Patch Game

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had started a blog post about patches and then kind of abandoned it.  The original post that I had written in below in italics, and then I’ve added to it after that!

Come join me on another adventure of “Ashlie overthinks a very simple problem”!

So if you’ve been following me on social media in any capacity or have met me in real life, then you probably know of my love for patches and buttons and pins.  Yes, they’re very popular and trendy, but I’ve always had a crush on them.  (Insert +10 hipster points)  In fact, at one point in high school I bought a whole pile of vintage patches because I thought they were so cool, but never could decide what to do with them, and eventually got rid of them.  Sigh, the audacity of youth.

In any event – I have quite the collection now.  My local business patches have gone onto a purse, which I love.  I like having a theme.  My pins are rotated on jackets and my outfits, so that works out well.

My problem now is that I have all these other patches and I’m having commitment issues about them.  I just can’t decide where to put them!  Do I commit to a jacket?  But I like having my denim jacket without patches so I can wear it as a denim cardigan.  I have another jacket that could have patches, but it’s a nice jacket and I don’t know if I want it to be a “patches jacket”.  So do I buy an entirely new jacket to dedicate to patches?  What about a backpack?  My current backpack doesn’t get a lot of use, and it isn’t canvas so I don’t know how it would hold up to having patches sewn on it.  Do I get another purse?  A tote bag?  Maybe I should make it fashionable to wear a sash covered in patches, a la Girl Guides?

I’m starting to build a little collection of paranormal-themed patches – and the way that Maiden Voyage Clothing Co. works, I’m bound to have a bunch more.  So I would love to have them all together somewhere, but I just can’t decide!

Clearly, this is the biggest issue in my life, and I need some help!  Any suggestions?

Since writing that a few months ago, I got the most beautiful tote bag from Cindy at The Cob Shop.  The leather at the bottom is actually from my high school leather jacket.  This thing is sturdy AF and I love it so much.  I seriously can’t wait to buy another piece from her and you should really check her out!

This tote bag seemed like the perfect place for my paranormal/horror themed patches, so I’ve started sewing them on by hand after suffering a long battle with my sewing machine.

So far, so good, although I should probably straighten that Loch Ness one.

I still have these ones to add to it, once I feel like sewing them on.

So since those have a home, it’s all these patches that I’m not so sure about.  The peepshow and Mabel’s patches should definitely stay together, right?  So should they get their own bag or something?  This is serious business.

Also, I hope you’re enjoying my fantastic styling of the patches by putting them on my old binding machine.

These last two need to be added to my London bag.  I have a canvas Novack’s bag that I’ve covered with all London-related patches.  It’s more of a summer type bag though.

What should I do, guys?  I find more new patches I want every single day, so I need a game plan here!  I’m still thinking I could bring the sash back into style if I really worked on it.

 

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The Phases of Winter

The house at its snowiest so far this year

 

I am not a winter person.  I’m not a summer person either.  I’m more of a temperate weather type person.  Give me some nice 22-24 degree days and I’m happy.  I can get through summer though, winter is another story.

The first phase of winter is the easiest.  Those first couple snows are so pretty, and shovelling doesn’t seem like much of a chore.  You spend a lot of time getting the driveway shovelled just so – making sure to get it right down to the pavement and making neat piles of snow.

Winter continues, but you’re too busy to really notice it.  The holidays are approaching, and things need to be done.  You force yourself out into bad weather thinking you’ll be okay if you just take it slow.  You keep your head down and get through the holidays, finally enjoying a break.  The snow is starting to get to you, but there’s still a magic to it.  If you’re lucky, you’re off work or school for a couple of weeks so that makes it a bit better.

Then it’s January.  You’re suffering from a severe case of holiday hangover.  The kids go back to school and they’re miserable.  You’re miserable.  You’re cold and wet and tired all the time.  The hermit mode starts to kick in, and pajamas are entirely acceptable wear all the time.

All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem worth it to risk the roads, and you start cancelling plans whenever you can.  Nothing seems worth leaving your house, unless there’s the promise of coffee.  By the time February rolls around, the fog of the winter blues is starting to lift a little bit, but not much.  You start fantasizing about the last time you actually felt warm, and dry socks become the greatest luxury in your life.

By mid to late February, you’re kind of on autopilot.  The laneway will only be shovelled if it’s absolutely necessary.  The other day I tried to shovel ice, guys.  It didn’t go well.  You keep telling yourself there will be an early spring and March will warm up.  You live for those rare days when the mercury climbs above zero.

