Monday, February 28, 2011

To Question or Not to Queston

I heard recently that a Nobel Peace Prize winner (I forget who, I didn't ask) grew up in a house where his dad didn't ask 'what did you learn at school today?' but asked 'what great questions did you ask at school today?'

This is apparently the secret to raising a super smart and Nobel Peace Prize winning human being.

The Engineer has a friend or relative (I forget which, I didn't ask) who when they took their child to the doctor would make the kid ask the doctor a question.

I never ask questions.  I don't think I was ever that curious.  I am the sort of person who accepts whatever I am told.  Pretty much a salesperson's dream. I just shrug and agree with everything they say.

The Engineer is completely the opposite. 

He asks TOO many questions.  When we first started dating he asked questions about everything.  Mundane weird things.  When I asked him why he asked so many questions he replied 'that's how you learn!'.

I guess so.  But I thought most of his questions were annoying.

Although I must admit they did make me think.  And wonder more about  . . . .  dogs as that's what most of his questions pertain to.

How do dogs know other dogs are dogs?
Do dogs know the difference between feet and hands?
When do dogs decide to growl or bite? 
How come dogs can't see themselves in the mirror?
How do you know when Mr. Mop wants to poop?

(this is the one question I have been able to answer in full much to the surprise of the Engineer.  But if you have a dog you just know when they are about to go!)

Why can't he be more accepting/non-curious like me?

It would make life so much easier and non-confrontational.

Unlike these examples:

Engineer:  Why does a wedding cost this much?
Sarah:  It just does.
Engineer:  Why though?
Sarah:  Because it's how much a wedding costs.
Engineer:  But why does it cost this much money? Is there anything cheaper?
Engineer:  Why are you yelling?
Sarah:  Because you are asking stupid questions.
Engineer:  How will I learn if I don't ask?


Engineer:  Why do we need a first dance?
Sarah: We just do.
Engineer:  But why do we have to?  Can't we just skip it?
Sarah:  NO!  It sets a precedent for the party and people expect it.
Engineer:  But why?  I thought we were doing non-traditional.
Sarah:  Because we have to do some traditions.
Engineer:  But why?  What does a first dance mean?
Engineer:  Why are you yelling?
Sarah:  Because you are stupid.


Engineer:  Why do you want live music for the ceremony?
Sarah:  Because I do.
Engineer:  Why?
Sarah:  Because I've dreamt of walking down the aisle forever and I always imagined live music.
Engineer:  But we aren't live music sort of people.  Why are you being so traditional?
Sarah:  Why are you being so annoying?

I guess I do ask questions after all.

I wonder if it's too late for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pillow Fight

It's a scenario fairly common in pop culture.  I mean, it makes it into movies like 'Along Comes Polly' and pretty much all home design shows.

I just didn't realize how true it was.

Men really don't like/get pillows.

I have lived on my own for ten years.  Therefore I have become accustomed to the way I like to have things.  As one does.  I realize one has to make adjustments to ones partner as the couple moves in together.

This is called compromise.  It's very annoying.

I like pillows.  I like lots and lots of pillows.  On my queen bed in Vancouver I have four pillows for sleeping and then another four to six pillows that adorn the bed when it is made.

When the Engineer and I first started dating he wondered why I needed so many pillows.  I laughed him off.  'Oh you!  You are a silly man!'.  I never really thought about the day that we would meld households and thus, meld pillows.

I have been careful not to add pillows to our bed.  Simply replacing his old pillows was in itself a major task.

On top of my ADD complex, I have a bit of OCD when it comes to the bed.  I wash my sheets at least twice a week.  It grosses me out to think about sleeping in the flakes of our bodies and whatever else gross micronisms (or whatever small things are called).

Hmmm, yet I ironically let my dogs sleep in the bed and who knows what they are carrying on their paws.

I also replace my pillows at least every two years.  I did not always do this - I never really thought about the grossness that might be living in a pillow.  My mum alerted me to the disgusting situation of head sweat, flakes, drool and microcosms that infiltrate the unwashable germ infested things.  It was a battle trying to separate me from my favourite down pillow (which was at least ten years old!).  But after some disgusting facts and sneakily throwing it away when I wasn't looking - I was able to move on from that pillow and find a new (albeit temporary) love.

When I moved in with the Engineer and had to lay my noggin down on his very old pillows (he had two) I felt it was time to clean house.  It took me TWO years of convincing him to rid our bed of his old pillows.  I know you are thinking "Why didn't you just replace them when he was at school?".  The Engineer is very particular about few things. And one of them is touching his stuff. Replacing his property is deemed a horrific offence.

It took moving back to Canada and me being in charge of packing duty that did it.  I was in control enough to say "Be gone yee pillow of old!  You have done a wonderful job of cradling yee master's head and now it is time to go to your final resting place!".

