Sep 3 2014

becoming outmoded.

(Above: Dave dressed up as “Outmoded Technology Man” at a Superheroes and their Alter Egos party we went to a few years ago)

Dave and I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with technology/media. I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people, especially those who have to work with it on a daily basis.  When we were first married we did (what some considered) a crazy thing and never bought a TV.  Keep in mind, this was almost 10 years ago– far before Netflix, and when YouTube barely even had cat videos on it.  The idea of even owning digital versions of movies or TV shows was just barely starting to become a thing.  People would say everything from “Wow, I wish I could do something like that”, to “What are you going to do all day?”  Well, somehow, 9.5 years later we are still alive, we still have no TV (although we do have a Netflix subscription, but it’s used mainly for our regular evening Star Trek episode) and we have generally entertained ourselves pretty well I think.  Lately though–and this could be because I’m now a stay at home mom–I’ve found the internet/iPhone is eating my time up.  Facebook stays on a tab on the computer and gets refreshed often, and when I have a spare moment (when Dave and I are driving and I’m bored) I’m checking instagram on my phone.  And it’s become exhausting.

Here’s the thing:

I don’t think humans were meant for this kind of overload of information/constant stream of conversation.

As an introvert I especially find myself overwhelmed by the end of the day if I had spent too much time on Facebook.  There’s no time for my own quiet thoughts when I’m scrolling through everyone else’s.

I’m tired of a thousand articles being shared telling me that everything that I’m eating is wrong.  Do I feed my child formula?  You bet.  Do I eat food that contains gluten in it?  I do.  I’m also tired of all the facebook debates over politics/religion/whatever-the-heck that don’t actually serve any purpose.  Because, for real people, do facebook debates make anyone ever feel good?  Have you ever walked away from a facebook debate going “Wow, that internet stranger really changed my mind on that subject.  I feel so good that we had that debate.”  I’m not saying debating is bad, but I feel like most of the time internet debates get bad fast and no one wins.  Because it’s easy to say something nasty on the internet when you are safe behind your computer, but it’s not so easy to go out and do something about it.  Every day on the web we are inundated with a crap-load of opinions and voices.  I’m not sure how our brains haven’t exploded already.

I see how damaging and addictive technology can be and it’s starting to loose it’s lustre.  I used to say that I neither liked nor disliked Facebook, because for all it’s flaws I could see how valuable it was for keeping in touch with friends and family from far away.  I saw that for a small business it had huge potential for advertising, especially as a photographer.  The tool can’t be evil–it’s how you use the tool, right?  But the problem with Facebook is that even if I’m using it just to keep up with friends and family, there’s still 300 other people on my friends list that might decide that the best way to use Facebook is to share Fox New clips. (No thank-you).  Also…I don’t really want to see what everyone is commenting on.  Unless a friend of mine shares it with me, why do I want to see their other conversations?

Most of all, I’m concerned over how this will affect Lucy as she grows up.  If she sees that her dad and I are dependant on all our devices, she will assume that it’s only natural.  I’d rather wean ourselves off of being so dependant on technology while she is young so that we never have to say “Put that phone away and spend some time with real people!” while at the same time we are itching to get on our phones.

So I have decided to start a technology wean.  Dave and I have already been talking about getting rid of our smart-phones when our contract is up.  In the meantime (so it won’t be such a shock) I’ve installed an app called “moment” that counts the minutes that I use the phone and when I reach a certain number (30 minutes, for example) it tells me my time is up for the day and sends me constant reminders to put my phone down.  I also cleaned up my facebook newsfeed to a small amount of family/friends.  Also, because I have a few ongoing projects that are shared on Facebook (project 52, for example) I plan on using it till the new year, and then I hope to only use it for business purposes.  Another program that is useful is called “Self Control” where you can either “blacklist” a list of websites you don’t want to see for a set time, or “whitelist” a list of websites that will be the only available sites.  You can set the time limit, and that’s it.  It is a pretty crazy program though–even restarting your computer won’t shut it down!

I’m looking forward to reseting and using technology as a tool instead of a crutch and I encourage you to do the same.


Apr 5 2012

proudly pale.

Go ahead. Call me pasty. See if I care.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about our cultures obsession with having a “healthy tan”. Maybe it’s because it’s been so dull and rainy around here and I’m eager for some sunshine. Maybe it’s because summer is just around the corner and everywhere I look I see fashion magazines and store displays with models that have that golden hue. But I have to be honest…the obsession perplexes me. What the heck is a heathy tan anyway? I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t exist. (Go and google “Healthy Tan”. See what comes up).  When I was younger, my mother instilled a sunburn fear into me.  I am *obviously* very fair (bordering translucent?), and so the sun and I don’t always agree.  But over time it’s just become one of those things…you know…always have sunscreen on…sit in the shade…wear a hat (which I don’t do often enough).

I can’t help but think, however, that these are not things that should just be reserved for us translucent people.  I don’t want to sound like a party pooper…I do love sunshine.  But this tanning fixation (especially with young girls) freaks me out.  Here’s what our beloved Wikipedia says about tanning:

“Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is known to cause skin cancer, make skin age and wrinkle faster, mutate DNA, and reduce the immune system. Frequent tanning bed use triples the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The US Public Health Service states that UV radiation, including the use of sun lamps and sun beds are “known to be a human carcinogen.” It further states that the risk of developing cancer in the years after exposure is greatest in people under 30 years old. However, recently released FDA data suggests that indoor tanning beds emit 12x more UVA radiation than the sun and has been categorized in the “highest cancer risk” group along with smoking tobacco.”

That’s nice, right?

The other day I was in the drugstore and I overheard the saleslady talk to a mother and daughter about sunscreen.  At first she seemed a little pushy.  She was adamant that these ladies knew exactly how, and how often then needed to apply sunscreen and that even then they shouldn’t be spending too much time in the sun anyway.  A little bit outspoken for a perfect stranger at a drugstore if you ask me.  But then she went on to tell the ladies that 5 years ago she had a large portion of her skin removed and grafted due to skin cancer.  I thought it was rather amazing that she put herself out there (at the risk of coming off as an irritating saleslady) and told these ladies straight up that if they didn’t take care of themselves they could risk the same thing.

It’s funny (in an ironic kind of way), because we are so wrapped up in having healthy bodies and lifestyles.  Eating organic this, and using chemical free that.  But for whatever reason sun tanning doesn’t fall into the unhealthy category.  Then we try and tell ourselves that it’s all for the sake of vitamin D.  Right.


I’m no expert…but all I know is that when I’m 50, I’d rather not have skin that looks like leather…and I’d like to skip that whole skin cancer thing altogether.  And for those reasons, I have no problem when people laugh at my pale legs when I wear dresses.

Okay, I’m done now.  Rant over.


Mar 3 2011

day 162: {thriftday} timeless?

Fashion has always been pretty important to me. Can you tell?

No, but really.

I feel like while I’ve been talking about being thrifty and buying second-hand in the last few weeks I’ve perhaps missed out a key element in why I feel like I’ve been successful at thrift stores. Many times, I get this comment “I never see nice stuff at thrift stores. You just luck out, I guess.” Well, maybe I’m partially lucky when I go to thrift stores, but I think a big aspect of being lucky when buying your clothes at a thrift store has to do with how you are looking.

Let me try to explain.

The above picture was taken 8 years ago. I feel like the clothing I was wearing could have fit in 1970, or 2003, or right now (well, not right now, because it’s 4 degrees outside, but you know.)
So what am I getting at, you ask? Am I just posting old pictures and trying to make a post around them because I accidentally left my camera at my husbands office this morning and can’t do a proper post? Well…partially. I did want to post a picture of what I was wearing today, because it was a pretty thrifted dress for $3 that I got the other day. But the dress got me thinking about the definition of pretty when we think of clothing. I am starting to get frustrated by how the fashion industry says certain things are good to wear this season but if you get caught dead in them next season, then forget it. You’re out of the cool club.

