Throwback Thursday: 1 Month From 1 Year

One month from today marks Chris’ and my one year anniversary (married… it’s unfortunate that the four years together pre-marriage get thrown aside for tracking)!

This meant that today’s throwback thursday post was an easy choice. The above photo was taken the moment after Chris and I had officially been declared husband and wife. I had just finished crying after going second in reading our personal vows and Chris had kissed the bride. We walked back up the aisle to a major Chris song (that I also like) called You Make My Heart Beat Faster by The Distillers, you should give it a listen and then take another look at the featured photo above. We had so much fun at our wedding and it was very us – thrifty and quirky!

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Another one of my favourite photos from our wedding!
They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I wonder if that’s changed since people have started living together more commonly as unmarried couples. Chris and I had two years or so in the house before we got married so it’s not like we needed to get used to each other or were learning about each others’ habits. Our wedding was less like a new beginning to an adventure and more like the third chapter in a novel that has already built a foundation to build a story around.

Wherever we are in our unwritten novel, we’re doing really well. We are just as in love as ever, but what’s more important is that we’re still best friends who watch comedy

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Photos were taken by friend/singer/photographer Caitlin Currie.
specials while drinking bourbon or play board games competitively together. We have fun and appreciate our time together – we also know that no ones perfect and that honest communication is key.

We’ve known each other for almost five years now and expect to continue to learn from our shared experiences (especially mistakes). Just because we’ve been married for a year doesn’t make us experts, but who’s to say that we’re not doing it right? We’re doing what’s right for us and that’s all I hope my loved ones do for themselves too! 

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A Sunday Stroll Through the Park: The Oshawa Peony Festival

Tis the time of the year for one of my favourite local summer festivals – the Peony Festival! This year’s festival was held from Saturday June 10th to Sunday June 11th. Chris and I had a busy weekend, but I knew that I wanted to squeeze in a walk through the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens for the big event so we made time on the morning of Sunday June 11th.

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Photos spontaneously captured by Rosenlee Photography – just good timing!

The location of the festival is special to me: oddly the gardens are outside of a small arena that I used to frequent for hockey practices in my youth (Children’s Arena); my family had lots of fun and took photos there before my parents divorced; and lastly, Chris proposed to me in these gardens a year and a half ago (they put a garbage can in the exact spot where he knelt [we laugh at the “romantic” spot now]). The paths and gardens represent a lot of happy memories for me and the Peony Festival celebrates the parks beauty, Oshawa’s beauty.

edit.jpgChris and I were excited to bring Summit because it’s held mostly in a public park, there are elements held in the arena, but why would you want to go inside on such a beautiful day? Parking was a bit crazy which I think is wonderful because it means that the festival is an ongoing success! Luckily the neighbourhood has many side streets that quickly filled with parked cars. We walked the short distance from our car to the park grounds and people had already started to compliment Summit on her beauty – I am a shamelessly proud mother.

collage 1.jpgThe festival includes: manicured gardens with over 300 varieties of peonies; dozens of local art, artisan, and food vendors; contests; live jazz music; and people enjoying the walking trails. Chris and I first stopped to view collected bugs in glass cases that was surprisingly fascinating. It was neat to see bugs from Malaysia too, Chris says that he hasn’t encountered them which is good because they were pretty damn big!

We continued to browse vendor booths along the walking trails and I especially loved Fancy Fellows who makes bandanas, bows/bowties, and other fashion accessories for dogs and children! They sold out of the Star Wars selection so we are planning on Photo 2017-06-11, 11 24 01 AMordering a custom one from her online! She has some really great fabric patterns so be sure to check out her page!

We met with the committed creator of What’s on Oshawa, a local online supporter of my hometown community that I have followed online for a long time! Creator Anna Huk was a joy to meet and I recommend you follow them online to keep up with cultural events to attend if you live near by! What was so fun was that Anna also recognized Summit from her Instagram account, she asked “is this @summit.the.sweetheart?!” and my proud-dog-mom heart grew four sizes. Chris laughed because he knew it would only encourage my commitment to our dog’s Instagram shenanigans.

collage 2.jpgWe took Summit to the water to get a drink and walked the rest of the trails. I also met a lovely En Plein Air painter working by the river. Her name was Judy Harper and she mentioned that she was looking forward to painting in this coming September’s Plein Air festivals in both Millbrook and Belleville. It’s a lot of fun to watch the live painting process so even if you don’t paint I recommend going to see artists in action. Keep your eyes peeled to see her work!

Photo 2017-06-11, 11 05 00 AM.jpgOur morning was filled with beautiful nature, friendly festival goers (so many people stopped us to talk about Summit and loved hearing her St. Berdoodle breed name), and a long healthy walk. Summit had a great time and it was really nice to expose her to socializing with that many people since her past wasn’t an easy one and she was once much more scared of people than she is now. Chris and I love spending time together at free events like these and it was the perfect Sunday morning activity.

I hope you keep in mind free local events like these in the future! They are incredible mini-day-dates, make for fantastic family photo back drops, and you can meet some wonderful people while you’re there! Oh yeah, the flowers were pretty nice too.

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Cord-Cutting in Canada: Separating, Streaming, and Saving

Over four years ago, just as we were starting to date, my husband bought the house we now live in together. I remember helping him move in and him telling me about his plans to forego getting landline or cable services in his home. It all made so much sense to me and I had the easiest transition when I moved in. I rarely used the landline when I lived with my parents, except for times of frustration when hanging up on telemarketers, and I had already started watching a lot of television shows online. Flash-forward to today where Chris and I happily live (essentially) wireless and are extremely content with the money we save and the services we use.

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Our media set up!

Per month, we pay approximately $12.00 for Ultra 4K HD Canadian Netflix and have just subscribed to CraveTV services as well for another $9.00. On top of our streaming services we watch a lot of streamed TV on our computers so as you might have guessed, we definitely use a lot of internet. We pay roughly $62.00/mo. for our internet services (50 MB/second and 400GB internet usage which we have never gone over) with TekSavvy (a company that has lowered our rates twice now without any prompts [thanks TekSavvy]). What do you currently pay for television and internet services combined?

In terms of living without a landline, do it. If you presently pay monthly fees for mobile phone plans, why bother paying for the landline? I think we have come to a point in time where it is largely unnecessary in a household setting. It’s been so long since I’ve wondered “is it for me?” when a phone rings because I know that if someone needed me, my cell phone would be ringing.

We’re definitely not alone in this popular cord-cutting trend (we are technically cord-nevers rather than cord-cutters as we have never paid for cable or satellite since living on our own).

In figure 1, Statistics Canada survey results indicate that less and less Canadians are choosing to keep their landlines with each passing year.

Figure 1:

Cellphone and landline ownership rates in Canada 2011-2014
This table is from the CRTC’s “Communicaitons Monitoring Report 2016: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview for Canadians” (p. 19 of the downloadble PDF).

In figure 2, the graph shows the steady increase in prices for Broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs). Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) researchers state that their findings suggest “that the rise of mobile-only households does not solely reflect changing preferences but may also be driven by affordability.

“What are BDUs? Broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) provide subscription television services to Canadians. They redistribute programming from conventional over‐the‐air television and radio stations. They also distribute pay audio and discretionary services (i.e. pay, specialty, pay‐per‐view (PPV) and video‐on‐demand (VOD)). Most BDUs are cable, national DTH satellite, or Internet protocol television (IPTV) service providers.” CRTC

Figure 2:

Price indices for communications services compared to the CPI
This table is from the CRTC’s “Communications Monitoring Report 2016: Canada’s Communication System: An Overview or Canadians” (p. 12 of the downloadable PDF).

Emily Jackson of the Financial Post writes that over half a million Canadians got rid of their landlines “between the first quarters of 2015 and 2016” alone. The number of Canadian cord-cutters during these quarters came to approximately 540,000 people – that’s almost double the population of my home town and it’s a lot of customers to lose in a short time period.

A huge reason to cut your ties with cable and landline companies is the cost saving which is why it makes sense that many millennials are involved in the movement. So many of us have post secondary school debt to worry about and are still struggling to find work in our fields with a lack of entry level job openings (a rant for another post). It’s important to note that cord-cutting isn’t just a youthful fad and that people of all ages are benefiting from changing over to streaming services.

My main reason for loving streaming services in comparison to BDUs is the lifestyle. I am no longer bound to the schedule of my television programs and don’t have to fast forward through commercials of PVR’d programs. The two most common questions that I get asked when preaching the cord-cutting lifestyle are:

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Screenshot from my current Twitter newsfeed.
  1. How do you get your news?
  2. What about sports?

For news, I follow local Twitter accounts to stay informed about my city and province or I access Reddit’s /r/WorldNews to keep up with international events. Both internet sources pride themselves on consistent updates from news platforms as well as citizen journalists and keep me possibly more up-to-date throughout the day than TV news viewers.

Sports…? Sports-smorts – Chris and I don’t really watch sports, but just because I don’t like to watch sports doesn’t mean that you don’t so I did a little homework for you and found out that the following sports oriented streaming services are available in Canada: SportsNet Now, Rogers GameCentre Live, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and NFL Game Pass.

sports services

Another alternative is the program Kodi, this streaming method allows me to find shows that aren’t available on Netflix or CraveTV, like Jeopardy! Kodi also provides you access to live sports streams and even the news.

So there you have it folks! Join Chris and I on the dark side of being thrifty and cutting the cord(s) – babies don’t need them and neither do you. Start by getting rid of your landline, it’s okay to slowly sever the cord with a knife if you want and this is the easiest way to start.

cordcutting.jpgHere’s some further reading on pros, cons, and some how-to’s on cord cutting. Maybe you’ll get lucky and start hating sports (it’ll save you money)!

  1. “Pros and Cons: Streaming Services vs. Cable TV”
  2. “10 Things to Consider before Cancelling Cable TV”
  3. “Cord Cutting 101: How to quit cable for online streaming video”

Couch Cushion for One Please: The Chore of Cooking Alone

When you marry a pilot, you need to realize that you will be on your own at times and that at those times you will still need to eat.

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Eating alone leads me to eat in fron of the TV and this cheeky monkey likes to remind me that I am not actually dining alone!

Eating alone is one thing (and am I really eating alone?), but cooking alone is another – to me at least.

My husband Chris is definitely the chef in the house, he loves to cook and admittedly he makes cooking fun. We both really enjoy the time spent together, I like to peel and chop so I almost always do prep while he cooks at the stove. With great music, a glass of wine, a dog wagging her tail, and the company of my spouse, cooking dinner is made into a cherished time for us each day. However, while he’s away it definitely feels like a chore.

I was recently speaking to a friend’s mother who lives by herself and she agreed with me. She and I easily fall into a certain mentality, the mindset of taking care of one’s self seeming less important. It was so nice to talk to someone who relates to this odd concept that often makes me feel less like an adult. When doing a bit of research, I came across a short article by Dana Velden labelling this attitude as the “Why Bother” Syndrome. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in these feelings of dining disinterest. 

I recognize the signs of indifference and try to combat them by forcing myself to cook healthy meals. The meals that I cook are reasonably boring, but they are my ‘go-tos.’ Almost every night I eat baked chicken breast, couscous or rice, and raw vegetables (carrots and cucumbers). I also eat smaller portions than when my husband is home so that I can make the meal extend into two meals – leftovers are heaven sent when you’re cooking for one.

I know that this sounds extremely unglamorous, but it’s the truth. To avoid falling into patterns of eating chips or cookies for dinner I make routine meals that sustain me, take little effort, and are cost efficient.

CaptureOccasionally I treat myself or merely want to change it up, and when I do, I look to Pinterest. You can check out my food board here, we have started pinning more gluten free recipes since my husband was diagnosed with Celiac approximately one year ago – this is also why I sometimes indulge in pizza while he’s away!

What are some ways that you motivate yourself to cook interesting meals by yourselves?

Have any links to recipes that are quick, easy, and delicious? Let me know!

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!

Travelling Together: My Top 3 Dream Destinations

Occasionally my husband and I buy a lottery ticket, then we talk about living out our dreams stress-free and smile about all the what ifs.

Some of those aspirations are to:

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    Screenshot of Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary’s Facebook page.

    build our ideal home on a waterfront property somewhere in Canada

  • open a senior dog sanctuary similar to Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Tennessee
  • have all the time in the world to work on our hobbies
  • travel together

Seeing new parts of the world seems to be a common thing on people’s bucket lists, but maybe an explorative nature comes with the personality of someone who creates things like bucket lists.

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Photo of Chris and I in Barcelona.

Chris and I come from very different vacation backgrounds, but we generally have similar interests in destinations. Chris travels for work, but it isn’t the same as vacationing. He often visits places that aren’t exactly being raved about on a top ten guide, he’s currently in Guwahati, India. He also grew up travelling to parts of Europe to visit family whereas we drove 17-19 hours to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to see grandparents and cousins. Chris’ total countries visited adds up to a number over 50 vs. my total of 3 (Canada, the United States, and our honeymoon destination in Spain). Although our travel experiences are very different, our destination dreams line up: explore together, have fun, and create lasting memories.

So where do I want to travel to?

Here are my current top 3 dream destinations:


New Zealand

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Photo from Natural Habitat Adventures and WWF

Things to do: LOTR fan fun; visit the toothbrush fence; Zorbing
Things to consider: Flights are expensive; it takes a long time to get there; don’t rush

I have wanted to travel to New Zealand since The Lord of The Rings (LOTR): The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001. Amazingly, I had just started reading the series (my dad’s copies from the 1970s) article-1302835-0ac849a2000005dc-845_634x338when Peter Jackson announced the plans to the film the trilogy. I was over the moon excited to see the hobbits, wizards, dwarves, elves, and orcs come to life on screen (I definitely fell in love with Legolas immediately since he was basically a real-life Link from Zelda). Even at the young age of eleven I recognized the beauty of Middle Earth – the beauty of New Zealand. I can’t wait to see the rolling hills, snowy mountains, and the sheep that inhabit former hobbit homes in person someday.17211534

When I met Chris, he introduced me to his favourite television program Flight of the Conchords. This comedy show only heightened my interest in all things New Zealand as the main characters hailed from the country and the show poked fun of New Zealand’s innocence with parodic posters. Chris has yet to travel there and we’d both love to take a looksee at the famous toothbrush fence in between LOTR/nature walks and other Wellywood adventures.


 

Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR)

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Photo from Nomadic Expeditions

Things to do: Enjoy the views; stop to smell the metaphorical Russian roses; make friends
Things to consider: Plan A LOT; get the right visas; do your homework; lack of privacy

This one is on the list largely for my husband, he has absolutely convinced me that this would be an amazing trip, but it is one that is a huge commitment. The Man in Seat 61 recently wrote a very detailed post about transsib-train-dirk-_0.jpgeverything you need to know if you want to plan you TSR adventure – you should definitely check it out! You need to be prepared to sit a lot, to enjoy the view, and to pack light. Getting off the train is an important part to enjoying and actually experiencing the different places that you are passing, but there are periods of time where you may be on the train for up to 24 hours or more.

It’s not known for its romantic atmosphere, but more so for its accomplishment in going the distance – the Trans-Siberian Railway spans across ten time zones and continues through Russia, Mongolia, and China. This is an adventure for a low maintenance traveler looking to complete an impressive goal in life.

Suggested articles:
Trans-Siberian Railway: Best Cities to Visit
Everything you need to know about booking a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway
Surviving the Trans-Siberian Railway


 

Iceland

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Things to do: Soak in the Blue Lagoon; walk in black sand; camp under the Northern Lights
Things to consider: Cheap flights, but expensive once there; cute hostels; time of the year

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Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa with a bar to swim up to and everything!

It is only within these last several years that Iceland has become a dream destination for me, Chris and I have been talking about going there for almost four years now. Chris has technically been to Iceland on a few separate occasions for work stopovers, but he really wants to take me there. He told me about the Blue Lagoon/natural hot springs that are said to be good for aches and pains, then Google did the rest of the convincing: Northern Lights, if you go at the right time of the year); black volcanic sand; Icelandic ponies; puffins; and towns that are fit to be picturesque jigsaw puzzles. The country’s natural beauty is of the same level as New Zealand, but it’s much closer to Canada which is a bonus in terms of flight costs and travel time.

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Atlas of Wonders goes over where Star Wars: Rogue One was filmed, noting that the fictional planet Eadu is actually a southern Icelandic landscape.

