Bubbly

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Didn’t actually have any on New Year’s Eve – these shimmery nails are as close to champers as I got this year.  We actually went to an 11 pm showing of Rise of Skywalker at the theatre just down the road from our new home, and rang in the new year staring at Poe Dameron’s handsome face (SO handsome!)

All part of my 2020 plan to get out there and live a little bit more.  And by that I mean step outside my comfort zone, do something a little unexpected, and just deal with the (temporarily) scary feeling that goes along with trying new things.

I’ve never been one to make resolutions, but I think that’s going to change this year.  Here’s a few I’d like to stick to:

Deal with things head-on.  I can – and occasionally do – procrastinate myself into a hole in the ground.  I’m just not great at dealing expeditiously with the administrative aspects of life.  But after organizing pretty well the entirety of our move, as well as the sale of our condo and the purchase of this house, in a little under a month, I KNOW I can do these things.  So I should.  It’s actually pretty rewarding to strike that thing you just didn’t want to do! – say, going to the DMV to change your address – off your to-do list.

Flowing from the first point, I’d like to get out and engage with the world a little more.  I’m a real homebody, which means I have the great/terrible problem of both loving my home and never wanting to leave it.  Believe it or not, going to the movies the other night was a pretty major leap – the urge to stay at home, cozy warm and unbothered by everything beyond our four walls, was nearly overwhelming.  But I also really wanted to see Rise of Skywalker on the big screen, and I wanted to do something a little bit unexpected to ring in the new year.  Adventure is out there – I just have to occasionally leave my house to find it.

Beyond that, here are a couple of specific resolutions that I’m already doing quite well on – cutting Starbucks out of my life, because I hate it (to clarify, I hate the culture, not the coffee) and nixing my perverse addiction to American political news.  I go through phases where I forget how furious and anxiety-ridden both tend to make me, and suddenly I’m haunting CNN 24/7, two venti mochas shoved into either side of my latte-drinkin’ helmet.  I like staying informed, but I also need to protect my sanity.  And lose some weight.  Cutting out the mochas will definitely help with that. 🙂

Have you made any resolutions for 2020?

Ch-Ch-Changes

So.  2019 really sucked, didn’t it?  If you were one of the fortunate few to breeze through 2019 with a minimum of fuss, I tip my toque to you.  Please teach me your wisdom, adorable Baby Yoda!

Baby Yoda

Because seemingly everyone I know had a 2019 fraught, if not with outright peril, then with unhappiness, and endless little obstacles to that elusive happiness – present company very much included.  Small things that, much like the snow that is currently sifting down outside, repeatedly coalesced into a giant ball of grief that threatened to roll me up and sweep me straight on off the mountain of life.  Wow, did I ever struggle this year.

To get into a forensic analysis of the bad would take all day, so I won’t.  I find dwelling excessively on the past to be counterproductive, and besides, it’s New Year’s Day, and I’ve got crap to do!  But I also always attempt to learn from my stupid mistakes, and it’s safe to say there really wasn’t an area of our lives this year that wasn’t touched by stupidity.

Our cat, Weegie, died at the end of 2018.  Hating ourselves for what we could not control, we carried our overwhelming heartbreak into 2019 and beyond.  We missed – MISS – that cat terribly.

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Toward the end of the winter we hired a contractor to carry out what we knew were going to be disruptive renovations to our two-bedroom, one-bathroom condo apartment.  The work was supposed to take two weeks.  Instead it took two-plus months, a ludicrously stressful time during which we essentially camped in our apartment.  There was no flooring, no kitchen and no bathroom.  Also occasionally no hope.  I’ve no idea how we struggled through that ordeal.

Diningroom Collage

In the spring we experienced some professional hardships, which, in addition to the kick to the ol’ self esteem, seriously impacted our finances.  We cancelled a planned trip to Disney World, slashed our family operating budget, and cut way back on anything not deemed a necessity.  We went nowhere, bought nothing, did nothing.

Then in the early fall, just as we were beginning to get back on our feet, issues that had been percolating at the condo – board mismanagement, doubled condo fees, ongoing, make-work construction projects, disgusting neighbours banging in the women’s change room sauna – came to a head when our pleasantly odd (but quiet) across-the-hall neighbour moved out and a couple with a very young child moved in.  And they were NOT quiet.  Not ever.

