December 30, 2013

December 2013 Roundup

I haven't been posting a lot in December and no, I wasn't one of the unfortunate Southern Ontarians who lost power over Christmas.  We did get the ice storm but didn't bear the brunt of it.  The trees were covered in ice and looked pretty.  The roads and the sidewalks were treacherous and prevented me from venturing from home for a couple of days but we were lucky.

Honestly, I was busy with Christmas and friends and family and making gifts and baking and basically having fun.  Stopping to write a post felt like work, not fun and I promised myself that I would not continue to blog if it wasn't fun.

I'm not saying that I am stopping, just that it felt natural to take a break.  I don't have advertisers or sponsors to answer to so I don't have to blog every day.

Big changes are coming in my world...tomorrow I am officially retired so I guess I now need to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life.  I think I'm looking forward to it.

yum...ginger cookies

I did a lot of little projects this month but I didn't take pictures or share them because they were Christmas presents.  I might see if I have anything to show  you later.

Today was definitely a R & R day.  I spent the day in bed....catching up on reading your blogposts, e-mail, Facebook and started knitting a cowl for my Mom in teal.  Tea and cookies.....Downton Abbey and Victoria magazine.  A couple hours wasted on Pinterest.  It was a delight.  I need more days like this.

"Mom, are you done yet?  When can we go outside?"

I'll let you know how retirement goes...

Finnie using his Martian mind meld to try and shut my laptop down


December 25, 2013

December 14, 2013

Snow, Knitting and a Lovely Present from Migonis Home

It's Saturday night and we are having a big snowstorm today.  I hope it stops soon and doesn't accumulate too much.  I want to go visit a friend in the country tomorrow but I won't drive if the roads are too bad.

Yesterday was spent baking for Christmas and it was just one of those days.  Things didn't work out well so I needed a rest from baking today.  I'll try again tomorrow...sometimes it's just better to wait out the bad luck.

This morning I took my Mom over to the mall.  She wanted to get a couple of new sweaters to wear for bowling.  She often finds the alley cold.  At 88 years old, she's still bowling every week in a league. We were lucky and found a big sale at Cleo's.  I got a couple myself but I bought cardigans. Still having hot flashes so I'm not ready to wear pullovers, ha!

I did work on a knitted cowl today.  It's a gift for a friend...

I also got a gift this week. I was the lucky winner of a gorgeous mercury acorn tree ornament from Jen's blog Migonis Home. If you haven't visited yet, make sure you do.  She has such a beautiful blog.  I love following her posts and I never win anything so I was pretty excited....

I love it and decided to add it to my dining room table vignette, instead of hanging it on the tree.  I thought it would be noticed more on the table and it's definitely one that you want to show off.

Are you all ready for Christmas??  I'm not and I'm tired of people asking me...especially in stores. I'm making most of my gifts so I'll be busy every day til Christmas!  Any time I try to buy a gift, I usually just end up buying one for myself  :).  I've been very indulgent this Christmas.  Budget starts January 1!

I just bought myself some locally grown and ground flour.  Hopefully the bread turns out and I can share the recipe.  I went to a Christmas pop-up store at South Pond Farm last Thursday evening with friends and ohhhhhh I want to live in the country on a farm! It might be too late for that dream to come true but when you see a beautiful farmhouse like this one, you just want to move in.  I was able to get a few Christmas gifts here.  All local artisans selling their wares.  I'm really trying to support local business whenever possible.  Maybe it's time to start some wrapping.

I hope your weekend is lovely and warm,


December 09, 2013

Christmas in Port Perry

I realized that I never showed you photos from our little shopping trip to Port Perry at the end of November.  Port Perry is a lovely old town in southern Ontario.  It used to have one of my favourite stores - Settlement House.  Two floors of award-winning furniture and home decor.  Unfortunately they closed.  I never knew why.  Because of that, we don't visit Port Perry as often as we used to but there is always an obligatory Christmas shopping trip and Luke's General Store is a great destination.  We also poked through a bunch of other stores but most of the pictures are from Luke's.

