Ever since someone gave me a bottle of Little Mermaid peel-off nail polish when I was five years old, I’ve loved painting my nails.
It’s admittedly kind of a silly habit, and I’m not thrilled about the environmentally unfriendly aspect of nail colour, but I have always had a tough time resisting pretty polish.
Unfortunately, while I’m not a bad hand with a nail brush, my home manicures only ever look good for a day or two, maximum, regardless of the quality of the polish I use.
Or at least that was the case before I finally picked up a bottle of Seche Vite top coat last week on a friend’s recommendation.
Whatever mad French scientists came up with this stuff are geniuses! It is, without a doubt, the best top coat I’ve ever used. Not only does it dry quickly, as the name implies, it has actually kept my polish from chipping for a week! Unheard of!
My only complaint is that it doesn’t seem to be carried in my usual beauty supply haunts (Shoppers, Sephora) here in Toronto. It wasn’t until I wandered into a beauty supply outlet that I actually stumbled across it.
Have you guys tried Seche Vite, or do you have another standby top coat in your nail arsenal?
Relieved as I was this weekend to finally pick up my dear old laptop from the repair shop, I have to say it was lovely to have a little break from it.
While I was by no means completely technology deprived (I work on a computer all day and carry around and care for my phone like it’s a tamagotchi), it was still quite a change to not have every tool and distraction the internet has to offer (and a decent-sized screen to interact with said distractions) at my fingertips every hour of the day.
Without it, I found myself reading more, going to bed earlier, listening to more music, taking more photos, lounging out of doors, gardening, playing catch (Catch! Imagine!), and reading from a hilarious 1950s magazine for young ladies to my friends by candlelight on my deck.
BUT I didn’t write.
I thought that maybe the absence of my keyboard would just send me scrambling for the romantic glitter pens and notebooks of my youth, but alas, no. I’ve been too seduced by the speed and ease of correction a computer offers when I want to get my thoughts down.
So for that reason, I’m really happy to have the old girl back.
But I think I’ll try to remember to unplug a bit more on my own, preferably without spilling liquids on my expensive electronics in order to remind myself of the value of some time off from technology.
Have you guys unplugged lately?
I never doubt that the universe has a sense of humour.
For the past month and a half or so, since my PCOS diagnosis, I’ve been really carefully monitoring my health
Having a blood clotting disorder and chronic DVT means this is something I’m typically pretty tuned in to, but finding out about my polycystic ovaries and insulin resistance problem (and associated higher risks for diabetes, heart disease and a whole host of other things along with the hormone imbalance, mysterious weight-gain and MIA period I’ve already experienced) has meant a whole new set of things to monitor and adjust. Hilariously, most women who suffer from PCOs are prescribed hormonal birth control to quiet their symptoms, and of course, as a clotter that could kill me fairly swiftly. So. Natural remedies it is! In particuar, I’ve had to re-think my (already perfectly reasonable for the average person) diet and focus on carefully selecting what to eat, how much and when, in a way that for me feels overwhelming and a bit ridiculous.
As someone who has addressed weight and diet issues in an unhealthily obsessive (and just plain unhealthy) way in the past, this kind of strict monitoring is actually something I tend to specifically avoid. For a long time my scale has had a healthy layer of dust over its dial window.And that’s not just because of my very real aversion to dusting.
I love food, and my diet philosophy for years has just been very common-sense-based: Everything in moderation, junk extra moderated, lots of fruits and veggies to balance out delicious fats and carbs, and don’t worry about weight gain as long as your clothes fit and your bod feels healthy. It’s a good philosophy, I think, and one that would work if not for PCOS rearing its hirsute (yet also somehow balding? how is that fair?) head.
I’m sure eventually eating for my hormones will start to feel like natural common-sense, but for now it takes a lot of mental energy that I would just rather use elsewhere, and while I know I’m approaching the weight-loss side of things in a very healthy, sustainable manner, and I’m lucky that I am learning what I need to do to maintain a healthy body while I’m still young and energetic enough to tackle change, it’s really frustrating to see how slow the progress is.
I hate going to restaurants and not ordering my favourite creamy pasta or rich chocolatey dessert because I know what an overreaction my hormones will have to all that sugar and the havoc they’ll wreak on my body as a consequence.
But of course I know all too well that you cannot take your health for granted, and so I persist.
Which is why, Sunday evening found me roasting chickpeas for an hour to take with me as a high-protein snack to eat in the park for the Christie Pits film festival’s screening of A League of Their Own. Did I want the popcorn, chips, popsicles and bacon cheeseburgers everyone else was happily skipping away from the nearby vendors with? Oh yes, I most certainly did.
