the musings of a cynical optimist

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What’s cookin’ in the kitchen?

Twelve. Twelve is the number of cook books I have. They take up a whole shelf that could be used for actual food. They sit and gather dust. And cobwebs. And dried up ladybug corpses. It is clear I am not quite the person past me thought I would be.


a ‘before’ picture

I can find my way around the kitchen. I’m not a clueless gal who can only make toast. But when I have spare time there are just other things i’d rather be doing. Like, a lot of other things. Anything else really. Plus my partner is a phenomenal cook so why interfere with their chance to shine. Right?

Problems with the cook books

  •  Too many ingredients in every recipe – Anything with more than 8 ingredients in it and I am out. I don’t want a bunch of mustard seeds taking up space just because I made one recipe that called for 1/2 teaspoon.
  • They are desserts – I’m cooking in an effort to stay healthy here!
  • It was from a cleanse – I can proudly say i’ve done the wild rose cleanse. I took the supplements without hurling and I don’t need to ever do it again. 
  • It was that shitty raw food book from my last blog post – No, i’m not axing open coconuts in my kitchen without proper supervision 
  • It’s 90s vegetarian – I was a vegetarian once. All the cookbooks from that era are basically cheese and tofu pastas. 

All the decluttering gurus say if someone else can find more value in these than it may be time to part with them so this is a no-brainer. I kept two books and copies of any recipe i’ve ever actually made. Success!


To organize or to create -that is the question

Every time I have a spare moment or a night to myself, I start to get excited about the possibilities. Maybe i’ll finally write a song again or read a book or cook something.clipart-stressed-out-14.jpg

But first I just need to get a few other things out of the way. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming… and I should probably do something about the pile of notes from musical theatre school a decade ago, and deal with these cassette tapes and photos that are sliding all over the place. Screw it, it’s just easier to watch all of Jane The Virgin tonight. 

I’m not a hoarder. I just collect things.  And it hasn’t been much of a problem until now. I grew up in a home with lots of space. My room through high school and university was built by my dad and had a double closet so I had ample shelving for all my goodies. 

When I moved to NYC in 2006, I arrived with just one suitcase and one backpack – like a big cliche. I often wonder how I accumulated so much stuff since then. And then I remember that the whole time i was in New York, I had 20 rubbermaid containers full of crap in my aunt and uncle’s basement.

So i’ve decided to clear out a lot of clutter once and for all. There are lots of items I am ready to part with but some have great stories and memories attached to them. And so I will be writing about my experiences decluttering as well as telling stories about some of the neat finds along the way.  That way I get to create and clean at the same time! 

The Cleanse – It’s happening

This is different. In the past I’ve spent the summer busting my ass working 6 days a week trying to ‘get ahead’ (whatever that means). But this year I did the opposite. I did yoga, and went swimming, bike riding and hiking.

But because I believe in balance, I also ate ice cream religiously, started many days with Baileys in my coffee and ended it with sangria. In my defence, there is a perfectly good explanation for the Irish cream. I ran out of almond milk and was given no other option. 

Pictured: hope and promise

At a certain point my taste buds started craving only creamy, chocolatey, salty treats which led me to my idea to do a 5 day juice cleanse.  A reset if you will. This is my experience so far: 

  1. Going Cold Turkey:  

    Other more qualified people suggest easing into a juice cleanse with a few days of healthy eating so your body doesn’t go into shock.  I did not listen to these people. I started the day with – you guessed it – Baileys and coffee with whip cream for good measure. I had a night cap of both white and red sangria. Because I am a champ. 

  2. Grocery Shopping:

    The thing with juice cleanses is, you can either pay $60/day for someone to supply you with the juice, or you can just do it yourself and it costs maybe  $15/day. Is there a quality difference? Maybe. I decided to juice my own damn veggies except I didn’t actually buy any. So that was a bit of a snafu. Realizing I had no food, I ate a mango and some blueberries before heading to the grocery store. Crisis averted.

  3. Green tea Goblins

    Saying goodbye to my morning java was going to be tough. I decided to substitute with a green tea called something something Buddha because something something antioxidants. I forgot that green tea makes me feel like vomiting. So half way through the green tea I had to lay down and ride out the nausea wave. Some blame the tannins but those are also in red wine and red wine has never let me down before. Thanks Buddha.

  4. Rice cakes:

    I really needed something to settle my stomach so I had a couple rice cakes. If you are keeping track – my juice cleanse thus far contained only solid food and zero vegetables. Still, I took no delight in eating the rice cakes so I’ve decided they don’t count.

