Paintings at the Pastry Peddler

Today’s blog will be a brief one, but an important one (to me at least).

Photo 2017-08-03, 7 01 17 PM.jpgAs I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve always thought that I’d go to post secondary school for art and become a children’s book illustrator when I was… well the age I am now. Instead, I chose a different route, but I tried to promise myself that art would be an ongoing hobby or possibly more if I tried hard enough.

After my teenage years, I practised art a little less – this made me lose some of my artistic confidence. At the age of 26, I have now regained the confidence that I once had as a 17-year-old aspiring illustrator and have been putting myself out there art-wise. What does that mean? Before landing my marketing job, I had been taking a number of custom illustration commissions! I loved being creative again and pushing myself by trying new techniques. Then I contacted a shop about displaying my work.

Photo 2017-08-03, 6 59 34 PM.jpgThe town of Millbrook has a delightful café called the Pastry Peddler with a unique Bike shop on the second floor. I’ve often admired the building for it’s beautiful interior architectural structures like the gorgeous old staircase at the back of the building that leads up to Frog Cycles. The hallway from the café section to the washrooms, as well as the back staircase, features different artists each month and this month I’m lucky enough to be displaying a collection of my own work!

I created a handful (maybe a little too many) of hanging layouts ahead of time and am happy with my final choice. I’m proud of myself for this small accomplishment, we should allow ourselves some personal pride on occasion. It’s not an art gallery show, but I’m putting my art in front of the public-eye – putting a part of myself on display to be judged. Art is personal and I know mine won’t be for everyone, but if it makes one person stop to take a double look (one that doesn’t read as “ew, gross”), I’ll be a happy girl!

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

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

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Sniff, sniff…”Can I eat these?”

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

  1. Dogs
  2. Puzzles
  3. Chick-Lit

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


Dogs

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

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

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


Puzzles

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

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

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

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

Cassy’s Puzzle Tips:

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

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

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

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


Chick-Lit

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

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

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

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

My Top Chick-Lit Recommendations:

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

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


There you have it folks!

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

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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! 

Fictional Furry Friends: My Favourite TV Dogs

I always (ALWAYS) appreciate when a television program includes a supporting character with a good bark! The level of participation in shows vary, but they are all important to me. This list of my top five (with five more honourable mentions) will be a bit nostalgic, very cute, and in no ranking order because every dog is the best dog.

  1. Eddie from Frasier

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Behind the Bark:
Frasier ran from 1993-2004, Moose (the original dog who acted as Eddie) was bred so that his children could take over. His son Enzo started acting as his stunt double and eventually took over when Moose became too old.

eddie.jpgWe recently subscribed to Crave TV and I am loving rewatching Frasier! It is such a great show that always makes me laugh, one of my favourite aspects of the show is that Eddie consistently contributes greatly to each episode. He isn’t just a prop, his character might not have lines, but the writers definitely gave him personality. Eddie has complex relationships with Frasier, Niles, Martin, and Daphne who interact well with his physical comedy. I recommend you watch this fun video featuring some of Eddies best scenes. Frasier would not have been the same without the supportive Jack Russel Terrier.

 

  1. Hobo (AKA London) The Littlest Hobo

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Behind the Bark:
Chuck Eisenmann trained all of London/Hobo’s German Shepard

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Chuck Eisenmann and his shepards.

descendants. The dogs, from multiple generations, starred in the movie, the original television series, and the reboot as well – it’s all relative!

 

Hobo is a Canadian icon! I watched this show occasionally growing up, I liked that the dog was quite literally the star and that he was way cooler than Lassie. The Littlest Hobo had multiple productions: the first being a 1958 American film of the same name; the second being the original television series that ran for two seasons from 1963-1965; and lastly, after increased popularity of the syndicated 1960s program, The Littlest Hobo was started up once more and ran from 1979-1985 -that’s six more seasons! It featured the adventures of a stray dog who would travel and help humans in need of some animal assistance. Take a look at some of the hilarious episode descriptions from Wikipedia as curated by Nicole Cliffe to get a better idea of what the plotlines were like!

 

  1. Wishbone

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wishbone2Behind the Bark:
Unlike Frasier’s Jack Russel pup, Wishbone was the lead character and therefore acted in nearly every shot. Wishbone was mainly played by Soccer who was
chosen due to his very expressive face, but the demanding hours required some scruffy stunt

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I’d love to have this poster framed in my house!

doubles including Phoebe, Slugger, and the odd doggo-acting-extra.

 

This brings back childhood memories for me! Wishbone aired from 1995-1998 and featured a Jack Russel Terrier who was often clad in period-piece costumes while introducing youth to literary classics such as Robin Hood or Frankenstein. The fictional Wishbone lived in the modern 1990s, but would start day dreaming about himself in the lead role of many famous novels. The show encouraged reading and featured a dog in funny outfits – it’s an obvious A+ and I’d love to watch it for a laugh now that I’m older!

 

  1. Comet from Full House

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Behind the Bark:
Commonly mistaken for the Golden Retriever who played Air Bud (Buddy did cameo on one episode of Full

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Comet as Fluke, the role wasn’t didn’t call for a Golden Retriever, but he waas so good that they just dyed the fur!

House where Comet needed to become an athlete), Comet was played by… Comet? The dog actor is largely uncredited, but appears to be the dog in the 1995 film Fluke with a dye job!

 

 

Comet simply wasn’t in Full House enough. This was a pre-Air Bud world so a gorgeous Golden Retriever on my television screen was exciting! There would be some episodes with plenty of daughter-doggy time and then the series would go episodes without Comet in sight. It was always on my mind, I was always looking for that fluffy tail. What I really loved about Comet was that he was a lot like the dogs I had growing up: big; loving; lazy; and always there for a hug. I definitely love this cheesy show and the dog upped it’s cute-factor by a thousand.

 

 

  1. Backup from Veronica Mars

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Behind the Bark:
The very obvious recast of Pilot-Episode-Backup (played by a white and brown American bulldog named Gordo) to Series-Regular-Backup (played by a tan

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The first Backup.

colored pit bull named Lefty) is said to be the result of the crew not wanting to work with the first dog’s unreliable trainer.

Here’s our most modern TV dog on the list, Backup quite literally had Veronica Mars’ back when she had to investigate some shady areas.

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The second Backup.

Veronica Mars was a kickass show from 2004-2007 that featured a teenaged girl who conducted some not-so-licensed private investigating. Admittedly, Backup wasn’t in the show very much, but when he was, I loved him. The name itself is worthy of making the list, imagine being able to say things like “don’t worry I brought backup” and then watching peoples faces when they realize you mean your dog – it’s brilliant! Backup not only protected Veronica on the job, but comforted her at home after boy trouble and acted as an occasional face-licking alarm clock!


I could talk about fictional dogs forever, but I think five is a good starter list. Some honourable mentions include:

  1. Diefenbaker (AKA Dief) from Due South
  2. Dog from Columbo
  3. Murray from Mad About You
  4. Speedy from the The Drew Carey Show
  5. Stinky and Nunzio from Dharma and Greg

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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)!

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

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Me, confident and hopeful on my graduation day.

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

 

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

No, I was not an exception.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

What I learned during this year:

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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