October 25, 2013

Customer Service at Kitchenaid Sucks

I have always been a huge supporter of Kitchenaid as you know if you read my food blog.  You know I am always telling you to use a Kitchenaid stand mixer.  I love my mixer and that feeling hasn't changed but Lord help you if you get a lemon.  I have read complaints on-line about their customer service but didn't really believe it.

It is true.  While Jason and his supervisor, Craig were very polite on the phone today, they don't stand behind their products.  I bought a food processor about three years ago and the grater blade never worked properly.  I don't use it much, in fact I grate cheese about 3 or 4 times a year.  Each time it has gotten worse and worse and now it doesn't work at all.  Craig was willing to offer me a new bowl at half price (which we all know is probably cost price to them so nothing lost) but would not guarantee that would solve the problem.  In fact, I asked him if he had ever used a food processor before I got into a detailed description of what was wrong. He is "familiar" with food processors (oh please let me speak with someone who actually knows their product).

My processor is out of warranty but to me, that isn't the point.  If you are a reputable manufacturer and the philosophy on your website is "At Kitchenaid, we take pride in taking care of our family", you should stand behind your products.  While it may not be politically correct, I am tired of finding a company you respect and support financially moving its' processing to China where they manufacture inferior products. Once that happens, they should immediately be stripped of their excellent reputation. Unfortunately the world doesn't work that way and it takes time for people to report their bad experiences to each other before the company gets what they deserve.  That is why I am writing this post. So dear friends, when it comes to Kitchenaid, I have to say "Buyer Beware".


Frugal Friday #10 - Netflix

I spend a lot of money each month for cable and internet...over $150. I can't live without my internet (of course) but I will be reviewing some of my cable charges to see if I can lower them at all.  One of the ways I've been able to cut costs though is through Netflix.

I used to rent two or three movies a month and that could easily add up to $20.  Now with Netflix, I pay $7.99 a month and get access to a lot of great movies and TV shows. I've gotten hooked on some TV shows like the Walking Dead.  Even with my digital cable package, I don't get AMC.

Notice I didn't enlarge this photo for the squeamish among you.  You're welcome...

If you are looking for some cheap entertainment, I highly recommend Netflix.  It's good value for the money (and this is not a paid advertisement, I'm just a fan). One of the things I really love about it is that I can watch it on my laptop, in bed, all comfy cosy with a cup of tea. If you haven't checked it out yet, take a minute and sign up for a free month.  I bet you'll be glad you did.  xo Jules

October 24, 2013

Dry Brushing

I bought a rustic little wooden basket this spring with the thought that I would probably paint it white.

So, it sat around all summer while I thought about it.  I loved its' rustic and rusty look.  I wanted to paint it but not lose the look.   Then I decided I would dry brush it.  I haven't used this paint technique for years, not since I was elbow deep into stenciling.  Is stenciling coming back, do you think?

Here's what it looks like now.

I started with my favourite white paint, Benjamin Moore's Decorator's (or Contractor's) White and dry brushed it all over.  Basically I dip the brush in my paint and using the stir stick, I remove as much as possible.

Once the paint was completely dry, I moved onto a second colour "Forget Me Not" from Benjamin Moore.  I dry brushed the basket entirely again.

It was very simple and I loved the result...

I am joining Brenda's Tweak It Tuesday over at her lovely Cozy Little House.  Have a nice week, xo Jules.

October 19, 2013

Frugal Friday #9 - Yard Sales

I'm late posting because I had an indoor "yard" sale today and spent yesterday getting ready for it.  It was a great success.  I was able to sell about half of my items and made almost twice as much as I was expecting to.  It was fun and I definitely intend to do it again.

It's a great way of clearing up some clutter and making a little money on the side.  I always used to just donate things I wanted to get rid of and I will be getting a box ready to donate to Vinnie's (local thrift store) but just a little time and effort this past month has added up to a few hundred dollars in my pocket.  If you can spare some time to prepare, give it a try.

I made sure everything was priced (with a little negotiating room).  I tried to group things together and display them in an appealing manner.  I made sure I had lots of tissue paper and bags on hand.  People complimented me on how organized I was and how nicely things were laid out but I can already see room for improvement.  Take care, Jules.

October 15, 2013

Inadvertent Fall Decor

I said I don't decorate for any holiday but Christmas but I did take a picture of the sideboard in my kitchen and then I played with photo editing so here goes...

I hope you have a good week, Jules...

