Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bad attitude

so, i've come to the conclusion that my inner self is kind of a bitch.

image from kommein.

or at least, she has been as of late. the troubling thing is that i can't figure out where all this inner vitriol and angry commentary is coming from. i'll be out on the street and sniping in my head about the people around me that annoy me, even from things so small as walking too slowly or standing to talk with someone in the middle of the sidewalk. my inner self is merciless towards strangers that bug her, and even sees fit to include snide commentary about passersby. and it definitely hasn't always been this way, so i'm trying to figure out why my brain is suddenly skewing towards anger.

is this what happens when you get older? i mean, i figured i was many, many years away from crotchety-old-ladydom, so what's up with my 27-year-old self being so harsh? is this brought on by some other factor -- work stress, diet, living environment, hormones, brain chemicals? it sucks, because i have so many female friends who really project a love of themselves and others, and i wish i could be like them. there are plenty of days when i'm in a good mood and not wishing doom and destruction upon everyone around me (save for friends and colleagues) -- but i really do feel like the whole yoda "let go of your anger" thing applies more often than not.

so maybe therein is the question: what am i angry about? is it simple frustration with myself and my own life?

one deadly sin i can definitely admit to is envy. i do get envious over other peoples' lives, successes and so on, and that can have an impact on my attitude for sure. it's hard to feel happy for someone else if you're just stewing over what they've got that you don't. and honestly, i know this sucks too, because i want to be happy for others -- but the angry part of my brain is blocking that out, making me resentful and sullen instead. which is dumb.

when it comes down to it, maybe that's the problem -- i feel like my life is lacking somehow, especially in comparison to others'. what do they have that i don't? cool careers, perhaps, or nicer apartments, or fun vacations, or better bodies, or awesome creative projects. lives that i wish i had, even though my own life is pretty damn swell.

thinking on that as well, though, this sense of "lacking" might have been spawned by the whole oversharing facebook generation; since most people use facebook to show off the best parts of their lives, maybe i'm internalizing that. it's hard to have perspective when you're constantly being bombarded with how awesome your friends' lives are, without seeing the downsides or the negative parts.

maybe i need to take up meditation. maybe i need to read more self-affirming books. maybe i need to listen to some tony robbins tapes or something. maybe i just need a reality check, when people are dying in somalia and mourning murdered loved ones in norway.

now there's things i should be angry about.

[ music | new order, "shellshock" ]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

heart-shaped box

i have a box stored in my father's basement.

contrary to this post's title, however, it's not heart-shaped, nor is it a box so much as it is a huge tupperware bin. when i upped and moved away to vancouver in 2007, i made it a mission to give away, donate or trash everything i owned -- in theory, this purge would streamline all of my belongings, so i would focus on what possessions were actually important to me. however, when it came to my variety of paraphernalia from my band-following days (i've never been a collector of things, but i was always a pack rat when it came to bits and pieces from my travels), i couldn't bring myself to toss any of it. funny how i was able to be so hard of heart when it came to so many of my belongings, but not with a pile of what others might consider to be junk.

so packed away in this huge tupperware bin is my early twenties, basically, and whenever i visit my dad's place, i sneak away downstairs and open the box and remember my life as it was when i was twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two.

sometimes it's hard. i don't like being reminded that i'm getting older. it's not always fun to realize that my youth, while turbulent, was often a hell of a lot more fun than my comfortable life now. it's continually hard to appease my two selves - the nine-to-five career woman of 2011, and the crazy idiot band groupie of 2002-06 - and it feels even tougher in the summer and early fall, when my feet start getting itchy and all the memories start coming back like a tidal wave.

because i remember the hardships. i remember how little money i had, how stressed out i was bouncing between two jobs while freelancing for music magazines on the side, how much i hated being stuck in university lectures and spending so much time writing endless essays when my mind was always on the next band-related adventure. i remember the constant insecurity, the attacks of low self-esteem, the continual second-guessing of myself and others. it wasn't always a happy time.

but i do miss the freedom and the lack of responsibility that comes with youth, that's for sure. that world was the only place where i felt like i belonged.

this is what i find when i open the box:

- scribbled, wrinkled set lists, some autographed, still with remnants of torn duct tape from where they'd been pasted on stage
- innumerous gig flyers, both small handbills and full posters ripped off of lampposts and bathroom walls
- worn ticket stubs, many with thumbtack holes from where they'd been proudly displayed on my bedroom's bulletin board
- used bus and plane tickets and receipts for things that i have no recollection of purchasing (but were obviously bought on my rock-band road trips)
- stacks of promotional stickers
- used water bottles thrown from the stage
- a gigantic tangle of lanyards, mostly press passes and backstage passes
- at least three photo albums, stuffed full with terribly lit concert photos that i used to spend upwards of $20 to get developed
- a couple of used drumsticks
- a stuffed porcupine (don't ask)
- old scribbled-in notebooks and diaries that i hope nobody finds
- one lone photograph in particular that i jam further and further down in the bin every time i open it

i know i've gone over all of this before. endlessly, even.

but sometimes i need to remember who i am.

