It IS all about me

Photos of the day: Rainbow hair!

by DaniGirl on April 13, 2016 · 5 comments

in It IS all about me

I have never coloured my hair before, partly because I’ve always pretty much liked my hair colour, and partly because I couldn’t really think of a colour I would like – except maybe more red. And, the idea of having to worry about roots and maintenance just made me not want to bother. However, when my friend Lara got rainbow unicorn galaxy hair, I knew I had to have it. I mean, one colour – pfft. I want ALL THE COLOURS!

I did a bit of research and stumbled upon “oil slick hair” which was exactly the effect I wanted. Subtle hits of the same shiny greens and blues and pinks that you see on the edge of an oil slick on the driveway. What could be more glamourous than that?! And then I found out about ballyage, which basically means that only a piece of the hair shaft is coloured, so it mixes with your own colour and you can easily grow it out.

So, all the colours and none of the work? HELL YES!

We started by bleaching streaks out of my natural colour. Whimper. Also effective at blocking government mind-control drones.

2016-04-12 11.54.22

After about half an hour, the amazing Suzanne at Studio Me washed the bleach out and set to the hard job of reselecting the bleached bits and carefully painting the colours on them. We were originally going to go with five colours, but Suzanne thought that might be a bit too much. (Hello, foreshadowing!) So, we dialled it back to “only” pink, yellow, purple and teal.

*gulp*

As she worked, I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be selecting WAY more of my hair for colour than I had expected. I’d showed her a reference photo with subtle tendrils of colour peeking out of brunette hair, but as she worked I had the sneaking suspicion that this was going to be way more than a subtle tendril or two here and there. But, in for a penny, in for a pound, and YOLO, and carpe diem, and OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?

All the girls in the store went nuts over the colour as she pulled off the foils and started washing my hair out. By that point, I was afraid to look.

She sat me down in a chair to cut my hair and pulled off the towel in a big reveal. “Oh phew, I thought, “that’s not bad.” It was my natural chestnut brunette with hints of colour. Then she started blow drying it and I watched as the colours got brighter, and brighter, and brighter.

tendril

By the time she was done styling it, I was laughing and crying at the same time. “That is INSANE!” I kept saying. The colours were SO over the top. Crazy chunks of turquoise beside neon pink. She finished drying it, and I loved it. LOVED IT!

hair1blog

It is by far the craziest thing I’ve ever done with my hair. Apparently, your 40s are the years you embrace all the things you were too timid to do when you were younger.

I gotta admit, I left the shop both loving it and thinking that maybe I’d go home and shampoo my hair three or four times, just to nudge it down a wee bit on the day-glo colour scale. But by the time I got home, I was totally in love with it, mad colours and all.

Got my hairs all colourful!

The boys thought it was awesome, too. Lucas’s reaction when he saw me after school was perfectly delightful – he was so excited! And if you ever want validation for choosing rainbow hair, just show up for after school pick-up and listen to the Grade 2 girls go crazy over it! “Oh wow, look at her hair!” “That’s Lucas’s mom. Your hair’s so pretty, Lucas’s Mom!” “Wow, look at the COLOURS!” It took 35 years, but I am finally cool among the elementary school set.

This morning I’m suffering from a bit of a hair hangover. I admit to being VERY alarmed when I simply rinsed it in the shower and unleashed a veritable torrent of dye into the tub, but I’m told that’s normal and there is still PLENTY of colour left. I have a crazy day of back to back to back meetings today, so it will be interesting to see everyone’s reaction. Conveniently, today is the International #DayofPink to support diversity and stand up against homophobia, transphobia and all forms of bullying, so I’ll say that’s what motivated me and I just got a little carried away!

So – what do you think??? 😉


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In May 2014, I wrote a post lamenting the fact that after six weeks of walking, exercising and conscious food choices, I had still failed to lose a single pound. Not too long after that, I started using My Fitness Pal to track not only exercise but food choices, and started making slow but steady progress. I did pretty well through the summer, losing nearly 10 steady pounds, and then my weight crept back up again over a long, cold and icy winter.

In April 2015, I was back on the bandwagon again and once again lamenting my lack of progress. Back to food and fitness tracking I went. Thanks to daily step goals, food tracking and power yoga, I dropped what I’d regained and by July was at my goal weight, a full five pounds less than I’d managed to go in 2014.

