Monthly Archives: November 2012

Snow, huh, what is it good for. absolutely nuthin.

Hi. So I still haven’t posted any pics on here of my sweet finds, but it’s been a busy day, so I figured that I may be able to pacify you with something that I wrote a few weeks ago and have yet to publish. Here it is:

I’m not a huge snow person. Aside from how I’m not made of snow (obviously since I’m the one in the white dress in the main pic and that day was bloody hot), I’m just not a fan of snow. At all. Sure I can appreciate it for it’s beauty and the whole ‘rebirth of a new day with a blanket of pure whiteness’ stuff, and I get that it looks really swell in a Norman Rockwell painting, but for the most part: What’s the use of it? I have running water, a Keurig, and a Culligan cooler. I’m good. In actuality, aside from the picturesque beauty that Robert Frosts around the world glorify, it’s a hinderance. It makes it impossible to wear heels outside without faceplanting, people break limbs all the time on it, and it needs to be shoveled too frequently, which is a nightmare. All around: sh*tty in my books. My idea of ‘winter sports’ is seeing if I can get the three ice cubes in the bottom of my now-empty cocktail glass to line up in the shape of a snowman. No? Fill ‘er up.

Here’s a perfect example: I was hoping to solicit extra money from my husband for this shopping trip that my sister and I just took to Fargo, North Dakota. I love shopping. You could call it an addiction, actually, as my definition of ‘addiction’ would be: would you do a sex act for it? Ask my husband. It’s an addiction. And, sidenote: It’s not prostitution if you’re married to him. It’s love. So, to see if I could charm him with my usefulness as well as my sexy savvy, I decided to shovel the driveway. Said decision happened to fall on the same day that Edmonton got it’s biggest snow dump of the year. And I mean: DUMP.

I get home from work early (they sent us home because the highways were closing. Perhaps this should have been my first sign that today was not the day to showcase my other, more public, skill set in an attempt for monetary reward) and I still had about 4 hours left until my flight, so I figured ‘why not shovel the driveway for my husband?’. Not only is it a nice gesture, but in about 4 hours I’d have to drag my Dakine luggage through that same area in order to get it to his truck, and I didn’t want it, or my new leather over-the-knee boots to get snowy. AND maybe he’d slip me a little paper lovin’ for it. Win win. Plus, I skipped my workout that day.

So I started shoveling. It was torture. First of all: How are you supposed to dress for that? They tell you in all the survivor shows to wear layers. So that’s what I did. I threw on a long-sleeved shirt, a sweater, a ski jacket that I bought at a Zellars sale two years ago that I had never worn because I, well, hate snow sports, but wanted to look stylish while I pretended not to hate snow sports from behind a pint of beer in a warm ski lodge, snow pants, my tall, lace up Uggs that I bought on this Japense eBay site called dhgate ( you should totally check it out. REAL Uggs for $35, shipping included), and a scoodie, What’s a scoodie, you ask? Great question. It’s a brightly colored scarf with a hood that I bought from Lulu Lemon two years ago, then lost one night when I was drunk, then my husband bought for me again from a nice lady my age on Kijiji who had one that she didn’t wear who must not have known that the style was discontinued from Lulu otherwise he would have paid much more than $30 for it, probably closer to the $60 that I paid for mine. Re-tah-did, I know. Fully enveloped in a case of wool and water proof-ness, I began to shovel.

Sweating, freezing, sweating, freezing. I’ve seen ‘Trainspotting’ AND walked away from ‘blowout sales’ in the mall before, I know what detox is like. And this was it. Ok, so I don’t really know, although the shopping-relapse thing puts me pretty close. You can’t fault me for my flair for the dramatic. I have an addiction. Don’t judge me, monkey.

Plus, the snow was SO FRIGGIN HEAVY.

I’m going to stop right here and interject something: I am in no way a weakling. I work out, face off with people twice my age in the ring that is work on a regular basis, and move multiple pounds of clothing on hangers and in rubbermaid containers from the bottom floor of my home to the fourth floor when the seasons change (outfits need to be updated to those that are season appropriate, obviously). I don’t complain about work. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. But if I can avoid lifting 30 pounds of wet snow on the surprisingly slim blade of a shovel 400 times in a row, I certainly will. Just so we’re on the same page. I’m no p*ssy.

