Zip It

It’s not exactly a secret that kids have a lot of stuff.  And that stuff takes up a lot of room.  And all that room being cluttered up with kid stuff is enough to make you go insane.  Vivian is six now, so a lot of her toys are getting bigger and can go in her room, but there’s still piles of stuff in the living room too.  One of the things that makes me especially crazy are games and puzzles.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love a good puzzle.  But I find the kids games and puzzles often don’t justify the box they are packaged in.

Enter the Ziploc bag.  No, this isn’t sponsored by Ziploc, although I wish it was because a giant box of Ziploc bags being delivered to my door is basically a dream come true.

Ziploc bags are essential for organizing.  In fact, I think from now on all baby gifts I give will come with a box of the large Ziploc bags.  You can put everything in them – just not the baby itself.

Observe.  This basket holds 5 board games and 7 puzzles.

Once you take Candyland out of the box, you realize it’s really only a board and a couple of small pieces.  It really doesn’t necessitate a box for storage.  So I take it all out, and store it all in a Ziploc bag.  Bam.

Same goes for puzzles.  Why keep the box when you can cut off the image, and put it in a nice, flat Ziploc bag with all the pieces?

Now, instead of having a cupboard filled with boxes that are difficult to get out and take up too much space, I have one basket holding all the things.  That bin on the lower level has her Lego in it too – all organized into Ziploc bags.  Each set gets its own bag with the booklet – except for that one rogue booklet sitting on the shelf.  Also, that’s Meiko underneath the cabinet thing.

I’m telling you guys – art supplies, game pieces, Lego, flash cards, it can all be stored neatly in Ziploc bags.  And those super giant ones with the handles?  They’re the real stars – the last time I moved basically half my stuff was in those bad boys, and now Vivian’s out of season clothes get stored in them.

Ziplocs for life, yo.

Hermit

I had lunch with Jenn today, something we haven’t done for far too long.  Things have been busy – she’s got a new job and I seem to be in court more and more, plus we both have social lives at some point.  Still, it was nice to meet up and have lunch, trying to catch up on all our goings-on and make plans for the coming weekend.

I’m still deep in the winter hermit mode so any social activity feels odd and unusual.  We talked about it before we parted ways – it’s hit that point in the winter where the holidays are far enough behind you and the spring is far enough ahead of you that it feels like all you do is hang out at home.  Like you start to feel wistful for a time when you had friends and plans.  I wouldn’t say I suffer from SAD, I’m just lazy and don’t like to be cold.  Everything is more difficult when it’s cold out, everything takes just a little more planning, and it’s just that much easier to bail on plans before you’ve even made them.

So, all that rambling is leading up to me dreaming of those warm summer nights when you can sit on a patio for hours.  We’re getting so close – so I thought I would remind us all of what’s waiting for us on the other side of this season.

  • Jeans and tank top weather, which is obviously the best weather.
  • Patios with pitchers of beer and half-priced appetizers.
  • Double features at the drive-in.
  • Wandering around downtown and running into people you know.
  • Festivals in the park – which is basically every weekend in London.
  • Evening walks with ice cream.
  • Road trips that don’t include the words “weather permitting”.
  • Reading outside.
  • Walking home from the bars in the dark.
  • Not caring how hot and sweaty you are at a concert.
  • Dresses without tights and boots.
  • Farmers markets, flea markets, any kind of market.
  • Getting those little jobs done around the outside of your house that make a big improvement.
  • Driving ranges and golf tournaments.

Generally, being outside, being active, being social.  All the things I’ve been avoiding doing as of late.

#TBR

I have a lot of books.  This is not new information to anyone who has read this blog or has spent longer than five minutes with me.  I love to read – always have.  I’ve also been cursed with a collector mentality so I have a hard time parting with my books.  Many books I buy purely for collection purposes.  Weird old book about aliens?  You better believe I’m buying that.  I may not necessarily read it, but I have it.

The books that are waiting to be read are carefully organized in my TBR piles – To Be Read.  I’ve found that it works best if my TBR books aren’t mingling with the rest of my collection.  It’s an out of sight, out of mind thing.  I like to have them in a specific place so when I reach for a new book I have lots of options rather than running out to buy something new.

