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? 

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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.

Back, and to the left

I remember seeing that double VHS set on the shelf at the video store.  Even though I would have only been probably 10 at the time, I wanted to watch JFK so badly.  I don’t really know why, but I had a deep desire to see it.  My mom wouldn’t let me.  She told me it was too long and you had to really, really pay attention when you watched it.

Maybe it’s my contrary nature, but I’ve wanted to know more about the JFK assassination ever since.

I didn’t get around to watching JFK until a few years ago.  When I finally did, I was blown away.  If you haven’t seen it, you really need to.  It’s a spectacular film that clips along at a breakneck pace.  I just watched it for a second time this week.

Every time that I delve into something JFK-related, I want to know more.  I’m so cautious about it though.  I don’t want to just read a pile of crazy, I want something detailed and researched.

I want to know more about it, and I figure the only good way to do this is to read.  Watching documentaries and movies are one thing, but sitting down and digging into a really good text just gives you a fuller picture.  At least I think so.

After having read Helter Skelter, I fell pretty hard for Vincent Bugliosi.  He was the district attorney in the Charles Manson trial, and he’s brilliant.  I loved reading about his thought process during the Manson trial, so when I found out that he has also written about the Kennedy assassination, it immediately went on my list.

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Bugliosi wrote “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy”.  This bad boy is no joke.  It spans nearly 1,700 pages, and includes a CD with further pictures, maps, and information.  This book is on the side of the lone gunman theory, and I trust Bugliosi.  In fact, he managed to successfully argue the lone gunman theory in a mock trial.  So I figure that’s the way to go with that side of the equation.  (Bugliosi also released another book called Parkland, which is basically a condensed version of Reclaiming History.  This also was adapted into a movie by the same name, which had a great trailer but not great reviews.  If I’m going to read something about the assassination though, I figure I’d better go big or go home.)

My trouble now is deciding what to read on the conspiracy side.  I’m fascinated by the story told in Oliver Stone’s JFK, all that government conspiracy and cover-up business.  But if I’m going to go down that rabbit hole, I want it to be as logical as possible.  My first thought it to turn to the two books on which Oliver Stone based his film – “Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy”, and “On the Trail of the Assassins”.

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But I figure it never hurts to ask for more opinions – so hit me up.  What are the best books about the Kennedy assassination?  Not crazy YouTube videos, not weird self-published eBooks, but actual, researched books.  Whatcha got?

You’re Getting Sleepy

Has anyone else found that as they get older, they have a harder time falling asleep?  I never really struggled with insomnia, but lately I’ve been finding I stay up later, have a harder time shutting off my brain, and tend to wake up in the middle of the night.  I’ve been a hardcore sleeper with the TV on for years, but that’s not always conducive if there’s someone else in the room who doesn’t like to sleep with the TV on.  So I’ve adjusted, and it’s AWESOME.

What’s the secret?  The Sleep With Me Podcast.  Seriously, it’s so weird, but it’s awesome.  It’s a podcast that puts you to sleep and I’m obsessed with it.  Now, every night, I look forward to the time when I get to put in my headphones, arrange my perfect pillow throne (it’s elaborate and requires five or six pillows) and drift off to sleep with Scooter.

How does it work?  Basically he tells bedtime stories in such a roundabout, meandering way that you drift off.  His goal is to make things interesting enough that you pay attention to him, instead of the thoughts swirling in your head (he calls them brain bots).  It’s seriously so relaxing.  He creates this incredibly reassuring atmosphere, saying he’s just going to keep you company until you fall asleep, or don’t fall asleep, there’s no pressure!  I’m obsessed and can’t sleep without it.  Dustin hates it and thinks it’s super weird.

Seriously – if you’re having a tough time sleeping, give it a shot.  I like to set the timer on my phone so the podcast stops after the current episode.  I’ve forgotten a few times and left it playing all night and I end up with some seriously weird dreams.

Another trick I like to help me fall asleep?  I like to map out in my mind places where I’ve spent a lot of time but haven’t been in years.  Like the summer camp where I went when I was a kid, or the arena where I grew up, even the campus at Western.  Doing a little walkthrough in my brain really helps to relax me.

Let me know if you have any other tips!  Or recommendations for wireless headphones – the cats keep chewing through mine!

Not Again

It’s kind of a long way to go to get the payoff of this story, but I think it’s worth it.

Okay, so I’ve mentioned before that I dig these Lego Brickheadz figures.  They’re cute and cheap and fun to build.  It’s like making your own Funko.

LEGO-Brick-Headz-Series-1

At this point, the only one that I’m missing from the above picture is Captain America, and I was wondering when a second series might be coming out and what characters they might feature.  So I did what I do best – Google dat.

I wasn’t finding much information on what will be coming out, but I found a bunch of message boards where people were speculating on what might be next.  I took a scroll through to see what the nerds were saying.

