Wednesday, August 17, 2011

20 SB BLog Swap #9 with a guest blog from Hazel Loves Design!

I have just finished speaking to my sister in Christchurch, where she is currently in bed with the snow building up outside, it is about two feet deep at the moment. Here in Melbourne it is only raining, so I should be grateful!

But I swear I am really, really looking forward to the summer. So while you lucky folk in the northern hemisphere are basking in the sun reflecting on the summer that has been we are dreaming of the summer to come.

Hello folks, I'm Hazel and I am visiting from Hazel Loves Design today Ruthy and I are swapping blogs and each sharing a piece on 'Summer'. So that brings me to today's post, it doesn't matter what part of the world you live in, whether you are gay or straight, single or married we all need to know about summer living essentials.

I have compiled my top ten favourite things to create a summer filled with fun and frivolity!

1. SUMMER FASHION; Let's be honest, who doesn't love loosing the countless the layers, the massive coats and slipping into a sexy summer dress and a pair of thongs! The best thing about summer dresses is that they come in all shapes and sizes, from the long and draping maxi dress, to the tight and short, (sometimes super short) body con dresses!

But they have one common denominator... COLOUR!!! I'm currently wearing head to toe black, and have been for months, I can't wait for December to come and I can pop on some colour.

2. GORGEOUS WEDGES; I love wearing thongs in the summer, when I was living in the warmer climate of the Gold Coast I had a pair in every colour!! But this year I am loving the trend of wedges, so I can't wait to rock out with a pair of wedges and a gorgeous pedicure...

3. A FRENCH PEDICURE; Slightly extravagant in this tough economic climate, but worth absolutely every penny! There is something about slipping on a pair of thongs (or this year wedges) with a gorgeous pedicure... LUST!
French Pedicure
I'm not one to wear a lot of makeup so for me dressing in something gorgeous is like putting on a face full of make up for other women. It makes me feel confident with myself. And you know what they say about confidence, if you feel confident, other people see it radiating from you and automatically are drawn to you.

Isn't that what summer is all about, dreaming about meeting the unknown, having lavish amounts of fun and feeling confident and gorgeous whilst doing so.

Now I know I'm writing on a blog about dating, but here is one small problem, I've been in a monogamous relationship since I was nineteen, I'm now twenty-seven and happily married. So I'm slightly out of touch with the dating scene.

But there is something I have learnt since I've grown older. You won't find the man of your dreams by searching for him, one day he will materialise out of no where!! So you need to look after YOU, make YOU feel beautiful, intelligent and worthy.

For the longest time I thought summer was all about THE TAN, it has taken me years of burning my skin trying to tan, to learn that my 'Princess Skin' (read white as a vampire) just won't tan so I have learnt to accept my pale skin.

This realisation has completely changed summer for me, instead of spending hours in tanning salons and applying the fake tan, I now appreciate the other parts of summer. And spend a lot more on sunscreen lotion!

It is amazing the small things you find as you grow older. Which is where I come to my next two favourite things..

4. ROAST DINNER SLOW COOKED ON THE WEBER; Oh. My. I must be getting old, when a recipe out of Jamie Oliver has me dripping saliva on my top more than an all nighter at the local clubs!!
Weber BBQ
But there is something about the smell of a roast cooking over the hot coals while watching the sun set red plains of the outback that screams summer to me.

I also love the way the males especially the alpha males flock to the cooking on these occasions.

**Note for the single, aim for the guy with an ability to cook!!**

So surround yourself with friends, laughter and a bucket load of my next favourite thing...

5. THE MOJITO; Any flavour of mojito from the humble basic mojito through to any of the latest flavours to come about, my recent favourite is the raspberry mojito.. YUMMY! I don't drink a lot these days, so definitely quality over quantity for me!

So that will be me this summer, we will be renting a beach house with our nearest and dearest, enjoying evenings of great food and great company. Creating the memories of tomorrow.

I hope that your summer has been full of these and I hope that you've managed to meet some lovely friends along the journey. Who knows one of these friends may end up being tomorrows Romeo... one can only hope!!

Enjoy the rest of your summer... and think of me, for I'll be unpacking my summer wardrobe shortly!!

