Feeling Good With Frasier

What series did you last binge?

Chris and I recently started paying for CraveTv on top of Netflix each month to expand our non-cable using television selection. I have to say that CraveTV has one of the worst browsing interfaces I have ever encountered and it WILL drive you crazy, but it also has a number of quality programs that frasier 1.jpgNetflix Canada just does not provide. There are three BIG CraveTV wins in my books, the third being today’s blog topic inspiration, it has: Broad City, Nathan For You, and Frasier.

I have really fond memories of watching Frasier while I was growing up! My whole family appreciated it and I had been wanting it to come onto Netflix for years. Like anyone who was growing up during Frasier’s run on air, I saw them when the television allowed me opening.gifto see them and my schedule permitted. This means that I had definitely not seen every episode and with watching odd re-runs now and then I had not seen them consecutively either! Despite missing these story elements, I had fallen in love with Frasier many years ago. The older I got, the more I loved it (and understood the wit).

Finally, CraveTV granted my adult wish to watch Frasier all the way through to the end!

FUN FRASIER FACT:
During my re-watch, I learned while exploring a google search about the end credits (because that’s the kind of cool I am [researcher cool]) that the black and white photos of celebrities at the end of the credits were callers in that season of the show! As in, celebrities would call a direct line and often improv their fictional problems on the spot (read more on this here).

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Frasier hilariously has to wear Niles’ gym shorts in the third episode of the eleventh season – Frasier in these short-shorts makes me laugh everytime!

This re-watch did not disappoint!

I surprised and impressed myself with how much I remembered from a show that I grew up with, but had a late start in actually watching due to being young when it premiered. Frasier ran from 1993 to 2004 with a hefty eleven seasons including twenty-four episodes each for a total of 264 episodes. This past while, no matter what kind of day I had, while Chris was working in Malaysia for the month, I would come home to Summit and laugh with Frasier. It’s definitely the kind of go-to show to make me feel happy and that’s a pretty great quality to have.

MY FAVOURITE FRASIER MOMENT
Nothin’ But Net for Niles
My all-time favourite scene is when Frasier and Niles go to a Sonics game with their dad. Niles wins/gets seat-selected to shoot a basket from centre court for a chance to win prizing including some sort of pick-up truck (very Niles). I love this scene so much and it was all the way in season eight – I had to wait so long! Season 8 episode 15, Hooping Cranes, has my favourite scene, this is how it plays out:

3x05-Kisses-Sweeter-Than-Wine-frasier-17400011-720-540As a whole I really love Frasier, but it’s impossible to deny that the last season or so lacked a little in wit and included one too many horrible wigs. The writers did still end things nicely for their fans by giving us key moments and completed character story arcs. The finale went down easy like a classy glass of sherry that I have never tried, but Niles and Frasier would adore.

In my opinion, Frasier is one of the best sitcoms and deserves a proper re-watch (or first-time-watch for some of you), I encourage it!

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My Happy Hobbies: Dogs, Puzzles, and Chick-Lit

There are so many distractions in life that pile onto our plates and, at times, carrying that plate can be pretty stressful for me. There are a few hobbies that I try to dedicate time to throughout the week to help me de-stress. The three that I’ve chosen to talk about are ones that work best to take

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Sniff, sniff…”Can I eat these?”

my mind off of ever multi-plying deadlines by refocusing my attention to things that make me happy!

  1. Dogs
  2. Puzzles
  3. Chick-Lit

This combination is the key to my happy place when I’m on my own while Chris works internationally for a month at a time.


Dogs

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Illustration of the dog park that I actually go to created by  Mellisa Archer (DEFINITELY give her a like on Facebook and Instagram)!

I, of course, watch an immense amount of television and movies in my spare time, but when I’m not doing that I like to go to the dog park with my St. Berdoodle/partner in crime Summit. She’s been a part of our family for eight and a half months and is adjusting to her new life so incredibly well. Summit loves going to the dog park and, admittedly, I think I love it almost just as much! The majority of the park that we walk is off leash and my mind is kept busy making sure that Summit is having fun while also being good. She never looks happier than when running through the dog park and sniffing other dogs’ butts (did that make you smile?). Her happiness fuels my own and then on top of that, I get to meet, Photo 2017-07-17, 6 03 10 PM.jpgpet, and watch other amazing doggos who are also in their happy place – it is all around, the greatest distraction from anything not dog related and negative!

If you don’t have a local dog park nearby, play tug of war with your pup in the house or play hide and seek in the upstairs bedrooms. If you don’t have a dog, volunteer at your local shelter or rescue organization to help find homes for adoptable pets! Just put yourself in situations where you get to see and/or be with more dogs… this is the best advice I could ever bestow upon you!


Puzzles

When was the last time that you did a puzzle? During a 1998 rainstorm at the buggy lakefront cottage your family rented? If it’s been that long, you really need to give it another go as an adult!

