Friday, December 31, 2010

let it ring

December 31Core Story.
What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)
(Author: Molly O’Neill)

i'd be willing to bet that a majority of my current self is defined by my past life; as in, the wacky made-for-tv life i lived in my early twenties. if it's a story you want, that'd be it -- drama, angst, alcoholism, late nights, sex with rock stars, living my life at mach speed 5. but, as anyone rational and sane could have predicted, that's not a very sustainable life if you have even a modicum of common sense (which i [un]fortunately did), and so i eventually had to drop out of it -- calm down, clean up and get my shit together.

but it wasn't all bad; as this past month's reverb 10 prompts have reminded me, i have some really great things in my life in the form of a fantastic boy/relationship, a solid job, and the ability to keep tackling challenges -- and persevering, for the most part. so this whole "central story of me" also gives me a good backbone for realizing that i can overcome things, and the knowledge that i did, in fact, learn from those past lessons. you can still see it in me, i think, and i can still tell stories about those days for hours, but it's the things i learned that i carry with me the most.

anyway, that about wraps it up for reverb 10...hope you were entertained by my month of self-reflection! i'll be back in january (2011!) with more semi-regular run-of-the-mill madness.

happy new year to all!

[ music | moist, "comes and goes" ]

Thursday, December 30, 2010

love is all you need

December 30Gift.
This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
(Author: Holly Root)

ugh, yeah, not entirely sure i like this one. as i've gotten older (oh so much older), i've become a hell of a lot less materialistic than my younger self. don't get me wrong, i still love things, especially free things; but it's not what i place emphasis on when it comes to relationships with loved ones. i don't measure a person's love for me based on the things they buy me, and that is a true fact. (and here is where i hope my one anonymous reader who likes to ask me condesnarky questions on my tumblr about the presents my boyfriend buys me - often insinuating that they're not enough, or not good enough - takes notice.)

so i guess, then, that the most memorable gift i received this year was obviously emotional -- the time and energy of my loved ones, making room for me in their already busy lives. i wasn't a very popular kid, and i try to remind myself of that fact so i don't take peoples' attention for granted. it still means a lot to me that i even have as many friends as i do, not to mention the love of an awesome boy. so, as gagworthy as it sounds, love was my best gift of 2010. love! rainbows and kittens and sparkles, etc.

[ music | killing joke, "requiem" ]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

turning point

December 29Defining Moment.
Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.
(Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)

i'm pretty sure i've already touched on this in past prompts (i'm sensing definite themes, especially now that this month-long project's almost wrapped), but really, it all goes back to my period of unemployment that kicked off the year. this time last year, i didn't have a job and had no idea where i was going or what i was doing -- but i knew i needed to sort that shit out, fast.

so there was a moment i can definitely point out -- probably in january, or maybe early february. either way, i was on my way to a job interview, but it was for some hospitality job at a cafe downtown. i was hanging my head, reserving myself to returning to my old life of crappy hospitality joe-jobs, even though i had a year and a half of 9-to-5 professional experience under my belt at this point.

and so i had this vague epiphany as i was walking, probably somewhere at king west and tecumseth -- i don't have to settle for this. and really, it was true -- i had more skills and more determination than before, and i knew i wouldn't be satisfied going back to something below my level. (not to mention i also needed the money from a salaried job, since living in toronto is expensive, particularly when you have a very large, frightening student debt hanging over your head.)

with that thought, i skipped the job interview, and stopped looking under the hospitality section on craigslist. i started to aim higher. i worked harder. and soon enough, after plenty of tenacity and persistence and patience, i landed the job that i still have now -- and it's served me more than well for the last almost-year. so to answer this prompt, obviously it was that small epiphany on a cloudy winter afternoon that ended up defining my year, though i didn't really know it at the time. funny how these things turn out, right?

[ music | world juniors - team canada vs. team norway on t.v. ]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

when you leave

hello. once again, i'm coming to you live from the train, this time headed westward to toronto; almost same time, almost same place. also, listening heavily to this:

little-known fact about me: i studied classical music in my last couple years of high school + first year of university. i was even minoring in music history for a time, but was sunk by the amount of music theory knowledge that was required (i'm a terrible theory student). still, these few years instilled a strong love for classical music within me (particularly 18th century romanticism, which would go on to be the same area of english literature i specialized in -- though i have a weakness for the loud germans, especially bach and wagner), and even now i can appreciate a good motion picture soundtrack. i saw tron: legacy with my father on monday, and the score definitely jumped out at me -- enough so that i purchased it on itunes as soon as i got home. recommended, obviously.

anyway, where were we...

christmas time in the city: as usual, i did well. a multitude of kitchen equipment (hand grater, mandoline, a pair of 9" cake pans, paring knives, bowl scrapers, extra-large coffee mugs) and "office clothing" (three blazers, three blouses, a necklace, skirt and pants to go with one of said blazers), along with a kickass pair of sorel boots (i'm tired of having "winter boots" that fall apart after one season), a space-age hair dryer, and so on.

the change has already begun, though: i realized that this is no longer my home, and that my home, in fact - the boy and the apartment and the stomping grounds - is back in toronto.

...have you ever noticeably felt your perception shift? as in, have you ever made a solid realization that you can't step back from (or "unsee", as it were)? because mine was having the lightbulb go on over the fact that this isn't my house anymore. here i was, having blithely decided that i'd go home for seven days without even considering the fact that my mother - who owns this house - might disagree with this plan. i was planning on seeing if i could get dean to come down for a few days -- without asking my mother first. i was entirely acting as though this were (still) my property to share and give away, and the minute i realized my thoughtless behaviour, i felt shitty and inconsiderate.

so i realized - almost too late - that i can't presume to make any ownership here anymore. and that's hard -- really hard. but at the same time, it's something of a necessary nudge to make me finally claim toronto as my own.

and so, i'm on my way back two days ahead of schedule (i was supposed to go back to toronto on the 30th), to rejoin my boyfriend in our apartment for hours of hockey-watching and makeouts and making our humble place a home. i'm going to spend my remaining vacation days working out at my neighbourhood gym in the mornings, slugging back coffee from my usual haunts, and running errands in a wide circle across the city. i'm heading back to the only life i know, now, and it's a life of my creation and my choosing.

it's saddening to realize that my childhood is more or less over and that kingston is no longer my home, but i think i've actually known that for a long time now -- it's not at all where i belong. toronto is. time for me to own up and continue to put the past away, piece by piece, as far as childish things are concerned.

[ music | none ]

manifest destiny

December 28Achieve.
What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
(Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

oh geez, this one's requiring me to think. um, let's see here...for 2011, i want to start holding more to my commitments, and not copping out of plans so easily. as i blogged about before, i have a problem dedicating myself to things, be they classes, social plans, after-work schedules, and so on. there's something in me that will make plans for things, but then cop out at the last minute for whatever reason. (and literally, i find any excuse.) i always find some way to cheat myself out of doing things that would probably be good for me (ie. getting out to socialize, work out more at the gym, and so on).

as for the more zen part of this prompt, i'm willing to bet that i'll feel more well-rounded and accomplished if i hold to my commitments, plus it'll at least give me more of a life. i'm not sure if it'd make me "complete" per se, but like i said, it will at least expand my interests - and my life - beyond work-gym-home-sleep almost every single day.

