Monday, 31 December 2012

Roundup 2012

Well well well... Here we are at the end of another year.  I didn't think that I would last 2 years on this here blog, but I'm glad I did.  This year was pretty busy, and had tons of changes and events for me.  And let's not forget the personal growth.  And the friends I made.  Here are my favorite posts from this year:

I also enjoyed these posts I wrote:

And from around the blogosphere I enjoyed:

It was a great year for blogging.  Here's to another in 2013!  Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ringing in a new year

I love the idea of New Year's Day!  A new start, time to make good on all those things you've been promising yourself.  It seems so hopeful to me.  And I'm a girl who loves hope.  So naturally, I see New Year's as a time to re-imagine what the upcoming year could be. 

I have a secret superpower: I am able to make and keep my new year's resolutions. 

Ok, its not really a superpower, its just knowing yourself enough to know how to set some realistic goals.  I don't usually set goals that impossible, no need to make myself feel like a failure.  Instead, I choose a few things that I want to improve about myself, and work on those.

Also, I make my list of resolutions really pretty so that I can hang them up on my bulletin board to remind myself what I'm working on.

This year, the list is kind of short, but still a challenge:

My resolutions are never overwhelming, and always something I think I can achieve.  So, this year I will:

1. Find an active hobby.

I have many hobbies that are stationary hobbies.  I love crafts, and knitting and sewing-- but not much movement happens there.  I need to find an activity that I like, that is active.  I run, but I don't ever enjoy that.  As a result, it is easy for me to go 2 weeks (like I have over the holidays...) not running.  I need something that is sorta social, active, and kinda fun.  And I need to be able to do it in the winter. 

Why an active hobby?  I think of it as a kind of test for myself.  I am starting to really like my body.  and one challenge for me is to take my body and do something active with it where other people will see me.  I run alone, inside, on a treadmill.   I want to love my body as it jiggles and wiggles while I'm moving. 

2.  Do one new thing.

This resolution is vague on purpose.  I don't really know what that new thing will be.  But, I really like to challenge myself, and I haven't done that recently.  I've been wanting to do something that scares me for a while.  No I'm not a masochist, I like trying to conquer some of the fears I have.  And one way I can do that is by facing them.  One year, I walked on the glass floor of the CN Tower, to face my fear of heights.  Its 1, 122 feet off the ground.  It did it.  And I felt awesome after I did it.  So I would like to do something like that again.  Maybe something to do with spiders...

3. Be self- affirming.

Honestly, this one will be the hardest.  I am the queen of self- depreciation.  I make jokes at my expense all the time.  And I never stop to think what it does to my state of mind.  Isn't that awful?  I seem to worry about everyone else's feelings but my own.  And then, when people don't consider my feelings, instead of being about to move past it, I fall apart.  I figure, that if I started to be nicer to myself, maybe just maybe, I can handle when other people are not as nice to me as they could be.

This is the resolution that will need the strictest game plan.   How will I know that I am being self-affirming?  Should I do a checklist?  A routine?  I may keep a journal, and write one thing I like about myself everyday.  I'm not sure how I will set it up yet. 

Do you have any practice that you use to protect your feelings of self appreciation?  I would love to hear about them...

Monday, 3 December 2012

12 posts of Christmas: Handmade Gifts

Dude.  I love Christmas.  I'm not talking about the religious aspect of the holiday, I'm not into that part.  I'm into the gift-giving, meal-making, goodie-baking, fun-spirited aspect of the holiday.  So, in honor of the holiday season, I'm going to have 12 posts dedicated to the things I love about Christmas.  


Isn't giving presents the best?  I love giving my friends and fam pressies, but often people are weird about it if there's no special occasion.  Every once and a while I will find something that I HAVE to buy for a friend, and they would give me a hard time about getting them something.  With some friends its goes so far as I wait for their birthdays, and then give them all the things I found along the way.   What happened to us as a society, where a friend can't give another friend something to perk up their day without bringing on the Inquisition?

ANYWAYS, one of my favorite things about Christmas, is that I can give gifts, and no one gives me the third degree about it.  One of the things I love to do is make the gifts I give to people.

