Personal: Things on My Mind

1.Netflix. I have watched a lot of Netflix these last few weeks. Here’s what I’ve watched (and recommend):

The Social Dilemma. This documentary gave an interesting look into social media, its roots, uses, and impact. Like other viewers, it made me want to delete everything and monitor more closely what I do online. That said, I haven’t yet deleted Twitter or Instagram. So…

The Duchess. I laughed throughout every episode of this show. And the fashion is fun to watch, too.

Cobra Kai (season 1), The Karate Kid (with Jaden Smith), The Karate Kid (original). My arm was sort of twisted to start watching Cobra Kai. I liked it, so then it was all-karate-all-the-time. Cobra Kai season 1 was good. Season 2 was was a bit too teen drama for my liking. Surprisingly, I really liked the new Karate Kid movie with Jaden Smith. And, I can’t believe I had never watched the original Karate Kid. Wax on. Wax off. Quite good!

Venom. I thought I was going to hate this one as I’m not so into alien movies, but I liked the acting, music, plot, and special effects, so it was a win.

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2. Shopping. I really don’t like adding more reusable bags to my already big collection, but I couldn’t resist the vibrant print of this Baggu bag on a recent trip to Indigo.

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3. Learn. I’m not starting another degree (but never say never), but I did want to take a biology (focus on plants) course this year. Considering I started a new job, I’ve put this on hold for now. Instead, however, I’ve settled on attending online lectures on architecture hosted by Athabasca University. The first lecture I attended was focused on architecture in South Africa, and the second was focused on architecture in Africa. Both lectures were fantastic. I think I’ll share some of what I learned in an upcoming post.

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4. News. Obviously, the pandemic is still top of mind. This article about the University of Illinois’s massive COVID-19 testing initiative was interesting, and it demonstrates that testing isn’t enough. Stay at a distance. Wear a mask. Closer to home, cases at universities have been reported, and increasing case numbers makes me nervous.

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5. Hobbies. It’s usually about this time of year when I start signing up for a whack of new activities. Last year, I opted into flamenco dancing and cross country skiing lessons, for example. This year, I’m hesitant to join anything (on account of the pandemic), so I’ve been thinking what non-group activities I can do as the fall and winter come. Here’s what I’ve come up with: puzzles, jogging, cross-country skiing, and sewing. I’ve made slight progress on three of these things already. Any other suggestions?

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6.Charity. On Sunday, October 4th, I will be jogging in the CIBC Run for the Cure. You may remember that I’ve been doing this for several years now in Kitchener-Waterloo. This year, the event has gone virtual, which means I’ll be running alone (or with anyone I see wearing pink running in my neighbourhood). It’ll be a different experience, but the cause remains the same. I hope that even more money is raised this year to support needed research and support for the Canadian Cancer Society. If you’d like to donate to the cause, please do so here. I appreciate your support!

Design: Floating Bathroom Vanities

What do you all think about floating bathroom vanities? Normally, I don’t like them because they don’t maximize storage. However, I’ve recently had a change of heart after seeing this gorgeous vanity (see first image below). Although the vanity is not white, I love it. I also think it’s paired beautifully with the full wall of subway tile, the delicate gold-framed mirror, and simple sconce.

This image made me think about the feeling of lightness of the floating vanity. I think this would be a great option for a small space. A floating vanity would mean there would be more space for floor tile, which would give the illusion of a bigger space. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Beyond simple white vanity options in the marketplace, there’s a plethora of wood styles. These bathrooms are lovely.

Marketplace: Staying Warm Outdoors

Now that the cold(er) weather has arrived (it’s been hovering around 5C every morning in Waterloo), and Ontario has instituted new restrictions about the number of people allowed to gather indoors (25) and outdoors (10), I’m wondering how people will still gather in small social circles while staying warm (outdoors).

