Thursday, May 31, 2012

Birthday Plans.

Birthday, birthday, birthday. This year, I love my birthday.

Last year I was slaving away, stripping a deck in scorching heat on my big day. I was, however, wearing my birthday hat, which made everything better.

I don't think there is going to be a birthday hat this year but regardless, it's still going to be a great birthday weekend. 

It was Christina's birthday on Wednesday and Julie's birthday is Sunday so we're going to have celebrations on both nights this weekend. For three people we need at least two parties. It's going to be good!

This year will be extra special because it is the first birthday that I have ever celebrated with TC. Until now, I've always been either at camp already or living in different country.

There are a few other things going on this weekend too. It's so busy that I just had to make myself a to-do list.

First up, the Michael Todd Challenge: Round Three began tonight and continues tomorrow. For Round Two we had to get a photo of ourself feeding a real life baby. Fortunately, Gwen was available and is always hungry.

For round three I have to get a photo of myself playing in an actual public fountain tomorrow. 

Is that even legal? I'm a law abiding citizen. Do you think I'm going to get arrested?

I'm leaving in a week and have several projects on the go that I have to finish up. Numero uno, reattaching my fire place mantle. 

I've been desperately trying to make my living room tolerable. I bought all new mantle decor this week and then decided that the maple colored mantle was killing the whole thing. So, off it came and is currently being stained black. 

I'll let you know next week how it all turns out.

Last weekend I did my first "paid" (it was offered, I declined, they gave me wine) photo session. I'd show you photos but I forgot to ask the family's permission and I'd rather not get fired this early in the game. However, I figure I can't get in trouble for posting feet. Notice the six year old's shoes. A 1st grader in purple sequin shoes? That's my kind of kid.

I was feeling a little confident this week and through a series of random events I may have the opportunity to photograph a ballet recital this weekend - individual photos, group shots and performance. 

Logistically, it may not work out. And that is okay. Then I won't embarrass myself when I vomit everywhere because I'm so nervous and soooooo out of my league.

You know what though? I figure you've got to start somewhere. Why not go out and push myself and do something a little scary?

Playing in a public fountain, dismantling a fire place, photographing a ballet recital - all out of my comfort zone. 

What a good way to celebrate another year.

Key Wall.

I'd like to tell you that I'm not much of a collector, but that would be a gigantic lie. If I'm being honest, I hoard Isabelle Bloom pieces, picture frames, and colorful wine glasses. Oh, and skeleton keys.

A few years ago I got the idea to create a key wall in my house.

TC liked the idea because he's all about decorating with anything authentic. Basically, he likes anything that has a story. Skeleton keys from Pottery Barn don't fit the bill. He'd rather spend the next ten years digging through antique stores and collecting real keys from every town we ever visit....all while the designated key wall remains bare.

That's all cool with me, except I don't have the patience for that. I want my key wall now, dammit. If that takes a few purchases from Pottery Barn, then so be it. There is a compromise to be had here.

Finally, after two long years of hoarding and gathering we finally have enough keys to put up on the wall.

I really like it.

I think its something interesting and different for the long hallway.

I love that I can continually add to it, like forever.

I really love that I don't have to put any real thought into centering or measuring where I hang each key.

I love that key collecting gives us something affordable to look for when we're wondering around an antique store or flea market. It justifies our shopping.

It also gives us the perfect souvenir to bring home from every trip or new place we visit.

I really like that TC enjoys it too. Cheesy, I know, but its pretty cool to collect something we both like.

The window frame is actually an old window from my first cabin at camp. Many of our cabins are named after trees and that particular cabin was called Maples. Hence my dog's name.

See, that is just the kind of authenticity and story TC is talking about.


Workout: 30 minutes on the bike and 50 push-ups -

 back in the saddle baby!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Club.

While I am an avid reader, I am a book club virgin. Until tonight, that is.

A friend of a friend sent out an invitation last month looking for a few girls to start a book club. I totally jumped on board because 1) apparently I am a huge nerd and 2) when you're new to town (and the country) it doesn't hurt to spread your wings a bit and make some new friends.

There are only seven of us, but that is plenty to kill a bottle of wine and talk about how a book TOTALLY relates to our life.

Actually, that is a lie. Only four of us showed up tonight for our meeting about the first book. Totally okay because it was the three other girls that I know best.

We read What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn.

Jaclyn, our hostess, loved it. Ashley liked it. Laura hated it. I thought it was okay.

Let's be honest, I read only the trashiest $0.99 novels I can buy on kindle. Anything over that price is way too classy for me. My standards are nice and low.

We did a potluck style meeting and everyone was supposed to bring an appetizer or dessert.

I made a delicious artichoke dip with a fresh baguette that I sliced and toasted. Clearly, my taste in appetizers and bread is much higher than my taste in books.

You need this recipe because it's so damn easy to make.

The Only Artichoke Recipe You'll Ever Need:

-Whisk together 1 cup mayo, 1 cup parmesan, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder. 
-Mix in two 14oz cans of well-drained and chopped artichoke hearts. 
-Bake for 25 minutes at 375, 35 minutes if chilled.
-Sprinkle an 1/8 tsp paprika on top. 
-Serve warm with thinly sliced and toasted baguettes. I popped mine in the oven with the dip for ten minutes. Or buy a box of crackers. Whatever floats your boat.

The artichoke dip was fresh out of the oven so I packed it up in my monogrammed, insulated casserole dish carrier. I thought I was so fancy and only a tad nerdy.

But then I got there and the other girls were all "I have one at home too! I love mine." Here I thought I was something special. Not so much.

Even still, I still think it is a great item to have and would make an excellent gift.

We had so much fun sharing a bottle of wine and briefly discussing the book. Inevitably someone would go off on a tangent and we'd end up talking about random issues like exporting infected potatoes to Algeria or the amazing video about the nine year old boy who started Caine's Arcade. Have you seen it? Watch it by clicking this.

It'll be the best ten minutes of your day.

Next month we're reading the story of Frank Lloyd Wright called Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. It's supposed to be awesome.

Anyone read it?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Birthday Week!

On my way to work today I got an email from TC that said, and I quote,

"Four more sleeps until your birthday!"

God, I love that man. He speaks my language.

I then promptly texted my mom with a little reminder, 


Like she could forget. I'm not sure she'll ever forget seeing as I was two weeks late in a miserably hot Alabama summer.

Then she regaled me with a trip down memory lane by texting me photos of my first birthday. Why she had these on hand, or in her phone for that matter, is beyond me. All I can figure is she must realllly love me.

I was just so cute that I can't help but share them.

Here I am on my first birthday about to dive into a cake that weighed as much as I did.

I'm not certain, but if I had to guess I would say that my Grandpa made that cake. He was quite the baker and made pretty much every celebratory cake my family has ever eaten.

This was also at my birthday party in our backyard. I love how 70's everything is even though it was 1982. Way to be behind the times, mom.

The last photo she sent was my in my self-made and self-titled Snake Hunting Hat. We were living in Boca Raton, Florida at the time so I must have been about three or four years old. As I remember it, there was a GIGANTIC black and white snake on our front porch and I could see it through the door. In my infinite three year old wisdom I devised a snake hunting hat from a hot pink cleaning bucket and a Yankees hat. There's no way I was going near the snake, so it should probably be called a snake protection hat instead of a snake hunting hat. I'm sure I built a fort out of blankets to hide from the evil snake.

That incident, my friends, is the reason that to this day I am still scared of snakes and all other creatures with out legs.

It has nothing to do with my birthday, but its a pretty funny photo anyway.

By the way, it's BIRTHDAY WEEK!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Paint Change Works Miracles.

With the weekend to myself, for the first time in our marriage, I was one productive lady.

I'm proud to announce that since Thursday evening I have not turned the TV on once. It's like my bachelorette days all over again.

This weekend I wrote a paper, tried to keep three rowdy dogs under control, did my first "paid" photo session, logged three thousand hours on Google trying to do this stupid Michael Todd challenge, deleted 11,000 photos from my computer (not an exaggeration) and reassembled my dining room because it was ripped apart in construction last week.

WARNING: The follow image may cause retinal damage. 

I'm almost embarrassed to show you.

Also, I want you to keep in mind that we live in a 100 year old triplex house. We own the house and live in one of the apartments while we rent the other two apartments out. Therefore, it is a fairly small space with plaster walls and not the typical lay out of the fancy-pancy house that I envision in my future.

This is what the dining room looked like when I moved in almost two years ago. The Canadian lived in the macaroni and cheese dining room for five years. Five! Granted, it was painted like this when he bought it. But still. Inexcusable. You can't even tell where the wall ends and the floor begins.

I think it is evidence that his decorating tastes are null and void forever.

Since I deleted 11,000 photos last night, this is the only one I can find of the wall color that I chose to replace the orange.  It'll have to do.

The week I moved to Canada, I painted the dining room. My taste in paint color is a little better, but not much. In fact, I hated it the second I got it on the wall.

It was too yellow. Do you see how it made the floors and furniture look yellow? It all blended together. Not at all the nice beige neutral that I was going for.

I convinced myself it was fine - it was definitely an improvement and I've been too lazy the past year to change it. Plus, I didn't really know what to change it to.

My golden opportunity arrived this past week. Because of the ceiling construction last week, professional painters were coming to repaint the walls. 

I rushed to the paint store as fast as my broken leg would carry me and picked out any color paint that didn't have yellow undertones. Thank you very much, but I have enough yellow from the ugly hand-me-down furniture and hard wood floors.


I love it. Love it, love it, love it. 

Is it green? Is it gray? Don't know, don't care. I love it.

I really hope you're not judging me right now and thinking to yourself that I have no taste. I promise it looks good in real life! At the very least, it is a huge improvement.

Now, the living room is a whole other matter. It is the bane of my existence.

Yesterday I painted it a couple shades lighter than the dining room. I thought it was going to be glorious. I thought it was going to be better. I thought wrong.

I might have to fire myself from choosing paint colors.

I'm not ready to show you yet because I'm hoping to change out some accessories in the next few days and see if it helps.

Fingers crossed that I can work some TJMaxx miracles.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Cottage.

Where I come from in the South, if you have a place on the ocean or on the lake it is called a beach house or a lake house, or maybe the condo. 

Here in the Maritimes it is simply called a cottage. Big, small, old, new, on the beach or just near the beach - all called cottages. We only live about twenty minutes from the beach so pretty much everyone that I know has a cottage in their family. It's like every family in town went out and bought a cottage in the 70's and have had it ever since. 

TC's bestie, John, has a family cottage too. When his parents bought it in '78 it was a four room motel. It isn't a motel anymore though, now it's just a regular two bedroom cottage with a funky little bunk house in the yard that sleeps another six people.

I've never been out to anyone's cottage before so I was pretty excited last weekend when we headed out there to celebrate the day of John's birth. 

As TC and I pulled in Kevin was just getting back from a quick dip.

These damn Canadians are crazy. It wasn't more than 60 degrees and the water couldn't have been any warmer than 50 degrees. Crazy, I tell you. I don't go near the ocean and all of it's leg-less animals unless it is at least 95 degrees.

Not that the dogs cared. 

We all went down to the beach in attempt to rid Maple of some energy.

It didn't work. She just doesn't quit. Ever.

It's a small beach and not exactly the white sandy shores of the Gulf that I'm used to, but the sunset was gorgeous and my wine was delicious just the same.

When we got back the boys set about opening up the cottage as it was the first time anyone had been there for the season. They turned on the water, took down the boarded up windows and put the patio furniture outside. 

Then Kevin got stuck with the super nasty job of getting the dead crow out of the fire place. GROSS. 

I better not come down with Avian Flu.

Once the crow was laid to rest we barbecued steaks (not that there was BBQ involved, they just don't have the word grill in their vocabulary) and busted out more birthday beverages.

And, of course, the boys demolished the birthday cake in about .02 seconds. A new record, I think.

We spent the rest of the night enjoying the fire and chatting about everything and nothing all at the same time.

Everyone tells stories all the time about the fun they have at each other's cottages in the summer. TC and I are never around in the summer since we're off at camp in Maine, so it was nice to finally be part of a cottage story.

Oh, can you see the little A-frame building on the left? That is the bunk house. It was my favorite part.


Workout: nothing. again. it's been two weeks. the good news is that my new antibiotics are working their magic and i almost feel human again. we'll try again for the gym tomorrow.


1. Two weeks, people! In two short weeks I'll head back to my home country for the entire summer. There is nothing better than spending the summer working on the lake in Maine. Nothing.

If you're rolling your eyes at me because I'm 30 years old and still go to camp - stop. Just stop. You can read about it here. It's really not that weird.

2. I mentioned the Michael Todd Challenge the other day. (That's him in the yellow, performing a skit with his pet unicorn during Color Wars) You can read about last years challenge here or hereRecap: a ridiculous challenge between me and 59 of my camp friends that all occurs via Facebook. After the first round my good friend Mandy and I scored an equal amount of points. That left us in a virtual rock-paper-scissors tie breaker to see who would advance to Round 2. On a whim I chose scissors and Mandy eventually chose paper. Round 2 begins tomorrow! I'll keep you posted.

