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Christmas in New York: Part 1

Trish Taking Pic of Tree

That’s a picture of me taking a picture of ‘THE TREE’.  Photo credit to my friend Bobby who made his way from Queens for a visit in Bryant Park, and then hung in for a walking tour which pitched us down the heralding-angeled-chute of Rockafeller Centre toward the big tree.

My sweetie referred to the crowd gathered as a cult, and almost went into full drowning-panic mode trying to get the hell out of our North American Christmas mecca.

As I write this, I’m watching, “Extreme Christmas Trees”. My gifts are already wrapped, and I’m feeling full-on-merry.  I think that visiting New York City last week has a lot to do with it.

Our first stop was at Bryant Park to meet up with friends. It was also adjacent to the New York City Library where our evening tour of the famous store windows would start.   I ‘do‘ Christmas every year. Always have, always will.

The Macy’s windows this year brought tears to my eyes. On one side of the building, they told the story of Virginia O’Hanlon. I’m named after Virginia O’Hanlonwho wrote the famed response from the editor of the New York Sun that, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.  Be prepared for a story if you ask me why then, is my name not Virginia…it’s a long story that involves genetics predisposed to alcoholism and shenanigans.

The Sak’s light display was breathtaking, and the Bergdorf Windows were over-the-top.  We visited the plaza hotel, had a carriage ride through Central Park,and made it (unwittingly) in to the middle of the memorial of the 39th anniversary of John Lennon’s death in the Strawberry Fields at Central Park, across from the Dakota hotel. I tried to spot Yoko, but it ‘was dark,and everyone was bundled up.

We ate at Rolf’s, walked our asses off and got the requisite photos at Radio City Music Hall and in front of the giant, red balls in the Chase fountain.  We shopped on Canal street. It really is the giant, dirty heart of the consumer beast that has ruined our civilization…I managed to score a few bargains, and question my own ethics as a consumer.  I bought a knock-off, got my aura photographed and read (dead on by the way, and totally worth the thirty bucks. Magic Jewelry is truly a ‘hidden’ gem and a bastion of tranquility within the hustle and bustle of NYC).

Mulberry Street in Little Italy is a pocket of lights and merriment. Street vendors offer mouth-watering roasted nuts, fresh nougat, and cannoli. And by the time you make to all of these places, your immune system will be either fortified or completely destroyed by the subway system, and your feet will be wrecked.

But it’s all worth it.  At least once.

Let me tell you about Rolf’s.

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Christmas Survival Guide for the Lost Woman: Delegate

opinions

My friends have let me down. I’ve let them down too.

At some point women give up their own selves for the selfless, and mostly unrecognized emotional work of maintaining a home (creating the atmosphere, remembering birthdays, preparing for holidays, and bearing the greater responsibility of relationship nurturing).

Don’t be her. Don’t be the woman we all become at one point or another; a frumpy feeling, sad, uninspired woman who feels like the dishrag that society treats her like.

This Christmas I’m challenging you to connect with your pals, and I’m also challenging myself. In order to make more time for me, and to enjoy the preparations for the holidays, I’ve come up with a few strategies.

 

  1. The word of the year this Christmas is; Delegate.

Make lists….and then give them away. I mean, you single-handedly make the magic happen, at least save some time not shopping and not running errands.

shopping list

 

2) Clear out the clutter.

No, not stuff, people. If you need the whole house so you can spread out the holiday decor,  but your lovey insists on being sprawled on the couch watching the boob tube and basically being useless, ask them to leave. Unless they’re helping, they’re hindering. Vamoos!

joy

 

3) Bake ahead, and if you don’t like baking, don’t.

