Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween or Whatever

Happy Halloween to those of you who celebrate Halloween.
Some religious folks on the inter-mc-net want to change Halloween to make it more Christian.

Because the kids will LOVE that.
Really, what are they thinking? First of all... Jesus-Ween? Did they not vet this name with anyone who might have left their house in the past 20 years, or maybe someone under the age of 30? Jesus Ween. Come ON.  And second, why take a holiday that may once have been religion based, but is now so completely bastardized and covered in chocolate that it’s pointless and try to turn it around again to make it super boring. Hey kids, choose between getting pillowcases full of candy or, alternatively, let’s talk about Saints and how they all got burned at the stake or impaled or whatnot. Hmmm.
this would be a great concept for a rock music video.

I warn you, Jesus Weeners, your children will resent you and grow up and start smoking.
Well, whatever, I say. Do what you want. Brian and I have been celebrating our own holidays for awhile now. 
Halloween, in our household is known as “Other Earth Day” because we turn off all our lights. It’s also like regular Earth Day because we hide in the basement and pretend not to be home, but are actually watching TV. 

Our house on Halloween. It's not the one with the open door.

On regular Earth Day this makes me feel somewhat guilty, but asking us to go one hour without TV is akin to asking Gandhi to eat a burger. Shocking, disrespectful, and just not going to happen.
So on “Other Earth Day” while many of you are trolling your children around for free candy and “sorting” through it later (aka stealing the best stuff), Brian and I will be watching TV and avoiding the 4 children who might come to our house; we live at the top of a hill and children (read parents) don’t want to climb up that hill for a couple of measly mini-O Henry bars. 
So you crazy old Christians can appropriate Halloween if you want. Just like you stole International Chocolate Rabbit Day and Santa Day.
Brian and I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore either, really. It all started because he really really really hates shopping --- for other people. And anything he wants, he buys for himself, plus he’s super persnickitty about stuff - so he’s impossible to buy for. But I find it really depressing when everyone else is opening presents and I get nothing. So we came up with a compromise. We buy ourselves our own gifts, wrap them and put them under the tree. You’d think that this might suck a little, but actually it works out wonderfully. Stuff you buy and wrap in August, well you forget about it by December. Plus you are sure to get exactly what you want. I mean, there’s NO WAY I would have known to buy Brian a pair of fleece pyjama bottoms with skulls all over them. But because we buy our own gifts, he was able to have the awful pyjama bottoms that he wanted. And despite my repeatedly telling him that I wanted a Tiffany key necklace (I mean, REPEATEDLY), Brian never seemed to know that that was what I wanted, so I was able to buy it for myself, and everyone’s happy!
We now celebrate AWESOME DAY on December 25th. Here’s the story with Awesome Day.
Aside from the buying of our own gifts, there is only one rule for Awesome Day. You can’t ruin anyone else’s Awesome Day. Awesome Day is for doing whatever you want, eating whatever you want, with no guilt or obligations. If you want to eat cake all day and sleep in until noon, you can. Why? Because it’s Awesome Day! If you want to spend 10 hours needlepointing and eating Vector, you can do it, because it’s Awesome Day!

It’s just that Awesome.
Of course, we realize that not everyone can have a complete and total Awesome Day in it’s purist form. For example, my elderly neighbour will have dinner with us on the 25th. That means that during those hours we have to wear pants, even if we might not want to. We also can’t just leave the table whenever we want to stick our naked bums in a snowbank, if that was indeed what we wanted to do. So we have to make a few adjustments to keep the peace. 
Also, if you have young children, you have to buy presents for them, as they, ostensibly, are not working and can’t buy their own presents (plus it takes away the fun of spending 200 bucks on a toy and then watch them play with the cardboard box it came in). So you have to work around your particular situation.
What about the Christmas story? Santa? All that good stuff?
We have the Awesome Day Arachnid.

Or the Seasonal Spider.
The Seasonal Spider comes to all children’s houses on the 25th and leaves presents under his Web of Wonder. On the 24th, children leave out tumblers of scotch and cheese trays for the Awesome Day Arachnid and are delighted the next morning  to see proof  that the Spider has been there when the tumblers are empty, the cheese tray is gone, Daddy is grumpy and Mommy can’t poop.

