Sick, yet Satisfied: Appreciating the Little Things

(Suggested song to listen to while reading [mentioned later on]: Brandy Alexander -Feist)

There’s a bad cold going around right now and it seems that I’ve caught it.

This past Sunday, I woke to the two glands below either side of my jawline being swollen and my throat hurting quite badly. I had that taste in my mouth, the taste that was less ‘last night’s dinner party wine’ and more ‘uh-oh a cold is developing.’

I soldiered through Sunday’s baby shower festivities and Monday’s hours of working on a commissioned painting that I still need to finish. Chris and I ran errands on Tuesday and the whole day slipped by.

This morning, Wednesday October 19th, I opened my eyes and realized that I actually felt much worse than the first few days even though I’ve been taking medicine regularly since it started. I took some daytime cold and sinus pills and crawled back into bed with a still sleeping Christopher. Unlike most days, I fell back to sleep quickly with heavy eyes, a stuffed nose, and my face feeling the fiery heat of what might’ve been a mild fever.

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Battlefield 1’s female protagonist (there are multiple protagonists that you play as) is actually really cool!

I woke at 11:49am. This was a very late morning for me, but my body obviously needed it. I told myself that today was a mandatory rest day, which worked perfectly in terms of timing because Chris had just gotten a new videogame that he was dying to play called Battlefield 1.

I remind you that yes, we are married adults, but that we have an odd schedule right now. You see Chris’ job as a commercial pilot for the mineral surveying industry keeps him out of the country for a month at a time. He has been home for almost two weeks now and when he’s home, he’s really home. We get approximately a month to spend as much time together as possible. This has been made ‘easier’ this fall by me not having to go back to school, but also currently remaining unemployed.

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Editorial cartoon by Gary Varvel.

I graduated this past spring and have been applying to jobs like mad. A handful of interviews have come and gone to some dream jobs. I pick myself up after each kindly written rejection to keep moving forward, reminding myself that something else will come up (I’m currently hopeful about a promising prospect).

The constant frustration with unemployment and the full-time job of applying to full-time-jobs occasionally lifts and I appreciate what I do have. I try to really focus on these positive moments to make up for the negative thinking that comes with new-grad-stresses.

This unplanned time off in my life allowed me to spend valuable time with Daq before I had to put her down. I would not have been able to take care of her the way that I did and spend whole days by her side if I had a full time job. This time off also gave me room to grieve for her, a family member to myself and many others.

I was struck by the luck of my unlucky unemployment once again this morning. Thankful that I got this bad cold/flu before getting a new job so that I can take a rest day without worrying about who I might be letting down somewhere else.

After I slept in, I didn’t have to rush out of bed. I took in the beauty of the way that the light from the bedroom window danced on the wall that I lay facing. My sweet husband had gotten up, let me sleep, and closed our bedroom doors so that his videogame didn’t wake me. I brought my bedroom pillow to our only couch on the main floor to spend some time with my guy. How many grownups get to have their spouses take care of them when they’re off sick?

I laid next to him while he cheered about not being the worst player on his online team (a victory for him) and I read a good book all day. I drifted off for a couple minutes at a time, waking here and there to the sound of Battlefield 1 machine guns. Being sick when he was home with me was so much better than when I’ve had to take care of myself in an empty house.

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Our receiver, globe, and a wedding photo.

When Chris made his afternoon coffee he also made a ginger-mint tea with some honey for his sick wife. We had a wonderful lazy day together where he enjoyed something that he doesn’t play nearly as often as some people I know and I was able to rest properly.

We were happy to have our leftovers for dinner, an easy dinner for an easy day. I slouched comfortably in my chair and we talked while sipping red wine. I admitted to him how content I felt even though my nose was on fire and my right ear popped whenever I swallowed. I explained that sometimes I experience these moments of recognized bliss that I never could have imagined earlier in my life.

What sparked one of these moments this evening?

Sitting at our vintage walnut mid-century dining table, sipping wine, and talking with my best friend.

The sounds of Feist’s soothing voice singing Brandy Alexander on vinyl while the taste of red wine still lingered on my bottom lip.

The vibrancy and beauty of the red leaves covering our back fence that I could see out of our dining room window – leaves that so often annoy me because they are the result of our backing neighbour’s creeping vines that we involuntarily maintain in our yard. Today they make me happy.

The dim light of the sun already having gone down and few lights being on in the room.

Chris’s smile as he agreed that he was also happy.

That we love each other very much.

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Our vibrant coloured backyard after some rainfall this autumn.

So although things might not be perfect in terms of: me still looking for a job six months after graduating at the top of my class in university; recently losing a best friend who Chris and I consistently miss in the house; a cold that has my body in a lot of pain; and that god awful arrival of the first of many student loan collection notices – it’s important to remind myself that I have a really great life.

Try to think of some things in your life right now that make you happy (as small as they may be). Here are some helpful questions and tips to get you started:

  1. Do you have a loved one or a close friend that makes you smile?
  2. Put on a favourite song and try to enjoy your surroundings with your own personal movie soundtrack.
  3. Tell someone that you appreciate them (this makes you feel good for making someone else feel good and everyone wins there).
  4. Watch the show “Life in Pieces” (It is currently a Netflix favourite and it makes me laugh.
  5. Did you see a dog today (if so I’m jealous, but also happy for you)?
  6. If you feel all alone, think of one nice thing about yourself and try to believe it (I’ll help you and tell you that you have good taste in blogs because you’re reading mine [yes I think I’m funny])

Let me know some positive things going on for you, leave a comment.

How-To-Halloween: Cut Costs on Costumes with Creativity

It’s just about mid-October and you might be trying to think about what costume to wear to a party or while you walk the neighbourhood with your kids. I thought that I would share some of my past costumes over the last few years and maybe it would fuel your creative minds and help you decide what to be this year.

I LOVE dressing up in costumes which is one of the many reasons why Halloween is one of my favourite holidays! Since 2013, I have actually worn two different costumes per year for different Halloween celebrations because I love challenging myself creatively.

I don’t have anything against store-bought-costumes (SBCs), but they are often quite a bit more money than I want to spend. If you do love wearing SBCs I recommend that you try to see if any of your Facebook friends want to trade, check Varage Sale, Kijiji, or your local thrift shop to get them for a much better price.

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Daq and I posing as the white swan and black swan.

 

 

Another reason why I haven’t had a SBC in five years is because I’m obsessed with pop culture characters who may not actually be that popular. Costume stores frequently cater to mainstream audiences or when they do feature the characters that I like, I tend to think that their versions are a bit lacklustre. For example, in 2011 I fell in love with the movie The Black Swan with Natalie Portman (I watched it about ten times) and decided that I would dress as the white swan for Halloween.

This costume took a lot of effort and probably cost about the same as the SBC (approximately $80), but I was much happier with the way mine turned out and definitely proud of my glue-gunning skills. I bought a top from Value Village and bedazzled it with feathers and fake jewels to go along with a glue-gun altered tutu and some handmade hair pieces.

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Myself performing at the 2011 Broken Arts show with Tom Helliwell from Viva Mars. Photo taken by Meghan Wels (The Chronicle Vol. XXXVIII

 

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Top to bottom: my friend Harley and I dressed in Day of the Dead garb; myself as a fox, Lori Anne as a lady/darling taking a bath; myself as a skeleton and my friend Natalie as a cute banana.

In 2012, I was a member of the local not-for-profit group Broken Arts and we had collectively decided to dress according to a Day of the Dead theme. I found a vintage wedding dress at Value Village for $15.00 and did sugar skull makeup.

I went to two different parties in 2013, one with one of my best friends Lori Anne (we sing together in Darling and the Fox) and another by myself to meet some friends from university. My fox costume took a lot of time since I don’t know how to use a sewing machine. I bought the materials from Fabricland and hand sewed a fox tail and some ears. For my second costume I borrowed a friend’s skeleton bodysuit and had fun with makeup – which means this outfit only cost me about $5.00 for makeup!

