Friday, 30 August 2013

Let's Go To The Ex Pt. 2: The Food Building

In today's coverage of the Canadian National Exhibition, I'm going to talk a little bit about everyone's favourite part of the CNE: stuffing yourself stupid in the food building.  Yes, The Ex has a whole building dedicated to nothing but food.  Indeed, everyone who I spoke to about going to The Ex had the same goal in mind, "to eat all of the fried things".  Word.  For.  Word.  ALL  of the fried thingsFriends, that's a goal we can achieve, but the biggest obstacle to overcome is the daunting task of having to choose from the extraordinary amount of variety of deliciousness that shouts at you from every possible vantage point.

To illustrate how insane the food building is, I present to you, a panoramic shot of roughly 1/6 of the food building.  Open this puppy full size, and just let that all sink in.  You too can eat this much (if not this WELL) at the CNE.

This was my first panorama attempt, and except for Oriental Express and the now headless guy in front of PULL'D, I'd say it came out smashingly!
It really is a tough choice to make, though there are no bad decisions here (well, relatively speaking.  EPIC Burgers and Waffles did give dozens of people food poisoning with their cronut burger, and none of the food in this building is likely any good for you whatsoever.  Tread lighly, dear friends.  Pace yourself).  Personally, I opted for a couple veggie samosas from Ghazale, while Ephraim enjoyed a lobster roll.  I refused a blooming onion at the time, and I have regretted it every day since the fair.  Next time, I'll wear my eating pants, and not a high waisted skirt.  How foolish of me!

For dessert, we enjoyed the carnival staple, funnel cake.  If you're not familiar with funnel cake, I'm so sorry, and this is what it looks like:
It's basically deep fried dough with some sort of "fruit" topping, and icecream.  Funny story about funnel cake, years ago my family went to Canada's Wonderland (an amusement park, that has nothing to do with Canada at all) and ordered funnel cake with strawberry topping.  My step mother asked the man at the funnel cake stand if it was made with fresh strawberries.  We all laughed at her. I mean, all of us.  My dad, my brother, myself, the guy running the booth, we all just laughed.  You do not eat funnel cake for the fruit.  You eat funnel cake for the high you get from cheating death when you finish the thing and you haven't had a heart attack yet.  

And really, that's what the food building at The Ex is all about: eating really, really badly for a day, and loving every minute of it.  Enjoy all of the fried things, and feel accomplished when you manage to eat more than you thought humanly possible.  Because the CNE happens but once a year, and you aren't braving these lines twice.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Let's Go To The EX pt. 1: The Flower Competition

Last weekend, Ephraim and I went to The Ex, a.k.a. the CNE, a.k.a. the Canadian National Exhibition.  Think of it as a massive carnival, taking place for the last two weeks of August, every summer.  I (and many) think of it as an excuse to eat "all the fried things", and take a turn on some intensely overpriced rides.  You know, good clean family fun.  The CNE is more than just a carnival, with Dog and Horse shows, Acrobatic displays, food and tchotchke vendors from around the world, and one of my favourites, the floral competitions.  It also tends to be one of the only quiet areas of the CNE, so it's a perfect spot to relax a moment, enjoy the air conditioning, and take gratuitous photos of beautiful flowers.

Who am I to refuse? Enjoy the gratuitous pretty.

This first place arrangement incorporated my favourites of the winning flowers.  Plus, it's in my favourite colour scheme! I told Ephraim to feel free to think along these lines next time he wants to buy me flowers... haha, yeah, right!
After spending all that time walking through the competition, and going through my photos afterward, I feel it's really confirmed for me that when we do manage to clear a sunny patch in Ephraim's front yard, I'd really love to plant some Dahlias.  They're so gorgeous, and come in amazing sherbert-like colours!  At least, that's where my mind goes.  Straight to rainbow sherbert from Baskin Robins...perhaps the only food vendor I did NOT see at the EX.  But the food building is another story, saved for another day!


Saturday, 24 August 2013

2013 Goals Update

I have been horrible about keeping up with some of my goals lately.  To set me on the right track again, I'm doing an update.  I hope this helps motivate me to refocus on those goals I am still lagging behind on (or have forgotten about alltogether).

