Friday, January 27, 2012

very busy people

stop! video spam time:







the sisters of mercy are love. so much love.

i post these mostly because i have to profess my slavish adoration for the dvd that all three of the above clips came from - the "wake: choruses from under the rock" live dvd, aka the "1985 albert hall show", aka the last show the original lineup ever played before disbanding - and because i've been watching that dvd so much lately. really, i can't even profess how deeply i love it. if it's possible to be turned on by a dvd that's not porn, then there we go. watch the clips above if you don't believe me.

warning: contains high levels of goffick.

so that's kind of how i've been spending my time, since i'm clearly not blogging nearly as much as i should be (hah)...i suppose i took last week off as a break on myself since surviving hell week. i even dialed back the crazy workout schedule so i could spend more time relaxing at home with the boy -- which unfortunately tends to lead into a lot of relaxing with too much wine and cheese, but such is life. by my count, i've attended five (possibly six) weight training classes so far, so i'm counting that as a small personal victory. even if the instructor called me out last week for my elbows not staying close enough to my body as i lifted the bar. (i have freakish double-jointed elbows that persist in bending outwards)

also: physical exercise necessary to balance out the amount of baking i've been doing in the past week, the majority of it for a charity bake sale at work. i feel like my life is very deprived when it comes to bake sales; i absolutely love participating in them, but with no children or regular charity things to support, i generally don't get the chance. so whenever the opportunity comes up at my place of employment (including baking contests), i throw myself in wholeheartedly, and damn the calories.

part of the fun for me is deciding what stuff i want to bake. since i prefer to bake for others more than myself (because i try not to weigh 200 pounds, and also my boyfriend has virtually no sweet tooth), this is a prime opportunity for me to try out things that i wouldn't normally attempt. so for this bake sale, i thought back about favourite baked goods that my mother used to make, and my memory came upon the mint chocolate squares. my mother used to whip up these no-bake squares once and a while when i was a kid, and they were always a huge lunchbox highlight. but my problem now was, i couldn't find the right recipe anywhere online -- just squares with creme de menthe and mint-flavoured nanaimo bars, neither of which were the ones i remembered. so i called my mother and got her to dictate the recipe to me over the phone, and what do you know, it was way easier than i thought. (she vaguely recalled that it might have come from a chipits bag, but she'd tweaked the recipe since then)

because for once, i'm not stealing the recipe from any cookbook or website, i'm free to post it here in my blog (yay!):

---------------------------



MINT CHOCOLATE SQUARES

For the base layer:
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the mint buttercream layer:
1/4 cup butter
2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 tsp mint extract
green food colouring

Make the base: Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler, reserving 1/4 cup for drizzle finish. Add the icing sugar and egg, then stir in wafer crumbs and nuts and press evenly in an 8x8 square pan. Chill.

Make the topping: Cream butter with icing sugar and milk, then add in green food colouring and mint extract a drop at a time. Spread buttercream on top of chilled base.

Finish: Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup melted chips/butter over top. Drag a knife through drizzle to make a design. Chill until ready to serve, then cut into squares.



---------------------------

sadly, i wasn't able to participate in the bake sale with my stomach; sugar and flour are honestly starting to fuck with my system now. i get all lightheaded and jumpy and scatterbrained, and i just generally feel like shit within half an hour. becoming stacey from the baby-sitters club does not bode well for my sweet tooth.

one vice that doesn't mess up my blood sugar? good cheese.



la sauvagine, aka delicious.

lastly, i've been spending a lot of time organizing/psyching myself up for tour time next week. for someone like me who's more used to routine, it's a big shake-up to step out of my little comfort box - for ten whole days! - and re-learn how to adapt to whatever situation gets thrown at me. it's especially weird when you go on tour; you have to get used to weird facilities and maybe not being able to shower every day and adapting to whatever company you might end up staying with that night. but really, from what i remember, once you get through the first couple days and get over it, it gets so much easier. also much easier: not having the stress of trying to impress a certain member of the band that you're trying (in earnest) to bang. whew!

additionally, i will say that i am beyond excited to attack the liquor stores in chicago. apparently they have peanut butter vodka and cinnamon kahlua in america, and both will be mine very soon.

alright, that's it for now. i promise to be back with a few more blog posts before i take off for america (next wednesday!).

