Jona Hildreth’s All-American Summer

Jona Hildreth’s All-American Summer

Written by our friend, and proud American, Jona Hildreth, whose summer was heavily affected by the U.S-Canada border closure.

With this extra time in quarantine, he decided to try and become the next Joe Rogan, creating a podcast entitled Joking with Jona. We had the privilege of being on a brand-new episode of the podcast entitled Episode 13: Ft Mira Hallock and Natalie Brown. For some extra fun, while listening to the episode, drink every time either of us says “like” or “um.” It’s truly a big character flaw of ours, we get it. We’re working on it.

Without further ado, here is Jona– uncensored and as patriotic as ever.

Coming home in March after my hockey season concluded, I had high hopes and big plans for this summer. Naturally, they included coming over to Canada to visit all my friends, whether we were hanging out in St. Catharines, taking a trip to London, or making a quick stop to party in Guelph. 

However, every plan I had came crashing down on me when this global pandemic hit. Being from America, I found myself constantly watching the news in hopes of everything calming down so the border would reopen. The two-sided media we have here made it almost impossible to gauge what was actually going on. I would click one channel and they would make it seem as though if you stepped outside you were going to die, and the next channel didn’t even seem to care that the world was in the middle of a pandemic. After a couple of weeks of this, I kept my hopes up but realized that I probably wouldn’t make it over the border to visit most of my friends this summer.

I knew eventually that I had to get through this summer in other ways, and much like the progression of society becoming normal again, my summer can be described in the following three phases:

When the pandemic hit, I entered the first phase of summer, which was staying home all day, every day, quarantining. This was the time when I, along with many others, watched shows, read, did house chores, or played board games. Of these shows, I was most intrigued by “Tiger King” and “Outer Banks”. Although watching “Tiger King” made my eyes bleed, it was so unorthodox I couldn’t look away. And Carole Baskin most definitely killed her husband. That’s not even up for debate.

I then moved on to “Outer Banks” in which I went through every human emotion possible. However, I could not look past the question of why these kids don’t have phones. The whole time I was screaming that they should whip out their phones and record some of this so there is some proof.

Finally, this phase also included a lot of FaceTiming friends to stay in touch. Unpopular opinion: HouseParty is better than Zoom. I know it can’t have as many people but it is way easier and better quality in my opinion. 

This was when I could no longer just sit in my house reading and watching TV all day, so I moved on to outdoor activities such as walking my dog, playing hockey in my driveway, or I would even meet up with a friend at a park to chill with him. Not the most thrilling of activities I know, but better than being indoors all day long. 

I started working at a hockey clinic and restaurants started to open up, so I was able to experience a little bit of what life was like before the pandemic. I was reminded that there is nothing like going into Chipotle only to have someone breathing down your neck as you’re trying to order.

What I did find though is that the masks make it a lot harder to talk and people can’t hear you as well, so I found myself shouting to try and communicate with someone. Isn’t it the best when you are trying to talk to someone and you only pick up half of what they say, or you have to say “What did you say?” every two seconds?

Through all of these phases, one positive that came out of not being able to make it over to Canada this summer was that I started a podcast, called Joking with Jona. I got the idea when I heard the border closure was getting extended for another month, so I wanted something cool to do to stay in touch with my friends. It was originally going to be called Tea Time with Jona, but I felt that gave off the wrong vibe.

Now, I use my podcast as a platform to allow people to talk about themselves and share anything they are passionate about and have learned a lot about people that I never knew before. Additionally, it has been something new and I have enjoyed reconnecting with people whom I haven’t talked to in a while. Side note: If anyone who reads this wants to come on shoot me a text or DM!

To conclude, this summer has no doubt been terrible and barely any fun–especially when you can’t even see a vast majority of your closest friends. If this ever happens again, which it better not, I’d recommend thinking outside of the box. Try to find fun things to pass the time and maybe dive into stuff that you wouldn’t normally try! I definitely miss everything north of the border and all of my friends, but I know that we’ll meet again soon.

This is a message to look forward to the future and be ready for my return, Canada! I’ll be back.

10 Things You Should Know Before Going on a Ghost Walk

10 Things You Should Know Before Going on a Ghost Walk

Spoiler Alert: It is absolutely nothing like the movie Ghostbusters.

Ever since moving to Niagara-On-The-Lake seven years ago, Mira’s mom has consistently asked her to go on a ghost walk– to which she has made up countless excuses to avoid. However, after I secretly bought tickets to The Ghost Walks walking tour, Mira had no option but to drive downtown and participate in this ninety-minute tour that she has tactfully managed to evade for so long.