Before we embarked on the renovations, Mr. Finger Candy and I discussed our hopes for what would come after.  Specifically, we were hoping that we’d start to feel a little more positively about our apartment, and once again regard it as a home instead of, as I wrote in a letter to our property management firm, a place we were merely trying to survive.

Spoiler alert!  Our hopes did not come to pass.  The situation at the condo was suddenly unbearable, and when the board began executing some wildly unpopular bylaws over the rights and democratic objections of the owners, it could not be more clear that it was time to move on.

That weekend I attended my first series of open houses with my mom.  That was a sobering look at the sorry state of Ottawa’s current real estate market, a wildly overpriced free-for-all of (mostly) junky mid-century bungalows in need of an electrician, a plumber, and maybe even an exorcist.

But it was during one of those open houses that I actually met the woman who would go on, just a week later, to become our agent.  She listed our condo on October 31st – yup, Halloween, and our wedding anniversary – for what I thought was perhaps a smidge too high.  I was cautiously optimistic that we’d get such an amount, but also girding myself for weeks, if not a month, of active showings and other acts of real estate unpleasantness.

Turns out I needn’t have worried.  We had a request for a showing about four hours after the listing went live.  The following morning the showing took place, and about three hours after that we received an offer for our asking price, which we accepted, the end.  And that’s how our condo sold in under 24 hours!  That one still boggles.

Then came the hard part, the packing up of nearly 15 years of life, and then, of course, deciding where to move it all to.  Oh yeah, and we also had a deadline, the buyer’s possession date of December 2nd, so no pressure there!

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After attending quite a few showings, we were growing a bit dispirited.  There seemed to be only 12 houses for sale in our price range and desired neighbourhoods, and all of them needed major work and/or a spiritual cleansing.  Especially the one with the power lines draped over the pool.

Then this house came up for sale.  It was cute, had a fantastic updated kitchen with a cozy adjacent family room, tons of built-in storage, a private backyard, four bedrooms, a finished basement, and just that vibe about it that we had found home.  It was also in a great neighbourhood close to tons of amenities, and a quick drive to Mr. Finger Candy’s office.

Our Home 1

So of course we ignored it and went back to looking at the same 12 junky bungalows and splits we had been looking at before.  That’s S-M-R-T Smart right there, kids!

You’ll be glad to know that we came to our senses some days later upon realizing that the cute house with the great kitchen in the good neighbourhood that was close to Mr. Finger Candy’s job was precisely the house that we wanted, and needed.  We had just come through a year of unending hell, on the condo front and in just about all other respects as well, and we deserved to reclaim our happiness in a place that we could call home.  Now we just needed to win the damn bid!

Following a flurry of what felt like very high stakes real estatery (our agent, a truly lovely, British accent’d beast, had an actual strategy in place for presenting our offer, which was one of 13!) the homeowners accepted our offer!  We were now the owners of the home!  It was thrilling and wonderful and oh holy crap, that’s a really big house.  The enormity of it all was, well, enormous.

The end of November and pretty well the entirety of December were a non-stop goat rodeo of meetings with lawyers, agents, movers and anyone else who could assist in transplanting us from one place to another.  And packing.  So. Much. Packing.  It all would have been MUCH easier had we been able to book an elevator at the condo for our actual move-out date, as opposed to three days earlier, necessitating a complicated and expensive double-move that had us shuffling all of our possessions into my parents’ garage for a week, but when was anything at the condo ever easy?  It’s precisely why we moved.  I almost would have been disappointed had the condo not fucked us over, just one last time. 🙂

The week we spent in limbo at my parents’ house – Mr. Finger Candy called it the beginning of our “urban nomadic lifestyle” – was rather fun, though.  Camped out on our mattress on my parents’ livingroom floor, it gave us a lot of weird, but welcome, family time.  We helped my parents put up their Charlie Brown Christmas tree, we watched a lot of episodes of Austin City Limits with my dad and Hallmark Christmas specials with both, and we helped them cut the ribbon on their new lighted Christmas village featuring the Griswold family homestead and Cousin Eddie’s RV.  Like their daughter, my parents clearly have non-traditional taste in holiday decorations.

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We took possession of our new home December 4th and immediately set about to tending to the priorities – white Christmas tree, and a bit of exterior holiday illumination, front and back.

Decorating Collage

To say we’re pleased with our new home would be a wild understatement.  We are positively delighted with the place, and it took next to no time for it to feel like ours.  Behold the cozy and comforting power of holiday decorations!

