What I can't let go of

I've been serious about this minimalism and decluttering adventure. I took it on primarily as an answer to compulsive shopping and poor housekeeping - these were both habits that I didn't want to carry into adulthood. But I've stuck with it because it gave me so much more - it taught me to challenge consumer culture, it taught me peace of mind, it taught me to value quality over price, it even introduced me to the ideas of environmentally conscious consumption.

I enjoy the new scraps of space that have cropped up as we remove furniture and boxes. It's like our living areas can breathe. I know almost every item we own, and I know where they live. I can tidy all four rooms in fifteen minutes, clean in thirty, and sanitize in an hour.

Similar to how eating better means you spend more time thinking about food, I spend more time thinking about my possessions - that comes from being mindful of your materialism. I'm conscious of the weight of every item I own - the mental weight of something being "yours" that you want to protect, the physical space that it takes up, the financial weight of originally acquiring it, the weight of the image it projects to the world.

The last two are the hardest to overcome.

Walking into our apartment, I don't think you would notice how much time and effort I have devoted to shedding possessions. To start, we own quite a few pets - and cages, tanks, toys, food. The pets, and their quality of life, is a compromise I will not make.

Secondly, well - we live here! This is where we eat, entertain, play games, do hobbies, and is where we spend most of our time. Those things make messes! And while it's very quick to clean up, something is always happening to make a new mess. Such is life!

The last part is the hardest, though - I still own things I no longer use, but cannot let go.
Scrapbooking supplies: If I keep them, I probably will use them - very truthfully. But I haven't touched scrapbooking in over a year, and seeing those supplies taking up so much room gives me lots of guilt. Most of my stash was given to me as gifts (this will become a running theme), and I don't want to downsize because of that.

Warhammer: it seemed like a fun hobby, and I believe it would be, but it's also a time consuming one. We got most of our gear as presents, so slap on another layer of guilt over not using them yet!

Nail polish: when I was in high school, my nails were my identity. I always had long, strong, natural nails and every week I painted them differently - nail art was my thing. I tried to keep up with it in university, but eventually I just stopped. Though I continued to receive really lovely nail polishes as gifts, I haven't painted my nails in almost a year. I want to use my polish, and I don't want to admit to myself or others that my nail art days are done... So, for now, it stays.

Slow cooker and bread machine: both large appliances, both gifts, both make promises of delicious, easy food - both sit unused, and yet survive every clutter purge.

Books: ah! The bane of the declutterer! Somehow books give most people such a hard time. Maybe it's because just a handful of books looks lonely, or because finding a particular book again may be impossible (true for textbooks), but I still balk at trimming down the book collection any further. All those books I have yet to read, all those textbooks from university. They aren't treasures, but somehow they always survive! They remind me of who I once was - a student always hungry for knowledge.

Year in Review

This time two years ago, I was getting though my final exams and about to graduate university with zero plans for the future. I spent nearly a year after graduation unemployed, fighting with some mental and physical health problems.

This time last year, I was just starting a course of moderate-dose anti-depressants and was about two months into my first real job.

This past year has probably been the best year of my life. My mental condition is stable for the first time I can recall. T is also doing better mentally, after starting treatment for ADD in addition to anxiety. I am deeply fullfilled and challenged at my job. All my friends who are in town live within a few blocks of our apartment. I've started playing video games again. I'm still decluttering and trying to take steps to be more environmentally conscious.

Our wedding is officialy on, slated for August 30th. I've decided to continue my tradition of sewing my own gowns for special events (though this time it's much easier because I finally have a dressmaker's mannequin!)



The zoo has been a little sad since the new year - Nobbers passed away due to kidney failure, and one of our mice recently passed from old age. However, three weeks ago we adopted a cat! A 5-year old tortishell named Jasmine - we call her Jazzy. Its not all sunshine and rainbows though, because she evidently has a condition where she still goes though heat even though she's been spayed. We're having our vet look into it, but in the meantime... no one got much sleep last week!


The weather this winter was insane - the ice storm, the sheer amounts of snow, the wildly fluctuating temperatures. The river that flows through our city is flooding, thought luckily we live far enough from it that we should be safe.




We went to montreal last fall for a wedding and for shopping at Ikea. I managed to replace nearly all our old Wal*Mart furniture with new Ikea furniture - trust me, it's a step up. We also visited the Biodome, which is breathtaking.



Mostly, I've just been taking things slow and adjusting to having a self-sufficient life with a normal brain-chemistry. It's one of those things that you don't appreciate until you've lived without it.

As for this blog, I don't know what will happen. I've been feeling the blogging itch rather a lot lately, so we'll see. No promises though, as we all know how this story usually ends!

In which a Canadian girl goes to Maine

Three menopausal sisters, a twenty-something daughter, and a soon-to-be-daughter-in-law pile in a truck and drive to Maine.

... I don't have a punch line, I'm afraid.

'Few weeks back I went to Maine with the ladies of T's family. I...

  • ...ate a properly cooked steak! I didn't realize that meat could melt like that.
  • ...found all the remaining bits needed to complete my Animaritime costume on time
  • ...went yard-saleing for the first time!
  • ...witnessed an anime convention by accident. We saw all the people in costumes walking around the convention hotel and the nearby mall.

Storefront of the British Goods store
A stinkin' adorable shop in Freeport. They had a whole window display of Doctor Who swag

A bracelet made to look as if it is a chain of toonies Three shelves of blue teapot lamps, at least two lamps deep
A bracelet made of fake toonies. SO MANY TEAPOT LAMPS

Highlight the First

While driving through what I think is probably one of the least-populated sections of the highway, we suddenly all had to pee. Our choices were pretty limited - the ditch or the kind of gas stations that horror movies are filmed in. Neither choice was good, and the situation was getting... dire. Suddenly, an angelic choir and a majestic parting of the clouds alerted us to a glistening white sign just ahead - 'IRVING', it glowed, and we all sighed in near-relief.

