Frayed Nerves

Today has not been an awesome day so far. Sym slept in and I was rushing around trying to tidy the house and before I knew it, it was 20 after eight, she hadn’t had breakfast yet and I still needed to make her lunch. That’s when I discovered that I forgot to take the bread out of the freezer so then I had to make toast for her sandwich and I was having emotional problems with my cookie cutters and it was just STRESSFUL trying to get everything ready so Taylor could get her out the door and to school on time. I mean, it’s only the second week and I don’t quite have our new morning routine down yet but OBVIOUSLY whatever was going on today was not cutting it.

This was compounded by the fact that the daycare kids were being a nightmare today. Three out of four had a weeping hysterical temper tantrum when they were dropped off and after they all got over that they started playing a “game” in which they ran around waving their hands at Georgie, trying to entice her to chase them, at which point they would fall over on purpose, nearly crushing her every time. NOT ACCEPTABLE. I had them all go sit at the table for a minute to calm down, at which point the new girl spontaneously threw up all over herself. She’s not sick or anything, she just barfed on her pants. AWESOME. This is clearly exactly what I needed to deal with.

Did I mention that this was all before 9 am?

So now my nerves are shot and I’m all frazzled and just like, OVER working for the rest of the day, let alone the rest of the week. unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of just quitting, so here are some things that help calm me down when i get to the end of my parenting/housework/child care rope.

1. MINDLESS AND REPETITIVE YET SATISFYING AND/OR CREATIVE TASKS
This weekend Sym and I bought supplies to make a miniature pink-and-white version of this Ruffled Lotus Lantern. Because we bought a small paper lantern, in order to fill in all the gaps I had to cut down and glue back together a whole bunch of cupcake liners to fill in all the gaps. I did most of it on Saturday afternoon, but I wasn’t quite done yet. While the daycare kids were playing with toy food and dishes I took the opportunity to cut/twist/glue 52 mini-blossoms and after they’d dried, glue them onto the lantern.

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Some other things that have the same effect include sewing simple felt toys while watching a favorite film (watching movies while crafting is a habit I picked up from my mother); the assembly line-like process of making mini doughnuts, six at a time, with my mini doughnut maker; and folding the dozens upon dozens of tiny hand towels for the daycare washroom.

2. CURLING UP ON THE COUCH TO WATCH A PERSONAL CLASSIC
Obviously this isn’t something I can do while working, but once the daycare kids are down for their nap if I want I can blow off whatever housework seemed so pressing and watch one of the aforementioned favorite films. I’m fond of Wes Anderson movies: The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited (which I’m probably going to watch today) in particular.

wesandersonmovies

On weekends and holidays I’ll have a movie afternoon with Sym and let her pick what she wants to watch. Sometimes she wants to watch an animated film (recently it’s been My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service or Sailor Moon, but occasionally a Pixar movie or something Disney Princess-related gets chosen) or a “real people” movie: Legally Blonde, Charlie’s Angels and Down With Love are some that we’ve watched together tons of times. I might sew her a small toy during these, or we might just pile into the blankets and pillows and eat junk food together.

3. CLEANING OUT THE CUPBOARDS AND DRAWERS
A tidier and more organized house is a less stress-inducing house, but mopping floors and scrubbing toilets aren’t exactly my favorite activities. Some stuff I’ve done recently include sorting through all the tupperware and tossing any containers without lids and lids without containers; rearranging all the pots and pans and things in the kitchen island and throwing out stuff like the old saucepan with the permanently loose handle and the non-stick frying pan that isn’t so non-stick anymore, and freeing up tons of space in the process; and ruthlessly sorting through all my tank tops and getting rid of anything too small, too stained, too old and holey. These projects only involved 2 cupboards and 1/3 of a drawer and probably only took five minutes each but they still made my head feel clearer!

4. LETTING GO OF THIS YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER
I was so excited when those boots I ordered were delivered last week, and SO MAD when I discovered I couldn’t even get my feet into them! I had this big freakout over whether I should exchange them for a bigger size, or just return them and buy them somewhere else in a different bigger size. I decided I wanted to try them on but no stores have my supposed size in-store, and anyway they are much more expensive her than the pair I ordered were, and I don’t know if I like them THAT MUCH that I want to spend an extra hundred dollars on them. So instead of making myself crazy over these silly boots I said FORGET IT. I decided to exchange them for a bunch of different stuff- those sweatpants trousers I like so much, a cord for Symphony’s paper lantern, and some velvet curtains to hide the ugly closet doors in the not-really-a-library.

