CanCon 2016 Storify Recap

This weekend I volunteered at Can Con (The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature). I’d been to it the past few years and I LOVE it. It’s definitely one of the best Cons around. I guess since I’ve not been volunteering much lately (a full-time job and writing on the side steals all my time) I decided to offer myself on Saturday at the last-minute. They found a spot for me, guiding people between the Con Suite (Tavern) and the Guild Hall (where there were author readings). This post allowed me the chance to do my favorite thing – live tweet! As much as I wish I could have been to some of the panels, I’m super happy to have the chance to be a volunteer again. I think that’s really been missing from my life, and I’ll have to do better to incorporate it back in. I used to volunteer in Winnipeg for C4 Comic Con, and when we first moved here I volunteered for the Western Ottawa Community Resource Center (and, of course, roller derby).

As a follow-up to my live tweeting and overall support of the event, I’m doing another of my favorite things – a Storify recap!

 

Welcome Fall, 2016!

Jessica-Ripley-Author-PSL-06Fall has always been my favorite season. I love the leaves changing, and I love that crisp air that makes snuggling in sweaters so nice. I think part of it too is the excitement I always had for “back to school.” It was when we got new school supplies, new teachers and classmates, and a clean slate on the report card. I always went back to school with the best of intentions to make each year the best yet.

This feeling holds true to me now, even though I’m no longer on any kind of school schedule. I still go into Fall feeling like it’s time to get rid of bad habits that have crept in my life, and time to shake off that summer “free for all” mentality. I also feel like I’ll be very productive in the next few months, and I can let go of any disappointments or anything else that has been holding me back.

I realized a few years ago though, that without some extra self-care, I do really poorly in Autumn. I’ll start to feel sick, achey, and a bit more depressed and unmotivated than usual. I was physically opposite of what my mind and spirit felt like doing. Turns out, there is lots of research about the physical body preparing for the cold weather and being affected (just like the drying leaves on the trees) by the change. So there are a few things in particular I make a point to make time for, to ensure that I’m at my best to take advantage of the motivation that Fall affords me.

  1. Unplug one day a week.
  2. Take regular warm, quiet baths.
  3. Moisturize skin, lips, and cuticles.
  4. Drink tea with honey to prevent sore throats.
  5. Light candles to bring a little warmth into the home.
  6. Practice Yoga for stability in body and clarity of mind.
  7. Relax by drinking hot almond milk with nutmeg before bed.
  8. Eat warm comfort food (heavier, denser soups and stews).
  9. Enjoy leisurely 10 minute (minimum) quiet walks outdoors.
  10. Spend quality time with those you love (including fur babies!)
  11. Meet with friends (a great excuse for Pumpkin Spice Latte dates!)
  12. Take more rest time, including earlier bedtimes and naps on the weekend.
  13. Use scented soap, lotion, and candles that smell of sandalwood or lavender.

Jessica-Ripley-Author-Fall-06I also reward myself once a week (Friday) with a Pumpkin Spice Latte, because they are delicious and I deserve to treat myself 🙂

When I make sure to remember the self-care, Autumn goes back to being a great time for reflection and creation. I look forward to NaNoWriMo in November, and celebrating family over all of the holidays!

As August is Ending

Jessica-Ripley-Fur-Babies-2016-08It’s been 3 weeks “on our own” and we’re all surviving! That said, we do miss the male human and hope he gets to come home to visit for the long weekend. I’m still trying not to complain. Many Military families deal with further distances and longer separations. I mean, even we have in the past, and we’ve gone quite a few years with him gone for more than just a week or two. So we’re just hanging in there, being a good Military family (even though we are just a human and 4 fur babies).

Unlike the past two weeks, I made an effort to just go home and rest. This meant no jewelry classes, no going out to eat with friends, and getting to bed around 8pm when I was especially tired.

I spent the weekend doing a ton of yard work that I’d put off, and then cleaning most of the house top-to-bottom. Of course, the pets were all pretty weirded out by this. They’d been working hard to make all the blankets and rugs smell just how they liked them. I’m not sure if that’s actually true though, because they all get super happy when they have clean blankets and beds to roll on!

Reading-wise (and by reading, I mean listening to audiobooks on my commute) I binged 2 of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books in a row, both E is for Evidence and F is for Fugitive. They are so good, and very addictive. I had to stop myself from getting a third one because I like to take a break between them to absorb the story, otherwise they start to blend together. Instead, I started my first J.D. Robb audiobook, Devoted in Death. After the first chapter I was hooked on the story, but I don’t think it was a great idea to switch to audiobooks after I’d already read a bunch in the series. I prefer the voices I’ve created for them in my head over the narrators. I’ll at least finish this one though. And then I might start on Tales of the Body Thief, my annual Anne Rice read (although this year will be the first listen).

We are getting close to launching the Halloween Anthology. We have the ISBN and barcodes, cover design, and basically all of the edits. Time to assemble it!

As for my writing, I’ve got an outline started for a new book, and I’m pretty excited to start drafting. Here’s hoping for a higher word count this week! Last week was a mere 500!

 

Pokemon Go and Ghostbusters

Jessica-Ripley-Writer-Jul-26

This weekend started off great, since I got a free half-day from work due to a fire alarm and smoke smell in the building. It was nice to have time to unwind. I used this time to take a nice long walk with the hubby (who had taken the day off already) and the dogs. I used this walk as an opportunity to finally crack into Pokemon Go.

My initial feeling about the app is that I’d much rather just play Pokemon on my DS. At least that game has a linear storyline and the actual availability of all of the pokemon, plus I can train them up without catching and destroying all of their kin.

I also finished my current audiobook: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. By the end of the book my heart was really out there for the Chief. It was hard to say goodbye to him when the book was over! As usual, I spoiled the ending for myself, because I don’t do well with anticipation and I always enjoy entertainment more if I know what I need to be ready for. I’m now looking forward to watching the movie sometime soon, and as much as I’m sure Jack Nicholson is great, I had imagined Mac as Matthew Mcconaughey through the whole thing, thanks to the narrator’s voice.

I also imagined Nurse Ratched as Imelda Staunton (a la Dolores Umbridge) sometimes.

This weekend we had a trip out with friends and saw both Star Trek Beyond and the new Ghostbusters movie. I found the Star Trek movie to have too many visual effects for me to enjoy it. It would have been a nice little Star Trek episode if not for all of the motion, spinning, and shakey cam. I had to close my eyes for many parts to not get motion sickness. I can’t even imagine how the 3D would be. Great if you are into that kind of thing, like the kid in front of us was (he was literally on the edge of his seat for the movie).

Ghostbusters was perfect. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and I am thrilled to see so many other women so happy with it. Toys are even selling to both girls AND boys, go figure! Now I hope that we can have MORE de-sexualixed kid-appropriate females kicking ass.

In between movies we at a brewery set a lure at its pokestop. It was fun to watch people congregate outside. What an interesting world Pokemon Go has created!

Ottawa Planner Meetup

This weekend I went to my first planner meetup!

I’ve been meaning to blog about my planner for a long time. I feel like I’ve had to retell this story over and over, the fact that I used a planner all throughout school, and once I had graduated University I never gave up the habit. I still bought a yearly planner when all the “back to school” stuff came out, until I fell into the “planner community” on YouTube. My first big planner purchase was my gorgeous purple Filofax A5 Organizer.

Purple-Filofax-A5-Ottawa-Planners

I felt it was a nice jump into the “business world” and loved taking it to business meetings with me! Of course, with falling into the planner community comes things such as washi tape and decorative clips! Luckily, I already had a pen addiction, so that wasn’t anything new.

My A5 got a baby brother when I purchased a Filofax Personal Original in dark aqua, but both of them have been neglected for the past few years while I’ve been pretty happy with my Erin Condren Life Planner. I was a vertical planner to start, but I’ve now been loving my horizontal.

I know it is a bit silly, but I print Avery Labels for each week that have repeating tasks. For morning and night, that includes things as simple as “eat breakfast” or “play with cat”, but on a few days I have important work tasks that must get done every week. I like having daily reminders of my routine. It’s something that just works for my personal organization and productivity.

