Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Treats of the Week - A Week of Sundays

I don't even know, you guys.  Apparently today is Tuesday?  But this whole week kind of feels like a Sunday.  I love this week - anything goes!  I'm off all week, and I consider it to be entirely acceptable to do and wear whatever you want.  Wanna party on a Tuesday?  Sure!  Wear pajamas all day long?  Socially acceptable!  With so many people on vacation or at least in vacation mode, the standards are considerably lowered.  That being said, I hope you all had a very merry holiday if you were celebrating one!  I certainly did - and can't wait to get some more relaxing in this week!

  • While out doing some last minute shopping I found this adorable set of cards at Chapters.  They were already in the clearance section, but I figured I would go back during Boxing Day sales to see if it was any cheaper.  If anyone sees a set - grab it for me!

  • Christmas morning with Vivian was lovely, as always.  She was kind enough to stay in bed until 8:00 a.m. and woke up with all that wonder and magic one can only experience when they're a kid at Christmas.  She loves her new desk and it fits her just perfectly - it was so cute to see her set it up right away, tucking her new gifts and notebooks in all the drawers.

  • Of course it was baby's first Christmas for little Brodeo - he was such a trooper getting passed around so much.

  • It's been an extremely busy few days with family Christmases and events - including tonight when I got to meet my future sister in law's family.  My brother and his lovely lady, Lizz, got our whole crew together tonight at Palasad.  She's a very welcome addition to the family, and it was so awesome to see that her family is just as sweet and wonderful.
  • The only thing better than ridiculously decadent Christmas dinners?  Leftovers in the fridge - there's some slices of pie with my name on them.
  • I was perfectly spoiled for Christmas with some gift cards, new books, my favourite wine, office supplies, and a cozy new hoodie.  It's such a weird thing when you're an adult - I really don't expect anything for Christmas any more, and am constantly telling my mom she doesn't need to buy for us adult children, but it's always so nice when people think of you and find something special.  
I'm whipped and ready for some Netflix - I think this is post number 997 so we'll see if I break 1000 in 2015 or start off 2016 with the 1000th!  Hope you're all having a treat-filled week.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Everything

Season's Greetings
Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
Happy Hanukkah
Joyous Kwanzaa
Merry Julianuary
Happy Solstice
Have a Cool Yule
Happy Festivus
Happy Thursday Night/Friday Morning

Merry Everything.


Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Very Vivian - Times When I Feel Like a Mom

I'm pretty lucky.  I wanted to be a mom, and I got to be a mom.  Not everyone is as lucky.  The thing is, I rarely feel like an actual adult, let alone one who is responsible for another human being.  I often feel like I'm still just kind of pretending to be a parent, because I certainly don't have it all figured out.  There are those little moments though, the ones where I really feel like I deserve to be called someone's mom.

  • When I raid her piggy bank for change because she needs money for a hot chocolate fundraiser or some other business at school.
  • Opening food in the grocery store to keep her entertained in the cart.
  • Lying to her that a store is closed when I really just don't want to go through the ordeal of going to the store.
  • Tucking her into bed and feeling the little arms hugging me around my neck.
  • Telling her to get back into bed a million times after we do the tuck in routine.
  • When other kids call me "Vivian's mom".
  • Holding her hand in a parking lot.
  • The way she will hug my arm when she's holding my hand.
  • Remembering to bring something with me that she wants, like a certain pen or notebook.
  • Buying two Timbits for her when I grab a coffee.
  • Dropping her off at school and watching her little backpack bobbing along as she walks away.

The day this picture was taken we had to drive back to Old Navy after she left that stuffed Groot toy behind and had a meltdown.  Pulling over, turning around, and searching Old Navy for it definitely made me feel like a mom!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Treats of the Week - STAR WARS

Sure, sure, it's Christmas this week but more importantly J.J. Abrams has gifted us with the wonder that is The Force Awakens.  It's wonderful, truly.  My official spoiler-free review is that it hits enough of the same beats as the original, but it has enough twists to make it feel fresh and new.  It's funny, it's smart, it's exciting, it's sad, it's the Star Wars we all love.  Go see it, for realsies.

I'm nowhere near being ready for Christmas so it's crunch time.  I'm also closing in on my 1000th blog post, which I'm hoping to accomplish by the end of the year, so if I seem to be blogging more frequently that's why!

  • I handed in my last paper of the first semester on Friday.  Basically as soon as I emailed it in to the prof I hit a brick wall and finally accepted that I was sick.  I spent most of the weekend holding the couch down.
  • The lady at the Tim Hortons drive-thru the other day complimented me on my wallet.  I've had this wallet since like 2004 or something and I just can't bear to get rid of it.  It's in rough shape, but I haven't found another one that I like as much.  Having someone else appreciate it was a definite bright spot for me!

  • The fall finale of Last Man on Earth completely broke my heart.  I was seriously on the verge of tears watching it.  I love that show so much - you've got to check it out if you haven't watched it yet.
  • It was Vivian's Christmas concert this week and she was so freaking cute.  It always surprises me when I see her with her classmates - she's so small!  

  • It was my book club dinner on Thursday - always a highlight.  We went to Blu Duby and it was awesome.  I had the lobster mac n' cheese (because obviously) and also had the most badass Caesar salad ever.  I also made a lot of jokes about sausages and girth, because I'm always appropriate in fancy restaurants.

  • I came across this blanket while I was out trying to Christmas shop at lunch (to no avail) and it made me laugh.

  • Me having an entirely normal reaction to the realization that Carrie Fisher's daughter played Chanel #3 on Scream Queens (and also has a cameo in The Force Awakens).

Hope you've got a better handle on Christmas than I do - the pressure is on!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

What's Under the Tree for Notorious V.I.V.

Vivian Xmas

Vivian Xmas by ashliehawkins on Polyvore

True to my procrastinator nature, I'm not done shopping.  In fact, I won't be done until Christmas Eve since I get paid that day.  Such is life.  I am, however, almost done with shopping for Vivian since she's ridiculously easy to shop for.  Here's what she can expect to find under the tree this year.

Her big gift from Santa is a desk.  Right now she has a little plastic vanity deal, and she loves sitting at it with her necklaces and other treasures.  The idea of getting her a real "vanity" made me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit though, so I went with a desk.  I don't have a picture of it, since I still have to pick it up, but it's just a small vintage wooden desk that's been painted a few different shades of blue.  It has lots of drawers for all her special little things, and I'm going to give her an old mirror I have to hang above it.  That way she can still use it as a vanity, but I can relax and consider it a desk.

As for everything else, she has requested three very specific kinds of notebooks - including "a large one with Hello Kitty and her bow on it so I can practice my writing".  No problem there

She keeps saying she wants an "American Girl Room" because she's really into the 18" dolls right now.  Luckily for me, she doesn't know the difference between a real American Girl doll and a knockoff.  I got her this little vanity (the doll can have one), a table and chairs set, and this cool corner set up so she can make a little scene for the dolls.  I totally lucked out on this stuff and scored them all for between 40 and 55% off in a Black Friday sale.

She's also asked for "a little set for horses and dolls" which to me meant more Playmobil.  I got her a set on sale at Chapters months ago, and I came across a larger set at Winners the other day, so I might go back for it. 

Shopkins are still super popular at our house, so I'm sure a few sets will find their way into her stocking.

Last year she got two Goldieblox sets and she really seems to enjoy them.  We play with them often, and she really digs being able to build something herself.  I found her the parade float set on clearance at Chapters months ago for like $10.  In the same vein, I found some Roominate sets.  These are dollhouses you can build yourself and can also wire with real working lights.  They might be a little bit old for her still, but when I found them on that clearance rack, I couldn't resist!  Go STEM skills!

It wouldn't be Christmas without some new books.  Vivian loves Press Here, so I'm going to get her Mix it Up.  If you need a gift for some kids, these books are the best.  They're so simple, but super fun.  Kids lose their minds for them.  Vivian wants to read Press Here all the time.

I'm trying not to go too crazy at Christmas this year, but it's so hard when she's still little and actually wants toys.  It won't be long before her Christmas list is all electronics, so I'm going to enjoy this stage while it lasts.

A Guide to Half-Assed T-Shirt Making

I love making t-shirts.  Even when I was a kid I would often have slogans written down for potential shirts.  I especially loved coming up with my own No Fear shirts, which I assure you was super cool circa 1995 or so.

These days I've branched out from No Fear (although with everything 90s being cool again, maybe there will be a resurgence?) and enjoy making a variety of shirts.  I thought I would throw together a handy little guide in case anyone else wanted to try making their own half-assed shirts.

