Friday, 24 December 2010

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful But The Fire Is So Delightful

Happy Christmas! Or Happy Friday! Or Happy Whatever-you-choose-to-celebrate!

I hope that wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you're happy, healthy, and loved.

2010 was difficult for a lot of people but I have a good feeling about 2011. Let's all do wonderful things and be nice to people, okay?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Fall On Me Black Helicopter You're All I See

Shawn brought home a remote controlled helicopter yesterday. It's not exactly Christmas cheer but the monsterpups losing their tiny little minds over the flying Intruder! adds immeasurable joy to my life.

We're, uh, really grown up and mature. Obviously.

Wolfgang is ready to move out and Stella is concocting elaborate plans of destruction. I'm fairly certain that Shawn's choppa (said in your best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice, please) is going to disappear without a trace one day soon.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Say, What's In This Drink?

Christmas is 12 days away and I am unable to muster an ounce of holiday spirit.

I tried. I baked (and ate copious amounts of) whipped shortbread. I sent Christmas cards. I ate my weight in miniature oranges. I even tried listening to Christmas music and I hate Christmas music (with the exception of Norah Jones and Willie Nelson's version of Baby it's Cold Outside. I don't care that it is the date rape Christmas carol, it's Willie fucking Nelson.)

Nothing is working, though. I remain listless and irritable.

I need a fast-acting dose of Christmas cheer. What works for you? I'll try anything (except egg nog. That shit is nasty.)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It's Too Late To Break It Off I Need A Release The Signal's A Cough

Shawn and I were both sick all weekend and then I started to feel better and he started to feel worse. I tried to be sympathetic (I did!) but part of me (okay, almost all of me) was convinced that he was putting one on. To get out of doing the dishes.

Yes, I am a gem of a wife, I know.

In my defense, Shawn really hates doing the dishes so I end up doing them most of the time. But then I get to a point where I cannot even look at another dirty dish and I announce that next time the dishes need to be washed, it's his turn.

On Monday I came home from work and the kitchen was still a mess so I did a little grumbling and reheated some soup and added the pot to the pile of dirty dishes. And thought spiteful thoughts of how the pile of dishes was only going to grow the longer he was "sick."

And then Shawn stayed home from work on Tuesday, which he never does.

And went to the doctor on his own accord, which he never does.

And then his doctor started throwing around words like pneumonia and bronchial inflammation and fluid in the lungs.

Basically I am a giant jerkface is what I'm saying.

And I washed the dishes last night.

Monday, 6 December 2010

You Give Me Chills Then You Leave Me Cold

This weekend was supposed to be about baking shortbread and writing Christmas cards and finishing up our Christmas shopping. It was supposed to be about embracing a season that historically we both struggle to enjoy.

Instead it was a weekend of fevers and chills, homemade chicken noodle soup, and getting out of bed only to don fresh pyjamas and clean linens before climbing right back between the sheets.

We'll find our Christmas spirit, I hope. Somewhere between the peppermint tea and discarded tissues.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Mountain Tops Seem Nice From A Distance

Robin has moved out of her temporary accommodations and into her new home in London, quashing any hope I had of her hating England and returning to Vancouver. I'm happy that she's happy, of course, but I'm also (selfishly) sad.

Cat is leaving me in a month. She's not going as far as Robin but her new home is five hours away from me. I'm excited for her. I'm happy that she's embracing change and starting a new adventure. I'm also happy that she's moving to one of my favourite places to visit (dude, next summer? You are not going to be able to get rid of me. Sorry!) But again, I'm sad.

I've known Robin and Cat for over 15 years. A little distance doesn't change our history. They're my people. They know my secrets and my crazy and love me anyway. They're always in my heart. I just wish they were in my kitchen, drinking wine and eating cheese, whenever I wanted.

It's similar with blogging. I find amazing bloggers and form connections and bonds. Blog friends become real life friends, emails turn into handwritten notes, and I lament the fact that I live so far away from my Internet people. I want to meet my bloggy peeps at the pub for post-work beers or take our monsterpups on a furbaby double date to the local dog park. I want to introduce you all to poutine.

It's comforting, in a way, to know that I have a network of real life and bloggy friends spread out across the globe but it can be lonely too. It's hard not to feel left behind when the people closest to me are embarking on amazing adventures and the only thing I've done lately is take hilarious pictures of my dogs.

He does not love the snow. He'll just stay here under the covers until winter is over, thanks.

Friday, 26 November 2010

All My Little Ladies Eating Up The Gravy

I had big plans to celebrate American Thanksgiving but I got sidetracked by the thought of homemade poutine.

We went gourmet style, making a rich, shredded beef gravy and using real fries from the fish&chips place on the corner instead of making oven fries.

We invited friends over, one of whom was a poutine virgin, to share in our gluttony.

It was glorious.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Hurricane Rescued Me Salvaged Calamity

It snowed this weekend. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that I decided to hibernate. The monsterpups were fully supportive of my plan to hide under the covers until April.

I only lasted until Saturday evening, when the call of bloggers and my favourite pub became too strong to resist.
The monsterpups were not amused.

I morphed back into hibernation mode on Sunday after a rotten night's sleep on Saturday that included puppy vomit and a 2am wake up call from my inebriated husband that resulted in me driving into the dodgy part of Vancouver to pick up three rowdy drunks. (Which I can't complain about because they were very appreciative rowdy drunks.)

Life is uncertain right now. I'm grinning maniacally, then falling deep into despair and worry, only to launch myself back to glee, all in the space of a minute it seems. I am exhausted. Hibernation mode is the only thing keeping me sane. Curling up under the blankets, Stella on my toes and Wolfgang on my belly, whispering plans and ideas with Shawn, is the only thing that centres me after a day of dizzily tripping through life. I want time to slow down. I want clear answers and a game plan. I want hibernation mode to be the norm instead of a rare luxury that happens only when I ignore the pile of dirty laundry and the bathroom sink that is currently growing something fuzzy around the drain.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

It Puts A Vault In My Step And A Grin On My Face

The super fantastic Style Lush Holiday Gift Guide has arrived! All 125 gift ideas are $25 or less. Seriously!



Also putting a grin on my face today, Aly of Breathe Gently is in town! Are any local bloggers interested in watching the Canucks beat the Blackhawks on Saturday? I'm thinking a non-pressurey bloggy meetup is in order. Steamworks (Gastown location) - 7pm - big fun. Shawn has even agreed to come (and bloggers make him a bit nervous.)

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hey Me Hey Mama Where You Been Where You Been For So Long?


Happy birthday, mama. Thanks for calling my puppies your "granddogs" and loving them the way you do. Thanks for making me my favourite cauliflower soup whenever I get sick. Thanks for helping me wrangle the pups into their Hallowe'en costumes instead of laughing at me for dressing them up. Thanks for understanding the importance of good-quality chocolate. Thanks for staying married to Dad for over 30 years and for showing me what a long, stable relationship can look like. Thanks for caring so much about every single detail of my life, even when I get snarky and evasive because I feel smothered. Thanks for smothering me with your love even when I don't deserve it. Love you.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Well Thanks For The Time I Needed To Think A Spell

I realize that Canadian Thanksgiving was a month ago and it's a bit ridiculous for me to post about it now but I loved my Thanksgiving dinner and it's almost American Thanksgiving so that's my excuse. I'm kind of debating celebrating American Thanksgiving just so I can have a full turkey dinner again.

My dinner consisted of (clockwise from the left) spicy green beans, sweet potato / turnip mash, roast carrots, turkey!, homemade cranberry sauce, and cowboy potatoes (which are actually called Jamie Oliver's Painted Hills Potatoes but I think cowboy potatoes sounds better.)

I don't have a large enough roasting pan to roast a turkey so I bought an aluminum one and threw celery, onions, lemons, apples, and fresh herbs in the base to keep the bird raised off the bottom. I seasoned the turkey with salt and pepper and filled the cavity with heads of garlic that I'd sliced horizontally through the cloves. I cooked my turkey upside down (because that's how Nigella does it) so it looked ugly but was moist and flavourful.

