Tulipalooza

Bit of a throwback there for the Gen X near-olds of Ottawa, Ontario. Show of hands if you, too, spent a weekend in May 1990-something lolling about Major’s Hill Park, ostensibly there to admire the thousands of rainbow-hued tulips that were, and continue to be, the main draw of the Canadian Tulip Festival, but actually there to flirt with cute boys (and girls) at the all-ages alternative rock show. I met my second boyfriend in just that fashion, in line for the Pepsi Taste Challenge, which was beside the Much Music Video Dance booth, just in case I haven’t aged myself enough with these references. It won’t shock you to learn that that weekend also involved hacky sacks, neon pink comb-in hair gel, and many appearances of local musical weirdo-heroes, Furnaceface.

But I digress. This post is actually about the tulipalooza that I hosted in my garden this past spring, a throwback in itself given that tulip season has LONG since passed.

And that season was, to put it poetically, a beautiful nightmare. It started in the fall of 2020 when I purchased nine or 10 different varieties of heirloom bulbs from Breck’s Bulbs (zero complaints there; the bulbs I bought were in beautiful shape, white, fresh and plump.) In anticipation of the bastard rodents that would surely make merry with my tender tulips, Mr. Finger Candy made eight cages out of zip ties and chicken wire to lock the bulbs in before I planted them in the ground. I then planted a couple dozen, foolishly unprotected, in the pie-shaped bed at the front of the house. I had been inside maybe 15 minutes before I looked out the window and saw that arsehole squirrels had made off with at least three. Mr. Finger Candy leapt to the rescue once again, this time pinning an entire sheet of chicken wire directly on top of the soil.

Winter came and went, and in the spring my fledgling tulips began to fledge. I was so excited to look outside and see their tender green shoots just beginning to poke through the loamy gloom! And then the rodents returned, kneecapping my efforts – and the growth of my flowers – at every. single. turn. It also snowed in the middle of April, necessitating a frosty jaunt out to the beds in my flip flops to rescue the more advanced blooms.

I spent the majority of my spring vacillating between wild gardening highs and crushing rodent lows (not to suggest that I ever actually physically harmed the thieving little jerks, unless you count dosing my flower beds with Da Bomb hot sauce-infused water, a neat little trick that only occasionally proved successful.)

Highs? This absolutely stunning bouquet of inky purple Queen of the Night tulips, ruffled Black Parrots and bubblegum pink Fancy Frills I pulled from the front bed at the very end of the season. How such gorgeous specimens dodged the Wrath of Rodent, I’ll never know, but I loved having this cut bouquet in our home for the two weeks that it remained pert and bright and upright.

I also loved this sunset-hued bouquet of early bloomers I clipped during that aforementioned springtime snowstorm. These gorgeous, plush blossoms are Coral Pride and Pink Pride tulips mixed in with some yellow and white tulips that just randomly sprang up in the yard (I call that gardening by squirrel, or let the tulips lay where they may.)

Another high? This unique blossom, a Showgirl tulip. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a blue flower before (okay, purple-grey) let alone grown one.

The cool tones of this beautiful tulip matched nothing else in the garden, which certainly didn’t matter to the squirrels, who seemed to find these particular flowers extra delicious. But when I was able to actually bring one or two inside, I just wound up hodge podgeing them together with whatever else was in bloom, making for some interesting arrangements.

Lows? Oh, pretty much any time I looked outside and saw a wilted pile of leaves, or worse, a tall, green stem with a nipped-off blossom just laying in the dirt beside it. My mom said, with a note of concerned pride in her voice, “Well, you’re a real gardener now!” when I called her one morning, wracked with sobs and blubbering about my decimated tulips. Apparently heartbreak is just part of the gardening deal? I *might* even have been sort of understanding if the rodents actually ate the tulips, or derived some sort of sustenance from them. Canadian winters are hard; I suppose I can’t fault the little guys for falling on the first fresh greenery they’ve seen in months. But to just nip off the head and then leave it there, fully intact, the plant now utterly destroyed, is unconscionable. I could wring their little rodent necks.

Instead, I began dosing my beds with ground cinnamon, ground cayenne pepper and hot sauce-infused water. Capsaicin, the active component in chili peppers, is also usually the first active ingredient in critter ridder preparations, none of which seem to work very well, and all of which are quite expensive. So I bought a bunch of ground cayenne pepper at the bulk store and sprinkled it around my tulips. It worked as an invisible barrier more often than not, as did the hot sauce treatment, but I still suffered losses to squirrels who are apparently impervious to the pain of a 2 million scoville-rated hot sauce. As for the cinnamon, I was thinking anything that burns. Have you ever inhaled a bunch of ground cinnamon (or worse, done the cinnamon challenge)? It hurts and smells incredible all at the same time. I was just looking for the squirrel version of that. Is this also a sign that I’m becoming a “real” gardener, that I don’t want to hurt the rodents that thoughtlessly thrashed my garden, but I do want them to pay?