Here we are in March 2016 (see how I start paying attention a little earlier in the season each year?) and that darn winter creep has me up another five pounds. There’s no whiny lament this year, though. My weight is still equivalent to the lowest point in 2014, and I’m sure I can banish that pesky 5 lbs and get myself in my happiest range, which is anything under 170 lbs. I think the two things that kept me from completely regaining the weight I’d lost over the winter this year were regular power yoga (so good for strength!) and the fact that I’ve kept up parking the car in the driveway and walking the kilometer or so to pick up the boys after school all through the winter. I can count on one hand the number of times we capitulated to the weather, and I drove another handful of times when I was running late, but in general, we were diligent about getting in those daily walks.

I haven’t yet resorted to food tracking again, but I love tracking my daily steps. I’ve had a FitBit that I’ve used pretty regularly for the past three years, and I’ve seen steady improvement on my dedication to leading a less sedentary life. So when the nice folks at TomTom offered me a review unit of their new high-end fitness tracker, I was happy to try it out.

The TomTom Spark GPS Fitness Watch has all sorts of interesting features way beyond a simple step tracker (but it has that, too!) Most interesting, it stores up to 500 songs from your music library, so you can leave your phone at home and listen to your workout playlist via Bluetooth headphones. The TomTom Spark also has a continuous heart rate monitor, a sleep tracker, race mode and interval training mode, and multi-sport mode. It also has something I’ve wished all along my FitBit Flex had: a watch! The official description says:

TomTom Spark is the latest in the complete line of TomTom wearable fitness technologies. The 24/7 activity tracker continuously logs steps, active minutes, distance, calories burned and sleep duration. TomTom GPS tracking provides real-time information including time, distance, speed and pace. The built-in heart rate monitor accurately tracks heart rate, without the need for a chest strap. Multiple sports modes let users track their activity inside and out, across running, cycling, swimming, treadmill and gym workouts.

Pretty neat, right? I wore the TomTom Spark for about a week to try it out, and in general I really liked it. I wore both the FitBit and the Spark on the same wrist for a few days and found they were fairly agreeable about the number of steps taken, which is great. I’m always less concerned about the actual steps and more concerned about one day relative to the next.

TomTom

Here’s what I’ve noticed about the TomTom Spark so far. Out of the box, it’s quick to charge and super-easy to figure out. There’s a square button under the watch face, and you can push it left to see your steps, up to see your music, right to access multi-sport modes and timers, etc. Although it’s bulky and at least in the black model I received, a little industrial looking, the strap is SO MUCH easier to use than the FitBit one I’m always cursing. It was pretty much plug-and-play with the My Sports app, and it automatically scanned my computer to find music files so I was able to add my favourite iTunes playlists with two clicks. The GPS tracking is very entertaining, especially for someone who has a weird fascination with maps. I want to use it to draw pictures – except for maybe not so much the penises. Ahem.

In truth, I think the TomTom Spark has way more features than I will ever use. I have a few friends who are runners, and they would LOVE the timers and distance trackers. I think it’s pretty cool that it also has modes to track everything from swimming to cycling to the treadmill. All that to say, it is more my dedication to competitive sports that is lacking and certainly not the features on the Spark.

There were a few things that I did not love about the Spark, and they are personal peccadilloes based on what I’m already used to. If I were to trade in my FitBit, I would miss the small community of cheerleaders (and challengers) I have built up, and one of my favourite features on my FitBit is the little victory buzz it emits to randomly scare the crap out of me celebrate when I achieve my daily step goal. And the help section for the Spark is entirely comprised of YouTube videos. I know most people would love that, but I’ll happily wade through a 10,000 word help article before capitulating to a two minute video.

Do you use any fitness trackers? What features do you love and what features do you covet? And, have you drawn any cool pictures with your GPS?? I think that’s the feature that I’m going to play with this week!


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It’s been nearly two years since I first wrote about stalking my culinary hero, Chef Michael Smith. Since then we’ve been to his Flavour Shack in Souris several times, and for my birthday dinner last year we splurged on an incredible family dinner at his new FireWorks restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune. And yet, despite our best efforts to meet him in person, Chef Michael himself has managed to evade us.