:) Hazel

Friday, August 5, 2011

Makin' Up and Breakin' Up and the Monkey in the Middle

When we are younger it seems so normal to take sides.  Letting people cut in line, or adversely, refusing to save their spot in line, so when they get back they have to go all they way to the end. Then in high school it’s all about cliques and the latest gossip.  It seems like life is a revolving door of who is in the group and who is out.  Then, with time, we get a little bit more mature.  Our circle of friends broadens and then narrows, leaving many closer, more significant relationships. Then our more significant friends meet other people, fall in love, and our circle once again starts to grow.  Two guys who have been friends for years start seeing two girls and those two girls become best friends.  Everyone is happy.  Double dating is a breeze.  And then a horrible thing happens- someone breaks up.  Gone are the fun days of dinner and drinks, here to stay are the endless nights of consoling one’s friend and the “he said/she said” scenario of doom.  

Maybe he did go out with his friends until 4am every day of the week and maybe she did once stand over his (what she thought) sleeping body with a knife in one hand and a cocktail in the other, but all you really care about is keeping relationships with both these people you’ve come to love.  You don’t like them because of the way they liked each other, you like them because of the way they made you feel.  You know that they both kicked each others’ hearts in the ass, however, you’re not in the judging department.   In fact, we make a point not to judge our friends too much. As long as they are essentially good people and not psychopaths- we would like to keep our friends because it isn’t always easy to make more.   

Let’s face it- most marriages end in divorce and most people will break up.  Life is very stressful.  Money, career, and children are only a few things that add to a couple’s breaking point.  Add some deceit in there and a little emotional unavailability and you’ve got a great formula for someone’s relationship to dissolve.  As friends it is our job to be the shoulder they cry on, however, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.  How many times has a couple broken up and you’ve heard yourself say, “but they seemed so happy!”

I used to think that not taking a stand for one side or the other meant that I was supporting all the things that were negative, but then I realized that nobody is perfect.  I concentrate on who that person is and think about the things that they have done for me.  Did they come visit me?  Did they remember my birthday?  Were they there for me when I needed someone to talk to?  Are they trying to bring everyone into their relationship drama or do they actually need someone to talk to?  There will always be drama, but is that person maintaining respect or are they airing out their former partner’s dirty laundry for everyone to see?  I start to consider those two people as just that, two separate people .

Break-ups are messy.  That’s why they are called break-ups and not put-togethers.  After a certain age, we don’t want to make our friends go all the way to the back of the line anymore because I think we know that one day it could be us, and we don’t want to be at the end of the line either. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Indecent Proposal

I love the movie an Indecent Proposal with Robert Redford, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson. Robert Redford’s character, absolutely enchanted, offers Woody Harrelson (a recently laid off architect) one million dollars for one night with his wife (Demi Moore).  They go through with the agreement because of their recent financial strife and it ruins their marriage.  After the couple splits, Robert Redford does everything he can to woo the newly single Demi Moore, and succeeds.  The audience doesn’t really know Robert Redford’s motives until the end of the film.  The twist at the end only solidifies Robert Redford’s character not only as an amazing man, but as an amazing person as well.  It’s the fairy tale story of a one night stand that turns into an incredible love affair with a tried and true gentleman.  I was hooked.  I watched the film three times and wanted nothing less than to find my own debonair multi-millionaire or at least something close to it.

I had never really put much thought into it until I met my best friend’s boyfriend’s friend (are you still with me?) from high school, an architect who lives in New York.  On our first meeting he was leaving to go back to NY in the morning and my friend insisted that I go out with them and have a few drinks.  So, being the adventurous person that I am, I did just that.  I think the architect and I had one very light hearted conversation about my Cuban roots, but most of it consisted of my giggling and drunken banter with my friend.  The evening came to a close and my friend drove me back to my car which was parked at her apartment.  
While we were en route she received a text from the architect.  Unbeknownst to him, I was the keeper of my friend’s cell phone since texting and driving is a big no no, and it was not my friend who was reading and replying to his text messages, but me.  He said that he liked me and wanted to ask me for an audience at a more intimate second location, but it would be awkward because we had only just met, etc.  He suggested that she suggest to me that he should meet me at my apartment.  We had already gotten to my car at that point, so I left the conversation open for her to finish, and headed home.  She then called me and asked me what I thought.  My thoughts were that nothing good happens after 11pm and it was already midnight, to wish the architect happy travels, and that I was going home to enjoy the fact that a guy was attracted to me and fall into bed.  And that is exactly what I did.  

