Culture

Oooh, boy! It’s been almost a year since I wrote a “What I Read” post and I am hyped to be here! Don’t y’all want to hear about all the books I read… erhm… two months ago? (Don’t judge me! I was planning to write this in November and I took all the pictures. Then November was crazy but… I took all the pictures!)

With this relaunch, I want to keep my book posts shorter and sweeter. And also with less of my truly atrocious book photography. (I will get better at that, I swear…) So, without further ado – What I Read in October 2021!

What I Read: October 2021

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend’s Exorcism is really good, really unsettling, and a little bit gross. It truly feels like a 1980s possession movie in book form – the little bits of multimedia scattered throughout super help with that. If you liked Stranger Things, this book is for you. Plus it has its own playlist!

(Once you finish it, though, go read The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – it’s a spiritual sequel and my fav.)

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

This is a cute little YA Arthurian retelling, focused around Elaine of Astolat, the Lady of Shallot. (Fun fact: back in my days of insanejournal based roleplay games, one of my favourite characters I ever played was a modern reincarnation of Elaine.) To be honest, now that it’s December, I don’t remember a ton about Half Sick of Shadows – like to the point that I couldn’t remember if it was a standalone or not. The non-linear storytelling is fun, though, and it was a quick read.

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Another retelling! Sky Without Stars is Les Mis in space and it is a part of a series. It is also very apparent that it’s a re-telling, if you know Les Mis. I liked the world-building, I liked the Marius character more than I like Marius… I struggled with the death of a child that kicked off the main plot. You guys, now that I hang out with a little girl, I just can’t with little girls dying in books. (It’s not graphic or anything, it just makes me sad to think about.)

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire & The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Yeah, Tiktok made me do it. They said that Jennifer L. Armentrout’s books were spicy and there was truly spice to be had. I took a big break between the first book of this series and these two, due to library reasons, and I found it super hard to remember any of the mythology of the world. But it’s smut wearing a fairly substantial fantasy hat so… it does its job.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab

I will admit that The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue has a bit of a slow start and the perspectives we get are a bit uneven (we understand Addie way more than Henry). However, there was just something about Addie that vibed with me. It reminded me of something I would have loved when I was a teenager in Ontario, learning about art and “Bohemia” and all that good stuff, but all grown up. It might not be your taste, but I devoured it.


So? Do you like the more short and sweet format? Do you want the old pictures back? Let me know because there’s going to be a November post coming sometime this month… mwahaha.

YYCEats

Blogmas 2021! Is that a thing? I don’t know.

Here’s the thing. I failed wildly at Nanowrimo this year. Like, to the point that it was good that I didn’t announce it because I would be embarrassed at my numbers. But, I had my Masters convocation, looked after Rylee for a week, got insanely sick for the first time in two years (not COVID) and got cast in a play. So I was doing all sorts of good things. But now that things have slowed down… now is the time to really work on developing a daily practice of writing, even without a set word count.

So, I’m going to do Blogmas! Like Vlogmas, but written down.

(Note: while writing this blog post, I actually bothered to google something and have determined that Blogmas is, in fact, a thing and that people still have blogs in 2021. This pleases me.)

I can’t guarantee that everything I write will actually be Christmas themed, which is apparently the point of the challenge, but it’s December and I’m writing and don’t complain, damnit!

Beer Exchange Day 1

Blogmas 2021 - Beer Exchange Day 1

Okay, here’s something fun and festive! This year, my amazing friend Megan organized a 12 Days of Christmas beer exchange. You know, a beer exchange. The thing where you get 12 people together and they each buy 12 of a different beer and wrap it up, then you have surprise 12 beers. It’s one of those things that people always talk about but no one actually gets organized. And that means that I have 12 fun different beers to write about throughout Blogmas (yes, that’s cheating but I don’t care, beverages is my brand).

For Day 1, Megan provided us with the Kinabik Pilsner from Snake Lake Brewing Company out of Sylvan Lake. To explain the name, which I absolutely love, here is the copy from the beer can:

Early settlers knew Sylvan Lake as Snake Lake, taken from the Cree name “Kinabik.” Garter snakes would swarm around its shores, especially at Jarvis Bay. As the human population grew, the snakes gradually disappeared. In 1903, the town’s name was officially changed to Sylvan Lake.

(Snake Lake Brewing Company, 2021)

I love the copy on alcoholic beverage containers – we used to have a whole bit about that on MOA.

I enjoyed this beer while watching Season 41 of Survivor (obsessed, totally Team Erika, loved the tribal council tonight). This was wildly appropriate because… snakes. (You know, snakes and rats? Survivor Borneo?)

