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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mohair Mountain

The label on this yarn says "Mohair Mountain", Knit, Relax, Smile. Repeat ! 

I must say, though, I wasn't relaxed knitting this.  The first time I've worked with mohair / wool blend,  a very large round needle and it was a fight to the end and glad it's finished.   It was slow going and felt like I was fighting with the yarn the whole time.  

The pattern / yarn came from a kit I bought at our last Knitter's Guild De-Stash Sale.
It's a "Black Sheep and Ewe" kit. 

Shawl took one large ball of yarn - 660 yards. 
The Colour is called "Water Wheel" 






Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Life Can Change in an Instant


First came the much needed rain, 




Which filled up all the rain barrels, 


Then came the hail, 



When the rain stopped I went outside.  Then, in an instant, down I went on the slippery stairs out my back door, and rather hard I must say.  After I landed, I knew right away something wasn't right as my ankle puffed up like a balloon, and it was a lot more painful than just twisting my ankle.  So off to the emergency department we went.  A couple of x-rays later, it was confirmed, I had broken my ankle.  I came home with a big ski-boot type cast on the first day of my two week vacation.   Six weeks, I was told the cast would be on and 12 weeks for a full recovery. 

It put a damper on my plans for my vacation, however, when life hands you a lemon, you make lemonade.    My first week of vacation was tackle the long list of chores I wanted to get done - wash all the windows in the house, clean the rugs, gardening etc. etc.  Well, that didn't happen and the list was put away.  My foot had to be elevated and iced to get the swelling down.  Since it is my right foot, I can't drive either.  This is rather frustrating, having to rely on others to take me where I needed to go.  Hiking has been put on hold for a number of months too, as well as a number of other projects I wanted to tackle.

But, oh well, it could have been alot worse and shudder to think what could have happened.  


What have I learned ?  
I try to do too much and am learning to slow down.    
I am learning that the chore list isn't important.  
I am learning to stop and smell the roses. 
 I am learning to just sit, which is a hard one for me, as I get restless.     
I am learning to rely on others to help and graciously accept the help.   
I am learning to really look at something.  It's amazing what you will see when you stop and really look.   
I am learning to focus again.

I am in week 3 now of my cast and am still learning.  
Still have lots to learn about slowing down.  
This has been a hard way to learn, but has now forced me to.

I didn't put in a vegetable garden this year and is just as well as I wouldn't have been able to tend to it. 
  Everything happens for a reason.   
My perennial beds take care of themselves, although quite overgrown right now.  But they can wait.

Instead, I sit and look and enjoy the view......







Monday, August 10, 2015

Jam Day

This year the rhubarb crop has done well.

What to do with all the rhubarb?

I made muffins, cake, loaves, stewed, chopped, froze and .... made jam.

This year I tried three new jams which I hadn't made before.  All turned out quite well.

Rhubarb Marmalade - recipe came from the Taste of Home Website

Rhubarb Strawberry - recipe came with the Certo (box of liquid pectin)

Red Currant Rhubarb Jam from Rhubarb-Central.com


 


Black Currant Rhubarb Jam / Rhubarb Marmalade / Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ultimate Surburban Survivalist Guide

Over the last few winters, we have had a taste of what it is like to have no electricity for a couple of days during the ice storms.  We live in a climate where winters can get quite cold and last winter the temperature dipped to -40C.   We lived through the 2009 financial crisis and are going through another economic recession now.    There is always something going on to remind us that we live in uncertain times. Many are loosing their jobs as companies are downsizing, droughts, wild fires, etc.  In Canada, the wild fires and droughts in the western provinces of our country  have put this year's crop in peril.

You can't change what is happening in the world around us.  But, you can prepare yourself and your family and put your own house in order, so when the bumps in the road happen, no matter how big or small you are able to ride them out.

I have read a number of personal finance and preparedness books over the years.  One of my favourites the "Ultimate Suburban Survivalist Guide - The Smartest Money Moves to Prepare for Any Crisis" by Sean Brodrick.    This book doesn't just talk about money.  It covers many topics such as:  Water; Food Storage; Smart Shopping - planning ahead; Gardening; Health; Medicine; Security; Power; Education and Entertainment, with suggestions/ideas you can do in and around your own home.  It will teach you about self-sufficiency and better preparedness.

