Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Goodbye, Mr Darcy: Funeral Blues

I locked my door to sleep last night. Because apparently I have truly been relying on a small, fat, half-deaf pug for my security and peace of mind when I’m alone in the house at night. And now he’s gone.

When Mr Darcy came home with us from the Humane Society, I sometimes wasn’t sure about him. He was a bit crazy, and he shed constantly, and he was the kind of stubborn where you have to yell to make him do anything. But his first winter with MJ and I, he fell through the ice of my parents’ giant pond while visiting them, and I remember running out into the pond to save him. I pulled him out of the ice like a superhero, sheets of freezing water pouring off him and down onto me. I dragged him into my parents’  house where they helped warm him up and laughed at Mr Darcy’s mortification. But I just sat there, in tears, because I had had the sudden realization: Mr Darcy had become an irreplaceable part of my life…the kind where I would perform heroics to keep him safe.
Mr Darcy and I at the airport, barking at planes. (I didn't bark.)
 There was one time when Mr Darcy went mysteriously missing. MJ was away visiting family in Toronto, and at the time, we were living on the third floor, technically in an attic, above a hair salon down in Westboro village. Whatever I had been up to, I stopped to check on why Darcy was so quiet, and found he had disappeared completely. Once or twice I had taken him for a walk with me to Starbucks, entered in the north door, then exited the south door and forgotten him tied to the post on the south side. Both times I’d only gone a couple blocks before remembering and running back for him. Anyway, as I tore around the apartment in a panic, I frantically tried to remember where I may have left him that day; but we hadn’t been further than the back yard yet. I called MJ in hysterics and we spent a half-hour on the phone shouting his name, trying to figure out how a stupid fat pug disappears out of a third-storey apartment with the doors shut. While looking for a box of Kleenex, I opened the linen closet to find him sitting on a pile of towels. At some point he must have crawled in there for a nap and I must have shut the door on him. He serenely got up and walked out, head high. We laughed about this story while we were burying him at MJ’s farm yesterday.

Mr Darcy with his last meal: Big Mac, fries, and a cone.
The decision to put him to sleep should have been harder. The tumors that had plagued him for the better part of a decade had finally gone haywire, resulting in an emergency trip to the vet while I was in Vancouver; my parents had taken him in and gotten him some medicine to slow the spread a bit. I came home and I got a week in with him but it was hard on us both: he was bleeding from the big one on his leg, and I was constantly chasing him around with disinfectant as he trailed blood around the house. The smell of rotting flesh will haunt me for a while now, I’m sure. I tried fashioning pants for him so he’d let the tumor heal over again, but every time I left the room he’d pull a Houdini and somehow get out of them. The decision to euthanize became an easy one when I found him Friday evening, sitting in a bloody crime scene worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy; he’d decided he could no longer tolerate this tumor business and had partially eaten the thing off his leg. I cleaned him up in the bath, trying not to vomit, but both of us were miserable. If infection didn’t take him out, the flies would eventually manage to lay their babies in his wound and that would be much worse. This wasn’t going to go away. I had to save him that horror.
At the arboretum.
MJ and I took him to the arboretum where we fed him pastries and listened to a marching band. Early the morning of his death, we headed out to the airport where Darcy got to see planes taking off…his first chance to see just how big the damn things are and why chasing them across our backyard was never going to end well. Then we got him a Big Mac, fries, and and icecream, and let him eat ‘til he could eat no more.

Then MJ and I sat on the floor with him in the vet’s office as the doctor stopped his obstinate little heart.

Mr Darcy and an airplane!
MJ drove us out to her farm where she’d prepared a perfect little grave, dug deep and yet tiny. The three of us sat on the grass and we held him and cried for a couple hours. Other than forgetting Darcy outside Starbucks, this was the first time I’d be leaving him truly alone. Eventually we managed to lower him into the ground, with a picture of the two of us and a stuffed panda to keep him company. We poured the dirt over his grave and I told him I was so sorry he had to go. I just kept saying sorry and I still can’t stop.

I came home and began scrubbing blood off of every surface of my house. That, and the endless shed hair, is all I have left of him. It is the last evidence that herein resided the most stubborn, misbehaved, badass pug that ever lived. Also the most patient, funny, loving, and ridiculous pug. Also my best friend.

