Tuesday, June 23, 2015

But In A Strange Way, I Know Somehow We're Doomed

Most people are well-aware of my love for all things Chino Moreno. Ever since the mid-nineties, I've had a borderline (and sometimes not-so-borderline) obsession with the Deftones frontman. In recent years I've calmed down a bit with the Chino-craziness, but I'm still fairly biased and tend to fangirl for whatever he does, even before I've heard it.

While Deftones has always been his main gig, there have been a few other projects over the years. Team Sleep, Palms, etc. They never outshone the Deftones for me, I've mostly been a relatively peripheral fan.

But of them all, Crosses has quickly become my favourite.

Crosses - also known as ††† - has Chino partnering up with Far guitarist Shaun Lopez and Chuck Doom. While it's easy to compare any project Chino does vocals on to Deftones, Crosses are more chilled out and melodic, with ambient and electronic touches. (Or,  to put it simply - they're not the Deftones, and they're still frickin' amazing.)

They first released one song, The Epilogue, back in 2013. That was enough to get me hooked, and the full-length self-titled album does not disappoint. For me, the stand out songs are The Epilogue, Bitches Brew, Telepathy, & This is a Trick, respectively. But the entire album is fantastic, and will have you awkwardly chair-dancing and grooving like an idiot. That, to me, is often the mark of a good band - they pass the chair-dance test.

Even if you're not a Deftones/Chino Moreno fan in general, I still highly recommend giving this album a listen.

It's been an addictive one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Are You Experienced?

Father's Day is coming up, and usually around this time I'm racking my brain trying to think of something for my dad. For someone I'm so similar to, you'd think I'd have no trouble. He's one of the reasons for my musical tastes, my strange humour, and some of my quirky behaviours that don't always make sense to anyone else. We tend to have the same train of thought which, if you know us, is kinda scary.

Ok, it's very scary. But it's a good thing.

You may now kiss the fish. (But you probably shouldn't.)

And yet, even with all that, I tend to have a hard time figuring out gifts for my dad. Whether for Christmas, his birthday, or Father's Day, it always seems impossible to find the right thing. This year my sister and I maybe kinda sorta cheated by giving our parents a joint Mother's Day/Father's Day gift a month back. Hey, it made sense! Parents are always hard to shop for. You know I'm right.

But for you guys? If you're having a tough time, here's something that just might fit the bill for your pops. I'm giving away a $100 LifeExperiences gift card that can be used toward dining, adventure-y trips, pampering, and many other types of experiences - they offer over 500 experiences across Canada.

Studies have shown that experiential gifts bring more happiness than material ones, so this would be perfect for dads. And the best part is that they get to choose which experience they'd like, so you can't go wrong.

 (Although if you choose to keep it for yourself, I won't judge. Really.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you don't win but still dig the idea, LifeExperiences certificates and gift cards can be purchased through their website, with some offers at Shoppers Drug Mart locations. But still - I hope you win. I like the cut of your jib.

G'luck! And Happy (upcoming) Father's Day to my dad, and all of yours!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Wallflower Waltzin', The Locomotive Crawlin'

I used to go overboard with photos.

I took them constantly - of anywhere I went,  anyone I was with. There were always photos.
No caption does this photo justice - NYE '08

We all did this. But I don't anymore. At some point I stopped keeping track of everything for posterity's sake, and I thought that was a good thing. Hey, I'm a grown up - I don't have to take photos of everything anymore! Progress! 

What, you don't hug like that? - Fall 2007
But... I dunno if that's true. Because of things like Timehop and now the daily Facebook Memories, I see all those damn photos I constantly took years ago and I remember some great times with kickass people. And THAT'S  the point.

Remembering, even the most mundane things. 
We mustache you a question. No really, where'd you get that jacket? - 2010

Sometimes it's bittersweet, because so much can change (ok, so everything changes. All of it). But without some of these photos, I just might forget.