10 things i can do (not today, obviously, but this coming year):

1. hold to workout schedule (cardio saturday/sunday morning, cardio + spin classes tuesday and thursday evenings)
2. sign up for at least one class (possibly cooking)
3. make more plans with friends, and don't cancel
4. see a few more live shows
5. make plans with boyfriend outside of our apartment's couch
6. get more culture (museums, films, etc)
7. do plenty of writing and try to find some outlets for publication
8. read as many books/newspapers/magazines as possible, all the time
9. spend some time thinking what i want to do with my life beyond this day/week/month
10. focus on life outside the internets

[ music | the sisters of mercy, "this corrosion" ]

Monday, December 27, 2010

same old

December 27Ordinary Joy.
Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
(Author: Brené Brown)

already done this one: see this post. wash, rinse, repeat.

[ music | daft punk, "end of line" (tron: legacy ost) ]

Sunday, December 26, 2010

food for thought

December 26Soul Food.
What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?
(Author: Elise Marie Collins)

this one's sort of difficult. i like food a whole lot (making up for all the time when i was younger and stupid and willingly starving myself, as so many stupid young girls do), and though - or maybe because - i cook a lot of my own meals, not a whole lot sticks out in my mind. oh well, okay, one meal away from home -- i ate at mama mexico for brunch when i was in new york city back in october (i actually ate there twice, but the second time i was too drunk to appreciate it), and i was reminded how insanely good mexican food is in america. literally, it's to die for. i got huevos con chorizo (scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage, onion, tomato, green pepper and guacamole) with a huge side of mexican rice and refried black beans, plus fresh free chips and salsa tableside. i could have died happy.

mexican food remains my biggest guilty pleasure. i am entirely convinced that nachos are my achilles heel.

[king's crown nachos at the infamous sneaky dee's. this was what dean and i shared on our first date, and every year for our anniversary, we go back to sneak's and order nachos. so dirty, but so good.]

however, i like the idea of eating out more than i like the reality of it. see, i like cooking. i like making my own meals. i'm entirely willing to spend 2-3 hours of my saturday putting together an elaborate stew or complicated ethnic dish -- that's fun for me. and so i'm always aware of a number of things when i'm eating out, notably: 1) there's a chance i could make this dish myself, and better; 2) i could definitely make it for less money; 3) i have no idea what went into this dish and/or how it was prepped in the kitchen; and so on.

so when you're questioning quality versus how much you're paying for the damn thing, then you really start to get jaded about the whole idea of eating at restaurants. it's the same as my belief when it comes to public transit: sure, i could pay money and have someone else drive me to my destination, but fuck it -- i have two working legs. i can walk. so i almost feel insulted to have to pay for something i could do myself for cheaper, just with more labour involved. and when you even enjoy the labour, then why not?

thus ends today's sermon.

[ music | the mission, "wasteland" ]

Saturday, December 25, 2010

take my picture

December 25Photo.
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
(Author: Tracey Clark)


is probably my top shot of the year, taken on valentine's day by my boyfriend last february. i was without a job, but probably still pretty happy (enjoying the freedom; showing off three of my tattoos; weighing less than i have all year; in the kitchen, which is my element; posing wearing nothing but that apron and high heels). simply put, this is me in love.

and that means a lot to me, that does. tomorrow is our three-year anniversary, which means that we'll officially be into our fourth year together, and the above photo was taken by him and for him. i'm in the process of making our valentine's day dinner (penne alla vodka and a heart-shaped blueberry pie) - we don't get each other presents on valentine's day; dinner and each others' company is enough - and that's my happy look. like i said, i'm in my element in this picture, doing what i love - cooking - for the man i love. good stuff.

i know that it's mushy and sentimental and repetitive, but reverb 10 has really made me appreciate my relationship over the last year, and how much it's come to deepen even year. i still love the hell out of that boy, and that shows no signs of abating in 2011.

[ music | jeff buckley, "hallelujah" ]

Friday, December 24, 2010

just the end of the world

December 24Everything’s OK.
What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?
(Author: Kate Inglis)

again, we're going to go back to january/february, in which i was unemployed (and getting to the point where "funemployment" wasn't so much fun anymore, namely because my money was running out) and desperately seeking job. at the time, i was placing the majority of my hope on a job that was/would take two months to run through the complete review process, and i was getting frustrated and scared that it wouldn't work out.

but as every day went by and my savings began to disappear, i had to fight to not lose hope. things happen for a reason, i kept telling myself, and i had to keep faith that this would all work out. i had a good feeling about this job prospect, and i felt i had to keep holding out and waiting for it to come through before i gave up. this was more or less a test of my belief that things do happen for a reason, and everything always works out the way it's supposed to.

then, lo and behold: it took until march and three stages of interviews, but i got that job. and i still have the job today. so i suppose in the coming year, this serves as continual proof that my beliefs actually do make sense, and that anytime it seems like things are going off the rails and are out of my control, i need to remember that nope -- everything's happening as it should.

[ music | love actually on tv ]

Thursday, December 23, 2010

on the road again

for this post, i am currently mobile; i'm writing this from the train on my way home for christmas vacation. hooray for technology!

most people have specific holiday traditions, and this is definitely mine: go home to kingston anywhere between the 22nd and 24th, stay at my mom/stepdad's house, go to my dad/stepmom's place for christmas eve dinner and gift-giving (this year there is additional carol-singing at their church, which i'm attending because what the hell), sleep overnight at my mom's along with my two stepsiblings and my older sister, get up by 7 a.m. on christmas morning, open presents with family, eat christmas day brunch and get buzzed on mimosas, laze around all day, have christmas dinner, and roll on through boxing day. i usually go back to toronto sometime between the 27th and the 30th, just as the boredom of kingston starts to make me homicidal. one big plus about having a solid-income job is being able to upgrade from bus to train, which is slightly faster and indefinitely more comfortable.

so that brings us to now, the first step on my usual christmastime journey. it's funny, though: i was reflecting on this the other day, the fact that i've suddenly realized how old the "kids" are now, and how long we've been doing this for. this has been our family tradition since we all moved into the same house together, which would have been 1997; as i mentioned in the second half of this post, it's become sort of weird to me to realize that we're still in the same pattern, even though we (the kids) are all old enough now to be married and possibly even have kids ourselves. and then i inevitably start wondering about how many more years we have to keep up the same holiday traditions (which are very near and dear to my heart) before things change. someone might get married or pregnant. someone might die (grim but realistic).

however, for me, christmas season will forever be the one time of year that i can shamelessly make a shit-ton of sugary goods, because i'm just going to give them away anyway. here's this year's roster:

homemade granola (four batches, with an extra fifth going to a curious coworker)

chocolate-peanut butter fudge and eggnog walnut fudge

and then there was the office cupcake throwdown on monday. eight of us participated, and my entry were the wonderfully boozy eggnog cream cupcakes (also from the booze cakes cookbook):

followed 'em more or less to the letter - they're spiced vanilla cakes filled with rum-vanilla cream, topped with rum-spiked whipped cream - but substituted the regular rum for spiced rum and topped them with nutmeg instead of shaved chocolate. (i also had the location advantage: since i literally live around the corner from my office, i dashed home at lunch, prepared the cupcakes, whipped the cream, and did the final assembly in the kitchen at work.)

proud baker on display:

...yeah, not the only thing on display.

it's also the time of year for throwing down with coworkers at the office christmas party:

when i first started working at this office, it was strange for me because the majority of my team members were female (my last job had been 98% male). looks like the gender disparity is evening out! just kidding...the team i work on is fully awesome, and given that the entire office numbers about 120, it was a pretty full room. very good times. (but you usually get that when an open bar's involved.)

anyway! that's about it for me for now, i think...there will likely be more blogging done from home, since i'll have a week to laze about and do very little besides work out, cook, bake, get drunk and write. aside from tomorrow's reverb 10 post, though, i probably won't get another post out before christmas, so happy holidays to my readership! have a great next few days filled with family and christmas cheer and spiked eggnog.