I had to lock the door to my bedroom last night, but it was hard because I always left the door open when Darcy wasn’t in my room so he could nose his way in. Which reminds me: I need to clean the scudgy nose prints off my door, too.

When we took him into the vet, I genuinely wondered if my heart would stop when his did. We have been inseparable for so many years. But my heart continued beating as his stopped; except, where there used to be the warm happy knowledge that there is always one creature in the world that adores me, there is now an empty black hole.

There’s no way to wrap this up, so I leave you with a poem by someone far more skilled with words than I am.  

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

-WH Auden

Monday, 29 July 2013

Girl, Crafted in BC: Outtakes and the Explorer Review

Okay, so you’ve heard the ‘pretty picture’ version of the Girl Crafted in BC trip. Which is great, and it was a great trip. But if you’re smart, you were probably thinking, where’s all the drama and intrigue? I promise you, there was plenty.


Taking a three year-old to the grocery store is hell. Taking them across country, through several time zones and up an entire coastline, is the seventh circle of hell. Don’t do it. I am telling you, don’t do it. If you ignore me and do it anyway, then you’re like that girl in the horror movie who runs upstairs to get away from the serial killer: you totally have it coming.

Surprisingly, Blueberry provided some amusement on the trip, but not on purpose. She seemed to develop a serious case of klutziness and some of her blooper reel highlights include:

The gingerbread man fall: Blue wanted out of her stroller when we first got to the airport in Vancouver. This was around midnight, so none of us were really awake. She stood herself up and attempted to walk forward, but she’d put her foot in behind the rubber strip that acts as a foot rest on a banana stroller; consequently, it acted as a trip wire and all of Blue’s forward momentum worked to propel her, at great speed, into the cement sidewalk. Tired from the trip, she made no attempt to protect herself, falling forward like a gingerbread man or a pancake. She lay there, face down, for about three seconds before she started screaming. I know this because I stood there for those three seconds in absolute shock. Then I went over and peeled her off the ground, figuring that she’d probably broken her nose and teeth, and what would she have going for her now that she’d bashed in her good looks? Maybe she could make a crooked nose work for her; some of the prettiest people have a quirky face. Or maybe this would inspire her to improve her other assets, like her brain…maybe she’d finally put down the Mickey Mouse Club DVD’s and pick up a Bill Nye video. Anyway, all this musing was for nothing: the only thing damaged was her pride.

The walk-walk-whack: We were walking to dinner in downtown Vancouver one evening; nine year-old Max and I were walking ahead, and Alan was walking hand-in-hand with Blueberry, trailing behind us as always. Max and I were chatting when suddenly we heard a terrible and resounding whack-onnnng! sound behind us. We turned and the situation was immediately clear: Blueberry had walked, full-force and face-first, into a light post. Both Alan and Blue had been looking up at the buildings, and at the last minute Alan had looked down just as Blue had looked forward, effectively lining up her face for the perfect hit into the post. She was clearly alright despite her wailing, so Max and I dissolved into giggles which we hid by hugging each other and hiding our faces. Poor Alan had no such cover for his laughter, so he had to keep stifling it whenever Blue looked at him.

Hotel rooms were also troubling. Sticking four people of adult years into one small room is hard enough; now swap out two of those adults and replace them with two mini-humans whose bedtime is 8pm. Add in some jetlag and way too much excitement. The end result: the two remaining adults sit in the dark reading e-books for two hours while telling the children to close their eyes ‘til ten o’clock at night.


