You Can Get That Pierced???

My friend D took her daughters to Seattle. They went to the American Girl Store.

It’s not what it sounds like. You don’t get actual American girls there. It’s a doll store.

“We’re having lunch there,” D told me the day before their trip.

“There’s a snack counter? At a toy store?”

“It’s a bistro,” she said. “We had to postpone our visit because we couldn’t get a table until this week.”

You need reservations? To have lunch at a toy store???

Since I don’t have a daughter, I’m out of the loop. I googled the American Girl Store to see what I’m missing.

I’m missing a lot.

In addition to the bistro, which serves everything from hot meals to high tea, there’s a doll spa and hair salon.

That’s right–for $20 your doll (which is made of plastic) can get a basic facial (not to be confused with the enhanced option which, of course, is more expensive.)

I’ve never had a facial, but my friend’s kids’ dolls are getting them.

I grilled D about it when she got home.

She rolled her eyes when I mentioned the spa treatments. “We did the facials last time. I think it’s a scam because the dolls looked pretty much the same afterwards.”

Ya think?

“But both girls got their dolls’ ears pierced.”

“Ear piercing?”

“Yeah. You can’t buy the doll earrings unless you get their ears pierced at the spa.”

I had many questions about the American Girl experience, the most burning of which was: why didn’t I think of this? I don’t like touching strangers so being a real beautician is out, but exfoliating dolls and piercing their tiny plastic ears? Bring it on!

Part 2 of the TV Chronicles or How I Totally Wasted my Summer Vacation

I like Judge Judy.

Deep cleansing breath.

Don’t hate me because I’m a fan.

I admire her because she’s so confident and self-assured. I suppose it’s her judgey-ness that allows her to, well, judge people so efficiently. She never second guesses herself, either. I can’t even pick seats at the movie because I fear I’ll make a bad choice and I spend weeks replaying every comment I make at staff meetings, wishing I’d said something different or better yet, stayed quiet.

Judge Judy isn’t plagued with indecisiveness. With an authoritative tap of her pen (I guess TV judges aren’t allowed to use gavels) and a nod to Burde, she renders her decisions with lightning speed.

This is a biggie: she’s consistently pro-children. When dealing with the train wrecks that sign up for her show, she always puts the children first, often offering unsolicited advice to deadbeat parents. She says things I wish I could when I see kids in less than ideal conditions.

And then there’s her little lace collar… My sailor has suggested there’s something faintly unwholesome about my feelings for that lace collar. He’s wrong. My mom made me a dress with a similar collar when I was in elementary school. It worked when I was ten, but I’d look ridiculous if I tried to wear a black robe with a girlish lace collar now. Judy can carry it off.

Unsung fashion maverick or brilliant legal mind? This woman is both!

For these reasons, I rule in favour of Judge Judy.

I rest my case.

‘Fess up. What’s your guilty TV pleasure?

The Pioneer Woman

I’m watching too much TV these days.

Because I cut our cable package in a misguided effort to be frugal, I mostly surf between Home and Garden TV and the Food Network.

I discovered Ree Drummond AKA The Pioneer Woman, a larger than life blogger turned cookbook author turned Food Network star. I’m fascinated by her story. She’s an “accidental country girl” who gave up a mysterious career in the big city for the Marlborough Man, her rancher husband.

She started blogging years ago and quickly became an internet hit. From her blog, other opportunities followed and now she’s a famous TV star. Easy peasy, right?

However, all is not rosy out on the range. People either love her (millions of adoring fans have got her where she is) or hate her. A quick internet search reveals several anti-Pioneer Woman blogs that are surprisingly amusing, if nasty.

I’m not sure where I fall on the Pioneer Woman love scale. I wouldn’t eat her cooking (melted bacon fat used as salad dressing and prime rib poached in butter, anyone?) But I admire her blogging talent and marketing skills.

I also like her folksy style and her happy, apple-cheeked children, but picking up any recipes or cooking tips from her? No siree! The Pioneer Woman may have her own cooking show, but she can’t teach me anything with that alarming penchant for butter and animal fat.

Until she baked cookies for the gang baling hay out on the range. She used a mini ice-cream scoop to make perfect round cookies!

I struggle to form my cookies with two tablespoons and end up with misshapen lumps that look like something the Chihuahua coughed up. Today, I dug out my mini ice-cream scoop and shaved minutes off the baking experience. Best of all–my cookies cooked evenly (no more burned bits hanging off the edges).

Thank you, Pioneer Woman! Maybe your critics are wrong and you do deserve your own cooking show after all.

Wordless Wednesday?

Okay, so it’s not quite Wednesday and this post isn’t exactly wordless, but it’s an homage to all those fabulous text-free photo montages many bloggers post on Humpday.

The photos are from a walking tour with my sailor during our recent visit to Powell River.

We both grew up in this isolated town.

Back when I lived there I didn’t appreciate its charm.

I particularly disliked the fact that it was so new. An antique-loving, history-obsessed introvert, I spent my formative years pining for a quaint British village.