 

 

Okay, so lots of people have guesses along those lines, but nothing that was really getting me excited so I kept scrolling.

Okay, a bit of a dissenting opinion with the Doctor Who stuff, but whatever.  Forums can get like this with people getting snarky instead of just scrolling on by.

Then I came across the following comment and thought it was hilarious.

Do you see that?  “We’re not doing this again.  We are not debating the popularity or lack thereof, in yet another unrelated thread, of Doctor Who.  Please do not continue to debate this across Eurobricks.  This is a Brickheadz wish thread.  You wished for Doctor Who, and that’s the fullest extent of that conversation allowed here.  Thanks.”

You guys – this argument comes up SO OFTEN that someone felt the need to address it with “We’re not doing this again”.  It’s as though Lego forums are just filled with people arguing that there should be Doctor Who EVERYTHING because it’s a “global phenomenon”.  Well, this Eurobricks thread has had enough of this debate!  It has no place here!  You can say you want it but that’s it!  This is serious business on this thread and your attempts to derail the wish list talk of Lego Brickheadz is NOT WELCOME HERE.

I honestly laughed about it for like 10 minutes – it just struck me as so funny that someone was so fed up with the idea.  Then it reminded me of Sideways, because that line always kills me.

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So no Merlot, and no arguing about the popularity of Doctor Who.

Halloween 2017

 

The weather has finally cooled down and I’ve got some Halloween decorations up and I’m ready for some spooky October fun!  I thought it would be helpful to make up a little list of some of the activities going on in the area – a lot of these events are already filling up and even sold out so the time to act is now!  I didn’t necessarily put them in chronological order because frankly that seemed too complicated.  I linked to all the events to try and make sure the times and dates are right.

Sparta Ghost Hunt

Sparta has ghosts, not just candles!  Sign up for your guided spirit tour!

Eldon House Ghost Hunt

Get the chance to tour the Middlesex County Courthouse and beautiful Eldon House while hearing about all the ghosts that may be residing there!  This event was sold out, but I believe they added additional dates on October 29th.

Storyspook Gardens

I haven’t been to this event in a couple of years, but the last time I took Vivian we had a blast!  The volunteers do an awesome job of putting on an event for kids that’s fun and not too spooky.  Plus it’s really cool to be in Storybook Gardens at night, even though I still maintain that it should be Spookybook Gardens and not Storyspook.

Reapers Realm

I *finally* went to Reapers Realm for the first time last year and it was SO.MUCH.FUN.  I can’t wait to go again this year.  If you’re going, it’s definitely worth it to buy your tickets online ahead of time and spring for the VIP pass.

Screampark

In a similar vein, Bingeman Park in Kitchener does Screampark on weekends in October.  I might not be able to fit in all these haunted houses, but this one looks pretty great!

Suspiria 

If you haven’t seen this Dario Argento masterpiece then you definitely need to hit up this event!  The movie is gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it in 4K!  This is a special event as part of London Comicon – I’ve already got my tickets!

London Comicon

I’m not entirely sure what horror-related treats are going to be at the London Comicon, but I’m anxious to find out!  Vivian and I are excited to meet the real Wednesday Addams, and I can’t wait to fangirl over William Shatner of Weird or What fame!

Kustermans

I’ve been to Kustermans during the day to get pumpkins this time of year, but this year I want to check out their haunted corn maze at night!  I’ve heard good things about it – and I love a good haunted house event!

Donnelly movie premiere

There are all kinds of screenings happening for this local history film – it’s looking like a lot of the events are already sold out so if you can find one with tickets still available, don’t wait!

Stranger Things Halloween Party

Like getting your dance on?  Check out this 80s themed Halloween dance party!

Pioneer Village

You can’t get away from the Donnelly family story around here – here’s another cool haunted and historical event!

Murder Mystery at Woodside

This one is past the Halloween season, but if you want to take a bit of a road trip out to Woodside, they are hosting a murder mystery dinner in early November.

Byron Scary House

I didn’t get a chance last year to head out to Byron for this backyard haunted house but I heard it’s really awesome.  I’m determined to make it there this year!

London Murder talk

Sadly this event about London murders is already sold out but I’ve been emailing hoping they add an additional date.

No Scrubs Halloween Dance Party

Like getting your dance on?  This one’s a 90s themed event!  These dance parties at Call the Office are super fun, even though I end up feeling old for dancing to music that I like in a non-ironic way.

The Hands of Orlac

Okay, so this one sounds really cool and might be what I want to do for my birthday.  The in-house composer for the London Symphony has created music to accompany the film The Hands of Orlac.  It will be performed by the symphony with the film playing on screen.  Sounds pretty rad to me.

