Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Recreating Memories and Creating New Ones

When I was little, I lived in England.  I remember my parents once took me to see a Pantomime of Mother Goose. That has stuck in my mind as a wonderful event.  I was probably just six at the time, but I remember that the leading lady was really a man, the characters wore wonderful costumes, and that at some point the characters came off the stage into the audience.  It was quite the experience, and one that I have been wanting to reproduce for my grandchildren.

Pantomimes have become more popular at this time of year around our area, and I thought I was going to get my chance last year.  I have two grandsons.  Their parents were convinced that the younger one would never sit still for the performance, so we thought we'd take the older one and the little one some other year when he might be more manageable.  We made the mistake of telling the older one what a pantomime was, and he declared that just silly and he didn't want to go.  Luckily, I had not purchased the tickets yet.

These two boys are celebrating their birthdays this week. One is turning 10 and the other is turning six. I decided we were going to take them both to the Pantomime for their birthday this year and I just wouldn't mention where we were going, to either the kids or their parents.  All they knew was that they were spending the day with Nana and Grandpa.  Even their folks seemed happy with that as they had other things to do, just like the rest of us at this time of year.

The day came and we ended up with the boys earlier than originally planned on, so we moved our planned meal with them after the show to lunch time instead. We went to Smiths Falls for the Harvey's Family Meal Deal, where they happily got to choose exactly what they wanted on their burgers.  During lunch I was repeatedly questioned about where we were going. Eventually they managed to pry the fact that we would be staying in Smiths Falls and that where we were going was over near the railway tracks. Of course they immediately thought we were going geocaching and could not imagine what we would be doing when I said we weren't.

We took them to The Station Theatre. The sign instantly had them thinking we were going to a movie, and it took a bit of convincing that other things happened in theatres other than movies. Of course, that's exactly what I wanted them to experience, and what better introduction to live theatre than a pantomime.

Jack and the Beanstalk was presented in a way that only lightly touched on the original story, but the additions of a King and Princess, an Eco Fairy, a cowhand named Simon and the giant's henchman, Slimeball certainly added to the fun. The giant was gigantic, and the cow was adorable. There was a chorus of cockroaches too.....just because.  Jenny Jasiak played the part of Jack, while Mike Adams took on the role of Dame Trot (Jack's mother) with great vigour. For me, it was high school student, Slade Stoodley as Slimeball that really stood out. This young man is extremely talented, and will go far if he pursues an acting career.

My youngest grandson had no trouble sitting through the performance. Though he never did boo the bad guys he laughed a lot and loved the antics of Daisy the cow.  Just as in my memories, the characters did leave the stage, and at one point Dame Trot actually sat on my older grandson's lap.  I'm sure he'll remember that as he ages!

When asked later if they would want to see another play like this, they both gave me a quick Yes!  It might just become a family tradition.  I'm already looking forward to next year, when the Smiths Falls Station Theatre will be presenting Puss in Boots.

I'm grateful to my long time cyber buddy, Tim Bisaillon (in a cockroach selfie pictured here with the king) for helping me get some photos to include with this post. The other photos were taken during a technical rehearsal by theatre volunteer Simon Lunn


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sample Source

Have you signed up for a box full of new products from Sample Source yet?  I eagerly look forward to each and every box, as there is always something in there that I add to my list of favorite products.

Many sample boxes these days seem to contain razors of one type or another. This one contained a Schick Hydro 5. The five blades ensure a close, smooth shave, while the built in nutrient enriched shaving gels do away with any chance of irritation.

The Boire Nose Strip is something I may not understand properly. I've tried nose strips in the past and they always appeared to have dark spots on them when you pulled them off, as if you had pulled the dirt out of your pores. This strip clung tightly to the skin and had to be eased off slowly, but I didn't see any difference on either my nose or the strip once it was removed. However, my nose did feel like the top layer of skin had just been peeled off, and I felt the need to moisturize it very soon afterwards, in an attempt to make it feel better. It just continued to sting for quite some time. I'm pretty sure I won't be buying this product, but others may find it does what they wanted it to do.

Jergens Ultra Care Extra Dry Skin Moisturizer, on the other hand,  was exactly what I needed at this time of year. It's non-greasy, absorbs quickly and left my skin silky smooth.

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Shampoo lived up to it's name.  Even in my hard water, it produced a luxurious lather.  The companion conditioner didn't make my hair feel thin like many do, but rather it seemed to add body without making it too heavy to hold itself up.

Higgins & Burke Green Tea was a pleasant surprise. I'm definitely a tea drinker but I've never been fond of green teas. This one was not bad. In fact, I actually enjoyed it.  That's really saying something. Though I doubt I'll ever replace my Orange Pekoe, I may consider stocking it for guests.

