LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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“It’s Just Like We’re In The Movies!”

We’ve surprisingly had quite a bit of visitors since moving to Chicago! It’s always fun to show newbies around the city for the first time and to see the city through virgin eyes again. I love to see and hear what peoples experiences are the first time they visit Chicago, as this crazy wonderful city has become my new normal. It’s interesting to see the city through other’s eyes and to see them fall in love with certain aspects of the city which we initially won our hearts over as well.

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Our most recent guest was one of my bridesmaids, Karlie. Karlie and I have known each other since we were wee kids and played baseball together for many of years. I was always the youngest on the team, so nobody really paid attention to me except for my sister. Jasper, Alberta in the Rockie Mountains always hosted these amazing and incredibly difficult sports camps that Karlie and I somehow ended up going to together in our teenage years. During these summer camps, we bonded immensely and had the opportunity to REALLY get to know each other. Karlie and I became really amazing friends in our late teens and have since become known as Honky and Tonky. Why? Neither of us really know, nor do we remember for sure which one is Honky and the other is Tonky… but we think she is Tonky and I am Honky.

I haven’t seen Karlie since our wedding which was almost three years ago. We don’t even really talk that often, but we have the kind of friendship that no matter how much time has passed, we always pick right back up where we left off and it feels like no time has passed at all. When I met Karlie on the rainy streets of Chicago, we hugged immediately, jibber jabbed and she made herself right at home. As soon as she entered our condo, she lightly gasped and whispered “It’s just like in the movies…!” Little did I know that this phrase would be repeated throughout her stay in Chicago, which I LOVED!

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Later that night, we went to watch the fireworks along Lake Michigan and we stopped every few feet so that she could take a gazillion photos while repeating her signature phrase. I loved seeing her eyes light up at the things that we now walk by every single day without even noticing them, like the horse statues near Buckingham Fountain. After the fireworks, we walked along the lake with the skyline shining down on us as we made our way back to the core of downtown. She continued to take a gazillion photos and to be amused by small things like being called rude names by homeless people on the street, as well as the no gun signs that are everywhere.

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Over the next few days, we put many miles on our soles and souls. Karlie has always been a very creative and artsy person so I loved to hear what the city looked like to her through her own eyes and words. She has a much better appreciation for what goes into the beautiful architecture and art throughout the city than John and I, we just know that it looks nice.

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We introduced Karlie to the classic Chicago food and I have never seen anybody so thoroughly enjoy a hot dog before. John and I have gotten used to the price of living in Chicago, and it is now considered our new normal, but Karlie quickly reminded how us much cheaper everything was here compared to Canada. Even after converting the currency, she still came out much ahead shopping.

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The busy streets don’t phase me anymore, but Karlie kept pointing out how many cars and people there were. Never in a million years did I ever think of walking the streets of Chicago with my small town friend, where four cars stopped at a four way stop sign used to be considered rush hour.

Spending a few days with Karlie made me fall in love with Chicago all over again. I loved experiencing it again through somebody else’s eyes who didn’t take the greatness of the city for granted. Who still noticed the enormous Owls over the library. Who stopped to notice the detail above the doors of Target. Who was still so very excited for the pizza, the popcorn, the hot dogs. Who marveled at the Chicago Theatre sign while muttering “it’s just like the movies!”

I also fell in love with Karlie all over again while she was here. Karlie is a person who has the most tender heart once you get through her tough exterior. She is thoughtful beyond belief, loving, kind, generous and loyal. She is honest, hardworking and can make me laugh like no other. Karlie and I have always just gotten each other and we both have a tremendous amount of love and respect for each other. Because of this, we both appreciate the sometimes harsh truth that either of us are afraid to tell the other… whether it be fashion choices (like those hideous pink plastic sandals) to serious, real life matters.

After Karlie left our home on her last night in Chicago, John told me that we seem more like sisters than friends. I don’t know if he said this because Tonky and I laugh at the same things, talk in the same manner, have the same roaring appetite and love for food and booze, because we gave him a double hard time over the same things, or if he could just sense that we have a special bond.

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Our first dinner without Karlie, John and I both mentioned how it felt quiet and weird without her there. We missed her. We missed her outrageous laugh, the crazy things that came out of her mouth, the forceful bear hugs, the baby talk to Ernie, etc. But at least we know, that even if it is another three years, we will pick right back up where we left off next time we are together… because not even time can get in the way of Honky n’ Tonky!

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Enjoy Life,
L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Things I Miss About Calgary

Yesterday I posted “Ten Reasons We Love Life In Chicago” – but I didn’t want Calgary to get jealous! There are definitely some things that we do miss about Calgary, after all I did compose a love letter for Calgary about a year ago which I will post soon.

