How To Torment Your Dog, As Seen By A 13-Month Old

Last week, I had the pleasure of being able to stay home and look after my sister’s family, and her adorable 13-month old daughter, who had a bad fever and ear infection. Before I get into the havoc she unleashed on the family pet, Bauer, I’d like to make a note of a few more random observations made this week.

Firstly, taking care of a sick child is like playing a game of chicken with a super-illness waiting to attack you. There is no where to run and hide, you WILL get sick, this is inevitable. You can immunize, shore up your vitamin C defences all you like, but all of it is futile. One tiny human managed to get 3 adult humans sick in the span of 24 hours, to varying degrees of potency. This transfer of illness has still not left us, and it’s been a week, thanks child.

Second, if I had to do this full time, I would be run ragged very quickly, so huge props to all the parents, and single parents out there reading this blog. For my week, I had two “kids”, the tiny human and Bauer, between the two of them, naps, diapers, feeding, cooking, and cleaning by the time 5 p.m. rolled around I probably would have paid someone to take over for an hour or two.

Now on to how my niece decided to occupy herself at home this week. As I mentioned, Bauer has been around the family for some time. He’s three years old now, and an old hand around the house. He runs this show. Correction, he ran this show. He has had three years to stake out his space, preferred space on the couch and general routine. Sorry buddy, the tiny human just railroaded your hard-plotted plans. 

My niece started off the week trying to hesitantly creep up to him to pat him. A harmless action and a pretty easy-going pup, it’s a win-win. He let her get just close enough and then scampered off to freedom. She then grew slowly more confident. I caught her belly flopping on his bed forcing him out of his own space. He didn’t complain, just found somewhere else to go hide out. A couple hours later, she figured out that he had the ability to walk like her, trouble was brewing.

The tiny human proceeded to chase him from place to place giggling all the way. She really upped her game though, when she realized that if she clapped her stackable cups together, in his face, he happened to move a little quicker. Queue the toddler chasing dog around the house banging cups together and laughing maniacally all the way. I admit, I do feel bad for him, he’s had all this time to himself and the peace and quiet, and “it” comes along and throws a wrench into everything.

Day three, she still hasn’t gotten enough amusement. B’s sleeping and snoring the morning away on his bed, and in walks the tiny human, who decides it’s her bed too. She belly-flops right beside him and catches his tail. A giggle and a bark arises, and soon, I see a tricoloured tail bolting past me to go anywhere that wasn’t here.

Another golden moment when I realized B was really just over having the tiny human around was playtime in her room. Sprawled on the floor reading books and babbling away, the tiny human was in her own world until she set her sights on him. I have to hand it to him, he’s a smart pooch. Crawling behind the rocking chair in to the crevice of space between the chair frame and the wall to hide, he’s little patch of serenity now. She tried as hard as she could, and just could not reach him, tough luck.

I’m sure the older and more dexterous she gets, the more tormented he’ll be. In the meantime, I’ll continue to document her reign of terror.

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Church is in Session (The NHL is upon us)

The first week of October is brings with it many great things. Pumpkins start arriving on porches throughout my neighbourhood; the few deciduous trees in my lovely province begin to turn elegant shades of yellow, orange and red;  and cooler temperatures arrive, meaning sweater weather is upon us. Best of all, this means I can dust off my superstitions and get ready for another year for heart palpitating, anger-inducing and family-tie-testing hockey.

Yes, it’s Christmas in October for us die-hard fans. This year is especially great, coming off an NHL lockout that tested loyalties last year, a new collective bargaining agreement in place and rosters set, we can finally get rolling on a real season. I mentioned superstitions before, and I was not kidding. I take hockey very seriously. Last night, the first game of the season was on deck for my team, the Vancouver Canucks. I never, ever, watch the first game of the season. The handful of season openers I have watched, we’ve lost, embarrassingly so.

It’s for this reason I did my absolute best to avoid it on TV last night. Unsurprisingly, my brother-in-law turned it on at one point. Of course, I couldn’t look away. What was the result? Up 1-0 after two periods, and lost 4-1. I told them. I explicitly said, I don’t want to watch it, I can’t. So, thanks RDK, thanks a whole damn lot. I mean, sure, the Canucks historically seriously suck in October, but we didn’t need to start off with a loss.