[ music | foo fighters, "arlandria" ]

Monday, July 25, 2011

martini monday: whipped chocolate

inspired by: own creation
score: 9/10
1 ounce chocolate-flavoured vodka (360 double chocolate)
1 ounce whipped cream-flavoured vodka (pinnacle whipped)

not-so-little-known fact about me: i have a thing for weird-flavoured vodka. especially if it comes from the united states, which seems to be the capital for vodka in every flavour possible. for some completely unknown reason, canada doesn't seem to get as much of the flavoured-vodka spectrum that america does (probably something to do with supply & demand, or our government basically sucking), and so i'm left staring balefully at online websites advertising wacky vodkas that i can't get here. (also, i basically ransack liquor stores when i visit the u.s.)

case in point: there is cake-flavoured vodka in america. seriously, that sums up the entirety of america to me. of course there is cake-flavoured vodka in america. fuck yeah! (happily, longtime reader potsey has offered to try and send me a bottle of uv cake, which means you can expect to see 1. a delighted caitlin and 2. cake-vodka-based martini recipes soon)

however, since said cake-flavoured vodka is elusive, a coworker recently in washington on a business trip managed to track down whipped cream-flavoured vodka for me instead. which is basically just as good, and just as insane a concept. (did i mention that these are all carb-free? i'm sort of scared about the chemical mix involved, though.) when i smelled the open bottle for the first time, i swear i got a whiff of hair product. interesting.

for my virgin experience with pinnacle whipped, i wanted something simple and straight-up boozetastic. what better (or more likely) combination than vodka with more vodka? in this case, 360's very delicious double chocolate vodka. chocolate + whipped cream = a-ok flavour combo. and thankfully, the drink turned out pretty excellent as well. i think the key is to make sure it's super cold - i keep all my vodkas in the freezer, along with a martini glass - though that basically ensures that i gulp the thing down quicker than necessary. this one was smooth, sweet and strong. a++ would drink again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

wedding belles

it's that time of year: wedding time.

awesomely frou-frou.

not mine, of course; while i believe i'd like to get married someday, someday is not right now, no comment. anyway, the boy and i recently received two wedding invites in one day - one for a pair of his friends and one for a pair of my friends -

aside from both my cousin's wedding and my mother & stepfather's last summer, i haven't gone to a lot of weddings. i don't know what that says about me - not enough friends, not social enough, etc. etc.? - but i don't entirely mind it, really. if you're getting married and i'm not invited, i'm probably not going to cry into my vodka over it. i have friends who seemingly have countless weddings to attend every summer, and some parts of it sound like a hassle (getting a outfit together, buying a gift, finding a date or else making sure your s.o. can make it, getting to the venue if it's out of town, and so on). however, what i do enjoy is the party aspect and getting to hang out with a bunch of friends to celebrate.

thankfully, that sounds like the game plan for both weddings we received invites for (though the boy's friend's is actually to the wedding after-party, not the ceremony itself, so that's cool). i'm looking forward to my friend's wedding, mostly because it's being held at a brewery in downtown toronto (no out-of-town madness!) and also because it's a great reason for all of our scattered social circle to get together. contrary to how i feel sometimes, i do in fact have a circle of friends that i've maintained for about seven years now; however, as we all get older and get more involved in careers and move out of downtown and so on, we tend to lose connections. we don't see each other as much, that's for sure -- life just keeps getting in the way. also, trying to schedule a get-together that suits the busy schedules of 8-10 people is more or less impossible.

...yet there are two exceptions to that impossibility: a birthday, and a wedding. you're probably not going to get everybody out in those cases, but the probability is pretty damn good for a wedding, especially if it's open bar.

for me, the other wild card is the unpredictability of the boy's schedule; he both tours with a band and works freelance on film/tv/commercial shoots, and being freelance means it's not very smart to turn down any opportunity that comes your way. (touring is a little more set in stone; however, it's no less disappointing when your boyfriend misses your birthday three out of the four years you've been together. sigh.)

but yeah, altogether, i enjoy weddings when i do attend them. i'm a sad old romantic; although i know about the whole statistic of basically 90% of couples getting divorced (or something like that), and although i've got tons of level-headed friends in partnerships who "don't believe" in getting married, i've always liked the notion. as i said before, i'd like to get married someday, if only so i can have an excuse to throw a big friend-gathering party as described above. also, you know, pretty dress & flowers, guys in suits, my parents probably crying, free stuff, et cetera. why not? (well, obviously $$$ is a big reason for why not, but oh well. eloping?)

then, y'know, there's the whole fact that it's fundamentally about love, about making a commitment to someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, and about stating as such in front of all your family and friends. that's kind of it above all, for sure.

