Can I be honest? November is a bleak month. I don’t get in the holiday party mood until December, so it’s just a long month of cold, grey blah. I know I can’t be the only one, so I thought I’d do up a list of some of my favourite funny memoirs to keep you giggling like a demented lunatic until the sparkly lights can take over. Enjoy!
Bitter Is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
This is an oldie but a goodie. Jen writes about how she went from being a snotty, self indulgent former sorority girl with a household income of about a quarter million, to being evicted from a trash apartment in a terrible neighbourhood after the tech bubble burst in the early 2000’s. She is irrevent, judgmental and completely hilarious. I love this book.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
This is Mindy Kaling’s second memoir. I highly recommend her first as well, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, which is also excellent, but this was my favourite. Mindy talks about life in television and being a celebrity with wit and hilarity that had me laughing out loud and waking my husband up when he was trying to sleep.
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Okay, if you haven’t read this one yet, I don’t even know what to tell you. What have you been doing all this time? Sit your butt down and read this book and then follow it immediately with her next one, Moranifesto, which is also clever and hilarious and thoughtful. I adore this woman.
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
I didn’t know much about Gabourey Sidibe when I picked up this book. I didn’t know her from Precious and I’d never seen Empire, but I loved the title so I went for it. I was not disappointed. Sidibe is sharp, funny and ruthless with her wit. I immediately fell in love with her and her story and to this day I would love to be her friend.
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
I definitely have a strong love and appreciation for biting wit and sarcasm and Irby delivers in spades. Her memoirs are clever, funny, crude and she’s never afraid to shine a light on the parts of life that hurt with a humour that makes the medicine go down easy.
That’s it, kids. Stay in, stay safe and have fun reading these hilarious books!
Do a bridge, preferably at a contortionist level. Your legs should be straight and your back bent in half. When people look at you, the angle of your spine should make them visibly uncomfortable.
Step 2: Walk Down a Wall
Now it’s time to walk down a wall into a bridge. Okay, sure. No problem. Just turn your back to a wall, reach behind you and walk your hands down towards the ground as if you won’t get stuck there. It’s easy! Just bend completely in half, backwards!
Step 3: “Fall” Into A Bridge
Do I even need to…? I mean, yeah, you know, just fall backwards as if you’re fainting, but catch yourself and push into a perfect bridge at the last second. GOD, WHY IS THAT SO HARD, BECKY???
With the world on hold due to pandemic/apocalypse reasons, you might think there’s no way to have a great Halloween. Social distancing rules out a lot of the traditional Halloween activities (or deeply inhibits them). And sure, trick or treating, pumpkin carving and parties are fun, I mean, if you’re into that. But why not get back to more traditional Halloween roots with something more… authentic? The following list of activities is sure to guarantee a true Halloween experience.
Get ready to have some fun when you…
Open A Hellmouth
Decided to embrace the spirit of Halloween and open a hellmouth? Good for you! There are a number of ways to open a demonic portal and unleash terrifying monsters on Earth. The most straight forward method is to gather a few unholy relics and perform a ritual to open a gateway to hell. Too easy? A slightly more complicated approach is to locate a building owned by an ex-communicated priest guarding a hell opening. It might be a tad tricky to get him to let you open it, but I’m sure you’re up for the challenge. Or, if you’re good at puzzles, head to your local game store and pick up a demonic puzzle box. Solve that sucker and boom! You’ve got yourself an opening to hell!
Get Brutally Murdered
Nothing says Halloween like getting murdered by an un-killable serial killer. How do you find one? The easiest way is to babysit on Halloween, ideally on a farm or acreage outside of town. Make sure there’s terrible cell phone reception, or plan ahead and drain the battery! Otherwise, you and a few friends should definitely party at an abandoned theme park or head down to that lake where that group of teens were horribly murdered one hundred years ago tonight. Make sure you split up! Everyone wins when you take on a demented killer solo!
Resurrect The Dead
Why let the dead stay dead when they can come back and eat your flesh? If you’re eager for a thrilling game of tag with a hungry corpse, all you need to do is read from the book of the dead. Or, you can try developing a face cream or drug that makes people live forever. Make sure you get it horribly, horribly wrong. Don’t want to go through all that rigamorale? Perform a spell with a lock of a dead loved one’s hair. They’ll come back all kinds of wrong!
Activate A Witch’s Curse
Everyone knows if you’re dumb enough to execute a witch, she’s going to return to life a few hundred years later and enact her revenge. If you’re getting impatient, you can summon her any number of ways but I recommend lighting a black flame candle. No witches murdered in your town? Find a live one and fall in love with her. She’s sure to be cursed so that anyone she loves dies a terrible death.