My sister and I both love doing puzzles and she’s the one who got me back into the hobby in the last few years. Often times, I would visit my sister and she would have a puzzle started on her table in front of the television. We would put on an easy background nov 2 2016 puzzlemovie and focus on piecing the puzzle together while munching on snacks. When puzzling by myself, I often have smaller chunks of time to work away at it and spread out the completion for a week.

When you do try this, you’ll see that you’re so focused on finding the pieces that you can’t think of those outside distractions that you were worrying about earlier. You might also find that it’s fun – yes, I said it! Fun. You get a similar self-satisfaction that you might feel when completing a tough sudoku or Sunday crossword. Plus if you buy a fun themed puzzle like this Barbie puzzle that my sister just leant me (I recommend that you listen to Aqua if you get a similar image), you will get to reminisce about childhood toilet paper fashion creations that you made for your toys.

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Follow this link to a quick and fun online jigsaw puzzle of the above photo – it’s my favourite photo of Chris and Summit!

Cassy’s Puzzle Tips:

Cassy’s Puzzle Tip One: If you get your friends in on the puzzle-trend (I don’t think that’s a real thing), then you can swap to save money on new boxes.  

Cassy’s Puzzle Tip Two: Make sure you don’t have friends who lose things easily… like puzzle pieces.

Cassy’s Puzzle Tip Three: If you can live with the puzzle missing a piece or two, check out your local thrift store. I know that Value village carries a ton of puzzles for a good price.

Cassy’s Puzzle Tip Four (way more puzzle tips than expected even for Cassy): If no one wants your puzzle when you’re done and you don’t think that you’ll ever do that same puzzle again, give it to a local retirement home or a community centre. There are a ton of people who would enjoy the puzzle around town that you might not have thought of before.


Chick-Lit

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Chick-Lit is not to be confused with the candy!

What is chick-lit? Female oriented fictional literature based on the adventures of women working otherwise mundane jobs, who get into funny situations (often solving small-town murder mysteries before police authorities) and stumble upon love with the men of their dreams (frequently drawn out in a formulaic series of at least 12 books).

It is what it is and I love every bit of it. I love this genre of books because they make me happy, I almost always laugh out loud when reading a good rom-com novel. They’re light, funny, romantic, usually predictable, occasionally ridiculous and they are genuinely enjoyable reads. After a night of reading some of my favourite chick-lit books, I have woken and wondered what hilarious sit-com I had started watching only to remember that it was just a really great book.

I read a lot of classics when I was younger oct 2016 read.JPGand I love a large number of those, but after a long day of work and a short commute, I look forward to laughing at a clumsy female-lead who has problems much more pressing than my real-life deadlines. The stories make my life look easy in comparison, but what really matters is that I fall asleep with a smile and an entertaining scene in my head to inspire my dreams at night.

My Top Chick-Lit Recommendations:

  1. collage 1The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  2. Skinny Dipping with Murder by Auralee Wallace (ongoing series currently consisting of three books)
  3. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich (ongoing series currently consisting of 23 books [Love the books, but I recommend skipping the movie])

You don’t have to stick to high-culture’s unwritten rules! You can admit that your taste ranges on a large spectrum that includes authors like Ken Kesey, Jane Austen, George Orwell, and Janet Evanovich! Join me in being honest about loving romantic comedy novels and you will be happier for it.


There you have it folks!

What do you do to keep happy when you’re by yourself? Do you also love dogs, puzzles, and chick-lit? Let me know!

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When Can I Jump In? The Post-University Employment Struggle and Being Bad at Double Dutch

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Me, confident and hopeful on my graduation day.

One year ago, I had finished my 93-page undergrad thesis, passed all my exams, and was excitedly waiting to cross the stage to accept that rolled up blank piece of paper that symbolized my Bachelor of Arts degree in the next month. I was also applying to jobs and enjoying some fun life moments like attending my bridal showers and making DIY decorations for my upcoming wedding.

 

I started my job search in February 2016, I had hoped that just maybe I would be that exception in today’s society – maybe I would get a job in the industry out of university!

No, I was not an exception.

I didn’t go to university right out of high school and I was graduating at age 26. While some of my peers were afraid of what was coming next, I was chomping at the bit to jump into a career in the communications field. The thing is that there was never a good opportunity for me to jump, it was Double Dutch skipping all over again (I’m really quite terrible at that game). Entry level jobs didn’t seem to exist and online job applications meant that I was just a faceless number to potential employers.

Time passed and I had gotten a handful of interviews, but they were far and few between. I always felt confident about how the meetings went and knew that I could handle the jobs, yet someone with more experience would always win out in the end. When thinking about that all too common interview question, “what is your greatest weakness,” it was clear to me – my greatest weakness was that I hadn’t been given a chance yet. How was I supposed to get the necessary experience to land a job without landing a job?

