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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Our Meet-Cute and Our Partially Chaperoned First Date

(Featured image is December 2012, the first Christmas after we had met)

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Photo by Caitlin Currie.

I married my best friend August 13th 2016, but we’ve been living together for a couple of years now so the newlywed stage doesn’t feel relevant. I tend to believe that I live the life of a Rom-Com as my life is never boring and I sometimes get myself into silly situations.

 

Here is the story of how Chris and I met as well as our first date:
(Chris added his perspective and those comments are featured in bold/green)

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One of my best friends, Lori Anne and I from the wedding. Photo by Caitlin Currie.
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Lori Anne and I singing as our folk duo Darling and the Fox at our local art gallery in 2015.

Chris and I met through friends just over four years ago. I had just gotten out of a two-year relationship and went out to a local open mic that I had once frequented at a pub called The Thirsty Monk. Lori Anne told me that her friend Alex was meeting us there with his friend Tanya, and we had planned on singing that night. As soon as we had arrived and I’d been introduced to Alex and Tanya, I was asked if my friend Mike was my boyfriend (he’d come to hang out too). I told Tanya that he was not and that I’d actually just gotten out of a relationship, she immediately responded with “Good because you’re perfect for my friend Bowman!”

 

 

I hadn’t even had a conversation with this barely made acquaintance yet she thought that she knew I was perfect for some random guy who wasn’t even at the bar? I nodded my head politely and smiled, “Oh yeah?” Throughout the night she continued to rant about him, she showed me pictures from Facebook, and told me stories. She told me that he was a pilot (admittedly a very sexy career) who goes away for a month at a time, but he’d be getting home anytime now. I admit that I was listening, but not taking her too seriously as I wasn’t sure if I’d see Tanya again let alone meet the mystery man “Bowman” (almost everyone calls him Bowman, but I call him Christopher or Chris).

When the next week’s open mic night arrived, Lori Anne and I headed to the pub. Her friend Will was supposed to meet us there, but when we got to the backroom I was surprised to also see the familiar face of a stranger – the Bowman to which I had heard all about one week previous. I remember that he had a big smile when he saw me, he had obviously heard about me too.

I was intrigued by what Tanya had said about Cassy, as she had mentioned that I had to meet her.  I was happy that I went. She had a great smile and was talkative, which helped because I am a quieter person. It made for no awkward pauses.

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Chris with a penguin in Antarctica B.C. (Before Cassy).

Chris is the kind of guy who doesn’t use social media all that much and had a lot less photos online B.C. (Before Cassy), (a good 98% of the photos of me on FB are posted by Cassy and other people) this led to me seeing some distant shots of him in Antarctica wearing a large winter coat, sunglasses, and standing next to some penguins. Impressive, but not a good indicator of what he looked like. When I first saw Chris in person I remember thinking that he was so handsome and I was immediately attached to his gaze.  We didn’t leave each other’s sides much that night as he bought me drinks and I talked his ear off while getting to know him. I likely sang poorly as I was a bit tipsy, but he smiled the whole way through my songs so I felt pretty okay about things. Chris got my number and we had plans to ‘hang out’ the upcoming Monday night.

She thought she sang poorly, but I thought she sang quite well. It also helped that she was really cute. Maybe that skewed my perception of her singing, haha.


Our first date, was a memorable one.

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What I looked like at 21 in 2012 when we met.
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What Chris looked like at 27 in 2012 when we met (in Malaysia).

We met halfway between our cities to go for a walk along the shoreline and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was 21 at the time and my last boyfriend had been a year younger than me. Chris is six years older than I am and at the time, a 27-year-old man (emphasis on man) sounded refreshing. I was absolutely not looking for a boyfriend, but he had something about him that made me want to get to know him more.

We walked up and down a Lake Ontario pathway, talking and flirting, when he got an important phone call that he needed to take. He then explained to me that in the five days since we had met, he had seen a house, put an offer in, and that he was sorry, but he needed to meet his real estate agent tonight! I was so impressed – I later joked that it was a ploy to make him look good on the first date. I tagged along to meet the agent.

I swear it wasn’t a ploy to get her to like me more. I had actually felt bad about having to make this detour mid date, and was hoping that it wasn’t taking away from it too much.

It turned out that we needed to wait longer than expected on something from the homeowners so his agent took us to a nearby Tim Hortons for 40 minutes or so. We had found ourselves unintentionally on a bit of an oddly chaperoned date and Chris’ agent/friend likely felt like a third wheel.

(FUN FACT) Although I’ve been a barista twice in my lifetime, I don’t like coffee, which is why I ordered hot chocolate. To not look even more like a child on my date with an older guy, I decided against using a straw. This attempt at not seeming too young led to my clumsy demise of spilling my hot chocolate all over the crotch of my jeans (I have been known to spill hot chocolate often in my life and struggle to drink it without a straw still to this day). I was so embarrassed that this happened not only on my first date with this guy, but there was a witness – his real estate agent!

For some reason he didn’t call the date off and we went to a pool hall after leaving his real estate endeavors behind for the night. I confidently ignored my hot chocolate-stained denim and actually won the first game of pool, I am still unsure as to if he let me win or not because I have never won another game since. Even after seeing me spill on myself, how overly competitive I am, and how sore of a loser I can be, he stuck around. We parted ways without a goodnight kiss and I wondered if there would be a second date.

Certainly a memorable and unusual first date.

Fun facts:
1. I met his mom on our third date
2. I met his ex-girlfriend of six years on our third date (accident, he hadn’t run into her in 2 years) (This was definitely not part of the plan)
3. The third date was a lot to take in
4. I was just starting university when he asked me to be exclusive
5. He had to ask me to be his exclusive girlfriend about 3 times
6. My mom gave me advice: you can’t control when you meet the right person, if he’s special you’ll give it a shot
7. We dated for 4 weeks and then he was away for work for 5 weeks
8. Dating and being married to a pilot can be hard, but Chris is worth it
9. We’re best friends

Life Lesson: you never know where or when you’re going to meet the right person and if things don’t go perfectly you’re probably just living out one of the most interesting stories you’ll tell in your life!

A collection of photos of us throughout the last four years: