31 January 2009

Hasta luego

Bags packed…check!
Passports in hand…check!
Dorky smiles on face…check!

We’re off!

Being the ever-faithful blogger that I am, I’m signing in to say farewell. Actually, I’m trying to prevent myself from going crazy by killing some time before my Father-In-Law arrives to drive hubs and I to the airport.  Miraculously, by the grace of God, I actually managed to sleep quite well last night.  I’m fully charged and rearing to go…like a puppy on speed…poor hubs…

Adios fair readers.  Be sure to check back later and maybe you’ll find an update from middle of the Gulf of Mexico.  No promises but I’ll do my best.

Want to follow the rambling redhead? (baring all stalkers of course) Check out the daily NCL Spirit ship camera.  I can’t guarantee you anything exciting… unless you actually enjoy seeing the bow of a ship and hints of ocean for seven days straight (there may also be a dock or two thrown in for good measure).

Ciao for now.

30 January 2009

Going to POP!

I’ve tried to remain cool, calm and collected this entire work week but I can no longer contain my excitement…..Aieeeeeeeeeeee! Hubs and I are jetting off bright and early tomorrow for NOLA and a cruise to Central America. Adios damn snow!

Thankfully most of the packing is done and out of the way. We’ll have a busy evening as we have to pack up the “Grandpigs” and bring them to my parents. I also have to find time to fit in a workout (in preparation for major gluttony), paint my nails and do my hair. The goal is to roll out of bed tomorrow and head to the airport for 7:30 a.m. - no time or inclination to primp and preen that early in the morning.

Cross your fingers for us folks. Here’s hoping that Mother Nature cooperates with our travel plans tomorrow and that we don’t miss or short connection in D.C. Hopefully I’ll be sipping on a Hurricane tomorrow evening on Bourbon Street.

28 January 2009

Snowed In

It seems that working in my jammies is becoming a common trend this winter. Mix a completely ludicrous transit strike (day 50 now) with 25 centimetres of snow and you have a recipe for everyone shutting themselves in at home. It hardly seems worth it to spend hours commuting to and from the office on dangerous roads when time can be spent more productively at home (baring this blog update of course).

Here’s hoping that Mother Nature gets this crankiness out of her system and decides to cooperate when we leave for New Orleans on Saturday. One of the worries about traveling is whether the weather will prevent or delay you from catching your flights and connections…even more of an issue when you have a boat to catch! Hopefully our decision to leave one day in advance of our cruise departure will give us ample time to deal with any possible delays. Fingers crossed!

26 January 2009

Takin’ care of business

And I’ll be workin’ overtime…

With only five work days until departure time, I have a mountain-load of loose ends to tie up and a sickening pile of action items staring me in the face. Why does it seem like I always end up taking a vacation during the worst possible time? My schedule always looks clear and open, but it has a mysterious way of filling up right before I go anywhere. I suppose there is never really a “good” time to take a break from work.

Between trying to make dents in my office work, and preparing a slue of promotional materials for the upcoming Ottawa Irish Festival, I have no idea when I’m going to find the time to pack my bags for this vacation. I only got as far as having hubby bring up the suitcases from the basement this weekend. I’m still not entirely sure what outfits I even want to pack; I wish I could be like hubby and just throw a few random things in a bag and be content. I always need an evening of contemplation, parading in front of the mirror and scrutinizing my every decision…yes I’m a fickle creature.

Looks like I’ll just have to play this week by ear, miss out on some much-needed Zs or simply cut down on the exercise routine….bah! Get me out of here!

25 January 2009

Busy bees

I am allowing myself a 30 minute break his morning to sit, drink coffee and write about how busy hubby and I have been this weekend…kind of ironic isn’t it? Even my idea of relaxation involves productivity to some degree. Then again, I never consider blogging “work;” it’s my own quirky way of enjoying myself.