This dress I bought is straight out of the 80′s, but at the same time, not. It’s blue, turquoise and purple flowers, button down, collarless bodice, elbow length sleeves and a fuller above the knee skirt. The cut of the dress seems like it could fit any era though. When that dress was new, someone bought it and people probably said to the wearer, “That’s a pretty dress. You look really nice in it.” Then the fashion industry said “Blue, turquoise and purple flowered dresses aren’t cool anymore.” And the dress ended up in the thrift store. Did the dress change? Nope. So why shouldn’t it look pretty on someone again?

My point, in a very roundabout way here is that when shopping second hand, throw away your ideas about what you’ve seen at American Eagle just the other day or what you saw on Fashion Weekly on TV. Pretty things will always be pretty, and if you wear it right, no one is going to say “Are you going to a 1970′s dress up party?”

I’ve gone through so much frustration in the last few years with clothing, because some of the styles that are “in” just look awful on me. I loved the look of “thrown together” oversized tops with leggings and boots. But I mean, for real…has anyone over 110lbs ever pulled that off? Probably not. The truth is, styles that are more structured/tailored are a lot better for me (actually, for most people–but I digress…) And all these nude/pale peach/antique colours that are in all the stores now? They look good on tanned people. They do not look good on someone such as myself, who has skin tone the exact shade of most of the items of clothes. So why should I bow to what the “higher-up fashion guru’s” say I should wear?

Again…pretty things will always be pretty…it’s just that our perception of “prettiness” is easily swayed by media.

So what do you like? What looks pretty on you?

Here are a few things I look for when shopping second hand:

Colour/Pattern. This is a big thing for me. I know what shades look good on me, and since most thrift stores are arranged by colour, then that is usually my first indicator.

Cut. Is this something that will be comfortable and still be non-frumpy? Will it make my mid-section look twice as big? That’s a bad thing…in case you were wondering.

Quality. I see a TON of stuff from Superstores Joe brand in thrift stores. Don’t get me wrong, they have some cute things but I don’t want something that feels like it was tailored while the seamstress was blindfolded and will consequently fall apart the second I put it on. If the item is cute enough and isn’t too complicated then I will take the chance even if the sewing looks a little dodgy because I know my sewing skills can fix small problems. But if you are ever concerned about something being a little worn and might fall apart and you don’t know how to fix it, don’t buy it. I don’t care if it’s only $3. That’s not thrifty. That’s just silly.

So wear something pretty. Even if it’s pretty 1960′s. Or pretty 1980′s. Because dressing pretty is pretty timeless.
Heh…terrible pun.