also, it's worth repeating: open bars. they are the bestest.

also also, my boss is getting married tomorrow, and i was really pushing for this to be his processional music:

Nyan Cat the Movie by blakerobinson

"nyan nyan nyan-nyaaaan" could be "here comes the bride," right?

lastly and completely off-topic, i'm at it again, already:

raspberry cocoa jam, with both organic berries and organic cocoa, and a liberal pour of frangelico. this one turned out much better than my first attempt at jam-making; since then, i'd learned to have everything ready and in place, to clean up after myself as i went, exactly how long i should boil both the jam mixture and the jars, to do a frozen-saucer test for consistency, and so on. the result: perfectly set jam of a delightfully sticky-sweet-chocolately-raspberry consistency. so much proud.

happy weekend!

[ music | nyan nyan nyorchestra ]

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

against the wind

d.i.y. update!

maraschino cherries, basically done after two weeks of marinating (though you can basically keep them in the jar for however long you want -- they just get more potent over time). i'm sort of on the fence about these; they're definitely not the candy-like, bright-red things you buy in stores. the maraschino they're soaked in is crazy strong, and the cherries still retained a fair amount of their sourness. ashamedly, i think i prefer the hfcs-saturated red things, but oh well, it was a fun experiment.

blueberry orange ginger jam. this was my first attempt at making jam (a half-batch, though, since i don't need jars upon jars of the stuff -- i just like mixing it into greek yogurt), and i was hella nervous about it. i was also unaware of how much mess and chaos and stickiness happens in the kitchen as one attempts to ladle hot jam into equally-hot jars (which then have to be wiped clean without burning one's hands). also, the whole hard-boiling of the filled jars was a bit scary -- but it was all worthwhile when i heard the telltale popping of the jar lids to indicate that they were sealed and preserved. so now i have three lovely jars of dark purple organic jam (since the fourth is currently being devoured). i think next time, i might do the frozen-saucer test to make sure the jam is completely cooked - it turned out a bit runny for my taste, but maybe i don't remember what jam is like - and possibly find a lower-sugar recipe, since it's pretty sweet.  but again -- i haven't had jam in ages so maybe i just forget what it's like.  oh well.

next up: vanilla bourbon peach jam, once peaches are in season next month.  jam + booze?  yes please.

organic cherry-vanilla infused vodka. i followed the super-easy instructions from bon appetit, and within a week (though i took the vanilla bean out at four days), i had this gorgeous bottle of homemade effen black cherry. granted, effen's isn't a dark dark red like this, but i can't get it in canada, so i have to make do with homemade.  tastes most excellent in lemonade or perrier.

fleisher's spareribs, slow oven-roasted since we aren't allowed to have a barbeque on our balcony (dammit). i made these for our sunday dinner, along with a ton of coleslaw -- these were the leftovers (an entire rack! the boy and i could only polish off one rack together). they weren't stockyards, but i definitely enjoyed.  little too much crust on 'em for the boy, but i like the spice.

so, also: this heat.  as i was saying before, i am not a fan.  literally, i'm that weirdo that complains about the heat because she really prefers cooler weather -- and even wintertime.  really, given the choice, i would take being cold over being hot any day -- i warm up much, much faster than i cool down.  a lot of this is due to my hyperhidrosis; while the heat isn't deadly to me, i have to take extra care on weeks like this (when it's above 40 celsius with the humidity).  i overheat easily, and though i spend the 9 to 5 in an air conditioned office, i still insist on walking half an hour to my gym, working out for an hour, then walking half an hour home.  oh, and making sure i get out and walk everywhere on weekends, no matter what the weather.  i'm really not too familiar with the concept of "taking it easy" in the hot weather.

however, we are fortunate enough to have 1) central a/c in our apartment, and 2) lack of direct sunshine into our apartment.  so, it never gets totally balls-out hot in here (except for the short while a few weeks ago when we were leaving the balcony door open "to get some air circulating" -- and all the air that was coming in was like a furnace).  also: lots of water.  lots and lots of water. (plus this delicious sugar-free lemonade recipe from elana)

so in the end, i'm counting myself among the lucky ones who aren't working outside in this heat from hell, or suffering indoors without air conditioning. of course, i'm still willingly going to spin class in this weather - the instructor has nicknamed it "bikram spin" - which probably isn't the best idea, but oh well.

my tomatoes and peppers are happily sucking up all this heat and sunshine, though.  spoiled little things.

what i'm sucking up instead:

in america, they have whipped cream-flavoured vodka. oh yes they do. (and in canada, i'm fortunate enough to have awesome coworker craig bring me back a bottle from his work trip to washington last week.) anybody want to smuggle me a bottle of uv cake?

oh yeah, and speaking of booze -- as you might have seen last night, i'm going to start doing a new weekly series of posts called martini monday. it occurred to me recently that i drink a shit-ton of martinis, so why not show what i'm drinking and what went into them? martini monday will be my meager foray into the world of mixology blogging, amateur wannabe bartender that i am. (though i'd probably be considered a shit mixologist, given that i dislike both gin and vermouth, so you're only going to see vodka-based martinis here. sorry)

it's also worth noting that i have six different bottles of vodka in my freezer, and they sound like flavours at an ice cream shop: cherry vanilla, double chocolate, honey hot pepper, whipped cream, vanilla, and regular. i honestly don't know how it got to this point (but i'm not complaining).

that's all for now.