After a rough morning  I managed to juice a bunch of fruits and veggies into 5 different combos of green coloured goo and the rest of the day fell into place. For now. 


♫ She’s got issues and i’m gonna pay ♫

People talk a lot about emotional baggage – issues we have from being picked on at school or from a messed up home life. But recently i’ve been having serious trouble with some real life baggage.

Even if you move every year, you probably have that one box of stuff you move from place to place without opening. It usually has books you’ve been meaning to read like Little Women, War and Peace or Altas Shrugged. Or maybe a few birthday cards and a year book. The only time this box is opened is when you are about to move again. You get all nostelgic and ambitious about your plans for said box. And then you duct tape it until the next move.

For me this magical box contains CD jewel cases. They are all empty. The CDs are in one of those CD binder things and have been downloaded onto my itunes. The box is heavy and has been sitting in the living room for well over a year. Before that it was in my aunt’s basement for 4 years.

hey. How'd Ashlee Simpson get in there?

hey. How’d Ashlee Simpson get in there?

The reason it is still there is because i’m having trouble accepting they are garbage. I spent a few thousand dollars creating an amazing CD collection which totally defined me as a human teenager. I spent hours in Tramps Used CD store trading in shitty CD’s like The Lemonheads that sucked for cooler ones like Green Days Kerplunk (love you Billy Joe) and let us not forget about Columbia House!

My original plan was to put all the CD’s back in their cases and sell them. Apparently this is an extremely comical idea. While i paid a large chunck of change for them, i guess they have not gone up in value the way beanie babies have. Plus some of the CD’s are scratched so i’d have to do that whole windex/toothpaste trick.

So tonight is the night. I’m dismantling them and having major flashbacks to my youth. Because it’s Easter and why not?

Highlights include:

~ Singing along to Hole at the top of my lungs whilst recording myself on the dual cassette/3 CD changer in my parent’s basement.

~ My awkward country phase featuring John Berry and Alan Jackson before that nauseating september 11th song. Worst song ever.

~ Happier music like Hanson that i had to listen to after realizing every band i loved had a member kill themselves or overdose on heroin.

~ The girl power of Ani Difranco and Jann Arden and apparently Janet. Actually i have no idea how i ended up with the janet album. I swear.

~ Any thing i personally recorded.

I really hope all the plastic is recyclable.  I will miss the good old days of the CD case but i am excited to see what becomes of the new open space in the living room

And before we all get too sentimental it should be clear that i am definitely not throwing out the liner notes. That would just be plain crazy.


There are countless ways to describe it.

I would call it tan. Others would say mushroom, oatmeal or sand coloured. 

My friends call it ugly. 

Pictured: not me

Pictured: not me

It’s been one of my favourite coats for 11 years and after an intervention i recently parted with it. I took it a little harder than i thought. I was genuinely surprised. I honestly thought the jacket was bland and inoffensive. But even my least fashion savvy friends banded together, emerging from the woodwork to tell me something a long the lines of ‘we love you but that jacket needs to go.’ 

One friend sensed my attachment to the coat and in a very nurturing tone asked, ‘when did you buy it? Does it mean something special to you?’ After a decade together how could it not?

My mom bought it for me around the time Saddam Hussein was captured. I was interning at a TV station and needed a ‘grown up’ news reporter coat. My mom wanted to buy me a more expensive one but i didn’t feel it was worth the money. It was a great day shopping, laughing, and dining together. And i recall a salesman telling me i reminded him of Audrey Hepburn.  I do not care if he was lying. That’s not really important. It was before i moved away from home for good. Sure i was alone with no friends or family, but i had Coat.

Me and Coat then moved to a small city so where i worked at a radio station. It was only a few months old when I met my friend Dustin.  After a wild night of karaoke with friends, we talked till 4 in the morning until my throat was raw and i lost my voice completely. I can’t remember what the hell we were talking about except that i was laughing my ass off the whole time because he’s really funny, and that he had a similar coat.

We talked about how shitty our coats were. The tag always hung out the back, the pockets already had holes in them. They looked high quality suede until the first wash and then it was all crunchy, weird and clearly not suede.

But still Coat and I ventured from Alberta to BC to New York and back again. She kept we warm but not too warm. She had a hood to shield me from rain, snow and that gross wind one experiences when the skytrain or subway approaches. And i’ve only had to hand stitch the pocket holes 2 times.

