Go Vote!

Here in Ontario, we have a tough election this week.  It’s an election where there’s no real good option, but it is what it is.

I was talking about it to Vivian yesterday, and asked her if she will come with me on Thursday to vote.  I am an ardent voter, and I like bringing Vivian with me so she can see how it’s done and it gets ingrained that it’s important, and that’s part of being an adult.

“Vivian, I have to vote on Thursday, do you want to come with me?”

“What’s voting?”

“That’s when we get to decide who we want to be in charge, who can make the decisions for our government.”

“I hope it’s me.”

“Well, it won’t be you.  You’re not running.  See those signs?  Those are the people who are running.  It could be you when you grow up though, if you wanted to work in politics.”

She licked her ice cream cone thoughtfully.  I started to mentally gear up for a big conversation explaining to her that voting is very important because women weren’t always allowed to vote, and there are countries where people aren’t allowed to vote, so we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to vote and it’s important to have our say and…

“Mommy, have you ever had an armpit freeze?”

More pressing concerns to a 7 year old.


Mommy Doesn’t Like Scales

I just gave me niece, Blair, and my daughter, Vivian, a shower. There was the usual silliness – me trying to wash their hair without getting soaked, them dancing in the shower and making up silly games. I got them out and dried them off and helped them into clean jammies.

While I brushed Blair’s hair, Vivian pulled out the bathroom scale, eager to see if she was 50 pounds. They giggled and took turns on the scale before getting on it together to see if they made it to 100 pounds. We don’t have a scale at home, so it was quite the novelty for Vivian.

Then it happened.

“Mommy, you get on the scale.”

I didn’t want to make a production of not wanting to get on the scale, because I don’t like to talk negatively about my body to her. She doesn’t need my issues passed on. I also didn’t want to get on the scale though, because I know how bad it can be to my head. I immediately think back to days of weighing myself before and after a workout, desperate for some magic number.

“No, honey. Mommy doesn’t like scales.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t like to see a number, it doesn’t make me happy. I like to see the things my body can do and how it looks to me, that makes me happy.”

“I think your body looks great, Mommy!”

“Yeah, me too, Aunt Ashlie!”

It was a small moment, and I’m sure they’ve quickly forgotten it, but it felt like a small triumph for myself, and hopefully planted a small seed of self-respect and acceptance for them both.

Ashlie the Landscaper

I can be impulsive.

Actually, what usually happens is I avoid, avoid, avoid something and then all of a sudden I’ll get it into my head that I’m not avoiding it anymore and I need to get it done RIGHT NOW.  This usually results in half finished projects, and general disasters.

(See also – the time I started painting the kitchen because I didn’t want to proofread a transcript.)

My current project is the patio.  I’ve been wanting to do this for YEARS.  Please see my highly detailed and totally to scale sketch below.


See, I have a big backyard, but it’s really useless.  Originally, there was a teeny tiny stupid deck, which I had removed a couple years ago.  Now the backyard is as you see above – a small patio behind the garage (which is just patio stones from a former shed), then a section of grass between that and the small concrete section which had been under the old deck.  Because there’s a sidewalk which runs along the house, it’s basically two small patios connected by a sidewalk and it’s dumb.

So for the last few years I’ve been wanting to rip out that grass in the middle section, and join the two smaller areas to make one big, useful patio.  Make sense?

Originally I had thought about a deck, but because of the layout of the house nothing really made sense. If I tried to build a bigger deck, it would end up blocking the rear entrance to the garage (which I forgot to add on the drawing, but it’s on the left side of that little bump out) and just wouldn’t fit right.  So I’ve convinced myself that this is the easiest option, which will give us lots of space for patio sitting, Vivian playing, and maybe even a fire pit on the deck.

This is where things are at now.  I just started attacking it the other day because once the weather gets nice I get all itchy to try and get things done.  It really isn’t a huge section, so I’ve told myself that really all I need to do is:

  • Pull up all the grass
  • Dig down a couple inches
  • Tamp it down flat
  • Lay down some weed blocking fabric
  • Lay my patio stones
  • Add the polymeric sand to keep the stones from shifting
  • Put my feet up and enjoy my patio

How’s it going so far?  Well, let’s see.  I have no wheelbarrow, which is why there’s sod laying everywhere.  I plan to repurpose most of the sod by building up a few low points in the yard, and using the removed soil in the front garden and to get some grass growing in a couple dead spots in the yard.  To do this, I’m moving pieces by hand, or with the help of my handy-dandy 5 gallon bucket.  I’m planning on using a tarp dragging system to get it done quicker though.  I also don’t have a tamper, and will probably have to bring patio stones home in a few stages since I have a small car.  My thinking in getting it started right now is I want to get it dug up before things get dried out and the ground is too hard.

This all makes sense in my head.  And maybe once I knock this task off the list, I’ll be inspired to do something about other areas of the house, like the fence that is currently defying the laws of physics by remaining upright.

Tell me I’m not too crazy.

Waiting in the Wings

Vivian’s competition season is fast approaching.  We’re at the studio more and more, and the parents there are now armed with glitter and glue guns as we prepare for battle.  There’s costumes to alter, props to paint, and routines to finalize.  It’s a general chaos that we’ve all decided to accept as normal.

Having a kid in any competitive sport or activity is a huge commitment.  I won’t lie – Vivian’s dance is expensive and can be a huge burden.  It takes up so much time, and basically for April and May our every weekend is spent on dance in one way or another.  It’s worth it if she enjoys it though, right?  That’s what you do as a parent.  You sacrifice what you can to give your kid all you’re able.