I was really happy with my side dishes. I was able to do a lot of prep ahead of time (I made the potatoes and the mash the day before and cooked them with the turkey) so when my kitchen sink clogged from the peelings of 20 carrots that I tried to send down the garbarator all at once and Shawn had to dismantle the pipe under the sink, it didn't throw my dinner off by too much.

Dessert was my grandma's pumpkin chiffon pie and chocolate mousse pie. Shawn had requested chocolate mousse and I was fully committed to making it until I realized that I didn't have any chocolate mousse vessels. The only thing I could think of using was wine glasses but then we wouldn't have anywhere to put the wine which I think we can all agree is a completely unacceptable situation. So I piled the mousse in a pie crust and called it mousse pie and everyone was happy.

My sisters both had other commitments but my mom, dad, and Westy came, along with Shawn's mom and brother. I made too much food, as usual, and I got quite shouty at Shawn when the sink was broken, but the evening was a success. Plus we had enough pie left over that I had pumpkin pie for breakfast for days afterwards so I was a very happy lady.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Downtown Vancouver Digging Through Your Bag Ripping Out The Pages Of The Local Music Mag

Chelsea (she who talks smack) was in town for a few days and she and Derek put out the call on Twitter that they wanted to meet local bloggers. And I was all "sign me up!" because it's Chelsea Talks Smack and Dshan - two bloggers who I have read for years, who write honestly and candidly about both the shiny and not-so shiny parts of their lives. Basically, two bloggers who intimidate me with their kickassness (totally a word.)

And then Friday rolled around and I got all clenchy at the thought of actually meeting them.

I'm not very good at meeting new people. I'm awkward and anxious and talking to people who I don't know makes me want to vomit or die. So I talk too loud and too fast and I tell stupid stories and I spend the entire evening cringing internally.

It's part of my charm.

At least that's what I tell myself.

My angst was completely unnecessary (as it so often is) as Chelsea and Derek are as interesting and cool in person as they are through the magic computer box. Plus I got to meet Shannon, a local blogger who shares my love for Las Margaritas (the best Mexican food in Vancouver. I will fight anyone who says otherwise.)

I haven't found much of a blogging community in Vancouver. I read a few local bloggers but there doesn't seem to be the same social connection outside of blogging that other cities have. Or maybe there is and I'm just completely unaware of it. The only time I've met bloggers in person is when out-of-town bloggers come to Vancouver. It's odd and I'd like to change it.

So tell me, are you a Vancouver blogger? Would you be interested in meeting other bloggers? If you're not a local blogger, do you have an offline relationship with the blogging community in your city? How do I go about meeting local bloggers without looking like the crazy stalky lady?

Friday, 5 November 2010

In A Sweater Poorly Knit And An Unsuspecting Smile

Friday Faff: Champers Edition

Last night I thought I opened a bottle of fancy sparkly pear juice leftover from Thanksgiving but I actually opened a bottle of champagne. I was home alone and champagne goes flat quickly once it's opened so of course I had to drink it by myself. I will admit that I could not finish the entire bottle but I made a commendable effort. My head is very hurty this morning is what I'm saying. In my defense, the sparkly pear juice is in a similar bottle and is trying to be something it's not with the foil and the full wire & cork mechanism found on champagne bottles.

* * * * *

Robin has been in London for a week now and I miss her like crazy. I've constructed a complex kidnapping plot for when we visit her next year. Don't tell on me.

* * * * *
I need to learn how to knit. Soonish.

* * * * *

Instagram is my new favourite iPhone app. It's kind of like twitter for photos. You follow feeds but instead of 140 characters, you post a photo. It's fun and it's free and if you're already using it you should let me know so I can follow you. I'm hillarywith2Ls if anyone wants to follow me. Though I'm warning you, I mostly post photos of the monsterpups.

* * * * *
I warned you.
Have a good weekend, peeps!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Remind Me Of Home When You're Around Me The Next Time You Leave Don't Go Without Me

It's been two months since Shawn and I went to Vegas. Two months since we rode a motorcycle into the desert and splurged on 4am room service and drank frozen beverages out of plastic boots. I wore too-short skirts and too-high heels and we giggled over my complete lack of coordination while navigating the casino floors. We napped and ate two pounds of onion rings in one sitting and used the jacuzzi in our room every day. We spent a week together. Seven consecutive days of waking up together and spending the day having adventures and going to bed at the same time.

Now, I realize part of our holiday's charm was its brevity. Shawn and I are not togetherforever24/7 kind of people. (I'm not knocking people who are, we just aren't.) And I'm okay with that. I value the time I spend with Shawn but I also value the time I spend with my friends and family and the time I spend alone. Shawn and I could not survive extended periods of time together without seriously annoying each other. It's just ... the time we spent together in Vegas highlighted how little time we spend together in our day to day lives.

Life is busy and we both have full-time jobs and he's in a band and ... there's always an and. We blow through the week hardly seeing each other and then all of a sudden it's Sunday - the one day we both have off work - and we're stuck doing chores and arguing over whose turn it is to do the grocery shopping (it is so his turn.)

I miss him. Which is stupid and silly and I feel like an idiot for even thinking it, but it's true. We're a bit lost right now. There's no drama. This isn't an end of days situation. We're just struggling to find the right balance for us. When it comes to spending time together, quantity isn't an option for us; we have to focus on quality.

How do you do it? How do you find the time to connect with your partner? How do you block the daily nuisances and boring chores from affecting your time together?

Monday, 1 November 2010

It Was A Graveyard Smash

Stella is not a huge fan of Hallowe'en. Wolfgang, on the other hand, loves playing dress up.

The jaunty flip of his cap is causing me to dissolve into fits of giggles today.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Three Or Four Hourglass

Happy third birthday to my Stelly-belly-stinky-pup!


What do you say you make this the year you stop eating poop?


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me Who's Playing Tricks On Me

I write about my life on the Internet. I post photos. I tell stories. I share aspects of my life - of my crazy - that I don't feel comfortable talking about face-to-face. Typing words into a computer gives me a certain sense of freedom that isn't necessarily logical. If I think it through, it's actually quite probable that people I know in my every day life - people who I don't feel comfortable talking to face-to-face about certain things - are reading my blog. So I get twitchy and take my blog offline ... and then I get emails and messages from you lovely bunch, reminding me why I blog in the first place. So thanks, lovelies. Thanks for letting me get a bit crazy sometimes and thanks for checking to make sure everything is alright. Everything is alright. I promise not to think too much in the future to avoid situations like yesterday's meltdown.

Friday, 22 October 2010

I Guess I'm Kinda Lost In Space And London's Okay She Don't Even Ask What Time It Is Anymore

Robin is leaving me again. She's only been home from Africa for three months and she's already jetting off again, this time for London. London! One of my favourite places is claiming one of my favourite people.

It's all happened rather quickly. She was offered an amazing job last week and she will be gone by next Friday. I don't know how I feel about it - I'm excited for her. But I'm (selfishly) sad for me.

I lured her to my place last night with the promise of wine and cheese and her favourite nibblies, fully intending to tie her up and stash her in my closet so she couldn't leave me. My plan worked against me, though, as the wine made me unable to do much beyond tearfully promising to visit next year. Plus Robin knows me well and brought a shiny thing (in the form of the most beautiful starfish necklace) to distract me.

So. My lovely friend is leaving again. I'm trying very hard to be supportive. I really am happy for her and excited for the adventures that lie ahead. I just miss her when she's gone. She's been my Robin since she moved to my neighbourhood when we were seven years old. I love her to bits. And I'm not just saying that so she gives me a free place to stay when I visit London.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I've Gotta Tell You What A State I'm In I've Gotta Tell You In My Loudest Tones That I Started Looking For A Warning Sign

I haven't written much about the sleep clinic because it's boring. It's boring to think about, it's boring to talk about. I can't imagine how boring it must be to read about. It's also frustrating. So far there has been a whole lot of trial and error without much progress. My doctor has determined what my brain is doing that prevents me from sleeping but can't figure out the cause. So. Boring and frustrating. Not exactly blog fodder. It's been a huge part of my life for the last five weeks though, and I'm only able to see now, on the other side, how it's affected me. For the first time in five weeks I feel like I'm seeing clearly.

