How I Conquered the Ghosts of Assbutts Past (Without Opening a Hell Portal or Losing My Ever-Loving Mind)

Every once in a while, during winter, Steve and I do this thing where we find a show on Netflix and just go nuts with it. We did this with Breaking Bad a couple of months ago – we had our time of recounting its best moments and grieving its departure, and now we’re super-late-to-the-party-but-making-up-for-lost-time-and-lost-feels with Supernatural. I mean, it’s only been around 9 years now. It was bound to happen eventually.

We’ve never been people who enjoy seeing horror or gore or just general stuff of nightmares on our TV. However (so far), SPN has brilliantly managed to blend suspense, humour, intrigue, folklore, urban legend, campfire-style ghost stories, a heart-wrenching brother relationship, classic rock music and vintage cars into one glorious pile. Out of 8 available seasons online, we’re on #4, and they’ve started exploring the Book of Revelations, the Apocalypse, God and Angels and Demons, redemption – and of course, pie.
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So yeah, this show was pretty much made for us?

Anyhow, as with any TV show and my gets-attached-easily heart/brain, I am always needing to check in with myself to make sure I know that this is not reality. I think it’s a little easier to make that distinction here because ghosts. Which I don’t really believe in, in the supernatural sense, anyways. I do, however, believe in the ghosts of memories. I can attest to the fact of feeling “haunted” by someone’s words or actions towards me, or mine towards them. I don’t hold grudges, but I’m oh so good at holding onto what if and what could have been and maybe if I’d just done that instead, everything would be different. Regret and re-calling follows me like a Hellhound, and I’m only just now realizing it. Some nights, sleep eludes me because my brain just. won’t. stop. And these people I’m obsessing about? Probably haven’t given their possibly-negative encounters with me a second thought. To them, I’m a chapter in their history book now closed, while they’ve started another book. Why would I keep reading the old books, with an eraser in hand, looking for any sign of a pencil mark I can eradicate when everything is clearly written in pen? Why am I not okay with this?

Anyway, as crazy as it sounds, I’m slowly waking up to the fact that life is too short to do this anymore. I’m no longer okay with waking up feeling like crap after having a dream that involved a ghost of my past. If I manage to live a long, healthy, outrageous life, I’m probably going to make a few more ghosts, and pretty soon, I’ll have a closetful. And I’ve got better things to do with my time than waste another decade (DECADE?! Oof da.) wishing I could start over. As my boy Eminem says, “You don’t get another chance, life is no Nintendo game.”

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So I’m gonna take a lead from the Winchester boys: face the ghost, find its bones, apply salt (the purest mineral on earth, apparently – which I’ll call “telling the truth” here), burn it up and say goodbye. Complete with Dean and Sam and the angel Castiel to help me tell the story. And then, I might eat some pie.

The Ghooooosts of Asssssbutttttssss Paaaaaasssst

I may have briefly mentioned here before that, from ages 8-12, I was sexually abused in some form or fashion, by both genders, peers and strangers, young and old. I tried to tell my mom what was going on a few different times, but with my peers, I think she thought it was just a weird  phase or game that all kids do. And as for the pervy old man, well, let’s just avoid him and hope he goes away. Either way, I didn’t feel quite believed or validated or worthy of the RIGHT kind of attention, for a long time. It’s taken some therapy, a real Jesus and a good husband to reclaim and reassure me of my worth, my rights and my believability.

But it was a long road to get there, and I met plenty of Assbutts along the way, including myself. I am about to reveal to you Hurricane Carly and the trail of guys (maybe a gal too?) she left in her wake from 1999 to 2011.

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The year was 1999. I was 12, on the brink of puberty and insanity as I waited for the approaching doom of Y2K. And that summer, at camp, I met someone who I’ll call Mr. McDonald’s. He was a short little cutie with tanned skin, brown hair that had blonde highlights, and when he smiled – ooh them dimples! We spent our days reading Calvin & Hobbes to each other, driving quads through the woods, praying…it was a match made in Heaven.

Until one day, I realized this cute little shit is lazy as f***.

I was accustomed to the farm life, lifting hay bales and gathering water, chopping wood and chopping chickens, while Mr. McDonald’s could barely be bothered to lift a finger. I tell you what, when the Apocalypse drops, ain’t nobody got time for that!
The fateful day came when his mom asked us to weed a bit of her garden for her, and while I was enjoying the chore together, he was grumbling about how unfair everything was, and he just wanted to go see the new James Bond movie. Trying to be persuasive in a friendly manner, I said, “Well, it’s good practice…for some day…when you have your own family to take care of…”

And he goes, “Nah. I think it would be a pretty sweet set-up for my wife to work all the time, and I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s all day. Or she can cook for us, whatever.”

And that’s when I dropped him like a hot potato. (To be fair, I sort of didn’t help matters by calling him a shithead and an asshole in the days to come, without explaining why I was actually angry, but I’m a better person now.)

Not long after that, I got acquainted with another boy I’ll call the Swiss Mister. He was beautiful. Like, related-to-Elizabeth-Taylor beautiful. Jet black hair, eyes like pure chocolate, surrounded by eyelashes longer than mine. Also on the shorter side. (I think that was part of my problem. They distracted me from their real selves because I just wanted to put them in my pocket and take them home with me.) We played card games, watched movies at his house, had sleepovers (Uhh yeah! But NOT in the same bed, okay? Jeez.), baked bread and drove snowmobiles and found excuses to hug each other, like, all the time.

And then, one day without warning, he stopped talking to me. Just completely turned off the tap that made him the lovable Swiss Mister, and I was mystified. It took me a couple weeks to hear from one of his sisters that he was now hanging out with another girl because he randomly decided he wanted to give blondes a try.

