Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Tales from Revision Land

Procrastination is my friend. No seriously. We're BFFs.

I'm back in Revision Land, this time doing a line edit and making some minor (and hopefully final!) changes on LOVE STRUCK (which is now officially available for pre-order!).
Note: You can tell it's a minor revision by the number of Post-its. When I'm in writing or first-revision mode, there are more than 30 Post-its in several colours. Now, there are only 7! Yippee.

Still, I don't have a lot of time to do my revisions. I'm on a strict deadline. Which means I should be spending every free minute working on my book.
But I'm not.

Unfortunately, I chose this past week to have my website redesigned. The company I hired promised me that he would work quickly -- I tend to have a bit of a problem when I decide I want to do something (cut my hair, get a manicure, the list goes on and on), I want to do it right now. Not in five weeks. I'm so impatient. The company said it would be no problem.

So now, the real problem is that the guy doing my site wasn't kidding. He's in Holland, which means every morning when I wake up, I've got a new change to my site that I need to approve before noon. I'm very excited, but it means I'm choosing the right colours for my new website rather than words for my book. Yikes.

The good thing about being in Revision Land is that The Hubs gets me dinner so that I don't wander into the kitchen, get distracted and end up watching TV for hours. And Hubs dinners are the best. Today we had our friends over for brunch, so dinner was leftover almond croissants and pain au chocolat from Epi Breads with homemade jams from the farmers' market on King Street West. Maybe that's why I like being in Revision Land for so many days on end...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

10 Ways to Justify a Shopping Splurge...

You know my love of the list, and so, this week I figured out how to incorporate the list into my Sweetspot blog post...

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Cheesecakes

My dad's birthday is only a few days after Father's Day. Which means what's normally a hard task (what to get the guy who has it all?) is even harder. Or that's my excuse. So this year, the Hubs and I decided we'd cook up a feast for my dad for Father's Day. Okay, okay, it's kind of sort of a totally selfish gift, because it meant a) we got to BBQ and b) go in the pool and hot tub at my dad's house. Still, we had to actually cook the meal.

Anyway, as it turned out, it rained all day on Father's Day, so we ended up just staying inside and drinking. Or rather, my stepmom and I did, while the Hubs and my dad manned the BBQ with beers in hand.
A few days before the BBQ/gift, the Hubs' parents told us they'd be in town for Father's Day too. So we decided, if 1 BBQ for 1 Dad = Good Idea, then 2 BBQs for 2 Dads = Even Better Idea!

We decided we'd go to my Dad's on Saturday, then drive back to the city on Sunday and host BBQ #2 at our place.

"We'll just get double of everything," The Hubs said. Which in theory sounds like a good idea, and really isn't much more work.

Except, who wants to eat the same meal two nights in a row? Not me, says the girl who really hates leftovers. So instead, I got a brilliant idea that I would do everything similar, but different.

I agreed we could have steaks on both nights, but everything else I'd make different.
The vegetable was easy. I brought broccoli for BBQ 1 and asparagus for BBQ 2.

The dip was a bit harder. I made a roasted red pepper dip for BBQ 1, then remembered my inlaws don't like peppers, so made an artichoke dip for BBQ 2.
I served the dips with potato cheese bread at BBQ 1. Multigrain at BBQ 2.

Then came dessert: I decided on cheesecake. Except, I only have one amazing cheesecake recipe (even if it is out of season).
It's tried and true (read: I've made it enough times that finally I don't screw it up). But what to do for BBQ 2?

And so the hunt began. Although cheesecake #1 is apple cinnamon and amazing, my general rule off thumb is that for a dessert to be good it must contain 2 ingredients: chocolate and caramel.

Then I found this recipe for Turtle Cheesecake.
The only trouble was, I couldn't find the Kraft caramels. And that's when the trouble began. First I improvised with caramel dip. Then I swapped the regular crust for an Oreo crust (more chocolate = more yum!).

The first cheesecake tasted amazing. It's too bad that the caramel oozed out the middle of it, so it didn't exactly look pretty. I took that cheesecake to work.

Then I tried again. But I left the caramel on the stove while I went to look at my dad's plumbing situation (enter yawn here). It burned to the bottom of the pot.

Finally, I made my own caramel sauce and cheesecake #3 turned out perfectly. By which point I was sort of sick of cheesecake altogether.

But the Dads were happy. So I guess that's all that matters.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye, MJ

I really can't believe Michael Jackson is gone.

I can't say anything that's not being said on a million other websites today, so I'll just tell you what I know. The King of Pop was my first true love.

When I was seven, my entire room was plastered with MJ posters. I loved him. I played his Thriller album on my record player and memorized every word to every song.

