Pin-up a creek without a …

How to DIY self-sabotage.

You might think it pretty easy to do it yourself demise, here are some quick tips on how to get there in record time. All you need is a million and one projects to distract you from your main goal which you have conveniently hidden well underneath all of those procrastination excuses. The result being you get everything done quickly and efficiently including the failure to launch or bring to term your main goal, in my case changing my current career and/or occupation.

After my enlightened trip to India I decided to do a ‘sea change’: become a fulltime Yoga Teacher and brand myself as such. The operative word: branding, being a graphic/web designer I figured I would brand myself and then start teaching. What’s the point in paying someone else when I can DIY and get exactly what I want.

Sabotage #1: You will be, by far, your own worst client. The isn’t perfect, water isn’t wet enough, artistic diva will emerge and you will be constantly dissatisfied with the results like some peudo-Leonardo da Vinci creating the CSS Mona Lisa. Second guessing every font choice or doubting the entire style ‘maybe I should have gone with watercolour-grungy steam punk instead of minimalist’ AARRG!

Sabotage #2: You will get addicted to anything that will take you away from your main goal. I discovered Pinterest and got completely hooked creating every DIY project I can pin (5 in the past month alone). I’ve also developed some random insatiable interest in epigenetics and truffle hunting. Writing this blog is a perfect example, you’re welcome.

(I didn’t create that last one)

Sabotage #3:  Deadlines will just take your procrastination to a higher level as they go swooshing by.  Suddenly your place is so clean you can perform surgeries, your ‘need to do list’ is completely ticked off for the next 5 years, your nails look great and you’ve started facestalking ex’s.

Sabotage #4: You find yourself become even more socially awkward and constantly answering “I’m working on it..:(” when people muster up the courage to ask you about it even though your forehead says Don’t ask. Or you become the queen of segue avoiding the subject by talking about the last epigenetics article in Nature or how you love Pinterest.

Final sabotage #5: Your loved ones will suffer. I’ve started training my dogs for truffle hunting even though they hate mushrooms, like every canine out there. Plus, I have no idea where to find truffles in Australia. But nonetheless, I’ve anointed the hole in their favourite trow balls with some pure truffle oil and have them search for the balls during our daily walkies. I’m hoping to one day to be randomly walking through the bush and one of my dogs finds a 1200$, 1.3 kg Perigord Truffle under an oak tree. Not to mention my poor husband who has been patiently supportive (or secretly consulting a psych ‘spa’) of all these crazy ideas.

I better get off my blog and get back to writing website content, which is about as pleasant as medieval dentistry.

Published in: on September 12, 2012 at 6:09 AM  Leave a Comment  

Pin-up survives India

Back in business.

I have survived India and came back a changed woman. When people tell you: ‘you need to go to India to understand’. They are right. Please note: having ignored my blog, my excitement to write might make my narrative a little diarrhoetic (had to spell-check that one), I apologise for it and the mental image.

I’m going to start with the Ashram experience. As you may know from my previous entry. I planned to spend a month in a small secluded South Indian Ashram. When planning such a trip fears arise and the best way to get over them is to have a contingency plan. In case anything went wrong with plan A (aka; my fears come true) Plan B would be to motorbike across India, in theory.

Biggest fear #1 was to arrive in India and the whole thing would have been a scam. No Ashram and nowhere to go. I arrived at night in a very busy airport (ps. everywhere in India is busy) and was greeted by a surprised customs agent with an elated: ‘a foreigner!’ I was indeed the only foreigner and stuck out like a sore thumb (ps. you stand out anywhere you go in India). My fears only got worse after the berating line of questioning and suspicious looks about this Ashram’s whereabouts and why I was traveling alone, then I was subsequently released with a ‘good luck’ into the busy sticky night air. I have NEVER been happier to see a sign with my name on it.

Biggest fear #2 was to arrive in a slum, have to bunk with a Ganja smoking, hygienically challenged, parasite infested dreadlock wearing flighty pseudo-vegan and 1 shared dunny (outhouse). It was the complete opposite. The Ashram was a temple; everything about it was absolutely stunning and immaculate. I shared a stately room (with private en suite) with a gorgeous and delightful creature called Ali who looks like a London runway model and has the temperament of mother Theresa. We are now friends for life.

Biggest fear #3 was to be the only sane one there in the midst of a cult like leader and his devoted followers. Again the absolute contrary. The Yogi was a cross between Mahatma Gandhi and Yoda; warm, loving and funny. The other students were just as selfless and grounded as I am, if not more. 2 other girls became my soul mates through this Ashram experience. Vaishali, whom I like to consider my Indian twin or at the very least sister, has the gorgeous looks of a famous Bollywood star with the elegance and fortitude of a warrior goddess. Akiko, whom I would perform harakiri for, has the beauty and fearlessness of a Japanese Amazon and is one of the most intelligent women I know. These 3 women and I will be friends for life.

Our little UN quatro would paint the local towns on our 1 day off a week, dressed like locals and riding around in an auto-rickshaw. Think ‘Sex and the City’ meets Bollywood with a little Ab Fab. I’ve learned quite a lot during those outings and here are my South Indian Survival tips:

Tip #1: Don’t worry about the Indian head wobble you will contract, it is highly contagious and symptom usually occur within 3 days of arrival.

Tip #2: Guide books are wrong, only know half the story or are outdated the minute after they go to print. To find out anything simply ask and ask again, again and again, especially if you were misunderstood or the person was wrong. Don’t be shy; everybody does it, not just tourists.

Tip #3: April-May which is ‘low season’ according to guide books is actually HIGH SEASON for Indians. It is the busiest time to travel in India because it is pre-monsoon, end of school holidays and honeymoon season. Yes it is low season for European travellers, but who cares when 1.25 billion people are on holiday. Trains, Planes, buses and some hotels must be booked months in advance or be prepared to wait in line and modify your travel plans.

Tip #4: Relax, trust and go with the flow. This must be applied to everything in India from road traffic and pedestrian traffic to the bureaucracy and rules in public transport, temples or even while shopping. India is crowded. Think of the most crowded experience you’ve lived through (that includes you Tokyoites) and multiply that by 10 or possibly more. If you hate crowds go to New Zealand, unless you have a fear of sheep.

Overall this Indian Ashram yogic training gave me the best shape of my life, got rid of my gluten intolerance and Insomnia. It is now on my ‘top 10 best things I ever did’ list as opposed to the ‘top 10 worse things I ever did’ (see this or that). I highly recommend India, especially if you are afraid of sheep.

Published in: on August 23, 2012 at 8:51 AM  Leave a Comment  

Pin-up in India

India here I come, I think.

For some unknown but probably hormonal reason I decided to revamp my life. I am going to India to learn the true yogic path.  You read it right I’m going to do an intensive Yoga teachers training for a month in a South Indian Ashram. No it is not due to a court order for anger management. Those of you who know me would have been less surprised to hear I was joining Scientology, was jailed for being a serial killer or worse that I was pregnant. I am not pulling a flaky eat-prey-luv, no offense to Liz or Julia, I’m looking at this like a retirement plan. I plan to be one of those healthy bendy cheeky 70 year olds backpacking through China and flirting with young men. Let’s just call it the ultimate DIY healing from the inside out.

I’ve now realized that planning anything when it comes to India will cause meltdowns, severe emotional meltdowns due to frustrating bureaucratic autocratic badly programmed systems that you will have no choice but to deal with. Probably with good reason, how do you manage 1.21 billion people and growing?  Of course I came to this reasoning while drunk, be sure that dealing with Indian visas, train tickets and money transfers will drive you to drink.  Jumping hoops for a visa is tolerable if not expected, but booking a train requires a crash cart handy to revive you and your computer.  Since early 2012 it is easier to break into an e-banking system for millions than it is to defraud the IRCTC Indian railway online reservation system out of a single 26$ train ticket. I would not wish this experience on anybody, not even my childhood nemesis Chantal Pigeon who tricked me into eating ants, we were 8 and the name has been changed to protect the guilty.

