Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The annual closet counting post!

After I had Vivian, I quickly realized how many clothes I had that I would never wear again.  Not only because of weight gained and lost, but because your body is just different after.  Things just fit weird, and it sucks.  So instead of holding on to a whole bunch of stuff that would just make me feel bad about myself, I started purging like crazy.  Ever since then I've been gradually downsizing my closet more and more in an effort to get it down to just some core basics that I feel good in and that I can use in different ways.  I'm not trying to say that having less clothes is better - I would love to have a closet just bulging with things that I love to wear!  But this works for me - no muss, no fuss, no tough decisions.

For reference here's last year's post, and the post that started it all.

Starting with the boring stuff...

Tanks/camisoles - 5

My everything clothes - these work as painting clothes, gardening clothes, pajamas, and if I ever got my butt off the couch again they would be workout clothes.
2 pairs of yoga pants cut into shorts/capris
4 sloppy t-shirts

2 oversized hoodies.  In the winter these are basically housecoats.  Note Vivian in the left of the picture, she was standing on the bed and brushing my hair while I took pictures.

Moving on we have the always important cardigan category - 5

Blouse-type things (the word 'blouse' is just awful, btw).  It wasn't the greatest idea to take this picture on a patterned bedspread either, but whatever.  I'm up to 3 with these!

In the same vein, but different picture are what I like to think of as my dressy tank tops - 4

Then the oddballs - 1 lone sweater...

And 1 lone longish sleeved T...

 4 "weekend shirts", i.e., shirts that I can't really wear to work.

My beloved Smart Set shirts - I'm currently sitting at 7, but these rotate in and out pretty quickly.  They're cheap shirts and there's nothing special about them, but they just fit me really well so I always grab them when they're on clearance and just wear them to death.

2 "goodies", hoodies that are good enough to be worn outside of the house.

Not much happening in the bottoms - 1 pair of yoga pants, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts.  I did have that other pair of skinny jeans, but after realizing that I just dreaded putting them on I finally got rid of them.  Whoever decided that a pair of skinny jeans should have NO stretch to them at all should be shot.  So I'm in the market for some new skinny jeans, but for now I'm making out just fine with these options!

Little more action happening in skirt town - after the ass ripping out of that other skirt my count is at 8

And then my sad and lonely pair of winter shorts

I've definitely embraced my love of the striped dress - my current count is at 5

And then 4 other kind of businessy-casual kind of whatever dresses

And 4 dressier dresses

 Of course all of those skirts and dresses need some tights - current collection is sitting at 10, which I think is a pretty meagre stash!

 I've scaled way back on the shoes too - currently 2 pairs of sandals (those Sam & Libby sandals on the right aren't holding up as nicely as I was hoping, which is a shame.)

3 pairs of running shoes, which should really be taken down to 2.  Those brown ones on the left are only a year old, but they didn't wear very well and are already showing signs of falling apart, which is why I got the Converse in the middle.  I'll probably just go with them come fall.

2 pairs of adorable wedges

2 pairs of dressier shoes - I've actually been considering getting rid of those purple ones, the last time I wore them they just killed my feet.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

2 pairs of flats - bare bones, baby.

2 pairs of boots - my awesome multi-functional wedges and flat, tall boots.  I need some boots that will actually keep my feet warm this winter though!

And of course that one pair of crappy shoes that everyone has for cutting the grass and any other dirty jobs.  These particular shoes are from my first year of university - so that would put them at about 12 years old.  They're so terrible - the rubber on the bottoms has like completely broken down to the point that it's all hard and cracked and makes everything super slippery.  If I walk on anything that's the least bit smooth I'm most likely going to fall on my ass.

Coats are pretty much the same - on the left is a windbreaker, then the right is the outer shell of a 3 in 1 jacket, that blob in the middle is the fleece lining from it.  That 3 in 1 really saved me this past spring when our weather was all over the place!

This leather jacket is what I wear most often though - I'll wear this bad boy until it falls apart.  Love this coat.

