Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday's Top Five - Things I Love About Fall

The first thing you'll notice this week, when comparing my post to those of my friends, is that I'm in the minority here. I actually really hate fall.

The problem I have is this: When I think of fall, all it does is remind me that our brief summer is over and another neverending winter is on its way.

Emphasis on the neverending.

To be fair, I don't really like spring either; it's mucky and muddy and wet and brown and just so blegh. But at least the onset of spring means that winter is over and summer's on its way, so you better believe I rejoice and cheer when spring finally arrives.

But with fall? All I see is misery on the horizon.

So just in case there was any doubt, it's true: I'm the biggest Debbie Downer of all my friends. Some may call me a pessimist, but I disagree and merely declare that I'm a realist.

But I suppose I need to dig deep and try to give fall a fair shake without it being sullied by it's ugly step-sister, winter.

I'm not going to lie, though -- it was REALLY HARD for me to come up with the following five items, given that each time I thought of something semi-positive about fall, my mind managed to actually put a negative spin on it.

See, that's the realist in me.


Friday's Top Five - Things I love about fall

5) Milder temperatures

I hate being one of those people who complains about how hot it can be in summer, but of course I do it anyway. Each time the words begin to exit my mouth, though, I try to stop myself because my inner negative-ninny always shouts back, "Don't complain about the heat. In a few weeks it'll be winter!"

And it's true. Winter always feels like it's a few weeks away to me.

But I do have to admit that a crisp but sunny day is just perfect when it comes to being outdoors. It's not so hot that I need to really bundle up, but it's still warm enough that I don't need a sweater when dripping sweat on long walks.

The key to this is sunshine, though. As long as it's still bright and sunny out (with no wind!), then the weather is tolerable, even if it's not 30 above.

Oh, and yes, I am one of those crazies die-hards who will be wearing sandals right up until the first snowfall. And maybe even for a day or two after.


4) Foliage

Okay, there's no denying that it's pretty outside. I do enjoy the crunchy sound of leaves beneath my feet as I walk through the park, and it's fun to see my daughter making a beeline for all those leaves as well.


Don't really have much else to say on the matter, though. I probably could have combined this with point #5 above but, frankly, I'm grasping at straws here. Let's see what else I can come up with......


3) New TV season

Every now and then we manage to change our television channel off of Treehouse or Disney Junior so that we can watch some adult TV again. And by 'adult' I don't mean porn. *snicker* I just mean normal TV like we used to watch not long ago.

Although we rarely get to tune into our programs in real time when they're actually on, we've become quite accustomed to the 'On Demand' function that allows us to watch missed episodes several days, sometimes weeks, after they initially aired.

Watching three new-to-me episodes of Raising Hope all in a row = total sweetness at the end of a long day.



2) Scholastic book orders

I recently had a batch of these Scholastic order forms on my desk at work, and one of my coworkers spotted them and declared, "Book orders! I used to love book orders when I was in school! I haven't seen those in forever!"


And I have to agree: Scholastic book orders are freakin' awesome, and it saddens me that they're only available at my daughter's daycare during fall through to spring.

(But I suppose that's actually a good thing..... you know, in that it gives my addiction some time off during the summer months.)

The beauty of book orders is twofold:

1. The more items we, as parents, purchase from these flyers, the more funding the daycare will receive towards ordering their own new books for the facility. It's win-win.

....and....

2. Flipping through these book orders takes me back to a time in elementary school when I, too, was young and innocent and mesmerized by books insomuch that I'd beg my parents to allow me to order one (or maybe two) of the titles listed.

Don't get me wrong, though. I hated the onset of another miserable school year, but I always loved receiving a packet of Scholastic book orders with our monthly newsletters.


1) Clearance sales

Dang, there have been some great sales on as of late. And I'm not talking about all that back-to-school madness that occurs around this time each year.

I'm instead referring to the end-of-season clearance sales that have allowed me to stock up on additional lawn furniture and gardening utensils for half their regular price, so that I can -- wait for it -- anxiously await the return of summer next year.



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Okay, so it's clear that this post was a real stretch for me and that this leopard is having a hard time changing her spots. But I tried.

For an actual honest-to-goodness read on what it means to love fall, you're much better off paying a visit to Divulge with DaniThe Brooding Woman, and potentially A Piece of Apple instead. 

(But then come back here once garage sale season starts again, because I promise to be back in my element by then.)