However, my TBR pile has gotten rather large and unruly so I thought I would show you guys my 2-phase system of organization for my TBRs.

Say hello to Phase 1.

Phase 1 of my TBR pile lives in the office.  When I get new books, they live in here.  This is basically the waiting area.  Within Phase 1, I categorize the books.  Short stories, fiction, true crime, non-fiction all get stacked together.  I like to bounce back and forth between fiction/non-fiction so it helps me to have things organized like this before books get moved to Phase 2.

This is Phase 2.

Phase 2 lives on my nightstand.  These are the books that are on deck – the ones I’ll reach for as soon as I need something new to read.  I keep a selection of fiction and non-fiction so I’m always ready for the next one.  And I do grab a new book as soon as I’ve finished one.  I’m never without something to read!  Usually Phase 2 is much more fulsome, but I’ve been trying to clear it out completely before I add in new books from Phase 1.  Otherwise, I’ll get all excited about the newcomers and these books will no doubt end up at the bottom of the TBR list once again.  It’s always difficult not to read new books immediately, so I do make some exceptions if something especially exciting makes its way to my place.  I never stray from my fiction/non-fiction rule though – I’ve been doing that for years and it works well to keep me from getting into a rut.

Basically, I don’t need to buy another book for a few years, but we all know that that will never happen.

Treats of the Week(s) – Unexpected Gifts

These posts seem to be happening less and less frequently, but quality over quantity, right?  Christmas was lovely and stressful as always.  Vivian had a great Christmas – she was so thankful and appreciative for everything she received, I was so proud of her.  It’s so easy to spoil an only child, but basically every gift she opened was met with, “Oh Blair would love this!” and lots of thank yous.  She’s a keeper, that one.

January kind of sucks, there’s no denying it.  Even with the milder weather we’ve been having, I’ve been in total hibernation mode.  I basically just want to putter around in my pajamas and drink coffee.  I’m trying to go to the gym though – slipping over on my lunch break even just for a little cardio seems to be helping.  I’ve also had a sudden influx of unexpected gifts from people – which is definitely helping cure those winter blahs!


Vivian always gives me little notes – I have them everywhere and yet I never get tired of receiving them!  (Dustin has the same habit – between the two of them I’m pretty spoiled.)

 

Thanks to a former blog post about these local prints, I was able to score the Storybook Gardens one to further my set!  I think I’m only missing one from the Pioneer Village now.  I just received a tweet one day asking if I would like one, and she was nice enough to deliver it right to my work!

 

My brother and his girlfriend showed up at my place the other night with a kitten that she had found.  We’re pretty sure that the kitten isn’t feral, she’s way too friendly.  But now apparently I have three cats living in my house.  Meiko is fitting in pretty well so far.  Fender and Gibson are being pretty tolerant for two cats who are nearly 10 years old. 

While out at the Morrissey House for dinner last night, our waitress gave us 15% off our bill just for being so polite.  I didn’t think we were being overly polite, but I’m one of those people who stacks the dirty dishes for the server and just tries to be helpful.  Politeness pays, you guys!

 

My friend Jerrod also sent us a package with some chips from Pennsylvania (which are super yummy) and a wooden hippo so I can have my own House Hippo!  I also sent him a package of Canadian delicacies – Coffee Crisp, Smarties, and packets to make Chalet Sauce from Swiss Chalet.

 

The Movie List 2017

One of my resolutions/goals for this year was to actually chip away at the insane list of movies I want to watch.  I have a bad habit of adding something to my Pinterest board or downloading something I hear about, or adding something to My List on Netflix but then never getting around to actually watching the thing.  It’s hard – there’s so much to watch but someone it’s never what I actually want to see!  This time of year I tend to get pretty into the Oscar picks, so I might not be able to knock too many off this list until later in February, but I figured I would post it here and then post an updated one at the end of the year to see how I’ve progressed.