I've always been crafty, but I never really gave handmade gifts at first.  I didn't have many people in my life who appreciated all the effort and time that went into making something.  So I kept most of the early things I made.  But I'm a knitter, and you can have entirely too many hats, scarves, mitts and sweaters so, one Christmas I gave away something I made.  And it was a hit!

There is a practical side to handmaking your gifts too.  A few of our Christmases were heavily budgeted for me and D as I was unemployed, then underemployed for a couple of years.  I made almost every present I gave that year.  Not only were they not costly, they were deeply personal to each person who received a gift.

Of course, pulling off a handmade Christmas takes a lot of planning.  I started thinking about Christmas gifts I wanted to make in August.  I searched for patterns, and started making gifts even if I didn't know exactly who they would go to.  And, if I made something and liked it too much to give away, there was time to find something else to make, or to make another one.  Not that I have ever done that, or anything.

For gift giving, I tend to stick to small things- hats or mitts and the like.  This way I don't have to worry about sizing, and you can never really have too many of either of these living up here in the "great white north."

Here is one of the gifts I made for a friend this year (Oh I hope she doesn't read this blog...):

I didn't knit this.  I was on a weaving kick for a while, and this is one of the scarves I made.  A friend commented on how much she loved it, so she's getting it for Christmas!

Another gift I've made for this year:

A Sunflower Tam!  I love this hat, and I have one for myself.  A great thing about being a knitter is that knitted gifts are in high demand usually.  But I have given other types of crafty gifts too.  A few years ago, I made some quilts for my grandmother, my mother and my mother-in-law; and I have made quilted makeup bags in the past.

But it really doesn't matter what kind of handmade gift you give; its really just the fact that you took some time, and thought about someone enough to give them not only a present, but you time too. And this is how I know that handmade presents best represent what I am trying to give to my friend and family; because I am always grateful when someone will spend their time on me.

What handmade gifts have you given? Why did you give it?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

12 posts of Christmas: DIY Star Ornaments

Dude.  I love Christmas.  I'm not talking about the religious aspect of the holiday, I'm not into that part.  I'm into the gift-giving, meal-making, goodie-baking, fun-spirited aspect of the holiday.  So, in honor of the holiday season, I'm going to have 12 posts dedicated to the things I love about Christmas. 

I love my tree.  Every year, D and I have an argument about what colors we are going to decorate the tree in.  He likes multi-colored lights and tinsel; essentially he likes it if the tree looks like a carnival threw up on it.  Each year I lobby for something a little classier.  Up until this year, I lost the battle.  It was fine though, I like decorating the tree and having it up, so it didn't really matter what it looked like to me.

But this year... D reminded me that we made a deal; if we did the tree how he liked it last year, he would let me choose the colors this year.  So I went for the classy white-lighted, red and gold decorated tree.  And it looks so nice!  There was one small problem, we didn't have that many red and gold ornaments.  We had tons of balls, but not anything else.

Well, thank goodness I'm crafty y'all.  I made most of the ornaments on the tree.  These ones are my favorites though.  They are fast, cheap and you can make them in any size and color you want.

And who doesn't love a tree full of stars?

These paper stars are great.  They are light, and pretty easy to make.  They are really fast too, so you can make 10 of them in no time. 


Fancy paper (one sided is fine)- cut into 4 inches square. 
Glue, I used white glue
Folder if you are using card stock

How to:

Turn your paper over (right side down) and fold your paper in half diagonally.  With the decorated side of the paper facing up, fold in half length-wise and width-wise. 

Turn the paper over again (right-side down) and mark just over an inch on the non diagonal seams that you folded.

Mark the same distance from the edge, all around your paper.

Cut along the seams to the point you marked.  You should have four cuts in your paper.  Fold the corners in towards the diagonal folds.  Do this for all four corners.  On ever other triangle, put some glue on, and over lap the triangles to create the points.  While you are waiting for it to dry, repeat these steps again to make the other half.

 Glue the halves together back-to-back to create an 8 pointed star!  Let it dry.

To hang the stars, I used a needle and some invisible thread and poked a hole in one of the points.  Ready to hang, and perfectly matched for my tree. 

