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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sing Us A Song, A Song To Keep Us Warm

When I lived in Toronto, every time someone new found out that I was originally from St. Catharines, a lot of them would ask about the wine. Most people who visit or live in Niagara tend to check out the wineries, after all. And so I've always felt like a bad little Niagaran chick, having never been on a single wine tour/tasting in all the years I lived here.

I promised myself I'd change that ASAP, and visit every damn winery in the region - so far that list has stalled at a whopping... one. One winery. Gee, I'd better slow down.

But there's a point to this, I promise you. And the point is this - wine is awesome. Wineries are awesome. And visiting awesome wineries with awesome wine can only be whatever word is better than awesome. And that's why I'll be visiting them all eventually, why you should too, and why you should take advantage of a killer promo you can only find here on le blog.

From today until Christmas, Shambled Ramblings readers 'n lurkers have access to an exclusive deal thanks to our favourite friends at Samba Days:

  •  using the promo code 2WINE99 you can get two Wine & Tour packages for only $99+tax (they're usually $59+tax each)
  • each Wine & Tour 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
  • each package is good for two people (tours & tastings for two), so this promo gives you FOUR of 'em, plus the bottles mentioned above, for only 99 bucks
  • there are over 10 different wineries to choose from
  • for full info, visit the website 
This could be you, I hope you guys own tank tops.
So there ya have it, I'm trying to make your Christmas shopping a little easier. You can take care of four people on your list (mom and dad, aunt and uncle, creepy neighbour and his loud wife) all at once. Or, of course, give one package away as a gift and keep one for yourself! You deserve a present, you're a fairly nice person on occasion.

This is an online promo only, but you can always get the packages full price at Shoppers Drug Mart as well. And for the box itself, there is a shipping charge, but if you order the eCertificates instead, they are free and instant. That means cheaper wine, sooner.

Remember, this promo is only until Christmas - and if any of you need someone to be your wine tour +1, you know where to find me. (Online. The answer is online.)

Happy wine-smas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When You First Took My Hand On A Cold Christmas Eve, You Promised Me Broadway Was Waiting For Me

Somehow it's already December 4th, and I'm not sure how that happened. Wasn't yesterday July? Did somebody drug me and erase my memories of the past few months? Yeah, that's plausible. We'll go with that.

So since it's December, the holiday season is in full swing. Christmas tunes are everywhere, regular TV has been replaced with Christmas specials, and streets are all lit up and twinkly (and some of you are also pretty lit up and twinkly - 'tis the season and all that). I'm looking forward to decorating the new place for Christmas, even though I haven't even decorated it in general yet. Meh, I don't need your judgement. I like Christmas.

The hatred. Can ya feel it?

My Christmas usually includes putting ears or Santa outfits on Daisy and making her absolutely miserable - it's fun for me, terrifying for her. I make it up to her with treats and toys in an attempt to bribe her into liking me again.

With that in mind, so you can make up for the torture you'll no doubt be putting your own pets through, we've got a giveaway to get yourself back in their good graces.

The PetSafe Holiday Stocking Stuffer Giveaway includes:

Likety Stiks - all-natural, low-calorie treats in a handy, no-mess dispenser.

Busy Buddy Jack - a durable nylon and rubber treat-dispensing toy challenges your dog to figure out how to get the delicious natural rawhide treat. Daisy digs hers.

Egg-cercizer Cat Toy -  make playtime more fun or help your cat stay in shape. Adjust the dispensing holes to slow down cats who eat too fast and encourage exercise.

Indigo Triple Chews - delicious, long-lasting chewable treats that are made with a recipe fortified with healthy ingredients.My pigdog is absolutely nuts for these.

FroliCat Bolt -  an interactive laser toy that projects a laser pattern allowing your pet pounce, chase across the floor, up the walls, and over furniture.

All you have to do is enter via the RaffleCopter widget below, and you're in the draw to potentially win back your pet's love. Can treats and toys make up for the crap we put them through for our own amusement? I sure like to think so.

The contest is only open to residents of Canada. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Everything I Love Is On The Table, Everything I Love Is Out To Sea

It's been awhile.

As I mentioned in my one of my last posts, however long ago that was, I had been preparing for a crazy busy October. And since I moved cities, the crazy busy October turned into a crazy busy November... and here we are. Hi.

So I'm in Niagara, attempting to get settled and organized to live a somewhat double life between here and Trawnna. I tend to forget how nuts it can be, changing cities. Daisy and I are getting used to the new 'hood and the new digs, but of course my anxiety-ridden little piglet isn't quite ready for me leave her alone so I can actually go out and get stuff done. I forgot what a pain in the butt that can be.

Baby steps. She's getting better.

Since I moved back, the number one question I've been asked is "is it weird/hard moving back?" Weird yes, hard... less than I thought it would be. I remember in 2010 when I had no choice but to move back here for awhile, it felt like a huge step backward. But this time it's a step forward, just in a slightly different direction. It's my way of getting the best of everything, including the things I need. For work, for my personal life, and especially for my health problems, I need both cities. So I made it somewhat easier.

This place isn't the same as when I left it, so I'll have to re-acquaint myself. I dunno these newfangled bars and restaurants, and I can't even remember which streets are which. And I hate to say it, but I almost kinda sorta oddly miss the TTC. Insane, right? But being car-less in Niagara is strange. It's tough without Marcellus Wallace (my old car).

So in learning all the new junk in my old hometown, I'm hoping to see lots of familiar faces real soon. (Even if some of you have never seen me with dark hair, though it's been over 5 years since I was blonde. Time, she flies.) Show me the ways of your local people, and I will offer friendship and secret ancient stain-removal tips.

And as for you, Toronto? I'll see ya tomorrow.

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