This year I’m googling ‘christmas cookies that freeze well’, and I’m going to use it. I’m also stocking the freezer with some frozen cheater meals so that I can enjoy my time off throughout the holidays, without cringing when I’m asked, “Have you thought about dinner”. Also, it’s so I don’t tell them that prison dinner might be worth it since I wouldn’t have to cook or do the damn dishes. My eggnot loaf is currently cooling on the counter so it can be frozen.

eggnog loaf

 

4) Be the one who puts a stop to gift exchanges. Other than a few things under the tree on Christmas morning that my loved ones need, will have sentimental value, or are a true ‘Santa’ surprise gift, gift giving falls a long-distance second to just spending time together.

get together

 

5) Make some gal-destinations a priority. Whether it’s a spa date for candy-cane mani’s, or a local church craft sale…make an excuse to get out, wander through all of the delights of the season, and make it a date with someone you’ve been meaning to get together with but haven’t.

one of a kind

 

 

Whatever you do this Christmas season,  make sure you make time to slow down and take in some of what brings you joy.

 

 

 

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Christmas Shopping & The Meaning of Life

christmas shoppingThis one goes out to the Costco employees at the Laird Road location in Mississauga.

Thank you for reminding me to be kind and friendly this holiday season.

Your rude behavior and obvious annoyance at being bothered by your customers has made me rethink how I show up in the world every day.

In other words, you’re a shining example of how I don’t want to be.

The art of living truly is about mastering how you show up in the world wherever that place may be; home, work, school, or even Costco.

Trust me darlings, I too would rather be at home relaxing with a cocktail than being locked in a metal, windowless box spending my hard earned money with a bunch of people who feel the same way.

Before you ask, yes, I have worked retail, and yes, I know how annoying people can be.

Also, in case you thought I was independently wealthy, I have to work  as hard as you do for my money.  By the way, newsflash, I can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars, somewhere else for the very same products. If dealing with customers is such a pain in the ass, try dealing with no customers and no job.

Your brand of misery is the reason why people are giving up their materialistic Christmases of gluttony and trading them in for the simple joy of spending time together.

Spending time and energy buying stuff from people who are rude really doesn’t scream Merry, or Joy, or Peace on Earth.

The more I interact with you, the more I resent spending an hour finding a parking spot, being jostled like cattle through your aisles, and then ending the long-journey-of-consumer-monotony with a cashier who doesn’t know how to engage in a polite greeting, look me in the eye, and throws my conveniently-mega-packaged purchases into my cart like they’re trash.

Wishing that you and yours find the joy of the season where you least expect to find it; your own, every-day life.

 

 

 

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Gift Guide for Middle-Aged Women

its cold outside
its cold outside (Photo credit: carbonated)

In other words, what to buy for me this Christmas….just kidding. Sorta…

Although I may not be the same dress size, complexion, or ethnicity as every woman, I offer you a guide to buying for women who are between 38 and 45…or somewhere close to that.

1) Matching glove and scarf sets. Yes, we’re matchy-matchy. It’s our generation. Make it a bold colour with no pattern We will think of you every time we wear it, and have it for at least three seasons.

2) Spa dates. Yes, that’s right, schedule and pay for the whole fandango. If you get us a gift card we may not go. We’re busy you know, sandwiched between generations, working, and trying to juggle it all.

3) If you are buying for  the special lady in your life, just make it easy on yourself and buy jewelry. We like shiny things…that fit.

4) Beautiful mugs, pens, business card holders or a lightweight mirror compact for your purse. All of these things are useful and remind us of you when we use them every day.

5) Booze. Seriously. Something special, vintage or rare. For instance a lovely bottle of scotch, our favourite bottle of red, or even a bottle of fairly priced bubbly. If you are a lover, we will share with you after you’ve performed your mandatory duties. If you are a friend, we will toast with our tipples by the fireplace. If you are our boss, buy us one of each….No, I’m not kidding.

6) Treat us to a live performance, not you doing a randy striptease in your fruit of the loom at the end of the bed darling. No. How about a concert, a play, a Christmas concert.

7) Do something sweet and thoughtful. For example; buy twelve bottles of wine ( all different kinds, some for winter, some for spring, autumn and summer). Attach a cute tag to each one telling us when and where we’ll be drinking it together; “The first snow storm”, “The first day over 30 degrees”, “On our anniversary”….you get the idea.

8) Gift cards from our favourite lingerie shop. Whether it’s our every day bra’s or our finer pink and whites, we like to choose them ourselves.