It’s been a learning process, that’s for sure, and one that I’m in the process of repeating right this very moment (get those bulb orders in now!) Heartbreak and tears notwithstanding. Only next time I’ll be approaching the whole endeavor with a bit more gardening wisdom – and A LOT more physical barriers.

Springin’ Sprinkles

If I have learned anything over the last year and a bit of pandemic life – and that is highly debatable; in most respects, I actually feel like I’m regressing – it’s that our existence is fragile, and we could all use a hell of a lot more sprinkles. I’m talking here about metaphorical sprinkles – those sparkly, too-fleeting moments of hope and joy and love and understanding – but also the real kind, the ones composed of corn syrup and cellulose gum and palm oil, and a certain childlike glee in having your foodstuffs adorned with the same.

It was with that thought in mind – “Want pretty sprinkles for sweet foods!” – that I placed an order for a beautiful mess of items from Sprinkle Pop, a candy maker I found through the always dangerous platform of Instagram (dangerous in that I can always find some completely random new area of interest to occupy my time and money. Bespoke sprinkles – *snort* – is just the latest.)

Sprinkle Pop’s surprisingly tasty adornments – flavoured jimmies, metallic spheres, glittery dragees, and colourful mixes loaded with tiny, hand-piped extras – come in three sizes, eight ounce jars, four ounce jars, and two ounce sample packs. The sample packs give you about a quarter cup of sprinkles, which in my (newly acquired) experience will decorate about three dozen cupcakes, or two sprinkled-spackled cakes. Here’s the Robin’s Egg sprinkle mix (perhaps my favourite) sitting prettily atop some cupcakes I recently made (chocolate with salted caramel buttercream icing, in case you feel like driving yourself mad with desire, and yes, they were totally delicious!)

I chose six sample packs, three perfect for the just-passed Easter season (from left to right, Hangin’ With My Peeps, a mix of pastel jimmies and tiny royal icing Peeps; Egg Hunt, another springy rainbow mix studded with hand-piped bunnies and carrots; and Robin’s Egg, with its sweet, speckled eggs) and three just-because-they’re-pretties (from left to right, Royal Plume, a fun mix of bright, peacock-inspired hues; Love You a Latte, a soft, Valentine’s Day-appropriate blend of coffee-flavoured jimmies; and Leprechaun Loot, which is clearly going to have to wait until next year to properly exercise its lucky charms.)

Then because I have plans for them, I bought two mixes in the slightly larger four ounce size, Dark Unicorn, a sugar’corn-studded blend of blacks and brights and neons, and Strawberry Shortcake, which is delightfully self-explanatory.

I even managed to derive some nail art inspiration from Egg Hunt!

Neat! Important, necessary, critical to my existence? Definitely not. But a sweet diversion in a world that could use a lot more sprinkles, and a fun thing in my life.

Sprinkle Pop Tie Dye

I’d love to say these cool, tie dye-patterned nails were an intentional thing, but like all delightful creations, they began in a very different place from which they wound up. I was going for another fluid art look, this time in a bouquet of spring pastels, so inspired by some springin’ sprinkles I recently purchased from Sprinkle Pop (more on the fab world of bespoke sprinkles next post.)

But I jumped the gun and didn’t let my little self-made nail decals dry thoroughly, so when I topped my finished mani with a requisite coat of Seche Vite, it smudged up into this still-pretty tie dye concoction that reminds me of Hypercolor shirts from the ’90s (a type of tie dye, I suppose, if watery pastels mixed with sweat is your bag. Yikes, the ’90s were a rough time, sartorially speaking!)

Chionodoxa

Blue Flowers 1

That’s the name of these cute little blue blooms that have flower-bombed my front beds and lawn.  They’re big time bee-bait, though, so I’ve been admiring them at a distance (except for when I dashed outside to recklessly plunge my hand into the buzzing bed of buds to snap this photo of these inspired-by nails I recently did.  What can I say, guess I’m willing to suffer for my art.) 😉

005

50 Shades of Nay

Bubble Yum Collage.jpg

So the weather has returned to its previous state of icy terribleness and I needed some pretty nails to remind me that one day this will all end.  I mean, not ALL of it in that sense – too bleak!  Just the weather.  The crap weather can totally end, right now.  Bring on the spring.  Until then, nail polish that looks like bubblegum ice cream, Delush Polish’s 50 Shades of Yay.  Or just bubblegum straight up trapped in ice.  Hey, welcome to the club, bubblegum – we’ve got (warm) jackets.

