Sunday, March 01, 2015

So Ready For Spring

Like everyone else here in Ontario, I'm so over winter, I can't even begin to tell you how frustrated we are.
It's been a season of inconsistent firewood, a smoky house, beyond bone-numbing cold temperatures, a chimney fire, and now a broken chimney tile.
Last year, we had more snow than this winter but this is absolutely the winter of cold.
An acquaintance shared a theory with me yesterday at breakfast that Northern Ontario is on it's way to becoming a miniature Arctic, and apparently there is historical evidence to back it up.
While you ponder that, I leave you with this shot after the road-grader went by our house yesterday.
Yeah, I'd say he pushed the snowbanks back fairly successfully.
Right up to our house.

In fact, if they go by again, that snowbank will end up on my side of the bed.

Spring is coming, right?

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

On The Needles

I've not forgotten about  my promised series of posts on how to take back control of our lives, lately,I've been on a bit of a knitting kick.
What's on the needles? "Dark Cable Socks". If you're a knitter, or just curious, the pattern and picture of the finished socks can be found here.
In all honesty, I was getting a handle on my WIPs (works in progress) when a sock order landed and I had to shift gears a little.
So now I'm working on 3 different knitting projects while planning my next post in the aforementioned series. That one will deal with sunday dinner left-overs.
It's not as boring as it sounds.
There's a carcass involved.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How To Get Ahead In The Kitchen

Back a couple of weeks ago, I stressed the importance of taking back control over our lives, and I said we could have a realistic discussion of how to do that.

I talked about eating at home more, but what if you have a busy life or you don’t want to spend hours over the stove every week?
One way to get the best of both home-cooked meals and frozen dinners is to do both!
Instead of settling for frozen cardboard meals, plan ahead, make one or two extra meals while you have the groceries and the time, and freeze them!
Label carefully and think ahead. Either write on the package what’s inside and how to cook it, or include written instructions on paper or cardstock, or whatever you have. If you have teenagers, lazy people or people that just don’t know how to cook in your home, think of them and make it as easy as possible. Or perhaps you live alone, perhaps you foresee a lifestyle change coming, just a new baby that’s due soon.
Either way, take into account what you, or the rest of your family, likes to eat. Make that.
Don’t make something no one will want to eat, because then it’ll just sit in the freezer getting old, becoming unrecognizable and in time, someone is just going to throw it out.
Nothing gained that way.

So step one is to honestly go over what you and/or your family like to eat. If it’s spaghetti, then brainstorm ways that the sauce can be made ahead and frozen or canned, or whatever preservation method works for you. If the family has a meatball lover, like we do, make some ahead of time and freeze them.
We can get up in the morning with the intent to make a dozen meatballs, but if we have no energy by 3 pm, then we’re having a meatball-less dinner.
Plan ahead. Make the meatballs some evening when there’s nothing on television and you’re bored. (Told you this would be a realistic discussion)
You found ground beef on sale. You can afford to get twice the amount you normally do, so make those meatballs because the price of beef may go up again by the time you have the energy!

Spaghetti and meatballs with sauce is just one example. Feel free to substitute whatever dish strikes your fancy.

The point is to think ahead, plan and execute the plan.

Be realistic. Plan for laziness or power failures or heaven-forbid the illness of your family’s cook.

Survey your situation.
Execute that plan, one step at a time.
Rinse. Repeat.

Oh look, you’re one step ahead of where you were last friday.
Good for you!

Next time, de-mystifying the art of the homemade bread loaf.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Retail Is Crumbling And Our Future

The world around us can be an inspiring place or a frightening one.
These past few months it has become an increasingly scary place to live.
Mass kidnappings, a wavering economy on a good day, mass lay-offs, terrorist shootings, rising grocery costs, beheadings and the ever present unemployment numbers.
As if all that weren't enough, the economies of other countries impact our own in a world economy. Just last night I read about how the faltering U.S economy can spell trouble for many, even if they aren't in the retail field. The post is worth a read.
Then get yourself something to drink and read it again.

Ponder your future and use this new year to change your future.
I am.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

How To Stop Being A Sheeple. Seriously!

I've gone on record before and said that we all need to take a little more control of our lives, prepare for whatever life throws at us and not be victims.
My next few blog posts will be addressing exactly how we can do this.
Now, for anyone new to my blog, I don't want you to get the wrong idea, I'm not going around hollering that the world will end.
But I do believe things have changed a whole lot from when we were kids, and it's not going back to the 'good old days', folks.

We hear a lot of people talk about how things were simpler when they were younger. I think nostalgia is one part hazy memory and one part wishful thinking.
Things weren't simpler, they were different.
Some of us were kids. We didn't have to worry about money for payments, rent, groceries, how we would stay warm and so on. Someone one did that for us.
We didn't have to worry about how we were going to get from point A to point B.
Someone else did that for us.
We didn't have to worry about what we were going to eat.
Someone else figured it out, got the food and made it into meals for us.
Welcome to adult-hood.

