I Won, I Shopped, I Conquered: One of a Kind Show 2016

Remember that I mentioned my love of contests in an earlier blog? About one month ago I entered an online contest to win two tickets to the One of a Kind Show as well as $200.00 to spend while there – I won the grand prize! I was insanely excited as this meant that I would finally be able to go to the large classy craft fair that I have always heard such amazing things about and that I could actually have some extra money to spend on items without worrying about putting the money toward groceries!

edit-photo-2016-11-28-1-21-26-pm

The One of a Kind Show is held twice a year, once in the spring and again in the late fall. The show has been running since 1975 and encourages the tradition of gift giving to include supporting artisans by purchasing handmade products. With Christmas around the corner, the Enercare Centre at the Exhibition Place in Toronto was filled with beautiful twinkling lights, decorated trees, festive decorations, and a ton of potential presents to purchase from a long list of impressive vendors.

 

The show continues to grow in popularity and hosts over 800 Canadian vendors this year, with 137 of those being new participating shops. This is an almost intimidating number of shops to browse in one day, but you don’t have to. The One of a Kind Show provides a stamped form to fill out at the exit, this is to be used as a re-entry pass in combination with your ID for another shopping day. Pay once and go twice!

 

 

My friend Natalie and I decided to take the Go Train to the Ex to avoid any Toronto driving trauma. If you also forego driving, I recommend that you bring warm winter outerwear as it is approximately a ten-minute walk outdoors to get from the train stop to the Enercare Centre building (there is a coat check for $3.00). Neither of us had been to the One of a Kind Show before so we weren’t sure what to expect. We went yesterday afternoon (Monday November 28th, 2016) to beat the weekend crowds which worked out well as we never had to stand in a line.

collage 1.jpg

When we walked into the immense convention hall, we were greeted by a beautiful tree that towered above us and was surrounded by past show favourite products on display. I adored the collection of pillows and an ottoman adorned in Toronto city skyline silhouettes. Natalie liked the golden goose sporting fashionable earmuffs, this type of headwear is a Nat-approved style this winter.

The show never slowed down in customer foot traffic while we were there from approximately 1pm-4pm, but the lanes were rarely overcrowded. We walked the entire floorplan and backtracked to pick up items that we had waited on earlier. Our legs and feet were killing us by the end of it all which made the train ride home a nice break before driving.

photo-2016-11-29-11-52-55-amAll the walking and perusing was well worth it as there were so many amazing finds to hunt for. I had planned on mainly buying Christmas gifts for loved ones on our list, but without definite ideas of what I was looking for I found myself feeling a bit unsure of what to buy. This was quickly remedied by seeing a million things that I liked for Chris and myself. I bought one gift for a friend’s birthday and the rest of the $200.00 went to fun house décor and a pair of earrings!


My Handmade Haul:

collage-2

  • My first purchase of the day was a tea towel with adorable illustrations of animals from films! Claire Manning, the illustrator, hand prints her designs onto 17” x 27” tea towels as well as pillowcases. I enjoyed the design too much to pass it up; it combined my love of animals with my love of movies AND my love of original illustrations. A triple threat tea towel is serious business!
    Visit this vendor at Booth R31.

collage 3.jpg

  • Next I bought an illustrated beaver pillow with a red and black plaid underside from Sparrow Avenue. Barbara, a former children’s book illustrator, now enjoys screen printing her characters onto textiles and selling them to animal lovers like me. This playful little guy officially sits on our couch and adds a fun style to our eclectic modern décor taste.
    Visit this vendor at Booth S53.

collage 4.jpg

  • I am extremely pleased with the large print that I purchased from a very charming artist from Montreal. Baltic Club was founded by Melanie Ouellette and Brice Salmon, their pieces maintain a joyful quality whether it be found in the illustrated prints, cards, or pins that they sell. My husband and I really appreciate the country that we live in and I am so excited to show off our new watercolour print featuring province-relevant animals and produce – the artist admitted that he couldn’t think of a specific animal for Saskatchewan so he drew some corn! I am currently working on hanging it above our mid-century bar.
    Visit this vendor at Booth U24.

collage-5

  • I was excited to find Double L Décor before we finished our rounds because I saw their geometric planter designs online before heading to the show! The engaged Hamilton couple, Laura Jaschke and Lucas McLellan, work together to design various modern shaped concrete planters that come with potted succulents and air plants. I purchased this geometric one for our dining table and an unseen surprise planter for a friend!
    Visit this vendor at Booth A08.

collage-6

  • My last purchase of the day was all for me which is really nice to do sometimes! Another Montreal based brand, Femme Mecanique Designs sells elegant jewelry with a strong modern design element. I purchased a pair of minimalist earrings, but I really fell in love with the dozens of choices in their ‘helicopter seed’ pieces – you know the seeds that flutter to the ground from maple trees (apparently, they have a real name that I do not care to learn)? You must visit their website to see these pieces of jewelry that are definite conversation pieces.
    Visit this vendor at Booth R46.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-7-34-43-pm

I had a wonderful time at the One of a Kind Show this year and will definitely return for future fun.

I suggest picking up a vendor map to circle booths that you’d like to return to, this would have been a huge help for us near the end of our adventure.

Don’t forget that if you can’t make it in person (this show runs until December 4th) and you can purchase many products online through the One of a Kind Show online store!


 

picmonkey-collage
Left: Judi Patson of Even Design. Right: Stephanie Cheng.

Other favourite vendors that I’d like to give a shout out to are:

 

 

 

Did you go this year? Who was your favourite vendor?

Advertisements

Home (Shopping) for the Holidays: Ordering Gifts Online

Christmas is less than 40 days away – how are you prepping for it?

Thinking and purchasing gifts for your loved ones can be intimidating, but with technology these days you can be comfortable and even drinking a glass of wine during the process! It’s still November so shopping in stores is pretty doable, but December is closing in fast and so are those grumpy shoppers. I suggest that you avoid the lineups and checkout online instead.


