Thursday, November 29, 2012

Haulin' in the USA!

So I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that Vancouver is el spensivo. Shet costs mad jobros here. AKA... hide your Nicks, hide your Joes and hide your Kevins 'cause they snatchin' up all the jobros round here. Basic toiletries, bread, eggs, turkey, face wash... you name it, they're selling it here for $3 more than it is in the US, plus their approximately 12% sales tax. All those extra jobros add up mighty quick!

It was obvious fairly soon after we got here that we'd need to make some trips to the States to do some serious bulk shopping for non-perishables.

I'm very pleased to report that we went to town at both a Target and an Ikea when we were back in Portland for Thanksgiving this past week/weekend. (Not to mention a couple of those expensive thrift stores that I love to hate... Peer pressure.)

On Saturday we ate breakfast at Broder in Portland (I had the Lost Eggs and Dave had the Solstice Bord) and then headed to Target to brave the Black Friday weekend shopping crowds. It was pretty busy there, but it could have been much worse. After only losing one another once, we ended up leaving Target with:
  • 4 jars of pasta sauce ($1 each - should have bought way more!!)
  • different kinds of pasta
  • Annie's mac 'n cheese
  • 20 hangers
  • huge bottle of olive oil
  • big jar of mayonnaise
  • dijon mustard
  • 2 boxes of chicken broth
  • tons of canned beans
  • "  "  "   tomato soup
  • "  "  "   canned tomatoes
  • plenty of taco seasoning (we like tacos)
  • toilet paper
  • paper towels
  • cereal (you wouldn't believe how expensive cereal is in Vancouver)
  • big bottle of ketchup
  • coffee
  • tshirt/socks/boxers for David
  • ample face wash/face scrub for meee
  • some nail polish (couldn't help it)
  • a new blush brush (vital)
  • soap (Dove Cucumber and Green Tea, IFYEWMUSTKNOW)
  • Q-tips
  • a plastic set of drawers
  • Christmas lights
  • Rubbermaid plastic food containers
  • a REAL vacuum!
  • some sort of Sony stereo system thing for Dave's birthday
  • almonds
  • peanuts
And since Target and Ikea are practically on top of each other, we scooted over to Ye Olde Swedish Home Furnishings Mega-Store for some goodies and meatballs. Just kidding about the meatball part. We had very specific things we needed to get there, so we did the fastest walk through Ikea that anyone has ever done. We left with only a few more items than we intended to get, but still kept things reasonable:
  • a new end table (now the end table on the left side of our couch MATCHES the end table on the right side of our couch! #GrownUpSuccess)
  • photo frames - if you need smallish picture frames, Ikea's are only $1.99-$3.99)
  • a little shelf for plants in our living room
  • welcome mat
  • wall hangers for coats
  • cutting board
  • plastic food containers
  • miscellaneous storage boxes
I love that everything at Ikea is sold inside of a tiny box. Does it remind anyone else of a pop-up book when the furniture items get put together and are suddenly WAY larger than their itty bitty boxes?

Needless to say, with our Kia totally packed full of completely useful things, I was feeling incredibly self-satisfied. I couldn't wait to bring it all home and spread it out on our living room floor and admire all of it and snap a picture... which I did as soon as we got back to Vancouver:

.  the one on the left is new, isn't that exciting?  .
.  new ikea piece! don't mind our sad-looking rose plant . 
. new tiny ikea end table . 
It wasn't all work and no play... I snagged these animal-printed goodies from a Buffalo Exchange in Portland as well:
.  i swear that "animal print cardigan" was on my list! $14.50 for a used cardigan, ay yi yi .
.  this was on my list too - animal print scarf, $8 . 
All said and done, we spent a chunk of money on all of this... but I know that it's so much less than we would have spent on the same amount of stuff here in Vancouver. We may eventually get ourselves a Costco membership and use it over the border in Washington, but I'm not entirely convinced that Costco is less expensive. We'll check it out and decide. Let me know if you have any spectacular bulk purchasing advice!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Friends

There's a bittersweet feeling that comes along with moving across the country from everyone that I know and love.

