Monday, December 31, 2012

A Christmas Road Trip to Banff - Part I

David and I were excited to make our first-ever "Christmas together" a great one, so we (he) planned a trip to Banff, Alberta for Dec 21 - Dec 24. Banff is a beautiful mountain town nestled in the Canadian Rockies and can be anywhere from 9 to 12 hours away from Vancouver, depending upon the weather along the drive.

Here are some bird's eye views of what our drive would entail...

In relation to "important places":
.  a reference for all you states-siders  .
In relation to the BC/Alberta provinces:
.  see all those mountains?!?!  .

On Friday morning (12/21), we were out of our apartment and on the road by about 10:15. Once we were out of the city, it didn't take very long till we began driving past some large, beautiful mountains:

We drove on Rt 1 E for about 90 miles, then cut off another sizeable section of Rt 1 by taking 5N in Hope, BC. This.... is where things began to take an interesting turn. And by "interesting" I mean freaking scary.

Rt 5N, as it turns out, is one bitch of a mountain pass. By this time it was snowing out, which slowed traffic down quite a bit. We also started passing a lot of signs that told us that we needed to have chains on our tires to use that road from October 1 - April 1. Interesting note: we didn't have chains on our tires. Dave was pretty confident with his Kia Sportage's 4WD though, so I was totally and completely calm with not a worry in mind. NAWT. I was freaking out, white-knuckled in the passenger seat as the snow got worse, the driving got slower, and the number of cars we passed that had slid off the side of the road increased. At one point we saw a car that had slid and was facing the completely wrong direction, parked in the fast lane. At another point we passed a pickup truck that was turned onto its passenger side, the would-be contents of the truck bed strewn all over the highway. In short, this one sign was pretty accurate:

Eventually things got slightly less terrifying for a little while, and I was able to enjoy the view of the snowy trees along the highway:

We eventually met back up with Rt 1 in Kamloops, BC, on which we drove for the remaining ~7 hrs of the trip. Here's the last photo I took on the drive to Banff, because from this point there was too much snow, too much fright and too much darkness for me to take any more pictures...

Alright so not to get too dramatic at this point... but I was voted Most Dramatic in high school... soo... WE COULD HAVE DIED. JK it wasn't quite that serious. As it got dark and the snow was becoming a total bitch, we realized that our headlights kept getting covered up with snow/mud splatter from the road, which made it really difficult to see the lines on the road. Normally in the dark or rain, you can kind of focus on the outer white line on the right sides of the road, to make sure you're not driving off the road or straying too far from your lane. When those white lines are covered up by muddy snow, and the center yellow lines are either in the same condition or just not there at all, it's much harder to be confident that you're driving in the right place. Cue driving 40 KPH on a 70-90 KPH road. That means we were driving slowly, for all you 'Mericans.

We had to pull over a few times to brush the muddy snow off of our headlights, which isn't an easy thing to do on a road that's covered in snow, not being plowed, and heavily trafficked by HUGE tractor trailer trucks. Every time we saw a potential place to pull over, there was a tractor trailer truck way too close to the ass of our car to be able to safely slow down enough to pull over in time to scoot into the pull-off. Bastards.

I'll cut this part a little short... Point being:  It was a nerve-wracking and slow drive to Banff.

As we were finally approaching Banff after about a 12-hour, stressful drive... we missed our fecking exit. No seriously. We missed the exit we'd basically been anticipating for over 500 miles. My first thought was, "Good lord, who knows when there'll be another exit now!!!" David was... not pleased. As we were beginning to assess our fate, wondering whether or not we'd be forced to drive for another 50 miles before we were able to take the next exit, we spotted a sign indicating that there'd be an upcoming exit for the Banff Industrial Center, which I told David to NOT miss under any circumstances. Fortunately this Industrial Center exit was not far from the original exit at all, and actually provided us a nice little drive through the center of town from a direction that we'd otherwise not have come.

