Monday, October 20, 2014

Little things that keep me sane

Life is strange, and the fact that we get through most days without an existential crisis is actually pretty impressive. How do we do it? We build our days around the little things that make us happy.

Here are some little things that I try to work into my daily routine. Feel free to add them to your own routines — I am no hog.

  • Candles — I can't sing their praises enough. They're these small cylinders made of wax. A tiny piece of rope runs through the middle of them and pokes out the top. You light the rope and it burns slowly, creating a peaceful ambiance for hours. If you've never owned a candle before, I recommend you go buy one today!

  • Coffee — Much like Mr. G, I need a cup 'o joe before I start the day. But I also like to drink coffee when I don't need it. I love the taste, the warmth, the smell and the activity aspect of drinking high quality coffee (I love an activity). 

  • Downward Dog — Yoga is the best form of exercise. Why? Because afterward you feel like you've run a 10k AND had an hour's massage. It's fantastic. Unfortunately, I am too lazy and cheap to attend regular yoga classes. Instead, I just do 'Down Dog' for a while in my flat. It seems to do the job.

  • Podcasts — Andy makes fun of me because I take my iPod with me when I take out the garbage. It's only a 2-minute journey to the dumpster, but listening to a podcast makes it better! Recently, I've been enjoying the 'This American Life' spinoff, 'Serial' (Note: if you're interested in Serial, make sure to start with the first episode). 

  • Reality TV — If television is "chewing gum for the eyes", then reality television is...Starbucks' Tazo® Zen™ tea for the brain? Yes, I think that analogy works. Watching 'Geordie Shore', 'America's Next Top Model' and 'Real Housewives' is an ideal way to quiet the mind. 

  • 'To Do' lists — Confession time: I add things that I've already done to my 'To Do' lists just so I can cross them off and feel great about myself. Today I added 'Get haircut' to the list AFTER I returned from the salon and then immediately crossed it off.

I feel like I've written this exact blog post before. Am I running out of material already? This ain't good. Maybe I will start keeping a journal of my daily experiences/encounters/thoughts, like David Sedaris does. 

Something I've come to terms with at the ripe age of 28 is the fact that motivation levels always ebb and flow. Some days you're TCB-ing like Richard Branson, and other days you're writing long 'To Do' lists comprised only of tasks you've already completed. 

Feeling guilty about unproductive days just isn't productive. Instead, enjoy those days and know that your next burst of motivation is just around the corner. Remind yourself that, if you actually had a pressing deadline, you would get the work done. 

As B*Witched would say, c'est la vie!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

For Your Information, Edition 1

Here we go.

'For Your Information' is another recurring blog post theme you can expect to see here on Madgespace from time to time. Each FYI blog post will feature a list of facts that you may find useful.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

For your information, Sunday 19th October 2014


Around the world

  • The Seahawks traded Percy Harvin because apparently he almost broke Golden Tate's neck last year. It's a big deal because he's a really good football player.

  • A new 'Top Chef' (Boston) has started. There's been one episode so far. 
  • A new 'Project Runway All Stars' season starts on the 30th of this month.
  • The Michael Keaton / Zach Galifianakis / Edward Norton / Emma Stone / Naomi Watts dramedy film 'Birdman' opened in cinemas on Friday. It currently has a 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is already garnering Oscar buzz. Watch the trailer.
  • The artist formerly known as P!nk is now part of a folk/country duo called 'You+Me'. They've released their first album and recently performed on Ellen.

  • Beyonce got herself some terrible short bangs (fringe). 


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Andy Williamson!

Andy Williamson—rabble-rouser, cricketer, English tutor, male model, chatty kathy, maverick and friend to everyone—turns 28 today!

If you're lucky enough to know the guy personally, then you understand what a unique specimen he is. Never has there been anyone so irresistibly likeable, yet so aggressively irritating. He'll make you a cup of tea and then poke you in the bottom with a spatula when you bend over to pick it up. That's our Andy. Nothing is sacred. Every moment is an opportunity for mischief. And he is nothing if not consistent. Unwavering. Relentless in his waggishness.

But much like Sears, Andy has a softer side.

He warms my PJs on the radiator as a nice treat for when I get home. He hand-writes letters to his students with feedback on their progress. He ends every phone conversation—whether it's with his grandma or a guy on his cricket team—with "I love you."

Right now, I can hear him singing Taylor Swift in the shower ("Rammy's gonna ram ram ram ram ram...").

Indeed, when you get past the bum-poking, shoulder-biting, ill-timed puns and prank phone calls, Andy has a heart of gold. He's thoughtful, intelligent and as dependable as a Swiss watch.

Happy Birthday, Ram!

Andy through the years

Young Andy, age 3?
High school Andy with pals.
Early uni years Andy.
Image by Samantha Crago via Facebook

Andy the university graduate.
Image by Chris Devine via Facebook

Andy in his post-university "figuring life out" stage.
Image by Chris Williamson via Facebook

Professional, hunky Andy with a new and improved wardrobe.

Layered Andy on the annual January 2nd Woodcutters cricket match.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Lemon bars for sale!

I've just returned from Andy's birthday eve dinner. What a rip-roaring celebration it was! In addition to homemade 'za, Char and I baked some lemon bars for the occasion. They were delicious, if not sickeningly sweet. 

As I sunk my teeth into a tangy yellow gooey rectangle of citrus bliss, I was brought back to one of my first ever business ventures. Indeed, long before I was a professional amateur blogger, I was a bone-fide lemon bar peddler. 

The lemon bars C and I made this evening. 

The business of lemon bars

My sistahs and I were in need of some quick, off-the-books cash to fuel our Rocky's habit.