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Choosing all that stuff (not all of it for me) was way more fun than getting stressed over one selfish pair of boots, and I was even able to get Sym and Taylor to help me pick the curtains.

I could probably think of some more things, but right now it’s time for another soothing activity: PUPPY.

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Autumn Wishlist and a Rant About Bras

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1. The Furies Beast Slim Noh Tee, I really love everything about this; 2. byCORPUS Mixed-Stitch Cardigan, this is also available in black, which I might like more, idk; 3. BDG Baggy Tweed Short, to wear with some thick tights and my new, not-yet-received boots PRE-EMPTIVE EDIT THEY WERE JUST DELIVERED/POST-EMPTIVE EDIT I CAN’T EVEN GET THEM ON MY FEET UGH WTH >:/; 4. Gap Always Skinny Cords, because I’m sick of jeans; 5. Aldo Beveal Ballet Flats, I DESPERATELY need a new pair of black flats, my old ones barely even qualify as shoes anymore; 6. BDG Rugby Stripe Sweater Dress; 7. BDG Trouser Short two pairs of tweedy shorts??? I know, so silly but I don’t know which I like better. These are longer but the other ones are darker. Decisions! 8. Gap Oversized Double-Layer T, likely in black AND heather grey; 9. Kimchi Blue Trouser Sweatpant, some people have an aversion to “sweatpants fashion.” I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

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In other shopping news, I need some new brassieres, and since the Gap now ships in Canada I was like “Oh yay! Maybe they have some nice, plain, simple t-shirt bras like I like!” (I don’t like frilly lacey rhinestone-encrusted patterned bras with bows and crap). Anyway I quickly perused the bra section and found lots of nice, plain, simple t-shirt bras like I like, in colours like grey and black and white people nude. I was all happy until I realized the actually only make one kind of bra in my size.

Nursing bras.

Nursing bras.

NURSING BRAS WHAT THE HECK. I’m super irritated. My chest isn’t even THAT enormous! It’s like, average big. Why can’t I just find some nice, simple, plain t-shirt bras in colours like grey and black and white people nude that aren’t frilly lacey rhinestone-encrusted patterned with bows and crap and also aren’t like, $50 per boob? Bonus points for convertible straps and I can wear them with a tank top and the entire thing doesn’t show at the neckline/armholes. WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT???

What I’ve Been Reading

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The Gatecrasher, 65/104; Remainder, 66/104; How Did You Get This Number, 67/104

In the past couple weeks more than one person has asked me if the “#/104” was some sort of obscure rating system- if you didn’t know it’s the number that book is out of the 104 I plan to read this year. I’ve adding a 104 Books page at the top where I’ve put a running list of all the books I’ve read so far and a little blurb about the goal, so hopefully this should clarify things!

Back to School, Sort of

Today is the first day of school for Sym. Or rather, it was the first day, since as it turned out all we had to do was check her name off a the new students list (she’s at a different school this year). We were home by 9:30, haha.

First Day of "School"

She picked out a first day of school outfit even though it wasn’t a REAL day of school. It was cloudy and cold this morning and she looked fall-appropriate in her coat, dress (yes, that’s a dress) and tights. Now it’s sunny and hot outside so I guess it’s good she wasn’t there all day or she would have sweltered her face off. Which I did already, pushing the dang double stroller back up the hill from her new school. I am not looking forward to going down there and back every afternoon, but at least I’ll be getting a fantastic workout, haha.

Little Symmie
Little Georgie

In a few weeks Georgie will be starting school as well, and it can’t come soon enough. She sort of fell into an obedience vortex this summer- there were no puppy classes at all and she was too young for the basic obedience. It sucks that we couldn’t do this earlier, because let me tell you, she has become quite willful. I haven’t been able to take her to the dog park since on our last visit on Saturday morning, she escaped and took off! By the way, THANKS A LOT, Vancouver Parks Department, for installing a fence at the dog park with bars so widely spaced that little puppies can slip right through them. Luckily the farmer’s market was on so the street was closed but I was secretly FREAKING OUT that she’d run up to the end of the block and get hit by a car. Then, last night she refused to come get her leash on to go for a walk, but when I opened the door to check the weather she snuck past me and ran off into the backyard. It’s fenced, but the gate at the front has a gap under it big enough for her to get out, and it was quite late/dark, so more terror of puppy loss ensued.