Apr 23 2009

Alexandria, as you like…

Our last days in Egypt were spent in Alexandria, the famous city founded by its namesake, Alexander the Great. We had our hotel arranged for us by a lady we met in Wadi El Naturn, (who worked at a recovery center Dave visited to do some research.) We were hoping for a cheap hotel…she booked us in a four star. Apparently it was the Coptic Easter weekend, and that’s when everyone goes and visits Alexandria (to go to the beach) so everything was booked up. Thankfully the hotel wasn’t too steep.
We had a driver that was arranged to take us from Wadi to Alexandria. And somehow (I don’t think we had decided on this ourselves…) he convinced us that he was also to be our driver for the next few days, where he had already planned our itinerary in great detail.
Here’s another lesson we learned about Egyptian culture: The phrase, “As you like!” doesn’t actually mean what you think it would mean. It’s more like how we throw around the word “love”. “I love pizza” doesn’t mean you love pizza like you love your family. Egyptians throw around the the phrase, “As you like.” Here’s an example:
Dave, (to Morad, our driver): I think we are tired now. We’ve seen a lot already today. We would like to head back to our hotel.
Morad: As you like. Or you could go to the palace. As you like.
Dave: No, I think we will just go back to our hotel.
Morad: Or you could go to the palace. As you like.
Dave: Well, we are both just tired, and it’s late. So, the hotel would be great.
Morad: As you like. You can get ice-cream and go in the palace…but as you like.
Dave: Really, it’s alright. The hotel will be fine.
Morad: As you like.
(as we approach the hotel, Morad speaks up)
Morad: So, the palace?
We did end up going to the palace, but thankfully we convinced him to take us the next day.
If you ever end up going to Alexandria, I highly recommend going to the library of Alexandria. In history, the library of Alexandria was one of the largest in the world. In it’s day, Alexander the great had every book that ever arrived in Alexandria copied and placed in the library. The old one was unfortunately destroyed by a fire, but in recent years they have built a library that is really quite the sight to see. It was most definitely my favorite thing I saw in Alexandria.
Some other sites we saw, (in order of interesting-ness)
The Catacombs: This was a burial site for many Romans who inhabited Alexandria. It’s quite vast, and very interesting. There is even a banquet room for the family of the deceased, so they could come in and feast on special occasions while in mourning.
Pompeys Pillar: To be honest…I still don’t know what the significance is of the pillar. There is an ancient temple site that is below the pillar, but the pillar itself is still a bit of a mystery to me.
The Citadel: This is built on the site of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world) It is mildly interesting, but we didn’t end up going into the main building, because it is a mosque and I didn’t have a head covering with me. Not really much to see though. Just a big fortress.
The Palace: This sounded a lot more interesting than it actually was. The Palace itself was only built in the early 1900’s, and you can’t even go in it. The grounds are nice, but nothing spectacular.
To be honest, my favorite part of Alexandria was just the fact that it was on the Mediterranean. I enjoyed just sitting and drinking coffee, while overlooking the sea. If you ever go to Alexandria, here’s what I recommend you do: If you are wealthy beyond compare, stay at the Four Seasons. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, Dave and I are not wealthy beyond compare. But, even if you are not a guest there, you can go to their rooftop lounge that looks onto the Mediterranean, and have dinner, or coffee, or drinks…or you can just sit there (as you like :) ). The service is amazing, and it’s got a great view.
Our time in Egypt is now over. Next stop, Greece.
I am so ready.


Apr 16 2009

A week in the desert…

This past week we have spent in Wadi El Naturn, recovering from our hectic week in Cairo. I got a cold just before we left Cairo, so it has been nice to have a place to rest, where there is nothing to distract me. The only thing we had planned to do this week was go and visit a few of the old Monasteries that are in the area. This taught us a valuable lesson about Egyptian culture, and how they relate to time. Here’s how it went down:
Day before planned event: Dave suggests to Noor that we go to the monasteries. Noor says “Yes! Yes of course, I will take you. At what time would you like to go?” Dave says, “Maybe 10:00?” Noor says, “Absolutely! 10:00 is perfect!”
Day of planned event, 9:30: We eat breakfast. Noor is nowhere in sight. After breakfast, we head back to our room and get ready to go.
10:00: Sitting in the courtyard, waiting for Noor.
10:45: Sitting in the courtyard…..waiting for Noor.
11:00: I say, “I’m going back to the room to check my mail while we wait. Come and get me when he comes.”
12:30: Dave arrives back in the room. “Noor says it would be better if we went after lunch. Probably 2:00.”
2:00: “Where is Noor?” We both wonder. Asmir says, “Noor went out to get some groceries very quick. He will be back very soon. Very soon.”
3:00: ….
4:00: Still no Noor. We make a joined decision that it would be better to go the next day to the Monasteries.

5:00: What’s that off in the distance? It’s Noor! He’s finally arrived! We go to Noor, and say “We think it would be better to go tomorrow. That way we will have more time.”
Noor: “No! Please! Let me take you now. I will take you now. Please. Please!”
Dave: “Really, it’s okay. We would rather go tomorrow.”
Noor: “Please!! Please!! I will take you right now! Please!!!! Please let me do this!”
Dave: *awkward silence* “Umm…alright.”
We all cram into Noors little truck, which barely makes it to the first monastery. When we arrive, Noor informs us that the Monastery is basically closed because it’s too late, but he will walk us around the grounds anyway. We follow reluctantly, knowing that there will not be much to see because of this. After walking around the grounds hastily, Noor says: “Maybe I will take you tomorrow. That way we will have more time.”
We agree.
And by the way…we never ended up going the next day…
Lesson learned: Egyptians must have a different time system than us. I’m pretty sure it is something like, one hour our time equals one day Egyptian time.