The book is easy to read, practical, engaging and entertaining.   I first borrowed the book from our local library.  There was so much useful information in it that I got my own copy.   Let's face it - when you do need the information, and the power is out - your go-to on-line information won't be there for you.  

This book is a great addition to my own personal library and would recommend to anyone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Mint

Mint grows abundantly in my garden and if given the chance would take over.

I find this herb to be versatile.  I use it in refreshing drinks in the summer.  Flavouring water with just mint, lemon and lime is thirst quenching on a hot summer day.  We like to boil new potatoes with mint.  I have made mint jelly and sauce to serve with lamb and dried it for making a mint tea.

The menthol in mint improves digestion and has decongestant and antiseptic properties.

One of my new favourite ways to use mint is in a Watermelon Mint salad ! Delicious !   This recipe came by way of my mother.

Watermelon Salad with Mint Leaves

Ingredients:
1 (5-pound) watermelon
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 c chopped mint / basil
½ c  feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing :
1/4 c red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/2 c  olive oil
Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time.   Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings.   In a large bowl, combine the melon, onion, and feta.  Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently until everything is coated and evenly mixed.

Enjoy !

Saturday, July 25, 2015

LUTH

What is LUTH ?  LUTH stands for Light Up the Hills.   Light UP the Hills a community program that takes place each December in Georgetown, Ontario, when the Park in the middle of Town lights up with festive lights for the month of December.

Last year our Knitter's Guild, Halton Hands in Motion, participated by knitting/crocheting yarn installations throughout Dominion Gardens Park.  Lamp post cozies were knitted up in candy cane strips and many of the trees along the pathways were adorned with tree cozies.

A quote from our local paper last year ..."This fibre-focused project aims to deliver visual interest for those walking through the park, while communicating the value of shared experiences and community partnerships."  One of our guild members who heads up the "community" aspect of our Guild, Caitlin, organized the event and did a fabulous job.

Our Guild is again participating in Light Up the Hills.    My contribution for this year's event is crocheted.   I had two large balls of acrylic bulky yarn in two shades of green.   I crocheted up various sizes/shapes of granny squares and flowers and hand sewed together.   I also knitted up a candy cane tree cozy.

Each year that our Guild Participates, our installations will grow.






Some photos from 2014 Light Up the Hills Event .....





Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Choosing Colour

Can you choose colours quickly and easily?

I can't seem to.  I have trouble and over-think it, whether it be for paint on the walls, tiles, yarn, clothes ?  I have trouble.  My daughter, the fine arts major, can do it !! NO problem.  I took her with me to help me choose a paint colour for a room.  She walked into the store with me and right up to the paint chip display, picked up a colour and said this is what you want, let's go !   BUT WAIT, I say, I haven't seen the other colours.   Trust me shes says, that's what you want.  BUT wait, I can't decide.  "Trust me" she says ... you will like it. 

So I hemmed and hawed over the colours in the display, took them over to the window for natural light, under indoor lighting and an hour later, we walked out of the store, paint mixed with the original colour my daughter chose, still unsure of the decision.  And, do you know, it the nicest colour on my walls !

So why was it so hard for me?  I'm too practical, too frugal and always have lived on a budget.   I only want to do the job once and not have to repaint again because of a colour I can't live with, not to mention the time and expense to change it again.

Is it my age? Am I too practical?  Worried I won't like it once it's all done, and it's not what I wanted it to look like? Does anyone else have this problem ?

When it comes to the house I'm always thinking cost and time it takes to paint, let alone re-do it.  I think of the resale value and how it would show to a potential buyer.   When it comes to knitting/crocheting/sewing, I'm afraid I wont't like it when I'm done.  Again, I'm too practical / frugal and all the while I'm knitting I'm thinking who would wear this colour in my family - because that's who I usually knit for.   All the while I'm knitting,  I just get frustrated thinking am I wasting my time?, instead of enjoying the time of creating something new?

At a recent Knitter's Guild meeting I purchased a skein of multi-coloured yarn called "Painted Desert" to make myself a shawl.  It was bought on impulse, something I don't do too often.  Sometimes you have to take chances.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Humber Valley Heritage Trail

Today's hike took us to the Humber Valley Heritage Trail, just north of Bolton.   The weather was iffy to say the least, and rain held off until we started the hike.  It rained the entire time we were out; four hours, 12 km later; we were wet, tired and very muddy.

