Matisse

I figured I’d blog this since not everyone is a Facebook friend, and it’s part of what has kept me a bit on my toes lately.

Many of you will know I’m a furmomma to 2 amazing kitties. I’ve shared my stories about Socks, my 19 year old tuxedo cat, here. However, I haven’t shared much about Matisse. Matisse is my 12 year old feisty torbie. She’s got the most beautiful markings I’ve ever seen in a cat. We adopted her 12 years ago at 8 weeks old and she immediately stole our hearts. Her first moments in the house involved a fight with the “furry dumb blonde” Chow who just wanted to be her friend, and she wanted no part of that. Tortitude.  She loves to play fetch with anything projectile, she loves to snuggle and drool when she’s happy, she has an unending appetite (to the point where I had to have baby locks on the cupboards because she’d rifle them for carbs every night), she’s terrified of strangers and the doorbell, thunderstorms and fireworks. She loves to burrow under the duvet for her naps. Most of all, she loves her “Big Guy”. She’s very much Steve’s cat and I am but second fiddle. She used to mewl about the house after he left for work in the mornings.

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Matisse has been seemingly invincible, until a week and a half ago. When she was young she was mis-diagnosed by a vet as having FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), and the vet refused to spay her and sent her home with a very cold “enjoy her while you can”. Five years ago, when we moved to Brantford, we found an amazing cat clinic and got the “enjoy her while you can” cat reassessed. She was showing no signs of FIP and we went ahead and finally had her spayed. Unfortunately, because she was spayed at such a late age, her risk of feline mammary cancer increased exponentially.  About a year ago we found a mass on her abdomen that has slowly been growing. We knew the prognosis for feline mammary cancer is generally very poor and we wanted to spare her the trauma of the surgery, and us the expense for something with such a futile outcome. So, we opted to keep her home until she started to show signs of pain or deterioration. A week and a half ago she came to bed for snuggles like she normally does and her mass felt different. I turned on the light to find that it had ruptured. She went to the vet that week and we discussed our options.

While cancer is awful, our amazing vet, Dr. Kelly St.Denis, mentioned that Matisse may be a candidate for a new clinical trial going on at the Ontario Veterinary College.  This clinical trial is very much in it’s infancy, but completely fascinating and showing some positive results. And, what’s even more exciting to me is the potential future application towards human breast cancer. Today Matisse met with the study oncologist, had a biopsy and got her first vaccine to start in the trial, and will have her mass removed in 2 weeks. The goal right now is to buy us some time with our wee girl, and buy her a better quantity and quality of life. She’s on pain meds for now, which is going well if I hide it in her food. She hasn’t lost her energy, her spunk, nor her insatiable appetite. Me, I’m crying the happiest tears that she was deemed a candidate for the trial because that gives us a small glimmer of hope.  And the science geek in me is chuffed that my kitty, yes my kitty, is a part of such groundbreaking and potentially revolutionary research and care. Keep fighting little ’tissey! The Rainbow Bridge isn’t ready for you yet!

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Tales From The Pole

Since I discovered some odd bruises on my legs today that I can only attribute to last week’s shenanigans, I figured I’d share their story…

Ever since we moved to Brantford, I’ve really struggled with finding my fitness niche. Before we moved I loved my gym, I loved my trainer (Hi Cindy!), I loved all the classes I’d go to that totally fit within my schedule, with just enough variety to keep me interested. I’m still yet to find a gym I love that is convenient, has classes I like, where I feel totally comfortable. I tried running. I truly hated it. I found an amazing local hot yoga studio. It closed. (Miss you Manifest and Jennie!)  I go to another one but it’s far enough away to be inconvenient, and expensive.

You can imagine my delight when Allure, a fitness club that opened in Westdale a few years ago, was opening a Brantford location, with hot yoga too. I’d admittedly always been curious to try their pole fit classes but couldn’t commit to taking their weekly workshops as a shiftworker. So, when I found an intro 2 hour workshop, I signed up! I didn’t expect it to be a cakewalk but I was admittedly surprised at how difficult (for me!) even the basics were. I’m not going to lie, I had high hopes of leaving the workshop being able to do all of this…

Instead, it was probably more like this…

I learned spins are tough yo! I found myself walking very funny the next day after using muscles that have probably never been used before. I also now have bruises on my legs I can only attribute to using them as part of my death grip on the pole in total fear of hitting the ground with an unpleasant THUD! All that being said – I had a lot of fun. I was amazed at how good this class could be for my psyche even though I really struggled with a lot of the basics. I didn’t do a good job at all. But, I’m stubborn and want to keep at it. So I will be going to another drop in class or two. I did sign up for their intro month special so I can try more pole fit, zumba and hot yoga classes and then I’ll decide if I’ll keep a monthly membership or if I go to a class pass.

