Thursday 27 November 2014

Thankfulness

I was a month behind in blogging so my post on thankfulness and thanksgiving was a bit delayed. Luckily the North American calendar provides TWO Thanksgiving holidays – so I just pushed it back to American Thanksgiving – despite my having celebrated the holiday in October. Actually this year I celebrated both – a big family holiday in October and then a small-scale one of just mom and I in Buffalo for American Thanksgiving where we had a nice dinner and then went shopping on Black Friday.


I just wanted to express a few things I am thankful for in honor of the season.
I am Thankful for his guy - my hubby! 
I am Thankful that I live where I live - I love Canada!
I am Thankful for my awesome friends 
I am Thankful for my Family! (Paige represents all of them!)
I am Thankful for all my Amazing Travel Opportunities 


Saturday 15 November 2014

30 Things by 30: Archery

Another thing that I added to my 30 things list was trying Archery. I don’t know why I was interested in learning this – it wasn’t due to The Hunger Games unlike the assumption most people make – but it always seemed like something fun to try. Something that I subscribe to is LivingSocial, which is a deal of a day type service and a while back they had an offer for an introduction archery class. It was on for half price and was a two-hour session including the equipment and a lesson. Amanda was over at the time and we decided to go for it. We bought the deal and redeemed it for an upcoming date on a Friday evening.

There was a bit of confusion over the location – my fault for not reading the address correctly – and some drama over transportation, so my parents ended up driving us. The facility was in Markham at a place called Target Pro Archery. When we pulled up both Amanda and I were a little apprehensive – no one was there and it was a non-descript unit with a small sign in the window. We waited outside and about 10 minutes before the lesson was supposed to start the instructor pulled up. We were the first two inside but soon after the rest of the class arrived. They keep the classes small partly due to the size of the space but also to ensure that the students can have detailed instruction.

There were a total of 10 of us in the class with ages ranging from about 13-30. After filling out all the paperwork we were outfitted in security measures – a thumb guard for one hand and a wrist guard for the other. The instructor then went over safety information which was slightly terrifying!  Anyone with long hair had to have it tied back as there have been cases where a hair gets caught in the string/arrow and the force has pulled off hair and/or bits of the scalp. We were also warned not to draw the bow past a point on our faces because it could hit us and leave us with nasty bruises and a split lip (which happened to the instructor on his first try!) or not to dry shoot the bow as it could explode. The overall experience was quite the opposite to our gun range experience in Las Vegas, as I walked into that absolutely terrified but ended up relaxing once we began. With archery I walked in all calm and excited but after the safety speech I spent the entire lesson slightly fearful.

The set-up when we arrived 
Ready to learn but nervous!
The instructor was great – very patient, through and he demonstrated everything to us carefully and in detail. He also came over to us individually to assist us in our shooting. Over the course of two hours we had a chance to shoot about 20+ times. We each had three arrows that we would shoot at our targets, retrieve when it was safe and then start over once again. About halfway through we were given something to put on the bottom of the bow – the technical name of which escapes me – it screwed in and added a bit of extra weight to it. I believe that it stabilized it or something but truthfully I didn’t notice much of a difference.

My arrows wouldn’t shoot straight – instead they kept veering to the right and hitting Amanda’s targets. The instructor said it was due to the fact I was pulling my face away before letting go. Seriously? After the safety talk I didn’t want that thing anywhere near my face! Something scary happened at one point as something went wrong with my bow. The arrow didn’t fire and the string sort of snapped a bit (it didn't break). Neither the instructor or I knew what happened but he was able to fix it and said I was lucky it was only a 14 pound bow – anything larger and it could have been dangerous. I think he string may have gotten twisted – but again I am not sure – and not knowing made me even more cautious for the rest of the lesson.