If you’re wanting to venture further out of the London area, Toronto is doing a haunted house in Casaloma again this year, the AGO has an unbelievable exhibition on Guillermo de Toro, and the horror con Frightmare in the Falls is happening in Niagara Falls in November.  There’s also HorrorRama in Toronto in early November – you’ll find me there!  Another great idea around Halloween is to try out some escape rooms!

Staycation

There actually was a time when I thought staycations were a waste of time.  I don’t usually have the money for a big vacation, so for a long time I didn’t really take time off unless I needed it off for something.  Maybe a Friday off here and there, but not much beyond that.  When I did take a week off, it would be because my daycare was closed or something, so it didn’t end up being a real vacation.

Then last year, I took a real staycation.  I booked the first week in September off.  I like to take the first day of school off so I can take Vivian, and I think I was supposed to have a French court out of town that week, so taking the whole week off made sense.

IT WAS AWESOME.

I can’t believe I never put it together, but do you know what you do on a staycation?  YOU STAY AT YOUR HOUSE AND DO WHATEVER YOU WANT.  It’s the greatest, for real.

The first week in September makes it even better since Vivian is in school.  We get up, get ready, I walk her to school, then I have from 9:00 a.m. until 3:20 p.m. every day to do whatever I want.  I can get SO MUCH done around the house, or I can lay around and watch a whole season of something on Netflix.  It gives both Vivian and I a chance to ease into the school year and really makes things go a lot smoother.  Lunch packing doesn’t seem like such a chore, we can spend more time getting back into a school routine, and any errands for that first week are easily done – and you know those first few days of school usually entail running out to get something that you didn’t realize you needed.

It gives me a chance to get caught up on freelance work that got away from me over the summer, and it’s a good chance to do errands that are hard to do with Vivian around.  I can go through her toys and clothes, all that stuff.  I had aspirations to paint this kitchen this time, but that didn’t end up happening.

I’ve talked up this week so much that I think I’ve talked a few more people into scheduling a staycation the first week of school.  The weather is always nice too, so that definitely helps.  Fellow putterers and house mice, enjoy your staycations!

 

Some Thoughts

My brother got married on September 2nd.  It was a crazy, hectic, beautiful, amazing day.  This was my first sibling who took the plunge, and I was really surprised by how overwhelmed and affected I was by the whole weekend.  It ended up being this amazing, soul-cleansing weekend and since I can’t stop thinking about it, I figured I would write some of my jumbled thoughts about it.

  • I spent the day before the wedding helping my mom and aunt get ready for the rehearsal dinner.  What could have been a day of menial tasks ended up being a day spent with my mom, aunt, cousin, and my new sister-in-law’s family drinking, eating, chatting, and preparing food.  It was such a traditional day – all these women together preparing food for a huge group of people, sharing wine and coffee was just so special.
  • I got to spend time with my aunt and cousin who I haven’t seen in over 10 years.  I never get to see my mom with her siblings since they live out west, so just seeing my mom get to be a little sister was really special.  Connecting with my cousin while talking about our kids, talking to my aunt about career paths and books and finding similarities…I can’t wait to be able to go visit them myself.
  • Any time I’m in a room with my mom’s family and my dad’s family is bizarre and surreal but so fun.  I got to see my brother Matt talk to my cousins on my dad’s side, people who he doesn’t normally meet.
  • Seeing the way that people find their own rituals during something so traditional like this.  People who don’t normally smoke deciding, “Why not, let’s have a cigarette.”  Laughing and hugging, seeing generations come together, seeing Vivian with her great grandparents.
  • Seeing my brother, the groom, the giant crane operator who is so tough on the exterior and not prone to displays of emotion, beaming at his bride coming down the aisle.  He didn’t cry – good thing, because I would have lost it if he cried – but he rubbed her hands with his thumbs through the whole ceremony in this “As long as I keep doing this, I’ll get through it” kind of way.
  • During the ceremony, a red tailed hawk landed in a tree right near my brother and his bride – with a last name like Hawkins, you take that as a sign.
  • Even just cleaning up after the wedding the next day, enjoying time with my mom talking about the wedding and not worrying about cellphones.
  • The leftovers!  The whole time was like that week between Christmas and New Year’s when you just eat and drink and socialize no matter what time of day.
  • A few days after the wedding, before my aunt and cousin had to fly back out west, we went to the cemetery to look for my maternal grandfather’s headstone.  We found his, as well as my great-grandparents and other ancestors.  Making connections to the past in a way I rarely do.

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting more nostalgic in my old age or something.  In any event, it was a really special weekend and I just wanted to get some of these written down before I get all bitter and jaded again.