I'd forget people who I've lost touch with, specific events that were pretty important at the time, and even just the same ol' people doing the same ol' thing - when you look back at it, it doesn't seem so run-of-the-mill. It's a memory of what we used to do, or who we used to be.

And that's kinda awesome.
Impromptu pine photoshoot at the Powerball - 2009

So I'm going to start making an effort to take more photos, keep more memories.

Be warned. You just might be a part of it.

We dunno, man. We just don't. - Summer 2007

Because years from now, I don't want to look back at 2015 and have no recollection of anything that happened other than my dog being a friggin' weirdo.

I wanna remember that the rest of us were friggin' weirdos, too.

Pizza, naps & peni - Fall 2014

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Left The Lights On So You Stumble In Devotion

A couple of Fridays ago, I went to see The Vagina Monologues for the first time. We were celebrating my Leah's day of birth - a group of women in an audience filled with women. And three men.

It was funny, sad, interesting... all the things you'd likely expect. And as I sat there I kept thinking, "all men should see this". It would be so informative, and even enlightening to any man who cares enough to better understand women. Let's be honest, if The Penis Monologues existed the audience would be full of women, because most of us wanna know things.

Nah, we want to know everything.

May we buy them beer. And sandwiches.
Everyone is so up in arms right now about the changing sex-ed curriculum, but the truth is that a staggering number of people (yes, even adults) don't know important facts about our own bodies and sexuality that should be common knowledge. When I was in school, sex-ed was a joke. Beyond the general "sperm fertilizes the egg", "this is how you spell fallopian" info, we learned nothing to prepare us. From what I've heard, that curriculum is still the same. Yikes. I say bring on the change, & give kids some useful knowledge in a safe space.

But back to my original point - The Vagina Monologues. Right. In the interest of knowledge being power, and acceptance and understanding being pretty damn important (especially these days), it probably isn't a bad start for us all to be open to learning more. And I think that, for men, seeing The Vagina Monologues would be a pretty educational experience. It would likely be the same for a lot of women, as well.

If you're in Niagara and want to check out the same show I saw, they've got only one more showing this Saturday at Corks in Niagara-on-the-Lake, presented by Something Something Productions. Part of each ticket price goes to Women's Place, so you'd be doing some good. (No, this is not a sponsored post - just a friendly, if slightly aggressive, suggestion.)

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to start collecting stories for The Vagina Monologues Two: 2 Breast, 2 Furious.

Friday, April 24, 2015

If I Met You In A Scissor Fight, I'd Cut Off Both Your Wings On Principle Alone

Remember when I mentioned that I was a terrible Niagara-born chick, since I hadn't been to many wineries around here? (What, you don't remember? You can't recite every word of every blog post I've ever written? For shame.) Well, I made it my mission to rectify that. And thanks to Samba Days and our wine tasting & tour giveaway, you can too.

A couple of weeks ago, on Good Friday (which all you normal people get off work), my sister and brother-in-law came down for the long weekend and we decided to finally do the Wine & Tour Experience from Samba Days. We chose Tawse Winery, since none of us had ever been there.

From there , it only made sense to hit more wineries. Of course.

But to start, here's a taste of our Tawse visit and what you can win in this week's wine-tastic giveaway.

While on the tour, you learn a lot of cool things about Tawse - they're biodynamic, organic, and use natural gravity flow.

Lots of awards won here.

Sadly, we were here too early in the year to see the animals. Good excuse to go back in the summer? Probably.

Ask how long I held this pose for. Go ahead, ask.

The barrel room.

Pretty sure I couldn't lift one of those if I tried, but that doesn't mean I didn't consider doing it.

Mmmm. Barrel-y.
Check out the legs on that Merlot.

(It's difficult not to make a terrible leg joke in a wine-related post.)

This map outlines the different wine regions of Niagara.

Since we were in the area, we stopped in at Megalomaniac up the road.

My photos never do anything justice, but the view is pretty cool from up on the escarpment.

Red walls, chandeliers, hats and a place to take silly photos? Sold.

