Thursday, December 29, 2016

This Post is Either Quite Late or Somewhat Early ...

Truth be told, it was supposed to be ready well before Christmas Day - a little token of appreciation to all one's readers who, she imagines, are every bit as reluctant as she when it comes to forking over hard-earned cash to buy a Monthly Planner. But since this is the woman who shows up late (if at all) to any and all blog parties she's invited to, is always packing up for whatever market she's attending at the last possible second, and considers herself lucky if she manages to add any new seasonal stock to the website the day before the actual holiday itself, it would seem someone amongst us might really benefit from using one. ASAP.

But when the insomniac  started looking around for one to purchase, they all seemed so boring - and expensive! And being the cheapskate she is, she decided to create one for herself and for those who feel they might also benefit from having a bit more organization in their lives. There must be at least a few of you out there. No? Well that's unfortunate, because she didn't get you anything else for Christmas.

You can bet the desk doesn't normally look this tidy ...

When deciding which full moon names to use in her planner, she searched the internet, made a comprehensive list of all the possibilities, then chose whichever ones appealed to her the most. So although some might call March's full moon the Sap Moon, the Worm Moon or the Storm Moon, the insomniac  decided she liked Crow Moon best. Although Death Moon was definitely a very close second.  

Despite doing an informal poll on Facebook asking her friends what they'd like to see in a planner, she pretty much disregarded all their comments and chose not to include any events she personally is unlikely to ever be fortunate enough to attend - like Whitby Goth Weekend - because who needs reminding they haven't managed to save up enough money to go again this year. One feels that looking back through one's Monthly Planner and noting all the unmet goals and missed appointments will likely be depressing enough.

She also decided against including Sneak a Zucchini onto your Neighbour's Porch Day, which she considered renaming to Hug Your Taxidermy Day but had second thoughts about that too ... because not everyone is lucky enough to own a house full of taxidermy. Which, again, might be depressing for them.

As you can see from the following shot of April, originally there were little pictures highlighting all the important days of the year - Plan your Epitaph Day, Bat Appreciation Day, Walpurgisnacht, etc. But after printing out the first draft, it was apparent that should someone with a busier life than the insomniac  actually have something else to do on one of those days, there was nowhere to write down that information - therefore, the little pictures were eliminated in the final copy.

There just wasn't enough room for BOTH Easter Monday
AND Bat Appreciation Day ...

Someone will probably rot in Hell for making that particular choice.

In theory, the best part of this planner is that pages can be printed out and ordered in exactly the way it suits one best. If a person likes to journal, they can print out more of the lined pages. If they like to sketch out garden planting schedules according to the moon phases or design their next yard haunt project, they can insert more blank pages. And once printed to one's satisfaction, it only costs around $5 to have it coil bound with a piece of cheap mat board on the front and back - perfect for decorating afterwards to make it look a little less commonplace.

Quite the extensive collection of Tim Holtz products
you have there, insomniac  ...

Certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.

It seems almost a shame to defile the pristine
2017 Monthly Planner with appointments and goals and other such nonsense ...

Now that the insomniac  is in possession of her first ever Monthly Planner, be prepared for a whirlwind of scheduled activity here in the Attic: regular blog posts, new handcrafted items for every market she's attending this year (finished in a timely manner and not at 2:00 a.m. the morning before), completion of all those projects that have been on hold since practically forever - wallpapering the entryway, painting the guest bathroom, making the rest of the cobweb stained glass for the kitchen cupboards, sewing a coffin quilt for the guest bedroom (maybe two, if the first one goes well!), knitting a deer skull Cowichan sweater for the spouse (and maybe one for herself, if the first one goes well!). Oh, the list just goes on and on and on. And on.

But most importantly, on November 14th, 2017 the insomniac  has already made a notation in her planner to get started on the 2018 version, which shall be made available on this blog by November 30th, 2017 at the very latest. All being well. You understand.