There’s 212 movies on this list – two of which I’ve already scratched off.  Of course I made a spreadsheet, was there any doubt?  This was my list as of the end of 2016.  I’ve since added to my Netflix list/Pinterest boards but haven’t included them here.  I figure this is what I’m starting with and it won’t help me to keep going back and adding more.

10 Cloverfield Lane
112 Weddings
99 Homes
A Band Called Death
A Fantastic Fear of Everything
A Little Chaos
A Most Violent Year
A Most Wanted Man
A Town Called Panic
Actress
All is Lost
American Ultra
An Honest Liar
Annabelle
Anomalisa
Arbitrage
As Above So Below
Atari: Game Over
Attacking the Devil
Audrie & Daisy
Austenland
Ballet 422
Barry
Batman: Assault on Arkham
Batman: Year One
Before We Go
Begin Again
Being Elmo
Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal
Bigfoot
Blood, Sweat & Sequins
Blue Jasmine
Bone Tomahawk
Brick
Brick Mansions
Burt’s Buzz
Cake
Capturing the Friedmans
Chalk it Up
Chasing Ice
Chef
Children of God
Comet
Conspiracy Theory
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
Dark Places
Dear Zachary
Detropia
Dior & I
Dom Hemingway
Dressed to Kill
Drinking Buddies
End the Drugs War
Enough Said
Enquiring Minds
Enter the Battlefield
Escobar: Paradise Lost
Escorts
Every Thing Will Be Fine
Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story
Fantastic 4
Filth
Finders Keepers
Flock of Dudes
Frank
Girl Most Likely
God’s Pocket
Grandma
Hardcore Henry
Harmontown
He Named me Malala
High Strung
Highway of Tears
Homefront
Hot Girls Wanted
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Hush
I am Big Bird
I am Road Comic
I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House
I Saw the Light
I Smile Back
Infinitely Polar Bear
Interview with a Serial Killer
Iris
Joe
Josef Fritzl: Story of a Monster
Kill the Messenger
Kill Your Friends
Killing Them Softly
Krampus
Labyrinth of Lies
Legend
Let’s Be Cops
Life in a Day
Listen Up Philip
Love is Strange
Lovelace
Man on Wire
Man vs. Snake
Match
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Mean Streets
Miles Ahead
Misery Loves Comedy
Miss Representation
Mississippi Grind
Mortified Nation
Mr. Brooks
Mr. Right
Mr. Turner
Night Owls
No
No No
Other People
Palo Alto
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Parkland
Particle Fever
Pawn Sacrifice
People Places Things
Phantasm
Prisoners
Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2
Queen Mimi
Raiders!
Rats
Rear Window
Red Army
Red Army
Requiem for the American Dream
Rock the Kasbah
Rosemary’s Baby
Rosewater
Rubble Kings
Save the Date
Searching for Sugar Man
Sex in the Comix
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
Sleeping With Other People
Sleepwalkers who Kill
Slow Learners
Somm
Somm: Into the Bottle
Son of Batman
Special Correspondents
Splatter
St. Vincent
Stories We Tell
Stranger by the Lake
Team Foxcatcher
Testament of Youth
The 13th
The Act of Killing
The Art of the Steal
The Blue Rooom
The Brothers Bloom
The Burning
The Counselor
The Details
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
The Doors: When You’re Strange
The Double
The East
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Eyes of my Mother
The Family
The Fear of 13
The Fifth Estate
The Final Girls
The First Monday in May
The Fundamentals of Caring
The Human Centipede
The Hunting Ground
The Krays: The Myth Behind the Legend
The Loneliest Planet
The Man Who Knew Infinity
The Master
The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials
The Monuments Men
The Norliss Tapes
The One I Love
The Other Woman
The Overnight
The Purge: Anarchy
The Queen
The Real Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Seven Five
The Skin I Live In
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Visit
The Witch
Third Person
Tickled
Top Five
Trophy Kids
True Story
Unabomber
Unexpected
Video Games: The Movie
Virunga
Walt Before Mickey
We are Twisted Effing Sister
Weiner
West of Memphis
What Happened, Miss Simone
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Who Took Johnny
Witness
Young and Beautiful
Your Sister’s Sister

A lot of them are documentaries, and a lot of those are only around an hour long so hopefully I can get through quite a few!  Wish me luck!

