How do you deal with the post-Christmas blues? Do you get them at all? I love this time of year, and when it's all over I definitely feel a little bummed out.

I think what does it for me is the fact that Christmas is such a nice reprieve from winter. We haven't even really gotten sick of the cold yet, but there's this marvelous break for family and food and gifts and music. How lovely!

Then the break ends, and we have another four months of snow and frigid temperatures. There are ways of dealing (hibernating for me, mulled wine, hearty winter cooking, bulldog snuggling), but in the end, you don't have a truly exciting holiday again for a while. Valentine's Day doesn't count, and Easter is right at the end of it. I would amp up our Passover celebrations, but they're in late April as well.

What do you do to keep the winter craziness away? I'd love to know.

Now 2010 is ending, and 2011 is starting up. It's safe to say that 2010 was the nuttiest year on record for my BH and I. We did the following, beginning on Jan. 2:

- Started looking for a duplex after being driven crazy by our new landlord.
- Endured awful awful awful renovations to our building that were not only intrusive, but illegal.
- Came home to our unlocked apartment, not once, but three separate times! Thank you, Landlord-Who-Will-Burn-In-Hell.
- Looked at a few places, all of which were fixer-uppers we didn't want to fix. Like that place with the spongy floors. Yikes.
- Saw the listing for our eventual home, viewed the place that day, bought it on the spot. Fixer-upper that we liked!
- Dealt with some very shady behaviour from the owner of the home. Persevered and pushed the sale through.
- My BH finished school. Oh my gawd, that was exciting. Salivated over the possibility of a second income.
- We decided that Morty needed company and started looking for older dogs to adopt. Found Frida, our furry angel. Became a two bulldog household.
- Took possession of house. Began extensive renovations within hours of getting the keys.
- Replaced the floors, bath, tile, knocked down a few walls, built a closet for laundry and one for a studio, knocked down the garage, had a fence built, had a shed put up, replaced the furnace and old hot water tank, replaced disintegrating sewage pipe, put on a new side door, had duct work done, tried (unsuccessfully) to grow grass, painted everything, removed ancient wallpaper.
- (My BH was studying for his registration exam while this was happening)
- Our lovely tenants moved in and I learned how to be a landlord.
- We moved in. Continued small renos for several months.
- My BH passed his registration! Started looking for jobs.
- I bought a new guitar, some recording gear, and began teaching myself how to make an album in a closet.
- My BH found a job that required a car. We bought on used. He started work!
- I decided to Get In Shape, and abandoned my plan very quickly. Why lift weights when I have a studio in the house???
- Morty and Frida now love each other to pieces, despite being opposites and not totally 'getting' each other at times.

Wow. Crazy to think that at this time last year, I was getting pre-approved for a mortgage that would start this crazy train rolling. Thank you for continuing to read - I know this blog isn't always the most exciting place to hang out, but I feel very happy that you keep wandering back.

December 27, 2010

It Was Good


Aaah, we had a lovely holiday.

I had been looking forward to this Christmas for a long time, largely because of what I was gifting to my BH. I secretly collected the photos of his childhood in India (with lots of help from his sister), scanned them (it took DAYS) and made them into a photo book. I also made extra copies for his family. He had talked about these elusive pictures for years, never being sure where they had ended up. Just as I hoped, he seemed to really love the gift, as did his parents.

Everything else was great too. The food was wonderful, especially the traditional (haha) curry meal we have with his family. It's seriously my favourite Christmas dinner. Spicy curry with dal and rice. You should try it!

Now for some pictures:

The teeny Christmas tree at my folks' house.

My mom is fitting Frida for her winter coat, because Frida doesn't handle the cold very well. I know the picture's blurry, but I need to point out that the coat is made out of fake fur that looks real. So basically, when she's all dressed up, Frida looks like a Bubbi.

Morty loves to help people open Christmas presents. Unfortunately he also took the corner off this gift in the process. He's got quite a jaw.

We dressed Frida up in ribbon, and she seemed pretty chill about the whole thing.

Pfeffernusse! My favourite.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, my charming readers. Next on the agenda: New Years! This time the goal will be for a puke-free evening. Hopefully we meet our goal.

But seriously, no puking. I'm looking at you, BH. ;)

December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!


Frida the pissed-off reindeer dog wishes you a very Merry Christmas.

We tried to dress Morty up too, but he was scared of the felt antlers. Like a true bulldog.

My BH and I wish you a lovely holiday! BH will be working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day like a trooper, so we're just taking it easy at the house when he's off.

Cheers, folks!

December 21, 2010

Merry Merry


Some scenes from around my house. No wonder I'm such a homebody... I never want to leave my little nest.

December 20, 2010

All Was Calm

I'm back at work this week. It may seem odd that I took last week off instead of this week, but since I'm taking over for my boss while he's on Christmas vacation, it was a good option to rest up earlier.

