Valentine’s Day: Cheap Dates and Quality Time

As Valentine’s Day is fast approaching (February 14th is this coming Tuesday), you may still need to come up with an affordable date idea. If we broke the bank to celebrate every holiday throughout the year, we’d be broke ourselves.  

Yes, you can absolutely splurge a little on an expensive dinner out, but if you’re looking to save money this year maybe you can try some of the following five activities:

  1. Instead of spending money on typical Valentine’s products, mutually decide on an at home activity that you could invest in.

16299381_1291067520951162_1872430606541810506_nThis year Chris and I bought a new boardgame that we can play with just two people (up to six) called Pandemic. We had a night recently when we became more familiar with the rules so that we can really enjoy it on Valentine’s Day. Romance can mean different things to different people, and to us in our first year of marriage (third year of living together), our best-friendship is a big part of our love. We embrace our friendship by making sure we will both have fun – we hang out. If you’re on a smaller budget I suggest checking out the games section of Value Village, I’ve found some great games there for under $5.00!

  1. Find a recipe on Pinterest.

the_best_of_dean_martinIf you have the time, cooking together can be a lot of fun. Chris and I often like to put on a playlist that works well with our meal. For example, when we cook pasta I like to put on my Dean Martin album, or sometimes we just put on a 90’s Spotify playlist to sing and dance to. You will either share pride over your delicious meal or laugh at what bad cooks you are which will make for a funny memory – it’s about the quality time you spend together more than it’s about the quality of the food.

  1. Write a love letter.

Chris and I have done this a few times for past Valentine’s Days as well as anniversaries. It costs nothing and makes you feel really good about each other. This is the kind of gift that takes a little thought and effort, but goes a long way. Writing each other letters is also a good practise to keep up healthy communication and remind one another why you’re together. Don’t be afraid to add some humour into it with inside jokes, love letters don’t have to be all serious (they’re meant to make you smile).

  1. Borrow a classic romance movie from the public library.

Sometimes Netflix just doesn’t cut it, especially if you’re like me and have watched basically every romantic comedy on the list. When that happens, you can check out this incredibly useful resource that exists in most cities called the library. You can even put things on hold or find out which branch has which DVD via the good ol’internet – this is better than Blockbuster. My local library carries modern movies as well as many older classics, including a personal favourite: Roman Holiday. Watching a movie on a comfy couch (not necessarily the big one with dust bunnies), having the ability to pause for bathroom breaks, and not paying outrageous prices for snacks are all good reasons to avoid the movie theatre this Valentine’s Day.

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  1. Explore a local art gallery.
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Hand Embroidery I made of the RMG last year.

Want to actually leave the house? Many cities have art galleries with free or donation based admission like The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in my hometown or the Station Gallery one city over. I strongly encourage people who “don’t do art” to try this date idea, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you might enjoy yourself. Galleries are fantastic places to walk (healthy) and talk (healthy for your relationship). You can see how similar you are or just how much your tastes differ. Chris and I also like to make fun of the odd piece, again an art gallery doesn’t have to be a strictly serious environment – have fun!


These five ideas are simple and affordable, some also allow for comfort which is a huge plus in my books. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about extravagant gifts, it should be about celebrating your love for each other by spending time together and creating positive memories.

Let me know what some of your plans are in the comments!

Bad Holiday Movies that You Actually Love: Netflix Canada 2016 Selection

Scroll down for a list of 16 ‘bad’ holiday films on Netflix

Remember those bad ‘made for TV’ movies that your mom used to watch when you were growing up? Somewhere along the line, somehow, my sister and I ended up loving them too and there are a lot more to choose from now compared to when I was a kid. Thanks Netflix Canada!


A Brief Reality Check:

Hallmark Channel (yes that Hallmark) seems to be mass producing low-quality Christmas rom-coms – they actually released 22 holiday TV movies just this year alone. Adrienne hallmark-storeGibbs, of Forbes, wrote it best when she said that the channel is “capitalizing on Christmas,” not a surprise when you think about the card company in context with every other holiday or celebration of the year.

So why do I watch these movies when I also acknowledge how awful they can be? People may think that it’s a ‘guilty pleasure’ of mine, but I don’t feel shame in my enjoyment. I, like everyone else, think that I have incredible taste in quality media productions; however, again like everyone else, I like to watch meaningless bad television and movies from time to time. Hallmark Channel movies are no better or worse than the average reality television show

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Screenshot from Once Upon a Holiday (in the list below).

detailing the latest fad occupation (i.e. Shows about being a baker, a stay-at-home pageant mom, an ice truck driver, etc.). Both genres have productions that are: often poorly scripted; predictable; funny without being intelligent; cringe worthy; good to be on the background while you’re doing something more important; and lastly, they frequently star nostalgic actors and actresses who we haven’t seen since the 90’s or early 2000’s.