[ music | killing joke, "the wait" ]

in a name

[ caitlin ryan from degrassi junior high. photo via luke milton writes ]

December 23New Name.
Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
(Author: Becca Wilcott)

this one is relatively easy: i'd introduce myself as alex, short for alexandra. see, alexander is my paternal family name; it was my great-grandfather's middle name and my grandfather's first name, and it's my father's middle name. (i'm scottish on that side of the family.) it was a foregone conclusion that i'd be named alexander if i were born a boy (i'm not sure if my parents even knew my gender before i was born), and i think alexandra was kicked around as an option for a girl, but in the end, they went with caitlin. (this was because my father, who worked as a high school teacher, hadn't had any students named caitlin - this was right before the name got popular for girls born in the 80's - and thus didn't have any negative associations with it. also, it goes well aurally with my sister's name, megan.)

seriously, it would have been perfect -- my tomboy self could have gone by alex, and i could have switched to alexandra for more formal occasions. instead, i've got caitlin, which only gets shortened to "cait" by my family (seriously, it's weird/annoying whenever anybody other than my blood relatives call me that) and mostly gets me a lot of people asking if my parents were fans of 1) degrassi junior high or 2) dylan thomas (whose wife's name was caitlin). oh well.

[ music | iggy pop, "lust for life" ]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


December 22Travel.
How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
(Author: Tara Hunt)

how did i travel? well, planes trains and automobiles: flew to orlando in april for a work conference, took the train for trips home both in june (to avoid the g20 madness) and my birthday/thanksgiving in october, flew to washington for a work trip in july, took a bus to and from new york city in october, and...that was it, really. regrettably, as i've mentioned in prior reverb 10 posts, i didn't get the chance to travel much this year, mostly due to 1) lack of funds, 2) lack of time, and 3) lack of balls when it comes to flying places.

i like travelling, especially alone. it makes me feel free and independent and capable of taking care of myself. and so in 2011, i don't want to let my inherent terror of air travel stop me; if i do, after all, i'll never get to see large portions of the world. i already know that there'll be another work trip to washington in the new year, and possibly back to orlando for that same conference, but as far as personal travel goes, i want: vancouver, for sure. montreal, possibly. and also, if at all possible, to get back in the van with a band for a week or two. i get 15 paid vacation days through work, so this is entirely doable (and won't require me to quit my job this time).

future travel musts (maybe not next year but eventually): japan. england. new orleans. los angeles (for the second time). paris. recommendations encouraged.

[ music | and you will know us by the trail of dead, "mistakes and regrets" ]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

future times

[ image via pogo]

December 21Future Self.
Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
(Author: Jenny Blake)

man, i have a really hard time being psychic these days. but let's see...i feel as though my 32-year-old (ouch) self would look back at my 27-year-old self and let her know that 2011 will be a year of continuing to define herself as an adult, taking on more responsibilities (double ouch, but necessary) and maneuvering her way through the crazy maze of adulthood -- working a 9-to-5 job, paying bills and rent, maintaining/nurturing a long-term relationship, and so on and so forth.

i also feel like this will be another year of getting closer to figuring out just what i want out of life, and how to achieve it. i spoke to my mother on sunday night about the dilemma of growing up, and she said simply, "think about the future, not just the now. think about where you want to be when you're old." and while i don't know if i'm ready for that exactly (hell, i'm not even ready to hit my thirties), i know that it's better to do now than when it's too late. so here's hoping my thirty-two-year-old self has got a head start on all that.

now, a brief note to myself at seventeen years of age:

you'll have the life you want -- but you'll have to make some sacrifices, and you'll have to lose some parts of yourself. don't worry, you'll get them back eventually, even though they won't be the same as before. but no matter what happens, know that everything happens for a reason, and that you won't just survive it -- you'll come out a stronger, better person for it. you will persevere. good luck, little girl.

[ music | smashing pumpkins, "tonight tonight" ]

Monday, December 20, 2010

commitment blues

December 20Beyond Avoidance.
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
(Author: Jake Nickell)

...wait a second, isn't this more or less this question, just slightly rephrased? because i feel like my answer will basically be the same (i didn't go to vancouver because i was too busy and too poor, plus "unsure" because my airplane tolerance is very thin).

as a different answer, though, i suppose i should have actually, uh, attended those two six-week evening classes i signed up for (digital photography and floral design). on two separate occasions, i registered for those classes, paid the fee, did my best to get myself psyched up to do some after-work learning...and then dropped out at the eleventh hour. why? sort of goes back to what i discussed here -- my fear/hatred of committing to things definitely holds me back in this area. see, i know myself, and i know that at the end of the work day, i'm usually too exhausted to do much more than drag my sorry ass to the gym, and then home to hang with the boy and watch tv.

so why bother trying? because in 2011, i want to expand my interests and life skills, as i've mentioned in previous reverb 10 posts. so i guess that would fall under the "avoidance because of being too busy" umbrella.

oh, also - i was too scared of air travel to go many places this year. with the help of ativan, i think i might just be able to manage it next year. here's hoping.

[ music | a place to bury strangers, "in your heart" ]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ambulance ambiance

December 19Healing.
What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?
(Author: Leoni Allan)

since i can't really answer this question in any sort of crystal hippie mind-over-matter metaphors, i've chosen to take this question at literal face value and admit that i am a hypochondriac.

nothing too arresting or debilitating, mind you -- i've only "thought" myself into the emergency room once, and it actually made for a humourous story in retrospect. (when i was living in vancouver, i unknowingly scratched my hand as i was startled by a huge ugly spider when i opened a drawer. convinced that the welt was a spider bite, i sat in the emerg at a hospital in west van waiting five hours for my hand to necrotize and fall off. it didn't.)

but still, this year alone, i've thought i was pregnant (at least twice), thought a tiny lump on my scalp was a tumour (it was an ingrown hair), thought my mild heart arrhythmia was due to a heart murmur (it was a byproduct of my being anemic), and the piece de resistance, thought i had colon cancer because i had (tmi alert) blood in my stool repeatedly. that last one, though, was definitely cause for worry, and it went all the way to my getting a colonoscopy back in august. of course, this was also the epitome of absurd, since it's insanely rare for anyone under the age of fifty to develop colon cancer (the doctor who examined me even told me to my face afterward, "if i were your doctor, i wouldn't have even recommended this procedure since you're far too young"), but i had to be sure or else i wouldn't sleep at night. and of course, nothing came up in the results. (doctor simply told me to start eating half a cup of all-bran a day, and sure enough, the bleeding hasn't happened since.)

seriously, i'm basically as healthy as a horse. in terms of darwinism, i'm a prime evolutionary vessel -- there are no hereditary diseases in my family, on either side (with the exception of my paternal grandfather, who died from lung cancer because he smoked too much). so why i keep freaking out about every welt and bump is beyond me. in 2011, i suppose i'd like to be "healed" by not worrying so much about said welts and bumps -- because the imaginary definitely doesn't require healing.

even if it is free here in canada.