[ music | bran van 3000, "drinking in l.a." ]

Monday, July 18, 2011

martini monday: swedish berry

inspired by: labyrinth lounge (toronto, on)
score: 8/10
1 ounce vodka (russian standard)
3/4 ounce raspberry liquor (sour puss)
1/4 ounce creme de banane (mcguinness)

an attempt to recreate an old favourite from martini wednesdays at labyrinth lounge, and i think i've got it right. the swedish berry was remarkable among my friends and i because it absolutely does taste like the eponymous candy; add that to the fact that they're only $3 each on martini wednesdays, and my friends and i have tossed back more than a few of these. so it didn't take long for me to scoop up both raspberry liquor and creme de banane in order to make swedish berry martinis at home.

it's weird, but i'm not a huge huge fan of fruity martinis; they can get a bit cloying for me (yes, me who loves milky booze dessert drinks). this one is a definite good choice for a patio drink in the summertime -- in the absence of sangria, that is. mmmm, sangria.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


so, this whole google+ thing.

disclaimer: i've worked in the realm of the internets - social media specifically - for the last three years, and so i've seen sea change sweep through more than a few times. i've been an early adopter for things like twitter and myspace, i remember chat rooms and bbs, and i had a blog before the term "blog" even existed. i'm a child of the internet, as many of my peers are, and we navigate through this series of tubes with ease.

good old myspace. (and yes, i'm creeped out by the fact that the ad knows i'm going to moncton.)

i've always been somewhat guarded of my privacy in social media domains. i rarely use my last name (it's uncommon, and therefore pretty distinctive), and i keep my friend circles to people i know (or at least have met once) in real life. there's a few exceptions to the rule, of course - mostly longtime twitter friends, and internet friends i've had for years and years - but for the most part, i don't accept friend requests from strangers. i keep my entire facebook profile locked down and accessible only to my friends, mostly because i don't want to display things like my phone number to people i don't know. i've had too many scary pseudo-stalking experiences for that, thanks.

still, on the flip side, i'm very open to telling details. i don't have a filter, as acquaintances (and family members) have been telling me for years, which means that i'll basically say anything. so while i may be guarded about who gets access to this stream of too-much-information, the fact that i am guarded makes me feel a little better, and a little more free in what i tell.

as for this blog, it sort of exists in the gray area for me. on one hand, it's publicly accessible; however, i don't freely advertise it, aside from twitter updates when i publish a new post. and so i kind of leave it up to people to a) find the blog and b) decide whether they're going to read it or not. i don't really care who reads, whether it's friends or family or coworkers or clients; i don't censor myself (there's that lack of filter again!), but i know what not to write about, so there's that boundary, at least. and sure, there are people i'd prefer not to be reading my blog (basically, my parents and my boyfriend), but i can't stop them, or you. it's up to you whether you want to peek into my personal life writings, really.

so now this google+ comes along, and i have to juggle more boundaries of who gets to see/know what about me. argh.

for the time being, i'm taking the same tact that i have on facebook -- friends go into the "friends" circle and family members go into the "family" circle, obviously, with an "acquaintances" circle for the people i'm friends with over the internet but have never met in real life, and "coworkers" circle for people i work with. that's it. anybody i don't know doesn't get added, even if they add me first. i don't treat things like social media as a popularity contest; i prefer quality (and relative security) over quantity.

but then there's the whole aspect of adding on another social network to check up on and keep up with -- it's turning into a dilemma of having too much choice, i think. i enjoy tumblr and i think it's a great platform for certain types of blogs and website, but i don't update my tumblr as often as i used to, mostly because it only really serves as a brain dump for pictures i like or links i want to remember. (also, for reblogging great content from other users -- being a curator is obviously the most valuable part of tumblr.) i mostly prefer to focus my energies on a few sites - facebook, twitter and blogger - instead of spreading myself too thin or getting too repetitive (i can't stand people who update their facebook/twitter with the exact same messages. feels lazy and "you already said that!" if you're going to widen your social media footprint, you have to make the effort.)

i dunno about you guys, but i miss the real world and real interactions, sometimes. yet there's no going back, only forward.

...though to underscore the awesomeness of the virtual world, here's me as a cartoon character, by the awesome randeep:

if you haven't seen his twilight story yet, you must. it is hilarious and oh so accurate.

that's all the introspective rambling from me right now. roll on towards the weekend.

