Friday, November 29, 2013

New Winter Coat

It is has been a super busy week so I don't have a big post today, but I wanted to share my new winter coat! I have been surviving winter after winter with cheap fall-weight coats. Since I often have to stand outside waiting for tardy streetcars, a good warm coat is kind of a necessity. It might not snow much in downtown Toronto, but it is COLD and WINDY.

Speaking of snow, earlier this week I left a wet downtown to arrive at a picturesque, snowy winter-wonderland near my office (which is a bit out of the city). Super pretty, but snow= cold and it just reminded me how crazy I am for not owning a proper coat.

Anywho, last night I was meeting my family for my mom's birthday and after dinner my mom and I hit up the mall to look for a coat for me! We went to The Bay first, because I saw they were having a sale, but their selection sucked (I am a picky shopper so my mom was probably worried that what I wanted didn't exist and this shopping trip would never end!). But then we went to Sears and I found a coat I liked! Yaaay!!! But how come I have the magical ability to buy the ONLY coat in Sears not on sale for 60% off?

The coat is by Alpinetek, but I call it my Canada Goose knockoff!

It was $200 and a worthy investment in my mind. I was SO warm wearing it in the store! It is a little roomy (I got a size M, but I usually wear an L so this is odd), but that is great for days I am wearing a sweater. I also have good warm boots with Thinsulate in them that I got last year, so I am pretty sure I am set for winter. :)

I busted out fashion blogger persona to show it off to all of you!!

Bring it on, Winter.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homemade Catnip Toys

I have two adorable kitties that live with my dad. They came into my life in the summer of 2009 when my roommate had to remove them from a bad home. I didn't want them in my life because I was getting over a cat who had just passed away days before.

But they wormed their way into my hearts- because just look at them!!
When my roommate and I split our ways neither of us were in a good position to take the kitties so they ended up living with my dad (where they have consistently annoyed him to death for the past 4 years). He spoils them to death, but I do like to add in my own little present for Christmas for them every year- usually cheaply! I think last year I just bought them a ton of treats. Another year I wrapped them up some "homemade" paper balls and ribbons, which were a big hit.

This year I went with something a little more difficult, but still on the budget side of things!

These were kind of thrown together after I found some catnip at the dollar store and wondered if I could make the kitties some toys for their Christmas presents this year. They were really easy!

For this project you will need:
  • Felt
  • Catnip
  • Marker for marking our your cuts (I didn't end up using mine)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Stuffing fluff

For the snowflake one I cut out two blue squares and two strips of white felt. I free-styled the design on one of the squares, sewing as I went. Then I sewed the two blue squares together, right sides in, leaving one side unsewn. After that you can turn it right-side out and stuff it! I rolled my stuffing in catnip to make it smell delicious to little kitties! I ended up putting in a LOT of catnip :)

Once you have stuffed, just sew the last side closed and Bam- you have a genuine, homemade, kitty toy that is guaranteed to win you all the loves on Christmas morning.

I wish I had a kitty around right now to test these bad boys out, but I don't think they will disappoint! If they ignore them I will just throw them across the room- that always gets their attention.

Have you ever made a toy for your cat? Dog? Chinchilla?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Weekend Recap: Botched Massages, Beer, Brunch, Blogging, and Bumbles!

I decided to start my weekend off right with a trip to the spa for a massage. Oh well, I wanted to treat myself! Plus my benefits covers a large portion of massages and I need to use that up before the year ends. I went to Elmwood Spa downtown. It started off so nice with relaxing in a big white robe while reading trashy magazines in their "water therapies" room (pool, sauna, hot tub, steam room, etc). I then went in for my massage with a really nice massage therapist. Unfortunately I forgot to tell her that I prefer a light touch because my muscles are sensitive to pressure. She went WAY to deep on my left calf and I experienced a lot of pain in my calf muscle. I asked her to go lighter and she did, resulting in a very relaxing 50 minute massage. I could feel my leg was a tiny bit sore, but I wasn't concerned.

