Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Sewing Edition

Knowing about my goal to learn one new thing every month this year, Cath suggested we try out a sewing class at Spool of Thread in Vancouver1. I’d never sewn anything using a sewing machine before, and Cath hadn’t sewn since high school where she used a machine from the Stone Age, so we took the introductory how-to-make-a-tote-bag class. Our other friend, Stephanie, who has a little more experience than Cath and I, also joined in the fun.

Fabric at Spool of Thread sewing shopI have to say, Spool of Thread is a cool little business. They sell sewing supplies, hold sewing classes to make things of varying levels of difficulty, and you can even rent time on their sewing machines (along with use of the associated space and equipment – a big table to cut out your fabric, irons and ironing boards, and all the pins in the world). The renting of the sewing machine time is a particularly good idea in a city where everyone lives in tiny condos (because who has room for a sewing machine?) – and also for people who have curious cats that love to sit on whatever you are working on at the moment (because who wants to end up sewing a cat into their tote bag?).

Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classYou could bring your own fabric to the class, but we all elected to buy some fabric there. There was an extensive range of options and I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to choose. The tote bag is reversible, which meant we had to pick two fabrics, and every time I picked one that I liked, I couldn’t decide on another one that would go with it. I. The end I decided to go with a black and white theme and picked ampersands on one fabric and stars on the other.

The sewing teacher, whose name I completely forget, explained all the parts of the sewing machine, took us through how to thread the sewing machine, and then step-by-step through how to make our tote bags.

As it turns out, the easiest part of sewing is the sewing part. Threading the machine, cutting your fabric, and pinning it together correctly take about 99.9% of the time and effort, but the actual sewing is relatively easy, at least as far as sewing a tote bag where you only need to sew in straight lines. And while not all my lines came out perfectly straight, they came out straight enough and Cath and I agreed that we are both better sewers than we are painters.

Here we at with our fabulous tote bags:

Cath, Stephanie, & Beth at sewing class

Cath, Stephanie, and me with our new tote bags!

During the class, when we were cutting our fabric, the teacher mentioned that we’d have enough leftover fabric to take the how-to-make-zippered-pouches class – we’d learn how to sew a zipper and have pouches to match our totes! He also mentioned that since we get the pattern and instructions for the tote bag, we probably should come back to rent a machine to make another one to reinforce our learning. Sewing machine and Fabric to make a tote bag at my sewing classAnd when Cath inquired into it later, apparently the zipped pouch course is more advanced, so we’d need to take at least one more introductory level class before we do zippered pouches. So they’ve really got a good little system set up from a business perspective because all of that does make sense – I do want to have pouches that match my tote and I want to learn how to sew more things and I kinda want another tote bag – and it all just so happens to increase their sales!

All in all, I really enjoyed my sewing class! I got to make something useful (I often use my tote bag to bring stuff to work), I learned something new, and now I want to do more sewing!

  1. As usual, I have no relationship with this company other than that I am a customer. []

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I went for a float and it wasn’t of the root beer variety

I-sopod Flotation Tank.jpg

This isn’t the tank that I floated in, but I forgot to take a photo of it when I was there, so I got this picture from Wikipedia to give you the general idea.

My friend Alicia took me for a float for my birthday. For the uninitiated, a float (a.k.a., floatation therapy or sensory deprivation tank) is where you get into a big tank with water that has about 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in it so that you can lie in and, as the name suggests, float. You wear earplugs and you close the lid of the tank so that it’s pitch black. The water and the air are skin temperature, so the idea is that you don’t feel anything. And you just float there – ideally clearing your mind of any thoughts – for 90 minutes. It’s supposed to help you relax and is supposed to be good for stress relief, reducing muscle tension, and all sorts of other things1.