I’m not telling you to not expect more out of Hallmark movies though – they should still be held accountable for their white-heteronormative plot lines that consistently push the need for a prince charming and feature an insanely low percentage of racial diversity in their cast. We as an audience need to voice our want for more depth and options as white heterosexual women are not the only viewers. There is likely a very diverse audience that wants to watch low quality holiday love stories. If Hallmark Channel is making as many as 22 films for just one season, why do they all have to feature single white women looking for Mr. White – er I mean Right – as their Christmas wish? They don’t. The demand is out there so supply it to us you capitalistic card company conglomerate!


Back to my ‘So Bad It’s Good’ Holiday Movie list:

holiday-favouritesPhew – got that out of my system, so now let’s list the selection of bad-holiday-rom-coms on Netflix Canada 2016. I’ve already watched a bunch, but you may need some background fluff to put on the TV while you finish the last of your gift wrapping or while you get ready for Christmas with the family.

Here they are (not ranked), feel free to click the links below and watch the trailers ahead of time! You can type the title into your search bar or browse for these in the “Holiday Favourites” category on Netflix.

PS. I’ve watched the first seven
PPS. As an atheist I often just choose to ignore whatever religious undertones come with Christmas movies as it’s the original basis for the holidaymovie-collage

  1. Dear Santa 
  2. Holiday Engagement
  3. A Dog Walker’s Christmas Tale
  4. Merry Kissmas 
  5. Christmas Crush
  6. Once Upon a Holiday
  7. My Santa 
  8. A Christmas Kiss II
  9. Christmas Belle (not an actual trailer)
  10. Naughty & Nice
  11. Back to Christmas 
  12. Christmas in the City 
  13. Small Town Santa 
  14. Santa’s Little Helper
  15. How Sarah Got Her Wings 
  16. Angel of Christmas 

Whether you watch these low-budget productions this holiday season or not, I hope that you enjoy yourself (celebrating or not celebrating Christmas)! Be safe, be smart, be merry.

Baby-Shower-Talk: What Other Husbands Don’t Do

(Warning: I had a lot of fun with GIFs)

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Friends S8 E20 “The One with the Baby Shower.”

I recently went to a friend’s baby shower. The decorations were beautiful, the food was incredible, one of the games was television oriented so I actually won, the mom-to-be was delightfully spoiled, and the conversations were very informative. Baby and bridal showers are like office water coolers of female friendships; these are the events that women love talking about their spouses at most.

Some of the discussions were eye opening and actually reminded me why I married Chris – he is a great guy.

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Many of the women that I spoke with told me that their male counterparts did not help with the laundry. This shocked me. Not as surprising, the same men who avoided doing laundry, didn’t like to help with cooking or cleaning either.

How could these men not be helping with household chores in 2016?

The women that I spoke to are admirable as they all worked full-time jobs yet they had these added responsibilities at home that their significant others didn’t. Even if you enjoy cleaning, I’m left wondering whether or not you would later resent your partner for not helping.

I’m friends with a lot of men and I know that many of them would help with chores – not all men leave this to be ‘women’s work’ (a terrible term). Chris is living proof that some husbands believe in sharing the unassigned home-work-load.

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What is wrong with these other guys? Do they want wives or moms?

The thing is that I know that the women who I spoke with didn’t love doing all of the housework because they were talking about it at this baby shower. The weird thing is that it was almost less like complaining and more like bragging about whose partner contributed less – it wasn’t funny to me.

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I know that Chris’ overly clean tendencies aren’t exactly typical, but it’s not just keeping a clean house that makes him a quality spouse (accidental rhyme).

 

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We take on jobs equally at home: we take turns going up and down the stairs to switch the laundry loads and both do the folding; we cook and then wash the dishes together; we both work on exterior landscaping; we renovate the house together; and while I scrub, he vacuums – we are a well-balanced team.

Knowing how the other person behaves as a live-in-partner is so important to me which is why I’m a firm believer in living together before marriage. Not only do you learn whether or not you want to kill the other person, but you also learn their habits and beliefs.

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If Chris hadn’t been as great as he was, he wouldn’t have been chosen to be on my team.

Although we have barely been married for 3 months, we are going on living together now for 3 years and I’m very happy with our system.

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If you are happy with your system that’s wonderful, but I’m just trying to let other women know that players get traded from professional teams all the time – sometimes there are better fits, sometimes there are better team-players who want to play for you.

Until we have Rosie-Robots in our lives, finding an equal partner to love and share your home with is an important standard to keep. Wife does not have to mean maid or mother to your husband, it means that you have a best friend (male or female) to help make life a little easier.

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Try a Little Tinder-ness: Outsider Observations on the Dating App

(I recommend that you listen to Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding while reading this post)

I met my husband Chris just over four years ago and we married this year, Chris at 32 and myself at 25, but many of our friends have profiles on Tinder.