3. The construction on our house is almost done. For the past two weeks our bedroom furniture has been in the hallway and the dining room furniture has been in the living room. Not to mention there is a never-ending coat of white dust across every millimeter of the house. No amount of dusting or vacuuming will remove it. This is what happens when you have to get new ceilings again because all the ice leaked through and demolished the old ones. You can read all about it here. Anywhoo, with the bad comes the good - I'm getting new dining room wall paint tomorrow! Goodbye ugly caramel walls that I so carelessly chose last year. I won't miss you in the least.


Workout: nothing. again. instead i went back to the doctor and got some better drugs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Getting Ready To Sail.

After a long winter, sailing season is officially here! Rumor has it that the docks went back in the water last week, which means that the boats will soon follow.

This weekend Captain John and the rest of the Out of the Blue (OOTB) crew will be heading to Nova Scotia for the first race of the year.

Before they can head out, TC and the rest of the boys had a lot of prep to do this weekend. Sitting outside for the winter is hard on a boat and there was lots of cleaning and scrubbing to be done. 

The boat was full of water so once it was emptied they boys could start on the real work.

Like pressure washing off a winter's worth of grime and nastiness.

And inspecting all the places that needed a little bit of sanding and TLC.

Of course, it was a beautiful day outside so working with a frosty beverage in hand seemed appropriate. No, not appropriate. Necessary.


Meanwhile, I stood around and didn't lift a finger. I've appointed myself the official OOTB photographer and beer-fetcher.

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

As the self appointed photographer, I felt it was my duty to get an official OOTB crew photo. After five solid minutes of politely asking them to line up for group photo, I at least had them all standing on one side of the boat.

TC! Turn around!

Holy crap, lining these boys up is like herding cats.

It's a good thing they're so cute.


Workout: nothing. again. i did at least get my gym clothes on today. i just didn't make it to the gym. we'll try again tomorrow...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Highlights.

Well, hello!

I feel like we haven't talked in days. That's probably because I'm just now wrapping up a glorious four day weekend. Well, four days for me, but three days for the rest of Canada.

This weekend was Victoria Day which is basically the Canadian equivalent of Memorial Day in the USA.

We were planning on spending the weekend in Halifax at the Blue Nose Half Marathon but on Friday afternoon my doctor called to tell me that I have a rather fabulous stress fracture in my right shin and therefore could not run the race. Boooooooo. I called TC, canceled our hotel room and promptly followed my father's advice and poured myself a glass of wine. The weather was glorious and I parked my butt on the porch and refused to move all night while I wallowed in self pity.

Eventually I got hungry and insisted on going out for Indian. I'm still sick and my taste buds are a mess. Indian was the only food that sounded remotely appetizing.

TC was in change of entertaining me and keeping my mind off the race for the rest of the weekend. We started Saturday at the Market and I inhaled a waffle the size of my head. I was trying to numb the no-race pain.

It wasn't working.

Sailing season starts next weekend, so I tagged along with the boys to go assess the sail boat situation and make sure she's sea worthy for next week. For the record, I was absolutely no help and did nothing other than take a whole bunch of photos. I'll show you them tomorrow.

While working on the boat some mysterious creature took a chunk out of my elbow. I didn't even notice it at first, but then I started having a mild reaction - dizzy, queasy, grumpy, and tired.

I swear, every year I find a new bug that I'm allergic too. I should by stock in Benadryl.

In my bug-bite induced drunkenness I stumbled to the grocery store to pick up birthday cake ingredients for John's cake. The Birthday Boy requested marble cake - TC's friends are high maintenance.

On Sunday I was finally feeling a bit better from my cold, bug bite and tibia depression so we headed out to the beach. John's family has a cottage on the water which seemed like the perfect place to have some birthday shenanigans.

You may remember The Michael Todd Challenge from last year - its a Facebook Trivia-esque challenge that a friend of mine from camp hosts every year right before we all head to camp for the summer. It's ridiculous, random, specific and all-around insane. And it started today. Besides answering questions like "What card did I just pull from a standard deck of cards?" we had to take a photo of ourself dancing in a public place, with strangers, where dancing would not typically occur.

Let me tell you how cool I felt doing ballet in front of the post office tonight.

My life is a circus.


Workout: still nothing. still sooooo sick. tomorrow i'm going to the gym come hell or high water.