I think that's actually the best way to do it. Last week was so calm, so productive and so creative. I knew Christmas was still a couple of weeks away, so I could just focus on relaxing instead of the stress of the season. If I can, I'll do the same thing next year.

Now we're in the final stretch. All my gifts are bought, but only some of them are wrapped. I'm trying to intercept some parcels from UPS, but they are making it difficult. Generally, things are under control (grumble grumble UPS).

Back to the calm productiveness of last week.... I actually wrote three songs! If you've been reading a while, you may know that I've had a long stretch of writer's block. Like, three years long. The stalemate was broken after my friend died this past summer. I wrote a song for him, and slowly started to write about other stuff. It was an odd feeling.... Like a dam had been opened. It makes me excited about recording a new album this winter. It's also a bit sad to be writing about such sad things, but that's how it goes, I suppose.

The recording itself has also been coming along. I've set up the studio and am learning how to use Pro Tools (the program I'm using to record with). My mic is working, my fancy new headphones are getting lots of use.... It's pretty fun. That being said, I'm going to need to improve a whole fuck of a lot if I'm going to record this album myself. So far the recordings sound distinctly (and understandably) amateur.

I'm thinking of starting either a Youtube or Vimeo account to post some of my new songs. Question, dear readers, music-types especially: which should I go with? Youtube is all over the place, so that's good, but Vimeo is sleeker. If you were making an account for promotion and to stay in contact with fans, what would you use and why? I'd love to hear your pros and cons.

Thanks honeys!

December 13, 2010

Merry Everything


Right when I was getting bummed about not having a Christmas tree, my BH surprised me by buying one and getting it all set up as a surprise.


You can see our new couch there in the corner, along with my rather large collection of CDs. What can I say? I love CDs the way some audiophiles love their vinyl.

Today was my first day of vacation, and it was everything I hoped it would be. There was some cleaning, but the rest of the day was filled with Sufjan Stevens' Christmas album(s), cooking, and napping.

Merry everything. I love this time of year.

December 11, 2010

What I'm Up To


Kissing this awesome baby, and teaching myself Pro Tools.

So far I've recorded one shitty vocal track with Frida snoring in the background. This album is going to be EPIC.

But seriously, is this not the greatest baby that ever was?

Those cheeks. THOSE CHINS.

Last night, I played at my office Christmas party.

This is not something that would normally appeal to me, but I actually offered this time around. One of my bosses was leaving, and I thought it would be a nice gesture. People were very sweet about it. I actually sold more CDs than I expected.

Playing for co-workers is a... Unique experience. I'm happy to share my "other job" with them, but I can't deny that it changes my professional relationships in the process. After they hear me play, I become a musician first, and co-worker second. On a personal level, I prefer this. I certainly put music ahead of my job when I think about my identity. But it does make meetings awkward when people change the subject to ask me about guitar lessons, or pitch their musical opinions my way. It's not really a complaint, but a strange side effect of having a musical line of work.

Speaking of musical opinions, this might have been the most frustrating part of the evening. It happens all the time, so it's certainly not reserved for my co-workers, but I have to ask: Why do people become authorities on my musical career after they've heard me play? It's very common for somebody to come talk to me after a gig with the sole purpose of giving me advice. Obviously they mean well, but they tend to have no experience with music, music management, recording, or running shows. Those who do have the experience? I welcome feedback. But holy, I could write a book about the strange advice I've been given.

Last night, a well-meaning colleague said that I should give up playing instruments and writing songs so I could "focus only on my voice."

"Like... A capella?" I said, confused.

"No, just, like, singing."

"But I sing the songs I write. And I play the songs I write."

"But you could sing pop music instead!"

He then proceeded to butcher a song on my banjo. Seriously, dude? This will sound rude, but don't give me stupid advice. It wastes my time. I write songs, I play instruments, and I'm not going to quit because you'd rather I sing pop music. My response to these opinion bombs is changing, too. I've always been as gracious as possible with people, but now I have to bite my tongue not to tell them to fuck off. Eventually the words will just slip out.

In other, more exciting news, I'm taking all of next week off. ALL WEEK.

My vacations tend to put me in stressful situations, far off countries, or I get stuck at home putting down wood floors. This time around, I'm spending the week with ME, doing some baking, recording, cleaning and napping. I'm so excited, I can't even explain it.

On that note, to the weekend we go!

December 8, 2010

Muppet Time

Oh hai!

I've been watching Muppet Christmas Carol on repeat. 'Tis the season, and damnit, it's just a great movie all around. Is anyone else fond of this movie too?

On other news, it seems that my French teacher and I don't get along. We tend to argue for the length of our lesson (politely), me messing up verbs in my frustration, and her reverting to broken English to make her point. Today we argued for an hour and a half about copyright laws. The upside is that I commited some words to memory that I usually forget.... "supposition," "mal gérée" and "consommateurs." We're both taking some time off for the holidays, so maybe we'll be blessed with schedules that don't gel when we return. I think she'd be happy to get a student who isn't so quick to argue, and I'd love a teacher who isn't quite so formal.