To download your present in PDF format (8½ x 11), please click on the link:

2017 Monthly Planner - Northern Hemisphere
2017 Monthly Planner - Southern Hemisphere

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.


Obviously, this planner was only just completed at 2:00 a.m. this morning ... there are bound to be mistakes. Please feel free to inform the creator should you find anything that needs rectifying. Merry Christmas.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Creatures of the Night - The Aftermath

Goodness, haven't the last six weeks just flown by on large leathery wings? There has been so much to get ready for Creatures of the Night, the insomniac  feels she has been completely neglectful of her online world other than for purposes of promotion. Despite her absence, countless followers worldwide conveyed their delight in the event - liking and commenting on her posts, expressing their regret in being unable to attend, sending cards and gifts in the mail including the following envelope that arrived the day after the event, postmarked Wales and addressed to the insomniac  but with no return address:

Thank you ever so much, anonymous person ...

Your generous gift shall be framed and displayed
prominently in the Little Gothic Cottage. 

Many weeks were spent hunting and gathering props from various thrift and dollar stores, bringing the items home and transforming them into something more appealing unappealing. An entire week was devoted to perfecting the Black Martini recipe. A further two weeks were spent sewing outfits for herself and the long-suffering spouse. In retrospect, she may have waited slightly too long before beginning work on such a unique pattern as the Artistic Reform Tea Gown, which is quite different from most modern patterns although not terribly difficult - provided  one follows the instructions. It took two full days to sew on the thirty-five hook and eyes that hold the dress together, although one could probably have saved herself a bit of time by eliminating the last two five closures around the midsection, as they wouldn't do up anyway - that fact remained undiscovered until Friday evening, when it was far too late to do anything about it.

It was actually quite comfortable to wear, and will undergo
a few slight alterations to make it even moreso ...

The Long-Suffering Spouse aka Baron Samedi

The Photo Booth Coffin arriving a mere few hours before the guests themselves.

Those who follow the insomniac  on Instagram
will undoubtedly recognize #middlefingersteve, its creator ...

Behold ~ The Vampyre Tyler
trying out the new Photo Booth Coffin ...

Bugger off, Tyler. It's already spoken for.

L-R: Jessica Dolphin, Rachael, Cory, Meagan

Truly, every aspect of preparing for the event was immensely enjoyable, spoiled only by that one niggling worry, ever-present at the back of the insomniac's  mind - the Dreaded Dinner Speech. “Do I have to do it? Can I not pass this off to someone better qualified?”, she inquired of her event advisor. “Yes, you do.”, she replied. “This event is all about you and your brand. You can do this. Remember, everyone there wants you to succeed. You can't possibly be that bad a public speaker.”

And every day the week prior to the event, the spouse would ask, “Have you written your speech yet?” The response always being, “No. Not yet. I'm sure something will come to me one night when I can't sleep. Or maybe I'll just wing it. I wonder if it would be easier if I pretend it isn't really a speech at all, and merely a normal dinner conversation with 44 of my closest friends? Should I drink? I think I'm funnier when I'm slightly lit. Oh, I don't know! Couldn't you just do it for me?”

At 11:00 pm the night before she sat down to write - making sure to include all the points she'd been instructed to, and none of those she was advised not to. Considering the condensed time frame it was actually a pretty decent speech, ranking right up there with some of her better blog posts.

After everyone was seated, the insomniac  vaguely remembers getting through most of the important information leading up to the first course, but instead of the Tentacled Calamari on a Bed of Wilted Greens, the Skewered Alligator Kabob came out in its stead and things went rapidly downhill. Speech revisions were needed, as the wording depended on the order the food arrived at the table; there was no pen handy in the non-existent pocket of the Artistic Reform Tea Gown to make said revisions; the harpist was playing such hauntingly beautiful music it seemed downright rude to interrupt her; people were laughing and chatting making it difficult to be heard ... it just seemed easiest to give up even trying to finish. Except for that one stellar moment when the insomniac decided to leap up from her chair and shout, “Who here ordered the boar?” and after a few guests hesitantly raised their hands (likely worried some dire consequence was about to befall them from having chosen that particular entrée), then bellowed, “Isn't that the best thing you've ever tasted?”. Possibly not her exact words - she may have tossed an expletive in there, too. The evening was kind of a blur by then.