If you’re a pop culture buff like me, then you’ll also love that many popular film and television productions have used the land for filming locations. The long list includes personal favourites of mine such as Star Wars: Rogue One and Game of Thrones. Attracting fantasy and science fiction genre productions is another of Iceland’s similarities to New Zealand, I believe that this is because their beauty is surreal and fanciful. I look forward to the day where we can live it up in Reykjavik before renting a vehicle and camping across the country (our almost honeymoon choice before we decided on Barcelona).

PS. Watch one of my favourite documentaries, The Final Member, and maybe you’ll also want to visit The Icelandic Phallological Museum!


Where are some of the best places that you’ve travelled to? Where are some places that you want to go? Let me know some of your thoughts and maybe you’ll convince me to add it to my own travel-to-do list.

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.

A Photo Essay: Walking in Oshawa’s Winter Wonderland

collage-1I present you with a brief photo essay:

We love living near the dog park, but we never appreciate it as much as we do after a fresh snowfall. The Oshawa Harmony Valley Dog Park looks surreally beautiful when the trees are dusted with powder and the fields are blanketed in white sheets. I asked Chris to bring his camera for our walk on what was a truly beautiful day.

Summit, our approximately two-year-old Saint Berdoodle, loves running around in the off-leash zones at the park. She’s the first non-black dog that I’ve ever owned and I still haven’t gotten used to having a dog that doesn’t appear to suffer from severe dandruff during snowy days. Her smiles are just as big as my past dog’s though, and I enjoy watching her bounce around in a deer-like manor.

Chris and I put on our big winter boots and almost over dressed as the temperature was surprisingly warm for a snowy day. We trudged along the paths and took a lesser known route by one of the streams. We carefully crossed the ankle-deep water by stepping on dscf9234snow covered rocks (luckily, we didn’t fall in [our mothers would have told us not to do it, but like most adults we make stupid decisions sometimes]). Summit bounded across the newly frozen ice and her back legs broke through a thin patch. She quickly made it to the ‘safety’ of the nearby ground after getting some ice-cold motivation!

Before walking to the open field where Summit likes to play, we stopped to take photos with her by our favourite bridge. The entire walk, including twenty minutes of playtime, lasted for forty minutes and I could feel tiny drops of sweat beneath my scarf. We came home with rosy cheeks, runny noses, and new winter memories.

 

Check out our photos here:

Christmas Tree Trimming: Nostalgic Newlyweds

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favourite traditions and I look forward to it every year. Depending on my husband’s overseas work schedule, I have done it both with and without him over the last few years. I’m really lucky that he’s home for the holidays this year so I only had to wait until December 8th to decorate.

I appreciated that Chris wanted to participate in the tree decorating tradition, he seemed just as excited as I was. He made us Old Fashioned’s (we love bourbon) and I put on a Christmas record. A good friend of mine gave img_9725me A Charlie Brown Christmas: Vince Guaraldi Trio on Vinyl as an early birthday present and I’ve listened to it all the way through approximately five times already! For some reason, the slight crackle of vinyl makes me feel cozy, a similar feeling to having fireplace lit in the winter.

As the needle followed the grooves, I took a sip of my drink, and lit a candle that smelt like a balsam fir. It officially sounded, tasted, and smelt like the holidays – I was blissfully happy. We lugged out our fake tree and box of decorations from under the basement staircase and let Summit have a whiff of Christmases-past.

Approximately three Christmases ago, Chris and I purchased our first tree together. We bought a 6ft tall pencil tree, my dad thinks that it looks funny and weird, but we think that it is perfect for us. The small tree fits into our space and is quirky enough to suit our family. That first tree year, we had a Christmas

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Chris standing beside our nearly finished tree this year.

party where we asked our friends to bring us ornaments to decorate our new tree with. We were so happy with the outcome: an eclectic mixture of homemade, outlandish, store-bought, and traditional decorations that contribute to its unconventional nature. Each guest was also given a homemade ornament from Chris and I – a lot of work when you make 43 of them!