[ music | portishead, "sour times" ]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

to the west coast

December 18Try.
What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?
(Author: Kaileen Elise)

well, yes - i didn't get to make my yearly pilgrimage to vancouver. i'm not sure if it's because the timing wasn't right or because i just didn't have enough money, but i vowed last year to make a trip to vancouver once a year from now on (since i left in 2008), and i just couldn't make it in 2010.

i've blogged at length about vancouver and my time living there, but i always feel like i can make peace with the life i left behind by going back once and a while -- just to remember. there are still so many things i miss about that city and so many memories that i can bring back at a moment's notice. i really do believe that you leave a piece of you behind in all the places you inhabit for an extended period of time, and i feel like going to vancouver once a year kind of appeases the part of me that still resides there.

more things about vancouver that i need in my life, however temporarily: my west-coast friends (melissa and delna, i'm looking at you two especially). vancouver coffee. kitsilano. main street. taking the seabus to north van. commercial drive. sushi at my favourite two places in the world (sushi sushi and the eatery). drunken rock band insanity with leora and garry and company. low-rent boozing at the cambie. i was living all of this three years ago at this very moment and sometimes that's hard for me to believe.

i'll be back in 2011, you can be sure of that.

[ music | love and rockets, "no new tale to tell" ]

booze cakes I: honey spice beer cake

a few weeks ago, i tossed this random tweet out in hopes that somebody was looking for a christmas gift idea:

guess what just showed up in the mail for me?


see, not too long after i posted that update on twitter, i received an email from eric, who works for quirk books, the publisher of booze cakes (and also one of my favourite books of last year, pride and prejudice and zombies). he'd seen my tweet and very kindly offered to send me a free copy so i could whip up some alcohol-soaked baked goodness. easy enough deal to make! (not to mention the fact that pretty cookbook is pretty. seriously, this is one gorgeous cookbook. very well-laid out, informative and filled with beautiful photography.)

i'm actually stoked this book came around when it did -- true story, i've been looking for a booze cookbook for at least six months now, but the closest i came was the guinness book (which i still haven't picked up, but i should). although i'm on the primal diet 80% of the time, i still have a terrible sweet tooth and a passion for baking that i can't seem to clamp down. and since i love the idea of baking with alcohol, i'd been looking for something that combined the two.

yet, here's the thing: i'm too terrified to have baked goods all to myself for fear i will gorge on the entire batch. (trying to stay on the cavegirl diet, right?) either way, i'll definitely eat them all because i won't want them to go to waste. now, i happen to live with my significant other, so you think this problem of needing-to-share would be solved, right? wrong -- my boyfriend does not have much of a sweet tooth. i'll bake a batch of cookies he likes or a loaf of banana bread, and he will eat a bit of it and extol its virtue et cetera...but then he won't touch it again. no insult to me or my baking - it's just the way he is. he gets tired of sweet things easily. (but put a nice juicy rare steak in front of him...)

however, he loves beer. loves it. really, if it were a choice between me and beer, i might be worried about my chances. and when it comes to his minimal sweet tooth, the boy prefers baked goods that aren't too sweet and lean more on the spicy or bittersweet side (like gingersnaps or zucchini bread, and occasionally very dark chocolate -- his requested birthday cake for the last two years has actually been guinness chocolate cake). and so when the first recipe i saw when i opened the cookbook was for honey spice beer cake, i knew i was set for my inaugural booze-cake baking. he would definitely want to partake in this one.

(there will be a booze cakes II entry in the new year, by the way - coworker brittany has requested the pink champagne cake for her birthday in february. i'm also going to be making the eggnog cream cupcakes tomorrow evening to enter in a baking competition at work, but i might not have enough time to blog them)

so, though it may be foolhardy to bake a cake right before the holiday season - which is already filled with high-calorie goodness at every turn - that is exactly what i did. (i also managed to rationalize it by the fact that i have a friend's holiday party to go to tonight, so i could keep a few pieces for myself and the boy and bring the rest along)

two adjustments i made before i began: i decided to halve the recipe (making a 9x9 cake instead of a 9x13 -- i'm too poor for so many ingredients at this time of year), and to sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts instead of mixed nuts (because truthfully, i bought a tin of mixed nuts and ended up eating them all myself). allons-y!

the mise en place (whether cooking or baking, i am honestly neurotic about organizing all my ingredients before i begin): flour, baking soda & powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, salted butter, light brown sugar, granulated white sugar, eggs, honey, lemon juice/rind, beer. for the icing: salted butter, confectioner's sugar, beer, honey, and the aforementioned walnuts to finish it off. (of course, the beer is out of the frame, because i'm obviously not an experienced food blogger and i don't know how these things work) the recipe calls for honey beer; i chose lakeport honey lager, which is perfect because 1) it is obviously a honey beer, and 2) i wouldn't drink it if you paid me. so baking it into delicious cake form definitely works. (plus it's a bank-breaking $1.95 at the liquor store.)

whisking together the dry ingredients (whole lotta spice!). i've only recently started using a balloon whisk for this task, since it obviously combines the dry stuff better than a wooden spoon.

beating together the brown sugar and butter. and here is where i made a hilarious misstep, continuing to prove that i am far from a master baker: i forgot the white sugar. whoops. i mean, there's half a cup of brown sugar and half a cup (plus two tablespoons) of honey in the batter, so i'm sure it would have been plenty sweet enough, but i'm a dictator-like stickler for accuracy in recipes, so i ended up yanking it out of the oven after two minutes and stirring the extra half-cup of sugar into the finished batter. whew!

in go the beer and the flour (after the rest of the liquid-y stuff)! does anyone else have a cuisinart hand mixer? i swear mine works at hyperspeed even on the lowest setting. very frustrating, especially when it's blowing flour all over your kitchen.

pop it into the extremely dirty oven and...

thirty minutes later, you get this! check out the bubbles from the beer carbonation. awesome.

frost it up nice and good and...

cut yerself a piece.

mmmmm, drippy gooey goodness.

the cake itself turned out marvelous (i had a tiny piece and gave the rest to the boy, who proclaimed it "awesome") -- it's definitely not lacking in spice, that's for sure. the best comparison i could make would be that it's very much like a gingerbread cake, but with honey instead of molasses. there's also a really nice tang from the honey beer present in both the cake itself and the icing, and i'm willing to bet this thing tastes even better today. we'll find out tonight when i take it a-partying!

thus: if you're looking for a last-minute gift for the eccentric baker in your life - i showed it off to a few of my fellow baking colleagues and they all shrieked over it - i heartily endorse booze cakes (authored by krystina castella and terry lee stone), and you can grab it at amazon, chapters, some locations of the outer layer in toronto (i first saw it/tweeted about it at the queen west & portland location), and of course quirk books itself. it's funny, i never buy cookbooks anymore because i have the internet now, but this one is definitely a keeper (and i likely would have bought it even if i hadn't been sent a copy for free). desserts always need more booze!

