Monday, November 30, 2009

The Dad Factor

My parents live in Calgary but come to Vancouver as often as they can.

Which is like every few weeks.

And I love it.

Mostly :)

They stagger their arrivals for some reason.  Maybe for time alone?  This last time my mum enjoyed Vancouver by herself, then my dad and I arrived together a week or so later.  Chaos ensued, as it always does when my dad is around.  Then my mum left today.  Without my dad.  Leaving him, and his chaos, with me.

I love my dad.  I would say I have a good relationship with him.  Friends always say my mum and I are alike, but I think deep down, I'm more like my dad.  Well, we have the exact same bad qualities, which is probably why chaos is always surrounds us.

Here's the thing:  my dad is a retired, Albertan farmer who worked in various high-up government positions (he would run the farm from his office).  This included a stint as a foreign diplomat in countries such as the former Soviet Union and Australia.  This is a man who would wear a suit one day, and the next would be in grease-stained overalls fixing a combine.   He has an actual redneck. I kid you not.  It is red on the back, and comes around the front to form a perfect 'V'.  He can also speak Russian, lived in outer-Mongolia,  and at one time knew some pretty powerful players.

This is the man that when I called to tell him I sold a television concept I could hear cows bellowing in the background because he was at a bull sale.  Plus he's a wine connoisseur.

He's pretty much the smartest person I know (a thing all daughters probably think about their dads but in this case I am right), with a masters and completed certificates in things like securities (I don't really know what that means.  I know it's a boring course about finance or something).  He doesn't show emotion, he is always slightly grouchy, he thinks the best jeans are the cheap ones, and I suspect he voted for Stephen Harper.

His flesh and blood, me, is the complete opposite.  I am outgoing, bubbly, I giggle, smile a lot, talk fast, think it's fun to spend money on pretty things, and am generally a non-understandable species in my father's eye.  I almost voted NDP last election but decided that was too far and settled for Liberal.

Where are we the same then?  We are both ridiculously stubborn, have short-fuse tempers, and generally have no patience for people who don't agree with us.

Lethal combination?  Yes.

Needless to say, when I see movies where the doting father calls his daughter princess and sprinkles her with kisses, I think they must be from a foreign planet.  Once I hugged my dad and he asked me what I was doing.  When I told him, he was happy, uncomfortable, but happy. So I generally don't hug him.  He tells me he loves me by putting oil in my car.  Once, when he saw me on stage, he told me he was proud of me and that I was doing what I was meant to do.  Not to my face though.  No.  He was fiddling with the blinds and then ran out of the room.

We are a non-emotional folk.

Unlike those movie dads, he is not scary to boyfriends.  Okay, he used to be, but I think now he is just desperate for a man to marry me and takeover the bills.  Ha!  And he loves the Engineer.  The son he never had.  Actually, it's the kid in business school he never had.  The fact that the Engineer is getting an MBA and has a job at Goldman Sachs is like a dream for my dad.  It's not that he sees a man who is stable and will take care of his daughter. Oh no.  He's obsessed with the world of finance.  I suspect if he could live life again, he would live it as a businessman.  He loves to talk about the Engineer's MBA.  Unfortunately, neither are big talkers so they basically grunt at each other about the economy and the pros of working for a big bank.  In fact, they can be sitting on the couch not talking and my dad is thrilled.

Anyways, the point of this entry is the fact that I am now alone with my dad.  I decided to pick a fight the other day by telling him I was considering becoming a vegetarian after I read an article about the slaughtering procedure.  I thought it would be okay to eat a cow that was killed nicely and treated with compassion.  If there is such a thing.  I think I almost gave him another heart attack.  His veins on his head were protruding. This is the man who was raised on an Albertan beef farm after all.  I once called him to ask about a cut of beef required for a recipe.  He sent me a chart of the cow and its cuts of meat to put on my wall.

Just wait until I tell him I am switching over to all-organic produce.  It will blow his mind.

We also have the weird awkward father/daughter thing when it comes to bodily functions. Namely my time of the month.  When I was 13, we were on a vacation where I made my dad pull over at every rest stop because I was terrified of having an 'accident'.  He kept grumbling and asking what my problem was.  I told him I was drinking a lot of coke.  Odd that there was no coke in the car and he didn't clue in. I was so embarrassed about him knowing.

Once, Superstore had a sale on supplies.  Well not one to pay full price, my mom wanted to stock up.  Trouble was, she was at a curling tournament (is that the most Canadian sentence or what?).  So she made my dad and me go get them.  He asked me which ones I wanted.  Burning in embarrassment I told him they were for mom.  He said he knew they were for me too.  I wanted to DIE.  And he was sort of sad.  Like I wasn't a little girl anymore.

Fast forward 17 years, and you have my father, my 30-year old self, and that time again.  Except now I suffer from dibilitating cramps. To the point where I take special drugs straight from the doctor, and lie with a 'warm buddy' on my back and tummy.  I also call the Engineer and tell him I hate him. For no other reason than my pain is so great I am mad he is a boy.  So here's my rigid father, always with a list of things to do from the moment he wakes up (isn't retirement fun?) from watching me organize my office and telling me to throw things out, to cleaning out my storage and shopping for light bulbs.

But I am still too embarrassed to tell him I hurt too much to move.  So I called my mom to tell her to tell my dad to lay off.

I'm so lucky we are such a close, openly emotional family.

My friend breast feeds in front of her father.  They even have a conversation.  I am fairly certain my dad will throw up in his mouth and then run away to his office until my child is weened.

I am quite sure the Engineer will say I tell too much information but I know I have lots of readers who (a) know my dad and/or (b) have equally awkward moments with their dad.

My last awkward moment with my dad?  When he had to pull me out of a too-small Bollywood Bridesmaid outfit.

Oh dads.  Without you us girls would have never felt sufficiently weird about reaching puberty.  Or know how to change a tire (I wasn't allowed to get in the car until I knew how.  What happened when I had a flat?  I called CAA.  Much easier).  And, in my case, drive a tractor and know the difference between a Black Angus and a Hereford.  Do you?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Last Walk

My mother has taught me much about traveling.

Rolling my clothes to pack, using Ziploc bags for odds and ends (I think she owns stocks in Ziploc) . . .

Writing down my first impressions of a new place right away because you only have first impressions once.

And taking a last walk.

No matter where in the world I have traveled, I always take a 'last walk' the day before I leave.  A leisurely stroll to take in a place that has meant something to me.  My mum taught me this and told me about her last night in Moscow after living there for two years.  It was a snowy evening and no one was around when she walked through the Red Square for the last time.  Try it next time you go somewhere, it's that walk that will stick with you the most.

I can remember being in the ocean in Thailand at sunset the evening before I left back to Canada.  Or Kyoto by the river under a full moon.  Edinburgh's Royal Mile with a soft rain and the castle all lit up.  London when the lights of Big Ben and the House of Commons turn off just after midnight.  And of course, New York City and the magic it leaves on your memory.

Obviously, I leave NYC often and now that it is my half-home, I probably don't have to do the last walk because I know I will be coming back.  But it's still nice.

Last year I did it around Bryant Park, it was snowing and skaters where twirling under the tree.  The Chrysler Building sparkled as taxi cabs honked along 42nd Street.  Manhattan is so cozy on winter nights leading to Christmas.

On Tuesday, I had an entire 'last day'.

It started at the Met.  Oh the Met, how I love thee.  The late afternoon fall light made the Met glow and the trees in Central Park were still clinging to the last of the golden leaves.  This place always makes me happy.  I got lost in the Watteau exhibit.  Sadly, I don't really know about art.  All I know is how it makes me feel.  I loved this exhibit because it's about theatre and music.  I had the accompanying music (which the Met should do for everything I think because it really takes you to that place) which magically brought the paintings alive.  I stood there for so long, listening to the music and almost seeing the painted flute player dancing a bit with his tune.

Then down to Bloomingdales for a frozen yogurt.  A friend of mine had heard about this magical yogurt at Forty Carrots which is on the seventh floor of Bloomies.  I thought this meant yogurt you eat for breakfast, but nope, it's the frozen variety.  Now that I have told you about it, you will notice girls prancing around Bloomingdales with a massive bowl of this stuff.  That is because it is AMAZING.


I had plain and chocolate with NO toppings!  No toppings! I always have toppings but this frozen yogurt is so good you don't need it.

I also checked out the Bloomies windows - one of the highlights of a New York Christmas.  My favorite were the glittering dancing bears.

Something sweet and magical about them.  Like being lost in a happy, glittering candyland for adults.  That's what the third floor of Bloomingdales feels like anyways, it's full of pretty dresses.

Then down to Grand Central to stroll past the Christmas market and finally over to Rockerfeller for one last glance at the ice rink.  The tree will be lit on December 2nd and the star is on display at our level until the big day.

And that was it.  A perfect afternoon in an almost perfect city.  It's starting to feel as if I am leaving
home.  Which means it must be becoming home.

Traveling With Dogs Part 12

I swear someday I will get this right.  In fact, this time I swear I did.

The dogs and I left New York this past Wednesday. The day before American Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I am so smart it hurts . . .