9) Travel mugs. The be all and end all of every woman’s weekday routine. We like pretty ones…

10) Any trinket or gadget or book related to our favourite hobby….cycling? running? running? needlework? cooking? decorating?

This is just a primer folks. Whether you’re buying for your aunt or your girlfriend, we all love the thought that you put into the gifts that you give to us, and more than a gift, we appreciate the time that we get to spend with you. So don’t forget that.

 

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Christmas Shopping Etiquette

santa etiquettI like to think that I live in a civilized city. I would say sophisticated, but the lady who licked her finger and then dipped it in the seasoning bin at the Bulk Barn today shattered that fantasy.

1) Use the tongs, the scoop and the sanitary utensils provided. I do not want your Christmas sniffles, the herpes you caught in grade 11, or any of your mucus on my french creams or snowballs.

2) If a line-up is so long that the line snakes outside, please don’t lean on the door to hold it open. Clearly the man who leaned on the door to the restaurant this morning for the weekly Sunday-breakfast crowd hasn’t read my blog.  Shut the door! Except…

3) …when you should hold it open for the person entering the doorway after you, the person pushing a baby stroller, or someone with their hands full.

4) This one goes out to the woman who takes her shoes and socks off and puts them on the leather chair at my local Starbucks while she manhandles every fashion magazine she can carry from the magazine rack to the chair;

People waiting for their shopping or coffee buddies in any café attached to a bookstore, please don’t pimp out the magazines, wiping your greasy-cranberry-scone-caramel-latte-fingers all over them so the bookstore takes a few-hundred dollar hit every freaking day. That loss-to-selfish-idiot-price is built into the cost of everything else in the store you selfish twit.

5)Thinking of relaxing at a movie? So was everyone else.  Arrive before the previews and shove your cell phone where the sun don’t shine; in your pocket or your purse.

6) You want to spend some quality time with a friend? Don’t just drop in. Call, set up a time, and don’t assume they want to have a visit with your significant other. If the invitation wasn’t extended to two, the host does probably mind (in your best whiny voice) ” if I bring……”.

7) If your love-dove-lady-friend is shopping for a little black dress, or anything else, keep your masculine self out of the women’s fitting room. I don’t care if you’re her father, brother, or paid escort. This is just creepy and perverted, and WE WILL TELL YOU.

8) Parking. Do not park with  your signal on so that the rest of the city traffic is backed up to the nearest country side-road. Drive to the end of the lot and park your freaking-car.

9) If your shopping cart is touching my sweet-patootie while we’re standing in line, something behind you  had better be on fire. Back the hell up.

10) Don’t be a Sunday driver Monday at 5pm. In other words, if you do not have to be out during the rush hour; at the grocery store, the big-box store, or any other store, just go at another time. Why get in the way of everyone who must work and use their precious after-work-before-home time to brave the holiday crowds for a bag of milk?

Please share this post so that the head-smack-needing-bulk-finger-lickers-and-treacherous-space-crowders read it too.

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PMS for Christmas

Fireball Whisky
Fireball Whisky (Photo credit: Houston Marsh)

Today was the day.

The day I wanted to say, “I told you so”, to all of the cynics who read my blog about doing Christmas shopping extra early.

It was also the day I wanted to flip the bird to non-advanced-green-drivers and customer service teenloafs who work hard at avoiding customers or service, harder than they do at actually working.

It was the day I decided I’d rather chew glass than be in touch with the man for whom my fridge is filled with dark beer who makes me about as much a priority as clipping his toe nails.

But, having been a meditation and spiritual practitioner for years, I knew that the only thing to do to tame the PMS beast was to put my aggressive energy to work.  I decorated the house, scrubbed the bathroom, and put a roast in the oven, all in under two and a half hours. Yowsa mamma!

No matter what I do today, unless it involves a deliciously devilish drama on my duvet followed by a fabulous fling by the fireplace, I will feel less than sated.

So, being fully aware of my own limits, mamma has her hooch lined up for either a great read, or a totally indulgent chick flick. I also have a Mai-Tai mix chilling in case I need to prepare for a night of hot lovin’s with a long, hot, Leonard Cohen serenaded soak.