More Decorations Collage

Most importantly, though, moving here had what I was hoping would be the desired effect – a reset on our lives, and a reset on a truly terrible year.  We’re different people today than we were even a month ago – better people, people of action, even – and I credit the awesome – and kind of awesomely fun – responsibility of homeownership for that.  For pity’s sake, Mr. Finger Candy’s already turned into one of those freaks about his snowy driveway, I’m swapping cookies with the neighbours and we’re both buying so many peanuts for the backyard squirrels, they’re all going to keel over from excessive oil intake.  We sort our garbage.  We do our laundry during non-peak hours.  We shovel the driveway after the plow comes by!  Well, I don’t shovel the driveway – that’s my husband’s weird new quirk. 😉

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Heading into the new year, I feel so very fortunate to be here, in this beautiful home at this time.  A wise friend commented some months back that perhaps this whole move situation would jump start my new destiny, and she was right.  To drag ourselves out of our mutually reinforced funks and confront who we really wanted to be, instead of who we were just pretending to be, we needed to take the leap out of our comfort zones, while simultaneously finding a comforting home base to call our own.  Tall order, but I think we’ve managed pretty well.

To 2020.  May we all continue to chase, and capture, that elusive mistress Happiness.  We deserve it.

Yippee Kayak, Other Buckets!

Regrettably can’t claim that one for myself – that’s a Die Hard joke from Brooklyn 9-9, a snappy – but wholly inaccurate – rejoinder uttered by devoted foodie weirdo, Charles Boyle, after he heroically saves his friends from a Christmas Eve robbery.

Ah, so here we are, on the eve that Nakatomi Tower is descended upon by Alan Rickman and his band of well mannered, ballet-dancing terrorists (true story – one of the Gunters, the guy with the long, white blonde hair, was a ballet dancer first, stuntman second.)  Or it’s simply Christmas Eve, if you’re looking for a slightly more traditional interpretation of the season. 😉

Okay, so it’s been nearly a month since I touched fingertips to keyboard, and you may be curious as to where the hell I’ve been.  I’ve certainly wondered a time or two myself!

Well, we moved! From our two-bedroom condo to a four-bedroom house.  You’re right if you think we’ve possibly lost our minds – sometimes I think we certainly have!  Here’s a pic of the new homestead:

Our Home 1

So as of late, my life has been something of an insane goat rodeo of packing and moving and schlepping, and then it was immediately CHRISTMAS!!!  So thank goodness I had my priorities wildly in order, and had this white artificial tree set up and all aglow in our new family room the day after we had officially moved in.  Bed not delivered, you say?  Pfft, who needs a bed when you’ve got a Christmas tree?!

Tree Collage

I even managed to squeeze in the first bit of nail art I’ve done in well over a month.  Such wild productivity!  Actually, I should cut myself some friggin’ slack – life has somehow been both a sprint AND a slog for about two solid months now, and I’m ready for a bit of holiday downtime.

Nails 1

I have so much more I want to share with you about the sale of our condo, the purchase of this house, our move and our lives, but now is not the time.  Now it’s time to get our holiday on, and bask in the love of our nearest and dearest, and oh dear lord, run out to the mall RIGHT FRIGGIN’ NOW! because the shops close in five hours!  Merry Christmas, and happiest of holidays, peeps.  See you on the other side. 🙂

Hallowversary 15: This Time It’s Boring

Two years ago, for our 13th Halloween wedding anniversary, we went to Disney World on a super spontaneous, ultra last minute trip and rode the Haunted Mansion 13 times in one day.  Last year, for our 14th, we dressed up like Tyler Joseph, the lead singer of twenty one pilots, and bombed around the Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party.

This year we listed our condo for sale.  And it rained.  A lot.

Okay, wait, back to the condo part.  “But hey, wait,” you may be saying to yourself.  “Didn’t you just renovate your condo?  And wasn’t it kind of hell?”  And the answer would be yes to all of those queries – we did just finish it, and it was its own very special kind of hell, but it was time to move on.  Onwards and upwards and outwards!  In fact, here’s the tour video our agency shot; hope you like the place. 🙂

Anyhow, in light of that bit of major adulting (lord, how I HATE that term) we’re having a pretty low key anniversary – regrettably no Disneying this year. 😦  Instead we went to the lumber yard for some last minute “I’m selling my house” items and ate sausages and veggie dogs, standing up in the end-of-October drizzle, in the parking lot.  It actually wasn’t terrible – this guy certainly looks pleased with himself!

