Remembering Y.O.U.

Michael Jackson

Love him or hate him, this polarizing icon has monopolized mainstream media for many years. Even more so after his untimely death last June 25th, 2009. However, a common thread I’m hearing in casual conversations is not a continuation of the initial shock at his passing but the surprise that it has already been a year since he passed.

365 days since three children unfortunately lost their father. 12 months since millions of fans said goodbye to a music legend and 1 year since Bubbles the Chimp lost … well whatever you’d call that relationship (no judging!). While Michael Jackson’s death is significant (you can personally determine the level of significance), my attention has been captured by the  ‘a year has gone by’ part.

Sure, there are many occasions and tools out there to acknowledge and mark the passing of a year – birthdays, holidays, calendars,  etc. Heck there’s even this monumental event that takes place every December 31st in the evening time. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Nonetheless, Michael Jackson’s sudden passing is different. While we anticipate those other events and plan for and expect them to happen and take place each year, his passing was a surprise to all.  Now that the anniversary of his death has rolled around, the universal feeling is “What? A year already?”

Time flies and the end is nigh.

As I write this entry, I’m flying through the air and we suddenly hit a patch of turbulence causing the plane to drop suddenly, taking my stomach with it. The toddler two rows up starts screaming and crying (and will continue to do so non-stop until we land…) and I quickly realize all this writing could be for nought.

Hey! Why doesn't ur care-antee include "Getting me there alive!" 😮

All these words could go to waste and never get read as we lurch to our deaths 25,000 feet below. Of course, the turbulence only lasts mere moments and we continue on course to land safely as planned (yawn, boring!).  The point though is this: It could all end at ANY TIME.

Now I’m not one to focus on the negative but to recognize that it exists to allow us to make our way to the positive good stuff.

The Positive Good Stuff:

Box of Crayons

Last week I was stumbling online and came across this really cool site called Box of Crayons. It features a cool video titled  Eight Principles of Having Fun that asks the question:  Are you having fun yet?

I really liked their 8 principles of having fun (example principles – #1. Be Creative: Stop following the rules and #7. Take Action: Stop being busy) and after viewing it, I signed up for the newsletter too. Although I’m not nearly as impressed with the newsletter as I was with the initial video that caught my eye, I do like the author’s positive attitude and his creativity is very inspiring so I will allow him to continue sending me occasional newsletters.

Things She’s Done/Places She’s Been

Then I was searching thru random profiles online and came across these notes on someone’s profile that made me green with envy:

I love to travel, visit and see other parts of the world:

  • I have walked the hills of Athens, Greece

A Dubai Gold Souk shop

  • Indulged in cappuccinos in Rome, Italy
  • Tasted exotic crepes in Paris, France
  • Partied at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain
  • Watched amazing sunrises in San Sebastian, Spain
  • Walked through the Gold Souks in Dubai
  • Ate the most delicious mangoes in Ghana…

I wanna do that too! (she cried out immaturely). Now while everyone’s list will be different, I still feel twinges of envy at ‘Partied @ Las Ramblas in Spain’. I don’t even know what this is but I can’t help but think “How amazing would that be?”

100 things to do before you die: The Buried Life

So I sort of started this list in my about me section but these punks outgoing guys are actually doing it on their own MTV show. As taken from their website:

Relying on goodwill, guts and gumption [Canadians] Duncan, Ben, Dave and Jonnie travel the globe in a purple transit bus to complete a list of ‘100 things to do before you die’ and to help and encourage others to go after their own lists.

I’ve watched a few episodes and love it. The episodes show the four dudes planning and plotting their list item and when it comes time to do it, the actual events  in these episodes were shown in hilarious fashion via handheld hidden camera.  Because you can’t crash a stranger’s wedding or Hugh Hefner’s pad with a camera crew in tow.

Sample list items:

  • #6. Attend a party at the playboy mansion
  • #41. Make a toast at a strangers’ wedding
  • #27. Give a stranger a $100 bill

So what’s my point? (Weren’t you paying attention???)

My point is this: that thing you’ve always wanted to do/try; that place you’ve always wanted to visit/see; that person you’ve always wanted to meet/reconnect with; why haven’t we done it yet? What’s holding us back?