Finally, we'd arrived! Driving up Banff Ave (the main street there) in the dark, we were surrounded by plenty of Christmas lights, beautiful white snow and bustling tourists. Even in the dark, it was obvious that Banff was a gorgeous, Swiss Alps-looking town. We couldn't yet see any of the HUGE towering mountains that surrounded the town... but in the morning that would be a different story.

We checked into our hotel - The King Edward Hotel - which is when we realized that we'd crossed timezones and that it was actually 11:30pm, not 10:30pm as we'd thought. We also realized that it was pretty effing cold outside and that we weren't in Kansas or Vancouver anymore.

David was wired from driving and drinking gallons of coffee and Coca Cola all day, so he suited up to go for a little walk around town. I, on the other hand, was too mentally exhausted from our harrowing drive to want to do a single thing other than put on my pajamas and crawl into bed. When David returned from his walk we did the next thing that made sense:  Began to watch the first Ghostbusters movie on Netflix. 

Stay tuned for Part II... and possibly even Part III! That's when the good stuff happened! ;)

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Eve Pop Champagne Nails

Here's one more New Year's Eve nail polish idea for you before YBN (YA BIG NIGHT). For this you'll need a white nail polish, a chunky silver glitter nail polish and a golden glitter nail polish. Ideally you'll also have this blog bookmarked - where I show you how to take glitter nail polish off ya precious nails. Cause that shit's a bitch. I call this look Pop Champagne Nails, because as my blog's tagline indicates, I do what I want.

new year's eve nail polish
.  clink!  .
I just picked up both of these spicy little ladies from Forever21 the other day:
silver nail polish and gold nail polish
.  featuring ya girls Crystal Gold and Crystal Silver from Forever21's Love & Beauty line  .
Crystal Gold has a transparent base with small, round yellow-gold glitter. Crystal Silver has a transparent base as well, with small, round silver glitter and larger chunky hexagonal glitter.

To start, paint your nails two coats of your white polish:

white nail polish
.  basic bitches  .
Add a coat of your gold glitter:

white nail polish with gold glitter over it
.  frost yaself!  . 
On top of that, add a coat of your chunky silver glitter:

white nail polish with gold and silver glitter

 After that dries, add one more coat of the gold glitter:

white nail polish with gold and silver glitter

And there you go! 
new year's eve nail polish
.  pop champagne ain't a damn thing change  .
I bet this would also look pretty fresh and poppin' on top of black polish as well, if that's more your steez.

Sidebar, sorry that the pics are slightly out of focus. Apparently it's hard for a camera to figure out where to look when there's so much bling going on - it wouldn't focus on more than one nail at once!

Have fun tomorrow everyone, look fly!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Gettin' Buckwild, Throwing Confetti Nails

Do you own a black nail polish? Do you own a glittery nail polish? Do you have plans for getting totally crizunk for New Year's Eve next week and want to lewk kewler than err'body else? OH GEWD. I have just the nail polish look for you!

confetti nail polish, Lollipop nail polish
.  resolve this bitchessss  .
You can recreate this general kind of look with any of your glittery polishes that have a transparent or translucent base.

Start out with two coats of a jet-black nail polish. I used Black by Nina Ultra Pro, but it is becoming increasingly gloopy as of late, so I need to re-up and buy a new black polish. Probably the least exciting nail polish purchase I'll be making this decade. Stay tuned!

black nail polish

Side note here... Rocking two carefully applied coats of a black glossy polish actually looks much less gothic than I thought it would.

Once that dried, I went for my Lollipop nail polish from Urban Outfitters, which I wrote an entire blog about here. It's a multi-colored glittery polish with a very sheer lilac base, with both small and large chunks of glitter. I couldn't waaaaaait to see how it would look on top of an all-black base:

Lollipop nail polish over black nail polish
.  mmmmhmmm  .
Don't mind the busted pointer finger paint job. Just keepin' it real. I'll either patch it up with a dab of black paint and another coat of Lollipop... orrrr I will just peel off all of this paint from all of my nails in the next 5 - 7 hours. We'll see how it goes.