Then I got off the bed and I could barely walk!! I felt too embarrassed to tell the massage therapist that my leg really hurt...from a massage. I felt like it was too late in the process and that there wasn't much you can do for a pulled muscle (I have gotten massages on sore muscles before and they never helped). So ya, that sucked. But at least I was able to tell her to go lighter- I can be kind of shy and one of the first times I got a massage I didn't say anything and basically was sore for days after. It sounds so silly in retrospect that I didn't speak up, but there you go: Lesson learned.

Anywho, after a few good stretches the leg felt a lot better! I went home to relax, but I got a call late in the evening to come join some friends at Bier Markt. I suffer from a bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), so it didn't take much to talk me into going! I had a super fun time, even with my bum leg.

Saturday morning I went out to Liberty Village (which I live close to!) to meet with 9 other amazing bloggers from the Toronto area for brunch! A bunch of us had met at BlogPodium and Melissa from The Sweet Escape came up with the idea for a brunch for us to reconnect. I was really nervous about going, but it ended up being amazing. The conversation never ended and it was great to speak candidly about blogging! I did take any photos, but I stole these off Twitter!

Credit: Melissa at The Sweet Escape
Credit: Amy at Love On Sunday (I had the same dish)
After brunch a bunch of did what bloggers do best- hit up a dollar store and West Elm! We chatted waaaay too long (seriously people, just cut me off when I start going!), but it was really nice to get to know some of the ladies I have been reading about for so long.

Saturday afternoon/evening, I put up my tree! I also cleaned, but now the condo seems to be trashed again so I may be misremembering this ;). Sunday I went over to my dad's and helped set up the Rudolph Village. We went very similar to last year in terms of layout, so I didn't really photograph the process. But it was really fun! My dad set up a TV and bluray player in the model train room (yes, he has a room the size of my condo devoted to model railroading) so my helper (Steph) and I could watch Charlie Brown Christmas, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and Elf while we worked. It took about 4 hours, but we got it done!

Funny story- we thought the company had finally finished making these houses, but last week a new one showed up on the doorstep!! I am a little peeved because they switched to battery-operated and the entire village (including trees and train!) all runs off a single button. Now whoever is turning it on will need to flip the new house (Bumble's Cave) upside down to turn it on. Grumble Grumble Grumble...

Then my dad introduced me to some super addictive Ipad game and I played until my hands cramped (no lie). It was some puzzle game involving the Nut Cracker. I think it was this one. I got home around 9pm and waffled over whether to do my run (remember- bum leg from Friday), but I decided to NOT be lazy and give it a shot to see how I felt- I ended up running 4 miles and I felt great!!

Overall a really amazing weekend. Thank you Melissa for organizing that brunch and I cannot wait until the next one!!

PS- Happy Birthday to my Mom today!

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

It is exactly one month until Christmas, which means it is totally appropriate to finally drag the tree out of the storage locker, right? Right. Because that is what I did! It wasn't easy either, because my locker was a bit of a frightening mess and the Christmas stuff was at the back. However, I managed to get everything up in one shot by breaking out my dolly!

I seriously love this dolly. It as converts to a regular upright. I don't remember why I wanted a dolly, but it has become one of those items that I don't think I could live without! I actually use it quite a bit!

Anywho, I got to work and finally got my beautiful tree up! It is the same Mardi Gras/Peacock theme that I did last year. I did add a few new decorations that I picked up in after Christmas sales for a song and some that I received as gifts from my family. I also want to complain that I struggled to find the right colour/theme decorations last year, but this season I see these colours and peacockyiness all over! Go figure.

I also switched up the mantle to add in my advent tree and a couple small decorations. I somehow lost my Christmas Countdown clock. Hmm...

Finally, I picked up some really fun and bright ornaments from Shopper's in their after-Christmas sales last year. They didn't match my tree-theme, but I had had my eye on them all season because they were just so cute!! For fun, I hung them on my palm-tree-thing (seriously, what is this plant??)

I used to not put up decorations since it just me and I don't spend Christmas Day at the condo at all (I head home on Christmas Eve), but it really does help me get in the spirit and I do love the fun of it all. The condo always looks super boring when it all comes down.

How is your decorating going? When do you put up and take down?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Small Homes Rock!