I’mma get you, Swiss Mister!

To this day, we have not spoken. (Not for my lack of trying…believe me…if there’s anything I know how to do, it’s try.)

The next one was a little weirder. I was 13, going on 14, and Y2K’s arrival date had come and gone with a big, fat nothing. Mom and I were just hanging out in the wilderness, waiting for the ball to drop, surviving each of the challenges that living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with no electricity brings.

And then one day, we got neighbours. A family actually moved in as caretakers for a tourist ranch about 10 minutes away from us. Previously, there hadn’t really been anyone there, so this changed our world quite a bit. It was even more of a surprise and delight to discover that they were ALSO waiting out the End of All the Things AND they had a 16-year-old son.

Could it be? Had I finally found my Prince who would protect and provide and love me through the Apocalypse?

Eh. Turns out that I actually found Mr. Touchy-Feely. Which, I mean, he WAS a 16-year-old boy, so I don’t know what I was expecting. But after a couple of months, I started feeling guilty – not just because I let him be touchy-feely with me, but because I was starting to want to be touchy-feely back. And I was pretty sure that a 13 year old and 16 year old shouldn’t be getting to know each other that well, quite yet.

So I told him I wanted to take a step back in our relationship. And he, like the candy-bereaved baby, refused to be my friend or talk to me again.

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Which is great when he’s the only neighbour you have in the middle of nowhere, and your parents are still dreaming up scenarios like Braveheart-themed secret weddings and Apocalypse-survivor babies.

Ahhh, age 15. I am now out of the wilderness and ready to re-join civilization in the worst way. Unfortunately, it was 2002, and some things had changed without my knowledge or permission.

So when I joined the youth group at my local church, I was eager to make friends, but had no idea how to do it – and yet had no clue that I had no idea how to do it. I was completely oblivious to my awkward and companionship-leeching ways. So when I met Michael W. Smith Jr., I was all over that.

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Because, hello!!? My childhood Christian music heartthrob?

Again, he was littler. (I was steadily becoming aware that, at my age, there was a good chance that I was going to be taller than most of the boys I came into contact with.) But he had the fiercest blue eyes I’d ever seen (at that point in time) and an already deep, gentle voice. Best of all, he was nice to me. My poor little starved heart took it and ran wild.

And by “ran wild”, I do mean that I started a xanga blog. Oh Lord, XANGA. Does anyone even do that anymore? So yeah, I took non-existent social skills and a monstrous crush to the interwebs. I poured out my heart. How I felt about him, how much he meant to me, how nice he and his family were, and how badly I wished I could just be a part of it.

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It went on for a fairly long time. I don’t remember exactly. I do know that I wasn’t quite stupid enough to make my xanga public, but that I was stupid enough to log onto it while I was at Michael W. Smith Jr’s house one night.

Now what happened next and how it did so was never made quite clear to me. Which is the worst.

One entire month later, I got an upset email from his parents saying that they’d found the blog and they were not okay with it and could I please delete it. They’d always been warm and friendly with me, but somehow, even through written text, I could tell that their tone had completely changed. I was beyond mortified when I learned that MWSJr. had read every single word of that damn xanga.

So, maybe I was an assbutt and forgot to log out (which I always double-checked out of paranoia) and his parents found it on their once-a-month History search cleanse later. But an entire month later? It would be locked down again, for certain. So either they discovered it right away but didn’t tell me immediately OR Michael W. Smith Jr. did some assbutt hacking and and read it for an entire month before his parents found it. Either way, I’m pretty sure it took us all at least 4 years to feel comfortable with each other again. Or maybe that was me. Yeah, probably just me.
Honestly, out of everything I’ve shared so far, I think this is the ghost I regret the most. (lolz) But now, 10 years later, I can say that I am actually STILL friends with this fine fellow, and I totally helped him find the girl of his dreams. His family is my family. So there’s that.

A few years went by and I remained pretty unscathed by the traps of cutie pie boys.  The whole xanga fiasco really put me in my place until around 2007. That summer, I started traveling to Burns Lake to be a counselor at a kid’s camp for a couple weeks at a time. It was a good change, and I still have people in my life that I consider friends who came from that camp. There was, however, one embarrassing lesson that I learned my second summer counseling there.
Coming back for a second time was great because I was reunited with all of the former people I’d gotten to know the summer before. Including the camp director, Mr. Flag-Capturer. (What? He was really good at it.)
I mention Mr. Flag-Capturer not so much because I think he’s an assbutt (he’s not), but mostly because what happened is kind of too good not to share.

So, after hanging out for two summers together, I took the plunge the following Spring and sent him an email. After all, he lived a good two hours away and I missed talking to him. So, I started the conversation and it continued throughout the summer until we saw each other at camp again. Now, we had already established that we liked each other, that we were getting to know each other better “with the possibility of more than friendship in the future”, and that after camp was over, we were going to drive back to Smithers together in his truck so that he could meet some of my friends and family. They were even planning a big “Meet Mr. Flag Capturer BBQ.” This was the first time something had ever felt real and grown-up to me. I was 21, never been on a date in my life – I was pumped.

And then we actually hung out at camp again…and it was really awkward…and we couldn’t get past it…and I couldn’t figure out why? So finally, the night before camp ended, he started the conversation, saying that he believed we were better off as friends and he was sorry he’d gotten my hopes up. It was a little devastating, but here’s the best part:

“But don’t worry, I’ll still give you a ride back home tomorrow like I said I would.”

So, the day after I had my hopes dashed, I had to sit in a truck for 3 hours with the hope-dasher. Alone. Pretending like I didn’t want to just curl up into the fetal position all day. You better believe the AC/DC was blasting the whole way. And then he dropped me off at home, and I had to explain to the awaiting group why  I was alone.