History and Numbers

Online shopping has actually been around since 1979 when computer and electronics innovator Michael Aldrich invented the original concept in the United Kingdom:

“In 1979 he connected a modified domestic television via a telephone line to a real- time multi-user transaction processing computer. He marketed the system from 1980 onward and sold mainly Business-to-Business systems.”

Fast forward to 2016, and online methods have obviously advanced quite a bit and, if you haven’t already, so can you!

info-graphic-ages
Big Commerce Infographic.

According to Big Commerce, “96% of Americans have made an online purchase at some point in their lives, and four in five (80%) have done so in the last month alone.” The statistics sound high, but when you think about it, a lot of people that you know probably shop online – my husband and I definitely do. Although this shopping trend may be associated with younger generations, people of all ages are discovering the benefits for themselves.

Big Commerce’s infographic on age demographics shows that the percentage of shoppers decreases with age, but that it is not just millennials who are sidestepping department store lineups:

Laura Stevens, of the Wall Street Journal, discussed the results of UPS’s annual online shopping survey earlier this June. She explained that for the last three years the percentage of what online shoppers are buying has increased – this year they made approximately 51% of their purchases online.

I hope that these numbers help to ease reader’s minds who may have been nervous about online shopping. If you are on a secure retailer’s website that has positive reviews (always read reviews), then you, like millions of other people, will likely have a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.


Connecting to Christmas

So why am I writing about this today? It’s a great time to shop online for Christmas.

 

As a rule, I like to give myself at least 14 days in advance to allow for unforeseen circumstances with postage. That’s the one thing about purchasing gifts online – waiting for them to arrive can be nerve racking if you have never ordered before. think-geek-free-shipping-over-75Most retailers provide multiple shipping options, but these can add up quickly for the sake of convenience. You’ll find that many sites promote special deals where you don’t have to pay for standard shipping if your virtual-cart total hits their target price – if you do all your shopping in one spot, this will be perfect for you! Mid November means that you have plenty of time to wait for ordered gifts to arrive.

If you’re reading this before November 28th then you’re in luck! Now you can really think about what items you want to purchase and plan ahead. Some of the best deals are approaching with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales between November 28th-December 1st. Canadian stores have also started participating in cutting prices for these traditional days over the years which has been nice for Christmas shopping. When you’re purchasing presents online during these sale days, you won’t find yourself in physical brawls which is an added bonus (unless you fight over the laptop with a family member)!

amazon-screen-capture
Even Amazon.ca is advertising Black Friday sales!

Another great site to shop on and save money with is a family favourite in our household – Amazon. You can find items at a lower cost year-round and their search-engine-esque system makes it easy to find what you’re looking for.


Shop Local-Globally

handmade-with-heart-poster

I’m a big fan of the “Think. Shop. Buy. Local” movement in which people support artisans within their communities instead of shopping in department stores. Look for advertisements about craft sales, Christmas fairs, and other local events with hardworking vendors to shop at this year.

Check out The LivingRoom Community Art Studio’s Handmade with Heart Arts and Crafts Marketplace this Saturday the 19th if you live in Durham Region, ON, Canada!

With technology, artisans are now selling beautiful handmade items online! I really love sites like Etsy because the reviews on sellers allow you to feel confident when purchasing unique and personalized items for your loved ones. In the past, I have ordered: a hand carved Lord of the Rings sign from Mississippi, US; an engraved pocket compass from Turkey; an engraved tie clip from Wisconsin, US; and a lot more.

collage.jpg

You can find items from almost any niche fandom and your recipient will be lucky enough to own a one of a kind product (or limited edition).


So what do you think, do you like to shop online? Maybe give it a chance this year so that you don’t have to stress about finding a parking spot or waiting in line behind customers yelling at innocent cashiers at the insanely busy mall.

Two more interesting infographics from Big Commerce:
consumerbehavior_infographics4_page_05-750x1225consumerbehavior_infographics4_page_09-750x762

Remembrance Day in Canada: Intergenerational Storytelling

(Photo in the Header image provided by Sam’s great-uncle from WWII)

Tomorrow is November 11th and Remembrance Day is important, but many of us (young people especially, including myself) don’t truly understand and appreciate this day of memorialization. We learn a moderate amount from textbook stories in secondary school history classes, but how impactful are facts without personal connections?

my-old-posters
Two posters I drew and entered into a Remembrance Day contest when I was 11 years old.

I grew up looking at the faces of soldiers or concentration camp prisoners in captioned photographs and felt incredibly bad about what they went through. I cannot, however, imagine the emotions that these photos must evoke when those faces represent one’s friends and family – it’s this special link that I find fascinating.

The thing about history books is that they often generalize or focus purely on overall facts which can dehumanize the tragedy that is war.

This is why I wanted to reach out to my peers, to see if they could share stories that have been passed down to them, share their personal experiences with Remembrance Day, and to share something about their loved one that had nothing to do with the war. I ended up only needing to talk to two friends who had expressed interest because they both provided me with a surplus of material. They are wonderful young women and I thank them for providing all of the photos in this blog as well.

Two soldier’s lives are to be featured today: one who is still alive and one who died in combat overseas.


Poppies for Poppy

s-borisko-photo-2
John (in the middle) and his two brothers Walter and Nick.

My friend Sam is 22 years old and she is lucky enough to have learned a lot about her grandfather John (who she calls Poppy) from the man himself as he is still alive and well at age 89.

John joined the army at 16, he was quite a bit under the age requirement, but the war was coming to an end and the Canadian army needed more men. He was to join his three older brothers who were already fighting in WWII.

“He went to basic training, and, as he tells it, he had the time of his life,” Sam comments, “he absolutely loved it.” Apparently, John really enjoyed the training schedule, the camaraderie, and the physical activity. Sam states that “he often speaks about his time in the army as the best time of his life.”

s-borisko-photo-3
John’s army class.

By the time that John finished training, but before he was deployed, the war had ended. He was one of the lucky ones. His three brothers Nick, Donny, and Walter all made it back home to Canada with photos depicting the innocence and youth of their fellow soldiers overseas.

collage-2
A collection of photos from WWII that one of John’s brothers took while overseas.
collage-1
Sam’s family has kept these two historical documents from the time: Ration Cards and a Prayer Book.

John’s wife Isla, Sam’s Nana, also had three brothers who fought in the war. Unfortunately, Isla’s family wasn’t as lucky as John’s – two of the three brothers died in combat. Isla’s WWII memories differ from her husband’s quite a lot. “She lived in Scotland, and had a much harder time than my Canadian-born Poppy. When she’s speaking about that time, she most often talks about rationing – and we actually still have some of her rations cards that she saved.” Sam recalls that even today, her Nana “never puts more on her plate than what she will eat, and all of her grandchildren are frowned upon when we don’t finish.”

After the war, John and two of his brothers started a moving company that they sold while Sam’s dad was still in high school.

“I can’t say that I have ever really spoken to my Poppy directly about Remembrance Day,” Sam confesses, “though when I was younger my father took me over to grab a bunch of Poppy’s war photos for me to take to school. It is around this time where he most often speaks about how much fun he had during training.”

Sam’s take on November 11th is honest and similar to what I would guess many other millennials experience. “Remembrance Day is kind of just another day to me – it’s actually my boyfriend’s birthday so it’s not exactly a focus, as bad as that may sound. I participate in the moment of silence every year, and am completely aware of what it represents, but at the same time, it doesn’t ever have a lasting impact on me.”

15053156_10154493459920590_1238966018_o.jpg
John last Easter at age 88, showing everyone how it’s done!

Fun fact about John: “My poppy love love loves hockey (and being active in general)! My youngest brother is the only one in my family who still plays competitively and not in a beer league. My Poppy often goes to his games. My Poppy himself played hockey until he was 80, and I actually had a supply teacher in high school recognize my last name because he knew my Poppy and uncle for that fact.”


Descendants at Dieppe

SONY DSC
Hanna (one of my bridesmaids) and I at my wedding.

Hanna and I have been best friends since we were 11 years old and she’ll be turning 26 this month! She broke our childhood pact to visit Europe together, but it was for a good reason – for a life-changing university history trip! Hanna’s relation to her great-great-uncle may sound distant, but her connection to him and her family’s history is admirably strong.

Collage 3.jpg
Left: George Sr., Margaretta, and their children Rennie, Mac, and Jimmie. Photo take in 1927. Right: Jimmie Burnett’s picture in the paper “Those Lost at Dieppe.”

Jimmie Burnett was 19 when he was killed in combat, but he had enlisted when he was only 16. In order to do so, his dad helped him lie to the Canadian Military and said that his son was 18 years old. Private Jimmie Burnett’s tombstone at Dieppe, the Normandy beach town where he was killed, says that he was 21 when he died, but it is actually two years off.

“He was my grandfather’s uncle on my dad’s side, Papa was named after him (Jim) and was born in ’42 about a month before the family got any confirmation that he had been killed.” Jimmie Burnett was killed on August 19th, Hanna explains that “the allied forces tried to gain a stronghold and failed miserably in 1942 (trying to create a second front and alleviate the eastern front where Russia was struggling to hold off Germany).”

collage-4
The original telegraph informing Jimmie’s family of his death and a sympathy  note from Buckingham Palace.

“I first started to learn about him when I got accepted into this History class in university that studied war and memory and particularly how we memorialize Canadian efforts in WWI and WWII. Papa had started doing some family research and when I got our assignments for the class, which included a soldier biography, I hit the ground running. We got hold of his military records and chatted with his youngest sister who was just a kid when he went to war, Margie.”

collage-5
Jimmie Burnett’s military records. Left: Letter written by George Sr. confirming his son’s falsified age. Right: A list of Jimmie’s personal effects.
Copy of IMG_1005.JPG
One of Hanna’s photos from her trip.

On the aforementioned European university history trip, Hanna was able to discuss the battle of Dieppe with her classmates while standing on the same beach where her great-great-uncle had been killed. At this point, she was knee deep in research and very connected to Jimmie. “I just remember bawling my eyes out when one of our profs asked ‘how do you feel being here?’ Dieppe was a huge loss of life – I think the casualty rate was like 95% – and I couldn’t believe that the allies had chosen such an easily defensible place to attack the Germans.”

copy-of-jimmies-final-resting-place-hautot-sur-mer-cemetery

Hanna was also able to visit Jimmie Burnett’s grave site the next day. Luckily, her peers were very supportive. The combination of a number of emotional moments on her trip contributed to her feeling closer to her family than ever before. Hanna admits that she felt a stronger connection to our collective history and had never felt more patriotic than she had during that time of her life. She discloses that she felt especially “patriotic because the war ended a terrible evil in the world and was fought with purpose. Jimmie, like his brother, his sisters, and mother were a part of that.”

The pride that Hanna has in her family history coexists with her general heartache over her family’s loss. “I was so proud but also endlessly sad – my brother was 19 at the time. Could I imagine him going to war?”

When I asked Hanna about how she felt about Remembrance Day before and after her research, she told me that her family had already taught her that “it was a day worth really respecting.”

“You wear the poppy and you’re told as a kid that Canada has this really great reputation as a peacekeeping nation and between that and a number of wars, many people have given their lives in service of our country. But to form that connection and to become a part of someone’s military story, that changed me. I think about Jimmie and his sacrifice every day, but particularly around Remembrance Day and August 19. I have had it memorialized on myself with a tattoo so that I never forget not only his sacrifice, but also just him. Jimmie the 16-year-old kid who protected his family and loved his siblings and was this unique person. My Papa never got to meet his uncle but feels this huge connection to that lost part of his life. I now feel the same and on Remembrance Day get to share that sense of loss, respect, admiration and support with others all across the country.”