 Then of course the 1 heavy coat for shovelling and driving in snow storms.  This is also from my first year of university!

And my lovely vintage coat that doesn't currently fit me, but hopefully will soon because I can't bear to get rid of it.

So that's my entire wardrobe.  I have to say - I love writing these posts because it really keeps me under control.  I'm constantly thinking, "Ugh, should I get rid of this?  Do I want this to be in the blog post?  I think I can live without it."  It really keeps me in the whole quality over quantity frame of mind.  I really suggest using this trick if you're trying to downsize your closet - even if you don't have a blog, try just adding up how many clothes you actually have.  Something about seeing the numbers seems to make it easier to part with some items!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Treats of the Week - McLOBSTER

  • Oh yeah, this baby was definitely a highlight of my week.  The McLobster is here for a limited time and I am one excited girl.  I have a soft spot for limited edition food.  Clearly I have no impulse control.  If they had this all the time, I would probably never order it.  (For example, I've never ordered the seafood sub from Subway)  But knowing that the McLobster is a mythical sandwich usually not seen outside of the eastern seaboard made want it all the more.  I was literally squealing in the drive-thru when I saw it on the sign.  My mother was thrilled no doubt, especially when I yelled, "I'm so excited!!!" into the ordering speaker.  And yes, I was in the passenger seat at the time.

I won't lie - it's not the greatest lobster roll I've ever had.  It has too much sauce for my taste.  But I enjoy the novelty and it has really nice, big pieces of lobster in there so I'll definitely be grabbing it a few more times before it's gone!
  • I finally started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I know, I'm what like 15 years late on this?  No matter.  Through the magic of Netflix I can finally get caught up.  I hate having pop culture blind spots, and this is one that I've definitely been meaning to fill in for quite some time.
  • I've been having quite the project kick lately - for whatever reason I've just been itching to start painting things and rearrange furniture.  I've nearly finished painting that bedframe for Vivian (and I would have finished it tonight if my stupid spray paint can hadn't clogged) and I can't wait to move on to the next thing!
  • After that disgusting mess of a heat wave we went through we've finally been enjoying some more seasonal (and maybe even slightly below seasonal) temperatures.  All of a sudden it feels like September outside and I have to admit, I kind of love it.  I don't like the heat or the cold.  I'm a much bigger fan of perfectly moderate temperatures.
  • Vivian finally had her appointment with the occupational therapist.  Apparently her file got lost somewhere along the way so that's why it took about six months for that ball to get rolling.  I've definitely seen a lot of her sensory issues decrease as her language skills have increased, but there's still a lot to work on and it was really great to hear some ideas on how to get started.  
  • I've gotten back into listening to podcasts lately.  I go in weird streaks with them, where I'll listen to nothing but podcasts for a few months and then completely switch back to the radio.  I seem to listen to podcasts more in the summer, especially since I seem to have a lot more days where I'm driving to another court to work for the day.  A long drive = podcast time.  I've gotten caught up on Smodcast and Plus One and am now working my way through Fat Man on Batman before getting back into the Joe Rogan Experience.  Speaking of which...
  • Joe Rogan has a new show on SyFy - "Joe Rogan Questions Everything".  I love Joe Rogan, I just find him so entertaining.  His new show has him investigating various paranormal activity with his usual hopeful skeptic demeanour.  Episode one focused on Bigfoot and some of his reactions to these people were just priceless.  I definitely recommend it!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Very Vivian - A trip to Santa's in July

For Vivian's summer trip this year we trekked up to Bracebridge and Huntsville to see Santa.  My mom and I took Vivian and L up for the night and it ended up being a quick but awesome trip.  Santa's Village is in Bracebridge because apparently it's on the 45th parallel, putting it squarely between the North Pole and the Equator - obviously the perfect location for Santa's summer cottage!