How I did/What I’ll try to do

I’m not very good at resolutions. I don’t think many people are actually good at them. I prefer to think up tangible goals for the year, just to try to have some motivation especially in those winter months. 

Before getting into my goals for this year (beyond the usual work out, sleep more, spend less, be a responsible adult) I’ll do a little recap of my 2016 goals. 

  1. Replace the roof – boom, done. It sucked to pay for it, but EnCore Roofing in Strathroy was amazing to work with and I love seeing my pretty new roof. 
  2. Hang shit up – I did pretty good with this one. I still have some posters that need homes but I managed to hang up a lot of things that were sitting around. 
  3. See more comedy – I did okay with this I guess? David Cross, Flight of the Conchords, and Eric Andre. There were more shows I wanted to see but didn’t get tickets in time. Here’s to being on the ball in 2017!
  4. Paint the fucking table – Woo! Painted the coffee table at last. 
  5. Get another tattoo – More than one! 
  6. Shop local/shop small – I feel like this can always be improved upon but I did make an effort to support small and local businesses whenever I could. 

For 2017 I’m going to try to keep things simple and focus on using things I have. 

  1. I got a screenprinting kit for Christmas from Dustin and I really want to learn to use it. 
  2. I have a sewing machine that I still can’t thread properly. I should change that. 
  3. I have a massive list of movies that I’ve been meaning to watch – ones that are downloaded and ones in My List on Netflix. I want to focus on getting through some of them, even just if it’s one a week. Maybe I’ll write a post with all the titles so I can do another post with the ones I’ve watched scratched off. 
  4. I’ve been doing really well lately for finding time to read so I want to keep that up. I can’t stop buying books, but hopefully I can keep reading what I already have. 
  5. Purge items regularly. Every couple of months it’s good to go through closets and cupboards. The real trick it getting things to Goodwill though. 
  6. In a similar vein, I have some larger items that need to be donated. I should see if I can call someone to pick those things up.
  7. Most importantly, I want to find one good shade of red lipstick, just so I know I can wear it. 

Happy New Year, friends!

What’s under the tree for Miss V 2016

Every year I like to do a post about what Vivian is getting for Christmas – it’s not meant to be anything braggy or showy, but I just like toys and think it’s fun to see what cool things people have found for their kids!  So here’s what’s under the tree for Miss V this year.

You guys, I am trying SO HARD to keep things simple.  As usual, I’ve gone way overboard on her stocking (because stockings are the best) but have tried to keep the rest pretty under control.

Vivian loves her dolls right now – she loves setting up little rooms for them with all their furniture and rearranging it and decorating it.  She saw that living room set months ago and fell in love.  It was a little hard to get my hands on it, but I finally got on in Port Huron.  I also got her a desk set for the dolls.  They’re not wooden like most of her doll furniture (they’re just from Walmart, part of the My Life As line) but I know she will get lots of use out of them.

She is crazy about Lush and bath bombs right now, so when I found this Bath Fizzies kit I knew she would love it!  I’m sure we’ll have messy fun trying to make them.

Yes, I did it.  She is getting a Hatchimal for Christmas.  I didn’t want to pay the inflated price, but it’s all she’s been talking about and her dad and I split the price on one so it wasn’t too bad.  She’s going to lose her shit on Christmas morning.

I got her a Shopkins house for her birthday, so of course she wants new furniture for it.  Always rearranging things, that girl.

Vivian has lots of adventures so I thought she might like the Fuji Instax 8 camera so she can take her own pictures and see them develop so she can keep them in a book or hang them on her walls.  I figure this way she can get a new pack of film for every new adventure and take whatever pictures she wants!

We’ve been working on her reading a lot lately and she’s really been enjoying reading chapter books together.  She asked for Magic Treehouse books so I got her a box set of the first four books.

I got her this Lego Juniors set, but now I’m kind of regretting it.  She’s been doing really well with Lego – she got a set for her birthday and put it together with very little assistance.  I’m sure she will still love this one, but I don’t think she needs the easier build version.  There’s some new DC Superhero Girls sets that I’m really excited about, but they’re for ages 7-12 so I thought that might be a little too complicated.

