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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Moving to England: An Idiot's Guide

That idiot is me!
Moving to a different country was the best decision I've ever made.  I learned how to be independent, what I wanted from the future and how to drink six pints without throwing up.  When I first left, I was so terrified and nervous and sure it was all going to blow up in my face.  I was desperate for a guide just like this that would give me some sort of idea of what I was in for.  It also would have saved me shit loads of money.  I've broken this down into what I think are the main issues of importance, but if you have any questions at all, comment or email me and I will be your travel Yoda.  Also, this is all done from a Canadian perspective, seeing as I am...you know....Canadian.      

Getting a Work Visa
Unless you're going to be an illegal immigrant, which I wouldn't suggest, you're going to need a work visa.  I had a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, previously known as a Working Holiday Maker.  The countries that particpate in the Youth Mobility Scheme are Canada, Japan, Monaco, Australia and New Zealand.  You must be between 18 and 31 years old and prove you have £1,600 in the bank.  The application fee for that visa is approximately $300 CAD depending on the exchange rate.  The whole application process was actually quite simple.  I went to the website visa4uk.gov.uk and starting filling out the form.  The questions are pretty straightforward, so as long as you haven't participated in acts or terrorism or genocide (yes, they really ask you that) you should be golden.  After I'd sent off the form, I had to go the local office (luckily, there was one in my city) and get my fingerprints and picture taken.  It sounds kind of confusing and complicated, but I just sort of followed the prompts given to me and it was pretty straightforward.
Helpful Visa Websites:
http://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk/  - This is where you go when you're ready to actually fill out the form.
http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/
http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier5/youthmobilityscheme/

My very first day in my new room at my first job.
Where Will I Live?
You basically have to decide if you want to "live in" at a pub or rent your own place and find a job.  There's pros and cons to both, but I would highly suggest going for a live-in job first.  Your room and food is taken care of and usually included in your wage.  It gives you more security when you first arrive because everything is sorted out and taken care of.  It's a wonderful way to meet new people and most live-in jobs end up being a major party atmosphere.  The downside is that you are always at work.  You live at work!  You can't really call in sick because you're hungover if your boss is just down the stairs, you know?  The hours are usually pretty long, and most places expect you to work split shifts.  Some pubs aren't even open between two and five.  If you can, try to get a look at the room you'll have before you take the job.  Or even better, try and get ahold of someone who works there and get the REAL story.  At one job, I ended up living in a glorified closet with another girl and sharing one toilet and one shower with eleven people.  I was not so happy.  It can be imtimidating to quit your job because once you do....you're homeless.

Your other option is to rent a place and find a job independantly.  I eventually did this when I was fed up with my live-in, but finding a reasonable room can be tough depending on where you are.  I lived in Surrey which is beautiful but quite a pricey part of England.  Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr lived in my village, just to give you an idea!  It seems the farther north you go, the cheaper housing is.  I ended up renting a room in Guildford for  £300 a month plus council tax, internet, power and water.  Council tax can be pretty expensive in England and it's the tenant's responsibility to pay it.  If you decide to live in a shared house, make sure you don't live with students as they're not required to pay council tax and you'll end up getting stuck paying all of it.  I found food to be cheaper in England than in Canada but it always adds up, especially if you're used to getting fed at a live-in job.  I'm glad I eventually moved into my own place because it gave me way more freedom and my housemates were wonderful, wonderful people.  I really miss them!
Helpful Websites
http://www.workabout.uk.com - This site is full of live-in jobs, it saved my ass!
http://www.gumtree.com - Classifieds website.  This is where I found my house and my first non live-in job.


I will harass police in any country, apparently.


I Need A Phone!
Staying in touch with your loved ones is so important in the fight against homesickness.  The tips in my long distance relationship article apply to family and friends as well.  To help stay in touch I bought a sim card from  Lebara Mobile.  They specialise in long distance calling and you can top up anywhere, including Sainsburys (a major grocery store in England).  It was 4p per minute to Canada and 10p per minute within the UK.  It actually kind of backfired on me because, as it turned out, I spent more time calling my friends in England than my family at home!  Skype will also let you call land lines and cell phones for a pretty good rate.  I bought a cheap, international unlocked cell phone from tigerdirect.com, but I don't know much about phones.  My tech genius step dad sorted all that out for me.  


My magical, amazing, hilarious housemates


Warnings!
  • You will make dear, wonderful friends that you will miss like crazy.  This is what I've struggled with more than anything.
  • If you live in a pub, you are most likely going to be drinking a lot.  We had one Canadian girl working with us who "rarely drank" when she arrived and was a total boozer by the time she left!
  •  English food is fattening.  Between roast dinners, brie and bacon sandwiches and waaaay too many pints, I gained loads of weight.  Everybody delighted in telling me how fat I was when I got home.
  • Be prepared to tell everyone you meet where you're from and why you're in England.  After a year of living there I had my story down to a perfectly practiced speech.
  • English people use stupid words for things.  Just kidding!  They're not stupid but they are different.  They call eggplants augbergines and a million other things.  If you say "saran wrap" instead of "cling film" you will get laughed at.  Also, they will mock the way you say "to-may-to" instead of "to-mah-to". This English to American translator should set you straight!


Those are the main issues that I stressed over before I left, but if you have any other questions please don't be afraid to ask.  It was the best time of my life and I would recommend it to anyone needing a bit of adventure or spice in their life.  Just be prepared to love it so much you never want to leave!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Animal Crackers

My favorite thing about my time camping?

This picture, of course!

I've got a great post coming up for tomorrow that I'm so, so, so excited about.  Keep your eyes peeled! 
xoxo

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fix Up That Crappy T-Shirt!

There is so many fun things to do with a t-shirt.  I bought this one in Topman a couple years ago because I thought it was really funny.  Unfortunately, I hardly ever wear it because it doesn't fit me well at all.  The neckline is too high and too tight, it's not short enough to be a proper crop top, and it gives me no shape at all.  Just really unflattering.  So I did what any sensible person would do...I cut it up!  I prefer to cut up really big t-shirts, it gives you more to work with, and this one is already pretty small so I decided to make it more of a crop top.

You can cut as much or as little as you want.  I was kind of limited by the lettering, but I've still got a bit of a flashdance vibe going on now.  Try your best to keep the line smooth, and cut off any excess jagged bits.  Don't forget that old saying: Measure twice, cut once!

If you've got some killer abs, chop the shit out of it.  I don't have killer abs at all, so I cut just above the hem so the whole look would be a bit more uniform.

TA DAH!  So simple, right?  Start to finish this probably took me all of five minutes and I'm a million times happier with the shirt now.  It doesn't look like I stole it from a little boy anymore!  Let's be honest, only Megan Fox can really get away with that look.  

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Unique Birthday Party Ideas

image from decor8blog.com
Everybody loves to do something special on their birthday.  Not just a keg party, a night at the clubs or yet another karaoke party.  Something really unique and memorable.  I've always loved birthdays and planning surprises for friends, but the damn things come up year after year and sometimes it can be a bit tough to think up new, exciting ways to celebrate  For one friends 16th birthday, we planned sixteen things to do all day.  1.Kidnap her, 2. Go for breakfast, 3. Play at a playground, 4. Get temporary tattoos, 5. Play frisbee, and so on and so forth.  It was so much fun for all of us, not just her!  Here's a few ideas of things you can do to make your friends special day a bit more special!


image from threecentstamp.com

Go Geocaching
Geocaching is so damn cool.  It's basically a never-ending word wide treasure hunt!  You sign up at the website, type in your city, find a geocache you want to look for and then put it's co-ordinates into your GPS device!  The main rule is that when you take something, you must leave something.  Simple as that!  I think it would be such a unique way to give someone their birthday gift.  Put it in the geocache the night before, and then take your friend out hunting for it.  You'll have to play dumb a bit as you already know where it is!  When they do find it and there's a wrapped gift addressed to them in there....who wouldn't squeal with delight!? 