Five weeks ago my sleep doctor prescribed a sedative to be taken nightly for a month. I had a few qualms about taking a sedative every night but I kept them to myself. I feel a lot of (stupid! pointless!) guilt about living in a country where not only do I get to see a sleep specialist, I don't have to pay for any of the medical services provided. I know it's silly because those resources are not magically applied to someone who needs them more if I choose to not see the sleep doctor, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel like a first-world softy. I feel like I'm supposed to be grateful and willing to try anything so I shut my mouth and nod my head and wear the doctor-prescribed evil breathing mask for six weeks until I'm doing the ugly cry in the respiratory therapist's office, begging her to take the mask back from me. (She did.) So I didn't ask any questions. I filled the prescription and I started taking the pills.

I started taking the pills even though the pharmacist who filled my prescription told me that they should not be used for longer than 7 consecutive nights and despite the literature he provided that literally had a full page of warnings and possible side effects.

For a while, things were great. I slept through the night, every night, and woke up feeling rested. I felt a little druggy but overall I felt better than I've felt in a long time. I experienced a few side effects but they were either insignificant (like the ever-present metallic taste in my mouth) or funny (like the time I got out of bed in the middle of the night, opened the front hall closet, put on Shawn's jacket, and returned to bed without waking up.)

Then something shifted, sometime during my second week on the drug and suddenly things weren't so great. I couldn't verbalize it at the time but I stopped feeling like myself. Waking up in the morning wasn't as difficult as it used to be and I didn't constantly crave a nap, but I was so groggy. I felt slow, like I was missing connections in my brain. One morning I put my running shoes on then sat, completely stumped, for what felt like a full minute before I realized that the shoelaces needed to be tied. I knew I was missing something, I knew there was another step, I just couldn't quite get there. It wasn't just shoes, either. Everything required my full concentration. I was terrified that I would leave the house without wearing pants or call my boss "dad" or something equally as horrifying so I had a constant commentary running through my brain. It was exhausting.

My third and fourth week week on the drug were horrible. I have never felt so dark or listless. And I couldn't see it. I thought I had the autumn blues. I thought I was rundown because of work stress. Shawn could see that something was wrong but I ignored his pleas for me to see my doctor. It wasn't until one night when I forgot to take my pill until an hour past the correct time and I ended up lying on the kitchen floor, sobbing and clutching my head because it felt like it would explode if I moved the slightest bit, that I realized that something was wrong. It took Shawn threatening to take me to the emergency room before I was willing to admit that the negative side effects of the drug were far outweighing the benefits.

I've been off the drug for just over a week now. The first few days were extremely difficult. I suffered from rebound insomnia which meant that my body had become dependent on the sedative and forgot how to fall asleep. Fortunately, by day three I was so exhausted that I started sleeping again. Every day I feel like I've reclaimed a little bit more of myself. I'm back to being bone-tired because my sleeping pattern has returned to being horrid but I don't feel desperate anymore. I don't feel like the zombie version of myself. The sun is shining, a little bit, and I'm so happy that I can feel it again.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pleased To Meet You Wanna Greet You Then I'll Take You On My Way

Dear Shawn,

Today is the seventh anniversary of the day we met. If you had told me that in seven years we'd be married and have two monsterpups, I would have laughed at you. And then I would have told you to get me another drink because as you know, we met in a bar and we were both inebriated. We're classy like that.

A lot has happened in the seven years since we met. We dated for a bit. I moved to England. We stopped talking to each other. We started talking again. You visited me in England. I moved back to Canada. We moved into a tiny downtown apartment. We got engaged. We left our downtown apartment to buy a condo in a sketchy neighbourhood because homeownership meant in-suite laundry and no pet restrictions. We brought home Stella. We got married. We found Wolfgang. We've had a lot of adventures together is what I'm saying.

Happy 7th meet-iversary, dude. I hope we have many more adventures together.

Love,
Hillary

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Everybody Loves A Winner So Nobody Loved Me

The lovely gift basket from Bow Wow Haus is sitting on my kitchen counter, ready to be mailed to ... xoxb! Congratulations, lady! Email me your address and I'll pop it in the mail this week.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

When I'm Really Getting Old At Twenty-Eight Or Nine

For the last six months or so, I've thought that I was twenty-eight years old. Whenever it came up in conversation, I would say that I was twenty-eight. It turns out that today is my twenty-eighth birthday. I feel like I've gained a year, like I should be making goals and resolutions with my new found time. This birthday seems a bit anticlimactic, I guess. I feel like I've already been here.

Instead of goals and resolutions, I'm sticking with hopes. I hope that this is the year I start to trust my knees and start to enjoy running again. I hope that I make it back to England. I hope that I find the guts to start yoga. I hope that I sleep more and worry less. I hope to not eat a single beet.

So here's to twenty-eight. Here's to a year of chocolate cake, homemade pizza / hockey dates with my husband, and puppy cuddles.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Bow Wow Wow Yippie Yo Yippie Yay

Bow Wow Haus in Vancouver is a lovely little shop full of any toy, treat, or tool you could possibly need for your pup. The lovely people at Bow Wow Haus have given me a basket of goodies to pass along to one of my lucky readers. Stella and Wolfgang were lucky enough to receive a few little goodies of their own and can vouch for the yumminess of the locally made treats.

If you are a Vancouver (or Greater Van!) local and you have a furry friend who could use some pampering, leave a comment and tell me your pet's name. I'll pick a winner on Friday, October 15th. Good luck!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

And It Looks Like Trouble And It Tastes Like Chocolate If You Want It

I have a mid-October birthday and I'm fortunate enough to be Canadian, which means that I've grown accustomed to three-day weekend birthday celebrations and turkey feasts for my birthday dinner with pumpkin pie in place of birthday cake. It is very difficult to be me, I know.

This year my parents are going to Mexico on my birthday which means that my birthday dinner is going to be less "Thanksgiving Extravaganza!" and more "happy birthday, do you know if we're out of sunscreen?"

So I'm making my own damn turkey. On Sunday. As in four days from now. Cue panic.

I've got the turkey covered, it's the other bits I'm worried about. Last Christmas was the first time I'd attempted to make a full turkey dinner and it was stressful and frenetic. I was ambitious with the number of dishes I made and didn't factor in the size of my stove and I forgot the sweet potatoes under the broiler and set the smoke alarm off and said "fuck" in front of Shawn's dad. I'm getting all clenchy just remembering it.

This year I need to focus on making dishes that can be prepared in advance. I've already vetoed mashed potatoes because there is no successful way to mash potatoes and make gravy simultaneously. I've found my potato dish in Jamie's America (it has a proper name but I cannot remember it - I keep referring to them as cowboy potatoes) but I'm a bit lost when it comes to the other sides. Suggestions are welcome (and desperately needed.) I'd like to do a green vegetable that isn't brussel sprouts and it would be nice to have a sweet potato dish, but I'll consider anything.

One recipe I am frantically trying to find is an eggless chocolate mousse (I know it's not really chocolate mousse unless it's made with raw eggs but eating raw eggs gives me the creeps.) Shawn's one wish for Thanksgiving dinner is chocolate mousse and I feel like I should honour his request, especially since I haven't actually told him about the lack of mashed potatoes (I figure it's best to wait until the actual dinner when I can distract him with the cowboy potatoes.)

So. Recipes needed. Especially eggless chocolate mousse recipes. Bonus points if the mousse recipe calls for orange liquor (chocolate + citrus = be still my heart.)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Where The Grass Is Green And The Girls Are Pretty

For me, music is emotional. A song can take me back to a place or a person or a time in a flash and I feel the same feelings, albeit dulled by time. I hear Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" and I'm back in the old station wagon which is packed to its bursting point with my family and everything six people need for a week at the cabin. U2's "With or Without You" and I'm slow dancing with the guy who would go on to break my heart into multiple pieces, multiple times. Any song from the Killers' first album takes me back to summer 2004, driving all over England in my busted early-90's Astra. My life has a soundtrack. To say that music is important to me is to put it lightly.