[ music | none ]

Sunday, January 15, 2012

little victories

last week was my week of challenging myself to do things i don't want to do. this was hard.

it's funny, actually, how jenn wrote on the topic the other week just as i was reflecting the same thing about myself. motivation is a bitch of a thing once you're an adult and don't have authority figures (parents, teachers, whatever) telling you that "you need to do this". by the time you're an adult, nobody's in charge of motivating you but you yourself -- and that also means you can totally opt out of things you don't want to do with very little consequence. thus, it can be something of a struggle to challenge yourself to making obligations and sticking with them.

and so with me, i have a hard time not opting out of things i just don't want to do, or procrastinating on things that have to be done eventually (but, again, i just don't want to do). but as it turned out, last week contained a mega-load of things that i didn't much want to do -- so i decided that, instead of quietly staying in my comfortable place, i would challenge myself to do all those goddamn things, just to see if i could. call it a social experiment.

here's what the last eight(!) days entailed:

go to 7 a.m. gym classes: because of a crazy work week, i knew i wouldn't be able to keep my usual gym schedule of going after 5 pm. this schedule includes three classes weekly - two spin classes and one weight training class - which are all also after 5 p.m. the only solution i could see would be to go to the 7 a.m. morning classes before work instead -- which meant i'd have to be up at 6 a.m. on three days. ugh, fuck. so while it would have been easy to say "no, thank you" and stay in bed instead, i forced myself up on tuesday to go to weights class (which is my least favourite class, btw) and wednesday to do spin.

regretfully, i have to admit that i did cop out of attending the third class - another spin class, this one on thursday morning - because holy shit, the morning instructor on wednesday was so goddamn awful i was too afraid he'd be "teaching" thursday as well. really, buddy, mumbling unclear instructions, trading banter with your regulars, and encouraging people to answer your inane questions does not make for a useful spin class. this is to say nothing for the loud woman next to me who kept spontaneously screeching, "come on guys, come on!! faster!! you can do it!!" um, you're not the instructor, honey. suffice to say, i wasn't exactly motivated to try again the next day. fuck that noise. even i have my limits.

meet with the superintendents to ask about transferring the lease: ...and that would be transferring the lease to us. yep, after over a year of subletting, dean's friend decided to give up her apartment to us permanently. we weren't entirely sure how to approach this with the supers - like, hi, we've been living here for a while but could we really start living here? - especially given the possible complications with the fact that dean's friend now lives in the united states and would have to complete any contract transactions over the internet/phone...so, ugh. also ugh: the fact that dean and i would have to fork over that obscene amount of money that comes with getting what's essentially a "new" apartment (first & last month's rent, setting up an internet/cable tv package, paying a security deposit, and so on). that alone was making the boy hesitate, i think, but it was something we had to do if we wanted to keep our lovely apartment (and make it actually ours).

fortunately, it turned out to be as easy as going down to the supers' office and explaining that we wanted to switch rent withdrawals from our friend's account into mine, then filling out a form and handing over a void cheque and that was it. we'll be paying for this place ourselves as of february 1st. and while that's some massive coin to be dropped, we love this frigging apartment and we want to keep it. it's our home, damn it.

call a cousin i haven't seen or talked to in about five years to ask for a favour: you wouldn't think would be a big moment of terror and discomfort for me, but for one, i absolutely hate the phone (seriously, nobody's happier than me at the fact that most people have moved to email and texting), and for two, the thought of cold calling puts me in a cold sweat. i would be the world's worst telemarketer.

anyway, even though my cousins on the paternal side are family, i haven't seen or talked to them in probably about ten years. no acrimonious reason -- it's just how it's been. but as it turns out, one of them lives in toronto - not that far from me either - and my father told me to ask for a ride to my grandmother's funeral on saturday (more on that in the next point). cue the cold sweat. sure, he was family, but...i would have to call? i had to use the phone? i had to ring up and say "hi, i know we haven't talked or anything in like years, but could i get a ride?" (also note that another thing i hate/avoid more than anything is asking people for big favours.) sure, my father had asked my cousin all this ahead of time, so it wasn't like i'd be coming out of the blue or anything...i just needed to phone and set up details like pickup time and location, et cetera. but oh god, so much awkward avoidance on my part. family makes me so weird.

but of course, it was all for naught, since it wasn't weird in person, and it was actually a very pleasant, normal 2-hour ride to the out-of-town memorial service. still, i couldn't help but be the level of nervous and anxious that usually belongs to blind dates or something. i really need to work on my people skills.

attend my grandmother's funeral: this wasn't exactly a choice since i'd be going no matter what - i mean, i'm not a heartless asshole - but surviving this crummy week only to cap it off with a super-emotional family funeral...yeah, that was not looking to be a whole lot of fun. anyway, after conquering my fear of strangers (aka family members i haven't seen in a decade), it was just a matter of getting through the internment (in the freezing cold cemetery) and the memorial service (in which i only came thisclose to crying once, and it was when my father was reading from corinthians and choking up). then another two hours in the van with my six-month old second cousin staring at me intently with big baby eyes, and the day was done, and i was home. hell week over.