[ music | interpol, "success" ]

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

eastern promises

when all was said and done, the boy and i booked two tickets airfare to the maritimes for the labour day long weekend.

delicious mr. pinchy.

it was sort of a weird, simultaneous decision -- my father had planted the idea of a long-overdue east coast trip in my head (i spent a lot of time there as a kid, but i haven't been for 15 years), and as it turned out, the boy had also been thinking about going out east to visit the sabian drum factory in new brunswick. so when i proposed the idea of us going to the east coast for labour day weekend, it was a total "i'd actually been thinking about that already" moment. thus: couples retreat. the boy likes the east coast - his band is always well-received there - and i really like seafood, so there you go.

it's funny, actually -- the boy and i have been together for almost four years now, yet we rarely take trips together. this is due to a number of factors: traveling is expensive (especially if it's two people); we never have the time; the boy travels enough on tour, so when he's home, he wants to be home; i generally prefer traveling alone; we rarely agree on a destination. but in the last year or so, i'd really been pining for us to take a trip together (mostly inspired/envious of many friend couples i know who take weekend trips together all the time), so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

except, of course, the fact that the boy wanted to fly there.

you might recall from past posts that i have serious flight anxiety; however, i'm also armed with an ativan prescription now, which should be interesting for the boy to witness. additionally, i'm hoping to alleviate my fears with a different flying experience, so we booked with porter. upsides: free booze, kitschy flight attendants with pillbox hats, closer to downtown than pearson airport. downsides: tiny-ass planes, and the fact that it's a goddamn connecting flight. one takeoff and one landing is enough for me, thanks.

but oh well. conquering fears, one non-exploded flight at a time.

so the plan, as it stands right now, is to fly in to moncton on thursday september 1st, tour the sabian factory on friday, spend saturday in halifax (and stay the night in halifax), then drive back to moncton on sunday before flying home that evening. so there'll be a car rental involved, and probably crashing on a friend's floor in moncton (because while we may be adults, we are also frugal adults -- plus i want to save the money so we can stay somewhere nice in halifax on saturday, hopefully the prince george), and maybe enough time for cheesy sightseeing. at the very least, i'm looking forward to seeing privateer's wharf again, since i kind of haven't been there since, oh, 1996.

and finally, i can never get this out of my head when referring to halifax:

if you have any things to do or sights to see recommendations, please let me know in the comments or hit me up on the twitter. (additionally, please reassure me that our flight will not crash in a ball of fiery death.)

[ music | hot chip, "one life stand" ]

Monday, July 11, 2011

martini monday: white chocolate martini

inspired by: own creation
score: 6/10
1 1/2 ounce vodka (russian standard)
1/2 ounce white creme de cacao (bols)

this martini is my standard, and the one i generally throw back on any given evening. i think i make them a little stronger than what's typically served at a bar when you ask for a chocolate martini (i'm willing to bet that bartenders typically make it a 1:1 ratio between vodka and creme de cacao, but i like more of the bite of vodka) -- that, and i prefer white creme de cacao to dark. hence, white chocolate martini.

have to say, though, i'm not a huge fan of bols -- i bought it when i ran out of mcguinness creme de cacao because bols was 1) the same price and 2) higher in alcohol volume percentage (24% versus 15%), but there's something i'm not so hot on in it. it tastes a bit harsher, i guess; less sweet and more of a burn. sometimes i make white chocolate martinis with vanilla vodka, but i wouldn't want to try that with the bols. too strong by half.

anyway, my other trick for a good chocolate martini is to use a very well-chilled glass. hence why i have a martini glass in the freezer at all times. emergency martini? of course.

sum total: good favourite. but use mcguinness.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

hot hot days

further to the point made in my last reverb 11 blog post: i keep having to talk myself out of buying an ice cream maker. every damn summer. one of these years, i'm definitely going to crack. (and hopefully i won't be near a williams-sonoma when i do)

and as an update to that post's solemn d.i.y. vow:

maraschino cherries maceration

maraschino cherries marination

i briefly toyed with the idea of adding some red food colouring, but nah. so all i have to do now is keep these babies in the fridge for another week to let the alcohol sink in, and then i'll have a delicious supply of sweet boozy cherries for the rest of the summer.

boy: "cherries for sangria?"
me: "i was more thinking i'd eat them straight out of the jar."

coming up next: more cherries marinating in booze (but this time, i plan on making cherry vanilla vodka, a la this plan -- yes, i'm trying to make up for the fact that i didn't bring back any effen black cherry vodka from chicago) and an initial attempt at making jam, using this recipe for blueberry-orange-ginger jam. halved, of course -- i don't really need jars upon jars of preserves in my freezer, but having a few wouldn't be so bad (hostess gifts, et cetera). my mother was likely correct when she said, "i definitely see this catching on with you." uh-oh.