Have a Posh Cocktail SoirĂ©e
I love cocktails, drinking them and mixing them.  Everybody loves an excuse to dress up fancy and pretend they're Holly Golightly for the evening.  You could even get yourself one of those fabulous cigarette holders to really fit the part!   The cocktails create a fun activity where everybody can participate, learn something new and get pissed all at once!  All you really need is a shaker, stirrer (also known as a fancy spoon to us poor  folk) and a muddler if you want to make mojitos.  Make sure you have lots of ice and lemons, limes and cherries for garnishes.  You can decide on a few cocktails ahead of time and ask each guest to bring a kind of booze that goes in it so you don't spend a fortune on a bunch of weird liqueurs you'll never drink again.  Tip: Long Island Iced Tea is so easy to make and a good way to use up leftover booze!  Take equal parts gin, vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec and lemon juice and shake it over ice.  Pour on top of cola and you've got yourself a party.  Be careful, though.  They creep up on you!  For some ideas and recipes try this cocktail blog.


Theme Your Costume Party
Yes, everyone and their dog has had a costume party but I don't care, I think they're wonderful and I will never, ever get tired of dressing up!  Instead of the usual "wear a costume" invite, think of something a bit more unique to the birthday person.  My friend, Jeff, loves Madonna so much and she is just ripe with dress up opportunities, so we all went as different incarnations of Madonna.  He really appreciated the gesture, although none of us wore the infamous cone bra!  For another friends birthday, we held a cowboys and indians party and decorated the whole house like a saloon.  We found these amazing plastic wall covers at a party supply store, complete with "windows" that look out onto the desert.  We even bought bows and arrows and cap guns so we could have a proper western showdown.  It was absoloutely hilarious and everybody had an amazing time.



Have a Tea Party
You can wear frou frou dresses and put too much blush on your cheeks.  Make amazing cupcakes and jam and croissants.  Drink red wine out of your teacup instead of Earl Grey.  We may not be kids, and we may not like to admit it, but everybody likes to play pretend.  I can't quite explain why, but there is something so satisfying about drinking out of a nice cup.  I'm sure when you make your morning coffee there's a favorite mug you always grab.  Well, tea parties give you that same feeling.  Like you're drinking or eating something really, really special.  Get everybody to bake something and bring it or theme it Mad Hatter if you want and see how damn crazy everyone gets!


photo from bigpartiessmallspaces.com
Try a 
Wine and Cheese Tasting
Before you start thinking that a wine tasting sounds all pretentious and stuffy let me just say that every wine tasting I've ever participated in ended with everybody absolutely wasted.  Not that I'm encouraging that, but it certainly doesn't have to be boring and I firmly believe that spitoons are optional.  Pairing wine and cheese is easier than you would think and the combinations can be heavenly!  My favorites are champagne and chevre to get you started, both are nice light flavors that won't linger on your palette.  If you're not a fan of the fizz, Sauvignon Blanc works as well.  Follow it with some Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a sharp aged cheddar.  Try the wine alone, then the cheese, so when you try them together you really appreciate they way they compliment each other.  Finish off with the strong flavors of stilton paired with port.  I used to hate stilton, I thought it smelled and tasted like dirty socks but somehow it's grown on me and I enjoy the nasty stench of it now!  You can even go one step further and add fruit to the mix as well.  This is a very comprehensive guide of about every cheese in the world, it seems, and what wine to pair with it.  Experiment!  Try foods you've never eaten before and broaden your horizons a bit, you won't regret it!

Just remember the golden rule of any party: Think before you post embarassing pictures on facebook!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Video Diary: What I Did Last Week

I've sort of been filming everything I've been up to recently, so I cut it all together and made this little video diary of my week.



I loved that blue dress, but it was too big and they didn't have my size!  I check the tag for the website so I could order one, and forgot the name as soon as I walked out the door.  Doh!  We spent hours playing Just Dance for Wii and were all so exhausted after that robo-dance.  We went and saw my friend Zorra at her burlesque show last night and there was a really awesome funk band called The Boogie Patrol.  I made my new logo, ate poutine and learned to flip pancakes.  My dog, Lulu, has been hilarious as usual.  We tried out a new harness for her, but she just spent all day rubbing against the bed and making Elvis faces.  She also likes to tap dance with me.