BUT....... there were no bugs and the scenery was amazing !   Half way through the hike, there were signs stating the trail was closed.  We were about 6 km away from our cars, so..... we the happy hikers we are, were determined we would continue and see what was in store for us, even if we needed to do some bush wacking.   On wards we went and happy we did, because if we had turned around and went back to the car, we wouldn't have seen the most amazing scenery we did.  Yes, we were wet, our hiking boots soaked through, socks wet and becoming squishy inside and the trail was very slippery in the mud, but we continued on.   Because the trail was closed, there were times we thought we were lost, and doubled back to find the blazes, which didn't exist anymore.   Our hike leader has an amazing sense of direction and was able to get us back to the car.   We found out quickly why the trail was closed - a new by-pass highway ran right through the trail.   Still under construction, we were able to walk on it without any traffic and found the trail to continue on.

Was a fun adventure... despite the rain.    The rain was actually refreshing !











Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bruce Trail Hiking - Crawford Lake / Nassagaweya Canyon

It was the most perfect weekend weather wise here.  Sunny, no humidity and bit on the cool side.  Black flies were not present and just a few mosquitos.   Perfect hiking weather! 

Today we hiked The Crawford Lake Conservation area.  We parked on Twiss Road (Map 11 Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club - 102.5km mark) and headed north on the main Bruce Trail through the Crawford Forestry Track.   The beginning of the hike was very rock and bit of a steep rock formation to climb. 

We continued on the main trail crossing over Guelph Line into the Crawford Lake Conservation Area and along the edge of the Nassagaweya Canyon.   A spectacular view of the Canyon.  We saw a family of turkey vultures perched on branches overlooking the Canyon.  

We then looped back through the Crawford Lake Side Trail and around Crawford Lake - a meromictic lake where the lake’s basin is deeper than it’s surface area, the lowest levels of water are very rarely, if ever, disturbed by wind or temperature changes. Without an annual turnover of water, there is little oxygen present in its depths and minimal bacterial breakdown, which preserves the layers of sediment that have built up over time. This build up provides an accurate record of the human and natural history of the lake and its surroundings. Studies of this sediment revealed the agricultural history of the Iroquoian people, and the presence of a pre-contact village. 


We had our lunch by the lake and looped back on the main trail and headed back to our parked cars.   We hiked a total of 12 km today in about 3.5 hours.  Was slow going over the rocks on the trail. 

Certainly a hike I'll do again. 


 







Friday, May 22, 2015

Ever have one of those days ?

Ever have one of those days ?  I do, and seem to have had a number of them lately.

I told you about trying to book an appointment with my local bank branch and now I have another true story about my new one year, four month old stove.

About a month ago I started to cook two chicken breasts in my oven.  I set the oven on bake to preheat the oven, while lining a pan with parchment paper and putting the chicken on top of the paper.  The oven seemed to preheat awfully fast this time and not the usual twenty minutes.  I put the chicken in the oven and went upstairs to change out of my work clothes, into my jeans.  I left the kitchen for about 5 Minutes and as I was coming down the stairs I could smell smoke.  I went over to the stove and the parchment  paper had burned to a crisp, black and flaky and the chicken was cooked right through.  I immediately pulled the chicken out of the oven.   Error codes ran across the console of the stove.   I thought this was very strange.  I tried to re-start the oven, and got message "Feature Not Available".

The same thing had happened the night before when hubby tried to cook a pizza for himself.  I was out at the time, and came home to a smoke filled kitchen.  I asked him what happened and he said he didn't know.  I thought, perhaps he had put the pizza in the oven and then lay down for a nap and fell asleep, like he often does, or goes out to the garage and get busy and forget he'd put something in the oven.  But this time he said he didn't.

I right away called the manufacturer of the stove.  I called the 1-800 number for Canada - their head office was located in Mississauga, Ontario number listed in the owners manual that came with the stove.    I spoke to a very nice person, who said that the stove warranty was up four months ago and since I didn't buy the extended warranty, there was nothing they could do.  However, since it was so close to the warranty expiring she said they could cover the part and I pay the labour and would have someone out the next morning to fix.   Wonderful !!

I stayed home was able to work from home and waited for the repair person to show up.  No show, but did get a call from a service company to book an appointment.  I said I was told they were coming that morning.  Oh no they said we are booking a week out.  I asked what their labor charge was - $98 for first 15 mins and $112.50 for each additional half hour !!!  And I would also have to pay for parts.  I said that was not what I was quoted.