Some final thoughts…  Pole fit is challenging, a great full body workout, and a lot tougher than I thought it would be. It’s a good thing I’m reasonably competent in my day job because I currently have zero future as a pole dance stripper. I am incredibly thankful there is no photo or video evidence of my lack of pole competence. See you again soon Allure Brantford.. And to my pole – I will conquer you one day…

13 Years

13 years ago today I was sitting in my first day of orientation. It was the best job prospect I had since graduating 3 years prior when there were minimal jobs in my field. I had been working in a “volunteer” position but it was terminated 9 months after I started due to a restructure. And then this opportunity came along. It was part time to start, but they made it sound like full time was a very real possibility very soon. As it turns out, full time started about a month later. I was feeling a mix of excitement, nerves, uncertainty and relief. I was beginning to think I was going to have to go back to school and seek out a new career. I was done with working food/retail. I didn’t love my brief foray into admin and software programming.

Like any job, it’s had it’s ups and downs. Thankfully the rewards still outweigh the tough times. Our former director suggested the average lifespan in this career is 5-8 years. I feel like the first 13 have been such a blur. Some amazing moments are permanently etched to memory. Some horrendous moments I’d rather forget are also permanently etched to memory. This career has changed me, changed my outlook on life, forced me to re-evaluate what is important in life. I won’t lie, I do still have moments of “if I knew then…”, and I probably always will – especially as it pertains to things like health risks of shift work, PTSD (thought I might have dodged that bullet, alas, no), and even things like what it’s truly like to be an outside worker (Hello bitter cold, driving rains, sweltering heat, impromptu hikes deep in the rough, etc.). I’ve also been so lucky to have met and worked with some of the best people you’d ever want to meet.

I don’t overly want to dwell on my memoirs. It’s still far too early in my career for that, and OMERS tells me I still have ~19 years to go. That being said, I do have a work related layout I thought today would be a perfect day to share. It was a selfie I happened to snap last year when I was having a good hair day! 😉 I wanted to use some of Simple Stories 24/7 line for the layout because the job is 24/7/265. A rare layout, just for me. No challenges. No sketch inspiration. Just a selfie and a collection pack.

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Supplies used: Cardstock-American Crafts; Patterned Paper, Stickers-Simple Stories; Wood hearts-Studio Calico; Twine-American Crafts; Paper Clip-Freckled Fawn

End of an Era

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Mid-January as part of my birthday celebrations, DH and I made a pilgrimage to Michigan to visit two Archiver’s stores before they closed for good on February 15th.

Other than some of the amazing mega-stores in Utah and Arizona, Archiver’s was absolutely THE scrapbooking mecca. Though I had heard the rumours for a few weeks, I was still very sad to receive the email from Archiver’s confirming the worst news that they were indeed going out of business. Archiver’s was my go-to for inspiration, for the latest and greatest, or rare finds, or staples in supplies as they had absolutely everything. I found the layout of the store well planned out and easy to shop. I found the staff to be always very helpful. Needless to say, I was an Archiver’s fan and could easily spend a pretty penny in their stores. Every. Single. Time.

So, of course I had to go to both Michigan stores to see what deals I could find, and if there were any items I should stock up on for a good price, or while I could if they were a tough find. I came home with two amazing bags of loot. I wanted to make a deal with myself to use up some items of my stash and replace them with the new, but that was short lived. Very short lived.  So here are my pictures of my unpacked haul from my last visits to Archiver’s. Yes, I now know I could shop online with them but it’s just not the same. I’m a girl who needs to see things live when it comes to scrapbooking.

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No doubt you will have seen some of those embellies on my pages that I’ve posted between now and January. And you’ll note the Tim Holtz goodies I managed to pick up for 40% off too!

There were tears. Possibly from me. Definitely from the staff – a job, a community, a livelihood, all going away. Thank you Archiver’s for the memories.

2013 in Review

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put this year to bed. It started off sooooo magnificently, but presented many unique challenges. I’m hoping maybe my lower key start this year will mean better things ahead for 2014. So without further adieu, here is my year in review!