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

STEPtember

If you look back at this blog post I posted a year ago, you'll see that sitting for long periods of time really is incredibly bad for our health.

And, given that medical specialists recommend we aim to take 10,000 steps a day, it's pretty shocking to hear that the average office worker only takes about 2000 steps a day.

(I'm assuming this applies to office workers who either drive or are driven to work, instead of those who walk, bike, or take the bus.)

Given that I take the bus each day, I thought for sure I wasn't far off the 10,000 steps mark each day, so I started wearing a pedometer to double check.

And, yeah, the stats don't lie.

In an average work day -- assuming I don't hit the treadmill at lunch -- I reach no where near that 10,000 mark.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Work really does get in the way of life!

(.....Especially when 10 hours of my day is either spent at the office or commuting to-and-from said office......)

On days when I'm at home, it's much easier to accumulate several more steps, especially when answering the call of, "Mommy...!" at least 17,000 times a day. But, unfortunately, that's not usually my reality, so I'm having to make a more conscious effort to walk more each day.


Sharon Mallon, from the CFCW radio Morning Show, often talks about STEPtember, which is a fundraiser she's participating in that is also challenging her to take more steps.

The good news for her is that, given her work hours, she's often done early in the morning and can go home to take a nap for a bit before going for her daily 5 km walk.

Translation: it's not difficult at all for her to reach those 10,000 steps a day.

Which got me thinking.... maybe I, too, should work modified hours each day. I'm thinking a 10-2 work day (while still getting paid for a full day) would better suit my needs and help to create some much-needed harmony.

Yes, actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it would DEFINITELY work out better for the lifestyle I'd like to achieve.

And I'm pretty sure my employer will have no problem with this set up either....... right?!?


Monday, September 23, 2013

Clutter bug

“Organization isn't about perfection; 
it's about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money, and improving your overall quality of life.” 
- Christina Scalise -


Remember when I complained about the pile of clutter that has become my home? Well, yeah, it's still driving me crazy.

The main problem I have is that, sure, I can clean and organize the house so that everything's in its place.... but then, within 24 hours, it seems as though a small hurricane has again passed through that same space, not just undoing my meticulous organizing, but also bringing with it NEW items that add to the disorganization.

This stresses me to no end, yo.


The good news is that I'm not the only one who has this problem, so my friend Bonnie introduced me to The Nesting Place's 31 Days to a Better Dressed Nest in an effort to assist me with some of the bigger challenges I face just walking through the door each day.

You'll see from the link that Day 1 of this challenge is all about giving something away, which both pleases and terrifies me.

The problem I have is this: I tend to form an unhealthy attachment to inanimate objects.

"Aww... I used this text book back in my second year of university when I (briefly) majored in zoology. I don't care that it's outdated and I'll probably never open it again. I have to keep it forever! How can I just toss away these memories?"

That was only a mild exaggeration of the truth. Seriously, this is how my mind works.

The other issue I have with just giving things away is that I often think to myself, why would I give this away when I could potentially sell it and make back some money?

(You know, just in case anyone is looking for a 17-year-old zoology textbook....)

In terms of selling away some of our clutter, I'm too lazy busy to have a garage sale, so posting ads on Kijiji seems to be a better fit for me. The only problems with this is that sales are slow, and it can take months before someone is willing to buy my junk most prized possessions. Which really doesn't help our clutter situation in the short-term.

So, in some cases, it really is best to "just give it away!" (Said in my best George Strait singing voice.)

Usually, when I'm looking to give away some freebies, I'll post on the Edmonton Earthcycle site, in which everything is free. 

If I'm not mistaken, their policy is still that you must first offer away two freebies before posting a request for an item yourself. It's amazing what people will give away, and even more amazing what people will take.

Just this summer I gave away two DVD players that were no longer working -- the gentleman who picked them up said he was going to try to fix them but, if that didn't work, he would just use them for parts.

Getting rid of those two dust-collectors without filling up a landfill was really the best outcome I could have asked for.

Another situation this summer in which I was able to give away some items was to my daughter's daycare. They held a garage sale themselves to help raise money for some new equipment, and many of the parents contributed items to sell. 

(The fact that we ended up buying more items from said garage sale than what we donated is beyond the point and hardly worth mentioning at all. Ahem.)

Anyway, the moral of this story is that, yes, I guess I am capable of de-cluttering our home by giving stuff away..... you know, once I get over that whole 'unhealthy attachment' thing, that is.



Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday's Top Five - Things I Did This Summer

Let's clear something up right off the bat: I did not run a half-marathon this summer, nor did I travel to Disneyland.

Having said that, though, I'm still trying to hold on to every last little memory I have about the past few summer months, even though FALL is merely a week away. 

<Insert loud, agonizing, painful shrieks emanating 
from deep within my core>

Going back to my happy place now, I present to you........


Friday's Top Five - Things I did this summer:

5) Hosted an outdoor BBQ / potluck

You know how, when you're young, you and your friends essentially hang out every day after school or work? And then, as you get older, the gatherings decrease to about once a week? And then monthly? And then you finally reach the point where the only communication you have with the outside world is via Facebook?

Yeah, that's my life.

I'm hugely grateful for the advent of social media as a form of communication, but sometimes you really do just need to hang out with actual people.


It's always been really difficult to schedule a date that works for everyone, given that we all have our own separate obligations to deal with, so you can imagine my shock and surprise when all 9 adults (plus 8 children) accepted the first date we suggested for this potluck.

And it was on the Saturday of a long weekend, no less.

(Gone are the days when everyone scurried off to camp or party somewhere else for the long weekend......)

So, on June 29th, we turned our backyard into a chaotic play area for the children while we chowed down on some delicious food with some great company. There was even a bocce game or two to be had.

What better way to start the summer, right?


4) Took some time off for me

One of my goals for this year was to stop putting myself last and to actually start taking care of myself again. And so I really began achieving this goal in June, sort of.


Let's be clear: I'm pretty sure I'm borderline OCD. I hate clutter, and I genuinely feel that every item in my home should have a permanent place. My husband, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of me, and is more than comfortable residing among the insanity that is our clutter-filled house.

And I just couldn't take it anymore! So I booked three straight weeks off from work in June with the intent of cleaning and organizing our home from top to bottom.

I know you're probably thinking, how is this considered me time? Well, frankly, I was ready to lose my mind and go postal each time I had to step foot in our house, so, for me, cleaning and organizing was actually really therapeutic. I needed it for my sanity.

And I think I pulled it off.... almost.

We ended up having a staffing emergency at work, so I had to return early. Plus, in the middle of my three weeks, we traveled to New York for my sister-in-law's wedding. So, rather than a full three straight weeks to clean our house, I actually only had 6 days. Meh.

But it still felt great! And, though I didn't finish everything I had on my to-do list, I still made a pretty good dent in some rooms.

I hung pictures and floating shelves. I sold some items on Kijiji and completely organized the garage. And I even obliterated the cat-sized dust bunnies that were accumulating beneath our furniture and threatening to take over the world.

It was ugly, yo.

But at least I no longer hurl expletives each time I walk through the door. (Well, for the most part anyway.)


3) Went to the beach... twice!

In a perfect world, we would have an in-ground, Olympic-sized swimming pool in our backyard. Along with a cute pool boy to do all the maintenance, so that my lazy ass doesn't need to be concerned with such matters.

But, alas, my husband is dead-set against us ever getting a pool. And I'm pretty sure that goes for the pool boy, too.

So instead I went to the beach... twice!

Sure, it's an hour's drive away, but it was still heavenly.

The first trip was a girls-only outing, since my husband was out of town anyway. Divulge with Dani and The Brooding Woman joined my daughter and me as we frolicked in the sand and water at Wizard Lake, singing Zac Brown tunes on the way and basking under the hot Alberta sunshine all afternoon. 

It really was a perfect outing, insomuch that I insisted on going back again the following weekend with my mom, daughter, and husband in tote.

Who loves cooling off in the water? THIS GIRL.

The beach at Wizard Lake - one of my new favourite places.


2) Dinosaur adventures

Driving to southern Alberta really is like driving to another planet in some ways. There's no other place in Canada that has landscape akin to the desert-like dinosaur grounds around Drumheller, which is why we try to make this outing every few years.

Finally -- my daughter is no longer deathly terrified of towering dinosaur bones and statues, so this was a fantastic outing for her.

(The first time we visited with her, she was 25 months old and kept saying, "Bye-bye triceratops..." as she ran away crying from the structures around town.)

But now she's three! And fearless! 

(Okay, not really fearless, but she is improving.)

As exhausted as they were, both my mom and daughter managed 
to climb to the top of this bad boy in Drumheller.

The Drumheller outing was such a huge success that we also decided to visit Jurassic Forest, near Gibbons, the next day.