Red is always a big colour this time of year.

This is for my American friends. I fell in love with Hobby Lobby.  You can get interesting furniture knobs really cheap there.  Here in Canada, most seem to be about $5 each.  I'm buying a lot next time I visit!

I have fallen in love with all the driftwood accessories out there.  I'll have to add something to my sunroom this year.

All the aqua gorgeousness reminds me of my friend, Linda

Lots of grey and silver out this year.  I'm glad I've worked that into my living room colour scheme.

Okay, I had to show you this really tacky purple tree.  Because I'm using shades of purple of my living room, anything purple catches my eye.


December 04, 2013

The Luckiest Woman in the World

Do you know who this is?  Her name is Kathryn Jones and she is the luckiest woman in the world.

About a year ago, she bought a lottery ticket.  The jackpot was $50 million dollars (in Canada, you don't pay tax on lottery winnings so it really is $50 million).  She lost her ticket before she checked it. She wasn't really concerned and went on with her life.

After the winnings weren't claimed, the lottery started investigating.  They were on a deadline because the jackpot has to be claimed within one year. Their records led them to the drugstore where the ticket was purchased.  Closed circuit cameras gave them a picture of Kathryn and they were able to track her down through her credit card.

That's when investigators came knocking on her door.  She didn't know why they were there and didn't want to let them in.  Then they told her she won $50 million dollars.  Can you imagine?

Well, there is still some administrative work to go through but in the new year, she will have $50 million dollars in her bank account.  So even though she doesn't have ticket and didn't know she won, the lottery is still awarding her the prize.  That's why she's the luckiest woman in the world!


December 02, 2013

Happy Monday

My sister, Connie called me yesterday and said, "I've done such a Julie thing today.  You'll be proud of me".  I was a little wary as she sometimes makes fun of my Martha Stewart tendencies.

She still works in the office where I used to work.  The staff there has been decimated by cutbacks...layoffs and forced you can imagine that the mood isn't very festive.  It's a large office with only a handful of staff now.  One of the girls, Chris (who always has a sunny disposition) suggested that they celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas.  Each of the dozen staff left were given a day and the challenge to do something nice for their co-workers.  Today was Connie's day and everyone would come into work this morning to find a Christmas box on their desk with these inside...

Homemade Cookies!!!

Isn't my sister a sweetie!


Dining Table Vignette

When you walk into my dining room today, you are greeted by a little Christmas vignette I made.

I started with a vintage table runner in crisp white and added some silver pieces with bottle brush trees and a vintage ornament from my childhood.

As you walk around the table, you see some paperwhites that are in bud.  I planted these in an old ironstone soup tureen.

My cute little sheep has made his way upstairs and is joined by a bunny and a pig (part of my white china napkin ring collection).

You can see my Mom in the kitchen making an apple pie.  It was very yummy!

The birds hang out on the other side.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend.


November 30, 2013

Dear Anonymous....

I got an anonymous response to my post on Friday.  I've obviously really hurt someone's feelings. Comments on my blog don't get posted if they don't have a name attached but I wanted to share it with you.

"This is just plain mean - a lot of those incidents are from years past - and many are "alleged" meaning that the police have NOT confirmed them. It is bad enough to have things like this happen - but then to have someone from another country print them as ALL the truth is even worse. You make us look like a bunch of horrid people - intent only on taking taking taking, Did you report the thousands of people that spent their entire day at a kitchen, feeding the homeless? Did you tell of the millions of dollars that are spent each year on gifts for underprivileged children - we take a name and buy what the kids have listed on their list, clothes, toys, sometimes they ask for a blanket for their grandma. Did you tell about that? Did you tell of the millions of dollars raised by the Salvation Army Bell Ringers - where people going into and out of stores drop money into the red buckets? Did you tell of the families who took dinner and treats to those in convalescent hospitals so they would not be alone on Thanksgiving? Did you tell of the people who teach their children to do good to others and help out whenever possible? Did you tell of volunteers bring entire meals and set them up in hospitals so hundreds staff and patients' families can have a little bit of Thanksgiving during a hard time in the hospital? I don't think you did - yet that is who America is - not just the rough and ignorant people who will trample someone for a cheap price. I bet there are people in Canada who would react the same as the Black Friday people - fortunately we don't go around spreading such news as the "truth" about all of Canada. I'm ashamed of you - I hope you are too."