I found some comfort and vindication in online forums and good advice sites like www.seat61.com . But even after 3 days of countless hours online, charges and refunds to my credit cards, emailing and fruitless international calls I have not been able to book any train ticket for mid-May. The added insult is it is low season in the South of India because it is hotter than being pepper sprayed in a sauna, I can’t imagine planning a trip during peak season. I think the only option I have left is to set myself up for adoption on eBay and see if a nice Indian family is willing to add me as one of their daughters on their IRCTC account, I come with my own Sari. They should just call it Catch 22 tourism, every guidebook tells you the way to experience India is by train and to book well ahead of time. Well.

Dealing with an Ashram also takes some deep breathing and a roo size leap of faith. I had to wire money to some dude called Ravi Kumar (e.g. John Smith) to secure my yogini spot (they take only 12 on a first come first serve). Eagerly I head out to my Western Union branch to do the transfer, because online was a very scary experience, turns out the branch was worse. I’ve had brushes with death that weren’t as worrisome. A very judgmental teller is asking you if you personally know the recipient, are you willing to waiver the risks that you might be sending money to a scammer, that India particularly is a scammer hub, etc… I mean, India owns 17.5% of world pop according to Schmoogle, odds are…

Then it all went radio silent after an email that said ‘We will send a detailed mail shortly’. What does that mean? So after a few unanswered emails and only a month before departure I gave in and called them. I could have been calling some dude Kumar’s apartment in Chennai for all I knew. He was very excited to get a call from Australia and offered me to speak to one of the Australian tourist staying in the Ashram, before I could respond he told me she couldn’t talk because she was ‘in silence’ and he hung up saying I would receive a detailed mail soon. This did nothing to appease my suspicions. Eventually I did get an e-mail stating that they had received my deposit, that my spot was secure and would send a detailed mail soon. I am still waiting for my ‘detailed mail’ and I leave in a week.

Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 5:39 AM  Comments (1)  

Pin-up Carpentry

Who needs IKEA

Is it December already!?! I read a study about how time seems to pass at a faster rate as we age because of pre-established neural pathways. So we don’t recreated new memory pathways but use the same old ones as ‘shortcuts or freeways’ for the regular mundane stuff we do over and over (locking the door, turning off the stove, etc…). And if you want to ‘slow down’ time you just need to do something completely outside your neural network, like rice harvesting in China. I’ve experienced this slow down recently when I tried to build a bed/desk. DIY at its finest.

Yes my friends I got this IKEA franken-furniture design in my head and decided to build it to save space & money. It is a guest bed that converts into a) couch & coffee table combo or b) couch & office desk combo. Apparently I was severely hungry for some fresh memory pathways. Having never built anything before, much less handled a circular saw, I took on this project like a seasoned chippy (carpenter); without the skill, common sense or knowledge of course.

I headed out to my local lumberyard/Bunnings/HomeDepot and got myself some wood, some metal bits to hold it all together and hired some tools. No permit or papers required to rent out these power tools. I mean I could be cutting up a body for all they knew.

My first step was building the bed frame and then sawing it in half. Not as fun as I thought it would be, destroying something you spent blood, sweat & tears putting together. My second step was to patch it up again transformer style with hinges and door bolts so it can be taken apart and put back at will or whenever we have guest; which will probably be never if they read this. And my final step was to make sure it all worked as it should, that the bed could withstand acrobatic couples, that the desk wasn’t made for Hobbits or giants and that it all looked good.

Mistake # 1: lack of skill. Respect right angles and measure twice but cut once is good advice. Raw materials aren’t straight or cut to exact measure and if you add that to my unpracticed hand when it comes to sawing in straight lines, you get millimeter and angle degrees differences that add up to create the most warped corners you have ever seen outside Gaudi architecture.

Mistake # 2: lack of common sense. Even if it’s raining constantly and you can wait any longer or you’ll have a breakdown, never but never bring the sawing indoors; did you know sawdust sticks to walls? Well I do now. The entire house was a construction zone for a 2 piece furniture set.

