Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Making a Move

Hey guys!  Just wanted to throw up a quick post to let you know that after 7 years and 1050 blog posts I'm moving my blog from Blogger to Wordpress.  I've been frustrated with the app and some of the features, which has made it difficult for me to post as often as I once did.  Hopefully this move will encourage me to start writing more frequently again!

So now you'll be able to find me at https://madamclerkblog.wordpress.com/  I hope you update your bookmarks and readers accordingly and follow me over there!  It looks a lot prettier too!

And don't worry - I've migrated everything over so all my old posts have come along with me!

Treats of the Week(s) - Fall Stuff

Hey guys - I have been eating it hard on writing these posts!  I'm finding them to be more and more time consuming, which is probably why I've been favouring Instagram lately!  It's funny - I really resisted Instagram at first because I didn't see the point in just sharing one photo at a time.  Now I appreciate it as more of a "micro blogging" platform and enjoy the challenge of telling a joke or a story in one photo and a short caption.

In any event - it is fully fall around here, complete with all the yard work that comes along with it.  Vivian and I have had a busy couple of weeks with my birthday (34 yo!) and Halloween, and a trip to Quebec for Vivian!  Here's what else has been going on - in no particular order because I was too lazy to organize photos like that.

  • On Sunday I got to see Face to Face for the first time!  It was a great show - and I somehow managed to survive being right up in the front row!

  • Sunday was also Brody's first birthday!  I haven't had the heart yet to tell Vivian that she missed the party since she was away on her trip to Quebec.

  • Jenn and I spent the day a few weeks ago wandering around London checking out vintage shops and anything else we came across.  While at the Brydges Street Market I found this vintage ad for the second time.  See, about a year ago I came across this amazing vintage Alice in Jello-Land advertisement.  I loved it - but it was $24 which felt a little steep for an old ad thrown in a frame.  So being the wise individual that I am, I walked away from it and assumed I could find a copy of the ad online, print it out and just frame it myself.  I googled and googled but came up with nothing about this ad campaign.  So I returned to Brydges for it, and of course it was gone.  I couldn't find it anywhere in the whole market, so it just got filed away in my memory for another time.  I don't know what happened with it, but it had magically reappeared when Jenn and I were there - same price too.  This time I happily handed over my $24 to take it home.

  • Apparently Coach is doing a line of bags with dinosaurs on them, so now I need a Coach bag.  Feel free to buy me one.

  • I'm still waiting on another gift from Dustin (apparently he's working on some sort of crazy project, which sounds about right).  But I did get this awesome Stranger Things print from Jenn for my birthday!  Hawkins represent!

  • My mom gave me a Bath and Body Works gift certificate for my birthday too, which was promptly spent on as many Twisted Peppermint things as I could get my hands on. 
  • In further birthday news - I actually won $14 on scratch tickets!
  • It's funny how thifting goes in cycles.  Lately I haven't been able to find anything London or Canadiana related, but I've been all over the vintage movie novelizations.

  • Vivian and I both agree that Halloween items should be worn year round, as evidenced by these crazy eye glasses.

  • This Halloween house in London isn't far from my work and they do such an amazing job!  I'm so glad I took the time to check it out up close this year.  All of the grave stones in the yard are for different celebrities who have passed away this year.

  • I got my birthday slice of pizza from Stobie's and I've basically never been more pleased with a piece of pizza.
  • Vivian's Halloween costume turned out amazingly well - I was so pleased with it, and she loved it!  None of the kids knew who she was, of course, but the parents did!  Adding Thing to her shoulder was Dustin's idea and it was the perfect touch.  

  • I also got to go to a pumpkin carving party at my friend Nikki's place, which was such a fun time!  I didn't go too elaborate with mine, and as always I wish I'd had more time to carve more!

  • It was Forest City Comicon this past weekend, which was a great time as always.  It was strange to walk around without Vivian, but there will be lots more cons for her.  I didn't pick up too many things, but I did find some fun pins and a great Wednesday notebook for Vivian, along with another poster for the basement.
  • I love getting sweet notes sent home from Vivian's teacher!

  • I'm sure there's more that I should be adding, but I can't think of any at the moment.  I'm expecting to be at my laptop on the couch all night watching election coverage though - you can follow me on Twitter @ashlieclerk for all my rants!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

October Horror

It seems like lots of people try to do a "31 Days of Scary Movies" in October, or something similar. It's fun! Those dark, cool nights just make you want to stay inside and cuddle under a blanket. Dustin and I started having scary movie nights back in the summer, since the list of movies I haven't seen is woefully long.

