Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dot com or not com

You like blogs?  I put a blog in my blog.  Inception.

 I have been playing with the idea of purchasing a domain for my blog here.  I have been looking around for the pros and cons of such an endeavor.  The thing is, I'm not very serious about my blog. I like to write it, and I love to share the things that I've been doing.  I also enjoy the comments and conversation that happen in this space.  But I am not interested in monetizing my blog-- which seems to be the biggest draw to moving to a personalized domain name, a "dot com."

More, I kinda like how small my readership is.  I feel like I'm able to respond to each comment, and "get to know" people that comment.  I can keep up with their blogs, and have witty repartee with them.  I feel like that I've made some friends with the people who have been reading for a while.  

But, I've read that having a "dot com" domain name, will expand traffic.  A few friends that have moved to a "dot com" have said they noticed an increase of traffic for their blogs.  So, as with all decisions, I have created a pro and con list for moving to


 Do you have a "dot com?"  Are you happy with it?  Should I just leave it?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Cocktails: The classic G&T

Ah summer, when I get all my drinking for the year done.  Since I don't work in the summer, I don't have to worry about pesky early mornings, or "bedtimes."  It becomes the time of the year (other than Christmas) that I can enjoy some adult beverages without the guilt or responsibility of "adult situations" creeping up on me the next morning.

In the summer, I find that I always reach for (or make or order) the classic Gin and tonic.  It is a cool, metrosexual choice for the urban yuppie.  And I have come to grips with the fact that I'm a "yuppie."  Your brother can only call you that so many times before you think about it, and realize that its probably true.  Is being a yuppie that bad?  I have a stable income, a nice home.  We can go on vacation.  I think that dude is just totally jealous.  I mean I work hard for my money; if I want to go on vacation or buy a car, I should be able to right?  When did I start to think being a yuppie was so bad anyways?  So I put fruit on my salads and eat quinoa.  They're good for you!  I still have loads of street cred.   Forget that kid, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

ANYWAYS,  I love a good G&T.  Its crisp, and refreshing.  Lately, I've been livening my drinks up.  I used to just put that good ol' drink helper, lime into my G&Ts, but now I've started being more adventurous.  Here are some of the additions that I have found to be quite tasty in a classic Gin and Tonic:
  • Strawberries and mint
  • Cucumber and basil (pictured above)
  • Cucumber and melon
  • Blueberries and thyme (I know, but trust me on this one)
  • Mixed berries and lemon
  • Apricot and mint
  • Sliced peaches
  • Lime Cordial and mint

To add any of the above, just muddle your add-ins in the bottom of the glass and add your ice and Gin and Tonic on top, and enjoy!  They taste so good, and they look pretty too.  As soon as noon hits, I'm going to have one.

What are some add-ins that I haven't thought of?  What cool combos have you added to drinks this summer?

Monday, 29 July 2013

DIY Stationary Cards

I love note cards.  I buy them a lot.  I like giving little notes to say "thank you," or "what's up?"   I wanted to create little note cards that are more personal; and original.  When I showed people the little shark drawing, they got a kick out of it too.  So, I thought it would be fun to have it on a little card, you know, to send as a pick-me-up to my friends when they needed it.

I would love to be able to make the note cards from scratch when I need them, but that is not always feasible for me because I get so busy.  So I took the picture, and created this little card.  It was super easy-- and really not expensive.

I printed them out on card stock, and cut and folded!  And that's it.  New note cards to give to friends.

Do you buy or make your cards? 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Funny Friday: Hugs are free.

I like to draw stuff.  Most of the time, its stuff I think is hilarious.  All of this stuff I draw in a sketch book I have titled, "The Happy Book."  I know, original.  But these are things I thought I would share with you on Fridays.  And lo, they shall be called the "Funny Friday Collection."  I hope you bust a gut like I did-- and do when I show them to people.  Enjoy.  And I'm sorry.

Just like the shark said.  They're free.

In case you were looking for one too...

I asked a similarly big-boobed friend of mine: "Where can I get a strapless bra that doesn't suck?"

She replied, "Narnia."

Which sucks for me because I don't have my car today. To which she said, "you don't need a car, you need a wardrobe."

She is right on that count in so many ways.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The ABCs of Me: "B" is for books

Oh my.  Look how pretentious I look reading Hemingway.   The funny thing is, I really do like that book.  Its one of my favorites, and I've read it 6 times.