All in all.....it's been a damn good week.  I leave for camping tomorrow for Zorra's birthday with our internet friend, Martha!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Gratitude List: Birthday Cards, Champagne Shoes and Pancakes

This week has been spectacular!  The days leading up to our trip to Vegas are getting less and less, my best friend's birthday is just around the corner and I've had some glorious time off work to devote to this blog!  If the rain would stop, everything would be perfect!  Here's what's rocking me around the clock this week:

Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Making Home Made Birthday Cards
I love doing collages but sometimes I can't find anything that needs decorating.  So I got the idea to make my friend a home made birthday card covered in pictures of us, her dog and Japanese pop stars.  I am so happy with the result, it's so much more personal than some cheesy hallmark card.  I like to use Zink! magazine for collaging, their editorials are mind blowing.  We used Zink! to collage a box for her cats.  It's awesome.  


I finally saw the last Harry Potter movie!
It was everything I thought it would be.  Yes, I cried a lot.  How could I not?  It's been a while since I read Deathly Hallows but it felt like they stayed pretty true to the book (aside from Ron and Hermione's kiss...RAGE) but at least I can finally go back in tumblr now without fear of being spoiled!  I'm also really thankful that my boyfriend sat though six movies and over 12 hours of Potter with me.  Now that's love.


Wowsocool.com
This website has the coolest nail gems for a fraction of the price you'd pay at a drugstore!  Plus, they have free shipping if you spend over $20 and it's pretty much impossible not to when you see all their merchandise!  The Konad nail stamp is a dream come true for someone like me who wants intricate nail designs but doesn't have the steadiest hand.  I've got these two plates headed my way, I can't wait!


Sweet Potato Poutine
I have been thinking about this poutine for two years!  I'm not even joking.  Poutine is a very Canadian dish, and I really missed it while I was living in the UK.  There's this restaurant in my city called Da'deos that serves cajun food, and their sweet potato fries are crispy, home made and delicious.  Every so often in England I'd pull a Homer Simpson and go "Ugghghghgfh, sweet potato poutine, mmmmmm."  So glad I finally got to eat them again!


Pre-Holiday Shopping Sprees
I have bought SO much stuff in the name of Las Vegas in the past week.  I am not so patiently waiting for those beautiful champagne pumps to make their way here, and I'm praying they actually fit me.  Floral feathered hippie dresses, glittery headbands, nail rhinestones, hair appointments....I just tell myself I want to look good in my vacation photos!  I can't wait to get there and start wearing all this new stuff!  


Flipping Pancakes
I finally learned how to flip a pancake in the pan!  On my days off, I love getting up before my boyfriend and making us pancakes.  Yesterday was chocolate chip and raspberries.  But I want to flip them in the pan like a chef.  He can do it and I squeal like a six year old every time!  I finally tried it, and DID IT, and he caught it on video so you'll be seeing my flipping skills soon enough!

To check out more wonderful, wonderful gratitude lists head check out galadarling.com and Things I Love Thursday!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Site Update

I finally made a new logo!  I feel like my hand is going to fall off, and if I never have to see my face zoomed in 300% again, it will be too soon.  But it's finally done!  It's really silly and sort of like My Little Pony on acid, but I love it.  It makes me laugh.  I haven't done vectors in such a long time and I forgot how hard they are, especially that damn flowered dress!  In retrospect, I should have done my legs thinner than they actually are! ;)

What do you think!?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work

picture from april27th.tumblr.com

Let me just start by saying: Long distance relationships suck.  I don't suggest moving halfway across the world and falling in love when you know full well that your work visa is going to expire in six months.  But like so many people, the man I love is not exactly the boy next door.  I'm lucky enough to have him here with me now, but here's a few things I learned about how to survive a long distance relationship and making it work when you're miles apart.

One thing my boyfriend and I did that really helped us stay connected was we created a "relationship tumblr" and posted all sorts of things to it.  I actually just read through the whole thing and it made me laugh so much.  Tumblr lets you post pictures straight from your webcam so it's really easy to give them quick, cute update pictures of what you're up to.  We posted songs that reminded us of each other. Ben even posted a video of himself dancing to my favorite Smiths song.  It made me smile every time I watched it.  It was so nice to come home every day and check what he'd posted on the tumblr for me.  One day on Skype he told me to check the tumblr for what he'd posted, so I logged on expecting to see a picture of Pauly D or something, but instead I saw this.  It was the best moment ever!