By March I get a little crazy.  I start declaring things like I won’t wear my winter coat anymore, even if it’s 20 below.  I dream of days where I can wear the same shoes outside as I do inside.  I look in the snow-filled backyard and start to make plans for the spring.  The patio I’m going to build, the gardens I’m going to properly edge for the first time ever.  Walks become a treat, and I start telling myself that I’m going to spend so much time outside once it really warms up.  All of these good feelings start to go away around the time I have to cut the grass for the first time.

So if you’re looking for me, guys, I’m probably hiding at my house, avoiding shovelling and making broad sweeping declarations about how nice my backyard is going to be, if only it would start warming up.

Unfinished Thoughts

I’ve been writing this blog for a long time now, over 8 years and over 1000 posts.  Were they all great?  No, of course not.  But it’s always fun.  What you may not know is how many posts I start but never get around to finishing.  I often get an idea for a blog post, and will jot down a few ideas but never quite get around to finishing it or it just doesn’t feel right.  Most likely, I just don’t spend the time to polish it until it makes some sense.  Since I currently have a bunch of ideas sitting in my drafts folder with no real intention of finishing them, I thought I would share them with you and maybe you can tell me whether they’re worth finishing.

  • Hiding Places.  Around Christmas time, I thought it would be fun to write a post about hiding places.  Where do you hide your Christmas shopping?  Where did your parents hide things?  Were you a hunter?
  • A History in Fragrance.  For some reason I thought it would make sense to trace my life story through perfumes.  Starting with Love’s Baby Soft, which I was sure was the best-smelling thing in the world, before moving on to The Body Shop’s Satsuma, CK One, Fetish, FCUK, and now when I’m boring and can’t wear perfume to work anyway so I just wear body spray from Bath and Body Works.
  • Ashlie Overthinks Patches.  This is entirely written, but it’s just so dumb I couldn’t bring myself to post it.  It’s me overthinking what to do with all of my patches.  Do I sew them on?  Iron them on?  Have a specific bag for patches?  Buy a new jean jacket to be a patch jacket?  Good lord, Ashlie.  Get your life together.
  • Old Men Either Love or Hate Women With Tattoos.  Basically either old men approach me and say they love tattoos and always wanted to get some or want their wife to get some and think it’s so nice to see a lady with tattoos, or they make some snide comment about how tattoos go over at work.
  • Reader’s Digest and Time Life Books.  Wikipedia and Buzzfeed before Wikipedia and Buzzfeed.
  • Childhood Bedrooms in Movies.  Does it ever happen that your childhood bedroom is preserved at your parents’ house?  Or does that only happen in movies?  Because I’m pretty sure it only happens in movies and on TV.
  • So-Called Dump Apartments.  In a similar vein, I hate it when a movie or TV show tries to convince you that the characters are living in a real dump when it’s actually an adorable, charming apartment that’s insanely spacious and has exposed brick.  See Coyote Ugly, The Punisher (the Tom Jane one, obviously), or Daredevil (the show) for examples.

That’s what I’ve got lurking.  Anything you’re interested in seeing expanded?  Or are these basically Tweets that I’m trying to force into a blog post?

Fancy Lunch

When I was a kid, weekend lunches often consisted of movies in the living room and sitting on the floor around the coffee table eating tuna and salmon sandwiches from a large plate for everyone to share.  It was usually accompanied by a big bowl of chips (hopefully dill pickle) and maybe even some Freshie (not Kool-Aid) if we were lucky.  I thought it was the coolest, fanciest lunch ever.  Being able to sit there and watch a movie or cartoons, with a big plate of finger sandwiches seemed like the ultimate in luxury.

I recreated that on Saturday, just made a big plate of sandwiches for the afternoon while we chilled out and watched movies.  As an adult, I can appreciate that this isn’t a fancy lunch at all, and it is in fact a very cheap and efficient way of feeding a bunch of people, which is probably why they’re served at church events.  But for those kid memories, it isn’t a cheap way for my mom to feed us kids some lunch, it’s a fancy special treat that I’ll always love.

 

I just want to eat shrimp and have some drinks: Christmas 2017

Welcome to January, everyone!  I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and aren’t having too much trouble now that January is here.  I know the weather isn’t helping my winter blahs AT ALL but I’m doing what I can to keep motivated and not to spend too much time in bed, but man this is a rough month!

We had a great Christmas this year – actually kind of a difference from Christmases past.  My mantra for this Christmas was the title above – I just want to eat shrimp and have some drinks.  I kind of put my foot down this year as far as gifts for adults – it just started to seem really silly to be buying gifts for adults when it just added to everyone’s stress.  Christmas is about kids, so I decided instead to focus on them instead of the adults.  Really, all I wanted for Christmas was to be able to spend time with people and have some snacks.  Just making this change made the holidays so much simpler and enjoyable!  I swear, sometimes less really is more.