Scrolling through Indeed listings, most openings required 2-5 years of experience in the communications industry. I often came across the specific requirement of paid experience which meant that unpaid internships weren’t being valued either. I was doing everything right according to people that I spoke with and articles that I read when looking for advice.

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A screen shot of an advice article I had been reading approximately seven months ago that I posted on Instagram.

Then one day, a few weeks ago, a university peer posted a promising message about how she had managed to get a job closer to her house and wanted to pass along suitable resumes to her employer as they were looking to fill her position as soon as possible. I quickly messaged her letting her know of my interest and then began designing a fun custom resume that I spent a couple of hours on. I mirrored design elements of the company’s website, even screen-capturing the site to ensure colour matching (thank you eyedrop tool) and including brand related imagery. I felt really good about my resume and my peer sent it to her connections.

Not too long after the resume submission, I got a call from the PR Manager and she expressed how excited she was to bring me in for an interview – she loved my resume! Like so many interviews before this one, I went in with my head held high and the confidence in myself, knowing that I could rock this job. Arriving very early, I spoke with the office manager and one of her coworkers about our love of dogs and felt like I would fit in at the office. The interview itself was nothing like my previous ones, the Founder and PR Manager were interested in getting to know my personality and we barely discussed the position.

I left feeling really great, I had a positive connection r2d2with both interviewers and I gave it my all to show my eccentricity. I mean that I really gave it my all and I’m not just saying that. In the interview, I did chimpanzee noises, I showed them the difference between that and my gorilla impersonation, did my

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Remember, Elaine’s dance is all about the kicks and the thumbs.

R2D2 sound (the one that he makes when he goes flying), I did the Elaine dance (from Seinfeld), and I talked way too much about pop culture. I made them laugh quite a lot and the Founder of the company implied that I would be getting a second interview.

 

That weekend, I received an email from the PR Manager with an assignment to complete. Chris is currently away for work, and luckily, I didn’t have much planned so I dedicated approximately eight hours of my weekend to hitting the assignment out of the park. I had fun designing visual content for hypothetical social media posts, answered questions about target marketing toward millennials and centennials, as well as thought critically about which trendsetting online presences could gel well with the company. I managed to send the assignment back within 24 hours and I was feeling fantastic. I hoped that everyone else would slack off and be way off base (it’s a competitive job market which brings out an ugly side).

The PR Manager loved my work. We scheduled a lunch meeting for the following week as a second interview and she asked if the company could use my May the Fourth visual content on their social channels. I was ecstatic, but I still didn’t get my hopes up. Fast forward to the second interview, I found out more about the job, met with the designer who I would often work with, and hoped they didn’t think that I talked too much. An hour and a half went by, we parted ways and It felt promising.

 

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Please watch Kristen Bell’s happy tear reaction when she found out that she was going to meet a sloth.

The next day, this past Tuesday, I got an email with the job offer. I cried almost immediately. They were happy tears of relief that I didn’t know I needed until that moment. This past year has been so incredibly hard, sure, I’ve been applying to jobs in pyjamas on my couch, but the emotional rollercoaster was exhausting. I texted and called my close inner circle to tell them the news, finally I had something good to share about this painful process and I wanted to shout it from the proverbial rooftops. I had to wait all day to share the news with my husband (his mornings are my nights as he is working in Kuala Lumpur), but when I did, it finally felt real. That night, I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.

 

 

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My second interview outfit with some red and black Smoke’s inspired plaid!

I start my new job this coming Monday and I cannot be more excited. I am officially the full-time Marketing Coordinator of Smoke’s Poutinerie Inc. and I am confident that it’s the right place for me. Lucky job application number 108!

 

The moral of the story is, that it is so hard to get a job these days even when you graduate with the top grades in your class and know that you can do the job. Our parents didn’t go through what we’re going through in order to start careers so we look to each other for advice, sympathy, and validation. I am here to validate what you’re going through. Your time of post-graduation unemployment may be one of the hardest times of your life, especially when OSAP comes calling after six months and you start paying the monthly interest to maintain your mountainous debt at it’s current peak.

What I learned during this year:

  1.  Looking for and applying to jobs is itself a full-time job
  2. Custom resumes can catch an employer’s eye, but sometimes you do the work with no result because life is unfair
  3. You will deal with jealousy, it’s hard to watch your peers get jobs when you’re struggling, but try to remind yourself of all the good stuff going on in your life too (writing this blog often helped me do that)
  4. We all need the job so try not to hate whoever gets it
  5. Sometimes you need to cry, our current job market is difficult and stressful – your tears are warranted
  6. Depending on your loved ones does not make you a failure, it means you’re lucky to be loved, accept the help
  7. When you start to lose your confidence, keep applying and fake some self-assurance
  8. Keep track of online application deadlines so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity
  9. Take a break when you need to, it can be super overwhelming and you deserve a day off
  10. Most employers will not accept tangible copies of your resume and cover letter at all anymore, my attempts never helped me get any further
  11. There are always other perfect jobs for you out there even if you don’t get this one
  12. Don’t burn bridges because you never know who might pass your resume along to the right person
  13. Pet a lot of dogs – best piece of advice I can give you, they help destress me a lot

My story was a long one, but a fruitful one, and I hope that my honesty validates your own personal experiences. Getting the job feels amazing, but it in no way negates how terrible my year of unemployment was. Be angry, be sad, feel all of the emotions that come with constant rejection and minimal finances, chumbabut use those emotions to fuel your efforts in applying to jobs. As Chumbawamba once said, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down,” make that song be about you (Did your family also order their CD from Columbia House, but only really listened to that song?).