It could work.
Well, whatever you celebrate tonight, be it Halloween or Jesus-ween, or Other Earth Day, have a good time, play safe and eat candy.
Jesus Ween. I wonder what that would look like.
No. I am going to stop wondering that RIGHT NOW!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Foodie Friday - For the Love of Norway

Frognerseteren Restaurant, Oslo, Norway.
In my travels with work, I was fortunate enough to have been treated to meals at some of the most amazing restaurants that the local record company office expense accounts could afford. One of the more memorable of these restaurants was the Frogneresteren in Osol, Norway. (

Norway effing rocks, man.
 I love northern Europe. I love southern and middlin’ Europe, too. But I feel a kinship with the Scandanavian countries and the Low Countries as well. There’s something comforting for me to be around people who are tall and weird and like clogs. 

totally typical scene in Norway

Did you know that the modern day cheese slicer was invented by a Norwegian, Thor Bjorklund? Well he did, and if you enjoy your cheese sliced as opposed to in unmanageable hunks, you have a Norwegian to thank for that.

Thor and his amazing cheese slicing invention

Cheese slicer so incredible, it got it's own commemorative stamp.

Norway also looks a lot like parts of Canada, with pine trees and rocks and whatnot. Like precambrian shield that I love so very much.

Frodo was Norwegian

It was our first trip to Europe in 1991 and we were being treated very well by our European record company liasons. There were shows to do, and Brad always had a lot of press to do, but there always was time for a lavish dinner hosted by BMG reps. In Oslo, Irene took us to Frogneresteren at the top of a ski hill with fabulous views of the city below.

pretty awesome, eh?

Like a nordic Hogwarts, but that has a weird language.

When we were there we signed the guest book and John Cleese had been there just a week or two before us. Fancy, eh? They serve reindeer. I mean as food, not as customers, although the Norwegians are so friendly and forward thinking, they probably would serve reindeers. But in a separate room. They aren’t that liberal.

I don’t actually remember much about the meal, other than it was lovely. But for dessert I had a bowl of ice cream with tiny cloudberries - a nordic fruit. 
I remember it most precisely because there was another BMG rep, whose name escapes me, but she was a young, and very cute woman, and the boys were flirting innocently with her throughout the meal. 
When my dessert arrived I remember I looked straight at her, and she watched me as I picked up my spoon (still looking at her, mind you) and I drooled directly into my bowl of ice cream.

This was not in any way a sexy thing.
She politely looked away.
I have never forgotten this moment. I was totally humiliated.
Of course, Elpoo of today would have guffawed and made some sort of joke, but I guess Elpoo of yore was a little more sahnahteeve. Silly Elpoo of yore.
I’ve since got over the whole issue and have kind of done a 180. I will go out of my way to embarrass myself with food.

Anything. For. A. Laugh.
Eh. Neh. Thing.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


It’s turned colder here and that means it’s time to turn on the fireplace. Yes folks. Hop on the Cozy Train. We’re heading indoors and we’re not coming out til May.
Creating, and being enveloped by, the perfect cozy experience, is one of my continuous quests. It seems reaching the state of perfect snug-in-a-bug-ness is a never ending enterprise. There are always more ways to be cozy and one must continue striving toward nestling nirvana. But where, short of living inside a duvet, does one draw the line? What is the pinnacle of cozy?

I have compiled a list, by no means inclusive, of things one must do to achieve ultimate cozitude. That is not to say that one can not be cozy without these things. But we are talking about ideal situations here.

A Fireplace.

A fireplace is pretty much the key to cozy-town.  A stone hearth and wood fire is best, but gas will do in a pinch (or electric fireplace combined with a very very good imagination and some booze) are essential for achieving cozy excellence.  An array of candles can be a good option for those who do not have a fireplace (neverleaveaburningcandleunattended).
Candles like these:

Not like these:

 The Fireplace channel is a last resort and you will probably feel ashamed for not having made more of an effort. It would be like standing in a snowbank outside of the world’s coziest house looking in at a cozy real fire. Not cozy.