Planner-Spread-Esby-Creative-Ottawa

And while I don’t go overboard with stickers very often, it is pretty nice to shop from local crafters like Esby Creative and Three Tiny Bows around to pretty up my otherwise boring weeks! Sunday’s meetup was a lot of fun because of the great company, but also because of the great conversation and sticker sharing! Where else can you squee over each other’s weekly chore lists? lol

Ottawa-planner-group-meetup

Please note: Some of the above links do lead to a small commission for me. It does not increase the price that you are charged for the item, but it does make my day!

RTC Ottawa 2016

This weekend I was able to participate in some of the fun at Romancing the Capital, here in Ottawa.

This was the second RTC, hosted by the lovely and talented Eve Langlais. It is targeted to both writers and readers all over the romance genre spectrum.

There is lots of fun on the RTC Facebook page, where we are begging Eve to run it for a third year 😉 Eve, if you’re reading this: The city needs more romance, we need RTC, and we need you to run it! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help!

Because I loved the event so much, I wanted to capture the fun in a Storify collection. I’ve also made a Twitter list of the authors that attended, so I could easily find them again and pick up more of their books when I have time!

 

Mala Bracelets

I’ve always loved these gemstone bead braclets. In High School I had a few that I wore, purchased based on their “gemstone meaning.” After awhile, the strings broke and I didn’t realize for years that you can buy the materials to restring them! Of course, after all of that time I’d lost some of the beads from my favorite flourite one, but I was able to find some very closely matching and remake the bracelet.

Jewelry making has always been a nice hobby of mine. I made friendship bracelets to no end when I was young, and my grandmother had a friend that made jewelry and she gifted me a bunch of beads to play with. It’s only recently though that I started watching YouTube videos and attending classes at Michaels to learn some real skills.

I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to sell the things I make, and just wanting to keep it as a hobby. It’s nice to be able to give them out as gifts, for holidays, birthdays, or just for fun. Plus, keeping it as a hobby means I don’t have to deal with the stress that comes with business!

Mala-beads-Jessica-Ripley (1) Mala-beads-Jessica-Ripley (2)

Ottawa BeaverTails

When traveling to Ottawa, or hosting tourists, one thing always gets mentioned: “Make sure to get a BeaverTail!”

Their history goes back to the late 70’s, and with current fans including Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, it’s no wonder they have a reputation. The BeaverTail is a Canadian dessert icon, so it makes sense that the Capital is most associated with it!

President Obama in Ontario, Canada on Feb. 19, 2009. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

What is a BeaverTail?

Ottawa-Beavertails

A BeaverTail is a fresh deep-fried dough treat, made to order and brushed with butter and topped with the sweets of your choice. These topping choices include classic cinnamon and sugar, or other options like maple, apples and cinnamon, Nutella and bananas, Skor, Reece’s Pieces and Peanut Butter, Oreos, etc. They are large enough to share, depending on how big your sweet tooth is!

Where can I get a BeaverTail?

Ottawa-Beavertails-Byward-Market

There are a few locations for BeaverTails around the city, but I usually take visitors to where it all started in the Byward market (69 George Street). This was the first permanent location, which opened in 1980. You could also swing by the one at the Tanger Outlets in Kanata (8555 Campeau Drive) if you want a treat after shopping, or if the Rideau Canal Skateway is open you can get one there!

Remember, these locations are cash only and there is not any seating available (street eating at it’s best).

BeaverTails aren’t only found in Ottawa. There are over 100 locations across Canada, and even some in the US and overseas! So if you find one, indulge, and enjoy the taste of Ottawa!




Parliament Hill

One of the biggest tourist attractions (with about 3 million visitors a year) in Ottawa is the Nation’s capital – Parliament Hill.

That being said, in the almost four years that we have lived here, we haven’t done the tour! Thankfully, we had friends in from Winnipeg and that gave us a good excuse to go check it out (finally). We got our (FREE!) tickets across the street from Parliament Hill, at 90 Wellington Street, before heading over.

