Thirty Things I Know

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

Twenty-eight years ago today.

Today is my birthday — specifically, it’s my thirtieth birthday, which is a milestone in every woman’s life.  As the Pie likes to point out continuously, I’m no longer a twentysomething.  I’m now a thirtysomething.  When he turns 30 in four months I will be sure to rub it in, don’t worry.

My mother tells me that women only really come into their own when they turn 30.  Thirty is when women begin to become powerful and strong.  I think it’s a good way to approach this milestone.

On the morning of my twentieth birthday, I sat on the floor of Doodle’s dorm room and I wrote myself a letter, taking my future self to task for all the things I hoped to accomplish in the next ten years.  I still have the letter, and today, once I get up the courage to do so, I’m going to read it.  I am pretty confident that I’ve succeeded in most of my tasks.  I know my past self wanted a PhD by 30, but will just have to be satisfied with a doctorate by 31 instead.

Anyway, in honour of my very important birthday, I thought I would be self-indulgent today and let you in on thirty very important things (in no particular order) that I have learned over the past thirty years.

1. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.

2. Flossing is not just for wienies.  It saves you money on dentist bills.

3. Confidence is extremely attractive.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff (coming from someone with OCD, this is a pretty tall order).

5. Do your best, or else don’t bother.

6. A work-life balance is important.  They won’t fire you for not working overtime.

7. Always pee before you leave.  You never know when you’ll get another opportunity.

8. Fibre is more important than you think.

9. Not everything has to be done right now.

10. Simple food made from scratch is the best.

Also, there should always be time for ice cream.

11. Your age and your weight are just numbers.  Be happy with being healthy.

12. We inevitably turn into our parents.  Just make sure to turn into the best parts.

13. Corgis are awesome dogs.  And it’s not just me and the Pie saying that.

14. You can have four best friends.  It’s okay.

15. Your partner/spouse should be one of those best friends.

Photo by Ian and Jacky Parker
See? Always time for ice cream.

16. People in the service industry have feelings, too.  Treat them with respect.

17. Stupid hobbies are only stupid to other people.  If you like doing it, keep doing it.

18. If you haven’t worn it or displayed it or used it in over a year, you’re probably not going to.  Get rid of it.

19. Never be afraid to either ask for help or to relinquish control.  It may be hard, but it won’t make you look bad.

20. When you bend over in pants, people should not be able to see either your butt or the colour of your underwear.

21. In food photography, obey the rule of thirds and use natural lighting.

22. Always wear shoes you can run in if necessary.

23. Don’t buy stuff you can’t pay for right away.

24. Try to learn something new every day so that you can teach someone else.

25. In the winter you are allowed to sacrifice fashion for warmth.

26. The Green Revolution is not a trend.  Please recycle.

27. “Water-resistant” does not mean “water-proof.”  Especially in Newfoundland.

Rain in the UK is very similar to rain in Newfoundland.

28. The internet knows a lot of things, but not everything.

29. Procrastination is fine as long as it’s productive.

30. It is the smallest details that you appreciate the most: sunlight on a wooden floor, the curve of a smile, a perfect cupcake.  A day on the beach.  Take it all in.

When we lived across from the ocean, I was on the beach every day.

And if today is also your birthday, happy birthday to you too!

O Canada: Canadian Bacon

Peameal Bacon

Today is my dad’s birthday.  He’s 64.  Happy birthday Dad!  It’s also the 75th birthday of the CBC.  Happy birthday to a Canadian institution!

I’m going to finish off our O Canada feature month with a delicacy that was originally introduced to me by my dad, back when we were both quite a bit younger than we are now.

In Canada we call it back bacon, or peameal bacon due to its peameal crust.  You might know it as Canadian bacon.  And oh is it ever divine.

Peameal Bacon

There is no extra fat, no dripping, spitting, liquid pain when you’re cooking it.  Just solid bacony goodness.

You just slice it up thin and heat it in a pan — it’s pre-cooked!

Peameal Bacon

You can also cube it up and put it in soups and stews.  Marvellous.

Piñata-Copter, or, How I Didn’t Eat Enough Paste As A Child

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The Pie and il Principe share a birthday.  Sure, the Pie is now 29 and IP is only 2, but they can still enjoy the festive atmosphere of a birthday party.

And what’s a children’s birthday party without a piñata?  It’s — well, it’s pretty much just a party without a piñata.  But that’s besides the point.

The Pie and I thought that we would combine il Principe’s love of vehicles with his destructive tendencies, and a piñata filled with toys (because this 2-year-old has enough extra energy) was the perfect gift.