Then of course, because it was bound to happen, I got sunstroke. I knew when we left the house for a day at the beach that I should have gone back for my hat. Instead I didn’t wear one and suffered two days of vertigo, headaches, and chills. The plus side: I suppose Alan and I got to reach a new level in our relationship, as he had to take care of me. This was doubly exciting for him as I got totally panicked about being sick while away from home and had to call my father for moral support. At thirty-one years of age, this is a bit embarrassing. We soldiered through, though; we still went on our excursions and I just had to stop every hundred yards to sit and whimper. I was constantly adjusting the climate control in the vehicle, which would have been more problematic for the others travelling with me except that we were lucky enough to have the fancy Explorer with its individually-zoned climate functions. Which reminds me…


The Explorer was actually great. Ford had given us a range of vehicles to choose from for our trip, and I’m so glad we went with this one. It’s a beast, to be sure: I’ve never driven anything so big, and I found that pretty intimidating. However, the Explorer’s handling is very responsive, so it was deceptively easy to control. The backing-up camera was a godsend, and I don’t think we’d have been able to navigate the various tiny streets and parking spaces without it. Our cottage in Powell River had a driveway that was extremely narrow and sported a 40 degree incline, so the camera plus the all-wheel drive were incredibly helpful. Driving the winding rural roads of the Sunshine Coast was far less scary with this SUV than it would have been in a smaller vehicle; I can tell you right now, I never would have attempted it in the old Corolla I own back home—especially as she’s taken to rolling backwards down hills in the past year.

There were a hundred little buttons in the car and it took us the whole week to figure out most of them. I strongly recommend that anyone buying one of these fully-stocked vehicles buys their sales rep a coffee and asks them to explain all the buttons before they leave the lot. We enjoyed all the features, however, even trying out the bumpy-road and hill-descent buttons and finding them very useful indeed. The only feature we didn’t like was the navigation system: it was very hard to program, and sometimes didn’t reset after we’d reached a destination, so we couldn’t program in a new one. We ended up switching between the Explorer’s system and my iPad, which was frustrating.

But overall, the Explorer took all our crazy amounts of luggage, two kids, a car seat, various stuffed animals, and my own dufflebag of stuff, and kept us comfortable. The lumbar support that you can adjust in the seats was heavenly, and the adults we occasionally had in the back seat remarked that it was as comfortable as the front seats. As mentioned in an early BC post, the collision warning system saved our collective butts when a pick-up truck  lost its cargo all over the road, so despite my minor frustrations with the ginormous front-end and the dodgy GPS, I’m giving this vehicle a solid 4.5 stars on 5. If I had to buy a new giant vehicle for toting children and cargo around the city (or the countryside), we would definitely be interested in the Explorer.


We had a great time. We really, really did. But travelling with children, turns out, does not feel like a vacation. It feels like one of those obstacle courses from that Gladiator show that used to be on TV. So I really do hope that we can at some point return to BC sans-children and experience what I’m sure is a lovely and restful part of the country, and this time head to my tiny hometown up north. I’m thrilled that I got to see my native land, though. It was a very special experience: coming home by leaving home.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Girl, Crafted Goes West: BC Trip Wrap-Up

We spent several days on the Sunshine Coast of BC, with family time being the key component but many other treats and treasures as well. We enjoyed the natural beauty of the coast; we also drove up to Lund and saw the very end of highway 101, which stretches all the way down the continent. You can see me there by the stone marker with our big white SUV. My favourite thing to take photos of was the old Victory ships at the Powell River paper mill: a line of about a dozen giant ships, circa WWII and earlier, which have been set up as a breakwater in the ocean around the mill. You can see the ships if you stop to swim at Second Beach.

Alan and I went out for a special dinner in Powell River at The Alchemist, where we filled our bellies with lobster ravioli and a seafood bouillabaisse full of lovely shellfish and scented with star anise. We also had a special moment when I stopped to take some photos and we were mobbed by a bunch of donkeys.

As we ventured back down the coast, we stopped at various towns along the map and visited galleries and artisans. I stopped in to a gallery contained in a set of yurts and bought myself an intricately handwoven scarf; and we got to see some awe-inspiring art at the Art Barn, which was by far the funkiest, most imaginative gallery space I've ever seen. And of course, we took the time in Gibson's Landing to see Molly's Reach and the Persephone, famous from the Canadian TV show The Beachcombers.


We spent the last couple days back in Vancouver, visiting Gastown for an afternoon. Gastown is Vancouver's historic district, and it's a charming place to walk through with lots of souvenir shops, art galleries, and fun eateries.