[ music | the cure, "hot hot hot!!!" ]

Friday, December 17, 2010

are your lessons done

December 17Lesson Learned.
What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?
(Author: Tara Weaver)

best thing i learned about myself - or rather relearned, since it's like a muscle i have to keep exercising - this past year is that i can be hella tenacious if i put my mind to it.

when i was a kid and a teenager, i was absolutely lazy as fuck. i didn't have anything to worry about - no bills to pay, no jobs to take responsibility for, nothing - and so i just kicked back and coasted on my parents' support. (which is kind of the point of being a kid, i suppose.) but as i became a self-sufficient adult, with those bills to pay and jobs to work at, i had to learn how to put my mind to working, and working hard. i learned that things don't happen if i just sit back and procrastinate -- i have to jump right in there and make things happen.

and so this past year, i really learned how to harness that power of making things happen, and not to be so afraid to take the lead on things. a lot of this learning came from my new job, that's true, but a lot of it also stemmed from having to take control of my life back in the wintertime when i was jobless and at a precipice. it finally got to the point where i realized that not only do i have to step in and make things happen, but that i had the power and confidence to do so. (this is what my work jargon would call a "key takeaway".)

here's to more grabbing the bull by the horns in 2011.

[ music | sleigh bells, "infinity" ]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

social networking

December 16Friendship.
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
(Author: Martha Mihalick)

i'm going to take a broader stance on this - since i have more than one friend, and i don't like singling any one of them out - and say that the gradual digitalization of my friend circle (and everyone else's aged 35 and under, it seems) has been the most sudden and slightly disturbing change.

i can't presume to speak to everyone, but for me myself, i don't remember the last time i actually called a friend and had a conversation over the telephone -- it's all been replaced by texting or writing on facebook walls or sending twitter @replies or direct messages. even email is sort of slipping away; i remember a time when i'd exchange huge long emails with friends, and now my only active inbox is my facebook messages.

i mean, i get the shift; i understand it, particularly because i work in the industry and i know how things go. but i was discussing this with my mother the other week, and she remarked that people my age are "half-in and half-out" -- as in, we're old enough to have grown up and embraced the online world, but we can still remember a time before. and when i really open my eyes and see how things have shifted in terms of how friends relate and communicate, it sort of stuns me. "social networks" may have risen, but i think a lot of us have never been so alone in terms of actual human contact.

and this is, really, the biggest change in my perspective in 2010: the realization that the concept of friendship and connection has become something that's conducted 90% on the computer, and so much less face to face. conversely, it's just that much easier to cancel plans or end a friendship -- because you don't have to face the results in person. i'm as guilty of this as anyone, i'm sure, but it's a disheartening realization nonetheless. i'm not sure where we go from here, but hopefully the road will lead back to real human contact -- although the cynic in me isn't so sure.

[ music | depeche mode, "enjoy the silence" ]

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

memory lane

December 155 Minutes.
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.
(Author: Patti Digh)

- the freedom, boredom and nerve-wracking anxiety of being without a job for january and february
- my first professional work trips (orlando in april, washington in july)
- moving house and adjusting to the new neighbourhood in october
- moving offices and adjusting to the new neighbourhood (coincidentally, the same neighbourhood as the new apartment) in july
- patio summertimes spent with the boy
- discovering the primal diet in july
- valentine's day: penne alla vodka, blueberry pie, photo shoots and fun times
- the cne with coworkers in september
- joe hill book reading at the toronto library in the spring
- hockey game (go leafs go!) with neil, kittana, michael and calvin
- super bowl at southern accent
- c'mon cd release party in july
- cousin's wedding in niagara falls with friends in august
- mother's wedding in kingston in august
- cmj/new york city road trippin' in october

...aaaaand i'm spent.

[ music | arcade fire, "we used to wait" ]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

you are my sunshine

December 14Appreciate.
What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?
(Author: Victoria Klein)

ah, here we go again, back to the topic i was trying to keep out of every reverb 10 post: the boy.

although we'll have been together for three years this month (boxing day is our anniversary), undoubtedly, it's the one thing i've appreciated the most in the past year -- his presence, his patience, his love and his general awesomeness in my life. and i've come to appreciate all of that even more because of, surprisingly enough, his absences: he's gotten a lot of work lately (he freelances), he has a lot of band practices, and he tours across the country. it's the sporadic distances between us that make me realize just how much of a part of my life he is, and how there's something of a hole in it when he's not around. i miss his companionship, which i guess is the thing i appreciate most about the boy -- having him around to be my lover/best friend/partner in crime.

i'll let you all go tend to your cavities from the overdose of mushy sweetness now.

[ music | the sisters of mercy, "dominion/mother russia" ]

Monday, December 13, 2010

ad astra

December 13Action.
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?
(Author: Scott Belsky)

next step to what, exactly? hmmmm...i suppose this question needs an aspiration to go with it, so let's look at life ambition (because that's really the grand scheme of things, after all):

i want to be a well-rounded person. this is something that, i think, takes considerable effort; you need to figure out what exactly it is (life skills, knowledge, experiences, and so on) that will make you someone who's interesting. also, if you're me, you need to get over the laziness hump and the fear of commitment that detracts you from putting your mind to accomplishing things.

for example, i've tried numerous times in the past to sign up for various classes and such things, but i always undermine myself and usually end up canceling (or else attending one or two sessions before dropping out). i'm sure it's some reaction to my childhood - i'd be signed up for piano lessons or karate lessons or whatnot, and i had little to no say over whether or not i actually wanted to keep up with them - but i always feel a little disappointed in myself when i call it quits without even trying. i just can't seem to maintain the motivation, especially when i'm already drained from working the 9 to 5 and just want to go home and relax.

so i suppose my next step towards actually becoming a well-rounded person is to get over this apathy, start pushing myself out of my comfort zone and actually giving a damn. i feel like the logical solution would be to find something i really enjoy doing; that way, i won't be tempted to give up on it so quickly. from there, i'll hopefully be able to find a few more things that get me out of the house more often than just plain old gym-going after work.

maybe i just need to stop being boring. yeah, that might work.

[ music | depeche mode, "walking in my shoes" ]

Sunday, December 12, 2010


December 12Body Integration.
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
(Author: Sam Davidson)

i did, and it was during sex. next question.

[ music | new order, "shell shock" ]

Saturday, December 11, 2010

unnecessary things

December 1111 Things.
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?
(Author: Sam Davidson)

everybody loves lists, right?