Rocky's Corner Food Store is, as the name implies, a store located on a street corner in our neighbourhood. However, as the name misleads, it doesn't sell "food" so much as candy, knock-off slurpies and a vast assortment of cigarette lighters.

Walking to Rocky's is the "it" thing to do if you live in south Kenmore. It's close enough that parents can trust their kids to walk there unaccompanied, but far enough for the kids to feel free, like proper humans in society.

Rocky's — so good even the mailman shops there!

Char and Francie (11) and I (8) put our heads together. We had graduated from lemonade stands by that point. That was kid's stuff—incredible profit margins, but no respect within the industry. A door-to-door lemon bar business, however? That had potential. A few big orders and we would be in king-size candy bar territory. Heck, with a couple wads of Washingtons in our pockets, nothing in the candy aisle would be off limits!

So, we got to work. We decided to collect the money off our neighbours up front to facilitate cash flow and mitigate risk. Armed with a clipboard and a brilliant sales pitch ("Lemon bars are delicious. Can you afford not to taste one?") we hit up each house on 154th Street one by one.

The response was fantastic. Before we knew it, our manila envelope was full of moolah. Except for one minor hiccup—a lady in a blue house telling us that a half dozen bars for $4 was overpriced—the afternoon couldn't have gone better.

Now there was only one thing left to do: bake the most delicious lemon bars Kenmore had ever seen!

We burnt them.

They weren't completely charred, but they were pretty dang hard and brown. The thing is though, we had already collected the money. We'd gotten what we wanted from the deal. It was right there, crumpled up in a big envelope on the kitchen table. If we hurried, we could still make it to Rocky's before dinner.

So, we did what any soon-to-liquidate business would do. We doused the crispy bars in a half-inch of powdered sugar, wrapped them in two sheets of thick foil and set them on each customer's doorstep without as much as a tap on their door.

We felt guilty for a bit, but then let the lemon bar business fade quickly into the past. Except we did still badmouth the blue house lady every time we walked past. What a bitch.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

No microwave? No problem.

Take a long hard look at this kitchen.

Do excuse the mess, Love.

Notice anything odd?

Yes, it's a tiny kitchen. And yes, that is my famous water bottle making an appearance (good spot). But I'm not talking about what's in my kitchen; I'm talking about what's not in it.

A microwave! There's no microwave!

The flat just didn't come with one.

Most flats in the UK come fully furnished. As long as you ignore the fact that you're sleeping on the same mattress as thousands of previous tenants, it's actually a great system. There's no need to stock up on crappy Ikea furniture, because the flat already has plenty. Dishes, cutlery, pots, pans—they're all included too. For people like me who enjoy being able to fit all their earthly possessions into a duffle bag, furnished flats are fantastic.

What point was I making again? Oh yes, the microwave. I think it's because the flat is fully furnished (minus the microwave) that we never bothered buying one. If we'd needed to stock the whole place ourselves, we probably would have added a microwave to our shopping list. But after a few weeks without one, I suppose we didn't miss it.

Perks of not owning a microwave

✓   You have to warm up leftover pizza under the broiler. It takes longer, but tastes much, much better. No more rubber crust.

✓   I used to be OBSESSED with the temperature of my hot beverages. If my tea or coffee wasn't piping hot, I would just give it a spin in the microwave for a few seconds. Thank you, Percy Spencer!

Sadly, it wasn't unusual for me to microwave a single cup of tea up to five separate times. That's just ridiculous, not to mention borderline OCD. Now, without easy access to electromagnetic rays, I just live with the fact that hot beverages gradually cool down as you drink them. I'm free again!

✓   There's more (counter) space for you to let your culinary creativity shine!

✓   Even small microwaves are an eyesore. And no matter how universally accepted they are in this day and age, microwaves still announce to the world that sometimes, you're lazy.

In other news, I slept on my three thoughts from yesterday and did come up with some more insight into the downfall of 'New Girl'.

Basically, I'm just sick of the guys and Jess being goofy and then Cece being the straight man. The straight man to goofball ratio is off. There should just be less goofiness in general. And also, we get it; men with accents are attractive. It's been done before. On this exact show. They're out of ideas and it's only the third season. Time to call it a wrap!

Margaret out

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sleep on it

I should start blogging in the mornings.

Truthfully, I'm a morning person. As much as I've tried to deny it ('night owls' are obviously cooler), I am my "best self" (copyright Oprah) in the ante meridiem. 

Also, I remember one of my professors in college talking about how our brains subconsciously work things out while we sleep. That's where the phrase 'sleep on it' comes from. It's not just a saying—it's part of our actual biology! You can spend hours trying to figure something out and get absolutely nowhere, but after a good night's sleep, you'll wake up with the answer. Ta da!

Anyhoo, I've had a few different thoughts worth blogging about this evening. The problem is that none seem to constitute a full post. Maybe if I jot them down here, then I can return to one (or more) in a more comprehensive post down the road. Here goes it:
  • As Mindy Project keeps getting better, New Girl keeps nosediving into cringe-ville. I'm embarrassed I ever liked it that much. It used to be funny, didn't it? Of course I still watch it, but out of desperation. 
  • The importance of perspective—e.g. not letting things like an unpacked piece of luggage sitting in the hallway for weeks bother you.
  • Jessica Biel—What's going on with her these days? Like, what's she up to? I'm honestly just wondering. Does she still do TV/films, or is she just Justin's wife now?
Yeah, as you can tell there isn't much there. Those three things are pretty much it. I'm going to hit the hay, and perhaps my subconscious will elaborate on them as I sleep. For all we know, I could wake up in the morning with some fascinating insight into one of the world's blander celebs, Jessica Biel. 

Come on brain, work your magic!

I just Googled her. She's actually Jessica Timberlake now. I didn't know that. You learn something every day.
Image by Maggie Jumps via Wikimedia Commons

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