Until Tuesday, that is! In a delightful and completely unexpected convergence of my day job, my love of photography and my celebrity crush, I had the amazing opportunity to take and tweet photos of Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAuley (how much do I love that my “boss” is from PEI?!) making soup with Chef Michael Smith at an industry reception hosted by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. They’re the folks behind the #HalfYourPlate campaign.

I was more than a little anxious the day of the event. I alternated between worrying that I wouldn’t get a chance to meet Chef Michael and worrying that I would in fact get to meet him — but would babble like an idiot. There may be some precedence for the latter. I also worried about forgetting an important piece of gear at home; whether I’d be able to get a clean photo worthy of the subject matter; whether my equipment would fail; whether I could get it right in camera well enough to avoid the need for post-processing; whether there would be too many people in the room and where I should position myself for the best shot; which lens I should use; how I’d be able to get the photo from my camera to my phone to tweet the photo; whether I should use my flash on-camera, off-camera or not at all; whether I would get stuck in traffic on my way to the event and be late or miss it entirely; whether the egg salad I had for lunch would give me food poisoning and render me unable to attend; and, whether Beloved would ever forgive me for meeting Chef Michael without him.

By the time I actually got to the Chateau I was so frazzled that I was relieved to have simply made it to the site intact. I walked into the ballroom and nearly dropped my equipment – he was RIGHT THERE! Surprisingly, there were no heavenly beams shining on him, no chorus of foodies with harps and whisks around him. And after nearly hyperventilating, I was actually able to walk right up and talk to him and say hello, just like a normal human being. And then this happened:

Me and my bestie Chef Michael Smith

He was sweet enough to both indulge my request for a photo and to listen to me babble about our various trips to stalk him visit PEI, my love for the Island and how I credited him almost entirely for me learning to cook in my 40s. To my delight, he said that he took issue with me giving him credit, and that people have been figuring out how to cook food for generations. He said that all he did was give me the confidence to give myself permission to learn, which was a lovely way of framing it. He asked me about the boys and their ages, and told me about his three kids,and we chatted a bit about the Inn at Bay Fortune as well. By that point, I felt like I’d taken more than my share of his time and retreated to a corner of the ballroom to have a wee moment and get my wits about me while preparations for the reception went on around me. Luckily, I had more than an hour before I needed to take my one tweetable photo and my colleagues and I chatted amiably while we waited for the cooking demo with our Minister to begin.

To my immense relief, I was able to nail a couple of great shots and managed to get them out on the corporate Twitter account without incident.

Tweet

By the time the reception wrapped up, it had been a couple of hours of being in the room with Chef Michael and I really thought I’d shown tremendous restraint at not following him around like a puppy dog but kept a respectful and respectable demeanor – and distance. I was packing up my (largely unused) gear when I noticed him chatting with a few people nearby. I had an idea, shrugged it off as ridiculous and insane, and then decided to carpe my diem. When would I ever have an opportunity like this again?

I used my iPhone make a FaceTime connection to Beloved at home and told him to gather up the kids and stand by. Then I took a deep breath and I think I was already blushing when I approached Chef Michael, brandishing my iPhone. The emcee for the evening smiled and me and gestured at my phone, asking “Would you like me to take a picture?”

“Um, no,” I blushed, looking at Chef Michael. “I was wondering if I could trouble you to say hi to my boys?” and I held up the live FaceTime connection. I now know that Chef Michael is not only a passionate advocate for family cooking and a world class chef, but a genuinely lovely person, because he did not miss a beat and immediately leaned in to the screen to say hello to the boys.

“You know,” Chef Michael said to them, “your mom is pretty cool! Now EAT YOUR VEGETABLES!” He went on to say hi to everyone, and to smile and wave as everyone said hello back.

I couldn’t have asked for a better finish for a fun evening. Now not only have I met our culinary hero, but the whole family has as well. And it was one of those rare and delightful situations where someone you’ve been admiring for years turns out to be an even more lovely person than you’d imagined.

And also? Chef Michael told my kids that their mom is cool. I’ll be milking that one for YEARS!