I also made a bunch to hang off of gifts and stuff.  I've made these before, but larger and hung them from a window.  They are a pretty handy craft!

I'm thinking or crocheting some snowflakes or something...  What kind of ornaments have you made for your tree?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Dirty Hippie DIY: Cure for the Common Cold

'Tis the season for coughs due to colds.  And a doozy of a cold has been going around my workplace.  I think I've caught it (or a mutated version of it) 3 times.  I think I'm starting on number four now.

But I don't like taking all sorts of chemically stuff when I'm at home and I can rest away my illness.  So I go the good old fashioned route and sleep and drink gallons of tea.  I have a special recipe for a mixture I drink in hot water-- it always makes my stomach feel better, and it usually soothes my throat.  And the hot water helps my stuffy nose.  And, it tastes good.  AND, there are no chemicals in it. 

There is no name for it.  I call it the "tea jar" in our house.  There are a few different versions that I've used, but this is my favorite.  You can make your own "tea jar" with 3 ingredients:

1/2 cup of honey
2 inch piece of ginger root
1 lemon

That's all you need for some soothing tea.

Peel the ginger root and slice it really thin.  Wash the lemon, squeeze some of the juice from the lemon into the jar and then slice it really thin.  Put the lemon and ginger in a mason jar, and shake it to distribute it in the jar evenly.  Pour the honey over the whole thing, and seal the jar.  Store it in the fridge.

You could probably use it right away, but it is better if you wait.  I usually wait over night, but a couple of hours is okay too. 

To use it, boil some water, and put a heaping teaspoon of the honey in your mug.  Pour the hot water over it, and sip. 

I think I'll go make some now, I feel an itch in my throat...

Sunday, 11 November 2012

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do: Jump in an Elevator

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do is the brainchild of Jes, The Militant Baker.  After finding an idiotic and ridiculous list on the internet that proclaimed 25 tasks that fat people "shouldn't" do; she metaphorically and literally said "screw that," and  decided to do all the tasks on the list.  In her words, this list "ranges from the absurd to the profoundly shameful," so "[she] will be disproving this offensive notion with style."  I thought it was a brilliant idea; so I joined in

Jumping in an elevator is not much love in an elevator... (Yep.  Git yer Aerosmith jokes, right here.)  But it was a little fun to do something naughty and a little bit dangerous.

Ok, not that dangerous, but it worried D a little.  

We live in a high rise apartment building, so we ride an elevator everyday.  I should take the stairs more, but meh, I'm a busy person.  In the past, people have avoided letting me get on a packed elevator.  Once I got on the elevator anyways, and one woman complained the entire ride about how I shouldn't have got on, and how the other people should not have let me get on... About how we were probably over capacity in terms of weight now... And so on. So, I stopped the elevator on the next floor, and told her to get off.  She said she was on the elevator first, and I replied that she was the only one who was worried; so she should wait for the next car.  The rest of the people on the elevator agreed with me!  So she got off.  And there was more room and more laughing when she did leave.

What was the point of my above "victory" story?  Screw what people think of fatties in the elevator.  If they are uncomfortable they should leave. 

Also, I'm kind of sick of people thinking that fat people are going to break the elevator.  Its a really stupid notion-- And one that I don't put up with anymore.  So here it is, proof that one person can't break an elevator:

It is incredibly hard to get a not-blurry, good picture of yourself jumping in an elevator.  Nonetheless, here is me; jumping in an elevator.  And then we took that elevator downstairs to the parking garage, and lo, it was fine.  We also took the same elevator when we got home.  And it was still good.  

And now for you to leave with, my re-write of the lyrics of the chorus of  "Love in an elevator."   I've been singing this the whole time I was writing this post. 

Jump In An Elevator
Hoppin' it up while I'm goin' down
Jump In An Elevator
Hoppin' it up till I hit the ground

Click here to check "the list" of 25 things, and which ones I completed.

Monday, 29 October 2012

About a vlog...

So... As part of my comeback special, I'm going to try my hand at vlogging.  I have never done it.  I have only seen a few.  And I have no idea about what I should vlog. 

But, I'm going to try it. 

Maybe it will be some music.

Maybe it will be about some questions.