The following summer (2010) was probably one of the worst times of my life. Through a series of unfortunate events that included hacking, snacking and tears, I was blissfully reunited and then jerkingly torn apart from my dad in a matter of 9 weeks. (Fear not, really good things can happen in 9 weeks as well.) One week after this episode of Jerry Springer, I went on a hike/camping trip with a group of friends.

I was not okay with anything in my life at all.

At this point, Michael W. Smith Jr. was going to university in Prince George, but he came back to Smithers for the hike, bringing two friends, one named Mr. Missionary and one named Mr. Confused.

I was friends with Mr. Confused and the GIRLFRIEND of Mr. Missionary within a week of that trip. Somehow, we both just connected really well and were attracted to each other on some…level. He was my first rebound-and-eff-you-to-my-dad boyfriend, I was his first girlfriend – it was pandemonium, folks. But he was also going back to university in Prince George when the summer ended.

What’s a girl to do?

Follow the boy, of course.

Our 5-month relationship was nothing short of a gong show. He was completely head-over-heels for me (yeah, sounds terrible, right?) and I thought that I loved him back. I thought it was normal to never “go out” with him, or feel nothing when he kissed me, or to decide overnight that – yes, dropping my life and marrying a guy who’s calling is to go to Africa as a missionary for life was a great way to deal with all of my familial problems.

Hint: I was numb and depressed and I used Mr. Missionary most abhorrently, to stall my path and band-aid a giant knife-shaped hole in my back. In the end, I knew it had to be me that broke his heart; I could not let him propose, could not keep up the pretense of being in love when it had only been a crush, could not keep lying by omission. It was a gray, cold November day when I told him, and I remember walking home feeling crushed but also…like the hard thing had been the right thing, and despite all the layers of dirt I would still need to dig through in the coming months, I had been strong enough to do that one right thing. And it was through this experience that I reached full closure with Mr. Flag-Capturer, since I had now traded places with him and walked in his shoes. I later thanked him for being so kind to me in his rejection, and he received this gratefully.

Six months later, I found myself flitting and fluttering around Mr. Confused. One way to describe him is: that’s one year I’ll never get back. It was like riding a roller coaster of emotions and I felt like screaming more than once, never from exhilaration. He was my “texting till midnight, catching long stares across the room, introducing me to his family and having them say, ‘Oh, so THIS is Carly. You look even prettier in person!’, going for walks and sharing life struggles no one else knew about”, and then “I don’t know how I made you think this, but I don’t like you like that.” boy.

We had somehow created a fantasy of intimacy that only existed to myself and my imagination. So, in an attempt to break the fantasy, I gave him some distance. After a couple of months, we were friends again. And then the roller coaster ride was back in service, ending with another declaration of “I think we’re better off as friends, somehow you keep misunderstanding me.” So that time, I asked for a lot of space. He wasn’t very good at giving it.

Finally, one day, I got my Sassy Pants on, and played a game of Apples to Apples with him, and a bunch of other people. We played the version where whoever’s turn it is, you give them a card that YOU think describes them. It can be serious or joking, they just have to pick the one they like the most and if they pick yours, you win the point.
So, whenever it was Mr. Confused’s turn, I didn’t hold back. I gave him cards like “hypocrite,” and “self-involved” and “two-faced”. So when he read them all out loud, of course having no idea who gave each card, he ALWAYS CHOSE MINE because everyone else’s were “so nice” and “not realistic” and “too flattering”, according to him. That’s called a self-therapy win.

 

And while that did feel awesome, true closure didn’t actually come until over a year later, when I re-visited Prince George with my brand new husband. Mr. Confused met him, shook his hand, said he was a lucky guy, and then hugged me, saying “I’m really happy that you’ve found such a good guy. You deserve it.”

And now, for my final ghost.

She is someone who has been there, in the background of all these stories, who has faded significantly in the past two years. Her name is Pretty Pretty Princess. Growing up, she was my closest in-person bestie. (L’oreal, you know you’ve always been my far-away bestie!) I’m pretty sure we re-defined the term “sleepover”, as we had them practically every weekend, all weekend long. We choreographed dances to our favourite songs, we played the Game of Life, naming our husbands according to our current crushes, and children according to our favourite names. We’ve laughed together, cried together, prayed together. We did buckets of things, together.

But somewhere along the way, Life intervened. We’ve misunderstood each other, been angry and hurt, said things we regretted but couldn’t admit it. Lost touch and made choices that took us further and further apart.

We were going to be in each other’s weddings. In reality, we didn’t even attend each other’s weddings.

We vowed we were going to jog together pushing strollers so we could regain our tight figures. In reality, she’s having a baby this summer, and my tight figure has already been vacationing down south for awhile now.

Maybe things would have ended up this way anyway, regardless of geography and time. I don’t know. But I do know that I dream about her at least once a week. I dream that either we are hanging out together laughing like we always used to, or that she hates my guts and isn’t afraid to tell me so. Either way, I wake up mourning and regretful, all the while knowing that she’s probably carrying on just fine, not missing me at all.

But I have hope. Hope that someday, the air will be clear and the fellowship will roll on into sweet intimacy again. We’ve had these seasons before; it could just be another one, or it could be time to let go. That scares me a little. I am such a golden retriever of loyalty when it comes to my relationships. And deep down, I have this feeling that when push really comes to shove, we’ll find each other again because there is so much history we can fall back on and be safe within. I just can’t stop hoping that things will change.
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And…that’s it. It’s 1:45 in the morning, and I’ve been telling my ghost stories for roughly 12 hours now. A blogging record, for sure. Maybe nobody will actually care, or maybe someone will only read this for the Supernatural commentary, but you know what? I don’t mind. I feel so free right now. Secret-telling has always been incredibly liberating to me, and now I’m ready to burn these bones and walk away. Every time I’m tempted to beat myself up again for the eighty-two-thousandth time, I’m going to tell myself, “Now now, girl. That’s over. It’s out in the world,  you are a forgiven and attempted peace-maker, and it’s okay. This is a new day.”

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Because it’s true. Those demons no longer have any say. I’ve ganked them good.

Today, I win.

Hoping your yoke is easy and your burden is light,

Carly xo

The Story of Walter

A special anniversary blog from one year ago today…

she's a butterfly, pretty as a crimson sky, nothing's ever gonna bring her down.

Well, it’s been officially 24 hours since we became parents. And we are in love.

How, you ask? Here’s how.

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His name is Walter and this is how he became ours.

Steve and I both grew up with cats in the family, but 6-10 years ago, both of our best feline friends died – one due to tainted cat food and one due to an unfortunate accident involving a canoe, a woodpile and a tire. Simon and Jean-Claude ruined us for all other cats, or so we thought.

Around Christmastime, we started talking about kitties. But in our home, this is not unusual – at least once a day, babies or puppies or kitties or anything else small and adorable are mentioned.

This time was different. Out of curiousity, we started perusing Craigslist to see if there were any free cats.

Heh. Only about 500!

We narrowed the search. “Neutered/Spayed,”…

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How We Had a Kick-Ass Wedding (Without Kicking Our Wallet’s Ass!)

It’s not even the middle of January, and already, it seems that “wedding season” is beginning. (Did it ever really stop?)

I love weddings. And I’ve been to some pretty fantastic ones. But I have to be honest…my favourite one so far…was mine.

A lot of people know that we dated, got engaged, and married pretty quickly. For those who are new, it was the span of an entire 5 1/2 months. And only 9 WEEKS of it was spent planning the actual wedding. We didn’t have a lot of money. We didn’t have a lot of fancy ideas. We didn’t even have Pinterest. And yet, our special day was an event that friends still talk about with fondness.

Now that our time is over, and more friends are joining the revelry, they’ve started to ask our secrets. I will gladly divulge them here, through many a picture and story. Because everyone deserves to know that they don’t need $20,000+, or the best food, or the highest-rated photographer (although, we lucked out MAJORLY, as you’re about to see!).

1. I found my wedding dress at Value Village, a good two years before I was even close to getting married.

Did you know that, on average, all wedding dresses at VV cost only $130? Some of them are truly hideous, and unless you’re a skilled seamstress with a fantastic vision in mind of what it COULD be, you should try them on just for a laugh. That’s how I found mine – I was having one of those silly, fun shopping days with my ladies – where I wanted to try everything on without actually buying any of it. You know, that Best Customer of the Day Award.
As we all know, VV can offer some pretty great finds, and I was having a ball as my girlfriends brought me costume after costume. And then, the fateful words left my lips: “Hey, one of you should go find a wedding dress! That would be hilarious!”

Next thing I knew, Michelle brought back this pure white cloud of gloriousness, and I was sure of 3 things: a.) It was not common VV fare, b.) It wasn’t “my type” and c.) it wouldn’t fit anyway.

I was only right about one thing.

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It was one of those moments where you could feel the magic falling upon the room. I opened the door…the ladies gasped…I saw myself in the full-length mirror…was in shock for awhile…had complete strangers, including men, coming up to me, saying, “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know your life, but honey, you need to buy this dress.

So, I did. With the wallets of all my ladies combined. (I was totally just gonna do it myself, but they insisted. This was a great foreshadowing of situations to come.)

And then… almost two years went by. That magnificent little dress hovered in the closet like a ghost, wondering if it would ever fulfill its purpose.
And then…one week into the planning of the Big Day, I tried it on again.

It didn’t fit. I would have had a heart attack, except that the dress, in its tightness, prevented my heart from going anywhere.

2. A very skilled seamstress and a little box of Dryel go a long way.

Our wedding colours were red, black and white. When my very-skilled-seamstress friend Jeannette saw that my dream dress no longer fit, 8 weeks before the Big Day, she just laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll fix that.”

But first, we noticed it should be drycleaned. I tried to calculate another $200 into the budget, until Jeannette, once again, saved the day with her wisdom. For $25, I bought a box of something magic called Dryel. You put your items into the Dryel bag, tumble it in the dryer and voila! You’ve just dry-cleaned your own clothes.

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As for making my dress fit without making me lose 10 pounds over night…a red panel with a black lace-up was found to be extremely forgiving and super matchy-matchy.

(What are we at now? Dress $130 + Dryel $25 + Alterations $100 = $255. Who do you know that has spent $255 on their wedding dress? ME.)

3. Keep it simple, silly.

We each chose 3 close friends to be a member of the wedding party. There wasn’t really a “best” of anyone. For their Big Day outfits, I told the girls, “Just use whatever little black dress and red high heels you might already happen to have in your closet.” I honestly didn’t care. I like variety, and I think making every girl wear the exact same style of a pre-chosen dress could potentially be asking for trouble.
It couldn’t have gone better if I planned it myself.

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Since we found a mother lode of Red Converse at Army & Navy for $14.99 a piece, we told the boys we’d take care of that, as well as their red suspenders and red bow ties. All they would need to come up with is a long-sleeved black button-up shirt and black dress pants. They accomplished this with utmost flair, and our wedding gift to them was taken care of. BOOM.

