Saturday, October 31, 2015

Lessons Learned

This month culminates in one final stress: a funeral. My grandmother (she of this post) is finally liberated from illness and decline. By the non-trivial age of 95, she'd seen the evolution of modern modernity. Her father immigrated to the US from the Carpatho-Rusyn area of Europe to work in the steel mines of Monessen, Pennsylvania. Her mother died when she was twelve - one of many terrible secrets. Under what circumstances did she meet my grandfather (a much older Sicilian with unconfirmed and fleeting ties to an organization well associated with that country)? How did she make her way from a small steel-town to NYC at the age of 16? How did she overcome a lineage of emotional destitution - of grief - of likely abuse?

Most stories will go to her grave with her, as per her preference. Now they can dis-integrate in the ether, myths and truths of another time interwoven.

Myths may as well be truths, for all the power they bring.

For most of my life, until very recently, I held this narrative close: My grandmother loved me more than anyone, primarily cared for me from birth until I was 3, whereupon (in true 70s parenting style), my parents (in their early 20s) moved me to England on a whim. While I don't consider myself a grudge-holder, I didn't much like them after that.

No question, my parents weren't perfect (whose are?) but they brought the evolution of their own childhoods to bear. My grandmother - herself unmothered - (along my grandfather) raised 4 boys in a one-bedroom apartment, all of whom eventually surpassed her educationally, socioeconomically, culturally. But she was the catalyst of her children's ancestral improvement. That was the contract.

My own parents, for their inability to parent me emotionally, punctuated my childhood with gifts and opportunities that make me who I am. I'm able to reframe the narrative of loss, by which I've defined myself, because my parents provided me with many things of which they, themselves, never had the benefit. Things their own childhoods compelled them towards, and which they had to wait till adulthood to achieve. What they took away from me was stability. What that gave me was resilience.

Who knows what the truth is? Perhaps it's that my grandmother, who'd raised her own brothers and sons (she had no mother, no sisters, no daughters) found the spark of her childhood self in me. Preformatively, I resonated with the sadness in her, with loss. And then, when shortly thereafter, I experienced it for myself (the terrible death of stability), I got stuck there.

I've spent much of my life in a liminal space, attached to a premise, emotionally retelling/reliving a story that isn't really mine - concocted with a conspirator who, herself, was lost. And I'm ready to move on.

I'm ready to accept that my relationship was not with the woman, but with our shared interpretation of grief. I'm ready to accept that my parents didn't intend to cause me harm, even though by their actions, they did. I'm ready to accept that the family I have in this life will be largely of my own making, not by dint of shared bloodline. I'm ready to take ownership of my capabilities, which are not negligible, and not to be withheld.

Loss is everywhere but it's a myth that loss is everything.

So, tomorrow I'm taking a plane to a train to another train (and another train) to bid farewell to the suffering of a woman who knew it well because she was never able to let it go - and to learn the lesson that sometimes letting go is its own kind of loss.

Monday, October 26, 2015

This Is Why I Cosmetically Preserve Aqueous Solutions

Recently, as part of my testing phase for Face Cleanser A, I purchased a microbial test kit to ensure that what I might sell would be entirely safe for consumption. As I've harped about excessively, I use a cosmetic preservative in all of my hydrous products because, um, grossness and danger of germs!!! I also tested my shampoo and conditioner (I won't sell these but, hell, I'm using them!) and, as a control, I tested an "all natural" sun cream with grapefruit seed extract acting as the "preservative". That product, I bought.

I used test batches of product that I made between mid and late September. The face cleanser, specifically, was made on Sept. 28 and I tested it on Oct. 12 (I waited 2 weeks, which is the recommended length of time). The shampoo and conditioner were made on Sept. 15. The control product was made in the summer sometime (I assume) as I'd owned it since July. Note: I bought it specifically to test and I never used it.

Then I waited 2 weeks (you should wait a minimum of 5 days but after 2 weeks you'll get a very accurate result). The tech sheet (test instructions and interpretation info) is available here. One side of the slide is coated in rose bengal agar (pink side) and the other with nutrient-ttc agar (orange side) - to interact with potential germs. In simple terms, one side reveals broad-spectrum bacterial growth and the other fungal growth.

Here's what was revealed:

Face Cleanser A: Clean!

