for the crowd

Christmas Cheer Coming Right Up
December 13, 2008, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Liquor, Recipes | Tags: , ,

So, today it’s like, minus 25 Celcius or so, with the wind chill making it minus 37. I didn’t plug in my car (yes, yes; Canadians plug in their cars. Laugh away) so it was frozen and unresponsive, and I bullied my brother into giving me a ride into town so I could make my 9 a.m. Accounting final. Yes. I had a 9 a.m. final exam on a Saturday morning. Whoever scheduled that one is an ASSHOLE, especially since it ruined my previous plans to go to Las Vegas this weekend and see the last show in the Lights in the Sky tour. Yes. String that all together… freezing weather… coulda been in Vegas… Accounting examination.

But hey! Christmastime is fast approaching. I’m still having trouble getting into the holiday spirit (it’s coming and going… poss. need more Christmas music) but maybe that’ll change once I’m finally done my examinations come Monday. I have a few tricks for jumpstarting it, though.

There are lots of ways to get into the Christmas spirit. I guess it really depends on what kind of Christmas-spirity person you are. Unless you’re a Grinch. In which case I guess you need to steal Christmas first before your heart inflates to an abnormal size.

Anyway, so this is a recipe which cheered me up quite well (on… Wednesday?) while I decorated the Christmas tree. Except now that I look at it, it’s probably the ugliest tree I have EVER done. Not surprising, considering the recipe I’m about to give you.

You need:
1/2 cup hot chocolate
1/2 cup milk
Baileys/Irish Cream Liqueur

This recipe is so easy, even a trashed Bridget Jones could make it.

So first off, you need hot chocolate. You can make this any way you like, out of whatever you like. Powdered hot chocolate works awesome, of course, but my mother went and bought one of those gourmet Tassimo coffee makers and now I’ve got gourmet hot chocolate to make with it. Or maybe you want to be really cool and make the hot chocolate from scratch, in a saucepan, in which case I salute you and also kind of hate you.

So, you need half a cup of hot chocolate, then add half a cup of hot milk (which dilutes it nicely so the drink isn’t too overpowering), and then liberally splash however much Baileys you want in there. Despite my bartending training, I still insist on not measuring anything when I make drinks, but I will say that adding too much Baileys might ruin your cuppa as it’ll start to overpower the chocolate (If all you wanted to taste was Baileys, then just drink it with hot water or something. Or straight from the bottle.)

This is to be enjoyed while lazing about, doing nothing in particular or of any real importance. If you drink this while cuddled up on the couch, you might fall asleep, especially if you’re cuddled up with a cat or dog. But, if you drink it while decorating a tree, you might end up with the monstrosity that is currently in my living room.

The variations are endless, of course – with Baileys alone you have variation, you don’t need to stick to the classic version, you could go for the mint chocolate or whatevs. But this is pretty much what I had on hand today.

Other variations: Add a splash of creme de menthe, or possibly butterscotch schnapps; ignore adding the milk entirely if you want something very rich; add marshmallows, especially the mini ones!; try stirring a candy cane into it, I do this with my normal hot chocolate and it tastes delish. As of right now I’m not sure adding mint or other flavours would be too strong a taste or not. I’ll get back to you. Kahlua might be nice, too.

But hey! Sparse readers! T ry this yourself and all its varieties and tell me what you think or suggest. Oh, and drink responsibly. Obviously.


Mars Gets Fired!!!
December 10, 2008, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Anecdotes, Opinion | Tags:

In another update of me being self-indulgent and posting about my life, I feel it’s my duty to inform anyone who is willing to be informed of the fact that I got fired last night!

The real beauty about it is that I actually quit already. I sent in my two week’s notice on Monday, when I closed up. This was for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I’d been having some friction with the management because, well, first they gave me too many shifts, and then I told them that I would have to have less shifts or I’d need to quit, and then they sprang more shifts on me anyway without giving me any prior notice (as in, I discovered on Sunday that I was working Monday, screwing up my study plans), and THEN I had to send them a stiff note before they desisted. This is all in the face of them kindly oozing about how they want to be very flexible and accomodating for their employees. Augh. It was a very small business where I was working directly with the owner half the time, and he is the sort of guy who likes to sugarcoat bullshit and politely talk down to you if you do something wrong, which I really dislike (I’d much rather a frank “This is what you did wrong” than, “You see what you did there? Now, how many customers do you think…” etc). Not too terrible by itself, but there were other factors.