Here's the thing - I like scary movies. I've always liked them. But I don't like watching them by myself. It can be hard to find someone who wants to watch them with you! And I'm not big on slasher movies, but I love cerebral/psychological/thrilling/thought provoking/artistic/creative scary movies. So if anyone is looking for me in the evenings this month, there's a good chance I'm hiding my eyes with a blanket, cuddled up with some wine and some Dustin watching a scary movie.

Just in case you're doing a similar marathon, here's some of my favourite scary movies so far. Please give me your suggestions!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Yes, not exactly an original pick. BUT, I recently watched it for the first time and was so impressed with it. It does so much with such a simple premise - and I love how much scarier things are when they're shown during the day.

Paranormal Activity - Again, not exactly a groundbreaking choice but I have such a soft spot for this series! What can I say, I love a good jump scare.

The Conjuring 2 - The Conjuring was okay. I love Patrick Wilson (see also: Insidious) but I was kind of annoyed that nothing was actually conjured in the movie. The sequel though? It's awesome. It was clever and creative and restrained and brought genuine scares.

Grave Encounters/Grave Encounters 2 - Probably my favourite of what we've watched so far. The first one starts off kind of predictably - found footage of some people from a ghost hunting show who spend the night in an insane asylum. But I promise - keep watching. It is SO SMART and SO FUN, the action really ramps up in the third act and totally won me over. Amazingly, the sequel has an even more clever premise. It falls apart a bit in the third act, but the monsters and scares are still so fun and creative that you totally forgive it.

The Neon Demon - Is this a real horror movie? I think you could argue it a few ways. It's Nicholas Winding Refn (of Drive fame) at his most insane. Pretty people doing terrible, terrible things. It's not for the faint of heart.

Insidious - The sequel was pretty brutal, but I have a soft spot for the original. It's creepy and atmospheric and I love how they explain the hauntings that are occurring. Plus, Patrick Wilson is super dreamy.

The Shining - Yes, another heavy hitter. But this one tops so many lists for good reason. Watching Jack Nicholson unravel into madness in the hotel is truly terrifying. Visually, it's arresting and beautiful. Of course, I'm partial to the book (those topiaries scared me so much!) but the film stands on its own merits.

Saw - Yes, Saw. We watched this one recently because Dustin had never seen it. It was interesting to watch it again after the sands of time had passed and you realize how much influence it has had. If the ending hasn't been spoiled yet, it's still a good twist.

Goodnight Mommy - Nothing like a messed up foreign movie to mess with your mind a little.

Suspiria - Honestly, I'm not sure if I totally understood what was happening in this one. But it's gorgeous and haunting and the music is incredible.

Would you Rather - Alright, hear me out. It starts out kind of lame and cheesy, but then it totally embraces the cheese and just becomes crazy fun and really makes you squirm. 

Housebound - Like a little comedy with your horror? This Australian horror movie manages to balance comedy and scares without going to goofy territory. Plus, just when you think you have the movie figured out it totally takes a twist. Really keeps you guessing.

The Innkeepers - Super simple concept - an inn is closing down so there's only two people working for the final weekend. This one is really atmospheric and a slow burn, easing you into the scares and creepy feeling before the awesome third act.

We've watched a lot more, but those have been my favourites so far.  Let me know your picks - it's almost Halloween so the time is right for more movie marathons!

Friday, 21 October 2016

A Complaint

You know that shopping trip that you have to make every once in awhile? The one to the pharmacy or the grocery store where you end up dropping an insane amount of money on things that are going to be thrown away basically immediately? Paper towels, toilet paper, wet wipes, Kleenex, tampons, and the worst of the absolute worst - RAZORS.

I hate buying razors. In fact, if I ever won the lottery the first thing I would spend money on wouldn't be a new house or a fancy new car or anything like that. No, it would be a bunch of money on electrolysis so I wouldn't have to spend any of my newfound fortune on razors.

They're so expensive. I mean, things at the grocery store shouldn't have to be kept under lock and key like that. And then there's all the options! Two blades is a thing of the past - things need to have a minimum of three blades, if not five. And do you go for disposable? It seems like a waste, but I'll be damned if I can remember what kind of handles I have sitting at home. Thanks to product samples I have a lovely collection of dude razor handles at home (let's be honest, the dude ones are always better) but I should probably start carrying them around with me so I stand some sort of chance of actually pairing blades with the handles.

