A Better British List

Last weekend I made quite the shocking discovery. While conducting some research on possible movies to watch, I came across the most blasphemous list of top British period dramas in the IMDB. The cause for my harsh accusation stemmed from this particular ranking:

  • #2 Pride & Prejudice (2005) ft. Kiera Knightly;
  • #3 BBC’s Pride & Prejudice (1995)  ft. Colin Firth.

Yes, consider the travesty… the creator of this list should be severely punished. It is inconceivable that any true appreciator of British period drama could have written this list. Not only was BBC’s P&P not in its rightful first-place position, but Kiera Knightly’s version trumped it! I nearly needed my smelling salts to keep from fainting.

Since my earliest memories, I have been curiously drawn to two things: pioneers (including pioneer-esque lifestyles) and British things. From scones, tea, refined accents, romantic castles, the royal family, to Mr. Bean, the British people know how to do things. My favourite film genre is undoubtedly sweeping British period dramas, especially when Colin Firth is involved. I wouldn’t go as far to call me an “expert,” but I will claim to have much better taste than the impostor who wrote that excuse of a top British romance list.

And so, for the true appreciator of fine quality British period dramas, feast your eyes on the following list of my personal top films:

1. BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, 1995

Yes, you knew this was coming. Undoubtedly, this particular portrayal of the classic Jane Austen romance in the 1995 mini-series is the truest in form to the late Ms. Austen’s famous 1813 novel. Exploring the tribulations of a woman’s dependency on marriage for economic status in the early 19th century, the themes of propriety, class, education, and family still speaks to modern audiences. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darsy respectively held one of the most realistic and heated chemistries ever on screen. Especially exceptional when you consider their first kiss occurs in the film’s final minute!

2. Anna and the King, 1999

I’m going to get some slack for this, but Jodie Foster is absolutely divine as the widowed English schoolteacher who sets out to tutor the King of Siam’s offspring in the 19th century. Though the film is set on the opposite side of the world, historical British themes of colonialism, women’s roles, royal duties, and class are woven into a a sweeping romance that climaxes in one final, slow dance. You will definitely need tissues handy for this one!

3. Downton Abbey, 2010-present

BBC does it yet again in this television series following the lives of a British upper nobility family and their household of servants at the turn of the 20th century. War, heirs, affairs, scandal, bankruptcy, murder trials, running off with the chauffeur … this show has it all. The costumes, sets, and ensemble cast are a feast for your senses. I challenge anyone to watch the first episode and not become addicted.

4. The Duchess, 2008

Kiera Knightly has her place in this epic biographical picture about the life and times of the Duchess of Grey, the “it” girl of the 18th century. Trapped in a loveless marriage at age seventeen to a Duke twice her age, the Duchess rises to fame as a trend-setter, social butterfly, and arguably the first female politicker in British parliament. Despite being adored by British society, she can’t manage to draw the same affection from her own husband. I’d recommend this movie even if just to drool over her fabulous costumes.

5. Atonement, 2007

Clearly I have nothing against Kiera Knightly because she appears yet again in my fifth pick, a tragic love story set before and during the First World War. An upper class thirteen year old girl irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. This is another one in which you will need to keep tissues handy.

I’m sure I will have many people disagree, so if you do, all I ask is that you use this as an opportunity to comment!

What films or series would you add to this list?

– – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE: North and South replaces Atonement in Top Five position!

After watching the 2004 mini-series North and South, I must bump Atonement out of the Top Five list. North and South follows middle-class southerner Margaret Hale as she is forced to move up north to the cotton-milling industrial town of Milton. Richard Armitage’s portrayal as brooding, misunderstood cotton mill owner is nearly (and I said nearly) as wonderful as Firth’s Darcy.

– – – – – – – – – –

Liked this post? Check out my previous movie kerfuffle with Howie

Hockey Wives

For the record, I was never a puck bunny.* The fact that Howie and I started dating in his first year of the OHL was merely a coincidence. I did not hang around arenas scoping out hockey players, never once attended a team party and certainly never attended an ice hockey game wearing a mini-skirt. Yes, I like how Howie looks in shoulder pads, but that does not make me a puck bunny. Despite these truths, friends endearingly like to tease me with this name.