So it did.  And now we have FOUR pillows (ALL BRAND NEW) on our bed :)

 Adding decorative pillows onto our bed is not even in the cards yet.  I must break the Engineer into this slowly.

Decorative pillows only work when you make the bed.  And we both have a bad habit of not making the bed.  Even though it is my favourite thing to do.  I LOVE A MADE BED.  A made bed with a pretty blanket and throw pillows is so inviting.  It teases you with its beauty.  It says, "come, lay down on me" and when you about to it says 'ah ha ha - not yet!  You only just made me!  You must come back in 10-12 hours and unmake me".

Both from Potter Barn

The Engineer does not get this.

I think most men do not get this.

What is the point of making a bed that you are only going to unmake again?  Well, it's just nicer getting into a made bed is all.  Plus, it looks pretty.  And makes me feel . . . clean.

Our disagreements over pillows do not end in the bedroom.  Oh no.  They only continue to our couch.

My couch in Vancouver has a few throw pillows on it.  Throw pillows are the BEST things ever.  Not only do they add colour and texture to a room, but you can change the look of your home in a few easy props!  And you can work with different seasons. 

The Engineer is nothing if not functional. When we bought the couch he asked if it came with pillows.  The designer salesguy answered (not snidely, quite politely but I could tell he was thinking 'ewww, throw these pillows out because they are factory standard!') that the couch came with two pillows that matched perfectly as they were made of the same fabric.

The Engineer thought this was brilliant.  Pillows for free!

Here's the thing though: they add nothing to the look of the couch and are just BLAH.  Enter:  new pillows!

I have waited until now to introduce decor into this house.  But it's time.  So I went to my favorite store in the entire world - Homesense - to grab a few things to throw on the walls and couch to spruce the place up and make it feel like home.

When the Engineer noticed one picture he said "so now it looks like your place in Vancouver".  Ummm, not that I am trying to make the two look the same but clearly I have a certain taste that gets carried across country.  It's not like I dropped my love of French country somewhere over Winnipeg.

He asked what else I got.

I pointed to a woven natural basket now housing magazines and dog toys.  Subtle.  Nice.

Then he noticed.


Although not on the couch yet, I had two pillows sitting next to the couch.  Just waiting to prettify.

Except they got nixed before they could even make their debut.

I had to tame myself in the throw pillow aisle.  Ruffles are very in right now so obviously there are a lot of ruffly pillows out there.  My first instinct told me to get the ruffliest pillow out there.

Then I remembered I lived with a boy.

I chose a subtle ruffle pillow.  It only has two barely-there ruffles on each end.  AND IT IS BLUE.  Not bright blue or turquoise, but a lovely subtle grey blue.

The Engineer had several issues.

#1 - As we already move the factory standard pillows away from us, why would we want more pillows?

Ugh.  Try answering this.

#2 -  Would I really want to sleep on the ruffle pillow?

UGH.  Throw pillows are for DECOR!  Not for sleeping.
He could not grasp this concept.

#3 - The colour is too girly.

WHAT?  WTF?  It's a nice GREY BLUE!  GREY!  BLUE!  That is not girly.  It's practically manly.

#4 - He does not like the ruffles

But they add texture to the room!  And I only got one ruffle!  I could have gotten a whole ruffle pillow.  I COMPROMISED to make the pillows more boy-friendly.

Sarah:  What if I got a brown ruffle pillow?

The Engineer:  That's still a ruffle.

Sarah:  What if I got that colour with no ruffles?

The Engineer:  I still don't like that colour.

Sarah:  Why not?

The Engineer:  I just don't.

Sarah:  But you like blue.

The Engineer:  You like pizza.  Do you want to decorate the house in pizza?

I can't even come up with an argument.

This is just the beginning of what I suspect might be many decorating nightmares/arguments.  When asked what colour he prefers for a bedroom the Engineer answered white. WHITE.  What colour in a kitchen?  White.  Bathroom?  White.  Why do people paint rooms when white looks the nicest? 


I'll let you know how the pillow debate turns out.  I am going to sneak at least one ruffle in somehow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Just Call Me Sarah Stewart

DIY weddings are very much in vogue.  And budget friendly.

Unless you are like me and trek to Michael's every other day to buy more supplies.

I have decided to take on a few crafts for our wedding.  I LOVE crafts.  Too bad I suck at them.

My grandmother taught me, very patiently, the love of crafts at her wooden table on the farm.  We made monster masks out of paper bags when I was really small, then mop dolls (super cute dolls made out of colourful mop heads!), pillow-case dolls, Christmas ornaments - you name it, we made it.  She had this awesome do-dad drawer full of pipecleaners, sparkles, craft paper, glue - it was a drawer of hope.  I loved going into it and turning random objects into happy things.