Now when it came to actually finding bow ties and suspenders, that proved a little more challenging. We only found stores that carried one thing or the other, not both. And even though we liked variety, we kiiiinda wanted the reds to be the same on these particular accessories.

So we prayed a little, made some phone calls, took some chances AND!

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Van Halen fans, take note.

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Between Le Chateau (I ❤ you 4ever!) and Black & Lee, we managed to find 4 sets of suspenders and 3 bow ties, ALL the same beautiful cherry-red colour. If that doesn’t make you believe in God, I don’t know what will.

(Money Tally: $255 dress + $60/4 pairs of shoes + $70/4 suspenders & 3 bow ties + $50 special Van Halen tie = $435.)

4. Do it outdoors.

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If you have a willing friend with a big backyard, you can forget about paying to rent a church or a hall or a courthouse etc. What about the weather, though, am I right? Well, again, I prayed my butt off, and I got NOT ONLY the sunniest, warmest day in Northern BC in late September BUT I got the sunniest, warmest WEEK leading up to the Big Day in Northern BC in late September. The very next day, it rained buckets. I’m telling you, prayer gets shit done.

**We did have a big white tent on stand-by, just in case.

5. You’d be surprised at what $200 at a flower shop can get you.

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Plus 3 small bouquets and 7 boutonnieres. We set our budget, stuck to it, got the simplest arrangements, and had an amazingly accomodating florist. (Shout-out to Larkspur Floral Design & Gift Baskets in Smithers, BC!)

6. Make it a Facebook event.

I know, it’s SO not classy or pretty, but doing our invitations this way accomplished so many things: a.) time-crunch proof RSVP, b.) a list of names you can always easily access, c.) update-able to all guests if any information changes, d.) paper-free. That being said, sometimes, getting some people to actually RSVP on time is like pulling teeth. Therefore, I’m going to add an e.) with one click of a button, you can private message ALL of your guests with a gentle reminder to RSVP…and then again a couple weeks later with an even gentler reminder to RSVP….

7. Catering shmatering.

One of the BIGGEST costs for a wedding is the FOOD. Can I suggest a potluck? Once you have your easily-accessible guest list on Facebook, NOW you can message them about what they can bring to the table! (Once they’ve finally made up their mind and RSVP’d, of course.) If anyone in the wedding party has an deathly allergy *coughcoughMyGroomcoughcough*, make this specifically known so that it won’t get tossed into the food by accident. Or, your guests can make that dish and put a VERY CLEAR sign next to it that details any potential allergens.

Having a potluck was so fun for us! Friends got so creative with all different kinds of appies and main dishes, with some different ethnic tastes thrown in!

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Turns out that my super-skilled-seamstress friend Jeannette is also a super-skilled-wedding-cake-maker. She threw this in as a GIFT.

On that note…

8. Know the Power of the Nifty-Gifty.

Delegating and gifting is a magical combination. If you ask someone to provide a service for you, ie: that gorgeous wedding cake, tell them that this can be their gift to you and they don’t need to bring anything else. (It really only works if a FRIEND is providing the service, haha.) Because of our adopted family and actual family’s generosity, we didn’t have to pay for the majority of renting the hall, the cake, the wine, the table centrepieces (double duty of our main photographer…man, do I know some talented people or what?) or the food. You don’t want your day to be remembered by how expensive it looked, but by how much love was poured into it. And man, we had buckets.

9. Take the Plunge…and Hire a Decorator.

Doing this made us a little nervous financially, but in the end, it was SO worth it. I can’t stress this enough. For $725, we received a GORGEOUS hall for the night AND we didn’t have to clean any of it up afterwards. Between the decorator, a few volunteers from our guests and a small donation to a 4-H club, the Round Lake Hall was returned to its normal state, and we didn’t have to worry about a thing. After all the fun we had, we were exhausted, and cleaning was the last thing we wanted to do. It’ll be the last thing you want to do too.

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Image10. Take another, littler plunge and hire a professional make-up/hair artist as well.

I didn’t really feel that this could actually be important but when I got to the end of my Big Day and I realized that my hair was still in place and my make-up was still on, I knew I’d made the right decision.
Mine and the girls’ make-up was done by my former youth pastor’s wife Kim. She’s gone to Hollywood and given make-overs to celebrities, yet she chooses to grace Smithers with her beautiful presence. She’s kind of a big deal.
And then Allison, another church friend, made a house-call with a baby to do our hair. We didn’t really know what we wanted, but we tried to describe it verbally, and she took it and ran with it like a champ.

**Believe it or not, your wedding day is kind of like being in a play or a movie. Not in the sense that you’re performing for everyone there, but there is a definite element of “costume”, “design,” “lighting,” “photography” and “make-up.” Having artists there who do this sort of thing for a living are invaluable. Your wedding photos will have a huge difference too. Hence, why I also decided to get the false eyelashes for myself and the girls. Now you can actually see our eyes, hurray! (And by purchasing the make-overs/hair-do’s for them, my wedding gift to them was also done, double hurray!)

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Michelle has make-up, I do not. Helloooo, lighting difference!

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And helloooo Bride!      ImageImage

(Money Tally: $435 + $200 flowers + $735 decorator + $400 make-up/hair= $1,770)

11. Have a few photographers, who are just starting out.

You’ll get different points of view of your Big Day from each one, and if you’ve seen their pictures already and you like them, who cares if they’re “new”? It’ll cut your costs way down from choosing someone who has been established for a long time, with a company name. We had 3 photographers, all friends, 2 who made their photos a “gifty”, one who was 8 months pregnant and also made our centrepieces as a “gifty.” We got her a hefty Starbucks card. (Now, 16 months later, she’s one of the most requested photographers in Smithers – and we were her first wedding! I hope she’s charging a lot more now; she deserves it.)

12. Make a photo-guestbook!

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$30, Shoppers Drug Mart, boom you’re done. Now you have a photo album with everyone’s lovely comments and it’ll last forever.

(Money Tally: $1,250.)

13. Be KIND to yourself.

It’s a Big Day. Even if it’s the funnest thing to ever happen to you (which for me, it was), there’s going to be adrenaline and rush and hugging/talking/shaking hands with everyone who came to see you.

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EAT SOMETHING. THROUGHOUT THE DAY.

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TAKE THESE DAMN THINGS OFF.

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AND PUT THESE DAMN THINGS ON.

Drink water frequently, take deep breaths, don’t be hungover. It’s that simple.

14. Get married and make merry!

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15. Realize that you are just getting started.

Sure, we only paid roughly $2,000. Sure, we had a lot of things handed to us and got our socks blessed off. That doesn’t mean that every day since then has been easy or inexpensive. Sometimes I look at these pictures and don’t recognize myself in them anymore. But I always go back to this day when I forget who I am or why I’m here. Love, and the Journey; that’s it. “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”  A Wedding Day is important, but a Marriage is even more important. You might have been King and Queen for the day, but if you don’t have real love in your hearts and lives, it means nothing.

So prepare for your day, save your money, call your friends. Or forget everything I just listed and elope. I don’t care. Just make sure that when you say “I do,” you say “I do” to all of it. Cause there’s gonna be a lot of it. And this glorious day…

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…will turn into this quiet moment.

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And all of it…the highs and lows, shocking twists and throat-gulping turns, the turbulent sea at rest after a storm…all of it will be good, good, good. Just let your heart keep beating Love…the Journey…Love…the Journey…Love…the Journey.

xo Carly

** MAJORLY NECESSARY UPDATE**

I cannot believe I forgot about this.

16. “Do you have the wing?”

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The way our wedding rings came to be is one of my favourite parts of this story.

As I have mentioned before, Steve was once-upon-a-time engaged to someone that we tenderly call Voldemort.

After she left him 6 weeks before their wedding for his groomsman, AND after a 4 month spiel that resembled a train wreck, Steve found himself with a pair of her rings that he just didn’t want to deal with quite yet. He packed them up in their little boxes, intending to pawn them eventually.

A year and a half later, he showed them to me. They were beautiful, thought up from his brain with the help of Spence Diamonds. In other words, they had not been cheap.

Looking at them, I felt sad for him, but hopeful for us. If we pawned them, perhaps they would bring in enough money for us to purchase our own. We both agreed that it was time for this chapter to be closed, to start a new one.

And then, believe it or not, my mom came up with this brilliant idea: we knew a really cool jeweler in Smithers who was gaining experience and reputation by the day. What if he could melt them down and make brand new rings out of them?

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HAAAAH-LAY-LU-YAHHHH!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a few email exchanges, one in-person computer design sesh, and one weekend, Gaelen Van Gorkom gave us these:

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And that was just his first time melting down an already existing ring and making a new one. Now, he does it regularly, and he’s pretty spectacular. (Also, his original designs are out of the world amazing.) And because we already had the materials, he only charged us for the labour, even going so far as to throw an extra diamond in my ring for free when the design called for an extra.

Steve and I love our rings. We feel naked without them, actually. I think we would love them on a normal basis, but knowing their Phoenix-Rising-From-The-Ashes origin story makes them even more treasured.

Thank you, Handmade Engagement Rings – thank you, Gaelen. And hey, THANK YOU, VOLDEMORT. Without you and your hurty ways, we would not be lovin’ this journey we’re on today.

On the 7th most fantastically mediocre and salty day of LUSHmas…

Well, it’s January 6th. The 12th day of Christmas, according to most calendars, and here I am preparing to blog about my 7th LUSH day…and also my last LUSH day. I could have given up at #6 with Emotional Brilliance, and congratulated myself for making it halfway. But I think ya’ll deserve better than that. I will not quit until I’ve given you a whopping 58% of a blog series.

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And that’s a promise I’m willing to test.

Besides, 7 is apparently the perfect number, right? So let’s put this baby to bed smelling good!

“The cure for everything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.” (Isak Dinesen)

And in this shower scrub, LUSH has really taken that anecdote to heart.

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Perhaps you’ve heard of it. *adjusts hipster glasses*

Ocean Salt is literally the top-selling product in all of the LUSH stores anywhere in the world. And best of all, when you first open the pot, it looks like Walter White made it for you. (You’ll wanna give it a little stir.)

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I AM THE ONE WHO SCRUBS.

Okay, okay. That’s not the BEST part. That’s still to come.

When you’re in the shop, this is the most likely product to get demo’d on you.

Never been demo’d? Never knew LUSH did demos?

Well, at Robson Street, we’re so bringing demos back.

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Tom Hiddleston does a victory dance for you.

Imagine with me…you’ve been downtown all day. Maybe working, maybe shopping, maybe gallivanting – whatever it is, even if you’re having the greatest time of your life, it’s going to take a spiral. Downtown Vancouver could be compared to white sugar – you’re cruisin’, you’re feelin’ good like James Brown knew you would, and then a few hours later, you just want to sleep.

The thought of going into one more store might send you over the edge, but trust me, you wanna go in. LUSH is one of the only stores I know of will not only tell you about what they offer, but show you what they offer, pamper you with what they offer, and let you sample to take home what they offer.

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Blogs are automatically made better with minions.

On my first day of work, I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing some dear friends from my hometown of Smithers. They wanted to say hi and congratulate me on my pimpin’ new digs, but they got so much more than that. It started out pretty much against their will, but by the end, they couldn’t stop touching their hands and they were walking out the door with tiny samples hidden in their manly pockets.