Why You Should Follow More Dog Accounts on Instagram

(Scroll down for my top 6 favourite Instagram accounts [3 humans and 3 canines])

Photo 2017-04-06, 12 29 58 PM.pngInstagram is hands down my favourite social media network. I use it far more than any other platform and it tends to make me happy. Not only do I share positive moments in my life with my own followers, but I take in great snapshots and funny captions of those who I follow. In my opinion, this is how it differs most in comparison to Facebook or Twitter.

My Facebook newsfeed tends to fill up with generic memes, commonly shared stories, or rants both for and against topics that are controversial. As the Twitter feed updates, I’m led to articles of varying importance and I generally learn all my local news here. Both Facebook and Twitter definitely have their benefits, but they are more likely to expose me to depressing or upsetting content. Instagram is (largely apart from sponsored posts) curated by me, for me and I keep it feeling pretty light.

Photo 2017-04-06, 12 30 07 PMI technically run two Instagram accounts, one for me (@cassythemusicalfox) and for our dog (@summit.the.sweetheart). Before our last dog passed, my personal account was filled with photos of our dog Daq and I followed many other dog accounts. Daq had such an incredible personality that I loved sharing her with the Insta-universe, but she was an old girl and I didn’t want to create an account for her only to have to close it after she inevitably died. It was then no question as to whether or not I would start a dog account when we adopted Summit – she would rule the world… I mean approximately 300 followers on Instagram.

Having two accounts is actually very helpful to me. The dog account allows me to follow hundreds of animals online with zero shame and they all do one thing: they make me happy. Like real life dogs, Insta-doggo accounts are very loyal, it’s a faithful online community. Seeing those slobbery smiles doing pretty much anything keeps me feeling good and maybe it would help brighten your day too. Take a break from photos of your friend’s lunch and search for a cute canine going on an adventure.

So, who are three of my top humans and doggos to follow on Instagram? (Feel free to look through accounts I’m following through the Instagram profiles as well because it was really hard to choose only three of each)

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Account: @grumpyandgeeky
Followers: 12,700
Species: Human

@Grumpyandgeeky seems like a fun guy (not to be mistaken with a fungi) who posts a lot of ‘nerdy’ pop culture content. He has access to a ton of the newest and nerdiest merchandise that you will see and possibly then want to buy for yourself. He’s a man of good taste and he also occasionally posts pics of his dog which I 100% support!

 

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Account: @koda_and_moo
Followers: 809
Species: Dogs

Koda and Moo are St Berdoodles (just like my fur-babe Summit), they are brothers who have the best smiles and take frequent naps. Not only are they handsome unique looking bros, but they also give back to the community – Koda and Moo are actually therapy dogs! Sometimes they have Instagram posts featuring these two doggos making people happy offline out in the real world which then in turn makes me happy when clicking that like button online.

 

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Account: @shaundowneyart
Followers: 8261
Species: Human

Shaun Downey is a Canadian artist who is from my hometown, but currently lives in Toronto with his wife (she is another of my favourite artists [@kellygraceart]). His work is incredibly stunning, the colours are gorgeous, the details are

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My Shaun Downey print in the bedroom beside my lingerie chest.

meticulous, and his depictions of fabric textiles blow me away. Every piece by Shaun Downey stands on its own as true beauty and when you think that you have a found your favourite, you will discover his next painting. I was also lucky enough to win a print of Shaun’s last year and I love the way that it brought my girly nook together.

 

 

 

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Account: @dog_wears_hat
Followers: 1520
Species: Dog

I’ve been following @dog_wears_hat for a long while now and they are one of my all time favourite accounts. Every photo and every caption is perfection in a way that the account doesn’t take itself too seriously. This dog, Ol’ Bluey, is a star. I can only hope to look half as good in hats as Ol’ Bluey does because he totally owns it. His serious faces, that might be referred to as Ol’ Bluey-Steel, are the greatest and I hope you check them out!

 

sarahkbenning computer shotAccount: @sarahkbenning
Followers: 402,000
Species: Human

Sarah K. Benning is a talented hand embroidery artist that I happened upon during a time of needlework research. Her work is often intricate and amazes me, she was one of the first embroidery artists to inspire me to go beyond traditional hand embroidery styles and combine it with modern concepts. She has approximately 400,000 Instagram followers who all love her work, but if you can beat the rush, you can purchase your own Sarah K. Benning hoop art off of her Etsy store.