Actually, JFK wasn't the madhouse I expected.  In fact it was dead.  Here's a fun fact:  if you need to travel the day before Thanksgiving in the States, make sure your flight is mid-afternoon.  Apparently the early morning is nuts and after four will make you cry.

JFK is pretty awesome if you fly domestic.  We were flying to Seattle via American Airlines - the terminal was super big, clean and shiny.  I think if you stay in New York long enough, clean things always will amaze you.  And the service was fabulous!  I heard that AA was bad - but we had a very pleasant experience - right down to the nicest flight attendant I have ever experienced.  I thanked him when I disembarked he was so good.  (By the by, Jet Blue also has a brand new terminal, complete with dog park!!).

Here is how I prepared the boys:
- walked them for a long time
- drugged them with the proper gravol, two hours prior to leaving the apartment
- put a fluffy pillow into their crate complete with three warming pads, a towel, and two blankets.  And of course, water.
- put Mr. Mop in his snuggie as he just had a hair cut and I was scared of a Mr. Mop icicle at other end

So they were prepped and perfect to go.

We go to the airport, no line-up, check-in, pleasant man.  Then we wait at the side for the man who takes them to the plane to come.  Chat with nice AA girl who gives the boys cuddles.  Boys play with the other dogs who are also flying today.  Until Mr. Mop bites one on the head. Then he must be carried.  Brooklyn pees on the line pole thing (what do you call them, those things that map out the waiting

Finally the man comes to get them.  We are sailing so smoothly I pat myself on the back for being an awesome dog traveler.  I have mastered the chaos of our previous flights.

Mr. Man takes us to the security line.  Hmmm, interesting.  They are going in baggage and usually we don't do security together.  Whatever.

There is a long line. Oh no!

 But wait, Mr. Man takes us to a priority line!  I love American Air!

I am still walking the dogs on the leash, so Mr. Man swings the cart carrying my crate through to the security guys and then holds on to the boys while I remove my shoes, coat and take my computer out of my bag.  Awesome.  Get dogs and proceed to walk through the gate.  The bell goes off.  Oh right, Mr. Mop's dog tags.

And then the chaos begins.

The security guy insists I remove both the leash and collar from my dogs.  WHAT?

'Will they run away?' he asks.

"I don't know, maybe, but it's a dog collar." What terrorist thing does he think it could be?

As the strict security guard is insisting I NOT HOLD ON TO MY DOGS and TAKE THEIR COLLARS OFF, I notice behind me another security guy looking inside the crate, shrugging and telling Mr. Man it's okay.

Okay, let me get this straight:  they barely glance into the crate, where there sits a pillow that could be stuffed with drugs or a bomb, but they are giving me the third degree about a dog collar?  So off Mr. Mop's snuggie goes, and his collar, and his harness. Luckily, his separation anxiety and the drug induced grogginess keep him close to me.

Brooklyn, on the other hand, is running in circles.  I pass him through the gate to the massive security guard.  He grabs him and gives him a cuddle to settle him down.  It's pretty cute seeing as this guy is about 300 pounds and an ex-linebacker (I don't know what that is but I feel it's something that's big).  Nazi security guard on the other hand is examining Mop's collar.  Yes, you dumbass, I planted a bomb on the pendant that's in the shape of a bone and says 'Button' (Mr. Mop's old name).

Finally, we all pass just fine and I need to get them back in the crate.  But Brooklyn has finally realized what's going on and knows what this all means (he's a slow one).  He starts to cry and scream, which always makes me freak out.  I feel the sweat dripping down my back (a sure sign of stress) as I shove him back in the crate as he wails, all the while trying to get Mop back in the snuggie (which is not as easy as the infomercial suggests).  Mr. Man is trying to help me by telling 'little dude', aka Brooklyn, that it's okay.  I shove some cheese into the crate and then rush back to the security thing to get my belongings.

That's right, I have done all the above with no shoes.

This is when I realize I have lost my plane ticket.  So when one is feeling under pressure one does not think clearly.  If you have checked in and lost your ticket, it's not a big deal.  But with Brooklyn wailing, Mop scratching at the cage with his snuggie on upside down, and sweat trickling into my underwear, I am not thinking clearly.

Did I mention that although I arrived with plenty of time, I am now supposed to be at my gate because Mr. Man took so long to come get me?

Mr. Man retraces my steps looking for the tickets.  He says that he saw it in my bag and maybe it fell in between my books. I tell him NO!  I left it behind.  He's looking everywhere for it, in discarded bins, on the belt, generally holding up the line.  Then I find it.  It was in my pocket.  So I pretended to find it on the floor behind me.  HA!