After the blinds are drawn, unless you come bearing your manhood under the mistletoe, or great gobs of chocolate and champagne, stay away, stay far, far away.

 

 

 

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Gifts Anyone Can Give

 “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”~ Tennessee Williams ~
“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
~ Tennessee Williams ~

‘Tis the season. Again….

If you’re like a lot of gals I know, you’re looking for ways to enjoy the holidays without stressing your delicate selves with the financial strain the holidays are famous for.

We all know the perils of grocery shopping while hungry, and at this glorious age, we’ve also figured out not to shop when feeling guilty or like we have not time to rest and relax with our friends. Guilt buying and time pressures equal overspending.

But why buy at all? Ok, ok, I do understand. After all, the gifts are already wrapped under our tree, and giving gives us a beautiful inner glow.

But for the most part, what do we really need that we don’t already have?  A candle? Nah. Perfume? Nope. Not from a pal. After all, we’re strong, independent women,and perfume is an intimate gift. Either you want to choose your scent yourself, or your fine fellow knows just what you love to wear and keeps you in stock year ’round.

I give you, my busy, over-tired, over-stressed readers, a list of gifts that won’t break the bank, but will require the true gift of yourself, and time….

1) Make a skating date. Most cities have free skating on at least one outdoor rink. Set a date, bring a thermos of hot chocolate and some cookies. Voila! Instant fun. PLUS – there are likely all kinds of fit, fine, men keeping their hockey thighs in shape. That will keep you warm. (Bring some extra cups to share your yummy hot chocolate)

2) Pedicure together. You keep yourself well-groomed for the holidays, especially  you gals on the take. After all, holiday time is romantic time, and a spontaneous cuddle isn’t out of the question. Meet your gal pal and sit side by side as your tootsies are treated to some smooth grooming. On a grooming note, do not plan dual waxing sessions. Not cool.

3) Pajama night. Have a sleepover. Get comfy in your pj’s, order a pizza, get a bottle of lovely red and watch chick flicks together.

4) Take a starlit walk. The sky is beautifully clear during cold winter nights, and the stars glow so much brighter. If you live close to your pal, take time at the very end of the day to walk out in the crisp air and wonder at the beauty and quiet. This is where a delicate little flask might come in handy.

5) Play. Go tobogganing. Seriously, why not? Remember how much fun it was when you were a kid?  Well, surprise, it’s still fun. It’s like carnival rides and playing hide and seek. We forget the fun of being childlike. Be childlike together and laugh until you’re breathless.

6) Go to a gallery or museum ( wonderful women always keep a membership  somewhere culturally sophisticated where they can take their friends, or escape on their own).  If you don’t have a membership most galleries and museums have nights where general admission is either free or reduced. It’s a great escape, and again, the single guys you meet at galleries can carry a great conversation, know wonderful jewelry when they see it, and would treat you single darlings like the queens you are.

7) Make a date to pick up the phone for some girl talk. Real girl talk. You know, the kind you had when you lived on your own – before hubbies and live-ins and babies.

8) Give yourself a gift. Get a massage. Go to a spa. Spend an entire day reading and relaxing. Just take some time to decompress. This will take you a long way down the road to being able to de-stress and make time for the people who make you happy and remind you of the incredible human being that you are.

9) Post a kitschy friendship photo to your best bud’s  Facebook page. Just one.

10) Write a letter. You know, the kind that you have to buy a stamp for and put in the post.  Give your pal something to look forward to other than the bills that, try as you may to avoid, will find their way to our mailboxes next month.

Pssst! All of you wonderful andshelaughs men…..these are also great date ideas….especially the ones that you do out in the cold so your gal has an excuse to snuggle into your big, strong arms…mmm!

I hope my ideas for simple gifts motivate you to share them with your gal-pals. Send them a link to this darling little post, and choose your activity together.

Wishing you a very happy, very special holiday season with your best pals. After all, it is the women in our lives who we turn to, to keep ourselves positive, motivated, and from abandoning our wonderful men.