Mistake #3: lack of knowledge. Don’t guesstimate anything. After my initial ‘oh I didn’t think of that’ or ‘how did this happen?’ I spent countless trips to the hardware store buying & getting refunds for stuff that did not fit or workout. I managed to put this monstrosity together in 3 weeks; when the rough exaggerated estimate was 3 days.

I now have a new found respect for carpenters.

Thanks to my neurosis for making everything bomb proof, the set looks a little rustic/industrial but my future guests and I can enjoy this furniture without the need of a chiropractor.

Published in: on December 5, 2011 at 2:45 AM  Comments (1)  

Pin-up in a Tutu

Future ballerina bites the dust.

August barely made a pit stop and went swooshing by F1 style, without the sexy cars or outfits. I’ll try just about anything if it involves a cool outfit. This month I decided to sew for myself a cute little ballerina type tulle skirt to prepare for spring (southern hemisphere remember) because one day it hit 20C and everyone went spring crazy. You needed your sunnies for the warm hot glow of a spring sun and to fend off the glare of all those bare white legs, mine included. I’ll often get myself into sewing projects with the confidence of Coco Chanel. Unfortunately the result would barely make the export quality cut in an Indian sweatshop, but there is the occasional piece I get to wear proudly and say I made this (only took me 10 hrs, but I still made it).

This skirt idea came about when I decided I wanted to be a ballerina, no I’m not 6. Any idea that spawns into my head needs an outlet or else I’ll implode, obsessed much? OK maybe I am 6. I figured if I wore a tulle skirt, some ‘ballet” flats and walked with good posture I’d get it out of my system. So I started shopping for this skirt, not easy to find and the ones I did find made me look like one of those Hippos from Fantasia. Not a good look. Upon discovering in a glossy magazine that my skirt existed but was not destined for my wallet (455$ a wheels and doll baby design) I decided to do a lighter version of it for 30$. The trick is to use very light weight materials such as stretchy net tulle over a silky jersey (found it all at Spotlight). The sunny day came and went. As much as I would love to proudly prance around in my new skirt, the weather has not permitted it.

Still needing to drain my system of this ballerina itch, I enrolled in a beginner adult ballet class to pursue my obsession. Having NEVER done ballet before (thanks Mum) I had romantic visions of an elegant, delicate & sweet retired ballerina gently teach me the basics. As I entered the class late, arrived at the bar breathless & sweaty I soon realized how delusional I was. The young male teacher built like Conan the Barbarian was closer to a drill sergeant in GI Jane when he started us on basic bar exercises. Barking out position numbers and French terms at such speed, none of which I knew and I speak French. So I did what monkeys do best, I copied the students around me. I realized then I was surrounded by prima ballerinas & Baryshnikovs with perfect posture, arm styling and turnout. I had no idea what to do with my arms, which was pretty funny but I wasn’t laughing.

Then we all turned to do the same exercises holding the bar with the other hand. I was now in front and could no longer copy on the Anna Pavlova in front of me (I only know of her because I like the dessert.). Inevitably faux pas of faux pas I started doing the steps on the inside of the bar, apparently that is very wrong and was immediately but politely corrected by our teacher. That is when he & the rest of the class realized I was an absolute beginner. I fully expected to get kicked out, especially when they started on the ‘pas de Bourrée’ followed by a ‘pirouette’ in the middle of the studio floor.

Needless to say I did not perform these well (a gross overstatement). I was imagining Anna pirouetting in her grave at the sight. This was no tadpole class, if so I’m definitely pre-larval (sorry I’m no herpetologist either). If this is beginner I thought; I better do some shmoogle-ing and learn the basics for a few years then come back. I am now looking to enroll in pre-primary children’s beginner classes, if they’ll take me.


Published in: on September 2, 2011 at 5:04 AM  Comments (1)  

Pin-up Mechanics

No future in the bomb squad for this pin-up.

Of course this time of year in Melbourne Australia is cold, there are no holidays to speak of and I believe we were thinking of invading New Zealand during the winter months just to give us a day to celebrate during this drab part of winter.  Now I’m a Canadian originally from Montreal and we know cold, so when I say I have never been so cold in my life, I’m not being soft. I feel I’m in a Bronte novel without the layered petticoat to keep me warm. The problem starts with house insulation or lack thereof, the heating or lack thereof and ends with ‘harden-up and just live with it’. So I have. Even though I see my breath in the morning and if it’s 9C outside, it’s 9C inside. That wasn’t a complaint but a meteorological observation (big 72 point word).

So my iPhone and I felt the need to fiddle with the sound system in my warm sunny truck one week-end to escape the cold and to eventually celebrate an auxiliary hook-up to the stereo. My truck is not that old but it is pre-aux, as I found out the hard way by tearing the whole thing apart, thank you shmoogle. With a bowel gutted X-Trail I headed to my local cheap electronics retailer to get a very bottom of the line car stereo to replace my current dinosaur, let’s face it I just want to listen to my tunes and avoid obnoxious radio ads and/or announcers. I managed to escape with a very good stereo at a ‘very good deal’ slightly over my budget, hmm. I rationalize by thinking I will save on the installation fee if I DIY, I mean I’m half there already. Note: when disconnecting 4×4 dial & Hazard lights vehicle stays in 4WD and blinkers don’t work.

I open the new car stereo box and upon seeing the rainbow display of wiring worthy of a sophisticated bomb I realize I know nothing of electronics. How hard can it be, just cut and reconnect the copper twisty bits, it’s not going to blow if I get it wrong, or will it? After some shmoogle consultation with my trusty iPhone assistant I found some sound advice and a wiring diagram, huzzah! Note: If you get the wiring wrong and don’t disconnect your car battery you will electrocute yourself to death and worse fry your new stereo.  Good to know. Thank you shmoogle.

Off to the local hardware store to get some wiring butt connectors (that’s what they’re called) to join the car manufacturer’s secret color coded wiring to the commercial car stereo’s wiring. I’m exhausted just writing about it. After explaining my plan to 2 different employees, they sent me to an expert. I always get a very surprised look when I share my little DIY projects. My plan is to avoid all that messy ‘cutting off the plastic sheathing on the wires according to size’ and simply burn it off with a lighter instead, and yank the plastic end with my fingers (like curing the end of a rope).  The retired sparky that works the Bunning’s electrical department gave me a doubtful one raised eyebrow look. When I asked him if that was wrong, he just shrugged his shoulders and said it was the first he’s heard of it. Well it worked fine for me, once I cracked the windows to get some fresh air.

My iPhone and I are very happy with the end result and have been enjoying playlist after playlist. Of course it took us the better part of the day to get it done and the second time around will probably only take 45min, but it was a productive way to stay warm.

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 4:20 AM  Leave a Comment  

The melting pin-up in hot yoga

Extreme Yoga

June has been a tad cold so I thought what better time to enroll in Hot Yoga. This torturous yoga is performed in a crowded room heated to 39°C or 1001°F (for those of you who have never heard of this). It is also called Bikram Yoga and I am pretty sure was invented for skinny 40kg vegetarian yogis, not hot blooded carnivorous French Canadian polar bears. With no prior yoga experience I entered this world under the influence of a friend whose nick-name is Gumby. That should have been my first clue. They warn you not to eat a few hours prior to these ‘90 minutes in hell’ and to bring a towel to cover your yoga mat. I would have needed a rain water tank to contain the liters and liters of sweat pouring from my every pore. Let me tell you lotion is not your friend, the heat only made me sweaty and slippery as a fish when it is supposed to help you push your yoga positions deeper; that is if you can get into them in the first place.

Hardly half way into it I really thought I was going to have an aneurism, I could barely breathe, my head was spinning & I was nauseous. I hoped the child size yoga instructor saw my state and was calling an ambulance, but when I stopped & gathered my whits about me I noticed half the room looked the way I felt. Almost everyone had a look of desperation like they were about to scream uncle.