You might also note that I’m not mentioning so called ‘rational’ issues like jobs and money and all the other rather ‘irrational’ issues that we use as excuses to hold us back. Everyone has that friend who dropped everything and moved across the world or we know a person working towards their dream job and earning very little income (right now) but is the happiest person you know.  We also might try to rationalize why they could do it but why we can’t do it too (Cuz that bitch is crazy!?).

No more excuses.

Oh and for the record I’m not suggesting selling or donating all your possessions and sailing around the world, however I’m also not not suggesting that either… (The rules are this: You can thank me but you can’t blame me).

C’mon now, whatever you’ve always wanted to do and whatever you’ve always wanted to see, go and do it! Go live it! Go see it!

I know I will…

.

.

.

Photo credit: Dubai Gold Souk
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Budgetary Restraining Order

$4600 (AKA why a budget?)

I opened my credit card bill in March and nearly dropped it in horror. After double checking to see if it was actually mine I reread the amount due. I owed the credit card company $4,600. All accumulated within a 6-week time frame. Admittedly, some purchases were for investment items that were going to pay off in time but in the here and now – yikes! Not only that, for the past few months I’ve been forever throwing out food in the fridge that gets purchased and never used. I can’t imagine all the $$$ that gets wasted via my refrigerator. While local restaurants were cashing in on my laziness, my wallet and savings were taking the hit.

Enough was enough. It was time to take some drastic measures.

Background story (AKA what’s the dilly?):

I’m a big fan of the show Till Debt Do Us Part. This show teaches couples to reduce spending, increase savings, stick to a budget, find other income sources and to get themselves out of debt.  Most couples on the show are spending up to 3 times more than their monthly earnings, are in consumer debt in excess of $50k, and have no clue about their finances. In each episode, the host, financial wizard Gail Vaz-Oxlade, cautions them: if you continue spending like this you will be $500K, $1 million+ in debt in 2 years, 5 years, etc.

While I’m not in a couple nor do I have any consumer debt- the spending less, increasing savings and sticking to a budget part sounded appealing to me (oooo a budget! How fun!). As I always mock the contestants who can’t stick to one, I felt it was time to put my money where my wallet is (or not put the money there in this instance I guess).

In any case, I have big dreams (move to France, Australia or Mexico), big plans (a website, an online business, retire at 40) so saving money now and proper money management are very important and none of those dreams will come cheaply.

Which brings us to the budget.

Calculation

Average monthly income (from all sources)

Minus fixed expenses (various savings, housing, utilities, cable and internet, transportation, gym memberships and the always important hair appointments).

Less the cost of the new things I want (maid service, a website designer & server).

(- 60%) Then slash the rest by 60% (As per Till Debt do Us Part)

What’s left: $599/month or $149.75/week to spend on the groceries, dinners out, lunches, brunches, concerts, shows, plays, shopping trips, bars, clubs, coffees, toiletries, clothing, snowboarding, rock climbing, shoes, gifts, snacks, books, taxi rides, magazines, newspapers, lotto tickets, art shows, weekend trips away, and all the other fun extras that you never put a thought to. Life if you will.

As a socially active shopper who can easily spend $149.75 in one good shopping trip or a great night out, this wasn’t going to be easy. However, that was kind of the point.

The Challenge: Get to the end of the month before getting to the end of the money

The Reward: On the show, the winners get up to $5,000 to be used to pay down their debt.  Since I have no debt, my reward is much more rewarding. If I complete all the challenges successfully, then I get to Viva Las Vegas. Up to 5 days and 4 nights to spend in the city of sin dependent on my angelic April spending.

Although I hate them, in this case they’re definitely in order. With the challenge set, there had to be some RULES:

  1. Spend  $149.75/week to a max of $599/month
  2. Beg or barter for any expenses over and above the budget
  3. Have fun every weekend (at least one night out) and plan fun, no budget/low budget activities for 2 other nights per week (doesn’t count and would be unrealistic if I became a hermit for 30 days)
  4. Host at least 1 dinner party for 6+ people…keeping the budget in mind
  5. Find money. It’s in the home somewhere. Any money found can be used.
  6. Get creative.  The best things in life ARE free. Find them. (Caveat: Once found, if you don’t like them, just ask for a refund…)

Week 1: The $10 dinner party (AKA Why spend more?)