And then, since it was nearby, we stopped in at Vineland Estates Winery as well. Because... well, wine. That's why.

Looks kinda like a church.

Would you believe that Hozier's "Take Me To Church" came on the radio on the way here?

I admit that I know next to nothing about wine. I know what I like when I drink it, and that's about the extent of it. The guy at Vineland Estates was really knowledgable, and he handed me this list to help me out. 

Ah, this wine tastes like tobacco, kerosene, and cherry. Yup.

If I'm being technical, we hit another winery after these three - but it was only to pick up dessert (because 13th Street has some amazing stuff). No wine tasting there this time, but it counts!

After dinner, since it was a Friday night, we kinda maybe sorta had to go to Oast House for a pint.

The Easter Bunny said it was a rule, and I'm not one to mess with over sized demonic rabbits who give me chocolate.

So there ya go. Four wineries and a brewery on a Good Friday. Maybe a great Friday.

But let's get back to why you really bothered scrolling down this overly-photo'd post - the giveaway. Right. So here's the info:
  • The Wine & Tour Experience is a full winery tour for two, a tasting (each tasting is unique to the winery, and some include food pairings) and two bottles of the winery's wine
  • there are over 10 different wineries to choose from
  • for full info, visit the website 
As always, use the Rafflecopter widget below to win yourself some touring, some tasting, and some wine. And don't forget - Mother's Day is coming up. I bet yer mom digs wine.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 10, 2015

Leave Our Rain, A Cold Trade For Warm Sunshine

Last week I promised some upcoming giveaways, and I wouldn't lie to you (well... I probably would, but in this case I'm not). So no one should be surprised that the first of two giveaways is pet-related. Yeah, I like my dog a lot. I mean, I guess she's alright.

This Saturday, April 11th is National Pet Day, and we're celebrating with some awesome swag (I can't make myself use that word) stuff for your live-in animal friends. Piggie Smalls got to try out the items in the giveaway first, just to ensure that it was worthy of your beloved pets. And yes. It's all pig-approved.

Here's what you'll win, all from PetSafe:
  • Busy Buddy® Squirrel Dude™
  • Busy Buddy® Twist 'n Treat™
  • indigo™ Floss Bones™
  • Busy Buddy® Nobbly Nubbly™
  • Pet Loo Portable Dog Toilet

I realize that none of those titles mean anything to you. What, you don't know what a nobbly nubbly is? Come on! But that's why there's pictures.

The toys and treats:

Daisy always digs the PetSafe toys, because they tend to involve treats and some skill. It's a solid way to keep her busy/distracted/out of my fridge.

And the Pet Loo:

If you remember, we had one of these a year ago - it went to someone else before I moved to Niagara, but this is the smaller version which is better for Daisy. Cuz, y'know... she's little. Mostly.

This will be going out on the deck, where she'll either learn to use it properly or decide it's her personal lounge area. Either way, it's great to have.

Does this Pet Loo make my head look big?

So if you love your pet, which you kinda probably should, and you want to win this National Pet Day Giveaway - just use the handy Rafflecopter widget below to enter. C'est facile, non?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And for my non-pet people, next week's giveaway will be less four-legged and more wine-related. Because I care about you. And I care about grapes.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tossed Into My Mind, Stirring The Calm

When I look back to a few years ago, it's strange to see what a content machine I used to be. Blog posts every two days, a constant stream of randomness on Twitter, and everyone on Facebook was regularly updated. It's changed a lot. I've gone a bit mute.
In 2010, things were... different.

In the last while, especially the past few weeks, I've received a lot of messages about it:
"Why did you stop blogging?"
"How come you don't post on Twitter anymore?",
"I don't see you on Facebook much."
"Did you eat my chocolate?! You silly bitch."
"Are you ok?"

Yep, I'm ok. It was never a conscious decision to stop posting so much - truthfully, I will sometimes sit at my desk with the intent to throw some updates at the internets... and then nothing comes to me. I'm boring. "Wow, my daily steel cut oats are still a great breakfast choice!" is not the most exciting of updates. (Even if they are a stellar breakfast choice. Really.)