There's something magical about live music done well. I'm not talking about flashy shows with lights and special effects and backing tracks to hide the fact that the musicians are sloppy and the singer's voice is lacking. I'm talking about shows - whether in a small club or a huge arena -where the musicians are talented and tight and the singer actually has a singing voice that survives outside the studio. I've been to many shows where I was disappointed with the quality of the live performance but I've been to just as many where I've walked away energized by the display of sheer talent.

I can't pick a favourite concert, just like I can't pick a favourite band. I love them or appreciate them for different reasons. Taking my dad to see Willie Nelson, after being raised on Willie's music, meant the world to me and I don't even like country music (though I make exceptions for Willie Nelson and the Highwaymen); Seeing Wolfmother play in 2006 in a tiny club (that has now been torn down to make room for a highrise) before they became well-known, standing inches from the stage as they rocked their hearts out; Spending three days at the Isle of Wight Festival 2005 but specifically, shivering in a field on a cold summer's night with the people who made England home for me, dancing to Faithless before stumbling back to our tent; Being blown away by Muse's musical genius and live performance; Watching Shawn live his dream of playing the Commodore when he opened for Steel Panther this year.

And now, watching Slash play the Commodore. It was loud and gritty and so rad that there aren't really words to describe it. Slash is a monster. He's a machine. About 2/3 of the way through the set, he played a guitar solo that had the crowd enthralled. It was long - easily 5 minutes but probably longer - and was ridiculous, self-indulgent, and amazing and as it came to an end he segued into "Sweet Child O' Mine" and the crowd went insane. Slash was awesome but the other musicians were equally excellent. Myles Kennedy and Todd Kerns harmonizing on Starlight was probably the best live vocal performance I've ever heard.

It was a fabulous concert, not just because of the talent but also the vibe of the crowd, the impressive air guitar performed by Shawn and his brother, and the poutine nightcap. It was exactly what my soul needed.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Autumn Leaves Have Faded Now That Smile I Lost Well I've Found Somehow

The autumn blues are not new to me. They are not unexpected or original or even interesting but here I am, wrapped up in my melancholy and raging against a season.

I'm struggling. I don't remember being this sad. It feels like I'm spending a lot of time and effort just to be myself. And still I'm failing. I wake up angry that my nose is cold but I refuse to shut the bedroom window at night. I try to measure my words but still they come out snappish and shrill. I cry. At everything.

I know it will pass. It always does. The days get shorter and the rain becomes more frequent but soon I'll be back to being me. October is hockey and my birthday and Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. Until then, I've got this cuddle bug reminding me to smile.

video

Sunday, 26 September 2010

In The Dark Of The Night In The Hotel When You're Alone In The Middle Of The City Where Nobody Cares To Know

On Monday we left the murder hotel and checked into the wedding hotel (the MGM.) We sprang for the spa suite which was awesome because it was a fabulous room but bad because when we got home we were all "where is our king-sized bed? where is the jacuzzi? where is the man that brings us turkey sandwiches at 4am when we press '0'?"

Monday night was the bachelorette party. The planning of the bachelorette party was stressful but it was a great night. It kind of falls under the "blogging someone else's story" category though so I'll leave you with a picture of Cat and I doing our best to look glamorous.

Tuesday morning was rough. Shawn and I hit the MGM buffet and decided that we never wanted to leave. Pasta, sushi, a taco bar, a sundae bar - it was insane. We ate our way into a food coma and then slept until the rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner was held at the Hofbrauhaus. It was a lot of fun but I was feeling a tad too fragile to fully partake in the evening's activities. Shawn rallied but even still only ordered the half-litre instead of the litre of beer.

Tuesday was an early night. The live band and abundance of sausage and lederhosen-clad staff were an overwhelming combination for my booze-addled brain. Shawn and I went back to the hotel early so we'd be well-rested for the wedding on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Falling Down A Canyon Like A Couple Drunken Criminals

We visited the Grand Canyon on the second day of our holiday.

We spent day 1 checking into our hotel, unpacking, re-packing, changing rooms (I am no princess when it comes to hotels but a bloody-looking carpet stain and a shower that refused to drain forced me to the brink of crazy) and passing out (in our new! murder free! room) after drinking too many margaritas.

We were ready for some fun on day 2 is what I'm saying.

We did a day-long bus tour instead of a road trip because we ran out of planning time. The tour worked for us in that we got to see the Grand Canyon with minimal effort, but it was definitely not the best way to see the canyon. I'm glad we went but I still want to go back one day to do it properly.

Shawn and I were both a bit grumbly by the time the bus parked (5 hours from Vegas to the Grand Canyon + bathroom breaks = a longass time on a bus) but when we peeked through the trees and saw the canyon for the first time our grumbles turned to awe. Our awe soon turned to giggles as the Grand Canyon is ripe with "that's what she said" jokes (it's so big! it's so red! it's so deep!) and we are 12 years old.

It's impossible for me to describe the Grand Canyon, just like it was impossible to take a photo that really captured its magnitude. It was like looking at the ocean; you know that it ends somewhere but it is so far off in the distance that it seems endless.

It was a wonderful day that I'm so glad I got to share with Shawn (even though he insisted on giving me multiple heart attacks by going right up to the edge and even climbing down a few rocks until my voice got all shrill and tight and I suggested that perhaps he could stop being a jackass because I am too young to be a widow.)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Well Could I Speak Any Plainer? I Need You Here Just To Lean My Way And Fall, Fall, Fall

Friday night, a few hours after my demoralizing ass incident, I got all dolled up to go watch Shawn play a show. I didn't really feel like going but Shawn's band was headlining and a couple of my girlfriends were going and it was Friday night, so I rallied.

There is an area of downtown where bars and clubs line the streets and people in various stages of drunkenness congregate on weekend nights. Shawn's band played at a bar right in the midst of the entertainment jungle. As we swam through a sea of stilettos and popped collars, a fresh-faced babyman stopped me and said he needed to tell me something. Now, I've done my fair share of clubbing and I'm certainly no stranger to the excitement of bright lights and too many drinks on a Friday night, but years of choosing sports bars and live music lounges over dance clubs and trendier venues (and, you know, being married) has left me a bit out of practice when it comes to being hit on by random dudes. So I stopped. And babyman looked at me all wide-eyed and earnestly told me that I'm the reason men fall in love.

At which point I laughed harder than I have in a long time and thanked the universe for sending me a babyman armed with cheesy pickup lines on the same day that a douchebag shouted hateful words at me from his Porsche.

I spent some time thanking the universe for you too, lovely blog readers. Every single one of your comments made this fat-bottomed girl very happy. You are all the reason men fall in love (sorry, I can't help it. It's my new compliment.)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Now Then Mardy Bum I See Your Frown

For the most part, I'm fairly comfortable with the way I look. I appreciate my height. My eyes are pretty. Genetics gave me good skin (thanks, Mom!) I can look at a picture of myself (when I'm polished and sparkly and fancy) and think that I look alright. But there will always be the bits that cause me angst: my extra-long torso paired with my stubby legs, my monster calves that prevent me from wearing most boots, and my ass. My robust, prominent, jiggly ass.

I am not my ass. I know this. I know that I am smart and funny and can make a mean blueberry pancake. I am kind and generous and if my friends or family ever need a mustache-on-a-stick or a shoulder to cry on, they know that I will do my best to provide both. My ass does not prevent me from being a good friend. It doesn't make me less smart. No one cares about my ass. But I do.

So when I'm walking across the street (with the walk signal, it should be noted) and a douchebag in a convertible Porsche yells at me to hurryup!fatass!, I will blush a furious shade of red and surreptitiously glance around me to confirm that yes, I am the only one in the crosswalk. Then I'll put on my sunglasses - even though it's cloudy - to hide my angry tears and hate myself for caring what some random idiot thinks about my body.

It's silly to let myself be so affected by a stranger's hateful words. I know this just like I know that I am more than my ass. But knowing that doesn't change the fact that I was affected by his words. Was affected because after I hit publish, I refuse to waste any more time or emotional energy on him. Other than to wish that the sky opens up and fills his car with rain.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

You Got To Burn To Shine

I have a deep and abiding love for travel-sized beauty products. Tiny bottles of shampoo and wee tubes of toothpaste have a special place in my heart. My bathroom cabinet is a cornucopia of lotions and soaps all packaged up in teensy little containers. It is extremely pleasing (to me. To Shawn? Not so much.)

Shawn and I have both been busy (erm ... lazy) since returning from Vegas so we aren't fully unpacked. The suitcases are empty and the laundry is complete but the the bits and bobs, the carry on stuff, and the toiletries are spread throughout the condo. The bathroom is more "cluttered, impassable mountain of bottles and vials" than "pleasing haven of miniature cosmetic goods."

Last night I fell asleep while watching television so I was a bit groggy as I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I reached for what I thought was a mini bottle of aloe vera gel and started to spread it on my nose (side note: on the last day of our holiday I got the worst sunburn of my life on my nose. It started to peel and blister so I applied a soothing cream ... and had an allergic reaction. My nose is almost neon red. The skin is peeling and rashy and is blistered and raw. Shawn has started calling me his little leper. Pure aloe vera gel is my new best friend.) So last night I was tired and not really paying attention as I started gingerly dabbing the aloe vera gel on my poor nose. It stung like a motherfucker. But my nose has been quite stingy throughout this whole ordeal so I kept dabbing away until my eyes were watering and my nose was on fire and I look at the bottle and realize that I'm not applying pure aloe vera gel, I'm dousing my wound with hand sanitizer. You know, the stuff that's made from 2 parts alcohol and 1 part evil? Yeah. My nose is probably going to fall off my face.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

She Drives A Vegetable Car

I'm home! I'm back! I'm ... tired.

Our holiday was wonderful and I have a million things I want to write about and a million photos to share but today is my first day back at work and I'm drowning.

So. Photos and words to come. One day.

I do need your help today, though. You see, Vegas isn't exactly the easiest place to eat healthily. I probably managed to eat four vegetables over the course of the week (and two of those vegetables were tomatoes and jalapenos on a hamburger.) A week of drinking ridiculous amounts of booze and eating ridiculous amounts of fried food and cheese has left me feeling chubby and cranky and gross. I'm on a diet is what I'm saying. I've never really followed a capital-d Diet before and I'm not going to now; I'm more interested in just doing my best to eat real food. Nothing processed. Nothing fried. Nothing neon-coloured. The problem is that a week of eating in restaurants and buffets has spoiled me and I've lost my inspiration to cook. I need recipes, peeps, and quickly. My thighs plead with you to send me recipes for healthy (tasty! spicy! exciting!) food that will get me back on track. The bowl of ice cream that I (shamefully) inhaled last night while Shawn was at band practice is a clear indication that I cannot be trusted to do this alone.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Going To The Chapel

Dear Cat,

Today you got married. Today I stood beside you as you said your vows and married the man of your dreams. I am so happy that you are so happy. I'm so happy that you've found the man that makes your heart smile.

You've been an excellent friend to me. I've known you for 15 years now and you have never let me down. You have listened to me and never once judged my crazy. You have danced with me and shopped with me and cried with me when things turned pear-shaped.

I am currently fairly inebriated (and by "fairly" I mean "extremely" and by "inebriated" I mean "I tried to get into the wrong hotel room") but believe me when I say that I love you to bits. To bits, you hear? Love, Hills xoxo

Friday, 3 September 2010

You Gotta Wrap Your Fuzzy With A Big Red Bow

I cannot thank you enough for your comments on my last post. I got the news late Tuesday and then spent all day Wednesday in a bit of a tear-induced, sleep-deprived haze. Your kind words were like fuzzy little hugs I received all day long on Wednesday. It's made me a bit of a shmoopy mess, actually. I keep rereading your comments and emails and tearing up a little. I've fallen madly and completely in love with the Internet again is what I'm saying.

* * * * *

In happier news, today is Turtle's birthday! Happy birthday to my gorgeous, brilliant older sister. Thanks for being so sane when I am so crazy. Thanks for reminding me that family is important. Thanks for never forgetting to bring the gin to family events. Love you!

* * * * *

Tomorrow is Bow's birthday so happy (almost) birthday to my sweet, beautiful younger sister. Bow doesn't read my blog but if she did I would say thanks for being such a good puppy sitter. And thanks for not turning Wolfgang into slippers that time he refused to poop anywhere except on your living room rug. For a week. Love you!

* * * * *

In much much happier news, Shawn and I leave tomorrow for Vegas. I am so excited. Work has been insane this week (I wish I could tell my work stories but I don't want to get fired) so this holiday is much needed. I've spent many minutes doing the silent angry cry in the office bathroom this week. I plan to make up for it by spending many many minutes drinking alcohol by a pool this weekend.

Hope everyone has a fantastic long weekend!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

When I Was A Young Girl I Used To Drink Ale

This is Barney with his greyhound Tara. Tara was a racing dog. Barney rescued her after she could no longer race. Every day Barney and Tara would sit in the pub and drink beer (ale was his first choice but he'd settle for a Guinness if he didn't like the ale on tap.) Barney would buy a package of pork scratchings and toss them down to Tara as he sipped his beer and told his stories. Barney had the best stories. He told tales of the war and of his Italian girlfriend who he had to leave behind when he was shipped back to England. He would talk of his (British) sweetheart and the life they had and the children they raised before she was taken from him by a faulty vessel in her brain. Barney was a bit of a ladies' man. You could tell from the twinkle in his eye.

The pub was never very busy during the lunch hour so even though I was the only one working, I could sit and listen to Barney talk. Half of the time I had no idea what he was saying; his accent was thick and his voice was muffled and too much drink made his tongue thick. I didn't mind, though. I just loved to listen to him.

I left England five years ago and have only been back to visit once. I used to phone Barney every Sunday but it became too difficult; his hearing was failing and he would get frustrated and emotional and I couldn't stand to hear him upset. I resorted to sending him cards and letters, telling myself I would send something at least once a week. Once a week became once a month and then once a month shamefully became a few times a year.

When Shawn and I got married, I told Barney of our plan to honeymoon in England and Ireland. In every letter he sent me he would ask when I was coming back to England and every time I answered that I was coming back "soon." Our honeymoon got pushed back to 2009, then 2010, and then, far past the point of it being even remotely acceptable to call it a honeymoon, we decided on April 2011. We've been talking and planning for weeks now, trying to figure out a way to make our trip happen. I have been so excited to tell Barney that we weren't going to visit "soon" but had a definite date.

Tonight I found out that Barney was admitted to the hospital last week with kidney failure and passed away. He lived a good, long life and spent his later years lonely and in pain. I know that he is at peace now, or rather I tell myself that he is at peace now, but selfishly I feel sad. Barney was a dear, sweet man and my life was made better because it included him. I just wish that I had managed to make it back to England to see him one last time.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Get On Your Dancing Shoes You Sexy Little Swine

I started the evening in my black strappy heels but after a few stiletto-heel-through-the-deck-planks incidents, which almost resulted in me snapping an ankle, I switched to my silver flats. The weekend was a success. The party was so much fun. There may have been a tad too much gin consumed, as shown in this photo of me and Westy. Also shown in this photo of me and Westy is how desperately I need a tan.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Give Up The World Give Up Your Life Cause You Cannot Fight The Television

I go away for two days - TWO DAYS - and Shawn buys a 52" television and mounts it on our bedroom wall.

I have no words.

* * * * *

I should clarify that we did have a 37" television hanging in the bedroom. Before I met Shawn I was very anti-tv in the bedroom and then I moved into an open concept condo and married an electronics nerd who works in the industry (and has access to ridiculous industry discounts.) So it's not like he put a 52" television in a tv-free zone. It's just ... huge. Also, the 52" television has allegedly been hanging in the bedroom since Friday morning (I left Saturday morning) but I am calling shenanigans on that because it is massive and there is no way that I walked past it numerous times (and slept in the same room!) without noticing. Though it did take me over an hour last night to realize that something was different in the bedroom and then a few more minutes to figure out it was the giant television hanging on the wall.