 

waitingdogstoronto computer shotAccount: @waiting.dogs.toronto
Followers: 4296
Species: Dog(s)

This account pretty much posts what you’d expect: dogs waiting to come home; dogs waiting outside the store; dogs waiting for a treat; dogs waiting at the window. The account really makes you realize what a patient species they are and they don’t even have cell phones to look at Instagram to pass the time! It’s a fun account that lets me see a good variety of dog breeds in a nearby city centre (because this is a priority when you are a crazy dog lady like me). You can also submit photos of your waiting dog by tagging them!

 


There you have it folks, a little glimpse into the behind the scenes of my Instagram priorities. What are some of your favourite accounts? What types of curating do you do? Does it make you smile? I hope so.

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.

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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”

My Love-Hate Relationship with a Tale as Old as Time: The New Beauty and the Beast

SPOILERS AHEAD, but haven’t we all seen the original cartoon version? You’ll be fine if you have!

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My dad and I on my first day of school with my Beauty and the Beast lunch bag (1993).

Stockholm syndrome theories aside, Beauty and the Beast has always been special to me. The original animated Disney film was released in 1991, I was only born in 1990, but that just means that I grew up with the movie as soon as I was old enough to consume media. Belle was my favourite Disney heroine which is interesting because she herself was a captive. As a little girl in the 90’s, I was a brunette who loved to read and I never really felt like I fit in. I saw Belle as an older version of myself who got to read all day, was a little head strong, and sang a bunch of fun songs.

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Dream life: No beast, just reading, singing, and sheep (imagine if the sheep were dogs though).

 

Last Sunday I went to see the latest Beauty and the Beast live action film adaptation with my dad and step-mom. I was looking forward to seeing it, but hadn’t realized just how much I would enjoy the experience as an adult. I honestly got goosebumps on my arms from the nostalgic greatness almost ten different times, often as one of my favourite songs started to play. I thought that the casting was excellent and the costumes were stunning. The added backstory for both Belle and the Beast was enjoyable, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the new songs – I still didn’t mind them.

I had three funny thoughts that reminded me of my adulthood:

1. Near the end of the film, the Beast falls onto the rooftops of his castle and claws his way to temporary safety. At this point, my mind went to home-emergency-funds as roof shingles fell below and I thought, “That’s going to be an expensive roof repair!”

2. As the magical rose lost its final petal, the supporting household-object-characters fully transformed into furniture on the front steps of the castle. My thrifty mind went to, “quick, someone get them inside before they are ruined by the weather and end up unsellable for Kijiji or VarageSale!

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Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley (left) and as the prince in Beauty and the Beast (right).

3. At the end of the film, as Belle and her prince are dancing I thought, “Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey is playing the human version of the beast!? I wonder if he inherited the castle instead of one of his female cousins. Downton Abbey must be a prequel and they used the car accident as a cover up for his supernatural curse before sending him to France”

 

Emma Watson lived out every 90s-born-brunnette’s dream when filming the recent live action Beauty and the Beast film – I watched her in awe and with envy. As much as I love the Disney classic, I absolutely stop to wonder why we see a beast who imprisoned a
person as a suitable love interest for an

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An anonymous DeviantArt artist submitted Disney-50 Shades illustrations to Cosmo including this Beauty and the Beast piece.

innocent woman. For reasons that I cannot entirely explain, viewers tend to be more attracted to the Beast more so than the human prince. Quinn Keany and Erin La Rosa reiterate this unexplained phenomenon by highlighting the many tweets that exist in agreeance over the who’s hotter debate – the Beast seems to always win out, especially in the cartoon version. The way that people talk about the beast online makes me think that there could be a new meaning to Beast-ieality – too far? The joke was worth it.

Another fictional film character who was non-typically attractive, kept a woman captive, and is almost universally liked is The Phantom of the Opera (Gerard butler is always handsome, but his pseudo-mutilated face was largely covered by a mask for the majority of the film). What is wrong with us? I personally believe that it is in fault of their gorgeous singing voices and the fact that the filmmakers shine light on their humanity. The stories are set up so that we pity these male leads, they’ve been wronged

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The very Phantom of the Opera scene at the beginning of the newest Beauty and the Beast.

in the past and are presented as sensitive. This shouldn’t excuse their captor actions, but the importance of their actions was downplayed to allow us to ignore or forget what we don’t agree with. At least in The Phantom of the Opera the leading lady recognizes that she has suitor options that are neither with an imprisoner nor a narcissistic womanizer. Can we also agree that the ball at the beginning of the new Beauty and the Beast was very Phantom of the Opera? No complaints here.

So, if you can let go of your critical thinking and get back into your childhood mindset, then you will love the new Beauty and the Beast. If you’re like me, you’ll sing every lyric in your head and fawn over the live-action-beauty-and-the-beast-belle-landcostume details. Let the movie take you back to a time when you loved nothing more than to watch your favourite VHS on your family’s tube television while sitting on your dad’s knee. It’s an old story, with questionable plotlines that will win me over every time.