On Friday evening hubs and I headed to the Rideau Centre for our pub dinner and some cruise-related shopping. We finally managed to find a nice white beach shirt for hubby to wear. Luck was smiling down on us because we paid only $20 for a gorgeous designer shirt from the Bay; it looks great on him and will be very sharp with some tan pants and brown dress shoes. While there aren’t many benefits to this recession, the shopping is certainly cheap right now to encourage consumers to buy. If you are fortunate enough to have the flexibility to shop right now, the sales are certainly a bonus. We have been able to pick up several odds and ends for our trip for only a fraction of the regular retail value.

Saturday saw more rushing around, cleaning the house at a trip to the clinic for my long-awaited neck and thyroid ultrasound. I’m not overly concerned about the results because I still can’t feel any lumps, nodes or bumps, but it will be good to put the matter to rest (hopefully) once the results come back. I did have a slight abnormality in my blood work and will have to start taking Vitamin D supplements…not a big worry because this is a common deficiency in women living in cooler climates where we get less hours in the sun. Looks like that cruise will done me some good!

On the way back from the clinic, hubby and I stopped off at Best Buy to look at purchasing a new point and shoot digital camera to replace the bulky model we have at home. While my current Cannon takes nice pictures, it really is a pain to lug around or fit inside a purse. Because I like to enlarge some of my nicer pictures (I have a small revolving gallery in the loft), I also wanted something with at least 10 mp. We ended up settling for a nice little Nikon CoolPix S550 – tiny, slim, lots of handy functions, good quality pictures and budget-friendly ( all things considered). I spent a good chunk of this morning annoying hubby and using him as a model to test out various camera functions. I am happy to report that I’m in love with my new little baby…can’t wait to take her on vacation!

The rest of today is gearing up to be busy (Qu’elle surprise!). Mom and dad are coming for dinner and I have a fair bit of prep work to do before the slow cooker starts simmering away. It’s another France-themed night: chicken cassoulet, Bordeaux wine and a yummy cherry clafouti for dessert…always a favourite! Somewhere in between, I have to find time to start packing for the trip and fitting in my weight training…to prep for all that indulgence on the cruise.

Know what I’m looking forward too? Not having to cook or clean for an entire week! While I do enjoy being busy and hardly ever sit idle, I would love the freedom to simply flit around and do as a please without having to lift a wash cloth and cleaner. Hubby totally concurs! Seven more days…bring it on!

23 January 2009

Billy for the win...and other fun stuff

Despite the fact that I only got to hit the ball about ten times last night (a.k.a. nobody passes to the short girl at net), the BWE managed to win all three games in our season opener last night. Kudos should definitely go to our competitors because it was their first time meeting each other and playing together as a team. Team #6 (currently without a name) is made up of separate individuals that signed up to form a group; now that takes real balls (pardon the pun)! To their credit, they also didn’t let us run away with the score; I imagine that they will become a solid team after a few weeks of playing together. All in all, it was some decent volleyball.

Last night I also enjoyed unveiling my volley T-Shirt. Behold the awesomeness pictured above. The only difference is that my shirt is a white tank top. I know, I know…I’m a classy sort of dame.

It has been a busy week of both work and play and I find myself looking counting the hours until the weekend. I imagine that hubs and I will be busy rushing around picking up odds and ends for the cruise. I’ll probably start packing this weekend as extra curricular activities will take up most of my weeknights until we leave. I’m always a little more spastic and neurotic when packing for a cruise. Call me crazy but I don’t think there are too many Wal-Marts in the Gulf of Mexico; it’s important to pack all those essentials because you won’t find them at sea (or you’ll have to fork over astronomical prices at the onboard shops). Undoubtedly I end up packing far too many outfits and shoes…enough to cloth half of the ship’s population. Cruising is all about luxury and baby, I travel I style!

Other exciting tidbits?

(a) Hubby is taking me out for dinner tonight - nothing fancy, just good 'oul pub grub. I have been craving a particular veggie burger for an entire month and can hold out no longer!

(b) The results are in from my “lip lump” biopsy. All is well and it was a simple mucocele as predicted. I still have a slight lump on the inside of my lip (not visible) but I’m certain that it’s only from scar tissue and should heal within the year. Phew!