* * * * *

I should also clarify that I'm not complaining about the massive television. I'm just suggesting to Shawn that perhaps making the bedroom into a mancave was not the brightest idea he's ever had and requesting that he put the massive television out in the living room and put the smaller television in the bedroom. I'm also recommending that future giant television purchases should perhaps be discussed with me (stabby stab stab.)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

But I Guess Driving For A Week Or Two Puts Words In Your Mouth So Find Dodge And Then Get Out Of It

Friday Faff: Thursday Night Edition

Thank you all so much for your shoe input! I think I'm going to wear the black strappy heels and tuck a pair of silver flats in my bag for when my feet get too sore (read: I get too wobbly) to wear heels.

* * * * *

I got really overwhelmed by all of the road trip options for when we're in Vegas next week so I gave up and booked us a room at the Sahara for the 2 nights before we head to the wedding hotel. We're going to do a day trip to the Grand Canyon and be satisfied (I keep repeating that because I'm disappointed. Even though I'm the one who made the decision. Yes, living with me is a treat.) I just feel like there is too much room for error (if anyone is going to end up in the middle of the dessert with a busted rental car, it's me) and the timetable is so rushed that I could end up being a raging asshole to my friend. I don't want to be a MIA bridesmaid, you know?

* * * * *

Shawn played an acoustic show at the Roxy last night. It was the first time I've been back to the Roxy since my ill-fated bachelorette party which saw me carted away from the bar in an ambulance (GHB ftw!) It was weird to be there, especially at 9pm on a Wednesday when it was less than busy. I didn't expect to feel a physical reaction to being back there but I did. Nothing drastic, mind you, just a niggling little kernel of discomfort that I attempted to quell with much gin. And then poutine. And then I died because I am far too old for midweek drinking.

* * * * *

Dan Mangan's album Nice, Nice, Very Nice is currently putting a huge smile on my face. Good tunes, fabulous lyrics (seriously - read the lyrics for The Indie Queens are Waiting or Some People and try to tell me they're not lovely. I will fight you) and a tour that's heading through Vancouver in November.

* * * * *

Have a great weekend, lovelies!

Monday, 23 August 2010

So You Think You'd Like To Be In My Shoes

I'm going to a giant family party on Saturday and I need some guidance in the shoe department. I'm going to be wearing my new purple dress (that has been hanging in my closet for over a month with the tags still attached) but I don't know what shoes to wear.

The dress looks like this:
(please excuse my messy kitchen!)


And I will be wearing this fantastic necklace:
(that I made! All by myself!)






















My shoes options are as follows:









Bronze metallic wedge, grey wedge, turquoise cork wedge, black and white heels, brown / cork heels, black strappy heels.

The most comfortable pair is the grey wedge but they're also the lowest / most casual pair. I'm leaning toward the black strappy heels because they're the most comfortable pair of high heels I own but they're still 4-inch stilettos. They're not comfortable shoes, they're the most comfortable high heels I own. An important distinction. Also, (this is really silly but, um, I'm really silly) I'm 5'8" - wearing 4-inch heels makes me feel like a giant. It's not so bad when Shawn is there to make me feel wee but he's working this weekend so I'll be solo. I'm not sure if I want to be a solo giant. All of my high heels are at least 3.5 inches but I feel like the wedges are too casual for the dress. I need help!

What do you think?
a: bronze metallic wedge
b: grey wedge
c: turquoise cork wedge
d: black and white heels
e: brown / cork heels
f: black strappy heels

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Back Up Tell Me What Ya Gonna Do Now Keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

I finally finished my blogroll!

(concept shamefully borrowed from the lovely Sam Dot Com)

(with her permission so I guess it's less shamefully borrowed and more uncreatively borrowed)

Check it out and let me know what you think (unless you hate it. In which case please do not tell me what you think.) (I'm only half kidding.)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Are The Things That Make You Panic Are Your Thoughts Results Of Static Cling?

So my throat rabies migrated to my sinuses which has resulted in me being even more sick and less pleasant than last week. I am a treat to be around, all grumpy / snotty / whiny. Shawn is pretty damn pleased to be in Toronto for work this week, let me tell you.

I had to have a sinus X-ray this morning because my doctor tried to look up my nose and, uh, couldn't because of my monster sinuses. I'm unclear on what a sinus X-ray will show because I was too busy freaking out about EAR GERMS IN MY NOSE while my doctor explained it to me (she used the light thingy to look in my ears and then up my nose but didn't change the disposable light funnely tip in between. Like some sort of animal.)

You know, the light thingy? And the disposable light funnely tip? I'm fairly certain those are the proper scientific names.




It gets worse.

I go for my sinus X-ray and find out that it entails me sticking my face directly on the X-ray board. Like the board that everyone mashes their body parts up against to be X-rayed, not some fancy disposable board that only my face will be touching. And we're not talking a little cheek or chin, oh no, we're talking full-on nose and mouth touching the communal X-ray board. The tech wiped it down with Windex (seriously, he couldn't at least use an antibacterial wet wipe? What the fuck good is Windex going to do? I was not concerned about the X-ray board being streaky, you know?) before I stuck my face on it but all I could picture during the procedure was the impressively hairy dude from the waiting room who had gone before me and was there for a chest X-ray.

I'm not a total germaphobe. I take public transit, daily. I shake hands with people I've just met. I use public washrooms. I let my dogs lick my face. I'm okay with a certain level of germiness is what I'm saying. But I'm not okay with potentially ingesting a stranger's chest sweat. Actually, I think I'll modify that to "I'm not okay with potentially ingesting anyone's chest sweat" and call it a day.

Monday, 16 August 2010

But I Think It's About Forgiveness Forgiveness Even If Even If You Don't Love Me Anymore

Shawn's big show was supposed to be last weekend but the band had to cancel. It's not my story to tell (even though I really want to tell it) but I will say that I'm angry on his behalf. There has been some band drama (musicians. what the fuck.) and it resulted in the guitar player (having a tantrum and) leaving the band two days before an important and exciting show.

It's frustrating because I want to punch someone (guitar player!) in the ear and Shawn has already forgiven her. It's a flaw, this mama bear attitude of mine. It gets me into trouble. It riles me up and makes my cheeks flush and my voice growl and before you know it, I'm punching someone in the ear. Shawn's capacity to forgive amazes me.

So Shawn stayed home this weekend and brought me popsicles and got up to check the random night noises after I read too many murder mysteries (four in three days - such a bad plan) and tried not to laugh at my squeaky voice after my strep throat morphed into a full chest cold / laryngitis / death. It was a nice, relaxing weekend and even though I'm still angry at the situation that led up to him staying home, I'm grateful to have spent so much time with Shawn. Especially since he left this morning for four days in Toronto, leaving me with only the puppies to protect me from murderers (seriously - reading four mystery novels in three days has warped my brain. I am looking sideways at everyone, convinced that they want to cut off my face.)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

And We Are So Fragile And Our Cracking Bones Make Noise

My summer of fun has been derailed by another case of throat rabies and an additional two weeks of the evil breathing machine. My day started with me doing the ugly cry in my respiratory therapist's office. My day will end with Shawn leaving for three days to play at the music festival, Robin leaving for two weeks to drive across Canada, and my parents leaving to enjoy ten days at the lake. I'm feeling a bit fragile today is what I'm saying.

It's funny. Most days I feel like I've got my shit together. I've got a husband who loves me; I have a condo (and a mortgage!); I own non-Ikea furniture; I have two rotten puppy monsters; I have a well-paying job; I know how to make quiche; all of my towels match. I have all these things that I line up and check off the Grownup List until I convince myself that I am a functioning adult.

And then a day like today happens and all I want is to go home and put on footie pyjamas and crawl into bed and have my mom make me chicken noodle soup (with alphabet noodles because egg noodles are too drippy when you're eating soup in bed.) Cat has been absolutely lovely - making plans with me for tonight and for tomorrow night to make sure I don't shrivel up and die from neediness. The good news is that my antibiotics should kick in soon and I should be able to eat solid food (which always makes me feel less weepy) and a weekend without Shawn means sleeping diagonally in the bed and cuddling with the pups all night. And, of course, the best news is that I don't have any accounting to do this weekend. Things aren't all bad.