1. self-doubt. this is always a big one, and for most people, i think. it may sound like a crappy disney-movie tagline, but believing in yourself really is the key to everything.
2. dramaz. i think i was pretty good at avoiding social drama this year; gonna try and keep up the pattern in 2011, which generally involves being selective about who i befriend and who i let close to me. sounds cold, but it keeps the drama out of my life. (i'd had enough of the backstabbers in my early twenties.)
3. laziness. seriously, i need to get off my ass and do more stuff in 2011.
4. inambition. see above and the "do more stuff" point. developing more life skills and fun hobbies would be solid.
5. obsessing over menial things. this has been a habit of mine for many, many years -- so much so that everyone who knows me knows that i'm tightly wound. i'd be pretty damn happy to learn how to 1) stop obsessing over things that don't matter and 2) let things go more easily.
6. carbs. you heard me, naysayers. less carbs = less unhealthy.
7. low self-esteem. this sort of fits in with #1 - also because it too is a big thing for most people, especially those of the female persuasion - but i know there's no place in my life for feeling shitty about myself. in 2011, i'd like to focus more on the things i like about myself rather than the things i don't. being emo is so five years ago.
8. pressure. i'm not a huge fan of pressure - leads to stress; see below - although a bit of it does make me work better/harder. still, i'd like to not bow to the pressure of others -- again, like #7, it's something i'm basically too old for now.
9. stress. this is something that you sometimes can't help; if you work in a fast-paced job like i do, there are bound to be some stressful times. however, i'd really like to manage my stress better in the new year -- being zen would help a lot of things.
10. excuses. making excuses - for anything - is a terrible habit, and i'd be glad to snap out of it in 2011.
11. too much time spent on the internet. seriously, self, get out into the real world more often.

[ music | the cult, "rain" ]

lucky girl

taking another breather from the reverb 10 trek to comment on my bizarre streak of random good luck lately.

i have terrible luck when it comes to things like random draws. no, seriously -- i don't think i've won anything in a random draw for the last ten years, maybe more. and i do enter draws - though i rarely ever play the lottery; with my bad luck, i'm not that dumb - but by now, i've come to accept that i'm one of those people who has the odds constantly against them, so meh.

however, my friends, all of a sudden, i've turned into pre-rehab lindsay lohan in that terrible movie.

a preface, though: due to my incredibly jaded outlook on contests, i'm usually bitter and envious of people who do win things. so if this entry makes you feel the same, then that's okay. i understand you, man. i just wanted to mark the first occasion in ages that i actually, inexplicably have been winning random shit. (of course, i'm also a big believer in karma, which means that i'm probably jinxing my lucky streak by even writing about all this. oh well.)

first off: i won this cool reebok leafs jacket in a draw held on twitter by calvin. is going to my father as part of his christmas gift!

one week later: i win a pair of killing joke tickets (which was convenient since i'm too poor from christmas shopping to buy concert tickets) from livenloud magazine. and you all know my weakness for goth-y british post-punk bands from the 80s.

two days later, i win these -- yes, in a completely random draw:

there was an email sent around the office on tuesday asking who wanted to be included, and of course i jumped at it. now, i have no idea how many other people were in the running (my office is about 120, and they probably all didn't enter because they're not all hockey fans), but it wouldn't be a stretch to say that i'm the best-known (read: clearly most insane) leafs fan in the office. and so when my name was pulled out of the hat, there was a lot of amused laughter and a few coworkers asking me, "did you plan this??" nope. the lucky streak continues.

the only problem: it was a pair of tickets, and my most logical hockey companion - my boyfriend - was working out of town all night. also, it was a pair of tickets for a game that was happening in two and a half hours, which compromised things further. (for one, i had to find a friend that actually liked hockey, and for two, they had to be available in two and a half hours.) i'm sure if i'd put the call out on twitter, i would have found somebody - they were a couple of prime gold seats, and the price value on them said $165(!) each - but i wasn't so into spending an evening with somebody i didn't know in person. also, i didn't want to fudge with my good karma by selling off the extra one to a scalper, coat and purse got their own gold seat at the acc. yes, i was that girl. #firstworldproblems, et cetera.

anyway, i had fun regardless, even though the leafs inevitably lost (i hadn't had a whole lot of hope for that game to begin with) and there was much booing and even waffle-tossing. for real. at least i got some photos out of the game (but not the waffles, sorry):

full photoset over at my tumblr if you're so inclined. (my lucky streak does not extend to my presence at the acc, clearly; they've lost every single game i've attended in person. bah.)

that said...anybody have any preference for lottery numbers?

in the meantime, i keep plodding towards christmas vacation, i'm looking for book recommendations (anybody?), and the idea of so many holiday parties coming up with so many open bars/hors d'oeuvres is starting to frighten me. that's all, carry on.

[ music | she wants revenge, "red flags and long nights" ]

Friday, December 10, 2010

smart choices

December 10Wisdom.
What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
(Author: Susannah Conway)

i had a few situations in mind to answer this prompt, but they mostly had to do with my relationship, and i'm consciously trying not to make every single prompt about my relationship, so. i would have to say that i made my wisest decision - one of 2010's many, apparently - very early on this year, when i made the choice to look for a new job.

after my former employers' great overnight bankruptcy of december '09, my supervisor branched out to start his own business -- that would continue to service the client we had used to work for. he wanted to bring me on board to continue to do the work i was doing for our client (seo/social media), and it would have been so easy for me to accept and say sure, okay, i'll keep on doing what i've been doing for the last year and a half.

however, i hadn't been happy at that job for the last few months prior to the bankruptcy. what i did wasn't very rewarding or stimulating anymore, and i even felt more than a little relief when i saw that sign on the office door. and so, faced with the choice of staying in a comfort zone (albeit one i was tired of) and pushing myself out into the big, scary world of unemployment and job interviews, i took a deep breath and made the plunge. i told my supervisor no, i'm sorry, but i couldn't keep doing what i'd been doing before. i needed something new and different (not to mention part of me chafed at the thought of going back to work for the client who'd bankrupted us by removing their business in the first place). and off i went into the big bad world of job-hunting.

in retrospect, obviously, this was the wisest choice (otherwise i probably wouldn't be writing about it for today's prompt). but there were many moments of indecision and self-doubt to follow, especially when i had very few leads on a new job throughout january and february. as always, though, i hung on to my usual personal mantra of "everything happens for a reason", and sure enough, my holdout was a success: it may have taken two months of waiting and despairing and multiple levels of interviews, but i finally landed the job i currently have now. and i wouldn't be here if i hadn't made that, ahem, wise decision to not settle for what i already had and to strive for something better instead.

[ music | sleigh bells, "tell em" ]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

social scene

December 9Party.
What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
(Author: Shauna Reid)

i'll preface this by saying that i don't get out much.

this wasn't always the case, though. as was semi-documented in my old blog, my nights in my early twenties were primarily spent drinking, chain smoking, occasionally drug taking, and partying it up with musicians at bars across the city. this is a fun life when you're in your early twenties, for sure, but you can burn out on it really fast. and as i've mentioned before, once it started to become too much of an effort - and when it got to the point that i really just wanted to stay in and relax at night, which still continues to this day - i stopped going out as much. it just got too old and tired, or maybe i got too old and tired.

so when your idea of a big night out is going to the pub across the street with your boyfriend and watching the leafs game (not to mention you get cranky if you're not in bed by midnight), there ain't a whole lot to choose from.

here's a pic from a damn good social gathering back in the summertime, though:

[ counterclockwise: me (looking oddly waxen), my boyfriend, my best friend jenna, her boyfriend paul, our friend liz's legs ]

our friend monique decided to throw a summer party just because,and since monique goes all the fuck out when it comes to entertaining, there was a spread worthy of martha stewart, a giant bucket of margarita mix in the fridge, and a huge punch bowl of sangria. there were also long-lost vancouver friends in attendance (liz and leora), and it really was a great chance to connect with the majority of my social circle all in one place. the next party is a week from this saturday, themed "martini potluck". if anything, will be a prime reason to catch up with everybody before we all go our separate ways for christmas vacation.

as i said above, i don't go out much anymore, but i do try to make the most effort when it comes to seeing my friends.