There are several ways to make your own shirts - first up, the trusty Sharpie method.

The pros?  It's super cheap and easy.  I have a package of those Sharpie Stained markers that are made especially for writing on fabric, but I'm not a huge fan of them.  The points are very fine and almost paint brush like, which makes it difficult for writing.  It would probably be easier if you were trying to draw a more intricate design.  

The cons?  It looks super cheap and easy.  I kind of dug it on my strike shirts though - really added to the whole "Hey look at me, I'm super broke and on strike!" look.  It's also difficult to keep fabric taught - I like putting the lid of a shoebox inside of the shirt and pulling the excess back with binder clips to try and keep it steady.

The newest method I've tried is Hand Painting.  I picked up this fabric spray paint from Walmart but just took the lid off and used small square paint brush.  The paint was about $10 and will last until the end of time at this rate.  I'm not sure how it would work as an actual spray paint since it seems pretty thick and I would think would end up globby.  Who knows.

The pros?  It works well on dark coloured shirts, and I was really happy with the results.  The cons?  It's time consuming.  I did two coats on this shirt, and it really could have used a third.  It also took quite a long time to dry, so keep that in mind.  I just freehanded the letters with this one, but it could work well with a stencil if your hand isn't super steady.

I have ventured away from the DIY methods for the Professional Route.  This dress was printed at T-Shirt Time in White Oaks Mall.  The results are great - it's nice and clear and centered - all things that are a struggle for me.  The cons?  It's pricey.  I bought the dress, and then it cost me another $20 to get the lettering done.  It should have been $25, but they gave me a bit of a deal because they thought what I was getting done was funny.  So it's nice for a one-time thing, but if you like to make as many shirts as I do, it's not the best.

The classic option is the Iron-On Letters.  I love those fuzzy letters.  The pros?  It's pretty quick and easy, as long as you have an iron.  The results are nice and clear and it's pretty easy to get things lined up nice and straight before you start.  The cons?  It's expensive too - most packages of letters seem to be around $8 each, and usually only come with two of each letter, at best.  If you're doing a longer phrase or just like to make shirts frequently, it can start to add up.  You could use those 40% coupons that Michaels always has, but it's still kind of a pain to buy packages one at a time.  Also, I find the letters really start to peel after washing and I usually end up touching things up with glue anyway.

One of my favourite options is the Iron-On Transfer.  You can get sheets of these pretty much anywhere that there are office supplies and print out whatever you want.  The colours end up nice and sharp and you can print pretty well whatever you can imagine.  The pros are that it's easy, relatively cheap, and gives you a lot of flexibility.  The cons is that the sheets basically only work with an inkjet printer.  Laser printers get too hot and melt the sheets.  I've looked online, and apparently there are some laser sheets in existence, but they're hard to come by.  I have a laser printer at home, which is a necessity given how much I print, but I've seriously considered buying a cheap inkjet printer just for t-shirt purposes.

Finally, a more punk rock version is Bleach.  Who hasn't accidentally ruined a shirt by splashing bleach on it?  I used the same idea to make a couple of strike shirts and I actually really dig the way they turned out.  The pros are that it's basically the cheapest option ever.  Just a little bit of bleach and a paint brush and you're ready to go.  The cons are that you have to be really careful not to spill since there's no turning back once you get that bleach on there.  It also doesn't look professional at all, but it all depends on what you're looking for.  In this one the top part looks all messed up because I initially tried metallic Sharpies, but they didn't work well on the black fabric.

That's all the options I've got, guys!  I would love to try some real screenprinting sometime, but for now I keep it quick and dirty.  (That's what she said.)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Treats of the Week - Serenity Now

Even though it's like 13 degrees outside, apparently it's almost Christmas.  If I didn't have a calendar I would still be able to tell because the dockets at work are as crazy as they are every year around this time, Vivian is acting like a lunatic, people are getting on my nerves seemingly constantly and I'm basically screaming "Serenity now!" in my head all day long.

Ah, the holidays.  It's going to be a long week, but at least there's Star Wars to look forward to on Thursday!

  • The weather has been insanely nice lately - nice enough to sleep with the window open and actually get some yard work done (finally!) on the weekend!
  • I finished a paper last week, the one that I was worried about the most.  It was a massive relief to get it written - just one more to do this week and then I get a bit of a break before the second semester.
  • You know how sometimes you're feeling completely broke and aren't entirely sure how you're going to figure things out for the week (ah, the holidays once again) but then you end up with a little bit of money that you weren't expecting that totally saves your ass?  Yeah, that totally happened today.
  • I am loving this bag from Toboggan Brewery in London - all the plaid things!

  • Vivian's birthday this week was great - everything worked out just as it was supposed to.  The kids had a great time at the party, she was completely spoiled, and now we can focus on getting to that Christmas finish line.
  • I had to do a French court in St. Thomas on Friday, and ended up getting into a bit of an argument with an officer.  I'm sorry, but if you're going to call Carrie Fisher "ugly and heavy" I'm going to go off on a bit of a feminist rant.  When I came out to the parking lot I found this lovely little drawing on my car.  Coincidence?  Misogyny at work?  Karma?  Who knows, but it gave me enough of a reason to finally get my car washed. 

  • Serial is back!  I was beyond excited to see it on Thursday morning and can't wait for this week's episode!  I loved the first season - we'll see if season two can measure up. 

  • I started watching Broad City last night and now I basically just want to sit around in bed watching more of it.  
  • I like to wait until after Vivian's birthday to put up the Christmas tree so we got her all set up on Wednesday.  I love my tacky little white tree - this year I decided to go completely crazy and sat stringing six bags of pom poms together to make a garland, because of course I did.  Also, my tree skirt is my vintage Strawberry Shortcake sheet.

Back to work for me - I'm sure I can be productive while watching Broad City in bed, right?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Treats of the Week - Vivian's Birthday Week

I just put a 4 year old to bed, and tomorrow morning I'll be waking up a 5 year old.  It's Vivian's birthday tomorrow and she couldn't be more excited!  It's so much fun to see her get her special day - and it's just going to keep going since her party isn't until Sunday!

  • It was also Vivian's Christmas dance recital this past week - I always love to see her dance, and she always loves when she's allowed to wear makeup. 

  • The dance recital also gave me a chance to get in some more snuggle time with my little nephew Brody.  I finally got to see him with his blue eyes open - only took a month!
  • Netflix has bestowed upon us the Bill Murray Christmas Special.  We have decided the only word to adequately describe it is "inscrutable".

  • Strathroy has really stepped up in the world by opening a Swiss Chalet/Harvey's location!  Take-out Swiss Chalet is one of my favourites - especially in the cold weather.  Bring on that sweet delicious Chalet sauce.
  • The new car is really proving herself as I pushed her to 6 kilometers to empty.  With Foxy, I would just reset the odometer when the gas light went on and keep an eye on how far I'd gone.  My record was 64 kilometers.  With the new car, the gas light goes on around 60 kilometers to empty, so I feel like Foxy has her beat.  I'll have to see if I can get it even lower - I like to live right on the edge.

  • The fact that it's December and I still haven't raked my leaves, but I still have time to conceivably do it since there's no snow is definitely a treat.
  • Kim and Kanye naming their son "Saint" is everything I hoped it would be.
I'm hard at work trying to simultaneously write/avoid writing a paper that's due on Wednesday, but once that's done things should really settle down until the new year.  All I want for Christmas right now is a day in bed watching TV and drinking coffee.  Is that so much to ask?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Shop Local!

I don't know about you, but I try to avoid the mall at Christmas.  I just can't deal with the parking lots and craziness!  I do a lot of shopping online, and this year I've been trying to shop local and check out more of the small businesses we have in London.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to share a list (and map!) of some of my favourite locations.  Get out there and shop local this season, guys!

Uber Cool Stuff - This is my go-to location for weird little gifts.  They've got loads of games, books, housewares, art - you name it.  Also good for stocking stuffers!

Brown & Dickson - The only thing better than getting new books is getting a cool edition of an old book you love.  Brown & Dickson can help you out there - and they've got some beautiful new stationary up for sale too!

House of Wenday - Brown & Dickson's location at the old Novack's building is really starting to fill up with interesting vendors.  House of Wendy has also recently moved in to that location, but you might know her stuff from the Sentimentalist.  I bought a necklace from her last summer and wear it all the time.  I also love her upcycled bags.

