Wednesday, August 31, 2011

eastward watch

okay, my friends - this will be my last dispatch from home in toronto, as the boy and i are boarding a plane (eeeeek) tomorrow afternoon to fly out for the east coast.

the green and blue blobs, there. no prince edward island (the red smear) this time.

we're getting in to moncton tomorrow evening, spending friday at the sabian drum factory in meductic, heading over to halifax for saturday and sunday morning, then back to moncton to fly home on sunday night. it's going to be a quick trip, yeah, but that's fine by me because it still leaves labour day monday to relax and regroup (read: calm my still-racing heart from the whole flying thing) at home in toronto.

i'm pretty stoked for the trip in general, as i haven't been to the maritimes in fifteen years, even though i spent a good portion of my childhood out east to visit family friends on the coast. (yes, my very first time flying was to halifax, but i seem to recall not minding it so much -- my mother placated my twelve-year-old self with a pack of peach gum, a new ym magazine with the spice girls on the cover, and $50) and it's funny -- every time i've thought about where i want to go for a trip, i've never considered the east coast. not that i don't like it or anything, but maybe my brain had convinced me that my young self already spent enough time there. still, my father and stepmother had just been there on a trip, and that more or less inspired me to go back to the vacationland of my childhood. maybe there's something i didn't know i was missing.

this was all good timing anyway, since dean needed to go to the drum factory in new brunswick anyway, and he and i haven't taken a trip together since montreal for labour day weekend in 2008. thus: we're heading to fly porter for the first time tomorrow. i've heard both great things (the service, the convenience) and not-so-good things (the tiny planes, the turbulence) about porter, but the double-bonus of free alcohol and not having to trek out to pearson airport basically sold us.

also, i have this, which i hope to god makes me into enough of a zombie that i won't care what happens:

sort of humourous that i'm hyperventilating about going on a 70-seat plane when i've totally done a 34-seater before. (though i absolutely did not enjoy that one bit.)

otherwise, i'm not quite sure what there is to do in moncton and halifax. shopping? looking at boats? eating donairs? going on day-long sangria benders a la our montreal trip in '08? (actually, that one is the most likely scenario) the boy swears that there's some great bar hangouts in both cities, my father passed along some restaurant recommendations, and my cousin suggested doing a brewery tour, so i feel like this short trip will be primarily about boozing and food. a-ok by me.

at the very least, we have some nice hotels booked and friends to see, so it'll be a nice bonding trip for the boy and i. that is, unless we kill each other or something -- but for those of you keeping track at home, we've been together for almost four years now, so i somehow doubt there'll be any road-trip tantrums or pissed-off silent treatments. we're both pretty chill with each other (barring my time of the month, but you know).

anyway, while i do plan on taking plenty of pics so i can do a photo entry afterward, i'm not entirely sure if i'll have the chance to blog while gone. i suppose there'll be the mornings when i'll be up far before the boy is (i'm an early-morning person; he emphatically is not), so i might be able to punch out a blog post, but otherwise, i think the focus will be more on disconnecting and enjoying the scenery & company. as it should be.

with that, i leave you, hopefully not to die in a fiery airplane crash tomorrow. follow along with my twitterfeed for vacation commentary and randomness.

[ music | tears for fears, "change" ]

Monday, August 29, 2011

martini monday: cupcake martini

inspiration: own creation
score: 8/10
1 oz cake-flavoured vodka (uv cake)
1 oz vanilla vodka (sobieski vanilia)
1/2 oz cream
rainbow sprinkles

fun background to this creation: in a previous martini monday, i talked about how america has cake-flavoured vodka, and how that basically blows my mind. i mean, of course america has vodka flavoured to taste like cake. of course it does. unfortunately, i wasn't aware of this revelation when i was in chicago back in may, so i didn't think to look for a bottle. (i think it might be limited edition anyway.)

however, as a testament to the awesome blog readers i have, longtime reader (no, seriously, i think he's been around since my days of rampant alcoholism and sleeping with rock stars) potsey - a canadian now living in the united states - offered to track down a bottle of cake vodka for me. the next time he was back up in canada, he brought me back a bottle of my coveted uv cake, much to my extreme delight.

the mythical cake vodka now sits in my freezer. i am so excited by this.

so, of course i had to make a martini with this wonderful stuff. (though it's worth noting that it's great straight over ice as well -- which is how i've been more or less guzzling it.) i gave it the obvious title of the "cupcake martini," with the intent to make it a vanilla cupcake in alcoholic liquid form. yes, the concept is extreme, so i figured why not go all the way and use cream and sprinkles? (another option would have been using ice cream, but i rarely buy ice cream because the carton would essentially be devoured in days) hence, the martini you see above. and man oh man, was this one (obviously) sweet. i'd made a stripped-down version of it last night - an ounce of regular vodka mixed with an ounce of cake vodka - and though that wasn't quite sweet, this one was just a bit more. i actually think it was stronger than i expected; upping the cream would probably help cut the double-vodka punch, but i think i liked it this way.

delicious dessert drink? definitely. just get ready to be tipsy in a few minutes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

shifting spaces

sometimes i feel like a broken record on this topic, but heading into fall, i'm always hit with the feeling of change, endings and new beginnings.

for some people, it's new year's eve/day; for others, it's springtime, which makes sense as far as renewal goes. but for me, it's always been mid-to-late september and early october, which coincides with a number of nostalgic times in my life: going back to school, moving, the discovery of new music, my birthday, and obviously the changing of season from summer into fall (fall being the time of year in which i'm more in love with toronto than anything). all these things combine to create an emotional twisting in the pit of my stomach once the air starts to get chilly and the leaves begin to turn.

nostalgia time #1: fall 2002, when i first moved to toronto and started university. this was a bunch of firsts for me, notably my first time living alone/in the big city omfg. after he and my mother finished moving all my stuff into my shoebox of a "dorm room" (actually a room in a dormitory-style hotel just off yonge street, rented out by the university to help deal with the dorm student overflow), my now-stepdad quipped, "you just can't wait for us to get out of here, can you?" apparently my mother cried half the way back to kingston, but i was absolutely fucking giddy with delight. i was free! freeeeeee!

so, from there, it was all memories in the making -- i can still remember a lot of the predominant rock radio singles at the time (foo fighters' "all my life"; the strokes' "last night"; the hives' "hate to say i told you so"), since i was gorging on 102.1 the edge; i have (unfortunate) vivid sensory memories of how hot and smelly toronto was, since the summer garbage strike of '02 was just wrapping up (but the heat wave was still going on). i remember the first time i set foot on the neon-lit wasteland of yonge street, and all the times i first walked the streets and neighbourhoods of toronto that i can now traverse in my sleep. to me, a small-town girl still in her teens, toronto was magic. toronto was everything i'd ever hoped for, growing up in the country where "toronto" was a faraway place you watched on television and maybe got to visit on a school trip once. and whenever autumn rolls around in toronto, i feel that way all over again.

[image from smokingmonkey]

nostalgia time #1: fall 2007, when i moved to vancouver three days before my twenty-fourth birthday. i went alone, carrying two duffel bags and a backpack, with a one-way plane ticket to a city i'd never been to. and though i had longtime good friend jenna there once i arrived, i more or less retreated into my own head for those first weeks, trying to come to grips with my big decision and where my life was going. seriously, i'd never felt so alone as i did when i abandoned everything and went out west, with only the music of depeche mode (rediscovered) and the sisters of mercy (just discovered) for comfort. those songs were my constant soundtrack as - once again - i explored the north shore and the mainland on foot, headphones firmly in ears, trying to make sense of everything.

it was funny, though, because i felt the disconnect the entire time i was in vancouver -- most firmly in my first couple of months. i told people i was from toronto (even though i'm technically from kingston, but whatevs) only to have them nod sagely and reply that they could tell. they didn't mean it in a snarky way, though, just in a way that indicated that i held myself differently and talked differently and stood out from the masses. i think i must have radiated it subconsciously, mostly because i didn't try to fit in and make myself a vancouverite. i wanted to float separately from the crowd, detached, because i still wasn't sure whether or not to jump in and become someone else. what i learned that fall, i think, was that although i'd gone all the way to the other side of the country to start a new life, i wasn't able to shake my old one. which was a good lesson to learn: you can't erase who you already are.

i guess in retrospective, it's a good thing that i never went on tour with any bands in the fall. (aside from a certain september, but i don't include it since i went alone.) i don't think my nostalgia heart could take it.

[ music | r.e.m., "driver 8" ]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the step and the walk

caitlin's guide to dealing with hangovers (tried and true since my university days)

me, in younger, boozier, more pvc-clad days. (days where i obviously was far less discerning in my choice of beverages.)

1. get up at a decent hour. you'll feel shittier the longer you lie in bed.
2. immediately start ingesting fluids, especially green tea and glass after glass of water. bonus point if you have a lemon you can squeeze into said water, or if you also happen to have pomegranate juice to drink (antioxidants!). coffee only if absolutely necessary to deal with the world at large -- otherwise, try to avoid, since it just makes you thirstier.
3. once you've started re-hydrating yourself (and pissing out the toxins), go to the gym and sweat out the poison. lots of cardio. i promise, you will feel better after half an hour on the elliptical (so long as you don't puke, which i've only almost done once, and i think it was because i might have still been drunk).

seriously, everyone's got their own tips and tricks and methods to help deal with hangovers, and those are mine. as some of you may be aware, i used to, er, booze it up a lot more heavily, and i used to work part-time jobs that generally required weekend shifts (prime hangover time), so the above method was a lifesaver. my bosses at the supermarket quickly learned not to schedule me for shifts before 2 p.m. on sundays, because i would inevitably show up looking like the wreckage of humanity.

i also always found it hilarious that younger coworkers would come to me for advice about working with a hangover (because i was basically known for it). so, what i wrote above is more or less what i'd tell them. there you go.

anyway, this whole technique was brought back to memory after last saturday night, in which the boy and i attended a post-wedding party for a pair of friends. this party happened to be open bar - and staffed by another friend who had a very liberal pour - and numerous vodka sodas and glasses of champagne later...i had a slightly painful sunday morning. still, it was worth it for the good times that come about when you're at a party where you barely know anybody and alcohol totally makes you a social butterfly.

that's always been one of those hard things for me, and harder still now that i'm a little more conscious about how much i'm imbibing. i'm not so good socially in crowds where i don't know a lot of people, but if i'm in the right mood and have the right amount of booze in me, i can get through it fine and charmingly. such was the case at the wedding party: the attendees (and newly married couple) were all longtime friends of the boy's, so i'm sort of a friend by proxy, but aside from having met most of them at prior parties, i felt like an awkward stranger. yet after a few drinks, out came the friendly talkative side.

so, although i started off talking about hangovers, i guess sometimes they're worth it.

then again, this is what summer's for, right? coming up in the next month are even more birthday parties, reuniting with new and old friends on the east coast labour day weekend, a wedding in september, and so on. also, i'm heading down to roy thomson hall for jack layton's state funeral on saturday, along with what's sure to be absolute masses of people. with all this getting-out-and-socializing time coming up, i'll at least get to work on my people skills (which sorely go to waste when one stops working crappy retail/hospitality jobs and starts working by oneself at a cubicle -- though i much prefer the latter option).

more hot jam action, btw:

spiced peach butter, recipe from put 'em up. will definitely be delicious come fall and the chilly weather -- tastes sort of like christmas. (also, even though i halved the recipe, the book told me it'd make about 3 cups -- try around 5 cups or so)

coming up next this weekend: raspberry-peach jam, which i think will be the last of my peach-preserves adventures (though the vanilla bourbon peach jam was the clear winner). there'll also be a sticky fig jam - recipe also from put 'em up - but after that i think i'll take a jam break. i'll have about a dozen jars in storage by then, which is basically insane, but oh well.

and finally, i'm currently watching the storm roll in -- from the twenty-third floor. might not be the best idea with the tornado watch still on, but i figure i'll wait until it gets deadly out there before i head below ground. it's funny, people snicker at how paranoid i get over extreme weather, but i grew up in the country, and you don't fuck around with weather out there. even now, the majority of my recurring nightmares are about being out in the field, under a black sky. (whether or not this is a latent memory my subconscious is dredging up, i don't want to know.)

be safe, everybody!

[ music | evaline, "there there" ]

Monday, August 22, 2011

martini monday: orange crush

inspiration: martini recipes you can make at home
score: 10/10
1 oz vodka (russian standard)
1 oz peach schnapps (dr. mcgillicuddy's)
1 oz orange juice
splash orange crush soda

if you're canadian, it was impossible to miss the tragic news this morning that new democratic party leader jack layton lost his battle with cancer, passing away at age 61.

like so many people, this hit me hard. i'm part of the seemingly huge number of young people who were indifferent to politics until jack showed them differently -- that hope and passion for what you believe in actually can cause change. that not all politicians are scumbags who sling mud at their opponents the minute an election is called. i never thought i would ever give a shit about how this country is run and who's in charge, but jack layton was a leader i - and so many of my peers, and so many canadians - could believe in. (seriously, i could even get so outspoken that i was banned from discussing politics at family gatherings, given the large number of conservatives on my father's side)

and when jack announced his leave of absence in july to battle his second bout of cancer, i was horrified at his appearance, and the fact that there was no announcement over what kind of cancer it was. all i could think was, oh god, i hope it's not pancreatic, and how deadly swift pancreatic cancer is. i hoped against hope that i was wrong. sadly, whatever cancer it actually was, it was fatal. along with so many other people today, i was teary for a good majority of this morning as i read through so many of the fantastic obituaries commemorating the life and achievements of a great leader.

if you're an american or an international reader here, you probably only have to read this article to get a sense of the love, admiration and respect people had for him here in canada.

i only have a brief personal anecdote: one day about six years ago, i was working out at the university of toronto gym, and jack layton came over to use the bike machine next to the stairmaster i was on. i was honestly starstruck and couldn't say a word to him -- he was just so cool, even as he was working on his fitness and rocking out to whatever was on his ipod. all of that just made him seem so down to earth, and that, along with the tiny fact that i absolutely agreed with his platform, guaranteed my vote to the ndp and sealed me as a new democratic supporter (even though both my parents are liberals, and my stepmother and grandmother are the aforementioned conservatives).

so, in honour of our gracious and awesome leader of the opposition, i decided to make a bright, sunny, happy orange (the official colour of the ndp) martini. and what's a more orange or more fun martini than a fuzzy navel cocktail, reimagined as a martini? to complete the drink, i gave it a splash of orange crush, which was the nickname for the ndp's tsunami-like takeover of quebec ridings during the last federal election. i know the whole thing may be silly, but since it was martini monday here on the blog, i wanted to make it a little memorial for the man who should have been our prime minister someday. be sure to read his last letter to canadians, but make sure to have a box of kleenex nearby. regardless, it will absolutely make you feel empowered and inspired to change things for good.

rest in peace, jack. canada will miss you more than you'll ever know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

hide your knives

it's time once again for some ranting, brought to you by saturday morning and too much coffee and too much time to think on things.

last week, i posted this tweet:

because lately, i've been really wondering what it is about being behind a computer screen that makes otherwise decent people act like assholes.

i've been ranting about this to the poor boy lately (mostly because he's usually in earshot), but it seems to me that i have a lot of friends - though the word i'm using more now is "acquaintances," which says a lot - who, although they're perfectly nice in person, are just giant jerks online. they're blunt, they're snappish, they're snide, they're egocentric, and they generally just don't have any tact in what they say to people or how they come off. i'm starting to wonder if this is a symptom of our behind-the-monitor = anonymity culture, where people feel free to mouth off and "be themselves" without fear of repercussion or having to see the result of their harsh words to their faces.

i'm not saying everything has to be sunshine and roses all the time - i've had more than a few short-tempered, grumbly moments on the internets (and i know i can be an asshole in real life, for sure) - but geez. really? i hate having the sinking-in-the-pit-of-my-stomach, "but i thought we were friends" moment. i hate having to make feeble excuses to myself about how so-and-so is such a cool, fun person in person, without being able to explain why they're so harsh when they're at a keyboard.

also, outside of my own circle, things are getting just as nasty. i've had a couple of occasions where i've left comments on peoples' blog posts or facebook walls (usually when said people were asking for advice or recommendations) only to have another one of their friends absolutely shoot me down. without even knowing me! what the fuck kind of an attitude is that? "i don't know this girl, but she's obviously wrong, and i'm going to call her out on it." i mean, okay, you're entitled to your opinion and all that -- but whatever happened to the whole "if you can't say anything nice..." trope?

oh, right. the internet happened to it.

i feel like there's already been a number of articles written about how the internet has given rise to a culture of negative, smarmy jerks; actually, i think there's even been books written about "netiquette" and how not to be a negative, smarmy jerk online. but man, just look at any youtube video comments thread. that's a lot of hatred from behind anonymous handles. and that's the kind of thing that makes me sad, and also makes me wonder if these people would even say half these things if confronted to their faces.

when i was in my late teens and early twenties, i was generally a shitty judge of character. as such, i ended up having a lot of "friends" who were barely my friends at all -- or at least, only my friends when they needed me for something. the thing was, like a single girl so desperate for a boyfriend that she's willing to overlook character flaws, i was pretty lonely and longing for a group of girlfriends of my own. in that pursuit, i unfortunately ended up injecting my life with a lot of poisonous types who ended up making me feel crummy just as much as they made me feel happy to belong.

and so, after i smartened up, a lot of my adult life has been spent phasing out human poison from my life. i'm sure this has made me wary, even unfriendly; i'm positive i'm a lot more distant and unwilling to become solid friends with anyone until i'm certain they won't use me or stab me in the back. however, i still make mistakes even now, and i'm still on guard to cut out various people who make a 180-degree personality shift. which happens occasionally, as we grow up and change.

i guess what concerns me the most about this internet business is, is this what so-and-so is actually like on the inside? does the internet actually strip us down to who we really are underneath in-person fa├žades, or is it just a reaction to the loose, ambiguous nature of the intertubes? after all, even though authenticity has reigned in social media over the past few years (thanks, facebook), you can still choose to be whoever you want to be when you're behind a computer screen. anonymity still rules. and, unfortunately, so do bad attitudes.

[ music | the cure, "lovecats" ]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

she got high hopes

how does your garden grow? like this:

figure a - a pair of green zebra heirloom tomatoes. small but mighty (in taste). these were the third and fourth i picked; i currently have three still green and more blossoms coming.

figure b - the second sweet chocolate pepper i picked. smaller than it looks in this photo - and it looks oddly like an oversized brown jalapeno - but a welcome addition to my lunchtime salads.

figure c - yet another chocolate pepper, this one with more of a traditional shape. so cute.

figure d - chocolate peppers everywhere! mwahaha.

figure e - the biggest tomato bounty i've harvested yet (including a rare beefsteak tomato)!

it's been a small bounty, for sure (both in size of the veggies and the amount), but i suspect that's due to the fact that the poor things have all been grown in not-so-sizeable pots. ah, for want of an actual backyard to garden in.

yet a lack of produce didn't stop me from picking up a copy of put 'em up! - just so i'd have a reference guide for home preserving, even though my canning-queen stepmother is a great reference - and now i have serious ambition. so much so that i'm going to try and hit a couple of farmers' markets this week (i got some neat organic baby spinach and a bag of heirloom tomatoes at one last week) with a shopping list that reads "freestone peaches 2 x baskets, heirloom tomatoes + carrots, figs? cherries?" and so on. i have big plans.

such as this, last sunday:

vanilla peach bourbon jam. even a halved batch got me a little more than five jars' worth. even though i didn't have bourbon and had to substitute jack daniels, it still turned out glorious. and slightly boozy. i think i've found my post-office career calling: making alcoholic jam.

oh, and this strawberry vanilla bean jam from last night, for a coworker (although there was no booze in it - next time i'll use the strawberry vodka jam recipe i later found):

i swear, i only have two more jam recipes i want to try out (drunken fig jam and rum raisin apple pie jam), and then i'll be done. i swear. i already have eight jars in storage and i need to stop this madness. thank you.

as i said exasperatedly to the boy last night, "why are all my random hobbies so expensive and addictive?!"

in the meantime, various and sundry things have been going on in this busy summer life. aside from all the kitchen activities and d.i.y. stuff around the house, there's been a few occasions of (gasp!) getting out of said house, seeing people, doing things and so on. here's a few quick snapshots, presented with quick context and a bit of exposition:

my office had a "princesses vs. superheroes kids' birthday party" themed party a couple of weeks ago.  check out the awesome, totally non-canon (dc and marvel?) mashup cake that was brought in.  (top layer was chocolate with vanilla buttercream, bottom layer was banana with cream cheese icing.  be still my arteries.)

close-up of the fondant design on top.  yes, apparently that's ariel (from the little mermaid) punching batman in the nose.

last saturday, jenna held a pseudo-bachelorette party for her friend in edmonton who's getting married next month (and who was hosting her own bachelorette party the same night -- but since jenna couldn't make it...).  we were all given characters to play - along with props - during the night's bar-hopping adventures.  mine was, quite obviously, "the raver".

like so. note candy necklace and ring pop and freakishly long fingers what.

otherwise, top six favourite things right now, in no particular order (yes, i know this post is all over the map, but i feel like i haven't done an all-encompassing life update blog post in a long time):

1. the like crazy trailer (once you've been in a long-distance relationship, you can so relate, and that trailer will probably hit you like a steamroller)

2. weekend glow kale salad from oh she glows (i've been on a kale kick lately, which i guess is better than being on a donut kick)

3. jezebel. can someone please explain to me why the hell i didn't find this website sooner? i sort of kind of want to make love to it.

4. another new website i'm addicted to: thought catalog. some day, i may attempt to submit something. some day. (though the piece "the sun is a fat yellow asshole" basically sums up how i feel about summer, despite living in far more temperate climes than texas)

5. the oatmeal and cat versus human. if you're not already reading that shit, get on it, stat.

5. autumn is coming, slowly but surely, and that makes me excited. bring on sweaters and duvets and crisp mornings and pretty tree colours!

alright, that's about it for this hump-day brain dump.

[ music | andrew w.k., "party hard" ]

Monday, August 15, 2011

martini monday: iron butterfly

inspiration: labyrinth lounge (toronto, on) / the vodka 1000: the ultimate collection of vodka cocktails, recipes, facts, and resources
score: 10/10
3/4 ounce vanilla vodka (stolichnaya vanil)
3/4 ounce coffee liqueur (kahlua)
3/4 ounce irish cream (carolan's)

blast from the past: i was first introduced to iron butterfly martinis at labyrinth lounge for their martini wednesdays, where all martinis on their menu were half-price. (two things are worth noting now: the bar is now called "the lab", and they apparently no longer have martini wednesdays) and the iron butterfly, though one of the "premium" martinis, appealed to me the most -- doubly so when our bartender commented "a few of those, and you'll be able to see through time." suffice it to say, many an evening was spent getting absolutely wasted on more than a couple iron butterflies.

when i made the plunge and bought the vodka 1000 (yes, of course i own that book), i was pleasantly surprised to find the good ol' iron butterfly within its recipe pages. i'd never given much thought to what went into the drink other than deliciousness, but it turned out that all three ingredients were frequently stocked in my liquor cabinet. perfect.

so tonight, it was time to recreate the boozy choice of my youth. (seriously, i think my first alcoholic drink that wasn't smirnoff ice or pur source was a mudslide, which is more or less the same components as an iron butterfly) and the result? fantastic. i'm completely glad i decided to wait until i had actual vanilla vodka to use - i'm still working through the bottle of sobieski vanilia i brought back from chicago - because it really does add a little something more than regular vodka. this one gets top marks for drinkability and swift inebrietion.