I wish this person would let me know who you are.  I am sincerely sorry if you thought I was taking a stab at Americans. That is definitely not my intention.  I was actually expressing a personal opinion about how much I hate shopping in large, pushing crowds.  Nothing could get me out.  In case, you weren't aware, I suffer from bipolar disorder and being in large crowds just gives me a panic attack. 

I'm glad you pointed out all the wonderful things people do for each other during the holiday season (and all year) but I was writing a post about shopping and specifically about an article in Flare magazine I had read about gift-giving.  The author used research from "Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending".  I found their messages intriguing and wanted to share but obviously didn't express myself well if it was taken as an attack.  Here's a couple of Youtube videos that may make the concept clearer.

In my defence, I would like to say two things.  The quote I had added to my post was directly from NBC News and they are all incidents from 2013 and can all be "googled" individually but here is a link to NBC's website.

And secondly, if you think Canadians think they are "superior" to Americans, you haven't been watching late night TV in the States.  Just "google"  Rob Ford. Trust me, we are no better or worse...people are people.  Please feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to talk.


November 29, 2013

Frugal Friday has been Pre-empted by Black Friday

I had planned a post for today but then I realized it was Black Friday.  Yes, Virginia, Black Friday has made its insidious way north to Canada.  Nothing could make me go out today so I will pick up next Friday with my frugal tips.  Shopping the big sales does seem like a frugal thing to do but in those environments, I wonder how many people get carried away with the thrill of the hunt and spend more than they planned anyway.

Funny thing for a shopaholic girl like me to say but I can't stand crowds and there is something I find so repellent about crowds of people; lining up for hours, pushing people against glass doors and fighting like dogs in the street over a bone.  (I apologise now if you are one of those Black Friday revelers. Normally I'm the first to agree to a shopping trip.)

Finally got the tree up and lit after it fell over 3 times today!

NBC reports "some violence marred the Black Friday kickoff:
  • A Las Vegas shopper was shot late on Thanksgiving Day as he was attempting to take his newly bought television home, police told NBC News.
  • In the Chicago area, a police officer shot the driver of a car that was dragging another officer who was responding to a call of alleged shoplifting at a Kohls. Three people were arrested, police said.
  • At least three people got into a brawl in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Rialto, Calif., because shoppers allegedly were cutting the line. Two were taken into custody, according to police.
  • At another Wal-Mart in West Virginia, a man was slashed to the bone with a knife after threatening another man with a gun. The altercation was over a parking spot, police said.
  • A Wal-Mart in White Plains, N.Y., received two calls about a bomb on its premises, police said, prompting a storewide evacuation. No explosive device was found and the store reopened a couple of hours later. 
  • A woman apparently used a stun gun on another after an all-out brawl inside of the Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia, according to NBC10. Mall security, however, told the station no taser was used.  
  • And in New Jersey, a shopper was charged with aggravated assault after getting into an argument over a television set with a Wal-Mart manager."

Wow, just, wow.  Things were a lot quieter in Canada but it's still not my scene.

Besides, I'm making almost all of my Christmas gifts and they might be ready for Christmas or some people may get IOUs.  It's the thought that counts, right?  Well, not really...

I was reading an article in Flare magazine today that confirmed what I always knew in my heart.  Gift-giving is a selfish act.  That's right, you heard me and they have studies and statistics to back it up.  Whether you buy a gift or make a gift and whether or not it is exactly what the "giftee" wants, it doesn't matter.  You still feel joy.  You still feel the connection that comes from giving.  