also, update on the urban garden situation:

tomatoes! (these are the green zebra heirlooms, and they're coming along swimmingly -- over half a dozen are currently growing on the vine)

more tomatoes! (these are my beefsteak heirlooms, and unfortunately these are the only two i've managed to cultivate -- for some reason, the hand-pollination isn't working at all with the rest of the blooms)

zucchini madness!

coming up to a dozen sweet chocolate peppers!

there are trials and tribulations, of course -- my zucchini plants have developed powder mildew (which i'm fighting back against with brewed chamomile tea sprayed on the affected leaves 2-3 times a day), there's some weird black spot on my tomato leaves, and i'm constantly trying to figure out just how much water they all need daily, but it's all good. it's all a learning experience.

though i have to say, the 12th thing people may not know about me: i have little tolerance for heat, extreme or otherwise. i'm come to terms with the fact that i really do prefer the cold. and so these psychotic heat-wave days - feels like 35 degrees celsius out there? no fucking thank you - are not exactly my cup of tea. i'm also going to be slaving over a hot stove for a few hours later today making osso bucco for dinner and mini frittatas for my work lunches this week, but oh well. can't let that gorgeous cow from west side beef go to waste! (side note: i got my third order of meat from them last week, and it's a beautiful thing)

oh, and one other extra-great thing that came out of my kingston weekend:

my beloved kitty, mr. gray.

he passed away about six years ago, but it's only now that i actually got some photos to remember him by (my stepdad had a few saved on his computer).  i once wrote a tumblr post about my dear old gray boy, so i won't repeat myself mostly for fear of bursting into tears, but suffice it to say i still miss him completely.  he wouldn't be alive today regardless - or if he was, he'd be pushing 18-19 years, and old age is no life for a rough-and-tumble tomcat like he was - but there's always a little hole in my heart when i go back to kingston and he's not there, waiting for food and cuddles (in that order).

he was always interested in any foreign object that might possibly be food.

sleepy in his old age (he'd also been missing one of his two front canines at this point, and check out how battered his ears were -- he didn't turn away when fighting other cats, so he took all his wounds in the face).  he was the best cat ever, basically, with so much personality and so much patience & love (for people, though - preferably people with food - not so much other cats) -- even non-cat people agreed he was a great cat.  i'm 110% sure i'll have other cats in my life, but mr. gray will forever be #1 in my heart.

i hope you're resting in peace, my sweet fat gray boy.

[ music | editors, "smokers outside the hospital doors" ]

Thursday, July 7, 2011

but i don't want anybody else

[disclaimer: i wrote the majority of this post on the train while returning to toronto on monday night. there was no vodka involved, but a bit of melancholia.]

Go out at night with your headphones on, again

And walk through the Manhattan valleys of the dead
- the national, "anyone's ghost"

not only is that song one of my favourites of the last year or so, those two lines never fail to bring me back to a night in vancouver in october 2007.

it had been bad news for me at that point. i was less than a month into living in vancouver, i'd only gotten back from los angeles the previous week, i'd just started my new job as a barista downtown, and i was being kicked out of the house where i'd been couch-surfing since moving from toronto. my kind-hearted friend had offered me crash space at the condo that she shared with her brother, but after less than three weeks, her temperamental bro informed me that the apartment was "too small for three people" and that i "needed to leave" -- by the end of the month. which was maybe all of a week away.

so this was a conflicted night for me and, given that my friend was in evening classes at college, i didn't exactly want to spend the evening hanging around the apartment alone with her brother. so i did the only thing i could do: went for a walk with my ipod to clear my head.  (hence, this blog's title -- it's more than just a line from an interpol song)

i threw on my half-bondage/half-biker jacket, black fingerless gloves i'd bought in l.a., and my navy hat, and set out alone for the downtown core. i remember making hazy loops around granville and georgia and all the other streets that were lit up with neon signs and full of people.  i was searching for somewhere to be, or at least somewhere to belong; i still felt so out of place in this city on the other side of the country from my friends and family.  i was grasping at straws, only just getting used to a new job as i was being kicked out of residence, being left to fend for myself.  

and i did a lot of thinking.

i paced the streets of downtown vancouver in my beat-up chucks, all unapproachable glares and defensive walking (a must, especially in the clubland areas of lower granville), attempting to make sense of things as my ipod pumped out the more melancholy sounds of the sisters of mercy and depeche mode.  i was trying to come to grips with who i was, i suppose.  i had willingly broke out of my safe little bubble, instead deciding to try and navigate a stormy sea with a boat that had a broken sail.  this was my big chance to start again and do things differently, i knew that - and how many people get that sort of chance? - but what i was slowly realizing was that i couldn't escape who i was, or what i'd become because of my past.  however lost and delirious i was feeling, this was who i was now.  (and, in retrospect, i think that might have been the first step i took towards realizing myself as an adult)

and i paused at one street in particular.

and i stood on the sidewalk, just gazing sadly.

and i shook my head, knowing that i had to find a better reason for all of this.