So shovel I did. For an hour and a half.

I must admit that there were several times where I wanted to say ‘Eff this!’, haughtily throw the shovel down, and dramatically stomp away into the house and drink a Palm Breeze or three, but I didn’t.  And do you want to know why? Well, as much as I would love to say ‘pride in my performance’ here, that’s not it. Why: 1. I do a REALLY good haughty throw down and walk away and there was no one here to witness my theatrical genius, and 2. My husband is the same age as me (he’s six weeks older exactly) and he would mock me mercilessly. We’re very competitive. Well, I am at least. He’s very laid back. I just can’t let him win.

You should see me stare down a baby.

I was hoping that he would be in such awe of my amazing job that he’d come home and say ‘Why, Wife of Mine! You are the finest wife in all the land of Millwoods! Allow me to bestow upon you some additional coin for your shopping trip which I fully support and understand why you need to buy a bunch more clothes when you already own 40 pairs of jeans..’ (I really do. And I wear them all, Actually, I tried it one time, and I can go for 3 months without wearing any item of clothing twice. Wild, right? And not like fringed vets and shit either. Actually stylish gear)..’for I do not think that you have enough clothes already. Go forth and purchase, arm candy of mine!’ (He doesn’t talk like he’s from Game of Thrones, by the way. For some reason when I imagine scenarios like that in my head they usually involve a large field, slow motion, and a olde elizabethan accent).

What actually happened: I got cranky because shoveling was a lot more work then I anticipated and his truck leaves huge ice-covered tire marks on the driveway that I would slam into as I was pushing the shovel along the ground, causing me to stop with a start (oxymoron?) and jab the handle into my chest. Gasping for breath, as I am not blessed with mounds of boobie padding, I would curse the snow gods and Dodge for making such heavy friggin’ trucks. Shit heads, the lot of ’em.

It’s not my husband’s fault that some truck designer somewhere is overcompensating, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. I could have sprayed the truck with a hose to really teach it a lesson for effing with me, but it wasn’t there so I couldn’t (sidenote: I really did that one time. But I sprayed my mom’s house instead. I was pitching a fit about having a 930 curfew and how it was stifling my pre-pubescent life or something so I sprayed the house with a hose while my mother and brother watched from the, closed, living room window. ‘At least she does something productive with her anger’ was the comment made by my big brother. It’s a family legend now. ‘Don’t make Vanessa angry whatever you do, she might go spray the house!’ followed by laughter. Story for another time. I did a lot of really stupid things like that, trust me).

I just didn’t see being destructive as constructive. Where would that have gotten me? And i did throw mom’s shoes out on the lawn and that’s pretty bad ass, right…. which I took back in a put away because I felt bad for throwing them in the first place.

But I digress: When he got home and asked who had shoveled the driveway, and I responded ‘Me!’, his disbelief made the bruised bones under my B cup smart a little. Especially when he voiced that he thought that I had paid someone to shovel the driveway because the snow was too heavy and wanted to say that it was me who did it so he’d reward me with extra spending money for my shopping trip that I totally needed because I don’t own enough clothes already.

He knows me too well. Shit.

Eventually I convinced him that it had in fact been I. Luckily out friend Sharson (not her real name, but it is what we call her) was driving by as I grunted under the bone crushing weight from our frozen Northern mistress, my face contorted in an expression similar to when a child is brewing a super poop in her diaper, or behind a couch but thinks that if they keep the noise to a minimum you’ll be non-the-wiser. She was my proof. I messaged her and she messaged him, and POOF! one text message sent: Effort proven. Plus, she’s a HORRIBLE liar, even via text (sorry Sharson, I love ya, but you are really shitty at it).

My husband lovingly have me extra spending money for my trip. Not because he was so thankful that I shoveled the driveway for him and that he had doubted me (I imagined this in an ‘Oliver Twist’ish accent, btw), but because, as I mentioned before, the true sign of an addiciotn is whether you’ll do a sex act for it. Just ask my husband. He’ll tell you that I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVEEEE clothes…

… and hate snow.