Amanda shooting 
Adding the targets - which I couldn't hit. I kept hitting the far right in the black. 
Overall both Amanda and I enjoyed Archery and it’s something that I would definitely do again. I liked the place and the instructor was great so I would recommend Target Pro Archery to anyone looking to learn.An amusing note to end on; recently Brian asked me what was up with all these new things I am trying - the gun range, the archery lesson and eventually axe throwing (which is also on the list). My response – “I am getting prepared for the zombie apocalypse!” Not really the real reason, but a fun one nonetheless! 

Honestly, these are just sports/things have I have been interested in trying but always been a bit fearful to. I am thrilled to finally be doing them and have been enjoying the experience! 

Monday 10 November 2014

30 Things by 30 - Psychic Reading

While I am open to the unknown and unseen – i.e. Rolling Hills Asylum experience – I am leery of psychics. I have trouble understanding how they work. Like they are able to “read” anyone who comes to them but can’t “read” the lottery numbers or future world events. Plus it’s easy to get a read on people generally by paying attention to the small details – their demeanour, possible wedding rings, how they are dressed, etc. If you have ever seen the BBC version of Sherlock or the show Elementary they are examples of that deduction taken to the extreme. So the idea that someone can look at me and suddenly know things from the “beyond” is something I have trouble buying into. But, I have heard of some amazing psychic’s – ones who help solve crimes or mediums that have a positive impact on a person’s life so I haven’t ruled them out yet!

I have had two previous experiences with psychics – one through my mother when I was in high school and a second, when I was about 22 in Atlantic City. The first occurred when my mom went to a psychic party her friend was throwing. Mom was told that I would be upsetting the family and getting pregnant at 16 and my friend Drew’s mom was told that he would be getting a girl pregnant around that age. So here we are 13 years later, and I am happily married with NO kids and Drew is going on 11 years with his partner Matt. So yeah – that didn’t pan out the way it was “supposed” to. Everything else mom was told was wrong too. I saw my own psychic for the first time in Atlantic City along the boardwalk. Again – nothing she said was accurate either. So I was at a point where I had high doubts about the power of psychics and wasn’t interested in wasting my money. 

I remained this way for a while until Amanda kept trying to get me to see one downtown that she said was amazing. I said sure I would give her a try but I never got around to it. Then she found one in Oshawa that was “incredible” and told me about her session where the woman knew things she couldn’t possibly know. The woman knew about a guy we went to school with that had committed suicide and details of an exchange Amanda had had with him, along with a bunch of other facts about her life and even family members that Amanda had limited memories of (things her mom later confirmed).

Since this list is about being open to new things I decided to give this woman a try. When booking my appointment online I saw that she asked for the following – first and last name, phone number and email address. Right then my skepticism was back. In 2014 it is so easy to find information about people online. For example (and I did this as proof) I took Amanda’s full name and the company she worked for (it was in the email address she uses) and used Google. From LinkedIn I found out what city Amanda lived in. Then I Googled her name and that city and found what year she graduated in and the schools she went to (through old sports articles). From that I looked up the high school and found something about the death of the student from our high school. I also learned what company she worked for/her job, her age and some interests – again the sports articles. After that I was convinced that based on my Google skills I could have a new career as a psychic!

At that point I was set on not giving up anything before my session. So I used only my first name and last initial and used my mom’s email address and phone number – after checking to ensure nothing came up on them if I searched them in Google. This way no recon could be done on me before my session if indeed this woman worked that way. I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but that was hard to do based on skepticism. 

My appointment was at 10:00am on a Wednesday and I showed up right on time. She used a room in a hair salon as her office – something that makes sense if you think of all the crazies out there. I have always wondered about how the home-based psychic’s manage with people being able to show up at all hours of the nights for emergency readings. She introduced herself and was very warm and welcoming – making me feel a little guilty for not giving her the benefit of the doubt! She asked a few questions such as my birthday (for my sign and something else astrological) and if there were any areas that I wanted to focus on. She did ask if I was in a relationship and seemed surprised when I said I was married – likely that being due to my looking a lot younger then I am. She was very through and provided a tape of the session. It was a bit strange as that she never looked at me – instead her focus was to the side of me – something she explained was part of how the process worked.