As a disclaimer, we’re not skeptics of ghosts at all. We just aren’t sold on the idea of a for-profit walking tour. So we decided to check out Canada’s self-proclaimed spookiest city and have a paranormal experience for ourselves.

1. You will not have any paranormal experiences whatsoever.

To our disappointment, we didn’t feel a gust of wind rush by us or the tapping of a small hand on our shoulders. The scariest thing about this tour was that this was the most exercise we’ve gotten since quarantine started.

2. Strangers have no shame and will pretend to be ghosts as you walk through the streets.

Three different groups of locals took the time out of their day to make fun of our decision to spend $16 CAD on a ninety-minute ghost walking tour. Each group would shout, “Boooooo” as loud as possible, and wave around their arms pretending to be ghosts. It was funny the first time, but after hearing it three separate times, the joke got old.

3. Don’t watch videos of the tour on YouTube. It’s the same script as they use now and is much less entertaining hearing it the second time around.

If you’re going on a ghost walk, it’s most likely going to be kind of gimmicky. The jokes on the tour are pretty corny but become less tolerable over time, so spare yourself the pain of hearing them over and over again.

4. People will bring their pets.

Honestly, if your dog is calm enough, this is a great idea. However, just know that you will hear dogs lapping water in the background as you try to engage in the tour guide’s spooky story.

5. A ghost walk is not a cute date idea. And you will have to watch people’s mothers try and crash their date.

It’s already kind of embarrassing that this is what you chose for your date idea, but it makes it even worse if your mom shows up halfway through pretending to be a ghost.

6. People on the street will stare at you the whole time because your tour guide most likely will be dressed in a top hat and cape.

This one is quite understandable because it was 30° C out, and our guide was dressed as if he was trying to survive a harsh and unforgiving 1812 winter.

7. Your guide will tell you stories as if they were nominated for an Oscar.

With unmatched enthusiasm and vast vocal range, our guide made every story as eccentric as possible. He also wasn’t afraid to make use of his surroundings, often banging on the floors for dramatic effect. 10/10 performance.

8. It’s a great place to go and watch the sunset.

On an unrelated note, Lake Ontario at 9:30 pm is genuinely a sight to be seen and adds to the overall experience.

9. Spooky things will not appear in your photographs.

As much your fellow walking-tour buddies would like to believe that there’s paranormal activity changing their camera settings, forcing them to take weird photos, or draining their camera battery– this is just a result of a lack of photography skills and planning. Also, there are no faces in your photos, it’s just how the light works.

10. You’ll want to fact check everything because you’re skeptical of your guide’s “local historian” friends and personal theories.

The whole tour you’ll be questioning who on earth these local historians that your guide keeps referring to are. Also, how do they have the time to come up with all of these unconfirmed theories?

Despite a lot of Niagara-On-The-Lake being a tourist trap, this tour was very reasonably priced and was truly worth every penny. If you’re bored of doing the same quarantine activities repeatedly, this tour is a nice change of pace, and you might learn something along the way about Niagara and its complicated and violent history.

That being said, we’ve decided that we want to try and make our own ghost tour entitled The Spooky Sisters. You can add it to the list of business endeavours that we talk about but will never follow-up on.

DIY “Guess Who?” featuring Everyone we went to High-School with: A Drinking Game

DIY “Guess Who?” featuring Everyone we went to High-School with: A Drinking Game

Because there’s literally nothing better to do quarantine than to relive your so-called glory days.

All the materials you’ll need

As we approach our second anniversary of graduating high-school, we can’t help but reflect on how different our lives are now. While we definitely would not want to go back, it can be fun to discuss our many shared memories. Normal people would reflect on their high-school experience by watching their grad video or looking at old photos. Instead, we decided to spend the afternoon printing out tiny pictures of our classmates and gluing them onto a DIY cardboard version of a childhood game.

Personalized “Guess-Who?” games are flooding the internet right now. While most people are using their photos to replace the actual photos on the game, neither of us has this game, nor do we want to invest in it. So, we decided to make a cheap tacky version that has no structural integrity whatsoever- super on-brand for us. We also wanted to share this process with you so you can recreate your version at home.