Overheard lighting is right out. Get a table or floor lamp, preferably old-timey, with a non-white shade. Lighting is key to creating the right ambiance. Without the appropriate lighting, you’re just a loser in a Snuggie.TM 

Anything other than soft lighting will result in a completely non cozy experience and will look like this:

Do you want to hang out in this room? Do you? Well?

Soft music - classical (but not opera), jazz or heartbreak ballads are the best option for your snuggly soundtrack.
Avril Lavigne is not cozy music. Nor is The Hold Steady. Or anything punk. Sorry Scott M.

Oh My God this is so not cozy music.

Beverages of choice include hot chocolate,

                    red wine,

                                hot cider, tea 

or if you’re a man with a moustache, scotch.

Snackage should be comprised of cheese and Carr’s Water Crackers, a few grapes or figs, shortbread and/or nuts. Here is a photo of the perfect snack, but it’s from Starbucks™, so it would entail going out to get it. I urge you to create one just like this one from Starbucks™.

Activities are an important part of the Cozy Life, and there is a good variety of options here. Reading, or course, is best,

followed by crafts such as needlepointing or knitting. 

Whittling is good, but dangerous and only good if you’re a senior.  Scrapbooking is not cozy, nor is decorative wood burning (leave that for the fireplace) nor model making. Model making is good, but is under a separate category of awesome activities called “Nerdery”. We shall visit that topic another time. Anything with multiple parts and/or that requires a glue gun does not qualify as a cozy time activity. 

Companionship is not necessary, but can be a nice element. Husbands are fine when they aren’t farting. Dogs can be cozy, but you’re better off with cats. Even kittens can be cozy, but with dogs, it’s kind of a crap shoot, unless they are super mellow or just old. If, like me, you have a farting husband and two less than relaxing dogs, you must rely on your cat to make up for all the fruckace caused by these other jarring elements. Other pets, such as hamsters and reptiles are not cozy. Cute, interesting -  maybe. Cozy, no. Cats will up your cozy quotient by tenfold.


Attire should be comfortable, but other than that, I see room for a range of choices here. Itchy clothes, regardless of snuggly factor, are right out. You may opt for pyjamas, or sweatpants and your favourite sweatshirt. Or, if you’re a little more formal, a cashmere sweater and soft trousers. Socks are a must. 

I am not a fan of the Snuggie ©. 

They are too hard to get out of in order to pee or get more snacks. Then it’s all just awkward.  While I agree that it is pretty much as cocooned in comfort as a person can get, it also just looks wrong (sorry Sarah, even the Wheezer Snuggie is right out) and taints the mental state of coziness, to which we now turn.

The cozy state of mind requires, of course, total tranquility, a contentment with oneself in that moment and the abandonment, for at least a time, the cares of the day.  You can’t be cozy if you are mentally balancing your cheque book or having an internal argument with your spouse about the lack of expensive gifts received lately. Let it all go.
I spend a lot of time trying to perfect my state of cozy. Here is my oasis of twee, where I feel most calm (unless the dogs are bugging me, which is usually).

I hope that wherever you are, you too can create and experience ultra cozification.
It’s a long winter. Settle in.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Future Elpoo

As I age (apparently I am doing this. I was unaware until recently) I find I have to change certain things about the way I dress. I knew it was going to happen, but it’s been  difficult to admit that there are just some things I should not wear any more, if I want to remain a part of polite society. 
For example, mini skirts without 1000 denier tights have no place in my wardrobe today. Colour blocked dresses like this one from Top Shop 

do me no favours (don’t care for the look on the youngsters, either, so I’m not too mournful).

Short shorts and I, too, have parted ways. No matter how lean and strong my legs are, the skin is just a little too.... well, age-d, blumpy (bumpy and lumpy)  to pull off the Dasiy Duke look.  Goodbye adorable baby doll tops that I probably shouldn’t have worn in the first place. Sayonara cartoon based jewelry.