January – I rung in the new year on the beach at Isla Mujeres Palace, dancing with my feet in the ocean, glass of champagne in hand.
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You can also see the Cancun skyline in the distance. It was pure magic. We left Isla Mujeres to spend another stellar week at our second home, Le Blanc Spa.
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February – February brought a lot of snow, and no real other activities for us.
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March – March brought my first winery tours. Yes, really, they were my first.
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April – In April we returned to Boston and Foxboro MA. It was right after the Marathon bombings so a trip to Copley square was a must.
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May – May brought late spring cherry blossoms!
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And a car accident 😦
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June – My dad turned 70!
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And I broke my ankle 😦
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July – July brought a drive-in movie date of Despicable Me 2 for this broken shut-in.
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And a lot of physio..
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August – I tried out acupuncture for the first time for my very slowly healing ankle. It was AMAZING!!
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September – I went back to work on light duties, but it was short lived because my long planned return to Vegas was on the go!
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And I finally got to see the Grand Canyon!
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October – Time for Canadian Thanksgiving.
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And re-learning how to knit!
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November – I got to go see Les Miserables with my Mom.
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A great weekend with friends where I had my first ever slot machine winnings!
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And then celebrated US Thanksgiving at Zehnders.
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December – As always, some decorating for Christmas..
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Little blue box delights..
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Another car accident, no pictures, still too upset, once again not my fault. Very very upsetting and frustrating.

In exciting December news, I found out on Christmas morning that I was published for the very first time!! It was in the Let’s Get Sketchy Sketch Inspired Christmas issue E-zine! I’ve never submitted to be published before, so my first submission and publication in one. I’m very flattered!!

There is a lot of scrapbooking talent in this issue, and the Let’s Get Sketchy blogging community is amazingly supportive!

I’m looking forward to a 2014 that is better than 2013. I haven’t given a lot of thought to resolutions beyond something that looks towards holistic health (mind, body, spirit, financial), and to travel more! I’m not sure how that works with wanting better financial health, but I’ll do my best to figure it out! I also want to blog and create more, so hopefully I’ll have more to say in the coming year as well.

Thank you to all my amazing supporters. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2014. Happy New Year!

Recapping Thanksgiving

For many years I’ve had a yearly tradition of going to Frankenmuth & Birch Run Michigan for US Thanksgiving and “Black Friday” shopping. I missed last year because I was just back from Mexico, and prepping to leave for Mexico again(!) and that was a more than worthy tradeoff, but I definitely missed it. This year I wasn’t missing it at all.

Somehow Frankenmuth seems to just do Christmas right. Maybe part of that stems from being the home of the “World’s Largest Christmas Store”, Bronner’s. Bronner’s actually even has it’s own wiki and some of the factoids about it are just mindboggling. One part of my yearly tradition involves going to Zehnder’s for their Thanksgiving buffet dinner. I’m not sure what they do to their sweet potatoes or their Hubbard squash, but those are 2 dishes I definitely can’t duplicate at home.

Here’s a shot of some of the decor in Zehnder’s:
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After dinner we went to the Premium Outlets in Birch Run for some all night shopping. I managed to score some incredible deals and get a lot of my Christmas shopping done! Yes, really! And it wasn’t even December yet! Canadian retailers have tried to drop prices to be competitive, but their deals don’t even come close to the ones I find on the US side, add in that the taxes in MI are significantly less than Ontario it all adds up to more money in my wallet. I don’t even give much thought to my hotel bill because I look at it as a cost of a mini-escape.

I must say though, I definitely do avoid Wal Mart, Best Buy and any of those stores that have people camping out, lining up for days, trampling each other to the death over ridiculous sales at least in the morning on Black Friday. I’ve been in a Wal Mart on the Saturday and it was shockingly quiet and easy to shop.  But I’m not one to risk life or limb for a sale, and this diva princess doesn’t camp. The closest I’ve come to unruly shoppers was some near anarchy at the Coach outlet one year when people cut the line repeatedly and security couldn’t be bothered to do anything to control the crowd. I still kept my distance because my health is worth far more than any Coach bag.

By the time it was time to come home on Saturday, my car was well loaded up with lots of goodies and gifts. The following pictures are of some things I somehow miraculously resisted bringing home. That didn’t stop me from snapping a picture or two…

Heck yes I need these Hello Kitty Vans.
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An egg cooker that will give you perfect soft, medium and hard “boiled” eggs.  It’s only $39.95!
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I really want to know..
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The purrrrrrfect kitty cat onesie jammies for this crazy cat lady…
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Polar fleece. Leopard print. HK. Pyjama pants. Shut the front door!
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These are the most badass Christmas cat boxer shorts I have ever seen. They’re also the only Christmas cat boxer shorts I’ve ever seen, but not the point.
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Black Friday, thank you for not disappointing for another year. Can’t wait to do this all again next year!