First, I spent a peaceful evening with the dog when the Pie was out tearing strips of newspaper.  These are old copies of a certain legal newspaper popular in these parts.  While it’s a very good newspaper, I must admit to a certain satisfaction in tearing up all that legal verbiage.

I also prepared my helicopter rotor blades (I decided that this particular helicopter has six blades, so there), as well as the tail and all the other bits.  I pulled old cereal boxes and such out of the recycling for this.

And I cut up some clear plastic out of the recycling to use as windows.  This is going to be one classy chopper.

So now that you’ve got everything ready, you need to make your paste.  In a bowl, mix together 2 cups flour with 3 cups water.

I like to use a spurtle to stir my paste.  That’s right.  A spurtle.

Mmm, pasty.  Everyone always makes jokes about “that kid who ate paste” in kindergarten, but we didn’t have that.  We did, however, have the girl who, when asked, DRANK (like I’m talking glug-glug-glug) Elmer’s School Glue.  Bleugh.

And now we need ourselves a balloon, which forms the basis for many, many papier-mâché projects.  The last time I did papier-mâché I made an enormous head with a huge nose, cut out holes for eyes, borrowed one of my dad’s fedoras (he also has a large head), stuck a Press Pass in the brim and went around for Hallowe’en as a reporter.  It was a good costume.  I swear.

I attached the tail to the balloon with tape.

Now we paste strips!  Run one side of your strip through the bowl of paste.

Use your fingers to squeegee off the majority of the paste.

Slap that baby on your structure and smooth it down.

Continue with more strips, being careful to slightly overlap each one.

If you need help with balancing your project as you work, why not try propping it up in a bowl for stability?

Once you have finished a complete layer, use your fingers to smooth on some extra paste.

Let that set for a bit to become tacky and sticky.  While you’re waiting you can put paper on your other bits.

For the wheels, for example, I wanted a little bulk, so I dipped a few strips, crumpled them up, and stuck them to the wheel template before wrapping the whole thing in other strips.

Set those aside somewhere to dry.

Repeat the layering steps a few more times, creating three or four layers of paper on your main structure.  The focus should be on creating what will be a hard shell around your balloon.  I tried to add a bit more paper at the bottom of the chopper-balloon to help compensate, balance-wise, for the weight of the tail.

When you have enough paper on your structure, put it somewhere out of the way to dry overnight.  The top of our fridge is as good a place as any.  Plus it’s nice and warm there (our fridge is ANCIENT) and with the current humidity I’m hoping it will give the paste a boost in drying.  

I saved the extra paste, just in case.

Now to clean up!

The fortunate thing about flour paste is you just have to wet it again and it comes off anything really easily.

The Next Day …

Actually, this was two days later.  It was so gloomy and humid that the darned thing just would not dry.So now we get to get around to our painting and assembly.We bought this lovely metallic blue paint at the dollar store and thought it would look good on a helicopter.  It did, but the problem was that it was transparent paint, something the made-in-China label didn’t tell us.  Nor did it tell us that the paint fumes were highly objectionable.  But you get what you pay for of course.Onto plan B, then.  I painted the props and the wheels with the silvery-blue stuff and went off to find a more opaque solution to the plane problem.Thus I came up with India ink.  And ink is awesome because it dries really fast.It's a Secret Part 2Of course, you can still see the metallic paint through the ink, but I figured I would just paint over the quick-dry ink with more metallic paint.

It's a Secret Part 2Mercifully, just as I’d finished, the sun came out, so I left everything to dry for a bit.

It's a Secret Part 2So now we need to cut out a wee hatch through which to insert the prizes.  Using a box cutter, carefully pierce your shell and the balloon underneath.  POP!

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Cut a hole only just big enough for your purposes, leaving a little flap so you can close it up again later.

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There’s that shriveled balloon.  You can throw that out.

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My helicopter is going to have a window, so I measured the “glass” to the side of the chopper.

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Cut out a hole.

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I think I may use the piece I cut out to make a fascinator at some later and unrelated date.

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I fixed the window in place with hockey tape, that lovely universal adhesive.

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I used a paper punch awl to poke holes to hang the suspension wires from.

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You can see that balance is going to be an issue here.  I ended up taping a few rocks into the tail of the chopper to balance it out.

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I stuck the props on.  The wheels refused to stick and were therefore scratched.  Bye-bye b’ys.

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Don’t forget to put your prizes in!

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Then the helicopter needed some accents.  On one side of the tail I painted on il Principe‘s initials and the year he was born, to look like some kind of ID code.

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On the other I did his birthdate (21 July) followed by HB – happy birthday.

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Then I added some dots that represent flashing lights, and blacked out the frame parts of the window.  And yes, I just made up where they went.

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And there you have it.  Il Principe can’t wait to destroy it.

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