Didn't want to be your ghost
Didn't want to be anyone's ghost

[ music | none ]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

courvoisier collective

so i've mentioned it on twitter briefly, but remember how during reverb 10 last year (and, well, many points last year as well) i mentioned how i needed more hobbies? i've finally started indulging one: amateur mixology.

i bought a hard copy of this.

and an e-book copy of this.

between those two resources, i've been poring over a variety of drink recipes and booze knowledge for the last couple of weeks. obviously, it's easy to identify a blossoming hobby by how much time one spends learning everything they can about that subject; couple that with the fact that i've wanted to attend bartending school for the last seven years, and yeah. there you go. (sadly, i don't think i'd make a good bartender -- i pass the fuck out by 11 p.m. every night)

this is my liquor cabinet:

yes, i have navan. i don't even really know why i have navan, but i do. (it's a pretty dumb purchase, considering that not a lot of drinks call for pure vanilla liqueur and that bottle there is upwards of $40)

but as you can see, lots of little bottles of various things, all the better for mixing rather than casual/common drinking. (the casual-drinking booze is kept in my freezer -- three different bottles of vodka.) and though i stick to the same drinks most times - usually a chocolate martini (made a little stronger than normal, with 1 1/2 ounce of vodka to 1/2 ounce of white creme de cacao) or vanilla vodka & diet ginger ale - this new interest in mixology has been leading me to try out different things. i forget when exactly i got hooked on "fancy martinis" - i think martini wednesdays at labyrinth were to blame - but they're my experiments of choice. mostly because i like vodka a lot. (no gin for me, thnx -- i can't stand the taste of juniper)

anyway, what i'm getting at is that it was the perfect time for this to show up in the mail:

a courvoisier tasting kit!

(also, i feel it's worth noting that one never, ever grows out of the excitement that comes when one receives a package in the mail. maybe it's just me.)

i received this lovely kit as part of the newly-launched courvoisier collective, which is looking for creative souls to submit their artwork to have a chance to be displayed on billboards here in toronto, with finalists being voted on to have their works professionally displayed in gallery 1313 in parkdale. the topic is "the renewal of art's revolutionary nature", which should be a good broad topic for you artist types. unfortunately, since my artistic skills are limited to stick figures (and rather sloppy ones at that), i won't be contributing, but if you work with paint, sculpture, mixed media, photography and the like, go ahead and enter up. you'll never know unless you try, right?

anyway, my medium has always been in food and drink, particularly in the mixology i was talking about earlier -- which means i could definitely find a use for the sample bottles of courvoisier exclusif that i received. i've actually had a bottle of remy martin vsop since having to purchase it for a measly 1 tablespoon in a dessert recipe, and so i've already had some experience with looking up brandy/cognac drink concoctions. although i'd mostly stuck to brandy alexanders until now, i figured i might as well take it one step richer and make some caledonians.

i followed that recipe to the letter - though i made a double batch so the boy could join me in taste-testing - shaking up two ounces of courvoisier exclusif with 1 1/2 ounces of dark creme de cacao, 2 ounces of cream and 2 egg yolks, and of course because i had to search for angostura bitters and eventually paid $7 for them, i totally forget to add the bitters in, but oh well. because the website mentioned that these taste a lot like eggnog, i sprinkled some cinnamon on top as well.

the result? delicious. definitely tasted like eggnog, but with much more of a refined punch from the cognac (instead of boring old rum). also, i can't say i've ever drank anything with raw egg yolk in it before, and man oh man was that ever tasty.

the boy concurs.

so! main lesson of the day: if you're an artist, go submit your works of beauty to the courvoisier collective (deadline for submissions to the billboard showcase are this friday the 9th, so hurry hurry!), and if you're in need of cognac, i can definitely recommend courvoisier exclusif. i still have almost a full mini-bottle left, and i'm stoked to be adding it to my (ever-growing) liquor collection. so much booze! so little time!

la fin.

[ music | art brut, "sexy sometimes" ]

Monday, July 4, 2011

different directions

July Prompt: What new thing will you try this month?

this is probably pretty simple: more d.i.y. stuff. i'm already noted for being the weirdo that spends hours soaking chickpeas to make her own hummus and entire afternoons drying homemade beef jerky, but i've found that it's these little projects that please me. i actually like taking the time to do things myself. this is more or less an offshoot of my full-hearted admittance that i absolutely enjoy cooking; i have a number of friends who'd rather face gunpoint than spend an afternoon/evening cooking a meal. but not me -- that's one of my favourite ways to spend a weekend. which is not something you'd have ever caught me saying even five years ago, but that's how things change.