If you live (or have lived) in a cramped condo, a bitty bungalow, or a tiny townhouse, I think you will relate to today's post, because today I am talking about why our small homes rock! What's that you say? A big home is supposed to be everyone's dream? Not true! There are many benefits to living in a small home and I think that those of us who live on the small side are truly a bunch of smart cookies for realizing this.

1. They Cost Less
Tiny homes generally cost less to buy/rent than a larger homes (crazy how that happens!). Not only that, they cost less in electricity and gas, they have lower maintenance fees, and generally lower repair costs (For instance, replacing a roof on a teeny house costs less than a McMansion!). That means extra money in your pocket for fun things- like travel, shopping, entertainment! And boring things like saving. Can't forget that!
2. Easier to Clean
Hello! Ain't nobody got time for cleaning their home! I think only 1% of the population enjoys cleaning, so the other 99% of us enjoy small homes (unless you are rich and can pay for a maid- then all power to ya). I have only 400 square feet of floor to clean up, one bathroom to clean, one bed to make- it is pretty sweet. Heck, even when I take out the garbage I have less to take out! This frees up my time for the traveling, shopping, and entertainment I mentioned in point 1.
3. Minimalist Living
When you live in a tiny home, you really can't drag home every awesome piece of furniture you find on Craigslist. I mean, sometimes it sucks because you just know that hutch is a steal, but at the same time you know you have no where to put it. Same goes for all the cute tchotchkes you see at HomeSense. You are kind of forced into a minimalist life because you simply don't have the space for everything you would otherwise get. 

However, I will note here that I really need to purge this crazy condo. I think every drawer is bursting! Still, when it comes to moving I can probably rent a pretty small truck. Fun story- when I moved in here I moved in in ONE elevator trip. Yup, I owned nothing back then! 

4. Easier to Decorate
You might think- "Hey Casey! Small homes are so constrained in their choices of decorating! How is it easier?". Well for one, painting my entire condo only took me a few hours. Imagine painting a whole house! And when it comes to furniture you can eliminate a lot of options very quickly for being the wrong size. Less choices is an easier choice for me! Plus one piece can have a bigger impact in a small room than a large room. It is also a lot cheaper to renovate a tiny kitchen or bathroom, so you have the option for higher end materials that you might not to able to entertain in a big home.
5. Bring People Closer
I grew up in small homes, a bungalow and a semi-detached. There wasn't a lot of room to avoid each other, so a lot of time was spent watching TV together, playing board games, and eating together. My family was very close and I have to think that the small house had to do with that. You are just around each other a lot and that makes you talk and share! I did have my room if I needed my own space, but other wise we hung out together.

Now as an adult, I often have friends over. While I clearly cannot host 200 people, I can have a handful of great people over and conversation just flows when you have no where to hide. :)

So there you go- my top 5 reasons for loving my little home. I certainly won't be here forever, but I don't see myself moving into a behemoth of a house any time soon!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TVs in the Bedroom

I ran into a friend yesterday on my way to work and we struck up a conversation about how his boyfriend wants to put a TV in the bedroom and he was against it. We had an interesting talk about the pros and cons- I pointed out how maybe they could only use it for movie nights. He countered that his boyfriend has different TV habits and would keep him up, but he also pointed out how the idea for the TV was to spend more time together as my friend goes to bed earlier. I am not sure where they ended up on the subject, but it is an interesting debate for most people!

I got a television in my room when I was a kid- it was a 13" box of pure excitement for me as NONE of my friends were cool enough to have one. I also had an auto-turnoff feature where it shut off automatically at 10:10 so I couldn't watch it after bedtime (FYI- I have seen the first 10 minutes of every Tarzan episode). As I grew into a teenager the alarm got taken off and I spent later and later into the evenings watching TV. I had a lot of issues sleeping as a teenager, and I used TV as a way to delay my frustration at not being able to sleep. To this day I wonder if the TV was more of the cause of my insomnia, vs a cure.

In University I did not have a TV in my room (like I had money for cable!), but I do remember watching a lot of movies and staying up late playing computer games. However, I often had later classes in the morning so it usually wasn't detrimental.