The Kinabik is super drinkable, very crisp, and only a tiny bit hoppy. Just enough to give it a bit of complexity. It’s a 5% alcohol with a 25 IBU and those are the only stats I care about because I’m only a tiny bit knowledgeable about beer.

Megan tipped her hand that there were some very complex and a little crazy beers included in the 12. I’m excited about that, but I’m also always here for a solid Pilsner.


Apparently most people plan their Blogmas post calendar ahead of time and don’t just randomly decide to do it on the first of December. Hahaha. Classic Erin.

What sort of posts would y’all like to see in this Blogmas I did not plan? Do you have any special things lined up for your December?

Life

10 Things I've Learned as an Adult
Picture of me with a baby to demonstrate that I am, in fact, an adult not a child

I spend a lot… like a lot of time declaring myself to be a functional adult. (Usually while doing something I am trying to convince myself that I am qualified to do, like feed myself healthy meals or look after a baby.) However, now that I am solidly into my 30s… I think the time has come to not just accept that I’m a lot but to start to share the wisdom I’ve collected while making these sweeping declarations. So, without further ado, please enjoy a both serious and unserious list of the 10 things I’ve learned as an adult.

1) It is always faster to just throw together something for breakfast at home.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that it’s not nice to pick up breakfast sometimes. An Egg McMuffin on a road trip? Absolutely!

But it’s not actually faster. When you are pressed for time in the morning, you can always grab a piece of fruit or granola bar, eat something that isn’t normally breakfast food, throw some couscous and hot water into a tupperware and have a sad but filling meal ready in seconds. I fully support getting a Starbucks or Tim Hortons bagel when I want one, but I can no longer fool myself that I am saving time by doing that.

2) Making your bed will always make your bedroom look one million times better.

Several years ago, I wanted to prove to myself that I could build a positive habit and I decided to start with something simple – making my bed, throw pillows and all, every single day for a month, then a year and so on. (I think my impetus was the idea that if something takes less than 5 minutes to do, you should do it right away?)

Anyway – literally an immediate face lift to my room that takes less than 5 minutes.

3) Good quality chocolate actually does taste better than the cheap stuff.

I know, I hate that I’m this person now too.

But it’s true.

4) It literally costs you nothing to be kind.

Another version of this is “don’t yuck someone else’s yum”. If someone tells you that they like something you don’t?There’s no need to be cruel, tease them, tell them all the things that are wrong with that thing. In fact, you could actually even listen to them talk about this thing for a bit because it will probably make them feel good. It costs you nothing.

(There are other variations to this lesson like “asking about people’s day” and “holding the door for other people”, but for me learning how to engage with other people’s interests that I do not share has been such a game changer.)

5) Sometimes a backpack or a fanny pack is 100% better than a purse.

I mean, it helps that they are trendy now too but… seriously. Don’t hurt your back/shoulders for fashion.

This lesson was learned on the first day of my Masters degree when I walked from the hospital campus I work at to the main campus that my summer intensive was taking place on. 20 minute walk, no big deal, right?

Very big deal when you are carrying a laptop in a shoulder tote. I literally bought a backpack that night and I have never regretted it.

6) More people remember and recognize you than you expect.

We all have a bit of social awkwardness in us and, for me, it took the form of always assuming that people wouldn’t remember me when I ran into them on the street/at a play/across a crowded room, etc. More times than you would expect, I was wrong… and then these people who totally did remember me assumed that I was a snob who didn’t want to engage with them. Not great.

Now, to be fair… sometimes people don’t remember me. I changed my hair colour quite dramatically after university and I find that the blonde sometimes still takes people by surprise. But that’s okay, I now smile and wave (or in this age of mask-wearing “crinkle up my eyes and wave”) anyway. The worst thing that can happen is that they don’t remember me and either they think I’m super friendly or they figure out who I am and we have a moment.

7) Sleep masks are a gift from *insert gift-giving reference of choice here*

It’s absolutely okay to be a bit of a delicate flower and want to create an ideal sleeping situation. For a lot of us, utter darkness is part of that and I have become a huge fan of sleep masks to create that darkness. My favourite sleep masks are these because they don’t press or pull on the eyes, and you can often find them at Winners!

8) Three friends is a totally valid number of friends.

This is a bit of an oversimplification and also a reference to a certain time in 2016 when I took on a mantra of “I just need three more friends”. What I’m really saying is that you don’t need a zillion people that you regularly text, a massive group chat to keep track of or go on trips with 12 other people if that’s not what you want.

Fill your life with friendships that fit the size of friendship cup you have. Look for quality – people you can regularly turn to, who still want to hang out with you when you are in the less “fun” stages of your life, and who you can fall into a conversation with like no time has ever passed. It’s okay if that number is different for you than for other people!

9) Backup shoes are a “need to have”, not a “nice to have”.