I'm pretty sure that the increase in the "lumbersexual" bearded dude is in direct correlation with the increase in razor prices. Dudes can't afford to be clean shaven! 

Maybe if they lasted a little longer it wouldn't be so bad. I mean, I shave my underarms every day. (Oh lord, why do I share so much?) I shave my legs almost every day if you average it out over the whole year. I shave other areas on a frequent enough basis, thanks very much. So it seems like a razor only has that wonderful sharp and fresh feeling for like a day before it ends up just dragging across my skin as I stubbornly continue to use it for weeks on end.

Occam's Razor states that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. (It's also an excellent name for a razor company, which is apparently what I should be starting to build this fortune.) Following that, I should probably just stop complaining about the cost of razors in my budget and just start waxing or something else. But try as I might I'm just not a fan of ripping hair out with hot wax. I'll tolerate it on my face, but I just can't get on board with it extending south of my neck.

Basically, I'm a giant whiner and I'm poor, but at least I'm smooth.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Treats of the Week - Typical October

It's my birthday soon, so true to form I'm starting to get sick.  It's pretty common for me to be sick for my birthday.  I'm not sure if it's seasonal allergies or that I just get run down in October or what, but what started as some sneezing at work this morning has morphed into my sinuses being packed and me waiting for my head to explode.  Hopefully it clears up quickly!

  • I have been desperately needing to mow my lawn lately, but haven't had any luck in fixing my lawn mower.  Luckily I have awesome neighbours who lent me theirs!
  • I saw a bald eagle on Sunday - the first time I've ever seen one out in the wild.  I thought this was a big deal, but anyone who I've mentioned it to has said that it's pretty common around here.
  • It's been a long time since I've picked anything up off the side of the road, but I found this chair on the weekend!  I have a red one just like it, and there's a green one at my work that I've been trying to get my hands on for years.  It's a little grimy looking, but nothing a Magic Eraser can't take care of.

  • On the weekend I finally made my way to Reaper's Realm!  I had no idea what to expect, so when we pulled up and saw the crowds it was a little overwhelming.  A 90 minute wait later and we were on the bus for the haunted forest ride!  Then it was on to the haunted houses, where Dustin and his friend Hank decided that it was far funnier to have me go in first so they could listen to me yelp my way through.

  • It was also the Friends of the Library sale on Friday and I scored some great stuff!  While Dustin was waiting for me to finish finding stuff, he took a seat on the steps to guard my pile of books and to check out one of his own.  I walked back to him planning to take a picture of him quietly reading and watching my books, but he caught me in the act and I ended up with this picture instead.  There's so much going on - I love it.  The look of surprise and confusion.  My pile of books on the floor.  The fact that I disturbed him while he was reading a book about Phil Hartman, and that this was the moment when he was reading about his untimely end.  His cellphone sitting next to him on the step, which would be left there until we drove back to retrieve it.

  • It wouldn't be fall without a trip to Twin Pines for some pumpkins!  I met up with Amanda and Emily and their crews of children for some pumpkin action, and of course to take pictures of the kids.

  • The other night Vivian wanted to try her hand at Guitar Hero.  I thought I would be really impressive and show her how it's done but it's way harder than I remember it being.

  • If you follow me on Instagram (or on Facebook) you'll see my new little project.  For years I've been wanting to take pictures of my favourite signs in London.  Just the weird, random ones that show their age and have something special about them.  I've always chickened out though because I didn't want to be a weirdo taking pictures of storefronts.  Even in the last couple of weeks I went to McCulloch's probably four or five times to take a picture but ended up chickening out each time.  I finally did it though, and it's actually been really nice.  So far I've taken pictures of about eight different places and am enjoying posting them and taking little walks to track them down.  You can find them all with #isawthesignlondon and let me know if you have any favourites of your own!
Those nighttime meds are calling my name...

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Treats of the Week - What's with today, today?

Is everyone just anxious for the long weekend or what?  It seems like everyone is cranky and tired.  Or maybe I'm just cranky and tired so everyone is getting on my nerves WHO CAN TELL.  I'm definitely looking forward to the end of the week though - just one more day of work to get through then a little roadtrip on Friday!  Hooray!