Last time I hosted a party for 9, the cost was about $125 as I had it catered by the local grocery store’s pre-made department and included an overpriced house cocktail for sharing (composed of pricey champagne, cointreau and vodka), along with several bottles of mix (brand name pop, Tropicana juices, etc)

This time around – 8 people, BYOB (bring your own booze) and I hope, a better and healthier selection of food. All for $10 or less.

The plan – I had to base my menu on whatever I had in the fridge/cupboards/pantry and freezer.

You’re invited to dine Chez Nellé

It would take place on Day 4 of 30. Everyone was invited to my house for dinner.  Afterwards we would split a cab and go to a concert at a club nearby.

APPETIZERS

  • Microwave popcorn (ghetto, perhaps but it’s what I had in the cupboard and who doesn’t like buttery popcorn with extra butter?)
  • Homemade trail mix with dried cranberries, almonds, chopped dried apricot slices, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • A sliced rustic looking chicken & spinach pizza I found in the freezer. I then added parmesan cheese, sliced tomatoes and sea salt & pepper (to give it a homemade look, hee hee)
  • My personal invention: mini cranberry and roasted turkey wraps. How they tasted in my mind, 10/10. In reality I’d rate them a 6.5/10.

Roasted turkey, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts

Cost: $3.26 for roast turkey from the deli. Everything else was sitting in the fridge (cream cheese, whole wheat tortilla shells, spinach leaves, etc.)

MAINS

  • Veggie fried rice
  • Baked sole with garlic butter
  • Fresh baked coconut bread (supplied by a party goer)
  • Garden salad with spring mix, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers

mmmm. you know you want some of this

Cost: $2.58 for 2 packets of fried rice seasoning (my favourite). I had a huge bag of rice in the pantry, sole fish in the freezer purchased months ago and an unopened package of feta cheese from a few weeks back. Veggies are always on hand in my house. It was nice to use them for a change versus just throwing them out every few weeks and buying replacements to eventually throw it. It was a vicious cycle.

DRINKS:

A bottle of cola and diet cola as well as a selection of soda I keep in the fridge (I refer to soda simply as ‘mix’)

For ice, instead of spending $3 for a bag, I started filling and freezing ice cube trays on Thursday night so I had a full bag of ‘homemade’ ice for Saturday’s festivities.
Cost: $3.20 for the 2 bottles of soda

DESSERT

  • I think I mentioned this before but BYOB. 😉

The results: Empty plates and full and happy bellies! (It also helped that they all arrived hungry, heh heh heh)

Total cost: $9.04, woo!

My #1 tip for success: Using what I had on hand. My other option was to make a pasta dish as I had frozen meat in the freezer, a couple jars of tomato sauce in the pantry and a years’ worth of whole wheat pasta in the cupboards. This wasn’t about luckily having tons of food in the house, this is about using whatever you have in the house. Look in your own kitchens, with minimal purchases, can you host a cheap night in with friends?

Week 1 one went by in a blur. My fridge was still full from previous shopping expeditions and with no new shopping on the horizon, sticking to the budget was fun and eating the food in my house was easy. Week 2 however, was where it started to hit me. Friends would go out for dinner somewhere out of my budget and I would have to say no. Other friends wanted to do some cross border shopping but I had to say no. Go out on the town twice in a weekend? With $149.75/week for everything, there was no way to make it happen without being forced to eat mac ‘n cheese for a week (one box=3 meals). No, No, NO!  It was something I had to get used to saying. As was tradition, on Friday some coworkers went out to lunch and invited me to go along but as I had already packed a lunch for that day there was no reason for me to spend more $$$. N-O. I felt like having sushi for dinner but couldn’t justify the expenditure seeing as I had enough food in my house to make a healthy meal before it went to waste. Gimme an N and an O. NO!

On day 16, frustration hit its breaking point. Friends were showing me their newly acquired purchases (so cute!) and I was annoyed that I didn’t go with them. I need new stuff too. What was the point of the budget anyway? I could see the money in my bank account. It’s just sitting there, why not use it? I’m all about doing what I want and a budget is all about the very opposite of that. Shopping brings me pleasure. I’m bored and I want to spend some of the hard earned money that I earned and dammit, no one’s going to stop me. Not even myself.