We also took a trip down Main Street to hit up Smoking Lily (a crazy cool local designer), and Rollergirl--the mecca for those of us who love quad skates and/or roller derby. We happened upon a little restaurant called The Rumpus Room, which lived up to its name with 1970s wallpaper, Jenga games, TV trays, and old coffee tables...and we were thrilled to find that the food was fabulous. The kids ate grilled cheese with bacon, Alan had a gourmet chili dog, and I had a grilled veggie sandwich that was delectable. Who doesn't love a restaurant that offers 'ants on a log' as a side dish?

Vegan pizza was found at an actual vegan pizza house!

Smoking Lily: one of my favourite Canadian brands.

And last, but not least at all, was our trip to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. This was, by far, the most well-kempt, well-displayed, and incredible aquariums I have ever seen. Their current jellyfish exhibit blew me away; I never knew there was such a variety, nor that they could be so fascinating to watch. The belugas were mesmerizing, and the sea otters adorable. It was just big enough that we got to see everything before we were completely tuckered out.

All in all, BC welcomed us with open arms and showed us her beauty, wonder, and adventurous spirit. Every moment of the trip was breathtaking. It was a wonderful visit to reacquaint me with the land that made me, and I have vowed to return next time and make the long trek up to the tiny inland town where I was born. For this visit, however, we had our fill of journeying and headed home satiated both in spirit and body. BC is truly amazing.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

My Post is Late. But I've got a Tornado to Explain it.

Those of you following the #GirlCraftedBC adventure may be wondering where the newest post is. It'll
come. I'm a bit delayed because in the last 72 hours I've experienced:

-a case of heat stroke that made me into a shivering ball of nauseated misery--but brought Alan and I closer together, I suppose, as he got to be the one to hold my hand while I was violently ill all evening;

-a near-tornado back home that flooded my basement all over again (four weeks ago the carpet was just replaced and I can't even begin to talk about my frustrations with this);

-Mr Darcy's big leg tumor necrotized (I might be making up that word), got infected, and tried to kill him--and also left a trail of ooze and blood all over my friend's house until I finally begged my parents to drive him to the emergency vet at midnight;

-Just for good measure, I walked into a statue at an art gallery and bruised my knee so badly it's hard to bend...then the next day, I managed to slam my other knee in the car door.

This all makes sense because about 24 hours before everything started going belly-up, Alan and I went on a date night here and left the kids with his sister, and we had a great time and the evening wrapped up with a giant double rainbow-with-sunset lightshow, and I thought, "Man, life is great." I don't know if it's an Irish Catholic thing, but you never ever say something like that, because the next thing to happen will be something that sucks. Well, it sucked.

In between all this insanity, we've managed to do and see some fantastic things, so I will blog shortly on this. But for tonight, I'm just lying back and feeling grateful that I have Alan to hold my hand, my parents with my dog, and a bed in which to stretch out my bruised knees.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013



 We headed out of Vancouver early on Monday morning to hit the road and head up to Powell River, where Alan’s sister and family were eagerly awaiting our arrival. After a few wrong turns, we eventually found the ferry…though we did miss the first one.

 Happy to say, though, our Explorer saved our collective butts on the road; between the helpful GPS that didn’t keep losing signal (unlike my iPad), and the collision warning thingy, it got us there safely. The collision warning thingy (I have no idea what that’s called, but it beeps at you) went off when, three cars ahead, a pickup truck lost its cargo all over the road. It turned out to be nothing more than a large Rubbermaid bin full of egg cartons, but the cars in front of us all screeched to a halt and veered. This happened so quickly that we never saw it coming, so when the warning beeper went off, we were able to engage the brakes and avoid the whole mess. So as much as I always say thanks to Ford when they lend a vehicle, I can truly and warmly say a big thank you to Ford Canada for how helpful and neck-saving this one is. She’s as useful as she is pretty.

'Slick' the Explorer in front of our cottage; also, my voodoo charms hanging from the mirror, her cool blue interior lights,
and her pretty face on the ferry ride. And one more Powell River glamour pose.

The pictures of our journey speak for themselves; it was five hours of scenic beauty. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but I’m originally from BC; my parents had moved out here when I was little to open an art gallery (Aboriginal art, fairly traded before there even was such a thing). In a little town called Smithers, I was born and raised for the first few years of my life. I have no real memories of the place, but this is my first time back.