Fun Fact about Jimmie Burnett: Hanna discovered some personal anecdotes when talking with Jimmie’s sister Margie. “We found out some amazing stuff – like how he was this devilishly charming guy with a reputation for the ladies, even as a 16-year-old and he went AWOL a whole bunch of times during basic training because he kept sneaking off to hook up with chicks.”

friends-in-school-who-also-died
Jimmie Burnett (on the right) and his two high school friends who tragically all died in combat at Dieppe.

I believe that oral story-telling and passing down personal documents is the most important part of historical education. We all get the overview of what our nation tells us happened in textbooks, but it’s the individual experiences that will further the appreciation of Remembrance Day for younger generations.

Do you have connections to anyone who has felt the harsh reality of military pursuits past and present? Let me know in the comment section, everyone’s story is important – no matter how great or how small.

The Gift to Thrift: $8507 Wedding Budget Breakdown

(Scroll to the end to see screenshot of my Wedding Wire Budget)

I first started this blog by briefly introducing the internet to my August 2016 wedding. As I said then, my fiancé and I are really proud of how much money we saved by doing the whole thing for $8507.00. Today I thought that I’d breakdown the budget for you and give you some helpful tips when planning your own wedding for under $10,000.

collage-1

Tip #1: Before you start, buy a ‘coupon holder’ from the dollar store.
I used this to organize all of my receipts and the companies’ business cards – it was extremely helpful.

Our wedding was in Brooklin, Ontario Canada. We looked for venues within the Durham Region that weren’t typical wedding venues so that they wouldn’t come with that dreaded wedding price tag. Since our wedding was to host approximately 75 guests, smaller venues were an option and we actually found quite a few that were less than the one we ended up with. We just fell in love with the community centre’s modern architecture and windows.

collage-2
Our venue was the Brooklin Community Centre and Library, multi-purpose room.

wedding-wire-services

Tip #2: Sign up on Wedding Wire’s website.
I actually accidentally got started on the American version of the website rather than the Canadian one, but it worked out fine. Either site is recommended because of how helpful they are. Wedding Wire hosts multiple online services in one place. I personally used the budget tracker, personal wedding website, RSVP counter, and vendor reviews.


Three Highest Costs

The main chunks of our wedding budget went to catering, venue rental, and alcohol.

  • Catering = $3,393.68      
  • Venue Rental + Insurance = $1,215.57    
  • Alcohol = $890.00 (after returns)

Our catering price was actually approximately $2000.00 above what we had initially planned for. Chris and I are pretty laid back and had actually wanted to hire a local pulled pork place and use fancy looking paper plates. Due to ‘objections’ to our super casual dinner plans from both sides of our families we reluctantly upped the budget to get a caterer with better quality serving ware. This is one of the only things that we budged on to please our parents. What I’m saying is, if you’re up for a really casual dinner, you can get yours for about $2000.00 – just do your homework locally!

Our venue rental went through the city of Whitby’s permit coordinating services which was made more difficult by employees switching positions halfway through planning (the first woman was a joy to deal with and the second was not). They provided the tables and chairs without any added price which was great too, our caterer had linens.

We probably bought close to $2000.00 worth of alcohol for the wedding. Chris wanted to be overprepared and if you get help from an LCBO employee that has worked with a bride and groom in the past, they will help you buy the right amount and right size of bottles to help make returns a lot easier. We were very happy that people drank quite a bit, and we didn’t run out of anything. Our bar tender (from the caterer) worked hard that night, yet we still brought back half of what we bought!

DSC06482.jpg

Tip #3: Feel lucky.
Yes, I won my wedding gown, BUT (and this is a big but) someone was going to win and it could be you. The wedding dress doesn’t have to be a big price listed on your wedding budget. You should go to every boring/tiring bridal show you can to enter their contests. Even if you don’t win your gown, there are a ton of other options to save money here. With accessories and alterations, my ‘free’ gown cost me just under $500.00 which was my dress budget before winning anyway.

DSC05758.jpg

I had planned on wearing a gorgeous gown (colourful or not) from an expensive dress store like Melanie Lynn, Laura, BCBG, or The Bay. Do we really need to wear white on our wedding day? I think not. I would have had just as much fun in a bright emerald green dress.

I had also considered buying a used wedding gown – I’ll be selling my own once I get it dry-cleaned. Women only wear these things for one day! ONE DAY – that’s nothing! I wear vintage clothes from the 1960s that have been worn many more times than these gowns that need new homes. Adopt don’t shop applies to both dogs and dresses!


Biggest Cost Savers

Four of our biggest cost savers were using grocery store flowers, not hiring a DJ, having a friend do the photography, and having nimble fingers for DIY projects.

collage 3.jpg

Have you heard of the cost of flowers for a wedding? Too much to spend on things that cannot be reused. I pre-ordered the flowers that I wanted for my wedding from Sobeys to be ready to be picked up on the morning of the wedding. Our flowers cost $158.28 – total, for centrepieces, bridesmaid bouquets, and one bridal bouquet. We arranged them ourselves and the guys really didn’t care about having boutonnieres. It’s all about considering what is actually important to you.

DSC06697bw.jpg
One of my favourite photos from the wedding: Chris and I after the ceremony, walking out to Beat Your Heart Out by The Distillers.

We asked one of our best friends to help us coordinate the music that I had carefully downloaded for the night. We used our iPad to have a dinner music playlist, a dance playlist, and separate areas for important cued songs including those used during the ceremony, first dance, father-daughter/mother-son dances, etc. My only suggestion here is that you use a computer with iTunes instead of the iPad. The tablet device didn’t provide the option to fade into songs which as a perfectionist bothered me. Our closest friends and family enjoyed themselves and danced a bunch! My step-mom was actually impressed enough to ask me to provide the music for her parent’s 50th anniversary this past October.