I also fear that 2011 was the last year of the bikini for Elpoo. I really enjoyed the 3 minutes of my life that I could wear a bikini. I’d worked very hard for those 3 minutes. But they are over and now it is time to turn my face to the future. A future of one piece dark coloured swim attire, skirts that hit just above the knee and Mrs Roper inspired capery.

To be honest, I’m not all that cast down by the inevitable turning of my wardrobe’s page.  There is a lot that is good about acknowledging that there is a time for pvc bustiers and there is a time for cashmere twin sets. I no longer have to worry that I need to dress like Fergie (good God, no!) to be stylish, I don’t have to buy clothing that can only be worn with a series of pulleys, Spanx and weeks of dehydration. I don’t have to believe the shop girl when she tells me slyly that skinny jeans are “universally flattering”. 
I am now able to say I can create my own style, my own “look” and work it as I please. 
What a relief.
Now, what the hell will my “look” be?
I really need help.
I have a few options for Future Ellen. These potential me’s are based on three basic types of mature women: Homey, Comfortable Wise Woman, Fabulous Woman or Socially Deviant Cat Lady.

Homey Comfortable Wise Woman Elpoo

Homey Comfortable Wise Woman has long grey hair that she wears in a bun, or in a single braid down her back. Think a modern day Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. 

She makes her own jam, bread, and candles. She lives in a lovely cottage with a fireplace.

She smiles with warmth in a way that is comforting, yet slightly disconcerting because it is almost like she sees your inner most thoughts, but doesn’t judge you for them. She wears flowing clothes that neither cling to her, or look like tents.  

She has an herb garden, plants flowers that attract butterflies and needlepoints in a rocking chair while you complain about your husband.  She then tells you exactly what you should do, like you knew it all along, but needed her to say the words. She likes folk music and gospel choirs. She probably plays the harp.


Fabulous Woman Elpoo

Fabulous woman has dyed red hair, worn at chin length. Think Auntie Mame, or Susan Sullivan’s character in the TV show “Castle”.  

Fabulous Woman throws dinner parties and takes oil panting in the evenings (not on the same evening). She lives in an amazing condo and collects art. 

She reads The New Yorker and goes out for lunch a lot. She can tell you exactly who to call if you need a contractor, tickets to Aida or the best rental villa in Tuscany. She has matching dogs or cats (ie. two greyhounds or two Siamese cats) and a cleaning lady come in once a week. She wears bold jewelry, silk cigarette leg trousers and kitten heels. 

She likes jazz and classical. She probably pays the the piano after too many cosmos.


Socially Deviant Cat Lady Elpoo

Socially Deviant Cat Lady has crazy grey hair that she cuts herself with her nail scissors. She lives in a tiny one bedroom house on the outskirts of Cobourg. She makes room dividers out of piles of magazines and newspaper. She eats over the sink. Alone. She mumbles. Unless she’s yelling. She wears sweatpants and men’s acrylic sweaters, but does not wear a bra or deodorant. She makes people uncomfortable. She has, of course, fourteen cats, who are all well taken care of and clean. She isn’t abusive, she’s just nuts. She likes TV. She probably plays a chord organ.

hope actually, to be a combination of these three types of gal. Yes, I even want to be a little bit socially deviant cat lady. Once in awhile. But not in public. 
I will look for inspiration to stylish older women everywhere and to websites like Advanced Style, a blog by Ari Seth Cohen that focuses on women of a certain age who are freaking fabulous! Check it out.
I will have as many cats, matching or otherwise, as I like.
I will throw dinner parties, take oil painting classes and wear my hair long if I like (sorry Mom). 
I hope to give good advice. But I’ll have no clue what you’re inner most thoughts are. I’m too busy planning my next dinner party and wondering where cat #8 is hiding.
Where I live will probably depend on Brian unless he’s finally willing to admit he’s really, nothing more than my best accessory and was put on this earth to decorate my arm.  We’ll always have two dogs  but they might not be matching (damn!).  And no matter what form my future self takes, I can comfort myself with the knowledge that there will always be things to shop for.