Friday, August 12, 2011

sea change

August Prompt: Describe an unexpected moment, activity, sighting or conversation that touched you during July.

i've gotta give this one to my trip to kingston back on the first weekend of july, because trips to kingston (i have to keep reminding myself not to call them trips "home" anymore) generally give me many moments of perspective/illumination/what have you. there really is something about going back to the past that makes me stop and think.

in particular, there was the moment with the box in my father's basement. i touched on it in this post here, but opening that tupperware bin never fails to make me feel like i'm getting punched in the chest. it's opening a window to my past, basically, and it's especially bittersweet these days.

also, juxtaposing my more recent past with the days i lived in kingston as a teenager makes it even weirder. it's absolutely strange for me to be once again wandering the halls and gazing out the windows of the house where i once raged against the present and dreamed of a better future. i was not at all into being an ordinary teenager in boring ol' kingston; i knew i had bigger things ahead of me. so to look at those memories now - having gotten out of kingston, lived through those "bigger things", and now being seemingly on the other side - is a disorienting sort of lens.

additionally, it unnerves me sometimes to feel like that part of my past is slipping away, bit by bit, like when you try to remember your childhood but end up feeling like you're remembering part of a tv show you once watched. like it wasn't your life at all, but someone else's or something you made up. and though i fully acknowledge the hardships and the shittiness and the general self-hatred that wound its way through those years as a twentysomething, i can't help but feel sad - and maybe slightly cheated - at the thought that they're over for me. that my best days are behind me, and i have nothing ahead except for 9-to-5's in an office and feeling safe and comfortable at home on a saturday night.

and then, on the train ride back to toronto, i wrote this, as another paean to my lost memories.

it's funny to realize how far i've come, and how so many things that used to mean the world to me just don't matter as much anymore. and i don't know whether to celebrate or grieve.

[ music | none ]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

courvoisier collective gallery opening

so, i wrote about the courvoisier collective and their cool initiative last month, after they sent me booze in the mail. (i greatly enjoy getting free booze.) i used said delicious booze - courvoisier exclusif - to make equally delicious caledonia martinis, which may or may not have inspired martini mondays. see, there we go -- the courvoisier collective, inspiring creative expression through alcohol! (plus i still have enough left over to make this steak au poivre with cognac cream sauce for dinner next week)

and after all that, they even extended an invitation for me to attend the gallery opening event to celebrate the courvoisier collective gallery award winners. they like me, they really like me!

due to a comedy of errors and mistaken assumptions that i would be able to attend, then not be able to attend, then be able to attend again (i had a chaotic work week), it was a bit hectic getting ready and heading out to gallery 1313 in the west end on wednesday night. fortunately, the weather was gorgeous - even if cooler, breezy climes are not ideal when one's wearing a wrap sundress - which made for a relaxing night out.

first two things i noticed: gallery 1313 was pretty packed (and not air conditioned, so fortunately it wasn't 45 celsius outside like a few weeks ago), and it seemed that the hot men catering company had been hired to staff the event.  i mean, for real.  once my friend and +1 amanda got there, we basically decided that the eye candy and free courvoisier punch would keep us there for a while.

courvoisier punch!  i wouldn't have thought to put cognac in a punch before - i'm more used to wine-filled sangria - but they had two different types, and both were fantastic.  i think i liked the one with ginger ale a little more than the one with apple juice - less sweet, and the cucumber was refreshing - but that didn't stop me from putting back a few glasses of both.  probably not the best idea when i hadn't eaten dinner, but hey - starving artist and all that.  (also, it can be a problem for a poor non-gluten eating cavegirl to avoid appetizers when they all come on bread or crackers, but the hot menz made sure i got plenty of watermelon & feta bites.)

the bartender was a popular guy.  (also, kudos to the waiters for bringing around trays of punch so we didn't have to wait in line!)

the gallery was full of the winning pieces, a combination of artwork that had been voted in online and pieces that the official curatorial committee had chosen.  the theme was "the 'renewal' of art's revolutionary nature", and these pieces were determined to best display that idea.  the massive above piece, "3000 years" by saba askary, was one of my favourites.

explaining what the art show was all about, and how the winning pieces were decided. great backdrop too -- really love that piece by katie pretti.

second runner-up hyein lee, who won for her piece "in bruges I".

first-place winner erik jerezano won for his piece "an icon of this industry", and gave a brief and humble speech about his influences and his artwork.

you can check out a full slideshow gallery of artwork at the courvoisier collective website. almost all of the works on display at gallery 1313 were for sale; all i can say is, goddamn it, why didn't i become an artist?  (oh, right -- because i can barely draw stick figures, let alone work with any fancy mediums.  i guess i'll stick to my amateur mixology as a form of creative expression, even if cocktails won't exactly net me thousands of dollars.)

all in all, a fun and casually classy night in parkdale.  you really can't go wrong with free booze and hors d'oeuvres, as well as schmoozing with artsy types and seeing some great talent recognized. big ups to matchstick for the invite - and for hosting another cool shindig! - and to courvoisier for providing the libations and the support/exposure for local artists -- a great thing to see and take part in.

also: hot waiters. thank you.