The best surprise of the trip was our hotel.  Mom randomly grabbed a room off of hotels.com and it ended up being amazing!  Since we were only there for one night, we didn't need anything spectacular - just a room and a pool for the kids.  We ended up getting an awesome rate at the Hidden Valley Resort in Huntsville and we can't say enough good things about it.  

It was right on a beautiful lake and had a private beach - the kids would have preferred to just hang out there all day.

They had lots of canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats free for anyone to use.  Miraculously we managed to take the kids out for a canoe ride and they both stayed still.  The lake was amazing, and even though it was stupid hot the whole time we were there it felt so nice and refreshing to be out on the water, even if it was only for a little while.

See that green bracelet on Vivian's wrist?  That was the source of a major meltdown.  Guests were supposed to wear the bracelets since it was a private beach I guess (there was another smaller public beach just down the road) and Vivian freaked.  That's the second bracelet we got on her - the first one was too tight (apparently) and she lost her mind.

This sweet picture of her lounging in bed after swimming seems to be all calm and serene, but if you look closely you can see she's actually trying to take her stupid bracelet off.  This was also just after she walked directly into the sliding glass door to our balcony.

The resort really showed their excellent customer service when mom went down to get dinner.  They didn't have a room service option, but you could get takeout from the on-site restaurant.  Since the kids were whipped, she just ran down to get a bunch of appetizers for us to share while I hung out and with the sleepy ones.  The goal, of course, was really to get a beer for mom and I since we desperately needed a drink after the long drive north with a 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old who watched Madagascar 3 about four times in a row.  The only problem?  We got the LCBO after it had closed (damn our shortsightedness!) and the restaurant wouldn't let mom bring alcohol through the hotel and up to our room.  Damn.  So while mom waited for the food, she was having a sneaky beer at the bar by herself and feeling really badly that I wouldn't get one.  When the food was ready, they had it plated instead of in take-out containers so the manager offered to help carry the tray of food up for mom.  She explained how she just had to finish her beer, and how her daughter was going to kill her for having it.  The manager took pity on us poor travellers and let her bring the rest of her drink up to the room and let her bring a nice, frosty beer up for me too.  I swear, seeing that tray loaded with nachos, chicken fingers, calamari and that sweet bottle of Coors Light was about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

The actual visit to Santa's Village the next day went about as we expected - I think L had three meltdowns before we even walked into the park, and Vivian was on meltdown number two.  Damn those handstamps at the entrance!

Once we got in there though, the kids had a great time.  We went for a boat cruise on Santa's Summer Sleigh (where we had to assist another boat that was on fire.  True story - their motor was smoking, people were swimming to shore, their fire extinguisher had run out so we had to give them ours and then tow them to a public dock.  Good times.) and Vivian couldn't get enough of the rides.  Everything there is really geared to little kids, so she could go on whatever rides she wanted as long as she had a parent with her.  We went on the rollercoaster three times in a row, and I think she would have ridden it all day if I'd let her.

I love these pictures of her coming down the slide.  I'd watched her come flying out of it twice already and she faceplanted both times.  Here she is in the middle of faceplant number three...

But she's okay!  Heading back for more.

Of course the main reason for visiting is to see the big man himself.  L did well and sat on his lap and chatted for a bit, while Vivian clung to me and was literally shaking in fear.  Christmas is going to be a blast this year.

After a very, very long hot day at Santa's, it was time to load up again and make the trip back.  This was Vivian about four minutes after having left the parking lot.

A word of advice?  If you're parked adjacent to the woods surrounding Santa's Village, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOORS OPEN TO COOL OFF THE VEHICLE AND LOAD THE KIDS IN THE CAR.  The van ended up full of mosquitoes in a matter of minutes, which left mom freaking out and me trying to swat them from the passenger seat.

It was really a great trip for kids this age - I would definitely recommend it over something like Marineland.  This was just the right size for these two - we'll definitely be heading back.  Hopefully next year we can go back to Hidden Valley for a full week and enjoy a real vacation!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Outfit of the Day - Wardrobe Malfunction

Welcome to the one and only time that you'll see this skirt in an outfit post.  I'd actually intended on blogging about it some time ago, but I never managed to get super good pictures of it.  I've had a hard time wearing it, even though it's super comfortable.  It's one of those things that really only goes well with a white T-shirt, and I don't find white T-shirts to be my most flattering tops.  Whatever.

Anyway, this morning I tried again to throw this thing on and found that if I wore the skirt up higher than I normally would it seemed to fit much better, like so...

This is how I would typically wear it, lower on my hips which just seems to squish everything in a somewhat odd way.

Little did I realize that I would actually end up needing to wear my skirt higher all day long because of the dreaded WARDROBE MALFUNCTION.

See, let's take a closer look at the back region, shall we?

Notice some weird gathering there below the cheek area?  Here's a closer look...

If you guessed that I went to adjust my skirt and ended up somehow ripping a giant hole into the ass of it and then hid out in my office bathroom with a stapler frantically trying to put it back together again, then you're the winner!

My ass was the loser.

Here's the gaping hole I was dealing with.

Yup.  So that was fun.  Especially since it happened in the courtroom.  Luckily, no one was behind me at the time.  Hiking my skirt up seemed to solve most of the problem, and my skirt managed to cover the rest.  I've never been more happy to be wearing my robe in the courtroom though.

So needless to say, this skirt has been worn for the last time, and I'm now sufficiently paranoid about wearing my other striped pencil skirt from Old Navy.  I'm trying not to take it personally though - it was the skirt's fault, not the fault of my ass.

Thank god for staplers.

Stupid skirt - Old Navy
Top - Smart Set (I should get rid of it, I don't know why I bother with white shirts.  I spilled Scentsy wax all over this and then spattered it with pulled pork grease.  All of that was on the very first time I wore it.  I'm a human disaster.)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Treats of the Week - On Vacation

I was on vacation last week, which is to say I wasn't at work but didn't necessarily do anything vacation-y.  So one of those staycations that the kids talk about these days, I suppose.  Can someone tell me when a week got to be so short?  Seriously, you can't get anything done in a week.

  • PACIFIC FREAKING RIM - I loved this movie.  Loved, loved, loved it.  It's one of those movies that either you totally buy into the idea, or you don't.  I bought it, 100 percent.  Bring on the Kaiju.  I'm not even joking, there had better be some Pacific Rim action figures under the tree for me at Christmas.  Check out my friend's great review of it here!

  • Much Ado About Nothing - I managed to catch it while it was on at the Hyland and it was just lovely - made even lovelier by the fact that it was a matinee, which always feels just a little bit more indulgent.
  • Vivian slept in until 10:30 a.m. the day after we got back from Santa's Village - thank you, Vivian!
  • Also in Vivian news - she had a re-check with the speech therapist and they said that she's caught up enough that it isn't a concern anymore.  They'll check her again in 3 months, but for now things look good!
  • I've been slowly sifting through all of the tags on my blog posts that you see over there to the right, trying to clean things up and organize things a bit.  It's a pain in the ass, but hopefully it helps readers out!
  • I finally got around to finishing season 2 of Rome, and while I didn't enjoy it quite as much as season 1, it really picked up at the end, especially with all the crazy Mark Antony/Cleopatra stuff.  
  • The heat wave has finally broken - I was never so glad for central air as I was last week.
  • The Royal Baby has arrived - and even better, so has Suri's reaction on her burnbook.
Ugh, I need another week of vacation.  It's too long to wait until Christmas break!

Friday, 19 July 2013

A guide to being a maybe slightly more than mediocre MC

By popular request (by which I mean one person asked me), I've decided to compile a post about how I go about MCing for a wedding.  I've done it twice now, so clearly I'm an expert on the subject.