There are a couple of ways to get possessed. You can use a ouija board, which basically leaves your body open to possession like a wide open door on a hot summer night invites swarms of mosquitos. Holding a seance is always a classic as well, especially if someone gets freaked out and runs away before you can close the circle at the end. A personal favourite of mine is to move your family into a house or hotel where someone murdered their entire family. Their ghost is sure to possess you and drive you to do the same. Fun! However, if you prefer your possession to be demonic, stick with the ouija board. They’re drawn to those things like wasps to syrup.
Get Hunted By A Malevolent Ghost
Mirrors are your friend here. All you have to do is look in one and repeat a cursed phrase 3-5 times (Bloody Mary and Candyman are good ones), or you can look in a specific mirror that has itself been cursed. Ditto with cursed videos, which can often be found on the internet. If you’re particularly ambitious, you can build your house on an ancient burial site, but make sure you’re disrespectful to the remains if you do. Follow any of these steps and you and your family will be hunted down by an unstoppable spirit in no time!
Hopefully you’ve found something on this list to give you the truly horrifying Halloween you crave. And just remember, as a rule of thumb this Halloween, if Stephen King thinks his characters should do it, it’s probably a good idea.
There are three movies I need to watch every Halloween season. Hocus Pocus, Dracula Dead & Loving It, and to bridge the gap between Halloween and Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Hocus Pocus is an obvious choice. It’s funny, nostalgic and features a killer rendition of “I Put A Spell On You.” (Thank you Bette Midler, you magnificent queen.) But there’s more to everyone’s favourite Halloween movie than meets the eye.
Hocus Pocus is deeply satisfying on a number of levels, partly because it’s so atmospheric. It has the setting, taking place in Salem, Massachusetts (and although most of it was shot on sound stages in California, day time scenes were shot there, as well as in Marblehead, Massachusetts), with its gorgeous fall foliage and quaint historic town feel. It hits all the right buttons with its perfect mix of witches, black cats and zombies all taking place on Halloween night, which is basically the Halloween trifecta. And it has stunning costuming.
It’s not surprising that the costumes are so good, they were done by costume designer Mary Vogt, who also handled costuming for Crazy Rich Asians and Batman Returns. ( I mean, everything about Michelle Pfeiffer’s catwoman is on point. And her costume? Oh my God. So much yes.) She immediately decided the Sanderson Sisters couldn’t be in simple, black witchy costumes. I mean, one doesn’t put the fabulous Bette Midler in basic bitch black.
Knowing Bette would be a redhead for the movie, she went with green, because she thought it would look great against the red hair, and added purple because it looks great with green.
Sarah Jessica Parker’s costume was apparently Disney princess meets witch, specifically sleeping beauty (Hi! Yes please!). Kathy Najimy, being the more alchemist witch, was based more on a baker or cook. And Zombie Billy was inspired by Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow. (Now that you’ve read it, you can’t miss it. Billy is 100% zombie Ichabod Crane and I love it.)
The most fascinating part of Mary Vogt’s costume designs? Where she found her inspiration. In the series Los Caprichos by Spanish artist Goya and the fairy tale illustrations of Arthur Rackham.
Now, chances are extremely good that you’ve seen an illustration by Arthur Rackham. He was an especially prolific illustrator, who gained recognition in 1893 and made art right up until his death on Sep 6, 1939. He did guidebooks, fairy tales and works by Shakespeare, among many others. His last published works were in The Wind in the Willows, which due to his failing health took him three years to complete.
It never fails to leave me humbled, thinking about how art always inspires more art. Fairy tales inspired so many of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. His illustrations inspired Mary Vogt. Hocus Pocus has inspired countless books, movies and the imaginations of countless children (and adults) over the years. What other art will those new works continue to inspire? Art is like a web, tying us all together. After all, who would have guessed that Hocus Pocus and The Wind in the WIllows were connected?
Every year, as I happily binge Hocus Pocus while shoveling mini Twix bars and M&Ms down my throat, I’m not just getting in the Halloween spirit, I’m connecting with layers of art. And art is its own kind of magic.
I got my information on Mary Vogt’s costume designs for Hocus Pocus from a Glamour article, which you can find here. Want to learn a little more about Arthur Rackham? Go here.
Cooler days, soft, wooly sweaters, various pumpkin flavoured beverages. What’s not to love about fall? I suppose that it’s immediately followed by frigid, endless winter, but let’s not think about that. Let’s think about the good things, like how it’s the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book. And what better book to read this fall than a cozy mystery? All the warmth of a nice cup of tea, but with murder. Ahh, perfection!
Below you’ll find five great cozy mysteries to add to your list and keep you curled up under a soft blanket with a hot beverage all through fall.
Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
This is the first in the Gethsemane Brown series. It takes place in Ireland, with a whip smart main character named, you guessed it, Gethsemane Brown. Gethsemane is a classical musician who finds herself stranded in the Irish countryside after a job opportunity disappears. One of the townspeople let her stay in their uncle’s cottage, belonging to a famous musician named Eamon said to have murdered his wife and then committed suicide. The only problem? His ghost is very much alive and haunting the place and he insists Gethsemane prove his innocence and find the real killer. Easy, right? Especially since the murder is twenty five years old. And although Eamon and his wife may be dead, the grudge that led to their murders isn’t.
Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance
This 1920’s prohibition-era mystery stars Lola Woodby, a wealthy society matron whose husband dies and leaves her with nothing. She’s forced to take a job retrieving a stolen film reel for its rightful owner, but before she can snatch it, the man in possession of it ends up dead. Lola gets embroiled in the murder investigation and of course, high jinks ensue. (My favourite character is her sidekick, her Swedish cook, Berta, who insists on being her partner.) This one is cute and fun.
A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murderby Dianne Freeman
Set in Victorian England, wealthy young widow Frances Wynn has finally finished her one year of mourning for her late husband. She takes the opportunity to get out from under her in-laws and move into her own place in the city, just in time for her mother to send Frances her younger sister, Lily, to be brought out for her first London season. But her brother-in-law is not keen to let go of her money and there’s a thief on the loose, quietly robbing people of their jewelry at social gatherings. Then, when a servant claiming to have information about one of Lily’s suitors is murdered, Frances realizes that it all might be connected and begins investigating. This one is fun because there are multiple mysteries on the go at once, and of course I love to see a strong woman asserting her independence.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
This might be my favourite of the lot. A group of retirees at a lovely, quiet little retirement village meet every Thursday for the Thursday Murder Club. Each of the four brings something special to the group and together, they investigate old case files and try to solve the murders. But when a murder happens close to home, obviously they can’t resist inserting themselves in the investigation and trying to solve it themselves.
This was SUCH a delight. It’s funny and clever and the characters? Well, suffice it to say, I love them all.
Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble
Another historical cozy mystery for you, this one takes place in 1907. Lady Dunbridge has just arrived in New York to visit a friend and make a start in American high society, when her friend’s husband is shot. The police seem to think her friend might be the culprit, and obviously Lady Dunbridge won’t allow that. So she begins investigating herself, and the investigation takes her through high society and into the underbelly of Belmont racing. Anyone could kill when money is on the line.
I hope you found something good here to curl up with. Happy reading!
I have a confession. I think I might be the most boring person at the party.
My suspicions started a few years ago, when I found myself watching a group of drunken revelers share the most heated and excited game of Jackass I’ve ever seen, while I sat quietly on the couch, reading the dictionary. Okay, I made that last bit up. But I was sitting there, not joining in, wondering how on earth they could enjoy a card game THAT much. And not only was I unable to understand their glee, I had NO desire to join them.
It happens from time to time, that a party or social gathering goes well, and I return home, sides aching from laughter, but these incidents seem to be getting more and more rare. Instead, I usually find myself wondering if I did a good job. Was I outgoing and friendly enough? Or was I boring? And if I’m being completely honest with myself, I usually land on boring.
It could be worse. I’m not the buzzkill. I don’t suck all the joy and life out of the room. And I’m not the obnoxious one (usually). You know who I mean, the loud one who only gets louder and unfortunately isn’t funny but sure seems to think they are. I’m more… like a piece of furniture. Furniture you can’t sit on or enjoy.
It’s not that I don’t try. It’s that I don’t drink. I’m that loser. The one on the chair in the corner nursing a glass of ice water, who might as well be wearing a shirt that says RESPONSIBILITY or DON’T YOU HAVE WORK TOMORROW?
I’m the one 9000 years ago who looks at the fermenting grapes or hops or barley or whatever and goes “Ew! These have clearly gone bad” and chucks them out without trying them. No buzzy fun times for me.
Travel back to the 1850s and I’m one of the casualties of the cholera epidemic in London, ignorantly drinking my befouled well water and shaking my head at the merry, beer drinking chaps, whose taste for hops would save their lives.
What makes it worse is that I can’t even relate to the coffee drinkers and their laments over needing caffeine or the tea drinkers and their blissful cuppas. I don’t like coffee or tea either.
It makes me an ideal dinner or cocktail party guest. Cough.
Not that I expect my host to invent some kind of mocktail for me. Between the vegans, gluten allergies, paleos, non-dairies and etc, I’m not counting on my host to also sit with a notebook in front of her, musing aloud, “hmm, but what if someone doesn’t like alcohol, coffee OR tea?” Nor am I going to make myself comfy on their couch, calling into the kitchen, “yeah, I’ll have a ginger beer, not too spicy, and if you could hit it with a splash of pineapple juice and bury it in limes, that’d be GREAT. Thanks.” Then sit back and wait for the invite to the next party that never comes.
So, I smile big and say, “water would excellent!”, as if I’m just so jazzed to get hydrated.
When people see you with a tall glass of water in your hands, they say one of two things. “Jesus, that’s a lot of vodka,” or “Is that all you’re having?”
Sometimes I take the easy way out, shrugging and saying “I’m the desi,” but at some point I have to explain that I don’t actually drink alcohol, followed immediately by the “but don’t worry! It’s not a moral thing, I just think it tastes gross, haha” speech, which of course leads to the “you just need to develop a taste for it” lecture. Which, yes, I’m sure is true but why? Especially when that road is lined with spit takes into the sink and currently my husband never has to rock, paper, scissors over who gets to enjoy themselves.
This conversation is usually followed by a polite exit line, something like “Oh is that Sharon? That bitch owes me money” or “Will excuse me? I need to go set a small fire.” Because let’s face it. You can’t play Never Have I Ever with a glass of water.
When you don’t drink, you don’t lose your inhibitions or the point of your sentences like everyone else. Winning Trivial Pursuit does not become all encompassing and you’re not all loosened up for that group death match of charades. You’re still your fully responsible and buttoned up self, wishing the person next to you would make it to the end of that joke they started and trying to think up a plausible excuse for why your turn at charades should never, ever come.
I’m the reminder of restraint and responsibilities, quietly pointing out that although streaking would be fun, it’s the dead of winter and I’m not particularly eager to have to go door to door, telling my neighbours that I’m now technically a sex offender. And yes, I’m sure you could do a backflip over that coffee table, but there’s really no need to show us.
So, yes. I’m boring. But I never have a wine hangover and all of my stories have endings. They’re not always good, but dammit! They’re there. And you know what, Mark? I might have spoiled your fun when I told you not to climb that tree in the backyard, and no, I didn’t give it my all at pictionary, but you woke up without any broken limbs this morning. You’re welcome.
Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to follow and share!
Why Be Perfect When You Can Be Perfect For Each Other?
My husband likes to record me when he thinks I’m doing something especially brave. Brave being a very generous word for me sticking a pinky toe out of my tiny box of security. Like when I rode a city bike in Montreal.
I’d fought the idea the whole trip, declaring that there was simply “no way.”
“I have no idea what the rules are.”
“I don’t know the city.”
“I’m just not comfortable with it.”
My husband didn’t push. Maybe he knew I’d crack, maybe he didn’t. But Montreal is a big city, and by the time I changed my mind the bottoms of my feet were pulsing like heartbeats and I knew sightseeing was over if I didn’t change my tune.
So I rode the bike, my dress flapping in the breeze, giving glimpses of my underpants to passersby as I pedaled along. It should be noted that when I’m done caring, I’m truly done caring.
“Don’t film me,” I warned. I could see him trying to subtly lift his phone over his shoulder, attempting to capture the moment like a gleeful parent does their child’s first steps. So proud. But definitely going to run into a parked car if he didn’t put his phone away.
We’ve developed an extremely successful travel style in our twelve years of marriage. I am the planner. I love researching destinations. I read local blogs and devour articles and restaurant reviews. I book the flights, the hotels, the restaurant reservations. I buy the train tickets and plot our route and sketch out our itinerary.
My husband is the spirit. He is loose and relaxed. He goes with the flow and when we’re together I get infected with the same ease, the delicious feeling of possibility. Without him, I get rigid and stressed. Without me, well, he’d be fine. But, I plan a damn good holiday so I’m still an asset.
A few years ago we were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary with a three week trip to Italy. We were in Florence, at the meeting point for our walking tour to go see Michelangelo’s David and no one from the group had arrived yet. I was getting more and more nervous, positive something was wrong, but I knew this was the meeting place.