The slides have these little plus signs on them which is the texture you can see on the agar. These were completely clear of any discoloration anywhere. I'm thrilled by this - though not surprised - because I love this cleanser (as do many others at this point) and I think CURIO clients will too. I'm extremely careful about using the appropriate amount (no more or less than necessary) of preservative. I bought a special scale to assist with this.

Shampoo A: Clean!

Same as above.

Conditioner A: Clean!

Note that with this product, given its texture, I had to use a sterile swab to rub it on the agar slides which is why you can see a bit of white creaminess in a couple of spots. It's not germs - it's just the residual conditioner...

But, Lord, this is what scared the CRAP out of me:

Purchased, "Naturally Preserved" Product: UTTER FAILURE!

If you can believe it, this is the orange side.

I was so freaked out by this I could barely hold the slides to take the photos. Honestly, I was holding my breath at the same time. I can't even look at the pictures!!!

People, run - don't walk - when you see nicely packaged lotions and cleansers containing water but not a cosmetic preservative. This is danger on a stick. (Scientists - feel free to disagree with me but I don't care what you say. Ugh!) I haven't looked up what's going on with this product - on my tech sheet - because frankly, I don't fucking care. I'm never using this and my only dilemma now relates to the person who made the natural product and whether / how I'm going to bring this to her attention.

If you'll excuse me, I have to take a shower.

Thoughts or feelings?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bra Review: Scantilly Peek A Boo

Peeps, I'm unduly impressed by the Scantilly Peek A Boo set. It's of excellent quality, a fact which is immediately apparent, and it's gorgeous while also being entirely sexy. Sure, I'm not looking to add it into regular daily rotation, but one could wear it to work and achieve a lifted, supported, lovely silhouette. Talk about a fun secret!

For starters, here are a few - completely inadequate - shots I took (as we know, photographing black satin is something best left to the professionals). Do not let my pics dissuade you - the Scantilly site model shots (much as I don't love Scantilly styling) show off the quality well:

Flat presentation doesn't do justice to the fall of that satin panel...
The bra itself is detached from the satin panel except at the underwire. You can see that it's entirely sheer but the seams are reinforced with satin tape. This makes the bra strong and, I can tell you from personal experience, affixing that tape is not easy. Sure, the product is being made with industrial machines and the techniques they afford, but this is workmanship. The satin has 2 way stretch and it's set on the bias so the drape is beautiful and it in no way sags, but it does contour.

Here's a view from the inside of the bra:

OK, a bit about the size and shape:
  • The band is snug. The 32 stretches to 31.5 inches. I recommend sizing up if you're between sizes and you don't like a snug band. In retrospect, I'll likely continue ordering this band size and I'll go up a cup size to achieve the depth that this brand doesn't draft to provide. Note: I'm really new to this brand, as are we all, so take my feedback with a grain of salt. The next style I will buy - out in November - is the Surrender basque. That one looks more full coverage and deep so I may actually stick with my regular size...
  • This bra is about an inch shallower for size than those in my bra drawer (i.e. those that fit perfectly) but that's cuz the wire width is about an inch wider. So, what I mean is that the bra is not actually shallower than my requirements, it's simply a different shape than I wear because I need serious centre cup projection. I generally wear bras with 5.8 - 6 inch wire width and 11-11.25 inch cup depth. This bra has 6.5 inch width and 10.25 inch depth. Because this isn't a huge difference - and because the other proportions of the bra work for me (strap setting, shape of cup) - the net impact on me is merely serious cleavage of the kind that most people are seeking when wearing this sort of garment. Of course, I'm rabid about firm tack of the gore so I don't love that element of the fit, but really, if the gore did tack perfectly, it would undercut the cleavage. Use that info as you will.
  • It's very open on top and it looks GREAT on breasts with upper cup fullness. I urge you to consider this one carefully if your natural shape is not plump in the upper cup. Sure, the top of the cup is on the demi end of the equation (even as the shape is a true balconette). This can sometimes work on bottom-full breasts if the base of the cup pushes the lower volume up to give the appearance of fullness at the top of the cup. But it's a dicey proposition and I don't think I'd risk it because the wide-ish strap setting is such that you'd potentially get "strap gap" under those circumstances. (BTW, strap gap is where the straps hang away from the top of the breast where they meet the top of the cup because there's not enough volume for the breast to conform against the strap. It's most prevalent in women with large, bottom-dense breasts. It can also occur in those who've breastfed, for example, because nursing can lead to subsequent upper cup volume deflation. Full cup styles with closer set straps tend to mitigate it but it is just a fact for some and this style of bra might not be flattering under those circumstances, IMO.)
  • On the topic of the bottoms - I got the thong (which I don't regret) but I also want the backless brief. I mean, it's novel - if reasonably impractical. I opted against it this time because I was testing and I figured that, if nothing else, I can always use a black thong. But next order, I'm adding in the brief. On the topic of thong sizing - it's on the true-to-generous size. I hate thongs that dig anywhere so I always size up - sometimes 2 sizes. I got the large (though in sizes that small-size I happily wear an XL and I'm a RTW size 8). The large is perfect - on the loose end by my own standards but I wouldn't size up or down.
And a bit about the sexy-factor:

Friends, it's hot. Wear it with this (NSFW link) and it's super hot. But because it's also entirely wearable (and how much sex underwear can you say that about?) you can maximize it. This is the kind of set you see in sex scenes in Hollywood movies - or French ones - but it's designed specifically for those with actual small back / large boob proportions (which is the look sex lingerie generally seeks to exploit). And really, we're the ones who rock this shit.

I'll be frank: It's easier to have small breasts when it comes to daily life - the clothing options are better, bras take less of a toll on the body, one tends to look thinner, all things being equal, and peeps don't eye one up and down as a matter of course. Needless to say, all the sizes of breasts can be beautiful! But there's no one who looks better in sex lingerie than the confident women with the goods to fill out the "boobs on a plate bra" in a non-bra-matrix size.* Which is why I'm so glad that someone came up with this brand because women who fit this description don't tend to look good in cheap, ill-fitting "one size fits all" erotica. (In truth, no one does, but the small-breasted have more cross-over options.)

So that's my initial take on Scantilly. Have you tried this brand? Do you intend to? Do you find the offerings attractive? Let's talk!

*I realize that this is a personal perspective - and that it may be divisive - but I do think that it's borne out in all sorts of media, modern and ancient. For better or worse, breasts are symbolic inasmuch as they're actual body parts. Furthermore, it's my blog, so I get to tell it how I see it, straight up! (Feel free to disagree though, if you will...)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Remember Me?

Lord, this month has been ridiculous. On top of everything else, I've been at a leadership course this week (it's a 6 month course that happens one week out of every 6). It's really terrific (and I'm as shocked as anyone to say this, what with my cynical bent) but I'm practically in a coma of exhaustion. When I say that it's blowing my circuits, I'm only half joking. I've had a bad headache for 3 days and, by the end of the afternoon, it's as if my brain has absorbed 5 times the amount that regular Krissie does. And regular Krissie (so I've been told) regularly absorbs twice as much, on any given day, as your average person.

But never mind that, the reason I'm checking in is to tell you that my Scantilly order arrived - I got the set in the photo from that link. While it's beautifully made (much nicer than regular Curvy Kate quality - but also quite a bit pricier), fucking Customs got a hold of it and charged me 53.00 CDN for the pleasure of opening the package, whereupon I discovered it doesn't fit perfectly. For me, as you know, there's not too much ground between "fits perfectly" and "send it back".

Here's the hideousness of this scenario: I would only be able to reclaim a max of 40 bucks of the Customs charge, were I to return the order, because the rest is "handling fee". DO NOT get me started on this. I also don't know if I have all the paperwork required to conduct an onerous Customs refund (were I to return the item) because Scott was the one who handled it and he's not known for keeping all the bits and pieces.

Then there's the fact that it ALMOST fits. It's slightly too shallow but also slightly tight in the band (I got a 32). Here's what I'm going to recommend if you decide to buy: Go up a band size and keep your regular cup size. You could also go up a cup size and keep the band size but only if you are on the cusp of needing a smaller band than the size you generally buy. The band isn't quite "Cleo tight", but it's half way between "true to size" and "Cleo tight". (Natch, I'll do a detailed review, likely on the weekend.)

Of course, this is the pain of being an early adopter who lives in a country with certain draconian laws on the subject of free trade, but I'm not going there.

The fact is, I don't know if I have it in me to order this again which leaves a) sending it back (and losing 10 bucks in bullshit handling fees plus 10 bucks in return shipping - if not more) - Note: I won't see that 40 bucks for months after processing a bullshit form via an onerous process - OR b) just keeping it and wearing it only in its proposed environment, and maybe out for dinner prior to that.

But my brain hurts so much that I cannot make these decisions right now!

Any other sort of bra, it would go back - whether for return or reship. This one's tough though, cuz it's really not a daily wear kind of item - even though it's totally supportive - and it in no way looks bad. Just cuz I don't dig stupid cleavage, ahem, doesn't mean that the person who will enjoy this bra with me doesn't. (Could that sentence be less elegantly constructed??) And this purchase has already performed many functions: gave me valuable sizing info, deets on the quality, confirmed my bias etc. Not to mention that, if Customs were to catch it again in reship, I'd have to kill myself before paying another 53 bucks so really, do I want to take another chance with this so fresh in my mind?

I will say this - the only items I EVER get Customs-ed on are from Figleaves (though by no means every time, mercifully). TO purchasers beware. There are few vendors from which to order this new brand (2 at the moment), no sales on the merch and, with the current value of the dollar, Customs will take the price of this set to almost 200 bucks CDN.

So, if you aren't a big risk taker / bra addict, may I suggest you wait till the reviews start trickling in?

The good news is that this brand is truly hot, does suit my shape and it comes in my size. That's actually very good info - maybe worth the 200 bucks when an almost-fitting, sexy-ass bra is thrown into the mix.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to lie down on the floor and take the edge off.

Thoughts or feelings?

PS: I didn't even get to the topic of my new fridge. Short story: Old one broke. Had to buy new one. Cost 3500 bucks but would have cost 5K if I weren't the genius online shopper that I am. Once again, this is where it doesn't pay to live in a country with 12 people and no manufacturing.  Not optimal to have had this happen before the kitchen reno cuz I had to guess what fridge will work (and whether it can be integrated into the cabinetry). The fully integratable ones cost 10K, for what it's worth. And fridges now last 6-10 years, regardless of how much you spend on them. But that's a whole other story...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Thing I Recommend You Buy

I've had some fun with autumn online purchasing (when the weather gets tough, the tough get shopping - from the comfort of a couch) but I do have a weakness for lifestyle stores. That's why, when Caban died, I went into mourning for a season (ok, a year).

There's a TO shop I enjoy, called Ziggy's, where you can get a smattering of everything home - from furniture to art to cutlery to weird things you never knew you wanted to boutique skin care to candles and the list goes on. I have no idea how the owner, Julie, finds all of these things - and how she's managed to fit them all tastefully into a store that can't be more than 1000 square feet.

At any rate, I'm not a regular candle buyer (for myself), although I do love a good candle, partly because so few candles are good and partly because Scott is ridiculous about turning them on. Somehow he purports to get a headache 30 seconds after one has been lit, every single time, regardless of the brand, scent or type of wax.

But while I was looking at the pretty things at Ziggy's (window shopping expedition on the way home from work), I did smell all the candles (who doesn't?!) and I discovered this one:

Kobo Warm Embers @49.00 CDN in store - Not related to Indigo in any way, CDN readers...
It smells like no other candle I've ever come across and I've run the gamut, I assure you, not to mention that fragrance is, and always has been, my scene.

How to describe it? It smells like woodsmoke and ash - like that piney, almost acrid, top note of burning leaves (my mother's fave scent in the universe and really, it is pretty fantastic). It evokes that deep urge for warmth when out in bracing cold - it's comforting but in a theoretical way. It is NOT sweet or spicy. It does not linger - but fades in the air. It's the PERFECT candle for a person who desperately wants a hearth or wood stove - you know, the kind who puts on the fireplace channel but then needs fragrance to realize the fantasy. (What? People do that.)

This brand, Kobo, doesn't have the cache of something truly independent (it's a going concern, online) nor that of the venerable innovators such as Diptyque. But the presentation is clean and elegant (once you divest the candle of the, frankly, oversized box) and it comes with great matches. Apparently, it burns for 80 hours - which makes its price point very reasonable. I do wish they'd named it Woodsmoke or Ash because Warm Embers says nothing to me.

I should also mention - and this trumps everything else I've said - that Scott has allowed it to be lit 2 (sub-zero) evenings in a row, unheard of in these parts. In fact, the first time I lit it, I put it in the dining room, out of his line of sight, just to see how long it would take for him to complain. He didn't know it was on until I pointed it out. He thought the scent was coming from outside?!

It would make an easy to acquire, delightful housewarming or holiday gift - almost as good as CURIO :-) dare I say, so keep it in mind as the season approaches.

Today's questions: Have you heard of Kobo candles? Do you like them? Do you have a candle from another brand that approximates this wood smoke scent and, if yes, give us the details! Julie, from Ziggy's, said in all her time she hasn't come across another candle that smells this way and she's in the biz... FWIW, neither have I.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Health Food

I've had a pretty stressful last couple of weeks. Somehow I've persisted with this meditative eating thing, though I've gotta tell you, I'd really like a glass of wine right now...

I'm half inclined to keep going indefinitely (wine notwithstanding) but the thing I won't do tomorrow is yoga. Fourteen days straight is enough. I'm taking a couple of days off because I'm tired.

At work today, my friend brought in a few small pieces of her homemade French yogurt cake and generously handed me the ziploc in which they rested appealingly. After I bit into the third slice she said (quizzically but nicely): Oh, so you want the whole bag? Seriously, people, it was so delicious, I actually didn't feel so bad. The experience overrode any potential shame! FY cake is healthy, real food - if on the treat end of the spectrum. My friend does not enjoy gluten so she bakes with substitute flour (in this case a rice blend). I can't say I've been motivated to bake with rice flour but, given the success I've had with pie crust - and that I inhaled J's cake - I'm changing my stance.

I was so enamoured of J's cake (in loaf format) that I went to buy eggs, an organic orange (for zest) and Greek yogurt (I generally eat French-style). Turns out I had the perfect amount of brown rice flour remaining (from my crust-making over the weekend). BTW, just cuz they market it for crust doesn't mean you can't use it elsewhere...

Stupidly, I forgot that I have palm sugar and coconut sugar in the cupboard (I could have healthied it up, marginally more) but I always cut the amount of sugar in a cake recipe by 25% (except in pound cake).

Here's how you make it: Measure out 3/4 cup full fat plain yogurt, 1/2 cup oil, sea salt, 3/4 (or 1) cup of some sort of granular sugar, @1 tbsp orange zest, vanilla, 1.5 cups gluten-free flour (rice flour base), 2 eggs

Mix the dry stuff in a measuring cup. Add the sugar and zest and infuse the sugar by spoon-stirring them together in a medium bowl for a minute or so. There's alchemy in this. Add all of the wet ingredients to the sugar. Stir to incorporate. Inhale the heady scent of orange sugar. It energizes and calms simultaneously. Then add the cup with the dry ingredients. Just use a fork to work them in till the batter blends smoothly. Pour into a prepared loaf pan (prevent sticking using your fave prep method - mine's butter).

Did I mention it takes 15 minutes to make (including clean up) and then you pop it in the oven for 45 minutes at 350 F.

I swear to God, my entire house smells like the south of France in July - the muted scent of an orange-grove. What could be better? The rice flour creates a ridiculously moist, leavened cake with good, sticky crumb. I don't know how this flour would work if the recipe weren't so rich in fat, but in an oily cake, it's fantastic. Once again - I actually prefer rice to wheat flour. I have never liked its texture but now I know that there are lighter alternatives.

So here it is (but now it's gone)...

What? It's a freakin' loaf and I live with a 15 yo. And we both have PMS.

The bottom was a perfect sandy shade of tan - the platonic ideal for white cake! I added more salt than was called for. I love unexpected, crunchy zaps as I wade through the sweetness that surrounds them.

And I don't care how insane it makes me sound, this cake was soul-restoring. Each bite forged a synaptic connection with a gentle time and place. The taste and texture veritably transported one.

That, my friends, is the meaning of health food.

PS: I think you could easily make this in a spring form pan but I'd double the recipe or make it in a smaller pan (and cook for less long).

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

It's been a long time since last I made a pumpkin pie:

(OK, techincally I also made one at Xmas of 2013 too, but that's almost 2 years ago.)

As always, I use Joe's recipe but, year before last, I began to make my crusts with rice flour. I think you'll agree, if you check out the look of that crust vs this one, I've improved my technique. Sure, rice flour serves the purpose of creating a gluten-free pie but, really, the reason I use rice flour is because it's finer and it creates a grittier crust (like sable, so revered by the French). It's not as simple to make a rice flour crust as a wheat flour one. Gluten is a protein that acts as a binding agent. That's what makes it easier to roll and transfer to the pie plate. You need a light hand, a perfectly chilled/rested pastry and confidence when it comes to making a rice-flour crust. Also, don't roll it quite as thin as a wheat-flour crust. I mean, you don't want it thick - but don't go crazy cuz it likes to fall apart. As such, I use about 25 per cent more pastry when making a rice flour crust than I do on a wheat flour one. That's to offset the necessary extra thickness. (But, because it doesn't contain gluten, rice flour crust doesn't get heavy or dense. It stays buttery and light...)

I use wax paper (to roll the crust between) and I position the pie shell on top of the rolled pastry and turn the one into the other with the wax paper still affixed (on what starts off as the bottom of the crust and then becomes the top, after the transfer). FYI, rice flour crust blind bakes much the same as wheat flour crust - so no worries about needing to baby it. I do turn down the heat from 375 to 350 but I'm apt to do that with a wheat crust too.

To understate things completely, I love the smell of a house after making a pumpkin pie. The cloves, cinnamon and ginger seem to simmer with warmth and they balance the sweetness and cream of the pumpkin custard. A good pumpkin pie is sublime - bacchanalian and healthy all at once, to the extent that I actually feel cognitive dissonance while eating! I love to dose it with a large spoon of unsweetened semi-whipped cream (flavoured with vanilla extract). It's freakin' vegetables for dessert, people - what's not to love?

Ah, but this pie polarizes, no? You love it or hate it - which is why I so infrequently make it. My husband won't touch it. Neither will approximately half of any group of guests. And it takes a long time to make if you do the crust in the same go-round as the rest of it. Happily, my kid is in the "I love pumpkin pie" camp so we'll eat half of it tonight and the rest for breakfast tomorrow.

What? Don't tell me that this ain't health food.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? Pumpkin pie for the win? Or do you secretly feed it to the dog when no one's looking?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Brief Lingerie PSA

So, Scantilly has just become available at Figleaves and Brastop (both UK vendors and the stuff is retailing at the same price in both shops). Needless to say, I bought a set. I mean I've been waiting 8 months to try out this new line. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 9, 2015

On the Flipside

I'm good, even when I'm drunk:

Alas, this is what passes for daylight on a cloudy day in October...
No, there isn't any art on the walls because, apparently, I cannot commit.

Here are brochure photos:

Style Garage Delano Chair in White Leather
Gus* Margot Sofa
The couch is spectacular. It is the most luscious velvet ever (and I don't even like velvet). The chair is super modern, but warm.

The old couch (from the back room) was picked up - on the dot of 12:30 - by a darling French woman who just moved to TO and got her apt. on Oct. 1. Craigslist curbside for the win. The living room couch was then unceremoniously (but wall scuffingly) moved to the back room. (Damn that former living room couch is deep. It's kind of eating the back room, not that I have to care cuz soon it will be a whole new room - she says, as if all the leg work has been done.)

So, whatcha think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wherein I Caution Against (Or Maybe Promote) Drunk Shopping

Let me tell you a little story... This summer, when I was on vacation (the Toronto part of the vacation), Scott and I explored our neighbourhood "holiday-style". On the very same day we took this lunch (in fact, approximately 10 minutes upon leaving the restaurant), we wandered into Style Garage because there was a cool blanket in the window that caught my eye. FWIW, the blanket was 200 bucks and it was freakin' off-grain?! (Fucking hipsters.)

Scott will not go near a furniture store more frequently than once a decade, so it's a mark of how concerned he was about my mental health - following the Ireland leg of that vacation - that he actually suggested we walk inside.

Once ensconced, however, we decided to sit on all the couches cuz, like, air-conditioning plus mild drunkness. And having sat on all the couches, we found one we liked and 2 minutes later we bought it. Then, as we were buying that, I saw a cool leather chair out of the corner of my eye and, next thing you know, we were buying it too. The SA was, frankly, stunned by all of this cuz he'd spent 20 minutes helping another couple to decide that they couldn't decide on anything (it was their 3rd time looking) and then we spent all the loot and he didn't do more than distractedly say hello when we walked in. Point is, you never know who's gonna pull out the credit card. (And really, staying out of our way is optimal when we're making decisions.)

So the couch needed to be built, which was either going to take 6 weeks or 3 months (or till Christmas - you know, hipsters.) We decided that we'd have the chair delivered at the same time, left empty-handed, buzz fading and promptly forgot about it. Yesterday, a friend asked me if we had our new furniture and I realized I'd not thought about it since early July?! I called Scott - whose name was on the paperwork - to ask him if he'd heard anything, whereupon he cheerfully advised: Yeah, they called a couple of weeks ago to say the order was ready and they took the balance payment. Apparently, the delivery guy was supposed to call me to set up a time but he never did...

In fact, they'd called on September 18, just to clarify. I did ask my husband whether he'd intended to tell me about this but he said he wanted it to be a surprise. I assured him that I was adequately surprised and then he suggested that I look into it. This is how I can tell you that the delivery guy never got notice and the furniture shop didn't follow up and my husband forgot and, really, our couch and chair could be sitting in someone else's house right now and who'd be any the wiser??

On the flip side, when I spoke with Terrence (the delivery guy who was 1 part road-raging on someone and 2-parts scared of me), he told me that the only time he could deliver it would be Friday afternoon. Um, ok. An hour earlier I'd all but forgotten I had a new couch and chair. And delivery before Thanksgiving (when I'm having guests) is pretty sweet.

The only concern I had - and I'm underplaying how concerned I was because, really, I only go into a furniture store once every half-decade so I'm not exactly inspired by this sort of change - is that I have a leather chair (I never liked) and another couch in the back room (the room that's gonna be demolished and recreated, along with a room above it) that I've got to divest myself of by Friday.

Did I mention that everything's happening here, all the time?

So Scott called his friend, who just moved into his first condo, and offered him the leather chair. Sure, I could get a few hundred bucks for it - it's in perfect shape - but I can't be bothered. Apparently  Terrence will bring it to this friend for an extra 80 bucks so, somehow, I'm giving Scott's friend a chair and paying to have it delivered to him. Well played, friend.

I'm going old-school with the couch - which is 20 years old and could use recovering - or at least a good wash. It's going on the front walk but I'll up the ante by doing a curbside notification on Craigslist. You know: There will be a free couch on a front walk at @ noon on Friday kind of thing. (I won't put the address of course - peeps need to email me for extra deets!) I'm so hopeful that this will be taken by a happy person who needs it approximately 3 minutes after it leaves my front door.

The hilarity of this situation is that neither Scott nor I (who shared a notably delicious bottle of wine prior to walking into Style Garage) can remember what either the couch or the chair look like*. We know the couch is a deep shade of blue velvet and we think the chair is white. Lord. Who buys a white leather chair? (Note: I already own one that lives upstairs.) So it's going to be an exciting Friday.

Today's Questions: Have you ever bought something big ticket and forgotten about it? Do you think we're insane?

*Yeah, I do realize I can look up deets on the receipt but what's the fun in that??

Monday, October 5, 2015

Meditative Eating

One of the things I've been doing - even in this very full work/life time span - is another one of my two week cleanses. Why now, in the middle of chaos? (Answer: Is there ever a good moment to give up sugar??) Well, if there's ever a time I'm likely to crash, it's in October. That's when I've had pneumonia (as a teenager), when I broke my foot, when I struggled with pertussis, when I got the worst respiratory flu ever. Autumn's when the chronic pain hits hardest - and when that bout that lasted what seemed like forever first set in. If I'm going to catch something, it's in the fall because that's when my immune system is down, when the workload is up and when I experience all kinds of unpleasant symptoms of inflammation.

What do I mean when I say inflammation? It's when my forearms start to hurt for no reason, when my myofascial tension flares. My tongue feels too big for my mouth. My throat swells up. My fingers swell. Sometimes, my whole body feels taut with puffiness. Before I had a kid (when I had regularly recurring canker clusters in my mouth), I'd get a batch of these. Lord, I'd have 4 sores in my mouth at any given time for weeks - one batch would go and another would arrive. (Pregnancy seems to have cured me of these, mercifully, cuz that was a long 30 years! Of course, back then, I didn't have all of the other symptoms to manage.)