The next day she informed me that she gave the architect my email address and I received an email that said meeting me was great and that if I was ever in New York we should definitely continue our conversation.  I replied with my phone number and with the lighthearted incentive that if he should ever think of something witty to text me, he should.  I guess whit was not one of his strong points because I heard nothing of the architect until months later when my friend informed me he was going to be in Los Angeles working on a project.  At the same time I got the opportunity to take a road trip to my home town with my friends E and D.  I made dinner plans with my friend as a send off for a trip she was taking with her boyfriend and as a last get-together before I went on hiatus.   

While driving to the restaurant my friend called and let me know that her boyfriend and the architect would be joining us.  My thoughts were: the more the merrier and I left things on a high and open note.  We sat together at the restaurant, taking advantage of the amazing happy hour, and talking about whatever young women find to talk about.  Her boyfriend and the architect eventually joined us where random conversation continued and I asked the architect about what he was doing with work.  I think perhaps two complete sentences were spoken between us.  We then moved the casual conversation to their apartment, where the architect was staying, and we all tiredly and awkwardly sat for about an hour.  My friend’s boyfriend asked me if I wanted to stay the night at their place because of the late hour, but I politely declined, citing that I had to get home to my cat (the single woman’s excuse).  I said goodbye and wished them all good luck and a safe trip.  

After two days of thought and angst over being the one to make the first move and realization that in a world with no dating rules, it doesn’t really matter, I emailed the architect about “hanging out” knowing that the worst I would receive was the single man’s excuse of:  I’m so busy, maybe next time.  He replied with a cheerful, “sure” and I was a young woman with a date for a date.  The plot thickens.  I only had two days left in town at this point, which left that night or the next day.  So we made plans for that night, however, because of his 16 hour work day and promise to have dinner with our friends, he wasn’t going to be able to do anything until after midnight.  I was once again left with my original dilemma that nothing good happens after 11pm, however, it had been intercepted by the thought that though nothing good happens, that doesn’t mean that something great couldn’t happen.  I was now a woman not only with a date, but with the fantasy that I was going to have the greatest guy-from-out-of-town rendezvous ever.  My roommate was on a trip so I had the apartment all to myself.  My friend, D, came over to boost my inner siren’s ego.  By dusk I was totally going to have the most amazing night ever, Indecent Proposal was fresh in my mind, and nothing was going to stop me.

2am and mid Return of the Jedi I was feeling a little less like Demi Moore being whisked away to a yacht and a little more like myself again.  The architect finally arrived, apologizing for it being so late. He was also going to have to drive our friends to the airport in three hours, so I gave him a tour, opened a bottle of wine, and we sat in my living room and talked.  One conversation led to another and he said that in the last hour he had been waiting for me to lead him to my bedroom.  Then one thing led to another and it was 5:30am and he was back at my front door and we were saying goodbye.  I went back to sleep and the next morning I was on the road and in El Paso by that evening.

I did not hear from the architect for a month and I realized my recent obsession with Indecent Proposal had led me to a rushed, faux romantic encounter.  The fantasy was that I was going to have this amazing evening and possibly a lover in a new city, but the reality was an uncomfortable night and a phone number in my contacts that I ended up deleting.  I knew that the architect was not going to be Robert Redford.  I also knew that this person was not going to be anything more than a possibility for a new friend or connection in a distant and interesting city.  What I did not think was that this situation was going to be the complete opposite of what I had in mind.  Not only had I not been able to produce a night which met my standards (fantasy or not), but now I was adding him to that mental list of men we women all keep fresh in our minds: the ones you never hear from again and just assume probably died.  

