Freedom: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

vpi07wI recently ventured out on my own and am renting my very own grown-up apartment. With this venture into fierce independant living, I have discovered the meaning behind what the late George Michael so eloquently sang about, “freedom”.

Freedom is…

  1. Washing dishes by hand…a lot of dishes…because you thought it would be a good idea to wait until you ran out of mugs before doing the dishes. P.S. Dear Dishwasher, come back to me!
  2. Coming home and not discovering that someone surprise washed your dishes…because you live alone/are fiercely independant.
  3. Defending the fact that scrambled eggs and toast for dinner counts as cooking.
  4. Realizing that maybe you should learn how to cook something that’s not a form of eggs.
  5. Waking up to your car buried in snow… because you live in Canada and no longer have a garage.
  6. Having to wake up early so you have time to dig your car out of the winter tundra before work.
  7. Dropping a pen and realizing that no one’s cleaned back there…ever.
  8. Not being able to blame the hair in the shower on someone else.
  9. Endless loads of laundry.
  10. Being reminded that you started a load of laundry before you went to bed…because you were awoken by the crazy loud buzzer you can’t figure out how to disable.
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Be Like Cory

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As the cycle of fashion dives deeper into the 90s, I thought I would make a suggestion. We should all dress more like Cory Matthews. Now, I’m not talking about present day “Girl Meets World” Cory Matthews. I’m talking about Boy Meets World, Season 1 Cory. As the seasons progress, his look loses its edge and gets too mainstream.

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Invest in statement pieces. Try a vest.

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Want to wear a t-shirt, but it’s not quite hot enough? No problem. Just layer it over your hoodie. Still too cold? Throw on a vest, preferably one with another hood so you can double that up.

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The more bright colours the better. Try a pop of yellow.

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How to Drink Wine Like You’re Fancy

konzelmannwinery4I recently attended a wine tour/tasting. I highly recommend it! Apparently I’ve been drinking wine incorrectly my whole (legal drinking-age) life. Here I thought you simply pour it into a glass and drink it. Wrong. There are way more steps involved than I ever realized. Don’t worry, I’m here to share them with you so you don’t continue to make the same mistakes.

Step 1: Balance Your Wine

If you’re one of the many who hold your wine glass in order to keep it from falling over when you drink, you’d be wrong. Apparently, if you’re cupping your wine glass in your hands, this warms the temperature of the wine to that of your hands. This is wrong, according to the experts. Hold the glass by the stem as though you’re trying to balance a basketball on a pencil. Your wine-drinking experience is already more exciting, right? This balancing act can be increasingly difficult with those large, (it’s been a long week) glasses.

Step 2: Tip to See Film (Check for poison)

Lesson #1: Trust no one, even your waiter. Tip your glass ever so slightly to see the layer of film on the top. Yeah, I didn’t realize my wine had a film on top either. Apparently that’s a good thing. Are there any floaties on top or beneath the film? If not, excellent. You can proceed to step 3.

Step 3: Smell (Again, check for poison, or wine gone bad)

I’ve learned that being a wine connoisseur includes being increasingly paranoid. Don’t just slightly waft the aroma to your nose. Really get your nose in the glass so you can get super close to the wine. If your nose is actually touching the wine, you’ve gone too far. Back up a smidge. Do you smell that rich bouquet of flavours? Me neither. Just nod and agree with the wine snobs around you.

Step 4: Swirl

Now don’t get carried away. It’s not an aggressive swirl that can spin your wine right out of the glass and splash on your neighbour. Ever so gently, until you’re a real pro, swirl the wine around in the bottom of the glass. Your friends should be really impressed with you by now. Apparently, this helps to release the flavours.

Step 5: Swish It Around

Take a sip and swish it around in your mouth. Now, you don’t want to gargle it like mouthwash. You’re supposed to swish it around to get rid of whatever tastes already exist in your mouth. Now, you don’t have to spit the first sip out (although that’s what the “experts” suggest). Just don’t judge the whole glass by this sip. Cleanse that pallet so you can taste your wine from a blank mouth slate.

Step 6: Slurp It

This doesn’t involve slurping it from the glass. Sip the wine and then slurp it from within your mouth for about 30 seconds before swallowing. Yeah, I don’t really understand how this is supposed to work. I just pretended I was doing it and moved on to the next step.

Step 7: Smell it Again

I know what you’re thinking. You already smelled the wine. However, you just swirled the wine around and now it smells completely different. Again, nod and agree with the wine snobs.

Step 8: Drink Away

Yes, finally, if you’re not completely exhausted, you can drink your wine. Now, I’m not entirely sure on this, but I think you can just drink your wine normally from here on out. At least the wine that’s already in your glass. Pour another glass and you’ll have to start at step 1 all over again.

My Personal Take on Ice Wine: It’s not worth it. It’s crazy expensive, comes in a small bottle, and tastes like syrup (not the good kind). Save your money.  

Pretending to Live Like the Rich and Famous

toronto-pool-1It’s time for another episode of Rachel’s Life Tips. The program where Rachel (me) tells you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it.