And, since my daughter managed to run around and growl back at all the dinosaurs, I now know that I have a bona fide paleo-nerd on my hands. 

SUH-WEET! 

Summer outings such as these are the best because a) they're fun and educational, and b) they usually keep my daughter entertained enough so that she won't misbehave too much.

And, for that reason alone, these outings were a God-send.

Jurassic Forest 
"Please stay on the path.... unless you want to be eaten."


1) Spent time in the great outdoors

This surprises a lot of people, but I have my degree in Environmental and Conservation Sciences.... which kind of implies that I should like spending time in the great outdoors, right?

And it's actually true - I most definitely DO love being outdoors...... although you certainly wouldn't have known this based on my last few summers prior to this one.

The truth is, by the time I get off work, pick up my daughter, make dinner, prep said daughter for bed, etc.... well, I'm exhausted. I just want to lay on the couch with my feet up and enjoy the cool central air.

But no more!

I needed to go back to doing things that actually make me happy, so I made a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors this summer. Even if that just meant wearing a huge, floppy hat and dousing myself in bug spray as I mowed the lawn.

(True story: My neighbour recently picked the exact moment described above to come over and carry on a conversation with me -- you know, while my face was beat red and I was dripping sweat under an enormously floppy hat while mowing the lawn in the scorching heat. I was horrified.... yet oddly grateful that I had at least remembered to wear a bra that day.)

Ahem.

Anyway, the great outdoors. I love 'em.

We weren't able to go camping anywhere this summer, so we did the next best thing and set up a tent in our backyard. And, yes, my daughter thought that sleeping out there was the coolest thing ever.

Okay, our backyard tent looked nothing like this... but how cool is that?? I now want a trampoline solely for the purpose of converting it into an enormous tent.

The other thing I've been doing outdoors this summer -- and this also ties back to point #4 above -- is going for regular walks through the River Valley again, specifically in Laurier Park. 

Sometimes I go alone, and sometimes I go with my family. Even The Brooding Woman joined us one night when we tackled all the stairs near the Quesnel Bridge and lived to talk about it later. 

(Okay, okay... so my daughter was with us, and we climbed those stairs at the pace of a three year old. But it still counts. Calories were burned, and I was gasping for air the entire time. That's normal, right?)


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So there you have it. I crammed as much as I could into our incredibly short summer. (Can you tell that I'm not looking forward to the advent of fall??) Regardless, it's time to visit Divulge with Dani and The Brooding Woman for some insight into how they, too, spent their summers.

PS - Yes, I remembered to wear a bra today. And, also, you're welcome.

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Update: Another great friend, A Piece of Apple, is joining us this week as well. Go check out her site!




Sunday, September 15, 2013

Regal fundraising

As some of you are already aware, I sell Regal products in my spare time. What many people are surprised to hear about, though, is that Regal has a great fundraising program in place.

I've been involved with a few fundraisers already -- through social clubs, church, and an after-school program -- and they really have been hassle-free for all involved.

The key to having a successful fundraiser is to know your audience. Some fundraisers tend to expect their clientele (read: parents, usually) to purchase high-end and expensive goods from a small list of available items.

But with Regal, you've got an entire catalogue of items available, and it's true in that there really is something for everyone in there.

Customers can order and pay online, and their shipment is delivered right to their door by Canada Post.

Plus, if someone isn't satisfied with their purchase, Regal will offer a full refund.

You can message me for specific details, or you can check out their website directly. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday's Top Five - Songs of Summer 2013

Still trying to get the hang of taking some "me time", I recently began going on some early morning walks, all by my lonesome, along the trails of Edmonton's Laurier Park. They've proven to be not only beautiful but also peaceful and therapeutic.

Except for one thing: the distinctive honking of Canada geese flying south.

Flying south?! Already?!

I feel as though my summer is only just beginning, but I guess those geese are rarely wrong, and the fact that they're making a run for it must mean that summer is officially coming to a close. Even if I am in complete denial about it.


My view this last Saturday morning.


But with the end of summer I can at least look forward to the start of something new again: the return of Friday's Top Five! And this week's installment will -- of course -- still involve the topic of summer.



Friday's Top Five - Songs of Summer 2013:

5) Beneath Your Beautiful - Labrinth, featuring Emeli Sande

The start of summer equates to many things in TV-land, one of which is the return of America's Got Talent. I love this show because a) I can miss several episodes, and it really doesn't matter since I can just start watching at any time, and b) it introduces me to music I otherwise never would have heard elsewhere.

