Thursday, February 25, 2016

Reasons Why I Love Winter

I take a lot of crap for loving snow.  I mean, a LOT of crap.  Most of the time it is meant in a joking manner (I think), but this is the point in the winter when it starts to grate at me a little bit.  The "STOP SHAKING THE SNOW GLOBE" jabs are funny for a little while. But eventually it starts to feel like when I was the kid getting picked on for bringing egg salad sandwiches to school on my lunch, and when I'd open up my lunch bag, I'd hear kids groaning, "Ewwww whose lunch smells like rotten eggs?!?!"

I love egg salad sandwiches, dammit.  And I love snow too.  And I shouldn't be made to feel guilty for that!!!

A few days ago, a friend of mine - who is also a snow lover, by the way - told me she had an epiphany and realized why she loves snow so much.  While my reasons aren't as deep and meaningful as hers, I thought that maybe if I shared some of my reasons, it might help people understand me and my love for winter a bit more.

Probably not.  But it's worth a shot.  And also, it's a way to mark the first bus cancellation for kids in our area in a million years.  (Happy Snow Day, kids!  Even if it is more of a freezing rain and slush day than snow... lol)

Reasons why I love Winter:

  • The possibility of a Snow Day!  I know.  I don't take a school bus, and I haven't had to take a school bus in a very, very long time.  But there's just something about that excitement of knowing a storm is coming, and getting your hopes up that buses might be cancelled.  They were rare but thrilling days when I was a kid, and I still kind of get caught up in the hype of them.  Yes, even though I have no connection to the school bus world anymore.
  • Actually HAVING a Snow Day.  Getting to stay huddled up inside and hibernating.  Cuddling up on the couch with a blanket, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate, making macaroni-tomato-soup-and-cheez-whiz for lunch (my go-to Snow Day lunch!), peeking out the window at the snow falling gently outside.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this scenario.
  • Being cozy.  I know most people are dreaming of tank tops and flip flops, but I'd much rather be in my over-sized cozy sweaters and long-johns.  They are extremely comfortable and warm and I love being comfy and warm.  I miss my cozy winter clothes when I have to push them to the back of the closet.  Remember that when you're digging out your shorts and tees with glee - I'll be mourning the end of fleece-lined legging and fuzzy sock season.
  • Playing in the snow.  Nothing better than going sliding on a crisp winter day after a fresh snowfall!  I love that exhausted but blissful feeling of coming in afterwards and putting on dry clothes, making a mug of hot chocolate... even just going for a walk in the snow is heaven to me, as long as it's not too cold.  I love the sound of the crunch the snow makes under my boots.  I even love the smell of snow!
  • I love winter scenery, and taking pictures of it, or painting it.  Snow is SO pretty!

  • No bugs.  I admit, I get excited for warmer weather when springtime rolls around, same as everybody else.  But not long after the warmer weather arrives, so do the black flies and mosquitoes.  They make being outside in the nicer weather a total pain in the ass.  I don't have to worry about the suckers during the winter!
  • I actually don't mind shoveling.  In fact, I far prefer it to cutting grass and weeding flower beds. Actually, I really dread cutting grass and weeding flower beds... blech.  I would rather shovel snow any day.
  • I love the sounds of winter.  Truly, I do.  When the rumble of a plow truck going by at 5 am wakes me, I get a little thrill of excitement in my tummy.  I love the thrumming engine of a snowmobile zipping by.  The sounds of skate blades slicing through ice, the whack of sticks and pucks and kids laughing at the outdoor rink.  The whoops and chatter of folks sliding at the church hill.  The wind howling outside while I'm curled up inside.  All are music to my ears!
  • I love winter food.  Soups and chili and pasta sauces... nothing I enjoy more than having a big pot o' something wonderful simmering on my stove!  I miss that during the warm months, when fruit and salads and "something that doesn't require turning the oven on" is more common to eat.
  • I prefer winter sports - even though I don't play them.  Hockey is my favourite sport to watch, but during Olympic years, I can get caught up in almost any winter sport.  Figure skating, downhill skiing and ski jumping, bobsledding, luge, skeleton, snowboarding... I love watching them all and cheering on our country.  Which has me wondering... when is the next Winter Olympics?!? ;)
  • Soup & Sandwich days.  Our church puts on Soup & Sandwich lunches on the 4th Wednesday of the winter months, and I so look forward to those yummy lunches!  They are a special winter treat!
  • CHRISTMAS!!!  Do I even really need to mention this?!  Christmas is my favourite holiday, and of course it falls during winter.  I know it's a little bit sad to admit, but I'm kind of excited that we're already almost two full months into this year...because that means Christmas is now only 10 months away!!!
  • The quieter, slower pace that winter brings with it - at least, for me.  I know that might not be the same for everyone - especially people who have kids in hockey or other winter activities, or people who plow snow - but for me, the winter brings a welcome lull.  I only work three days a week, and even when I am at work, the office is quieter and the pace is slower (the beauty of working for a seasonal business!) I know the beehivey days of frantic pace and activity are just around the corner, and I'll be ready for them when they arrive.  But for now, I'm enjoying the peace. I'm soaking it up and savouring it.  I'm enjoying reading and making puzzles and taking time to do the things I love most.
So there are a few of the reasons why I love winter.  And no, I'm not ready to let it go just yet.  So you guys can go on dreaming of spring and summer.  I won't try to stop you. But let me have my last few weeks of winter, OK?  Let me enjoy my favourite time of the year before it is gone.