On the one hand, I'm getting to visit new places and see different parts of the world (sort of), encountering all sorts of architecture and geology and getting a feel for several different types of cities.

But on the other hand, the people I love (note the use of bold, italic AND underline for that) aren't here to share it with me! Of course I've got David and I am creeping (seriously, inching) into the land of possibly making new friends - but nothing compares to being with the people I've known for years and years (or, in some cases, my entire life - LEWKINATYEWMALLORYYYYY!!!).  Inside jokes, familiar/familial banter, a shared ridiculous vocabulary (no one in Vancouver knows what a "jobro" is), an understanding of UMass or Pittsfield references... those are all just some of the things that did not come with me to the West Coast.

In the last few months, though, I've been receiving random bits in the mail from my friends back east. A postcard here, a note there... no matter what, it makes me really, really happy. Probably way happier than the sender ever anticipated. It's like getting a little piece of home in the mail, and I'm very thankful for it.

The other day I went to the post office because I'd received a "parcel pickup" notification in my mailbox the day before. I went to the P.O., completely expecting to be picking up an envelope of 401k stuff I've been awaiting from my employer.... and instead I was handed a package from my friend Kara!!

The contents? A UMass tshirt, a pound of Dunkin Donuts coffee and a lovely note!

.  very, very good things .
In September, in the weeks leading up to our move from Portland, OR to Canada, I received this card from my friend Kimmy, also with a lovely note inside:

Fun fact: Kim purchased this card from a market in Portland, OR when she lived there. She moved back to Massachusetts mere months before I moved to Portland! Even funner fact: This card arrived in Portland while I was in Massachusetts surprising my friends at a post-Labor Day party (or should I say THE Post Labor Day party). Friend surprises abound!

I also received in September a really nice "Thank You" note from my friend Jenna, who had asked me to be a bridesmaid in her 2013 wedding a few weeks prior. I was already feeling loved for having been asked to be in the bridal party - the thank you note made me feel even more so. Love her!

In mid-October thissss awesome card arrived in my mailbox from my friend Stephanie, who is always known for putting a special, creative twist on things. Inside was a note saying congrats on our big move and new place. I LOVE the actual printed words on/in the card too - that rarely happens with a store bought card!!

.  "in my imaginary neighborhood you live right next door" . 
And of course just to dirty things up a bit, my dear friend Sarah sent me this gem of a postcard in mid-September:
.  Hotel d'Amour and also d'Huge Penis Handrails . 
Chronologically, I should have started with September and ended with Kara's November birthday package, but wasn't the above a more fun "package" to end with?

So since today is Thanksgiving, I'm reflecting on how thankful I am to have such thoughtful friends. It means more to me than you know to receive these little pieces of home in the mail, and it inspires me to put pen to "paper/card/penis postcard" more often and pay it forward.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

When this blog actually goes live, Dave and I will be in Portland, celebrating Thanksgiving with our friends there. This will, I suppose, be the first holiday season ever that I don't go home at all to Massachusetts - #grownupthings. While that does mean I won't get to celebrate with my friends and family back home, it also means that I get to celebrate with David and we can have our own holiday season. He doesn't know it yet but I will begin my search for our Christmas tree as soon as we get home from Portland. Also, Christmas lights and vanilla scented candles a-go-go! Whoop!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Heeeeeere: Forever21 in Vancouver!

"Forever21 is coming! Forever21 is coming!" - Paul Revere

Last month I mentioned that there was no Forever21 in Vancouver yet, but that there was one under construction to open downtown. I really thought it was going to be another 6 months till it opened, based on the looks of things at the time. In the meantime, I'd traveled 45 minutes southeast to Burnaby to get in a trip to me fav store.

Then a couple weeks ago while Dave and I were walking downtown, I spotted a girl across the street who was walking with a Forever21 bag in her hand. (In my partial defense, the bags are briiight yellow, so it wasn't that difficult for me to notice it.) I got pretty 'cited and took it as a good indication that Forevahhhh had opened its huge, shiny doors.

It was confirmed by Twitter when I saw this goodie:
.  note the retweet and the favorite  .



Soooo obviously I went there last weekend and the weekend before, and Dave made the mistake of tagging along solely for the 3+ miles of walking we'd be getting in by heading to Robson St. on foot. Robson is one of the best hustling/bustling/shoppy streets here, so the new Forevahhh is in a great spot at the corner of Robson and Burrard:

If you've never been to a Forever21 store... Well, first of all, shame on you and second of all, what gives you the right? Thirdly, girrrrrrrrl get yo'self to one STAT!

Actually, I take that back - these stores are not for everyone! They're typically HUGE. Like "give your boyfriend a heart attack" huge. They can range in size from "one ginormous room" to four full floors (I've been known to utter, "There's another floor??" inside of several different Forevers). No matter which sized store you find yourself in, there's also a solid chance that it'll look - at first glance - like every item of clothing that's ever belonged to any female that you've ever known has somehow ended up in this one store. There will be a LOT of clothing!! If you're as bored as I often am, this is no biggie.

In fact - SAWRY DAVE - I try to make a point to look at every single piece of clothing in these stores. Call it attention to detail or a penchant for being thorough. Or boredom. Or shopping addiction.

I "needed" some different types of plain white basic tops, due to a certain other new addiction to a Pinning website which was suspiciously easy to acquire in a very short amount of time (I hear that's how meth is, too). Way too many cute outfit ideas on Pinterest require you to have a plain white top - upon which you'll build a temple of fashion savvy and trend. By that I mean "add cool scarves" and "buy more purses". I think Pinterest and the fashion merchandising world are in complete cahoots, bee tee dubs. How much commission are they earning to create shopping addicts??

So I ended up buying two of the same basic white tshirt, plus a cozy plain white sweater. Watch out Pinterest... I'm, uh... coming for you?

And since one is hardly required to "stop" once they've found the items they're looking for in a store - especially a store with multiple floors and endless opportunities for finding ZEE PERFECT SHIRT/SCARF/JEANS/SWEATER - I shamelessly continued browsing the entire store, to David's complete delight.

Here's what else I ended up with:

.  to earring is human . 

.  big cozy pastel paisley scarf  . 

.  olive green top with cute pleating on the back  .
Forever21 is known for having cheap stuff - both in quality and cost. If you're not at all fancy, LIKE I AM NOT AT ALL FANCY, then that's totes cool with you. I've learned that I shouldn't put anything from Forevahhhh into the dryer, for example, because it'll probably shrink or come out misshapen. It's not a big deal for me to pull the Forevah items out of the washing machine and hang them up on a drying rack instead of sending them through the devil dryer.

The quality of things is actually improving, if you haven't been in awhile - go check it out. They have a lot of great purses and shoes - some better quality than others, but the fact that even some of them are what you could call "good quality" is a step up from where they used to be. Am I selling you on the store yet? ;)

Stay tuned for many more adventures in Forevahhhh because it's hard for me to go one month without buying several things from them.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Workouts, Cooking Shit + Dr. Dre

Terrible consistency this week with the gym - just Monday and Thursday workouts under my belt so far. I meant to go on Wednesday but I've been trying to be better about cooking dinners (instead of making Dave do most of them) and an epic meal I began preparing on Wednesday afternoon proved to be more epic than I thought, derailing my plan to go to the gym that afternoon. The good news is that the meal turned out well, which you should keep reading to hear more about.

First, here's what I did at the gym so far this week:


22 mins elliptical
on exercise ball, 15 lbs each hand:
   - 12 chest press
80 weighted v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
.  brazilian crunches  .
.  screenshot from diethealth  .
12 overhead press, 15 lbs each hand
15 deltoid raises, 7.5 lbs each hand
chest on exercise ball, kneeling on floor:
   - 12 M, 10 lbs each hand (wide double bent over row)
   - 12 Y, 7.5 lbs each hand (wide deltoid raises)
12 bicep curls, 12.5 lbs each hand
12 tricep extensions on exercise ball, 10 lbs each hand
40 dynamic side planks, 20 each side
12 bent over row each arm, holding 10 lbs
1:00 plank
20 plank glute kick backs, 10 each leg

10 mins elliptical
Did the following circuit workout 2x, with as little rest as possible:
50 alternating lunges, 10 lbs each hand
- 30 bridges
- 20 bridges w/ leg adduction, 10 each leg
20 squats, 15 lbs each hand

Last night while I was cranking through the 2 rounds of that circuit I put together, I decided to listen to Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album on my iPod instead of just letting the music shuffle through my huge workout playlist. MBDTF (yeah I just did that) is one of those albums that I find is best listened to straight through, rather than skipping around. There are definitely one-off songs I like to throw on as well though - some of my very favorites including See Me Now and Lost in the World. Do you own the album? You should!

As I mentioned, I've been trying to be a bit better about cooking dinners lately. On Monday I made tacos, on Tuesday I made those delicious grilled cheeses I keep mentioning, and on Wednesday I went for a Parmesan-breaded chicken with roasted veggies. Last night we went out to dinner at what has become our favorite neighborhood restaurant - a Japanese eatery called Kibune. I don't know why I haven't blogged about Kibune yet because I think we've gone there about five times now, in the 7 or so weeks we've been here. I'm sure I'll get around to writing a full blog about the place sometime - the food is spectacular and it's never busy. It must be a hidden gem!

Anyway, here's what I made on Wednesday night - the meal that took me so long I had to forgo the gym just to make sure we weren't eating dinner at bedtime.

Baked Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

Mix shredded Parm, chopped fresh thyme, fresh bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl. Melt butter in a frying pan, add chopped fresh garlic, heat till butter is bubbling then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Coat chicken breast in the butter/garlic, then coat thoroughly in breading mixture. Place chicken in a baking dish or sheet. Pack top of chicken breasts with what remains of breading mixture, drizzle what's left of butter/garlic in pan on top of chicken. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes. SO EFFING GOOD. Drizzling the butter on top before you put it in the oven makes it extra crispy, which is probably not news to you because you probably know much more about cooking than I do.

Roasted veggies:
Cut up an onion, 1 sweet potato, 2 small red potatoes, 2 small white potatoes, 1 broccoli crown, 3 carrots - toss in olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake that shit for about 35-40 mins at 450-475, making sure to give them a turn every once in awhile.

This meal took a long freaking time, but it wasn't difficult to do. Now I know that it's a meal to make on a day I don't plan on going to the gym.

In other news, it was brought to my attention that today is the 13th anniversary of the release of Dr. Dre's INCREDIBLE and #DAREISAY timeless Chronic 2001 album. That's right Y'ALL it's been thirteen long, excruciating, hydraulics-less, Nothin' But NO G THANGS WHATSOEVER years since that gem came out on November 16, 1999 (or "95 plus 4 pennies... add that shit up" as your boy Snoop said). Well it's been 95 plus 17 pennies at this point and zee people are getting restless for a follow up. UGH, Dre. Just ugh.

Here are a few things to reflect upon, in closing:

I said good day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Argyle Nail FAIL.

So on Monday I posted a blog with a picture of some leopard print nails that I had done. When I posted my blog on Facebook, I got a comment from a cousin urging me to check out Pinterest for more nail designs. I'd been on Pinterest plenty in the past for my job, but only very recently did I create my own personal account and start checking out non diet/fitness/motivation-related Pins. I'd been looking at fashion and hair Pins, but hadn't thought to look for any nail designs yet. Upon my cousin's suggestion, I immediately headed over to Pinterest to browse (endlessly, obvi) through nail looks.

