Monday, December 31, 2012

Shop: Acer Aspire S3 UltraBook

It's the end of an era, my friends. I bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new laptop. Not only am I putting my 7 year old MacBook out to pasture but I did something unthinkable and bought a PC. No joke, a PC. I really wanted to get a MacBook Air, but based on the cost/feature ratio, it just didn't make sense. I did a little shopping around and ended up buying the S3 Ultrabook from Acer. It was literally 1/3 of the cost of an equivalent MacBook Air with similar specifications. Now I am just navigating through the set up of all my favourite apps and and iTunes library. The biggest adjustment will no doubt be getting use to Windows 8, as well as the touch pad (definitely my least favourite feature as I keep touching it in some wrong way and opening a window I have no need for).

I guess that means I have to give up my black turtleneck now?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Rest: The Pyjama Life

I've been delinquent with my blog posts this holiday season. I've had every opportunity to write, but instead I've burrowed myself into a blanket nest on my couch, watching movies in my pajamas. I had good intentions; I made tentative plans to visit with friends but between the recent snow fall and an extreme case of the lazies, it never materialized. Despite efforts to get my UC in control, I'm having a flare up right now which I think might be the cause for my lack of energy. I find the 45 centimeters of snow outside too daunting to venture outdoors; bad weather and a bad tummy has turned me into a shut in. The weird part is that I'm definitely starting to show signs of cabin fever, even though I've chosen to stay in.

So if I've been home for all this time, why haven't I hunkered down and written anything? It has a lot to do with the fact that my laptop is slowly dying. I have a 7 year old MacBook, a relic. As of late, when I try to use it for blogging or other text editing, there is a few second delay with every letter I type. It's time to replace it but I just can't decide on what I will buy next. My heart is set on a Mac, but from a cost perspective I know I could get a decent alternative for half the price if I just get a non-apple product. My vote is still out but in the meantime if I want to post updates I have to use my iPad. I must admit that I detest typing out anything longer than a few lines with my phone or tablet, I much prefer the tactile quality of an actual keyboard over an onscreen keyboard.

So on that note, I'll be back when I have more to say and a more efficient way to say it. Back to hibernation!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Read: Let's Pretend This Never Happened & Cloud Atlas

I recently spent the better part of my travel time to Texas reading "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. Nothing makes a long day spent in air travel and airport waiting areas better than having a good book to read, and I lucked out because this one was thoroughly enjoyable. I'm sure the reason I had so much personal space in the airport waiting area was because of all my snickering and head shaking. Also, I disturbed my neighbour on the plane more than once by accidentally snorting out a laugh. Maybe it was a case of 'right thing at the right time' because I really related to this book. Some examples:

- Jenny is from Texas, and considering I was on my way there, I thought it was serendipitous.
- There is a rather fun account in her book about a flight she was once on. Again, couldn't help laughing consider where I was.
- Her OCD behaviour reminded me a lot of myself, which at first I thought was charming and cute but ended up being a bit alarming once you see how paralyzing it was for her socially. I seriously felt bad for her at points; I think it endears you to her though.
- Her chapter on working in an HR department was insightful and hilarious.
- Her affinity for cute animals and tendency for theatrics (chupacabra!!!). A girl after my own heart!

I considered waiting to read this with my book club, but realized that we didn't meet regularly enough for me to get a chance to dig into it any time soon. So, as per usual, my impulse control struck again and I devoured the book in less than two days. I'm glad I didn't wait, it was just the thing I needed to cleanse my reading palette.

As a point of contrast, I started "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell right after the Jenny Lawson book. I tried to justify that sometimes it takes time to switch from one narrative style to another but I just could not get into it. I wanted to read it before I went to see the movie; I generally like to be able to see how a film vs. book stacks up, much to the chagrin of the person watching the film with me. The book is broken up into chapters that each represent separate/connected stories within the book. I found it difficult to get through the first story, it felt unnecessarily detailed and dry. I felt like I was missing the point that the author was trying to convey; or perhaps I was giving him too much credit that there actually was a story underneath all that minutia? I held out knowing that the writing style/subject would change in the next chapter, but unfortunately I liked the next story even less. Halfway through the chapter I skipped to the third 'story' and subsequently gave up on the book altogether. I'm a bit ashamed of myself for ditching the book so soon. I'd love to know what others thought of it. Was it engaging? What of the different writing styles? Was there a 'payoff' in the storyline that would make it worth revisiting?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Smuggle: Pocket Knife

See this cute little knife? I adore it. I've been told I have an unnatural affection for knives to begin with but I do have a special fondness for this little guy. I've had it in my possession since 1995, when it was given to me by a fellow McDonald's coworker after I had lost my Swiss army knife. I'm sure it wasn't terribly expensive but I really appreciated the thought that went into it's purchase. I have pretty much carried it with me ever since, transferring it from one purse to another so I would have it handy. I have found it to be a heaven sent when a situation arises that requires a knife. As of late, I have been carrying two pocket knives. I acquired a gorgeous Laguiole folding knife recently and since I can't choose a favourite, I carry both. When my braces are painful after an adjustment I use the laguiole to cut food into small, manageable bites while I use the smaller knife for non-food related, utility tasks. That's right people - I carry two knives.