My shopping was so much easier because I basically just finished Vivian’s stuff (and she’s so easy to shop for) and then did a quick shop to get gifts for the other kids from Vivian.  Nothing too crazy, just something small for each kid.  They get so overwhelmed with stuff anyway.

Christmas Day this year was the first Christmas Day EVER where I’ve been able to just stay home all day.  Usually, I have to go to a Christmas at my mom’s or my dad’s and while it’s fun and I love seeing everyone, it does make for a stressful day.  This year, Dustin and I got to enjoy Christmas morning with Vivian, and have a nice breakfast before she got picked up by her dad at noon.  She was gone until about 7:30 for Christmas with him, and I got to take a bath, a nap, and watch a movie before she came home.  By the time she got there at 7:30, Dustin and I were both well rested and ready to hand out with her and put together her new toys, instead of being exhausted from running around all day.  We got to have a nice evening of watching a Christmas movie and just spending time with her.

Next year, I’d definitely like to follow the same formula – cut down on the shopping, focus more on spending time with people, find ways to take time for myself and enjoy the holidays instead of stress about them.  Next year I would also like to start on Christmas earlier, if you can believe it.  I don’t like it to be Christmas for too long, so we don’t put the tree up until after Vivian’s birthday.  I always end up finding that there just isn’t enough time for all the holiday activities.  Vivian loved doing Christmas crafts this year, and we made gifts for the grandparents.  Next year I would like to start on her Christmas crafts earlier so we can get more done.  Who knows, maybe I’ll actually achieve my goal of knitting or crocheting some gifts next year!

So for next year – keep it simple, keep it crafty, and don’t forget to plan a more substantial meal for when I’m lounging on Christmas Day.

What’s Under the Tree for Miss V 2017

Every year I like to do a post about what Vivian’s getting for Christmas – not as a brag or to fill a post with affiliate links, but just because I think it’s fun to find out what toys people are getting!  It won’t be long until she has no interest in toys and just wants clothes and electronics for Christmas, so I’m going to enjoy it while I can!

While I was really, really trying not to go overboard this year, I of course have gotten her too many toys and her stocking is out of control.  Here’s the highlights of what’s going to be under the tree (I linked everything to Amazon if you want more product details)

 

  • Playmobil Haunted House – Real talk – I saw this in the store and wanted it for myself.  Luckily, Vivian is very much into all things haunted and spooky these days, so once she saw it int he store she was sold too!
  • DC Superhero Girls Wonder Woman Dorm Lego – I always like to get Vivian some Lego for Christmas because it’s nice to have something quiet to play with during all the holiday craziness.  Vivian loves setting up little rooms for her dolls, so I figured a dorm room Lego set was perfect!  Plus I got it with a Black Friday deal so it was a real bargain.
  • Our Generation Gourmet Kitchen – Vivian is still very much into her 18 inch dolls, like American Girl, Maple Lea, and Our Generation.  She wanted to get a kitchen for her dolls, so I grabbed this Our Generation one and I’m super impressed with it!  I was expecting it to be not the greatest quality, but it has the cutest little details and seems to be really solid.  It retails for about $110 here, but I got it in the States for $65.
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Illustrated Edition – Vivian is really into Harry Potter now, which is a huge relief.  She loves watching the movies, and I’ve been wanting to start reading the books with her but was worried she was still a little young to pay attention.  I figured the illustrated edition was a good compromise.  It’s a gorgeous edition filled with stunning full-colour illustrations, so it should be fun to read it together.
  • Nano Metalfigs Nanoscene Harry Potter Gryffindor Tower – Okay, this is another toy that I wanted for myself but I showed Vivian and she was into it too.  It’s a really cool playset of Gryffindor Tower, and I got her a pack of the nano metalfigs to go with it so we can act out the movies.
  • LOL Big Surprise Ball – Yes, it’s a lot of packaging.  Yes, it’s expensive for what it is.  Yes, LOL Dolls are a fad and she might not play with it next year.  But you know what?  Kids love garbage.  They love it.  And she freaking LOVES her LOL dolls, so I knew I had to get a Big Surprise Ball.  I lucked out and ordered one from Chapters when they came back in stock and I had $20 in Plum Points to cash in to help offset the cost.  She’s going to be so excited that Santa brought her one!

Other than that there’s the usual clothes, puzzles, another couple books for her stocking and bath bombs and stuff like that.  I haven’t started wrapping yet, although maybe I should so I’m not tempted to bust out that Gryffindor Tower…

Christmas Tips and Tricks

I am by no means a seasoned pro at Christmas preparation.  In fact, I’m a dyed in the wool procrastinator who runs on coffee and makes Christmas happen with that final paycheque before the big day.  But hey, we can all learn something, right?  So I figured I would put together my best tips and tricks to help you survive this week!

  • First off, pour yourself a big ol’ drink.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like Bailey’s in your coffee and a bottle of wine while you wrap presents.
  • Put your Christmas tree in a corner and cut your decorating time IN HALF!

  • Doing the Elf on the Shelf thing?  Set that bar real low in the start so any little spark of creativity blows your kid’s mind.
  • Take gifts out of packages early if you have the space.  I’m lucky that I have a spare room in the basement where I stash Vivian’s Christmas gifts.  Because we only get recycling pickup every other week here (and it’s the bane of my existence) I end up with an overload of recycling this time of year.  To try and curb it, I take anything I can out of the package before the big day.  That way you can sneak packaging out of the house before the deluge of wrapping paper, and you don’t have to wrestle with a million tiny zip ties on Christmas Eve while you’re panicking that your kid is going to wake up and bust you.
  • The best gift suggestion for teachers that I’ve heard is craft supplies.  When Vivian was in junior kindergarten, her teachers suggested that if you wanted to get the teachers something for Christmas, just take your kid to the Dollar Store and let them pick out some fun crafty things for the class.  We’re at a Dollar Store constantly during the Christmas season, so this is a pretty easy one, at least for primary teachers.
  • I’m one of those weird people who enjoy wrapping presents.  So for years growing up, I was my mom’s designated gift wrapper.  It made life a lot easier for her, and I enjoyed it.  So if you hate wrapping, find someone who likes it.  I am easily bribed with booze.
  • Another way to help with all that wrapping?  Don’t insist of having everything wrapped in stockings, like I do.  As a child, I wrote Santa a letter insisting that everything in our stockings be wrapped, and I keep it up to this day because I’m a crazy person.
  • Last minute Christmas shopping can actually be really relaxing and productive.  I’m almost always out trying to get my shopping done on the 23rd and 24th.  People think I’m nuts, but trust me, it’s not that bad.  By that point, all the normies have gone home to their perfectly organized holiday gatherings and the only ones left are the incredibly determined, laser-focused procrastinators who make a beeline to every single item in the store and finish in record time.
  • I finally realized last year that December 25th isn’t necessarily the deadline for Christmas.  There are plenty of times where we will have a family gathering on the 27th or 29th or whatever.  So if there’s something I need to grab for one of those events, I’ll leave it until after Christmas if I can.  That way you can score on boxing day sales and don’t drive yourself insane unnecessarily.
  • I sign up for my friend Lisa’s cookie party every year, even though I hate it when it’s the night before the cookie party and I’ve forgotten that I have to do it and end up staying up late baking 16 dozen cookies.  BUT it is really nice to have a freezer stuffed with cookies so you’re not caught off guard on Christmas Eve for Santa, or when you need to bring a dessert to someone’s house.
  • Last year Amanda and I spent a day making pepper jelly before Christmas and it was really nice to have around!  I love it, and regularly will eat it as a meal.  Heading to a house party and need to bring an appetizer?  Just grab some crackers and cream cheese to go with your jelly and you’re all set!  Hostess gift?  Throw some cute holiday spreader things in a bag with a jar of jelly.
  • Always buy more batteries than you think you need.  And make sure you have scissors handy for Christmas morning.
  • Now pour another drink.

 

 

A very important question

You guys, I need your help. See, I listen to a lot of podcasts. Like, a lot a lot. And I’ve been noticing something lately and I need you to help me out. 

How do you pronounce the word “shone”?

Because I have always pronounced it like Shawn, but I’ve noticed in podcasts that people will pronounce it as Shown and it’s really stressing me out. 

What do you guys think? Shawn or Shown? 

Accio Cuddling

Vivian is in a really fun stage right now.  Basically, I’m the coolest person on the planet.  She wants to hang out with me all the time, she loves kissing my cheek, draws me pictures constantly, it’s a real love-fest.  Can’t say I mind it.

Our current bedtime routine is after we’ve had dinner and she’s had her bath and done our reading or whatever we have to do, we cuddle in my bed and watch some Harry Potter.  We went through the whole series a few months back and now we’re on our first rewatch.  It’s so nice to cuddle with her and talk about the movie and have some popcorn and just let her relax until she’s ready for bed.  Sometimes she falls asleep and I carry her to bed, sometimes she says she’s tired and ready for bed.  I realize it’s a complete luxury – one that comes from having an only child.  Not everyone gets to snuggle and give their kid that much attention.  Some people might call it spoiling, but I don’t think you can spoil a kid with time.