But the sign was a trap! Here was not the whitewashed buildings with their cleaned-thrice-daily washrooms that I remember from childhood car trips, to which admittance was granted by a token purchase of a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a bag of chips. No, this was a bafflingly arranged Ma-'n-Pa store, that also happened to have a serious grudge against animals.

Assorted animal furs and animal tails hanging from wires
There was a mouse trap nailed to a sign next to the furs - "Animal Activists - to register a complaint, please press the button below."

Everyone took turns in the tiny, wood-paneled, much-graffitied bathroom with a toilet that refused to flush, while I stoked each of the furs and inspected the posted prices. I was sorely tempted to blow half my shopping budget on a full gray fox skin ($74.99), or at the very least a lovely sliver of white ermine ($14.99). But, as I reached the bottom of the price chart, I knew destiny would only allow me to walk away with one purchase: Coyote Faces: $3.99

Several coyote faces clipped to a hanger

That such total barbarism could be put so unabashedly on display was stunning to me; the price point of the pithily named coyote faces merely emphasizing the flippant disregard for the life of a creature that, to a city-dweller, is semi-mythical.

As I paid for my coyote face and tried to contain my baffled glee, one of the cashiers asked if I was from Canada. They probably get that reaction a lot, but I didn't mind. I was the proud new owner of a coyote face! A weird treasure, and an amazingly soft scrap of fur which will keep me content until the bunnies are home for the winter. (Writing it out makes it sound really creepy, but it's true.) It even has whiskers!


Highlight the Second


The second highlight of my whole trip was going to the headquarters L.L. Bean in Freeport. I have yet to be able to describe to anyone how bizarre the whole experience was, but I'll try again.

First of all, the store is actually more of a campus - there's a cluster of stores that are grouped around a central sort of park area. As far as I can tell, the largest building is the clothing section, which spans two (three?) floors, but it is also connected to the hunting, camping, and biking sections. Secondly, they're open 24 hours a day. Thirdly, they have a trout pond with real trout in it inside the clothing store. There was a mustachioed man in water waders doing a live fly fishing demonstration.



The store's heritage of an outdoors-y store greatly flavored the decor. Almost everywhere you looked there was wood and taxidermy. And it was quite surreal to leave the clothing section and arrive at the shotgun counter.


Sam laughing in front of a taxidermy grizzly
"HAHA! I laugh in the face of DANGER!"

But, my favourite part of the whole store was the giant "riverbed" aquarium they had in a hallway. At one end of the aquarium was a thick plastic bubble. You could crawl under and pop your head up, and it was like you were actually in the water with the fishes.


The whole time I was there, there was a constant stream of children swarming in and out of it. I almost had to fight them to get a chance at the bubble - and this was after eleven at night. Totally worth it, though, because we got probably the best photo ever taken of me:

Sam under a bubble, grinning and staring starry-eyed at several large, ugly fish swimming near her face

Overall, the trip was really fun, though it involved quite a few more dead animals than I had accounted for.

Animaritime 2013

Animaritime was in my city last weekend! I managed to find out about it a few months back, and was able to get a costume together just in time. Way back in October, I had started working on a Cardcaptor Sakura costume; I didn't finish that particular battle costume because I spent all my time on a Journey cloak for T. BUT - I had actually finished the staff prop around Christmas time! Clearly I just needed to make another of Sakura's battle costumes. Given the constraints of the con being held in late June, and the theme being "Through Time and Space," I figured I would make the fairy battle costume from the episode where she captures the Time card.

I thought I was being clever. ;)

Sam in Cardcaptor Sakura's fairy battle costume


The weather was on the chilly side, so T was able to wear his Journey costume. We even found an obelisk for him! Apparently there were a bunch of Journey travelers on one of the days, but we missed them as we only went on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

T wearing a Journey costume

T wearing a Journey costume, meditating before an obelisk

We didn't make it to many of the panels because we're bad at schedules, but it was still really, really cool to see so many people in such great costumes. I do know now to pay more attention to the schedule - most of the panels I was interested in, as well as the masquerade, were in the early afternoon, but I was too busy sleeping in to notice. In the end, we spent most of our time wandering around just looking at stuff. It was really funny to walk around the familiar downtown area and see a bunch of fantasy characters sitting in cafes and lounging on park benches.

One of the weirdest parts was how may strangers (not at the convention) would talk to us. As soon as we left the apartment to head downtown, a couple of guys shouted at us from across the street than ran over to shake our hands and ask why we were in costume. (They then tried to sell us drugs. That was unexpected.) There were people shouting out of cars, and more than one person leaning out of their house windows shouting that they liked our costumes. I just thought it was weird because the only other time I've been in costume in public is at Halloween, and I guess its expected then, so people don't get so excited?

We also ran into a photographer friend of ours, and we did a little photoshoot! (I've got the edited pictures, but they're so nice they deserve a post of their own.)

I didn't take many photos because I was really shy about asking, but here's what I did get. T found a Journey buddy, and I met another magical girl from a different series. (There were a few other Sakuras, but I missed the photo-op!)

T and another person in a Journey costume, sitting together

And a few really great costumes - but there were so many more I didn't get photos of, or even see! Some of these people have been tagged in my album in the Facebook group

Someone wearing Mandalorian armor

Someone in a Link costumeSomeone in a Link costume, in a battle pose with a sword

Characters from NarutoA semi-humanized BMO costume



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