Now begins 8 months of agony and boundless gloating. Things on the family front will stay stagnant until about December, then with the holiday cheer will come new levels of torment from kin and friends. This is life in Canada. People actually do get together on Saturday nights to “watch the game(s)”, it is our past-time. The Americans have baseball, football and Budweiser. We have hockey, poutine and Don Cherry. It’s just how the cookie crumbled.

Buckle up, gang this blog will continue to have light hockey commentary until hopefully June 2014. Next year is the year that keeps on giving in that sense, NHL and the Sochi Games will take place, and hopefully a Canadian repeat is in store for gold.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t (Also known as the Bride responds)

And now, a guest blog from my best friend, the bride whom I had the privilege to stand by on her wedding day:

Since we are on the topic of weddings, I asked the owner of this amazing blog, the Canadian Female, to let me throw in my two cents, and she reluctantly agreed. I am the previously mentioned bride and best friend.

The reason I wanted to throw in my two-cents, other than the clear abundance of opinion, is to touch on the other side of this equation.  And Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t sums it up quite nicely.

I have been married for a total of three weeks (which obviously makes me an expert in all marriage-related topics). Our wedding day was everything I could have wished for and more. I married an amazing, caring and hilarious man with my funny, gorgeous and very supportive best friend by my side.  Everything was perfectly executed, from the designer cake, to the blue Manolos, to the mandatory late-night guest dancing with a tie around his head.

However, I would lie if I said the whole wedding outlook didn’t raise a number of questions and concerns in my own head. As a woman in my mid-20s who has spent most, if not all, of her adult life in a committed relationship, it made me question if I was ready for the substantial leap of faith that marriage has come to signify to our generation.  The reality is that being single has a certain sexiness to it and being married is considered one of those huge milestones that must mean you have all of your shit together (which I do not, by the way), or that you are done experiencing life, and settling down is the natural progression before being written out of history all together.  Dramatic? Maybe. But also absolutely true.

I recently had someone approach me at a party, nothing more than a mere acquaintance, to interrogate me on why I got married. This person proceeded to then tell me that, at 24, I should be out there “living life” and “being happy” as if marriage was nothing short of a death sentence.  Such an asinine question merited an equal smarty-pants answer so I told him I wanted to get fat and getting married meant I could let myself go.  That look of shock, pure gold. Seriously, Master Card has nothing on that.

The point is, there are two serious lessons to be learned that no one bothers to teach young brides embarking on this wonderful journey.

  1. Your bouquet won’t even be wilted by the time everyone has dumped all of their expectations on you.  As romantic as wedding planning is, you will start receiving baby questions 24 hours out from your wedding. And house purchasing options. And ten-year planning tips. Because a wedding is nothing more than just an open door into your life and everyone will take the opportunity to offer their expectations of you and your husband. Prepare for it and laugh it off.
  2. Your friends will either be really supportive or really judgemental. There is no in-between and neither will be on purpose. As happy as people will be for you, your actions will make them question their own lives and decisions. All those questions that you ask yourself as a single gal in the face of commitment and your friends moving on with their lives, they still exist, you just have to pretend you have your shit together more because you’re apparently an adult now. Go figure.

In sweet, because this wasn’t very short, those questions never go away when you get married, you just have to decide what is beneficial for you, and damned be those naysayers. There will always be questions and second guesses, it has sadly become a staple of our generation. So rest assured single ladies, those of us who are hitched have no frigging clue what we’re doing most of the time either.

But it helps to have good open chats about both sides of the equation and, when that fails, have copious amounts of red wine with your best friend.

Wedding Day Sept 7, 2013

Wedding Day Sept 7, 2013

Lemon-Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

I first stumbled upon this recipe over at the Foodess blog, and immediately knew I had to make these muffins.