Here is a recap of some of the things I learned –

  • I am going to have three kids – possibly in the order of girl, boy and then a bit of a gap and another girl (the order can change) and the way she sees it now is that the last girl is a “take no crap from anyone” type who is into sports and often fights battles for her brother. (Chantal’s Thoughts: Interesting and something only time will tell – however I wonder if the “you are going to have kids” bit is due to my being married. It’s the natural progression. Like with Amanda who is single it was “you are going to find someone soon”. If someone in a relationship went it would likely be “you will be married soon” and for me the likely focus would then be (as it was) you are going to have kids soon. Something to ponder… ). 
  • My daughter is ready to be born –  apparently she’s been ready to come into my life for awhile and is ready as soon as we are. (Chantal’s Thoughts: again with the natural progression thing. She asked how long we had been married, so knowing it has been 4 years that is a likely conclusion to come to that soon they would be thinking about kids – so this seems to go along with deduction).
  • I am going to get a teaching job for next September, I am going to Europe in August and should be having above mentioned child in the fall. (Chantal’s Thoughts – that’s an awful lot happening in the same timeframe! First, I couldn’t travel in August if I was due in the fall. Also, who would hire a 7-8 month pregnant women for a teaching job? I think this timing is way off. Now, I was in Europe last August – so maybe she was seeing that?)

  • I need to focus on the idea of the right time. For example – no longer say there are not any teaching jobs, but rather the “right one will come at the right time”. (Chantal’s Thoughts – pretty smart concept actually. It’s about being positive and looking at things in a different way – something we all could use once in awhile!) 
  • I am going to write children’s books. My experiences as a mother and teacher will lead me down a path where I write children’s books and find some success as a writer but never give up teaching. In fact, she saw me around 50 organizing a school play. (Chantal’s Thoughts – a little creepy! I have always loved writing and that along with acting were my two unlikely career goals. So its odd that two of my interests that she had no way of knowing about were mentioned).
  • I was a famous astrologer in a previous life and died in a plane crash in a previous life – possibly during the war. (Chantal’s Thoughts: I have always been interested in astrology and have always been afraid of flying… interesting!)
  • I have a young girl who follows me around – she asked me if I knew someone who died but I don’t. But this girl is always with me – sort of like a spirit guide. (Chantal’s Thoughts: A little creepy but reassuring. It made me – and Nanny when I told her – think about Daisy and Nora, spirits of a mother and young daughter that we used to contact a lot on the Oujia board).
  • There is someone close to me that passed away recently – an older man in his 60’s looking out for me. (Chantal’s Thoughts: this is another deduction thing. We have all lost someone so it’s easy to assume that I would know someone who fits this. The first person who came to mind would be Brian’s father – but again, it’s easy to jump to that once the idea has been planted).
  • I am going to see Australia or New Zealand in a few years, and will have a child with me. (Chantal’s Thoughts: Unlikely that I would travel 20+ hours with a child, but time will tell!)
  • I have someone in my life who always brings me down and is very draining (Chantal’s Thoughts: don’t we all? But the advice she gave of looking at them with a mirror around them so the negative energy doesn’t hit me but instead is redirected back to them makes sense. She also described this person perfectly which was surprising).
  • Brian and I will eventually move out of my parents and have our own home. Brian will go back to school and finish and end in a career he wants/enjoys. (Chantal’s Thoughts: Lets hope so… also no timeline here so time will tell).
  • Money is going to come to us – possibly around $5000.00 and its through nothing bad – i.e not through a death. (Chantal’s Thoughts: That would be nice! The calendar lottery I am entered in ends soon but the daily prize is $5000.00).
  • I am going to take a trip someplace warm in the early new year and will win an all inclusive trip within the next year. (Chantal’s Thoughts: I am going away in January (that’s a little eerie) and let’s hope I win a trip!)
  • Mom, Brian and I are going on a huge health kick come January (Chantal’s Thoughts: don’t a lot of people do this? Plus, maybe mom and I – the Brian part is unlikely).
  • Someone close to me was going in for some sort of test related to their left breast and everything would be fine. (Chantal’s Thoughts: this was probably the creepiest thing as my mom was going in for her breast ultrasound due to having had cancer 5 years ago and everything is fine.)

