Friday, July 29, 2011

Bye-bye, kitties

The weekend of Dude family fun is here. We're getting picked up in 20 minutes to head to our hometown for two showers hosted by his mother at one and his stepmother at the other. Being at the centre of things in someone else's family is an odd experience, thought they'll be my family too, soon enough. And they're good people. I'm lucky in that way. I've heard some bad tales of woe about in-laws from other people, and it's always issues that began well before the wedding, but which escalated afterward. I don't feel at all concerned about this sort of thing.

It's going to be a lot of socializing, and we're leaving our kittens behind for the first time. They've grown into very affectionate kitties and I'm really going to miss them. I'm also a little concerned about them getting anxiety and acting out about it. Think urinating in the wrong places, vomiting, scratching. But we have McPal and his fiance coming to care for them, which is a load off my mind.

I'm pretty fussy about my kittens. I heart them to pieces. And that's what I love about cats, is that they're made to be spoiled. The more you indulge them, the happier and better behaved they are, which is stark contrast to other dependants, like dogs and children.

Oh, it's time to go... bye, kitties! Be good!

I'm such a suck.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Woe is Them

I'm loving Retro Camera, which means I'm loving having a smart phone. I also love Angry Birds. Ah, technology. I resist for so long, then give in randomly and fall in love. Resistance is futile.

Here's some wedding prep shots (Which I didn't intend to shoot in black and white, but oh well) I've taken of some of the things I've had delivered:

From Etsy.
The wood has been stylistically burned on one side.

These are my seating tags. Plan is to paint the untreated side of the wood with chalkboard paint. Then with a chalk marker, write the name on the rectangle and the table number on the circle. I'll tie them together with something fun and charming.

Distressed wood, mini chalkboard.
Cat not included.

Here is a sample of my table numbers, also chalkboard. Bea jumped into the picture, which conveniently gives a measure of reference for just how small and cute they are.

I didn't set out looking for chalkboard; it just sort of happened. And it's thanks to the internet and Etsy. Because of the ease of online shopping, review reading and idea gathering, wedding planning has been ridiculously easy and very pleasurable. Brides used to have to travel from store to store looking for things, comparing costs and were limited by their time and locations. Not I, not in this day and age. Pishaw! The only wedding item/product I have gone into a store to buy is my dress.

I've gotten mostly good feedback from people when I've talked about my upcoming nuptials. You tell people or others mention it, and you receive a congratulations and then perhaps you show your ring and conversation shifts to some other topic of interest.

However, nothing shows you who has emotional baggage when it comes to weddings and marriage moreso than seeing a person's reaction to someone else's engagement. People who aren't interested in marriage, but are confident in their own life choices, will be warm and congratulatory; they understand that your decisions don't reflect on them. They're happy if you're happy.

But there are those out there who only claim to be disinterested, but who clearly are nursing some issues surrounding matrimony. And it can be uncomfortable to witness because it's your life event that's bringing it out in them. For instance:

At dance class a friend was inquiring about my wedding and I mentioned I went dress shopping and found one I could afford, though it was still a lot of money to pay. A woman overheard and thought I meant the costume dresses, and mentioned some were very affordable. I let her know that I was referring to buying a wedding dress.

Her response was quick and terse: "Oh, I don't believe in weddings. I never want to get married."

Well, alright. Most people would have said, "Oh, you're getting married? Congratulations." People who are blase about marriage still know not to rain on someone else's parade, but people who have issues with it revert the focus immediately to themselves and get a little hostile. Sometimes the lady doth protesteth too much.

Another instance, an acquaintance learned I was getting married and her only comment was a question: "How old are you?" "I'm 27." (Which I was at the time) "Oh... Well, that's okay then." Oh, is it? Good news. I almost thanked her for her approval, but decided better of it. Turns out this woman has some significant relationship issues and is going through a hard time. No need to call her out, though it reenforced my opinion about the source of her rudeness.

And recently, another acquaintance learned I was engaged and her reaction was to scoff at weddings and complain about her Facebook newsfeed having nothing but marriage and baby news. No congratulations, no warm wishes, and several jabs about matrimony in general for the rest of the evening. And I barely know her. It was actually the most unpleasant out of the three.

For each of these ladies, I think they've been burned by love. I don't begrudge them their feelings, but there's something to be said for not publicly eating sour grapes over it. I don't need a fuss, but I don't terribly enjoy people I don't know well wrinkling their nose at my happiness.