October 14, 2013

Turkey Day (or should I say weekend?)

It was Thanksgiving in Canada and it is my most favourite holiday of the year.  A great turkey dinner, seeing family and no other stresses (like presents or decorating).

I know what you're thinking...no decorating!?! I must be crazy.  Yep I am.  I may like cruising Pinterest and looking at all your lovely blogs but I hate decorating for the season, except for Christmas.  The extent of my Thanksgiving decorating is a few flowers on the table.  At least I can share those.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends.  I hope you had lots of turkey and lots of time with friends and family.  Turkey is one of my favourite things but after eating it for three days, I'm tired of it for now.  xo Jules

October 11, 2013

Frugal Friday #8 - Grocery Shopping

After my mortgage payment, my number two monthly expenditure is groceries.  Unlike a mortgage payment, the amount used to buy groceries can be trimmed in the budget. In these days of rising food prices that isn't easy but it can be done.  My sister, Cathy is a master at this and I have adopted one of her tips - buying in bulk.

For example, last week butter was on sale for $1.99 lb.  Usually in this area, it costs $4 to $5.  So when it goes on for less than half price,  I stock up.   The maximum buy was 8 so that's what I got.  You can easily freeze butter and these 8 lbs will get us through most of the winter.

So I have 4 rules for grocery shopping.
  1. Shop the Sales
  2. Plan your Menu
  3. Buy in Bulk
  4. Don't Waste
Shop the Sales

Each weekend, I get the food ads and start circling the items that I would buy.  If I have a coupon too, that's a bonus but in Canada, we don't have the extreme couponing like in the USA.  Our grocery stores don't have coupons in their ads so we can't double up. If I have coupons, I always try to buy the item on sale so I get a better deal.  We also have some grocery stores that will match the price from other stores.  It saves the gas and time of travelling around.

There are some products that don't seem to ever go on sale so for them, I will find the store that has the best regular price.  That is often Costco or Walmart.  I hate shopping at Walmart and do it rarely but will when I have to.

Plan your Menu

I plan my weekly menu based on what is on sale and what I have that is surplus in the pantry or the garden.  I also keep my eye on the freezer and use the food stored there in a timely manner.  My Dad used to say we were having X for dinner because it has been in the freezer too long.  As a kid, I thought that was awful but I understand now what he meant!

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada so we will be having turkey.  Of course, that also means that there is a second smaller turkey in the freezer because the price is the lowest right now.  I make up a menu for each day but sometimes that changes.  It's really just a guideline.

Buy in Bulk

If an item that I regularly use comes on sale for a good price, I'll buy enough for 2 to 4 months.  It will usually be on sale again before I run out.  Storage is important and I have given over a closet in the basement as a storage pantry.  I'll show it to you when I finally get it cleaned up! 

I also bought an upright freezer so I would have plenty of storage for the goods I freeze. I buy meat/fish/poultry on sale and freeze it.  Some produce from the summer garden also gets stored.  Bags of milk, butter and cheese (which I shred) are bought on sale and frozen for future use.  This really helps keep the grocery bills down.

I do have a Costco membership.  I held out for a long time because everyone I talked to seemed to spend much more money than they would normally.  I didn't think that it would be viable for a small household.  If you buy something in bulk that you cannot possibly use before it gets stale, then you haven't saved money.  Once I went in a couple of times with my sister, I realized that my savings on fish and seafood (which are very expensive at the grocery store) would more than pay for my membership each year.  I also buy some toiletries there and dry goods but mostly meat/fish/poultry and bread.  I can get great savings on all those things and I'm rarely tempted by anything else.  The fruit and vegetables are mostly in packages that are too large to be economical for us unless I can preserve or freeze some.

Don't Waste!

Don't buy more than you can possibly use.  It sounds so simple that it shouldn't even be a rule.  But there are times I can forget so I always try to keep this in mind.  Don't get caught up in the excitement of a sale.  Two dollars for a pound of butter isn't a bargain if you don't use butter.  Buying in bulk doesn't work (especially at a place like Costco) when you have to buy so much that you can't possibly use it before it goes bad.  My biggest waste is getting seduced by gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables and buying more than I can use in a week.  I really need to rein myself in and that is where the menu comes in.  I'll often just write veg on the menu but my shopping list will have vegetables that are on sale and then maybe just the word veg.  Then I know to buy one vegetable that just looks good at the store and slot it into the menu.  