It was a great suggestion, and if you're on Pinterest yourself then I probably don't need to tell you that I spent a good amount of time scrolling, pinning and liking. I found an awesome argyle nail look which reminded me that I'd just recently watched this video tutorial on how to do argyle nails:

Cutepolish, the YouTuber who owns the channel, made it look really easy so I figured I could do it myself...

Armed with total confidence, I pulled out a few nail polishes and got started on recreating the look.

Step one:  Paint my nails two coats of my base colors.

light blue and light brown nail polish

light blue and light brown nail polish

Things started off innocently enough. Got my nails painted their base coats - the blue is Dreamer by Revlon and the brown is Case Study by Essie. At this point I hadn't made any knicks, dents, smears or any other uh-ohs that would would muck up my design. Things would certainly progress just as smoothly from here...

Step 2: Use a tool of some sort to make an "X" through each nail, using the "other" color (i.e. brown X on the blue nails, blue X on the brown nails).

*Looks around for "tool of some sort to make an X"... *

I was sure I'd snagged a wrapped toothpick from the Thai restaurant the other night, thinking I'd use it in the future as a nail tool...

*Curses and mutters under breath*

Alright, well no toothpick, but I did have this bobby pin I could use as a substitute...

bobby pin for a nail polish tool

Not exactly what I need - it doesn't have a very accurate "point" at the tip (that's what she said) but I'll give it a go.

I dipped my bobby pin into my nail polish and got to making my X's. It took me only about one single pinky nail to realize that my X's were, um.... not looking so hot. WTF cutepolish? You never said it would be like this... I forged ahead and completed my "X's" (if you want to call them that), and then I filled the X's in. Ay yi yi:

argyle nail fail

My X's were on the same drugs that Salvador Dali was on. I mean seriously. Was there a small human being tap-dancing on my hands while I was painting this?? You might even be astute enough to notice that that's a picture of my left hand - meaning I painted those nails with my dominant hand. I took a picture of my right hand as well, but you don't need to see that.

You know what? I thought. These might look a litte bit busted right now, but as soon as I add the final white line details these nails are going to SING, and no one looking at them won't be able to say, "Damn girl! Those are some argyled nails!"

And so against my better judgement.... I proceeded to step 3...

Step 3: Add those thin white diagonal lines that make people recognize this print as argyle.

Once again I'm in need of a pointy-tipped tool and all I have is my stupid ghetto bobby pin. It really didn't do me any favors when I used it for my "X's" so I was #SHALLWESAY hesitant to use it again for these thin white lines. After all, this was the detail that would bring my nail look from Hella Cray to Heidi Klum.

This is where things REALLY GOT INTERESTING, as I explored my apartment for things I could use instead of my bobby pin. How I decided that a Q-Tip would do the trick is beyond me. I used scissors to cut the fluffy end off a Q-Tip and dipped the stick part of it into my white paint, preparing to criss-cross my design with some really clean lines.

And then this happened:

argyle nail fail

Now you might be saying, "Oh, so you decided to invite a bird in to poop on your fingers while you were painting? Interesting move."

I have absolutely no great excuse for how on earth the white paint did what it did there. Rest assured, I stopped at this point and conceded defeat. My nails didn't really do anything to deserve this from me, so I didn't think I needed to subject the other 8 to the same treatment.

So there you have it guys - what NOT to do when you're trying to paint argyle nails with very distinct, clean lines.

In conclusion, I recommend a few things:

a) Not using my last picture there as an inspiration for any of your "final looks," unless you're being ironic and using it as a statement against widely accepted and perpetuated beauty standards in our modern times.

b) Investing in a toothpick.

c) Keeping copious amounts of nail polish remover on hand.

Stay tuned, because surely I'll master this nail polish design some day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pink Leopard Print Nails

It's no secret that I find nail-painting to be a no-fuss outlet for creativity, and the tiny size of my ten little canvases means that I can do some actual artwork on my nails and still get 'er done in not a lot of time!