Last night, after another dance session, Vivian and I were hanging out in the living room.  I started asking her if she was excited for the competitions, and what she’s most excited to perform.  It’s her first solo this year, and she can’t wait to get on stage and show off what she’s been working so hard on.  I’m insanely proud of her already, and know I’ll be a mess when she hits the stage for the first time.  Then I saw a little cloud of worry pass over her face.

“Where are you going to be when I’m dancing, mommy?”

She asked if I was introducing people again – I have been the MC at her last few dance recitals, so she gets confused when I have to be on stage and when I don’t.  I told her I could be wherever she wanted for competitions.  Competitions are all about her, and I generally stay backstage with her the entire time.  Whether she wanted me out in the audience watching her dance, or waiting in the wings was up to her.

She said she wanted me backstage, because when I’m in the crowd she can’t always find me.  Having me backstage means I get to give her a hug right before she steps on the stage, and another the second she runs off after her bow.

It just struck me – isn’t that always the way parents are?  I spend so much time and money on her dance, and I truly never get to sit and watch her perform.  I’m always there in the wings, helping with a quick change or moving props, ready with hugs and words of encouragement.  I often don’t know what the dance really looks like, because I never get to see the damn thing the way it’s meant to be seen.

But she doesn’t care about who is in the audience.  She can’t even see them when she’s dancing.  But she can see me backstage, holding back tears and ready to give her a hug.

Internet Friends

I’ve been writing this blog since 2009.  Over 1000 posts.  While I don’t blog as often anymore, I still maintain a fairly looming internet presence.  By making myself so open on the internet, I have had several interesting requests by strangers.  I figured I’d share!

  • The curtains in Vivian’s room are just a pair of old Rainbow Brite sheets.  Someone in Australia saw my blog post about them and wanted to do the same, so she contacted me to see if I would sell them to her.  I was mean and declined.
  • Someone else in Australia contacted me wanting some paint chips from the Sarah Richardson paint collection.  I had written a blog post about me collecting them, so I sent her a bunch.
  • I once posted about a beloved purse getting a broken strap and my hunt for a new one.  Someone in England bought that broken purse from me.
  • Someone else once asked if I would sell them a pair of my shoes.  Again, I declined.
  • On Instagram I participated in a pin trade after a user contacted me about buying a set of my pins.  I wasn’t super attached to them, and she really wanted the colourway that I had, so I just asked her to order me a new set in the current colourway and I sent her mine.
  • I’ve recently been contacted about selling some of my books online, but I’m not quite ready for that!
  • I was able to secure more prints from the City of London by blogging about them – one person messaged me to tell me that she had a full set and didn’t want to get rid of them (thanks for nothing), and someone else messaged wanting to give me a couple!

It’s silly, and a little weird, but I really do love having these little exchanges with internet strangers.  I think in some ways it takes me back to being young and playing on the internet for the first time and being blown away by the realization that there’s someone on the other end of this exchange.  A real person, with a whole real life completely outside of your experience.

As long as it doesn’t get any creepier than asking for my old shoes, I’m okay with it.

Oscars 2018

I love the Oscars.  I love movies, so it’s pretty logical that I would love the awards shows too.  The year that Titanic won was the first year that I can remember staying up for the whole awards show, something that is difficult every single year.

A few years ago, I started getting really annoyed that I would spend all this time watching the Oscars but would have only seen maybe a couple of the movies.  I made it my goal to watch all the Best Picture nominations.  Once I did that, the next year my goal was to watch the Best Picture nominees and the acting categories.  From there, there’s enough overlap that I just started watching as much as I possibly could.

Luckily for me, it’s become easier and easier to watch the nominees.  If you’re a person who likes torrents, it’s usually pretty easy to find the screener copies out there.  I, of course, try to see some on the big screen, but that can often be difficult when there’s films with smaller releases.  I was glad to see that Google Play had an offer for many of the nominated short films packaged together for only $5.99.

The picture above is what I’ve watched so far this year, and I’m tapping out at this point.

Basically, the weekend of the Oscars I hit a wall and start to hate myself for wanting to watch so many heavy movies, and really start craving the fun stuff.  It’s this crazy battle inside my head – “You’re so close, just sit down and watch Mudbound!”  “Literally no one cares if you watch this or not, just do whatever you want.”

The pressure of the office Oscar pool always looms large, but I’m never confident with my choices when I hand in my ballot.

Obviously, next year I need to focus on the foreign pictures.  I think the last time I saw a nominee in that category it was Amour, and I watched it because of the Best Actress nomination.  I’m so glad that I watched all the short nominees this year – I was so pleasantly surprised by so many of the short films (The Eleven O’Clock is wonderful!) and animated shorts, it was really nice to be able to watch all of them in the time it would take me to watch one feature length film.

My best advice if you want to be an Oscar viewer is to start early.  When it’s the holiday season and everyone is talking about Oscar buzz or what movies are doing really well on the festival circuit, start crossing those off the list.  Hopefully by the time January comes around and the nominations are announced, you’ll already be ahead of the game.  Setting the goal of watching all the Best Pictures is really attainable and it gives you a really good overview of all the categories.  There’s enough overlap that usually there’s only three or four more movies left in the acting categories.  If you really want to win an Oscar pool (and I’ve won every pool I’ve ever entered, even though like I said, I’m never confident in my choices) the real way to do it is to pick up extra points on the lesser-understood categories.  If you can pick up enough correct picks in cinematography/sound editing/sound mixing/production design, then it will probably be enough to push you over the edge even if everyone else picks the same winners in the major categories.

The irony of all this is that I finally cut our cable a few months ago, so I’m not even sure how I’ll be watching the results tonight!


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.


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.