The attention to detail the guests put into their costumes
nearly brought the insomniac  to tears ... truth.

Therefore, in future should you wish to hire the insomniac  for your next Creepy Event, know that she will take care of every minute detail from start to finish, as long as you understand she prefers to lurk anonymously in the shadows where she is most comfortable, and not dragged kicking and screaming (but mostly whimpering pathetically) into the limelight, where she is not. So you will also need to hire yourself a Qualified Emcee.

To all the attendees of the inaugural Creatures of the Night Moonlight Soirée, the insomniac  wishes to express her profound gratitude in helping make this All Hallows' Eve one of the most memorable she's had in a very long time. Happy Hallowe'en, everyone. Blessed be. ❤


I'd like to thank the following people who helped make this event the success it was: Erin Kergen, Event Manager Advisor and Social Media Expert; JJ Ludwig, Owner of the Rockyview Hotel; the Rockyview staff, all of whom went above and beyond that evening - Cory, Krista, Meagan, Rachael, Adele and Andrew; the amazing Psychic Medium Jessica Dolphin - Power of 3; our Haunted Harpist Adrienne Schipperus; the talented stylists at Boogaloo Hair Design; Tyler Kergen, Vampyre and Event Photographer. And finally Chef Cristian, who delighted us all with the most delicious meal, very little of which I was able to consume. Of the few things I actually remember from that evening, the Chardonnay sauce bathing the freshly-speared boar is definitely one of them.

Freshly-Speared Boar, Exotic Toadstool Risotto, Bloody Beets

A Note to the Offspring: When the time comes, please bury your Sainted Mother in her brand new Photo Booth Coffin (since it's a perfect fit and already paid for) wearing her Artistic Reform Tea Gown ... those last two five hook and eyes shouldn't be an issue once rigor mortis has set in. And can't you both just picture the mourners filing past the casket, remarking on its unusual burgundy lining (next project) and her stunning tea gown as they pay their final respects, and you reply, “Yeah, that was mum's thing - she enjoyed making things look creepy. She kinda had a knack for it.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Creatures of the Night Moonlight Soirée, or an Evening with the Insomniac

You know how the insomniac  is always whining about how boring Hallowe'en has become since we moved out to the Spooky Forest? How the first year we had only one child brave enough to come Trick or Treat at the Little Gothic Cottage; the second year not much of an improvement over the first, with a mere three showing up on our doorstep. How it all seemed so pointless to literally spend weeks decorating the cottage, only to pack it all away the following day after a disappointing turnout on All Hallows' Eve. And let's not even talk about all the leftover candy one is then forced to consume over the next month due to such a dismal Lack of Attendance.

A mere ten days ago, while enjoying a glass of wine with a friend and bemoaning the fact that Hallowe'en has been a bit of a disappointment lately, the idea came about of creating a special event at a local establishment to remedy that situation. Et voilà - before she could give any serious thought as to what she was getting herself into - the Creatures of the Night Moonlight Soirée was born.

Soirée - an evening party or gathering,
typically in a private house, for conversation or music.

Occasionally held in a Spooky Forest. But not in October.

Although the Rockyview Hotel isn't the insomniac's  private house, it does feel rather like her home away from home, having spent a substantial amount of time there since March of this year helping redecorate the hotel during its makeover. It is - without a doubt - the perfect venue. After all, where else could one expect to find such eerie ambiance than a reportedly haunted turn-of-the-century hotel? As an added bonus, one does not have the responsibility of tidying up the place beforehand, although it seems unlikely she'll be unable to delegate cleanup duties to anyone other than herself afterwards. Shame. That would have really made it perfect. 