Anyways, the dogs are now crated, they are calmed down because I gave them more cheese and I am no longer sweating.  I saw goodbye and proceed to my gate where I sail right on and find that I am seated in the first row . . . . of economy, but still, it's awesome.

In general, I have perfected the art of traveling with dogs.  We only had one tiny hiccup.

Every airline and airport is different so I must accept the fact that I can only control what happens at my end.

But not Mr. Mop or Brooklyn's end.  One of them had a nervous poop at security I noticed.  Serves Nazi man right.  That's the terrorist thing I was trying to sneak through . . .

Friday, November 27, 2009

Video Viewing!!!

Some people have commented that watching the video's off of blogger take forever. To view them faster check out my channel on YouTube

Dessert Awesomeness

It's time for another video.  And the quality keeps getting better and better.  Actually I lie.  It keeps getting worse.

My mum wondered why my clothes change throughout this particular video. I had to explain that I simply couldn't eat three desserts in one day.  I had to break it up, you know?  Well, I probably could eat three desserts but I am certain I would spend the rest of the day sick.  So that's why my outfits change.

Oh, and I also talk about Brooklyn being better.  Better than what you may ask?  I was sort of comparing in to Manhattan.  And I lied about the food being better.  It's as good, just cheaper.  Then again cheaper makes it better right there right?

Also, at Sweet Melissa's I sort of didn't have permission to film, so it's via my computer.  At the Chocolate Room I arrived, ordered and then realized I forgot my memory stick for the camera.  So it was a la computer again.  I was too lazy to walk back to my house in the rain.  Even though I might have burned some of those layer cake calories.  That cake by the way, is probably the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten.  The texture, moisture, level of sweetness.  It took a year for them to perfect it!  You can tell I like it because I have chocolate on my teeth when I talk to you.  Like a messy three year old.  I'm so elegant.

The only place I had it truly together was at Blue Marble, the best ice cream I have ever tasted.  It tastes homemade (as I say).  My dad wonders what that means.  It just means it doesn't taste like the waxy crap you get at the grocery store.

Anyways, enjoy the show.  Desserts in Cobble Hill are amazing - so you should really take my advice!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

le Croissant, le Croissant - How I LOVE le croissant!

There have been two times in my life where I have gained considerable weight.

The first time I was 19 and living in the UK - an alternative to the 'freshman fifteen' if you will.  The second, when I was playing an alien in Japan (long story) at the age of 24.  And I am possibly on the verge of another 'fat face' era.  If only I could stop myself!

It's all down to one culprit.  A buttery, flakey, perfectly light & delicious but altogether EVIL culprit.

The croissant.  Or as my friend Alex would say, le Ckkkkkhhhhhrrrraaaaaaasaaaaant.

Damn you French pastry.  Damn you straight to my hips!

In England, I worked at a cafe where we baked baguettes, croissants, and pain au chocolat every morning.  We got to take home what wasn't sold.  I was 19, living on four pounds an hour and my money was better spent on wine.  Free food it was!  Until my mum came to visit bearing some pants.  Pants that I suspected she had shrunk in the laundry.  Then I realized she hadn't shrunk them, I grew!

In Japan the assholes at Prince hotel gave us two options for breakfast: A traditional Japanese fare complete with pickled beans and fish OR fresh baked goods.  Fresh baked goods like croissants.  Well damn it, as hard as I tried I found my feet heading in the bakery direction every morning.  Butter rolls versus moldy beans?  No contest. I was told I was getting fat by one of the Japanese wives.  Apparently that's not rude there.  I comforted myself with more croissants.

Currently the problem is an amazingly lovely bakery I recently discovered a short walk from my house (short walk = exercise).  Mazzola is like a piece of heaven situated on a peaceful corner of an ordinarily busy city.  Scents of fresh breads, rolls, and yes, croissants, mixed with coffee waft out onto the street.  Fall leaves scuttle past the wrought iron tables in the warm breeze.  And New York seems to stand still for a few minutes.

Yes.  I have an obsession with this place.

The staff is wonderful and friendly (something rare here), the coffee is hot and creamy, and the croissants are INCREDIBLE.  Lovely and wonderful.  I said to myself I could only come once a week.  And then that turned into twice.  Now it's almost daily.

To be fair, it's a good morning walk for the dogs.  They too love croissants so it's not like I eat them to myself.  Mop and Brooklyn now know we are almost there when we hit Court and Union, they pull like crazy on their leash.  How can I deny them their croissant?  I must go.

This morning I convinced L'engineer to go with me.  I said we had to use up these last few nice days of fall before winter well and truly sets in.  I need an extra layer.  HA!

Anyways, we shared a croissant, a pain au chocolat (that is soooooo stuffed with chocolate it makes me cry.  Not that dinky stick that most places shove in) AND an almond croissant (that made l'engineer nearly cry.  It was that good).

On top of that, I purchased a loaf of lard bread.  Yes.  LARD bread.  Ummm, good start to weight gain?  I think so.  We had it for lunch.  WE HAD THE ENTIRE THING.  It's a loaf of bread baked with so much butter and, I suppose, lard that it simply melts in your mouth. Plus it has the added bonus of having cured meats baked inside of it.  Yes folks, a loaf of meat fat bread.

God.  It was GOOD.

I pity those who are afraid of butter, fat and carbs.  They are missing out on the joy of life.  The flakey and delightful joy of life . . .

East Village Eats

I am continuing my little videos about NYC - this one takes place in the East Village.

I went on a Food Tour of NY adventure through the East Village which is so amazingly eclectic.

If you have trouble viewing the video here, head to my You Tube channel which will give you a faster download time!!

The food in the East Village was amazing.

We had bubble tea at Saints Alp Teahouse (an import from Hong Kong), rice rolls from Sunrise Market (an amazing Japanese grocery store that sells everything from unagi to pottery), amazing fries from Pommes Frites which included dips like mango chutney and parmesan peppercorn, takayaki (octopus balls) from Otafuku an authentic Japanese street meat vendor (hmmm, except for the Mexican music perhaps), delicious and cheap falafels from Mamouns, and a perfect ending with Italian cookies and cannoli from Veniero's Pastry, an Italian bakery serving the East Village for nearly 100 years!

Candy is the owner and operator of Food Tours NY, and she is a great and very sweet guide.  When in New York, you should take a food tour not only to see a neighborhood but to taste it as well.  For $40, they are GREAT values!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Lovers Yipee!

When I love a book, I go to Amazon and try to find similar titles.

But now there is Book Seer which is so fun and cute.  Type in the title and author of the book you love, and then Book Seer will gather similar titles from Amazon, LibraryThing, and BookArmy.

Typing in The Matchmaker of Perigord now . . . .

The Engineer's New Job Makes it to SNL

Although the Engineer was a bit bummed at not getting his first choice job back in Calgary, I feel he can take comfort in the fact that his new place of work is famous.  SNL Weekend Update famous.

The Engineer will be working at the bank Goldman Sachs.  It's famous for lots of reasons.  I know about it because it gets a mention in the NYC Water Taxi Harbour tour.  And it's always mentioned on SNL.

Unfortunately, this clip doesn't paint it in the best light.  In fact, the Engineer points out that he now works for one of the most hated companies.  I think it's cool.
Seth and Amy's 'Really?'

If you can't view Hulu in Canada, download the hotspot shield  Now you can watch American TV in Canada!  Muhahahaaa

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time for Tea

In the hustle and bustle of the big city, it's always nice to find a quiet retreat to take time out and drink my favorite beverage: tea.

On a lovely fall afternoon, Tara and I planned to meet on E 64th at a cute little place called Alice's Tea Cup for scones and tea.  I love love love this place.  They have three 'chapters' - one on the Upper West, one nearer to Central Park and this one (which is also near Central Park).  For $10 you get a large pot of tea (brewed to perfection), two homemade scones (which are massive) with cream and jam.  We both always get a buttermilk scone which is a staple here, and we both tried one of their daily scones:  lemon coconut.  Can you say delicious?

If you find yourself around any of these tea houses after a long day at the Met or shopping at Bloomingdales, they are a great place to pop in for some quiet relaxation.  Or if you want to host a little girl teaparty here complete with fairy wings, you can also do that . . .

The best part about days like these is how they turn out.  Tara and I were only supposed to meet for tea.  But then a walk to Madison felt appropriate.  So we trumbled off to the stores.  Walking along New York avenues at twilight is somehow cosy and comforting.  Strange how this city can feel so homey.  There is something about the early evening, the lights, the preparation for Christmas that feels nice.  Our tea turned to shopping to hot chocolate to Sephora to Rockefeller Center to chicken on rice across from the Hilton.

The best kinds of friends are the friends you don't want to leave so badly that you keep finding more places for fun.

The Mother Equation

Take one daughter and one mother.

What do you get?

Two crazy people.  Or that's how I feel with my mum.

It's a well-known fact that we turn into our mothers.  And it happens before we have the chance to stop it.  I know I have turned into my mother.  When she visits me, we both complain to the Engineer about each other.  He gets confused because we are both annoyed by the same things in each other:  ourselves.

My mum has delightful little quirks that make my father and I roll our eyes.  How she will stop everything to point out the way the light is streaming through the trees.  How she is slightly unreasonable and emotional at the strangest times.  How she over plans everything from vacations to dinner.  She starts packing for trips a month in advance.  I could go on but I won't.  She reads this.

Anyways, I am guilty of ALL those things.  Except when she's around.  My friend Lara told me that she too is exactly like her mother.  But when she is around her mum, she goes back into her child shell and let's her mum take over the personality of the room.  She's right.  If she and her mother were both in 100% mode, those around them would go nuts.  You have to give some of your mom back to her when you are around her.  Be the kid again.

Just the other day when walking the dogs with the Engineer I pointed out how the trees looked as if they were on fire.  He didn't even look but said 'yeah' in a totally non-committal way.  I feel like I am alone when I see things that are special and lovely.  Then I realized I do the exact same 'yeah' when my mum points out sun shining on snow.

The whole reason I am thinking about my mum and our combined craziness is because of some events that just unfolded.

My mum flew to Vancouver to hang out in my house.  My friend had used my car but had supposedly replaced it with a full tank of gas so that my mum could drive it.

Call mum.  Car is not there.  I slowly start to freak out.

Call friend.  She has swine flu so our other friend put it back.

Call her.  She says she parked it on P1, stall #25.  A part of the public Impark lot where I will get towed. Start to freak out more.  She says she is sorry but didn't know where my parking spot was.  So it's been sitting in an illegal parking spot for a week.

You know Impark - they're evil.

Call mum.  Go check P1, #25.  Wait.

Call back.  Car is not there.

Mum is starting to freak out.  And by starting I mean she is yelling at me and threatening to tell my father.  Apparently I am ten.  She rants that I wasn't supposed to loan my car anymore.


Call sick friend again.  Text her.  Nada.

Call towing company.  My car is not there.

Call other towing company.  My car is not there.  They assure me that other towing place takes from my parking lot.

Call Impark.  My car was not towed or ticketed recently. But I do have outstanding tickets, do I want to pay?  Ummm, no.  I hate you Impark.  I ask the guy what it means if my car is not there.  He says my car not being there is a matter for the police now.  Super.

Call friend #2 back.  Are you sure you parked it on P1.  She's sure.

Call friend #1 back.  Still nothing.  I am really freaking out now.  Last time she used my car there was an accident.  This time it was stolen?  GAH!

Call mum back.  Get voicemail.  Check voicemail.  Find out that my mastercard has been cancelled due to fraud.  Awesome.

Call my dad.  He hasn't talked to my mom.  What's wrong?  he asks.  Urrm, nothing.

Call mum.  Tell her to go do a lap of the parking lot one more time.  I think the car has been stolen.


Call mum.  She's on the other line calling the Engineer.

Call her back.  Found the car!  she pipes happily


I guess I didn't understand what P1 was.

WHAT?  There is a P1 and a P2, what's the confusion??

Now she states that there seems to be another problem.

Oh god.  What?

"My shopping cart is missing!  It's not in the closet or in the car."

Great.  Now I've just been freaking out at my friends, calling numbers all over Vancouver from New York and my heart is racing because I thought my car was stolen.  And she's already on to the next catastrophe:  her shopping cart.

It's in my storage locker, I say.  Also, I point out to her, if you had just read the note that was left with the keys you would have seen my friend wrote specifically where the car was.

Time for damage control.  Finally get a hold of sick friend.  Apologize.  She sounds like she's dying.

Moral of the story?  Get the H1N1 vaccine and don't let your mom into your house when you are not home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Get me CORN!

My new favorite go-to restaurant to take visiting guests of NYC, is Cafe Habana.  A Cuban eatery deep in Nolita with an 'outpost' in Fort Green, Brooklyn.

The savory secret of this wonderful land of nosh?  The corn.

Oh god.  The corn.

The menu describes it as:
Grilled Corn Mexican Style, served with chili powder, lime & cheese

My mouth describes it as flavor heaven that induces moans, groans, and cheese dripping down my chin.  I may have licked the plate.

I believe there is a mayo concoction buttered on the corn, but it's not gross.  No.  It's amazing.  With the cheese.  And the chili.  And the grilled, good corn goodness.

I can't even do it justice.

I am not kidding you, I just felt compelled to lick my computer screen.

Lesson here?  When in New York, head to Prince and Elizabeth for some corn heaven.  Be prepared for a wait though, so avoid rush times.  Plus you might run into a celebrity!  If that's your thing.

Oh.  And the other stuff is pretty good too.  Very strong frozen mojitos.  Gooey Cuban sandwiches full of pickles, cheese (theme here?) and ham.  Rice, beans and spicy chicken.