These days my main concerns are my business, my health, my Piggie Smalls, and my people. I'm always posting constant streams of content for my clients, and I guess my own stuff just had to take a backseat. And I'm ok with that. I'm quite happy to have no life crises to air online, no boy drama, and no pissed-off rants about whatever is currently on my shit list.

However, for those of you that are looking for some shamblin' ramblin' problems to solve, just this once, for old time's sake I'll give you one - her name is Daisy, and she is a jerk.

If you recall years ago, when I moved back to Toronto and started living alone, Daisy's separation anxiety made her freak out and destroy my place every time I left. So I crate-trained her, and all was (kinda) well on that front. Fast forward a few years, and we're living in another new place. She hasn't been as great in her crate here, but it was manageable - until suddenly it wasn't.

Last year's Daisy-shaming for past offences

Now she's decided that chewing up the plastic bottom of the crate and beating it until it breaks is fun, and so is barking and thrashing herself against it. I got a text from my downstairs neighbour at 2:30am on Saturday night while I was out at a bar, letting me know that Daisy was suddenly frantic and barking like she was distressed while banging into her crate. On Sunday I tried twice to crate her and leave, but as I waited downstairs for my ride, she made the craziest noises I've ever heard from her. So I took her out and, for the first time in 4 years, left her alone in my apartment uncrated. It seemed like the less upsetting option.

Well... I suppose it could've gone worse. It has gone worse. But history repeats itself, and my loving little pigdog went into my fridge yet again and left food around my place, along with other minor damage. Oh, the flashbacks. The stress. The ruined food.

So for those of you dog owners that are knowledgeable about four-legged separation anxiety (and insanely smart, wily dogs), what do you suggest? I have a few ideas in mind, but at this point I'll try anything to ease the situation for both me and the pig. So all suggestions are welcome.

(And to make up for my odd absenteeism and boring dog-post, I'll have two - count 'em, two - giveaways for you in the next week or so. Cuz when I apologize, I do it with FREE STUFF. So there.)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Crack A Smile & Wink, It Doesn't Scare Me Away

I've gone back to old drafts of posts that I never bothered finishing - here's one of 'em:

When it comes to dating, I think most normally-functioning people have one or more deal-breakers. These are the things that we simply will not allow, or traits that are must-haves in our potential significant others. So I took to Twitter and Facebook, and asked what your deal-breakers are to see how they compared to my own.

As usual, you guys came through with awesome responses. These are a few of yours.

The Must-Haves:

- Fashion sense (no Christmas sweaters after January, so I'm told. Darn.)
- Follow-through
- Sense of humour
- Chemistry
- Love for animals (mainly dogs were mentioned, but this was the most popular answer.)
- Intelligence
- Passion
- Sense of self (I am Kristen. I sense this.)
- Ambition
- Compassion
- A pulse (is this absolutely necessary?)

The Traits You'd Better Trash:

- Narcissism (does this deal-breaker list make me look fat?)
- Laziness
- Control issues
- Smoking
- Rudeness
- Negativity
- Ditziness (like, oh my god!)
- Selfishness
...and probably my favourite (glad two people brought it up) - treating waitstaff poorly. It says a lot about ya.

I have to admit, I've had a few deal-breakers throughout the years that ended up being, well... broken. Sometimes they just aren't as important as originally thought, especially when you end up dating people you never saw coming. That's usually the case with me.

As it stands now, at 31, my priorities have slightly shifted from those of my twenties and I guess my deal-breakers reflect that. All "growns up" with new priorities, and less bullshit I'm willing to put up with. So here are a few of my own:

- My dog has to like the guy. But since she's never met a person she wasn't batshit crazy about (Daisy is an equal-opportunity people lover), it might be more important that he love Daisy - I couldn't ever date someone who disliked my dog. Best-case scenario is when someone loves my dog nearly as much as I do.