My experience

When we got to the float place, they had me watch a little video on what you need to do. You have to take a shower to make sure you won’t get anything icky in the tank (like hair gel or makeup), then you put in the earplugs, and make sure your face is completely dry. You have to be careful not to get any of the tank water in your eyes because there’s 1000 lbs of Epsom salt in there and omg, that would sting like hell. Then you get in the tank, close the lid, and float! They suggested that you could try different postures – like arms down at your sides, arms up above your head – and that while you didn’t have to worry about your head sinking because of all that Epsom salt in the water, there was a pool noodle that you could put under your neck if it made you feel more comfortable.

When I first stepped in the tank, and before I closed the lid, the thought that sprung into my mind was “This would be a perfect setting for a death in the next Final Destination movie!” But then I thought that visions of the tank rapidly filling up while I panickedly scratched at the door which would inexplicably not open – all with my eyes stinging like a mofo – wouldn’t really lend itself to relaxation, so I dropped the thought.

The actual floating experience was quite interesting. It felt like I was floating in zero gravity (or what I imagine that would feel like, since I’ve never actually floated in zero gravity) and at one point when I tried putting my hands under my head, it actually felt like I was tumbling head over heels2!

Somehow, the time in the tank felt both long and short. My mind was flipping around from thinking about one random thing to another, so I tried using my mindfulness training, which seemed like a logical thing to do on such an occasion. I found that focusing on my breathing was the most effective way to help me clear my mind of thoughts. In the end, I think I fell asleep, as I remember thinking about something and then the next thing I knew it felt like time had passed and I was hearing the music that they play to inform you that your time is up.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I mean, I won’t be getting a membership and going on a regular basis or anything – I think I get better meditation through running and massage is still my preferred method of working out muscle tension – but I’d probably go back for another float again.

Image Credit:

I-sopod Flotation Tank” by FloatguruOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Footnotes:

  1. According to the Wikipedia page – the neutrality of which is disputed because it totally sounds like someone who runs a float tank shop wrote it – research has shown that it also helps improve creativity and performance in a variety of sports. []
  2. Even though I knew I wasn’t because (a) physics, and (b) my face would have gotten wet and I could feel that it wasn’t! []

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A review of that movie that everyone is talking about

    Krampus poster.jpg“Krampus poster” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Last night, Kalev and I went to see the documentary about the blicans and her family are Repu experience of German ex-pats living in America – Krampus.

Warning: SPOILERS

I give this movie a decidedly mixed review. There was some very well done sections of the movie, but then other parts were kind of lame. And they couldn’t decide if they wanted to do a happy ending or a dark ending, so they tried to do both and succeeded at neither.

The storyline is basically that a little kid is disillusioned with Christmas because his aunt and her family are Republicans. So he rips up his sweet letter to Santa, which causes Krampus – the evil shadow of St. Nicholas – to murder everyone in his subdivision. (A real case of the punishment not fitting the crime). The movie was actually pretty good as long as you were only getting glimpses of Krampus and his evil minions, but once they started to actually show you the bad guys – creepy jack-in-the-boxes, Christmas tree angels, teddy bears, and such, it was just lame. Somewhat surprisingly, the only bad guy characters that didn’t come across as lame were the manical little gingerbread men, which seems like should be the cheesiest of all, but ithey weren’t.

Another part that was annoying was that the German grandmother, Omi, who only spoke German through most of the movie, reveals she speaks perfect English when the time comes that she needs to tell the back story of how Krampus took all of her family and threw them into the pits of hell when she was a child because she lost the Christmas spirit and wished that all her family would go away – leaving only her behind knowing that it was all her fault. So not only does Krampus dole out punishments far exceeding the severity of the infraction, but he also holds a grudge for a really long time, coming after her grandson. (Also, maybe Omi could have told her grandson that ripping up letters to Santa would unleash the hounds of hell upon everyone in a 10 mile radius?) After telling the story, Omi goes back to only speaking German again for the rest of the movie, even though only her son and grandson can understand her and everyone knows she speaks perfect English. It basically just felt like the filmmakers didn’t want to bother subtitling that 5 minute segment.