Now although designing posters, assisting the chef with menu selections, determining what goes into the Sepulchral Souvenir Sacks, decorating the hotel and all those other enjoyable tasks that are part and parcel of such an event are right up the insomniac's  alley, longtime readers of this blog know certain social situations strike absolute terror into her little black heart. How she'll manage to get through having to emcee that evening without collapsing on the floor in a blithering heap remains a mystery, although one does suspect alcohol might be the solution. The trick will be to consume just enough and no more, to avoid collapsing on the floor in a blithering heap.

Without further ado, a tantalizing taste of what to expect on October 29th, as outlined in the following Official Event Brief. Obviously the insomniac  has had professional help with this soirée - would you ever expect the words “Event Brief” to escape her lips otherwise? Notations in parentheses are the insomniac's  own and will not appear in the Official Press Release.


Exhume your finest moldering crypt wear - that hasn't seen the light of day since whatever century it was you perished in - and surrender to the darkness alongside your fellow Creatures of the Night at this inaugural event.

Indulge in a unique Southern Gothic feast not for the faint of heart. Let our eerie themed cocktails trickle down your throat, hastening your descent into a shadowy underworld of temptation, sensory exploration and your inevitable submission to the dark.

Our moonlight soirée is as exclusive as it is unusual, with limited seating in the newly renovated historic (and haunted) Rockyview Hotel, downtown Cochrane. Be not afraid … this event is perfect for singles or couples, as we shall dine in authentic banquet style. So cozy up to the pale temptress on your left while rubbing elbows with the aristocratic fiend on your right, as we twist your taste buds with truly delicious, yet alarming, delicacies.

Cryptkeeper Cocktail Hour: 8:00-9:00 PM

Signature Cocktails:    Kiss of Death Martini, Eternal Sleep Sangria, Rogue Dead Guy Ale 

Appetizer:    Bloody Stake Tartare on Crostini

Our resident Psychic to the Underworld will be walking amongst the crowd, giving a brief reading to any who might be interested.

Shop and explore the Insomniac’s Attic pop-up boutique  … a distinctive collection of dark Gothic decor; for lovers of antiques, natural history, taxidermy, and admirers of Baroque, Victorian and Art Nouveau.

(Exclusively for this evening, the insomniac  plans on digging deep within the bowels of her basement, unearthing items that have never before seen the light of day. She cannot say exactly what those items might be at this time, as she has not yet gone down into the bowels of her basement and started digging.)

The Fiendish Feast: 9:00-10:00 PM

First Course:

Tentacled Calamari on a Bed of Wilted Greens

Second Course:

Skewered Alligator Kabob

Third Course:
Choice of Freshly-Speared Boar or Bludgeoned Game Hen
Bloody Beets
Exotic Toadstool Risotto

Fourth Course:
Choice of Dark Chocolate Square with Severed Lady’s Finger Garnish or
Pears Poached in the Blood of Virgins and Stuffed with Figs

(Although one thinks  the chef said figs, he does have a slight accent. He may have said frogs.)

Throughout the feast, guests will be serenaded by the haunting melodies of harpist Adrienne Schipperus (during those rare moments she isn't being interrupted by the insomniac gleefully describing each menu item in gruesome detail to her dinner companions).

Monster Mash 10:00-11:00 PM

Feel free to shop and peruse Insomniac’s Attic, as well as explore the hotel and inspect the saloon in the adjacent room.

Creatures of the Night 11:00 PM – 2:00 AM

Your only fear is to make it back to the mausoleum before dawn, as you crash the festive bash at the Texas Gate Saloon right next door. Live DJ, costume party and plenty of Halloween Despair. (Isn't that a delightful turn of phrase? Hallowe'en Despair. Absolutely brilliant - obviously not the insomniac's  contribution.)

