Thursday, 11 January 2018

Well, I did it

So, I finally had enough.  The last straw came when I was visiting my parents, and my mom kept suggesting that I use her hairdryer after showering.  So, I finally did, for about 40 minutes because that's how long it takes.   And yes, I guess it does "look nice" when I take the time, but do I really have 40 minutes to style my hair every second day?

The answer, of course, is no.

So, as it goes, I woke up yesterday, having a fairly good hair day.  And I thought I'd take a goodbye selfie.  Since my selfie skills are still very basic, the goodbye photo was actually about 12 photos, which felt very silly and vain.

Oh hello!  I didn't see you there!  .... Why, yes, I always look like this.

And here I am, 20 minutes lighter (at least).  We'll see how it looks when I style it myself.  It still fits into a teeny-yet-super-thick ponytail, and, if it turns out actually as I wanted, I will be mistaken for Kate Hudson* the next time I leave the house.**  The kids didn't notice for about 30 minutes, then Vaughn said, "Mommy!  Your HAIR!" and that was it.  Ailsa liked the curls and gave me a hug, and Tamsin said she liked it too.

When Chris got home, he sort of looked like he was going to cry, but then I started to look like I was going to cry too, and he got over it and told me it looks nice.  And that he supports my growing this out, "should I want to".  And also, he really liked my long hair. 

Would you believe that this is an actual photograph of Kate Hudson in my kitchen??? 
No?  Well, would you believe that the follow-up selfie actually took more tries than the original? 
Leading me to believe that I have made a horrible, horrible mistake? 

Ah well, too late now.

* Kate Hudson before the head-shaving.  Although....

** Since the whole "being mistaken for Kate Moss" thing hasn't really worked out.

Monday, 8 January 2018


On returning from this morning's 8-mile run to Big Ben and back (this is a cry for help - please save me from this crazy running group and their organized, goal-oriented approach!!!), the Cranky Book Reviewer showered (you're welcome) then took a few minutes to update my Currently Reading list. 

The amazing thing about that list is that YOU see only the 10 most recent books I've entered, while the edit function allows me to see ALLLLL of the books that I've recorded (have reread many, and have "possibly" read a few more over the last 10 years and forgot* to add them). 


This blog has been an amazing way to share with far-away family and friends what we're up to, being (almost) as snarky as I please in my story-telling (my mom reads this blog!).  I love going back to a year and reading through it, especially from when the kids were babies and I was too exhausted and shell-shocked to be able to actually remember anything.  Thank goodness I took photos and videos and wrote down the stories!  (But WHY didn't I write down more of them???)

Back to the books, though - what an amazing list I've compiled!  Essays, history, literature, humour, best-sellers, science (humorous), Celebrity autobiography, obscure bargain-bin finds...  I look at that list and remember most of them, some not at all.  Some have been reread so many times that they're like old friends.  Some are dog-eared to mark a page with a quote that touched me, and those quotes are written down in a notebook by my bed.  The books I've read have helped shape who I want to be, and it's amazing to be able to back and see what I was reading way back before I got married, and at the different points in my life. 

Happy sigh.

Happy Book Reader.

* "forget"/"be ashamed of"...tomato/tomahto.  There "may" have been some romance novels here and there that didn't make it to the list...

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Houghmas 2017

(all photos can be enlarged with a click)

No snow?  No problem.  Santa will still come!

It is possible that there was no Houghmas 2016 post.

To make up for that, today I give you the Houghmas 2017 Extravaganza!

(insert your own festive gifs here!) 

(or better yet, go look one up, like the one of Buddy the Elf shouting, "Son of a Nutcracker!")

(Go ahead, I'll wait.)

(pause - I just Googled it myself)

(aaaaand I'm back)

First of all, the obvious needs to be stated:  London is not Ottawa.

For some reason, giant pink flowers bloom here at this time of year. 
The getalong gang thinks it's pretty neat.
Here we are on December 22nd, enjoying a nice warm afternoon at the park.  Green grass, green trees, and the green pathway behind Tamsin is covered with nice green moss.  People plant in December, their "spring planting".  I almost approached a gardener to tell him that it would never work, but it looks like I'm wrong.

And here they are, 5 short days later.  We arrived in Ottawa late on Boxing Day, and when we awoke the next morning, the kids begged to play outside in the snow.  It was -28.  "Stupid cold", by anyone's definition.

However, what mother, two days after Christmas, could possibly deny her offspring to get the bleep out of her house?  "Dress warmly!" I said, tea in hand, jammies still on, and away they went.

 I was trying to capture the ice on her eyelashes.

Tamsin lasted 20 minutes (5 more than the requirement for hot chocolate when it's -28).   The other two played outside in that cold for almost 50 minutes!  (Evidently, and unlike their parents, they have not gotten soft over the past 5 months.)

We spent a day and a half at grandma's, with a delicious turkey feast with aunt, uncle and cousins, complete with cookie decorating and wii tournaments, then off we went to visit our cousin Kaiden and his very gracious parents.