As I mentioned, the ending wasn’t fantastic either. There was a point at which everyone but the little boy was captured and presumed dead and Krampus gives him a Christmas tree ornament that says “Krampus”, just like the one he gave Omi when she was a little girl and her entire family had been slaughtered. If they had just faded to black there, I’d have been happy. But instead, the boy picks up the ornament and chased down Krampus, who is about to throw the boy’s cousin into the firey depths of the underworld when the boy makes an impassioned plea, says he takes back his bad wish, and starts crying. And then Krampus wipes his tear with a big claw, laughs at him  and throws the cousin into hell. And then throws the boy into hell too. And then he wakes up and everyone is alive and already down by the Christmas tree waiting for him to wake up. And, inexplicably, everyone is no longer being a bunch of assholes to each other and though the Republicans are still being their unclassy selves, they aren’t mean like they were and the little boy is happy and I’m thinking “omg, did they really just do the “it was all a dream” ending, which is the most pathetic excuse for an ending for any story ever?” But then he opens a present and it’s the ornament that says “Krampus” and then you hear a bunch of flashbacks from earlier in the movie where everyone is kind of a jerk and everyone gets a funny look on their face and that’s the end of the movie. So now I take back my claim that “it was all a dream” is the lamest ending a story can have…. Because “It was all a dream…. Or was it???” Is the lamest needing in the history of endings.

Anyhoo, I’m realizing that I’m bitching a lot about his movie hear, but I actually enjoyed more of it than I disliked. I’d say it was probably enjoyable for 65-70% of the time, and especially considering that Kalev had free tickets AND a free popcorn AND two free drinks and I was able to get vanilla Diet Coke, I was overall happy with the movie watching experience.

Tonight I’m going to see another movie – something about an interstellar armed conflict. I haven’t really heard much about it – hopefully it’s good!

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Theatre Goer

Apparently I’m really into theatre all of the sudden, as last night I saw Red Rock Diner at the Arts Club Granville Island Stage.

Here the trailer:

The show was great – great music performed by an incredibly talented cast. I am always in awe of people who can sing (and boy, could these guys sing), but then to throw in super energetic dancing pretty much non-stop for 2 hours – well, I just have no idea how that is humanly possible.

*spoiler alert* {Don’t read any further if you don’t want to read spoilers!}

To say that this was a play about “five teens coming of age” is a bit of a stretch. The first half was basically a radio show – song after song after song, punctuated by Red Robinson’s crazy radio antics. Then the second half was a high school talent competition hosted by Red Robinson and in which, you guessed it, there was song after song. That is to say, there was pretty much no actual plot, let alone one about anybody coming of age. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it – it was very entertaining and, as I said, the cast was super talented, which was totally worth watching on its own. But perhaps they could do a better job of their description of the play.

There was some added excitement in the second half where they dragged people up on the stage to join them in their dancing. And can you guess who was the very first person they pulled up on stage for some dancing? That’s right – me! And I am nothing if not an attention whore, so I had no problem with it, though the little girl who got dragged up on the stage next looked like she wanted to be anywhere by on that stage. I’m pretty sure that they chose me because I was wearing my fabulous red dress that I bought in London as it’s not the first time that I was chosen by performers to join them on stage for some dancing while wearing that dress. Actually, now that I look at those photos from Ireland, I see that I was also wearing that dress when I got voluntold to be an whiskey tester at the Jameison factory. I think we can conclude that this dress is an attention getter. Because I have three replications. Hooray for science!

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah – the show. It was tonnes of fun and I totally recommend you go there1. Apparently they extended the show, so it’s now running until August 23.

The audience was told that we weren’t allowed to take photos during the show, but in the but that we’d be able to get photos of the show off their website. However, when I went to the Arts Club website to look at them, I found the link to their Flickr account and all of the photos are up as “all rights reserved”, rather than as a Creative Commons license, so I can’t legally use any of them on this posting. Instead you’ll just have to read my words and then you can go look at their photos on Flickr if you like.

  1. As per usual, I have no affiliation with the theatre company – just recommending it because I like it. []

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Bard BBQ!

And speaking of BBQs, I went to one last night. But not just any BBQ. A Bard-B-Q!

One of the things that has been on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list since it’s very first iteration1 has been to go to a Bard on the Beach show. And for some reason, every summer goes by and I don’t manage to get my butt down to Vanier Park for a performance. It’s very strange, because I really did want to go. I quite like Shakespeare. Hell, I did an entire class on “Acting Shakespeare” in my undergrad as part of my minor in Drama. I can still recite this monologue that I memorized in *high school*.

Well, as luck would have it, I got some serious motivation to attend a Bard on the Beach performance of Cymbeline as I won tickets as part of a crazy awesome prize package!

A few weeks ago, someone tweeted about a contest that Lonetree Cider2 was having on Facebook. A typical “like our FB page, enter our contest” type of contest. But I noticed that at the time, which was only a few days before the contest ended, there were fewer people entered in the contest than there were prizes, so I figured my odds were pretty good to at least win one of the 15 pairs of tickets to see Cymbeline at Bard on the Beach 3. And then as soon as I entered the contest, I promptly forget about it. Until they called to tell me that I won the grand prize! The grand prize consisted of:

  • two tickets to Cymbeline
  • for the special Bard-B-Q event, where you get to see the show, then have a salmon BBQ dinner
  • then you get to stick around to watch the Celebration of Lights firework show as you enjoy coffee and dessert
  • a one night stay at the Granville Island Hotel, which is within stumbling distance of Bard, so you could enjoy some wine, beer, and/or Lonetree Cider with your dinner
  • breakfast at Dockside Restaurant at the hotel

Not a bad little prize pack, if I do say so myself!

Bard on the Beach

First and foremost, the performance of Cymbeline was awesome. I’d never seen, read, nor heard *anything* about this play before. I even had to go read the Wikipedia entry on it to make sure I’d have an idea of what was going on in it. The cast, however, did such an amazing job that I’m sure even if I hadn’t read it, I would have been able to follow along with no problem. To make things even more interesting, there was a very small cast, so each actor played multiple roles, yet you were never confused as to who was who – even in the scenes where Anton Lipovetsky, the actor who played both Posthumus and Cloten, played Cloten dressed up as Posthumus – thanks to Lipovetsky’s fantastic acting. He conveyed each character so well that you felt like you were watching different people when he changed roles. There was even some hilarious stuff at the end when actors were changing from one character to another *on stage*, ripped off one sash and putting on a different cloak, their mannerisms changing as quickly as the costume! All in all, a fantastically produced play that I highly recommend you check out if you get the chance!

The rest of the evening also did not disappoint. The salmon BBQ was excellent, the view of the fireworks was great (though the music wasn’t all that fantastic, but the fireworks themselves were super cool), the hotel was lovely and breakfast at the Dockside Restaurant was the perfect way to cap it all off!

Image Credit: Posted by Mandy Jansen on Flickr. Several years ago. But since I was too lazy to take my own photo, I just search Flickr for Create Commons licensed photos and that’s what I found!

  1. i.e., since Jan 12, 2009! []
  2. Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the companies I’m mentioning and linked to in this posting, other than having won the contest to get stuff from them for free. But since I liked all the stuff I got, I should share the love! []
  3. I will also now admit that I selfishly did not re-tweet the contest or link to it on my Facebook page, as I wanted to keep my odds as high as possible rather than increase my competition. Because, when you think about it, there’s no incentive with a contest like this for me to share the info! Good lesson in social media marketing, now that I think about it. []

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If you see me sprinting along the pier, it’s only because I’m being chased by zombies

Dday 266So, I totally thought that I’d written a blog posting about this before, but apparently not. Sometimes I compose blog postings in my brain when I’m not in a position to write stuff down and then forget that I never actually wrote them down1. Clearly, this is one of those situations.