Ironically, as I type this… it is SNOWING in Alberta… like real snow. It’s May 6th, 2015. Guess which picture is taken today in Calgary and which picture is taken today in Chicago:

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I wish this was a joke, but it’s just a way of life. No one is surprised by this, yet nobody welcomes it either.

Okay, let’s get on with it shall we? Obviously, I miss our friends and family…  let’s collectively “awww” over that for a minute…   I also really miss our accent! Yeah, I know you are reading this and think to yourself “I don’t have an accent…” But we really truly do! I get SO excited to hear it when I speak to most of you… people from Northern Alberta have it the most. “Eh”, “sorry”, “about”, etc are all very true to the stereotype… and I’m darn tooting’ proud of it! Alrighty then, let’s move on to what I miss about the city itself, shall we:

1) Second Cup – The Pumpkin Spice Latte and Gingerbread Latte seriously makes me homesick during the winter time. There is no comparison. Suck it, Starbucks… their PSL is more like StarSucks.

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2) Waves Cafe – The caramel frappes in the summertime are in a whole new playing field then all of the other frappes in the world. Yeah, I said it… I totally go whappe for their frappe!

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3) The Memorial Trail Stairs – Those stairs are a lung burner, a thigh burner, a butt burner… but I LOVE them so much for these reasons! I cannot find a hill, let alone stairs, in Chicago to improvise on. I loved the commadery and respect of other stair lovers as well. “Started from the bottom….”

 

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4) Glamorgan Bakery – Cheese Buns. And donuts. And sausage rolls. And cream puffs. And cheese buns again. Hint: microwave the cheese bun for 10 seconds and your life will forever be changed into a ooey gooey cheesy goodness!

 

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5) Rat Free since ’93 – don’t quote me on the year, it just has a nice ring to it. Rats.. gross. Dear Americans reading this… yes, it’s true!

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6) Plus Fifteens – Best winter invention ever. Working downtown and walking through the secret passages from building to building deserves a Nobel Prize. Especially during the 8 month winters. I didn’t realize these were not in every city until I moved away… they are an absolute necessity in life.

 

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7) Jelly Modern Doughnuts – After one bite of their donuts, you’ll be willing to spend more than $3 per donut.

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8) Eau Claire Park and Stephen Ave – I used to love going to Eau Claire during my lunch hour to break up the day or else sitting on a patio on Stephen Ave drinking my day away

 

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9) Floating Down The Bow River – Can you miss something even if you’ve never done it? I was always dying to do this… One day!

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10) The Mountains – Have to give it to them… those mountains sure keep ya wanting to come back for more. We got engaged in the mountains, had our mini honeymoon in the mountains… so many special moments happen in the majesty of the Rockies!

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YES PLEASE!

 

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Calgary, you are where I became my true self. Where I met the man of my dreams. The place where I realized that life didn’t have to have limitations… That I decided settling wasn’t an option for me. Calgary, you were only my home for 5 years, but you will always hold a place near n’ dear to me.
I miss you, ya cold son of a gun!
And Albertans, I miss you too… Cheers ya tough troopers!
P.S. you definitely have the Canadian accent in case you are still in denial 🙂

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Enjoy Life,

Lisa


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10 Reasons We Love Life in Chicago

We have been in Chicago for just over a year now and in some ways it seems like we just got here yesterday, but in other ways it feels like this has been our home for a while. The year has been a whirlwind adventure, but I wouldn’t trade this experience we’ve been able to share for the world. Although I now know way too much about Visa’s then I would ever care to know, there is nobody else in this world who I would rather be on this journey with then my amazing husband, John.

 

 

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I’ve tried to make a video about our one year in Chicago, but apparently I am not tech savvy enough to do so. Therefore, out of frustration, I have put together a list of why we love this gosh darn city so much!

Top Reasons We Love Life in Chicago:

1) Unhealthy Food! From popcorn, to deep dish pizza, to italian beef, to hot dogs… it’s paradise! Cue “paradise” song from Bachelor in Paradise…  When we first moved here, I ate like we were on vacation every weekend… turns out, my jeans weren’t stretching with the rest of me… Jerks. 

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2) The Weather! People LOVE to bitch about the weather, and although it is now May 2015 people are still complaining about the winter in 2014. One thing I’ve learnt about winters since living in Chicago… Canadians and Chicagoans measure snow very differently. We didn’t need our “real” winter gear this year at all and it is so wonderful living somewhere where there are actual Springs and Falls!

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3) The Beaches! Who knew a ginormous city could boast so many beautiful beaches off of one lake!? I love the beaches here.

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4) The architecture… also referred to as Chi-tecture. It’s something that photos don’t do justice, looking at all of the incredibly diverse buildings in an experience in itself.

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5) Free parking! Or if you have to pay for parking, it’s extremely cheap compared to what we are used to. Free parking seemed to only exist in Monopoly in Calgary…

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6) Flowers & Art! Throughout the city, there are beautiful flowers planted. And not just pansies… but hydrangeas, etc! Chicago prides itself on having amazing art sculptures, paintings, etc and you can’t help but be impressed by how beautiful the city is!