:)


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As it goes, 1966 was a pretty interesting year. The first episodes of Star Trek and Batman aired on TV, and the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. Truman Capote published In Cold Blood, the US Food and Drug Administration declared “the Pill” safe for contraceptive use, NASA launched Lunar Orbiter 1, Pampers released the first disposable diaper, and Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas appeared for the first time on television.

All of that pales in comparison, of course, to the most wondrous event of the year, which took place on February 19, 1966 at St Michael’s Church in London, ON: the wedding of my parents.

Wedding photo

According to the 50 year old newspaper clipping, “the bride chose a sheath gown of peau de soie with a scoop neckline and lilypoint sleeves. Lace trimmed the cathedral train. A flowered pillbox held her shoulder-length scalloped veil and she carried a bouquet of pink roses and white carnations.” I’m pretty sure my Dad was dressed, too, though the announcement makes no substantive mention of him or his attire.

On their foundation of love, a small but mighty empire was built. Both my brother and I were smart enough to follow our parents’ example, and to create happy families to carry on the traditions of unconditional love, quirky humour and family loyalty with which we were raised.

I wanted to illustrate the tsunami of love and happiness that resulted from the ripple of their union, and what better medium than stringing boxes upon boxes (and an external hard drive or two) of old family photos together into one slideshow? I knew I was on the right track when I made myself cry not once but twice while I was putting it together. It does run a little long, at just shy of seven and a half minutes, but it’s hard culling 50 years of love down to just a few highlights!

Sorting through 50 years of photos was a powerful reminder of the way photos mold and shape our memories, and I think in the end this is as much a gift to myself as it is to my parents. It was, however, pretty clear my Dad enjoyed watching the video as much as I did when he asked me to replay it not once, not twice, but three times in a row.

Papa Lou watching the anniversary photo slideshow

My parents have walked a long road together. They have lived the definition of love in good times and in bad, and my memories of childhood are framed by their constant and unshakable love for each other. From my parents I learned that the cornerstones of a good marriage are respect, patience, kindness, open affection, and humour, and that it’s quite possible to love someone even when you want to throttle them.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Thanks for getting hitched all those years ago, and making all of this possible. We love you!

50th anniversary


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I have lost track of the number of times I’ve recycled this post, but it somehow just doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve shared it again. Besides, with a new job and a new circle of friends, there’s a whole new audience to edumacate about this most important Christmas factoid. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the annual reindeer rant, because especially at Christmas, traditions matter. Also? Because Donder.

Reindeer Games: Team Donder

“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen;
Comet and Cupid and DONDER and Blitzen…”

You did know that Santa’s reindeer is actually Donder and not Donner, right?

Here’s a little history lesson for you. The poem “A Visit From St Nicholas”, commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas”, was written back in 1823 and is generally attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore (although there have been recent arguments that the poem was in fact written by his contemporary Henry Livingston Jr.) The original poem reads, in part:

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!

As explained on the Donder Home Page (no relation):

In the original publication of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1823 in the Troy Sentinel, “Dunder and Blixem” are listed as the last two reindeer. These are very close to the Dutch words for thunder and lightning, “Donder and Bliksem”. Blixem is an alternative spelling for Bliksem, but Dunder is not an alternative spelling for Donder. It is likely that the word “Dunder” was a misprint. Blitzen’s true name, then, might actually have been “Bliksem”.

In 1994, the Washington Post delved into the matter by sending a reporter to the Library of Congress to reference the source material. (In past years, I’d been able to link to a Geocities site with the full text, but sadly, Geocities is no more.)

We were successful. In fact, Library of Congress reference librarian David Kresh described Donner/Donder as “a fairly open-and-shut case.” As we marshaled the evidence near Alcove 7 in the Library’s Main Reading Room a few days ago, it quickly became clear that Clement Clarke Moore, author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” wanted to call him (or her?) “Donder.” Never mind that editors didn’t always cooperate. […] Further confirmation came quickly. In “The Annotated Night Before Christmas,” which discusses the poem in an elegantly illustrated modern presentation, editor Martin Gardner notes that the “Troy Sentinel” used “Dunder”, but dismisses this as a typo. Gardner cites the 1844 spelling as definitive, but also found that Moore wrote “Donder” in a longhand rendering of the poem penned the year before he died: “That pretty well sews it up,” concluded Kresh.