This look with Lollipop in particular reminds me of the confetti that gets thrown in the air at midnight on New Year's Eve, so I'm calling it Throwing Confetti. I really like the look of black with glitter on top of it, and can't wait to try it out with all of my other glitters too!

How does this make you feel inside? Do you have a favorite black nail polish? Is that a stupid question? Are you getting dressed up and buckwild for New Year's??

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Went Shopppppin: 4th Ave Salvation Army

Well it was inevitable - I went back to the Salvation Army store on 4th Ave recently and did not leave empty handed. That place is awesome, I wish everyone reading this could check it out too!

I saw this Banana Republic cardigan in a pale sage green - one of me fav colors. This one looked good as new (save for the few wrinkles you see here) and only cost $7.99.

banana republic sage green cardigan blue ribbon

I saw this next tshirt and my first thought was that my little sister Markie would really like it. My second thought was that IIIII would really like it tooooooo! Wah wahhhh. I decided to pick it up for Markie and kept perusing through the tees. Just a few feet down the rack, what do I stumble across but a second one! How incredibly fortunate! Sisters with matching teeeees, whoop whoop. Oddly I think that one of them was $2.99 and one of them was $3.99.

.  as an update, i gave this to markie as part of her christmas present and she diiiiid love it  .
I looooove how well-priced this Salvation Army is!! It's so refreshing, when everything else in this city seems to cost so very much.

This thought-provoking shirt is an American Apparel branded tee and it's pretty soft and cozy. I used to rock the tshirt and jeans look as my regular look for most of college... I think I might bring it back! This little guy was only $3.99:

The holiday season made me realize that I didn't have a single item of red clothing in my closet, so I snagged this red tee that just happened to be a Forever21 brand. #HOWCOINCIDENTAL. Only $2.99:

red forever21 tshirt

I really needed a new purse (this time I'm serious about the "need" - my other everyday purse was literally crumbling to pieces), and I knew that I'd be able to find a great purse at this Salvay. As I mentioned in my last blog about shopping at the 4th Ave Salvation Army, the purse selection there is freaking awesome. Seriously, go there if you need/want a purse. They're so affordable! I found this black one from the David Jones Collection - it's a perfect size with some ruching detail and silver hardware. It feels really soft too - just like new. Except it was $14.99 instead of however much a new one of these bad boys would cost me.

black david jones collection purse silver hardware

Today is Boxing Day in Canada, so I'm definitely going shopping right now at Forever21... See me in a bit! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quick and Easy Snowfall Nails

I'm still going strong on my habit of painting my nails then peeling it all off within a day and a half, so there are ample opportunities for me to try out different holiday-spirited nail polish looks.

Here is one that was really easy because it didn't require any fancy Bob Ross skills in the painting department - I'm calling this look Snowfall Nails:

dust nail polish, snowfall nail polish

I try to browse Pinterest in my spare time, because it is sew creatively stimulating and I can get lots of different ideas for nail polish looks, outfits, artwork, paintings and #WHATHAVEYEW. I saw a few different nail polish ideas that used white snowflakes on a dark blue background and I really liked the way it looked. 

I started out this look with something similar in mind - I was going to do a dark blue background and add some white dots for snow. I was also going to use my Dust nail polish to pluck out some of the larger hexagonal silver glitter chunks and use a toothpick to place them carefully onto my nail amongst the white dots, as "sparkly" snowflakes.


When I got out all of my polishes in a row - Blue Pearl by Ruby Kisses, Snow Me White by Sinful Colors and Dust by Urban Outfitters - I started thinking that it might look really nice to just use Dust, as is, over Blue Pearl. It seemed to me that it might still resemble falling snow... and would certainly be sparkly and pretty, at the very least. So that's what I decided to do instead! I may still try the white snowflake/sparkly snowflake look in the future.

blue pearl ruby kisses dust urban outfitters
.  blue pearl by ruby kisses, dust by urban outfitters  .
Start out with two coats of the dark blue polish:

dark blue nail polish

And top that shit with a coat of Dust!

dust urban outfitters over dark blue nail polish
.  a view in inside lighting  .
And here we have some Snowfall Nails!