She also gave me a “spell” of sorts to use in order to make people get along better – but a picture of them together in a jar and cover it with honey and some insights into myself – I worry too much, I am creative and should try to express that more, my father only interferes in my life because he wants the best for us, I take on other peoples problems and I need to focus on what I want and go for it. She also gave a read on Brain based on his sun sign that he is a silly/goofy guy that has layers – only some people see the real him, everyone else sees the serious fa├žade he presents. A lot of that is all true, but is that again based on deduction? Or something she knows from her "powers"?

Overall it was an interesting experience and the woman was very likable. I found some of it interesting and a bit eerie but other parts left me skeptical. I am happy I went but still don’t know how much stock I put into psychics. I suppose time will tell – if a lot of what she says relating to my future occurs maybe it is all true. Then again, life paths can change based on every decision we made (she told me this – and so has every time travel type movie I've seen) and there is always the power of the idea. Perhaps I will someday be a writer or travel with a child to the other side of the world because the idea was put in place?  


I guess despite it all – my doubts and my beliefs – I am still unsure about it all. I am not completely open to it but also not closed either. Perhaps I will go back in another year and see what has changed. Again, only time will tell.  

Monday 3 November 2014

Wicked & Book of Mormon

Wicked 

Ever since seeing Wicked on Broadway while in NYC with mom back in 2006, it has been my second favorite musical (the first remaining Phantom of the Opera). I have been fortunate enough to see it performed two other times – with Brian in Toronto and more recently with a Brian, Nanny, Connor, Paige and Amanda. S. When I heard it was coming back to Toronto I knew it would be a great play to take Connor and Paige too and knowing how much Amanda. S and Nanny like musicals I figured we could make it a group thing.  As soon as tickets were on sale I booked us in for a Sunday afternoon performance. It was being done at the Ed Mirvish Theatre which is one of my favorite places – I love the beautiful rounded staircase and all the stunning gold accents. The whole atmosphere just makes me happy! Nanny was telling us about the time it was a movie house and some of her memories of the place. Toronto may not be as old as the places I've visited in Europe but it still has it's own great history. 



We took the train downtown and then a taxi to the theater. It was a fun experience going not only with Connor and Paige, but also as a group. All of us loved the show and it was just as great as I remembered it to be. Brian and I were the only ones who had seem it before but that didn’t negatively impact our enjoyment – if anything it added to it. I did have to explain some backstory to Nanny at intermission as she had never seen “The Wizard of Oz” (that fact shocked me! While it’s a movie I detest it’s one of those classics everyone has seen, or at least I thought). I think one of the reasons I enjoy the play so much is because I never liked the movie and this offers a different spin on everything. 

I have always loved the theatre – plays, musicals, anything really – and there have been only a handful I haven’t enjoyed. But I did find this one really special as I loved seeing the excitement on Paige face as she watched it. She was totally engrossed in the performance and when we talked about it at intermission (while waiting in the 20+ minute bathroom line) and afterward on the train ride home it was clear how much she loved every second of it. My love of theatre came from Nanny (its not something mom really enjoys) so its awesome that Paige shares that love with us!


Our cell phone tech support!


Book of Mormon

I had also seen Book of Mormon a few years back but when Nanny expressed interest in seeing it, I was up for going again. After we booked the tickets Brian was surprised I was seeing it with her. “You’re really going to watch that with your grandmother?” was his response. I was confused, because while there were some inappropriate aspects to the show, I didn’t recall it being that bad. Apparently my memory wasn’t as clear as his! Book of Mormon is written by the guys who created South Park and is a hilarious look into a Mormon mission to Africa that goes awry.  


