Tulip Fest

Tulip Fest Angle

The Canadian Tulip Festival is a thing that happens in my fair hometown of Ottawa, Ontario every May, a grand, sprawling celebration of, among other things, the 100,000 tulip bulbs the Dutch royal family gifted to Canada in 1945 as thanks for sheltering a princess and her daughters during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  The great-great-great-great-great-great-to-whatever-infinity grand-flowers of those original tulips have blossomed every spring here in the Nation’s Capital (or not; sometimes we still get snow at this time of year) since 1953.  As a kid I’d go every couple of years with my parents or perhaps on a school trip, but I haven’t been since high school, when the festival was overflowing with awesome alternative music acts (Tulipalooza was the jam) and a ludicrous number of opportunities to meet cute, grungy boys (once again, thank you Tulipalooza!)

The Canadian Tulip Fest actually just wrapped up its 2017 season, so the artists, the musicians and the Big Lemon have all left the building, but the tulips – over a million spread out in vast beds across the city – are still here, and doing really quite well in our deeply unpredictable spring weather.  So I thought I’d do some nails to commemorate the commemoration of the tulips that commemorate the very special relationship between Canada and the Netherlands.  Phew!

And this has been your Canadian nail art history moment.  Please join me next time when I recount how my family is related to Laura Secord, a war heroine who actually has nothing to do with the chocolate empire that bears her name.  But for now, the tulips!

Tulip Fest Front

The Nightclub at the Edge of the Universe

Zaphods Fingers

On a Friday night 20 or so years ago, there was probably only one place you’d find me, on the dance floor of Zaphod Beeblebrox, the coolest bar in the universe.  Located in the very un-cool city of Ottawa, Ontario, Zaphod’s was a small, oddly-shaped, black-lit sanctuary of Brit pop, industrial, electronica and alternative rock, with potent signature drinks (the glowing green Pangalactic Gargleblaster was a particular delicious favourite) and nightly showings of Aliens.  Some of the best moments of my life happened in that bar – it broke my young(er) heart when it closed a couple of weeks ago after 26 years of killer Friday nights.

To thank Zaphods for all my best weekends, I thought I’d paint this glow-in-the-dark galaxy manicure that mimics the black-lit stars and galaxies that dotted the walls of my favourite Nightclub at the Edge of the Universe.  Rest well, Zaphod’s – so long, and thanks for all the fish.

Zaphods Collage

Do You Suppose This is His Way of Telling Me I Smell?

Demeter Birthday Pic

Simply curious, as my husband gifted me with a metric butt ton (actual measurement, “butt ton”) of delicious Demeter fragrances for my birthday, and you just don’t do that unless a) someone really stinks (“This smells so great!  Wear all of it at once, immediately”) or b) you know your spouse really well, as mine did when he correctly surmised that I’d love to receive such a bounty of beautiful birthday blends (also an affection for alliteration.) 😉

So what terrifically odd combination of fragrances did my husband put together for his beloved on her 40th? Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Starting with the header photo, this apparently represents my birthday breakfast, a thing I actually didn’t have because I was fasting in anticipation of a blow-out Italian dinner later that evening.  But the thinking here is that I’d wake up and snarf down a plate of birthday cake-flavoured cinnamon toast topped with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. With a tomato on the side (which I wholly approve of; all that sugar needs a bit of tart and fresh to balance it out.)

Speaking from a dietary perspective, that’s kind of horrifying!  But these fragrances are not – lovely single scents, all.  I particularly like Cinnamon Toast, which smells like cinnamon hearts, and, super surprisingly, Tomato, which on initial application smells exactly like a ripe, sun-warmed tomato.  It’s a unique smell that conjures up nice memories of my grandfather futzing over his heavily laden tomato plants out in the garden.

