Sunday, July 29, 2018

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Oldie but a goodie

You have a bounty of zucchini/courgette and don't know what to do with them; it's red hot outside and you don't want to stand outside and BBQ and you really don't want to heat up the house, but the family need is what you do you make a Sausage Risotto in the microwave.

I bought this book at Mark's and Spencer before we came to Canada over 29 years ago and it has served me well:

My carrot soup recipe comes from this book; I posted about it here.  Also the Sausage Risotto recipe comes from the same book, you can get the recipe here.

If you don't eat meat, just add more veggies, and it freezes great.

It also reheats perfectly as well.  It feeds four no problem; so that's two nights meals sorted!!
While I was getting the links for the recipes I saw this recipe for Crockpot Falafel, I am going to have a go at that this week as I have wraps on the menu and this sounds good.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Follow up from yesterday........

I had a comment from Margie that she does not use Facebook, and she is not the only one out there.  So if you would like to donate items to various groups/causes Up North please let me know in a comment what you are willing to donate/where you are willing to donate and give me your email address (I will not publish it) and I will email you addresses and more specifics for you to chose from.

Some things that are requested are as follows:

DVD's for 15 to 18 year olds for movie nights hosted by the RCMP.  Along with popcorn and various snacks.

Craft items, things like needles, yarn, embroidery threads, paints, beads.

Food for various food banks and soup kitchen, for example yeast, flour dried beans, peas.

Clothing items, especially socks, hats & mitts.  For all age groups and both males and females. Underwear for all age groups and pull on bras for the elderly women.

Winter clothing, jackets, boots, snow pants; remember it gets pretty cold where they live.

Books, small dollar store toys, little Hot Wheels cars.

Toiletries of all kinds.

Vegetable seeds for various organizations.

Certain places put together "Kindness Kits" which can include the following depending on what's donated:

Here are some content suggestions:
• Hand warmers
• Batteries
• Flashlights
• Toothbrush/Toothpaste
• Moist wipes
• Neck Warmers
• Hat Gloves
• Scarves
• Indoor or Outdoor socks (Often socks are layered on extremely cold days)
• Soap
• Swiss army knife or a multi tool
• Bandaids/Small first aid kit
• Deck of cards
• Sample size shampoo or deodorant
• Camping utensils spoons, forks, sporks
• Simple household gadgets like a can opener
• Kleenex packs
• Nail clippers
• Canvas compact shopping bag
• Fishing hooks/lures/line
• Sunglasses
• Small reusable traveling water bottle
• Wash cloth
• Chapstick
• Razors
• Tampons or Feminine Hygiene Products
• Single Use Tide powder to have the opportunity to wash clothes
• Brush/comb
• Envelope/Pen/Stamp—So someone can write home to family
• Hot Chocolate/ Individual Coffee packs
• Snacks—instant oatmeal, dried fruit (Anything with nuts should be clearly marked)

I sewed a number (22) of bookmarks and got them off in the mail on Thursday.  I tried to do a mix of fabrics to suit both boys and girls.

All were made from scraps of fabric I had on hand; same with the ribbon trims.  If you have any questions ask away.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Would you like to help?

Back here I posted about the Northern Birthday Box Project, where you are matched with a child in Nunavut and you send up a box of items for them to have a birthday party.  I got a message that the box was received took under two weeks, so pleased about that.

Through that site I discovered another Facebook group called Northern Canada Mini Projects.  This group deals with different projects in different areas of the far north.  Again you do have to join the group to see all the posts and get further details on what they are looking for.

Some of the projects are:

Naujaat Summer Literacy Help
Inuvik Feast and Foodbank Sale
Northern Manitoba Little Ladies Club
Good Hope NWT Summer of Fun and Fitness Support needed
Hall Beach and Clyde River Food Bank Fundraiser Sale
Attawapiskat Summer Art and Baking Supplies Request
Port Good Hope NWT Warm Clothing and Elderwear Drive
Active Soup Kitchen Support (Sandy Lake, Baker Lake and Attawapiskat)
Active Food Bank Support
Rankin Inlet Women’s Shelter
Rankin Inlet--Adult Group Home
Sandy Lake Clothing Drive
Seeds of Love/ Greenhouse Support
Arctic Bay Women’s and Art Classes Help needed
I decided to donate to the Naujaat Summer Literacy Programme.  I ordered a number of books from Book Outlet Canada as they are having a 25% off sale on children's books and they offer free shipping in Canada with orders over $45.  If I had, had to pay for the shipping it would have been another $ not going to happen😏

All are worthy causes and there are many more.  Amazon does deliver to certain places up North free of charge with a minimum order.  Walmart charges $10 and a number of the clothing stores deliver free of charge again with a minimum order.