There is much more swearing and adult-oriented behavior then I recalled. Thankfully Nanny found it funny and enjoyed the show! I am super lucky to have the grandmother I do – I doubt there are many 78 year olds who would see a show like that with their granddaughter and walk away having enjoyed it!  

Something else I love about live theatre is how two shows are never the same. There is always changes - mostly small - in staging, costume, and even minor ones with the characters - actions, their line delivery etc. I remember a professor who used to say that and I never understood what he meant until I saw a performance of "Les Mis" in London that went all wrong. The power went off at one point, someone forgot their lines and then later the show had to stop again because one of the leads was sick and the understudy needed to get changed. It was then that I fully understood what he had meant - there is the beauty in a live show that just isn't there in a taped version. 

I would have to say that this performance of was better then the one I saw previously - the two leads were amazing. The one who plays the screw-up character, reminded me exactly of the actor Josh Gad who originated the role on Broadway. He made the show and I was surprised to read that he was new to the theatre and that this was his first role. Mirvish may be somewhat expensive but every time I go I am reminded of how worth it the price ends up being. From their incredible theatres to their awesome props, costumes and actors, it makes for a wonderful experience.  

Saturday 1 November 2014

Halloween

I love Halloween. It isn’t my favorite holiday (that would be Christmas) but Halloween is definitely a super fun occasion in our family. The tradition started about 12 years ago when Connor was a toddler and all of us (Mom, Nanny, Pappy and I) would head out to Honey and Beau's house to see him dressed up in something adorable. Soon Paige was born and over the years Halloween kept getting bigger and bigger. Most of us would dress up, Honey would make something yummy and we would have a fun night together. I have always loved Halloween and even when I was growing up my grandparents were really into it. Every October 31st they would drop by to visit us dressed up in costume so it's great that we are getting to carry on the tradition with Connor and Paige!

This year was Connor’s first time not going out but there were enough costumes amongst the adults! Paige was Cleopatra (Katy Perry’s Cleopatra), Nanny was a nun, Pappy a creepy monkey, Mom a Clown, and me a witch. Amanda and Liv dropped by later in the night and were a gorilla and teletubby.  Dad, Brian, Beau, Owen, Connor and Honey were all themselves. I bought my costume at a Halloween store and was happy with how it turned out. The one thing I did learn was not to use temporary hair dye as the purple I used didn't fully wash out for weeks! 








I decided to get in the Halloween spirit through baking (evil Pinterest!) and made a bunch of spooky food items! There were graveyard cupcakes (worms and dirt with skeletons), a mummified baked brie, a Halloween trail mix, and Halloween bark.

For the cupcakes – I just made a batch normally (with Halloween cupcake wrappers) and once they had cooled I iced the top with store bought frosting (sorry cake decorating teachers - I cheated!). Then I dipped the tops in Oreo cookie crumbs, topped them with a gummy worm and then the skeleton candy pieces. Viola – an easy and spooky treat!


The brie was a bit harder – I took a brie wheel and put it in the middle of a puff pastry circle using a few generous tablespoons of raspberry jam to hold it in place.  Then using strips of the pastry I wrapped the brie wheels like a mummy, and then added pecans for eyes. I baked it at 400 for about 20 minutes until the pastry browned and the cheese was melted. I served it with pieces of French bread and crackers. Super delicious!  


The trail mix was my own creation – I used the left over candy from the bark (candy corn, chocolate pretzels, kit kat bars, sour rings and m&m’s) and mixed them in with some popcorn. It was addicting! I also served it in a cauldron which was pretty fun! :) The whole night everyone kept heading to this bowl to grab handfuls - myself included. I love that it's easily adaptable to other holidays just by changing up the candy and chocolate options. I know I will be making this again. 


The bark was probably my least favorite. While it looked great it was super sweet and hardly got touched. It involved melting 3 cups of chocolate chips and spreading them out on parchment paper. Then topping it with an assortment of candy and refrigerating for a 3+ hours. I would try this again, but will do some research on ways to cut the sweetness down a bit.



Here are a few group photos of Halloweens past!