Knowing how much I adore these knives, I have been especially careful to remove them from my purse when I have to fly, due to the carry on restrictions. I once had to hand over some pricey grooming scissors, and I'm still smarting from it. I made a conscious effort to put my laguiole in my dresser drawer before I left for my trip to Fort Worth. Which was why I was so flabbergasted when I discovered the utility knife in my makeup bag while I was in the airport bathroom between connections. Firstly, how did I manage to forget it in there, and second, how in the world did it make it through a security scan? I could only rationalize that it was squished in with bobby pins and metal hair clips which may have fudged up the scan, but still! As soon as I got to the hotel I moved the knife to my check-in luggage so I wouldn't make the same mistake again. I'm thrilled I wasn't forced to abandon it at the security gate, but I'm still a bit blown away by the fact they didn't notice it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shop: J. Crew Antique White Tipped Pea Coat for Sale!

Let me start by saying: Don't judge me.

I bought this coat on eBay, in my typical size six. When it arrived I was giddy, but it quickly turned to disappointment when I realized that the arms, specifically the biceps, were too tight on me. Wearable, but not comfortable. I made elaborate plans in my head that involved me working out and losing weight in the hopes of having a more comfortable fit and then promptly forgot about it. The working out I mean, not the coat. I daydreamed about the coat. Sigh....  All was lost until I went to J. Crew during my trip to Fort Worth. Lo and behold, I found the very same coat in a size 10 on the sale rack with an additional 30% reduction! Huzzah!! I figured it would be way too big, but with a chunky sweater the fit ended up being roomy but still tailored enough to fit well.

Yes, I bought the same jacket. Twice. But would you like to buy it once, for a good price? If anyone is interested (and has some thin arms) send me a message and let me know. I'd let it go for a reasonable price just to see it go to a good home rather than gathering dust in my already too packed closet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Celebrate: Happy Holidays

Warning: This post is embarrassingly emotional. Read at your own risk, as it entirely lacks self deprecation, irony or smart ass commentary (and YES, I did write it myself).

I spent the better part of last Friday in transit from Fort Worth to Montreal. When I arrived at the airport, Marc was there to greet me. He carried my bags to the car and drove me home, which was heaven sent after a weary and long day of travel. When we arrived home, I was surprised by the sight of a beautiful eight foot Christmas tree in our living room (my first real tree!) and a fridge full of ingredients for my return home breakfast & dinner for the following day. If I wasn't spoiled enough already, he also made me a yummy egg in the hole at 11:30pm because I was peckish after missing out on dinner. We had a drink together on the couch and caught up before I passed out, exhausted but thoroughly happy to be home and in the presence of my favourite person in the world.

See that? That whole last paragraph? That's completely new for me. Not just being treated so well but also being 'that' girl who is silly in love and annoyingly gushy about it. I'm probably embarrassing the shit out of him by posting this, but I can't help it. Heading into the holiday season, I have to acknowledge that after a couple years of relationship woes, I am exactly, completely, where I want to be. Everything (work, family, health, etc.) just seems easier because my disposition is so transformed, and I know that it's due to being in a healthy and happy relationship with someone I love. Add to this, the fact that I am only a few days away from being on vacation/holidays until Jan 3rd and I can barely contain myself. So forgive me if I blather on much too much about my nesting habits and holiday preparations. Perhaps I am going into this season a little too 'Clark Griswold' in my expectations, but I already have at least four (fake) squirrels in my tree and so far, so good!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eat: Texas Style

I'm off to Fort Worth, Texas for a business trip. Like I always do before a trip, I am researching the hell out of my destination so I know what restaurants, shops and sites to visit while I'm there. I use to be pretty anal retentive about travel, always needing to have a plan of action or  schedule but I think I've mellowed out in my old age. Despite the fact I am pretty detailed in my research, I'm pretty laissez-faire once I get where I'm going. I like to know my options, but my itinerary isn't set in stone.

Since I'm only there from Monday to Friday, I'm out of luck with regards to entertainment or events. I checked out the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys schedules to no avail, and I didn't come across any concerts of interest. Bright side: a lot of money saved. It also leaves me with more leisure time to walk around and enjoy the restaurant/bar scene. In any case, I tend to think of dinner out as a destination in and of itself. Some people dislike eating out alone but I don't do it often enough for the novelty to have worn off.

It's been quite the learning experience researching restaurants in Forth Worth. I think I gained weight just looking at the menus. It's a short visit so I wanted to focus on local specialties, namely BBQ, Steakhouse, Southwestern and Tex-Mex. How fortuitous that I am not a vegetarian at this stage in my life since Fort Worth seems like a carnivore's dream. I'm not a huge steak fan but considering the location, I will definitely partake. Truth be told, I am far more interested in BBQ fare like pulled pork or ribs. I am especially psyched to get my hands on some of the delicious BBQ side dishes like roasted ears of corn, pinto beans, black eyed peas, BBQ baked beans, and chili cheese fries. Heh, so much for eating light before the holiday season starts; I guess everything IS bigger in Texas, even Heather!