We hosted Chris’ 30th birthday party at Halloween in 2014 so that we could do both while he was home. Together we dressed as Clark Kent and Lois Lane for a combined total of approximately $10. I had everything for my part of the costume and made my reporter badge. For Chris we bought a Superman shirt (mine wouldn’t fit him), some suspenders and some eyeglasses that we popped the lenses out of from value village.

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Chris and I as Clark Kent and Lois Lane.

 

 

 

Our neighbours had a Halloween party in 2014 as well, Chris and I went as Moss from The IT Crowd and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We reused the Clark Kent glasses, but we bought a plaid shirt, large tie, and our wigs

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Chris as Moss and myself as Buffy. Plus a photo of Moss because he is awesome.
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My Saria costume at CassyCon.

from Value Village. I Had Chris sit in a chair while I cut and gelled an Afro to look like Moss’ signature hair, we stuck a printed out photo of Moss’ face to one of our mugs, and I used an X-acto knife to ‘whittle’ a stick I got from the woods nearby to make my Mr. Pointy. These costumes had a combined total of approximately $25.00.

 

Last year, for Halloween 2015, I decided to throw CassyCon which was a combination of an early birthday party for myself and a convention with costumes encouraged. I went as Saria from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I made a top and some shorts pretty terribly, but they didn’t look that bad when I managed to get them on! I drew and cut out rough patterns on some fabric that I got from Value Village and glue gunned them together, I also used leftover fabric to cover an old headband! With the addition of elf ears, a green belt, a green wig, and a dark green turtle neck I was all set for about $30.00.

For our neighbours’ Halloween party my costume cost $5.00. I had all the clothes already (who doesn’t own a black and white striped shirt?), I bought some cheap black gloves from Shoppers Drug Mart, wore Chris’s black hat, borrowed his toy gun from his Grand Theft Auto Costume and drew a money symbol on a white garbage bag filled with other garbage bags! So that I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable mask I used face paint to make my own mask. Not only was this costume cute and affordable, but I was also probably the comfiest girl at the party!

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My simple bank robber costume.

This year we were almost going to go as Bob and Linda Belcher from Bob’s Burgers, but decided to go another direction. I’ll post photos from our party on Instagram so stay tuned!

What will you be this year? Let me know in the comment section and maybe I can help you come up with some ideas of how to make it yourself!

Need more inspiration? Check out these amazing Stranger Things Costumes!

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Some photos of Daq last Halloween in her Triceratops costume and sitting with Yoda the pumpkin! Miss her, she loved dressing up too because it meant more attention!

Plein Air Painting Festival Freezes and Pleases

(Thanks to my mom, Sandy Goulding, for taking all of the photos featuring the festival in this entry, but mainly for hanging out with me all day and holding an umbrella over my canvas multiple times)

I was visiting my mom in Millbrook, Ontario a few weeks ago when I randomly leafed through her town’s paper and discovered an advertisement for the Cavan Painting Festival being held during Culture Days. I had just made the extended deadline to register for only $25 and figured it could be a lot of fun and a great way to get back into art now that I have more free time.

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One of my best friends Hanna standing with me at a college art show at the Station Gallery in front of a portrait I painted of her.

You see, at age 11 I had decided to be an illustrator and that I would attend Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. At age 17, right out of high school, I shocked myself by actually getting accepted into their competitive illustration program. The timing wasn’t right for me and I declined the offer (something that I hoped wouldn’t be a mistake), but not before my parents bought me a school sweater that I still wear even though I never ended up going.

 

One year later my parents thought it would be a good idea for me to keep practicing my art and so I took a one-year certificate Foundations in Art and Design program at Durham College. I met a lot of really great people that I am still connected with and it rekindled my love for figure drawing. I graduated in the top three spots of my class and waited two years before deciding to go to university to study Communications.

Fresh out of a four-year UOIT degree, I am up to my eyes in job applications. I decided that one of the best ways to keep a level head about temporary unemployment is to not only start this blog, but to put more effort into my long lost love of visual arts.

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My hand embroidered image of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.

This past summer I tried my hand at embroidery and was busy with artistic DIY creations for the wedding, but now I have time to paint.