Centennial Flame

At the entrance to Parliament Hill, this flame burns on top of a fountain that is decorated with the shields of Canadian provences and territories to represent the unity of Canada. I didn’t realize when we were there that it is a wishing fountain, and that all of the money tossed in goes into the Centennial Flame Research Award. This award is granted to “a person with a disability to allow him or her to conduct research and prepare a report on one or more Canadians with disabilities who have made a contribution to the public life of Canada or to the activities of Parliament.” Next time I’m there I will make sure to make a wish!

Peace Tower Tour

We were able to go right to the Peace Tower, as we had about two hours for our Parliament tour. To get in, you have to wait to have your turn through the TSA-like security and metal detectors. Then you climb the stairs and hop in an elevator that takes you right below the iconic clock and gives you a spectacular view around the city.

Once down the elevator, you visit the Memorial Chamber, which honors the Canadians who have died in combat during the wars and conflicts throughout history. The Books of Remembrance that are on display have one page turned at 11am each day (if you have a family member listed, you can call to find out when their name will be visible). It is a very humbling experience.

Center Block Tour

This February marked 100 years since the Parliament Hill fire of 1916. That fire caused the destruction of all of the center block, except for the Library. The tours this month were themed around the fire, complete with photos of what the halls and rooms looked like prior to the fire (and being rebuilt). The guide promised a look into the cause of the fire, but that ended up being the in-person form of click-bait. They only mentioned what we already knew, that the fire may have been caused by an abandoned lit cigarette or cigar, or WWII German sabotage (a cigar pipe bomb, specifically).

The tour included viewings of the Hall of Honour, House of Commons foyer, House of Commons Chamber, Senate foyer, and Senate Chamber (we did not get to see the House of Commons Chamber, as I believe they may have been sitting). It was very neat to see all of the amazing architecture and appreciate the history of the building.

The Library of Parliament

LOP1916

The Library was untouched by the fire, due to the fact that it was only connected to the rest of the building by a corridor, and the librarian on duty was able to seal it off by its iron doors.

It is 140 years old and holds 600,000 items! The library is in a circle with high vaulted ceilings, and was designed in the Victorian High Gothic style. The white marble statue in the middle is Queen Victoria.

It was the most spectacularly beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I would live there if I could!

National War Memorial

We also walked over to the National War Memorial and paid our respects to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was my first trip there, and I can only imagine how crowded it must be on Remembrance Day.

Overally, it was a great day of touring the Capital City. Each time I hope to see a bit more, and continue to gain an appreciation for this city that I am lucky enough to live and work in!

Why I’ll (now) always get the flu shot

jessica-ripley-flu-shotI’m not particularly sure why, but I’ve never gotten a flu shot. I think it’s left over thinking of an American who would have to PAY for the flu shot, or perhaps from years past when there’s been a shortage and the shot was said to be for pregnant women or elderly. There’s also the old thinking that getting a Flu shot gives you the flu (that might have been true in the past, but it’s definitely not now)

Ironically, I started working in a place that promoted the flu shot, and even had posters up that talked about how you have a responsibility to get a flu shot to protect those most at-risk, such as pregnant women and the elderly. I’d started to give it some thought, but not soon enough. So now I want to go on record with the 10 reasons of why I’ll be getting a flu shot from now on:

  1. Severe flu symptoms are THE WORST
  2. I don’t deserve to have my annual Disney trip cut short due to severe flu symptoms
  3. Once you have the flu, you’re more likely to get it again the next year
  4. Missing work and a paycheck because you are at home on bed rest isn’t fun
  5. Six days of foggy and uncomfortable bed rest is a waste of precious time
  6. It’s really embarrassing to be a grown-up and admit that I was taken down by the flu because I didn’t get my flu shot
  7. The shot is free & easily available
  8. Herd immunity is a good thing
  9. I’m an altruistic person, so why not get my vaccination for all those those who can’t get the shot themselves?
  10. I have asthma and am at higher risk for pneumonia

Yup. If for nothing else, this is going to sit here as a reminder for myself to get my flu shot this month when I’m able to (when all symptoms are gone in a few weeks), and again every November until the end of time.

Word count: On the first day that I felt alive, I managed to knock out 5000 words! I attribute that to the hours I’d spent in bed tossing and turning and throwing ideas around in my head that I couldn’t type out of it!