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7) Diversity: Until living in Chicago, I always lived where the people were predominantly white. I love learning about other cultures, influences, food, etc. If you choose ten random people on the street, there will be a handful of different races in that group. I love it. I was talking to my friend the other day and had mentioned Bridget Jones Diary, and he had no idea what I was talking about! That blew my mind! Things like that make me realize how ignorant I can be to just assume that my normal is somebody else’s normal. 

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8) Restaurants/Pubs/Breweries/Wineries/Cafes … need I go on?

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Cheers!

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9) Baseball games! I will never ever, ever, EVER get sick of watching a Cubs or Sox game. The whole city comes ALIVE and they are so proud of ALL of their sports teams.

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10) SO MUCH TO DO ALL THE TIME!!!! If somebody ever says that they are bored in Chicago, then the city itself is not the problem…. From Second City, to Blues music, to Jazz music, kayaking on the river, paddle boarding on the lake, to visiting the Bean, or going skating in front of the Bean in the winter! There are so many free events that happen all throughout the summer and even the winter. There are tons of museums, including the Art Institute that just won Best Museum In The World award, an incredible planetarium, the Field Museum, etc. There are AMAZING parks, the lake side goes on for miles, and miles, and miles, and it NEVER gets old. There are free fireworks over the lake every single Wednesday and Saturday night throughout the summer. There are parades, which can be really annoying when you live on the same street as the darn parade. And the shopping is absolutely ridiculous too.

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The city is just so alive and people who live here have such pride in living in Chicago. It’s amazing! There is a city of Chicago Flag, and you will see that bad boy almost anywhere you go.. from clothing, to bumper cars, to flailing in the wind, dog collars, etc…

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There is a huge sense of pride in living in such an amazing city, and there should be. We are proud to be part of the city as well.

I could go on and on about how amazing Chicago is and how much we love it, but I’ll never do the city the justice it deserves. It’s a city that needs to be experienced. So, my lovely, put Chicago on your bucket list if you’ve never been here before… the only thing you’ll regret is not coming to Chicago sooner!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Year Ago I Quit My Job To Move To Another Country With My Husband

Holy crap – One year ago today, we gave our two week’s notice to our jobs and told our friends/family that we were packing up and moving to the US in two weeks. That was one of the toughest things in the world to keep a secret, as we weren’t sure until the very night before that we would actually be moving.

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We had to list our home and keep that as a secret from our friends, which sucked because if friends wanted to come over we would have to come up with some sort of excuse/dirty lie so that they wouldn’t see the For Sale sign in our lawn. 

We had to figure out if we should sell our house, then we had to actually sell our house when that decision was made (thanks Dad). We had to sell all of our belongings (I was an effin Kijijii ninja), figure out what the shit we were getting into, try and manage the thousands of pounds of paperwork that was coming our way that we didn’t understand, figure out if we should keep our car, if we should hire movers or if we should rent a U-Haul and drive a trillion miles, keep a documented spreadsheet with every single item listed with a value that we had to present to the always so friendly peeps at the border, cross our fingers that our Visas would actually get issued. We were homeless and jobless for a few days and it was utterly terrifying…. yet thrilling!

Everything fell into place for us literally seconds before manic panick mode struck… John’s offer was unconditional on the Friday, our house closed at 11:58pm on the Monday, and we quit our jobs the very next morning so that we could LEAVE the country in 15 days to make John’s start date. Ideally we would have given more than two weeks notice, but we didn’t have that luxury. Our renewed passports arrived the day before we left the country. We both had a sense of relief knowing that things would get a little less hectic after we arrived in Chicago, but little did we know that things were going to get ten fold more hectic once we actually got here. The hectic-ness was just getting rollin’…

I look back at the excitement, fear, and courage on the day where we were able to spill our secret and by golly goodness, I am so damn proud of us for taking one hellllll of a risk. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances… about how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. I’ve come to realize that every time you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it.

Enjoy Life,
L


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Bikini Butt Friendly Noodle Vegetable Chow Mein

If I could eat Chinese food every day for the rest of my life, I’d die fat and happy.
Sadly, Chinese food isn’t exactly considered healthy… but it sure makes my taste buds dance!

I’m on a vegetable kick lately as we are going to Miami in a couple of months and the very thought of being on a beach with Miami girls makes me feel insecure. So, here is a healthy version of noodle-y, veggie, chow mein goodness that is bikini butt friendly!