so, today was my victory lap: a fun sunday double-date brunch with jenna and paul (and dean obviously), along with some much-needed relaxation. also, i've got a much calmer week ahead, with regular gym hours, the usual workload, and a cute new hoodie in the mail to look forward to receiving. also, there's chicago in t-minus 17 days, so that's huge.

eight days later, i can say that my little "force yourself to do things you don't want to do" social experiment was a success. sure, i'm super glad it's over with, but i do admit to feeling slightly more accomplished than usual -- and that's disregarding the fact that i have a litany of things to cook/bake today to get ready for this week. at the end of today, i think, i'll be able to sit back and relax and be proud. go self go!

thus ends today's lesson on how not being a lazy bum is good for the soul.

[ music | bjork, "army of me" ]

Monday, January 9, 2012

frugal means


the last of the season. yorkville does holiday light shows right.

so many things happening, yet so little coming to mind whenever i sit down to write a blog post. i've never had "writer's block" per se - at least, not since i stopped writing fiction, which could be a bitch of a thing - but sometimes i just can't come across things to blog about. either it has to be all on one topic, or else a bunch of scattered updates. long gone are the days when i just did link dumps (although those were super easy and good at getting me traffic).

funny, though, these days i'm garnering blog readers from all over the globe. my recent visitor map includes slovenia, brazil, japan, the united kingdom, and alaska. sure, as expected, what's bringing in most people are the martini recipes and people looking for booze cakes, but hey! traffic! people who might stick around for the other stuff!

...okay, i got nothing. i admit it.

there is a bit of travel coming up, though:

- chicago, february 2-10. i'm hesitant to talk too much about this - a lot of "moving pieces" as my industry puts it - but it's for both work and play and i'm so, so psyched. over a week in my favourite american city! nine whole days! yes, i will practically be living at the north shore trader joe's (and ransacking binny's liquor depot in my spare time).

- belleville this saturday. less than jubilant, here -- it's for my grandmother's memorial service, complete with cemetary internment and church-lady catered reception. may or may not be awkward, considering i haven't seen many members on that side of my family for years and years (also compounding matters: the whole funeral thing), and i'm sort of getting ready to knuckle down and bear it. it's important to my father, though, so i wouldn't have considered not going.

it also afforded me the occasion to buy new shoes:



i needed nice heels that i could stand in for a long period of time, so why not go for the six-inch stacked platforms? why not.

interesting side story, there: i considered those shoes a major score because not only did they fit me (i have such freakishly wide feet that shoe shopping is a unique form of torture for me), but they were also marked down from $110 to $40. this was just further evidence to me that i basically buy everything on sale, or at least on a discount. i'm not ready for coupon hunters just yet or whatever that show is, but i have definitely become one of those people who scan the grocery flyers every week and hit numerous supermarkets just to get the best deal on everything. (i'm very wary about coupons, though, due to my past as a grocery store cashier; so many of them are fake or not accepted everywhere, and i get so embarrassed when i'm that person) i rarely buy clothes unless i can find them on the sale rack; suffice it to say, i have to swallow really hard if i want to "invest" in a full-price piece.

i figure this sense of frugality is left over from my student days, because i, like many students, survived mostly on whatever my parents gave me in my first year, and then whatever i managed to earn from part-time work in my remaining three years. even after i graduated, i still didn't make much higher than minimum wage across two part-time jobs (which effectively took up 6-7 days of my week), though my biggest splurge was probably all the expensive fetish/goth outfits i bought. (yes, i did consider them an essential at the time.)

in the post-grad years, i think the money i made topped out at $13 an hour - working in vancouver, running the coffee shop - so i was never used to actually having spending money. thus, my tendency to only buy things on sale. nothing annoyed me more than paying full price for, say, a pint of milk at one store before finding out that it was on sale at a different store. so even now that i do have the funds to allow me to buy things at full price, i don't usually go that route. which means a fatter savings account, helllllll yes.

right now, my biggest expense/extravagance is the food that i buy -- i've slipped over into the organic side, never again to return to discount supermarkets and cheap factory meat. still, i think i do pretty well there; aside from my frustrating habit of buying fancy/costly cheeses, i'm fairly good at making big-batch recipes that will feed me for a number of days. (another happy point of frugality: i buy my lunch at work maybe once every six months.)

also, if i'm ever in the mood to bake something, the ingredients can be a bit pricey:



but impressive, as seen above. (as i explained on my tumblr, the boy had a crummy week so i offered to bake him something, and he requested a blueberry coffee cake. perfect recipe found!)

back to my original point: in the last few months, i've found myself checking red flag deals multiple times a day, and it's paid off in dividends. i scored some sephora makeup and new headphones thanks to black friday deal alerts. i got four free boxes of k-cups for my coffeemaker. i bought some new e-books on a sale deal over the holidays. i just applied for a set of 50 free business cards (useful since i don't have any personal ones). saving money and getting free things? i am the happiest girl, like, ever.