DSC06858.jpg
This is a personal favourite of mine

When we started looking for photography I wanted to ask people that I knew first. Amazingly, after asking my friend Caitlin Currie how much she would charge, she offered her services to me for free out of kindness and friendship. She did us a massive favour and we love our photos, we wanted to give her at least a little something though so we gave her $200.00. What we love most about our photos is how candid some of them are or the way that they look real compared to how overly Photoshopped some wedding photos are these days. They are us and she did a wonderful job.

Things that I did myself/with the help of friends and family:

collage-4DSC05577.jpg

  • Cut and assembled paper decorations (bunting and paper airplanes on yarn)
  • Made our cake topper (Dollar store dinos with crafty clothes)
  • Partially personalized bridesmaid gifts (hangers and embroidered makeup bags)
  • Invitations and Guest Coaster favours (Used an easy editing site called PicMonkey.com and then used my own designs when ordering them off of Vista Print’s website when they were half price)
  • Candy Bar bags (bought brown paper bags from the dollar store and stamped 100 of them with mom)
  • Grey table runners with iron on hems (Thank you Heather Luckhart for holding the scary iron)
  • My makeup

 

Tip #4: Thrift shops, thrift shops, and more thrift shops.
When I say this, I don’t only mean storefronts, but also wonderful resale apps like Kijiji and Varagesale. I bought so many of our decorations used and for half or less of their original price. Varagesale became a personal favourite of mine because of their glorious Holidays-Wedding category in which users consistently posted barely used decorations from their own weddings. Often times, you have a large gap between getting engaged and getting married, the key is to always be on the lookout for deals and to convince your fiancé that a wedding item storage room is necessary (half of our office was dedicated to this).

So with a ton of hard work on not only my part, but the efforts put forth by my friends and family, we were able to keep our wedding under $10,000! We loved our special day without spending the price of a house down payment and are happier for it!

collage-5

 

Last bunch of Tips:
#5: Don’t have one set image of how your wedding should be.

#6: Things don’t have to match to work – we used an assortment of different sized glass vases for flowers.

#7: Pinterest and budget blogs are your best friend for DIY ideas, have confidence in yourself.

#8: What matters is that you enjoy your wedding, stop trying to impress people by going big.

#9: Let parental figures have the occasional win, but this is your wedding, they already had theirs and I bet they wanted it their way too.

#10: Have fun. Things will never be perfect, that doesn’t exist. Your attitude is really important in creating one of the happiest days of your life.

 


Finally, here is a screenshot of my Wedding Wire Budget page:

screenshot-pt-1screenshot-pt-2screenshot-pt-3screenshot-pt-4

A Pudgy Pumpkin Meets Pop Culture

Over the last four years, Chris and I have come to look forward to special holiday traditions. Pumpkin picking and carving are two favourites of ours.

I grew up in a household with parents who loved holidays more than other parents that I knew. We really celebrated and they made the holidays so much more fun. I happily carried this attitude into my adulthood and Chris has enjoyed being a part of the excitement.

img_7861

We like to get our pumpkins from Pingle’s Farm, they are local, they have the best prices, and the biggest selection (last year we looked at another farm and immediately went back to Pingle’s).

As adults without children we don’t partake in the other autumn activities that are available at the farm, but families really should! In the past, my mom and I have taken my niece to the petting zoo, bunny hole town/sanctuary, smaller mazes, puppet theatre, hand painted face photo-cut-outs are all really fantastic. Pingle’s is also known for their massive corn fields that feature really creative designs.

Chris and I set out on Tuesday afternoon all smiles, but I was a little cocky about the weather. It was very cold out at PIngle’s, a farm located on a bit of a hill surrounded by a lot of open space. The chilly weather didn’t dampen our spirits, but it definitely put the trip on fast forward as we hurriedly went inside to pay after some humming and hawing over the over-sized vegetables.

la-b-collage
Lori Anne and Brett, rightfully proud of their massive pumpkin!

My friend Lori Anne and her boyfriend Brett got a HUGE pumpkin this year and Chris wanted to try to ‘out pumpkin them.’ Since they’re not next to each other and we don’t have a scale to weigh ours, we can’t be completely sure, but I’d say theirs is the winner!

You can pick your pumpkin at Pingle’s either by choosing from a few heaping piles or by wandering their fields for a little more authenticity. We chose the first because it was cold man! We found ourselves a big pumpkin, then looked for a smaller cuter one for my Yoda decorations (you’ll see), and finally a tiny white pumpkin just for variety. We normally carve our own, but decided to share the big one this year.

heap-of-pumpkins
Chris checking out a contender who didn’t make the cut – so many good options!

 

 

outside-house-before

When we got home, Chris wanted to spray them off before bringing them in the house (the adorable clean-freak that he is).

After dinner, Chris and I moved our coffee table aside, laid down the sheets we use as paint drop cloths, grabbed our garbage can and started to think of some jack-o-lantern ideas over some drinks. I sketched some typical face shapes while we watched an old Fresh Prince of Bel Air Halloween episode and Chris carved our lid.

lid-and-sketches

 

Suddenly, I thought of (what we consider to be) a brilliantly hilarious idea. Chris and I are really into this odd comedy program called The Eric Andre Show (you need a special sense of humour to watch this show – you are now officially warned). Part of the show includes street skits in a style that is similar to those of Tom Green. One of the many skits that we love is one where the actor wears a ridiculous outfit, carries/drinks a bottle of ranch salad dressing, and shouts “Ranch it up” or “Legalize Ranch.” Like small children, we proudly began our pumpkin carving joke.

carving-time

We emptied the pumpkin of its gook and guts pretty quickly. For someone who considers themselves quite artistic, I’m quite average at carving pumpkins. We use a regular steak knife and are moderately sloppy. Let’s just say that many toothpicks get used to repair designs that get cut off and we’re very okay with that.

ranch

We wanted to include a bottle of ranch dressing next to our pumpkin, but don’t really use it so we used an empty bottle, took the labels off, put less than an inch of baseboard paint in it and shook to our hearts content.

No, our pumpkins aren’t exceptional works of art, but they’re a lot of fun. More importantly, we have a lot of fun while working on them.

Tuesday night was memorable, we both really enjoyed ourselves, and it was one of those times that reconfirmed our love for each other. We’re best friends who like to laugh and hang out.

What did you carve into your pumpkins this year? Let me know!

Until next time, Ranch it up!

img_7902

img_7892 IMG_7901.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_7894
Chris totally called out the #Memberberries in the background of one of the Fresh Prince episodes (Member berries are from the current season of South Park that’s airing now)! PS. Give him a follow on Instagram!

How-To-Halloween Using Netflix Canada: Make Your Own Marathon, Eh

 

(Find concise list at the bottom)

Maybe you have a Halloween party or two to go to this weekend, waiting for the Great Pumpkin, or you’re just looking to get into the spirit of the holiday at home, here’s my list of really great Halloween themed episodes from TV shows that you can find on Netflix Canada.

1841-a-peanuts-halloween.gif
You at your Halloween Party.

We all have our favourite Halloween movies and there are plenty of lists naming the greats, but the issue is that Netflix Canada kind of dropped the ball on providing us with a decent selection this year.

Where’s Hocus Pocus? Where are all ten of the Halloween franchise films? What about those amazing animated holiday specials we used to watch on TV each year from Peanuts, Garfield, and other greats?

To be fair, they do have some good “scary” movies including: The Others; The Sixth Sense; Rear Window; and the family films: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; Hotel Transylvania; and The Nightmare Before Christmas (Halloween/Christmas movie).

We need to see people dressing up, celebrating, and/or being spooked actually ON Halloween.

The perfect alternative to putting your favourite Halloween film on in the background while you get ready this year is to watch some of these holiday-special television episodes. I always love Halloween-themed episodes so I’ve taken the time to figure out the season and episode numbers of some of the shows that I like on Netflix Canada.

I hope that this makes it easier for you to coordinate your own Halloween-TV-marathon with Netflix Canada.

Cassy Curates: Halloween Episodes on Netflix
(in no particular order):

community collage 2.jpg

 

  1. Community
    1. S1 E7 – Introduction to Statistics [Day of the Dead Party]
    2. S2 E6 – Epidemiology [Dena’s Halloween Party = Zombies]
    3. S3 E5 – Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps
    4. S4 E2 Paranormal Parentage [Pierce’s Mansion)
      1. (NOT ON NETFLIX) S5 E8 – App Development and Condiments

For some reason, Netflix Canada only has the first 4 seasons of Community, but if you’re up to streaming the last one good for you! Community has made some of my favourite holiday-themed episodes of modern television. Definitely watch these ones for your marathon to either continue your love of the show, or to ignite your desire to start watching this fantastic comedy series!

 

 

mindy-project

  1. The Mindy Project
    1. S1 E4 – Halloween

I LOVE The Mindy Project and only hope that they make more holiday-themed episodes. We need to see Mindy Kaling in more costumes please! Also I really recommend that you read her two books that she has published, because she is one hilarious woman (especially beneficial if you’re also a fan of The Office as she has many behind the scene tidbits in her first book).

 

brooklyn nine nine.jpg

  1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    1. S1 E6 – Halloween
    2. S2 E4 – Halloween II
    3. S3 E5 – Halloween Part III

Simple titles, but these three episodes do not disappoint. If you don’t watch the show already, you’re going to want to start from the beginning after seeing Andy Sandberg’s adorable character dressed in a variety of costumes and carrying out more tricks than treats in an ongoing bet against captain Holt.

 

freaks_and_geeks_bionic_bill.jpg

  1. Freaks and Geeks
    1. S1 E3 – Tricks and Treats

A show that everyone knows should have been granted with the go-ahead of a season two, luckily (for me) had a Halloween episode in it’s first. Many shows don’t do holiday-themed episodes every season so thank you Judd Apatow. This show is stacked with some great actors and actresses who had yet to see the fame that waited for them with later projects. If you’re a fan of 80s nostalgia, good writing, and teenage shenanigans than you should definitely give it a watch – I mean look how awesome actor Martin Starr, playing Bill, looks as the Bionic Woman!

 

Friends.jpg

  1. Friends
    1. S8 E6 – The One with the Halloween Party

Obviously Friends is on this list, it was my sister’s favorite show so I have seen every episode multiple times. It’s been nice to rewatch the series now that I’m in my mid-twenties too! This is strangely the only episode dedicated to Halloween and it took them until the eighth season to do it. A sexy cat and a soft pink bunny host a Halloween party, plus a bunny and a potato have an arm wrestling contest = gold.

 

himym

  1. How I Met Your Mother
    1. S1 E6 – The Slutty Pumpkin
    2. S7 E8 – The Slutty Pumpkin Returns

I’m shockingly not a huge fan of How I met your mother, but I can admit that the show makes me laugh when it’s on. I dated someone who loved this show and I therefore saw quite a number of episodes, these two were far apart in seasons, but I loved that they exist. I also really appreciate the titles since so many shows go with the lazy ‘Halloween’ and leave it at that. If you’re single this Halloween and attending a party, these two episodes should be at the top of your Netflix marathon list. Be hopeful, and definitely dress up so that you don’t look stupid next to your very own slutty pumpkin soul mate.

 

fresh-prince-carlton-as-mccauly-caulkin

  1. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
    1. S1 E8 – Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect (Part I)
    2. S1 E9 – Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect (Part II)
    3. S4 E7 – Hex and the Single Guy

I am still very pleased that Netflix put The Fresh Prince of Bel Air on their roster. I was/still am a huge fan of this show. It was able to be innocently funny while also producing some very touching and emotional scenes for teenagers to relate to. “Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect” is a very memorable two-parter for me, not only did it focus on one of my favourite holidays, but it also had a fairytale ending. Watch as Carlton and Will compete to get a date for the party and enjoy the amazing costumes! The fourth season’s Hexing Halloween episode also features Carlton looking his most hilarious as McCaulay Culkin!