Trust me, you won't be disappointed.  And if you bring your friends, they will think you are super cool and in the know . . .

For the Love of Dragon

On our journey to the Blaze and Sleepy Hollow the other day, Tara and I ventured into my favorite sort of store:  a dog store.  I realize this is a far cry from a shoe store.  I feel this is how mother's of young children must feel walking past adorable kids clothing stores. I just love all the toys and fun things for dogs.

My dogs are in need of some toys.  I got them some aliens from Target which they promptly amputated.  Their squirrel has no hands/paws/arms and I find stuffing all over the apartment.  They had a little bulldog that was unfortunately decapitated.

In fact, one of the only toys that has stood the test of time is a baby toy I bought when I first got Mr. Mop.  I was told that baby toys hold up better.  It's true.  Granted, Mop tore of the toy's nose but otherwise the blue puppy is fine.  But he's in Vancouver.

They have rubber toys but they just don't seem to love them as much as the plush.  After all, plush is snuggly and probably more fun to whip around in an attempt to break a neck.

At this dog store (that told us we were in the wrong town for Blaze! Sign?) I found a myriad of fun toys.  But what drew my eye was an adorable pink dragon.  This thing is built with this new technology chew guard thingy.  I asked if it would survive the munching of my nine-pound yorkie.  I was assured that this toy could withstand anything.

Brooklyn fell in love immediately.  For an hour, he cuddled and played with the dragon.  He also managed to chew off a tip of a wing, an ear and a bit of the nose.  I contacted the company to let them know that so far their 'chew guard' technology was failing in the jaws of an overgrown rat.  Apparently, as long as the pink dragon stays together at the seams than what a dog chews off is their own business.


Not that I would think of taking the dragon away from Brooklyn.  He has formed a special bond with this dragon.  A very special bond.  Never in his little life has he ever defended himself against Mop. Mop always takes away the toy that Brooklyn is playing with. Brooklyn never seems to care (I have tried teaching sharing but apparently this is not a concept graspable by canines).  Except when it comes to Dragon.

He really loves this thing.

If Mop comes to get it, Brooklyn puts up a fierce little fight.  He dances for it when the Engineer makes it fly while doing this weird spaceship noise thing.  After a walk, he immediately goes to find it.  He takes it under the bed with him, he takes it to his crate, he takes him under the couch.  He gallops around the house, dangling the dragon from his mouth.  They are the same size.  He sleeps with it.  He lays his head on it.

In fact, the Engineer once found Brooklyn 'kissing' the dragon and grooming it in the same fashion that Mop does to him.

Should I be worried?


Tara and I had an adventure with meat and history.

We used the Engineer's point & shoot so I apologize for the sound quality!

Bergen Bagels & Prospect Park

The Bridesmaid Diaries just turned into a vlog!

I'm experimenting with my mad camera skills! Enjoy :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Great Blaze

New York and Halloween go together like peanut butter and jam.  This city thrives on this holiday.  Even the surrounding areas seem built for Halloween.

After all, Washington Irving lived just up Hudson River from here.  In his beloved Sleepy Hollow which shares the name of the famous story of the headless horseman. In fact, I think the town actually changed its name to match the story.  Either way, around Halloween that area just lights up.  Literally.

Last year, I went to a Sleepy Hollow Halloween complete with a guy wearing a pumpkin for a head riding a horse and a midnight walk through the graveyard.

This year it was all about the Blaze.




The Blaze is held at Van Cortland Manor every October and can only be described as a magical wonderland of pumpkins.  40, 000 pumpkins are carved.  FORTY THOUSAND.  Nothing beats coming up over the little hill and seeing thousands of pumpkins glittering in the night.  It was even better considering the moon was nearly full and whisps of clouds created eerie shadows on the grounds.

I can't even describe or fully show you how amazing this event is.  You meander through a field of ghost pumpkins with jack-o-lanterns creeping out of graves, a dinosaur park, an alien land, Henry Hudson's ship complete with pirates, a druid circle, an under-the-sea world  . . .  I can keep going.

To top it all off add some apple cider and a walk through Tarrytown which is like Main Street America at Disneyland.  Oh, and an FYI, the Blaze is NOT in Tarrytown.  Nope, it's three stops away. We luckily learned this in enough time to run to the train station.  And then get on the wrong platform.  And then have me race up the stairs to yell at T that I will hold the train for her.  Only then to have the train sit there for ten minutes.

It's an incredible thing to see at Halloween, check it out:

Oh, and did I mention you get to start off the night with a carafe of red wine and fried cheese?  Ummm, yes.  And if you are as lucky as us, you can still sit outside.