MUFFINS

Lemon and Blueberry are probably my favourite ingredients to bake with, chocolate of course is number one. So, the minute you combine the two in one recipe it’s like cat nip for me. These were made on an intense baking day. My niece had her first school outing, where contributing a baked good was required. Of course, my sister was all over this. She was already elbow-deep into making Martha’s Devil’s Food Cupcakes and Dark Chocolate Ganache frosted cupcakes when I decided to add to our baked goods pool with these scrumptious delights.

Pre-oven

Insanely easy to toss together, and more importantly, soooo good to eat multiples of after. These are now a staple in my arsenal.  No, really, I’ve baked them three times since. Three batches, and seven weeks later, I figure I may as well share them with the rest of the world.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup blueberries

Thankfully, the instructions are dummy-proof.

  1. First off, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together melted butter, sour cream, vanilla, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated. Fold in blueberries.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown and tops spring back when lightly pressed.

Post-oven

 

Seriously, make a batch, or ten, and thank me later for sharing the goodness. Excuse me while I go stuff my face.

 

And She Walked Down The Aisle

A few weeks ago, I stood by my best friend’s side as she said “I do” to her husband.

This was an enlightening experience on many levels. Of course, the most obvious being that I am unimaginably thrilled for her to begin this new and exciting chapter of her life. It also made me realize that this was just a part of the inevitable tsunami of weddings and babies that accompanies someone in their mid-to-late twenties.

Every where someone in my “age-box” looks, there’s a couple getting engaged, walking down the aisle or procreating. It’s a bit unnerving, to say the least. Weddings are one of those things “grown ups” do, so coming to the conclusion, as a spectator, that I am no where near that phase of my life was a bit of a check and balance moment. The usual laundry list of questions floods your brain:

  • Am I where I thought I would be at [X] years old?
  • Is marriage something I want to do?
  • Would I be good and nurturing as a parent?
  • What about everything I wanted to do BEFORE  all of this grown up stuff had to happen?
  • Does this mean I have to start thinking about mortgages, gift registry listings, and retirement residences?
  • Oh good God, do I really have to get those people a wedding gift?
  • Wait, a blender costs how much?
  • The bride gets whatever she wants, right?
  • Are these guests silently (or not so silently in some cases) judging the single-me in attendance?
  • Those baby “necessities” are how much?
  • Pay rent, or show face at an acquaintances wedding and great a free meal/open bar?

Some, if not all, of these questions have flooded through my absent minded brain in the last twelve to eighteen months.  To varying levels of intensity, I’ve tried my best to answer them. That’s when I came to the conclusion that some times, not having an answer is OK. (In other times, yes, you do have to give them a wedding gift, and yes that blender’s price tag is $300.)

These life milestones come in waves, some people are just more comfortable to dive in sooner. I am firmly in the second wave, the group that holds out for a while. It’s a realization that was not easy to come to grips with, especially given my last year. But having faced it, I know it to be true. Things will happen when they do for my friends and I in our time. Just because we’re not on the fast track doesn’t make it any less worthwhile or fulfilling.

In the mean time, we collectively wish those diving in sooner the best in their new adventures, while relishing the time we have left to experience life on our own terms, for just a little bit longer. I have a few more things to cross off my checklist before diving forward too!

The One Where She Ate Her Words

What I am experiencing today can most succinctly be described as disappointment. This will be a brief post. I can, without a doubt, launch into a retrospective diatribe of the Canucks play this post season, blown calls, missed glorious scoring chances, and puck luck.  But I’m not going to. No, this season will likely be summed up by pundits and amateurs as the “their-last-chance” season. I agree with this for the most part, some changes need to be made, an aging team is a hard thing to hide and pretend nothing is wrong, unless you’re the Detroit Red Wings and draft/develop players with wizard-like efficiency.

I will say one thing, with respect to last night’s game. My boys definitely laid everything on the ice. They hit hard, shot often, and were out duelled by the hungrier team. Surely plenty of changes will occur this off season, or in a shocking move, none at all. In any case, even though I know for sure that no one at the Canucks organization will read this, I say simply one thing: Thank you. The Canucks are a hell of a team to cheer for, one I am proud to say I have been behind for 20 years. From top to bottom, management to coaching staff, and in particular the players, they give back to the community in a lot of anonymous ways. This is not unnoticed by those of us who know where to look. To those of you who stick around for next season, I hope you have a rested summer, come back healthier, stronger, and fully recuperated from whatever the hell ailed you this year. To the departing, thanks for the memories, (well, maybe not you, Derek Roy, we never really got to know you, or like you).