But because I can’t ever let the opportunity pass to look backwards in fondness at my life, I created this little video for our YouTube channel, Park or Perish!, about the year we rode the Mansion 13 times in one day.  Two years on, it remains pretty well the coolest thing we’ve ever done, and I wish with all my blackened heart and soul we were there today.  This fun little video will have to suffice for now.  Happy Halloween, friends, and happy 15th to us.

Ruby Friday

Ruby Friday Collage 1

You know, “Goooood-bye, Ru-bee Friday, who could hang a name on you?”  That’s how that Rolling Stones song goes, right? (massive joke here – my Boomer parents are hardcore Stones fans, particularly my mom, and have been since they were about 16 years old.  I’ve sent them off to Toronto on more than a couple of occasions to catch their shows, always with the vague fear that my mother’s head is just going to explode, simply from breathing the same air as the leathery, seemingly indestructible object of her lifelong lust, Keith Richards.  Anyhow, long joke short, I’m well versed in the Stones.  Also the Animals, the Kinks, the Traveling Wilburys, Bob Segar, bit of Springsteen – that’s the music I grew up with.  No wonder my taste in music skews so very rock.)

Anyhow, I may have gotten the day wrong on these ruby-esque nails, but whether it’s Tuesday or Friday, I think they’re still pretty dope.  I actually did this manicure last month for the nail art challenge I’ve been participating in on Instagram for the theme of gemstones.  I’ve been doing gemstone and stone-type nails for a little while now, actually had a few in reserve that I could have whipped out for just such an occasion, but I decided to try a little something different with this manicure, opting for a jelly sandwich mani wherein I layered sponged-on silver and glittery red polishes between thick, glossy coats of a vibrant, ruby red jelly.  It turned out to be a pretty good technique – I think these nails look like the cross-section of a cut gemstone, so pretty.  I think they look particularly nice in the matte finish – gems before they’ve hit the buffer ‘n’ polisher.

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And they don’t look too bad in WAY SUPER UP CLOSE MACRO MODE either.  It’s always amazing the level of detail that shows up in a macro shot, huh?  By the way, NEVER turn a macro lens on, say, your skin.  You’ll walk away convinced that you’re desiccating on the spot.  Hey, just like our leathery man, Keef! (kidding, Mom, I’m kidding – c’mon, you know Keith’s gonna outlast us all.  And thank goodness – we’re going to need sweet riffs in the apocalypse.) 😉

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Fall Feels

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Here’s a fun dovetailing of two of my favourite interests these days, nail art and hand lettering.  I’ve done lettering-type nails before, of course – these Beetlejuice nails from 2016 remain undisputed champions – but not since re-discovering my teenagehood love of calligraphy via Instagram (oh Insta, is there nothing you can’t turn into a new obsession?)  After taking a lettering module during grade 9 art class, I got way into calligraphy and other hand lettering, even going so far as to compose my letters to my American pen pal in ornate, looping script (and in a rather dashing bright turquoise ink, no less, a present from my parents, who also supplied me with a gorgeous refillable pen.)

But just lately I’ve been taken with short lettering videos on Instagram; they’ve really reignited the old lettering bug, even if practice makes me feel a bit like I’m auditioning for the Well-Mannered Serial Killer Olympics (Hannibal Lecter is always a contender.)

Lettering Collage

Anyhow, here I combined a holo-happy gradient with some loopy lettering for a mani that’s really feeling all the Falls. 🙂

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Those ’70s Zig Zags

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Not those kind of Zig Zags, though there were plenty of those on That ’70s Show (of which I was an occasional watcher; the hazy circle bit, especially when it involved Eric’s parents, was never not hilarious.)  No, just that there’s something very 1970s about these zig zag nails, which I did as part of a challenge I’m participating in over on Instagram.  I think it’s the colour palette I chose, or maybe the fact that the stripes look a bit like one of those ultra chic sweater dresses, Missoni or not, the girls wore.

And if this post is not making a tremendous amount of sense, that’s because I’m hella sick, and maybe a bit loopty (typo, but I’m keeping it) on cough suppressant.  I have a cough that can bring down walls under the very best of circumstances, and these are not my best circumstances.  I took a bath yesterday, and counted the fact that I was able to pull myself out of the tub more or less under my own power as a major victory, and then once more returned to my sickbed.  Oh, look at that – I’ve gone all Victorian on you.  From the 1970s to the 1870s!

Anyhow, hope you enjoy these nails.  I’m going back to bed.

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