Saturday, February 26, 2011


After two long weeks of working long hours, hubby in hospital and a very, very sick cat at home, I’m not much up to writing about anything. 

Long hours were spent last week in an emergency ward, “waiting” for hubby’s tests, then results, “waiting” for doctors, “waiting” for nurses and watching hubby sleep. 

Knitting sure helped pass the time.  I had with me a pair of socks I was working on.  Socks are such a portable knitting project.  They take up little room and I can carry my project with me in my purse.    Knitting became a conversation piece with others who were also “waiting”, along with the nurses and passersby.  It was also became a conversation piece with others, once hubby was admitted, in his room and in the halls.  There were others, who were also “waiting” and knitting and as our eyes met we’d smile and conversations would start.   My mind couldn’t concentrate on reading.  Knitting kept my hands busy and made the time fly by.  Fortunately, I am one of those who can also talk and knit at the same time.  

Three days of waiting in hospital, produced a fun pair of socks and I learned a new “heel” stitch.   I met a lot of people, struck up many conversations and it made a sometimes very scary place to be, a little more cheery. 
Do you have a hobby that gives you joy, one you can take anywhere; do anywhere, whenever you have to “wait”.  Right now I’m writing this as I sit at a service center “waiting” until my car is serviced – another two hour “wait”.  I used to dislike “waiting”, and felt it was wasting my time, but now I look forward to it and enjoy that time.   When my kids were younger I spent many hours “waiting” at the pool for practice times to end and at all day swim meets.  Both were competitive swimmers.

What do you do when you must “wait”?  Do you fret, pace, worry, or do you enjoy that time for reading, writing, prayer/meditation or a hobby?   In this busy and fast paced world, next time look at “waiting” as a gift – time that you wouldn’t normally have put aside for yourself.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Volunteering is good for the heart and the soul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“In general terms, volunteering is the practice of people working on behalf of others or a particular cause without payment for their time and services. Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life, but people also volunteer for their own skill development, to meet others, to make contacts for possible employment, to have fun, and a variety of other reasons.”

According to Volunteer Canada, much of what Canadians take for granted is delivered to us by volunteers. The work of volunteers is essential to our communities and to our social fabric.

Why Do YOU Volunteer?
The main reasons why people volunteer:
§         It brings people together.
§         You get to meet new people and make new friends.
§         It promotes self-growth.
§         You can use your skills and learn new skills.
§         You make a difference.
§         Volunteering makes you feel appreciated and needed.
§         It provides an opportunity to give back what has been given to you.
§         It strengthens our community and breaks down barriers of fear and misunderstanding.
§         Volunteering builds your community.
§         Boost your own health.
§         Reduce your stress
§         Find new purpose
§         Benefits beyond your health

Volunteering is a big part of Canadian life. Many Canadians are generous when it comes to helping others. Every year, 12.5 million volunteers give their time, energy and skills to make our communities better.   According to Volunteer Canada, much of what Canadians take for granted is delivered to us by volunteers. The work of volunteers is essential to our communities and to our social fabric.

Did You Know?
Volunteering is a way to bolster community ties. It offers individual rewards, too. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, "Close to two-thirds of those who felt a very strong or somewhat strong sense of community belonging reported excellent or very good general health."  (Statistics Canada, Health Reports, June 2008)
Volunteering builds your social networks, increases your skills, reduces stress and promotes health and wellness.  In Canada, there are over 161,000 non-profit community organizations, charities, service clubs, foundations and aid agencies that are looking for new volunteers.   "It's no coincidence that those who volunteer, who give of themselves and who take an active part in their community end up, on average, healthier and happier."  (Dr. David Butler Jones, Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada). 

Over the years I have volunteered in many capacities, ie chaperone on school trips, local swim club, Sunday school teacher, serving on Church Board,  and hike leader, to name a few    I have learned so much  by volunteering which has also benefited me in my work life too. 

National Volunteer Week is coming April 10-16, 2011.    National Volunteer Week (NVW) pays tribute to the millions of Canadian volunteers who graciously donate their time and energy.   Take time to thank the volunteers who serve in your community.    Are you a volunteer ?   If not, take time to consider becoming one.

"The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others."   --Ghandi
“The greatest service to yourself is service to others!” --Unknown
"You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give." --  Anon
“ What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.”  --  Aristotle (384-322 BC)
“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received - only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
--St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Joy : An Amaryllis

Amaryllis have become popular.  They are a beautiful bit of joy during our dreary winter months in Canada.    They are affordable and come in a variety of colours, sizes and shapes.  They’re not difficult to grow and can bloom every year provided they are treated correctly.

A few years ago, hubby, while out shopping accidently knocked over an amaryllis in the grocery store.  Feeling sorry for this sad looking plant, he brought it home for me to “fix it”.   The stems and flower stalk were broken and I was rather doubtful it could be “saved”.   So, without trying to sound ungrateful that hubby had brought me flowers, I left it near a bright window in the kitchen to see what would happen.   Within a couple of weeks a new flower stalk appeared and not long after a large beautiful double headed flower appeared.  The flower lasted a number of weeks and gave us so much joy !    To my surprise, this one bulb has re-bloomed every year for us. 

Here are some simple steps I do to keep my amaryllis blooming year after year:
To enjoy your amaryllis for the maximum time possible place it in a location with diffuse light and cool indoor temperatures in the 60°F range. Keep it barely moist. 
1. Move it outdoors in spring.
As soon as the weather settles and all threat of frost is gone, move your amaryllis outdoors.  Choose a sunny area where you can water the plants daily. A deck or patio works fine, and the glossy strap-shaped leaves are a good textural foil for many other plants. Fertilize the plants every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer or apply a slow release fertilizer.
2. Cut the flower stalks.
When the last flower has faded on each of the flower stalks, cut the flower stalk near the top of the bulb. Be careful not to injure the leaves or any emerging flower stalks.
3. Decide when you'd like your amaryllis to bloom again.
If you want flowers for the holidays, you'll need to begin its dormant period by mid August. We like to enjoy our Amaryllis after the holidays – after all the busyness is over, it is bright cherry spot in our home.  Withhold water, and move the pots to a location where they can be kept around 55°F.  I keep mine in the crawl space in our basement – where it’s dark and cool.   I keep it in it’s original pot. 
 4.   Keep it in cool storage until the bulbs signal they are ready to go.
Amaryllis usually lose all or most of their leaves during their dormant period, although it is not necessary for all the leaves to wither for the bulb to reach complete dormancy. Keep the bulb on the dry side. Check the bulb every week; after eight to ten weeks of cool storage, you should notice the tip of the new flower stalk emerging from the bulb. If you shift the bulb to a warm spot (70-80°F) for three weeks, you will encourage leaves to emerge at the same time the flower stalk is developing. You can repot the bulb in fresh soil at this point. Be careful not to bury the bulb too deeply. At least one third of the bulb should be visible above the soil surface. Don't plant the bulb in a pot that is any more than two times the diameter of the bulb. When you repot it, you may notice smaller side bulbs that can be broken away from the main bulb. These can also be potted and grown on in a sunny spot. They will not bloom this year, but may bloom after two or three years of growth.  
5. Start it warm and water tentatively.
Water your amaryllis thoroughly right after you repot it, and allow the soil surface to dry a bit before watering it again. Place it in a warm spot to stimulate root growth. A sunny spot is best. If you try to rebloom your amaryllis in dim light conditions, the flower stalk will grow long and your amaryllis will be more prone to breakage or tipping. Wait until the first flower has opened to move the plant to a location with subdued light and cool temperatures to preserve the flower as long as possible.  
6. Repeat.
You can keep your amaryllis indefinitely, and if you can provide the right conditions for growth and dormancy, your bulb will get larger and multiply itself over the years. Large bulbs may produce as many as three flower stalks and some bulbs may bloom during the summer as well as during the winter, depending on temperature and other growing conditions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Simple Homemade Cards

Making homemade cards is a fun and rewarding hobby you can enjoy with your family and friends.    Card making has become more popular and a novelty to send handmade greeting cards.  They also make wonderful gifts.

Card making is easy.   You can make simple cards to very elaborate ones.   Card making is not an expensive hobby.  The basic supplies you need is:   paper, glue, coloured pencils and a cutter/scissors.  The possibilities are endless for your handmade creation with embellishments, rubber stamps and other card making supplies. 

I love to take photographs of my garden and while out hiking.   My handmade cards are with the photos I’ve taken.  I rarely go out without my camera, so that I don’t miss out on that special moment. 

“The joy of gathering card making ideas, paper, embellishments, and other card making supplies to make the cards and the joy that the handmade greeting cards give to the recipients are just feelings that cannot be purchased.”

Here’s a few examples of cards that I’ve made.

Cards with photos I've taken while out on adventures

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