Except, it wasn’t. We were doing two walking tours in Florence and I’d somehow switched the meeting places. I was descending into a full on panic attack as I pulled up the map on my phone and saw that we were at least six blocks away from the meeting spot and the tour was supposed to start in two minutes.
“We’ll never make it!” I wailed.
My husband looked me in the eyes, calm as ever, and said, “I think we can.”
It was all I needed.
So we ran. We sprinted through the freshly rained on streets of Florence , dodging tourists and yelling ‘scuzi’ as we went. Sliding on the cobblestone streets, I biffed it hard and fell, slamming to the ground on my side, much to the delight of onlookers.
“Are you – “
I was already up and sprinting again.
And we made it. We made it with time to spare. Because, as the tour company explained, wide eyed at our disheveled appearance, they always wait an extra five – ten minutes for stragglers. Well, whatever.
I had a gash on my hand and my leg from when I fell, but relief and exhilaration made me invincible. And of course, my husband took a picture of me, smiling and displaying my bloody, gashed up hand. So proud.
It takes a really solid, trusting partner to hand over the reins when we travel the way he does. He openly admits that I’m better at it and I openly agree that he’s right.
I’ve had to admit my own shortcomings in other aspects of the relationship. A hard one was admitting that he has better taste than me when it comes to design, but he does. When we plan a renovation, we both come to the table with ideas and his are always so much better.
He’s thoughtful where I’m flippant, careful where I’m unrealistic, and he’s original, where I’m tired and cliched.
The research I pour into travelling, he pours into product purchases and reno projects. I’ve tried to match his enthusiasm … and I just can’t. I don’t care. So I hand over the reins.
It’s a hard thing for people to swallow.
“You let him make all the design decisions?”
Yeah. I do. I don’t want my house to look like crap.
He still runs all his ideas by me first in case I want to veto. And I do the same with our travel plans.
Partnership is identifying weaknesses and strengthes. It’s working together. And it’s taking pictures of each other when we’re being brave.
I love bullet journaling. I love scrolling through pinterest and looking at new ideas for spreads and gaping at the ridiculous cursive and calligraphy skills. I love watching doodle tutorials and reading articles on how to decorate, on ways to become more efficient, on all the new trends for the new year or the new season. And I love filling out my actual bullet journal.
Why do I love it all so much? Not because it makes me more organized, efficient or goal oriented. It doesn’t.
It really doesn’t.
I like it for the opposite reason. It’s the perfect way to avoid doing any actual work. I plan and decorate away, feeling blissfully productive while simultaneously getting nothing done. Just look at this beautifully decorated To Do list I won’t complete! Behold this gorgeous habit tracker I’ll start forgetting to fill out in a week or two! You know what I should do? Make a Habit Tracker Forgetting Tracker so I can keep track of all the times I forget!
It’s the perfect way to glamorize a life that’s not particularly interesting. That dentist appointment seems positively inspired when it’s etched in calligraphy and surrounded by flowers. And really, why ‘do’ any of those To Dos when you can draw another colourful border and add a few more sleeping cats?
If I spent half the time I use decorating my goals page or my ideas page actually working on said ideas and goals I might actually accomplish something. And wouldn’t that be terrifying?
Maybe the real reason I love bullet journaling is because it’s a shield I can hide behind. I’m not procrastinating, I’m planning. And as long as I’m busy decorating my bullet journal, coming up with new things to track and schedule, I don’t have to try. I don’t have to actually put myself and my work out there. Maybe the root of my love of bullet journaling is just a plain old fear of failure. Ugh, how boring. I wonder if there are any ideas on pinterest for bullet journaling your fears that I could use to really spruce it up and… I’m getting off topic.
So, what do I do? Do I throw out all my coloured pens and pencils and run my bullet journal through a wood chipper? Maybe. Or maybe I recognize that wasting a good chunk of my productive time colouring in decorative flowers and filling in little boxes on a habit tracker I’ll never analyze isn’t the best use of my time. Maybe I pare it down and avoid the clear time wasters.
Like the grocery lists. Who brings a bulky journal with them to the grocery store? Use your phone. And the ‘style’ pages. Really? Do you really need to describe your style… to yourself? And inane pages like ‘my morning routine’. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but if you haven’t figured out how to get up and get ready yet, I don’t know if a journal page covered with smiling fried egg doodles is going to help you.
Let’s be real. Bullet journaling is never going to make me more efficient. But it is relaxing. So maybe I keep it, with the understanding that it’s not a stand in for productivity. It’s the cookie, not the answer. Bullet journaling isn’t going to make me a success, but it can help me perfect those little rocket ship doodles. You know, just in case it ever comes up.