And please remember that I am not Elsa.  Just because I love snow doesn't mean I have any control over it.  I can't point my finger and make ice appear.  I can't wave my hand and make snow fall from the sky.  I don't even own a frigging snow globe to shake, for crying out loud.  

I'm just a Canadian kid who loves snow and enjoys it.  Plain & simple.  Leave me be.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Shall I be an artist?

If you've been reading my blog lately, you know that I've really been enjoying my neighbour and friend Shannon Purcell's Paint Nites that she has been hosting in her home studio since last fall.  So much so, that I took some private lessons with her during the month of January and completed a larger project that I am so happy to have hanging in my dining room now.  Paint Nites and painting lessons have brought me great joy, as has practicing my photography, and I have really been embracing my creative side of late.

I have always had a bit of an artistic side.  I loved arts & crafts as a kid, and I always enjoyed art classes in high school and college, but it is a part of me that has been left largely untapped since then.  I always focused more on my writing, and, in my 20's, playing guitar.  Those were my creative "outlets".   Even though I always enjoyed art, I never thought I was very talented, but if I'd worked at it and honed my skill, taught myself some patience and made myself practice, I think it's something I could be good at.  The same as I'd like to learn to decorate cakes, or learn to knit and crochet, or take up quilting.

But, you know.  Life is busy.  There's always so much to do, so many things on the go.  You kind of have to pick and choose your hobbies.  When you work and get involved in community events and such, there's only so much time.  Maybe you even get in a rut and forget that there's other things you COULD be doing.

I think that's what happened to me.

I often thought I'd like to take some painting classes, but it never happened.  I even spoke to Shannon several years ago about how I'd like her to teach me, and she enthusiastically agreed, but it never happened.  I would see works by her and other local artists and have this niggling thought:  "I think I could do that.  I think I could be good at that."  But honestly, I didn't know where to begin.  And like I said, there was always so much going on that I didn't make the time to take her up on her offer to teach me.

Paint Nites have become a popular phenomenon around here, and I kept hearing of people going to them in the city.  It was something I wanted to try, very much so.  So when Shannon announced she was going to give hosting Paint Nites a whirl, I jumped at the opportunity.  I mean, she's RIGHT across the road from me, and it sounded like such a fun, different, and affordable night out.  I couldn't NOT go.  Absolutely no excuse.

That very first Paint Nite back in October, we painted pumpkins, and it was truly a fabulous evening.  I found painting so relaxing and stress-relieving, even though I was a little nervous with it being my first time painting in years.  I also loved the social aspect, enjoying the company of a group of lovely ladies as we chatted and had drinks and snacks, and laughed and cursed our paintings and commiserated over how awful we were.  But Shannon guided us along the way, and taught us so much in such a short time.  She taught us how to fix mistakes, encouraged us to do different things and go outside the box, and shared so much knowledge and love for art with us. Lo and behold, we all left with a piece of art that we were proud to take home and actually hang on the wall.  I loved it, and couldn't wait for the next one.

Since then, I have done several Paint Nites, and been grateful to take home paintings of poppies, Christmas balls, a snowman, and the black-and-white winter fence scene, as well as my bigger 3-part version of the birch trees.  I think the only ones I've missed were the Christmas Angel (which I have plans to do in March), the stack of books, and the painting on glass class that she held.