Indecent Proposal?  No.  An interesting yet common story?  Yes.  However, the guy is an architect, so maybe that puts me one step closer. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Celebrating Your Independence

Today is the 4th of July or better known to Americans as Independence Day.  Because I was born in Canada and brought up by a Cuban father and Canadian mother, I've never quite been as patriotic as most Americans.  I never miss a chance to see amazing fireworks, eat red, white and blue cake, or drink to the beginning of the country I call home, however,  I don't quite celebrate with the same gusto as others.  This year I've decided to take a different view of this national holiday.  I'm celebrating my own independence.

Last fourth of July I was still technically living with my ex.  We had just broken up and my new living arrangements weren't going to take effect until August.  I decided to go to the neighbor's and celebrate by meeting a slew of happy party goers, eat hot dogs, and drink cheap beer.  After a fun evening and a fireworks show we watched from the corner of our street, I was aggressively pulled away from the group by my ex and questioned about what details I had told people about our break up.  Apparently a mutual friend of ours had texted him and berated him about a conversation I had with him the day before.  The evening definitely ended with a bang, but not the bang of fabulous fireworks that I had hoped for.  Instead I was forced to leave my apartment by an irate ex and ended up staying at friends' places for the rest of July.

It's been one year since that last encounter and my life has changed in so many positive ways.  I now live with a fabulous roommate in a great apartment.  I've become more of my own person than ever before and am a happier, more independent person.  I've been able to work solely on myself and only have my family and friends to worry about.  Instead of concentrating on why someone else isn't happy with me, I concentrate on whether I am happy with myself.  I am living my life the way that I want to live it.

Independence Day doesn't have to only be about the birth of a nation.  It can be about celebrating the independence that we find within ourselves.  The strength to make tough decisions and to grow is one that everyone should celebrate and I can't think of a better day to do so. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Instant Gratification

I live in a world of instant gratification.  I turn on the TV and get over 500 channels and if I don't like what's playing on TV I can always hop onto Netflix and get a plethora of movies at my fingertips.  I text my friends and get immediate responses back.  I carry a phone with me at all times which gives me access to my email and the internet.  If I have a question, I don't think about it very long, I just google the answer.  I live a life of information overload that rewards me with the right answers pretty much 24/7.  As I'm writing this blog I'm simultaneously checking my facebook and looking up words in a thesaurus so that I don't repeat the word gratification too many times.

When does all this easy access technology not help me?  After a good first date.  Believe me, I want to put down the phone and be that all too elusive young woman, a mystery to be unfolded, but instead I end up straining to hear the all too elusive bubble pop noise my phone makes when it gets a text message.  My mind swirls with questions: Should I call first?  Should I wait a couple of days? Should I even say anything at all? And then of course I google those questions and end up scrolling the yahoo boards and their inane responses from 14-year-olds avoiding their math lectures (gurl if he be waitin' then don't be datin') and 40-year-old men that seem to have way too much time on their hands (I always send flowers immediately after a first date and possibly a lock of my hair).  I get so caught up in my split-second answer binge that I actually forget that the moments of uncertainty, quiet, and waiting are what make relationships into relationships.

Not many stories of romance or true love start with, "well, he blew up my phone all week and I knew it was love."  They start with hesitation and excitement for what may or may not come next.  If a man pays too much attention to me at the beginning of an affair, I'm supremely annoyed.  I instantly feel like this person has no respect for my time and thinks that it should be spent discussing how late he worked or why broccoli is not his favorite vegetable.  Well, I have news for you, I may be sitting in my pajamas on Friday night watching Indecent Proposal for the second time in a row, but I most certainly do not have time to text you back, "yeah, sucks to work late and I like broccoli but only with a lot of melted cheese."

Even though I love having all the answers all the time, I really don't want that from the beginning of what may or not be someone I'm willing to share a bathroom with.  The best part of falling in love is slowly finding out about someone and figuring out if they are someone you want to continue spending time with or want to avoid at all costs.   I want to be living each step of my life and be happy with it, not waiting for my phone to light up with Mr. Potential's number.  It doesn't mean I won't be happy to hear back about date number two, but it does mean that I won't be stressing if it never happens.  The old saying goes, good things happen two those who wait, or in my case, to she who has as much fun as possible and leaves the waiting to the people serving up her next mojito.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Serial Monogamy / Cereal Monogamy

I’ve been boy crazy my whole life.   Not only have I been boy crazy, but I’m also a serial monogamist.  This is the first time in my life that I can honestly say:  I have no crushes, no gentlemen callers, and not one prospect of a male counterpart anywhere in sight.  It has been a while since I have not needed anything from anyone but myself, and I must say I love it.  This has given me many the hour of self introspection.  Just like eating the same cereal everyday I was in fact picking the same person with every relationship.  I also didn’t pick wholesome, delicious cereals.  I chose snap, crackle, pop, frosted flakes, and Trix.   I have never understood children’s fascination with Trix because it tastes like corn dust, processed with Elmer’s glue to create balls, painted with those fruity smelling markers we all used to love in the second grade and is clearly rabbit food.  In reality, as you know from my very first blog post,  I love good cereals, so why not pick men like I pick my cereal? 

I guess just like we get fixated with the way things taste when we are young, I didn’t realize that just because something tastes good does not mean that it’s good for me.    Now that I am somewhat older and wiser, I know that when something is bright and colorful it may still be filled with artificial flavors like the aforementioned rabbit food cereal.  I know when I’m being manipulated or lied to and have started to read men like I read the nutritional facts of a box.  10% daily value of charm, 30% daily value of BS, and throw in a little creeper in there and it’s part of a complete breakfast.  You know what I don’t like part of my complete breakfast- desperation, neediness, tantrum throwing, and whining.  I wouldn’t eat a cereal that contained things I didn’t enjoy, why spend any of my time with a man who contains qualities I don’t enjoy? If I only eat cereals that do good things for me, then I think I’m going to have to start demanding the same things from the guys in my life.  Just like my usual morning meal- I’m looking for high moral fiber and something I won’t get tired of seeing every morning. 

And I have patience- if I can wait up to thirty minutes to make the better-for-you steel cut oats I can wait for most anything. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mr. Darcy Loves You Just The Way You Are

I can’t help but love the stories of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen.  There is something about the way the characters and stories unfold that has captured my attention since I was a young woman.   I seem to live in a world where everything goes so fast; therefore, a fictional story about a relationship developing over months, years and decades has become the greatest of fantasies.  Heathcliff and his obsession, Mr. Rochester and his dark secret, and Mr. Darcy and his pompous ways, in my mind, rival even the smokiest of modern men.  That also goes for the men that play them: Ralph Fiennes (Wuthering Heights), Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice), and the most recent Michael Fassbender (Jane Eyre and also starring in X-Men First Class).  It’s not that any of these actors are particularly hot, but the intensity of their performances are sure to make any female swoon.  I know I’m not the only one.  The stories have been retold in countless ways, the very hilarious Bridget Jones’s Diary I & II, for example. 

Not only are the men of these stories amazing, but so are the women.  They have their faults, jump to conclusions, and err like the best of us.  However, they are also often quick witted, clever tongued, and cleverer written.  They are incorrigible and seen that way by their male counterparts, but somehow the men always seem to come around and desire what they at first disliked.  They realize that in fact these women embody everything that they want, a smart, outspoken, independent human being who doesn’t blend into the wood work.  That ladies and gentlemen is the sexiest of all characteristics- a man who actually wants you for exactly who you are.  In the end of these classic tales, these men would bend over backward and walk through fire in order to keep their lady loves from changing.  And isn’t that what everyone hopes for?  Someone who loves you “just the way you are?”  Not only do these men love them for who they are, but the women wouldn’t have it any other way.  They demand that the men they settle down with love them for who they are or take a hike, and in the end, this is what makes the union that much more special. 

I know I’m not the only woman who loves these books and characters.  I also know that life doesn’t work out like a novel (though at times I wish it did), but I think there is a great lesson in these characters and stories to be learned.  One doesn’t really have to change in order to be with the person one loves, because as long as you have the other person’s best interests at heart, then being yourself is enough.   Also- the very common, don’t judge a book by its cover and that honesty (as long as it’s polite) is the best policy.  You are enough because you are what you have to give and if anyone tells you different, crush on their arch nemesis, escape to the countryside and become a school teacher, or marry someone else and then haunt them after you die... or you could just move on.