(c) I have an Ultrasound this weekend. Surprise, I’m pregnant…just kidding! I wish the news was that good. Unfortunately my doctor felt a small node in my subclavicular region. He didn’t seem to think much of it but is send me for a scan of my thyroid and sub clavicle just to be on the safe side. I honestly still can’t feel anything there.

(d) I am wearing new pair of yellow/blue spike heel shoes today and that makes me ridiculously and inexplicable giddy.

(e) I would like to say a big “Hello” to relatives (Hi Maddy and Mike), friends and strangers who visit the blog. I would also like apologize for the infrequent updates. Who knows, I may redeem myself by blogging from the sea!

Stay tuned! More wacky antics are coming your way.

22 January 2009

Balls of glory

After a month-long hiatus over the holidays, hubby and I will be returning to another season of court volleyball tonight. Once again we will be joining the illustrious ranks of the Billy Whitmore Experience and playing in the recreational division with the Ottawa Sport and Social Club (OSSC). We could probably start playing at the intermediate level but the Thursday games work well for the team and we still have loads of improvement to make…which leads me nicely into my segue.

In order to improve our game, hubs and I joined a Volleyfit class through our local community centre. As the name implies, it’s pretty much a mix of fitness and cardio exercises with volleyball skills and drills thrown in for good measure. While I’ll readily admit that our first class sucked, last night’s session was wonderful because we had a replacement instructor that was better able to assess the skills and needs of the class. I was somewhat disheartened after the first class because the instructor was (a) late showing up, (b) not willing to demonstrate movements or exercises (c) not attentive to peoples’ confusion re: serve and receive rotations and (d) the list could go on! Last night was very much back to basics, which is exactly what the doctor ordered. We practiced returning serves and aiming to the setter, a valuable lesson that helped everyone play better in the end. I loved every second and I have the bumps, scars and slide marks to prove it today…seriously, who knew that a hardwood floor could burn so much? I wish this replacement instructor could become our regular coach, but sadly we’re back to the original guy next week. He did, however, promise to talk to our instructor to let him know what worked well with the class; hopefully our future sessions will follow a similar pattern of instruction.

Now that I feel loose and limber (albeit a little sore and scarred), I’m looking forward to returning to my regular season games tonight. For Christmas I purchased myself a new volleyball shirt that I am excited to reveal to the team tonight; I’m hoping that they will take in onboard as the team T-shirt - an idea that we’ve been throwing around lately. I’ll post a picture tomorrow, for fear that a teammate may be reading today’s post. Cross your fingers folks! Here’s hoping that Billy goes all the way this season.

20 January 2009

History and Hope

Today I watched the swearing-in of America’s 44th President, Barack Obama, the first African American to lead the nation.

Words can’t seem to convey the joy and hope that is felt not only in the US, but around the world. This change comes at a pivotal time when the world faces one of the largest recessions in history. The fact that a nation can overcome years of racial boundaries and prejudice to put this man in power marks a turning point in history – it’s a time of change and a mammoth leap towards equality and unity of mankind. No longer can one rely upon the crutch of missed opportuniy or humble beginnings for President Obama proves that anyone, no matter race or creed, can achieve great things and make a change in the world.

It my sincere hope that this President will live up to the very high expectations that have been set upon him. Change is in the air and it’s about damn time!

18 January 2009

Tales of the rambling brunette?

Yesterday’s visit to the hair salon has me wondering whether I should change the title of my blog…

I suppose I’m still a redhead, albeit a multi-tonal one.
  Never one to shy away from a change or trend, I decided to add a healthy dose of brown lowlights to my hair.  It’s a bit of an adjustment but I’ve always wanted to go darker.  With the summer months gone, it was time to oust the blonde and find a nice rich shade for the cooler months.  I actually find that the darker color compliments my pale complexion, an attribute that I am slowly learning to embrace.