Seriously. If you don’t bring back up shoes, you’re just going to end up wandering the streets or dancing in bare feet. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are in heels.

10) It’s okay to be a solid mixture of selfish and selfless.

To use another cup analogy – sometimes you have to fill your own cup first to make sure you even have anything left to share. And sometimes your cup is still full of water from the day before, so you can afford to share all your water with someone else.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s okay to put your own wants and needs first sometimes but not other times. It takes a lot of reflection and self-understanding really know which times are which, but you can put the time in and do it, babe!


So there you have it! 10 things I’ve learned as an adult… actually, I just learned something new this week.

Sometimes a cake is an obligation/task, not a gift.

10 things I've learned as an adult
This is too much cake.

So… there’s 10 things I’ve learned as an adult, plus one secret humblebrag!

Stuff About Me

Jan, also back again, Laughing - Drag Race All-Stars Season 6

No, my hair might not be purple, but I am fully laughing just as hard as Jan is in this classic Drag Race All-Stars 6 screencap. (And I promise not to get off track, but I truly do love and relate to Jan. Her need to always be on? It me. Plus, I too am backpack, backpack, back again.)

What the eff, how is it suddenly late October of 2021? Where have the past 8 months gone?

Well, I can tell you. They have gone to coping with a global health crisis (like many people), while working at a medical school full-time and completing a Master of Education degree full-time… at the same time. They have gone to figuring out how to write, facilitate and produce a completely Zoom-based play. And then they have gone towards literally doing nothing but watching Survivor and Drag Race or hanging out with friends outside for about two and a half months.

As you can likely imagine, I’ve been zonked creatively. Like many people, I have been living in a constant back and forth between chaos and recovery. And I fully recognize the irony that I wrote a post very similar to this back in September of 2020. How many times can one girl write a “I’m back!” post?

I’m a fully grown woman and this is the last “I’m back” post I will write. Hopefully. The time has come for consistency! Plus, I blew my Jan reference, so I have nothing left.

Anyway, in September 2020, I think I was a little bit unrealistic about how much room I truly had left to fill in my cup. But my cup is much emptier now! And I am slowly being able to do fun things in Calgary once again, in a very safe and mindful manner, which is what this blog is all about. I can write about things that aren’t books! Well… things that aren’t just books.

What a time to be alive! (… sort of)

So… yes, I’m backpack, backpack, back again. Watch this space for some random jokes and recaps of my adventures. I’m so excited! All I needed was this tiny post!

Culture

Books I Read January

How are we already talking about books I read in January 2021? How is it already 2021? Time is going by so fast these days, my dears, and while the part of me who wants to hug people is totally okay with that, the part of me that needs to somehow complete a research project by April is less so. Along those lines, I was really afraid that I would not have any books to talk about this month. As evidenced by the stressed out side of myself, school is really ramping up in my second last semester so I have lots of work to do and lots of Freire to read. Maybe by the end of this semester, I’ll finally be able to explain to people what praxis means.

But, like we recently discussed, when life is heavy and when life is light a girl needs to take some time for herself. And in my “me” time, I do like to read.

Something that will be a little bit different this year – I’m following the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. I typically read more books in a year than the challenge requires you to read so not all books will fit into a category for the challenge, but if a book does tick a box, I’ll let you know which one.

The Cousins by Karen McManus

Favourite January Book I Read: The Cousins by Karen McManus

I was so excited to read The Cousins – Karen McManus writes YA thrillers in a really approachable way that still keeps you crazy engaged all the way through. Her characters act like teenagers and, when they decide not to include adults in their adventures, the decision makes sense. (Teens acting like adults in YA fiction is my least favourite thing – give me a compelling reason to get the adults out of the way!)

The Cousins lived up to all my expectations. It tells the story of – you guessed it – three cousins from the Story family. These kids barely know each other due to family **drama** when they are mysteriously invited to spend the summer working at their grandmother’s isolated island resort. As you can imagine, secrets are exposed and thrilling adventures take place. Plus! A bonus – the book has parallel time periods. It was such a fun read.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: A book with a family tree

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

By contrast, I don’t think I could call The Hazel Wood a fun read, even if it is equally mysterious. Alice and her mother have spent their lives on the road, always followed by the “bad luck”. When her grandmother, a famous and reclusive author, passes away, it seems like the bad luck is finally behind them… but it’s just beginning.

The Hazel Wood is a throwback to dark fairy tales. It blends original fairy tales with the real world in a way that feels mildly reminiscent of Alice In Wonderland. Except it is very grown up. And Alice is not a particularly likeable character. There is a very very good reason for the darkness inside Alice – which she cannot understand – but I should warn you. You gotta wait through some angry, nastiness to get there.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: A book about forgetting

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

Obviously I was able to get past Alice’s darkness – I almost immediately read The Hazel Wood’s sequel The Night Country. I preferred this book. Alice is in a more accessible place – even if she continues to set fire to the world around her – and y’all know I love it when the world expands. Plus this book has one of my favourite fantasy things – parallel storylines! I absolutely love seeing how the characters come together.