I have a pink winter vest, an avocado rain coat, and a floor length jean jacket (try not to be jealous) but Coat will be hard to replace. 

♫ ♪  We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the Coat and the song,
like the seasons, all have gone ♫ ♪ 


Happy New Year – take 2!


I received the most exciting message this week.

‘Congratulations! You’ve completed our yoga challenge!,’ it said.  I beamed with delight until a moment later when i remembered that i had quit the challenge on day 8. Oh, and that’s not all. I’m also part of a green smoothie challenge. Or was? I’m still hearing the reports from the green smoothie crew at Young and Raw. I read jealously of their new found energy and glowing skin.

I ran for a few weeks but quit that.  My free weights are gathering dust.  I still haven’t learned how to meditate either.

Whoa. What happened? The year started off with so much enthusiasm and promise.

I’ll tell you what happened. The coldyflu thing. After going a full 2 years cold and flu free, I was getting a little delusional with my immune system invincibility.  I’d say things like, ‘Go ahead and cough in my mouth. If you have a strong immune system like I do, you won’t get sick.’

I won’t bore you with the details of my attempt at neti-potting my clogged sinuses, my hive outbreak from cold medication, the 200 plus Kleenexes i went through, or the sleepless nights of choking on my own phlegm balls. What I will say is I am officially humbled. And sorry for anyone who had to be around me.  Except the mean people glaring at me on transit. I hope they get it next.  I felt like poop and couldn’t bring myself to by groceries or even move really.

No big deal, just a coldyflu thing. (It seemed worse than a cold yet better than a flu – hense it’s name).

So that is why tomorrow is Happy New Year – take 2! I love new beginnings, goals, and resolutions, and since this time my lack of follow thru wasn’t totally my own fault i’m just going to give it another go. While the coldyflu did hamper my plans it did not dampen my spirit!

So here is the game plan folks! I will do another yoga challenge to completion. I will drink 2 smoothies per day until I catch up to the rest of the pack so we can finish and celebrate together. I will train for the sun run, conquer my fear of youtube and write on my blog again. Hey wait, i just did that didn’t I. Gold star for me.

If you are in the same boat as me, feel free to start your new year tomorrow too. If you don’t have a coldyflu to blame, choose a loved one instead! The guilt and shame will vanish immediately allowing you to feel fully rejuvenated.

And because i feel like it – let’s take a moment to appreciate a few achievements from 2012. I was in school a lot and i’m really great at school. Yay for me! I travelled to Mexico and Whistler with my wonderful fiance, I visited Smithers, B.C. for the first (and likely) last time in my life. It was great and I got to bond with relatives during a 16 hour car ride.  I think we are all grateful it turns out we like each other.

I read 50 shades of Grey (the first one. I will not read the rest because it conflicts with my values. And by values I’m referring to my distaste for poor character development and crappy writing, not the oddly vanilla S n M which was kinda hot. kinda), I went to ER for the first time, learned to wax my own arm pits, welcomed a ganglion cyst into my life – lil gango. Did the sun run, lost a few pounds, became a more grateful and compassionate person, saw some great live music, mastered power point, went dance walking, and stopped using a lot of cancerous over priced beauty products.  Good times!

So cheers to a New Year – take 2!




Three years ago today i said goodbye to a friend.


I only knew him for 5 months but he was my kindred spirit, my teacher, my companion, and an amazing soul.

He ate salad, slept wrapped around my head and when we were playing i could clap at him and he’s bounce two feet into the air in pure excitement. He taught me about unconditional love. He was fearless and brave, young but wise. He took care of me when i was fighting both heartsickness and the flu one winter. I promised him I would never let anything bad ever happen to him.

I was singing him a lullaby when his heart stopped beating. He was sick and all the love in the world couldn’t save him.

For weeks i saw him out of the corner of my eyes and in my dreams. I  talked to him nightly and wrote him letters thanking him for choosing me and my partner for being his guardians during his short time on earth.

We don’t talk as much any more but i believe he is my guardian now. I also believe he is in kitty heaven which for him looks like the sink, toilet, and faucet section of Canadian Tire since he was so enraptured by running water. 

My heaven doesn’t look like that but i’m assuming there is a common rumpus room where we will meet again. And when we meet i will hold him in my arms. He was truly one of a kind. Three years later I miss that little guy with all my heart.

Love you Smudge. Thank you for everything.