I have no doubt that my parents will hate my hair, but then again they never really want me to change.
  I was a little concerned to see what hubby would think when he picked me up from the salon; thankfully, I’m happy to report that he’s still attracted to his wife : )

Now I’ll be content with my hair for another few weeks until it’s time for the big post-cruise chop.
  Humidity and short hair don’t mix well for me and subsequently I opted to keep the annoying extra few inches of shaggy growth to pull my tropical-induced afro back into a ponytail.  Something tells me that no amount of straightening will work on the cruise.

The current look:

17 January 2009

Oh boy, the weekend…

It’s Saturday morning and I’m sporting my typical fashion: wrinkled pajamas, flyaway hair and coffee stains already on my robe.  I look like an absolute wreck and, amusingly, like one of those “this is what marriage looks like a few years down the road” warnings.   It ain’t pretty but it’s me in my natural state and I’m as happy as the proverbial pig in mud.  I’d feel bad about my unfashionable state, but hubby is the exact same way…I feel honoured when he wears pants over his boxers some mornings.  All hail the mighty weekend.

Looks like the next two days are gearing up to be busy.
  I’m hosting a birthday dinner tomorrow for my father-in-law and want to pull out all the stops.  Not surprisingly, the bulk of today will be spent finishing the usual laundry and cleaning which will leave me with lots of time in the kitchen tomorrow.   Sure I could just order a cake and keep things simple but I always think a birthday dinner should be a labour of love – like an extra add on to the gift.  Le menu: glazed carrots and beans, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet and spicy roast.  For dessert I’ll be trying out a new recipe for a maple-walnut layer cake; it looks complicated and sinfully delicious…right up my alley.

Cleaning and cooking aside, I will be taking an hour or two for myself this evening.
  I’m having more lowlights and highlights added to my hair.  Funny how I actually want to add “more” red to my hair; as I child I hated being the “ginger kid”. I added blonde highlights to my hair for years and only recently started using strong coppers and darker browns.  While my natural hair colour is beautiful, I find the darker colours really kick it up a notch.  Thankfully there is no gray hair to cover just yet…phew!

That’s all for now folks. It’s off to item #1 for the day - trimming the nails on my two cranky fur-babies (a.k.a. guinea pigs) and a haircut for poor Clancy.
  Don’t worry, hubby and I always suffer more than they do. 

16 January 2009

The funny thing about time…

Ever notice how time is NEVER on our side? My apologies to Mick Jagger, but he has it dead wrong.

I’d like to share a basic observation with you, something that I’m sure everyone can relate to on some level. The general rule of thumb when it comes to time is:

(a) It drags on forever when you’re eagerly waiting for something to arrive or happen
(b) It speeds up when said event is happening and you want to slow it down

Anyone with me on this? Think now people...

Ever counted down the minutes to the weekend? Stared at the clock in the meeting room willing away the seconds until lunch? Eagerly pulled the seemingly-endless doors off of the Advent calendar leading up to Christmas? Sound familiar?

With only 15 days left until the cruise, imagine my absolute agony! Pity-party...table for one.

14 January 2009

Be cool, stay warm

Right now it’s a balmy – 36ºC outside. Holy @$&% I hate being Canadian sometimes! You should see me dressing for work - an abominable snow monster in all my gear; I can barely rest my arms at my sides. When it gets this chilly who cares about fashion?

One of the glories about getting older is that most of us (not all) seem to acquire a certain amount of logic and reason. If I hearken back to my adolescence, a frightening image that I try not to revisit too often, I can recall freezing my ears off in winter for fear of wearing a toque…God forbid that it should mess my hair or make me look “uncool.” What I and many of my fellow students failed to understand is that suffering from frostbite is significantly dorkier than bundling up to stay warm and healthy.

Gone are my days of spike heels and fall coats in winter. It’s with great pride that I dress myself in a thousand layers: splash pants, toque, fur hood, thermal-socks, wooly mittens and waterproof boots. Do I look sexy? No. Do I care? No. Can I walk where I need to without freezing my posterior off? Yes. Ladies in gentlemen, this is the new cool!