The Cavan Painting Festival was a welcome distraction from my dog’s passing midweek. I gathered my supplies and busied myself with preparations for the event. It was a Plein Air festival which means that we were to paint outdoors, facing the changing weather conditions, altered sunlight, and moving objects within our views. As the weekend approached, the weather didn’t look promising which made me more nervous than I already was.

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None the less, my wonderful mother stayed by my side the entire Saturday. I registered my blank canvases with the hosting gallery owner Valerie of the Cavan Art Academy at approximately 8:30am. My mom and I took my Suburu Forester to a spot that I’d scouted out during a Friday afternoon drive.

It was a beautiful misty morning which made for a nice division of background, middleground, and foreground. Mist might be pretty, but it also means that the weather is damp and cold – which means so were we. We opened the trunk door of the Forester, fixed a tarp to it and make-shift-weighted it down with a half full oil container and my mom’s chair. It was clearly a sound structure.

My first painting was done with acrylics on an 8×10 canvas in about two and a half hours. My body was warm enough, but my fingers were exposed for this entire period and were stiff as they gripped the paint brushes. The truly wonderful thing about small-town communities is the friendly vibe that exists on every street. I was parked on a one sided, no exit, street facing the land that gets used as the fairground in the spring. Each resident of the six houses came out to see what I was doing, to offer us tea and coffee, and one lady offered me the use of her bathroom. We welcomed the offer of tea and coffee, as well as a quick bathroom break that was needed after drinking a lot of tea! Millbrook residents remind me that some people are pretty amazing.

I titled this first piece Ruby’s Fairground, naming it after a beautiful and gentle red-golden retriever that I’d met before I had started painting. I fell in love with her and then near the end of my piece she was running in the field around the barns so I painted her in.

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Photo of “Ruby’s Fairground” by Cassy Goulding.

Mom and I packed up and took a warm lunch break at Madison’s Place downtown. An obvious regular and troublemaker was complaining loudly that they didn’t serve breakfast all day. After making a drawn out scene about it all to the waitresses and owner for several minutes he asked “what am I supposed to eat?!” I spoke up and declared “lunch!” The waitresses laughed and cheered for me, but the man looked less than impressed.

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Prepping to start my second painting.

After lunch I decided on my next location, the corner of the current road detour due to road construction at the foot of their main street. This gave me a view of the post office, the back of the old city hall, and a partial glimpse of what was once the fire hall.

Millbrook is known for two obvious things, the local mill, and the brook on which it sits – I didn’t want to paint either of these things in order to try to stand out among 64 other artists competing. That’s right, 65 artists came out in the rainy weather to compete for the impressive grand prize of $1500.00, the 2nd prize of $1000.00, and the 3rd prize of $500.00 all sponsored by Galerie Q. Some people came all the way from British Columbia and Alberta!

The afternoon allowed for the weather to warm up a little and my fingers to be a less stiff. I painted on a larger 20×20 canvas in acrylics, this piece took me approximately four and a half hours to complete. As I was finishing the painting, large drops of rain splashed my canvas as my mother quickly tried to get an umbrella up (she was still with me, what mom-dedication eh?). I wrapped up, packed up, and headed to her house for the night. Boy was I tired and in pain, but I was proud of what I had painted.

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Photo of “Detour 1” by Cassy Goulding.

Sunday was submission and jury day. Each artist was allowed to submit two pieces of any size and medium to be judged which means that there would be a lot of paintings to compete with. I wasn’t expecting to win, but my odds were better than winning the lottery.

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Cavan Painting Festival reception at Galerie Q.

 

The awards reception was held at Gallery Q and there was a really great turn out. I was glad that a young person won the grand prize as they probably needed the money the way that I do. I didn’t place, but am still happy with what I created and know that art is very subjective. I’m not traditional in my singing or painting so although my style may not have been what the judges were looking for, there may be a buyer for my pieces somewhere out there.

The festival was a good experience, mother nature helped make it an even more memorable time, and the artists that I met were really talented. I definitely recommend checking this event out next year as I know that this year’s success will lead to an annual favourite among the locals.

 

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Collection of photos from the festival:

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