The Closet 2017

First – some background.  I used to do this post every year, but fell off the wagon last year.  Basically, it’s crazy time consuming to put together and I just didn’t get to it.  For anyone who is new to the blog – this is my entire wardrobe.  I started doing a blog post about it mostly to hold myself accountable and really take a close look at what clothes I have and what I actually wear and need.  I’ve been invited to a couple of clothes swap parties lately so it inspired me to do another post.  I feel like I have a fairly small wardrobe, but I’m sure there are people with smaller wardrobes and definitely people with larger ones.  That’s all okay!  I’m not a minimalist – I just overshare on the internet.

So, here’s what lurks in my closet.

5 pairs of jeans

I need new black jeggings – that pair second from the right are actually really dark blue, not black.  The pair on the far right are snugger than I’d care to admit – although when I look at this picture I think it might be because the waistband is much more narrow than the other pairs so maybe that’s my problem.  Let’s blame it on the jeans.

8 Skirts

Not a big pants person!  I’ve actually being waffling on getting rid of some of these skirts but I’m not quite ready to let them go yet.

4 pairs of shorts (3 summer, 1 winter)

I love me some winter shorts.  I hate summer shorts.  Two of those pairs I impulse bought before we went to Huntsville last month.  They were just on clearance for like $6 each.

4 pairs of yoga pants, 1 pair of jogging pants

Four pairs of yoga pants seems a little excessive to me, but one pair is leggings (gotta get them in those boots in the winter!) one pair are capris and two pairs are actual full-length pants.  Also these pictures are so terrible because Dustin was actually sleeping in the bed while I was doing this so I was trying not to make a huge production of it.

3 Vests

 I really love that long sleeveless blazer deal.  It’s from Banana Republic and I got it for like $20 at the factory store.  I can’t quite get the hang of wearing it though.  I don’t think I have the shoulders for it.

4 Blazers

I love a good blazer.

8 Cardigans

I really need to upgrade some of those cardigans.  Basically, I wear a cardigan every day in the cooler weather so black and grey are my go-to.

4 zip-up hoodies

Basically casual cardigans.

3 Pullover hoodies

Pro-tip – if hoodies make you feel claustrophobic like they do me, try cutting a slit at the neck of the hood to open it up a bit more – it makes a world of difference.

Box o’ Tights

You may have noticed that I have no work pants, so tights are a necessity for me.  I didn’t actually count them, because I was getting pretty lazy at this point, but I do know that I have two pairs of black tights with grey polka dots, one pair of burgundy polka dot tights, and probably five pairs of solid black tights.  They are all super cheap from Joe Fresh, I like to stock up when they’re on clearance.

The island of misfit tops.

These are the tanks that I don’t really consider actual clothes.  You’ve got random shirts that I’ve made for events, shirts that go under other shirts, and tank tops that are just whatever.

4 Belts

2 Long-sleeved shirts

Sleeves are for suckers.

21 Tank Tops

I love a tank top.  They’re so versatile!  You wear them all summer so you’re not stuck with the dreaded farmer’s tan, then in the fall and winter you just throw on a cardigan!  I prefer ones with interesting designs or from small, cool companies, but I have the basics down there too.

These are the basic scoop neck, rounded hem tanks that will go with virtually anything.

4 Button-down shirts

Need more plaid.

19 T-shirts

Clearly I’m not a fan of a plain t-shirt.  Oh, and if things look like crop tops it’s just because I folded it to fit in the picture better.

3 winter-ish jackets

My poor leather jacket needs a repair to a sleeve and the green jacket needs a good cleaning.

3 light jackets

The denim jacket and khaki jacket are crazy versatile – love them both.  The one on the right is a rain jacket with mysterious yellow stains on it, probably from mustard.

2 pairs of sandals

On the left are cheap ones for yard work and when I feel lazy, on the right are my everyday sandals.  I like them to be just fancy enough for work.

2 pairs of running shoes

Old ones for cutting the grass, new ones for “working out”.

1 pair of winter boots

They’re Sorels and I love them.

3 pairs of other boots

If they can go with dresses and jeans, they work for me.

5 pairs of casual running shoes.

Yes, I need 4 pairs of Converse.  And if you have fewer than two pairs of plaid shoes who are you even really?

2 pairs of heels

The black shoes are Seychelles and they were the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought (which still isn’t a lot) but they were worth every penny.

The dresses!  I live in dresses.  They’re socially-acceptable pajamas, basically.

5 maxi dresses

The one on the far right is really faded and I should probably get rid of it.  The one on the left is beautiful but I can’t wear a bra with it and it makes me feel really self-conscious.

17 dresses of other lengths

Nothing super fancy – and there’s actually a couple that aren’t fitting great right now (damn you, zippers!) but I love dresses.

That’s it, that’s all I’ve got!  Beyond pajamas (basically ratty old capri yoga pants and t-shirts) and unmentionables, which are remaining unmentionable.  Not a whole lot there anyway – just enough to get me through until I do laundry again!

ETA – somehow I missed my flats! 

3 Pairs of smelly old flats