While others hide from the cold or suffer its effects in the name of vanity, I’ll go about my merry little way. Survival of the fittest..or warmest...

12 January 2009

PJ work day

It’s noon on a Monday and I’m sitting here with my unwashed hair, grungy bathrobe and ancient slippers. No, I’m not ill. One could actually argue that I was at the office for the entire morning, albeit virtually. One of the glories of modern technology, not to mention flexible employers, is the ability to telecommute from home. With a few clicks of the mouse, I can connect remotely to my network at the office and be fully operational from the comfort of my own home. While it’s preferable to be at the office for face-to-face interaction and meetings, telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular among many employers. With the Ottawa transit strike still affecting the city’s ability to get to and from work, there are many folks that now find themselves working a few days in their pajamas.

I decided to work from home today because I have a follow-up appointment this afternoon with the surgeon that performed my mucosal cyst removal back in December. Rather than trying to find someone to give me a lift from the office and having to fight heavy traffic going East, I’ve decided to save time and frustration by working chez moi. There’s really no point going downtown if my appointment is closer to home. Thankfully my Mother has very generously agreed to chauffeur the patient today. I’m hoping that this appointment is strictly part of the procedure and not to divulge any ‘unpleasant’ finding from my biopsy. When I had the surgery, I was simply under the impression that the office would call me to let me know that all went well; I was not anticipating having to go in to see the doctor again. My fingers are crossed but I suppose that there’s no point in worrying for now.

Lunch break over now…back to work!

11 January 2009

Three weeks and counting

Three weeks from today, hubby and I will be waking up in New Orleans, enjoying a famous beignet and making our way to the Port of NOLA to board our seven-day cruise. Current mood? Freakin’ excited!

This weekend was spent rushing around and picking up various travel goodies. After reading some reviews of the Cruise Critic forum, it suddenly dawned on me that my ship was designed for the Asian market before it was purchased by NCL; it’s not a huge issue but it does mean that the electrical outlets are of the European and Japanese variety rather than what we have here in North America. This also means that the voltage capacity is lower and not compatible with my hair dryer. I would use the one supplied on the ship, but typically they are crap and overheat quickly. For fear of not burning the ship down or cutting power to my hallway, I bit the bullet and bought myself an international hairdryer at a whopping $9.00 from Zellers.

Other recent cruise-related acquisitions include:
- Gingerroot pills: to help prevent sea sickness
- Dresses: for two dress-up nights ($ 40 in total)
- Shoes: A pair of dressy wedges so that I won’t slide around on deck
- Capri pants: Because I’m running low and don’t fit into my Mexico specials

Why is it that every time we go on a vacation, we inevitably end up spending a small fortune in preparation? Suddenly you’re aware that last year’s shorts are too snug, your sandals are falling apart, your medicine cupboard is getting low, etc. I suppose that part of the fear involves being stuck somewhere in a foreign country without your everyday needs. Packing all the right things becomes even more crucial when you’re on a cruise because there are certainly no Wal-Marts in the middle of the ocean, let alone in many of the little developing ports. Some items are available on the cruise ship, but the selection is poor and the prices are high. All that being said, I always make sure to get myself fully kitted-out before I leave.

Today’s misson? Finding myself a damn pair of shorts in off season! I combed the entire local shopping mall yesterday (patient hubby in tow) and could not find a single pair of khaki shorts. The only crap I found was made of nylon, spandex of sweatpants material – not exactly versatile or good in humid weather. I seems that I’m shopping too early in off season because most store haven’t even received their spring and summer stock. Looks like a trip to Wal-Mart will be inevitable; I rather gouge my eyes out that visit Wal-Mart on a weekend. No matter how I try to avoid it though, I always seem to find what I’m looking for and with a reasonable price tag to boot. Go ahead, curse me for supporting the big conglomerate, but that’s what I have to do if they are the only ones carrying what I need and not charging me an arm and leg to get it.