Well, in three months, this era of life will be over. Funny thing, an engagement. Such a temporary state of affairs. And as much fun as it's been in many ways, I'm rather ready for it to come to a close.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Garden Fun

The mail has gotten quite fun these days. In my office a small pile of wedding paraphernalia is growing: candy buffet apothecary jars, mini chalkboard easels for table numbers, and distressed wooden tags for seating cards, which arrived today. Also Front Door Organics delivered produce and so the house is full of fresh fruit and veg. Good mail days are one of life's delightful little pleasures.

In garden news, I've been harvesting zucchini and it's been magical. I love going out to the garden and plucking my food. And the pumpkin plant I was bemoaning sprouted a female flower I promptly pollinated and now a charming lil' punkin is growing on a vine that is taking over more and more of my backyard each passing day. I prune where I can, but can't bring myself to remove sections that promise to sprout more female flowers.

The tomatoes are plentiful, though still green. I'm going to have an abundance, which means I need to whet my appetite for toasted tomato sammiches. I've been harvesting my carrots and green beans, and the lettuce has gone to a better place. The only thing not growing are the bell peppers. The plants are growing and flowering, but no baby peppers yet. The onions are also perplexing.

As far as the flowers go, lilies have bloomed and in the unfair fashion of nature they're already on their way out. Beauty is so fleeting. But my sweetpeas, which I had given up for lost due to what turned out to be a less than ideal planting location, have starting climbing the fence and are beginning to flower. So I'm not feeling like a total failure. Not exactly a green thumb, but for a novice I'm very pleased with my first-time gardening results.

Now for some gardening pictures, and just for kicks I took them with a funky phone ap called Retro Phone. Well, not the first one, but the others I did.

Here is my garden with the pumpkin plant claiming
the entire yard for its own.

Here is a Polaroid shot of my first pumpkin!

And my tomatoes! Still green but lookin' fine.

One of the zucchini growing into a fine specimen of yumminess.
Taken with Fudge Can.

My sweetpeas blooming against all odds.

Fun close-up of a tomato with the Orange Box setting.

My carrots growing in a big bunch.

My onions doing... something.
Hopefully growing the way they're supposed to.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Going to high tea on a Sunday is charming, Harry Potter was exemplary, and my first pumpkin has begun to grow.

These are the small things that please me today.

A few members from craft club have decided to make a ritual of high tea at the Windsor Arms. It's really a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Sitting around in my pyjamas transcribing TV shows, sweltering in the heat outdoors, paying bills, doing housework and all the like is necessary life drudgery. We all need to work, clean and spend money to make it all happen. But wearing a charming outfit in a beautiful room, having tea served on a Sunday afternoon along with tasty goodies in the company of good friends, well, that's just living the good life, if you ask me.

It's a British custom I wish were more common in daily life: tea time. Just taking the time out in the afternoon to have a light snack with a tea and enjoying some calming conversation.

Western life is just too hectic for that, even for people like me who have so little going on. Seriously, I have it low-key around these parts. But no one else does, and therein is the bummer. I'd love if I had a friend nearby who would reliably pop in for an afternoon spot of tea. I suppose that's what privileged women did back in the day. And sure, they didn't have property rights or the vote, so this really is a rose-coloured glasses sense of wistfulness, but what a shame that tea time went by the wayside.

Everything that everybody does seems so harried. Getting up early is harried: gotta got to work. Getting to work is harried: gotta drive on the busy road or use the packed TTC. Work is harried: lunch is timed, work is due, and overtime comes up. Getting home is harried: back on the road or subway, people cramped, you're tired, what's for dinner, do some housework,

Tea Time

Going to high tea on a Sunday is charming, Harry Potter was exemplary, and my first pumpkin has begun to grow.

These are the small things that please me today.

A few members from craft club have decided to make a ritual of high tea at the Windsor Arms. It's really a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Sitting around in my pyjamas transcribing TV shows, sweltering in the heat outdoors, paying bills, doing housework and all the like is necessary life drudgery. We all need to work, clean and spend money to make it all happen. But wearing a charming outfit in a beautiful room, having tea served on a Sunday afternoon along with tasty goodies in the company of good friends, well, that's just living the good life, if you ask me.