With that thought in mind, I picked up my keys, dusted off my credit card and went out the door to the nearest shopping mall.

Happiness, thy name is mall.

**Did I let the budget get the best of me? Find out how I fared thru weeks 3 and 4 in the sequel – Budgetary Restraining Order Part II: The budget kicks back.

Climbing, on the rocks

Challenge: Climb 48 flights (or 739 steps). Straight up. All in support of research for the BC Lung Association and their 9th annual Climb the Wall: The Stairclimb for Clean Air fundraiser at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel.

Challenge Accepted: Before signing up, I prepared myself by going to the gym and using the ‘ol StairMaster. 10 minutes of ‘training’ later, feeling strong and confident and ready for any challenge, I signed up assuming this was all the training I needed.  I would soon find out that I was so very, very wrong.

Climb me!

The night before the event, I planned to do some yoga stretches, have a large salad with a side of pasta for dinner (carbo- loading), drink plenty of water and then get to bed early. With healthy plans made, I imagined nothing would get in the way. After all, no one will want to go out on a rainy Saturday night anyway, right?

Wrong.

The best laid plans…

I received the invite via text at 5pm that evening -the day before the climb. I tried to ignore it but it was followed by a reminder invite via text just after 8pm. A fun friend we hadn’t seen in awhile was back in town and it felt like a one night only thing. Especially when my friend said it could be – for one night only. I didn’t need much convincing and gathered round the usual suspects and headed downtown. As we trekked downtown, I told my fellow party people “As long as you make sure I’m home by 12:30 1AM, I’ll be fine.”

1AM: You can’t leave yet. Have another gin and tonic…

1:30AM: Cheers everyone! Tequila shots for all…

2AM: Lemon drop shots are more lemon and ice than vodka anyway…

2:15AM: Hey, weren’t you supposed to be asleep by now?

Home at the crack of 2:45AM, I intelligently reset my alarm from 8:35AM to 8:45AM. There. That should do it.

The longest morning of my life

Sundays are sacred. Yes for Him of course, but mainly I’m talking about me. Well, Sunday mornings are sacred at least. It’s the last day before the workweek begins that I get to sleep in. Getting up before noon is ridiculous; before 11AM is crazy and before 9AM should be considered a sin (and I like to think that He would agree).  After dragging myself out of bed then tossing myself into a cold shower, I haphazardly pack a bag and head out, wondering what I was thinking and why I’m even doing this in the first place…

FIREFIGHTERS

Grammatically speaking, I really don’t need to bold and capitalize the word FIREFIGHTERS. However, after meeting a menage of them in person I realize now that there’s definitely a physical need to emphasize the word FIREFIGHTERS. I’ve seen them on TV and in the movies but I have never really seen or paid attention to them in person. Consider me a newfound fan. Captain of the fan club in fact.

I arrived at the event just after the first few FIREFIGHTERS had finished their heats. This was in perfect time to see them strip out of their heavy firefighter jackets to reveal wonderfully formfitting, dark blue firefighter shirts and tanks. I slowed my pace and watched as their shirts stretched across their broad shoulders and bulging biceps. I came to a dead stop as some removed their sweat soaked tanks to expose their glistening chests and well-defined abdominal muscles…

Ooof. Where was I now?

Oh yes! I now see why FIREFIGHTERS support the BC Lung Association because they definitely took my breath away. Ha ha ha. (Promise: next time I’ll warn you when there’s a bad joke ahead)

Registration taken care of and my free shirt & climber # in hand, I met up with some of my teammates. Immediately, I noticed the many firefighters in the area.  6 foot plus, broad shouldered, dark haired and gorgeous, I’m forever grateful to my outgoing friend for getting the attention of these nearby specimens and beginning a conversation with these 2 gorgeous lads.

She estimated their ages to be around 20 to 25 years old. I simply estimated their ages to be ‘old enough’. Swooning, I ask their take on the stair challenge versus the StairMaster. Handsome #1 replies: Completely different. Handsome # 2 chimes in: It doesn’t prepare you for this stair climb at all.

Gulp.