I keep telling her that in the not-so-distant future she won’t want to cuddle in bed with her mom.  We’re not so far from the days of her slamming a door in my face and screaming that I’m horrible about something.  So for now, I’m going to take my cuddles where I can get them.

 

Making Time to Read

I’ve always been a bookworm.  When I was little, I pushed my books around in a baby carriage instead of dolls.  Even now, I’m never without a book.  There’s always one stashed in my bag.  I love to read, and I can’t bear to make the switch to an eReader.

There have been periods of my life where it was more difficult to sit down and read though.  This seems to be something that comes up again and again when I talk to people – “I wish I had more time to read.”  What I’ve found is that I really have to make a point of reading, otherwise it tends to slip through the cracks.  And even though we spend all day “reading” things online, it’s not the same as curling up with a book.

Since I seem to come across so many other people who struggle to find time to read, I thought I would share what I do to make sure I make time.

Just after I finished tidying up my books – they look so much happier!

  • The biggest change I’ve made is only watching TV when I know what I want to watch.  You know those times where you’re not sure what to watch, so you end up scrolling through Netflix for a half hour trying to decide?  Instead, I read.  I’ll sit and read until my subconscious comes up with something I actually want to watch.
  • I find pockets of time.  When I get home from work with Vivian, she usually wants some quiet time in her room to watch YouTube videos or to play with her toys.  While she’s doing that, I hang out in the living room or start getting dinner ready.  While something is in the oven?  I sit and read.  I try to limit my scrolling through social media and when I feel myself getting stuck in a loop of checking Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, I put the phone down and read, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • Other good pockets of time are when Vivian is in the tub.  She likes me to hang out in the bathroom while she plays in the tub, so it’s a good time to sit on the counter with my book.  Same at the park – I always bring my book when we go to the park so I can sit and read instead of playing on my phone.  Stuck in a waiting room?  Grab a book.
  • I’ve been trying to read on my lunch break a lot too – I have a nice little park near my work so I’ll often hang out there on my lunch and just sit and read.  It’s nice to be outside and enjoying a book.
  • Make a point of reading before bed.  A lot of people say they can only read in bed, so make a point of it.  Shut things off even 15 minutes earlier and read a couple of chapters to end off the evening.
  • Entice yourself.  For years now, I’ve alternated fiction with non-fiction.  I’m weirdly strict about it, but it really helps me to keep reading.  For example, Dustin got me the book Paperbacks from Hell recently, and I can’t wait to start it.  It’s all about the history of pulp horror and fiction books in the 70s and 80s.  It’s non-fiction, and at the time I was reading a non-fiction book (The World of Lore, by Aaron Mahnke).  So in order to read the book that I really want to read, I had to finish what I was currently reading, then bounce to something fiction (Now reading – The October Country, by Ray Bradbury) then I should read the next book for my true crime book club so I don’t fall behind (Zodiac, by Robert Graysmith) then read another quick fiction book, then finally circle back to Paperbacks from Hell.  If I didn’t have my rules, then I would probably just start and stop things all over the place and never actually finish them.  With my reading schedule I’m more motivated to keep reading so I can get to what I really want.
  • Stick with what you like.  Love dystopian teen fiction?  Awesome.  Trashy romance?  Who doesn’t.  Stick to the classics?  Reread old favourites?  Branch out into science fiction and not so fiction?  Just figure out what you like – who cares if it’s cool or not.
  • Try joining a reading group.  I’m in a few book clubs, which are super fun.  I’m also in a Facebook group where people post what they’re reading and try to hit the goal of 25 books in a year.  It’s a fun way to keep track of what you’re reading and to get recommendations for something new.  Every year I try to stay on pace with a book a week, but I always fall short of that 52 book goal.  Right now I’m on book 32 though so who knows!  It all depends on what you pick up.
  • Don’t get lost in a pile of books you haven’t read.  If you love books, then you probably have piles of books you want to read.  It’s cool, so do I.  Don’t let it intimidate you though – find ways to get it to motivate you.  I have a system for mine and keep the ones I’m planning on reading next right beside my bed so I see them all the time.  Some people write the titles of their To Be Read books on slips of paper and put them in a jar so they can draw one at random.  Try organizing them by season – I like going through my spooky books in October since I’m in that mood.  Anything you can find that will help keep you motivated.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away from a book.  This is still one that I struggle with, but if you’re really bogged down in a book, just let it go.  No one will judge you.  There are too many options out there to waste time on a bad book.