Doggie Style Halloween

This may come as a shock to people who know me well:  I don't dress up my dogs.  It's true, I don't.  When I first got them, everyone thought I would be dressing them in little shirts and sweaters but I shocked everyone when I didn't.

Okay.  Sometimes I do.  Firstly, my friend gave us these super cute little coats.  They happen to have pink in them.  Pink for me.  Yes, my dogs are boys but who cares?  Plus, Mr. Mop really likes his.  It's a little coat that makes him look like Shermop Bones.  Super cute.  He wears it when it rains.

And that's it.  They wear their coats when it rains.

Or when Halloween rolls around.

The Engineer said I couldn't buy costumes for them as I had some from last year (stupid rule if you ask me but times are tough).  So Mr. Mop once again donned his ladybug costume.  Again, he likes it.

Well, he doesn't hate it.

Brooklyn hates his pumpkin costume.  Perhaps because it's small now - I bought it when he was only 7 months.  It looks like I stuffed him into some sausage casing and he barely moves when I put it on.  It's pretty funny.  I suppose people will think it's cruel that I dress him up simply to laugh at him.  Trust me, he gets many treats for it.  hmmmm, maybe that's the real reason the pumpkin is a bit snug.

Dog Halloween costumes are ADORABLE.  But there really is no point to me dressing them up.  Seeing as Mr. Mop hates children, I can't exactly prance him around in his ladybug outfit because kids will really want to pet him.  Other dogs dressed up scare Brooklyn.  We met a French Bulldog on our walk in full pirate regalia.  Brooklyn hid.

He was also frightened of a blowing leaf.

The Engineer and I went as Buddy Holly and a poodle girl.  Unfortunately for the Engineer the Buddy Holly look is in so no one realized he was in costume.  He also resembled my dad from 1968.

The night before Halloween, I found a poodle skirt costume for dogs.  It took ALL my strength NOT to buy it for Mop.  And my friend T reminding me my dogs are boys.  So what?  Look how cute it is!

I would literally be matching my dog!  EEEEEEEEEEEE!  I have the same shirt and everything!  I actually just discovered this matching thing.  I won't lie.  It excites me.  I am going to save my poodle skirt so that in a few years I can get the boys some Greaser leather jackets.

the Engineer in a more obvious 50's costume, and perhaps if we have a kid it can be a poodle!  That's right, I thought about that.  When I told this to the Engineer he walked away and had a glass of whiskey.  Weirdo.

But this whole matching your dog thing can be carried a bit far (well, you are already in the deep end if you are even considering this idea) as I discovered in searching for costumes.  You know how I have a thing against those 'sexy' costumes of beloved childhood characters like Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy?  Well, what worse than a whored up version of Raggedy Anne?  A matching dog costume!!!  GAH!

I am sorry, but if you think wearing a sexy costume with your dog is okay you might have some serious inappropriate-ness issues.

What if you are going as a naughty schoolgirl?  No worries!

I am sorry.  This is all sorts of wrong.  WRONG!

Anyways, I am learning that Halloween doesn't work so well with my dogs.  Too many hyper kids with candy who either want to pet my mean puppy or who are holding lollipops that Mr. Mop will grab (happened).  Too many people wearing odd hats that make Brooklyn cry and cower.  And too many pumpkins that the boys think are pee targets.  Nothing says 'Happy Halloween' like my dog lifting his leg onto your nicely carved Jack-O-Lantern.

Oh No

It has been lovingly pointed out to me that I have not blogged in well over a week.  GASP!  Someone read's me enough to notice :)

Anyways, it was a weird week here in the Big Apple. The Engineer and I made a big decision.  No we're not having a baby or getting married.  But we are staying in this lovely city for much longer than this December.  A few years in fact.

The 'decision', as we are lovingly calling it, is scary and exciting and very bittersweet.  The LDR is hard enough and now the end is not in sight.  We didn't realize how badly we wanted to go back to the Great White North.  On the plus side, I don't have to rush to all the museums next week or eat my weight in full sour pickles because we are NOT leaving.

Anyways, the 'decision' was made because the Engineer didn't get a job back in Canada.  Ironically, his 'fallback' is for a superstar bank that's so famous it's included on NYC's tourist water taxi tours.  AND its name is mentioned on SNL's Weekend Update quite often.  Plus we get to move to an awesome part of Brooklyn to a house with non-slanting wooden floors and laundry (if I'm lucky).  Still, the Engineer was bummed even after I pointed out these fun facts and when he's bummed, I'm bummed.  Apparently that's what happens when you are in a relationship.  You feel what the other person feels.


And then it makes you not write.  Okay fine, it makes me not write.  But I'm back (lucky you) and it looks like the New York adventures are going to keep rolling . . .