One of my favourite apps is the “Zombies, Run!” app 2. The basic idea behind the app is that it tracks your running while you listen to a story where you are a character in a zombie apocalypse. The other characters are from your home base and are talking to you over a radio headset (their voices conveniently brought to you through the headphones of your phone) as you go out into the zombie-infested world on supply runs, rescue missions, and the like. There are some parts where they are talking to you – say, for example, giving you instructions of where to run and what supplies to grab when you get there – and then other parts where you just listen to your music – where you are just running to the specified location. If you want to do some interval training, you can select a setting where, during the parts where you are listening to your music, you can be chased by zombies. You’ll get a warning: “Zombies, 50 metres!” and then you have to start sprinting to some speed faster than you were running3 and you have to keep up the sprint for some time4 in order to evade the horde. If you aren’t going fast enough, you’ll hear “Zombies, 20 metres!” accompanied by the groans of the undead. No matter how tired, I am, I always seem to have the energy to sprint when I hear those groans!

I like this app for several reasons – first and foremost, the story is just interesting. It’s well written and well acted. Since I want to hear what happens next in the story, it motivates me to want to go out for a run! And once I’m out running, I can lose myself in the story and not pay so much attention to physical act of running – I just get into the zone and keep going. Second, it makes interval training fun. I usually listen to the app when I’m running along the pier – I figure that’s safer than running on streets where I might inadvertently end up running out into traffic to avoid an undead horde. And I really do sprint hard when I hear those zombie moans. One time I was out running along the pier and a zombie chase happened just as I saw a friend of mine walking – ordinarily I’d stop to say “hello”, but I just took off on a sprint! (Fortunately, I saw her again when I was running back and could tell her why I’d sprinted away!). I also find myself looking at my surroundings in a different way – could a zombie be hiding in that bush? Are those slow walking people up ahead alive or undead? Who is in that helicopter overhead5?

There’s a whole other side to the game where, as you are running, you pick up items along the way – maybe some batteries or canned foods or, for some reason, sports bras. If this app is to be believed, the landscape of a zombie apocalypse will be littered with sports bras. I believe you can log in to their website and do something with all the virtual goods you collect, but I honestly have no idea how any of that works.

Although the app does track your runs, I still track my apps on Runkeeper6 simultaneously, as I don’t do all my runs using the zombie app and I want to have all my runs recorded in the same place.

I’m currently on episode 6 of season 2 – which is 40 episodes long, plus 24 side missions7. Season 3 is going to be released in April8, so clearly I need to do some running to catch up!

  1. I’m *still* waiting for that mind reading app! []
  2. As per usual, I have no affiliation with the makers of this app. I just really like it and want to share! []
  3. Maybe 10% faster? Or 1 minute per km faster? I can’t quite remember. []
  4. I think maybe it’s a minute? []
  5. I never really noticed it before I started using this app, but a surprising number of helicopters fly over New West. []
  6. Criminy. I appear to have never written a blog posting to review Runkeeper either! I was sure I had! Guess that’s going on the list of things to write! []
  7. You can buy just the regular episodes or the episodes + side missions. []
  8. omg, April starts in 2 days?? Where is the year going?? []

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Massage Therapy

Given that I do a fair bit of running and hockey, and I also have a desk job, I’m extremely lucky to have a good health benefits package that allows me to get some much needed massage therapy. When I started working in Surrey, I started going to Starr Family Chiropractic, for both chiropractor (Dr. Ian) and massage (Greta), and they are absolutely fabulous. I highly recommend them to anyone in Surrey looking for these services.

However, when I changed office locations to a different place in Surrey, their clinic became rather out of the way for me. I Skytrain to work most days, and getting to Starr would require me driving to work so that I could drive down King George after work (i.e., during rush hour). Especially given how insanely busy I was this fall, that just wasn’t workable for me. So, as sad as I was to stop going there, I decided to find myself a new massage therapist1 And I managed to find one that is across the street from my place in New West at the Columbia Integrated Health Centre and I quite like my massage therapist, Dennis2.