  • blog 4 times a week
  • complete my 365 Days of iPhone Photos project 
  • complete one photo-an-hour post for each month Okay, I keep starting these the last few months and forgetting half way through the day, or going to a movie, or something else I can't photograph.  But what can I say, most likely that day there was ihop, thrifting, a movie, and some kind of beer.  I'm cool like that.
  • save my pennies and purchase a new laptop to replace the 8 year old glorified paperweight 
  • take a trip  Guess who booked A WEEK IN PARIS for this October?!?! I am insanely excited.  I just found out yesterday that Montmartre, where Eph and I will be staying, is holding their annual wine festival over the first few days we will be there.  Concerts and fireworks at the Sacre Coeur! 
  • create more, and consume less Netflix (or knit while I watch!) hahaha! Well, I did paint some super sweet costume designs.  And to be fair, Civilization V has been preying upon my free time worse than Netflix, these days.  
  • read 6 books (this makes me sad.  how did it come to this?!) I read The Walking Dead compendium 1+2 over the last couple months (devouring each in a matter of days, to be clear).  They're over 1000 pages, containing 8 volumes each, so I am hesitant to call them each one book, or each of them two.  Let's say between the two, I have covered three books, okay?  I have 4 other books on the go right now.  I keep putting things down for too long that I get disinterested.  Slap me on the wrist.
  • create an online portfolio No, but I did redo my hard-copy portfolio over the weekend.  Then went to an Anthropologie store that was looking for a new display coordinator and sat on a couch until their visual manager would see me.  Too bad they were already in process of hiring someone else, but I think I made a good impression. 
  • look into continuing education After significant research, I decided the program for me is Yale's masters in visual design.  Now, I just need to get a truly impressive portfolio together, because no way can I go to Yale without a significant scholarship. 
  • take my camera with me more (and invest in a serious camera bag) I did indeed pick up a sweet camera/laptop bag for my birthday, and more recently, invested in a new camera as well! I made the upgrade to full frame, and I am so glad I did, even if my own father said it was ridiculous.  I've been loving the shots I'm getting with my new camera, the fact that it has video capability, and the learning process of moving beyond and entry level camera.  Growth!
  • invest more time and effort into friendships, old and new I'm trying.  I need to move back home.  
  • send 6 pieces of snail mail 3/6.  I need to write some letters.  I know a certain lady in a small town in Alberta I miss like the dickens who I seriously owe some correspondence. 
  • build a small business I honestly didn't think this one through enough.  I started a side business when I didn't have the time and energy to properly devote to it.  I've got saved up stock and other pieces midway through being produced, and I will reopen when I have my head on straight. 
  • exercise twice a week  I was doing so well, then I got sick and very busy with The Lover, missed a few weeks, and somehow psyched myself out of going back.  I'm working on it, and doing some reading on weight lifting while I'm still chicken shit.  
  • take life drawing classes Classes are sadly not offered during the summers here.  The ONE TIME we wouldn't need a space heater and warming lamps to keep our model from freezing in the art centre.  *Sigh*
  • get a car

Friday, 23 August 2013

Stash Bustin' DIY: Button Push Pins

If you're anything like me, you have more fabric and craft supplies than you actually have projects in mind.  You see something that sparks your interest, and you have to bring it home and save it for a rainy day... and you seem to find such goodies faster than the rain seems to come.  Fret not.  We're going to take care of a little bit of that stash today.  So, get your jars of buttons out (you know, the ones you snipped off sweaters long since donated) and let's get to it!

You will need:
  • Buttons!
  • Brass Tacks
  • Contact Cement*
* always read the warning labels on products.  This contact cement has highly toxic fumes and should only be used with proper ventilation.  Proper ventilation meaning use a respirator, or go outside! Safety first!

Step One: Sort through your buttons! I had several jars worth, as a desk I recently bought had drawers full of sewing supplies
This is a good time to sort out things that aren't buttons from your buttons! I found 2 marbles, 2 clip on earrings, 2 vintage belt buckles, 2 strings of beads, a die, and a human molar.  Yeah.  There was a tooth in there.  And let me just say that somebody was not a diligent brusher!

Set aside the buttons you will use as you go.  I put any sets of 3 or more back into the jars, as they could still be useful for their normal function (and are super sweet buttons!).  Optional: organize them by colour. Some of my buttons were grungy so I gave them a quick wash with some soap and water.
Step Two: Put a bead of contact cement on the head of your pins, and the back of your buttons.  Set each pair of tack and button aside as you glue them, but keep them close together so you know which tack had glue applied at the time of which button.  Repeat for all buttons and tacks.     Step Three: Wait until the cement has partially cured, usually 5-10 minutes.  Your mileage may vary.
Step Four:  Once the glue is partially cured, press the gluey sides of the button and tack together.  Set them aside as you go.  Repeat for all pairs of tacks and buttons.   Step Five: Let glue completely cure for 24+ hours.  Some glues take up to 72 hours to completely cure.  Patience!!
Step Six: use your completed pins to hang reference materials, photos, cards from blog buds, whathaveyou!  Enjoy the tactile Pinterest.  It's awful pretty!  
There you have it! This project was inspired by a set of pink button tacks I found at Staples.  For the $.69 it cost me to pick up some brass tacks, I busted a bunch of my craft button stash (I sorted out some things to donate!) and made use of old things I had laying around.  Plus, these are WAY cuter than the $20 for 14 pins I found at the store!  And that's a good thing. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Peach of a Day: NotL Peach Festival and Classic Car Show

A couple weeks ago was the Niagara on the Lake Peach Festival! While the festival itself is unfortunately pretty lame, with $6 peach ice cream cones and tourist souvenirs sold on main street, it was also the day of the major classic car show in town.  Ephraim and I made a day of eating peach pie in a graveyard, and checking out some sweet rides!  Here were my favourite cars this year.

We even got a cool piece of local history, with an old firetruck of the town's being displayed.  Super neat!!
If you'd like to check out my favourite cars from last year, you can check those hot rods out here!


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Neil Hilborn's "OCD" : A view from the other side

If you've had a pulse and been on the internet in the last week, you've almost certainly seen, or heard about, Neil Hilborn's heart-wrenching poem "OCD".  If not, here it is to get you up to speed (or refresh your memory if you've seen it).

I reacted very strongly to Hilborn's poem when I first saw it, and the several times I have watched it since then.  Perhaps more jolting for me than the poem, however, is the immense reaction I have seen to the poem; and the - jokingly or not - demonizing of the woman Hilborn is talking about in the piece.  We do know that the work is based on real life, as Hilborn hosted an impromptu Ask Me Anything on Reddit when his poem suddenly went viral (after having been performed for over 3 years).  Indeed, the tics in the performance reflect Hilborn's own tics from when his disorder was at its worst, when he was a teenager.  

As someone who dated a man with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for over a year, I was shocked to see people react to this performance and say things like "how could she leave him?!" or how lucky she was to be "loved so much" and was foolish to give that up.   The thing is, most relationships that end, do so blindsiding one member. Often we break the hearts of someone who loves us fiercely.  Hilborn himself acknowledged that while OCD played a part in the breakup, that the pair broke up for the normal reason: they just couldn't make each other happy anymore. 

I find myself thinking that people who condemn someone for getting out of a relationship that wasn't working for them, have never been in a similar situation - or simply aren't thinking about the situation as being not really so different from any other relationship that doesn't work out.   I remember so vividly the difficulties that dating someone with a severe anxiety disorder brought not only to the relationship, but to my own life outside of it.  I have to think that these people who would speak against this woman, they just don't know what they're saying.  They don't know what it's like to know that you will always be asleep long before your partner makes it to bed, because all of the doors, windows and ovens in the house must be checked three times before they can go to sleep.  They don't know how frustrating it is to have to circle the block every time we hit a pothole, to check and be sure that we hadn't hit a person (never mind that I would be SCREAMING if we had hit someone).  They don't know how it feels to beg someone to see their therapist because you see them slipping, and it somehow seems that you want them to be well more than they want themselves to be.  They don't know how helpless it feels to know that you cannot help someone you love; that you cannot make them feel at ease, you cannot give them the peace that they need.  That you cannot make them happy anymore.  That they need something that you just can't give them.  

Like Neil Hilborn and the unnamed lady, my relationship broke apart for many reasons. In all honesty,  when it came down to it, I couldn't really imagine those quirks becoming part of my every day life.  I, like the woman in the poem, told my partner that these things didn't bother me, but over time, I suppose that we both just lost our tolerance to them.  At some point there was a shift, and those quirks seemed so much bigger than they every had been before.  Even now, years later, the word quirk just seems too mild, complication too severe, annoyance too hurtful.  It's a terribly conflicting way to feel about your partner.  Just like any other reason to end a relationship, it isn't really for others to condemn or condone.  We all live with what we can, and we don't with what we can't.  When we have the freedom to make the choice, we should make the one that makes us happier.  I'd hate to think that because of the circumstances of that relationship, that anyone would think less of me. But then, he wasn't a(n internet) famous poet.


Friday, 16 August 2013

Designing a Debaucherous Duo: Part ?, Production Photos (IT'S OVER!!)

When you're working on a show, it can feel like you're neck deep in the thing 90% of the way through it.  At a point, just about before you go into tech week, you start feeling that work creep up a little higher around your mouth, and you think you're probably going to drown.  "Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is that pre-death vision people get?" "When I die, what will happen to all my fabric?" Those kinds of thoughts are just the regular, when you work in theatre and life is always crazy.  You just kind of forget that there comes a time when it's over, when the stress breaks and you get to enjoy something for a quick moment before it's on to the next. 
 Though I am already on to the next (I had a design presentation for two one act plays I am desiginng for the Shaw this week), the short short run for The Lover went fabulously well and opening night, rainy though it was, was a relief and surprisingly a joy.  And now... it's over.  all the costumes have gone back to their rental houses or on to new homes, and I'm back in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  But we always have the photos to remember the crazy times before it all settled down.  And with that, here are gratuitous photos of The Lover.
Nicole Buscema as Sarah, Stephan Ermel as Richard/Max, Ed Hillier as John, Directed by Peter Wylde.  Set Design by Michelle Ramalho, Costume Design by Erin Gerofsky, Lighting Design by George Quan.  Photography by Erin Gerofsky.

A big thank you again to all who worked on the show, and everyone who came out to support it! We had some strong responses from Mooney on Theatre and NOW Magazine (for all you Torontonians), and I sincerely hope it isn't my last project with Three Peasant's Theatre.  Good thing the Artistic Director and I go way back, hah!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

O.O.T.D: Drive Your Chevy to the Levee

With the classic car show being in town, I couldn't resist dressing up a bit for the occasion.  Add into the mix the crinoline I scored from The Lover, and you have some real swing capability! I used the crinoline to dress up an old H&M dress I've had around for ages.  Ephraim couldn't believe how much the extra floof transformed the silhouette, and people who came up to me to comment on my outfit totally thought it was vintage.  Not bad for a cheap mall find from high school days! I had originally put together the outfit with my cropped denim jacket, but it had become quite warm and we'd been walking around for a while by this time, so I ditched it.  To make up for it, I posed next to a gorgeous car.  A gorgeous car I couldn't touch.  Turns out that makes for some awkward posing, haha! This was the first time I confidantly posed for pictures in public.  By this time I had spoken to a couple sweet old ladies about my dress, and been asked if I was returning from a dance, and had been stared at by so many menonite children that it just didn't seem to matter anymore. 

The Deets:
Dress: H&M, approximately 1,000,000 years old
Crinoline: Vintage
Sandals: Saltwater Sandals
Good boyfriend thinks to get a shot of the sweet button up back.  Less-good boyfriend doesn't tell me my tag is poking out...
Bonus Boyfriend Shots!! His shirt is covered in bear heads, and I think it's amazing (and really hilarious!!)
To the lady who asked me to "do a 50's dance", I'm really sorry that I don't have any sweet moves....yet.  Here's a twirl for your trouble.


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Cottage Weekend: An Afternoon with Friends and an Adorable Pup (okay, mostly just Jasper)

While up north for the August long weekend, Ephraim and I had the chance to make the 45-odd-minute drive to visit a couple friends up at a cottage on a nearby lake.  Equipped with hamburger buns and some beer, we set out.  The cottage we were visiting was on a lake, and so we parked our car at the docks and our friends came to pick us up in a motorized dinghy, which I was pretty pumped about.  I had a cottage growing up, but we were always road accessible, and boat rides always felt the most special.  Now, of course, a dinghy doesn't exactly motor along, but I still enjoyed myself thoroughly. 
We arrived at just the right time to settle in and await the final touches on an incredibly delicious lunch.  I have no pictures of this lunch, because it was too delicious.  And because I feel like an idiot photographing everything.  I cannot ever be shamed out of photographing an adorable dog, however, so I took many pictures of Jasper over the course of the afternoon instead.   Some day I will properly document our friend Becca's cooking to share here, because it is truly delicious (and incredibly varied; I need to learn some skills to have a range like that!!).  Becca and her fiance Hugh used to have a food and wine blog, which I think they should really bring back.  It was hilarious.  And informative.  And as the one who lives two hours away, I generally wish all my friends would blog so I could "hear" them a little more often.  SIGH.  Okay, moving on, that's as sappy as I'm getting today!!
It would be wrong to call the cottage "basic", lest that come off not as complimentary as I mean it, and "rustic" seems to be thrown around a lot these days.  The whole place is wood, unpainted, lightly finished, giving the cottage this warm glow.  It's unbelievably cozy, for a place that isn't winterized.  Great big windows swing up and tie off to the ceiling for fresh air.  The wooden supports of the walls become storage for books, board games, and mason jars upon mason jars; I had sadly missed a peach jam making and pickling session; I've been promised a make up lesson to make pickles in October.  The cottage is comfortable without having too many comforts: but it does have - as Ephraim calls it - the most civilized outhouse you've ever seen. 
The rest of our time at the cottage was spent sitting outside, playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit.  Except that we couldn't find the board, so we just asked each other questions.  Okay, mostly we asked Ephraim questions, and marveled over how he knows everything about Star Wars.  I like Star Wars a great deal, but I don't know many characters names.  Ephraim collected Star Wars trading cards as a child, and as a result has an encyclopaedic knowledge of everyone, what they're called, what they did, where they come from, what their favourite colour is, the works.  It's impressive and frightening.  And unfortunately utterly useless, except in matters of impressing your friends, or strangers on the internet.  Still, it was a fun afternoon, even if Jasper wouldn't pose for me.  I'll get you yet, Jasp.  Hopefully in the winter when you're delightfully shaggy.  You'll see! You'll all see!
This is Jasper's Blue Steel.