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

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

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Sniff, sniff…”Can I eat these?”

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

  1. Dogs
  2. Puzzles
  3. Chick-Lit

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


Dogs

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

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

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


Puzzles

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

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

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

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

Cassy’s Puzzle Tips:

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

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

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

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


Chick-Lit

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

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

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

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

My Top Chick-Lit Recommendations:

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

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


There you have it folks!

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

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Throwback Thursday: 1 Month From 1 Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kickin’ Back in Kincardine: My Canada 150

I had an excellent CANADA150!

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Summit looking fab in a borrowed Canada bandana.
Last Saturday was Canada Day which meant that I got to enjoy an extra day off this past Monday too! Here’s a glimpse into my long weekend fun:

Chris dropped me off at a co-worker’s house last Friday morning; she wonderfully helped us out by driving me into work so that Chris and Summit could pick me up on the way out of town for the long weekend. The three of us (dog included) crammed into the car with all of our things (dog bed included [she’s very spoiled]) and set forth on our mini-vacay.

Traffic was surprisingly not as horrible as we thought it would be! It was more than usual, but we still got to our destination, Kincardine, Ontario, within approximately four hours. We stayed with my sister, brother-in-law, and their many animal companions: Dude the Bernese Mountain Dog, Sidney Prescott the German Shepard, Taco the lean grey cat, and Rafi the collage 1munchkin cat. Summit was very excited to see her fur-cousins and we decided to walk downtown Kincardine to see the end of the car show and get some ice cream. The car show had mostly ended, but we enjoyed a walk and some ice cream creations from Dairy Queen under a nice sunset. After a long day of working and sitting in the car, the guest room pillow was my new best friend.

Saturday morning, we got up and got ready to see the Kincardine Canada Day parade. We drove down and I almost immediately regretted not bringing Summit to the parade, but was also incredibly excited to point out and pet many patriotic doggos that were in attendance. The parade was really lovely! It wasn’t too long, many community organizationscollage 2 celebrated, my favourite town mascot was in the centre of it all (he’s a lighthouse), the famous hockey player Paul Henderson rode in a horse drawn buggy, and then everyone in attendance joined in behind the parade and headed toward the water. At a certain point, we got to the end and realized our best bet was to walk back the same direction we had come. collage 3.jpgThe problem was that many other people were still parading down the street toward the water so we were walking against the traffic. My brother-in-law insisted that this was terribly bad luck (in a superstitious way) and that people were giving us dirty looks – he did this for my benefit, to try to make me paranoid – he really is my brother). We made it out alive and un-scolded by paraders.

The four of us decided to take the dogs for a walk nearby in the woods, this was perfect for Summit who would have missed the wooded dog park walks that she so enjoys every day. By the time that we got back to the house, my dad, stepmom, and step-dog-sister Lucy were arriving to my sister’s as well for Canada Day festivities. We had a BBQ, relaxed in the backyard and walked back downtown to get drinks.

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My sister and brother-in-law at the Erie Belle.
We sat on the balcony facing the waterfront at Erie Belle Fish & Chips, had drinks, and shared stories for an hour or so.

The water looked so nice that we walked passed the docks and along the beach. Our party became a mini parade, marching one by one in the tide while families played in the sand and water around us. I smiled when I saw the big blue chairs that are a novelty to me every time that I see them – they never stop being fun! We took some photos as a family and a friendly fellow Canadian offered to take a full group shot as he watched us struggle to fit into a selfie. Our bodies collage 4began to ache and we got a taxi van back to my sister’s house halfway through the walk home.

We hot-tubbed and ate appetizers in the backyard until the late evening. Our cab driver hilariously dropped us off at/in the end of the parade and we jumped out quickly so that he could drive in reverse back down the road to get out of the way of the approaching tough-looking marching band in some serious kilts. We laughed and merged with the crowd to applaud and appreciate the band. The town then scattered to find and claim the best lookout spots to see the fireworks. As the sky started to darken, the air got colder and my blanket-like sweater became a sweater for two (my husband and I basically became Turk and JD from Scrubs). The fireworks were really incredible! I hadn’t seen fireworks like that in so long, I felt like a kid during the finale shots that totally blew me away. It was a

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Top: Chris and I wearing A sweater. Bottom: Turk and JD from Scrubs as “Multi-Ethnic-Siamese-Doctor.”
really fun experience to share with my family – especially my dad and sister who I remember watching fireworks with on a blanket in the grass as a kid.

Adult life can be hard sometimes, but I love those moments that remind you that you can still experience significantly happy moments similarly to the way you did as a kid – the ones that make you appreciate your life and you know that you’ll probably look back on this exact moment in another twenty years. What I loved about my Canada Day weekend was that it was spent with family and was very inexpensive (Haha)! Seriously though, Kincardine, like many other Canadian cities, provided a fantastic, accessible, public celebration that they should be proud of!

Happy 150th Anniversary Canada! And thanks Kincardine!

How did you celebrate? What part of Canada did you get to appreciate this year?

 

Dog-Mother’s Guilt: A Quick Update

Photo 2017-05-15, 6 34 19 PM.jpgWow. This week has gone by so fast, I have a ton on my plate now that I’ve started my new job. Even though I’ve only worked there for a few days, I’m already feeling like I fit in (clearly a welcoming workplace). I’ve started getting the groove of things and it feels great to contribute to the team effort.

Something that I knew I would have a hard time with when I started working was mother’s guilt from leaving my dog Summit at home during the days. She and I were lucky to have all of the time together that we did; I was unemployed when we adopted her and she had a solid six months of all-love-all-the-time from mom (me). She seems to be doing incredibly well with the new schedule though and I’ve been committing to an after-work routine that I hope helps make the transition easier.

Our days go like this now:
-Wake up between 6:30-7:15am (that’s me, not her…)
-Summit gets out of bed around 7:45am
-I make Summit go outside to go pee
-Summit sleeps on the back porch and sometimes I have to go outside and be a pee-cheerleader (she sleeps in and is used to peeing in the late mornings[10:00-11:00am])
-I finish getting ready, drag out my goodbyes with Sum
-I Leave the driveway at approximately 8:20am
-I head home at 5:00pm and usually get in the door around 5:30pm (not a bad commute at all)
-I immediately get changed into dog park clothes and Summit starts jumping around
-We have tons of fun on a half hour dog walk through the conservation area
-I feed Sum and start making dinner for myself between 6:00-6:30pm
-By 7:30pm we’ve both eaten and I sometimes have some projects I need to work on, but when I’m able to, I like to give super amounts of loving to Summit!

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Look how cute Summit is in the hat they gave me at work!

Earlier this week, I had a moment at my desk that reminded me of how happy I am. My university education actually paid off (it hasn’t been paid off, but it’s officially shown me it’s worth) and I am finally able to do a job that I love in a full-time stable environment! It’s been pretty tiring and I can’t wait until my husband gets home from his month away from work! I look forward to having someone to help cook, clean, and spend time with Sum – plus, you know, I miss him!

I’m looking forward to the long weekend and I’ll definitely write a longer blog for next week! I hope that everyone stays safe and has fun – don’t forget to make time to rest (I always need the reminder so I assume you might as well)!

Thank You for Being a Friend: A Very Late Goodbye to the Golden Girl That Was My Grandmother

NOTE:

Firstly, I was lucky enough to be on The Marilyn Denis Show with one of my best friends a few weeks ago. The two of us are featured for being thrifty university graduates who get spoiled with makeovers! The episode airs tomorrow (Friday April 21st) and I cannot post any behind the scenes pictures until after it airs, but next week’s blog will explain how we got the makeover opportunity (a contest may have been involved), what the process was really like, and of course lots of pictures. Looking forward to sharing it all with you next Thursday on here!

 

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The front and back of the bookmark given out at my grandmother’s Celebration of life.

Until then I thought that I would write a virtual letter to my grandmother. My husband and I are attending a friend’s celebration of life this coming Saturday and I’ve been thinking about the celebration we had for my grandmother approximately a year and a half ago. I was much too emotional to sing or even speak at the event we had and I thought that I’d put those thoughts and feelings down in a blog post. As an atheist, I’m reminded of my grandmother in my thoughts. I don’t believe that she’s with me or watching me, but that her memory lives on in stories and photos which is why this blog post has a lot of meaning to me. If I had been able to bravely speak at my grandmother’s celebration of life (like my mom and my grandmother’s sisters had), this is what I would have said:

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A photo taken of my mother (the child) and my grandmother in the late 1960s.

My grandmother, Heather Campbell, was a beautiful, funny, and fun-loving woman who was born October 16 1945 and died September 7th 2015. Although she passed away just one month shy of her 70th birthday, she had lived a full life. Growing up, I had thought that my grandma was different than those that I heard about and saw on television. She was single, young, and didn’t really cook us meals, she was more like my mom’s best friend who we would share laughs with. We would crack jokes at each others expense and sarcasm was a staple element of our conversations. I only truly appreciated the unique relationship that I had with her when I had gotten older, this is when we often treated each other as equals – she had become my friend as well as my mothers.

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Grandma and my mom just before she was diagnosed with cancer.

I became closer to my grandma after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or what to do until someone had told me that I didn’t want to regret not spending enough time with her. I started visiting her by myself, which I had almost never done before. We always saw my grandma with my mom, but I was going to university and my school was near her apartment so I started touching base with her throughout the week. I would stop by after my morning class and we would watch The Price is Right, play along with the program, and make fun of the contestants. She often made me a sandwich and we would gab like girlfriends until I took the bus home or my mom picked me up.

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Photo of my grandma with my mom and her younger brother in approximately 1970.

When she had gone into the hospital for a long period of time (approximately 120 days), I’d started reading Pride and Prejudice to her, a favourite of mine. She had never read the book and enjoyed being read to, it was a nice change of pace from the few entertainment options that were provided by the hospital. I’d read for a few hours at a time and start to lose my voice, occasionally I’d stop to ask her if she was sleeping, but she rarely was, she would tell me to continue on and I would. I had gotten half way through the book when she had recovered enough to go home. She had fought with her body over a period of four months, a body that had gone through chemo and radiation only to develop a hole in her stomach that required multiple surgeries and months of hospitalization. She had been in there for so long that I didn’t think that she’d be leaving alive, but she did – incredibly she did.

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Some photos from Push for Your Tush 2015.

From there she took day trips with her friends, sisters, and my mom, but mostly she rested and looked forward to my sister’s wedding. A handful of us raised money and walked in the Push for your Tush colon cancer charity event in honour of her and she had such a big smile that day. She then celebrated at my sister’s bridal shower and she smiled her beautiful smile once more. By the time that my sister was getting married, my grandma was quite weak, but excited. Heather, my sister and my grandmother’s namesake, and (my

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A collection of happy photos from my sister’s wedding.

now brother-in-law) David had an intimate wedding of just 45 guests in their backyard and then a reception at a local pub. I really love the photos of my grandmother that day, she was so proud and happy to be able to see one of her grandchildren get married – another check off her list of ‘big-life-moments.’

My Grandma lived only two weeks after my sister’s wedding, she passed with pneumonia in the hospital surrounded by family. She is the first person that I have ever witnessed pass away and it was a difficult process. After the grueling six or seven hours of watching her body finally give up, we all cried and some people talked about that place called heaven. I knew that for me, she was gone, and that this would be the last time I would ever see her. Through tears, I kissed her on the forehead and felt like I would see her tomorrow, because goodbyes rarely feel real at the times that they’re said.

At the end of her life, Heather Campbell was a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and more importantly a friend. Her best friends were her family members and there’s something really beautiful about that. I was lucky enough to grow closer to her in the two years that she hadIMG_6076.jpg colon cancer and even though she was in pain, I think that a lot of moments that took place in those two years could have been some of the best in her life. She was loved by many and she knew that. I loved her and she knew that too.

If I could stop by her apartment this afternoon to watch The Price is Right, I would update her on what’s happened in my life. I would tell her that Chris proposed a month after she passed away, that I won the opportunity to pick a wedding dress, that I missed her sitting on the couch as I chose my bridal gown, and that I graduated top of my university class. I would explain to her that I missed her at my

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Grandma and mom in approximately 1967.

bridal showers and that I couldn’t help, but feel jealous that she could attend my sister’s wedding, but not mine. I would tell her that I married the most wonderful man who lets me make fun of Jeopardy contestants and shares our sense of humour. I would tell her that I got to meet Marilyn Denis (who she, my sister and I love) and accidentally made a dark joke that she would have thought was funny, but Marilyn didn’t really get. I would tell her not to feel bad about not being able to be my mom’s best friend anymore, because I’ve taken on that role now and that we talk about her often. I would tell her everything that she’s missed and thank her for everything that she was because she was pretty awesome.