That’s when I realized that this is what Bikram’s about. Pushing your own limits in crazy heat and reaping the rewards of ‘almost’ yoga positions. And I did, after the initial overheating wore off and I stepped out into the cold air where I belonged, I felt amazing & bendy for a week. So I went back and cursed myself a second time: ‘what were you thinking you silly girl putting yourself through this again, don’t you remember how painful this was the first time? Haven’t you learned? This is not for you.’ This internal rant has occurred every time I have gone to Bikram, 5 times so far. And I can’t help but go back, I’m a junkie & I’m thinking of starting a support group called EA (endorphinolics anonymous) to get more addicts hooked.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 5:33 AM  Comments (1)  

To bleach or not to bleach

I told you so

May was all about ‘I should know better’. You get to a certain age where novice mistakes aren’t cute, they’re just plain idiotic. So I fully deserve the painfully expensive consequences of my silly actions. Now I’m looking for a little sympathy & a cuddle. I am sure I’m not the only woman to go ‘… I’m sick of spending over 250$ for hair highlights, how hard can it be to DIY…’ famous last words.

Experimenting with bleach on long hair shouldn’t be done 2 days before a girl’s night out, lesson #1.

Deciding to do a ‘Balayage technique’ with the confidence of a L’Oreal expert & YouTube’s ‘How To’ does not a professional make, lesson #2.

Buying a bleach kit from your local supermarket is not the best way to get a salon result, lesson #3.

Panicking whilst having bleach on your head does not help in any way, lesson #4.

Making sure your trustworthy hair professionals who can bail you out aren’t on holiday, maternity leave and overseas, lesson #5.

Expect to be laughed at but not ridiculed when looking for an expert to fix your mess, they see at least one of you a week, lesson #6.

We’ve all heard the horror stories and wise women’s advice saying ‘don’t try this at home; you’ll regret it you’ll see’. But for some stubborn Darwinian-missing-link reason I thought I was special and that I would succeed with the best and cheapest highlights known to woman. Instead of the Cindy Lauper orange, yellow & brown chalky dotted mess I ended up with. I looked like a hair pulling psychiatric patient. I should have put myself in a straight jacket the instant this idea popped into my head. They were right, all of them. I knew it, I did it anyway and everything went wrong.

Thinking Murphy’s Law won’t apply to you this time is delusional, lesson #7.

The cost for this hair brained experiment was 20$ for the kit+ Blood, Sweat & Tears+ 320$ for the fix+ 50$ in cocktails to drown the pain.

I ended up with the same gorgeous pro highlights I always get, with 5min to spare before girls night and 5 years off my life.

Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 8:25 AM  Comments (1)  

First day on the blog

Pin-up gardening The Pin-up & the Push Mower

Before I waste your time this will be a blog about a girl who loves to get into trouble. From life’s little mishaps to DIY projects. Entertaining although poorly written, I do promise to keep it light and funny. My soap box will stay in the shed.

I own a circa 1950’s push mower and I love using it. I get very excited, put on my Lucille Ball headband and gloves and hit the turf, or knee high grass in this case. My neighbors are bewildered, they rush out to my rescue with their power mowers or watch me while walking their dogs and shake their heads thinking my husband is a lazy cheapskate. But how do you tell a well intentioned gentleman that you choose to sweat it out with your antique? While I can’t imagine myself running like a rodent on a gym treadmill I easily do imagine myself in the 50’s when I get ready to mow the nature strip on the corner of my property. It’s my own little time-warp.

And just when my surroundings were coming to terms with this warped ritual of mine, the push mower broke. Slightly disappointed but hopeful, with the lawn half mowed, miss fixeverything tried to salvage her “heirloom” in an embarrassing display of rotted wood and rusty screws held together with duct cloth tape. It broke again. After trying to fix it a third time a spectator who couldn’t handle the sight any longer made an intervention. I was advised to go to my local hardware store and for “heavens sake” purchase a new one for under 70$. So I did.

After an Ikea type assembly, I am now the proud owner of a brand new 2010 push mower that must have been designed for Barbie & Ken’s Malibu Dream Lawn. It is the lightest littlest thing I ever had to bend down to reach for. I almost returned it thinking I must have picked it up in the children section or there were parts missing. No, this is how they are made today. I still enjoy the mow, but I do miss my antique.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 6:36 AM  Leave a Comment  
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