“Today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket.” – Aziz Ansari (TIME’s adapted excerpt from Modern Romance)

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Cover of Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. I also recommend his show Master of None on Netflix.
Tinder is a popular online-dating app that was released a month or two after I started dating Chris so neither of us have used it personally. Not only has our relationship lasted for over four years, but somehow so has this application! I find Tinder fascinating which is why I was excited when one of my best friends downloaded it recently.

HOW IT WORKS (for those out of the loop like me):
You use your finger to swipe through the very concise online dating profiles that present a small number of photos and even less information about the person. If you swipe the profile to the left it means you’re not interested, a swipe to the right means that you are and you hope that they swipe right on you to make a match (if you swipe up it is a ‘super like’).

Our friends range from approximately 23-43 and come from a variety of walks of life. I have heard more about the Tinder experience from my male friends than the females and they never have rave reviews. I often hear that “Tinder is great for women, but terrible for men” or “It’s so much harder for guys on Tinder.” Generally, in terms of connecting through conversation, getting more matches, and having more options, I think that this is true (but this doesn’t account for all the creeps that need to be subtracted from the average woman’s message box).

My male friends consistently say that the worst part of Tinder is that girls who seem interested drop off the face of the Earth without being honest about why. My female friend who has had the recent success with Tinder said that most guys she talked to were genuinely surprised to get her responses because “most girls don’t talk on Tinder.” I have heard that some users create Tinder profiles to get more Instagram likes or even just to boost their own egos. Natalie Wolchover states what we all know, that the physical distance makes it easy to be mean online or at least easier to avoid doing the right thing.  

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Promotional poster for Meet the Patels.
After watching Meet the Patels on Netflix about six months ago (I loved this movie), I connected the similarities between arranged marriage practices and online dating. They are pretty similar with the questionnaires, profiles, and filtering systems (Aziz Ansari also makes this connection in his book Modern Romance that I hope to read soon) – they mainly differ in the sense that one has an actual paper trail instead of a digital footprint. It’s the technological aspect that allows Tinder user experiences to remain detached and dehumanized, two elements that make it easy to ignore messages or avoid telling the truth about how you feel.

Kate Hakala describes why over half of “location-based dating app users” are men. She compares Tinder to gaming apps, this assessment is based on the finger swiping – Hakala claims that men are just trying to beat the odds.

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In 2014, Nick Bilton, of the New York Times, wrote that “men are nearly three times as likely to swipe ‘like’ (in 46 percent of cases) than women (14 percent).” My male friends and I have joked about how often times guys (including them) seem to swipe right for ‘like’ without even looking at the profiles that scroll past. They’re more likely to get matches this way – they can sort through their options later if they swipe ‘like’ now.

Whether they are swiping right like mad, as if they’re hitting that N-64 A-button as fast as they can, or they are legitimately more open minded, I wonder, do these swipe-happy males care more about quantity of matches over quality?

But what if the goal of the game is less about your quick finish time and more about your high score?

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My female friends who use Tinder have both good and bad things to say. For example, my aforementioned friend who recently downloaded the app changed her main profile photo after being less than impressed with her options on the first day – BAM matches were flying in. Once she had chosen a sultrier photo she was quickly matching with guys that she deemed as more attractive, however, more matches also meant that the amount of ‘creeps’ increased as well – by this I mean guys who open with “What’s your favourite position?” instead of a polite hello.

I was blown away by how fast the list of cute guys she matched with grew. It’s been a little more than a week and it actually seems like she found a keeper already! If she has, of course, in due time she will remove her profile from Tinder and there will be one less female user for the statistics.

Now this is the story of an attractive girl in her early twenties, but my friends in their 30s haven’t had the same luck.

A couple of years ago, I went to my friend Lori Anne’s house for a girl’s night. Lori Anne and I both had serious boyfriends, but her three single friends were talking about how hard finding the right guy was. I don’t remember what I had said, but I clearly recall one girl biting my head off. She told me that my opinion didn’t count because I was in my twenties and that I had no idea how hard it was for older women. I laughed at how rash of a statement it was, but I find myself wondering how true it might be.

My early-twenty-something friend found that the number of guys interested was overwhelming for her, whereas my friends in their thirties finds that options are sparse. This leads to questions such as is Tinder ageist? Is the offline dating game ageist too? What other prejudices does the app enable?

I think Tinder sounds like fun, but everyone should be aware of abuse within the system including fake profiles for advertisements, general misuse, and catfishing.

I know people who have married after meeting on online dating sites like Plenty of Fish, but do you know any long-term commitment success stories from couples who have met on Tinder?

Let me know some of your experiences and enlighten me on the world of Tinder.

all-paws
Visit their site here.
PS – What’s way better than Tinder? The All Paws app that matches you to adoptable dogs!