I also put together a correspondence set for her.  She loves writing little notes and making little cards for people, so I put a bunch of nice new markers and stickers and stamps and cards all together in a little tray so she can write up little notes to her heart’s content.

Now to finish wrapping it all…

Treats of the Week – Sprint to the finish line

 

It is go time, you guys.  I’ve been trying to stay on top of my wrapping, I’m refreshing the tracking on my last few orders, and I have a small list of things to do on Thursday (aka payday) before I’m calling it quits and being officially ready for Christmas!  It’s always such a sprint to the finish line – I can’t wait to have some time off work to just relax.  Here’s the treats from the last little bit!

  • I have had terrible luck with my new car – nails in the tires twice, glass in the tires once, someone hitting it in a parking lot – and it’s only like 15 months since I got it.  So when the low tire pressure light went on a few weeks ago I figured it was another nail.  Being the responsible adult I am, I avoided it until the weather was calling for a snowstorm.  I went to the dealership, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  Imagine my surprise when they said that all four tires were equally low, so it was probably just due to the cold weather hitting.  Definitely a small treat, but oh so welcome!
  • Amanda and I did a trip to the States to do some Christmas shopping and actually managed to get a lot done!  Our trips to Port Huron are always interesting – and always run late.  I was pretty into this tacky tree at Target – is it so much to ask that it go on clearance for like 90% off?

  • You can save posts on Instagram now – so I don’t have to have a phone full of screencaps anymore!  Hooray!
  • We had Vivian’s birthday party at the house, which actually went really well!  Dustin did some chalk art for the decorations, and the kids all had a blast.  Vivian really just wanted to have kids over to play, so I kept things pretty low key.  I didn’t even have any freakouts, so I’m calling it a success!  Vivian lost her first tooth at the party too – she was so excited!

  • I also picked up these pretty gold plaid glasses at Target while we were in Port Huron – I wish I had grabbed more!  They go perfectly with pizza in bed.

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  • I won a mini holiday photo session for Vivian too – which was such a nice treat!  I got some awesome pictures of her, so everyone should be prepared to get some for Christmas.  She was so excited to be able to show off her new smile!

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My hope is that we can just get through the rest of this week without any major meltdowns or unforeseen issues.  There’s always something that goes wrong at Christmas, but I’m hoping it’s just something small.  How’s that for holiday spirit?

 

Ashlie’s Stocking

So here we are – 10 days to go until Christmas!  I’m very, very close to being done my shopping – basically just gift cards and booze left on my list!  This is very strange for me, since usually I’m shopping until the absolute last minute.

This year, Dustin and I decided to do stockings for each other because I love stockings and they’re the best.  I also thought it would simplify things a little bit, but apparently he still needs some hints so I thought I would share them with all of you!

 

I struggled with the collage deal for way too long before I realized that WordPress will make one for you.  Lesson learned.

I won’t include links because I basically just pulled images off of Amazon and you can get these things at lots of places.

I wouldn’t mind a new puzzle, because I’m a giant nerd.  I saw this cool Batman one at those Calendar stores that pop up this time of year.

I’m also running low on my favourite Annabelle Stay Sharp coloured eyeliner.  I could use a few different colours – my aqua, navy, and green have all run out!

I saw that vintage sign bottle opener at Uber Cool Stuff, and it’s pretty much perfect for me.  H2 had some rad vintage signs for sale there too, all around $15-20.

I haven’t been a big Funko person but I really want those Robin Hood ones!  And now that they’ve announced the Lost series I basically am becoming a collector.

Dustin is lucky that he can shop for me at his work at Heroes.  I have heard such awesome things about Paper Girls, I really want to start it!

I never have enough funny lady books – I really want the new books by Phoebe Robinson, Lauren Graham, Anna Kendrick, and Jessi Klein.

Yeah, the Disney Store also has this Robin Hood ornament so I’ll be wanting one of those, please.