* * * * *

Edited to add:

This is why I love the internet (thought not the internet that is preventing Jive Turkey from commenting on my blog.)

Monday, 9 August 2010

I'm Not A Large Water-Dwelling Mammal Where Did You Get That Preposterous Hypothesis? Did Steve Tell You That Perchance?

I accidentally got drunk and had a tequila / Flight of the Conchords kitchen dance party on Friday night, making my Saturday study session extremely painful. Saturday was not pretty.

I do this thing where I fret and I worry and I turn semi-stressful events into gigantic, life-altering, worse-case-scenario catastrophes. I don't even realize that I'm doing it until whatever is stressing me out has passed and I can see clearly once again. I wish I knew how to change. Fretting is one of my strengths. How depressing is that?

So my exam is over. It was difficult but I didn't die. I'm fairly confident that I did alright. Not awesome but alright. I was really focused on one aspect of the course that I couldn't wrap my brain around so I spent a lot of my studying time trying to master the concept. And then it was practically non-existent on the exam, showing up in one multiple choice question. Curses!

I'm so happy today even though it's raining and it's Monday and I'm a little achy from drinking wine in the middle of the day yesterday (I went straight from the exam to a mandatory family brunch. The wine was necessary.) Today is the first day of my summer! I have no obligations for the rest of the summer (besides this pesky thing called my job.) I'm a little overwhelmed by the possibilities so I'm turning to you: what should I do with the remainder of my summer, peeps? What is your favourite summer activity? Bonus points if it involves ice cream and/or puppies.

Friday, 6 August 2010

If You Can't Sleep I'll Be There In Your Dreams I'll Be There In Your Dreams If You Can't Sleep At All

Friday Faff: Faffier than Ever Edition

Do you remember how Shawn took me atv'ing on sand dunes for my birthday last year? I remember. Oh how I remember. And yeah, I know, it's the thought that counts but what if the thought sucks? I mean, what if someone specifically said "I do not want to go atv'ing on sand dunes for my birthday" - does that person still have to smile while atv'ing on sand dunes? On her birthday? Seriously. I know I sound like a spoilt brat and I don't want to sound like a spoilt brat; there are starving children in Africa who would love to eat my brussel sprouts I know; however, last year's birthday still stings a bit. So when I heard that She & Him were coming to Vancouver in October I may or may not have told Shawn that he should take me for my birthday. And when I found out that the presale started this morning and I couldn't reach Shawn at work I may or may not have bought tickets. Yes, I bought my own birthday present and no, I don't care. I'm going to see She & Him! No atv'ing!

* * * * *
I tried to find a funny anniversary card for Shawn but I failed. All of the anniversary cards I found were all "you are the light of my life! I can't live without your sweet love! My love blooms like a flower for you!" I'm not judging people who buy shmoopy anniversary cards for their loved one, I'm just not someone who can do it with a straight face. So I bought this card:

and wrote this inside:

and that sums up my relationship with Shawn much better than a card with angels and roses on the front and a poem inside.

* * * * *
Wolfgang is knackered from his salacious life of sex, drugs, and rock & roll ...

while Stella channels her inner cat and naps in a sunbeam.

Have a good weekend, lovelies! I hope you manage to fit in lots of naps.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

And I Said What I Said And I Meant It But Now I Regret It Foolish How Was I So Careless

The last few weeks have been spectacularly grim and even though I've tried to re-frame my thinking into being excited! about learning! and being grateful! for the opportunities I've been given! I've kind of failed. I have been snappy and tense and sometimes mean (okay, a lot mean. Just ask Shawn.) I have felt sorry for myself (something I hate in others and absolutely loathe in myself.) I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now though, and I've started to see the light in myself again. I mean, I'm still worried about my ability to pass my exam and I'm still disproportionately angry about the fucking sleep study and breathing mask, but I've started to feel less like stabbing people in the ear and more like buckling down and getting shit done. It helps that I've got a deadline and that deadline is fast approaching. After this weekend, I don't plan on thinking about accounting ever again (which may not align with my employer's expectations but, please just allow me this disillusion until after I write my exam.) After August 19th, I won't wear a breathing mask to bed ever again (I say while furiously knocking on wood.) The end is in sight.

This is Stella's "stop studying and take me to the dog park, right now" look.

And this is what happens when I don't take her to the dog park.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

I'll Be The Sky That Lights Up With Fireworks Whenever November Comes And You Could Be The Greatest Thing That Has Happened To Me

Dear Shawn,

Happy anniversary!

I still think your butt is as cute as it was when I married you two years ago.


I love you bunches.

Hillary


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Slow Down Boy You're Driving Me Crazy I'm Not A Kid Anymore

I didn't blog about my July resolution but I did make one; my goal was to finish all of the coursework for my blasted accounting course. Late Saturday, as July turned to August, I successfully completed my resolution. I'm not in the clear just yet - I still have to pass my exam on Sunday - but I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I spent the rest of the long weekend in a bit of a fog, trying to come down from my state of panic and halfheartedly attempting to tackle the many things I've neglected in the last few weeks as I've worked myself up into a lather. Which brings me to my August resolution. My resolution for August is to clear out the clutter that has been accumulating over the last few months. I need to clear out my Google Reader, respond to emails that have languished unanswered in my inbox for weeks, expunge the piles of stuff that have cropped up on every available surface in the condo. Disarray makes me feel off centre. I cannot think straight when my physical surroundings are chaotic and muddled. August will be about finding clarity and eliminating the superfluous.

Hopefully August will also be about reentering my regular life - making time to see friends again, spending quality time with Shawn instead of passing out in front of the tv together, reading and commenting on blogs instead of skimming through and leaving nonsensical comments. I have six more days of studying and prepping for my exam and then August is mine. I am so excited to feel like me again.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Way I'm Running Has Sure Got Me Down On My Knees Next Stop Vegas Please

I have a dilemma. It's not a bad dilemma. I'm definitely not complaining. It's just something that has been circling around in my head, distracting me from my (stupid!) (almost complete!) (but not quite!) accounting course. I need guidance so I can stop thinking (fretting) about it.

Shawn and I are going to Vegas in September for my lovely friend Cat's wedding. We booked our hotel (MGM) a few months ago because we wanted to take advantage of a promotional rate they were offering. So we booked the hotel but then our schedule changed a bit and it was significantly cheaper to fly into Vegas a few days earlier than planned, which has resulted in my dilemma. We are going to be in Vegas for a week, from Saturday to Saturday. We have a hotel room booked from Monday to Saturday. The Saturday and Sunday for which we do not have accommodation booked? Are the Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend. Meaning all the rooms in Vegas are stupid expensive for those two days. As in, it will cost us more to stay in Vegas for those 2 days than it is costing us to stay for the following 5 days. And we got a suite for those 5 days! A suite that is 24 square feet larger than our condo! So do we bite the bullet and curse the long weekend and just stay in an expensive hotel room? Or do we stay off-strip in a dodgy hotel (keeping in mind that I have an active imagination and I watch CSI and I do not want to get murdered.) Or do we rent a car the minute we land in Vegas and spend 2 days driving to the Grand Canyon? Renting a car and driving to the Grand Canyon really appeals to me (I've always wanted to go there and so has Shawn) but realistically, it will end up costing more than the 2 nights in a hotel in Vegas. Though it will provide more of an experience, right? Road trip! Grand Canyon! Route 66! Has anyone done the drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon? Has anyone been to the Grand Canyon and been disappointed? Before this dilemma arose, our plan was to take a full-day bus tour from Vegas to the Grand Canyon - has anyone done a bus tour to the Grand Canyon from Vegas? I need stories, people. I need stories and experiences and informed advice.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

There's A Blueberry Pancake Flying In The Sky

I am deeply entrenched in schoolwork. Yesterday my course completion deadline was moved up by a week (a week!) meaning that I have until Friday (Friday! As in, three sleeps from now!) to submit my coursework. I am grounded from fun. I am grounded from non-fun (I hit a new low when I started looking forward to doing laundry as a break from studying.) I am a studying machine.

