Friday, January 23, 2015

There is Alway Something to Tidy

Last year I got involved in an online de-cluttering project where the blogging participants posted pictures and told about what they had de-cluttered the previous week. That was good for me as it forced me to clean up one little mess at a time within a basic week long deadline. As time wore on, the other participants fizzled out, until there were just two of us, and then the weather started to get better and we found other things to do.  I did get a lot of things done during the time it lasted though.

This year I discovered another of my favorite bloggers has come upon a year long project called 52 Weeks to an Organized Home.  And while the title suggests that you have one clean up job to do each week, it is really broken down so that you de-clutter something each and every day. They even tell you what to do that day, and none of these jobs should take very long to complete. I started out a little late, but it was easy to catch up, because, like I said, we are tackling supposedly small jobs, instead of big ones.  For instance, it's time to de-clutter the kitchen, but that has been broken down into little parts. The countertop (okay, so I know that's not a small task in some people's homes, but once done, it only takes seconds a day to maintain), the utensil drawer, the cutlery drawer, the dish cupboard, and now, today, the spice shelf.

I'm grateful for thus push to do the shelf on which my spices are stored, as it's overflowing, and have often had things fall out of the cupboard while reaching for something else. I admit that it was a mess, but I have now taken everything off that shelf, and washed the shelving and the shelf liner. There were all kinds of spilled spices mixed and mingled on that.  I have no idea how that happens as they are all in their own sealed containers and the containers don't get opened until they are on the counter top when I'm using them.  Gremlins, I guess.  No matter. It's clean now. My rotating spice rack is soaking in some hot water, and it's obvious I have not had that totally unloaded in years.  It will be very interesting to see if I can put everything back on it.  I also have a step type unit that is supposed to let me see what is behind the other stuff, if I don't stack too high.

But wait. I'm de-cluttering so I should throw out any really old stuff, or anything I simply don't use. I found a couple of things I didn' t know I had. I know there are some things in there that I very seldom use, but when I do, I don't want to have to go buy more, just for that one day.  I do have access to a Bulk Barn now though, so I wouldn't necessarily have to buy a full container of anything anymore.

This was a worthwhile job.  I even did the beverage shelf while I was at it.

Tomorrow, the food cupboard.  Next week, the refrigerator and freezer.  Yes, this is a very doable way to de-clutter.  Maybe you'd like to jump in.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pay It Forward

Fifteen years ago, a movie came out that held an idea that would promote a better world. In "Pay It Forward" a wise teacher assigned the members of his class to do three nice things for other people, and to have those people pay back their good deeds by doing three nice things for others. The idea was to build a chain of events where everyone was doing good in the world.  One student took the assignment very seriously, and through the movie we see how even the simplest good deed can grow into something major.

This idea is still around, and January 16th to 18th is Pay It Forward weekend.  I found the event on Facebook and signed up immediately. The idea is to do least one random act of kindness.  Do something for someone or some organization without expecting anything in return. You can get in on this too by sending someone a card, volunteering  some time, pay for some stranger's meal, or anything else that you can think of. This weekend does not have to be the only time to do something for someone. This organized event is just a time where we can all do it together.

I'm sure you have heard stories over the past couple of years of people discovering their coffee has been paid for at Tim Horton's, or someplace.  That kind of thing happens throughout the year in recent times, and certainly does seem to spread once it starts.

Facebook has another way to kick start the Pay It Forward initiative too. There is now an e-mail chain as well.  One of my cousins posted an e-mail saying she would send something to the first 5 people who agreed to follow her lead.  They just had to type "I'm in" in the comments.  I jumped on it.  I'll get something from her, and send out 5 things to other people. And now those 5 people will also be sending something to 5 more people. I don't know how many links in the chain there were before I saw my cousin's message, but you can see how easily and quickly all this kindness spreads.

I took part in this kind of chain a couple of years back, but it wasn't considered to be a Pay It Forward project at the time. It was all about spreading your talents by giving away personally made items then.  This time it may be easier, as I don't actually have to make something if I don't want to.  I will, however, take some time to try and figure out what each of my recipients might like. That can sometimes be a challenge if you don't personally know the one on the receiving end......which in several of these cases I don't. 

I guess I'm already in Pay It Forward mode, as I just offered my brand new Sima Ultimate International Travel Adapter to someone who is going on a trip soon.  Once the idea is in your head to find ways to help others, all kinds of opportunities pop up.  Find someone to do something nice for today, and just keep doing it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Not Better by Design

Last fall, in my husband's ongoing quest to protect me, he purchased a step stool.  He had, on numerous occasions, seen me climb up on a kitchen chair to reach things in my cupboards. In the old days, I guess I was deemed young enough to climb on anything, and my chairs were the old sturdy chrome style that could support me without problem.  But now I have wooden chairs, that sometimes get a little wobbly and need regluing from time to time. Apparently he didn't like to see me climbing on those as I may be getting a little wobbly from time to time myself.

My kitchen is green and white but the stool is red, so I don't store it in the kitchen.  Rather than go and get it, I still drag a chair over to do my climbing.  There was another reason that I didn't use it too. When caught on a chair, and confronted with the question of why I wasn't using the stool, I just said it didn't work for me. 

It was only after preparing for Christmas that I was able to explain that statement to my hubby.  I didn't want him thinking I was looking his gift horse in the mouth. I finally had an example of why it wouldn't work, and decided to demonstrate the problem.

My kitchen sink is built over the stairwell to the basement.  That means there is plenty of room between the sink and the window behind it for a shelf.  I wanted that shelf nice and clean, so I'd have someplace to put such things as pies and cookie platters for my guests, without them taking up all the working space on my countertop.  From the floor, I can reach about half way back, to wash and polish that shelf.  From a kitchen chair, I can reach all the way to the windowsill.  From the new step stool I can only reach as far as I can if I'm standing on the floor, with nothing to climb on.  The problem is in the design of he stool itself. 

The first problem is that the stool goes from it's flat storage state, to an A frame, so the back legs prevent you from putting the steps close enough to the cupboard. There is a cure for that, I know you are thinking, but I'll address that in a moment.  The second problem is that the stool has a handle that, centers itself over the top step, and keeps my knees from going beyond that.  My feet go under it just fine, but the handle holds me back away from what I'm trying to reach. 

Now, I'm sure you wonder why I don't just turn the stool around sideways, so that I can snuggle it up against the cupboard.  I tried that, and I also demonstrated it to my hubby when he suggested it.  Once he saw that the handle had me standing so that my outer foot was not only right on the edge of the step, but actually hanging over the edge, he agreed that he didn't want me doing that.  I'd get busy doing the job in front of me and slip right off that step, for sure! 

I'm sure there will be things this stool will come in handy for, but as something to climb on in my kitchen, I'm better off standing on my kitchen chairs.  If hubby thinks they are too wobbly to be trustworthy, I will remind him that I have a wild assortment of glues available in the basement.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Stocking Traditions

Every family has it's own Christmas traditions. Some of them are quite common and others sometimes surprise me.

I was reading an In R Dream  blog post about Christmas stockings and started to comment on what I had just read.  The comment was getting long, so I decided to make it into a new blog post of my own.  

The blogger mentioned wrapping a stocking. I had never heard of wrapped stockings before. That would just slow poor Santa down on his trip around the world. Kids already wonder how he can get to every house all in one night. I assume that the only reason the stockings mentioned might have been wrapped was because they were for the other adults, and the givers didn't want the surprise to be spoiled before Christmas morning.

We don't give stockings to people over 16 at our house, but while there was a younger child in the house, the older one got what amounted to stocking stuff wrapped up in a box, just to make the gift giving equal.   Hmmm..... maybe we did wrap stockings after all, just without the actual stocking. 

I never thought of it before, but my grandmother always sent us a box full of strange things among the other presents too.  Opening those boxes got everyone's attention because we never knew what to expect.  There would be strange colourful socks, stuffed in a glass with some hotel logo on it, a bar of soap, and other things we figured she got out of her own cupboards.....generally useful things that didn't go together.  It never occurred to me that perhaps she was wrapping stocking stuff too, and just including socks that were too small to stuff.

While stockings are traditionally hung by the chimney with care, or placed under the tree, I was amused while reading the blog mentioned above, to find that others sometimes find their stockings in their rooms or by their bedroom door. I thought I dreamt  that up on my own as a kid. My brother and I used to sneak downstairs to get our stockings, sometimes as early as 4am. Our stockings were wisely stuffed with comic books and tangerines, as well as other little toys to keep us busy and hopefully quiet for a while. The excitement of two little kids pretty well does away with any ideas of parents getting much more sleep though.  I know we would eventually drag our stockings into our parents room, climb up onto their bed and excitedly show them what we got.  

One year, when I was probably about 11,  I suggested that my folks just put the stockings by our doorways so we wouldn't have to go downstairs. They shhhhed me, as my brother was 4 years younger and they didn't want me to spoil the magic of Santa for him. Actually, it was at that moment that I realized that I had just given up that belief myself. It was quite startling really. 

I'm thankful that my own kids tended to sleep until we woke them up on Christmas morning. I don't know how they managed to do that though, as I, even as an adult, had a hard time getting a good sleep on Christmas Eve because of all the excitement.

While there are no longer any filled stockings to be found at our house on Christmas morning, we still have gifts under a now artificial tree, and the same Christmas meal we've always had for the 37 years since I took over from my Mom. I have dared to change something now and then, always to be met with a protest. Traditions are traditions, you see, and not to be messed with. 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and would love to hear about anything your family does that you may think is a little different.  Perhaps it's not.

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.