretty things from the various clothiers that lined our route.

We hadn’t seen each other for almost six days, which is an exorbitant length of time what with how closely we work and how much of our work days are spent communicating with one another.

It was really grand to catch up and find out what has been swimming around in her neck of the pond.

I recently purged my closet of a number of pieces that no longer grace the length of my body, and were instead just clogging up my wardrobe and dresser drawers.

Lucky me that my two fabitty-fab sisters are in town visiting (or should I say lucky them?) and they got first pick all of the items that otherwise will be heading over to the nearest Sally Ann.

It is so great to have them here, as becomes increasingly more apparent, as the years press on, that the times when the three of us find ourselves in a room together grow ever more few and far between.

Very difficult to have those much needed late-night gab fests when one of us lives in Vancouver, one lives in Halifax, and one lives in New York.

Tonight I ate dinner with the younger of the two (I hold the much coveted position of middle sister) – at Guu, a Japanese izakaya restaurant I had yet to try out.

My sis is a professionally trained chef who owns a butcher shop and as such has a much more discerning palette than I (I assure you that, unlike yours truly, she doesn’t EVER drink diet coke or eat five cent candy on a regular basis) and as such, was the one making the gastronomic decisions for the both of us.

My other sis will be back on Friday and we – along with our two partners – will enjoy a weekend of Kids in the Hall, beaching, spies, Star Wars references, singing, dancing, and of course an over-arching theme of general bonkerdom.

Just the way we like it.

Summer just seems right with sisters.

I’d like to share with you some pictures from our adventures of late:

Lattes night snacks.

Booksbooksbooks.

Otter.

See food.

 

Umbrella.

Wedding reception.

Happy Wednesday to you all. I’ll help you get by anyway that I can.

 

 

Tomorrow, tomorrow

Seeing as though I got my rant on yesterday (and get it on did I ever), I am trying to look at the bright side of things on this rainy December day.

I feel really fortunate to have so many solid individuals in my life whom I can count on to comfort (or at least abide) me when I am at my utmost dejected. Without them, I would probably slink off the forest and live out my days in obscurity, becoming feral and losing my ability to speak and maintain healthy (if any) human relationships.  I would either end up in the National Enquirer, or have Jodi Foster play me in some Oscar-winning biopic, scored by Howard Shore.

Like my blood pressure, the sun will rise again...

So thank you my friends.  Thank you for your support and for helping me rebuild my humpty-dumpty confidence in humanity (or at least chose to stay in society for a little while longer.)

(Man, speaking of that nursery rhyme – what the heck were all the King’s horses going to accomplish? THEY ARE HORSES. If anything, they were probably responsible for further smashing up Mr. Egg Wall-sitter’s remains.)

Anywho, yesterday night I met up with my Little Sister (I’ve worked with Big Sisters for the past three years) and hanging out with that little firecracker of genius was exactly what I needed to regroup and refocus.

Working with my Little has been life changing in many different ways, and knowing that as much as she has transformed my life, I have had a positive impact on hers, is something I very much cherish.  When I am overwhelmed to the point of tears by what I see to be insurmountable, soul-crushing obstacles, I have to remember that little by little, constructive actions are capable of chipping away at the our society’s monolithic, and firmly-rooted ills.

So remember kids: Only you can prevent further reinforcement of institutionalized, overarching destructive norms!

That, and you know, forest fires.

As they say, baby steps.

Either way, today I am focusing on the positive!

Case in point, a couple of nights ago I was invited to a friend’s house to bake sugar cookies and watch The Muppet

Rolling pins are good for getting out stress.

Christmas Carol.  It was a gas and a half: munching on junk food, laughing at Gonzo (playing Charles Dickens, of course), loving Michael Caine as Scrooge, sharing the bizarre and equally funny parts of our day.

Sometimes you cannot get any better than that.

Of course, our first batch of cookies wasn’t hugely successful.  We tried to fit two sheets on one rack at the same time.  It wasn’t until I started to see smoke seeping out from the top of the door that we decided we might have to exercise some restraint and only do one batch at a time.

I would be lying if I said we didn't eat quite a few of these anyway...

(This worked to varying degrees, as the more we talked – and the more we laughed – the harder it seemed to be to actually make sure we timed the baking process properly.)

Now, I am not by nature a very visually artistic individual, but years of dedication to cookie decoration has left me with a particular prowess in this department that I am not afraid to talk up.

Oh what fun!

Back home in Halifax my mother goes absolutely bonkers in the kitchen every Christmas, whipping up batches of (sometimes) up to two hundred ginger bread men.  I will spend hours hunched over the kitchen table, painstakingly decorating cookie after cookie, to the point where it is almost a little heartbreaking to watch people cart them off, or even worse, scarf them down without properly admiring their long-endured edible beautification process!

Yeah.  That’s definitely a little sad on my part.

But I don’t care!  Love live the cookie decorator!  PEACE, LAND, BREAD!

Erm…

Nom nom - WAIT! Tell me how pretty they are!

I mean: ICING, SPRINKLES, SMARTIES!

I hope you all have a wonderful, rage-out-free weekend.

And if not, I’ll do my darndest to put you back together again.