  • It's been a couple of weeks since I've written one of these, so I don't think I've mentioned the London Comicon!  We had a great time again this year - Vivian went for her Princess Leia costume again and managed to spend all my money in record time.  We're so lucky to have two awesome comicons in London, and I'm happy to support them both!
  • This isn't really a treat, but a WTF.  I was out on my lunch break the other day when I saw this lady out in traffic at Wellington and Commissioners rearranging pylons.  I don't even know.

  • If you're not watching You're the Worst, you really should be!  I love the show - not only is it funny, but it's also a really important portrait of mental illness.  The most recent episode focused on a character's struggle with PTSD and it was so well done.  
  • Having a dude who works at a comic book store definitely has its advantages - like when he gets me a Pacific Rim Kaiju toy!

  • Vans has come out with a line of Toy Story shoes and they are so freaking cute.

  • When Dustin is over at my place I get a real insight into the creative artist process.  Sometimes you have to look at a piece from a new angle, apparently.

  • One of our interpreters at work sent us cards for Thanksgiving.  It was definitely a pleasant surprise!

  • I got a new tattoo last week too!  I know, I know.  It hasn't been that long since the last one.  It's actually kind of funny though - I had been planning this one for longer.  The artist who did my hawk and typewriter works in Barrie now.  We had talked about me wanting a flamingo tattoo, which he was really excited about so he told me that he would let me know when he was back in London for a guest spot.  He emailed me about a month ago to let me know he was in town so I took the chance!  I love what he drew up - now I just have to wait a few months until he's in London again so we can add some pink to it!

  • My friend Amanda came across this old picture of us and I can't really tell if it makes me happy or depressed.  Look at us - so young and without children or mortgages or any real worries!  Ah youth!

Friday, 30 September 2016

Fall is Best

Let's be honest - October is the best month.  Not only is it my birthday, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, but the weather is perfect and there's sooooooo many cool things happening!  Here's what I'm looking forward to - let me know if you're doing anything cool too!

Reaper's Realm
I've never been to Reaper's Realm and I definitely want to make the trip this year!

Lost Soul Stroll
London's spooky history walk took a little break last year, but it's back this year!

Phantom of the Paradise
I've already got tickets for this event - yes, I'll go to Toronto just to watch an old movie.  It's a pretty rad movie though, and I love being able to see things on the big screen.

Halloween Comicfest
Check out your friendly neighbourhood comic book store on October 29th for free comics and fun surprises!

Storyspook Village
From October 21st to the 30th you can go to Storybook Gardens at night for Storyspook!  We took the kids last year and it was so much fun.  The volunteers do a great job of interacting with the kids and having skits and activities that are fun and spooky without being scary.

Kangaroo Variety
Kangaroo Variety is back after a summer hiatus.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you definitely should.  Live interviews, storytelling, music, you never know what's going to be there!

RetroMania at the Hyland
I love the Hyland Cinema RetroMania nights.  They've got some great ones coming up too - this Friday is Conan the Barbarian and the October showing on October 21st is a Stranger Things-inspired double feature - E.T. and Poltergeist!

Giant Book Sale
Need I say more?  The Friends of the London Public Library book sale is an event not to be missed!  Similarly, the Strathroy Public Library book sale is happening this weekend - September 29-October 1.

Behind the Ropes
Want a chance to see Eldon House up close?  Check out the Behind the Ropes tour on October 15th.

Doors Open
One of my favourite fall events!  Doors Open is your chance to check out some of the most interesting buildings in London.  Best of all, it's free!  This year I'm hoping to see the Roundhouse, Normal School, and Grand Theatre.

The Great Ghost Hunt
What happens when you combine the Lost Soul Stroll, Behind the Ropes, and Doors Open?  You get the Great Ghost Hunt!  This is your chance to tour the Grand Theatre and Eldon House, hear the ghost stories and maybe even see one of their ghosts yourself!*
(*Ghosts not guaranteed)

Oh Wonder are awesome, and they're coming to London on October 25th!

If you venture out of London, the Port Franks Optimists are hosting a Free Halloween fun event for kids!  Unfortunately Vivian is out of town that weekend, but it's a great event for the community.

Want a sneak peek at what's cool and happening in November?  How about Atmosphere on November 5th, Face to Face on November 6th, and the Forest City Comicon that same weekend!