If the above lineup isn't your idea of the most perfect night out imaginable, perhaps you should refrain from purchasing a ticket and spend your All Hallows' Eve weekend firmly planted in front of the television in the safety of your home. As for the rest of us - the insomniac  is so looking forward to meeting you all, delighting in this opportunity to spend an evening surrounded by her fellow Creatures of the Night.

All except the part where she has to emcee ... she's really not looking forward to that part. Not in the slightest. 

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Already Bored of Retirement, the Insomniac Gets a Job

It was inevitable that eventually one would grow tired of knitting. And when family and friends cease to visit for fear of having another pair of socks or mittens surreptitiously slipped inside their coat pockets as they're departing, it seems now might be a good time to set aside the needles and start thinking about decorating the Little Gothic Cottage properly. One could  spend her seemingly endless amount of free time cleaning, but as she already dusted and eliminated the majority of cobwebs well over a month ago now, feels it unnecessary to repeat the experience until at least the winter of 2017.

It may come as a surprise to learn that other than one burgundy sitting room and one royal purple guest bath, the majority of the walls in the Little Gothic Cottage are still painted Lancaster Whitewash. Except for the ones painted Kendall Charcoal, a colour which is slowly creeping from one wall to the next, helping relieve the monotony of endless white walls without having to commit to a decision on a final colour scheme for the cottage.

When this bookcase was discovered in an antique mall recently, at 25% off an already reasonable price, it seemed an ideal solution to the problem of the ten unpacked boxes of art and home decor books in the basement, still needing to find someplace to live other than inside a box.

But when one makes the poorly thought-out decision to bring a new piece of furniture into an already full cottage, things invariably need rearranging. As it happens, the only available wall that could accommodate the piece was next to the first piece of furniture the insomniac's  father made for her when she vacated the parental home many decades ago. Forty-three years later it needs refinishing but first, all the books need to be removed from the shelves so they can be stored on the guest bathroom floor until the proper wood stain is procured and the drop-cloth located in the basement.

Luckily there are three bathrooms in the Little Gothic Cottage so there's no great rush.

An emptied bookshelf provides the perfect opportunity to paint behind it, but before a person can decide exactly what that paint colour should be, it's also likely she'll decide it's high time to wallpaper behind the fireplace since paint and wallpaper will need to complement one another.

Endless hours will be spent online searching for the perfect Wm. Morris wallpaper before discovering Blackthorn in the perfect colourway of black, teal, grey and burgundy. But at £148 per roll, one would need to sell at least one, if not both, of her offspring to pay for it.

She would also need to need to win a 1930's Everything you Need to Know about Hanging Wallpaper booklet off eBay to refresh her memory as to how unpasted wallpaper is hung, as she may have forgotten a few important details since taking a course on the subject over a quarter of a century ago.

So until such time as one can procure a decent price for her first-born or her next pension cheque arrives - whichever comes first - all of these projects have been set aside for the time being.

Fortunately the insomniac  did win the book, as it's practically a certainty she would, of course, have been facing the wrong way when hanging the wallpaper. Hopefully her beret and bow-tie are still packed in with her painting clothes so she won't need to run out and buy replacements, causing further delays once the wallpaper is finally ordered.

To keep herself occupied until all the pieces of the wallpapering project eventually come together, she started making a pillow from half of a beaded tea cozy, but soon put it aside when the sound of microscopic beads flying off in all directions as she was sewing began to get on her nerves.

Turning her attention to a small cabinet also recently purchased, she proceeded to scrape off pieces of paint with her favourite tool - Grandpa Smith's old kitchen knife, which has been sharpened so many times the blade is paper thin and sharp as a ... um ... knife. The cabinet is now being used to store sewing trims, despite labels clearly indicating it was meant to store Electrical &c.

Grandpa's knife is also perfect for releasing muffins from their muffin tin, making it important to remember to wash it thoroughly before putting it away in the kitchen drawer.