Also, much to my surprise, at my last massage therapy appointment before I left on holidays, they gave me this pointsetta to thank me for my business:

Day 155

I thought that was a really nice touch!

So, if you are looking for a good place for massage therapy, I recommend both Starr Family Chiropractic and Columbia Integrated Health Centre3. And thus concludes today’s four postings about businesses that I like!

  1. Have you ever noticed how awkward it is to stop seeing a massage therapist (or hair stylist or any similar type service person) that you see regularly? It feels like you are breaking up with them! So awkward. []
  2. I also saw Elulu one time when Dennis wasn’t available and she was pretty awesome too! []
  3. Again, blog posting is not paid and I didn’t get any free services for blogging. Just want to share stuff I like! []

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Hair Extraordinaire!

And now I’m just on a roll of talking about businesses that I like, so I think that I’ll make that the theme for today. Which brings me to my hair stylist, Jenny Lynn, the owner of Oh Hey Style1. She works at Red Square Salon, she’s the sweetest person you’ll ever meet, and she makes my hair look fabulous!

Let’s look at some pretty pictures of my lovely hair:

Day 19

Day 138

Day 1

Day 97I highly recommend Jenny Lynn to anyone who wants to have beautiful hair!

  1. As with the other postings, this comes straight from my heart – it’s not a paid advertisement and I don’t get anything free. Just blogging of my own free will! []

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My manicure one month later

Hey, remember that time that I got my nails done all fancy like? That was almost a month ago and my nails are still, to my great surprise, perfect!

Day 164

Of course, near the cuticle you can see that my nails have grown a bit in the past month, but other than that, they are perfectly shaped and as shiny as the day I got them. And this is despite sticking my hands in hockey gloves for several games, washing dishes, baking, and other such potentially nail breaking activities. So props to Crystal Nails in New West1, where I had these done!

  1. As per usual, I didn’t get paid or get any products or services for free to promote these guys. Just thought I’d spread some appreciation for a job well done. []

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Applewood

Apparently this was a weekend for trying out new places to eat, because this afternoon I found myself at Applewood1. A coworker of mine had told me about it recently – it’s a little teashop in Delta where you can get fresh baked goods and fancy tea. It’s totally tucked away where you’d never see it, but apparently gets a lot of their business by word-of-mouth. Their tagline is “just like Grandma’s” and I have to say, they aren’t far off. Assuming your grandma was British or at least loved all things British. I was easily able to convince Devon to go there by telling him that they have scones with Devon cream, something he has been missing since he moved back from the UK. Devon also forbid me from making any jokes about “Devon’s cream” here on ye old blog – but you know how good I am at obeying the rules2. But then I realized that I don’t actually have a fully formed joke about it. Just saying “Devon cream” makes me giggle.

Since we hadn’t eaten anything before we got there, we decided to have lunch. The lunches themselves3 were OK, but the tea and the baked goods were divine! My lunch came with a cloverleaf bun:

Cloverleaf bun

It was still warm and it was freaking fantastic.

We had the Queen Mary tea – which was awesome – and we shared a scone with raspberry jam and Devon cream for dessert4.

Scone

The decor was everything you’d expect from a little British tea shop – bone china cups and collector spoons (just like my Granny used to have!) . They even had tea cup themed wallpaper5.

Tea cup

Sugar Bowl

Milk

I’ll definitely be going back there for those scones. And the Devon cream. *Snicker*

  1. I know I sound like a broken record, but I again have no affiliation with this place. Just blogging as a blogger is want to do. []
  2. That is to say: I am not good at obeying rules. []
  3. I had chicken and mushroom crepes and Devon had a tuna melt, both of which came with salads that were nothing to write home about. []
  4. Snicker. Devon cream. []
  5. Kicking myself for not taking a picture of it. It was hilarious! []