I should start by saying that I don't love the term "cleanse" in the context of what I'm currently undertaking. See, this time around, I have modified the experience to be sustainable (IMO) and I think it might be more accurate to call this process - obnxiously, admittedly - a meditation on eating. Last time, as you may remember, I participated (on a whim, really) in the My Yoga Online challenge - which was devised by these yoga teachers - and I appreciated many of the features:
  • Daily green smoothie or juice - check!
  • Daily yoga, tailored to the rhythm of the cleanse - check!
  • No booze - check (No exclamation point for this one)
  • No gluten - check! (Really, I'd already been doing this one and have continued to do so.)
  • An emphasis on nuts and seeds - modified check
  • No processed food - check!
  • Drastically reduce sugar - check (this one almost gets a frowny face, but I'm developing new aptitudes)
There were many things, however, that I found, frankly, unsuitable (draconian, one might say) - partly because the original cleanse was actually a "cleanse" (as in, moving towards 2 days of very light and clean food consumption) and, furthermore, it was geared towards the plant-loving yoga set.

Here's what ain't gonna fly for Krissie - not even for 14 days:
  • No caffeine. That's just wrong. A morning double shot of espresso is delightful and I love it. Coffee isn't a gateway drug for me and I don't intend to treat it as such.
  • No meat. What does one do for lunch and dinner??
  • No eggs. What does one do for breakfast??
  • No dairy. Um, just no.
  • The increasingly restrictive format of the Conscious Cleanse - which is, as stated above, is designed to be a cleanse, not an all-the-time, "clean living" experience that moves towards fruits and vegetables only (just for 2 days - but still?!)
This time, I came up with my own plan: Meditative Eating (which isn't entirely easy but which also isn't in any way miserable) and decided to force invite two of my friends from work to participate - so that I wouldn't be lonely. They're like my chat group!: 
  • Green smoothie or juice daily
  • Daily Yoga - This is key and I actually devised separate practices for all three of us. Note: My friends do yoga and I convinced them to sign up for My Yoga Online for a month so that I could direct them to the chosen practices.
  • No booze. Does this ever become pleasant? Say what you will (and I know that wine is straight up sugar / bad for your liver / fattening), it is the elixir of pleasure and I'm not prepared to live a life without it. Two weeks every 3 months (and then only on weekdays, the rest of the time), that I can do. Grudgingly.
  • No gluten.
  • No processed food.
  • Practically no sugar with the exception of small quantities of seriously high quality dark chocolate, fruit and the occasional tsp of maple syrup in yogurt. I'm not going to lie - while this is MUCH easier to do this time than last - sugar is totally a gateway drug for me.
  • As much protein of all the types as I'm hungry for. Nothing is off the list but I'm being really careful with nuts and seeds because, in the last year, I have experienced terrible abdominal pain and a vomit-reflex to cashews and pumpkin seeds (two things I used to eat constantly) and, honestly, it's hideously unpleasant / scary. I don't believe that I have an allergy, but I do think my system is sensitive to these foods right now, probably because - in the nut milk phase of the winter - I was mainlining all kinds of nuts and seeds. Apparently, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I want to allow my body to rebalance.
  • Moderate amounts of dairy (full fat only, thank you)
  • Focus on vegetables of many colours and seasonal things
  • A commitment to considering my motivations when eating: Why do I want that ice cream / wine / cheesies? How can I be with the truly uncomfortable feeling of self-restraint?
What I can happily say is that, this time around, gluten's a mere blip on the radar (honestly, I don't care about it). The yoga portion of this 2 week reset is the most enjoyable part of it - especially since, this time, I designed it to suit myself. A propos of this, I have been doing mainly my own thing (rather than following online classes). My current emphasis is on long inversions (that's a post) and I've actually moved into a period of substantial activeness as the chronic pain continues to abate. Talk about burying the lede!

The fact is that I'm committed to forestalling illness - dare I say, promoting health all winter long - by boosting my immunity, and there's no better way to kick start this process than via the tried and true methods of eating well, sleeping well, moving well and being thoughtful.

The autumn is, in many ways, a terrible time. In the north, we watch our tether to the natural world erode. We live on the spoils of innovation (heat, accessible food, shelter). We feel the encroachment of cold in the bones, the visceral instability. My goal, this time around (and it's only taken 45 years!) is to be  truly mindful of every glimpse of the sun (and warmth it might bring) and to recognize that this is a recessive period. I cannot continue to march through winter as I do through the other seasons. Even as the world gears up in October, I must respect the introversion of this time of year and model my behaviour on it. Let's see how that goes, shall we?

So that's what I'm up to. Thoughts or feelings?