It turns out there was history aplenty on my own doorstep and I didn’t even know it!

The Townsite of Powell River has been designated a National Historic Site because it’s an example of an early twentieth century company-planned community. Most of the original 400 or so original buildings are still standing.

Add stunning scenery to the mix and it becomes obvious why I’m pining for a quaint British Columbia village.

How Awesome are You?

M posted a quiz on Facebook–How Awesome is Your Husband?

Her husband is 86% awesome.

I love quizzes. I love to be successful on quizzes.

My sailor is pretty damn awesome so this quiz was like a gift–an opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of his awesomeness.

Sigh–he’s only 56% awesome.

I called him at work to share the bad news. His reaction?

“Don’t post that on Facebook!”

I decided to take the sister quiz–How Awesome is Your Wife? We all know how jaw droppingly awesome I am. All I had to do was answer the questions as my sailor would and I’d get my super high score. The only downside to doing the quiz on my sailor’s behalf–I couldn’t share the results of a “How Awesome is Your Wife” quiz without causing some confusion.

Turns out confusing my Facebook friends about my sexual orientation was the least of my worries. Apparently I’m only 65% awesome.

When my sailor got home, I sat him down at the computer. We went through both quizzes together.

I was determined to uncover our inner awesomeness!

We were especially generous (yet honest) in our responses. Our scores increased.

My sailor peaked at 64% awesome. Sigh–I couldn’t get beyond 69% awesome.

We learned two things from this experience.

1. We are obviously meant to be together as we are mutually mediocre.
2. M’s husband must be a saint.

How to be a Boater

We had our first family sail on the weekend. Amazingly, after only one trip, I already have hot boating tips to share. (I’ve never let a lack of knowledge stop me from offering advice! Why start now?)

1. Wear a bathing suit under your clothes. It was scorching hot and the water was clear and calm. I wanted to slip into something comfortable (my life jacket) and slide off the swim platform to cool off, but without a bathing suit (or even a towel), I decided not to. Next time…

2. Get a strap for your camera or cell phone. The lake was so beautiful I was snapping photos like nobody’s business, but with my slick, sweaty hands I almost dropped my phone in the drink more than once.

3. Make sure your Chihuahua is comfortable. Ours had a bit of a rough start to the day. We launched the boat and my boy and I stood on the dock holding on to it so it didn’t drift away while my sailor parked the truck. I couldn’t hold both dog and boat, so I put her on the back deck. She spends a great deal of energy trying to ensure she doesn’t get left behind (or in this case, sent off to sea) without us. Even though I was right there, rubbing her ears while gripping the boat, she yelped and threw herself against the side of the deck trying to get out. Once we were all aboard, she settled down in a comfy spot behind the driver’s seat and enjoyed the ride. Happy dog = happy day!

4. Enjoy the experience. On land, I spend a great deal of time rushing around, ticking tasks off my to do list. Out on a boat, it’s impossible to work through endless chores. It’s enforced relaxation. If you can let go of your responsibilities, it’s very liberating.

5. Have chilled his and hers cocktails waiting in the fridge at home for apres sail–a refreshing bacon beverage for him, pretty fizzy pink wine for her!

A Girl in Every Port

009011015The boat has arrived!

The dog has been aboard for a preliminary inspection. (She gave it two paws up.)

Tomorrow, we hit the waves for our first family cruise!

My sailor is so excited at the prospect of sharing his grand passion with the family, he’d be satisfied with a bag of Doritos and a couple of cans of pop for our first picnic on the waves.

I wouldn’t.

This is such a big deal for him that I went all Martha Stewart and put together a meal befitting our family’s inaugural voyage in Two Bears. (We still haven’t decided on the new name.)

While undertaking my catering frenzy, I learned a couple of kitchen lessons.

I started with mini Quiches, substituting bread pressed into muffin tin cups for pastry. As well as being healthier than pastry, it was much easier (in theory.) Because we’re all such fussy eaters (by all, I mean my boy and me. My sailor will happily eat anything), I made three different varieties of Quiche. Vegetarian for me, sausage and cheese for my boy and everything for my sailor.

Mmm! They looked and smelled delicious–sort of rustic and hearty–coming out of the oven. Unfortunately, they melded to the muffin tin during baking and I had to chip them out with a steak knife. Instead of the pretty, delicate Quiches I envisioned, we’ll have cold scrambled eggs with chunks of flattened bread. Kitchen lesson number one: a light coating of olive oil is not enough to keep eggy bread from sticking to a baking tin, even a supposedly “non-stick” pan.

Because Two Bears has an adorable little fridge, we can bring strawberries and raw veggies to munch with our egg disasters. Translation: I washed. I peeled. I chopped, I sliced.

I promised my boy homemade cookies for the cruise. I usually have a stash in the freezer, but it’s been so hot lately I haven’t baked for ages, so the cookie situation was dire. After wrestling the Quiches out of the muffin tin, it was time to start baking, even though the kitchen was scorching from having the oven on earlier. I made a big batch of chocolate mess cookies. Kitchen lesson number two: when you’re experiencing a heat wave, keep your chocolate chips in the fridge so they don’t all melt together and look like something that came out of the pet rabbit you had in middle school.