Now all that is up to us. And some days, it's bloody terrifying figuring all that out for ourselves, and in some cases, being responsible for others.
Our dollars don't stretch as far as we need them to, no matter where we live.
Some of us have examined going out to eat less and learned how to cook more often at home. I've been on both sides of this line.
I remember when I was a kid, we ate out a lot. But I also remember the pies my mother made. Sometimes three at a time. I remember she made bread by hand, back before bread machines.
Now that I am an adult with a family of my own, I'm fortunate enough to say that we eat at home more often than out. Because my partner enjoys cooking, because I enjoy cooking (most of the time) and because we live out in the bush where restaurants are scarce.
But even when we lived in a city, we ate at home more often than not.

There are folks who will tell you this is more expensive than eating out. There is no way that a home-made roast chicken dinner with vegetables and rolls is more expensive than Swiss Chalet! Eating at home with your family, even one night a week for busy families, has more benefits than many spare a thought for.
Increased connections with your family. Increased opportunities to talk. Better food that is prepared, we hope, with a good heart, instead of with thoughts of money. A better understanding of food itself. If you buy ground beef/chicken/turkey/pork and make patties for burgers, you will know what's in your burger won't you? The same cannot be said for burgers from a fast food place that really isn't all that fast. If we were to make up a pro/con list for eating at home more often, you might be surprised when the pro list ends up being longer than the con list.
Then again, perhaps you already know this.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be talking about taking back control over our lives. It can start with as simple a step as cooking more often at home. We'll talk about how you can change your grocery shopping habits to start developing even a small safety net in case you want to eat more often at home but find yourself out of time, the grocery store short of something, or heaven forbid, if you suddenly find you have no choice. (I once had to pawn some jewelry to make sure my kids had food, so I understand being desperate.)
We'll talk about emergencies and what might happen where you are, and who to come through them as comfortably as possible.
We'll talk about how we can be ready if life throws curve balls at us, and how to   prepare our families for hard times ahead.
We'll talk...realistically and with common sense.

I hope you'll join me in this discussion.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

With Change Comes Growth

"Holding on to something that is good for you now, may be the very reason you don't have something better."
C. JoyBell C.

It's Christmas Eve here, and more than likely my last post of the year. Although that's not set in stone either.
I know that sounds a bit vague, but, honestly it's not like I post regularly.
I'd like to change that in the new year.

Anyway, it's been a hell of a year.
We nearly lost my mother to a heart attack, and even after she spent a month in a hospital over 3 hours away, it was a long road back for her.  Although we had moved from Southern Ontario to live with and take care of my parents, sometimes the Universe has other ideas. (I type this as I sit in our own home, albeit rented, on the other side of our little community.) But it has been positive. My mother is now recovered from her heart issues, is now stronger I think, has lost more weight than even she was expecting and looks firmly engaged in life once more.
Now if I could only engage her in the community again, I'd be happy.

Our eldest son has decided he might like being a grown-up, pursued college and a local part-time job at the ski resort. Our youngest son has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and that's a good thing too, but a whole 'nother post entirely.

Our old-man dog has recovered his health as well. Last year at this time, neither my partner or I thought he would be with us this Christmas. Since moving, he has gained weight, walks more, limps less, actually tries to play with us and his step-brother and is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Not bad for a 13 year old Chihuahua!

My writing has moved along as well with the writing and publication of two more short stories. I wish I could say it was more, but on the bright side, two is better than none.

There's been a lot of positives over the past year. A lot of growth, self-reflection  and forward movement by those around me.
I like to think I've grown too. I'm certainly older, and feeling it.

Another Christmas is upon us, and I hope the past year has been a good one for you. Or at the very least, not too painful.
I hope you've grown in some way.

Look upon the next year as one filled with potential. Make a list of what you might like to do, and start considering which look the most likely.
It's time for me to do the same. In my writing, knitting and personally.

Merry Christmas, my friends.
Until next time...

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Caught By The Christmas Build-Up

Christmas is just around the corner, and of course I'm not ready.
Every year, I swear I'll be more organized next year...and the next Christmas season still sneaks up on me and catches me flatfooted.
We always hear that Christmas isn't about gifts, it's supposed to be about friends, family...those we hold dear to us.
After nearly losing Mom earlier this year...I can finally say I understand it better than ever.

This week, I'll be digging out the decorations, the miniature village, the wreath and all the stuff for the tree. And the snowshoes.
This year, we get to trek through the snowy woods for a real tree.
I better borrow the neighbour's saw.

Speaking of Christmas trees, here's a cool little article about a family owned and operated tree farm.
Gotta love when a family turns convention on it's head.