This is where I need your help.  What should the vlog be about?  What do you want to see?  If you have some questions, will you please email me?  Pretty please?

Sunday, 21 October 2012


Well, I'm on my way back.  I think that the dummies who sent those emails can bite me.  (I know, that's crude; but sometimes there is no classy way to respond to idiots.)

But what I need to plan is a comeback special.  It needs to be something fun.  It needs to be something feminist.  It needs to be something "Bassable."  Yup, I made up a word for what my comeback needs to be.

Help me decide on my comeback special.  Should I:

  • Post a new "25 Things fat People Shouldn't Do"
  • A new "Dirty Hippie" DIY post
  • A vlog, whatever that is
  • Something I haven't even thought of? (Post in comments!)
To vote, comment on your choice.  Its as simple as that!

I can't wait to see what you choose!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Right now.

This is me right now.

Right now, I can't sleep.  I got an idea and I had to do something about it.  Otherwise, I would have stayed up worrying that I was going to forget my awesome idea, and it would never come into fruition.  Then I got to the computer and promptly forgot it. 

Instead, I decided to blog right now; about how I do get up at night to paint, or write or anything if my brain tells me I have to do so.  I know I have work in the morning, and that because of my midnight creativity I may need a bucket full of coffee to seem semi-human and semi conscious, but right now, creativity feels good.

Right now, there are drunk people yelling outside.  Its 1:30 in the morning.  I wonder why they aren't worried about being hungover tomorrow.  And I'm a little bit jealous that I don't go out and have fun late anymore because of tommorrow.

I am not complaining.

Right now, I have a totally fulfilling job.  I love what I do.  Sometimes my students totally surprise me.  For example, last week it was a boy's birthday in one of my classes.  I asked him to take the attendance record to the office.  While he was gone, the students in his class sang the National Anthem in French with no prompting from me.  To reward them, I gave them "Boutique Bucks" a coupon of sorts they can save and spend in my prize shop.  Without any word, each students put their newly acquired buck on the birthday boys' desk.  And when he came back from the office, he had 30 "Boutique bucks" on his desk.  It was really moving to see those kids think outside of themselves.

Right now I can hear D snoring.  He snores loud.  Its a calming sound though.  Its rhythmic, and that helps me relax.  It reminds me of home a little because my dad snored like a buzz saw.  My dad's snoring made me feel safe.  D's snoring kinda does that too.

Right now, there are  hundreds of lights on in the apartment building outside my window.  When I can't sleep, I look at it.  What are all those people doing?  We should all be asleep.  There will be lights on all night in that building.  I know 3 people that live there.  I wonder if their lights are on?

Right now, this is what's happening.  Its not much, but its a lot for someone who should be asleep.  I may try and write about what is happening in the day time. But right now, its all about my insomnia. 

What is happening "right now" for you?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Trying not to take haters to heart...

Buy the print from:

Sorry for the break, my friends.  I just needed some time away from all the mean things the blogosphere can be.  What is can be is petty, mean-spirited, rude, soul-destroying and disheartening.

Its hard not to feel a little sad when complete strangers take the time to write awful things about you, to you.

But it took me some time to remember that it can also be empowering, caring and thoughtful.

A few weeks ago I got an awful email about how wrong I was for posting what I did about my union and my job.  I was attacked for being selfish; for not caring about my students and so forth. 

Its not like I haven't heard that before.  

But the emails got worse.  A few people mined my blog for anything that they could use to attack me-- my writing about how I glorify fatness, and then about my depression; and because I write about and live these things, how I must be bad at my job. 

It was the craziest shit.  At first I was really really mad.  Then I got really sad.  I couldn't (and still really can't) understand why these people came after my blog; why they came after me.

What is most confounding is why spend the time and energy trying to break someone down? 

Luckily for me, I'm an adult with perspective, and critical thinking skills.  I also have an awesome support network of friends and family that help me remember that its just the internet.  I got lovely, encouraging emails from people I had never met.  I had people to help me remember that "haters are going to hate."

But then this happened

Now I'm mad again. (Anger is my default emotion as of late.)