The Ice Breakers Duos are made by the Hershey company. These were a fruity flavour. I had a sample of minty ones in a previous package, and I much preferred those.  In fact, I intend to buy some of the minty ones soon, to keep in my purse.

There was also a Hershey's Whole Almond bar.  I passed that to my hubby as my body doesn't tolerate almonds. He enjoyed it, he said.

Kelloggs Special K Pastry Crisps are a nice light snack. They have real chocolate that melts on your fingers, which, in my books is a good thing. I found they had an interesting flavour and texture, and would be tempted to pick up some more from time to time.

One of the two products that I really liked out of this batch of samples was the Frizz Ease Secret Weapon, also by John Frieda. I tend to wash my hair most days, just to get it to look good, but a little touch of Frizz Ease and my hair not only perks right up and is good for another day, it also shines so beautifully I'm thinking I'd like that look every day!

Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai with Blueberry is another product I really loved.  OMG these are just incredible!  Such flavour!  I fully intend to hunt down a bag of these as soon as possible. When I take a notion to eat chocolate, a few of these glossette type morsels will satisfy my craving, without causing me to feel guilty. I am satisfied so much more quickly by things that have more flavour. These certainly fit that description.

If you have not signed up for Sample Source, go here and do so now, so you will be on the list to get the next box of goodies.  This program is all about letting you try before you buy. It works for me!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Trying to Stand Firmly

Many years ago I had an accident and tore all the soft tissues in my left foot. It was swollen for months and I limped for a very long time after it was healed. I still do in damp weather. In fact these days I seem to be limping on one foot or another all the time.

At the time, I was sent to be fitted with orthotics and was told that the foot I had not injured was in even worse shape. I have no idea when it got that way, but twisting my ankles was a common occurrence in my youth. I thought no more about that, since that wasn't the foot bothering me at that time.

I wore the orthotics successfully for many years, but eventually the lovely lady who did my fittings retired from the business. I had to search for another place to get them.  I was very disappointed with that first set from the new place. They were flimsy looking, had a look of being unfinished, and they tended to tip me backwards. At my age, you don't want your balance thrown off like that. They remade them, but they still had that same problem so I gave up on them.  For the next several years I managed to get around without them, but then I started having a pain in my right heal. I went to see my doctor. She said I had developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot, sent me in for new orthotics.

The new set worked well for about a year. Then I started to develop a pain in the top of my right foot.  Once again, I was told I had plantar fasciitis, even though the pain wasn't in my heal this time.  A new set of orthotics were made, though the other pair were just a year old.

 It didn't take long before I developed a pain in my left knee. Now, I know that new orthotics often shift your weight enough to make your knees sore, and then your hips, before everything settles down, but in this case the knee kept getting worse until I could hardly get around at all.  It even hurt when I wasn't standing.  I started sleeping with a pillow between my knees just to support it so the pain wouldn't wake me up. 

I got some anti inflams but decided that foot pain wasn't as bad as knee pain and then took the orthotics out of my shoes.  That cured the left knee pain, but then I got a heal pain on the right side again. I got some Dr Scholls cushion heal protectors, but they didn't help. I decided that my feet definitely needed proper support, but since I didn't want a sore knee again, I dug out the old orthotics from the previous year, and put those into my shoes. Well,those made me walk on the outside of the left foot, and they have a lump under the right foot that made it feel like I had a big rock in my shoe. Pretty soon my feet were burning and hurting all the time. 

I wore the darn things to exercise class one day and then couldn't walk for 4 or 5 days after that. I have not been able to return to that class since. I have taken the orthotics out of my shoes again but I'm already starting to have that sore heal. I cannot win. 

I decided I needed to report in for some medical help. Today I got the official word that the orthotics didn't seem to be helping me and that we would have to try another route.  I am being sent for lazer treatments, to make the heal feel better. I wonder what good that will do, if we can't deal with the actual cause of that pain. Won't it just come back, time after time, just like it does when I remove the orthotics?

I don't drive, and have always kept healthy by walking everywhere. If I can't find a way to be able to get around, or do my exercises, I'm setting myself up for diabetes or a stroke. Both of those conditions are in my family.  This problem is suddenly aging me quickly, and I don't like it.

What ever you do, keep your feet, knees and legs healthy, for without them, everything else falls apart too, including your way of life.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Flu Shots ... My Theory

It's that time of  year again, when people contemplate whether to get their flu shots or not. 