- Must love music. Yeah yeah, everyone loves music. But my ideal dude loves music the way I do, hopefully even likes the same styles I do but can introduce me to new bands, and will be stoked to go to shows with me.

- Honesty, follow-through, and accepting me as I am. I lump all of these into one, because put together they represent something pretty important. They're all linked. In my opinion, there's nothing worse than someone pretending to be something they're not, constantly breaking promises, and/or pretending to like your quirks, until you're too far into the relationship and it becomes a big ol' problem. My motto is: less problems, more pizza.

- To steal from you guys, treating waitstaff poorly is a huge deal-breaker. Hell, treating anyone poorly is a deal-breaker. Guess I could change this one to "don't be an asshole". That'll do.

So there are your deal-breakers, folks. Did I miss any important ones?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When We Went To Where We've Been, Was It Just For Self?

After a breakup a long time ago, I immediately went to my desk and wrote myself a note. It said "I Deserve Better" in large letters. Possibly underlined, but I can't recall. I placed this note under my computer screen so I'd be forced to look at it every day and remind myself that I shouldn't settle for any further crap. Ever.

This is a bit embarrassing to explain publicly, I am well aware of that. In fact, later that same day, my cousin came by and I had forgotten to hide the note. So when she saw it sitting there and said "Yeah, you do deserve better.", I felt pretty stupid. (Luckily, she fully understands my stupid. Embraces it, even. Love me, love the stupid.)

She thinks you deserve better.
So while it is embarrassing, I'm sharing it anyway. Why? Because we all deserve better. Ok, ok, maybe rapists, murderers, slow walkers, and all-around general assholes don't. But I mean you guys. The good folks. The regular people. Everyone doing what they need to, just to live some semblance of a life. You deserve better. The problem is that we tend to put that onus on other people to give us better and to treat us better, simply because "we deserve it". But the truth is, we deserve better from ourselves.

Yep, that's right. You deserve better from your damn self. 

It isn't necessarily up to others to show us the respect we deserve, or to treat us well. Hell... it's preferable that they do, but beyond human decency there's no rule that anyone has to. It's up to us to allow bad behaviour, or walk away from it. That goes for almost everything - jobs, relationships, friendships, even family.

Now, I'm not saying this is a blanket rule. We still often deserve better in the situations that aren't within our control. Like from our government. Or the dude making our pizza. Those are gray areas, you can't always call the shots. But for everything else, you deserve whatever you're willing to put up with.

So now we have the fun task of looking at ourselves and some of the crappy decisions we've made (Me? Shitty decisions? Never.). Are there situations you should be walking away from? Things you blame other people for, that could be irrelevant if you just took yourself out of the equation? If so, do it. Erase those who don't give you respect, close the door on relationships that cause more stress than happiness, & get out of bullshit situations that aren't essential - and do all of this for yourself.

Cuz y'know what? You deserve better. (Yeah, you knew I was gonna say that. You frickin' genuis.)

Also, you deserve pizza. But I suppose that's unrelated.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We Kissed On The Corner, Then Danced Through The Night

Christmas week has arrived. Are ya ready for it?

I've spent the past couple of days baking a stupid amount of goodies for la famille, and I hope everyone digs what I made. I always worry that the things I bake are somehow inedible to everyone but me, and that people eat them out of politeness. (But nah - my family isn't that polite). Apparently my personal spirit of Christmas includes self-conscious baking.

Mmmm, delicious fattening anxiety.

Otherwise, I'm prepped for the fat man. Tree's decorated, decorations are up, presents are wrapped, and Daisy's Christmas sweaters are all ready so she can hate me as per tradition.

And if you need last-minute gifts, don't forget - you can still get an awesome deal on the tasting, tour and bottle packages from Niagara wineries via Samba Days with my promo code. It ends on Christmas, so you might wanna hurry. Because wine.

To all of you, from all of me (yes all of me, even my wonky left elbow), a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and a Joyous...Thursday. The pigdog and I hope you have a great one.

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