An Open Letter to 2015: You Were a Wild Ride

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Dear 2015,

You were a wild ride. So much so, that I had to take a few weeks off from blogging to process everything that’s happened over the past year.

If I remember you for anything, it’s for being the year I finished writing my very first book. 200+ pages of blood, sweat and tears that pushed me (in a good way) as both a human and a writer. Now that I’m putting the finishing touches on the manuscript and getting it ready to send out to potential publishers, the fact that I wrote a book is finally starting to sink in. The reality that I accomplished one of my biggest goals, will always make you special to me.

I will also remember you as the year I did all the fun things. I spent two weeks exploring Los Angeles, visited Palm Springs and saw more amazing live music in 12 months than I ever thought possible. In fact, when I think of all the concerts I saw in the past year, it makes my head spin (D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Rudimental, Sam Smith, Drake & A$ap Rocky to name a few.)

But, let’s get real, 2015. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Amidst all the travel, awesome dates and adventures, you also brought a lot of stuff that was just fucking hard. Breakups. Regrettable choices. Self-doubt. A book that at times was very difficult to write because it required me to sift through a lot of really uncomfortable emotions. But, if I’ve learned anything from the past 12 months it’s that I can do hard things. 

So, lets recount some of the best and worst of our adventures together, 2015.

January started off with a bang (um, literally) with a bunch of sexy reviews. I discovered the Fun Factory Stronic Eins (a vibrator that thrusts. Yep, like an actual person), tried out two new lingerie looks and reviewed one of the most luxurious products yet, The Crave Vesper – a gorgeous gold vibrator that’s worn as a necklace. I also shared the story of Vancouver Guy and decided that dating in your thirties is like that Amerie song – there’s just one thing that’s got you tripping…and it’s BAD. 

In February I reflected on the “lost month” I spent with Party Guy and came to the conclusion that no good can come from doing things that feel good in the pants, but bad in the heart. I also started to date a much younger guy. Although our relationship only lasted a few weeks, he was incredibly sweet and kind. February also saw the launch of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. To celebrate the release I interviewed Cynthia Loyst from The Social and spent a Galantine weekend in Vancouver with my friend Courtney. Another reason February was a big month: I discovered one of my (new) favourite sex toys: the Lelo Ina Wave. It’s been almost a year of play and I’m still smitten (just sayin’)

With the help of Joe the Intern and his friends, I tackled yet again, the epidemic of terrible online dating photos in one of my favourite posts from the past year. I also wrote about what it’s like to date in a small town (sometimes it feels like you’re wearing a scarlet letter) in a another favourite post.

April was a big month for book writing so I didn’t blog much. I did however, go on a virtual shopping trip to Cupid Boutique and celebrate Match.com’s 20th anniversary. April was also when I went on my first date with The Secret Agent, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

In May I had the pleasure of being on a podcast hosted by one of my favourite people, Nicole Antoinette. Our conversation spawned another one of my favourite posts: the one where I dispose of the world’s worst sex toy. During this month, Joe the Intern experimented with Sexting and the results were….interesting. 

A blog face-lift was in order, so in June I launched a new look for Skinny Dip! I also wrote about how it’s important to be brave and follow your intuition when it comes to dating. With the new blog design in place, I finally wrote about The Secret Agent and how we met.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’re probably aware that I spent most of the summer hanging out with SA by the pool and going on a bunch of different adventures. However, July also brought some fun reviews: sexy black lingerie, red underthings or porcelain dildos, anyone?

The highlight of August was attending Squamish Fest – my very first music festival experience, where I saw so many awesome acts (Alabama Shakes! Schoolboy Q! Mumford & Sons! Hot Chip! DRAKE). After the weekend festival, SA and I drove down to Seattle to see D’Angelo. I’ve been dying to see him for YEARS and it was without a doubt, one of the best concerts I have ever seen.

The summer was so jam packed with activity that I wrote about how to recharge and stay inspired when you’re really busy. In preparation for fall, I gave my bedroom a sexy makeover with a new nightstand.