 

3rd rock.jpg

  1. 3rd Rock from the Sun
    1. S3 E5 – Scaredy Dick

I watched 3rd Rock on an irregular basis when it originally aired on TV, but I am so glad that I took the time to watch the entire series when it arrived on Netflix. It is now one of my favourite television shows ever and I strongly urge you to watch it from episode one. Since the show is about aliens, the sci-fi element always exists so it makes sense that only one episode in six seasons focused on Halloween. Maybe I’m biased, but I personally don’t think that there is a bad episode and you will laugh while Sally and Tommy attempt to guard Mary’s house from egg-ers and Harry gets spooked by a ghost.

 

buffy.jpg

  1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
    1. S2 E6 – Halloween
    2. S4 E4 – Fear Itself
    3. S6 E6 – All the Way
      1. S4 E10 – Hush

I have a soft spot for Buffy as she represents a tough on-screen woman who is both strong and feminine – everything I strive to be! Yes she slays vampires and other supernatural beings, but she also takes the time to try and experience what it’s like to be a teenager which means Halloween parties, mishaps, and monsters who totally take the fun out of her downtime and put the fun in the series for the audience. In case you don’t know, Joss Whedon and his fellow writers incorporate humour insanely well and the Halloween episodes have some of the funniest lines! Even though “Hush” from the fourth season isn’t technically on Halloween, I included it because it is definitely the scariest episode in the series for me – check it out if you’re into creepy villains.

 

gilmorehalloween-gif.gif

gilmore-collage

 

  1. Gilmore Girls
    1. S6 E7 – Twenty-One is the Loneliest Number

I watched Gilmore Girls when it originally aired and was heavily invested into Rory’s love life, it was funny to be more interested in Lorelei’s suitors when I rewatched it this past year. For a series that loved featuring the small town’s festivals, the creators tended to steer clear of holiday-themed episodes. The show was more episodic than some of the other sitcoms on this list, but I still wanted to include this one so that you can get a healthy dose of Stars Hollow-een in your system if you’d like. Plus I’d like to acknowledge all the times that Rory dressed in costume throughout the series – she had some pretty good ones!

 

 

the office.gif

  1. The Office
    1. S2 E5 – Halloween
    2. S5 E6 – Employee Transfer
    3. S6 E8 – Koi Pond
    4. S7 E6 – Costume Contest
    5. S8 E5 – Spooked
    6. S9 E5 – Here Comes Trebel

Look at all the Halloween episodes to choose from! The Office was one of my true loves in high school, I’d say that it was my boyfriend instead of actual human males. The sheer number of holiday-themed episodes is reason enough to explain why. I drifted from the show after high school for a bit when it was heading toward its fifth season, but Netflix has made it easy to catch up on what I missed since then. Three-hole-punch Jim is a classic costume and seeing Dwight as a Sith Lord makes me very happy as well. If you’re an Office fan, you could just have a mini marathon of their Halloween episodes alone.

 

scrubs

  1. Scrubs
    1. S2 E6 – My Big Brother

Scrubs is a work-centered medical dramedy so a lot of the costumes you see in this episode are at work. The Halloween themes are subtler than some of the other episodes on this list, but enjoyable just the same. J.D. and Turk are their ever-adorable selves so why not watch them bob for apples?

 

that-70s-show-halloween

  1. That 70s Show
    1. S2 E5 – Halloween
    2. S3 E4 – Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die

This show makes me laugh so much, I love looking at the retro fashion and home décor. If you’re also a fan, you already know that it’s one of those programs that ran on a little too long, but these episodes were in the earlier seasons so they’re really great! In “Halloween,” Fez goes trick or treating for the first time as Adam West’s Batman and the gang watches the Texas Chainsaw Massacre in theatres. In “Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die,” the show parodies classic horror movies while Fez dresses in drag (Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque).

 

dont-trust-the-b

  1. Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23
    1. S2 E2 – Love and Monsters

I only just started watching this show, it’s a bit wild, but is a great background show that makes me laugh. What’s exciting for me is that I haven’t actually seen this episode yet! I will definitely be including it in my own personal Netflix Halloween marathon. I don’t want to spoil the laughs for myself so all I researched was this one picture!

 

magic school bus.png

  1. The Magic School Bus
    1. S1 E8 – The Magic School Bus: In The Haunted House

I included this one because it’s nostalgic and always educational! The great thing about including this one on your list is A. nostalgia and B. it’s nice and short. If you’re short on ideas for Halloween costumes still you should definitely go as Ms. Frizzle, you might not get another good opportunity to wear a wacky dress while being simply fabulous.

 


There you have it, 15 shows, 33 episodes, and plenty to choose from to make your own marathon! Hope you enjoy watching Halloween specials this year and I’ll be very jealous if you get to see Peanuts and Garfield.

Concise list:

concise list.JPG

 

 

Other Contenders:

Supernatural

  1. S4 E7 – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester

Charmed

  1. S3 E4 – All Halliwell’s Eve

The Vampire Diaries

  1. S1 E7 – Haunted
  2. S2 E7 – Masquerade
  3. S3 E7 – Ghost World
  4. S4 E4 – The Five
  5. S5 E5 – Monster’s Ball
  6. S6 E5 – The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
  7. S7 E4 – I Carry Your Heart with Me

Pretty Little Liars

  1. S2 E13 – The First Secret
  2. S3 E13 – This is ‘A’ Dark Ride
  3. S4 E13 – Grave New World
    1. Special (Not on Netflix) aired during S5 – We Love You to DeAth

Grey’s Anatomy

  1. S4 E5 – Haunt You Every Day
  2. S10 E7 – Thriller

Last Man Standing

  1. S1 E4 – Last Halloween Standing
  2. S3 E5 – Haunted House
  3. S5 E6 – Halloween

Netflix should put Home Improvement on eventually and when they do… Halloween episodes:

  1. S2 E6 – The Haunting of Taylor House
  2. S3 E6 – Crazy For You
  3. S4 E6 – Borland Ambition
  4. S5 E6 – Let Them Eat Cake
  5. S6 E7 – I Was a Teenage Taylor
  6. S7 E5 – A Night to Dismember
  7. S8 E6 – Bewitched

About a Boy

  1. S2 E3 – About a Will-o-Ween

Angel

  1. S5 E5 – Life of the Party

Glee

  1. S2 E5 – The Rocky Horror Glee Show

Futurama’s The Honking is S2 E18 and for some weird reason Netflix starts from S3.