Another way I prevent waste is to plan based on leftovers.  For example, I'll roast a chicken one night and the next night, I'll make a pasta dish or a salad with chicken in it.  Otherwise, I'll make a chicken pot pie and put it in the freezer for another night.  I always like to have a couple of home prepared meals in the freezer in case I don't feel like cooking one night. That saves money by avoiding last minute takeout meals.

I try to follow these rules and find that I can keep the budget in check this way.  I remember in grade school that we had to do a project where we were given an imaginary family of four and a $20 budget (can you imagine???  Now you're wondering how ancient I am!). We were supposed to use the food ads and make up a menu for the week within the budget.  We also made up a shopping list and included recipes for the menu.  I think that was a very valuable exercise and I hope they still do something like that!  Take care, Jules

October 10, 2013

Some Random Things I've Seen and Done in the Last Week

I bought myself a lovely big bouquet at Costco for my Thanksgiving holiday dinner this Saturday.  It was on sale and I haven't treated myself to flowers in months!  It also brightens up my new living room redecoration (which has barely begun).

This is my brand spanking new couch.  I love it! It's made in Canada which makes it top in my books.  In fact, it's made in Toronto...just a couple of hours drive from here.  Lucy quite likes it herself.  The pillows on the left are ones I just bought.  The French script ones on the right came with the couch.  They are beautiful and I love them but they don't fit the decor so I'm going to sell them.  I want this room to be pretty.  The walls are lilac and I'm mixing in lots of white and some pink and blue and purple and green. Very fresh and pretty.

I am going to try to reupholster a couple of chairs for the living room too.  It was pretty hard to get the old upholstery removed. This older one in the front is going to be painted white.  I'm experimenting with Miss Mustard Seed milk paint right now.  Hopefully everything works out.
This is what you see out my living room window.  I'm really happy with my decision to move the living room to the front of the house and the dining room to the back.  I'm not ready for summer to be over.  It went so quickly this year but you can't deny the signs when you have a huge maple tree in your front yard. Lucy is at her usual post in the front window.  She is the nosiest cat I've ever seen.  Maybe I should have called her Mrs. Kravitz.

What a confusing collage picture that is above!  This is my new old buffet that I bought for the kitchen.  My brother helped me flip it over as it was too tall and needed 3 inches cut of the legs.  Oh I wish I owned power tools but I got it accomplished in the end.  This is little Eilish.  She just loves to help around the house and can be found in the middle of every project (usually covered in paint).

Last night I went to knitting night at Linda's with Cindi and Cathy dropped by for a visit.  Monday afternoon, Cindy, Sandy and I had lunch at Anne's and played Rummi-Cube. Tomorrow I'm going out to lunch with Cindy, Sandy, Anne, Nancy and maybe Marietta.  I'm still off sick and will be going on medical retirement soon but I can keep my days as full or as quiet as I need.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week and today specifically is bipolar disorder awareness day.  This is the illness I suffer from and why I can no longer work.  My wish this year is two-fold...firstly, I want the general public to become more aware of mental illness, the numbers of people it afflicts and touches and help to remove the stigma attached to it through their own actions and responses and secondly, I want younger people in their teens and twenties to get more information through school and other educational programs about mental illness.  If everyone was aware of the signs and knew where to turn for help, it could prevent a lot of pain for patients and their families and friends.

My friends, Linda and Cathy's wonderful nephew, Mitchell committed suicide this summer and it is something that is happening all too frequently in our stressful society.  Mitchell was a kid who had it all.  A lovely fiancee and gorgeous baby boy.  He was very handsome, smart, talented, popular and supported by huge networks of very loving family and friends. If someone like that has trouble navigating the turbulent waters of life, what hope is there for the badly bullied geek, hiding out in the washroom at school.

His family believe the only solution is education.  We need to bring mental illness out of the dark and talk to kids about suicide.  We need to make sure they know the warnings signs so they can watch out for friends, family and themselves.  They need to know where to go for help and there has to be help at the end of that phone or behind that door.  These things cost money and so Mitchell's family have become activists in his name.  It makes his life even more valuable to know he will be helping others to avoid his fate.  To this end, they have set up a new local charity which can be found at Team 55 Tackles Suicide Awareness on Facebook.  Please feel free to lend any support you can...make a donation or just like the Facebook page so they know their message is getting through.

On a final and sweeter note, I've been eating a lot of pie this week and I mean a lot.  I may even have set a record.  Hahahaha....have a nice night, Jules.