Another way to keep connected and keep them updated is get a twitter account.  Usually there is nothing worse than people who constantly tweet about what they're eating or watching on tv, but when you're in a long distance relationship you actually kind of care about that mundane stuff.  With social networking nowadays, it's easier than ever to be at each others fingertips.  Don't tell other people what your twitter account is, and then you won't feel you have to censor it for the masses.  It can be your guys' own personal chit chat tool.

From now on, Skype is your best friend.  Oh my god, what would we have done without Skype.  It's so wonderful to see their face when they wake up (yes, you have to get up early to say goodnight to them, it's worth it.) or actually see them laugh, instead of just hearing it.  It's important to put in the effort to make sure  you don't slack on calling each other and that you're online when you said you would be.  Remember, your both sex deprived so you're going to be a bit moody.  It takes two minutes to install Skype if you're staying at a friends house for the night.  Another thing we used to do was watch TV shows online with the show open in one window, and Skype open on the other side so we felt like we were watching together.

Send them packages of things significant to where you are.  For example, I really miss English things like Jaffa Cakes and PG Tips tea, so that would have been a perfect thing for Ben to send me.  You can write them a nice hand written card that you can even spritz with your perfume.  I know it sounds really, really cheesy but scent and memory are very closely linked and it's comforting to smell them when you're feeling down.




Resist other people.  You are most likely going to meet people of the opposite sex and when you're lonely and craving love they may seem tempting.  Also, as I mentioned before, you're sex deprived and propably pulling your hair out with frustration.  It's easy to forget, after a few cocktails and some pick up lines, that you've got someone miles away who you love and that this random guy is not better than him.  Trust is so important when you're far away from each other.  Be strong, go home and have a wank.  You'll be with the one you really want soon enough.


Don't get married to your computer.  Go out and live your life!  In order to keep your Skype conversations interesting, you have to have interesting things to talk about.  Most of the conversations you'll end up having will be about what you did that day, and I doubt your boyfriend wants to hear about the Real Housewives marathon you watched, no matter how much drama there was.  Go to concerts, art shows, paint them pictures, make an awesome summer checklist and then do it!  Make sure you continue being the vibrant, exciting person they fell in love with.

Don't expect every call to be perfect.  You will still argue sometimes and there will be times when you have nothing interesting to say to each other.  When that happens, it's better to just end to call and don't dwell on it.    Nobody gets along all the time and just because your last phone call was a bit lacking, it doesn't mean they don't love you or they're out there boning some loser.  Sometimes you're just not in the mood to chat, even to the person you love most in the world.

Well, there you have it. It's not easy, and I'm not saying I never cried or doubted if we would make it.  But we did, and it was worth every minute we spent apart to be together now.  I wish you all the best of luck, and commend you for your dedication to your relationship!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Double Sunset All The Way Across The Sky!


The sunset last night was mind blowing!  I didn't edit these pictures at all, this is exactly what I was looking at last night.  It was so beautiful, as if someone on acid started painting the sky!  What I love about them is they change right as you're looking at them, they're so dynamic.  I've always had a real soft spot for sunsets and whenever I spot one I whip out my camera and start snapping.  I've actually amassed quite a collection of shots, which I shall now share with you. (where did you think I was going with this?)

These are all from last night (you can click all of these to enlarge.)
Canadian sunsets can be really pimpin.
I want a dress made out of these colors.


Brighton, England.  I took my mom there when she came for a visit.

Outside of a little pub in Surrey, England that I used to work at.
Taken of the Louvre from a window IN the Louvre!
It beat out the Mona Lisa for my favorite sight!
Taken during the Brighton gay pride parade!

Yes, I wore a Wonder Woman costume.
Ah, my absolute favorite.  Also outside the pub.
If you want to see more, I just uploaded a ton of pictures to my flickr.  