In my sheltered little life, I really only listen to 790 CFCW radio. But in watching America's Got Talent one night, I discovered the magnificence that is Beneath Your Beautiful.

I know this song isn't new. In fact, I believe I first heard it LAST SUMMER on America's Got Talent. But this year they actually had the very talented singers appear live on the show and, luckily for me, it was during an episode for which I was actually tuned in.

Here is the performance that's left me spellbound all summer long.





4) Cows Around - Corb Lund

Remember when I mentioned above that I only listen to 790 CFCW? As in, country-before-it-was-cool type of radio?

Well I'm sure that was never more apparent than when listening to this song.

I think this is my favourite tune from Corb Lund's latest album -- yes, we own the album -- mainly because it's just so much fun. As in, a ridiculous sort of fun that only Corb Lund could make to appear cool.

I admit this song isn't for everyone, but it is for me! Oh, and my daughter also enjoys dancing to it in the kitchen, so why wouldn't I love it??





3) Hope and Gasoline - Beverley Mahood

"I just wanna go somewhere I've never been...." Don't we all need to do that from time to time?

We took a number of short road trips this summer -- to Drumheller, Gibbons, and the beach a few times -- and this song was consistently playing on the radio at some point during each outing.

I love the idea that the highway, along with a little hope and gasoline, is all you need.

(Oh, and Beverley Mahood's wardrobe in this video is pretty sweet, too, so that doesn't hurt either.)

But as the song says, the highway is waiting, and freedom is calling your name..... so what's stopping you from hitting the road for a little escape?

Perfectly fun and simple song that will always take me back to this summer.




2) All Kinds of Kinds - Miranda Lambert

I loved this song the very first time I heard it on the radio.

But then one day I stopped to actually listen to the lyrics, and I was all like what the hell?!

It was silly and odd and confusing to me all at once, but I still loved the tune, despite the fact that I had no clue what the song was trying to be about. So thank goodness for the advent of music videos, otherwise I'd probably still be in the dark with this one.

Judging by the clips below, I suspect what Miranda Lambert is trying to say is that we're all perfect in our imperfections and the world wouldn't be what it is without us. Or some other cliche along those lines.

It's a cool video, and an even cooler song, and it's received enough airplay in our home this year that I'm sure I'll always associate it with the warm weather of 2013.





1) Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker

This is another tune that I fell in love with the first time I heard it across the airwaves.

Sharon Mallon, on CFCW, always comments that this is their feel-good song in the morning, and I'd have to agree.

It's just so fun! And catchy! And it makes me want to get out and enjoy life before this becomes the frozen tundra again!

I know this is an older song with multiple covers, but Darius Rucker's version is my favourite by far. He was blessed with the most perfect male singing voice, in my opinion, and I could listen to him perform this song all day.

Plus, there's an added element of cool to this tune, given that Lady Antebellum sings back-up while the cast of Duck Dynasty also makes an appearance in the video.

Can you imagine how much fun they must have had just filming this?

Definitely a song worth listening to all summer long.




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Okay, that's it for my list. Leave your comments and then head over to Divulge with Dani and The Brooding Woman to read about what they listened to all summer long!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Celeb Tweets

I'm sure many of you heard about Diana Nyad's exploits today, in which she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage.

I think this is both remarkable and crazy.

Given that I've sailed past Cuba a number of times, I know for fact that there's no way on earth I would ever willingly dive into those waters and just swim for land, let alone without any protection from sharks.

Crazy!! 

However, I get it. I totally get why someone might want to challenge themselves and take on an endeavor such as this.

Brad Sherwood, on the other hand, had this to say about Diana Nyad today:

Hrumph. 

I can't say I agree with him at all and, frankly, it irritates me that he can be such a jerk about it and just critisize someone for daring greatly. But meh. It's his Twitter account, and he's entitled to expressing his opinion.

But then later this evening I read something that Robert Patrick posted on Twitter, and it helped restore my faith in celeb tweets again:


Robert Patrick = wicked cool. 

Whether or not you agree with what Nyad accomplished this week isn't really the issue, in my opinion. But how you respond to it paints a much larger picture and is more indicative of your personality and what kind of character you are.

I know that I tend to be really negative in general, so reading something from Robert Patrick in which he's just really enthused and supportive of a total stranger is super cool to me.

What are your thoughts on these tweets? Are you siding with Camp Brad or Camp Robert on this one?