On the menu:  STEAK.  Delicious, Alberta steak.  We were so excited that there was a rugged man around, willing to brave the f-f-freezing temperatures so that we could have a great meal!  We salute you, you manly man, you!

Study in Canadiana, Part 1:  Things you don't see in London:  barbecuing steak at -25. 

Kaiden looked like he had no idea what kind of festival was coming to his house, but I like to think that he'll miss the x-treme excitement of Hufflings on Holiday.

From there, we went to a fantastic wedding at Calabogie Peaks because SEAN GOT MARRIED!!!!



His brilliant and gorgeous bride and beautiful son will keep him on his toes.  It was an amazing party, as expected. 

The kids made tons of new friends, and the girls will be (s)talking about their idols and style icons, Emily and Grace, for the next year, at least!

Canadiana, Part 2:  You may have to zoom in, but I wanted to get a picture of very specific Canadiana:  the view of a Poutine truck from the drive-thru of a Tim Hortons.

Canadiana, continued:  stuck behind snowplows on the highway.  It just feels right.

The next day, we braved arctic temperatures (only -25!) and the bunny hill!  Chris and I are now rocking our lift passes... they unfortunately say "Carpet" in large black letters, but I'll own it.  This selfie was supposed to include the kids on the carpet lift behind me, but ... uh ... didn't.

 I always tried to explain to Chris why, in Medicine Hat, I'd bundle up on a winter day with a bright blue sky.  In the prairies, a blue sky is a warmer day, but here in Ontario, it means STUPID COLD.

Apres-ski, with pink cheeks and smiles all around!  The two graduates of ski school are in the back, and the daredevil/natural is in the front.  They are all looking forward to strapping on the skis again in February, when we head to Austria for (yet another) school break!

We flew back on the red eye, so the kids could sleep the whole time whole family could become almost hallucinogenic with how insanely sleep deprived they are.  The next day, severely jet-lagged, we staggered to the park for a lengthy introductory ping pong session in fresh air and sunshine.  Turns out that Vaughn is a natural!*

Home again, home again, warmity warm.  

Real life starts again tomorrow.  All in all, it was amazing, busy, exhausting, and too quick.  We were so happy to see the few people we could see, and look forward to everyone else coming to visit us here!  We hope that everyone else had as happy a holiday as we did, and that 2018 is full of laughter and health.

Cheers to all, and to all a good night!

* Although was possibly a hallucination.

The Cat's Away

(Also, Fancy Ladies, Part 2)

I have been horribly delinquent, but Chris just left for Salisbury, so the holiday post is on its way.  In the meantime, curl up on a good book, pour some wine, bake a baguette, and paint your nails.

This morning, we went to the British Library for the Harry Potter History of Magic Exhibit.  No photos were allowed inside, alas, due to the hundreds of years-- and in some cases two-thousand-year-old books and scrolls.  I could have used more information, however, like Why were the French the only ones who saw unicorns, and Whatever happened to the real dragon that guy preserved in Ethiopia? (Seriously.)  Apart from those obvious holes, it was bloody brilliant!

Chris left at 7.  All kids were in bed by 8, their snacks were made for tomorrow and the dog had a little walk while the baguette baked and the boursin warmed.
Truth:  this photo was taken at 9:10 pm.  By 9:20, the tray was empty. 
And why yes, that is a penguin on my thumb.

You are never too old for penguins.

Fancy Lady Update:

Although there are no photos from the third fancy outing of December, I feel that I peaked at the second.  This dress was found in a charity shop, and although I'm not into labels, perhaps I can impress those that are:  this is a Vivienne Westwood.  Somebody in my neighbourhood is my size, but about a foot taller than me,* and apparently donates their extremely expensive clothing without ever wearing it.  

PS:  I win.

* this dress is described as "mid-length".  I beg your pardon.

PPS:  I still win.

Thursday, 14 December 2017


[proh-kraps-tuh-ney-shuh n, pruh‐] 
the act or habit of procrastinating and then turning around to notice that what you really need to do still hasn't been done, to the point that it is both startling and horrifying and you say out loud (again), "Oh crap!"

verb (used without object)procrapstinated,procrapstinating.
1.  to defer action; delay something craptastic that really really needs doing.

...Such was the state of my kitchen this morning:  The sink was full.  The drying rack was full.  The dishwasher was full.  The giant, obnoxiously lengthy countertops which would -- nay, should -- be a prep-chef's dream were covered (as usual) by a mess of school papers.  The only available prep space, two linear feet in front of the toaster, coffee maker and kettle, that is always, ALWAYS kept clear, was encumbered by the food processor, used measuring cups (both dry and liquid) and a splatter zone of molasses, flour, sugar, and other trappings of gingerbread.  The stove top held two trays of miniature gingerbread loaves.  