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Going Back In Time Through Music

I love music and I listen to it constantly: in the car, while I'm cleaning, at the gym....everywhere! So I tend to get tired of stuff really quick and I'm constantly on the hunt for my next favorite band. But last summer I realized something. Instead of looking for the next hot indie band that your friends totally haven't heard of yet, I realized that people have been making music for hundreds of years and most of it is pretty damn good. So instead of moving forward, I've started looking back.  The thirties, forties and fifties have some totally amazing songs that shouldn't be forgotten so easily!  Put on some Sam Cooke and listen to the birth of soul music!  Once you start listening, you can hear their influence in most modern bands today.  Don't forget, these guys were huge music stars once upon a time and for good reason.  I think music was more innocent back then while simultaneously being more sincere than most of the autotuned crap we get today.  It was more....pure.  There was no music videos, no perfume brands or clothing lines and no sampled beats.  There was words, a voice and real live musical instruments.  So simple but wonderfully complex at the same time.

Sam Cooke
Oh my god, the voice on this man.  He is considered "The King of Soul" and for good reason.  From his sweet, toe tapping love songs to soulful, heart wrenching ballads, it seems Sam can do no wrong.  Throw on Twistin' The Night away the next time you have to do you dishes and you'll be wiggling as you scrub before you know it!  A lot of his songs have a tinge of gospel to them, but he certainly knows how to party as well, even if he has trouble finding ladies according to "Another Saturday Night".  It's so sad we lost such a talented musician at only 33 years old.  Who knows what amazing songs he would have gone on to create if he had the chance.
Download: A Change is Gonna Come, Twistin' The Night Away, Good Times


Dusty Springfield
The first white woman to sing soul and R&B, in 1966 she was the best selling female artist in the world.  Her soft, seductive voice and blonde beehive are irresistible.  Beneath her glamorous gowns and heavy eyeliner hid a very self concious girl who always felt she didn't quite measure up to her peers that she admired so much.  Although "Dusty in Memphis" is considered one of the greatest albums of all time, she was always crying during recording because of her crippling insecurity.  I think that her vulnerability is what makes her music so touching, it sounds as though she's singing straight to you.  Dusty is a true talent whose music and legacy should be treasured for years to come.  (Fun tidbit: she suggested to her record label that they should sign a unknown band called Led Zepplin, as John Paul Jones had played for her, and they were signed before the label even saw them play!)
Download: I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself, Spooky, Breakfast in Bed, Wishin' and Hopin'


Louis Prima & Keely Smith
I am so fond of Louis, I think of him like I would a best friend.  He cheers me up when I'm sad, always makes me dance and his wife, Keely, is always there when I need some girl time.  His career is amazing; spanning from a jazz band in the 20's to a Vegas lounge act in the 50's and pop-rock in the 60's.  He plays King Louis in The Jungle Book!  What other reason do you need to love him?  He is such a charismatic showman, not afraid to be silly or make people laugh.  Keely was the ultimate "straight man", hardly ever cracking a smile as she raised an eyebrow at his wacky onstage antics.  It is physically impossible for me to listen to his music without tapping my toe or clapping along.  Who needs drugs when you've got Louis?  I wanna be like you-ooh-ooh!  (To see them in action, you must watch this video! It melts my heart every time I watch it.)
Download:  Angelina, Don't Worry Bout Me/I'm In The Mood For Love, Too Marvelous For Words, Buona Sera


Alright, well that seems to have covered my favorites of the late 50s and 60s.  I'm totally doing 20s and 30s next!  Who are your favorite artists from days gone by that you think need a bit of recognition?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Water Marble Nail Art Tutorial!

Wow, I've made my first ever nail art tutorial!! I felt really goofy at first sitting in my kitchen staring into my camera but here it is!  Water marble nails is a really cool effect that doesn't require a steady hand or fancy brushes or gems.  Just a bowl of water and some toothpicks!  Now, in this video I'm doing a water marble on short nails, which is a bit trickier but still totally do-able and fun!

Hope you enjoy!
If you have any questions please just let me know in the comments and I'll help you out! :)  The music in the video is Jaqcues Dutronc - J'aime Les Filles, Les Cactus and Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi.

I totally chipped the nail I did before I got a photo of it, but here's some examples of previous water marbles I've done.  Forgive the webcam photos, I left my camera charger in England.