Who has the right to use the internet, this tool, this vast bank of information as a weapon?  That's what is happening.  The internet has become a new weapon.  Its the perfect kind of weapon, because the people who wield it don't have to see the aftermath.  Any coward can use it.

And that's what this type of bullying is, cowardice.  These people are COWARDS.

When the "bullying" that happens costs people their lives, shouldn't we have a better name for it?  No wonder no one takes it as seriously- it has the same name as calling someone disparaging names.  And that is bad, but it is getting much worse.

Children are not being just "bullied" on the internet; they are being all-out harassed; and sexually harassed.  They are being Cyber-Assaulted.  

This is gone beyond bullying.  This is assault.  The cowards that perpetrate this type of harassment should be charged with a crime. 

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Nothing to Say

I'm a bit of a blabbermouth.  But every once and a while, I have nothing to say.  Is this common for bloggers?  I am usually willing to talk (and write) about everything and anything; but lately, I have been coming up with fewer and fewer things to share. 

Its not because I'm particularly busy.  Although I am busy, I've always made time to update my blog.  I guess its because everything that I've been doing as of late has had to do with school and work.  I don't usually like to blog about work, so I haven't had much to say about anything else.  As you've read, I am not in love with the conflict that is happening between my union and the government.  So because I am so disheartened by that, I've stopped talking about it with non-teachers altogether.  I know that's not fair, but I'm sick of defending myself and my profession.

I also have been getting some not so nice emails about my blog here.  I'm torn between publishing them here and writing and open response, or just ignoring them.  Really, these emails are turning me off blogging.  I'm not going to quit, but I'm not impressed with these responses.  Jerks.

Maybe this counts as a type of writer's block.  But, I can think of tons of things that I could write about and do, I just don't want to right now. I don't know.  Maybe its just a slump.

What you you do to get over the hump?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I'm a teacher, here is what I think.

Bill 115 passed in Ontario yesterday.  What is interesting about this bill, is that it limits that freedom of teachers to strike.  I'm a teacher.  Here is what I want to respond (but the website won't let me right now) to people (ahem.) who are commenting that:

"Teachers are the spoiled brats of the working class" - "Financegal" 


"Maybe so, but you also lose your dignity when you protest this bill by taking it out on the kids by cancelling extra curricular activities.  Far as I am concern, ever teach that does this proves to me they are not there for the kids and they should not be teachers.  No matter what issues there are between teachers, the union and the board, there is never a time you use the kids as a bargaining tool, that has to stop. That is what makes many teachers a disgrace."   - "Cael"

And my favourite:

"If we just gave the teachers what they want, they wouldn't throw a tantrum. That's NOT what we need to teach our children." - "RightofCenter"

I'm Stephanie Bass.  I teach French.  I'm new to teaching; this is my second career.  I don't get any of the "benefits" that teachers who are not new get.  I should.  Also, I don't know who said that the teacher's were not fighting about money.  Of course its about money.  It costs money to educate.  More money if you want children educated well.  

But I will concede.  I will stop being selfish and give up everything if I can negotiate my pay (instead of a faceless board determining my pay by my credentials alone) and be paid an hourly wage that takes into account my education and experience.  I have an M.A.  I was once a social worker, which is a handy skill-set working in an inner city school.  I have experience teaching at two top Canadian Universities (York and McMaster).  I speak English and French.  Also, I'm pretty charming so I feel comfortable asking and confident I could talk my way into the $20-30/ hour I would make in the private sector in a professional capacity.  I work from 7:30 in the morning until about 6:00 at night with my extra-curricular activities, marking and preparation.  Of course, this is a conservative estimate.  All of this means I should be getting a base salary of $60-70 000/year.

I pay for all my resources, office supplies and additional training, for which I would like to be reimbursed.  This year I have spent $3000 on training, and $2000 on office and school supplies for students who can't afford their own.  I would need to be reimbursed for the $300 I spent printing my own resources, as well as the $500 I spent on educator resources.  $67 300 for those of you playing along at home.

I also need to travel for meetings, conferences and training, for which I also pay.  That is another $1000 this year (but could be more).  $68 300.  Can I put in for mileage too?