Machines need fuel; however, so the one thing I am not grounded from is making blueberry buttermilk pancakes with fresh local blueberries and topping them with fried eggs and bacon.

Priorities, people.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

We Were Wasted And Happy We Were Laughing In The Sunshine

A little sunshine to balance out my lightning:

I just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I was crying by page eight but the tone lightened after the first chapter and I really enjoyed the story. The story isn't light but it's a light read, if that makes sense. Without giving too much away, the story is told from the point of view of an old dog and the first chapter is about him trying to convey to his master that he wants to be put down. Sad, yes, but still a good summer read.

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Stella will do anything for food. She's half beagle and half pug - two breeds known for their voracious appetites. Shawn cannot resist her charms, though I can't really blame him when she pulls stuff like this:

"Please may I have some peanut butter and toast?"

She makes me smile. Constantly.

"LADY! I do not think you realize how badly I need some of that white cheddar popcorn!"

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Wolf Parade, Stars, The Black Keys, Hannah Georgas, and She & Him are providing me with an awesome summer soundtrack. I've been doing a lot of car-dancing is what I'm saying.

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It's Thursday! Which means that tomorrow is Friday! Which means that it's almost the weekend! My weekend will be spent studying (grumble grumble grumble) but I also have plans to drive out to the berry farms in search of local raspberries and blueberries. Local berries make my heart happy. Smitten Kitchen featured a raspberry recipe this week that I'm planning to make for a gluten-free dinner we're having next week. It would be irresponsible of me to not test the recipe this weekend, right? Basically my life is seriously lacking in raspberry brown sugar gratin and I need to rectify the situation immediately.

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Alright, who has some sunshine to share? Or lightning bolts - we are equal opportunity here at two L's. Ready? And go!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

And I Love That Little Game You Had Called Crying Lightning

Lightning bolts, in bullet points:

- My time with the Darth Vader mask has been extended for another 2 weeks.

- My follow up appointment to talk about the additional 2 weeks? Is in mid-September.

- The additional 2 weeks is necessary because of a data reporting error. Not because of anything I did, not because the Darth Vader mask is a feasible treatment option, but because the clinic needs a full month's worth of data.

- I finally went out and bought running shoes and started running. Things were going really well and I felt good so I (stupidly) pushed myself harder than I should have and now I have a stress fracture in my foot. Moral of the story: I am old. I should not exercise. Real moral of the story: I have no business running on concrete.

- My accounting final is on August 7th. Between now and August 7th I need to finish my 9th assignment, do all of the reading for the 10th module, complete the 10th assignment, and study for the exam. I am so behind and I have no one to blame but myself. Lightning! Bolt!

- Shawn and I have both been really busy lately and it's starting to affect how we treat each other. We've both been snappy and impatient and I'm not sure how to break the cycle. It's our anniversary on August 4th and I would love to go away for the weekend but my final is on the 7th and he's got a gig on the 6th and we work different work schedules (me: Monday - Friday, him: Tuesday - Saturday) so it's difficult for us to get away. August is going to be ridiculously busy for both of us and I'm worried that we're facing a bickery, hostile month.

- Shawn installed a dual-flush converter on our toilet so now there is a "small flush" button and a "big flush" button where there used to be a lever. We're going to conserve so much water and we're going to save the environment and aren't we fabulous people?! Except that I hate the dual-flush converter. You can't just flush the toilet anymore, you have to stand there and hold in the button until the toilet is finished flushing and I know, I KNOW, poor me having to spend 7 seconds flushing the toilet. I just hate it. I won't be shamed by this.

- Unbloggable family shite. People are crazy. That is all.

Monday, 19 July 2010

We Should Try A Little Harder In The Tedious March Of The Few Every Day's A Different Warning

I want to write about sunshine and barbecues and hikes with the puppies and days at the beach. I want to write about the fun that I'm having with Shawn and the big plans we have for our second anniversary in just a few weeks. I want to write about summer and watermelon smiles and sangria nights but I can't because all of those things exist only in the corner of my brain labelled "what summer should be" and not in the corner of my brain labelled "reality: of the stark and cold variety."

I admire people who write about the tough times as well as the bright times but I hesitate to admit it when I am having a dark day (or week, or month, or season as the case may be.) I don't want to be a whiner. I don't want to be negative. I want to throw positivity out into the universe so the universe will bounce some positivity right back at me. Right now I kind of want to punch positivity in the ear, unfortunately. My attempts at positivity have failed and a tantrum is brewing. It's sunny and warm but my eyes are lightning bolts.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Outlook Was Decidedly Blue But As I Walked Through The Foggy Streets Alone It Turned Out To Be The Luckiest Day I've Known

I try to be an efficient person. I make lists and I plan and I think of possible outcomes and different scenarios. I spend a lot of time thinking. I scheme.

I keep myself busy. I spin from one project to the next, barely allowing myself time to take a breath. I often don't finish a project before I hurl myself into the next, leaving a trail of inefficiency and unfinished projects in my wake. The unfinished projects pile up until I am paralyzed at the thought of how much time they would require to complete. It's silly. If I just buckled down and completed the tasks, I could check them off my list and move on. Instead, I avoid my old / incomplete / difficult / uncomfortable projects for new! fun! exciting projects like painting the bedroom or reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Which is why I have three weeks to complete two modules and assignments before my accounting final but I could talk in depth about Lisbeth Salander and my bedroom walls are the perfect shade of dove grey with a deep turquoise accent wall.

It's something I struggle with - the self-discipline and willpower to accomplish the boring stuff. I'm trying to find the balance between the mundane and the exciting. I'm not always successful (clearly) but I am getting better (says the lady who is blogging instead of reading her accounting textbook. *sigh*)

Like Gravy To Potatoes Luke To Darth Vader I'm A Souped Up Sucker And I'll See You All Later

In one week, I will (hopefully) be able to return the Darth Vader sleeping mask. I don't think the sleep specialist or respiratory therapist will recommend that I continue using the mask - the quality of my sleep has not improved. If anything, the quality of my sleep has declined because of my inability to adjust to sleeping while wearing the mask.

I'm not complaining about my lack of sleep again, I promise - just sharing a picture of Stella being ridiculous. For some reason she's drawn to the continual flow of air from the mask. Weirdo pup. Either that or she wants to be a Star Wars villain. I smell next year's Hallowe'en costume!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Popsicle Toes Are Always Froze

Summer finally arrived last week and it is capital-h-Hot. I'm not complaining, though, not one bit. Summer is a short season here in Vancouver so I will gladly welcome the heat and humidity.

The puppies have been less than impressed with the heat, however. Our neighbourhood is all cement sidewalks and gravel-filled dog parks - not very nice for rolling around in when it is hot and steamy - so I packed them off to the suburbs to spend the day in my parents' tree-filled backyard.

The puppies love my parents' backyard. It's big and shady and comes complete with a puppy! Toby's actually not much of a puppy anymore; he's old and arthritic and his hips are slowly twisting the wrong way, but he lets the pups crawl all over him and kiss his face. He's afraid of cameras (and has figured out that my iPhone is a camera) so I can only snap sneaky shots of him.

Since Stella's raspberry eating incident, my parents have erected fencing around their vegetable garden. When Stella discovered the fence, she was displeased. She spent a good portion of the day balanced on the edge of the garden wall, trying to decipher a way into the garden.

I didn't want the puppies to get overheated so I made them puppy popsicles. I mixed up about a cup of plain yogurt, a big spoonful of natural peanut butter (don't use the sugary stuff or you will end up with a sick pup), a mashed banana, a grated carrot, and a handful of chopped cranberries into a gloppy mix and then used my mini-muffin pan as a mold. They took a few hours to freeze into pucks of puppy popsicle goodness and then I popped them out of the pan and stored them in a bag in my freezer. The yogurt keeps them nice and chewable. The pups approve.

After hours of fun in the sun, I brought the pups home for a much needed snooze. Stella crashed for the entire afternoon, giving me a nice uninterrupted stretch of time to work on my accounting course (boo-urns to working on homework when it is nice and sunny outside.)

The ear draping over the side of the bed? Kills me. She is very easy to love when she is like this (you know, quiet and immobile.)