Therefore, I am trying to channel my grandmother's spirit when I attempt to make ribbon wands and fascinators (or as my mother calls them:  terminators).  Unfortunately, her spirit is not coming though so much in my clumsy and impatient hands.

First:  the fascinators.

I LOVE the fascinator.  Who wouldn't?  It makes every outfit awesome.  We don't get much call to wear fascinators in Vancouver, so my wedding is the perfect excuse to make every guest don one.  Yes, that's right: make.

Fascinators are quite expensive so I thought it would be fun to try making them.  But after buying the bases, feathers, flowers, netting, sparkles, birds (YES, birds), nests, butterflies, and whatever else I thought would be fun and whimsical - I am sure I have spent the same amount I would have if I had simply bought them.

But what's the fun in that?

The problem is, I have no idea how to make them.  I watched this video:

Then I read some instructions on ehow and gathered some pictures.

And finally, made some bridesmaids come over to make them for me.

Which is exactly what they did.

Actually, it does remind me of working with my grandma:  I think I used to get her to finish everything to make the final product nicer.

We only made a few before realizing I needed more supplies.  So now I have a drawer full of fun whats-its and do-dads to make fascinators.

Anyone want to help?

Next on the agenda: ribbon wands.

I love these at weddings instead of confetti or rice.  When we say 'I do', the 'audience' waves the ribbons in the air.  Hooray!  Plus they have little bells so when they want us to kiss later they have to wave the wands.

Super cute.

Once again, I could have ordered these on Etsy, but I felt they would be so easy to make.


First, I have to spray paint the wands from the blah wood colour to yellow.  The results are globs of paint on the wands and spray paint all over my patio, the glass on the patio, my fingers and my Lululemons.

The fun part is really the ribbons.  I have become slightly obsessed with ribbons.

I went to M & J Trimming in New York which is like a happy mecca of ribbon wonderfulness.  I chose four colours in narrow width.

When I got home, this was not enough.  Everytime I went to Michael's for fascinator supplies, I picked up a spool of ribbon.  Then I found some ribbon on Etsy in every colour imaginable.  I started to stare late into the night at my computer screen of ribbon stores all over the world.

I can't get enough ribbon!  It's so pretty.  Now the wedding will have ribbon wands, ribbon on chairs, ribbon on my bouquet, ribbon in the air.  Ribbon everywhere.

Style Me Pretty

Style Me Pretty

Style Me Pretty

I could have a whole house of ribbon to just stare at.

I was supposed to have my ribbon wands done by now and shipped to Italy.  They are sitting in my do-dad drawer.

I think if I ply my bridesmaids with enough champagne and food, they will do it for me?

So not exactly channeling my grandmother, but on the day I know she will be there in spirit and think my crafts are perfect even in their flaws.

In the Spirit of Chocolate

After our evening of chocolate making, I was highly inspired to eat more chocolate.

As if one needs a reason.

Plus it just so happens to be the first annual hot chocolate festival in Vancouver.  Who knew such a thing existed?

A few days after the Cocoa Nymph experience, my mum and I trekked to Thomas Haas to grab an almond croissant and an Aztec hot chocolate.  And a couple of macrons.  AND a snowdrop.

God.  It was soooooooooooooooooo good.  And soooooooooooooooooooooo much.  Both in terms of filling and financially.  Two hot chocolates, three croissants, and two macrons = $32!!!!!

Whatever.  It was worth it.

Then, a few days later (and an extra workout at 30-Minute), I met with my friends, K and Dee - the latter had been my chocolate cohort from the beginning - at Mink for more hot chocolate goodness.

This was our sumptuous 'lunch' order:
- s'mores for two (with dark chocolate)
- fondue for two  (with milk chocolate)
- lavender hot chocolate

The 'meal' arrived at the table and we immediately dunked the amazing pound cake into the warm, hot and gooey milk chocolate.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

Then time for the s'mores.  Which arrive on the plate with a mini hibachi and a bunch of graham crackers & marshmallows.

Unfortunately we couldn't quite get the hang of melting them.

At first, K placed the graham cracker directly onto the little hibachi. Then added the marshmallow.  Nothing happened.

So I stuck on another graham cracker and pressed down with my fork.

Urm.   This is when the smoke started and our graham cracker was set on fire.  We called out for help but the line-up was too long to help three idiots trying to make indoor s'mores.

K used her fondue fork to wave the fire out. Note:  call K when in fire emergency.

Finally, Dee figured out that we were supposed to roast the marshmallow over the hibachi, dip it into chocolate, and then smoosh it between the graham crackers.

The result was delicious.

And messy.