It felt like a homecoming. I fell in love with the mountains when I visited Banff a few years back, and I’d previously fallen madly in love with the ocean on my various trips to the Caribbean…but in both cases, something was always missing. Here, where the mountains touch the sea, I felt like I’d found what I’d been looking for. And I didn’t even realize I’d been looking for it. MJ texted me and asked how BC was, and I wrote back, “So pretty. I feel like my bones know they’re home.”

I was almost resentful when the ride ended and we’d arrived in Powell River. But then it was off to meet Alan’s sister and her family, and I was intrigued to see the woman who’d known my sweetheart before he was all grown up. The reunion, after years apart, was touching, and everyone is really great. They’re so warm and inviting, and down to earth. They pulled Max and Blueberry into their way of life in about five minutes. This is pretty close to miraculous: Max and Blueberry have, from experiences beyond Alan and myself, grown up as fairly anxious, rigid little people. They can’t stand being sticky, they don’t get dirty, and they don’t stray much to play on their own or do daredevil things. Max has anxiety troubles that can, at times, rival the worst I’ve ever seen. But in about three heartbeats, the family had these two kids in the water catching stinger-less jellyfish, holding spider crabs, and picking up seaweed.

I think the coolest moment was when Max’s sixteen year-old cousin, Tony, showed up and asked Max if he’d like to try longboarding. (For those not in the know: longboards are long skateboards, used for speed and carving and other fast and dangerous stuff like carving downhill on long strips of road.) Max said no, but I assured him longboarding was about the coolest thing ever. A few minutes later, I looked around to find Max and saw that he and Tony had moved to the paved pavilion, and Max was learning to longboard. 

I laughed and I think I may have cursed. And what was Blueberry doing in the meantime? Smashing open mussels and feeding them to fish. I looked at Alan in that moment and just saw such relief in his eyes, that his kids were opening up to the world and letting new experiences in. He looked six inches taller and fifty pounds lighter. And that moment, alone, was worth the 3,000 mile trip.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Girl, Crafted in BC: Day Two: Granville Island and The Fish Shack


By day two, the jetlag seemed to be wearing off and we all woke up at an appropriate local time. Shortly after breakfast, we hopped in a cab and headed down to Granville Island, one of Vancouver’s hotspots for art and funky shopping; it reminded me of Ottawa’s Byward Market if it was cleaned up and there were ten times as many cool shops.

We started off in the Children’s Market, which may or may not have been a good idea, as everything else seemed to pale in comparison for the kids. This large, funky building contains nothing but kid stores—kid clothes, kid toys, and even a giant climbing structure with tubes and slides. Most of the stores in here seemed to carry commercial mass-made goods, though we only got through about half of it, so it’s possible the second level had the local producers. Nevertheless, it was pretty darn cool and I could see taking kids here as a reward for a good report card, or as a birthday outing.

We wandered the island after that, stopping in various shops that appealed to us. A store called Maiwa carried goods from various parts of the world, including some incredible handspun yarns, and a giant cabinet rife with hand-carved wood buttons. Other shops carried local aboriginal art and sculpture, and others carried handmade goods by non-first nations people, too. I swooned over several incredible scarves and shawls made of unique raw wools.

I wanted to see the Public Market, so we found the appropriate building and went in. Inside, this market is a mishmash of local produce and artisans; I don’t know which was cooler. I bought some cherries from the Okanagan, then stopped to chat with a few artists. My favourite for the day was a painter named Olga Sugden/ Golden Egg Studios, who does very illustration-like paintings of girls and animals. I bought an art card from here, but think I may be calling to order something else later on, when I get my house in order (a story for another time).

That's Olga Sugden's amazing artwork in the middle there.

Everyone got hungry all at once, so we were about to look for a restaurant when I suggested we make our own picnic. Alan and I whizzed through the aisles, gathering locally-made kielbasa, rosemary ham, salami, and bread, and a hunk of extra-mild mozzarella. He assembled sandwiches for the kids while I taught them how to shuck peas from giant pods. We sat by the water, listening to local minstrels and taking in the skyline of the bay.

After lunch we headed back to the hotel so Blueberry could have a nap, and Max and I went to Starbucks, then did some yoga together. I don’t know if it’s the jetlag or the altitude, but neither of us could keep our balance in the warrior poses so we kept falling over and laughing.