In today’s episode, I will teach you how to vacation without taking any time off work. (cue intro music). I’ve recently learned that you don’t actually have to be rich and famous to live like those that are. There are plenty of “life hacks”, (as the kids say) to achieve pretty much the same goals while maintaining your anonymity and 9-5 job. A common thing that the rich and famous do is enjoy lavish vacations. Okay, so you pretty much have to be rich to enjoy the lavish part. However, why not take a day off from life and enjoy a mini vacation? Trade in a Saturday of errands and stress for one lounging and drinking by the pool. (Don’t forget your sunscreen, big sunglasses, and extravagant sun hat.)

A Pool with a View

Nothing says vacation quite like a rooftop pool. I’ve recently discovered the magic of rooftop pools! Ahh! You don’t have a rooftop pool? Not a problem. There are plenty of hotels that do. Yes, some of them are only open to guests, but if you do your research, you will discover other hotels which allow you to purchase a day pass into their tranquil oasis. If you’re feeling super fancy, you can even venture out into the higher end options who (only) offer monthly memberships.

Not Just a Pool (A Pool with Benefits)

When selecting your tranquil escape, I recommend looking for a pool with additional services. There’s no sense in ruining the vacation vibe by bringing your own food. Find a pool which includes a restaurant where servers tend to you by the pool and will bring you all the drinks and pizza you’re willing to pay for. Go big or stay home, I always say. I also recommend towel service. Who wants to lug a towel around all day just to lug it back home all wet? Exactly!

Pretend to be a Tourist

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, I recommend pretending to be a tourist in your own backyard. You know those double decker tour buses that drive around your city (assuming you live in a big city)? The ones that point out famous places like where Drake’s dad buys his groceries? Discover what it is that tourists come to see. That is, if your city is a place tourists come to see. If anything, it’s a much more exciting way to travel around the city. You may even surprise yourself.

Happy Vacationing!

 

My Cottage is like Christmas

Cottaging. Canada’s favourite pastime. For my American readers, no, I am not referring to a cabin similar to the one Snow White stumbled upon in the woods.

However, with my cottage this rarely involves casually hanging out with a few friends. My whole family is there. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang! Just like Christmas, well, Christmas with my family.

With it being my grandparent’s cottage, there are a few stipulations. There’s no alcohol, no swearing, and no scandalous attire. It’s a real test of character and your ability to find entertainment and enjoyment in the mundane. Did I mention that you’re stuck on an island? There’s no sneaking out in the middle of the night.

Watch out, though. At my cottage, you will want to eat all the time. Mainly because there’s food everywhere. Dinner’s are always elaborate and involve the whole family sitting at a crazy long table. Don’t worry, no formal wear is required. Lunches are more casual, but they always involve dessert. Yes, there is dessert with every meal. You might even consider some of the breakfast options as desserts in and of themselves. There are also plenty of couches, not only because there are a crap-ton of us, but after your giant turkey dinner and pie, you’re going to need to lie down.

How do you feel about blackouts? With cottage blackouts, there’s no telling how long they’ll last. Maybe the power will return almost immediately. Maybe never. It’s good to be prepared for never. Aside from the need to overcome your fear of the dark, it’s important to know how to survive with lack of technology. And be prepared to eat your share of the ice-cream bars during lengthy blackouts. We can’t let them go to waste!

Creativity is key and a love of board games is a must. Ok, maybe you don’t have to love them, but you have to be willing to play. Once the sun goes down and the bugs come out, it’s time to retreat indoors.

(Super) Northern Living

 

 I live in the north, or so I thought until my brother decided to move to the “super” north. Okay, so it’s only about 1.5hrs north of where I live, but it’s far for my standards and remote enough to make my Caledon country lifestyle look like a crowded cityscape. However, since he has a beautiful home, and I happen to be very fond of him, I plan to visit often. And with these frequent trips, I figured I should devise a plan for survival.

Tips for Surviving the Super North

1. Indoor Plumbing

There’s just something about the open wilderness that makes you forget about the worries and stress of the city/ my life. That is, of course if this wilderness included plenty of sunshine and indoor plumbing. Living like the first men who walked this earth might sound like a party for some people, but I am not one of them. There’s no sense in kiboshing your hard earned relaxation with the thought of when your next hot shower will be…or cold one.

2. Have a plan-of-action for your long drive.

I’ve decided that I’m good to drive about an hour north. Once I pass that one hour mark and have another half hour of driving through empty fields, I get a little stir car crazy. This often involves a lot of shouting and contemplating abandoning my car on the side of the road and taking a nap. So far, I’ve chosen to power through the drive. To avoid this car fever, it can be helpful to bring a friend along for the journey. I also try to break up the drive with rest stops. You wouldn’t think that a rest stop is necessary for what some folks might consider a seemlingly short drive, but you would be wrong. Fortunately, my route is filled with several conveniently located Starbucks to choose from. I also find that jamming out to some good ole country tunes helps me to get in the small town country mood. 

3. Take the time to fully explore the small-town nuances!

The local paper is a goldmine for neighbourhood gossip and local events. Fun fact, there’s an upcoming Butter Tart Festival that’s sure to be a sweet hit. They also include a two page spread highlighting garage sales in the area so you can plan your Saturday morning accordingly. And don’t forget to take a trip to the local Walmart. Oh sure, it’s just Walmart. I’m sure you have one in your town. Wrong! Here, people walk around unironically wearing cowboy hats.