The actual game- just a heads up, our version looks like a kindergarten craft project in comparison

Materials we used:

  • A clothing gift box, or any two sheets of cardboard you might have
  • 30 blank flashcards
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A pen
  • Pictures of 30 of the people you went to high school with (not creepy at all)

To start, you’re going to want to find pictures of roughly thirty of your high school peers. With these pictures, you will need to create a document with one large version of the image to put on a card and two small versions to put on the actual game. After you print these sheets out, cut out all of the pictures.

Next, cut your gift box in half and reinforce the sides using glue.

For the smaller pictures, you’re going to use on the boards, cut your flashcards into four different strips. Bend each strip in half and glue each person’s photo onto a separate strip. Glue the base of each of these strips onto the cardboard to create two game boards- one for each player.

Finally, to make the larger cards, cut your flashcards into thirds and glue on each large picture. Make sure you write the person’s name as well just in case the picture isn’t enough to identify them. It’s been a couple of years. People forget things.

The instructions are pretty self-explanatory- look at the pictures below, and we’re sure you’ll figure it out.

The big cards

Our DIY cheapskate version of the game

After tediously assembling your two game boards, you can start to play. If you don’t know the rules, here’s a PDF of the actual “Guess Who?” instructions. But if you need to look at these, you were genuinely robbed of your childhood: https://winning-moves.com/images/guesswho%20rules.pdf

However, playing this won’t be too nostalgic, because the most exciting part of our version is the types of questions you can ask. The whole point of our version is to not use basic questions like “Does this person have glasses?” or “Is this person a girl?” like you would in a real “Guess Who?” game. Essentially, the more controversial the question, the better.

Our game was literally made with a Mexx Kids giftbox, you should’ve seen it coming.

Here’s a few examples of questions you could ask:

  • Did you ever speak to this person in high school?
  • Has this person ever blocked you on any social media platform?
  • Would you say “Hi” to this person if you saw them today?
  • Did this person unfollow you on Instagram after graduation?
  • Did you ever have beef with this person?
  • Do you still have active beef with this person?

These are pretty general, but as you narrow down who your opponent has, feel free to get exponentially more specific.

Finally, the last set of rules arguably concern the most important part of the game: drinking.

  • If your opponent says “No” to any of your questions, you have to drink
  • If your opponent says “Yes” to any of your questions, they have to drink
  • If you guess the person’s name incorrectly, you have to take 3 drinks
  • The player that loses has to finish their drink

Was this a huge waste of time? Maybe. But at least it was fun. We guarantee if you create this game, make a quick stop at the LCBO, and gather up some of your high-school friends, you’re set for a very interesting evening. You’re welcome in advance.

Vineyard Picnics For Dummies

Vineyard Picnics For Dummies

Bored of sitting in a parking lot with your friends? Try this instead!

Living in a small town, there is a VERY limited number of things to do (some of my personal favorites include neighborhood drive-by’s and prostitute hunting). However, the pandemic has temporarily put my enjoyment of these activities on hold, forcing me to get creative on how I should spend time with the five people from high school that don’t hate me (kidding, but like not really). This is how I came to discover my love of picnics.

If you are anything like me and are not trying to pay $12 for an Aperol Spritz on the Johnny Rocco’s patio, then this is the perfect alternative for you. It’s cheap, fun, and abides by social distancing guidelines (we LOVE a public health queen!)

What you’ll need:

  • A blanket
  • Your favorite snacks (I enjoy bringing Stacy’s pita chips, guac, grapes and cheese)
  • An alcoholic beverage of your choice
  • A speaker
  • BOTTLE OPENER (I cannot stress enough how hard it is to try and open a bottle of wine with a fork)

Disclaimer: I do in fact realize how cringe it is that I am drinking Girls Night Out, but you’re lying to yourself if you don’t think it tastes good

To start, you are going to want to find an open field. If you are from the Niagara Region I would recommend checking out Ravine or Two Sisters’ Winery. Once you’ve found a spot that you are happy with, you are going to want to set up your blanket and pull out your food. While it is tempting to set up your cheese, crackers, and fruit in an attempt to make an Instagram-worthy charcuterie board, I advise against doing that unless you are trying to get attacked by ants and mosquitos. Instead, keep all food in its original packaging or wrapper and use a knife to cut small pieces at a time.

PRO TIP: plan ahead and set your picnic up for around 8pm for the added bonus of watching the sunset (just don’t be that person who puts the sunset on their snapchat story because I promise you nobody cares)

You are now officially all set! Happy picnicking, and you can thank us later for all of the money that you have saved on watered down drinks from the patios this summer 🙂