I next called the manufacture back and asked for a sooner appointment.  They promised to have someone out the following day and I would be responsible for all costs.

I took another day off and waited.  Service guy shows up - very nice and immediately tells me this is a safety issue and fire hazard - DON'T USE IT - UNPLUG IT !  He called the manufacturer for me and logged a complaint on the fire hazard on this one year, four month old stove.  I was told I would get a call back within 24 hours from their  "Safety Office".   I had to pay over $100 for him to tell me that my stove was a fire hazard and that the manufacturer should reimburse me for the service call.

It is now Friday afternoon.    I have now had no stove for two days.  Saturday, Sunday pass and still no call.  I call manufacturer on Monday morning.  Their systems are down and can't access my account and told to "call them back in 2 hours".  I wait three hours and call again, systems still down and "to call them back later".  Shouldn't the customer be called back ?

I finally reach their "call centre" located in Tennessee the next day (Tuesday) - a centralized location taking calls just for Canada.  I say I was told I was to receive a 24 hour call back from Friday and they say " Oh No !  that's 24-48 business hours (3-6 days) ! ".  I leave a message for someone to call me.

I finally get a call back Tuesday evening from the safety office saying they take safety seriously and will cover all costs, labour and parts to fix my stove and, as well would reimburse me for the initial service call.   I was told to call the service guy who came last Friday to book appointment.  I call the service company and they are all booked up for the next three days but could come on Friday morning.    It's now almost two weeks no stove.   Service comes Friday, replaces the main circuit board which was faulty.   My stove now works !! Yeah !   While service guy is at my house I ask, can he take a quick look at my fridge which leaks water on the floor.  He says it's a known issue with a faulty drain valve and should call manufacturer and they should cover the cost.  So, I call back manufacturer and yes, they will cover cost of part, but not the labour as your warranty expired two weeks ago.  They can't fix until following week.  Another day off work.

I finally have a stove and fridge that works properly (for now).   I learned in the process, as soon as something doesn't seem right with an appliance - call right away, don't procrastinate ! My fridge had been leaking on and off for a couple of months.

I didn't miss the stove too much.  This new "energy efficient" stove took twice as long to cook a meal as my old 30 year old stove oven did, so I had go used to using a crockpot / microwave or cook on the stove top.  I tend to cook in batches, so had a few meals already prepared in my freezer that just needed reheating.  The weather here co-incidently warmed up for the two weeks without a stove and was able to use the BBQ as well.  With a little planning it wasn't' much of an inconvenience.

By the way, I'm still waiting for the "cheque in the mail" to cover the cost of the initial service call I was promised.  It's been over a month now.   On my list to call them back next week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

And... That's Progress !

The other day I called my bank to speak to my financial advisor.  I wanted to go over my accounts and talk about a few other things.  Easy, right. ?

Seven phone calls, two days, transferred several times and put on hold for 20 minutes, I finally booked an appointment.

I knew I something was up when I called "my person" at the bank and the recorded message said "you have reached a number no longer in use".  Hmmm... Tried the number again, and got the same message, with a name and number of another person at the branch to call or to call the 1-800 to book an appointment.   I am one of those who like to call a number that has a name attached to it first, so I called that number and got voicemail stating I would get a call back within 24 hours.    24 hours came and went, so I called the the 1-800 to see where I would get.

The 1-800 tells me "my person does not exist in the bank directory - did I call the right bank?" --- I laughed.... seriously, I say ???  I have been dealing with my person for over 15 years!  I asked the person on the other end of the phone where they were located.  Located over 500 km from my local  branch and where I live, at a call centre who now books appointments for the local branch.  The new and improved process they say.  They transfer me to the 2nd person I had originally tried to get hold of, only to get their voicemail again.  Okay, so I'm now starting to get a little frustrated.  I used to be able to call "my person", leave a message, get a call back within couple hours and have an appointment booked.

I now leave second voicemail asking if "my person" still works there and if not, would like to book an appointment and meet the person who is now taking over my account.  I get a call back within a couple of hours and she sounds stressed and tells me she can't help me because she is going on vacation for two weeks.  She tells me to call someone else at the branch, and gives me another name and number to call.  I ask her if she is taking over my account.  She tells me "my person" retired two months ago and they are scrambling to sort things out and still doesn't know who is doing what.    I call the new number she gives me, only to get voicemail, stating if I want to book an appointment to call the 1-800 number !!!    Are you laughing now ??   I feel like I'm living one of those comedy routines you listen to on T.V.