But no, I held to my resolve and opened my sad little tupperware container of under-roasted ‘peas, trying to will them into something more delicious. I turned around to pose for a photo with Red, and that’s when the yippy little lapdog some woman was allowing to run around the picnic blankets untethered, stuck his head in the bowl and gave them a thorough slavering lick.
And it’s why, if you look into my eyes in the above photo taken right after the incident, my mouth is smiling a happy feminist baseball-movie-watching-in-the-park grin, but my eyes convey “Good one universe. Sending a dog to lick my stupid healthy snack. You’ve bested me again.”
In case you were wondering, it’s true! Unfortunately, no sooner did I finally find some time to sit down and get back to blogging, then I knocked a glass of water directly onto my laptop. You know, like the professionals do.
So, while I wait for a verdict from the Mac geniuses, I’m continuing my absentee blogger streak just a little longer. Meanwhile, you can find me over on Instagram, obsessively posting photos of tiny things I examine with my phone’s macro lens, or as viewed above, pining away for my laptop amongst the greenery.
I hope you guys are hanging in there, enjoying the summer with perfectly dry electronics!
This weekend on my way to the Toronto Flower Market, I saw a lot of penises.
Penises (and vulvas) on bicycles, attached to naked human cyclists protesting car culture as part of world naked bike day, to be precise. It was nudity at its best, most carefree and humorous (although I’d have to bet, uncomfortable). I chuckled (and cringed a little) and continued on my way.
It was a far cry from the reaction Red and I had a couple weeks ago when we stumbled onto another scene of surprise nudity in the city.
It was a little after midnight, and we were making our way to our respective homes from dinner celebrating my last day of work when I noticed someone step off the porch of a house a few doors ahead of us.
In the quick glimpse I caught of a flash of legs and a pair of briefs, I initially thought it was a tall woman with her skirt hiked up.
I interrupted Red to tell her I thought we might be about to wander past a drunk person coming out of a party to pee in the bushes or something. She had caught a quick glimpse too, but as we got closer to the house, we couldn’t see the person anymore.
We thought maybe they’d gone around the back of the house so we proceeded to make our way along the sidewalk until at the edge of the hedgerow, there he was, waiting for us, underwear pulled down, bent over and presenting his bare ass to us while he put something in it and wriggled it around (I thought it was a sex toy, Red thought it was a stick).
It’s difficult to describe it in a way that doesn’t just seem ridiculous and funny, if a little gross, but, while we did laugh nervously from the place across the street we’d shrieked and sprinted to, it really wasn’t all that funny. It was disturbing and frightening and threatening. And it made me really angry.
As a young guy came ambling down the street from where we’d come, the guy righted himself and sprinted towards the alley behind the houses. The young guy slowed down to ask us what had happened. I guess he’d seen us scream and run. He said he thought we were being pranked by a friend.
Worst prank ever, by the way.
I asked Red, “I guess we should call the police?”
And, weirdly, the young guy said “Nah, you don’t need to call the police. I live on this street, this is a nice neighbourhood, it’s fine.”
Then he offered me a swig of his wine thermos.
I declined and Red and I hustled the last few steps to my place to call the police non-emergency line.
She claimed it was my turn as she had made the call last summer when we stumbled across a fully zipped sleeping bag that appeared to contain either a live or dead human being laid out across the sidewalk on a quiet street.
From the safety of home, our adrenaline still buzzing it was hard not to dissolve into hysterical laughter, especially when the police asked for a detailed description of the suspect and I was of little use:
“Did he have any defining features? Facial hair, tattoos?”
“I mean, it was really just the butt we got a close look at. It seemed to be a caucasian, middle-aged butt, if that’s helpful?”
Still, I was glad we called just in case this is an ongoing thing in the neighbourhood, I figure it can’t hurt to give them whatever little scraps of the puzzle I could, and I felt a little safer knowing they’d send a car by in case he was still lurking around.
Still too shaken to part ways just yet, we chatted a little about what could possibly be going on in a person’s brain to make them think that was an acceptable thing to do to non-consenting strangers, marvelling at just how involved and specific the whole encounter was, as opposed to your run-of-the-mill subway flasher or whatever and Red asked, “Do you think we gave him the reaction he wanted?”
I said unfortunately, yes. I doubt he expected we’d be delighted or pull our own pants down and join in surprising passers-by as a lovely summer’s eve activity. I thought the fact that he took off when a guy approached was telling. I think he probably waited and watched and chose us specifically. I think he wanted our fear and shock and disgust. I’m sure it was a real thrill for him.