Bubble Yum 1

Being of a slightly superstitious mindset, I believe that Mr. Finger Candy and I may have inadvertently cursed us all to this extended bout of wintertime crappiness – we were JUST remarking the other day (a bit smugly, I might add) that the handful of days we spent down in balmy Florida over the Christmas holidays seemed to make all the difference in our tolerance of the rest of the winter.  The whole snowbird thing has been making a lot of sense lately.

Crap Weather

But then winter had to come roaring back for a completely unappreciated second act, and it’s definitely not all our fault, but maybe we jinxed ourselves a little?  Can’t ever get too cocky about the weather when you’re a Canadian.  Or a climate change denier.  And good heavens, what if you’re BOTH?!  No amount of pretty nail polish in the world is gonna fix that.  Anyhow, hunker down, friends, this too shall end.

On the Hunt

On the Hunt Collage

Hop to it, friends, those chocolate eggs aren’t going to find themselves!  Wishing you all a nice end to your Easter weekends.  Mine is closing out with a big dinner at my mom and dad’s.  My mom’s an excellent cook, with a particular emphasis on blow-out holiday meals, so this should be fun!  Watch this space later for any updates I can manage on my turkey and roast potatoes and GRAVY coma. 😉

But talk of chocolate and holiday feasts aside, if you’re trying to hunt up this festive nail look for yourself, I regret to inform you that this is one of those deeply aggravating posts where I used two polishes (heck, potentially two brands) no longer in existence, Candy Lacquer’s Ring Pops glitter topper over Smitten Polish’s Not Your Mama’s Easter Grass (then whose Easter grass is it precisely?)  I believe Smitten operates under the name Dreamland these days and I’m really not sure of Candy Lacquer’s status.  But both of these polishes, despite being years old, are still trucking along just fine, and so I put them to good use in this very Springy manicure that looks like a macro shot of the inside of an Easter basket filled with sweet treats.

Easter Nails 1

Icy Sweets

Icy Sweets 1

In oh so many different ways, but mostly this way, because hey look, check out what’s been going on for the past 36 solid hours!

074

I should note that these are totally common weather conditions in my city at this time of year.  Hell, these are sometimes common conditions at the end of April.  But as always (and I am confident I’m not alone in this assessment) I am now done, done, done with the winter.  Effing snow globe life is for the birds (or particularly disturbing episodes of Black Mirror.)

So it’s just as well I’m bound and determined to drag out every single springtime polish I own this week, if only to see if all those cheery shades can course-correct my crap weather-induced bad mood.  Here I started with KB Shimmer’s Sweet Egg-scape, a pastel glitter bomb that I always think reads a bit more Valentine’s Day than Easter, but to each polish creator their own, you know?  And then I topped it with a couple of icy treat nail charms, because we really can’t have anything spring-like around here without covering it in a crisp layer of frost or two inches of frozen slush, now can we?  Whoops, so much for reeling in that bad mood…

Icy Sweets Bottle

Easter Weekend

Easter Header Photo

Loveliest of Easter weekends to you, friends.  Being not so religious, as well as hailing from the kind of small, WASP-y family that does things like vacations in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, my Easter weekends typically involve travel and a whole lot of outlet shopping.  Or they did when I was a kid; my mom and dad and I – “us is the flamily” – passing horse-drawn Amish buggies on the road, catching fireflies in the parking lot of the motel, buying ultra preppy oxblood penny loafers at the Bass outlet and scarfing endless plates of incredible fried chicken at the restaurant where the waitress didn’t even blink when I said I wanted mashed potatoes and gravy as all FOUR of my sides. Those were really great vacations. 🙂

But this Easter weekend I’m home, simply enjoying a few days off from what has so far been a rather busy April.  Quite a few social events and a new-ish exercise regimen that keeps me hoppin’ like a bunny.

Speaking of, here are a few items guaranteed to put a spring – and THE Spring – into the Easter Bunny’s bounce.  Remarkably, these are all things I pulled from around my apartment.  I didn’t have to go rummaging in seasonal storage for anything.  So when I was joking a month or so ago that it’s always Easter in my apartment, I guess I really wasn’t joking?!

My favourite speckled egg wreath makes another appearance here, alongside, on the left, some very cute little cracked egg votive candles, a neat stack of Peeps-scented wax tarts from Yankee Candle, an actual Peeps-shaped wax tart from The Bathing Garden in Keep Your Temper, and KB Shimmer’s Where My Peeps At, which is pure Easter in a bottle.