By the time I cooked, packed the food and cleaned up the kitchen, I was ready for a nap, not an adventure on the high seas.

I finally understand the old saying that a sailor has a girl in every port. He’d need them all to keep up with food production!

How to Have Fun Without Your Sailor

Summer’s here and the livin’ is easy–in theory.

For parents, summer is an endless stretch of days in which the children must be entertained. If you’re lucky enough to have a co-parent, you have help in this endeavour. If you’re single-parenting, either permanently or because your partner disappears for months at a time (Where, oh where has my sailor gone???) planning a summer filled with Kodak-quality memories falls on your shoulders.

Fear not, kind readers! I’m here to share the wisdom gleaned from years of sailor-free summers.

Here are my top three tips for enjoying a summer without your sailor/significant other:

1. Don’t save all the fun stuff for when your sailor returns. When we lived on the East Coast, my boy and I made umpteen visits to Peggy’s Cove. On the West Coast, we spent so much time at Undersea Gardens that the squid waved at us during the show. (Okay, maybe he wasn’t so much waving as flailing when the diver poked him, but it makes for a better story to assume it was a friendly gesture.) Not waiting on a sailor? It’s even more important to get out and do things now. Don’t let life pass you by because you’re waiting to lose those last ten pounds or meet that special person or get that dream job… Life is never going to be perfect, but it can be great fun.

2. Challenge yourself. Over the years, I’ve forced myself to do things I’d never before attempted without sailor-support. One summer our boy was disappointed because our family camping trip was cancelled due to a deployment…so I took him myself. We snagged a primo site right on the beach and between us we managed to get the tent up. Things were wonderful until the rain came…and came…and came. A kind stranger covered our drippy little tent with his tarp. Clearly this wasn’t a positive experience, but it was better than letting my boy watch me mope around all summer because I missed my sailor. Even a miserable camping trip is better than a summer in front of the TV.

3. Enjoy the simple things. If you can’t muster the energy to get away, you can still make the summer special. Children are exhausting, but (cool parenting secret!) the younger they are, the less it takes to impress them. One summer when my boy was really little, we did lots of backyard picnics with the dog. He loved it! (So did the dog and we want to keep our furry friends happy, too, right?) Another special treat–pajama parties! (Woo hoo! Let’s go crazy and get into our pajamas BEFORE dinner!) To really push the boat out, eat in front of the TV with a favourite movie playing. With slightly older children, an afternoon at the park or the beach can be a super duper treat. It doesn’t take much to make children feel special.

Happy summer!

Random Acts of Bread Pudding

I made two discoveries during a recent day downtown.

The first was bread pudding.

I stopped at Murchie’s for a pot of tea and a snack. Searching for something healthy in the long glass case filled with tarts, eclairs, puddings and pastries, I spied bread pudding. (I realize my level of self-delusion is sky high if I’m able to convince myself that heavy, eggy bread pudding is a healthy choice, but it works for me.)

The server shared some game changing information: Murchie’s doesn’t use bread in their bread pudding. Here’s where it gets really interesting–they use yesterday’s left over pastries! I know–bread pudding made with current scones and flaky blueberry danishes soaked in rich custard and baked until it’s light and fluffy! Add a cup of Earl Grey and it doesn’t get much better!

My second discovery was emotional rather than food-related.

An off duty bus driver passed me on the sidewalk. I was still thinking about my bread pudding, so I didn’t pay much attention to him.

He was several meters past me when a young woman across the street bellowed, “Hey, Mr. Bus Driver!”

Impressed by her projection (has she considered a career on the stage?), I worried about what she’d say next. One stranger screaming at another across a busy street–how could this end well?

“Your backpack is open!”

I turned to look at the bus driver and saw that his backpack was indeed wide open.

He zipped it, shouted thank you, and resumed walking.

I kept walking, too, but I felt a little glow.

Even though I hadn’t been a direct participant in this random act of kindness, I benefited from it. It felt good knowing I live in a community where people look out for one another.

Bread pudding and random acts of kindness–two very good things.

Two Bears

We are closer than ever to becoming a boating family!

I finally have a lifejacket–a snazzy purple model that’s almost as pretty as the dog’s. I chose it because it’s stylish. My sailor gave it a thumbs up because it’s Transport Canada approved.

We pick the boat up on Friday afternoon. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be living the cruising life on Saturday.

All that remains to be done is to dream up a good, no GREAT, name for our new boat. The current name, Two Bears, is nice, but it’s not really us. (The previous owners called themselves Big Bear and Little Bear, so Two Bears was perfect for them. We’re neither as cute nor as openly affectionate as them.)

In an effort to come up with the perfect name, I’ve been scouring the internet.

Some are clever (Angler Management). Some are cute (Your Ad Here).

Many are offensive (Wet Dreams, The Love Mussel, R Swipe).


My favourite, SS Minnow, has been vetoed by my sailor.

Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated.