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.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Recall The Deeds As If They're All Someone Else's Atrocious Stories

The neighbourhood I've lived in for the past 3.5 - 4 years is a pretty safe one. When you're a female living alone in Toronto, the question of safety is usually the first thing people bring up in conversation. But this area has been good to me. For the most part.

As you know I walk Daisy a lot, but we don't always stick to the trails in High Park. I like walking around the neighbourhood streets, because the houses are lovely and some of my neighbours are great. But there's one street in particular I would walk down every single morning without problems, until a couple of years ago. A guy (I won't call him a man, and he's not a boy) started yelling aggressively inappropriate things at me every time I passed by. It became a problem. And he did this to other women as well.



Now, this guy appeared to be slightly mentally challenged in some way. Not severely so, but it was evident at times. Because of this, I didn't know how to deal with his behaviour. So even though he harassed me every single time he saw me, I ignored it. Then one day last year he left the comfort of his front porch and followed me as I walked, yelling "nice ass!" over and over, waiting for a reaction from me. He followed me all the way home.

Honestly, it scared me. So I stopped walking down that street completely. This stupid fear gripped me every time I walked the dog, knowing that I couldn't go my usual route because I was now scared of this guy who lacked normal boundaries. Eventually my inner pep talks did their job (I told myself not to let some creep keep me from going where I wanted; it gave the jerk power he didn't deserve), and every day I started walking further down that street, each step becoming some kind of personal victory over my fear of an asshole. Then one day, I passed his house and beyond. And no one bothered me.

Success! ...but short-lived. As I continued walking my old route down that street again, he started showing up outside. Only now he would sometimes switch up his sexual harassment with a very strange "Good morning, Miss. I like your dog." every once in awhile.

This switch confused me. Are people THAT capable of change?

Nope. They are not. Because the harassment continued, he just hid it behind those odd morning greetings. So, the other day, I heard someone mutter "shake your ass bitch, you're my bitch" at me. The familiar anxiety crept in, and then I heard a loud "Good morning, Miss!". So I said a quick "Morning.", thinking I had somehow misheard the first part. But when I turned to continue walking the dog, he yelled "I love you". And repeated it, over and over, louder and louder.

Well... after years of this shit, and with only a couple of weeks before I move from this area, I'd had enough. So I turned back to him and yelled, loud enough for the whole neighbourhood to hear, "If you say one more goddamn word to me, I'm charging you with harassment - do you understand me?! This bullshit has to stop right now!!"

No reply. Quiet.

I was literally shaking after this, which is silly. Usually I have no trouble telling someone off if they're harassing me or one of my friends. Or harassing anyone, for that matter. But I gave this jerk so much power by ignoring it, avoiding it, and hoping it would just go away. I should have threatened to press charges years ago.



No matter who is saying the inappropriate words or making others uncomfortable, harassment is harassment is harassment. And it is never ok. If there was any point to this overly long-winded tale, let it be that these situations can't be ignored or they fester and worsen.

I'll be honest - I haven't gone back down that street since my outburst. So maybe I've failed myself in a way. But I have started bringing my phone on my walks again - if anything happens, whether from him or someone else who enjoys harassing women, I will call the police now. Because people like this need to learn that we will fight back. It's the only way there's any chance for improvement.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

And I Listen For The Voice Inside My Head. Nothing - I'll Do This One Myself.

Welcome to October.

Yeah yeah, I know it's been October for over a week. Gimme a break.

This particular October (October 2014, for those who have just been brought here via Delorean or Star Trek transporter. Welcome.) is an especially crazy one for me. To start, I've just found a new casa to live in, as well as a new city. I'm moving to Niagara at the end of this month, for multiple reasons. But don't worry, Toronto-folks - I'll be splitting my time between the two cities, so I'll be here all the damn time. You'll still feel my constant presence and think to yourselves, "What the hell? Why is she still here?! Go away, evil she-witch!".

Moving cities surely brings out the best in people.
So yes, the joys of packing up my life and planning a new one are a big part of my October. In addition, I also have two medical procedures coming up that I'm anxious about, as well as a big presentation in front of far too many people to properly cap off this month. Public speaking is something I tend to shy away from, so it's all kinda terrifying. Then, with the move on November 1st, it also means no Halloween. This month properly showcases the worst parts of being an adult. Responsibilities? Blah.

Needless to say, I'm stressed and a bit overwhelmed. So here's where I need your help - I want you, whoever you are, to post your go-to song(s) that always put you in an awesome mood. I don't care what it is, I don't care if you know I'll hate it, I want you to post it. Because this Schlock-tober is going to need a killer "I can do anything, I'm frickin' Wonder Woman (though not for Halloween obviously, because THAT DOES NOT EXIST THIS YEAR)" playlist to keep spirits high while I get shit done.

Ready?? Go!


(P.S. - There's one more day to enter the World Animal Day giveaway, so you should probably go & do that.)

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Am Fuel, You Are Friends. We've Got The Means To Make Amends.

This Saturday October 4th is World Animal Day. Did you know that? Probably not. (I'll be honest - I didn't either, until recently.)

Well, based on my never-ending photos of Daisy alone, you know I'm an animal lover. And so, to properly celebrate World Animal Day by giving back to our amazing pets, I've got a pretty awesome giveaway on behalf of PetSafe Canada.


Great for both dog owners and cat owners, this giveaway pack is valued at over $200 - it includes:

For dogs:
- 6 oz box of indigo Smokehouse Strips
- 18 oz box of indigo Triple Chews
- 6.5 oz Sweet Potato Dental Sauce
- Busy Buddy Jack
- Lickety Stiks in chicken flavour

For cats:
- Frolicat Flik toy
- Funkitty Egg-Cersizer
- 2 Feline Lickety Stiks in s dairy and tuna flavours

And for both cat and dogs:
- Drinkwell Stainless 360 fountain (this is especially useful for those of you with multiple pets.)



Here's how ya win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Good luck, and Happy World Animal Day! Go squish your pets & show 'em some love.


Friday, September 26, 2014

I Bet Given The Chance You'd Eschew The Divine, & Start A Little Business Selling Contacts Online

Last Thursday kicked off my first-ever JFL42 (thanks to a kickass birthday gift from the seester - thanks Steph!). For the uninitiated, JFL42 is a Just For Laughs comedy festival in Toronto, with a group of headlining acts (Amy Schumer, Nick Offerman, Seth Myers, etc) and 42 other comedians performing at venues throughout the city over 10 days.



Do the math. It's a lot of comedy. 


We started on at The Garrison (side note - Oast House beer & tacos go well with stand-up) for Nikki Glaser, then headed to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre to see one of my personal favourites - Tim Minchin.


Excuse the shitty pics - just picture a barefoot, tight-pant-donning, eyelined ginger (oops, sorry - only a ginger can call another ginger "ginger".) being absolutely amazing and hilarious both on the piano and off.


I didn't take photos of any other acts - some didn't allow photography, anyway. But, for your reference, the pic above was the stage at Amy Schumer's show. Gerry Dee was her surprise opener, so that was fun.

Later that night at the Comedy Bar, we saw the New Faces of Comedy - a whole bunch (don't make me count) of Canadian comedians with shorter sets. Some of them were so damn funny, I wouldn't be surprised if they became headliners next year.


This was written in the bathroom stall at the Comedy Bar.

Ladies, it's a comedy bar! Don't cry about the dude, make jokes about the guy's inability to pick his underwear off the floor and/or the 5 hours a day he spends on the phone with his mom. You'll feel better.

Google took out my red-eye - see how creepy I am?

After those shows were Sabrina Jalees, Iliza Schlesinger, Jen Kirkman, Tig Notaro, and Paul F. Tompkins (plus their openers all the New Faces. I'm bad with names, gimme a break.) - all hilarious, and all responsible for potential new stomach muscles. And speaking of laughter, this experience has given me a new theory about the ability to know someone is an asshole based solely on their laugh... but that's a post for another day.

Good times.

Currently, I'm in Niagara for the Grape and Wine festival and am missing out on the final weekend of JFL. Please, send my love to the Broad City girls. I feel like they 'get' me.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'll Be Waiting With A Gun & A Pack of Sandwiches

Every once in awhile, I get into that familiar discussion about "deserted island albums". Y'know, when someone asks you to pick the top 5 (or whichever arbitrary number they choose) albums you would bring along if you were deserted on an island.



For me, it often becomes an argument that looks something like this:

Me: "I can't do it. I can't pick 5."

Excitable Person (henceforth EP): "You HAVE to! Or you'll DIE."

Me: "Pretty sure I won't die in an imaginary situation. And if I was really on a deserted island, then I likely would die due to starvation, dehydration... the albums have nothing to do with it."

EP: "Just pick 5 albums, damn you."

Me: "Ok, um... Zeppelin II, and maybe IV... Deftones' Adrenaline. Wait, wait, Deftones' Diamond Eyes. Wait, no. White Pony? Ugh. Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. A Perfect Circle's Thirteenth Step. Radiohead's... aw crap, can I have ten? I need ten. I haven't even gotten started. No, I need twenty. Twenty albums."

EP: "YOU'RE A TERRIBLE PERSON WHO CAN'T PLAY GAMES PROPERLY!"

Yep, it's true. I can't play that game. I refuse. My cop-out answer is that I would make 5 mixed cd's (yes, compact discs) in preparation for impending desertion on an imaginary island. And really, if I had the foresight to pack specific albums because I knew I was going to crash, I would just not board that plane. I watched all 6 seasons of Lost. I know how it works.

When it comes to choosing favourite albums, songs, or artists, it's like choosing a favourite child. Except that while you're choosing said child, you suddenly remember all the other favourite children you've had over the years and have to add them to the list (man, you've been busy). It can't be done. I am of the opinion that any true music obsessor can't whittle down their favourites to a mere few. Sure, I have some select go-to picks that will always be my favourite, but what about the album I can't stop listening to right now? Or the one I loved most when I was 12, but re-visit every year and play over and over for nostalgia's sake? I would need them all.

But maybe I'm alone in this. Judging by other peoples' reactions when I refuse to play this "what if" game, it's entirely possible that I'm just a stubborn jerk and everyone else is fully capable of answering. So I ask you:

If you were about to be stranded on a deserted island (and somehow knew about it in advance, yet still allowed it to happen because you make bad life decisions. I won't judge.), what 5 albums would you bring?


Friday, September 5, 2014

Say Goodbye, Don't Follow

I've read a lot of articles lately about how women shouldn't use the fake "I have a boyfriend" excuse to politely turn down men we're not interested in. The main reason being that it asks the person we're turning down to respect the man we're with, while not respecting us or our own personal decisions (i.e. - simply not wanting to date this person, whether we're single or not.)

I understand that, and I do agree. I'm honest to a fault, lying isn't really my thing. And yet... I know that sometimes I'll still do it when I need to. There are far too many people we all encounter who don't, and won't, take "no" for a final answer. They see it as a challenge, or an opportunity to change our feeble minds. After all, if we're not already taken by other men, surely we must want THIS random guy, right?

Did Lisa Simpson teach us nothing?

The truth is that while most men respect and understand that sometimes we're just not interested, just as they might not be interested in us, there are still guys (and women too, I'm certain) who get too pushy. And in those cases, it can be much easier to just admit defeat, make up a fake significant other, and move on without being bothered further. Because those situations can escalate quickly.

Case in point - last week I was walking the dog around my neighbourhood. Daisy loves all humans to an annoying degree, so she must stop and wait for each of them to pet her before we can move on. And trust me, her brakes are powerful.

There was a guy sitting on the corner with his bike, and Daisy did her usual "I'm stopping so you can give me attention" routine. This guy went nuts over her (it was a bit much), and then told me that I had pretty hair. He started man-handling the dog and throwing her on his lap. I asked him not to do that, as she has a leg injury. He said, "I'm not hurting her! She loves me." and kept fawning over her, saying strange things. When he asked me if she was my boyfriend's dog, where I lived, if I would let him take my picture (hell no), and if I'd go for a drink with him, I knew it was time to grab the dog and move on.

Well, I tried.

I was polite, I declined and then let him know that Daisy and I needed to keep walking. I called the dog and she started to move away from him, but he grabbed her and held on. "She doesn't want to go, she loves me! You should, too."

Creepy like Michael Cera with a mustache.
I said, "You need to let go of her so she can come with me.", but he wouldn't. He said that he would walk with us so that the dog wouldn't have to leave him. He followed me as I walked, and I asked him not to. Again, being as honest as possible, I told him it made me uncomfortable. So he said, "I'll just walk along with you from the other side of the street and we can still talk and plan our drinks". Y'know, the drinks I had already declined.

When he crossed the street, he asked where I lived again and said it's great that I'm single. Luckily Daisy's creep radar finally kicked in, and she dragged me in the opposite direction. Yup, we ran away.

Moral of this long-winded story? If I hadn't gone the honesty route and just casually mentioned that Daisy belonged to me and my imaginary-yet-super-awesome live-in boyfriend, I could have avoided all of that unnecessary mess and gone about my day. And truthfully, that guy was pretty tame compared to many other stories I could tell. While no one should have to lie about their relationship status in order to make people leave us alone, sometimes it's a necessary evil. And until everyone can take polite rejection in stride, we have to do whatever keeps us safe and un-bothered. For me, that means I'll lie when I need to.

(Although maybe a better lie would be that I'm a killerbitch robot from the future, sent back in time to destroy all men - bet that'd keep them away, too. I'll try it next time.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm A Searchlight Soul They Say, But I Can't See It In The Night

A few Sundays ago (ok, many Sundays ago - major delays are what the cool kids are into, right?), I hit the Soundgarden/ Nine Inch Nails show at Ye Olde Molson Amphitheatre.


My partner in crime for this particular show was my friend Brad, who thankfully sent me all of his pics since mine were absolute garbage.

(Thanks, dude!)


In case you can't tell, we were relegated to the lawns - the majority of good seats went to pre-sale and your ol' pal Kris missed out. But hey, it's alright! The lawn is a party itself anyway. It was a warm, sunny day. We were about to check out two of my favourite bands (one which I've never seen live before).

What was there to complain about?


...and then, not long after Soundgarden took the stage, the black clouds came, the sky opened up, and in came the downpour.


While I'm glad I had some foresight to bring my half-broken (and thus weaponized) umbrella, it didn't do much to protect me from that damn rain. It carried on throughout both sets with no signs of stopping.

And so everyone on the lawn was united - we were one huge puddle of fans.



It was worth it, however.

Having never seen Soundgarden before, I can happily say that their set was fantastic, myothersecretboyfriend Chris Cornell still has one of the best voices in music, and Kim Thayil is cooler than anyone, ever. And while Matt Cameron was not on drums (likely due to Pearl Jam's upcoming tour), Cornell still introduced the drummer as Matt Cameron. So I'm counting it.

Plus they played "Fell on Black Days", so even that asshat rain wasn't enough to ruin the show.


As for Nine Inch Nails? Well, after this concert I heard/read a lot of people saying that it was the best live show they've seen. But since I also saw them in October & obviously blogged about it, I won't bore you with my fangirling and uber-awe of all things Reznor The Ageless and NIN. Needless to say, it was amazing. As expected.

Even in the pouring rain.



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