Some of them have been a struggle - the poppies almost killed me, and are still my least favourite of all my paintings - but overall, each class has been so enjoyable and really has me thinking about taking this hobby up in my own time and home.  Shannon has been encouraging me to buy my own supplies, and last week a friend who is moving and trying to get rid of some of her stuff dropped off an artists easel for me, which I am anxious to put into action.

I'm still not convinced that I can really be great at this.  I'm not sure that I could do it without Shannon's help and guidance.  I'm also not convinced I have the wherewithal to come up with my own idea, and take it from beginning to end.  Becoming an artist will take a financial investment (brushes and paints and other materials don't come cheap), and I'm so worried my paintings will end up like all of my so-called "best selling novels" - half-finished, and abandoned in frustration.

I do that, you know.  I get an idea in my head that I'm going to do something, and then it never happens.  Not just with writing novels.  I bought a jewelry making kit that has been collecting dust in my upstairs junk room for years.  Same with all my scrapbooking supplies.  I think this is why my mom was so hesitant to invest in a nice quality camera for me - she was afraid I'd never use it, or take  the time to learn to use it properly.

The camera is what gives me hope for the painting.  I have loved my camera, and have so enjoyed taking pictures with it and playing around with the features on it.  Some days, when I'm struggling to find something to photograph for my Project 365 Photo Challenge, I hate it, but I know I'll be happy I did it in the end.  I've already amazed myself with some of the shots I've got, and I've so enjoyed doing sessions for a few of my favourite families and friends.

Maybe it will be the same with that artists easel.  I think it's time to go out on that limb and buy my own brushes and paints and a few canvases.  I said this year was going to be about me; about doing what I want to do, and making time for the things I enjoy and love doing.

Maybe this is the year that I will finally become an artist.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday Rambles

I've got a lot on my mind these days it seems, so I'm just going to do some random rambling today, friends!
  • It snowed yesterday.  Like, a lot.  The kind of day I literally dream of, but very rarely get.  You guys know I love snow.  Watching it swirling down all day just filled me with glee.  Even when I went to leave work at 4 pm and had to not only clean 40ish centimeters of snow off my car, as well as have one of the guys help me get out of the parking lot (it had drifted all around and I had to take a few runs at it to get out), you couldn't wipe the smile off my face.  Now, I have to admit, when I got home and saw that the street plow had left a giant ridge of snow in front of my laneway that I knew I couldn't get through, I wasn't overly impressed.  I had to leave my car sitting on the side of the road with 4-way flashers on while I shoveled a path big enough to get through.  But once I was back inside, changed into dry clothes, warm and cozy with my book and a steamy mug of tea, curled up in my favourite chair, I was back in snow heaven.  I really do love the snow... #sorrynotsorry

  • Fallontines Day!  I need to tell you guys about Fallontines Day!  Yes, I must confess, this was one of my favourite V-days ever.  On Friday I baked cookies and muffins, then packaged them up with "Will You Be My Fallontine?" cards and Hersey Kisses for a few of my little buddies.  On Saturday evening, my mom and I ventured out into the deep-freeze (we had a massive cold snap this past weekend), picked up a pizza, and headed to my sister and brother-in-law's so that they could go out for a nice V-day dinner while we watched the kids.  We ate pizza and snacks, watched a movie then some Sens hockey, exchanged Valentines/Fallontines, and had a great evening snuggling in with the kiddos.  On Sunday, we went to church and I handed out my Fallontine treats to my pals there.  Then I hung out with Mom; we watched a movie, had leftover pizza and nachos for supper, and some sweet treats to celebrate too.  When I got home, I settled in with more snacks and watched Fever Pitch, and then the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Valentine's Day Anniversary Special.  Even though I'd seen pretty much all of the moments that comprised the two-hour show, I still laughed my ass off and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It really did make my day.  I hope Jimmy does this for me EVERY Valentines Day!! ;)  Considering it is my least favourite day of the year, I have to say... it was a pretty good day.

  • My sister gifted my mom and I each with Hand Chemistry hand cream for V-day.  I have to admit, I was skeptical, even though Kara loves this stuff.  I have been using The Body Shop's Hemp hand cream for the past few years, and it was the only stuff that worked on my poor ol' dry, chapped, cracked, winter hands.  But I have now been using Hand Chemistry for the past few days, and my hands are softer than they have ever been.  It's also supposed to reduce signs of aging, but I think my hands are still pretty young and plump and non-wrinkly or age-spot-y, so I haven't noticed them looking any "younger".  But just based on softness - I may have been won over!