[ music | smashing pumpkins, "disarm" ]

Monday, August 8, 2011

martini monday: cherry on top

inspired by: pinnacle vodka website
score: 8/10
1 1/2 ounce whipped cream-flavoured vodka (pinnacle whipped)
1 ounce cherry-flavoured vodka (homemade)
1/2 ounce chocolate-flavoured vodka (360 double chocolate)

this was a lot of vodka.

i'm not quite sure what possessed me to make a 3-ounce(!) martini on a monday night, but i was really itching to use the last of my homemade cherry-infused vodka, and when i found an entire sheet (no, literally, it was a .pdf file -- whaaaa?) of martini recipes for pinnacle whipped - including one that used cherry vodka - i was decided.

that was a long sentence. i blame the vodka combined with vodka...combined with vodka.

as you can see from the photo above, it turned out to be a lovely light pink colour thanks to the red cherry vodka, and it basically tasted like a whole lot of sweetness. i think i've mentioned before that while i love the sweet drinks, i generally like them to have a bit more bite so i don't chug them back immediately, which is...precisely what i did with this one. oops. but at least the fruitiness of the cherry flavour didn't clash with the chocolate and sugar, as i was a bit afraid of. i'm not a huge fan of chocolate with fruit.

bonus unfortunate autopsy shot of backlit martini with a maraschino cherry in the bottom (not on top) -- basically looks the same as the 360 mochatini:

anyway, would probably be better blended with ice cream, but i'm watching my poor waistline. and i'm out of cherry vodka now. for the best, i suppose. still, if you're looking for something girly, pink and sweet for your next bachelorette party/baby shower/moon-cycle syncing, this would probably be it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

unnecessary needs

recently i've been thinking a lot about the whole idea of need versus want.

i don't know how this came to the forefront of my mind, really; maybe it was our idiot mayor talking about "nice to haves and need to haves", or maybe it was seeing a bunch of the latest electronic gadgets advertised and thinking about how i could buy one, but i don't need one, so why would i? sure, spending money is fun and having a new toy feels good, but then the novelty wears off and it feels like a waste to buy something that, at the end of the day, isn't necessary for my everyday existence.

when i was a barista, it used to irk the hell out of me to have a customer say "i need a chocolate chip cookie", or whatever. i'm sorry, but no -- you don't need that cookie. you technically don't need anything except for air, water, food, and possibly companionship (exempting the whole "no man is an island" trope). the idea of what we need versus what we want has become really twisted in this day and age, i think -- in a time where we in first-world countries can get so many things so easily, and thus take so much for granted. it makes us feel entitled, which kind of makes me feel gross.

personally, i think my move to vancouver in 2007 really put a lot of things in stark relief. i had to cut down my belongings to what would fit in two duffel bags and a backpack, and so i had to be ruthless in sorting what was necessary from what would be "nice to have". it also forced me to clean up any pack-rat-ish areas of my life (my magazine habit in particular -- i would buy tons of them, music and health and cosmo/glamour, then only read them once) and just really pare things down to what i needed. it was incredibly tough - especially when it came to deciding what would be donated to the salvation army and what would be put out on the curb for recycling - and i still regret some of the clothes and books and cds i gave up,

since then, i've really tried to keep my personal belongings to a minimum -- not because i plan on up and moving my life again anytime soon, but because i would rather be free of clutter and instead have things that are important and useful and necessary. i'm a bit of a spread-thrift, reluctant to purchase things that i know i don't truly "need". i don't like having too many clothes. i don't like having too many things. it's not that watching hoarders makes me twitch or anything, but i prefer to live a little more frugally, second-thinking any big purchases i'm about to make. it kind of drives me nuts sometimes to always be thinking do i need this? what would i use this for? would i use this often?, but buyer's remorse is incredibly strong in me, and i'd rather avoid it if i can.

also, i guess i've been pondering this subject more because i just got a raise at my job, and i'm about to start a higher pay period. this gives me more room to buy things that are definite "nice to haves" -- expensive hair products, organic food, a gym membership, a stocked liquor cabinet, makeup and lotions i used to sweat over when they ran out and i had to buy new ones, haircuts every six weeks. basically, all the things i had to cut out during funemployment. i know what it's like to scale down, and now i'm getting to know what it's like to scale up. it's strange.

then it comes down to the little technological things that are a constant part in everyone's lives these days. i have a cell phone and a tablet; gadgets that aren't necessary for my survival (unless i'm being chased by mountain lions or trapped in a box underground), but are certainly nice to have, especially for someone like me who has a very short attention span. i might argue that access to the internet has become a necessity for me (as it's basically been since i was fifteen years old), and once my mp3 player gives out, i will absolutely go out that very day and buy a new one (because music is essential to me). i don't need a fancy video game system, but it's kind of nice to have one around. i consider books to be necessities, and so i will always purchase one if it interests me. however, as mentioned above, i will rarely buy new clothes and shoes, and basically have to be forced to go shopping for either. (though don't get me wrong -- i do find clothes to be a necessity, because walking around naked is definitely not on my life agenda.) but, that's just me.

anyway, this was a bit of a heat-and-sweat induced stream-of-consciousness ramble for a sunday, so let me know what you think, and what your necessities vs. nice-to-haves might be. (air and water and undeserved mayoral positions notwithstanding, obviously.)

[ music | omd, "enola gay" ]

Thursday, August 4, 2011

carry on

after all that grumbling in my last entry (not the booze-related one), here are some things i am enjoying right now:

- bumble and bumble hair products. i was trying my damndest to not get hooked on this stuff - it's high end and nowhere near cheap - but my stylist's salon was a gateway to this glorious stuff, and once i eased my way in with smaller discounted bottles found at winners, i was done for. thankfully, i've found a hair salon on queen west that sells b&b products cheaper than normal (and with 10% off as well), so the bleeding is a little staunched, at least. recommendations: seaweed and creme de coco for shampoo/conditioner; styling creme for styling, obvs.

- it's now august, which means we're one month closer to my very favourite season, fall (especially early fall). with fall comes many of my favourite things -- thanksgiving with family, my boyfriend's birthday, my birthday, the crisp autumn air, pretty fall colours, and above all, the new hockey season. the schedule is already being perused and possible games to attend are already being planned.

- in the absence of hockey-watching together to bond us in front of the television set, the boy and i have taken to watching true blood. i picked up on the series two summers ago, burning through the first couple seasons on dvd, followed by madly streaming each new episode on the internet days after they aired on tv (we didn't have a full cable package in our last apartment). the boy pretended not to be interested in some goofy vampire soap opera, but once he started watching over my shoulder, he was into it. now we're parked in front of the tv every sunday night as the series makes its way through its fourth season. the boy mostly rolls his eyes as i yell at the screen, but i think he enjoys watching too. (once game of thrones starts its second season, i fully intend on hooking the boy on that show as well. it's funny how i was never that much of a tv-watcher until we got hbo.)

- saw captain america: the first avenger on monday. now really, really want to see the avengers. so many hot superhero menz? basically a girl's wet dream, fangirl or no.

- also on the recently-viewed list: dead snow (nazi zombies in norway!) and the shrine (on which dean was the best boy grip). not sure what it is with the trashy horror movies lately, but it's been fun. i still refused to watch paranormal activity 2 the other night, though.

- this image:

i think i love feminizt kitteh the best.

- ...which actually ties in well with the fact that lately, although i'm well aware of the fact that i've put on some weight (a better way to put it would be "i'm not a starving stick figure anymore"), i'm surprised to find that i'm okay with it. i actually think i look okay like this. my body type has never been conducive to being thin, and i'm sort of happy to finally have boobs. it's not going to take away from my 4-5 days in the gym every week - especially my 2-3 spin classes, which i love doing - but i think it'll give me a bit of relief (and leniency with myself) when i look in the mirror.

- fun-run marathon -- with zombies. i would maybe consider going to maryland to take part in this, though half of me would rather be a zombie than a runner. (i particularly enjoy the faq -- "Q: WILL THERE BE ACTUAL ZOMBIES? A: Maybe")

- in the past week, i've harvested a bowlful of micro greens, three green zebra tomatoes, one beefsteak tomato and one chocolate pepper. more veggies are on the way. this is the part where all the tending and hovering and plant care pays off.

- there is no tenth point.

off to work with this girl.

[ music | arctic monkeys, "don't sit down 'cause i've moved your chair" ]

Monday, August 1, 2011

martini monday: 360 mochatini

inspired by: 360 vodka website
score: 8/10
2 ounces chocolate vodka (360 double chocolate)
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (kahlua)

i have a thing for sweet flavoured vodkas. (such a surprise, right?) ever since i started drinking van gogh dutch chocolate straight up over ice, i've been lost to the charm of drinking flavoured vodka straight. however, it has to be a good vodka, so it has to have minimal harsh burn and maximum deliciousness. all of this was encompassed in the van gogh vodka, the first chocolate vodka i'd ever tried; unfortunately, it obviously didn't last long. (they have such pretty bottles!) also unfortunately, van gogh vodka isn't available to buy in canada. we can't have nice things, clearly.

anyway, after borderline chugging my way through the van gogh, i was left with the grand dilemma of having no more chocolate vodka. no more! i was filled with great sadness. but then i happened upon 360 double chocolate vodka in the lcbo, and all was well again. it's not quite as sweet as the van gogh, but it would definitely do, especially as a sipping vodka. (the van gogh stuff was what got me into drinking vodka straight on the rocks. sad but true.)

still, i wanted inspiration for a chocolate vodka martini, and i found it at the 360 vodka website (i love how liquor sites have recipe sections). obviously, coffee booze and chocolate booze were meant to be together, so why not? the resulting drink was heavy on the sweet and heavy on the chocolate flavour -- maybe almost a little too sweet, but it still went down easy, despite totally being the colour of piss. (oh well.) i also threw in one of my homemade maraschino cherries, just because. (just because i like alcohol-saturated fruit, that is.)

in the end, though, i think i'll more keep the 360 double chocolate vodka around as a sipper, rather than a mixer. one more bottle to add to the collection!