Until training camp, boys.

thankyoufromvan

Hockey Heartbreak

I am writing this in advance of my team’s fourth (and potentially final) game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  I am by no means admitting defeat, in any way shape or form, of my beloved Canucks to the San Jose Sharks.

Today, I am here to confess that I am a hockey instigator. In no way do I claim to know all about hockey, rather the opposite.  However, I am no slouch. I know teams, most relevant stats, player statuses and rumours inside and out. It is this knowledge that becomes my best friend and mortal enemy during playoff season.  You see, I am not what one would call a “silent spectator”. Sure, I watch games in relative silence, I enjoy the peace, for goodness sakes we all know I have to watch the first period of a regular season game on mute! Playoff hockey brings out the Jekyll in me. I am a raging, high-strung, stressed-out, heart-racing, clawing-at-my-jersey, monster. A monster. There, I said it.

This can best be exemplified by my actions last Friday evening. I was having a girls day out, ending of course in time for puck drop to go spend the evening with my boys. We watched Ottawa and Montreal play, Montreal winning 3-1, and I convinced the keeper of the remote to play the Vancouver-San Jose game immediately after. Down after 20 minutes, Ryan Kesler (Kes-lord to you plebes), strapped the Canucks on his back to score twice in the third, ensuring a Canucks win, with a minute left to play, right?  Wrong. Patrick Marleau, ever invisible, scored the game-tying-goal at 19:04 in the final frame.

Now, until this point, I was quiet. Occasionally looking skyward, praying to the hockey gods for a goal or four to break the opposing goalie’s Berlin Wall-esque demeanour. There were  a few groans on bad hockey plays, and a few instances of shouting at the TV while the boys looked on at me in disbelief. I only acutely resembled this guy, I swear!

At 19:04 of the third, everything changed. I made the quick decision to split, immediately.  Forcing myself to bust-my-butt to get home for the start of overtime (OT).  I explained to the boys that I did not want them to see me “that way”, and scurried out the door. You see, OT makes me freak out. The sit in a corner of my room, rock back and forth and repeat “come on boys” kind of freak out. I am a mess when it comes to sudden-death overtime, why? Because that’s it. That’s all she wrote. No re-dos, no play out the rest of the period, that’s it.  Your goose is effectively cooked, and being down 2-0 in a series is never, ever a good thing, even worse when your next two games of a seven game series are in the other team’s house. Last Friday, I made it home for OT. I loaded up a stream in time to hear iron ring and pray to God that puck hit the post a few inches inside the bar, and not out.  God did not answer those prayers. A minute later, the Sharks scored, the game was over and my team is headed for what many feel is a second consecutive ousting in the first round of the playoffs.

Losing did not sting as badly as it should have. Losing in OT, when your team out hustled, out hit and out shot the winners is the stinger.  This, friends, is hockey heartbreak, and this is why I am writing this today, ahead of game four, down 0-3 in the series with supposedly no hope left. Friday night was heartbreak night, Sunday was time to be enthused and hopeful for 40 minutes, and then watch your team implode night. I have hope. There will be a game 5, at least. There has to be, because if not, I have to hear it from my “friends”, the Leafs fans, in particular, who after 9 years of ridicule, shame, and constantly cheering for a team who fails to live up to expectations, they will seek their revenge.

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And Then, There Was Hockey.

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It is a very well known fact that I love hockey.  I make no effort to hide my passion, nor do I apologize for feigning paying attention to people when they are poorly positioned in front of a screen showing a game.  Nothing about this side of me improves between April and June of every year (barring a lock out).  I hermit away with friends, mostly male, and follow the NHL playoffs as though our lives depend on the outcome (they do).  The race for Lord Stanley officially gets underway this evening, and I for one, could not be happier.