to my point: yesterday, i glanced in the fridge and found a tube of ready-made cookie dough. in the fridge of my mother, who'd only ever baked from scratch in my entire existence. i was horrified; she tossed a hand at me and said something about how it was too much trouble these days, and sometimes she only wanted a few cookies, so that was the easier route. i get the portion control aspect (that actually sounds really smart to me), but i don't get the "easier route" part of it. for me, 90% of the fun is making the stuff, while 10% is enjoying the finished product (or seeing others enjoy it). i love any excuse to cook and/or bake for myself or others.

there's also all the other obvious extras: it's cheaper to make things yourself, it's more natural because you can choose the ingredients, you know exactly what you're putting into it, and so on. all of that is definitely more motivation to me as well.

case in point: these cherries are on their way to becoming two mason jars of homemade maraschino cherries tonight. i'm basically going to stuff them into jars, pour maraschino liqueur over them, and let them sit for a week in the fridge. what am i going to do with all those boozy cherries? put them in drinks, mostly. did i need to make them? not really. did i actually pay $25 for a bottle of maraschino that i only needed a cup of? well, yes. because really: why not? (also, because i love maraschino cherries - or any fruit soaked in booze, really - and i'm not hot on the bright-red corn-syrupy things sold in stores)

see, for me, it's all about the fun of it at this point in time. a while ago, i was even considering taking up canning and preserving this summer, since it looks like i'm going to have a bumper crop of peppers and tomatoes. (again, urban gardening: pure d.i.y.) and i might still do it, since my stepmother's given me some tips and tricks to make things like stewed tomatoes and small batches of preserves that don't require a ton of extra equipment. so that will probably take up a good portion of my late summer, if i decide to go that route.

there you have it: a small sample of what new things i'm planning on trying this month (and likely next month as well). there'll probably be a lot of leftovers though, as usual, so if you're a coworker or friend, you might end up with a basket of peppers or a few jars of jam later on this year. you have been forewarned.

[ music | mgmt, "time to pretend" ]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

suntan on the moon


i've had numerous blog posts before about my semi-regular trips to kingston, so i'll try not to retread over too-familiar ground, but oh well, here we are.

as i know i've said before, the only time i can really tolerate kingston is in the summer. given that i'm more or less required to visit in the fall (for thanksgiving) and winter (for christmas), i think i've got a well-rounded viewpoint on this. and kingston in the summertime is the best of the lot: it's beautiful when it's sunny, it's right on the water so it's not too hot, and there's generally enough quaint little festivals and farmers' markets happening to keep one entertained. and when all that fails, there's the fact that my mother and stepfather's house comes equipped with a pool, jacuzzi, two patios, a firepit, a superpowered barbeque, and a couple of giant flatscreen tvs.

none of which was there while i was still living at home, but i try not to be bitter. first world problems.

other than that, it's business as usual for vacation at home: eating too much (there were filets and jumbo shrimp on the bbq last night, and tonight there'll be barbequed chicken with barbequed salmon tomorrow -- all the things i miss out on because we're not allowed to have a bbq on our balcony), drinking too much (the budding mixologist in me always has a minor freakout at the sheer variety of liquor my parents have), watching a lot of late-night television because i don't have to get up early in the morning (i've been catching up on hbo's game of thrones marathons, as i vowed, and they're definitely worth the 1 a.m. bedtimes), and so on.

file under "things i always forget until i visit": that my mom and stepdad casually drink a metric fuckton of wine and booze (which is totally cool, especially because they're long past the point of staring at me worriedly as i pour myself a drink, and have since moved on to "do you want another drink, honey?" after i've already had four), and they never eat leftovers. which is sort of amusing and sort of horrifying to me, since i'm basically the queen of leftovers. if i don't eat it the next day (or the day after, or the day after), i'll freeze it. so i'm doing a lot of hoovering of leftovers, here.

an interesting thing i've realized is that i'm not feeling the crazy urge to want to stay. in the past, i've come back to kingston and, recognizing it as a safe place where i could be a stupid kid with no responsibilities and no job and just have my parents take care of me like the old days, i'd not wanted to leave. or at the very least, i would get super-melancholy on the ride back to toronto. but's not like i'm dying to go back to toronto or anything, but some part in me has quietly accepted that that is my home, not here. and i can't stay here, obviously, because it isn't home to me anymore.

cue sad violins? not really. that's the other interesting thing: i'm basically okay with this. some switch got flipped in my brain last time i was here, and i finally realized that, at twenty-seven going on twenty-eight years old, i have my own adult life now, and i can't regress and go back to living in my teenage home with my parents. i can visit, sure, but the visit will eventually end, and i'll have to return to the real world -- my world, where i have a job and an apartment and bills to pay and friends to hang out with and a boyfriend to love. i grew up in this house, and i dreamed big in this house, and now i'm living out all i'd aspired towards when this used to be my home.

so basically, all i really want now is a vacation from the real world. thus, here i am. it all comes full circle.

off to go read a book on the sunny deck. happy july!

[ music | none ]