One of these was that it was quite out of the way for me. I live outside of town, and the job was at the airport, which wasn’t bad – just twenty-five minutes from my house. However, most of my shifts occurred on school days, which meant I’d have to make my way from the University to the airport, which is a good forty-five minute commute. When I already have to drive forty-five minutes to school in the first place, and then to work, and then home – it gets a bit tiring.

Also, my skin, always very troublesame, started to riot shortly after I started working there. This is because I was working in a candy and chocolate store. Yes. So, a combination of stress and sugar caused me to break out like a mofo. A MOFO. And it’s not like I ate a lot of candy, either, but I had to taste most of what I was selling in order to be of any use to the customers. Now, I’m not trying to whine or anything, but really, compared with what they were paying me, I was feeling that it really wasn’t all that worth it. So I figured, hey, I’ll just quit, enjoy the holidays, then come January started looking for a new job again.

Ah, but my boss had other plans! See, I do the closing shifts, so I complete the daily cashout, bring in all the display cases, lock the store up, clean everything, etc. (Note: I’m not going to name the business because that is not very professional, and also there is such a thing as Google, but anyone familiar with the airport will likely figure it out). So, on Monday night I pulled in all of the display cases except, of course, one. That would be the case of caramel apples, which always stays out – I locked it and went back inside. However, I was not aware that the store recently (as in the past day or two when I wasn’t working) started placing gift baskets on top of the apple case, and I’m definitely one of those people who will often not see something if she doesn’t know it’s there. Long and short of it, someone stole it in the middle of the night because I didn’t bring it in.

Then, I did my cashout. To my surprise, I found I was actually missing thirty dollars. I couldn’t imagine why, counted all of the cash again, then assumed I’d just put something in wrong and sent it to my boss, along with a message saying I was quitting.

So, last night. I was walking across the parking lot at the mall, stopping over at the pet store to get bedding for my rabbit. My phone rings, and I answer it just as I hit a slick patch and I fall right over. As I’m trying to pick up the stuff that had fallen out of my bag one-handed, my boss tells me my transgressions and then says “We’re going to let you go early.” Yeah dude, I know you mean FIRED. I know you WISH you could say fired, but can’t, because I already beat you to it and QUIT. WHY SUGARCOAT IT.

I know I’m being bratty, but I don’t know if I’m being biased or not – but most people I’ve talked to tell me I’m not and that my boss was just fishing for an excuse. Why? Because at my job, we don’t do cashout at the end of every shift (I had never worked with money before, so I didn’t know that’s what most businesses do). No, we do a cashout at the end of every day. Now, I worked a whole whopping four hours on Monday – that’s four hours out of a twelve hour day. How come I’m the one getting blamed for missing cash? Oh, right. Because I’m the one that did the cashout! Of course! It’s obviously all my fault. Not the fault of the people who worked the previous eight hours before me. But the girl who worked before me has been working there for two years and of course you can’t blame her, you blame the girl who’s been working there for two months. Hurray!

Now, I’m prepared to take the blame for a missing gift basket, but honestly… It was a gift basket. Is that a firable offense? Perhaps in the world of chocolate makers this is a GIANT offense. I can’t see why, though, considering how overpriced everything there is. Honestly, if you buy a box of four hedgehog chocolates, it’s about three dollars more expensive than buying four hedgehog chocolates from the display unit at the till. THAT IS ONE EXPENSIVE CARDBOARD BOX.

So yeah. “You mislaid a gift basket, so we’re letting you go early.” Unless it’s “You mislaid a gift basket PLUS thirty dollars, so we’re letting you go early.” Damn, I’ll sure learn my lesson. Note to self: never leave gift baskets you weren’t aware existed outside of stores again. I can only imagine what he’d have said if I HADN’T handed in my two week’s notice. I’m just glad I beat him to the punch. And really, it’s not so bad… now I won’t have to work for that extra two weeks, which I was doing before just out of courtesy! Hells yeah! I’m still stuck between amusement and irritation, though when I told my mother about it when I got home yesterday, she started laughing. Wildly. And saying “But you already quit!”. It’s good when you’re mom has a sense of humour.

Down with The Man! I’d be an anarchist but I hear it doesn’t pay very well.

Neck Warmer Love
December 7, 2008, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Fashion | Tags: , , ,

One of my favourite looks, especially up here in dreary, cold Alberta, is swathing up the neck. You can look cute, glamourous, hip, stylish or endearingly homeless when you’ve wadded something around your neck – and it definitely draws attention to your face, peering out at the world.

This is really a look I cherish in late fall, once the cold hits, and throughout most of winter and early spring. Once the heat starts making its presence felt, I gravitate towards the flimsier silk handkerchiefs. But I am an Albertan, and winter is coming upon us (even though lately it’s been back and forth, temperature wise) and so I’ve been checking out opportunities to expand my current scarf collection which, to be honest, isn’t all that spectacular.

The main criminal towards my wallet right now is Etsy, which I love because everything on there is either genuine vintage or homemade, which makes it easier on my conscience but still makes my bank account cry a little, especially considering I’m budgeting myself this Christmas. Anyway, these styles are currently the apple of my eye, or however you want to say it!

Ondulato Neck Warmer/Capelet

Seriously, I LOVE THIS THING. Look at it! It’s so darling and old-fashioned and can be folded over and worn in a bunch of different ways. It’s like a mix between a sweet old grandmother’s house and a striking duchess from the late nineteenth century. Love it.

Night Sky Miniscarf

Can you imagine walking around town with this thing on? With your shoulders hunched up and your eyes staring out gloomily, perhaps with a cigarette blanaced between nicotine-stained fingertips. Ah, for the life of the artists who subsist solely on coffee and tobacco. I’ll never understand how and why they do it, but it sure looks cool.

Fuzzy Moss Neckwarmer

I love it, because this makes me think about mossy woodland fairies and, at the same time, the west coast (probably because of the sea-greeny colour). Honestly this thing looks so wonderful and comfy, and I think the button/clasp is a real seller – it looks like roughly carven wood, which, if you’ve ever been along the coast of British Columbia, you would probably like and appreciate due to the amount of driftwood-carving there.

Green and Pink Reversible Mohair Scarf

This thing is just damn cool, because for one thing it reverses and pulls apart into two scarves. Also, I’m a big fan of those colours – and, when muted, they’re wearable for practically anybody. I’d be hard-pressed to be able to incorporate this scarf into my winter wardrobe, though (it looks so fragile!), but it’s a beautiful piece nonetheless.

Ruffled Cream Neckwarmer

I did my best to find something white, to offset all the darker colours. The thing about white and winter is that it can be a total expletive to incorporate in a wardrobe, but at the same time it looks sooooo classy. White is just a bad colour for me personally, especially in winter here where it gets dangerously muddy, but there are some people who can pull this off and I salute them. And honestly, this neck warmer is freaking awesome-looking. It would look great underneath a big, dark wool coat.

gaspLa Resistance Neckwarmer/Scarf
(link NSFW – nudity)

Don’t you find it gets really chilly when you’re out and about, stickin’ it to the man by spreading or practising your art? I sure do! There’s nothing that says rebel like a weirdly patterned scarf in neutral, security-monitor-friendly colours. And better yet, you’ll be identifiable from a distance, which is great to spread the word if your peers see you getting dragged off by soldiers and trailing blood, but I guess not as great if you’re being targeted by a sniper. No but seriously, someone has to try and make me that scarf, because it looks awesome.

Mmmm j’adore. Of course I’ll probably just have to sit around and make do with my current scarves, because 1) let it never be said I am not grateful for what I’ve got! and 2) I need to save if I plan on going abroad this summer. Le sigh.

Are Men Becoming Extinct?
December 5, 2008, 5:55 pm
Filed under: People | Tags: , , , ,

I have bad luck with men, or, maybe, I’m just being my own worst enemy and put myself in these situations. The good thing is that I’m not one of those people that needs to be in a relationship. I’m pretty happy with being by myself. After all, since I tend to have such a high opinion of myself the majority of the time (I swear I’m not a narcissist! Or possibly I am) I figure I’m in pretty good company. Anyway, when it comes to the opposite sex, I fail. I am always attracted to males who don’t care to have anything to do with me, and no matter what I do (which runs the gamut from swearing to being completely hostile) those I know who are of the male gender seem inevitably attracted to me. I don’t get it. “Well, you are pretty damn cute,” my friends say. Well, yeah, no shit, but I could not make it more clear if I am not interested in someone short of running them down with my car and screaming out the window.

Well, okay, not true. I could probably sit them down and have a talk, but that poses a lot of problems. For one, that is acknowledging there is a problem in itself, and really I’d rather just pretend not to know what’s going on and ignore the fact my male friends are sending me longing glances or laughing forcibly when I comment on how attractive another man is. I’m sure I’m not alone in this problem and there are tons of girls who suffer similar fates. Anyway, even people who know they shouldn’t be are completely silly when they’re infatuated, me included, so maybe I shouldn’t be so irritated by it. 

My point is, though, that I never respond to any advances that are sent my way because they’re always wrong. I don’t want to hook up on the dance floor with some farm boy from Saskatchewan who is only interested in seeing if my mouth does more than talk, because I’m not really a fan of hooking up at all. I don’t care for the guys who managed to wrestle out my number from me during my weaker moments when I was a newbie to the bar scene, and who called me minutes later, just to make sure I really gave them the right digits. Sometimes I get frustrated when someone offers to buy me a drink and I refuse, kindly, and they insist politely until I say, sure, why not, and after we do a shot of tequila I feel like a complete tool once we dismiss each other and head in separate directions. I know I must be like a welcome relief to guys in comparison to women who walk up and ask for a drink and then skidaddle, but it’s still not like they get anything for their efforts.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is a bit unflattering, because I’m pretty sure Men are dead, or at least scarce to the point that they might as well be extinct. I mean, like, real men. All of my experiences thus far are with what I classify as either “guys” or more commonly “boys”. So yeah, I’m being completely sexist here, but let’s not kid ourselves, pick up any men or women’s magazine and no matter how tactful they try to be, they are sexist. And I don’t think it’s really a good thing, but it’s not all bad either (as anyone who believes in “Femininity” or “Masculinity” will argue for). The thing is, I don’t like boys. Boys are completely ridiculous. Boys want to make me feel like I’m treasured and loved, but are too thick to actually figure out the right way. Boys get tangled up in their emotions. Boys are completely psychotic.

I’m writing this because awhile back I read Where Have All The Cowboys Gone? by Amanda Pagliarini, who says she fears that all men are becoming teenage girls, and it got me to thinking. Seriously? What’s with boys harassing you via text messaging or email and deluding themselves into thinking it is all your fault because you happen to be a girl? The terrible thing about texting is that it’s now easy to make a complete fool of yourself, and it’s also easy to be psychotic and stalk people. I’ve had my fair share of being woken up at four in the morning because some idiotic boy (who was previously a friend) thinks it’s cool to tell me I’m a slut because he’s had one too many drinks and is still smarting from the fact I haven’t responded to any of his advances. With technology it is easier and easier for boys to be boys. (By the way, I think when people get drunk they should just turn off their cell phones, or have a friend looking out for them to chuck it in the garbage before it does any harm. Don’t you?).

I think Men are becoming extinct. You know, men. I’m tired of the losers in bars who drag me aside and try to talk to me when all I’m thinking about is trying to get away from their bad breath. I hate guys who want to be friends with me but only to get with me, or are friends who unload their baggage on me because I’m not attracted to them. I hate how men blame homosexuality if women have standards that are too high, and who don’t understand that some girls get freaked out if a stranger sneaks up behind them on the dance floor and starts grinding against them without permission. I don’t want men who treat me like a notch on their belt, or who consider my disinterest with them a personal insult. What I want are real men. Where did they go?

There’s a fine line between a manly man and someone who’s just a dick. Walking that line is an art. Any rough-and-tumble man I see nowadays is never into me, so I shrug and move on. Half of them are jerks, anyway. It seems like you can’t get a good, fit man without having to deal with him being a jackass, and nice, sweet boys are never in shape or healthy or stylish. Where are the freaking cowboys? Where are the guys that think women are great but don’t want to puzzle them out one bit? Where are the guys that are smart enough to remember your birthday?

I don’t want a sickly sweet boy who wants to talk about my feelings. My feelings are my own. And believe me, I’m a total wimp – I’ll cry at the drop of a hat because I have an eternally bleeding heart – but I’m not going to talk about it, I don’t want a heart-to-heart. During the summer, my friend got drunk, accidentally threw a racial slur at me, and then sloppily cried on me and begged my forgiveness and told me she loved me unconditionally, which I didn’t particularly like because that’s just an awkward, touchy-feely situation all ’round. When that shit happens, I just want to walk off in the other direction and go talk to someone who isn’t ruled by her ovaries.