In September (my birthday month) Joe the Intern professed his love to Hipster Barbie and I celebrated my 35th birthday in style with friends and family.

October was all about California! My trip to the Golden State was very, very dreamy. So much so, that it was hard to come back to reality.

2015, I could have done without November. It was a difficult month. SA and I broke up right before Halloween. Between having all the feelings, suffering from post-California let down and experiencing seasonal depression brought on by the dark, dreary weather, November wasn’t my favourite.

I liked December. I wrote about how to get through a breakup on a budget, spent some time in Vancouver and capped off the year with a fun sex toy review. I finished the year with some much needed time off that I spent with friends, family & catching up on books + Netflix.

Whereas I spent last New Year’s Eve swilling champagne and partying my ass off, this year’s celebration was much more subdued. I spent it at home with a good friend & her husband, having a few drinks and eating delicious things. It was a perfect relaxing end to a year that went by at break-neck speed.

2015, you were really something else. You involved epic highs and soul-crushing lows, but I’m grateful for both the good and the bad that you brought. Your ups and downs made me stronger and that much more ready to take on everything 2016 has in store.

Cheers & love,

Simone

 

Why You Should Buy a Woman Flowers & How to Do it Properly

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If you check out my Pinterest or Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that I’m kind of obsessed with flowers – especially now that so many of them are in bloom around here! When it comes to me & flowers, the brighter, the more vivid, the better.

Over the years I’ve learned exactly what kinds of flowers I do and don’t like – especially when it comes to romance. I love peonies, camellias, orchids and anything bright & tropical. I despise carnations and daisies have never been my thing. I love roses, but prefer the brightly coloured ones (deep red roses have always seemed kind of morbid to me.) I used to think it would be super romantic if a guy scattered rose petals on my bed, however the two times someone has done this for me I haven’t enjoyed either experience because it just seemed contrived and forced (hence, my aversion to rose petals.) However, pick me a single camellia while we’re out for an evening walk and I’m yours.

Although I have my preferences when it comes to flowers, I still believe any kind of flower is better than no flower. Here’s a few reasons why I think we should all send and receive more flowers in general.

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Seriously though, I don’t know why people don’t send more flowers. It’s such an easy way to make your loved one feel special and thought of. Any guy who takes the initiative to bring me flowers – even if they’re wild ones he’s picked himself – wins major points. Because, #ROMANCE.

Since Easter and Mother’s Day are coming up, I thought I would consult with Ola Balas, owner of EuroFlowers – one of my favourite florists located in Mississauga, Ontario. Here are a few of her flower giving tips. I’ve also piped in with a few of mine!

FLOWERS 2As you have probably surmised, flowers can be a very personal thing. Although I’m always happy when I receive any kind of flowers, it’s always nice when you can tell that the person took the time to choose something that suits me. For example, I think it’s pretty obvious from my blog that I love bold, bright colours like fuchsia and pink, and all things tropical. My personal style is classic with a bit of edge. Even if you don’t know what kind of flowers she likes, if you have a general idea of her favourite colours or her personal style, that’s always a good place to start. Also keep in mind that your florist is there to help!

FLOWERS 3If you don’t want disappointing flowers, Balas suggests sticking with a local florist. As she explains, the trick is to avoid using a large, discount, flower service like 1-800-flowers and the like.  “These flowers come in a box, dry, with a vase and a set of instructions. The recipient has to set it up herself. It’s awkward and cheap, and the flowers themselves look like they’ve been through a war. Never do this” says Balas. By cutting out the middle man and going directly to a local florist like EuroFlowers, you not only get to support a small business in your community, you’re also more likely to get an arrangement that’s high quality, unique and artful – in other words, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck.

FLOWERS 4Still not sure what kind of flowers to send the object of your affection? Fear not, that’s what your florist is there for! As Balas advises, if you can’t find something perfect on the website, don’t hesitate to call the store directly. As she explains, “always offer a few guidelines but let them use their judgment and expertise. “Something really spectacular”, “something different and edgy”, “romantic but not roses” “as unique and beautiful as she is” and trust that your florist will put together something awesome based on the budget you’ve provided and what’s in stock. As Balas likes to remind us, “florists are artists! Let them show off their talent!”

PS. If you think you might need a vase or container of sorts, make sure you let your florist know. Nothing kills the romance like a gorgeous bouquet that ends up slowly dying on her desk. 

FLOWERS 5And by personalized message, I don’t mean writing something like “Nice boobs, lol” (true story, unfortunately.) However, a sweet, thoughtful, personalized message goes a long way. As Balas explains, “Do NOT just have them add your name to the card. Say something. Imagine the state she’s going to be in when she opens the card after receiving the flowers–take advantage of it.” Also, it  never hurts to include a funny inside joke that only she’ll get. Keep it short and sweet. Be cool. Be appropriate. You’ve got this! 

FLOWERS 6When is a good time to send flowers? Any time! Although flowers are always nice on birthdays, Valentine’s Day and other special holidays or anniversaries, you don’t need it to be a special day to send flowers. Want to make a memorable impression? Send your special person flowers during the day if you know you’re going to see them that night. I asked a couple of my girlfriends what their most memorable flower experience said and unsurprisingly, most of them said that it was when they received them “just because.” However, there is such a thing as overkill. As Balas reminds us, send flowers whenever “but not too often. Don’t spoil her too much!” 

Do you like sending and/or receiving flowers? 

*This post was brought to you by EuroFlowers, a Mississauga florist and flower shop that has been serving Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington and Toronto for over 20 years. All opinions are my own. Thanks for reading posts that support Skinny Dip

When It Feels Good in Your Pants, But Terrible in Your Heart

LOST MONTH 2December 2014 will be forever etched in my mind as my “lost month.”

During the first week of January I sat down with a friend of mine and told him, “I think I’ve reached my 2015 quota for dysfunctional relationships.”

“Um, Simone, it’s like January 6th.”

“My point exactly.”

Although lots of good things happened in December, for the most part the month was a complete shit show. During the week I was “normal me” – a unassuming, work at home, writer who belongs to a book club, loves green smoothies, going to the gym and eating salads while watching Parks & Recreation. However, on the weekends I found myself on a pathway to self-destruction: drinking my face off. Wine. Bourbon. Champagne. More Wine. More bourbon. Stumbling home in the morning. 48 hour hangovers.

Because self-destruction loves company, Party Guy (see: the Spanx incident) was along for most of the ride. With The European out of the picture, he became my new naked-time, unhealthy substitute. I say “unhealthy” because he shared my fondness for bourbon, nights out that turn into mornings and he seemed to really like being naked with me, even though he’s in love with someone else. Although he could be kind of abrasive at times, I liked his company – the way his skin felt against mine and his perfect heart shaped lips that I couldn’t help but run my fingers over whenever we were in private.

I figured, “this feels good in the pants, so I’m just going to roll with it.” After all, when have the feelings in my pants ever steered me wrong?! (insert sarcastic cough here.) I just saw us as two more or less good humans who just happened to both have some shit to work out.

However, when I had to deal with my 4th (5th? 6th?) 48 hour hangover in a matter of weeks, I hit a wall emotionally. We both did. Things had to change. We made a pact. The only way to get off this crazy roller-coaster was to quit each other cold turkey. So we did.

Even though that was December, the emotional reverberations of my “lost month” can still be felt. It’s hard to look yourself in the mirror and admit that you spent the better part of a month acting like a complete idiot. It’s even harder to own up to the fact that you let yourself down by backsliding into behaviour reminiscent of your tumultuous early 20’s.

What I’ve learned this month (besides the fact that bourbon is indeed, delicious) is that fear can make you do some pretty weird stuff. 

I remember a conversation I had with Party Guy on the last night we spent together. We were at his house, drunk. I’d just slipped out of my dress because, as I’d told him, “My clothes feel like they’re on fire.” We were laying on the couch together, in each other’s arms, my head rested on his chest. He asked me what I was looking for in life, besides a career.

I told him, “A husband. Someone I could see myself having a child with – the right way. Love, marriage, the whole deal.”

“Then why are you lying here with me?” he asked.

“Because the last time I fell in love with someone it nearly gutted me.”

I remembered the conversation when I woke up the next morning.

I’m afraid. We’re all afraid.

With fear comes the desire to seek comfort. Although I know that dysfunction isn’t the ideal state, it’s a familiar one for me. The particular brand of dysfunction that Party Guy offered is one I know all too well. He reminds me of guys I used to know when I lived in Toronto as a young twenty something, except with a successful career and better wardrobe. I think this is why I was initially drawn to him. Because sometimes, it’s so much easier to allow yourself to fall backwards into the familiar, than push yourself forward into the unknown, even when you know that’s where you have to go.

So, that was December.

Since then I have met a really sweet guy. He’s 8 years younger than me. Smart. Handsome. Lovely. Totally unexpected. He always shows up places with freshly picked flowers for me. He’s a romantic and being around him feels good. I don’t even hate holding his hand in public – in fact, I like it.

What I’ve learned since my “lost month” is that there comes a time when (in the words of Scandal‘s Olivia Pope) you need to go ‘stand in the sun.’

In my case, I need to face my fears and stop doing things that feel good in my pants, but bad in my heart. 

However, I’ve also learned over the years that you can’t rely on other people to change your life for you. You need to do that heavy lifting yourself. I don’t need my very own Jake Ballard to lead the way, but if someone wants to come stand in the sun with me, I’ll welcome them with open arms. I might even hold their hand.

All I know is that the sun is where I need to be.

On Love, Dating & “Hardboiled” Non-Negotiables

When you start to approach your mid-thirties and the topic of “eggs” comes up, it usually goes in this direction: “I wonder how many I have left?” “I don’t want to reach the point where mine go bad. Aren’t you worried about that?” “Should I freeze them?” However, I’m here today to talk about eggs of a different kind: mainly those of the hardboiled variety.

Yes, this is a post about hard boiled eggs.

(I was hanging out with a friend the other day and when she heard my thoughts on hardboiled eggs, she encouraged me to share them in a post. So, here we go.)

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I’m not exactly a picky eater. I’ll eat almost anything once (like that time I ate raw Geoduck – a local variety of clam that basically looks like it has a giant, uncircumcised penis attached to it. Fitting, I know) and I don’t have very many hang ups when it comes to food. If I don’t eat something very often (like steak) it’s because my body has a hard time digesting it. There’s only one food that I truly despise and that’s hard boiled eggs.

“What’s wrong with hardboiled eggs?” you ask.

Many, many things. 

The texture: the rubberiness of the egg white, paired with the pasty, powdery yoke. I can never figure out which is worse, because to me, both textures are equally horrific (although I’d wager the gelatinous white is just a little bit worse.) If I was Detective Boyle from Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I’d give the hardboiled egg a big, fat zero on “mouth feel.”

That weird grey part: You know exactly what I’m talking about – that grey outer layer that often appears in between the white and the yoke. Yes, that disgusting thing. Grey is not a colour that I associate with things that are edible. The grey layer has always seemed decidedly alien and brain-like to me — as if, by biting into a hardboiled egg I’m consuming tiny, alien brains.

The smell: To be honest, I might be able to get past my other objections if it weren’t for the smell of hardboiled eggs. Just a whiff of a hardboiled egg is enough to actually  make me gag. This is coming from a woman who survived a summer in Toronto during a garbage strike. If I get close enough to a hard boiled egg to actually smell it, I have to stifle a heave.

The taste: As far as I’m concerned, it’s basically one and the same with the smell. Why do we eat these things?!

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My utter fear and loathing of hardboiled eggs is nothing new. As these things usually go, it’s something that started in childhood. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t find them absolutely repulsive.

When I told my friend about my hardboiled issues, she asked what most people do.

“What about Devilled Eggs?”

“No. Absolutely not. That’s like putting lipstick on a pig. There’s no hiding what it is, they’ve just dressed it up.”

“What about egg salad?”

“Are you serious?”

The problem is that I was born into a culture that seems intent on making you like hardboiled eggs. As I was writing this post I remembered the “hardboiled egg mice” of my childhood. These were a regular feature at kids birthday parties in the 1980’s. The first time I saw them sitting on a table, next to a plate of finger sandwiches and a veggie platter I thought “How cute!” I grabbed one and took a bite thinking that they’d be filled with something delicious like chocolate or cheddar cheese, only to realize once it was in my mouth that it was actually a hardboiled egg. To this day, I still consider hardboiled egg mice to be a culinary war-crime.

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With that said, my life is not devoid of hardboiled eggs. There have been times I have eaten them out of necessity – like, when they’re the only option available (I just try not to inhale too deeply) and other times where I’ve actually found them “edible” – like when they’re in a delicious Nicoise Salad. I’m not one of those people like on My Strange Phobia that starts hyperventilating and screaming as soon as they see a hardboiled egg. I can eat around them. However, they will never be something I love. This is non-negotiable.

So, what exactly does this have to do with dating?

Well, lots of things. I promise.

Last Spring, when I was still trying to date Fitness Guy, I remember the topic of lunch came up.

When he told me, “For lunch I usually eat 4 hardboiled eggs and some carrot sticks while sitting at my desk” I nearly threw up.

All I could think was, “And you kiss me with that mouth?”

Besides the fact that that sounds like the saddest desk lunch ever, I struggled with the concept that someone I was attracted to could eat something I hated so much and in such excess.

Could I date and fall in love with someone who loved hardboiled eggs? Sure. However, this little egg-centricity (har har, I couldn’t resist) was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to our differences – for example, his politics and that he likes to hunt & kill some of my favourite animals – you know, the big stuff.

When it comes to dating, we all have our non-negotiables.

Although a love for hardboiled eggs isn’t necessarily a non-negotiable in a partner (unless they force me to eat “egg mice”), I do have my share of non-negotiables. They’re pretty simple:

-Healthy lifestyle.

-Agreement on major issues like abortion & gay marriage.

-No smoking.

-Positive outlook on life.

-Kind.

In my twenties, I definitely ignored some of these non-negotiables in the spirit of adventure and experimentation. I dated a series of smokers and even a hyper-conservative, pro-life Christian (I know, right?) However, the older I get the more I realize how important these core non-negotiables are.

So, the question is – what are your non-negotiables?

10 Things We Can Learn From a 1970’s Guide to Sensual Massage

We need to talk about massage – or more specifically The Art of Sensual Massage, a book from the 1970’s that I found while cleaning out my basement the other day.

As the story goes, my sister procured this book at a garage sale to use as part of an art project, however I also suspect it was to horrify my Mom. I believe her exact words were, “Mom, this is going to make you barf.” My Mom is about as anxious to re-visit the 1970’s as I am to return to my junior high days of the mid-90’s (overly gelled “wet look” hair and crocheted vests, anyone?) Mom, I feel your pain. However, I also feel like there are some important things we can learn from the shudder inducing cultural artifact that is The Art of Sensual Massage. 

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According to the back of the book, massage is “as easy as making love. It’s the rediscovery of an ancient art, an erotic and healthy way of touching that has been practiced everywhere on earth from biblical times to the present. It’s as near as your own hands and as easy as your lover’s body.” 

And no, this book is not a Phil Collins song, although it sure sounds like it. Although it’s not formally suggested, I feel like this fine piece of literature would be best enjoyed while listening to some sitar music and wearing something tie-dyed….or as the book suggests, nothing at all. Because, as The Art of Sensual Massage wants you to know…

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Well, now that that’s cleared up let’s begin! The Art of Sensual Massage provides a bunch of tips on how to massage your lover or friend. If you’re not sure what’s “sensual,” The Art of Sensual Massage is happy to provide some insight.

1. Parakeets are sensual. 

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If you want to up the ante on your erotic massage experience, I would suggest you make like a Portlandia episode and put a bird on it. Parakeet, Toucan or Budgie – whatever you can get to sit on your naked shoulder while you massage your partner – just roll with it. Birds = very sensual.

2. Dolls are sensual. 

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For a sensual massage environment, make sure at least one creepy doll is watching you at all times.

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