We scoped out Urbanspoon for some dinner recommendations and ended up choosing a place called The Fish Shack down on Granville Street (which isn’t on Granville Island—don’t get lost). This neat, narrow restaurant has some really cool design work, including a wall of raw wood palettes.

 The kids ate spaghetti with meatballs; Max said his was the best he’d ever had, but Blueberry was in a mood so she insisted on eating my crab. And what a crab I had: a giant BC dungeness crab served, shell and all, with a side of slaw. The meat was incredibly mild and delicious. Alan tried lobster tacos, which were equally delicious. The General Manager, Todd, helped us out with the hungry kids by bringing some appetizers to start: two mini-bowls of scrumptious clam chowder served in bread bowls, and some chilled garlic prawns served on a bed of shredded veg. My only regret was that I didn’t try the red snapper burger, so we’ll have to come back. Oh, and Max was furious we didn’t get him dessert. Next time!

It was a lovely metropolitan day, and we got to see a lot of very cool things. Settling into the new hours and routine, everyone did great and the hell of the flight day seemed a million years away. If there was a hitch at all, it was when Blueberry walked, Bugs Bunny-style, head-on into a lamppost. Max and I were ten yards ahead on the sidewalk and heard the WHONNNG of her little head and body making contact, then turned to see the shock on Alan’s face, as he’d been holding her hand. Alan managed to keep a straight face while he comforted her, but Max and I had to hold each other and turn our heads to hide our laughter; it was just such a perfect cartoon moment. When Alan carried her over to us, I reassured her that I do the same thing frequently, especially when there are lots of new things to look at. By the end of dinner, she’d forgotten the whole thing and almost did the same routine several more times on the way back to the hotel.


Sunday, 14 July 2013

Girl, Crafted Goes West: Travel Day and my Airplane Hero

Travel day went well, I think. The kids were excited the entire time, and had absolutely no trouble with flying.
Alan is a rock, and very little seems to phase him, so that wasn’t a concern. Blueberry’s patience started to wear out around dinner time, though to be fair to her, I realized she was fussing at the restaurant because her old brother and her dad had stolen both activity placemats to play with. After a short time on the second and longer flight, Blueberry was fast asleep—which was a blessing, because we lifted off about an hour after her bedtime.

On the second flight, Max kept reaching out across the aisle to hold my hand. I figured he was nervous because the second plane was so much bigger than the first, with louder sounds and way more people. I kept swallowing my own fear of flying to look over at him with a big smile, which he returned every time. On my other side, I had Alan’s hand in a deathgrip and every bubble of turbulence, I grabbed on tighter. But for Max’s sake, my other hand was soft and gentle and comforting.

It was about halfway through our ascent that I looked over at Max and realized: I wasn’t comforting him…he was comforting me. Kids are smarter than they look. I asked Alan what was up, and he said Max had figured it out, and had decided to take care of me on the flight.

I fought back the sappy tears that started to tingle in my eyes. That such a tiny little human would try to comfort a full-grown woman…that I had earned that level of affection from this boy…the only reason I didn’t blubber was because I’ve cried on airplanes and I know my ears will never unblock.

After picking up our Ford Explorer from the valet (which by the way, is a WAY cooler ride than the minivan, and I felt like a hiphop star or something), we set out of the hotel. We got into the hotel at about 3:00am home time (midnight local time), and the kids were exhausted but wired. Eventually everyone drifted off…then we all woke up, like clockwork, at 9:00am home time, 6:00am local time. I barked at everyone to go back to sleep, but then Max came over and whispered that he couldn’t do it, and I said I couldn’t either, so we all lay in the bed together and completely failed to sleep.

Blueberry is currently refusing to put on anything other than a pair of underwear, and I’m looking over maps. We’re off to Granville Island, then back here for Blueberry’s nap, when I suspect we will all end up passing out and further giving in to the jetlag.