What is it with cats and boxes?

I've always felt that giving was good for your soul.  Making something for another person or buying something that I think they would really like, gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  It's my quiet declaration of love; that this person means something in my life and I want to express that feeling. I don't ever give with the expectation of getting anything back.  Getting something doesn't give me the feeling of bliss I get from giving.  For me, giving something I've made is so much more meaningful.  I've spent my time, that precious commodity, and thought about the person while I was working.  It really is better to give than to receive.


November 27, 2013

Little Drummer Boy - Getting a Little Christmas Spirit

I woke this morning to our first real snowfall.  Out early on the way to the doctor's office, the snow on the trees was magical.  All too soon the warm wind was carrying the downy balls plopping to the ground and smashing into the windscreen of my car.  Good news from the doctor - my retina has not been torn and hopefully my vision will improve.

I'm going to get my Christmas tree tomorrow and start decorating - YAY!  In the meantime, I thought I'd share a couple of Youtube videos with you.   These are two Canadian renditions of "Little Drummer Boy".

and here's a cute little Christmas buddy I bought in Port Perry last week.

Finn likes him too.  He thought he was getting another kitten!


November 22, 2013

Frugal Friday #14 - DIY Part 1

Hi, thanks for the messages of concern.  I am fine for now.  A few years ago, I had a detached retina in my left eye.  Unfortunately yesterday afternoon, I started experiencing the same symptoms in my right eye.  My doctor wasn't working Friday afternoon and so I went to Emergency.  We didn't have any on-call ophthalmologists in Peterborough (go figure?!?) so my lovely sister drove me to Belleville (about an hour and a half away) in a rain storm so I could see a specialist.  The lining of my eye is tearing and bleeding but no tears in the retina.  Fingers crossed it will stay that way and settle down a bit.  My vision is pretty obscured in that eye right now.

I wanted to cover some do-it-yourself projects on Frugal Friday.  There are some projects that are dangerous to take on without proper training...for example gas fitting, electrical, etc.  For other things, don't be afraid to give it a try, especially now that you can find instructional videos on the internet.  I'm not going to give you a play by play as you can watch great videos on Youtube.   Often DIY projects can save you quite a bit of money but beware, if you take on too much, too fast - you might just cause a costly mess that you have to pay a professional to fix.  Start small, start cheap and build up your skills and your confidence.

I decided to give upholstery another try.  Quite a few years ago, my sister gave me a chair for free (I rescued it from a dump load if truth be told).  The upholstery was a disaster and needed replaced. Below is my first attempt.

It was a complete fail.  The seat was fine but for the life of me, I couldn't get the upholstery around the wooden arms.  It sat in its' unfinished state for years and years.  Third picture is 2 chairs stripped, ready for re-upholstery.

So I gave it another try...

Still a bit of a struggle...but the finished product was passable.  Free chair, $20 of fabric and about $5 of supplies.  Not too bad for a second attempt and a heckuva lot cheaper than having it done professionally.

I lived with this chair for a couple of weeks and then decided that I really didn't like the light lilac and white striped denim with the dark wood.  Originally I was going to paint the wood white but my Mom wanted it to stay as is.  So I decided that I would strip it and upholster it again.  Practice makes perfect, right?

I set myself up in the sunroom and started stripping the chair again.  I saved the fabric for use in the future.

I had a purple panel of drapery fabric that I got for $5.  It was just enough to do the chair.

This fabric was a little more difficult to work with but I was able to do a fairly smooth upholstery job.

Everyone here is pretty happy with the result of my $10 makeover.

Eilish has claimed this chair as her own!

I got some professional tack strips for a $1 and they helped me do a smooth job of attaching the back panel. Pretty happy with my first frugal DIY.  It is now part of the furniture in my new living room.  Even if you're not sure you can do it....give it a try.
Frugally Yours,