I tried to muster up some compassion for this man and whatever mental illness he must be dealing with. But as I walked my pal downstairs, peered from my curtains, and ushered her out the door only when we saw a friendly-looking middle-aged couple heading her way so that she wouldn’t be alone on the rest of her walk down my street, I just felt fearful and sick. I felt like a target.
I cringed at the thought of what happened and at the implied threat that’s present whenever a strange man involves you in his sexual world in some way without your permission.
I cringed, and I didn’t chuckle.
Hey pals, thanks so much for the congrats about the new job and the concern about my health. I happily do not have diabetes, just an insulin-resistance problem from polycystic ovarian syndrome (which isn’t ideal, and means some annoying diet and lifestyle changes, but given the choice between that and diabetes, I’m grateful) as well as a couple of other additions to my steadily growing list of weird health issues.
Being so focused on taking care of myself and my health always gets old fast, so I was happy this week to take care of another ailment-addled creature, my friend’s kitty.
This 2-year-old fuzzball was a resident of the Toronto Humane Society but since he has a compromised immune system from feline leukemia, he had a hard time staying healthy around other cats, so my sweet pal took him home.
When he told me he’d be out of town for a week, I jumped at the chance to play babysitter, despite my cat allergies.
I have to say, I finally get why so many of my friends are obsessed with their cats. He’s such a funny and dear little creature. It’ll be strange to go back to waking up with no one licking my face and no little paws kneading at me in the middle of the night and I’ll miss his hilariously expressive and shouty “MROW”s greeting me at the door and the way he likes to be carried around like a baby so he can headbutt me and tuck his head under my chin. So sweet!
I know it’s embarrassing to have people refer to you as a cat lady, but I’m starting to think that’s not nearly as embarrassing as being a lady who shows people photos of someone else’s cat. What say you, good folk?
Ohhh pals. What a couple of months it’s been!
After coasting along comfortable enough in a job I have always said would only be a stepping stone, I hit a bit of a low point, and began feeling an irresistable urge to actually step off it.
No sooner had I decided it was time to throw myself back into the grind of churning out cover letters, popping them into old wine bottles and tossing them into the sea, than I spotted a posting for a job that might as well have read, “only one-stockinged women with green eyes under the age of 30 named Sarah need apply”
It was tailor-made. It was also only accepting applications until midnight. So I hustled to get something together and submitted an application, thinking it might be a long shot, but also feeling that little shiver that comes with true possibility.
I was called for an interview for round one, sent a writing assignment for round two, and wouldn’t you know it? That little shiver was right. So next week I’ll be moving from a strictly administrative position to one that allows me to stretch my atrophying journalistic muscles and do something productive with my hours spent learning the ropes of social media. I couldn’t be more excited!
On a less exciting note, I’ve had the feeling for a while now that something was up with my dear old bod. Despite a fairly healthy diet and exercise habit, I’ve been tired, and feeling perpetually at the mercy of my hormones. I seemed to be suddenly putting on some inexplicable extra pounds, and my period, never a reliable creature to begin with, went completely AWOL back in January. As much as I don’t mind doing without the fainting-inducing cramps I get, four months was enough of a break to alarm me.
A series of unpleasant tests later, and my doctor has diagnosed me with polycystic ovaries (PCOS). She also suspects endometriosis and possibly diabetes. I’m hoping to hear more about those two possibilities this week.
All this to say that I’m not abandoning the blog, I’ve just been focusing on getting some career things lined up and on doing whatever I can to keep my health on track despite the latest addition to my collection of interesting maladies.
Meanwhile, the world outside finally exploded with warmth, colour and perfume. I hope you’ve all had a chance to get out an enjoy it!
One of my earliest memories is of being a toddler on a road trip to Myrtle Beach with my mom and dad and one of my aunts.
I remember sitting in my little booster car seat, the backs of my dimpled knees sticking to the grey plastic and my bare back warm against the soft fabric of the seats in our brown Chevy. I remember building a castle and an impressive dragon in the sand with my mom, and trying to figure out in my little mind how we could possibly make a princess and then somehow get her inside the castle. I think I remember fireworks.
And I definitely remember my first taste of seawater, the salt sting on my lips. A glutton for sodium, I’m pretty sure I had to be closely monitored lest I completely dehydrate myself every time my parents took me into the water.