She hasn’t learned to “come” when she’s called yet (this is my fault, I know) and when she pulls her escapes it’s like a fun game where she wants to be chased, so you sort of have to a) wait for her to come to you or b) trick her into coming to you with a stick or toy or something. She is especially loathe to let me catch her, so I have to get Taylor and random strangers to help me. I’ve been working really hard to try to teach her to come but it’s hard because the other dogs always want to know what I’m doing so they come over and it distracts her, and if I crate them they start moaning and it distracts her. Even Claire wanders over and get in the way! The humans in my life are also no help, since if I’m at one end of the room saying “Georgie, COME!” and then Taylor or Sym or one of the daycare kids starts saying it from the other side of the room… well obviously it confuses her little puppy brain! I also get very frustrated and start sweating and itching after only a few minutes. To tell the truth I’m getting frustrated and itchy just typing this out so I guess I’ll stop.

Instant Mood Booster

Messy house? Last night of the long weekend? Crummy cold rainy weather? So what who cares. Every time I turn around this one is doing something cute, or silly, or naughty but also still cute. She looks at me with her squinky eyes and puffy ears and everything is good.

Georgie & Me

It’s Pie Time

I don’t know why Taylor and I developed this weird fixation with baking a pie (tbh it was probably when we were watching Twin Peaks). We kept putting it off though, since neither of us had ever baked one before and it seemed complicated (crust and filling? what is this?). After picking up some blackberries at the farmer’s market last weekend I decided it was time to finally have at it, so I picked a recipe to bungle and got lots of advice from some very smart ladies, especially one amazing woman who facebook messaged me detailed crust instructions as long as my arm.

Tanie & Taylor vs the Apple Blackberry Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie

The filling was easily- well, except for the part about peeling, coring and slicing SIX apples. The recipe called for 2 1/2 lbs of them, which is what we used, but it seemed like an absurd amount! I had to mix this up in the biggest bowl in my house and I didn’t even end up using it all- it literally WOULD NOT FIT in the pie plate!

T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie

As you can see, I was much more apprehensive about the pastry. Everyone drilled into my head DON’T LET THE BUTTER (or in this case, half butter half shortening) MELT! DON’T ROLL IT OUT TOO MUCH! DON’T DO ANYTHING EXCEPT FOLLOW THESE PRECISE INSTRUCTIONS OR YOU WILL FAIL AT FLAKINESS!!! It was very nerve-wracking, and I think I was so worried about the state of the butter/shortening that I didn’t put enough water in. Oops.

T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie

The bottom crust turned out alright (please note my supercool apron), but the top tore to shreds when I tried to move it to the pie. I ended up using the scraps to patch up the gaps, using eggwash and a fork. The result:

T&T vs The Pie

FRANKENPIE! I also cut a jaunty little star out of the top, lol. Next came the endless waiting for it to bake- I had NO IDEA a pie could take so long! Cakes take less than half an hour, what’s your damage, pie? This was especially annoying since we didn’t know whether the end result would be a) hideous yet delicious, or b) hideous and also inedible.

T&T vs The Pie

Well, we have the hideous down. I like the part where I completely missed with the eggwash, haha. But who cares! We made a pie!

T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie
T&T vs The Pie

It was distinctly lacking in structural integrity. But what this?

T&T vs The Pie

Flakiness?! WHY YES IT IS. Additionally, this pie was, in fact, delicious. Even the world’s surliest child enjoyed it.

T&T vs The Pie

Really, she enjoyed it. You just can’t tell in photographs. Anyway, Taylor and I consider this attempt at baking a success, and the fact that there is only 1/3 of the pie left is a testament to the deliciousness.

T&T vs The Pie

VALUABLE PIE LESSONS:
1. Baking pie takes eight billion years. It would have been better to make the pastry beforehand and leave it in the fridge overnight.
2. Maybe use a little more water in the pastry next time so it doesn’t fall to pieces when you are trying to move it.
3. Did I mention it takes a long time? Be sure to allow for that. I was going to make brown sugar pork chops and roasted potatoes for dinner but I had to rethink that when I realized the pie wouldn’t be out of the oven until six o’clock.

Tumbling Into Oblivion

… so I fell in a sinkhole yesterday.

No really. Not my pathetic melancholy mood, an ACTUAL sinkhole. I was just standing in the yard, talking to one of my clients when I shifted my weight from my right foot to my left and WHOOSH. Suddenly I was knee-deep in the earth.

Sinkhole
This is what it looked like after I fell into it. No big deal, right?
Sinkhole
This is what it looked like when I cleared all the unsupported lawn away from it. It’s about 12″x18″, definitely big enough for idk, a small dog or toddler to fall all the way in.
Sinkhole
I stuck a 54″ length of pvc pipe it to test the depth. It goes down on an angle, and that light grey object to the left of my pipe is an actual pipe. And below that?
Sinkhole
Blackness! And you can’t really see it, but running water. GREAT.
Sinkhole
Here I am holding the pipe right at the place where it stuck out of the sinkhole. All the rest of the length, almost 50″, was in the ground. Again, FULLY BIG ENOUGH FOR A SMALL DOG OR TODDLER TO BE SWALLOWED UP.

The best part is this is the second time this has happened this summer. Okay, last time I didn’t fall in, I knew that area was unstable and prone to sinkholing (it had collapsed and been filled in several times already in recent years), and when my neighbor left a hose running basically right in that spot for three hours I figured it might happen again. I was just probing the ground with my toe when it happened that time, and it wasn’t totally unexpected, but this time? Let me tell you, suddenly falling INTO the ground is very confusing and unsettling. I guess I should have realized the torrential rains the day before would have washed away all the dirt and concrete they dumped in there last time.

In non-being-swallowed-up-by-the-blackness-of-the-earth news, yesterday my birthday present for Taylor FINALLY arrived.

Team Zissou
Size 13 custom Team Zissou Adidas. Why does Taylor have such big feet???

Of course, his birthday was last Wednesday so I wasn’t exactly thrilled. I bought them on ebay, but I won the auction on July 16th, seven weeks ago. I knew the shoes would take time to customize but I figured a month and a half would be enough time for them to be finished and shipped. GUESS I WAS WRONG. But wait- it gets better! On Saturday, August 7th the seller sent me a message apologizing for the delay and saying the shoes would be shipped “early next week,” so like, the 9th or 10th, right? WRONG. When the shoes STILL hadn’t arrived by Taylor’s birthday I sent the seller a message asking if/when they’d been shipped, and the next day he wrote back saying after he got my message he stayed up all night finishing the shoes and sent them UPS that morning. WAIT. WHAT? So when he messaged me on the 7th to say he would ship them, not only did he NOT ship them, HE DIDN’T EVEN FINISH THEM??? He also had the audacity to toss a whiny remark into his message about how it cost him extra to send them UPS, oh gee SO SORRY YOU HAD TO INCONVENIENCE YOURSELF LIKE THIS YOU POOR MAN. Maybe he should have finished and shipped them when he said he was going to! Anyway the shoes are great but I’m pretty disappointed by the seller’s lies, excuses and delays. This doesn’t sound like positive feedback territory to me!

But let’s not dwell on negative, sour-grapey things like flaky ebay sellers and the crumbling yard. Instead, PUPPIES!

Georgie on Kichou
Georgie on Sleeping

Just This Day

I took Georgie out for a long walk early this morning. I’ve been so exhausted and drained this week (new client who only speaks French = lots of extra, hard work and no breaks) that I’ve been dragging myself out of bed at 7:30 and taking her around the block super-quick before I open at 7:45, so it was nice to have the time for a real walk, although I’m not sure I want to get up at 5:30 every day. It was calm and peaceful out, hardly anyone around and the sun just peeking over the buildings. The air is cool and crisp and even though it isn’t raining today I was glad I wore my new Lululemon pants and jacket over my leggings and a t-shirt (oh and the reason it stopped raining last night is because I went and bought those pants and that jacket, so YOU’RE WELCOME Vancouver).

While I was walking I was thinking about all the lovely things I’d like to do today, but can’t. I’d like to crawl back into my cozy bed for a few more hours, and maybe when Taylor got home I could doze beside him. I’d like to take better advantage of this gorgeous early autumn morning by taking the dog for a stroll along the Seawall or through Stanley Park. I’d like to pop over to the gym for a quick workout and then, re-energized, do a really good job of cleaning my apartment. I’d like to find a new book to read and curl up on the couch with a mug of tea and my kindle. I’d like to spend the afternoon working on my self-portrait or sewing some little toys for Symphony. I’d like to have the time to properly shop for groceries and try some new and delicious recipe for dinner or finally make that pie I keep talking about.

Today, I would just like my days to be my own. Or maybe just this day.