dust nail polish over blue nail polish
.  "sha-zam," as they say  .
Fun Random Fact:  I am especially fond of Blue Pearl because it reminds me of my '88 Chevy Nova (RIP). In 2003 I was rear-ended while driving my beloved Nova through Park Square in Pittsfield. With the money I received from the person who hit me, I got my little lady a paint job with metallic blue paint - thus adding a fine metallic shimmer to her entire exterior and rendering her officially "blinged." This Blue Pearl polish has the same shimmery metallic sparkle to it, and so The Nove lives on!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Things to Get Used to in Canada: The Mundane, Everyday Adventures of a Transplanted American

When most Americans think of Canada (that is, if they ever think of Canada) they think that aside from the seemingly uncontested universal health care and the Justin Biebers, this country is just an extension of America. America's Hat, if you will.

And while it does seem at first glance (or second or third glance, as David will insist) like Canada is just America with a .ca at the end of it instead of .com (my own blog comes up as, there are actually a lot of British influences here in British Columbia as well as French and what can only be described as... "Canadian"... I guess.

The following are some examples of what I'm working with up here - a slew of things that I've had to get used to...
They spell stuff like Brits:

They used that cursed metric system:

.  i have to order "400 grams" of sliced turkey now  .
They have French translations on most of their foods:

And sometimes the front of a package will be in English,
and the back of the package will be in French:

My Forever21 e-newsletters now come in English AND French:

Their temperature is given in Celsius - and who the crap can figure THAT out??

.  1 g.d. degree celsius  .
Damn do they love to throw maple leaves onto things:

Their currency is crazy looking...
.  the two top coins are their $2 (toonie) and $1 (loonie) coins... no bills for those  .
And yes, those are hockey players on their $5:

.  in hockey we trust  .
Plus, sup with all these Canadian flags??

And why the hell can't I find any Swiss Miss around here???

.   da fuck?  .

Monday, December 17, 2012

An Evening At the Theater - The Nutcracker in Vancouver

Friday night, as an early Christmas present, David took me to see The Nutcracker at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. I luuuuuurve The Nutcracker (it's one of my all-time favs to see) and have seen it probably half a dozen times in my life (at different theaters/in a few different cities), so I was STOKED to dress up fancy with Dave and go downtown for a theater date night to see the show, which was put on by Ballet BC and the Canadian Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Eesh...... where do I start? How about I begin with, "Yikes."

I've sufficiently prefaced this review by just stating that a) I've seen this show put on many times and b) it's one of my favorite things to see at a theater. A.K.A. "I know this shit pretty well, I know how it's 'supposed' to look.... and I know when someone is making a joke of it."

First things first - they made it a Canadian version of The Nutcracker. {pregnant pause} I'm not telling a joke when I say that in Vancouver, The Nutcracker opens on a scene of kids playing hockey. Let that sink in. It's also set in WWI Canada. There were also Mounties in several scenes. I was expecting a traditional Nutcracker performance... Nowhere that I've seen the show performed prior to this had created a bizarre local adaptation. Sitting in our seats as we waited for the lights to go down, I literally had a dropped jaw while reading the performance program as it became clear that this was not going to be a traditional Nutcracker - it was going to be Nutcrack-eh?

Aside from the Canadian spin on the story line, there were some other disappointments, based on my own expectations going into the theater...

There were many times when either:
- the huge, sprawling stage was completely empty aside from 3 or 4 dancers doing tiny, uninspiring movements in the center, or
- there were a TON of people on stage, but 90% of them were standing completely still - either standing along a wall or just holding a static pose. The "ballet" part seemed to contain huge holes of inactivity by a large number of the cast! The lack of movement was slightly comical at some points, slightly frustrating at others.

The infamous main character of the mysterious caped uncle/godfather/counselor (depending on which version you're watching), Herr/Uncle Drosselmeyer, was portrayed in the Canadian show as more of a goofy uncle in a polyester suit with a silly wig. He put on a cape once, but it came off again within about 5 seconds. His air of mystery and magic was just absent!