One of the reasons people give as to why they don't want to get the shot is that they had it once and then got the flu. They are convinced that the shot made them sick. We know that's not technically possible since there is no live virus in the vaccine, but I now think I have a theory on what happened to make them believe that.

Last year I had the Shingles shot, and later the shingles themselves. I didn't get the Shingles from the shot, and I know I had a much milder case than I would have if I had not been inoculated against it.  I also had a flu shot and a pneumonia shot last year. I not only ended up with the Shingles but when the flues came though here, I caught each and every one of them, one after another.  Three different kinds of influenza, even though I had the shot. 

This year they are saying that the inoculation is not for the flu we are expecting to pass this way. People wonder why they should bother to get it.  A nurse once told me that if you have the shot for five years in a row, you are pretty well safe from just about all of them.  And yet, I had three flues all in the same year. What gives?

I'm not a spring chicken anymore and I believe that my body was busy building antibodies for all the things I had shots for, and that's what lowered my resistance. When I caught the first flu, my resistance was down even further, so I quickly caught the second one, and then the third. I have never in my life spent so much time indoors.  With all that illness I had no time to get outside in the fresh air and flush the bugs out of my system. I just kept catching everything that got transported home from the very public places where all of my family work. 

So, am I going to take a chance on the shot this year?  You bet I am.  All I have to do is think how quickly we all turn our heads to see who happens to be coughing when we're in a public place these days.  We never used to pay any attention to that. People coughed and sneezed around us all the time.  The flu shots have eliminated so much sickness in our society, we are quick to notice any sign of it now. That's proof enough for me that the shots are working.  I'll be getting mine later this month. I've got the date posted on my refrigerator already.  I just don't think I'll try for multiple immunizations all within a short period ever again. I'm convinced that's what the problem was.

So, if you are healthy, stay that way and go get your shot. You aren't just protecting yourself, you are protecting those of us whose immune system may not be up to snuff. Stop the spread.  Just do it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Shopping For Friends

It is often hard to make new friends

In my experience two types of people I can count on to be friendly are Newfoundlanders and people involved in the martial arts.  Newfies are warm and welcoming and martial artists are generally nice people who quickly embrace others in the field as if they were family.  Today we met a man who turned out to be both, and though we met him in a shopping mall, I feel like we have a new friend.

We had gone to a large mall that we had not been to in many years and got confused as to where to find the food court. The signs pointed us in directions that didn't work, and when we back tracked, and tried again, they simply didn't make sense.  My hubby approached a man and woman and asked if they knew where it was, and we were told to follow them as that was where they were going too. The reason we were confused was that you actually had to walk though the middle of a store to access the food court if you were already on that floor. From the floor below, it would have meant a simple ride up the escalator.

During that short walk through the store we discovered the man was the lady's father and that he had come from Newfoundland to visit with her. We also found out he had spent some time as a martial artist in the past and knew someone my hubby also knew. We parted ways and had our lunch.

Later, while shopping and exploring this huge mall we ran across them again, and stopped for another chat. Before parting we had his name and address and an e-mail address and a new friend. It was that easy. 

I wish it always was.

Maybe I should go shopping for friends more often.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Buried Alive.....But What a Way to Go!

When I was growing up, I heard my mother say, more than once, "I'm afraid I'll die before I read all the books." 

Now, that sounds crazy, I know, and I didn't understand what she meant at the time. I'm getting a much clearer picture of it now though. 

My name is Karen and I'm a bookaholic.  I love books, not just to read, but to have and to hold. I like to own them.  I cannot seem to pass up a good book or a good bargain on books.

It used to just be magazines. I would subscribe to as many as 7, maybe 9 different publications all at the same time.  I read them in the order they came in, stacking them on a specific shelf in my office, so I'd know which one to read next.  No cheating allowed.  

I had no time to read real books because if I stopped to read one, (as I did as a treat from time to time) I'd fall behind in the magazines. I hate reading magazines that are a month in arrears, especially if there is a holiday involved.  There would always be some craft or recipe that I would have loved to have made, but found it too late. 

If I bought books, (and I was always buying books), they were non-fiction on the topic of whatever I was interested in at the time. I have a library full of books on Writing,  Photography, Tai Chi, and Painting.  This is fine as it's not necessary to read all of these books from cover to cover. They can be accessed when you want to solve a problem or learn something new. I likely have too many painting books now, but will often put sticky notes as flags on various pages in 3 or 4 at a time, to give me hints on how to handle whatever I'm thinking of trying next. I'm never sorry to have invested in books. 