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BIKINI BUTT FRIENDLY NOODLE VEGETABLE CHOW MEIN

       Ingredients:

  • 1 large daikon radish spiraled into noodles (can also use a veggie peeler, a knife, or a mandolin, but I use my veggie spiral slicer which I LOVE)
  • 1 carton of shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced (stems removed)
  • 2 baby bok choys chopped up
  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup of grated carrot
  • 1 heaping cup of snap peas
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 garlic glove smashed and chopped (or grated)
  • 1 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  • 4 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of EVOO
  • 1 splash of red wine vinegar
  • Directions:
  • To make the sauce, combine ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, EVOO & red wine vinegar in a bowl and stir well.
  • In a wok, sauté EVOO with the onion and garlic until starts to become tender
  • Add mushrooms to the wok and sauté until mushrooms begin to become tender
  • Add the bell pepper, bok choy and snap peas to the wok until the peas become bright green
  • Add in the carrots and spinach
  • Once spinach starts to wilt, add in the sauce and combine everything evenly
  • Lastly toss in those daikon noodles to the party, sauté everything for about 5 minutes until the noodles start to become slightly cooked
  • Serve with sesame seeds and chopped green onions on topTwirl those noodles round and round, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how hearty, filling and delicious this dish truly is!

    Could easily add baby corn and/or brocolli to the dish as well.
    Or chicken, shrimp, ribs… whatever floats your boat.

    Would love to hear what you lovelies think of this butt friendly dish! This one was also husband approved… as long as the noodles are twirly, I have a happy hubby!

    Bon Appetit!

    Enjoy,
    L


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Zucchini Pasta A La Lisa

There is something so comforting to me about a big bowl of fresh, warm pasta covered in delicious sauce in the winter months. Comfort food at it’s finest! Unfortunately for me, my hips find pasta a little bit TOO comforting.

So, how to get a bowl of fresh, warm pasta still covered in delicious sauce that is jean approved? Use vegetables as your noodles!

I’m sure you’ve seen this latest “trend” spiraling (pun defs necessary) out of control and you’ve probably thought that the concept seems interesting but there is NO WAY that you will replace your delicious, carby pasta noodles with VEGETABLES!? Stick with me, my fellow Carb Lovers!

Think zucchini is only delicious in loaf form with chocolate? Well you are wrong, my lovely!

First, let me share some health benefits of that silly, little green squash we call the zucchini:

  •  There’s ONLY 21 calories per cup.. HELLOOOO!!
  •  A POWER house of Vitamin C… move over oranges!
  •  Lutein & Zeaxanthin which promotes healthy eyesight… I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW THE RAIN IS GONE!
  •  Manganese… no this is not a “manly” Japanese dish, but a very essential mineral that promotes healthy bone tissue development and helps your body produce collagen. Asta la vista crow lines!
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Have you SEEN more beautiful noodles?!

Now let’s get to it, shall well?

Zucchini Pasta A La Lisa Recipe:

 Ingredients:

4 medium sized zucchini
Splash of olive oil
1 garlic glove diced
1 jar of tomato sauce
1 can of tomato paste
Approximately a cup of diced onions, mushrooms, garlic and bell peppers
Seasoning (I used Italian seasoning, and the classic duo of S&P)

Directions:

> I used my Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer to turn my zuch’s into long and luscious zuch noodles, but you could also use a mandolin slicer, a veggie peeler or simply a knife. I kept the peels on for extra nutrients. And it’s prettier.

> Sautee diced garlic in the EVOO for a minute or two, add the raw zuch noodles to the pan.

> Sautee, toss and coat the noodles in the oil & garlic until evenly coated. Only sautee for a minute or two… the noodles will JUST start to change color. TAKE THEM OUT! You’ll probably be tempted to keep cooking them because they still kind of look raw, but NOBODY likes mushy noodles.

> Remove noodles from the pan, put them in a side bowl.

> In same pan, sautée the diced veggies in a bit of EVOO. After they get a little bit tender, add in the tomato sauce and tomato paste.

> Stir around until heated throughout. Season to your taste.

> Once heated and seasoned accordingly, toss back in the noodles into the sauce bath.

> Toss to coat the noodles evenly and serve immediately. Dig in and be amazed!

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Be prepared to be surprised how full you are off from a beautiful bowl of vegetables that is jean friendly! All comments, tips and questions are welcomed!

Also, this was “Husband Approved” – that’s a winner in my books! Voila!

Enjoy!
Lisa

*** Can also easily be made with added meat or beans!


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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L


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Emotional Hoarders Unite

My name is Lisa and I am an Emotional Hoarder.  Not to be confused with a “can’t throw away soup cans, have spiders crawling on my toilet, used kleenex collection” kind of hoarder. I’m more of a “saver of things that have some sort of emotional value” kind of hoarder. Actually I’m about 100 points away from being any kind of self proclaimed hoarder… the “H” word is a hard word to accept. Maybe denial is the first sign? Bear with me if I turn to anger next…

I tend to give things “feelings”.