Walk Walk Fashion Fashion

I’ve recently acquired a new passion: Value Village shopping. Later today when I start to look like a real person instead of a bedraggled Muppet I’ll post some pics of my rad VV finds in the past few weeks. When I find a willing camera person I’m going to start recording the excursions. Not every single boring detail (because trust me, when thrift store shopping, there are a lot. There’s a whole lotta crap out there), but just the important stuff so that you can see the sweet, sweet deals in action.

A few ‘how to’s before we start out:

1. Value Village is expensive as a general whole. If you live in the US, Plato’s Closet is a great place for cheap finds (I have some of those that I’ll dazzle you with as well), but still pretty ‘expensive’. Salvation Army thrift stores are jam packed with ‘stuff’, but are even more expensive than VV. If you’re not living near a discount thrift store, which sells their wares for super turbo dirt cheap (apparently there were 2 in my fair city of Edmonton, but when I GPS’d the addresses, the buildings were vacant. I can’t snag sweet deals if there aren’t any deals to be snagged. It was disheartening. I may have journaled about it later. Just saying), try flea markets, Kijiji, and yard sales.

2. Set aside a lot of time. Don’t tell your husband that you’re going to the bank to change your name to your newly married one on your bank account (which is actually where I was going) and emerge 4 hours later from a treasure hunt. Going through every rack in thrift stores takes a lot of time, so give yourself at least a few hours if you really want to get into it. And let someone who could potentially call the police when you’re gone for 6 times longer than expected know where you’re going to be.

3. Use a cart. Unless you have the biceps of a 1970’s Arnie, by the time you make it to the jackets you’ll be wishing that you had grabbed that push cart. Put your pride aside: First of all, thrift store shopping makes you a smart shopper. Secondly, think of the bragging rights when you purchase a denim, knee-length, berber-lined Steve Madden jacket for $25 (true story. I checked it out online and saw that it retails for upwards of $250). Suck it up and grab a cart. You’ll be thankful by the time you hit the jackets and your arms are numb from the pile of ‘to try’ clothes.

4. Check your labels. Full props to the guys and gals that work at Value Village and other such thrift stores, but, for the most part they don’t know their labels. Example: A knee-length tan cord pea coat from Le Chateau is $7 more expensive than a thick, tan cord blazer-ish United Colors of Benetton jacket. See what I’m saying? Because a common label is more easily recognized then a high end label, the common gets the higher price tag, although the gem is lower. Great for you snazzy shoppers out there, but it takes a little more leg work on our part.

Also: if you see labels like Joe, 725, or anything from Stitches, Old Navy, Suzy Sher, H&M, etc. and they cost any more than $4.99: Don’t buy it. The reason for this: You probably could have bought it for not much more than that before someone potentially sweated in it during a hectic business meeting (women sweat too. And fart. Accept it).

5. Try it on. It may look awesome on the outside, but there may be issues like loose stitching, misshapen sleeves, body odor, used condoms in the pockets, etc that you won’t notice until you get it on you (not the used condom, the clothes. That’d be gross). Try it on, jump around, etc.

Most thrift store locations will only allow you to take 6 items at a time into the fitting room, so try your jackets, scarves, hats, etc on in the outer mirror in advance. You can park your cart in front of your fitting room and switch out your items as you go along. You may need to stave off a few rabid shoppers in the interim, but a ‘shoo’ with a hand flick, or a mist of water from a travel-sized bottle like you would if your cat was pooping in the plants will do the trick. Don’t beat them with your Franco Sarto shoes. You can go to prison for something like that. And there they only have those hideous orange onesies.

6. Get the frequent shopper card: VV gives you a stamp for every $5 you spend, when your card is filled you get 30% off your next purchase. That’s a pretty big discount. Cashiers who rock at customer service will offer you the card when you’re at the till, the actively disinterested ones will not. Ask. It never hurts.

Also: most thrift stores have 50% off days every month or so (Value Village’s is this Monday, Plato’s Closet doesn’t have them). Ask when their next one is. Mad savings for you.

So that’s the basic overview. I’ll follow up this weekend with pics of my recent deals to show you that, yes, those low-priced, name branded dreams can come true.

Alright then. Now I’m going to go shower. My husband told me that I smell like a million dead angels. I’ve never been told to shower in such a sweet way before. That’s love.


First One: Let’s DO this!