Life of Leisure - Also located in the old Novack's Building the Life of Leisure General Store has some killer Hawaiian shirts and I love their "Leisure" sweatshirts.  They also carry Hen and Bear jewellery - another one of my favourites!

The Been Garden - The Been Garden is like two layers of local shopping - not only is it a small local business, but all of their stock is from small local artisans.  I got Vivian a beautiful handmade mermaid blanket and want to go back for a Wooly Maple toque for myself.  It's a great location if you're looking for stuff for kids!

For You Clothing - If you're at The Been Garden then you had might as well swing around to the rear unit for For You Clothing.  It's a pretty tucked away little location, but the clothes are beautiful!

LA Mood - Not only is LA Mood my go-to spot for comics, but they have an amazing month of deals for Christmas!  Check their Facebook page to see the latest specials!

Heroes - Heroes has extended the time with their warehouse sale so if you haven't stopped in yet this is a great time to go digging for treasures!  I also love Heroes for stocking stuffers - Vivian loves blind boxes and they have a great selection!

Yogurt Culture - I first found Yogurt Culture a few weeks ago at the Rag Bag Bazaar and fell in love.  I'm obsessed with their "Old South Old School" shirts and she even offers to custom fit the tee for you if you're a lady who prefers something a little more fitted than the standard boxy tee.  And those handpainted clutches and totes?  To die for.  They don't have a brick and mortar location, but you can catch them today at a pop up sale at Purdy Naturals - another great local shop for the best in natural makeup, lotions, and so much more!

Illbury + Goose - My Christmas list definitely includes a Neighbourhood Toque and one of their Villain Sweaters.  I love their style, and especially love that their clothing is all Canadian designed and produced.  It might cost a little more, but it's incredible quality.  I also love the Vitaly jewellery they carry.

I know it's often a pain in the ass to go out of your way and check out a small business, but it's always worth it!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

New Old Things

I've been spending more and more time in my home office lately, and I am so glad that I have it!  I can't believe there was a time when I'd contemplated turning it into a playroom.  Sorry, Vivian, but I need this room!  It's awesome having a space to throw things that I can't deal with right away, a place for my school work, a place to put things away when I'm tired of looking at them...I feel like everyone just kind of needs a catch all room.  I also love that it's kind of turned into a place for a lot of my thrifting finds - especially since that's where my Wall of Canadiana and Wall of London are!  Here's some of my newish finds - Canadiana and not!

I always seem to come across these souvenir trays and I just can't resist them!

I got this one of Casa Loma and the Expo together at a yard sale, along with the next two items.  I think I paid like $2 for all four pieces.

I mean, it wouldn't be a Wall O Canadiana without some geese, right?

I also got this vintage postcard of the Lake Shore Variety Store in Sarnia.

You would think that there wouldn't be that much London memorabilia floating around out there, but I seem to come across a lot of it!  I found this original signed and numbered print of St. Paul's Cathedral at Value Village for a couple of bucks.

During that same trip I found two more prints in the CFPL Radio Print series to add to the collection - Middlesex College and the County Courthouse.

I also have a bit of a fondness for brass animals - but only when they're kind of unique.  I'm weirdly picky about them.  So far I have a dinosaur, unicorn, pelican, mouse, whale, and now these two little giraffes.

I already have this Walt Disney World ashtray but I couldn't resist grabbing another one!  I just love the painted scenes - and I looked it up on Etsy and some of these are going for as much as $40.  I paid $2 for it.

At the same time that I found that one, I came across this pretty tray.  I like finding things and assuming that they've come from the same home and are still going to live together!

I was really avoiding vintage sheets since I tend to buy a bunch of them and then never quite know what to do with them.  But the other day at Talize I came across a bunch that I just couldn't resist!

These were all together and were too good to pass up.  First up, The Little Mermaid.

Strawberry Shortcake - I found the fitted sheet and the matching flat sheet.

And Cabbage Patch Kids!

I really don't know what to do with them, but I had to have them.  Someone from Australia once contacted me wanting to buy Vivian's vintage Rainbow Bright sheets that I've been using as curtains, so I'm not the only crazy one.  I actually looked these sheets up on Etsy and they're all going for about $20 each.  I paid $4 for each one.  In a perfect world I would learn how to use my sewing machine and would make delightfully twee dresses out of them or something.