After University I ended up living with a roommate. I did have a TV in my room, but I don't recall watching it late into the night. I DO remember my roommate watching TV/playing video games in the living room and THAT keeping me up!

Living on my own, I take a pretty strict stance on my sleeping routines. There is NO television in my bedroom now! Well, technically....I am in a studio so there is a TV in the same room, but I never watch it from bed. I also never use my computer in bed (I read before bed off my Ipad, but I don't browse the web, check FB, or twitter). Sometimes my phone ends up in bed with me, but I often text whoever I am chatting with that I am going to bed and goodnight!

And you know what? I have been sleeping amazingly these past few years. I think designating my bed as a "sleeping zone" helps my brain get ready to shut down. I have my nightly routine and 9 nights out of 10 I just drop right off into sleep within 10 minutes of hitting the pillow.

So I think that I am the type of person who shouldn't have a TV in the bedroom. I need my sleep and I need a relaxing sleep routine to help me get it! However, I do believe that this is an individual decision and it may work great for some people!

Do you have a TV in the bedroom? Do you like ir?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Run, Casey, Run!

Back in May, on my 27th birthday, I ran my first 10K. To some, this feels like a lame accomplishment- lots of people run 10Ks! But for me, this was something huge. I often read blogs of people who run and they are all "back in High School, I was on the cross country team/swim team/soccer team whatever, but I haven't worked out since". And then everyone is always amazing and applauding them for running marathons now. As for me, I NEVER did sports. Well, unless you count soccer as a kid but I kinda sucked and played defense so I didn't really run.

Getting into running for me was tough. I literally started at ground zero. I have never considered myself to be an athletic person. I just thought I needed a challenge in my life and 10K seemed like a good one, since I knew from a couple Terry Fox Runs that I actually had the ability to run 5K (albeit very slowly). So I trained, I ran, and I finished my 10K in just 1 hour. I cannot even describe how exhilarating it was to be out there on that run. There was this indescribable pride in realizing you are fulfilling a goal that you worked so hard to get to.

After my run, I took a couple weeks off running to rest my calves, since I started having some bad pains (which plagued me in the weeks leading up to the run too). Then I started a crazy summer where I was traveling every weekend, never home, and just plain busy! So I really didn't run that much. But now it is fall and my social calendar is much lighter, which gives me more time to focus on running. It sucks that I have to run indoors a lot (I don't feel comfortable running in the dark and basically when I get home it is pitch black...yay winter). I am not looking forward to January when my gym will be full of New Years Resolutioners because we only have 4 treadmills.

And suddenly- there is a half marathon training plan on my fridge. Seriously people- where did that come from?? I have no current plans to run a half, but I am interesting in seeing if I can. It's a 12 week plan by Hal Higdon. If I end up feeling really confident in my running I may look into a half in the spring! And really, I workout more regularly when I have a schedule and with holiday season coming up, it can't hurt to be burning some extra calories.

Funny story- I ran 5km last Sunday and then started my half-marathon training plan on Monday. Monday was "Strength and Stretch" and I did 30 mins of yoga. Tuesday I skipped my run to rest due to a bum hip, Wednesday I accidentally did Thursday's workout. Thursday I skipped, and I did Thursday's workout on Friday. Saturday and Sunday I did as per the schedule. I am apparently terrible at following week ONE of a workout plan. hahaha. But over all I only skipped 1 out of 6 workouts.

I need to reiterate here how I hated exercise/running when I was young. I felt winded, tired, I got wasn't fun. But now? Now I feel my whole body in motion. I feel strong. I feel like I am getting better, which spurs me on to go faster and stronger. I actually enjoy my runs! Now I will say I often find the first half of the run HARD. But at some point my body switches over and I feel like I could run miles. My mind turns off and I have all sorts of day dreams (or watch TV in the gym), my body just does the running without me.

So yes, I am running again and it feels great! I don't think running is for everyone, but I think there is some sort of sport for everyone and maybe you just need to try a few (and really try) and you might find something that makes you feel powerful!

And if you are interested in starting up a new fitness routine- here is my Top 15 Country Workout Songs!! And if you hate country, well then that is your loss because country music is awesome. That is all.

1. Luke Bryan- That's My Kind of Night
2. Blake Shelton- Hillbilly Bone
3. Luke Bryan- Country Girl
4. Trace Adkins- Ladies Love Country Boys
5. Daris Rucker- Wagon Wheel
6. Brad Paisley- Old Alabama
7. Jake Owen- Barefoot Blue Jean Night
8. Eric Church- Drink In My Hand
9. The Band Perry- Done
10. Reba McEntire- Fancy
11. Mirand Lambert- Gunpowder and Lead
12. Brad Paisley- Ticks
13. Trace Adkins- Honky Tonk Badonkadonk
14. Kenny Chesney- She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy
15. Reba McEntire- Let The Music Lift You Up 

Please let me know if you have any favourite upbeat country songs! I am always looking to update the ol' playlist!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cupcakes, Friends, and Relaxation!

I had a really great weekend (well, end of my week, since technically this story starts on Thursday)! On Thursday night I was invited over to my friend Ashley's house to bake some cupcakes! Random story- this girl used to work at my old office and she started after I left so we never worked together. We got to know each other since my new office and old office share a head office so I am down there about once a week to get them to process cheques and paperwork for me.

Anywho, Ashley ended up moving to an "off-site office" like I did, except her new office is right next door to our mutual old office so we still ran into each other a lot. Then my best friend Jeni transferred offices to my old office and her and Ashley became friends. And then they entered a charity cupcake competition together! And then I got invited to bake cupcakes with them because Ashley randomly moved in a condo in my neighbourhood and so it was very convenient for me to come help out. Random, but there you go! Oh, I also came with an awesome decorating kit.

Point is, we made cupcakes and drank wine and had a really fun night! Jeni's cupcakes were cocoa flavoured and she topped them with chocolate icing, candy canes, and a marshmallow- just like a delicious cup of hot cocoa! It was probably the most complicated cake recipe I had ever worked on, involving making sour milk and cocoa paste, so I am not sure all the wine was a good idea. But we powered through and they were delicious and adorable!

Ashley made "After Eight" cupcakes, that were mint chocolate with mint icing and an After Eight on top. I am not a big fan of mint & chocolate, but these were surprisingly subtle in their mintiness, so I loved them too! I ran into Ashley on Queen St on Saturday and she told me she took 3rd place!!

All in all, these cupcakes took a long time to make and we sure made a heck of a mess, but it was fun!!

On Friday I think I just ate a bunch of leftover cupcakes and did nothing. I had a long day at work- it was a strategy day, which I find to be a lot of fun, but it can be tiring. Lots to think about! On Saturday I slept in and then cleaned my condo and did some grocery shopping because I had my girls coming over to hang out for the evening! I had planned a get together on facebook because I find the distance between Thanksgiving and Christmas to be very long and boring, plus we always have a hard time seeing each other in December due to the holidays. There ended up being 5 of us due to some last minute drop outs, but it was a fun group- 4 of us have been friends since grade school! It was really fun catching up with my girls and we ate SO much. I wish I had taken a photo of the spread- homemade pretzels (a la Lisa), home made cupcakes and cookies (a la Steph), chips, nachoes, veggies, cheese, sausage, and then we ordered pizza to boot! YUM.

Naturally after a Saturday like that I went for a long run on Sunday to try to eliminate a few of those calories ;). It was a really good run- 4 miles broken up into 15 minute stretches, but afterwards I was tired so I took it easy and basically just relaxed all Sunday!

Oh, also on Saturday I prepped the balcony for winter. It was SUCH a warm day- I was out there in a tank top moving furniture around! Basically I moved the cushions and pillows and decorations down to the locker and I stacked the chairs and pushed all the furniture into the deepest corner to protect it from the snow. Sad to see my pretty balcony all packed up! I can't wait until next spring!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Projects I Wish I Came Up With

Do you ever come across a great blog post on a DIY a project and you think, "man, I wish I had thought of that first"? Happens to me all the time- there are so many great projects out there to save some money and be more fabulous (and frankly, saving money and being fabulous are the two qualities I strive for in everything I do).

I thought today I would share some awesome projects that other bloggers have done lately! Please feel free to go over to their blogs and tell them how awesome they are.

1. Michelle's Boot Inserts

Michelle over at Sweet Suite 10 came up with these great boot stuffers to keep those slouchy boots from falling over. She did this project for her Tonic Living Contest entry (remember my makeup brush case?) and I loved it back when she instagrammed it, so I was happy to see her post the how-to!

2. April's Juanathan (Light Box)

April at Money Pit Love built this amazing light box with a box, some tissue paper, duct tape, and a bunch of lamps. If only had a place to store something like this (not to mention I don't really own lamps)! It is a great tool for taking photos of objects when natural light is being evasive- like now right now it is pitch black at 5:30pm. sigh...

3. Heather's Faux Anthropologie Cowl

Oh man this thing looks soft! Heather made this cowl after seeing a deliciously soft cowl scarf in Anthropologie for almost $50! She thought she could replicate it herself using fabric from the fabric store and she blew it out of the park! This has me eying my throw blanket of the same material right now...could I replicate it from the fabric store for less??

4. Alex's Advent Calendar

Can you guess what she made this Advent Calendar out of? I'm not going to spoil it- but it is pretty crazy! I think this turned out adorable and I kind of wish I had one (if only because it is stuffed with candy- yum!)

So there you go- four awesome projects that I love!! Trust me when I say the list could go on and on, but I don't have all night to sing their praises (I am off to a cupcake-baking party!).

Oh and can I please ask that if you want to Pin any of these projects (which I have no doubt that you do!), please Pin directly from the blogger's webpage- not mine!

Happy weekend!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DCP...Is Over

I try to keep you guys up to date on my Alopecia Treatments. I know that most of my readers aren't affected by Alopecia, but I get a lot of people who find this blog when searching for information on Alopecia and it's various treatments. I have tried to be honest in my experiences with Anthralin and DCP treatments over the last year and a half of blogging about Alopecia. I really wish I could have written that one of the two treatments worked for me, so that someone can be inspired to try, but I can't.

Today I had my one year follow up appointment regarding my DCP treatment and the doctor and I jointly made the decision to end treatment. Actually, she was surprised they hadn't ended it at my 6 month follow up because she said if they don't see "significant growth" after 6 months they stop. Strange, because I would never deem myself has having significant growth at any point in this treatment. I got a few patches here and there, but they never really lasted long.

I have mixed emotions over today. On one hand, I am glad to be done because it was a huge time-commitment. I also am happy to move on and accept my appearance as it is. On the other hand, I am sad that my hope for a cure is currently done. I have tried every treatment. This is it. There is a chance that one day something new will come out, but for now my journey has ended. I need to move on and accept that I will spend the rest of my life with this disease.

It is hard to live with alopecia. I mean, I appreciate that I still have my health, but it is hard to be different and it can feel pretty lonely. I wish I had a friend with it too (though I would never wish it on my current full-haired friends!). There are support groups, but I can't stand them. I try so hard to participate on them but they make me questions every choice I have made thus far in my alopecia-journey. There are too many options and opinions presented for eyelashes, eyebrows, wigs, treatments, coping etc. It overwhelms me and I just stopped going on the website.

I have found that the support my family and friends give me means so much more than anything a stranger says on a website. I lost my hair at age 14 in grade 9. It should have been a terrible time but I have so few memories of feeling sorry for myself back then. My friends and family supported and loved me and NEVER treated me any differently before and after my hair loss. If they have no shame in being friends with a completely bald girl, then I sure as heck have no reason to have any shame in myself. And yes, even though I am currently single, I find that guys still find me attractive too! Alopecia only holds you back if you want to be held back. You can use it as an excuse, but really it is YOU making the excuse. I still go to my friends and family when I need to talk about how I feel dealing with my Alopecia and I don't think I will ever grow out of needing them. Thank you :)

I have been finding lately that I find I really struggle with the idea of being secure in my appearance, while at the same time dealing with the idea that I choose to wear a wig. I feel like those two shouldn't go hand in hand, so it can be hard to wrap my head around (this was also the reason I chose to leave the online support group- they didn't seem to support this idea of having both worlds). I am really not sure how I manage this, but after 13 years of alopecia I DO have self confidence and I STILL choose to wear a wig. I sometimes feel this is contradictory, but it is the truth. I shouldn't need to feel guilty about wearing a wig and being self-confident. I am all for those women who choose to let their bald flag fly, but right now it isn't the choice for me for my day to day life and that is OK.