When I wrote this post at the end of August, I was already thinking about how to stay social if/when a second wave arrived. To stay social outdoors and extend BBQ season, perhaps, people may be investing in some items such as heaters and fire pits (before they sell out).

patio heater, $249CAD, Lowes; infrared patio heater, $213CAD, Home Depot; table top heater, $129CAD, Home Depot; patio heater, $509.15CAD, Lowes; outdoor chimney fireplace, $349CAD, Home Depot; fire pit, $149CAD, Home Depot; large rectangle fire table, $1696CAD, Home Depot;
fire pit, $113CAD, Wayfair

To stay warm and cozy while sitting around a firepit, BBQing into the fall months like never before, and sharing a meal with your “bubble people” on the patio, people may inject more fleece items into their wardrobe. This might be the time to browse (online) retailers that are experts in outdoor gear!

women’s fleece jacket, $113CAD, LLBean; women’s hooded fleece pullover, $159CAD, Patagonia; women’s quilt crew, $125CAD, Patagonia; men’s quilted sweatshirt, $99CAD, LLBean; women’s puffer vest, $98CAD, Gap; Fleece slippers, $115CAD, LLBean; fingerless gloves, $52CAD, Lululemon; chunky cable fleece throw, $99CAD, LLBean; heated blanket (full/queen), $335CAD, LLBean

If restrictions stay throughout fall and winter, I think there is going to be an uptake in outdoor winter activities like skating, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing, which are activities that you can do with friends at a distance. I have already enlisted a cross-country ski buddy for the winter since I won’t be taking lessons like I did last winter. I think cities will (or should) ensure rinks are plentiful and trails are groomed, so these activities can be enjoyed by many people (at a distance). As for indoor activities, I think there’s going to be a rise (if not already) of activities that we generally associate with the (tech-free) past – sewing, knitting, baking, cooking, etc. People who are home and not socializing as much may find comfort in doing these activities. I have already brushed off my sewing skills, and I am eager to continue.


Food: Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth, Ontario

A few weeks ago, on our way to the lake, we stopped at Cowbell Brewing Co. in Blyth, Ontario for a meal. Blyth, for those of you (like me) who have never heard of it is about 80km west of Waterloo and 85km north of London. It’s only about 25km inland from Lake Huron. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely convinced a purposeful trip to a brewery was for me. I don’t drink beer, you see. I was told, however, that I would love Cowbell on account of the architecture of the main building…and the food. In fact, this turned out to be true. I was impressed!

Cowbell’s main building is enormous. It sort of reminded me of the main building at the St. Jacob’s farmers market. Think wood, massive ceilings, and impressive stonework.

On this trip, we ate outside because we didn’t have a reservation and there was a bit of a wait for inside seating. Outdoor dining is currently my preferred option anyway, so it worked out well. I opted for the classic burger and a sangria. Both were delicious. The (branded) burger was oh so good!

Beyond a trip to the country for an excellent meal, a visit to Cowbell is worthwhile if you have any interest in learning about branding (and brand compliance). Everything (everything) is branded at Cowbell. The Cowbell store is stocked with products that are made in partnership with local merchants and creators. I was fascinated by Cowbell’s branding approach.

On our visit, we chatted with the friendly staff who told us about Cowbell’s start just a few years ago (in 2016) and its future plans of a fruit and vegetable garden and barn. I am already looking forward to my next visit when I also aim to go on a Cowbell tour (yes, even though I don’t drink beer).

Art: Jennifer Graham Ceramics

After years of eyeing the work of ceramic artist Jennifer Graham, I finally bought my first piece. Jennifer Graham is based in Stratford, but I’ve seen her pieces regularly at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo. On a recent trip to Bayfield, I spotted her work again at the Main Street Gallery, and I knew it was the right time for me to invest in one of her delightful creations.

Those polka dots! The wonky edge! This is a serving piece (and display piece) that makes me smile!

Jennifer is the only potter I’ve come across who works strictly in black and white. Her pieces are modern, relaxed, and functional. Each piece feels smooth and soft.

Photos via Jennifer Graham and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.