I promised myself that I would stop subscribing to magazines for a while, as I really do enjoy reading a good story that lasts for a few days....or sometimes weeks, depending on how busy I am.  The library had moved to a new location clear across town, so I started gathering ones I'd like to read at home.  I belonged to a club where they would mail you four new ones each month. Sometimes I wasn't keeping up with those very well, so I'd quit, but they would offer me a "Welcome back" package that I just couldn't resist, so I ended up with a box full that are waiting to be read.

In recent years I've been winning a few books each year from either Goodreads.com or the publishers themselves. This year I've been extremely lucky and have won a lot more books than usual. I do get those read as I tend to review books I win. The thing is, in the meantime, I have picked up a few that I wanted to read at yard sales, and then one of the local churches held a huge book sale and I got a whole lot more. Well hey, they were selling them for a dollar or so. How could I pass up a bargain like that?  Books can entertain me for quite a while for that small investment.  Besides, have you seen the price of books in the stores today?  I'd have to mortgage the house to feed my habit!

Then I discovered that Amazon and other sites sometimes offer digital books for free. I downloaded a few of them.  I now have several of those stored too, waiting to be read. Luckily I also discovered that I'd really much rather read books with real pages, so I've pretty well stopped accumulating the digital ones.
Suddenly I realize I have a problem.  I've become a book hoarder.  I have more books now than I can handle, even if I sat and did nothing but read for an entire year. I have not even started these ones I got from the church book sale.

I finally understand how my mother felt.  I'm going to die before I read all the books.....likely even just the ones I've accumulated here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All A Glow

In August I got an e-mail informing me that I had been chosen to take part in Glow Magazine's November You Tried It program. That meant they would send me a box of products to test and comment on. 

I was expecting samples, but what I got was five full sized items.  I don't know how I got so lucky, but I have to say I was thrilled when I opened the box.  Inside were some things I was very excited about, and other things I had never heard of.

As I only had two weeks to test the products, before submitting my feedback, I was confused about how to test two of the products in particular. One was a day cream and the instructions on the other said to use it day and night. I sent an e-mail to ask for guidance and received a prompt reply, with suggestions on how to solve the problem. I decided to use the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal  during the day and the StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Mark at night.

At the end of the test period, I filled out the following report and sent it in.

Product #1: NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream 
My skin is really silky smooth after using NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream.  I didn’t even have to use any body moisturizer after bathing with this.

Product #2: NIVEA Sensitive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water 
NIVEA Senstive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleaning Water is capable of removing dirt left behind by normal washing.  No matter how carefully I washed first, it would still manage to find enough dirt to discolour the cotton ball.  I trust it to get my face really clean.
Product #3: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal
I was very excited to see L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal in the package. It absorbed well, and left my skin soft, with a fresh dewy look.  It did, however, tend to turn my face red for a while each time I put it on.  I think I’ve gotten used to it now as it doesn’t seem quite so bad anymore. 
Product #4: RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum 
RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum is a quick easy way to groom my brows.  If it were to make them any more full though, it would be better suited for my mother than more me, as she over plucked hers at an early age and they never really grew back.  I like the controlled look it gives my brows as that helps them  frame my face better.

Product #5: StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Mark 
I had never heard of StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Marks before, and when I first saw the package I thought I’ll test it and then pass it to someone who needs it.  Now that I’ve tried it, I know I will not be passing it on. This stuff is magic. I put it on my face, neck and chest and see an instant transformation.  My skin never looked so good. It actually makes me look several years younger. It has even done wonders for the wrinkles that had appeared on my upper chest in recent years. Of course, that was the one place I always forgot to moisturize, but with this, I know I’ll never pass up a chance to do it.  Amazing!

Now that I've had a couple of months of using these products, I think I'd happily buy the RapidBrow Eyebrown Enhancing Serum. It goes on with a wand, much like mascara, but it's clear and just lets me sweep my eyebrows into place, and then helps make sure they stay there all day. I now feel that it lifts them nicely and gives my face a finished look.

I have had a chance to search for the StriVectin and discovered that this one product alone would cost me $139 to replace the size of tube I was given. That's definitely out of my price range, but this may be one product that proves the theory that you get what you pay for.  I'm wondering if I'll ever be happy with the cheaper products I've always used ever again. As I said in my report, this stuff is pure magic.

Back when I was doing this project, I checked to see if I would be allowed to blog about it, and was asked to wait until after October 20th as the results would be published in the November issue of Glow magazine.  I checked today, and the new issue is out. Upon closer inspection, I found they quoted what I said about the NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream on page 44.  I'm hoping that might give me a chance to do this sort of thing again sometime.  I really enjoyed getting to try things I might never have thought to buy otherwise.