I like being an MC.  It's one of those roles that's important for a wedding, but you really don't have that much responsibility.  I mean, no one ever leaves a wedding talking about the MC.  When I've been called to the task, my first question has been, "Do you want someone who puts on a show, or just someone to move the show along?"  People generally just want an MC to be able to move things along - no one likes sitting through a bunch of speeches, and when's the last time you've been to a wedding where people have enjoyed kissing games or trivia or some silly skit-type thing?  I like to get up there and just get through things so you can move on to the party.

Before the wedding, make sure that you have a sit-down with the bride/groom and see what they're expecting.  I like to ask about any announcements that should be made - things like information about a shuttle, birthday shout-outs, where the guest book is and any special instructions that might go along with it, things like that.  I also like to offer to help out with any behind the scenes stuff - do they need someone to pay the DJ?  Do they need someone to help set something up at the hall?  The nice part about an MC is that they're a part of the wedding, but they're not actually in the wedding.  This leaves them with time to do any running around before the wedding party arrives at the reception.

When you get to the reception, make friends with the DJ.  Make sure that you know if you're using their microphone or if the hall has a mic for you.  Make sure that you know how to make it louder and turn it on.  Because the damn thing will never, ever work when you want it to.  Figure out if the DJ will be announcing the wedding party or if you are - I've seen it done both ways, and I don't think it really matters.  For the most recent wedding, I talked to the DJ before and gave him an idea of what announcements I would be making before the wedding party entered.  This gave him the chance to start playing music underneath my announcements so we went into the introductions nice and seamlessly. 

This brings me to my next point - make sure that you write down who is in the wedding party.  First and last names.  Even if they're people that you've known your whole life, there's a chance that you'll freeze and forget someone's name or call them by a nickname or something.  Never hurts to have a cheat-sheet.  Make sure that you ask the bride/groom how they would like to be announced too - are they Mr. and Mrs. Soandso?  Mr. Soandso and Ms. Keeping her name?  There's so many options - it's nice to be very clear about how they want to be introduced.

Find out when they're doing their first dance - often the couple will go right into the first dance before sitting down.  I like to tell people that in my opening announcements so they can get their cameras and stuff ready.

A lot of being an MC is a personality thing.  That's not to say that I have some sparkling personality that can command a room or anything, but I don't have a problem speaking in front of people.  Of course, I'm not the main event of the evening.  No one wants to hear an MC drone on and on about nothing.  I try to keep things simple and to the point and keep the focus on the happy couple and wedding party.  Make sure that you have the list of who wants to do a speech - I like to do a little bit of an introduction before each person, but nothing excessive.  Keep it moving!

Once you get through all of the speeches, it's nice for the MC to sign off for the night before things get started.  I'm not big on speeches, but a personal little toast can be really nice.  Even if everyone else has short speeches, they can really start to add up in time and people are getting antsy to get back to their booze.  A quick, but meaningful toast works for me - and if you're without a drink, just grab a bottle from the bridesmaids and take a swig.  I did it, it's fine.  Also, avoid the inside jokes if you can.  I know it's tempting because you know for sure you'll get a big laugh out of the bride/groom and maybe a couple other people in the room, but for the most part you'll alienate and bore the majority of the room.  And when people are bored during speeches, they get noisy and restless.

I like to think on my feet and just play off the audience, but you might feel better having things more scripted.  It's all a personal preference thing, and like I said, I don't think anyone goes home at the end of the night talking about the MC.  Although it is nice when people stop you to tell you that you did an awesome job - I do love that feeling.

When in doubt, have a drink or two (but not too much - no one likes a slurry MC) and just be sincere.  You're there because you're important to the couple and they have faith that you can handle it, so just enjoy yourself.

Anyone else have any tips to offer?  I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Treats of the Week - Wedding and Vacation

I'm on vacation this week, so my schedule is all over the place.  Hence my regular Monday post going up at the tail end of a Tuesday.