But I swear I can smell the ocean outside, even though I can’t see it yet, and that’s super exciting.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Go West: The Girl, Crafted British Columbia Trip

Today begins our adventure in British Columbia. The people that make up the 'our' in 'our adventure' is my sweetheart Alan, plus his two kids--Max (9) and Blueberry (3). This is my first trip with children, and I have no idea what to expect. Max is pretty much a fully-functioning sentient human, but Blueberry is another story.

I am writing a letter for the airlines suggesting they start offering a 'toddler airbus', where we can drop off children under four years old, and they will all be put onto one segregated plane, staffed by Early Childhood Educators who may or may not be heavily medicated. They will play nothing but Dora the Explorer and Scooby Doo cartoons, there will be an unlimited supply of juiceboxes, and a communal corner for 'time outs'. When the plane lands and you need to make your connection, the airline would simply stick your toddler on the back of one of those golf carts, give her a tiara, and tell her she's queen of the cart. Off she would whiz, while you and your older family members can take your time, grab a coffee, and enjoy the fact that no one is doggedly asking you, "But whyyyyyy?" about everything.

In the meantime, it appears that it is my and Alan's duty to get Blueberry safely from plane to plane.

We're starting our trip in Vancouver (the city, not the island--this keeps confusing me), then driving up the coast to Powell River, where we will visit some of Alan's family. After a few days, we will head back to Vancouver, where I will complete my shopping and we will hit some awesome attractions like the Vancouver aquarium. My bestie, MJ, has specifically requested a photo of a Lake Camel (fictional...but I'll try).

We're also borrowing a car from Ford Canada--a Ford Explorer. I'm pretty freakin' excited about this, because my experience with Alan and the rugrats has taught me something about myself: I hate minivans. They are four-wheeled junk-collecting anti-coolness machines. So I'm looking forward to trying out an SUV for the first time, and seeing what it'd be like to transport the minions around in something much cooler. Also, since I've packed all of my house into my suitcases, we're gonna need the cargo space.

Stay tuned and follow the trip. It should be pretty fun to watch from the sidelines: between the presence of two kids, my own anxiety troubles, and a timezone change, this could get 'interesting' real fast. You can track the activity on twitter at my twitter account, and more specifically under hashtag #GirlCraftedBC And of course, there's always the Girl, Crafted Facebook page, and right here on the blog.

Comments encouraged, especially if they are words of encouragement, or information about the actual existence of the Toddler Airbus.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

DIY dog bed from console TV: my tutorial on Nosh Mag

I am proud to say, I have a killer DIY tutorial up on Nosh Mag. Check it out. It's a laborious project; my working title for it was 'How Much Do You Love Your Dog'. Check out the post.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Creepy Eye Catastrophe

Here’s a fun exercise: read through this and identify the exact moment where things went wrong.

Jordan and Alan lay in bed in an 1800s mansion-turned-inn. Rain falls loudly on the tin roof, deepening the darkness of the midnight sky. As usual, Jordan can’t fall asleep, and tries to make conversation with Alan to help put her out. Alan, half asleep, attempts to keep up with the chatter.

JORDAN: What a nice room, eh?

ALAN: Mmmhmm.

JORDAN: Yyyyeah. Yep. I like that the art isn’t the usual art you find in these places. What do you think of the art?

ALAN: [groggily] Well, I’m not too sure about that big painting over the fireplace.


ALAN: ‘Cuz I keep thinking it looks like a giant eye staring at me, watching me wherever I—

JORDAN: Nope. NOPE! Nope nope nope. Why would you say that?! Well, so much for sleeping! You just suggested that there's some sort of haunted eye living in that painting on the wall in an old scary mansion in the rain at midnight!

Jordan gets out of bed, trying to figure out what to do about the now all-too-obvious eye. Jordan barks direction at Alan, who proceeds to stack a pillow in front of the eye.

ALAN: There.

JORDAN: Nnnnno. It’s not covering the whole eye.


JORDAN: The eye is now peeking over the pillow, spying on me.

ALAN: Ahahahaha…yeah, it is!

JORDAN: This isn’t funny, Alan! Did you want to sleep tonight? Nevermind my sleep, didn’t you want to sleep?! Now you’re going to be up all night reassuring me that the eye isn’t coming to get me.

ALAN: Okay okay okay. I’ll fix this.

Alan stacks a newspaper on top of the pillow, covering the eye.