Did you see the new movie? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Three Female-led Shows I’m Currently Loving on Netflix

 

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Fun Fact: For the first few months in 1966, The Newlywed Game aired in black and white.

My relationship with TV can be defined in two words: lifelong friendship, it’s always been there for me and provides me with an easy escape from reality – it’s also just plain fascinating with never ending new shows to consume. I have always watched a lot of television, I had two older siblings and both of my parents appreciated TV. I watched all kinds of cartoons, sit-coms from the 60s to present day, and my family went through a long-lasting gameshow phase where we watched old episodes of Match Game and The Newlywed Game almost every night. As an adult, I still adore TV and it’s possibly become an even larger part of my life.

 

My husband works overseas for a month at a time so it’s just me, the dog, and the television (a truly happy family). Admittedly, I keep myself quite busy while my husband is away with having friends frequently visit, seeing my family often, and exploring my

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A photo I took while I was creating my Stardew Valley character.

hobbies like writing this blog, but the house does get pretty quiet. I often binge-watch shows while I’m multi-tasking, whether that be applying to jobs, writing this blog, playing with summit, doing Sudoku, or playing the computer game Stardew Valley. Television keeps me company and the character’s voices make the house feel less empty (I absolutely talk and sing to my dog on a regular basis, but she’s not that great of a conversationalist).

 

In the last handful of months, I (with and without my husband) have devoured Life in Pieces, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Penn and Teller: Fool Us, Weeds, That 70’s Show (minus the last few cringe worthy seasons), Garfunkel and Oates, W/Bob and David, Don’t Trust the B**** in Apt 23, Detectorists, No Tomorrow, Pretty Little Liars, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, The Returned, Scream Queens, plus a ton of movies.

So, what am I currently in love with on Netflix? Three main shows: The 100, Heartland, and Jane the Virgin.


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The 100: 2014 – ongoing
Best Features: Dystopic, Great Twists, Strong Female Characters, Great Character Development

I watched the first three seasons of The 100 last year and fell hard. I’m all up for some dystopic teenage fiction, but this show is so much more than that. The age of the main stars in the first season seems unimportant in the larger scheme of things; this is not a teenage soap-opera, it’s a well written science fiction show.

the-100The premise: Earth has been left uninhabitable by a series of nuclear explosions, but before the world was essentially destroyed the human race ascended into space to live together on a massive ship. With limited space and resources on the ship, there were laws instated including: only one child per household, and any committed crime (no matter how little) is punishable by death. The stipulation to this latter law was that if you were under 18 years of age, you would go into prison until you reached the age of majority to then face official judgement. For reasons that you will quickly discover, all of the under-18 prisoners are sent down to Earth and it gets a little ‘co-ed-Lord of the Flies’ (one of my favourite books) before the well written twists come into play.

I strongly recommend this show, they paint a fictional future with a lot of issues, but gender, sexuality, and age don’t seem to be the issues that they are in our reality. The series is still airing and Netflix updates the fourth season with a new 40-minute episode each week.


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Heartland: 2007 – ongoing
Best Features: Canadian, Beautiful Cinematography, Character Development, Grandpa’s Moustache

This show has been on for ten years, it’s been on since 2007 when I was still in high school! I remember seeing commercials for this CBC program when it was first airing on TV, but I paid no attention to it. I started watching it last month after finishing Weeds and wanting to watch something a little more moral. I am an animal lover, but have never been very interested in horses yet I really enjoy Heartland. It is an insanely good background show because it doesn’t have subtitles, it has a moderate pace and is really easy to follow. I actually liked the earlier seasons that get a lot of flack for having lower production budgets, I liked them because of the high school flashbacks I was having with the casts’ wardrobe.

The premise: After the passing of a single mother who lived and worked as a ‘horse whisperer’ at her family’s horse ranch in Alberta, Canada, her 14-year-old daughter is left to cope with her inherited gift to keep the family business afloat. She lives with and has

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If anyone claims that they don’t stare at grandpa Jack’s perfectly combed ‘stache when he’s on the screen they’re lying.

the help of her grandfather (my favourite character), her much older sister who is home from New York, and a young ranch-hand who is hired as a rehabilitation project while on probation.

Heartland really focuses on family, caring about animals, moral work ethics, small-town life, and Canada’s gorgeous scenery. There are minor love triangles, estranged family reunions, and more action than you’d think. Grandpa himself gets into the odd fist fight, the family saves/steals a lot of mistreated horses, and fighting off cattle thieves is surprisingly more common (on the show at least) than I would have originally thought. This is a show you can watch with your family and even my husband has admitted that it’s not as bad as he thought it would be – Grandpa’s rockin’ moustache and tough-teddy-bear personality makes it a hard show not to love! Netflix has nine seasons available, and season ten is currently airing on CBC.