Wish me luck folks and sprinkle me with happy shopping dust. If I don’t post in over a week, send someone out to find me. I’ll undoubtedly be crouched down, hiding inside of a clothing rack and shaking. To the shops I go!

08 January 2009

Dónde está el fin de semana?

Have no fear; the rest of today’s post will be in English! I must admit, however, that I do sporadically find myself muttering phrases in Spanish these days in preparation for sunny days ahead in Central America. Only 24 more days until hubby and I sail away on our cruise and only 23 days until we leave the chilly climate for the Big Easy.

With my mind caught somewhere between the recent Christmas break and the upcoming vacation, I’ve had a difficult time getting back into the swing of things at work this week. To make matters worse, my lack of focus can also be attributed to the damn transit strike that is still going on in Ottawa. With snow storms and everyone back from vacation and heading to work, the roads and traffic are terrible. It’s not uncommon to spend 60-90 minutes going to and from work each day; tack that on top of an eight-hour work day, making dinner when I get home and trying to find the time to exercise - no wonder I feel I little off.

Nothing overly exciting to report other than I’ve returned to the daunting task of WW points track and a dedicated exercise routine. This Christmas seemed to be particularly gluttonous and I soon found myself packing on the ‘winter tire’. Normally I wouldn’t be too concerned but one look at my pre-cruise body in last year’s bikini had me cringing and saying, “Hello Mr. Elliptical. Let’s get reacquainted shall we?”

Other than neglecting myself from sweet sugary delight and spending more time on the dreaded scale than the sofa, I’ve done a little bit of splurging for vacation here and there. I suppose I don’t really need new clothes, but I did manage to find two cute dresses for under $40. What’s a girl to do when she sees not one but two cute outfits at a bargain basement price? They even fit perfectly. I think it’s a sign that God wanted me to have something new and pretty, at least that’s my angle and I’m sticking to it.

Not sure what lies in store for hubs and I this weekend; all I know is that it cannot come soon enough. Yesterdays “visions of sugarplums” has now been replaced by “visions of bed”.

03 January 2009

Happy 2009!

Okay so I’m three days late - give a gal a break.  

This year hubby and I rang in the New Year with our siblings, which was very nice and restful for a change. We cooked up a big pot of curry, drank tons of yummy wine and spent a good deal of time playing Rock Band and Lips – a new karaoke game for the Xbox. At 23:30 we switched the T.V. on to Carson Daily’s New Year’s Eve Party from New York City to watch the ball drop. Sadly, it just isn’t the same without Dick Clarke anymore…sigh. 2009 was rung in with a glass of some new Yellow Tail Sparkling Rosé, unconventional but a very tasty alternative that we found at the Wine Show. After the typical kiss and a patchy rendition of Auld Lang Syne, we each made the customary call to our parents to wish them a Happy New Year. All in all, it was a fun night and a nice break from some of the larger house parties we’ve hosted or attended in the past. One of the joys of getting older is watching your family ties draw closer again.

The first day of 2009 was spent nursing grogginess and a slight hangover. Not surprisingly, all the late nights and busy schedule brought on a cold – my first since April 2006. After pumping myself full of Advil Cold & Sinus (miracle drug), hubby and I went out to enjoy an hour of snowshoeing on a nearby trail. It was perfect and just what the Doctor ordered; the fresh air made me feel a million times better.

After snowshoeing hubs and I headed over to my parents’ house for the traditional NY Lasagna dinner with Mom, Dad, Auntie M and Godmother J. By this point I was feeling pretty groggy again so I spent the bulk of my time curled up on hubby’s lap in front of the fire. Dinner was great and it was fun to hear Mom and the great aunties reminiscing about growing up together. The other half of the evening seemed to be centered on suggesting names for my future children…not that they’re chomping at the bit or anything – Ha!

It was a busy end to a busy year and I’m hoping that 2009 will be better, healthier and happier for all. With only two days remaining until I return to work, I have made big plans to hang around doing nothing in my jammies - the best holiday gift I could ever give myself.