2 days of training out the window. My heart starts to beat rapidly in my chest.  Partially from staring at that droplet of sweat on Handsome #2’s neck that I want to wipe off (with my body) but mainly from the challenge ahead.

An average of 8 minutes, the BC Lung Associations’ website claimed, is how long it will take most people to do the climb. My very fit firefighting future husband and his buddy (the best man, perhaps?) took just over 9 minutes to do it. My friends estimate their times will be in the 20 to 25-minute range. I’m still clinging (probably falsely) to that average of 8 minutes because 15 minutes of climbing straight up sounds as appealing as taking my eyes off these 2 lovely firefighters (can I help you wipe the sweat off your abs, sir?)

Let’s get to it

With the warm-up and stretches complete, there’s nowhere left to go but up. As my turn at the stairwell approaches, I’m given the green light to go.

Step 1 (48 flights to go): Cheers and hoots and hollers and it’s all for me! I think to myself as I sprint down the hallway and up the stairs, “I can do this, woo!”.

Flight 4 (44 flights to go): Only a few seconds in and I’m out of breath already. Uh oh. Maybe that last gin and tonic wasn’t the best idea…

Flight 8 (40 flights to go): I catch up to my friends and slowly slip past them. They’re engaging in the slow and steady pace method whereas I’m employing the ‘go as fast as you can before your body realizes what’s going on and slows you down’ method. In a scientific study, both methods proved to be equally effective.

Flight 16 (33 flights to go): An un-amused teenager in a monotone tells me I can do it and wishes me luck. For some reason, I don’t feel her sincerity.

Flight 21 (How many damn flights are left?!): I have long since stopped sprinting. The walls are closing in on me. And I never knew I could breathe so loudly. Is it really only me breathing this heavy in here?

Flight 28 (20 fricking flights to go): the sound of my own breath now annoys me. And those cheering morons at every flight are starting to tick me off with their canned hurrah’s and phony encouragement. Just so you know – “Only 20 flights to go!” is NOT encouragement when your thighs only have 18 flights left in ‘em.

Flight 34 (too many #$& flights left): I seriously look at the exit door to the right and consider it for a second. Then I remember the sign at flight 20 or so that states: “Only losers take elevators!” or something along those lines.

Flight 43: A large sign announces: “Only 5 flights to go!” I want to take that sign and shove it down the throat of whoever had the balls to make it. I bet you he never walked up 739 #$& flights of #$& stairs.

Flight 48 (0 flights to go):  What? I’m here? I’m alive!? Oh yay! Thank goodness. I hug the cheering darlings and take their proffered cups of lukewarm water (I assume the bringer of ice has to take the stairs…) Strangers in the recovery break room hi- five and congratulate each other on a job well done. The room smells as well as you’d think a room that’s had 400 sweaty people passing through it would. Then add 100+ more.

They send us down via the elevator back to the main area where we’re met by a feast of fresh fruit, pastries, bagels, cupcakes, coffees and teas and lots of water to help us recover. A wonderful event made even better by the continued presence of many FIREFIGHTERS to congratulate us and thank us for our efforts (no mister firefighter sir, thank you). The organizers continue to applaud us and announce our times will be posted later that day and/or on the website the next day. After stretching, getting some coffee and noshing on a bagel or 6, we pat ourselves on the back, take one last long, long look at any remaining firemen and get ready to head out.

So after going out the night before, going the distance the day of the event, going for it all by going to the top, I definitely know what I’m going to do when I get home…

I’m going to take a nap.

Oh and my official TIME to climb 48 flights of stairs or 739 steps: 31st place (out of 235 women), coming in @ 8 minutes and 13 seconds, woo! However, I swear it felt like an eternity so I assume they rounded down.

Why should polar bears have all the fun?

Hypothermia: In cold weather, your body may lose heat faster than you can produce it. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. It can make you sleepy, confused and clumsy. Because it happens gradually and affects your thinking, you may not realize you need help. That makes it especially dangerous. You can get it from being cold and wet, or under cold water for too long.