ANYWAYS, when I thought of what the letter "B" would represent in my list about me, it was obvious that it would have to be books.  If you walk into our place, the first thing you see are bookshelves full of books.  When the guys that were moving our piano came in, he said "whoa, you guys really like books, huh?"

And we do.  For the first 8 years living together, we didn't have cable TV, and so we got used to reading instead of watching TV.  Which is great.  Its a habit now if we are bored to pick up a book instead of turn on the tube.  But I definitely read more than D does.  I will read anything.  And I know people say that, but seriously, I will.  One night because it was in the house and I was interested, I read an entire text book on the Nuremburg War Crimes trials after WWII.  I don't know why, I just did.   I think I like being a know-it-all.  That's why I read all sorts of things.  I like to be able to annoy my friends with little-known trivia.  I am a hit at parties.  Well, not really, but still...

I also read for fun.  I love a good novel.  For a while, I was into the classics.  I figured they had to be classics for a reason, right?  Some I loved, like Les Miserables, David Copperfield, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath; but some I didn't like Wuthering Heights; Great Expectations or anything by Jane Austen.  I've slowed down with the classics, and read a lot of Sci Fi now.  Its cool, and you've heard me drone on and on about it, so I won't repeat how much I love it again.  But I do.  Love it that is.

I'm usually a really social person, but reading is one of those things that I do solo.  I have never been in a book club-- I don't think I would enjoy it.  I tried to have a stress-free book club on my blog here, but I always have a problem sticking to things I start... So, that was short lived.  I think I like talking about books, but I don't necessarily want structure to that conversation because then it feels like English class.  And I kind of hoped my essay days were over.  I don't like writing essays.

What I do like is writing book reviews.  But if you are anything like me, you hate reading book reviews; which is an interesting conundrum.  I want to tell you what I think about a book, but I don't want you to care about what I think.  I guess I just want to argue about books.  Or not.  Its hard to tell with me sometimes.

What is also hard is coming up with my top ten books of all time.  Entirely difficult actually.  So here is my third list (in no particular order).  I tried my best to come up with one line summaries- not reviews. 
  1. Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell- A dystopian "love" story.  (Read it and you'll know why I put love in quotation marks.)
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- You can't always get what you want.
  3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo- Vive la revolution!
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway- Viva la revolucion! (See what I did there?)
  5. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut- You never could see the cat, or the cradle, could you?
  6. Dawn by Octavia Butler- Alien babies of our own.
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley- You want to wear grey in this world.  Trust me.
  8. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood- Never trust anyone who calls themselves "Maddadam."
  9. Where and When I Enter by Paula Giddings- Its a feminist text book.  I love it though.
  10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck- Even though Tom Joad has a ballad, Ma Joad was the hero.      
Of course, as soon as I hit publish, I will want to change this list.  For me, the above books are good readings to broaden one's cultural lexicon.  I like them because whenever I talk to someone about any of the above books, I always hear a different interpretation, or a new lesson.  It makes me want to read them again to see if I can glean something new from them.  I usually do.  And that's an important part of reading for me.

What are the top 3 books you would recommend to someone to read?  For what reasons?

Read the rest of the ABCs of Stephanie:

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The ABCs of Me: A is for Angerball

Oh, hey!  If you are reading this, you have stuck around this blog.   You are good people.  I read a lot of blogs that don't post anything political... This space is not like that.  So, thanks for being awesome!

I've seen this type of "ABC" list around the blog-o-sphere, and I thought it would be a great (sort of) feature for this blog, so you can get to know me a little better.  And who doesn't like writing essays about themselves?  I certainly do, so I thought this would be a great idea.  

"A" is for "Angerball

I know what you are thinking; what is an "angerball?"  "Angerball" is a term that we use around our house when Stephanie is a ball of tension and anger. Sometimes we use it jokingly, and sometimes its serious.  It really depends on context.  We started using it as a way to diffuse my anger.  I get mad a lot.  Some would say that I have a temper.  You know how it is, I have curly hair.  What's that poem? "There once was a girl with a curl/ in the middle of her forehead./ When she was good, she was very, very good,/ when she was bad she was horrid." So, basically that's me.  But to know me is to love me.  I guess.

I've been thinking lately, what makes some people get angry so easily, and others so chill about stuff? We need some sociology students to figure this stuff out.

ANYWAYS, I know that you want o know how you would you use this in a sentence.  Here are some examples of our use of the term: "Stephanie just ran into a neo-nazi; she's a big angerball right now-- and rightfully so."  Or: "Oh, don't worry D, this isn't an angerball moment; I'm just messing with you!"  So, I guess "angerball" is always a noun.  I haven't verbed it yet, but I will let you know when I do.

Being a liberal-type person, who is active in anti-racism and feminism, it is not surprising that I am angry often.  Just a few of the things that make me angry are:

  • racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism-- you know where I'm going with this.
  • jokes about abuse, rape, violence; that shit is not funny.
  • traffic jams
  • when DJs talk over the start of a song on the radio
  • changing the milk bag-- I mean, c'mon!  You finish it you switch it!
  • people who talk down to me; I'm not a moron
  • people who stare at me at yoga class
  • when they discontinue a product I like using
  • when I notice the guy driving in front of me is texting!  On the highway!
  • when people ask if I've lost weight (A. How is that anyone's business?  B. I usually just tell them, "No, its still there, I'm just parting it on the side now.")
  • when my hair won't co operate
  • when the sink is stopped up
  • when I buy something and then find it for much cheaper
  • people who try to cut in front of other in long lines- wait your turn!
  • noisy neighbours at 1am (if I can keep my piano quiet, you can not scream at each other)
  • when people hit their kids in pubic (or in private)
  • And much, much, more!!!

So, as you can see, I get mad a lot.  For someone with quite the temper, you would think that I spend most of my days walking around in a fog of anger and loathing.  Oddly, I do not.  I am quick to temper, and also, quick to cool down.  I like to think of it as a little stress workout for my heart.  Part of the reason I can cool down so quickly is my "calm yourself down" routine.  Next time you are angry, you can try it too.  I've made a flowchart that you can remember and consult next time you are an angerball:

So, when I get mad, I usually tell myself to get a grip and that works for me.  What do you do to calm down after you get frustrated? 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

"You see racism where there isn't any..."

Awesome news! Actually, not awesome; annoying news... (there is some swearing in this post.)

I got an email about my post on the George Zimmerman post I wrote.  In this long-winded, ridiculous, and offensive email I was told that "blacks are too sensitive about this case, and about racism in general;" "you see racism in situations where there isn't any;" and "you should be happy about the changes for the better, at least your not a slave now;" along with an explanation about what racism is.

If you sent me this email, first of all you are a coward for not using your real name.  Secondly, you have not bothered to read anything that has been posted to give you a better understanding of racism through the lived experience of black folks. (See Questlove's article about the Trayvon Martin murder.)  Third of all, fuck you.  You think that you are adding an important aspect to this discussion, but you are not. 

Because I believe that people may not understand what I mean when I say "racism," I thought that I would define racism as I see it.

Audre Lorde defined racism as a scourge that pervades every aspect of society; it is the "belief in the inherent superiority of one race (whiteness) over all others and thereby the right to dominance." (Lorde, Sister Outsider, 1984, page 115.)  Stuart Hall adds that racism is an institutional hegemony of white folks over other raced people through economic, political and ideological practices. (Hall, "Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance," 1980, page 338.)   But trying to define the institutional and complex social relations it encompasses is extremely tricky.  Racism is part of the English language.  People still use the word "minorities" to describe people of color-- who outnumber the white population of planet Earth.  There is a hierarchy inherent in that word that has nothing to do with numbers.  The pervasiveness and institutionalized nature of racism in our society is what makes it so insidious; an endemic feature of society that permeates every aspect of it.  It also makes it seem invisible to white folks who can decry overt examples of racism as crude and uneducated while ignoring or perpetuating underlying institutional racism in their daily interactions (or emails) with non-white folks.

It is the institutionalization of racism that makes it oppressive; but also renders the notion of "reverse-racism" a myth.  Because "white" culture dominates our institutions in our society,  there is no way that non-white races have access to power needed to oppress white folks.  There is definitely prejudice towards white folks, but at the end of the day, white people don't have to worry that their may lose the right to vote, or that the police will assault them.

In short, racism is big.  Really big.  And not fixable over night.  And something that I see EVERYWHERE.

Sci-fi writer Catherine Shaffer wrote on her blog So Shiny a great response to people who ask the question, "why are people calling me a racist?"  See the whole post here.  What I would like to highlight is the list of rules to follow if you truly want to try and fight racism. She writes: 

Great words of advice for anyone who takes this as seriously as I do. 

That's probably enough angry blogging for now.  Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

A Few Thoughts on the Zimmerman Case

I have been thinking about what to say about the Zimmerman case.... I mean what is there to say that hasn't been eloquently stated by some writers far more gifted than I am? I was never angry.  I was sad.  But I knew what would happen.  People said I was negative, and cynical. 

I am neither: I just know how entrenched in racism our legal systems are.  There is inequity in the justice systems of the US and Canada (even though, Canadians will say that these systems a very different.) I would note that in terms of racism, they are more similar than you would think.

Of course the Zimmerman verdict went the way it did.  History has shown that the law simply doesn't value the lives of black folks.  I would add that most other races other than white folks rarely fare well in the legal system.  Think of the Scotsborough boys, Lynch laws, the death of Emmett Till, and the arrests of numerous black panthers and civil rights activists. 

But Stephanie, those examples are from so long ago, surely it has changed for the better now? 

I don't want to think of legal racial equity as on a spectrum anymore.  If I continue to think of it that way, I'll get complacent-- I need to think in terms of right and wrong; working and broken.   Our legal institutions are broken in terms of race and equity.  When it comes right down to it, white folks and folks of other races are not equal in the eyes of the law. So instead of a spectrum of less or more racist, I choose to state that the system is still racist. Stated simply, it will be racist until it is not.  "Almost not racist" has made us lazy.

But even if folks still want to use the shifting spectrum of racism, who says its even that much better? Even with the light skin privilege I carry, I have still felt the sting of the unjust, unequal legal system.

For example:  One night I was standing with my husband (then boyfriend) at a bus stop. Two police officers stopped their car to "talk" to me. My husband thought nothing of it, why would he? He has had a great relationship with police officers. But I knew better, I told my partner that they were coming to bug me.  Of course, my boyfriend didn't believe me. But they did get out, and they did ask me what I was doing, where I was going, if I had ID, what I was carrying in my backpack, why I was out so late, where did I live... All of which I complied with, and answered with a lot of "yessirs," and "no sirs."  My companion asked the officers why they were so interested in me (something I would have never asked myself.) Their answer was because I fit the description of a "drug dealer and prostitute" that was seen in the area.   I knew who they were looking for, we had gone to school together.  I looked nothing like her.  She was tall and thin. The one thing we did have in common was our race.

When I told friends this story, they had many excuses- the cops were doing their job, they were being through, how could I be sure that it was about my race, and my favourite-- I should be happy they were doing their job so well! But that wasn't the last time that happened. I was suspected of a crime I didn't and couldn't have committed.  I've been followed and harassed by cops.  And every time, some of my white friends would tell me I was over reacting.   I couldn't possibly know that my race had anything to do with it.

But I do know that my race has everything to do with my interactions with the police.  Each time I had a problem, there had been reported and documented cases of my local police using racial profiling.  This is what Zimmerman did;  he profiled racially and reacted.  Why would the legal system convict a man for using one of their own practices?   

For North American society, racist inequality is ingrained in all of our institutions.  Law, (as evidenced most recently by the Trayvon Martin case;) education (we need a Black History month to help people remember to add us into the story;) media (that Cheerios commercial debacle, Paula Deen, there's a lot.)  Its everywhere.  Every institution tells me that my life is not worth the same as a white person's life.  And unfortunately, black folks have learned to live with that.  I've learned to live with that.

But I shouldn't live with that.  But the fight for racial equality seems insurmountable when I am constantly being told that its not that bad.  Trayvon Martin is dead.  It is that bad.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Made: Cotton Cropped Cardigan (Try and say that 3 times fast)

Even though I have been a somewhat absent blogger, I have been doing other things.  I've been having a crisis about my blog lately (more on that later), but I'm pretty proud of the sweater I just made, so I thought I would share.

I stopped knitting for a while, and then my friend opened a yarn boutique.  With her shop came more incentive to knit on!  The yarn for this project was one of the first things I bought there.  I finished it in under 2 months, which is pretty fast for me.  I wanted something light, that I could throw on at night in the summer.  So I decided to make something in cotton, and voila!

Its pretty warm, even though it is cotton.  I couldn't wear it around here right now since its so hot.  It figures that as soon as I finish a summer cover-up, it swelters.  It will cool down, I hope, so that I can wear it.

For those of you interested in such things, here are the specifications:

Pattern:  I made it up, but here is one that is similar for free at the Lion Brand Yarn website
Size: My size.  I tried it on as I went, so no measurement or numbers were needed.
Yarn: Mirasol Hap'i cotton (discontinued), 5 skeins in color "Natural"
Needles: US 9 circs
Time to Complete: About 1 1/2 months, but I only worked on it once a week.

P.S.  I have been thinking about the Trayvon Martin case, and I will have something to post on that coming up.  Right now, I'm still really sad about the whole deal. 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

It comes once a year...

My birthday is here!  This year I'm not making a big deal about it.  I'm going to do some stuff with my family today, and dinner with friends tomorrow.  You know how it is.  Everywhere I went today, I told people that it was mu birthday!  I learned something new-- once you hit 30 years old, people don't really care that much about your birthday.  Ah well, they're just mad 'cause its not their birthday.  Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Vacation Round-Up: Quebec City, Canada

View of Quebec from the Plains of Abraham

D and I went on a quick trip to Quebec City for a few days as a get-away for about a week.  We wanted to do it on the cheap, so we (or more accurately, I) drove the 10 hours to get there, and had some fun doing the sight-seeing thing.  What I love about Quebec is that it can feel like you are in another country.  Due to a law from a while ago, all signs in Quebec are in French, which adds to the feeling of being farther away from home than you are. 

Street in Old Quebec

We spent most of our time wandering around the "Old City" in Quebec.  Which I really enjoyed.  Because I'm a French teacher, I speak French, so it was easy for me to ask for directions, and have conversations with people.  D was a little frustrated, not remembering as much of the language as I did.  But we still had a great time.

Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec's Boardwalk

I mostly brought back souvenir stuffs; you know like flags and other assorted memorabilia-- I needed some stuff to decorate my classroom with!  The great thing about visiting during the tourist season is there are tons of free things you can get.  I have a bunch on posters for the classroom in French.  I am very excited to hang up.

Another pic of the Chateau Frontenac

Probably the most famous building in the city is the Chateau Frontenac.  We sat outside it to have our lunch.  I love taking photos of it.  Its interesting from very angle.

I think the highlight of the trip for D was visiting the Citadelle.  He's really into military history and stuff.  It was interesting. 

My favorite part of the tour was riding the incline railway, the funiculaire.  I don't know why, I just thought it was cool.

A play about the church, which was celebrating its 350th anniversary too.

We were pretty lucky that we chose to visit Quebec this week.  There were tons of celebrations going on as it was the city's 350th anniversary celebration, so there were lots of street shows and activities, including a show by Cirque De Soleil and fireworks. 

Even though it was a short trip, it was a lot of fun.  D and I keep talking about "the next time we go back." So that's a good sign.

Have you done any quick trips?  Want to share some memories with me?

Friday, 5 July 2013

What I wore: Antique Roadtrip Edition

Wow; nice of you to show up.  Where have you been, Stephanie?

Well blog, I have been on vacation.

And before that?  Its been like a month.

Well... I'm a teacher and it gets a little busy at work in June.  I was doing that J-O-B thing to pay the bills.  

And you could drop me a line?  Say hello?

I guess I could have; but I wasn't very interesting for the past little while.  Just working.  You know.

Well, don't let it happen again.

Ok.  Maybe.  I don't know.  I will try, how's that?

Next time just give some warning.  Ok?

Yep.  You got it.   

So what I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry for the radio silence, y'all.  Life got busy, and then I went on vacation (more on that later.)  But I'm back, and its summer, so its time to resume the "lots-of-posts- cause-I-got-nothing-else-going-on" season! So let's kick this off with a post about clothes.

::Top to Bottom::
Jacket: WalMart
T-Shirt: Cotton Ginny (remember that place?)
Jeans: Torrid
Shoes: Birenstock (I know, another pair!  That's like 5 now.)
Bag: Fossil (on sale, from Macy's!)

Don't I look bad-ass?  My mother hates it when I wear skulls.  She thinks its so morbid.  I think its tough you know?  I gotta keep up appearances with my tattoos, and nose ring (both of which she hates, both of which I got to tick her off.)  Ah, moms and daughters, huh? 

AND, I found a new hair product I love.  So I wear my hair out and afro-y more.

AND AND, I got that awesome purse while shopping with my mom in Buffalo-- for almost 200 dollars off!

I wore this to one of my favorite places, Aberfoyle Antique Market!  We didn't buy anything that day, but I was tempted a few times.  Here is the items that I wanted the most, but I couldn't quite convince D to let me get it:


Isn't it so... awesome?  D said it was tacky, but I thought it would look so classy in the living room! Oh well, hopefully its there next time.  So I can buy it once and for all!