Why, hello there. Welcome to my blog. Starting to write one of these things is kinda like being told to be funny. It’s almost as though you get talent constipation as soon as the demand is forced upon you. I mean, I’m not saying that my writing is demanded by the public, but when you try out of no where you just get kind of, well, blocked up.

Comparing writers block to a bowel condition. Great start.

A little bit about me: My name is Vanessa Jean Johnston (although my email right now says Gruchy.. pronounced like ‘sushi’, just so you know). No, I don’t suffer from mutliple personality disorder, I just got married and haven’t gotten around to changing my name on everything yet.

I did, however, make it so far as to take a trip to AMA to get my name changed on my driver’s license. The whole endeavor took about 2 hours and I left feeling demoralized. In the interim, however, I told the little girl atop the high chair behind the counter my new name. ‘Vanessa Jean Johnston’, says I, proudly.

There was a moment’s pause. Her pen stopped moving on the form she was filling out. She slowly looked up to meet my eyes and said ‘So your initials are VJJ? Like a vagina? That’s really quite sad for you, don’t you think?”

Demoralized by the AMA 18-year old atop a high chair. Awesome.  

Yes, I do have initals that pair up with the popular nick name for the female sex organ. And I own it. I meant the nickname, but really, since I’m a girl, that was kind of a multi-purpose statement, I guess.

Anyhow, I just got married. and he’s the raddest guy around. His name is Kevin and he got me with his zombie shirt. Well, it was a little more then just his zombie shirt, but the zombie shirt helps. You must know the shirt I’m talking about: the one that says on the front ‘ask me about my zombie shirt’. Then you pull it up over your head and there’s a zombie head where your face would be. If you haven’t, get it. It’s a classic. And a guaranteed chick magnet (I’m now flooded with mental images of guys in bars pulling their shirts up over their heads for women. sorry, ladies). He wore it to work and didn’t pull his shirt up because he didn’t want me to think he was showing off. I was conduting a safety audit at the time and had never met him before. A little over a year later we were married.

Zombie shirts are the new roofie.

For a living, I’m a health and safety manager for a very awesome company in Edmonton, AB, although I’m hoping to transition into a different role soon. I’ve been doing this H&S gig for about 8 years now and, although it had its perks, I need a change of pace. I’m currently enrolled in school chasing a degree in Journalism, so I’m hoping that works out. Working full time and going to school truly sucks  but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. That’s a part of the life of VJJ. .

See what I did there?! That was one of those moments from a cheesy movie when they say the name of the movie IN the movie so you’ll really be able to connect with why they call it that. And usually someone points out ‘they just said the name of the movie!’ when you’re watching it in a group. Then you feel a strange mix of feeling bad for your friend for obviously lacking the ‘subtleness’ gene, and for the movie itself because, really, that’s kind of lame.

The basic overview about what this site will be about is just pretty much whatever I want to talk about. I’m open to suggestions.

For example, there has been a pressing question on my mind for quite some times in regards to the mating of Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger. I’m a mix between grossed out as if I were watching a calf being born, and kind of thinking ‘Well, that makes sense’. But more on the calf being born side of things.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Canadian musicians “making it”, just not necessarily with each other. ESPECIALLY those two. She went from Derek Webley to Brody Jenner to CHAD KROEGER? Has he gotten so many DUI’s that he needs a designated driver now? It seems like a production of ‘Wag the Dog’ proportion (havent seen that flick? Check it out. It’s great).

And full props to Deryck Webley and his buddy dressing up as AvAd for Halloween. That sh*t’s just really funny.

Wait, I just googled how to spell Chad Kroeger’s last name (turns out it’s like the US grocery store, not like the striped turtle-neck wearing Freddie who gets you when you sleep). that was his ‘model girlfriend’ dressed up like Mr. Grocery Store. YIKES!!! the calf has two sex organs!!! The calf has two sex organs!!!

And now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, that’s it for me for now. I’m going to work on snazzing this site up a bit to help make it more visually appealing. Maybe I’ll actually get some followers. Not in the ‘stare in through my windows at 4 in the morning’ or parking a van with tinted windows and sign that says ‘Free Puppies for all who enter’ sign on the door (I DO love puppies!) sense, either.

Alright. Peace.