ALAN: Better?

JORDAN: Yes, except I have to pee now. Wait here.

Jordan returns to the bedroom, climbs into bed beside Alan, and nestles down for sleep. Alan wears a smirk, which makes Jordan suspicious. She turns over in bed and finds the eye has become mysteriously exposed again. Alan snickers as she curses.

JORDAN: You really don’t want to sleep tonight.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sweet Secrets: an incredible confectionary


This summer, I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to Sweet Secrets treats, and I gotta say, I’m kinda in love.

Sweet Secrets Gourmet Brittle and Confection is a new baking business created by two lovely ladies named Jamie and Amy. They make incredible treats from natural ingredients and without corn syrup, which is pretty amazing in the candy industry. You  may have seen them under their red tent at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market down at Brewer Park across from Carleton University on Sunday mornings. If you haven’t stopped in to try something, you’ve been cheating yourself. No joke.

Occasionally we do reviews here on Girl, Crafted; and while we haven’t yet had an unenjoyable taste-test, I was extra impressed with the treats from this confectionary. Here’s a bit about what we got to stuff into our faces.

BACON BUTTERCRUNCH: This is one of Sweet Secret’s newest concoctions; a crispy layer of buttercrunch toffee, enrobed in rich chocolate, and of course, little nibbles of bacon throughout. Taste-tester Jay—an 18 year-old male, so no surprise here—jumped on this stuff right away. I have always loved Skor bars and this is very similar, except with much more richly-flavoured chocolate and more buttery buttercrunch.
Left to right: Mint Meltaways, Honeycomb, Tropical Caramel Popcorn, and Peanut Brittle and Bacon Buttercrunch both at the back.
HONEYCOMB: Honeycomb was something I’d never encountered before; this is essentially sponge toffee done with honey. The usual burnt sugar flavour of sponge toffee is replaced with a similar, but much smoother, burnt honey flavour. When I first took a bite, it seemed much like a traditional sugar toffee taste, but as it started to melt in my mouth, that wonderful warm yellow honey flavour overtook all else. My father and I fought over the last morsels of this one, and I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t even save any for Alan. (Well, only a little ashamed.)

MINT MELTAWAYS: Without a doubt, these were the number-one crowd pleaser of the whole batch. Little cubes of icing sugar-powdered velvety chocolate goodness that melt the moment they hit your tongue, and are gently flavoured with mint? Yes, please! The shocker on this one: even my mother, who doesn’t like mint chocolate, enjoyed these. I think the trick is the pleasant balance between the mint and chocolate flavours; this doesn’t punch you in the throat like a peppermint patty…instead, it just melts, rich and cool, in your now-salivating mouth.

TROPICAL CARAMEL POPCORN: Flavours of coconut and pineapple made this my favourite candied corn experience ever. The fact that it was vegan meant I could share it with just about anyone, too. The fruity flavours were subtle, but I liked this much better than the usual ultra-sweet sticky mess that is the average caramel corn. My only complaint: my bag wasn’t big enough.

PEANUT BRITTLE: I’m not a huge peanut brittle eater, as I generally feel my treats should involve chocolate. But this was indeed a very nice batch, with the brittle done well and not likely to pull out your fillings. Taster Bruce really enjoyed this—a big peanut brittle fan. Butter and rich, with the smokey flavours of peanuts, it was a definite win for the brittle lovers. I'd like to try some of their many other brittles!

SEA TURTLE: I had no idea what a sea turtle was until I bit into it…and then I didn’t want to share it. In essence, this is much like the traditional ‘Turtles’ you get around Christmas, where a dollop of caramel is dotted with nuts and coated in chocolate. But the big, fun, delicious twist on this is the salted caramel. Well, that and the fact that the caramel is done softer and gooey-er, and the chocolate is better, and basically the whole thing just knocked my socks off. I’m nice, so I gave a bite to my dad. Go get one for yourself and see how nice you’d have to be to share that.

You can find Sweet Secrets at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, and online on their site, as well as at various festivals and events around Ottawa. Oh, and Facebook. If you go home without the honeycomb, you’re a fool. And the mint meltaways. And the sea turtle. You know what? Just get one of everything.

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