It's a British custom I wish were more common in daily life: tea time. Just taking the time out in the afternoon to have a light snack with a tea and enjoying some calming conversation.

Western life is just too hectic for that, even for people like me who have so little going on. Seriously, I have it low-key around these parts. But no one else does, and therein is the bummer. I'd love if I had a friend nearby who would reliably pop in for an afternoon spot of tea. I suppose that's what privileged women did back in the day. And sure, they didn't have property rights or the vote, so this really is a rose-coloured glasses sense of wistfulness, but what a shame that tea time went by the wayside.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Backyard

The garden is growing. The zucchini and pumpkin are taking over the yard! I'm pruning them, keeping them in check. There are six zucchinis growing that I can see. No pumpkins yet, but they're flowering. I'm trying to pollinate them, but it's kind of hard when you have infinite male flowers and nearly no females. Buzuh?

The tomato plant is out of control. I'm pruning that one, too. It's stretching across pretty much everything and well beyond the stakes. Happily, it's growing tons of tomatoes, but sweet Jebus, it's startling how massive the thing would get without intervention. And I hate pruning. It makes me feel like I'm amputating a living thing against its will because it has the audacity to thrive.

The green beans are already being harvested. It's like every time I go outside there's more beans. My immediate future is going to contain beans. Beans, beans, beans.

I spend a portion of every day out in the backyard tending to the garden. I weed, water and prune. It's relaxing and pleasant, but the Dude and I are already making mental revisions to our garden for next year.

For starters, no onions or carrots, fewer pepper plants and in a different area, only one pumpkin and zucchini plant (They come in pairs, so we planted both), relocation of spices, relocation of beans plus proper structures for them to grow upwards, and the addition of potatoes.

And what does all this mean? It means we're staying put for once. I finally feel satisfied. I've moved because of neighbour issues, and now we're below a terrific lady. I've moved for office space and now I have one. I've moved for more affordable rent, and this place is well in our budget. I've wanted air conditioning, the right to paint, a bigger kitchen and outdoor space and it's all here!

It's taken many a move, by George. From the Annex to the Village, to Parkdale, to Christie Pitts to here, first upstairs and now down, all in 7 years. Everyone's always on my case about moving, and rightly so, teasing me about needing my current address since it's been a few months and I may have a new one. But this place has been worth moving for. And I think it's the backyard that's done it for me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Four

This heat is oppressive, isn't it? Well, if you're in Toronto, you know what I'm talking about. We had the AC on for a bit, and discovered the vent or whatever it was needed to be changed when within an hour I was wheezing and sneezing up my soul. I spent a couple days suffering through sinus hell. The heat in comparison is almost welcome. At least I can breathe.

I have recently come into a situation that is quite an ass thing for any woman: my reliable, personable, talented and affordable hair stylist quit. And not just the salon she was at, but apparently the business. And four months before my wedding when I was counting on using her services.

So I went on a search to discover a new salon. I saw excellent reviews for Fringe in Parkdale, my old haunt. The quality of the cut is good and the actual salon is really cool. I like minimalistic modern settings. But... it was $40 more than my price range, and I was kept waiting 10 minutes without an apology, and I was left completely alone in the salon for 15 minutes, not even a receptionist was present. I think the colour was left in too long, not based on how long it needed, but around the stylist's activities. Anyway, I can't justify going back with the highest price and lower service.

So the search continues. And not having a regularly stylist you're familiar with to do your hair on your wedding means you have to call around, ask for prices and get recommendations and pretty much hope for the best.

With under four months to go, things are really starting to happen. In particular, four things.

My maid of honour and my aunt are cohosting a shower for me in my hometown. All my family and nearby friends will be invited. McPal, being my bridesman and Torontonian wanted to also throw a shower, a tea party type affair cohosted with his fiance, for my Toronto friends who would be too far from my hometown to attend the shower.

So this is really nice. But what I hadn't realized was that the Dude's family was going to be as excited about showers as mine would be. The Dude's mom decided she wanted to throw a shower as well to introduce me to her family. I let her know about my maid of honour's shower, but she felt it was important for her to do her own. So now we're up to threee.

Then the Dude's stepmom wanted to throw one for the ladies on her husband's side of the family. I again let her know about the already existing shower and that all the ladies she wants to host would be invited, but she still wanted to host one herself.

I'm having four showers.