Demeter Zombie Collage

Next up we have the zombie fragrances, which, upon spritzing and sniffing, we decided I will never, ever wear because they smell like dirt and rot and probably skunk pheromones.  I love the theming behind these Zombie for Him, Her and Dog fragrances (what, the cats just fend for themselves?) but wowza, do they stink.  I suspect that Demeter’s Dirt fragrance, an otherwise pretty acceptable fresh earth kind of scent, is the base for all three of these colognes, with hits of dead flowers (for Her), decaying leaves (for Him) and something that’s erring awfully close to urine (for the Dog.)  I adore them, they are so weird, but these will probably remain collectibles only.  Also, you will pry my Snowmint Mallow from my cold, dead, zombiefied hands before I trade it in for something more apocalypse-appropriate.

Demeter Kitten Fur Pic

Leaving the best for last, we have my cat Weegie looking disillusioned (so basically a day ending in Y) beside a bottle of Kitten Fur!  Which smells a bit like very mild laundry detergent.  I don’t think Weegie’s tummy fur smells like soap (you get the best, most accurate results – also probably hissed and swatted at – by sniffing a cat’s tummy) but I suppose if any creature in this house is going to smell like laundry, it’s going to be the one that spends 22 hours a day lounging around on freshly washed linens.

All in all, a lovely, thoughtful gift full of fun surprises and some very unique finds.  Well done, sweetie. 🙂

Lightning Crashes

Lightning Crashes

Fun fact: The song Lightning Crashes by the band Live is my least favourite song of all time. And by that I mean I f*cking LOATHE it.  No song should ever, EVER, contain the word “placenta,” especially if that word is sung all lustily by a slithery, rat-tailed proto-bro.  Not that I have any particular feelings on the matter!  Although my husband likes to tease me about my Lightning Crashes reaction time when we’re listening to music in the car – unlike the song, it does NOT suck, and it takes me maybe 1/100th of a second to shriek and snap off the radio in disgust.

I’m not disgusted by these nails, though, because they turned out really well!  I particularly like the sponged-on, ozoney bits. 🙂

One Foot in Front of the Other: A Dieting Story

Footsteps 1

So a funny thing happened on my way to turning 40 – I kind of grew up.  Okay, okay, hold your horses – don’t go setting off the air raid sirens just yet; I qualified that with a “kind of.”  It’s not like I saw 40 coming and, as Corinthians would say, put away my childish things.  I did quite literally go out this afternoon and buy a pile of Lego Dimensions video game toys, so that would be a big old no on putting away the playthings.

But as it pertains to issues of weight, specifically my overabundance of it, I saw 40 coming in hard with a bullet (stroke, diabetes, heart attack, take your horrifying pick) and thought it was high time I GET MY SHIT TOGETHER.  For far too many years now my friends and family – people I have caused untold worry and concern – have been trying to gently (and sometimes not so gently) convey the message that if I do not rein in some of my more destructive lifestyle impulses, I won’t have a life to ruin at all.  And for far too many years now, I’ve been shrugging off their concerns, usually with a self-deprecating dig at myself on the way out, like it’s cool to not give a crap about yourself.

Then about three weeks out from my 40th birthday, I went to the doctor and she laid it out bare – all of my measurable vitals were total garbage, and I was dancing with the devil every second I was vertical and ventilating.

Well.

When you put it that way.

But really, when she did put it that way?  I finally sat up and took notice.

Or rather, I took notice a little earlier when my friends began planning a blow-out trip to Vegas, and I realized I’d never, ever be able to keep up with them at the slots, on the dance floor or whilst liberating a tiger from Mike Tyson’s house.  I took notice when I heard a distinctly audible “CRACK!” after sitting in a rickety old chair at a hipster donut joint.  I took notice when my 90-year-old grandmother buried my 60-year-old diabetic aunt, a bright, otherwise remarkably intelligent woman who, much like her niece, never said no to a delicious dish.  I took notice when I thought about my mother and father burying me.  And I finally took notice later on that evening when I looked over at my husband, happily snugged up in his chair, and thought about all the fun and adventures we’d never get to have because I put my love of butter before my love of us.

And that was just a level of selfishness I was unwilling to cross.  The only difference between then and way-back-then was joke time was clearly over, and I was now ready to do something about the fact that I was slowly killing myself.

You, friends, are coming into this piece at the three-month mark.  In that time I’ve significantly overhauled my/our approach to food and exercise, as in I cut way, way back on the former and actually started doing the latter.  My simple, rather hands-off approach to dieting – no fancy gimmicks, just the tortoise-like certainty that it will happen if I just keep putting one foot in front of the other – has so far netted me a loss of 30 pounds and three dress sizes.  I’m elated, but also desperately trying to maintain my chill – there’s nothing sadder than the receiver who does a victory dance two feet off the goal line, football still in hand.  Is that right?  I really don’t know sports.

I wish I could tell you that I accomplished this HELL YEAH, I’M KICKING ALL THE ASS feat via sexier means than increased exercise (or any exercise) and improved dietary choices, but the unvarnished truth is, much like this nail art business, it’s a matter of repetition (or as it’s often called, practice, practice, practice.)  In nail art, you develop your skills by doing challenging manicure after challenging manicure, until one day you’re firing off galaxy nails like you’ve been doing them your entire life.  Successful dieting operates in much the same way – you develop positive dietary and lifestyle habits simply by practicing them every single day.  Then one day you surprise the hell out of yourself by willingly choosing green grapes over potato chips, or breaking out into a run even though there’s absolutely no one chasing after you.  Brave new world.

I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing all of this with you, my dear online friends, for some time now.  What has held me back is my intense desire to not be THAT PERSON. You know THAT PERSON – they “discover” something the rest of the world has been “Well, duh”-ing forever, and promptly turn into a smug know-it-all. Nobody likes THAT PERSON.  THAT PERSON needs to maroon themselves on an island with all the other THAT PEOPLE, where they can lecture themselves silly about the merits of kale chips, acai berries and hot yoga (can you tell my dieting process doesn’t involve a whole lot of zen?  My workout playlist is nothing but angry punk rock and hardcore electronica, and my elliptical style can best be described as spastically aggressive.)

But for anyone who might be inspired by my weight loss journey (AKA “Sandra’s Guide to Not Dyin'”) I’d like to continue to offer up my successes, and inevitably my failures, in the hope that they may motivate you to make some positive changes in your life.

You know, if that’s what you want!  If everything’s hunky dory, keep on keeping on, you do you. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past three months, it’s that in order to be successful at (insert your “thing” here) you have to be the change you seek. In other words, if you’re not truly ready, you’re unlikely to succeed.  The grace comes in knowing when it’s time to put off the inevitable and fully commit, an intensely personal matter of timing that only you can choose.  Sometimes that choice is made for you, in a doctor’s office as you stare down your mortality, or later on at home when contemplating the cozy life you’ve built with your husband, but that moment will come when you decide to make a change.  And when that happens, I’d like to be here to share in YOUR successes, and those inevitable failures, too.  Because there’s safety and accountability in numbers. And without getting all mushy on you, I think we can continue doing this, together, just by putting one foot in front of the other.

Footsteps 2

 

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

Game Over

Game Over Fingers

Back when I started all this nail art business, the joke among my people was that the day I showed up with skulls and dangly unicorn pendants hanging from my fingertips was the day they could all ship me off to the funny farm for tacky nail artists.

Well, I’m pleased to say, friends, that that day has finally arrived!  Truly, this manicure is just a dollar sign and a marijuana leaf away from total perfection.  Okay, okay, so the unicorn isn’t dangling, but my shorter-than-most nails simply don’t allow for – yikes, this term always gives me the willies – nail piercing.  But nail charms – especially super tacky ones gifted to me by my husband as a kind of inside joke – are most certainly allowed, even ones that span my entire nail and then some.

I particularly like that I’ve paired this hideous-looking skull and its misshapen unicorn buddy with one of the most high end polishes in my collection, Enchanted Polish’s gold-flecked Christmas in July.  Life’s full of contrasts, my friends.