The female contingent of friends in my life do not understand this “craziness”, as they call it.  Most of them could care less about the carnage that will be left in the wake of the Los Angeles Kings- St. Louis Blues series.  They won’t have a vested interest in the outcomes of  Boston and Toronto or Montreal and Ottawa.  The sideline stories will have no consequence, either.  Who cares if Number 87 battled back from a concussion. You probably remember he was out for over a year. Then he had his jaw broken by a puck. Crosby’s head has been through a lot.

No, to the ladies in my life, it does not matter that the Maple Leafs will be facing every terrible trade they’ve made in the last decade stare them in the face at puck drop against the Bruins.  This is all OK.  They (for the most part) understand that for about 3 and a half months every year, my priorities change around.  I am not interested in martini night, shopping or lady gossip.  I would much rather toss on a pair of jeans, my favourite Canucks T-shirt, grab a beer and sit in silence and watch a game or three in one evening.  Bless their hearts for putting up with me.

This will be the first year ever, that I will be attempting to follow my hometeam’s playoff run from a different time-zone, and I cannot say that I am looking forward to it.  Catching a Canucks game in Ottawa is hard enough during the regular season, but add in that their first round games all have a start time of 7:30PM PST, and it’s near impossible to find establishments or friends with appropriate cable packages to exploit.  It is my quest, this playoff season to rectify this injustice.  I will politely cheer for the adopted home-team’s victory over Montreal and revel in the superhero-like recovery of the Senators hot-shot defenceman, Erik Karlsson.  And at 10:30PM EST I will plead with the person in charge of TV programming for the evening to please turn on, and turn up the real hockey game.

That’s it, ladies and gentleman, hockey’s second season has officially arrived, and I take no prisoners or fault for what may be said in the coming weeks in this blog.

Adieu, and good luck, fellow NHL fans.

P.S. Go Canucks Go!

 

Let Them Eat Tiramisu Cupcakes, She Said

I try to visit my best friend in Toronto on the partial-regular (aka when my bank account permits, or another friend driving down takes pity on me).  This time round, the trip had a different feel and sentiment to it.  There were no deadlines, no commitments to social events, sports games or wedding-specific tasks to take care of.  For the first time in a while since she and her fiancé moved out of Ottawa, we have actually had time to enjoy each other’s company without the pressure of a deadline or departure.  This turn of events couldn’t have appeared at a better time, for me and for her I feel.  Both of us as of recently have been suffering from a case of the “lonely-s”.  The “lonely-s” are a side effect of being separated from most of our friends and families, going through the ebbs and flows of life.  In this specific case, the ebb.  The arrival of “spring” here in Canada brought with it a change of circumstance, in particular a lot of them for me.  A difference of opinion and need for personal space lead to my signing a lease, accepting my need to be selfish in a relationship lead to the dissolution of one that had potential, and lastly, a great opportunity career-wise turned out to not be the best fit.  And so, the spring of 2013 brought me back to a very familiar place: square one.  The only difference this time around is the location, Ottawa.

These reasons are more than likely why this venture to The Big Smoke ended up having more meaning and more necessity behind it than I initially thought.  Thankfully, this trip provided a respite to take a beat, step back from every thought racing through my mind and assess my next plan of attack.  In a way in which only she could, this process has been aided by delicious French food, champagne, macarons, sushi, and tonight, homemade pizza and tiramisu cupcakes.  There is something mind-clearing to cooking and baking for me.  Even if I am merely playing sous-chef, the act of focussing all of my energy into a tangible output calms me, focusses me, and gives me some brief peace of mind. (Double-edged life lesson right there, don’t you think?)

Alas, following a weekend of much needed family, friends, rest, and relaxation I head back to Ottawa with a heavy heart, and clear eyes.  I firmly believe the next few months will shape the next phase of my life, for better or worse.  It is only with this mindset that I can truly tackle the next steps in front of me these coming weeks.  With this realization, and new-found clarity, I have no choice but to end this post with a little baking therapy, in the form of the Tiramisu Cupcakes my best friend churned out last night.  I mean, you have to stop for the smallest pleasures in life.  There are no better.

Tiramisu Cupcake Recipe


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