Netflix Canada, I officially request you to get Bob’s Burgers, Frasier, Family Matters, and Home Improvement. These would be a good start at least.

Sincerely,
Dedicated TV Fan Cassy

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.

battlefield-1-female-protagonist
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.

20150322013155-unemployment-grads-cartoon.jpg
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.

IMG_7796 edit.jpg
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.

img_7794-edt
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.

2011
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.

2011-1
Myself performing at the 2011 Broken Arts show with Tom Helliwell from Viva Mars. Photo taken by Meghan Wels (The Chronicle Vol. XXXVIII

 

collage-one
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.

2014
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

collage-2-5
Chris as Moss and myself as Buffy. Plus a photo of Moss because he is awesome.
2015
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!

2015.5.JPG
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!

collage-3
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!

I Took Four Years off after High School – Graduated at the Top of my University Class

“I don’t regret my years off, nor do I regret any of my minimum wage jobs because they contributed greatly to my wanting to go back to school.” – Me (Cassy Goulding)

1404997132-rasmussen-gap-year
Retrieved from Jennifer Pfeffer.

The topic of high school graduates taking a gap year came up earlier this past spring, as President Obama’s daughter Malia decided to wait before heading to college (See articles from Global News, Huffington Post, and NewsHour). This is an option that may scare parents, but it really shouldn’t.

When I was in high school I thought that I knew exactly what I wanted to do and which post secondary school I would attend. My life centred around the visual arts and I maintained good grades in order to achieve honours for all four years in high school. In both grade 8 and grade 12 I was chosen for the annual ‘Faces of the Future’ acknowledgement that gets published in the local paper. This tradition features bright and promising students and encourages readers to watch for their success in the coming years.

I often laughed at the Faces of the Future mentions that I got as I graduated high school, was accepted into Sheridan College, and finally decided to take some time off from school. I felt that they had made a mistake and that I was not what they had thought I would be, but I think that I’ve still got a chance. My face, body, and mind just took advantage of a longer timeline to get to a future that can make a mother proud.

My parents were really great; I was lucky to have a mom and dad who supported me in everything that I tried in life including taking a break. Other adults frequently told me that my parents shouldn’t have let me take time off after high school because I would never go back to further my education, but they did and I think it was the best decision for me.

I was born in December which means that I started school when I was 3 years old and graduated high school when I was 17. I was not yet old enough to vote, win the lottery, or legally drink – I was barely old enough to have my G2 licence! I was a good kid (with an emphasis on kid) and I wasn’t ready to live on my own and go to school anymore than some of my 18-year-old fellow peers.

The Ontario Academic Credit (OAC), also known as grade 13, was eliminated from the Ontario school systems in 2003 and has left high school graduates one year younger (See Alan Slavan’s article on University Affairs). One year’s difference may not result in drastic maturation of a teen’s brain, however, it could allow for other benefits like saving money, time to plan their future, or even time to realize the importance of an education. This last benefit was the most important one to me personally and I discovered it after almost four years after I graduated high school.

During my four years off I dabbled in attempts at modelling, singing, and I even completed a one-year certificate art program at a local college to keep practised. Mainly, I worked retail and barista jobs which included cleaning public toilets. These were jobs that required a lot of hard work and smiling while serving grumpy customers for very little money.

I don’t regret my years off, nor do I regret any of my minimum wage jobs because they contributed greatly to my wanting to go back to school.

I eventually realized that you often need the credential of a college or university diploma to get decent salary paying jobs these days. I also appreciated the concept of a stable career that provided financial security and health benefits which meant that working as a freelance illustrator was no longer my main career goal.

gap-year-benefits
Retrieved from Where to Volunteer.

I chose to study communications because it would allow me to bring my creativity into professional settings and outlets. Waiting four years after high school didn’t only allow me to mature a bit more, but at age 21 (22 that December), I entered university with a lot more focus than I would have at 17. I had passed my early years of partying, didn’t waste money on a program that I might have dropped out of, and was able to receive the full benefits of OSAP because I was now considered a mature student.

I just want to tell parents of teenagers to not be afraid of letting them take a break. Remember how stressful it is to be that age and give them a choice in life. The time off post-high school graduation can teach your kids valuable life lessons that they don’t learn in classrooms and could possibly save you money (if you’re able to help pay their tuition of course).

By supporting your teen in their choice to take a gap year (or four), you are helping combat the myth that some parents believe: that youth won’t go back to school if they take a break. What do your kids want to do? Do they know? If not, maybe they need some time to figure things out before coming out on top!

Life Lesson: Everyone has their own unique timeline and shouldn’t be expected to fit into an outdated one. There isn’t one right way to get through life, there are many paths with many different endings.

dscf8960
My friend Christina and I graduated with two of the top three highest grade averages in our graduating class.

dscf8972

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.

red-hair
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.

13422344_1089715461086370_5948905872878254636_o
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.

collage-1

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.

collage 2.jpg

painting-1
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.

img_3935
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.

collage-3

painting 2.JPG
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.

collage 4.jpg
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.

 

IMG_7500.JPG

Collection of photos from the festival:

fullsizerenderimg_3893img_3931img_3942img_3945img_3947img_3950img_3953img_3957img_3959img_3963img_3976img_3983img_4006img_4009img_4018img_4029img_4035