I think nearly all of my gifts are bought for Christmas... The only missing link is the tree. We haven't had a chance to pick one up yet, and it's starting to bum me out. I like to have the tree up for as much of the month as possible, since we only get to do this once a year. Maybe this weekend, if we're lucky. Fingers crossed!

In music news, it looks like I might be recording a (very inexpensive) music video sometime this winter! Details to come, when I've sorted them out.

December 7, 2010

Plain Jane


This morning, I took my thick Canada Goose coat out of hiding, and wore it outside. It's quite cold now... Early winter instead of late fall. The snow looks like it's staying this time.

I'm actually relieved. Although I'm definitely a warm weather gal, I have trouble with in-between seasons. Full blown winter is much easier to handle than a non-committal Still Fall, Maybe.

Yesterday was a total shit show. My BH and I drove home after the gig, leaving Toronto at midnight and arriving in Ottawa at 5am. I don't tend to stay up past 2am ever. Pushing it to 5 while still needing to be alert for the drive? A little crazy. But my BH had to work, so we plugged ahead. One of our headlights burned out and I almost hit a deer, but otherwise we're fine. I also discovered that I prefer Old Fashioned Glaze and Chocolate Glaze doughnuts over all others. Who knew I was such a plain Jane doughnut eater?

Now.... The gig!

It was really lovely. The room was full; I think nearly every seat was taken. I played decently, but I was much more excited about Shawna and Jon, who did such nice sets. It was fun to be back to the Free Times. I'm not sure it's changed at all since I gigged there with Alicide and The Vanity Press. The gear is just in worse shape. But the food.... Mmmmmm....

We didn't have a lot of time for visiting before the gig, although we did make it to the Distillery District with Shawna. Man, it is beautiful there around Christmas time. Lights, trees, music. Vendors who sell seasonal things. I was impressed at how non-kitschy it was, while still being decorated to the nines.

We also got to visit with High School Boyfriend, who happens to live in my favourite alley (in an apartment, not the alley itself) near my favourite music store. We all drank tea and had a fun time catching up. There's something charming about hanging out with people you've known for ages and ages. It's a good thing.

There wasn't a lot of time for shopping, but we did find something totally random and exciting: mini squeeze bottles for soy sauce. You put them in your lunch. I've been looking for them for years. What? Is nobody else impressed by my find?

I spent much of yesterday sleeping, but the time I spent awake was put to good use. My poor little studio / closet has been languishing under a pile of boxes for months. It was the last part of the house to get a floor, and still needed a shelf to be completed in my eyes. I decided that I would put up the dang shelf.

Easier said than done. Honestly? That closet is lucky it's still in one piece after how frustrated I was yesterday. The shelf pulled out of the wall three times, even with plugs and sturdy brackets. Eventually I got it in, crooked, but functional. And now?

I will record an album. (Or at least, that's the plan)

December 6, 2010

To Be Continued...


December 3, 2010

I Bought An App, Etc.


I'm not much of an app buyer. I don't even really buy music off iTunes - still strictly a CD type of gal. But I read a few reviews of Hipstamatic, and thought it sounded like fun.

Verdict: It IS fun! I've started actually taking pictures with my iPhone.

This is Morty, relaxing on our rumply bed. He's not much of a morning doggie.... It takes coaxing (read: chicken) to get him up and about.

This is my favourite lamp. You can see the corner of our new couch, which I'm hoping won't fall apart when people sit on it. So far so good.

Sweet little Frida. Doesn't she look cute? I think she's up to something.

I was unsuccessful in getting Morty out of bed. Poor dude has a tough life. All that sleeping is exhausting, right?

In other news, I need to do something about my Facebook account. I get about 20 event invites a day. I'm "friends" with too many people I don't really know. But it's really the invites that get me.

Should I block invites from people who are the worst offenders? Should I cull my friend list and change my name? I know that when I have a gig, I only invite people I think might actually want to come. I don't invite people who live in other cities, and I don't invite people who I know hate live shows. I do this out of common courtesy, and also because that's how I hope to be invited to events... But I think I'll have to change tactics.

Facebook was looking like a real help as far as music promotion goes, but now I'm wondering if people are just overwhelmed by all the information. Myspace is totally antiquated, and I'm waiting until the joyful day I can finally delete my page. So what does that leave? I guess I'll have to plug along with my plans to re-vamp my web site, and go from there.

My BH and I leave for Toronto tomorrow morning. We have plans to spoil Shawna, hang with my ex, buy amazing chocolate, look at some sexy shoes, and have a grand old time. Oh, and play music, of course.
Onwards and upwards!