I think I need a change in my alopecia routine to perk me up after all this. I am going to investigate new eyebrows (I recently found out there are fake hair ones! I might also look at real tattoos...eep). I am also looking into a Freedom Wig, which apparently you can pull into a pony tail?!?!!? They cost about $4000 though (I think?), so it is not a light decision. haha I can hear some of your jaws drop from across the internets.

I am also thinking of getting a new tattoo on my head (or just an improvement on one of the ones I already have). I am not sure how to start finding a reputable tattoo artist though. Any tips on that? See?? Too many choices!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bathroom DIY Artwork

I needed some sort of art for the remaining wall in the bathroom (because I have a deep rooted fear of blank walls), but I haven't been able to decide exactly what I want so I decided to see if I could make something with what I had on hand! I went down to the locker and found an old wood frame that used to house a bunch of pictures of me and my friends. It was dark wood, which isn't my favourite, and it also had no glass so it isn't the best choice for a damp bathroom.

This is the only "before" pic I have
So to take care of one of those problems, I gave up on the concept of pictures and I decided to just use it as more of an interesting frame. I painted it gold, which I think ties in nicely to the warm tones in the tile and shower curtain. I actually just used gold craft paint from the dollar store- no sanding, priming, or nutin!! I have no idea if it will last, but I just went slowly with thin layers.

I then stapled some material in the center for interest. I love the frame- not the material (which also ended up super crooked. D'oh!). So I am going to keep an eye out for some material that might suit this area a little better. It sits so close to the shower curtain that I didn't want them competing.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bathroom Shelving!

On Saturday I went up to Barrie with my dad and niece to visit my grandma for a couple of hours. I had to get up super early (gross), but it was a really nice visit and Maddy was soooo cute that all the staff kept on giving her toys and snacks. You never know which way a two year old will act, but I think she made my Grandma's day!

Anyway, after our visit we came back to Pickering and I asked my dad if we could swing by Lowes so we could finally get those darn shelves for my bathroom. I was a little disappointed that they didn't have one size I wanted in stock, but I ended up getting two 24x8" glass shelves, which turned out just fine (I originally wanted a shallower shelf for over the toilet)! The website said they had 24x6" in stock, but there weren't any on the shelf and I had no desire to flag an employee down to help. Oh well!

They ended up being a bit pricier than I had planned too. In the picture on their website it showed the brackets, so I thought they were included in the price, but they weren't included and they weren't cheap! All in all, my Lowe's trip for two shelves and a hook came to about $90 with tax ($10ish hook, $40ish for each shelf). However, sometimes in life you just gotta spend the money to get the outcome you want!

I got the hook installed on the door pretty easily. Thankfully the screws it came with were the perfect depth size for the door! I love that I now have a place to hang my housecoat again- it has been driving me nuts since I took away the over the door hanger (the over-door one banged the wall and I didn't want to ruin my new paint job). This new hook can lie flat when not in use, which works great for the sliver of space between the door and wall.

It is centered, I just had to use my wide angle lens here to get the shot

Putting up the shelves was a whole other story!! I followed the directions on the package for the brackets, but they came with terrible anchors. They had no lip and just sunk too deep in the drywall (there were no studs where I needed them!). I gave up on them and grabbed some other 1/4 anchors I had on hand, but the brackets are NOT secure to the wall now either. My dad suggested that the screws might be too thin for these different anchors, even though both anchors were 1/4. Argh!! So I am going to go to Canadian Tire and pick up some fat, flat-head screws (I only have round-head ones in a fatter size, which won't lie flat with the bracket). Super annoying!! So I kind of just staged these photos, but I wouldn't put anything heavy of them until I get those new screws!!