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Jane the Virgin: 2014 – ongoing
Best Features: Hilarious, Ridiculous, Fun Narrator, Twists out the Wazoo, Diverse Cast, Fresh

This is probably my favourite show that is currently airing new episodes. The Mindy Project has kind of fallen by the wayside with some disappointing plot choices and its failure to have characters live up to their originally likable natures. Jane the Virgin has filled the Mindy-Project-sized hole in my heart. This show is delightfully dramatic and constantly makes me laugh. It is witty, quick-paced, diverse, and so incredibly fresh. Jane loves romance stories and is obsessed with telenovelas, Latin soap operas that consist of insane plotlines. The show itself, Jane the Virgin, is a modern American-made telenovela that airs on CW. The show has a fantastic (third person omniscient/commentator) narrator who interjects periodically with helpful reminders or he lets us know how the characters are really feeling. So much happens in each episode that what I am about to tell you is not really a spoiler at all – you find it all out in the first episode!

Jane has been brought up in a household with conflicting views on sex; her single mother had Jane at a young age and exudes sexual promiscuity confidently, while Jane’s grandmother is very religious and has drilled the sanctity of one’s virginity into Jane’s head from a young age. The three jtvpilotwomen live together in the grandmother’s house and Jane is now in her early twenties. Working a waitress job at a fancy hotel while finishing her post secondary education, Jane is in a happy committed relationship and is still waiting for marriage to lose her virginity. Within the first episode, a grave mistake occurs at what is supposed to be a simple appointment with her Gynecologist and this is the point in which her average life is inseminated with outrageous drama.

I fell in love with the show immediately, but if you think that it seems too overdramatic for you, give it a few episodes to see if you get the humour behind it all. Netflix currently has up to the middle of season three available and the new episodes are being released on a weekly basis. (PS. Prepare yourself for a moderate amount of sub-titles that are completely worth the portrayal of the natural flow of conversation in a Spanish-American home environment)


Do you watch any of these shows? What are your opinions on them? Let me know a TV show that you think I might like and I hope you might try watching one of mine.

Experiencing Mystical Landscapes in a City Centre

(I did not take photos of the paintings and the ones I am using do not do the colours or texture of the real things justice – this exhibition is a must see)

cropThis past Tuesday, Chris and I had afternoon plans in Toronto so we decided to make a bit of a day out of it. We live approximately an hour away from the city and don’t go downtown very often. I am someone who really loves her hometown and usually visits small town antique stores rather than busy city boutiques – this only makes my treks to Toronto all the more special.

Since late October, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has been hosting an exhibit called Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more. I hadn’t been to the gallery in over five years and was so excited to see the temporary collection, I was also thrilled to be going with Chris who had never gone before. We caught a train into the city just before 10:00 am and did a crossword together for the majority of the ride.

Fun Fact: I love crosswords and keep a pen in my purse just in case I happen upon one.

When we arrived at Union Station, we went upstairs to the Pilot Coffee stand where Chris bought me a hot chocolate (a child at heart) and a coffee for himself. We took our warm drinks and headed to the subway to save time. We rode the University line to St. Patrick and walked the short distance to the AGO.

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Chris and I pre-Mystical experience.

After getting our tickets and checking our coats, we climbed the stairs to the Mystical Landscape exhibition. We chose not to opt-in for audio headsets; although the audio files are educational, I find that they can take away from the viewing experience. Instead, Chris and I moved to the paintings at our own pace, viewed them in our own order, shared discussions, and read the descriptions of pieces that we liked.

The spaces were dim with picture perfect gallery lights that highlighted the masterpieces that were hung on the wall. It was incredible. The rooms were packed with art lovers, listening to their audio sets, and taking in the different forms of expression. I was so excited to see pieces that I had once studied in art history books displayed right in front of me. As soon as

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Vision of the Sermon (1888) – Paul Gaugin

we walked in, I saw Paul Gaugin’s Vision of the Sermon (1888) to our left and couldn’t wait to see more. The first room really started the collection off with a bang, there were famous paintings that I recognized every few feet. Claude Monet pieces were outstanding, I hadn’t imagined them to be so large! as a fan of impressionism, I couldn’t get enough of the colourful shading in person, you could really see the flecks of warm colours mixing with the blues and purples to represent

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Haystack, Sunset (1891) – Claude Monet

shadows – no use of black. Two of Monet’s haystack paintings were there and were a favourite of mine, but they also had some water lilies and two of the Rouen Cathedral series (allowing us to see his practise of painting the same building at various times of the day for light and colour study).

One section featured four or five different artists that depicted scenes from World War I (WWI) – Chris deemed this the Battlefield 1 display. My favourite WWI themed painting was Frederick Varley’s Gas Chamber at Seaford (1918) and Chris’ was Felix Vallotton’s Verdun (1917). It’s always fascinating to see artists’ drastically diverse interpretations, as well as how subjective viewer’s tastes are. I really enjoyed seeing which pieces Chris liked and thought about how great it would be to study a person’s psychology based on artistic preferences. If this already exists, please lead me to a link for further reading!