Easter Photo Left Side

Then over on the right we have a gigantic, three-part Chick ‘N’ Mix bath bomb from Lush (there’s a cute little bicarbonate bunny inside the huge chick), a speckled wax robin’s egg from The Bathing Garden in Blackberry Fudge, a clutch of pastel Reflections markers, a wee little ceramic cupcake perfect for hiding tiny treasures, another Peeps-shaped wax tart from The Bathing Garden in Looking Glass, two frosted sugar cookies from London, Ontario bakery A Couple of Squares and a large glass jar filled with a half dozen hand-painted cardboard eggs.  Hoppy Easter!

Easter Photo Right Side

Springtime Polish Picks

Spring Main Collage

As I did for Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through my lacquer collection and pull some Springy polish picks, with a few Easter gems thrown in for good measure.  A couple of these polishes are from actual Spring/Easter collections, but most just remind me of this time of year – cold, steely skies, crocuses and daffodils just beginning to poke through the snow, pastel eggs nestled in crinkly plastic Easter grass.

Starting off with the most obvious pairing, we have KB Shimmer’s Where My Peeps At and Smitten Polish’s Not Your Mama’s Easter Grass.  I think this combination looks like jellybeans nestled in chick fuzz nestled in plastic Easter grass.

Spring Collage Nails 2

Next we have another KB Shimmer pick, Full Bloom Ahead, paired with Different Dimension’s Luminosity. Full Bloom Ahead is one of my favourite polishes, and also one of the first indies I ever bought.  I think it looks like Spring flowers caught in an unseasonably late snowstorm.  Luminosity is just dang pretty.

Spring Collage Nails 1

Next we have yet another KB Shimmer pick – this time Make My Gray – paired with ILNP’s Mega.  I like the way the holographic rainbows in Mega’s depths mimic the steely grey glitters in Make My Gray.

Spring Nail Collage 4

Finally, we have the very eggy combo of Delush Polish’s 50 Shades of Yay paired with Glam Polish’s Ladies Choice.  50 Shades of Yay is one of my favourite, but rarely worn, polishes.  I think it looks like delicious rainbow Peeps cake (the delicious part being the cake; Peeps are the work of the devil, adorable though they are!)

Spring Nail Collage 3

April Band of Bloggers

bandofbloggers_header

It’s that time of year again!  As the warmer weather soothes stiff joints and brushes off the last vestiges of winter, homes beg for the same fresh start everyone promised themselves at the beginning of the year.  Clothes are donated, rooms are scrubbed, and yards are tended.  While the fauna leave their winter dens or return from long migrations, the world blooms with new growth in vibrant splashes of colour.

For April’s Band of Bloggers post, we will answer a few questions about Spring and the ever-loved Spring cleaning.  Feel free to join in and answer these questions in the comments below!

Do you decorate for Spring?

Save some specific Easter decorations that I pull out around the end of March, it’s ALWAYS Spring in my apartment – lots of raspberry red, robin’s egg blue and a pink I like to refer to as “Strawberry Fluff.”  This spattered egg wreath actually sits on a little decorative shelf above the second bedroom bed year-round.  My best friend once commented that I have the perfectly decorated single girl’s apartment – remarkable, as I live with a man, and a pretty messy one at that!

Wreath Pic

Are there any products you find yourself reaching for as the weather warms?  This can be anything; food, clothing, bath and body, wax, you name it!

I suppose like most people shrugging off the final frosty bits of winter, I start to lean towards fresh, fruity and floral scents for both my person and my home.  After finishing off a bottle of hand soap the other day, I reached into my extras drawer and pulled out two choices – some fruity berry thing, bursting with Springtime freshness, and a beautiful Bath & Body Works scent by the name of Winter White Woods, an unexpected favourite of mine that smells like a still copse of snow-laden birch trees.  Glancing outside, I saw that the actual birch trees surrounding my building were laden with snow themselves, so back into the drawer Winter White Woods went – perhaps best to put a bit of distance between winter and Winter, yes?

Do you participate in the Spring cleaning craze?

Living in a condo apartment building, I thankfully have very few Spring maintenance duties to attend to.  But before the summer spiders arrive and drive me back indoors, I sweep down the balconies, wash the windows and frames, maybe set out a few pots of pansies (which I haven’t in years; my dear, late kitty, Porky, LOVED to nibble on freshly potted pansies – would actually race me to the balcony door so she could rip off their little lion’s heads like the savage predator she was – and I haven’t had the heart to buy any since her passing.  Maybe this year.  Miss you, Pork Chop.)

Z4

Don’t forget to visit these fellow participants in the Band of Bloggers and help support the blogger community!

Amanda at Thrifty Polished

Jaybird at The Candle Enthusiast

Julie at The Redolent Mermaid

Lauren at LoloLovesScents

Liz at Furianne

Sandra – me! – at Finger Candy

If you are a blogger and would like to join the Band of Bloggers for our monthly posts, please contact us.