I tried my hand at one of those Metal Earth models and actually really enjoyed it.  I’d like to continue with the other dinosaurs, and wouldn’t mind some of the Batman and Star Wars ones as well!

I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping with a candle burning.  It’s so soothing, and the light helps me wake up in the morning.  Of course, I run the risk of waking up to a cat that’s on fire or something, so I should probably get some flameless candles instead.

Nessie ladle!  I’ve wanted one for so long – Dustin go get one at Uber Cool Stuff.  She can peek out of the stocking!

I haven’t worn my Chamilia bracelet in a long time because it needs to be repaired.  I’ve realized that I would probably spend just as much repairing it as I would on a new leather bracelet, so I’ve been eyeing those up instead.

Also on my list that I’ve only thought of now when I’m this far into writing and don’t want to go back for more pictures?  More Sharpies (allllll the Sharpies!), extra sets of iron-on letters for my t-shirt making ways, lots of enamel pins and fun patches, and coffee, coffee, coffee.  Deadly Grounds Coffee is amazing, but Dustin has specifically requested I only ask for things that are easily found at brick and mortar stores.  Apparently my list last year was a little difficult.

I’m not so difficult to please, right?  Just make sure everything is wrapped.

 

Treats of the Week – What’s your secret? 

Last week one of the justices of the peace said to me, “You’re always in such a good mood.  What’s your secret?”  It surprised me because it couldn’t have been further from the truth.  I was tired, I was stressed, I was thinking how there aren’t enough hours in the day and Christmas is going to be here before I know it and I’m unprepared and feel like I can’t get ahead no matter how hard I try.  I wanted to tell her that any appearance of a good mood was probably due to a combination of coffee and anxiety medication.  Instead, I just laughed and assured her it was all smoke and mirrors and a lot of coffee.  It made me wonder though – am I faking it all the time, or do people really just see me that much differently than I see myself?

I feel like my office is generally a good representation of my head at any given time.  It’s the dumping ground of the house.  Typically it’s filled with work still to be done, mail still to be opened, books still to be sorted, things that need to find a home or be thrown away.  People don’t see stuff like this though – they see the version of me who gets overly excited about things and seems to be efficient and organized and in a good mood.  So maybe what I need to do is focus more on those things and less on the mess.  ‘Tis the season for treats.

  • One of the reasons why I’ve been so frazzled lately is because I’ve been working like crazy trying to get some freelance stuff done.  Not only to hopefully have some extra money in before Christmas, but also just to get it off of my desk.  I was so relieved to finally get the final portion of this huge order off my desk.

  • We haven’t put up our tree yet – I like to wait until after Vivian’s birthday to do that.  This picture on Instagram is definitely making me want to cram the tree full of flamingos though…

  • We may not have our tree up or gone to see Santa yet, but we have hit up a few parades!  The kids were on the float for the Parkhill Parade, and mom and I were walking in it.  It’s one of those things that I kind of grumble about ahead of time, but then totally love it when it’s happening.  It’s pretty fun to walk alongside a float and see your kid waving to people – or pouting because they’re not in a barrel, as the situation was with my kid.

  • Everyone has had Gilmore Girls fever the last few weeks with the revival!  Luckily I finished the series in September so I was fully ready to go back to Stars Hollow!  Dustin humoured me by joining me at a Gilmore Girls viewing party at our favourite downtown bookstore, Brown & Dickson.

  • I actually managed to sneak in a trip to IKEA a couple of weeks ago since I was already working in Brantford for the morning.  It’s amazing how quickly you can run through there when you don’t have kids with you!
  • I’m woefully unprepared for Christmas – I’ve barely started shopping.  Hopefully I can get more of a handle on it this weekend!
  • There’s 2 hour free street parking in effect in the Old East Village again – my favourite!  Now I can move my car after my lunch break and be able to park right in front of the building for the afternoon!  Little things, guys.
  • It was the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on Monday night – one of my favourite holiday traditions!
  • We haven’t really started watching our non-traditional Christmas movies yet but we came across some other really good scary movies!  We watched We Are Still Here last weekend and I was really impressed!

I’m sure there’s lots more but my brain is fried.  Vivian’s birthday tomorrow!