[ music | the national, "terrible love" ]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

special snowflake

[image via etsy]

December 8Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.
(Author: Karen Walrond)

...okay, now i'm really starting to feel like i'm on an episode of oprah. dr. phil, at the very least.

i'm not entirely sure what makes me different, really. of course, if you were to ask my parents, you'd get myriad answers about why their youngest daughter is a special little snowflake. but me, i've always tried to keep a sense of modesty/humility/what have you, because i find it a huge fucking turnoff when people brag about themselves and how awesome they are in social media. which is why whenever i brag about myself, it's usually meant to be tongue-in-cheek or self-deprecating. i don't think i'm all that great or special, honestly. i think i've got a lot of good points, sure, but i'm just me at the end of the day, and that's fine.

but that doesn't answer today's question, huh? as i said in this reverb 10 entry, one thing i can do - and do well - is bake, and that's generally something that "lights people up". people like receiving baked goods, i've found, and they make good gifts as well as simple, low-effort additions to a work meeting. also - and again, as mentioned in a past reverb 10 entry - i can write, which is good for keeping people entertained. (apparently there's a lot of people who enjoy my twitterfeed.)

so, there's what i do. as far as physical things that make me different:

- i have a slightly large nose (though i think i've more or less grown into it)
- i have a weird kink in my hair that prevents it from being perfectly straight
- i walk on the balls on my feet
- i can flare my nostrils to huge sizes and pick up objects with my toes
- i have a very short torso and very long legs, which makes for hard times when it comes to clothes shopping
- i'm average in terms of body shape, not too thin or too fat
- my eyebrows are not the same colour as my hair (i'm a brunette but my eyebrows are black)

but again, as i said above -- that's me, and i'm okay with that. i really don't need an exercise these days to help boost my self-esteem - it's actually in a pretty good place these days - but maybe the story would have been different ten years ago. and that realization, in retrospect, made today's reverb 10 sort of worthwhile.

[ music | peter murphy, "all night long" ]

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


December 6Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
(Author: Cali Harris)

ah, background: i've always loved online communities, right back to the old days of chat rooms and bbs forums. the inherent problem with me, however, is that once i join an online community, i become so plugged in to it that i feel the need to transcend through the ranks of regular users as soon as possible. i get fixated on the need to stand out and "be someone" in the community. the journey there is something i generally enjoy, but i'm never satisfied until i'm at the top, or close to it.

it's kind of gross and weird, i know, but that was exactly how i was throughout all of the communities i joined when i was a teenager and in my early twenties, and so - given that i know exactly how i get in these situations - i've kind of stayed away from message boards and forums and the like, knowing that i lose a little bit of my humanity - not to mention sense of reality - every time i decide to make the plunge. "you become a fan and then you don't stop until you take over the fandom" is how one of my high school friends put it. well, yes.

that said, with the advent of twitter, it's easier than ever to simply observe a community without having to necessarily participate. and so the community i've really seen rise in 2010 is hockey fans on twitter -- particularly leafs fans, many of whom i follow. not many of them follow me back, and i don't take part in the pension plan puppets community (mostly because i fear my technical knowledge of hockey is too poor to suffice in comment-conversations) -- but i lurk there daily, and the camaraderie of leafs fans online in general is really something special, not to mention goddamn hilarious.

also, i have to say that twitter - and the constant running commentary, which i also take part in often (according to klout, i am most influential in "#leafs" and "toronto maple leafs", which sort of amuses me) - has made watching hockey approximately 110% more entertaining than ever. i don't think i'll move any further to joining the community in 2011 than i do now, but that's okay -- i don't have the need to invade and conquer anymore. now that i'm trying more to live in the real world, life on the online fringes suits me just fine.

[ music | runaways, "cherry bomb" ]

Monday, December 6, 2010

creative differences

December 6Make.
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
(Author: Gretchen Rubin)

this question came around at a pretty opportune time -- i just attended the one of a kind christmas craft show and sale last weekend, as i usually end up doing every year, even though i never buy anything (too rich for my blood) and i feel like the show's definition of "artisan" is dubious at best in some cases. but still, as it does every year, it makes me yearn to be an artist of some sort. any sort, really. and this is something that goes back to my childhood...

my mother was/is an artisan. she primarily works with stained glass, making lamps and window panels/hangings and the like, but she also does watercolour paintings, sketches, pottery, fired glass, and who knows what else. she's always been creative with hands-on artistic mediums, and i've admired that all my life. so when i was a kid, i tried my damndest to be an artist because i also wanted to be able to create beautiful things with my hands.

to that end, my parents bought me tons of craft books, and i went through half-finished sketchbooks, plasticine and clay, multiple pencil crayons and pastels, paint, origami paper, even yarn and string, but nothing stuck. i didn't feel a spark with anything, and what's more, it felt like a disappointing effort every time. i knew that wasn't a good sign. (although it's worth noting that my parents have both kept bits and pieces of my childhood art - my father still has a plasticine lion on his work desk - but i think that's more in the nostalgic way of doting parental figures than anything.)

i was never made to be one of those people who have multiple talents in multiple areas, so as far as i saw it, i could have been one of two things: an artist (from my mother's influence) or a writer (from my father's influence). and my entire life, words came more easily than art. there are still times like last weekend where i desperately wish i'd found a medium that i could work with, but nope. i'm a writer, not an artist, and i'm kind of okay with that.

there is, however, one semi-artistic creative medium that i can do:

i can bake.

and so to answer the question of today's reverb 10 prompt, the last thing i made was the cookies in the above picture - the pioneer woman's spicy molasses cookies. yes, i've finally found a medium that calls to me - starts hollering on certain days, actually - and it involves mixing sugar and butter and flour and baking at 350F for 10-12 minutes (rotate tray once at the halfway mark). the results are probably far tastier than some old painting, plus they make people happy. and that's exactly the gratification i've always needed/wanted from creating something with my hands.

(as for something i want to make but need to clear time for, it's already being scheduled on my calendar: the annual holiday gift baking/candy-making sessions. i make a gift box of goodies for the boy's family every year, and it's easily one of the highlights of the holiday season for me.)

[ music | the cure, "lovesong" ]


....and in the midst of the month-long meme, there was a diversion!

[this is what i woke up to this morning. half-winter wonderland, half-bleak grey post-apocalyptic landscape.]

well, not quite a diversion per se, but just a callout to everyone to let them know that i'm alive and well beyond reverb 10-land. i signed up for it, i'm following through with it and i'm even sort of enjoying it, despite how schlocky the questions have been. plus it brings in all kinds of traffic from around the world, which is definitely cool.

anyway, december is here - finally and startlingly - and the year is drawing to a close. and i know i'm not the only one to say this, but: what the fuck? where did 2010 go? i'm fairly sure this won't be a new-year's case of saying good riddance to the past year (my 2010 was actually pretty good), but i have a hard time believing that the year's over already. roll on in 2011, one year closer to the end of the world.