  • I'm at the grocery store pretty much every other day to get more milk for the little Queen Vivian.  Usually I'm just running in for that one thing, and it always seems like the grocery store is packed full of people who seem to be getting enough groceries to survive the apocalypse or something.  So when a very nice person lets me go ahead of them at the checkout, it's basically the greatest thing ever.  
  • I've been watching a lot of Community lately, and it's taken me a long time to get into it.  At first I just didn't get it, then I could get into it a little bit - but only in small doses.  Now I'm at the point where I'm starting to really appreciate it - especially the episodes where Joel McHale is in his underwear.

  • I've started building up my little Christmas present stash for Vivian - hooray for finding good clearance deals!
  • Scene points are about the greatest thing ever.  It seems like everywhere I look lately is a new promotion for points - you can even score 250 points at Chapters right now if you buy a certain book (Divergent or Insurgent, if you're interested.)
  • Kimberly and Dan's wedding went off without a hitch on the weekend, and I think I did a decent enough job of MCing.  It was a beautiful day for a beautiful couple and I wish them all the happiness in the world.  Also, I went with Option 1.  My logic was that since I was MC, there was the chance that someone who doesn't know me would need to track me down, so I figured that it would be easier for someone to say, "She's the girl in the polka dot dress," instead of "She's the girl in black dress" or whatever.

  • My mom and I took the kids to Santa's Village for a little mini-vacay and it was a great time.  We had an awesome resort to stay at for the night and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves at the park (when they weren't screaming, of course).  I'll do up a full blog post too, but here's Vivian about 4 minutes after we left the parking lot to head for home.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Very Vivian - Dancing Girls

After going to see Blair in her dance recital a few weeks ago, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Vivian being a part of it.  She's been talking about dancing ever since and I really think it will be something that she'll enjoy.  Who knows - the two of them could even end up dancing competitively together one day!  No matter what, it will definitely be cute while it lasts, as this video of them dancing together on the weekend proves.  (And it's different than the one I posted on Instagram, in case you were wondering.)

Yes, they've got the moves.  A real wide range of motion from them both.  So You Think You Can Dance, here we come!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

I can't decide - what should I wear to MC this wedding???

What do you do when you're MCing a wedding in a week and you find not one, not two, but three awesome dresses that all are 60% off?  You buy all three and ask the internet for advice, of course!  I found all three dresses at Maurice's and ended up getting all three for $56.  That's after taxes.  They were such amazing deals, I just couldn't leave one behind.  They all are super comfortable too - too good to pass up!  So let me know what you think I should wear to the wedding - it's not a super formal wedding or anything, so I think any one of them would be just fine.

Option 1 - this was the first dress I grabbed.  What can I say, I'm a sucker for polka dots (note the polka dot sheets in the background).  It's one of those dresses that are close-fitting without being tight, so it shows stuff off but is still comfortable to move around in.  This one rang up at $15.99, and I definitely think it's something I could pull off at work too.

It's been super overcast and rainy every time I went to take pictures, so I did as best as I could and then took a picture of just the dress to help.  It looks a little lighter here than it actually is - it's beige and black.

Option 2 - more of the LBD variety.  This one is closer to a T-shirt kind of material - nice and light and soft. What makes it a little different is the lace panels in the sides that help to nip in your waist.  Although I think that the material sits a little awkwardly on me which is what's creating the weird angles on my hips.  Maybe some Spanx would help to even it out?  This one was also $15.99.

Option 3 - almost the same as the polka dot dress, but with a few differences.  This dress is actually a size bigger than option 1.  I was worried that option 1 was fitting a little too closely, but they didn't have a bigger size in the store, so the salesgirl brought me this one instead.  It's the same colours, but has different pleating and gathering on the bust and at the waist.  The belt on this one is different too - you can't really notice it in the picture except for the buckle, but it's a black belt.  This one was also the most expensive since is was only 50% off.  That is until I noticed a teeny-tiny microscopic tear in one of the seams, then the salesgirl happily declared it to be an additional 10% off.  So this one ended up being $17.99

So there you have it - let me have your votes!  Accessories will probably be minimal on all of them, if you need that information.