  • I have a new favourite exercise: Leslie Sansone's Walk At Home programs.  I know, I know... I'm gaining weight like crazy these days, I can't seem to get control of my eating habits, and these programs are definitely a step back in intensity from TurboFire or Les Mills Combat, but I really, really like doing the in-home walking.  I use hand weights some days to drive up the intensity a bit, and I still do 21 Day Fix workouts once or twice a week, but for the most part, I'm doing Walk At Home DVD's and loving it.  Hey, it's better than nothing, right?  At least I'm still getting up early and getting myself moving.  It has been so tempting to fall completely off the wagon and give up working out, but these workouts have saved me from doing that.  I just need to keep plugging away and hope that someday my motivation to eat healthy will return.

  • Monday night, just as I was going to bed, I happened to click on a video that popular local radio host and Sens in-house announcer "Stuntman Stu" Schwartz shared on Facebook.  He had captioned it "I have some news to share with all of you."  Stu has always been one of my favourites - a great community guy, sort of a celebrity in Ottawa, and always popping up with a big smile on his face, a great sense of humour, and championing causes like the No More Bullies campaign and so much more.  I expected a goofy video from him, maybe something about the Sens, or about his radio show on Majic 100, perhaps an announcement about the snow storm that was forcasted, or a confession that he'd already broken his Lenten promise to give up potato chips.  Instead, I was shocked by his emotional announcement that he has been diagnosed with Leukemia, and is now in the fight of his life.  I admit, I was shaken.  I shed a few tears for a man who I don't even know, but yet somehow feels like a good friend or family member.  Stu has said he is going to fight this and that he will beat this.  He plans to keep folks updated as he has begun his stay in hospital and his treatments.  The outpouring of love and support from the people of Ottawa and surrounding areas - from the Ottawa Senators team and management, to his radio family and friends, to the everyday joes who, like me, think of him as a friend or family member - has been truly amazing.  He's got a whole community behind him, and I have no doubt in my mind that the Stuntman will beat this.  Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.  #StuStrong

Happy Snowy Wednesday, gang!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Happy Fallontine's Day!!

Everyone knows I hate V-day.  Always have, and I'm thinking I probably always will.  It's just not a fun day for the single people of the world.  Add to it the fact that it was also the date of my dad's funeral, well... Yeah.  It's a pretty sucky day in my world, of craptastic proportions.

That being said, I always try to make the best of it.  I don't like to wallow in self-pity and sadness.  (Even during a week like this, when I'm really not feeling very joyful.)  First, I remind myself that I am single by choice.  I don't WANT a boyfriend, I LIKE my single life, I ENJOY living alone, and the thoughts of going on a date makes me wanna VOMIT.  And I don't do vomit.

Secondly, I try to make plans to spend time with some of the favourite people in my life.  I've been known to hang out with my ma, have sleepovers with my niece and nephew, visit with friends and their kiddos... whatever I can arrange to fill the day with "love" as much as possible. (Love... bleh.)  And those people have been really good to me in return, always making sure I feel the love from them as well.  (Love...bleh again.)

And thirdly, I plan treats.  Pizza.  Popcorn.  Chips.  Dip.  Candy.  Chocolate.  Diet Pepsi.  Cookies.  Cake.  All the things that make me drool.  And to go along with them, a movie.  Because watching movies is one of my all-time absolute favourite things to do.  If I'm with the kids, I get them to watch one of my old favourites from when I was a kid, or a Disney movie that I love.  If I'm on my own, I usually go for a romantic comedy that makes me smile.

The past few years?  The movie choice has been "Fever Pitch".  

Any of you have seen it know why... Jimmy Fallon.

Jimmy is my fave.  My ultimate crush.  Funny, sweet, genuine, musical, happy-go-lucky, cute... Jimmy is literally the walking embodiment of what I consider the perfect man.  I started watching him over two years ago, during his last few weeks of hosting the Late Show, then moved on with him to the Tonight Show, and I literally never miss an episode.  I love looking up old SNL clips on Youtube to watch him, and. I've also bought almost every movie he's ever appeared in (there aren't many, so it hasn't been hard to build my "collection" haha!)