...this is where marketing groups looking for bloggers to seed fun things with should take my name down. heh.

that's it for now, my friends.

[ music | goldfrapp, "strict machine" ]

Monday, January 2, 2012

different resolve

....and this is where i get mopey about the fact that i had a draft of a new year's blog post - i really did! - but it mysteriously disappeared into the ether, and now i have to start all over again. ghosts in the machine, man.

anyway! welcome to 2012.



i'm a day late, yes, but i spent the second non-kingston half of my winter vacation lazing about in toronto -- well, not even lazing, mostly just running a ton of errands and going to the gym every day (take that, "new year's resolutions!") and keeping myself busy in ways that i won't be able to once i'm back at work tomorrow. it's nice to be productive and make money and all that, but goodbye freedom. :( better than another bout of funemployment, though.

my new year's eve was laid back, as i wanted it to be in my old age; because it's universally impossible to get anywhere in toronto on new year's eve, i preferred to just stay home. however, plans were changed slightly when a friend of the boy's invited us over - using the leafs-jets game as bait - and we decided to go, so long as we could escape as soon as the game was done. fortunately, we were successful, and spent the rest of the evening at home together with champagne and a hot bath and the stuff that followed. ringing in 2012 the right way.

i've never been one for new year's resolutions; i tend to pick things to work on at random points throughout the year instead. i'd rather find my own motivation to stick to change, because doing it on january 1st just doesn't work for me. but what i did reflect on, however, is where i'll be in five years (thirty-three, ughhh), or even ten years (thirty-eight, that's so close to forty omfg no).

this is something that's preached a lot in my workplace, mostly when discussing career paths, and it's a decent thing to think about -- but something i've always had trouble with. as meticulous as i am with planning and organizing, i have a hard time doing so with my future, because i know from experience just how goddamn unpredictable life is. so i could make a five-year or ten-year plan for myself, sure, but what if a wrench gets thrown into the machinery at some point in a year, two years...? what then? so, it's tough for me to make that sort of call. when i make plans, i have an iron-clad tendency to want to stick to them. if there's any chance that those best-laid plans will go to waste, then forget it.

looking back five years ago - when i was twenty-three and right in the latter half of the most difficult year of my life so far - here's what i probably would have had on my five-year plan:

1. get a hot rock star boyfriend (who actually cares about me, not just as someone who can fuck him at his convenience)
2. get a well-paying job that isn't some part-time joe job
3. get a nice apartment that isn't in someone's crappy basement

check, check and check.

so, what about now? what do i aspire to now that i've fulfilled the three things i wanted most when i was in my early twenties?

i want to figure out what i really, truly want to do with my life.

my friends and family have told me that "some people never figure that out", and the thought of that terrifies me. sometimes i feel like i'm in a race against time (my lifespan, pretty much) to determine just what i'm meant to do here, and what would really make me happy. i know this is a topic i've gone in circles over on my blog here, but i guess i'm hoping the answer will illuminate itself eventually, i suppose. (i guess, at the very least it's nice to commiserate with my fellow twentysomethings who read this blog and feel the same way about their own lives. we're not alone, friends!)

right now, what's bugging me most is that people my age - and younger, now - are doing big, great things with their lives, and i feel sort of left behind in my desk job and day-to-day "regular life" routines. and i start to think, y'know...at what point am i basically too old for grand adventures? am i wasting my time and potential right now? i mean, you're only young once. and while i'm happy i spent the glory days of my early twenties roaming the continent with rock bands (and in the pursuit of rock bands), i don't know if i'm ready to accept that that's it -- that it's time to resign myself to an ordinary adult life of the 9 to 5, with bills to pay and errands to do and endless days spent running in place.

my reckless idiot of a twenty-three year old self would be horrified, surely.

so if i were the resolution-making type, i would probably vow to make 2012 the year that i stop railing against the passage of time. maybe i need to learn how to be okay with getting older and leaving the past behind -- or, at the very least, learning how to adapt the best parts of my past to my present day. because you only get one life, and i don't want mine to be a waste of time.

[ music | evaline, "there there" ]