That same year, MJ came through on the Victory Tour with the Jackson Five. Knowing mine and my sister's love for Michael, my dad stood in line for hours to get us tickets. Then, he drove us to Buffalo to the concert, and let us see the show alone (while he probably went to have beer and wings. Or something. I don't think I ever asked what he did that night).
Unfortunately, I didn't even know Michael Jackson had brothers. So whenever a Jackson Five song came on, I would turn to my older and wiser sister and ask what was going on and why MJ wasn't just singing "Thriller" and "Billie Jean" and "Beat it" over and over again. Clearly I though "Jackson 5" was just a tribute to his favourite number, or something.

Still, the concert may be my one of my favourites ever. Unlike some concerts I've gone to where I can't even remember details a year later, I still remember that show and can picture our seats and how MJ looked on stage in his white outfit.
I still have the program and the sparkly glove pin I got at the concert that night.

As years went on, my musical tastes changed and so did my crushes, but I still always loved MJ deep down, even when I was 17 he and he was no longer cool. I was totally into Britpop and a guy in a band with very discriminating musical tastes who I knew, if he knew I still loved MJ would probably dump me on the spot. But I didn't care. I secretly bought MJ's CDs and listened to them alone in my bedroom.

Eventually, the boyfriend discovered my secret, but by that time our relationship was over anyway.

And now I'm married to a man, who, last night when I came home and asked if he heard about MJ, said in all seriousness (although he never owned a single MJ album), "Yes. I'm going to wear a black glove to work tomorrow."

Goodbye, MJ.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Up Close and Personal (ized)

Today, over at Sweetspot, I'm talking about why I can't find a single item with my name on it.

The back story: When I was born, my parents named me Chantel (surprise, I know). But my dad, even though French, knew me too well even when I was only a day old, and could see that despite multiple attempts -- a stint of French immersion, a summer in Paris as an au pair, an exchange to Quebec during my summer vacation, and a diet of poutine, I would never speak French well. Thus, he anglocized my name with an "e", giving me an out when people said "why don't you speak French?" and also, making my name unique.

Which I love. But as a result, I have had only a handful of personalized items:

1. A mug from Quebec with my name spelled "Chantal".

2. A Minnie Mouse hat from DisneyWorld. But that doesn't count, since they'll write whatever name you tell them on it.

3. A mug from my coach my first year of baseball. Ditto on the not counting, because the coach handpainted all the names herself.

4. Return address labels. Tritto.

5. Personalized stationery. Quattro. Still, I love them.

So because I could never have anything with my name on it, I became obsessed with things that sort of have my name on them. Like an item I talk about today at Sweetspot.

PS: I know what you're thinking: Why am I coming here just so that you can send me over here?

I promise only to do it on Mondays. And to update more regularly here. Girl Guide's Honour.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boot Camp Is Hard.

Yesterday I went to the YMCA, where I work out. I use the term "work out" loosely. Basically, when I'm not too lazy to get out of bed in time to get to a class before work, I go. But since most of the classes are at 6:30 and I usually end up getting there at 7, I'm forced to create my own "workout" -- which often is centred around what TV show is on the elliptical trainer. Note: There are very few good shows on at 7 am -- on BT, Today and GMA, the good guests come on in the 8-9 hour. And MuchMusic airs French Kiss at 7 am. I like crepes...

I also like frites...

And I am obsessed with escargot...


But I do not French videos. Non-non.

So anyway, yesterday morning, I decided to drag myself out of bed and go to Boot Camp. Because as painful as it is, I keep telling myself that if I actually went regularly, I'd probably be pretty fit.

When the class started, one of the instructors said to grab the heaviest weights we could handle. Determined to give the class my full effort, I chose the heaviest weights I could handle. I figured that if they were too heavy, I could just switch to lighter ones (like um, I usually do).

Then the instructor told us we were going outside! Hurrah! I thought happily. It was so nice out yesterday morning. I was super-glad I came to the class.

Then we got outside. Then the instructor told us we were going for a run.

With the weights.

In our hands.

I thought I was going to die.

And then, we had to do some crazy boxing move. With the weights. And then tricep lifts. With the weights. And then straight-arm lifts. With the weights.

While running.

And just when I was thinking that I might be able to keep going, if I just stop doing all the crazy arm moves and instead hold the weights at my sides -- or rest them on my love handles -- the instructor yelled out: "Get your arms up! Do you want saggy arms flapping in the wind?"

Not when he put it that way. No, I didn't. But I did sort of want to chuck one of my weights at him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bland foods can be the pitta...

Last week I went to the launch of Beauty 2.0, a must-read beauty bible, written by Kristen Ma, co-owner of Pure+Simple in Toronto. Want to know your dosha? Want to know what is a dosha? Want to read about how I failed to stick to my dosha?

I share it all over here!