What about the "extras" I pay for because I work in a poor area?  I buy birthday presents for kids that would get none.  I buy extra snacks for kids that don't get lunches.  I buy coats and clothing in the winter, shoes all year round, bathing suits, toiletries. Once, I had to buy a set of socket wrenches to help fix a students' bike.  Can I have an expense account for that?

Right now the total for me, without benefits, without sick days is almost $70 200/ year.  This is significantly more than I currently make as a teacher.  You wouldn't gripe about $30 000/year? 

But there is more: the government legislated that I can't strike?  Something that is written into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  I am not allowed to express my frustration about my employment, my pay, or benefits?  In response, we will take the one thing we have to work with and stop it- no volunteering at the school where we also work.  Seems reasonable.  This is 10-15 hours a week in free labour that I will stop performing.  Although my volunteering is not mandatory, it is important.  And hopefully, people will see its value and come back to the table to discuss this conflict.

I am frustrated that I am not running my extra-curricular activities; emotionally torn really, because in my school, its all many students get in terms of music lessons, and sports teams.  My students deserve it, and need it.  And I get to feel terrible about it.  I get to look my students in the eyes and tell them that Glee club and Rock band are cancelled until further notice. So I get the sleepless nights and guilt about stopping these things.  But, what else can I do?  I need people to listen to my concerns.  Discussion hasn't worked.

One lesson that I teach my students is to stand up for yourself, even when people don't understand or agree with you.  I'm just standing up for myself.  I deserve some credit and some answers.  There are many who don't understand "what the deal with teachers are." This is my deal, one in thousands of "deals."  I hope it sheds some light.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do: Make Art of Themselves

25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do is the brainchild of Jes, The Militant Baker.  After finding an idiotic and ridiculous list on the internet that proclaimed 25 tasks that fat people "shouldn't" do; she metaphorically and literally said "screw that," and  decided to do all the tasks on the list.  In her words, this list "ranges from the absurd to the profoundly shameful," so "[she] will be disproving this offensive notion with style."  I thought it was a brilliant idea; so I joined in.

Out of all the rules that were listed on that ridiculous list, this is the stupidest.  Art is full of large, beautiful women; there is an artist that is famous for his love of painting voluptuous women!  It makes sense though, painting curves has always been associated with sensuality, and beauty.

So instead of me creating a piece of art based on me (which I will do another time) I wanted to share what is perhaps the biggest compliment I have ever received from a friend of mine who is a great artist.

My friend Shira had asked if she could paint a portrait of me.  I was beyond flattered.  This picture came about from a series of pictures she took of me for her photography class.  She like a close up photo she took of me so much she wanted to paint it.  And I love the outcome.  She even entered it into a pretty famous art show in Toronto.

So, not only was I a piece of art, but I was a piece of art on display for 1000s of people to see.  I was more than a little surprised when people stopped me on the street to tell me about the painting of my face they saw at the art show.

The portrait, of course, was not the real gift.  The real gift was that my friend was able to show me how she saw me- that I was a piece of art!   Its silly, but I had to see something for me to believe it.  And I never had the confidence in my painting abilities to produce something that that displayed how I felt on the inside.  I am thankful that Shira could make me see that.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Under the Weather

I'm so glad its raining out today.  Because I am sick.  I have (what I hope is) a really bad cold, and I've been sleeping on and off for most of the day.

So I've taken up residence on my couch, where I will watch hours of Community, and play video games.  Then I will have a nap.  This sounds like an awesome day, if it weren't for one fact:  I feel like garbage. 

In other news, you may have noticed that I haven't been posting as often here.  That's because last week I got great news:  I was offered a full-time permanent teaching position at a public school here in town.  This is a big deal, since it is very difficult to get an interview, let alone an actual job. 

Now I am a permanent French teacher!  I really love it.  I teach in an inner-city school, which is my preference. It's a tough environment sometimes, but I went to an inner city school as a kid, and I think that these schools totally deserve great teachers who understand the lives of their students; and can serve as an example of success!  I have great co-workers, and administrators; and even though the provincial government is being a bunch of political d-bags, I'm happy. 

So, I'm sorry if it seems to be a little sparse around here for a while, I have to set up my year (administratively) and focus on work for a little bit.