So there you have it. This Christmas season, make sure you give proper credit to Santa’s seventh reindeer. On DONDER and Blitzen. It’s a matter of family pride.

Photo of three boys and a reindeer


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You may have heard there was an earth-shaking transition in the Canadian government this week. Oh no, not the whole Justin Trudeau thing – although that’s been pretty damn cool, too! No, the transition I’m talking about is that on Monday I started my new job as senior communications advisor on social media for Agriculture Canada. Exciting, right? It was very hard to leave my friends at CRA, and the CRA has been amazing to me in the last four years as I led their social media team. However, I am beyond stoked to be making the jump to a science department, especially in the midst of all the changes happening in the government writ large.

While I will be doing more or less the same thing I’ve been doing at CRA, I’ve learned in the last two days that the job will still be very different. I’ll be doing a lot of preaching and teaching on the use of social media in a professional capacity, for employees ranging from scientists to agricultural trade commissioners. Squee!

The learning curve is steep. In my first two days, I learned about seed potatoes, the TPP, confused flour beetles and geoducks, among other things. Go ahead, do a google image search on geoducks. Are you as surprised as I was to learn that there are no feathers on those ducks? But the people at Agriculture have been kind and welcoming, and our new Minister is from PEI. If that’s not synergy, I don’t know what is. And I love the idea of working with a department that has a stake in farming, and local food, and nutrition, and environmental issues. It’s easy to be passionate about your work when the subject matter is something you care deeply about.

Mooooove along, strange lady with the iPhone!

When I was thinking about writing this post, I thought it was an interesting illustration of how the blog has changed over the years. Back in the day, I blogged every thought and whimsy that trickled through my mind, and you knew in (way too much) detail the minutiae of my daily life. You would have seen every angsty moment of the process, from the out-of-the-blue phone call about the vacancy, to me finding out I got the job (during that epic seventh inning Blue Jays game with the Jose Bautista bat flip, no less!) to the nostalgic departure from CRA. Now the whole thing gets a couple of measly paragraphs in a throw-away post.

I’m occasionally nostalgic for the bloggy intimacy of days gone by, and then I’m occasionally validated in my newly-minted taciturnity. Especially, for example, when a child casually mentions eight words at the dinner table that send me mentally scrambling over the last six months of blog posts: “we looked at your blog in school today.” On the smartboard, in class, no less. I guess the teacher had asked if any of the students followed any blogs, and boy child said, “I’m in one, does that count?” His classmates have since complimented me on my photography skills. In that moment, I was very, very glad that I had not yet completed or hit “publish” on the intimate, meandering post I’d been writing during the Blue Jays playoff run, recollecting how my first marriage disintegrated during the 1993 World Series. Procrastination FTW!

So that’s what’s new and exciting with me. How about you, bloggy peeps? What’s new?


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Fit and fabulous (if not a little hard of hearing) at 46

30 September 2015 It IS all about me

The idea that I’m forty-six years old still sort of freaks me out. In my head, my mom is still 46, and I stopped aging somewhere in my early 30s. Neither one of those compute from a biological let alone mathematical standpoint, but I suppose it’s better to be feeling a decade younger than I […]

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10 tips to walk 10k steps a day

1 July 2015 Me, only better

Did you hear that bellow of “GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL” on Sunday morning? No, that wasn’t an overenthusiastic fan at the FIFA Women’s world cup – that was me, reaching my weight goal after more than a year of (admittedly on-and-off) trying. Yay me! Even better than meeting my weight goal, though, has been that I’m meeting my […]

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In which she makes solid progress in her health and weight goals

6 June 2015 Eating and thinking and thinking about eating

Two months ago, on Easter Sunday, I pulled my FitBit back out of the drawer, where it had been taking a brief break from my wrist. I’ve missed my 10,000 steps per day goal only seven out of the 61 days since then. I’m pretty pleased with that! I’ve really been working on overcoming my […]

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In which she utterly fails to adhere to the idea of moderation. Again.

27 April 2015 Me, only better

You may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. *snort* Not for me “I should write a blog” but “I should write a blog for ten years and turn it into a career” and not just “I should take a few pictures” but “I should take a picture every day for […]

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