PS. My Grandma was a total Blanche and I’m closer to a Sophia… or maybe it’s the other way around, some days I don’t know.

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What Easter Means to Me, an Atheist

Easter is this coming weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s not necessarily in my top three for favourite holidays, but I definitely enjoy it all the same. I actually grew

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Communion photo of a child vampire. Just kidding, this is me around 1997, the pale future athiest!

up going to a catholic school, but started to question the religion introspectively in my early teen years. I was baptized, had a first communion, and I’m even confirmed, but that was all by age 13 and who really understands the things our parents have us do back then. What’s important is that what I knew then and what I know now are the same, you should be a good person whether you’re spiritual or not.

 

As a kid, I remember two things about the Easter holiday: one, I loved the times spent together with my family dying eggs, taking part in mom-and-dad-run scavenger hunts for chocolate eggs, or sitting down for a big meal; and two, my Catholic school teachers would always be ‘disappointed’ on Tuesday morning and mildly shame the kids that didn’t bring in palms that were supposed to prove that they went to church for Palm Sunday (we never went and I never brought in a palm). I understand and recognize the importance of Easter within Christianity, but now, as an adult atheist, I appreciate the holiday

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Left to right: Mom, my older sister, my niece, myself, and my deceased grandmother. Four generations of women in our family in 2015.

for the non-spiritual family traditions that I have always been lucky enough to enjoy. Tomorrow night, Chris and I are going to dye some eggs together to continue a family tradition and have fun doing some arts and crafts. We will see our families throughout the next week and a half because of busy schedules, but it’s less about the exact day and more about the act of seeing family.

 

What happens at a non-denominational Easter celebration? We will likely: go for a big dog walk; have afternoon drinks while we talk and laugh; eat a big meal together; cheers to things instead of praying; pig out on junk food in the shape of eggs, bunnies, or chicks; and continue to have drinks while we play games like Cards Against Humanity.

 

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Our now deceased dog Daq.

Does it sound pretty similar to a religious family’s celebration? Probably, because although I don’t believe in God, I do respect family traditions and believe that each holiday is a time to celebrate being happy. I use holidays as an excuse to dedicate extra time to family and each celebration secretly feels like Thanksgiving because of how appreciative I feel (maybe this is why Thanksgiving is a boring holiday for me, I feel like it’s like any other one).

 

So even though I sometimes group God in with the Easter Bunny, realize that we’re still pretty similar and that atheists can be good people too.

What are some of your Easter traditions? Do you celebrate Passover instead? How has your personal family celebration changed from when you were a child?

Why You Should Follow More Dog Accounts on Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Account: @koda_and_moo
Followers: 809
Species: Dogs

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

 

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Account: @shaundowneyart
Followers: 8261
Species: Human

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Account: @dog_wears_hat
Followers: 1520
Species: Dog

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 


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

Couch Cushion for One Please: The Chore of Cooking Alone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Break: Doggy Daycare Distractions

I’ve been watching my mom’s two dogs along with my own dog Summit this week. Chris had to go back on shift so it’s three dogs and a baby (I’m the baby because it’s so much work). It took me twenty minutes to read through a one page job description the other day, so this week’s blog post is cancelled and I will be writing again next week!

The vet guesses that Summit (my dog the St. Berdoodle) is somewhere between 2 and a 1/2 to 3 years old. Deeks is my mom’s almost 2-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog and Kensi is my mom’s recently adopted 1-year-old poodle. Summit is a little more mature than the two house guests, but YEESH, these two toddler-like dogs are a lot to handle. Luckily they’re all also sweet so as mad as I get at them, we make up by the end of the night with pets and cuddles (too bad all that love won’t fill the hole in the backyard).

So until next week, I will continue to post lots of dog-filled photos on mine (@cassythemusicalfox) and Summit’s (@summit.the.sweetheart) Instagram. May your house be less muddy than mine.

-Cassy

PS. Here are some photos from the last few days and a video of breakfast time:

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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