So I suppose it’s no surprise that I grew up to love the taste of seafood, and in particular, the creatures who put me the most in mind of my memories of fresh seawater: oysters. I’ll order them by the dozen on a night out, but I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of shucking my own. So I jumped at an invitation from iYellow Wine Club to swing by their wine cave last week for an evening of wine tasting and oysters, complete with a lesson on how to shuck oysters properly.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from iYellow, this being my first wine club event, and I was a little worried it might be a bit stuffy, or worse, I might be outed as the woefully uneducated wine drinker I am, despite it being my most frequent alcoholic beverage of choice. So I was happy to find that the club’s founder, Angela Aiello and her team were certainly knowledgable about grape products, they were also welcoming, enthusiastic and not the least bit condescending. In other words: the perfect sort of people to learn from while we sampled some tasty fruity and floral wines from Stoneleigh vinyards.
iYellow’s wine cave, where the event took place, had a fun speakeasy feel, hidden away with the entrance in the alley behind Queen Street, with a stellar mix of cozy kitsch and elegant decor, and a layout perfect for mingling and/or just setting oneself up conveniently close to the beautiful cheese selection and befriending anyone else who lingered there, which is how I met lovely fellow Toronto bloggers and food enthusiasts, Janu (of aathma) and Danielle of Ginger Rose.
While I roped my pal Emma into coming along with me this time, we both agreed that an iYellow wine school class in the cave would make for a fun alternative to a typical dinner/movie date night with a less platonic companion.
I mean, wine, oysters, and a mysterious “cave”, what could be more romantic?
Although, I might skip putting my hand into the communal oyster-shucking gloves for that one.
Have you guys ever been to a wine club? Are you aficionados or just indiscriminately enthusiastic wine drinkers like yours truly?
This week on the League of Extraordinary Ladies, we are chatting about our dream vacation destinations. While a hefty percentage of my dream vacations are motivated by local cuisine, the one I’ve been dreaming about lately is all about the local wildlife.
What draws you to a particular location? Do you have a dream vacation in the works?
Last week I received an offer for a new job I am terribly excited about. The opportunity came along at the exact perfect moment for me. While I currently work with lovely people, the job itself was getting stale for me, and I really needed to shake things up a bit and find something that would allow me to keep learning and growing and hopefully to pull my journalistic skills out of my hope chest and beat the mothball smell out of them. Happily, my new position promises to do all of that!
Telling people the news has been really interesting, because along with all of the kind wishes and encouragement, a number of my friends have confided that they’re getting to the point in their various jobs where they too are ready to take some kind of leap in a new or slightly different direction, but a lot of them don’t actually know what direction that should be or how to find work they could get excited about.
As someone who was once all but paralyzed by trying to figure out what on earth to study in College, I understand that kind of uncertainty all too well. So I’ve come up with a list of five things that have been extremely helpful to me in trying to figure out how to incorporate some passion into my work life (without sexually harassing my colleagues). I hope you’ll find them helpful too!
1. Take a closer look at your hobbies and pay attention to the things you google. They might seem insignificant at first, but is there a common thread that might provide a clue as to the kind of work you would find fulfilling? When I saw the posting for my new job, I was shocked at how many of my volunteer commitments and hobbies were listed as job requirements. Suddenly they were part of a portfolio I hadn’t entirely consciously realized I was building.
2. Invite people whose jobs you find interesting out for coffee and pick their brains clean! Not only will you gain a better understanding of the realities of jobs you might be interested in, but you’ll begin building a handy little network of people who, if you are as lovely and personable as I know you all are, might be inclined to give you some helpful advice or even put in a good word for you if a position in their area of expertise becomes available.
3. Don’t quit your day job. While there is something to be said for jumping in with both feet, unless you already know that you are ready to immerse yourself in a new career or educational path and you have a way to make an income while doing that, there is no reason that you can’t explore new interests, and gain new skills to help lead you to more fulfilling work while maintaining a steady income with your 9-5. Don’t believe me? Ask these 5-9ers! If you can find a way to make your passion make you money, great! But don’t give up on it if that’s not the case. It’s easier to tolerate a less-than-stimulating day job if your 5-9 is full of something you really care about and enjoy doing.
4. Also, don’t be afraid to discover more than one or get too hung up on the idea that there will be one single shining thing that holds your fascination forever. Your relationship with the thing you’re passionate about doesn’t need to be monogamous or eternal. And remembering that will help take off some of the pressure to find one thing you are in love with doing.
5. Try things. Try all the things! Say yes to activities that are a little outside your normal comfort zone. Heck, seek them out! Volunteer for a local charity or political party and try out different roles within them. Take classes in continuing education or attend some workshops. Try working with animals, kids, or seniors, to figure out who you like to interact with the most. There’s only so much you can discover inside your own head, and there’s a whole world waiting outside of it.
What has helped you discover the things you’re passionate about? Are you able to incorporate them into your work? Let me know in the comments!