October 04, 2013

Frugal Friday #7 - Preserving the Harvest

Fresh fruit and vegetables always taste so good this time of year.  Maybe that's why autumn is my favourite season.  It's all about the food!  Even though you can now buy anything you want all year round, if it isn't in season, it doesn't taste as good and costs so much more.  That's why this frugal tip is preserving the harvest.

Right now when fruit and vegetables are plentiful and cheaper, it's time to buy in bulk and freeze or can.  That way you have food in the winter that is cheaper and tastes much better.  Some things make financial sense and some don't.  You can figure that out by what types of food your family likes, what's expensive in your area during the winter and what types of food can be preserved.  Basically you are able to can or freeze most anything but that doesn't mean you'll necessarily want to.  For example, I find mushrooms go rubbery when they are frozen and there's only so many recipes that call for duxelles.  Also we are able to get mushrooms grown locally in the winter so the price isn't bad.

I always make several types of jam each year and definitely, chili sauce.  That is a family favourite.  Even if you've never done any preserving (canning) before, it's easy and very satisfying.

This year I was given a lot of free cucumbers so pickles were made for us and for gifts.

While frozen peas and corn aren't terribly expensive in the winter, I grew the peas myself so it was definitely worth freezing them and the corn was cheap this summer and tastes so amazingly good in winter (not at all like store-bought frozen).  I freeze berries and tomatoes (grown in the garden) and peaches and rhubarb. Basically at the start of the winter, my freezer is jam-packed (just not with jam).  It makes me feel rich when I know I could get by for a couple of months without buying anything but eggs and milk.  Definitely worth the little bit of work for the savings and the taste.  xo Jules

October 03, 2013

China Cabinet

The dining room isn't ready for its' big reveal yet so I thought I'd take a picture of the china cabinet tonight to share with you.

As you can see, my new camera and I have not become besties yet.

I had quite the day.  I started out sitting in the sun room with my morning coffee.  It was sunny and bright and the sky was so blue, but the cats were very jumpy outside and the crows were making a raucous noise.
I went out to chase them and saw something odd at the end of the yard.  (This is why I'm showing you lovely pictures of the china cabinet!)  There in the corner was a very large and very headless rabbit.  (No, not Hallowe'en yet).  As I started to clean it up, I realized the head was under the body.  It was a bit of a CSI moment.  Luckily I don't have a week stomach.  The consensus on Facebook is that it was a fox.  Finnie has planted himself at the window since dinner.  I think he's on a stakeout.

New topic:  Mom and I have similar taste.  The china on the left is Mom's Forget Me Not pattern and on the right, my Memory Lane.  After the morning's gruesomeness, the rest of the day went swimmingly.  I sold the table and chairs from the sun room on my virtual "yard sale".  I'm going to hold a real one on October 19th.  My first yard sale in over 13 years.

Then I had lunch with the girls downtown - wings, fries and a draught beer.  It was lovely but I really need to start eating properly.  A little shopping and a new Country Living book -"Handmade Style".

Don't you love my wineglasses?  I got this set of 8 beautiful engraved glasses from the Salvation Army for $5!!!  I love bargains.  

Well tonight I need to get some paperwork together and sent off to work.  I'm tired of paperwork and e-mails and phone calls.  At least, the increase in my meds seems to be working.  Today was easier.

 I'm planning a little road trip tomorrow with my friends, Linda and Cindi to Port Hope and Cobourg.  I'll take my camera and share some pics with you later.  xo Jules

October 02, 2013


My house is in chaos, as is my mind right now.  I'm struggling with a long stretch of depression as I do every autumn.  It seems odd to me as this is my favourite season of all.  Crisp sunny days and cool still nights basking in the glow of red and orange and amber leaves.

I'm working on severing ties with my employer which will still some of the chaos.  I'm trying to find the energy to complete those decorating projects around the house....cutting the legs of the new (old) buffet in the kitchen before I paint it....hanging drapes in the dining room...painting bookcases in the dining room...buying an electric fireplace for the dining room?...installing the chandelier...making a roman blind.........painting tables in the living room....painting and reupholstering three chairs and a footstool.  Wow, okay I don't need to list any more on the "to do" list or I may never surface.

In another week is Thanksgiving here in Canada...my favourite holiday of the year!  I certainly have something to look forward to and work towards. I hope you are all doing well. xo Jules