I can't breathe when I'm surrounded by clutter, which amuses/bemuses Fis, who thinks I should then just die and get it over with because he sees what our house always looks like.  BUT, the power of procrastination is strong in this one (remember the alphabet fiasco of 2010-2014?).  In my defence, I am one person against four (and a dog).  And each of these produce awe-inspiring amounts of art, notices, letters, invitations, and laundry.*

And I desperately "needed" to return two emails, send a few texts, and maybe tweet.

In times like this, I fall back on my project management training, which, if it has taught me (and Fis) nothing else, it has at least qualified me to run on the spot with my hands over my eyes, screeching, "Critical path!  What is the critical path?"

(Fis loves that.)

So, I started emptying the dishrack, then turned around to update my contacts so that I could find more people who use What'sApp.  This involved scrolling through my network, and adding +1 to about 20 phone numbers.  And then updating my profile photo.  And then turning around to see that my kitchen was somehow still a mess, despite it being 15 minutes later:  "oh crap".

I opened the dishwasher and took out three knives and a bowl, while thinking how lonely mornings are here, as none of my North American friends are up yet.**  Then I sent a tweet and responded to an email from the kids' school.  During this time, nobody finished emptying the bottom rack of the dishwasher!  Nor the top!  

Oh crap!

So, I finished the dishwasher, then went back to the dishrack, which still had to be fully emptied so that the still-wet plastics could be piled in there to dry, and started sorting through the vast expanse of possibly-but-probably-not important paper on the Ideal Prep Space section of the kitchen.  Imagine my shock and horror when I turned around to find that my counter was still a sticky mess, the sink was still full, and the cupboards had been left open.***

So, breakfast dishes went into the dishwasher, food processor components were washed and piled on top of the drying plastics, and the counter was wiped, with only 7 or 8 pauses to check email.  




Writing this up was absolutely necessary, because if I turn my head very slightly to the right, I see the pile of Christmas cards that are sitting there...that maybe I should have been writing instead this whole time.****

Oh, crap.

* I'm exaggerating, of course.  The dog only produces laundry from his wardrobe of festive jumpers and coats (rain and winter) and his blankets.  Very few invitations, and no art.  I'm not that crazy.  (Note:  no art of cultural or commercial value, anyway.)

** I'm fine, I promise:  this is after coming home from dog-parking (verb) or my running group.

*** Crap!

**** Let's just get this out there:  "writing" Christmas cards this year consists of "addressing the envelopes".  The printer lost the cards for over a week, so we're running a bit behind.  I normally like to include a personal note, or at least a signature, or at least at least an irritatingly-upbeat form letter, and I am so very ashamed of our cards this year.  Also, in the interests of full disclosure, Chris' Scottish heritage has rubbed off on me (see also, single-income family in X-tremely X-pensive City), so a lot of the cards will not be mailed until our arrival in Canada on the 26th,***** or even hand-delivered, thus saving a stamp or two.  

***** We will try to have some kind of "come see us!" afternoon at a restaurant or possibly even our still-for-rent house while we are back in town. (Bring your own chairs!) (And prospective tenants!)  Please reach out if you'll be around?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Fancy Ladies and London Snow

All grown up!

Our beautiful Tamsin Toonamint recently celebrated the big 0-5, and did it in style.  She made her theatre debut in a small/tiny/wee production of Beauty and the Beast, and then was properly feted by eight of her closest friends at her birthday party.  We went swimming at the local pool and dined on pizza and cake.  Wonderful!

Yes, the 5-year-old is wearing makeup.  I felt it important that her eyes should "pop" under the stage lighting. 
(TLC, call me!)

The proud birthday girl/unicorn in her birthday finery.

We were also struck by a terrible snowstorm! (by London standards!)  (kaff)  The kids pulled out their new snowsuits (well, new to two) and splashed off to the park, where they built their first (possibly only) snowman of the winter!  He was mostly leaves.  The snow melted by that evening, but it was pretty and very Christmassy while it lasted. 

The Hufflings Three and furry sidekick, whom Fis has re-named "Kenny Zoggins".

I've been told to expect temperatures between 0 and 10, and lots of drizzly rain for the next few months.  Upside:  no shoveling!  Downside:  lots of drizzly rain. 

We are looking forward to some proper Canadian snow in a few weeks.

December seems to be a very busy month for cocktail events here.  With the help of some brilliant babysitters, we have been able to get all dressed up and mingle with, well, complete strangers for the most part, but it's fun.  I have developed quite the taste for wee little hors d'oeuvres (ingested in bulk), served by fancy waiters.*  This was taken at the end of the evening - imagine how stunning I must have looked when we first arrived!   (Obvious answer:  even more stunning.)

* We usually have to stalk the good ones.  Chris followed the pigs in blankets server for a good 10 minutes, much to the amusement of some, well, complete strangers.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Tooth Fairy Pays HOW Much, Now?

(Alternate title:  Fluor--idate good times, come on!)  

Far be it from me to disparage English dental hygiene, but Ailsa has now lost FIVE TEETH since we arrived in London three and a half months ago.  FIVE.

(Telling her that selling her teeth to fairies is not a viable career option is so far falling on deaf ears, at £2 a pop.)