There is also a book of the fairy tales from this series – Tales from the Hinterland. I cannot wait to see where the characters in these first two books come from. We hear hints of their “stories”, I want the whole thing!

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son is another sequel… and I haven’t written about the original on this blog so… um… how do I handle this?

I really enjoyed it. It’s a YA LGBT romance-fantasy.

Go read Carry On. Then just read Wayward Son right afterwards to see what happens to a Chosen One once the thing they were chosen for is no longer a thing. It’s like fanfiction, but by the author. Love it.

My Favourite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

My Favourite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is fairly prolific in the rom-com genre for their fluffy beachy reads. My Favourite Half-Night Stand is definitely a cute fluffy read, if fairly trope-y. (It’s a classic “secret identity” romance and the denouement happens through letters). I guess my only complaint is that I wish they had committed more fully to the bit? Like, a couple of times they show messages from a group chat and if that’s going to be a thing, I want it to be a thing.

But maybe I’m just thinking too much about my rom-coms.

Though I will admit, I literally started reading this book a year and a half ago. It took this long for me to actually sit down at finish it. So that says something.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: The book that’s on your TBR list for the longest amount of time

Life, Stuff About Me

Solo Valentine's Day - stock image

I keep starting this post and then giggling about the fact that I’ve apparently made my brand “celebrating holidays at home by yourself”. But don’t we all need a little reassurance that other people are in the same boat? The same small boat that isn’t going anywhere. A small boat that is “a solo Valentine’s day”. At home.

Honestly, all jokes aside, I’m not that bothered. I enjoy my own company and think I am a great date for myself. I can’t catch COVID from myself and when I’m in charge, I get to do all the things I love. None of the things I did yesterday were particularly novel or unique. I’m not reinventing self-care here. But does that really matter?

Here’s the thing about Valentine’s Day. Yes, of course I agree that you should show love to your people and to yourself every day. I’m not a sociopath. But our lives are so full and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a little reminder to stop and take stock. To focus on only one thing. We have so many conflicting and shifting priorities, it’s nice to have someone else tell us what our priority should be fore a little.

I like holidays. (And I like celebrating small things. I’m not great at aesthetic themed events, but little celebrations, I love.) And, quite honestly, I loved my solo Valentine’s Day.

How I Spent Valentine’s Day

I made my favourite savoury oatmeal breakfast. (No pics because it’s definitely not photogenic – spinach, oats, sauteed mushrooms, eggs, cheese and hot sauce.)

I enjoyed a little daytime rose and puzzling. (You may have seen this on my stories.)

Solo Valentine's Day Yoga

I did Yoga with Adriene’s Valentine’s Day practice which was an incredible heart-opener. I love barre to work through things via movement, but yoga helps me connect with myself and where I’m at physically, emotionally, mentally. I feel like I’m finally starting to understand why we did so much yoga during my theatre degree.

Valentine's Day bath

I went real classic self-care by moving by rose to the bath with a candle, a bath bomb and a brand new book from the library. I love complex, thought-provoking literary fiction as much as the next girl. But sometimes you just want a fun fantasy to unwind with.

I also did a sheet mask, but I super did not take a picture of that because y’all know what a sheet mask looks like.

And I followed it up with actually doing my makeup, throwing on a hot pink sweater and enjoying some heart-shaped pizza!

Valentine's Day hair and makeup

Who says you can’t enjoy a day with yourself?

Culture

What I Read: December 2020

Well well well, my friends. It’s mid-January and I think by this point you know exactly what to expect. A book post! Let me tell you, this beauty is going to be long because I was on break. So, without further ado, let’s get into What I Read December Edition!

Continue Reading
Life

2021 Word of the Year - Reach

Weeeeeell… it’s January 8. Let’s just address the elephant in the room. We are a week into 2021 and I’m just posting my Word of the Year (resolution, recap, whatever) post now.

Did I mean to disappear for two weeks?

I did not.

Is it now too late to post a 2020 recap?

Yeah, it probably is.

Continue Reading
Culture, Life

How I'm Celebrating my Christmas Break Alone Because of Covid

It is December 23, 2020 and yesterday was my last day of work until after New Years. Almost two weeks off! Plus? I am done school for the semester and don’t go back until January 11. (Don’t worry, I am starting up both things hot after the break – the next course I coordinate starts first day back and I literally have my first school zoom on the 11th). On the one hand, this is super exciting. On the other hand, this is the time of Covid and I’ll be spending most of my Christmas break alone.

Continue Reading