I don’t want to be called every day to see how I am. I’m probably doing fine. I don’t want to see a guy every day of the week, because I need my personal space and I have other things to do. I don’t want someone who lies to me to try and preserve my feelings – I want honest, unfeeling truth. As terrible as it is, I want somebody who drives a fast car, will open the door for me from time to time, will be rugged and masculine and spontaneous, who can sit through a documentary and actually remember more than half of it, who wears dark colours and killer boots, and who isn’t a philandering scumbag. Oh, and while we’re talking about near impossible things, I’d like to have the Parliament Building converted into my own personal lovenest, and an international holiday declared in my honour. Yeah, I know. But a girl can dream. Sigh.

Great Big Sea: Concert Review, Yo
December 3, 2008, 6:23 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , ,

My reviews are a joke, mostly I just talk about what I did that night. Haha… oh well. This is another of those times, because on Sunday night I had the pleasure of seeing Great Big Sea… again.

The great thing about these guys is the fact that going to one of their concerts isn’t actually a big event. I don’t stress about it, wondering if I’m going to have a good time, if I’ll be able to see them again a year from now, and et cetera. GBS is always around, ever since I was a kid. They swing by about once a year, and going to their concert is like going to a party where you vaguely know the people throwing it, but it doesn’t really matter (and unfortunately you have to pay for your drinks). After the first couple shows, you get the feeling that these are guys who would be just like any regular guys if you ran into them at the pub, probably because they would be.

If you’re unaware, Great Big Sea is a folk music group from the East Coast, and listening to their music always makes me want to quit whatever it is I’m doing, move to the coast, and start up a bed and breakfast and then spend my life in blissful harmony by the sea. And… yeah, pretty much that’s what the music makes me feel like doing! Lately, with their newest album, they’ve hedged away from cheerful Newfie music and are all over the board, with a bit of rock and country thrown in, which certainly stirs things up a bit.

So the concert was at the Jubilee Auditorium, which is a very nice venue and actually where my graduation ceremony was held, not that I really recognised anything (It’s not like I cared enough to pay attention at the time). I ended up buying two drinks – gin and seven, and then Grand Marnier over ice. I wasn’t about to overdo it, because I was with the same person I hung out with at Halloween, and I was both miserable and embarassed on November 1st when I called her from work in between bouts of throwing up behind the counter, exclaiming “I am SO SORRY I got that drunk last night.” so I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. Anyway, that still cost me like twenty dollars. Sigh.

It was a great night for a concert, the weather wasn’t harsh; in fact, the weather was perfect. My pal and I were pretty close to the stage, just enough that we could see the boys performing but not so close that we were craning our necks. We were still seated next to a pair of women, though, who actually had pre-prepared dance movements (hands waving and so on) for most of the songs that they would perform, in sync. My friend and I took note not to become them in ten years. But whatever: the band sounded completely amazing. Possibly it was the way the amplification was set up in the theatre, but also they looked very fresh and energetic, which also probably contributed to the amazing performance.

They were also incredibly weird and silly; possibly the tour is making them loopy (… loopier). Of the boys, my friend and I always have a little crush on Sean, a bit soft spot for Alan, and complete awe for Bob, because he can play anything. He’s like the folk version of Trent Reznor, only, like, more wholesome. There’s also Kris and Murray, who, unfortunately, my friend and I always have a tendency to forget about until we actually see them onstage, just because they’re relative newcomers, but of course they’re both fantastic as well.

With the exception of Kris, it seems, everyone in Great Big Sea sings, and they all play. And they’re all incredibly talented at it. They live and breathe music, honestly. They pull out guitars, bass, flutes, various percussion, violins, accordians… and they play it all with panache. I love it. They’re such good performers, and last night they were over-the-top with Newfie goodness. Generally, half the time when they stop to talk to the audience, they actually play little riffs so their dialogue has a soundtrack, and they did that last night. And then they started composing songs out of nowhere. They did this one long poem/song near the end about how cool Edmonton was, how Calgary sucked, that time they first played Edmonton, and that they ate Cadbury cream eggs that entire first tour because someone gave them a giant box and they couldn’t afford anything else, etc. Also there was a point during the concert when Murray tried to lick Sean. Good times.

Back to the music itself, a lot of the songs they played off their new album (Fortune’s Favour) sounded way better live. I heard their song ‘Straight to Hell’ live at Capital Ex last year and loved it, but hearing it on the album wasn’t as great. Usually the songs sound great both on the album and live, but with the new record mostly it’s awesome live and okay on record. Not too bad a thing, though; the music is still good.

So really, to you Americans out there, if you ever have Great Big Sea pass through your town (because they do, with very little fanfare), give ’em a chance. They’ll knock your socks off, and you’ll leave feeling happy.