I love finding new ideas for designs I can paint on my nails, even though I'll inevitably peel the design off within 24-36 hours anyway. I subscribe to a couple of nail polish channels on YouTube as well as have some nail polish blogs bookmarked, which are all great for inspiration when I'm looking for something "extra" to do on my nails.

Here's a look I learned how to do - it looks trickier than it is! These leopard print nails are fun to do in any color combination and can be done on all of your nails or just one or two as accent nails. You don't really need special nail tools to do this either - I used a paper clip to help me draw the "C" designs around the spots. Check it out!

.   snazzy, no?  .
Colors used:

Base color:  Milani - Tip Toe Pink
Spots: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri - Flashy Fuchsia
Rosettes around spots: Nina Ultra Pro - Black
Glitter:  Pure Ice - Beware (2 coats) and Wet 'n Wild - Kaleidoscope (1 coat)

Fun to do and gets lots of compliments from people that I hand my debit card to ;)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Three Workouts + A Sunny Walk With My New Camera

I did Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday workouts this past week. Maybe one of these weeks I'll splurge for that fourth gym visit. My last three workouts are outlined below... Scroll to the end of the workouts to see some beautiful pictures of Vancouver, taken yesterday with the *brand new* camera that Dave got me for my birthday!

30 mins elliptical
20 squats, 12.5 lbs each hand
40 weighted side bends, 12.5 lbs each hand
40 deadlifts, 12.5 lbs each hand
60 bridges
40 static lunges, 20 each leg
- 1:38 plank
- 30 cobras

6 mins elliptical
12 bent over row each arm, 12 lbs 
80 weighted v-sit twists, holding 15 lbs
12 tricep kickbacks each arm, 7.5 lbs
40 dynamic side planks, 20 each side
12 deltoid flys, 7.5 lbs each hand
12 overhead press, 12 lbs each hand
on exercise ball, 12 lbs each hand:
   - 12 chest press

21 mins elliptical
30 squats, 12.5 lbs each shoulder
40 weighted side bends, 15 lbs each hand
40 deadlifts, 15 lbs each hand
60 side lunges + plyometric push off, 30 each leg
60 bridges
- 1:00 plank
- 100 "swimmers"

Have you checked out any of the exercise demos that are linked in these workout blogs? I'm curious if they're of any use to anyone. I love watching fitness videos and exercise demonstrations online - I think it's a really smart alternative to hiring a personal trainer!

As I mentioned, David got me a new camera for my birthday last week. It's a Sony Cyber-Shot WX50. I'm not a camera wiz so I'll spare you all the technical specs that are listed for it (Google it if you're interested!), but I will say the following:
   - the clarity of the pictures is wonderful
   - the zoom is great
   - it takes clear pictures even when I'm moving (my old camera took blurry pictures if I tried walking/snapping at the same time)
   - it has a really nice "3-D sweep panorama" feature

I haven't really dived in yet and discovered all of the ins and outs of the camera, but I did take it out with me yesterday when we went for a long 7.3 mile walk around the city:

It was a beautiful day, as promised all week long by the weatherman - perfect for an overdue doozy of a walk. Enjoy these pictures of all the "along the way" sights on our walk:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's My Birthday Bitchesssss

Today is a fine day of the year because it commemorates the day of my birth. Holla.

It's an especially fine November 8th this year - Vancouver got the memo and parted the clouds for me, letting tons of sunshine into the city today! Take that, rain. Since it's my birthday I decided to actually take a break from working this morning and go outside with my camera for a late morning walk.

First I walked up the hill to 4th Ave to Sophie's Cosmic Cafe and ordered a $13 breakfast sandwich (not joking), then I walked back down the hill to the beach, sat on one of the huge tree trunks and enjoyed my extremely expensive sandwich in the sunshine. Here are some pictures from my morning outing... Enjoy!

. this is where my sandwich used to be .