Hypothermia can lead to death if not treated promptly. (source)

Date:            January 1, 2010

Time:          2:30pm to 2:31pm

Weather: 5 degrees with heavy rain

Over 1500 adventure-bound Vancouverites took to the icy waters of English Bay beach off the pacific ocean on New Years day 2010 for the 90th annual Polar Bear Swim. Spirits were high as everyone gathered on the cold, wet sand decked out in lavish costumes, homemade getups, and other outfits that can only be described delicately as ‘obvious cries for help’.  From clowns to Vikings to Viking clowns, the scene was an eclectic showcase of Vancouver’s free spirited individuals. Several news teams and thousands of onlookers were also out in full force; cameras aloft and working away like red carpet photographers.

You can certainly take pictures of it, write about it, talk about it, watch it on TV in a news clip and maybe even view it live on the beach but nothing beats actually doing it. First hearing about this crazy event from a friend, I decided to go out and finally see what all the fuss was about.

Like me, some of you may have falsely believed you can simply waltz onto the beach, slip into a swimsuit and then jump in the water and be done with the whole ‘polar bear thing’. To you I say: “You fools!” There’s so much more to it than that. Fortunately, my trusty guide and invitee took me under her wing and showed me the way of the Polar Bear.

Step 1: The Ensemble

What a sweetie, he asked me if I wanted to blow on his horn for the photo, shucks!

Basic swimsuits are fine (for amateurs, scoff, scoff) but purists know the whole point of the chilly dunk is letting go and giving yourself up to the experience.  Something you can only do in a getup. The more ridiculous or outrageously hilarious you look, the better for our amusement. For some reason, self-realization is actually enhanced when you’re wearing Viking horns and a diaper.

Ensemble Tips:

–         The brighter the better

–         Accessories are a must

–         The crazier the better

–         Yes, your birthday suit IS considered an ensemble

–         Whatever you choose, have fun with it

my roomie's stuffed polar bear donning my apparal. Working it!My trusty guide helped put an ensemble together that made me feel like a free spirit (the self-realization part is that I also realized I looked like a fool). It involved a tiara (for the princess in me), Mardi Gras style necklaces (a must for all free spirits), red, glittery pom poms (to cheer on other free spirits), sparkly makeup (got washed off in the pouring rain) and a whistle (not part of the costume, simply used to scare off anyone who gets too close to your ‘free spirit’). And voila, step one complete.

Step 2: Getting There

You’re better off walking or taking a taxicab but your best bet is always public transit. Reminiscent of the parking situation during the fireworks shows during the summer, there’s nowhere to park and traffic moves at a standstill at best.  Also, get there early. Gigantic crowds have a tendency to move slowly when you’re in a rush. The event was slated to start at 2pm. Arriving promptly at 2:20pm, we only had time to toss off our jackets and shoes, strip down and get right into the melee on the beach (another tip – arrive ready to jump in). This meant our socializing was limited to after the plunge only and not before. Surprisingly, it’s easy to meet new people when you’re wearing a wet t-shirt and bathing suit bottoms.

Step 3: Taking the Plunge

Again, the naïve amongst you might believe you can simply walk up to the ocean, dangle your feet in the water and be done with it.

Tsk tsk tsk.

This is where the experience of your guide is key.  Mine had me step back several feet from the water and told me to run like heck and jump in. For first timers, it’s one way to ensure they get all the way in. No second-guessing when you’re up to your waist in 7-degree water and change your mind. Toe dipping is also not an option. Full immersion up to your neck or nothing!

You’ll be surprised, when you first walk out of the icy depths, at how warm you feel.  It washes over you almost immediately and you’re tempted to jump back in the water and splash around a little longer. Instinctively, you want to towel off and get changed into the dry clothing you packed (another tip!) but you’ll have no proper motor function right away. The cold water makes buttoning and tying and knotting almost impossible as your system tries to regain its lost body temperature by pulling heat from your hands, legs, fingers and toes. Still wearing a soaked swimsuit and a dripping wet ensemble, I happily traipsed around the beach laughing and smiling and taking pictures with others fresh from their dips.