Though it’s been a while since I’ve watched Howie play competitive hockey, I was really looking forward to watching him compete in a for-charity ball hockey tournament with some friends a few weekends ago. The fact that he was playing with the new husband of my friend (and former basketball teammate) Melissa meant I had a cheering buddy. And when you get two competitive former basketball players cheering together, things can get pretty serious. When you add in a Loud Mouth who purposefully hooks* our men in the nuts, things get ugly.

The fun-loving charitable atmosphere took a turn for the worst when our men had to compete against a rather brutish oaf who clearly talked smack because he enjoyed getting a rise out of his opponents. After a few initial dirty plays and smart-aleck remarks, we soon had the entire crowd cheering for our team to spite this ridiculous Loud Mouth. At first our boys tried to maintain the higher ground, play on and ignore the fool. It wasn’t as easy for us Hockey Wives to do the same. And so the game digressed….

Here is my account of the Tale of Two Hockey Wives and the Loud Mouth

Loud Mouth cross-checks Howie across the back, Howie shoves him in the chest (so hot)

Loud Mouth: “You wanna go man?!”

Howie (who is twice his size): “Are you serious?”

Loud Mouth backs away shouting: “Ooo big tough guy eh?”

Melissa: “What is your problem?! Play the game!!”

Cheryl: “I hope you realize this is a recreational ball hockey tournament!!”

Loud Mouth: “Why are you guys even talking?! You’re not even playing!”

Melissa: “Neither are you!”

Cheryl giggles: “Shhh.. careful Melissa… he’s an idiot. We should just ignore him”

Melissa: “It’s impossible to ignore those kind of people. I can’t stand them!”

Cheryl: “I know… he’s just trying to cause trouble.”

Loud Mouth becomes excessively aggressive with Howie’s younger brother Bret, and causes a scene in which both he (Loud Mouth) and Bret end up with penalties.

Loud Mouth to Bret: “Hahaha! What a joke! You think you’re good eh? You’re the worst!”

Bret: “Wow dude. You have issues. Have you ever even got laid?”

Cheryl: “BRET! Don’t say things like that!”

Melissa: “Don’t stoop to his level Bret! He’s not worth it!”

Loud Mouth: “Hahah! I’m not worth it? Ok. Why are you still talking?”

Melissa: “Get over yourself and just play the game!”

Cheryl: (Giggles) “Nice one.”

Loud Mouth continues to do idiotic things, gets a few penalties and eventually gets kicked out of the game.

Loud Mouth: “Hahaha what a joke! They think they’re so good! They suck!”

Melissa: “Ya. Just walk off and sit down.”

Loud Mouth: “Oh really? You think you’re funny?”

Melissa: “Your FACE is funny.”

And there it was. The best line ever. When all else fails, just remember the lines from grade school playgrounds. I was laughing so hard at that point. Loud Mouth didn’t have a reply to that. Take THAT Loud Mouth!

Our boys went on to win their division championship. Howie told me I’m not supposed to reveal there was only three teams in the division how truly difficult and hard-fought the victory was. In the end, we Hockey Wives were very proud of our men and their glorious accomplishment. We stand ready to challenge anyone that would say otherwise!

* Puck bunny: Female fan of hockey players (emphasis on the player, not the game of hockey) who frequent arenas and hockey team parties for the sole purpose of hooking up with players. They severely underdress for a sport known to be played on ice.

Questionable Readers

It’s Friday! Can’t wait for the weekend to start. I’ve got a big To Do list going with my planned bedroom makeover. Carpentry, sewing, and painting are all on the agenda, Howie’s going to love me for this. Since we can all use a laugh on Friday, I thought I would share the following experience related to blog management.

Every so often I like to take a little peek at my blog stats and see what kind of sites and search terms are bringing people to my blog. Most come from facebook, twitter, and other blogs I place comments on but there are a handful of visitors that find me through random Google search terms.

So you must understand I was a little taken aback when the following list of Google search terms popped up as the mode to which I gained new visitors.

“Burning boobs”? “Wife go wild”? “Bloodshot spot in my eye” twice? How are these people finding me? And what foreign term is that last one?

Thank you random Google searchers, for making me laugh, feel slightly repulsed, and oddly intrigued all at the same time! I think I will name this new emotion, “repulaughtrigue.”

Ten points to the person who can interpret the foreign search term! (Or just think of a really awesome possible interpretation).

Domestically Disturbed

I am a procrastinator of the worst breed.

From opening mail, doing a load of laundry, hanging up clothes, taking items back into the house from the car, unpacking luggage, writing to my sponsored child in Guatemala, sending birthday cards to people on time, printing pictures of our wedding, to almost every little task you could imagine, I tend to postpone action until a later date instead of getting things done right away. To illustrate, this is what typically happens on a weekday evening:

(Cheryl and Howie arrive home together, usually around 7:30pm-ish)

Howie: Oh no! We forgot to take meat out of the freezer again! 

Cheryl: Augh! Why do we forget to do that all the time? 

Howie: I will walk the dog if you go get pizza...

Cheryl: How about I will walk the dog if you go get the pizza?

Howie: I don't like that as much.

Cheryl: Ok how about you walk the dog and I start defrosting meat.

Howie: How? We don't have a microwave.

Cheryl: I'll just put the package in hot water. It's fine. We
seriously have to stop eating out so much we have food here!

Howie: Ok, ok. Did you get the mail?

Cheryl: I'll get it tomorrow. Did you take out the garbage?

Howie: I'll do it tomorrow. Did you pay the hydro bill?

Cheryl: I was going to do it tomorrow.

Howie: I'll do it after supper.

Cheryl: (Reaching into dishwasher) Augh! I hate how this thing
never cleans the glasses properly!

Howie: Oh well it's just us. We'll clean them by hand before people
come over.

Cheryl: (Walking into living room) Oh Howie, look how messy it is!

Howie: Oh well who cares? We'll clean up Saturday.

So as you can imagine, when you combine a procrastinator with a gent who isn’t bothered by mess, you get a home that goes from neat and organized on Saturday morning to total chaos and anarchy by Tuesday evening. Then Saturday morning rolls around again and you clean up because you simply can’t stand the mess any longer or what is more likely, you have people coming over and you can’t let them see how you really live.

The problem with being a procrastinator is that you start an inner dialog with yourself rationalizing the situation and convincing yourself that you actually cannot complete certain tasks until you accomplish other tasks of which you have delayed action.

Case in point: I forbade myself from writing another blog post until we cleaned up our bedroom. Result: Bedroom still messy. Didn’t write a post for almost two weeks.

So from now on I’ve decided that blog posts and domestic issues will be kept on completely separate schedules, 100% unrelated to one another. In further efforts to slay the procrastination demon that lives inside me, I’ve decided to open up about my issue and expose my procrastinating life for what it truly is. The first step to recovery is admitting your problem (at least that’s what they say on Intervention) and so I will open up the door to my bedroom, let you all in. Divulge the mess for what it is. And somewhere, deep down, hope that this revelation will either a) Encourage us to never let my bedroom get like this again or b) Make me feel a whole lot better because I will find out other people live like I do. Personally I hope this accomplishes a little bit of both.

  1. Heap of clothes containing a mixture of both clean and dirty laundry. Since I can no longer tell which is which (the dirty ones have contaminated the clean ones) we will have to wash them all. Also, Monica has probably hidden her rawhide bone in here.
  2. Super expensive and awesome set of coordinating throw pillows which spend more time on the drying rack than arranged neatly on our bed.
  3. Compact drying rack that ironically spends more time holding super expensive (already dry) and awesome coordinating throw pillows than drying clothes.
  4. Our single Blackberry charger that we inconveniently plug into the wall that I need to walk by to get to my side of the bed and often trip on. Thus, unintentionally causing Howie’s charging Blackberry to become unplugged all throughout the night and cause Howie to arise to a still dead phone in the morning to which he angrily exclaims, “Cheryl! You did it again!” and I reply “It wasn’t me!” Even though it was.
  5. One of two Ikea chairs I used in university at my little dorm desk and we now use as nightstands because we haven’t bothered to find nightstands. I have two because I thought I lost my chair one summer and so I bought a chair to replace it only to discover that the first chair had been in storage in my parent’s basement all along. (See earlier musings on my propensity to lose objects)
  6. Space where second chair on Howie’s side ought to be but isn’t because we had to use it at our table for a dinner party roughly two weeks ago. Why hasn’t it been put back yet? It’s a stand-off issue between Howie and I at the moment. I’m waiting for him to put it back and I think he’s doing the same.
  7. Monica’s dog crate which she slumbers in approximately just 3 out of 7 nights a week despite the fact that I swore I would never be a pet owner that allowed a dog to sleep in my bed. You may notice it’s missing the “o” in Monica. I am planning on fixing that at a later date.
  8. Hamper that never holds the dirty clothes because we obviously like to keep our dirty clothes on the floor.
  9. Annoying window fixture that came with our condo that I’ve been meaning to replace for the whole six months we’ve been living here. It has one single defective panel that strategically allows streetlight beams to hit directly into my eye at night.
  10. Half unpacked suitcase lying in dis-array from a weekend at my parents’ 7 days ago. One small victory, Howie now packs his clothes in here instead of plastic grocery bags.)

Phew! That feels a lot better. I feel that I need to follow up this post with some sort of bedroom makeover story! How inspiring would that be? I will definitely get around to that as soon as we clean up this room.

Thoughts on procrastination welcomed!

Dorky Soulmates

When it comes to building personal relationships, there are a few things you should know:

  1. If people laugh at my jokes and attempts at humour I will love them
  2. If people “get” my weird accents I will love them even more
  3. Howie has turned me into a semi-Star Trek fan (this is irrelevant to building personal relationships but you need to know this fact for later on)

A sense of humour and a love of dorky things are very important to me. People who are very self-aware tend to have the best senses of humour. If we laugh together, we can be friends. When it comes to my romantic relationship with Howie nothing is more important to me (besides love, trust, etc) than being able to laugh and share hilarious interests together. It is imperative that Howie understands and appreciates the things I find funny.

After a year of trying to get him into Modern Family without avail I was sure our relationship was doomed. Finally, this Christmas he gave me the best gift ever; the first season of Modern Family on DVD with the promise that he would watch and “get into it.” His sounds of laughter and urge to run out and get the second season was music to my ears. Finally, I could rest assured that this marriage would last now that he understood how hilarious Phil Dunfey truly is. (See below: Exhibit A)

Laughter is a huge part of a relationship. Even for people who don’t place as high of a stake in a sense of humour as I do. If you and your sweetie-poo can be completely dorky with each other, without fearing judgement, you know you’ve found a keeper. It’s important to delve into each other’s oft hidden and embarrassing interests. I reciprocate the gesture for Howie. Now is the time to remember that bit about Star Trek. You also need to remember Howie’s obsessive interest in Survivor.

(Sitting on the couch watching Star Trek)

Me: Whoa what's this about? Was Geordi in the holodeck* that 
entire time? You mean he wasn't on a date with that chick? 

Howie: Nope! 

Me: I see. I wish we had holodecks eh? What kind of holodeck would
you progr- 

Howie: Survivor!

Me: That was a quick response. You must've thought about
Survivor holodeck before... 

Howie: Obviously. That would be so cool. I would program it so
that I couldn't lose. 

Me: What's the point in that? That isn't satisfying if you just
programmed the characters to let you win! 

Howie: Well maybe I wouldn't program them to let me win, but I
would make it so that if I got voted out it would just restart
to a point in the game where I could make a different move... 

Me: Ooo that is cool! So you could like, play and try different
strategies with the same characters until you found a way to win...

Howie: Exactly!

Me: Which characters would you want to play with?

Howie: Oh you know which ones I like... Russell, Rob,
Parvarti... basically the entire cast of Heroes vs. Villians. 

Me: I should have known. 

Howie: This sucks. Now you've got me excited about something that
could never happen. 

(Long pause)

Me: You never know Howie, with technology these days holodecks
might be invented soon... 

Howie: I meant Survivor... they will never accept Canadians.

True love means that you can laugh together, be dorky together, and “get” each other’s lameness without judgement.

When it comes to building lasting relationships, what dorky
things do you need friends or significant others to “get”?

* Holodeck: simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases in the fictional Star Trek universe

Separation Anxiety

So Monica had her first haircut today. Not in her life of course (she’s six), but her first haircut since we’ve owned her. Her beard was getting a wee bit too knotty and her eyebrows were starting to impede her sight. Now that she’s recovered from her liver episode, it was time to bring her into the groomers.

I didn’t think this would turn into an event worth posting about, but when you live with a grown man who is convinced his mini-schnauzer is the best thing since track pants with pockets an “event” with grooming is hard to avoid.

The following conversation ensued as we were about to drop Monica off at the groomers on our way to work in the morning:

Howie: Are you sure this place knows how to do it right?

Me: Well they've been in business over 20 years Howie I'm sure
they've trimmed a few schnauzers.

Howie: Yes but I want to make sure that they do it the way we
like. Not like that other groomer who trimmed your parents' dogs.

Me: Don't worry Howie this woman will know what she's doing.

Howie: Did you bring a picture to show her?

(I shake my head in disbelief)

Me: Howie, this woman has trimmed my boss's giant schnauzer
before and it looked fine. She left the hair a little long on the
legs like how you like it and the beard and eyebrows looked normal

Howie: Yes, but a giant schnauzer is much different than Monica.
She's more... you know, dainty. (He looks lovingly over at her)

Me: Oh my goodness.

We then proceeded to get out of the car. Howie was carrying Monica like an infant on his shoulder and Monica was shaking profusely as she probably thought we were taking her back to the vet or something. After meeting the very nice groomer lady, and explaining Monica’s desired haircut, we were back on the road. This is the conversation that ensued right before Howie dropped me off at work:

Me: Howie? Are you ok?

Howie: Honestly Cheryl, I don't know how I'm ever going to drop off
our kids somewhere.

Me: Whaaa? Why? Are you upset?

Howie: I'm not going to lie. That was really hard. It actually hurt
to put her in that lady's arms and leave her there.

(I stare at him, not knowing whether to burst out laughing, or
legitimately comfort him, I go with a combination of both)

Me: Howie she's going to be fine! She's getting a haircut! I will
pick her up at lunch and she'll be fine!

Howie: I know but that lady doesn't know her! How could we leave
Monica with a complete stranger!?

Me: She seemed very nice! Monica will be fine.

Howie: I know... it's just that... I don't want her to think she
did anything wrong. She's probably so confused right now,I just....

Me: Are you... crying?

Howie: NO! My eyes water when it's cold outside.

Me: Ok.

And with that I left the car and immediately burst out laughing. Marriage is a funny thing, you think you fully know someone, then they turn around and have separation anxiety over a thirteen pound schnauzer.

Ever been surprised over what your significant other gets emotional about? Also – was I wrong to laugh?

The Difference between Men and Women II

Time for another instalment of “The Difference between Men and Women” where in one photo, I capture the essence of men and women. Last time we revelled at the strange packing behaviours of the male species that included plastic bags and only one outfit change for a whole weekend. This time, (just because it’s Christmas) I decided to pull a few present packages from under our tree and have you guess which one Howie wrapped. The answer will surprise you in no shape or form.

As always, I swear upon all things good and holy that these photographed differences are in no way doctored, set up, or planned. Howie literally wrapped a present like that. But just because I’m fair, instead of only featuring questions from moi, I’ve asked Howie to explain the questions that plague his mind when he looks at how we each wrapped presents. Now for my questions (ladies first): 

Cheryl’s questions:

  1. Masking tape. Really?! Since when is it considered “gift-wrapping” when masking tape is involved?
  2. Again, tape issue. Why is he using tape lengths the size of a foot? Is there something alive in there that could pop out?
  3. How do people know who all these gifts are for? Where are the name tags?
  4. If all these presents are for one person (he stacked them like this) then why aren’t they tied together with a ribbon to prevent unavoidable scattering of the gifts?
  5. You might not be able to tell in the picture but there is at least 2x more wrapping paper involved than was needed. Why so excessive?
  6. Don’t the wrinkles bother him?
  7. Doesn’t he care about the present looking pretty?

Howie’s questions:

  1. Masking tape is not only practical and cheap, but it was a lot easier to find than the scotch tape. Why waste 30 minutes finding scotch tape if the masking tape is right there?
  2. Big tape pieces are a lot easier to use. Why would you use small pieces?
  3. If you told her the gift was for her, why waste gift tags if you know who it’s for?
  4. Why waste time tying ribbons? Also, if all the other gifts have name tags then I know the non-gift tags ones are for her.
  5. It’s better to misjudge and use a lot more paper, then estimate too small and be left with that annoying 3″ too short piece. Why not use big pieces?
  6. Why would a wrinkly present wrapping bother me? It’s going to get ripped up in like four days anyway.
  7. See number 6 above.

All I can say in response to Howie is, touché!

Also, as always, please tell me other men are like this!

Single Girl Behaviours

Before co-habitating with a hubby, there are certain activities a millennial gal pursues in her alone time. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about so don’t pretend like I’m the only “weird” one. These behaviours may include but are not limited to:

  • Picking as many blackheads as possible and staring at them on a Kleenex
  • Making an entire bowl of cookie dough under the “guise” of baking for friends then eating half of if by yourself while watching Bridget Jones’ Diary. Actually, who am I kidding? We don’t make cookie dough, we buy it. And, we eat the whole thing.
  • Perfecting your stellar Single Ladies dance moves in front of your bedroom mirror (maybe that one is just me)
  • Wasting nearly three hours of potential effective time on filing, clipping, cleaning, buffing, trimming and polishing your nails
  • Becoming lost in a crazy web of internet searches that started with “Gossip Girl” and somehow ended with you watching the video for the world’s largest zit
  • Spending upwards of 14 hours straight watching entire seasons of TV’s most useless shows that you NEVER want anyone to find out you watch including (but not limited to): Jersey Shore, Meet the Kardashians, Laguna Beach, The Hills, Teen Mom, & 16 and Pregnant, or my personal shameful secret; Sister Wives
  • Tooting

And the list goes on. I think you get the idea.

Single girl behaviours are not the kind of thing you want your hubby to find out about, let alone witness first-hand. It can immediately lower your sex-appeal by 49% and it’s hard for him to ever take you seriously after he realizes you can be enraptured for hours by the shallow musings of Kim, Klohe, and Kourtney.

As tempted as a freshly married millennial lady will be to hide these behaviours, I highly recommend that you gradually break it to your man from day one that you are actually completely dorky (and sometimes gross) behind closed doors. Honesty is the best policy in marriage and if he truly loves you he will see past the toe nail clippings you leave on the floor and embrace your inner dork.

On the other hand, you don’t want to over-do it with these behaviours. My point is, don’t be afraid to let your guy in on the fact that you are not perfect, but do it in a way that he can still look you in the eye.  So make sure you reserve the bulk of the time spent on these things when he’s preoccupied with other things. Personally I find that when the Penguins are playing I could probably wear a blow-up sumo suit without him noticing.

How has your significant other reacted to your single girl behaviours?

How to not Burn Christmas Boob Cookies

After roughly two months getting into the blogosphere I am increasingly impressed with the number of beautiful, informative blogs written by truly talented women. Recipes, decor, home organization, and fashion blogs that are filled with gorgeously photographed pictures and Martha Stewart-esque ideas.

If you are looking to find that here please turn away now.

In an attempt to capture some of this audience I decided to bake some beautiful and simple Christmas cookies then take amazing photos of them so people who read this blog could say, “Oh my! That Modern Wife Cheryl just captured the whole essence of Christmas baking with this gorgeously photographed Christmas cookie! I’m going to make these right now and try to be as Martha Stewart-esque as her!”

Instead, this is what resulted:

FAIL

But I’m not the kind of gal who gives up so easily! So after picking off the burnt bottoms and making Howie eat almost the whole batch of un-burnt tops (I don’t like to be wasteful) I gave ‘er a second go and discovered how to not burn cookies.

And so for your own confectionary education, here is the

Modern Wife Guide to Not Burning Cookies:

  • Line your tray with parchment paper
  • Parchment paper is NOT waxed paper (learned that the hard way)
  • About 2 minutes BEFORE the suggested time is up, have a check on your cookie bottoms.
  • If they are already browned, turn off the oven, slightly leave your oven door ajar, and allow your cookies to set a little longer in the turned-off oven

Then, viola! Your cookies come out un-burned.

Perfect, un-burned cookies

Howie was very impressed this time, and truly thankful that he didn’t have to ingest another botched batch. His reaction? “Mmm… these are good. But why did you make boob cookies?”

So if you are interested in making your own Christmas Boob Cookies, I found the recipe here on the Pioneer Woman cooking blog. (I originally went to this site because I thought it was an actual blog from a pioneer woman, only to discover that it’s actually written by a rancher’s wife. After getting over my initial sense of disappointment I realized that this blog is awesome and contains a lot of great recipes and photos).

For more places to find great recipes and ways to make your home beautiful, turn away from this blog immediately and check out some of these really awesome bloggers who are way more Martha Stewart-esque than me.

Cupcakes and Cashmere

Cookin’ Canuck

She Wears Many Hats

Three Many Cooks

Reluctant Entertainer

Pioneer Obsession Explained

Some kids are into dinosaurs, some are into princesses. Some love horses, some love action heroes and some kids love reptiles and snakes.

I wasn’t into any of those things. I was into pioneers.

I couldn’t tell you why this obsession began but it started when I was around six years old. I got the Little House on the Prairie book series and read the entire  seven book collection within a couple months. Then I watched the TV series, and then I started getting books from the library about other pioneers. It kind of snowballed from there.

The Ingalls family

Next thing my mom knew I was requesting whole cream from the grocery store so I could churn my own butter. After one hour of incessantly shaking cream in a tupperware cup with marbles I managed to create exactly 1 teaspoon of homemade butter to butter a single piece of toast. It was glorious.

I started spooling yarn to create floor-sized homemade rugs. Only I was never quite patient enough and these often ended up as coasters. By far, my favourite class trips were always the pioneer village ones. My dream was to someday get a job as one of the costumed pioneer children and live day and night as a pioneer girl. When my parents decided to take us to one of the largest pioneer villages in all of Canada, I used up an entire disposable camera within just four hours. Those cameras were supposed to last for the rest of our two week vacation.

Alas, this obsession did not fade with age. The most delightful perk of choosing the University of Waterloo was that it was adjacent to one of the largest Mennonite communities in North America.

Mennonite horse and buggy on the highway

Imagine my delight being only 15 minutes away from modern day pioneer-like people! Horse and buggies, long pioneer dresses, overalls and straw hats and farms which operated entirely without electricity. Local hardware centres actually had sheds in the parking lots for pioneers to harness their horses. It was magical.

Howie has graciously entertained my weird obsession for years. One of the best birthday surprises he ever arranged was spending an entire day at Black Creek Pioneer Village. He also took me for drives in the back roads of Waterloo county just so I could look at Mennonite farms and driveway fruit stands.

Cheryl: Howie pull over! I want to go talk to those Mennonite children!

Howie: No Cheryl I’m not pulling over. Don’t be ridiculous.

Cheryl: What? I just want to talk to them as ask them about their lifestyle.

Howie: That’s not creepy in the slightest.

Cheryl: I’m not going to be creepy! I just want to see how they live. Do you think they would invite me into their house?

Howie: Yes Cheryl. I’m sure these Mennonite children just set up these fruit stands as a trap to meet strange ladies and invite them into their homes so they can tell them all about their lifestyle.

Cheryl: It’s worth a try at least. Please pull over Howie!

Howie: Not going to happen. Now just settle down or I’m not coming along on any more of these drives.

Cheryl: Good! Then I’ll just go driving by myself and pull over and talk to them without you!

Howie: Oh geez….

I don’t know why exactly I am obsessed with pioneers, but I’ve definitely romanticized them in many ways. Maybe it’s the simple, down to earth existence where everything they eat and use was made entirely by themselves. Maybe it’s how feminine the dresses and bonnets were, or how manly pioneer men were with the hunting, and building and farming.

It’s just a weird quirk of mine. Thank goodness Howie doesn’t question my sanity (at least to my face) because of it. In fact, he lovingly indulges my obsessive interest (to a point). Though he won’t allow me to approach the Mennonites, at least he lets me observe them from the safety of our car. And I’m sure if I asked him enough, he might even dress up as a pioneer for my birthday… (TMI?)

Do you have any weird or random interests that you just can’t explain? How does your significant other react to this?