I've gone around full circle now.  I live in a small town, and it would have been faster to walk over to the bank and book the appointment myself in person.

You guess it, I call the 1-800 number again, to book an appointment.   I get  "young and nervous voice" on the line and say I want to book an appointment with "Jude" at my local branch.  Sure he says, I can help you with that.  Why do you want to book an appointment?  I say I want to go over my accounts and meet the person who has taken over my account.  "Ok", he says and puts me on hold for 20 minutes.   I am usually a pretty patient person, and have been told at times I have the patience of a saint, but after all of a this my patience was now running rather thin.   He finally comes back on the line, only to tell me he can't help me and transfers me to someone else !  So, now I am talking to another young but arrogant know-it-all voice, who says "how can I help you?"  I again, say I am trying to book an appointment with a person at my local branch to review my account.  She interrupts me and says "oh, you want re-finance your mortgage".   What? I say, I never said that, I just want to book an appointment.  And proceed to tell her what I have been through to book an appointment and how disappointed I am with the service.   She tells me this is their new improved process with consolidating departments/call centres and this is how it will be going forward.  I tell her this is anything but improved.  To which she answers "I am sorry, YOU, feel that way", "Is there anything else I can help you with today?" (like she even cares !).

I finally get my appointment booked !!!  Now I am afraid to change it, in case I have to go through this process all over again.

This experience has given me second thoughts now if I want to continue dealing with this major bank.  When I finally do get to meet this new person at my local branch, I will be telling her how their new and improved service is working.  :)

The company I currently work for is starting to consolidate departments and have "call centres".  I sure hope we don't become like the bank.

This all sounds funny now, as I am writing, but wasn't funny while it happened.   It reminds me years ago when the major telephone company in Canada called Bell Telephone got an automated attendant called "Emily".

AND..... THIS, my friends is called Progress !!!!!!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Knitting Tip : Circular Needles

I used to like knitting with circular needles and over the years slowly have built up my collection for each knitting projected I embarked on.  I kept them in their original packages, neatly coiled for easy storage.

When I went to use them again the plastic string would stay coiled up and would irritate the heck out of me.  My work would twist and I would fight with the needles.  They would have a mind of their own and go in opposite directions.   The effort to knit with these coiled up needles, overtook my desire to knit with them when my hands became sore from fighting with the needles.

So, what to do with these needles all packaged up nice and neat?    Click on the link ( Pinterest via Freshstitches.com ) on how to uncoil circular needles.   I saved this pin for using at another time and then promptly forgot about it.   Recently I decided to try knitting lace shawl, which required using the circular needle and was browsing my pins and found this tip and thought to give it a try.

I really didn't think it would work, but really wanted to knit this shawl so thought I have nothing to loose.  Well, seeing is believing !!!!!

I took my coiled up circular needle and placed in a mixing bowl and poured hot water over to completely cover the needle.   Right before my eyes, the needle sprung straight !  Wow, was I amazed.   I let the needle sit for a couple of hours thinking it may coil right back up after it cooled off.  But the next day... the needle was still straight.   I have now begun my shawl and am so happy to not be fighting with the needles.


Monday, April 13, 2015

What Was Old is New Again


I received as a gift, oh so many years ago, a brass lamp.  I really liked this lamp and it's shape, but slowly over the years it started to loose its finish.  

No matter what I did to try to restore it, without spending alot of money, nothing seemed to work.  I've seen many ideas on re-purposing, re-finishing lamps so thought I would give it a try.

First, using masking tape I covered up the sections that I didn't want to be touched by paint, including the cord.   Then, using a fine sandpaper, sanded down the lamp and wiped away the dust on the lamp.

I spray painted the lamp using a semi-gloss Tremclad paint for metal in black.   It took two coats, and am very pleased with the results.

Next was finding a lamp shade that didn't cost a fortune.  I scoured many shops and finally found one at Walmart.     Total cost =  1 can of spray paint $6.95 Cdn (with enough left over to re-paint my mailbox) ; one lampshade $16.95 Cdn.  = $23.90 Cdn (and a mailbox that looks brand new too :) )




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