Step 4: Make it a Memory

There’s no point to doing anything (legal at least) if there’s a: no record of it and/or b: no witnesses to see you do it. Take photos, take names and take note- while everyone you know is probably recovering from their New Years’ eve shenanigans by laying on a couch somewhere and nursing their outdated 2009 hangovers, you’re out here taking a huge, frozen bite out of 2010, yeah!! (also, beware of brain freeze)

Me and only 1500+ others received this 'exclusive' collectible

Also, if any of you are curious about what it’s like to immerse yourselves in water suitable only for polar bears then I suggest you do the following:

  • Fill your bathtub to the brim with water from the cold-water tap;
  • Add 3 cups of ice cubes, 2 cups of sand from the beach and one cup of water from the hot water tap;
  • Stir briskly until the ice cubes have just melted, take a step back and jump in.

Welcome to the newly minted Polar Bear Bathtub club! Just make sure you take a picture and get a witness to see you do it. Otherwise…

It doesn’t count.

sources: Viking – scaq.blogspot.comcrowd shot

Inconsideration: and other things to be thankful for

It began early Sunday morning at the crack of noon when I called my roommate to find out why she wasn’t home to go Thanksgiving food/décor/accessory shopping. Turns out she’d been drinking with her boyfriend the night before and was still ’recovering’. Now I’m all for sleeping in and I’m all for boyfriends and I’m definitely all for drinking with said boyfriends but one thing I am against is inconsideration!

So maybe you’re confused. I completely understand so let’s back up just a step. I take you back to late last Thursday night when my roommate eagerly suggested we host Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday. Now we had already been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner, which would have involved little to no work on our part except showing up on time (which is sometimes actually the hardest part). So to consider hosting it ourselves would mean a heavy investment of both time and money- two things which we have very little of to spare. She also promised to make the turkey and to help with the sides and when she tries, I certainly can’t say no to her big, brown, puppy dog eyes. Especially when they plead placidly at me. So it’s decided – Thanksgiving dinner will be hosted at our place. Damn her hide! After numerous years of cohabitation, I still fall for her dirty tricks every time.

Nonetheless, although I have agreed to co-host the meal I knew it’d have to be a new age affair. Baking and cooking everything from scratch is for a bygone era. Just as boring women have clean houses; independent females have empty fridges. We’re both busy, professional, socially active 25+ year-old females and we certainly can’t be expected to bake an apple pie using fresh apples (doesn’t the iPhone have an app for that?). As my idea to get the whole dang thing catered was quickly shot down as too pricey (a method I have happily inherited from my very independent mother), we were left with only one viable option – to get our boyfriends to pay for the caterer. As that idea was shot down even faster we were now forced to make the whole dang thing ourselves. I emphasize the terms ‘we’ and ‘ourselves’. And I would also like to emphasize that ‘ourselves’ included Stove Top brand stuffing, Costco’s bakery department and pre-packaged gravy. We quickly set up a menu and sent out invites to a select few fun pals whom we knew had potentially no plans for Sunday evening.

After that, I went on living, blissfully unaware of the hiccups that were to unfold including the 7kg frozen turkey we purchased that had only 30 hours to do 70 hours worth of defrosting and my roommate’s green face as she read that the giblets had to be physically removed from the defrosted raw bird, by hand. This was followed by missing muffin tins for Yorkshire puddings that turned out to be safely tucked away in an ex’s kitchen- far across town and ended with my inability to find 2L of plain ol’ vanilla ice cream for under $8 from the local markets.

Which brings us to Sunday morning. I woke up, went to the gym, returned home, started prepping for the day and noticed at noon that my partner in crime had yet to show up/text or send word via Saint Bernard of her location to go shopping and pretty much do Thanksgiving. Annoyed, I called her to find out that she was still recovering from her previous nights’ shenanigans. I yelled out that she’d “Ruined Thanksgiving!” and hung up. Yes, Drama Queen Histrionics 101. I should teach a class. I then continued on solo to the markets to pick up the remaining ingredients. Chagrined, she immediately called back, apologized and happily agreed to my terms of surrender: picking up the pricey caramel apple pie from Costco, vacuuming and straightening up the living room, and cleaning the main bathroom – something we both readily avoid unless faced with impending guests.

In the end the meal turned out perfectly, natch, and we all left the table just as stuffed as the bird my roommate was too afraid to touch. We also have plenty of leftovers filling up our no longer empty fridge if you’re interested.

So this Thanksgiving I’m also thankful for guilt and its resulting helpfulness. I would also like to add that my roomie was the best sous-chef a girl could ask for.

Now, who wants seconds?