Ignore my sexy elbow
Evil Bracket

I tell you, sometimes I feel cursed that I can't even seem to do the simplest install job! I laugh when friends comment on how handy I am, because I am the only one who knows about all the holes they can't see and how long it took me to put it up! Not to mention how many phone calls I make to my dad. But I am slowly and steadily getting better at this whole DIY thing and that is all that matters :)

Also, it is really funny to me how big the bathroom looks in these photos- Wide angle lens for the win!! Even though it lies, the wide angle is the best way to get it all in a shot. So just remember the room is only a few square feet in reality.

Now all that is left to do in here is a bit of art and a new trash can. I struggle with finding the right size trash can, so we shall see how long it takes to get these room DONE. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mussels from Brussels

In the fall of 2011 I went on a whirlwind trip to Europe with two of my awesome friends. We went to Oktoberfest in Munich, bought a lifetime supply of cheese in Alkmaar, stayed in the red light district of Amersterdam, walked for hours in Paris, and drank some weird beers in Brussels.

But it is the Brussels part I am here to talk about! We were each in charge of a country and planning activities in our respective parts of Europe. Brussels was mine. Everything I read online said we needed to get Moules Frites (mussels and french fries). And waffles. I don't have a picture of me eating the mussels, so here is one of me drinking cookie flavoured beer (it was terrible BTW).

Anyways, I had never had mussels before going on this trip (I was extremely picky up until around age 22 when I realized a lot of foods were delicious and I needed to try them all). But Mussels in Brussels was on the MUST DO list (along with waffles). I was so excited when we went out to get them one night and they did NOT disappoint. Totally amazing experience.

Flash forward to today: I now order mussels quite often when I see them on a menu. I am super fancy like that. Then one day I was on a date and the guy casually mentioned (while we were eating mussels, not randomly), that they were pretty cheap and easy to make at home.


I wanted to go home and buy all the mussels. But I held off because I was afraid of screwing it up. I have never cooked anything like that and they are all alive and stuff. I chickened out for months. But this week I said no more! I was going to give it the ol' college try. I googled recipes and it seemed easy enough. Just make sure they are alive, pull off their beards (wut?), and steam em up!

So I bought them ($5.99 for the bag FYI). And I made them. And guess what- they are super easy.

First off, I took my bag and gave it a thorough rinsing. However these PEI mussels are farm raised, they aren't as dirty as naturally caught ones. Oh, I also am glad I made them right away because I read online you should cook them within a day of buying.

Once rinsed, I sorted out the live from the dead. I was worried all mine would be dead, but I only had about 7-8 from the bag! It is really easy to tell- if they are tightly shut they are alive, if they are open or broken they may be dead. I tapped the open ones a bit and let them sit for a bit. If they didn't close I put them in the dead pile! Some of my tightly shut ones opened a bit, but if they are opening then they are clearly alive so I just waved "hi" to them and wished them well in their bath. Also, none of mine seemed to have these so called "beards" you are supposed to remove? So I didn't do that part.

I cut up 2 shallots and cooked them a little to soften them up. You are supposed to use garlic too, but my garlic had gone bad (oops) so I skipped it. I then put the cooked shallots, 1/2 cup of chardonnay (I happened to have that on hand), and some parsley in a pot and boiled it for a few minutes. Then I added my mussels, turned the burner to high, and put a tight lid on.

I let them cook for about 6 minutes and stirred them up once. Internet told me to just wait until they were opened and that is what I did! If any don't open they are dead. Don't eat em. I only had 1 dud out of the bunch!

Just spoon into a bowl with some broth and enjoy! I wish I had had some crusty bread on hand to eat them with (or frites!), but I don't often buy bread and I hadn't made any in ages so I was breadless. Oh well!

And yes, I ate the whole pot. I am fairly certain you can't reheat these. Plus they are so delicious you WILL want two big heaping bowls.


Oh, and for the record, I need to clear something up because I was apparently wrong. I am allergic to crayfish, not shellfish. I can eat mussels!!

Have you ever tried cooking or baking something way beyond your usual foods? How did it turn out?
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