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And now they know…the power of the demo.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, everything in LUSH is handmade, with as many local ingredients as possible. With Ocean Salt, you can’t get much more local OR fresh. The salt is taken from our little corner of the Pacific Ocean, and then it’s run through the filtering system of the Vancouver Aquarium for a spell. Doing so not only gives this product an incredible “right-next-door” feeling, but it softens the harshness of the salt. So your body (and I do mean literally your entire body [including your FACE!] because that’s what this scrub is for!) is going to be exfoliated a little more gently than normal.

ImageNext, they’ve thrown in a delicious combination of lime juice, vodka, avocado and coconut to seal the deal. The first two cleanse and brighten your newly exfoliated skin. The second two soften, soften, soften. So basically, in the course of one average shower experience (20 minutes if you have a normal hot water tank, 7 minutes if you have MY hot water tank), you’ve completed three very important rituals on your skin, in one product, in one step. Even the hard-to-soften places like your elbows and feet will be thanking you!

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“Holy boobies, I feel amazing!”

All it takes is a little handful, twice a week, in your shower – and you will survive this winter, I promise.

Well, peeps, it’s been a slice. I hope that these past weeks have been relaxing, entertaining, colourful and altogether LUSH-ious. Stay kind, stay beautiful – inside and out.

xo Carly

On the 6th day of LUSHmas…

…my LUSHIE gave to me…

AN EMOTIONALLY BRILLIANT MAKEOVER!

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been much of a make-up person. Actually, I’ve never been much of a “anything that LUSH sells” kind of person, which lends credit to the fact that I’ve immensely enjoyed everything I tried while working there. (Yes, that should be read as a past tense. Sadly, after mentally wrestling for a week or so, I decided not to re-apply to Robson Street. I am so not a commute-er, and that’s okay for me to admit. But if they open a shop in Langley, I’ll be on that like a Mexican on a churro.)

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I’d *probably* still eat it.

So now that I’ve got all of us thinking about churros like a jerk, let’s talk about make-up.

I don’t do it very often.

It’s a fine-line combination of being mostly content with how I look + being horribly lazy + being artistically challenged.

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Me, left to my own devices. Love you, Catherine!

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“The way you make me feel…”

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“I WONDER IF MY MAKE-UP HAS EXPIRED YET. IT’S ONLY BEEN THREE YEARS.”

If you went into LUSH today, and you hadn’t been in for 2 years or so, it would look very different from what you remember. LUSH likes to evolve and grow, all the while staying true to their original manifesto of unique and clean products.

A newer thing you might notice is a little something they call

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EMOTIONAL BRILLIANCE!

And here’s how it works.

Do you remember the sorta-French movie Chocolat?

If you don't, I may have to re-evaluate our friendship.

If you don’t, I may have to re-evaluate our friendship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, Vianne (the Duchess of all things beautiful, pictured above) opens a chocolate shop in a tiny little French town that is very strict on tradition. Normally, this might not be a problem, except that she opens it just before Lent – a time where everyone gives up some sort of pleasure, including chocolate. She doesn’t go to church, she has a daughter and she doesn’t know who the father is, she likes to wear red high heels on Sundays…she is just not okay to these people. But those who are more curious come into the chocolaterie, and they are treated to a truly magical experience, beginning with the wheel.

Made of ancient Mayan art, Vianne spins it and asks, “What do you see?”

The answers vary. Some see darkness and violence; others see a romantic scene or something that makes them happy. From that imagery, Vianne chooses what their favourite chocolate must be, and she’s usually always right. She is a chocolate wizard.

Welcome to our version of that.

Welcome to our version of that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You enter a LUSH shop. You notice this fairly new display called Emotional Brilliance. What’s this, you wonder? And someone like me would say to you…

It’s a make-up line inspired by colour therapy, designed by our very own “wizards”, here to help find the right colour for you.
In our culture, we use colour therapy more than we think. When we see purple, we have an automatic association to royalty. Green with growth – blue with comfort – red with passion – white with purity – black with evil, and more.
Close your eyes. When this colour wheel spins, they will all blend together.
Open your eyes.  As it slows down, you’ll start to be able to identify different ones again.
We want you to pick three of them, not your favourites – just the ones that stand out to you, against all the other options.
As you tell me which ones you want, I’m going to pull out those three colour discs. Each one has a word underneath it, and you don’t know what it is. But, one at a time, I will reveal them in the order you chose them and I’ll tell you what they mean.

1.) This could be a strength or weakness you perceive yourself as having. For example, quite often, I find myself choosing Power (without force). To one person, this might be a strength. For me, it could be a weakness, especially if it’s WITH force. If I were to put this colour on before I started my day, it would remind me to be influential yet humbly in servitude to others around me.

2.) Your second colour can indicate your subconscious, something your soul is telling you that you need. This afternoon, I chose Healthy. To me, this is perfectly all right. I would like to remain healthy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in the days that approach. However, we have had one case of a woman who actually started weeping in the store because she chose Healthy, and just recently, she had been given a remission from cancer. Words are a powerful emotion.

3.) This is what you might aspire to be. A quality or a goal you want to meet in your personal life, or at work, or even just in yourself. Right now, my third colour is Charm. I tend to use humour as a coping mechanism, and somewhere along the way, I’ve developed a twinkle in my eye and a unique perspective. Therefore, a lot of people have called me charming, even when they weren’t in the mood to be charmed! This is a quality I enjoy having, so I’m going to keep charming the heck out of you! *bats eyelashes*

Click on le pics to zoom in on my modeling skillz!

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Getting a make-over at work every day? That’s pretty neat!