Back to 2016: Chris, Summit, and I enjoyed a quiet night of decorating. This is the first year that Chris and I are officially husband and wife for Christmas so I made us a wedding ornament and also a fun Eric Andre themed ornament (tried my hand at wood burning for the first time and loved it). The best thing about having had an ornament party is that every year we are reminded of the friends and family in our lives. Each ornament has a backstory and is associated with a familiar face. Unwrapping each trinket leads to talking about the loved one from which it came and this process really adds to the nostalgia that comes with the tree tradition.

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Top: Our stockings hung with care (temporary stocking until we print a photo of summit). Bottom left: Daq’s stocking. Bottom right: Daq and I at my mom’s in 2012.

Aside from ornaments, we also pulled out our Christmas stockings. I took a minute or two to cry when I held Daq’s old stocking that would now be handed down to Summit. She was a truly wonderful friend who I still miss very much. The mourning process is long and unforgiving, but I was lucky to be a part of Daq’s long and happy life. Chris and I, however, are excited to spoil our new fur-baby this holiday and have been taking her to the now snowy dog park twice a day. Life is all about change and making the best out of what you have – we do our best!

After turning the room lights down, Chris drank some eggnog with bourbon and I had some baileys in my hot chocolate. As if in a film, we excitedly watched snow start to fall out of our back window. We talked about how much we still love our eccentric tree and about the possible future trees we may purchase if we move into a bigger space someday. Isn’t it beautiful that sharing the tree decorating tradition with my husband not only reminds me of happy memories from the past, but also sparks romantic thoughts about the future? It’s who you’re with that matters most; fake or real, the tree itself shouldn’t affect the experience – a reflection of what Christmas is really all about.

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Snow Time like the Past, Present, and Future: Merry Memories in the Making

People often talk about how they would like to travel south for the winter and escape to a hot paradise, but don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings – especially if snow is involved.

I live in Ontario, Canada and we get a bit of each season around here. I think that getting to experience each weather change is really special, don’t you?

1 hyperdrive edit.jpgThe first snowfall of the season happened on Sunday and it made me so happy. The white flakes fell in a hyperdrive-like fashion as I was driving to visit my mom with Summit, listening to Christmas songs on a few alternating radio stations, and it finally felt like the holidays were close by.

Sometime in the last few years I started thinking about how certain places around the world are always hot or others only ever see snow, but we get both. We get spring, summer, fall, and winter which is really amazing.

I absolutely admit that a complaint or two comes out of my mouth like anyone else when I start to get sick of the heat and humidity or the extreme cold temperatures, but by that time I start to get excited about the next season. I have definitely been without a vehicle in the past, walking in the spring showers, sweaty summers, and windy winter flurries (fall is my favourite and I like to imagine it as close to perfect). The point is that I am lucky enough to be able to appreciate the beauty of the changing weather conditions while having a warm house to come home to and I’m truly grateful for that.

Let’s talk about how amazing snow is.

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Summit exploring the melting snow in our backyard.

Think about people who see it for the first time or how fun it is to watch a puppy playing in a snowy backyard. There is an innocent joy to experiencing the phenomena of snow and I think that we get a little piece of that each year when the first snowfall comes around.

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The late Daq and I a couple of years ago.

The snow also reminds me of my youth, playing hockey, going skating, and laughing while decorating the Christmas tree with my family. I smile as I recall a shaggy looking black labradoodle covered in white flakes, smiling back at me and further enhancing my love for her. It also reminds me of my husband who loves the snow.

If you take a few minutes to think about your own personal positive memories that are surrounded by snow you might not dread it as much this year (until you see your driveway that needs shoveling).

The snow has started melting already, but I look forward to it coming back! I am excited about making new memories this year as a newly married couple with our new fur-baby Summit. The falling snow, like the green buds on the trees in the spring, help measure the time that we spend together. Years from now the snow will continue to trigger happy memories that feature sheets of white and some cute doggy footprints.

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Handmade hat by Black Cabin Salvage Co. and handmade ornaments by Tammy Gay (take the workshop on how to make your own here).

 

Let me know some of your favourite snowy memories!

This coming Thursday I will be writing a pop culture post that is connected to appreciating a good snowfall and I’ll leave you with this quote as a hint as to what it will be about:

“Wait, close your eyes and breathe. I smell snow.”