Being a different wood than the drawers, the cabinet top didn't take the stain as well as originally hoped and might eventually be painted black to match the wooden drawer pulls. Covered with a few decorative pieces, it doesn't look half bad and will probably end up staying exactly as is - and not because one hasn't a clue where to find the black paint either.

Another massive  project recently undertaken was the relocation of a burgundy floor lamp from the burgundy room, where it all but disappeared into the wall colour, into the grey room, where it displays a bit better. The light hasn't worked since it came out of storage seventeen months ago and needs rewiring. The tiny half-moon table was moved downstairs from the guest bedroom and, once the light is fixed, that end of the sofa will be a perfect spot for drinking tea and daydreaming about future decorating plans in front of the fire. And perhaps knit.

The addition of those two items and the subsequent moving of the sofa have now caused Ophelia to hang completely off-centre, and a new hole will need hammering into the wall to set things right. If a person is going to move a sofa, rehang a picture and patch a nail hole then, while the area is clear of furniture, they might as well add a black glaze overtop the grey wall to darken things up a bit, possibly extending it around the corner and eliminating one more white wall while they're at it.

Ophelia really doesn't look right above the sofa though - the colours, if not the subject matter, are too bright. It's likely she'll be moving into the master bathroom on the last remaining piece of bare wall that will accommodate a picture that size. Of course, one will then need to find something else to hang in her place. It just never ends, does it?

But since we're here, that beige lampshade really needs to go, and while in the basement rummaging around for the drop-cloth the insomniac  ran across this half-finished shade which should do the job nicely. This particular project has been “in progress” for roughly ten years already ... these things take time, you understand.

Before she could decide which project to tackle next, the insomniac  got a text from one of the owners of the Rockyview Hotel asking for her help in redecorating the entire second floor, currently under renovation. And how excited was she - not only for a legitimate excuse to drop all thoughts of actually starting any of her own projects, but also to find out each room in the hotel is to have its own theme. Which she already started thinking about and has a few suggestions based on local history, and sure to be a huge success with visitors from around the world: 

  • The Mad Trapper Room - decorated in the style of a log cabin occupied by a solitary trapper. Obviously, this room needs a lot of taxidermy to make it work. Eventually the poor fellow goes off the deep end after enduring one too many brutally cold Canadian winters.
  • The Pioneer Room - decorated in the style of a single-room prairie sod hut, occupied by a family of ten plus their animals. Eventually they all go off the deep end after enduring one too many brutally cold Canadian winters.
  • The Woman in Black Room - decorated in a Victorian style similar to Eel Marsh House in the movie of the same name. Comes complete with a ghost who will ensure any guest who chooses to stay in the room is likely to go off the deep end.

The themes have yet to be finalized with the owners, so one fully expects there will be minor changes before her work commences, but definitely feels she has a firm grip on the decorating style they're both envisioning.

The insomniac - having been a solo decorator up until now, unless you count the handful of times she's asked the long-suffering spouse's opinion on something while exiting the room before the poor man has a chance to even open his mouth - imagines she'll find working with others whose opinion she actually needs to take into consideration will be a novel experience. As will toning down her natural inclination to paint everything black, grey or burgundy. Or having to design an environment which doesn't encourage the growth of cobwebs. And is safe for vacationing families. Speaking of which, does anyone happen to know where to find the regulations on clearances for hanging antler mounts to avoid having guests accidentally take out an eye?

As for her own projects ... well, there's always next year. Probably take that long to find the silly drop-cloth and black paint anyways.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.


PostScript: In all seriousness, the insomniac  would like to express her gratitude to JJ and Sheldon for trusting she has the good sense not to decorate their hotel in the “William Morris meets the Munsters” style employed in her own home, and has unilaterally decided the “Buffalo Bill meets the Addams Family” style is far more appropriate for such an historic structure. She's quite sure you'll both be thrilled with the outcome.