"Fever Pitch" is definitely my favourite Jimmy movie.  A sweet romantic comedy, the lovely Drew Barrymore co-stars, and it involves baseball, which is one of my favourite sports to watch.  It is the perfect movie for me!  No surprise that it is usually the movie I turn to, to comfort myself with on my least favourite day of the year, right?

Well, this year, folks, it's even better.  When I watched my PVR'd episode of the Tonight Show from Monday night, I found out that this V-day, I'm going to get to double the Fallon Fun.  Because not only will I be watching "Fever Pitch", I will also be watching the two-hour Tonight Show Valentine's Day Special that will be airing Sunday evening at 9 pm.

Two hours of looking back on all the best moments from Jimmy's first two years as host of the Tonight Show.  It's like the V-day gods were looking out for me this year, and decided to hand me my very own little present.

This is seriously going to be the best V-day EVER!!!!!  Because it's officially now known as FALLONTINE'S DAY!!!

So today, I'm wishing you all a wonderful Fallontine's Day weekend with your loved ones.  I hope it is filled with sweet treats and special moments. And if all else fails, I hope you shower yourself with your favourite things.

Happy Fallontine's Day :)

PS - Jimmy is doing this cool thing, where you can send a valentine to your loved one via Jibjab, putting your faces in to the video of Stephen Bishop's song "It Might Be You", as performed on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago.  Of course, I have no one to send one to - DEPRESSING MUCH?? - but I still think it's a cool idea, so I'm sharing with all of you. ;)   Here is the link with the instructions: 

Once again... Happy Fallontine's Day!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Sorry for the lack of posts lately... we'll blame it on the February blahs, k?  Not feeling very bright and shiny these days.  Trying not to get too "down", though, so I'm going with a cheer-myself-up post... looking around to find the things I'm loving this Wednesday:

I'm loving the hostess gift a friend brought to me at Book Club on Friday evening.  Totally unnecessary, but I admit that the beautiful mug and fuzzy socks brightened me right up.  It was as if she climbed into my brain and plucked out two of my very favourite simple little things.  I get great joy out of sipping coffee or hot chocolate out of a cool mug, and putting on colourful fuzzy warm socks.  A perfect wintery gift for me!

I kind of love that I'm alone in a quiet office today.  I'm in a bit of a crank, so I can just sit here and stew and not worry about my cranky mood effecting others. lol  The snow is falling gently, I have Spotify playing quietly, and I'm working through my basket at my own pace with little to no interruptions.  It really is the little things sometimes...

I LOVE that I got to bring home my latest painting project last week!  I had so been enjoying my neighbour/artist/friend Shannon's paint nites that I decided to take some private painting lessons with her.  During the month of January, I was working on a larger 3-part version of the birch tree painting she had been doing with her paint niters.  I specifically needed something to hang in my dining room, and it brought me great pride and joy to finally bring it home and hang it last Friday.  Can't thank Shannon enough for her guidance and patience in helping me complete this project!

That being said... I've missed going to the regular paint nites, so I love that I'm going back this Friday.  Bonus:  this painting looks like it might be my favourite one yet!!  The winter scenes just speak to me!!  I will hopefully have a pic to show you next week.

I think I say this on almost every What I'm Loving Wednesday post, but I really do love Jimmy Fallon, so very much.  He almost always gives me something to smile about, even when I don't really feel like smiling much.

I love this song right now (I chose the lyric video because the actual vid was a little too "sexy time" for the blog lol):

I really loved the Pancake Supper that our local Lions Club put on for our community last night. It was probably the best Pancake Supper I've ever been at, everything was just delicious!  I was joined by my mom, my sister, and my niece and nephew, and we sat and chatted with friends for a long time.  A really nice night out in our little town. :)

I also love that I think I've finally got rid of all the snacks that were lingering around my house all weekend.  I kind of went over-board on snacks for Book Club, and thus hosted a Superbowl Party on Sunday to get rid of some of the extras.  I still had leftovers to bring to work yesterday!  yeesh!!  I have to make this kind of stuff disappear or I'll eat it all myself! lol

I love that last weekend was such a good one spent with family and friends, and this one coming up should be too by the looks of it (althought it's going to be a darned cold one!)  I'm thankful for the people in my life who brighten my spirits.  Just being around them can help me ward of the February blahs.

So...  what are you loving this Wednesday?  Have you been struck by the February blahs too?  What's getting you through?