I fought back tears when I sold my first car because I was certain that Henry Honda thought that I was abandoning him and I made myself believe that he (yes, “he” as in my car”) thought that he wasn’t good enough for me. Even after a few months (and right now as I’m typing this) I wonder how Henry is doing… if his new owners are kind to him and taking good enough care of him. I can’t bring myself to wonder if he’s actually in one of those auto graveyards…

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. I didn’t really realize that this was an issue until my husband pointed out that I was giving my car feelings. Uh, didn’t everybody do that?! Hearing that this kind of behaviour was not normal was news to me!

I feel guilty about throwing something out that somebody has given me. Even if I don’t like it or if I never use it.

I have a chest that my Dad gave to me when I was probably ten years old that it full of cards, letters, poems, etc. given to me from people. Words that touched me. Even though I rarely go back and read them, and even though the top of the chest is completely busted, I will never get rid of the chest itself or the sentimental words within the chest. I will also probably never get the top of the chest repaired because I fear that the repair man will break it even more. That’s totally logical, right?

Within that chest there are letters from my deceased Grandma, she used to be my pen pal, and when she died I read all the letters and cards that I had kept from her over the years. If that’s not comfort, than I don’t know what is! Also within that chest is a letter from my cousin, Nicole. Nicole is about 15 years older than me and although she lived in an entirely different part of the country from me and we hardly ever saw her, I still idolized her and looked up to her growing up. I thought that she was THE coolest! Nicole went missing in Syria on March 31st, 2007 and although her Mom and Brother have done absolutely everything possible to try and find out what happened to her, sadly, it’s still an unsolved mystery. I have a letter from her from when I was about 12 where she had traced her hand for me… again, that was so comforting to me.

I have every single nice card or letter from my parents. I have every single card that we received from our engagement and our weddings. I have every single card that was ever given to me that was out of the ordinary… such as the card I received out of the blue with a gift card to Magnolia Bakery “just because” or the card I received my “Lovely” necklace with that was also “just because”. I have kept all the flower “cards” that I have received from John, especially the “just because” ones.  And if the card is homemade, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll keep that too.

For every single email account I’ve ever had, I’ve ALWAYS struggled to delete any non-junk related email. It’s pathetic really. I am pretty sure that I still have emails from when I was in grade 8. Don’t judge.

When we moved to Chicago, as I’ve mentioned before, we started brand new – selling most of our belongings in Canada. I had no problems getting rid of our furniture and such, but getting rid of things that have sentimental value to me is nearly impossible for me to do. Our friends in Calgary are keeping boxes of John’s and my childhood memories which the very thought of having to get rid of brings a lump to my throat. John had a dinosaur hat that was given to him that probably didn’t cost any more than ten dollars, but because it had sentimental value it made the cut and was brought to Chicago. Sadly, throughout the moving process it got crushed and ruined, and it was so tough for me to throw away. RIP Dino Hat

I’m also a hoarder of things that I can consider to be special and/or fancy. Case in point, I never actually wear my Lululemon clothing to work out in because I want to “save” them and make them last longer. I have clothes in my closet that I hardly ever wear because I want to “save” them for something special. I always save gift cards too because I know that once I use it, it’s gone. I will go to the store that the gift card is for and pay for the item out of pocket because I want to save my gift card. John forces me to use them, which I’m begrudgingly grateful he does. He also forces me to spend the full amount on the gift card because he knows that if there is money leftover, I will “save” it.

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I save fancy bath products that I receive to the point of where I hardly ever use them because I am “saving” them. Until recently I saved my first pair of boots that I had ever bought, but I finally managed to bring myself to get rid of them when they started to make me bleed… but even then I made excuses for them and tried to convince John that I would just wear thicker socks with them. I have saved a leather coat from my Grandma that hangs in our front closet that I have never actually worn before, I’m not even sure if it actually fits me to tell you the truth, but I will likely save that forever too. The jewellery box that my parents gave to me when I was probably 14 or so it completely busted from moving over ten times, but I can’t bring myself to replace it even though the top rests on top and the side doors don’t easily open or close.

Even as a child, I would always save my Halloween candy. I would eat my least favourite ones first and then hide everything else under my bed. I would allow myself one or two of my favourite chocolate bars, but my natural instinct was to save them. I would save my Halloween candy to the point of still having about 80% of it the following Halloween and I’d have to throw my last year’s stash of favourite chocolate bars away.

I’m a booze hoarder too. I HATE cracking open an expensive bottle of booze because I am saving it for sometime special. In fact, John and I have been saving a fancy bottle of Pinot Noir since we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Whenever John asked me if I wanted to crack it open, I would always tell him no, that I wanted to save it for sometime special. It’s been sitting there collecting dust for about five years and although we have shared SO many special times in our life, I still wouldn’t want to crack the bottle of wine. I didn’t even have a pathetic excuse as to why none of those moments where special enough to crack, all I knew was that I wanted to save it. For what? I had never really thought about what the perfect occasion would be that would make me WANT to actually open it… so we continued to save it.

BUT WE FINALLY CRACKED THE SPECIAL BOTTLE OF WINE!!

Last week was another loooooong week at work for John. Since August he keeps telling me that “this is the busiest time of the year”. Whenever I ask him when the “busiest time of the year” will finally be over, he doesn’t really have a concrete answer. Since August his hours have been getting longer and longer, and his stress levels have been getting higher and higher. He loves his job, don’t get me wrong, but having him come home around 9:00pm is starting to get really old. I don’t even bother starting to cook dinner until around 8:30pm most nights. This past week was probably the longest week he’s worked all week, and he had to go into work for Saturday and Sunday as well. Knowing that he had to work all weekend on top of an already really long week, we decided on Friday night that a glass of wine was most definitely necessary (to be clear, by glass of wine I really mean bottle… but glass sounds nicer.)

It was just a typical Friday night, nothing special or anything. We were wearing our cozy winter clothes, which include sweat pants, hoodies and for me a magic bag wrapped around my neck because I have I am always freezing if I’m not in a sauna. When John was selecting a bottle of wine, he first grabbed the Pinot Noir that we’ve been saving for the past five years. For some reason at the time, I didn’t fight it. So sweatpants, hoodies, magic bags and all, we popped open that fancy bottle, put our feet up and savoured each and every sip.

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What I learned from doing that, is that there was never going to be the “right moment”. There was never going to be a moment that I had deemed special enough to crack that bottle of wine. I would always find an excuse as to why we should save it for another five years. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, I learned that just an ordinary Friday night was in fact the perfect moment! It helped me remember to live in the moment, to stop romanticizing about future moments, to stop pretending as if there would be an actual moment where I decided that “it was time…”

I learned that although I will likely always save all my letters and cards that I receive, and that I will still have a hard time giving or throwing things away that are sentimental to me, life is too gosh darn short to save the fancy wine. To not wear the expensive gym wear to the actual gym. To use the fancy soap on yourself. To eat your favourite chocolate bars first before digging deeper into the others.

Lovely, life’s too short to plan for special moments! Just pop open the fancy wine and enjoy it because tomorrow promises nothing. And for goodness sakes, you can always go and buy another bottle of wine to save for another five years!

Enjoy Life,

L


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10 Things To Stop Complaining About Tis This Season

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Complaining has become a national pastime. It’s been a gradual process, a creep of grumbling and carping that started out kind of wry, then, over time, became full-on obnoxious. We even complain about good things now, because it’s supposed to be cute or coy—implying that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We call our kids “a-holes,” go on and on about our high rents and mortgage payments in our comfortable neighborhoods, bemoan about the weather … IT CANNOT ALWAYS BE EITHER TOO HOT OR COLD!

Seriously, people?

Do we need some outright hardship to remind us of how great we have it?

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Nothing induces as much groaning and whining as the holidays, which have all the ingredients for the perfect self-pity pie: family, money, subtext and weather delays.

Enough is enough! If you have something to complain about this holiday season that isn’t a grave illness diagnosis, bankruptcy or a surprise serial-killer spouse, then shut up and sit down.

Here’s the list of the top 10 least bitch-worthy holiday gripes:

1. Houseguests

Yes, it’s taxing to have extra bodies crowding your couch, talking at you when you just want to watch TV after a long day, and generally changing the air quality in your home. But how lovely to have people who want to come and stay with you. And a home.

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2. Family (even if they’re #1, above)

They anger you, they frustrate you, they infuriate you. With a single raised eyebrow or shift in intonation, they cause you to revert to a cranky 7-year-old. But they’re yours, and you’re theirs, and—give or take one (or two of them)—you will miss them when they’re gone. So be grateful you even have a family whether they are near or far.

3. Eating too much

If it’s really a problem, don’t do it.

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Just! Stop! Eating!

Simple, right?

But if you’re going to eat—a lot or a little—savor it and start fresh tomorrow. But above all, do not complain because you have too much food. That’s just disgusting. And if you DO have too much food… give some of it away to people who would truly appreciate it.

4. Spending too much

See above. Just don’t do it. You are not actually contractually obligated to spend more than you have on other people. Anyone who expects that from you sucks.

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We put that pressure on ourselves. It’s a choice.

Let’s be real… do you even remember any of the Christmas gifts you received three years ago at the TOP OF YOUR MIND? Didn’t think so. But I bet you do remember when Jimmy accidentally lit the Christmas tree on fire three years ago!? Point made.

5. Work parties

You have a job. Shut up.

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6. Vegetarians/Vegans/Gluten-freegans/Pesca-what’s-a-tarians

Hey! How nice! You have friends!

Friends who have beliefs and care about their bodies!

And who want to come over and eat at your house and spend time with you!

Must be tough…

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7. People spoiling your children

But seriously now…people love your children, and children love to be loved and spoiled once in a while. This is definitely not the worst problem anyone has ever had. Some people show their love through expensive Christmas gifts… so thank them, appreciate them and be grateful that there are people out there who like your booger fingered kids.

8. If you’re too old to write to Santa, then don’t even dare writing a “wish list”

But for real… isn’t this the most obnoxious thing about Christmas? Handing somebody a list of items that you want them to buy you?! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I hear ALL of your excuses… but none of them are valid. Nope, not even that one… NONE OF THEM! They all suck. And so does your wish list. Go buy everything yourself.

Don’t know what to get your friend or family member? How is that possible… you don’t speak to them and you don’t know their likes and dislikes?! Maybe instead of exchanging wish lists you should actually start by having a conversation once in a while.

If you are REALLY stuck get them a damn gift card – and to all you people who bitch and complain about receiving free money, then why don’t you just give that “awful, thoughtless gift” to the next homeless person you see on the street. At least somebody will appreciate it.

Pissed off that you spend way more money on somebody than they spent on you?  Looks like you need to revisit #4 again

 

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9. Weather

It’s either too hot, too cold. Too windy, too glumy. Too rainy, too sunny. Too much hail. Too much drought.

Complaining about the weather is a full time job… and what exactly do you think complaining could possibly do to change it!?

Especially at Christmas… there aren’t songs about a non-white Christmas! So shut up, suit up and grab your shovel. Or if you live in a land where there isn’t any snow at Christmas time and can roam the streets in your bathing suit… you best be shutting up extra hard.

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10. Travel

You have people to go see and the disposable income to buy a plane/train/stagecoach ticket. The crowds are terrible, people behave in direct opposition to the principles of the holiday spirit, and the inner Scrooge residing in your deepest core is stretching and yawning, awake again after a 51-week nap. But that’s what you signed up for when you planned this trip and chose to go somewhere else at the busiest time of year. You’re going because, for better or worse, you want to be with people you care about, who care about you, at a time when our hearts are cracked open just a teeny bit more than usual. You’re traveling to share love—just like all the other millions of nasty-faced assheads standing in the security line behind you. So when your patience is threadbare and you’re stranded on the tarmac at O’Hare with only one granola bar to split among a family of four, try to remember that we’re all in it together…one big happy holiday human stew.

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Enjoy Life,
L

Adapted from here


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Because I Said Sew

A Hem – now that I have your attention and those extremely clever dorky puns out of the way, I have a story to tell you.

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Most girls at one time or another in the life learn how to sew. Well maybe not sew, but at least learn how to sew a button back on or to hem a pair of pants. Maybe even hand sew a small hole in fabric closed.

But not me! When I told this to my Mom, she didn’t believe me that I never learned how to sew. She was a little bit horrified. My Mom used to sew all Halloween costumes for my sister and I, and I remember in junior high when my sister went on an apron sewing spree. But somehow, I slipped through the ropes of learning how to sew. I never took a Home Economics course in any of my school years, nor did I ever have any strong desire to learn how to sew or to do anything girly at one stage in my life. I was a bit of a tomboy.

At my first corporate job, there was a woman who I worked with who was sick of seeing me in pants that were just a little bit too long. Finally, one day she cracked and let out a small outburst:

“Didn’t your Mother ever teach you to sew!?”

I would have loved to see what my face must have looked like, because she then followed up with “Oh my gosh… what if you don’t have a Mother!” She went on a tangent and felt terrible, but in return she hemmed any and all pairs of pants for me during my time at that job. Thank you again!

John would make little comments to me here and there when there was a small tear in something that needed to be sewed up or when I would pay a tailor to sew fallen off buttons back onto my peacoat. I brushed his comments off, but don’t worry Honey… I heard them all.

Since moving to a new country where I am not allowed to work, I initially felt pressure (not from my husband) to be THE ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE! Sweet John would tell me that I already was the ultimate housewife, but we all know that he is biased. I was convinced that an ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE needed to at least know how to turn on a sewing machine.

I looked up sewing classes and did my due diligent. For some reason or another, I didn’t want to learn to sew at a place like Michael’s. Like I am in most things in life, I decided that if I was going to learn how to sew than I was going to go all in. Sew (c’mon had to sneak one more in there) after many hours of researching sewing courses, I found the perfect one where I would learn to sew. It was in Uptown, which I had initially confused with Old Town so I thought that it was close by. Turns out, it wasn’t at all… but I got to meet lots of strange characters on the train commuting back and forth.

The class that I had chosen was taught by a high end fashion designer who sewed his own creations for his clients. He did everything from bridal to leather jackets, so I figured if he couldn’t teach me to sew than nobody could. I registered online for my sewing classes and received an email saying that there will be a follow up email with all necessary information. The week before my classes were about to start, I began emailing and phoning the guy to ask for the list so that I could pick up anything that I may require. I didn’t hear back from him.