If anyone tries this out, leave a link to a photo in the comments, I'd love to see! : )  To see some more of my nail art, click here.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Art Walk



Every year my city holds this event where artists line the streets with their paintings and sell them.  It's super cool, and my sister always participates so I went down to show my support.  It was so cool.  I saw 3-D orange and blue butterflies, scary nightmare Alice in Wonderlands and really crappy "abstract" art.  I wish I had brought $900 cash on me so I could have bought this really pretty rainy landscape painting.  It makes me so incredibly bitter that my sister got all the artistic talent in the family.

I really want this little owl.

We had a really nice lunch, too.
Some of my sister's work.

To see the rest of my sister's (amazing) work check out marissapuff.com

Thursday, 14 July 2011

How To Survive Long, Boring Flights


I hate flying.
 I'm not afraid of it or anything, I'm just really easily bored and I'm a smoker.  Smokers with (self-diagnosed) A.D.D. are not great flyers.  But since I seemed to have developed a penchant for going back and forth between Canada and England so ridiculously often, I've developed a few foolproof coping techniques.

First, and most important of all, do NOT under any circumstances strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you.  If you know them, go ahead but I still wouldn't suggest it.  It may seem like a couple minutes of friendly chit chat, but what happens when your small talk with a stranger comes to an end?  There's an awkward silence and you leave and get on with your life.  But you can't leave.  You're a bazillion miles in the air and will be stuck in weird-end-of-conversation-silence for hours.  Just stick your headphones in and shut the hell up.  It's for your own good.  (The exception to this rule was my first ever flight to England where I cried the whole way and my Hungarian seat mate gave me chocolate.)


Be nice to the steward/stewardess.  For the next ten hours they hold your very happiness in their hands.  Do you want some free wine and extra pillows?  Or do you want to be served your meal very last, only to be told there's no chicken left when they just fucking offered chicken to the guy in front of you.  Be nice, give them a big smile and don't be one of those demanding pricks they all want to strangle.  Actually, this advice kind of applies to anyone you encounter in the service industry.  Be nice to get the best treatment.  Easy.

Bring your iPod and a cable to plug it in.  Most planes have USB ports now, so you can happily play angry birds from take off to touchdown without the battery dying.  Well, you could if you didn't have to put away electronic devices during take off.  Make sure you do put it away, though.  Wouldn't want to piss off the stewardess.  If you smoke, bring nicorette or those weird inhaler things that look like tampons.  I'd probably go with the nicorette, those tampons are expensive and unsatisfying.  You're still going to feel like clawing your skin off because you want to smoke so bad, but maybe a little less skin than if you weren't chewing foul tasting gum.

from ourbeautifulpictures.com
The best tip I can give for surviving flights, maybe even more important than not being friendly to strangers, is to bring sleeping pills.  My step-mom has these super intense sleeping pills that make you act drunk if you take them and don't sleep.  I'm not suggesting you do this, but if you do please film it and email it to me.  Honestly, take them the second you get on the plane, it takes about half an hour for them to kick in and you are off to dreamland.  I can honestly say it's the best flight I've ever been on because I don't remember a damn thing.  One final tip:  Don't take sleeping pills on short flights (ie: less than four hours) because you won't wake up and then the stewardess will have to carry you off the plane.  How many times do I have to tell you to be nice to her!?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Frederick's Bench



Have you ever thought about how much action a bench gets?  Well, my friend Stuart has.  He lives in Camden Town and has been documenting the life of this little bench for all three (almost!) years I've known him.  He actually has a camera set up, and disguised, in his window so he can capture every precious weirdo that sits on it.  It is fascinating.  Camden is one of the most unique areas of London, sort of the "counter-culture" headquarters if you will.  All shapes and sizes live there, with varying amounts of sanity.  It is hands down my favorite place in the whole city, I've spent waaaay too many hours shopping in the markets.  He's started pasting full size bench photos around Camden.  He's like my very own Banksy!


And here's just to give you an idea of the kind of people who frequent Frederick's Bench.
Yes, that's me.  And, yes, I was incredibly hungover.  Thanks Stu.








This, and the one below, are my favorite!!  

It's the SAME MAN having the worst & best days of his life!


To check out the rest of his truly phenomenal photos please check out his website.  Also, if any of you are Londoners and happen to come across one pasted on a wall somewhere I would be forever grateful if you sent a photo my way.

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