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On my eyes, I am trying on some Success! It’s a very subtle silver glitter, and unfortunately, it couldn’t alleviate my resemblance to a bruised chipmunk here. *why*

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So LUSH-ious and kissable! That’s the power of Believe, an amazing lip colour that stays on throughout the day, keeping that pucker moist and soft. Come at me, boys 😉 Wait, no, don’t. I have a husband. *you can look, but ya can’t touch.*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.lush.co.uk/emotionalbrilliance/play/

^^^ this link will take you to an online colour wheel that you can spin for yourself! It’s even been developed into an app. Why? Because your “results” might be different every day. You are a deep and complex person; your thoughts and needs and emotions can do a complete 180 from what they were an hour ago! (Also, check out this link http://www.lush.ca/Emotional-Brilliance/emotional-brilliance,en_CA,sc.html for even more great make-up, or “Word Up!” choices!)

After you spin the wheel, it might not change your world. It might just be a fun game, or it might speak to you, after all. Either way, our goal is to inspire you. So often when we apply make-up before heading out to our day, it’s because we feel that this is how we are accepted. We don’t want to scare people with our morning face, right? But I wonder how differently our day would go if we stepped out, not with the goal to be beautiful or put together or rich or perfect – but to be calm, wise, healthy, passionate, independent and happy? As one of LUSH’s founders, Mark Constantine, said,

“We’re not going to save the world with it, but it is still going to give some people incredible strength.”

That’s good enough for me.

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How I Became a Tupperware-er (Without Really Trying)

Throughout my 26 years on this earth, I have realized that I’m really good at looking like a do-er. People could look at my “resume” of life experiences and say, “Wow. She’s quite accomplished for one so young. She must be super motivated!”

Ha!

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

I am definitely door #3, except “greatness” should be replaced by “crazy random happenstance.”

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It usually starts with an innocent conversation. And then the person I’m conversing with, usually someone who’s way more of a do-er than I am, has a *LIIIIIIGHT BUUUUUULB* moment and says, “OMG! I’m totally doing this thing this weekend, and you would be PERFECT help!” Or “This life-changing event is happening next week and YOUR LIFE NEEDS A-CHANGIN’ YOU SHOULD TOTALLY COME!!!”

I go home. I think about it. I make a mental list of pro’s and con’s. And, since I like being a pushover and people pleaser Yes Woman, that’s usually what I end up saying.

This happened to me a few weeks ago, in the form of a really cute Newfie mom with even cuter Newfie kids.

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She was hosting a Tupperware party. At her house. With her cute kids, AND  her Christmas cookies AND chocolate chip banana bread. With the claim that I would get free stuff, just for showing up.

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At the time, I didn’t even know what Tupperware was, but I didn’t care. The Newfie had trapped me well and good.

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This is what I was picturing the night would be like. Party? Riiiight.

Four days before the party, Steven said to me,

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Three days before the party, my sister Sarah said, “So I heard you were headed to a Tupperware Party…by the way…”

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On the same day, my mother-in-law said, “Oy, you’re goin’ to a bloomin’ Tupperware pahty, girl!”

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In the evening, as I was literally heading out the door for the party, my father-in-law made sure I knew that

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In return, I patiently reassured each and every one of my concerned family members that I would not spend any money or be roped into any schemes. I even left my purse in my car as a preventative measure.

And then shit got real.

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Did you have these as a kid? Cause I sure did! Did MY MOTHER attend a Tupperware party? *brain explodes*

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I don’t even know who this man is, but he was all over Google Images, and I can’t help but be delighted?

Maybe it was the treats, or the cute children running around, or the bawk-bawk-bawk of adorable lady hens surrounding me, or THE CHRISTMAS SALES, but suddenly I was convinced that my kitchen and I desperately needed all these things in order to be happy. Like, I’m pretty the Proverbs 31 woman used Tupperware.

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By the time the night was over, I had ignored every…single…

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I had received, run out to my car,

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and brought back my Visa, ready to give my kitchen and fridge a much-needed face lift.

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I finally decided on a easy-to-clean, easy-to-use frosting decorator, because as we all know, I need some help in that department.

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A huge-ass Hello Kitty I attempted last Spring. Enough said.

And finally, a 4-set of fridge containers that were prepared to change my world. They had an “acidity chart” ventilation system, so that you could store certain fruits and vegetables and even cheese, according to their acidity and they would last much longer. They even had raised corners, so that if any juices dribbled out of your fresh produce, it would drain down to the corner and leave your tomahtos alone.

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It costs this many monies.

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But I was convinced that Steve and I had thrown AT LEAST that many monies worth into the garbage due to fruit and veggies and cheese that crossed over to that Great Spirit in the Sky before their time. This investment would pay for itself 10 times over.

As I went to hand my order in, the Tupperware Agent looked at it and said, “Oof. I have a better idea. Wanna save some money?”

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So, the long and short of it is that I am going to host a Tupperware party. IN ONE WEEK. Through my Newfie friend’s house, because she is gracious and kind and realizes that my house is more of a…garage.

If enough friends come to my Tupperware party, I can potentially get the fridge set I need for free. I’mma just be straight up about that.

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If you come, I will hug you and serve you tea and dainties out the wazoo. But you do NOT have to buy anything. If you want, you can cash in on a couple of great sales, go home with some free stuff just for showing up, and I’ll be on my way to becoming a better cook and woman of valour. Everybody wins, and you’ll regret nothing.

Ultimately, I have learned a few things about myself.

1.) I am totally okay with having greatness crazy random happenstance thrust upon me every once in awhile.

2.) This:

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trumps this:

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every time.

And the New Year has only begun. Go me.