The bear character. At one point in Act I (in every other version of The Nutcracker I've seen) during the big Christmas party, a life-size toy bear that Herr Drosselmeyer has brought to the party for the children dances and entertains the party-goers. In the Canadian version, there is no toy bear at the party, but rather a cartoonish, silly bear lurking in the windows outside, peering in on the party and then later coming inside the home to create some mischief. I believe this was an attempt at physical humor or comic relief... something which, in my opinion, The Nutcracker really doesn't require. What really drove me nuts about this goofy bear thing was that the bear didn't dance. For those of you who haven't seen it.... the bear character in the Boston Ballet's Nutcracker is an actual ballet dancer in a full-on bear suit, who does shit like this:
.  photo from  .
The bear character in the Canadian Nutcracker was, more or less, in a clumsy mascot costume, and couldn't have danced in it even if he/she had wanted to. The character did manage to eek out a "cabbage patch" move or two, I believe.

The Russian dancers vignette from the "Around the World" section of Act II didn't include the most notorious and expected dance moves... You know the ones! Now, I know that every choreographer designs these parts slightly differently, but they ALL include some of the same famous moves. This is a great example of the energy and dance moves I'm talking about:
(Turn down your volume before you play this - it's a little loud!)

Notice how people in the audience are cheering mid-dance routine? It's because not only is what those dancers are doing awesomely impressive, it's also probably something those audience members were looking forward to seeing in the show. I'm telling you, it's a staple. And the Canadian Nutcracker, for the most part, avoided any of those moves! There were only like 2 of those "leaping legs split" moves from the video above. Choreographer's fault or dancers' fault? I couldn't tell you. I just know it LEFT A VOID IN MY HEART. The audience's, too, I think. The Russian dancers usually receive an extra loud round of applause at the end of the show during the curtain call, but not on Friday night.

It didn't seem that they were making great use of the stage space. Most of the seemingly pretty large stage was left empty most of the time, which might not have been as big of a deal if the choreography had been spectacular... But I am so sad to say it was not! Dave even leaned over to me at one point and asked, "So is the dancing going to get any better than this, orrrrr..... is this it?" Have we been spoiled by the Boston Ballet??

They were using the pre-recorded version of the orchestra music. This just in itself actually isn't a deal-breaker for me - I've seen other Nutcrackers that have used the recorded music, too. But like I said at the beginning of this post, no other Nutcracker I've seen has strayed so far from the original storyline, so in this case the pre-recorded music seemed awkward and out-of-place with the new storyline. There were times when the tone of the classic Nutcracker music was clearly calling for one thing to be happening, but the choreographer/new Canadian Nutcracker was calling for another. The result was incongruity, to put it nicely. To put it not nicely, I laughed out loud a couple of times at how silly it seemed at points.

**On the BRIGHT side!!**

Yes, of course there were several scenes I did enjoy in the production, despite some of my expectations not being met in other areas.

I loved almost any time that there were LOTS of people on stage who were all moving! These moments breathed life into an otherwise bashful overall performance, dance-wise. One of my favorite parts in particular came at the end of Act I, when all of the snowflake dancers were dancing through the falling snow. Beautiful!

The sets were pretty :)  Kudos to the set designer(s).

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre has cool light fixtures hanging from the ceiling in its lobby...

.  dave tells me this is "art deco"  .

The theater also overlooked the Christmas Market that has been going on in downtown Vancouver for a couple weeks now:

Overall, I think "underwhelmed" was the word of the night for me. This adaptation of the play was just not what I expected and at times came off as a mockery of the amazing original. Why they felt that such a classic needed this facelift, I am just not sure. Perhaps if I'd never seen The Nutcracker before, or held no expectations whatsoever before I sat down in my seat, this would have been a top-rated performance.

To end on a positive note, I'm quite happy that Dave and I got to dress up in nice clothes, go on a dinner-and-theater date, and walk around downtown Vancouver on a pleasant night with no rain. And yes, we both looked damn good.

Disclaimer:  Dave gave me full permission to write this, as he agreed with me for as much of the show as he was awake to see ;)