The night before my class was scheduled to begin, I was in a tithy. I figured that I would just show up empty handed the next day, but then at 7pm that night I FINALLY received an email from him saying everything that I needed. There was a lot and I didn’t know what half of the stuff on the list was, so I panicked! John was still at work, I couldn’t drive myself (no license remember?) to a store to pick up the stuff on my own, so I did what any logical woman would do. I called my parents and cried. Boo Hoo.

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The sewing store closed at 9pm and God knew if John would make it home before then, so I was panicked, flustered, pissed off and lonely. I lucked out and John got home at 8:15pm and immediately drove my ass to the store to go on the hunt for shit neither of had any clue about. One of the items on the list was “muslin” – It took everything in my power to make sure I pronounced that word correctly when I asked the employee where/what muslin was. We gathered most of the stuff and went home. John was so nice about the whole situation… He’s seriously the best!

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Now, most people sew a pillow case or an apron as their first project when they are learning to sew. Not me… oh no no no!!! I decided that my first project was going to be a freakin’ WRAP DRESS! One that I could hopefully wear when I finished. Go big or go home, right? You going to give me grieve about not knowing how to sew on a button – I’ll show you, I’ll sew a gosh darn wrap dress!!!! (Side note: I’m not competitive at all.)

My sewing classes were 3 hours classes once a week for ten weeks. My very first day, I was cocky because for some reason I thought that being naturally athletic would translate well into being a natural sewer. I asked the guy “So it’s going to take me thirty whole hours to sew one single dress!?” I was baffled and was certain that I was going to finish in half that time. Nope… it took me a total of probably 45 HOURS! 45 freaking’ hours… let that sink in.

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My 45 hours in that sewing class were interesting. There were a few classes were I was the only female and also the only straight person. I thought that my dreams were coming true and that I could finally be surrounded by my new found gay best friends. Except they wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!!!! They were too busy flirting with each other. I thought that it was awesome, until I realized that I was such an enormous outcast in my sewing class.

 

In one of my sewing classes, I met a Russian girl. I thought that maybe we could bond over being foreigners and such, but quickly realized that we had nothing to bond over. She bragged to me about how she received a green card by marrying an American and swiftly divorcing him. She then went on to brag about how she is known as the fashionista among all of her friends and they all look to her for new trends. I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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There were also a few people who constantly pestered me about poutine or who would want to argue with me about how disgusting poutine was. They acted as if they were the poutine champions of the world. Finally somebody asked what was in poutine and I heard somebody say “cheese, french fries, and mayo.” I almost lost it at that point… here I’ve been listening to some dorks go on about poutine and they don’t even know what the hell it is!? C’MON!!!! So I specified that traditional poutine was “french fries, gravy and cheese curds” – and no not cheese slices, but CURDS!

The actual sewing aspect was A LOT MORE tedious and annoying than I ever would have imagined. Never did I realize how key patience were in the sewing world. Perhaps that was why we had never met before? It took my 15 minutes every single time to put the damn thread through the “eye” of the needle on the sewing machine. I would have to get down on one knee, close an eyeball, tilt my head and chest slightly to the right, and hope that my wood pecker hand movements would eventually put the damn thread through the hole. And that was the start of class every single time.

I had no idea how much cutting and pinning and ironing was involved in sewing. And it takes so freakin’ long! Every time after sewing class I would tell John what I had just spent the last 5 hours doing and I always felt like I should be able to tell him that I did more than just cut and iron. Props to all you sewers – you are patient people.

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On my very last class the instructor (who was totally, unbelievably strange by the way… but also nice) was talking to me about how he was getting ready to turn the big 4-0. He kept going on and on and on about it, and I would just smile politely or make an “uh huh” noise when it felt natural. He was still going on about turning forty, and had come over to sit REALLY close to me to help me with something… like so close our noses were almost touching… when this is what he said to me:

“We’re about the same age, aren’t we!?”

I almost cried on the spot. Sew much for this class I thought….

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All of that aside, now that it is all over, I actually think that I might enjoy sewing. I like being able to create something new and after I was finished, I was so proud of myself for creating a wrap dress that I can actually wear. I at least now know where the power switch is on a sewing machine, how to cut fabric properly, I’ve learned sewing terminology, I’ve learned that it’s really annoying to be sewing and realize that your machine isn’t threaded, I’ve learned that the sense of pride you have when it’s all over is worth all the pin marks in your finger pads. I hope that one day I’ll sew my own children their own Halloween costumes, don’t hold me to that though.

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Ironically, through my whole entire 45 hours of sewing class, I was never taught how to sew a button on… but that’s what tailors in our condo lobby are for, right Baby?!

 

Enjoy Life Lovelies!
L