Dee's baby got hold of melty marshmallow and smeared it into her mother's hair, on her clothes and pretty much anywhere marshmallow should not be. 
I jumped up to search through the baby-bag for the boogie wipes (a real thing - much like a wet wipe but for a nose) while K 'helped' out by grabbing my fondue fork.

Clearly, this girl's answer to life's emergencies is to don a fondue fork.

Anyhoo, the meal was delicious, if not eventful and messy.  Poor K had to go back to work with a chocolate dollop on her cream, ruffled blouse.

If anything, go just for the pound cake that goes with the fondue.  I am fairly certain it has some sort of sugar crack in it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate Nymph Night

A few months ago, Living Social had a deal for a night of chocolate making at half price.

I love Living Social, Groupon, Wag Jag, Team Buy and the plethora of other coupons I get in my inbox each morning mostly because I love discovering businesses in my city that I have never explored.

Like Cocoa Nymph.

Who knew that there was a cute little chocolate shop in Rainy City that offers chocolate making classes? I sure didn't.

Three girlfriends and me took advantage of the 50% off deal and trekked in the rain to this cozy little comfort shop that envelopes you in a cloud of chocolatey goodness the moment you walk in the door.

Not eating dinner beforehand, I was STARVING for chocolate.  I think my friends were as well because when the owner/chef/chocolatier passed around a sampling of actual cocoa, we gobbled it up like no one's business.

Now had we been really paying attention during the chocolate history lesson, we would have remembered that raw cocoa is actually super bitter.  Europeans are the ones that added the copious amounts of sugar we add today.

Needless to say, our first bite of 'chocolate' was not what the smell of the shop promised.  It was like eating wood.

On to a few more pure cocoa tastings and they get better and better (and sugarier and sugarier).  Fun fact:  chocolate is similar to wine in that you can taste the terroire (if you will) in the cocoa!  Who knew?  Also, the reason Hershey tastes a bit weird even today, is that they use sour milk!  Mr. Hershey was cheap and he started using sour milk to save money.  Now they use it for fun.

Rachel, the owner, was full of fun facts!

After our lesson and pure cocoa tasting, it was off to the real chocolate/truffle making.

Firstly, you get a BIG SLAB OF GANACHE!

If you ask me, this is reason enough to go.  A SLAB OF GANACHE!!!!!!!!!!  SO GOOD!

The order is this:
1.  Cut up ganache in shapes you want.  Either using a cookie-cuter or your hands (which you have to do with the end bits anyways.  Unfortunately, our 'hand made' bits looked like little pieces of poop)
2.  Dip said ganache in more chocolate.
3.  Dip that in either crushed nuts, cocoa powder, or decorate with cocoa-paper transfer (that's how they get the fancy pictures on chocolate!)
4.  Put in fridge
5.  Eat.

I didn't necessarily follow this order.

I ate a couple pieces of ganache.  To test it after all.  Deeming it was good, I proceeded to dip my pieces of poop like chocolate truffle into a vat of melted chocolate.  How I did not just dunk my face and drink is beyond me.  I suppose common courtesy and being in public made me rethink this idea.

Once, I accidentally transferred a nut into the melted pot of chocolate. This taints the chocolate.  For fear of ruining chocolate and getting into trouble, I fished it out.  With a spoon.  It's not my fault that the spoon later landed in my mouth.

After the chocolates were all decorated, my tray went into the fridge.

While I gently sucked the ganache off of my fingers and from under my finger nails (do not judge until you have played with a slab of ganache yourself), it was time for our masterpieces to be revealed!

Rachel gave us pretty boxes and paper to take our treasured truffles home.  Like real professionals!

After making a full box of chocolate, I then proceeded to buy a hot chocolate (how can you not when it is the hot chocolate festival and the cocoa comes with homemade orange marshmallows????) AND a champagne truffle AND a hot chili chocolate.

Champagne truffle? My new idea of heaven.

Since then, I have been somewhat obsessed with champagne truffles and this was only last week.

Anyhoo, this entry is pretty straight forward.  No klutzy interludes of tripping and falling into a vat of chocolate (although I did think of that).  I just wanted to share something fun and new for you to do in Rainy City!

Well, there was one or two mishaps.  Like my friend creating a rather large misshaped ball of truffle.  And covering it with nuts. She did not intend to be naughty or dirty.  It just sort of happened.  And being super mature, we all thought her progression of balls was funny.

Cocoa Nymph offers this chocolate making class for bridal showers/stagettes, birthday parties, etc. GREAT idea!  You can bring in champagne to go with the champagne truffles!!


Okay, there was one more mishap.  I may, or may not have, woken up in the middle of the night and eaten half a box of chocolates.  And I was not alone in this.  Just ask the other three what happened to their chocolate . .  .