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Left: Gas Chamber at Seaford (1918) – Frederick Varley | Right:Verdun (1917) – Felix Vallotton

Without a doubt, the most anticipated and most enjoyable painting to see was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles (1888). It was incredible to stand mere feet away from the colourful textured strokes

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Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles (1888) – Vincent Van Gogh

that are much more beautiful in person than they are in any art history textbooks. I pointed to the man and woman in the bottom right corner and told Chris that they were us and we should paint our dog Summit in. We made sure that we really allowed ourselves to take the piece in because it’s quite likely that we’ll never get to see it in person again.

If you are in or near Toronto before February 12, 2017 (the last day of the exhibition), I strongly encourage you to see Mystical Landscapes. You will not be disappointed, it was truly exceptional.

Other favourites (see below) between Chris and I were: Henri Sidaner’s Moonlight, Bruges (1900); Eugene Jansson’s Dawn over Riddarfjärden (1899), Edvard Munch’s The Sun (1909); Lawren Harris’ Decorative Landscape (1917); and Georgia O’Keeffe’s Red Hills, Lake George (1927).

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Moonlight, Bruges (1900) – Henri Sidaner
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Dawn over Riddarfjaren (1899) – Eugene Jansson
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The Sun (1909) – Edvard Munch
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Decorative Landscape (1917) – Lawren Harris
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Red Hills, Lake George (1927) – Georgia O’Keefe

Let’s Talk about Bell and Cause-Related Marketing

If your Facebook newsfeed was anything like mine was yesterday, it showcased an ongoing list of conflicting opinions over Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign.

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The main argument:

Side A:
Believes that the capitalist nature of Bell as a conglomerate outweighs the benefits of their pseudo-do-good-campaign (that Bell itself is profiting more than the charities that receive the donations).

 

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Bell’s Tweet this morning, the morning after the #Bellletstalk 2017 campaign.

Side B:
Believes that the money donated and the encouraged discussion of mental health issues outweigh the branding benefits that Bell receives from the campaign.

 

This actually takes me back to many ethical discussions had in university over Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Cause-Related Marketing.

Definitions:

Corporate Social Responsibility: “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship (1) through their waste and pollution reduction processes, (2) by contributing educational and social programs, and (3) by earning adequate returns on the employed resources” – Business Dictionary

Cause-Related Marketing: “Joint funding and promotional strategy in which a firm’s sales are linked (and a percentage of the sales revenue is donated) to a charity or other public cause. However, unlike philanthropy, money spent in cause-related marketing is considered an expense and is expected to show a return.” – Business Dictionary

Essentially, corporations are facing more criticism on their bad-guy-reputations, public relation teams then work to combat that negative image by associating themselves with a good cause. The bad guys aren’t going anywhere, they’re just wearing the mask of their non-profit partners. Does this really hurt anyone though? Some argue that Cause-Related Marketing is good thing, yes, the rich continue to get richer, but a charity benefits at the same time.

 

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A screenshot of the Let’s Talk home page today.

Since it’s creation in 2006, Bell Let’s Talk has donated 79 million dollars to Canadian mental health initiatives, this year alone they raised over 6.5 million dollars. On Bell’s Results/Impact page, they list which programs they are donating to each year and how much is allotted to each organization. The benefiting partners of 2017 are: CISSS de Lanaudière ($300,000); Embrace Life Council ($250,000); McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital ($250,000); Queen’s University ($1,000,000); St. John Ambulance ($150,000); and Strongest Families Institute ($2,000,000). I’m not a math whiz, but those numbers don’t add up to 6.5 million dollars. Apparently, the rest is divided into smaller grants that you can apply for (if eligible) through their Community Fund.

 

typingThose are the monetary benefits of this Cause-Related Marketing campaign, but there are also social benefits like the efforts taken to minimize the existing stigma around mental health. #BellLetsTalk encouraged many people on my social media feeds to share personal anecdotes about their own struggles that I would never have known otherwise. However, I am sure that many people continue to hold back personal truths online so that future employers cannot discover that they have a mental illness. For those who are brave enough to disclose their mental health histories online, I applaud you. You are taking a risk at exposing your true self and letting others no that they are not alone.

While perusing Twitter, I came across another trending hashtag: #BellLetsActuallyTalk. The following examples highlight a common issue that many tweeters had with Bell’s campaign.

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My argument is similar to that of last week’s Blue Monday blog post; just because we are focusing on a good cause for a day, doesn’t mean that people cannot continue the practise for the rest of the year. Isn’t bringing attention to a worthy topic a good thing?

Let’s look at #BellLetsTalk as a conversation starter for the rest of the year and recognize that help from a conglomerate is better than no help at all.