[ my ten-year-old christmas cactus, really givin'r this time of year.]

parents have asked what i want for christmas; aside from handing down instructions that my siblings are not allowed to buy me gift cards (they all seem to resort to that every year, and i want creativity this time), i asked for what would be the most boring things imaginable to my eight-year-old self: clothes (in particular workout pants, a black blazer for work, and flannel pajama pants), a new portable hard drive for my computer, a wallet, and whatever else strikes anyone's fancy. i'm easy these days.

in another departure from my eight-year-old's frame of mind, for me, christmastime is becoming more of a time for family and traditions and memories, not so much the commercialism and materialism and free shit. i'm starting to grasp the weirdness of the situation, though -- my twentysomething siblings and i still come together at my mom and stepfather's house on christmas eve, stay the night (even though three of us have our own apartments and the fourth is barely ever home), then open presents in the morning, just like we've done since we were 17, 14, 11 and 8 respectively. in my mind, it feels like we won't...cross over the threshold or whatever until we become parents ourselves. until then, we'll still be the kids.

like this:

circa 1997, i think. hah.

anyway, good stuff coming in the following weeks: doing a leafs-themed pinup shoot (yes, you read that right) with kittana this saturday, with hockey jerseys and stiletto heels; two big-time christmas parties next week (work shindig on thursday and good friend's holiday/moving-away party on saturday); then truckin' on home for the holidays on thursday the 23rd. i'm going to be in kingston for a record-breaking seven whole days at the end of this month, returning to toronto just in time to celebrate my (four days belated) three-year anniversary with the boy. which we celebrate annually by recreating our first "date" from 2007: sneaky dee's, nachos, beer. hopefully a hockey game at a pub if one's playing that night. ah, memories.

but for now: off to work i go, hi-ho, and all that jazz.

[ music | the cure, "a forest" ]

Sunday, December 5, 2010

letting go

December 5Let Go.
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
(Author: Alice Bradley)

i'll go with both here, alex, and i'll do something completely out of my agnostic nature (though i was born protestant) and quote corinthians: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." so this year, i think i put away/let go of a lot of childish things, both in my nature and regarding the people surrounding me.

here's the thing: i can be a brat. i'm not proud of it, obviously, but i'll own up to it. but as i get older - lurching closer and closer to thirty - i don't feel right using the youth excuse anymore. i'm not still a kid; i'm not even a young adult. i'm in full-fledged adulthood now, and i can't keep pinning my immature attitude on being barely out of adolescence. it's been eight years since i was a teenager, after all, and this year, i figured it was finally time to nut up and stop pretending i can get away with using immaturity as an excuse. it just doesn't look good on a 27-year-old. that, and i could see the toll it was taking on my relationship - brought even more to light by the 13-year age difference between my boyfriend and i - and i wanted to get off the rollercoaster. it was key to making this work.

and so while i don't think i've truly harnessed total maturity just yet, i might be okay with that. i'd rather let go of the bad immaturity, but keep the sense of childish wonder and fun.

regarding the people around me... as you get older - especially in your twenties, i think - you tend to prune your circle of friends like a rosebush, for lack of a less cheesy motif. you don't want the dead blooms, the diseased leaves or the clingy weeds. and for me especially, deciding to accept the fact that i'm an adult really made me see a lot of my friends in a different light; some of them not so favorably. i'm not putting myself on a pedestal marked "mature adult" or anything, but i feel like i've been seeing a lot of my friends as being immature, bratty and prone to fits of low self-esteem. many of them i still love and know they'll work through this, like i did this year; others, i had to cut out because i just don't need people like that in my life. i'm sure you've felt the same.

no regrets, no apologies. here's to continuing the upward spiral in '11.

[ music | portishead, "machine gun" ]

Saturday, December 4, 2010

sense of wonder

[ photo via fuck yeah toronto ]

December 4Wonder.
How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
(Author: Jeffrey Davis)

this is an easy one for me, and i've even alluded to it before -- i cultivate and retain my sense of wonder simply by walking around this city.

as i said to navin in the comments section of that post, all it takes is the right time of day (usually dusk) and the right song playing on my ipod (usually something by the sisters of mercy or depeche mode) for me to basically stop what i'm doing and just gaze at my surroundings. i mean, for christ's sake -- here i am in the big city, and not just any city, but one of the most beautiful places i've ever seen. sure, it's grimy and rough and it doesn't have nearly the amount of natural beauty that vancouver does (when i lived there, the mountain backdrop gave it this surreal feeling of living in a movie set), but it's the urbanity and scope of this city that i love, and the way it's all wrapped up in hundreds of memories for me.

so it's those little moments of wonder that really drive it home for me -- the fact that i'm actually here, and what's more, i actually belong here. in my mind sometimes, i'm still a farmgirl stuck out living in the wilds of eastern ontario, where toronto is a faraway mystical land that i might get to visit once or twice if i'm lucky. but now i'm here, and so long as i keep feeling the way i do about this city, then it'll always bring me to pause.

i don't think i could leave this place if i tried.

[ music | silversun pickups, "lazy eye" ]

Friday, December 3, 2010

the moment

December 3Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
(Author: Ali Edwards)

this is going to be one of those seemingly-little things, but it was the first thing that came to mind when i read (and re-read, wracking my brain the entire time) this question:

i keep thinking back to the afternoon of october 3rd -- the sunday two days after we moved into our new apartment, and how much it keeps standing out in my memory. i'd needed to run some errands to help kickstart the new place - stock the fridge & cupboards, pick up some random accessories, et cetera - and my boyfriend agreed to come along. (this is sometimes a big thing; he doesn't often share my passion for running around town on foot.)

i was feeling both a mixture of both relief (that the move had finally and actually occurred) and anxiousness (to get "moved in" as it were, and to start making it a home), but at the same time, there was a bit of melancholy as well, knowing that it would be the last afternoon i spend with my boyfriend for the next month -- he was leaving on tour the next day. those pre-tour days are always bittersweet for me; as much as i'm proud of him and thrilled that people across the country will get to experience his awesome rock band, i am also selfish (i've finally got my rockstar boy and now i have to share??) and miss him far too much when he's gone.

anyway, the weather was just starting to get chilly on that day - it was one of the first cooler weekends of the fall - plus it was windy and bright in the way that late-autumn days usually are: blinding but in a cold way, not warm. we walked around hand in hand, sometimes talking, sometimes not (i particularly value relationships based on how comfortable the silences are), buying groceries together, browsing kitchen accessory stores, and just being...well, a couple. that day was made up of moments that reminded me of the inherent couple-ness of my life now, especially given that i was on the precipice of being temporarily single for the next month.

and while this sentiment will probably make my single readers gag, that's the moment that made me feel alive - to know that i love, and am loved, and i've finally found a companion to share the city i belong with.

commence your gagging if you must, but in the meantime:

[ music | depeche mode, "policy of truth" ]