Now, this is not a complaint. When you have so many people wanting to do things for you to help you celebrate that you wind up with four showers, this is not a problem. It's an outpouring of love and kindness. But holy moley, I'm having four showers and I never would have seen such a thing coming in my whole life.

I think for the Dude, his family have been wanting to do something. None of his other brothers got married, so while there have been babies born and all the joy that comes with grandchildren, there's been no weddings. So I think that is where a lot of that enthusiasm comes from. It's a chance for parents to get involved and participate in this sort of milestone for one of their kids and show some love, and this may be the only chance so they're making the most of it.

It really is moving. I'm happy I'm marrying into a kind and caring family.

But wow. Four showers. Little-known fact about me: Opening presents makes me feel a little awkward. Looks like I'll be on the road to getting over that in the very near future!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mail Call!

I had a really good mail day today. I almost had an exemplary mail day, but was thwarted by an early arrival I wasn't awake to hear. Shame on me.

Number one was a mineral makeup order from Silk Naturals, which the letter carrier thoughtfully stuffed tightly into the letter slot. Perhaps a little grumpy about the strike outcome?

Inside was a plethora of coolness. I bought a starter kit for mineral loose powder. You follow recipes and tweak the measurements to create a loose powder to match your skin tone. And the coverage is awesome. It was kind of a messy alchemy experiment that I took to the backyard. Mixing with the tiny scoop, mixing the powder, testing it, stopping things from blowing away.

I also bought a natural cleanser and lip balm, and some lovely cheap samples for toner, lip plumper, exfoliant and serum, plus a foaming bottle for the cleanser. And it all came to a whopping $32. Amazing deal. I have a new favourite cosmetics store.

The second thing that came in the mail was a new smart phone. I had an old flip phone that was obsolete and dependable. But what really started to grate on me was the quiet ringer I could never hear. So, being on Koodo and grandfathered in with an amazing $35 a month deal, I figured I'd upgrade for free to a LG Optimus One (I so want to call it Optimus Prime).

It's like the poor man's iPhone, which is something I find sleek and pretty but would never buy. I only got the cheap thing I had in the first place because it was free and had no contract. I was planning to ride my old phone out. It was only three years old and it still worked. But having found myself in need of a map, in need of restaurant options while out, in need of a phone I can actually notice ringing, and a proper keyboard so I don't have to click each key tons of times to get a message out (And I like to properly spell and punctuate), it was time.

And the rogue mail that got away? I think it's my wedding invite proofs. I can't imagine what else it would be. Oh, but I want to see them! I almost had a mail hat trick. Usually it's just bills.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Long Weekend

Long weekends are the lifeblood of adulthood. Children in this hemisphere get two straight months off in summer, plus March break and Christmas vacation. We typically get, if we're lucky, two to three weeks in the whole year.

Though, if your parents were smart, they made the transition more gradual and less jarring by forcing you as a young teen to find work over the summer, babysitting, mowing lawns, a part-time job. Then a part-time job after school throughout the year, which would become full-time in the summer to save for college. Then full time jobs between college semesters, which is four months straight of 40-hour weeks.

By the time you're 22 and out of school and unemployed, you're thoroughly demoralized and ready for the workforce. Time off is not fun because it means you have $0 and it's horrifyingly expensive and you'll take just about anything.

So here we are.

I've been at my job for six years. That's around the time the benefits of longevity kick in. I now have four weeks of vacay. It's not the two months of carefree summer of my youth, but when would that ever be possible again? Retirement, I guess, but with less energy and more applesauce.

The Dude has been working like a maniac. He's been accepting weekend work, making him work six days straight with only one day off, or worse, the whole weekend resulting in 12 straight days. While I admire his gusto for his career, I realize I alone am monitoring his physical and mental health. He's too busy to realize he's ruining his health.

So this three-day weekend was a godsend. I claimed the entire three days from any work, labour or undesirable activity. It was my mission to play a fun few days for him to finally get some rest, partly for his happiness, partly for mine so he could stop being Captain Grumpy. All work and no rest makes Dude a dull boy.

We're on the last day and he's mellow yellow. We'll be capping this weekend of fun and activity off with drinks at a pub with friends. And then True Blood.

Thing about adult life seems to have a theme of quality over quantity. There's not a lot of quantity to be had, really, not of the things you want, like recreation or vacation. So it's either plan for quality or get nothing.