So especially people who read this and are in Canada please think about helping out in some way; even if it is just posting a link to this blog post of mine on your blog page or on your Facebook page.  Every little helps.

Another little thing I am doing is making bookmarks for the kids using scraps of fabric I have on hand.......and believe me I have a lot!!

What you need is:

2 pieces of fabric (or scraps of fabric) 2 1/4 inches by 6 inches
1 piece of card stock paper, or light cardboard 1 1/2 inches by 5 1/4 inches
Piece of trim/ribbon/lace 5 inches

This is what it looks like when done:

That was just a sample to see what the pattern turned out like.  If you need more detail on how to make these let me know and I'll explain it step by step.

Now to make a pile more and pop them into an envelope and ship up north.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

156 episodes later........

and we have now finished all 7 seasons of The Good Wife.  Overall we really enjoyed it; saying that I enjoyed it a bit more than dh.

I wasn't overly aware of the actress Julianna Margulies prior to watching this, she played her character well though.

One of my favourite actors on the series though was Eli Gold, played by Alan Cumming, again didn't know anything about him prior to watching this series.

Another favourite was David Lee played by Zach Grenier, some of the things he came out with made you want to smack him around the head.

One of the funnier things featured in many of the series are the goat videos.  It's a very tiny appearance in some episodes, but gosh those goats stick with you....LOL  I mean who doesn't want to see a goat singing to Whitney Houston's song; "I Will Always Love You?"

So now we need to find another series to binge on in Netflix.  Any suggestions?  Thinking maybe "Orange Is the New Black?" or "Mad Men?" or possibly "Intelligence?"  I am favouring the last one as it is a shorter series.

What are you watching on tv?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Still Walking.........

I have too as I have put on around 6 lbs............bad, bad me.  So I need to take control before it goes completely out of control.

Mind you there is nothing like a walk when it's as humid as heck out there.  You come home soaked through sweating like a pig.  Though ladies don't sweat do they; they perspire!!

Last week I only walked 16 miles which is nothing, so far this week I have walked over 7 miles, so I need to keep up that up and get back on the ball watching what I eat.

One of my biggest downfalls, is granola bars and eating on a night.  I also don't drink enough water.  So I am going to try and see if I can lose 2 lbs by the end of the month.  I think it's doable, as long as I keep walking!!!

Are you all still walking despite it being hot and humid? 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Open Houses..........

An "Open House," is when a real estate agent opens up a house for a set period of time, usually on the weekend for the general public to walk through without an appointment or without being accompanied by a real estate agent.

Unless you are selling your own home, the homeowner does not show any potential buyers around the house.  In fact our lawyer told us back in the day to have no contact what so ever with any potential buyers as it could come back and bite you in the butt!  I took his advise to heart and it has always worked out well.

So this past weekend we had an open house on both Saturday and Sunday from 2 pm until 4 pm.  It was our choice as to whether we would like to do that and we said yes.  So of course the house was spic and span again and we left and let to real estate get on with it.

It was a nice day on Saturday, perfect open house weather, although our real estate agent said Saturday's have been generally quiet.  We ended up having four couples over, and one very nosy "neighbour" who told us (as we came back for 4 pm and were talking with the agent) she just wanted to see what we had done to the house, so she could get idea's on how to pretty her house up😲

On Sunday it poured down and one of the couples came back for a 40 minute look and another woman came.  So all in all not too bad, as the real estate market sucks here at the moment.

On Sunday we decided to visit three open houses at houses that looked great in the ads.  We all know what you see online and what you see in real life will not be the same, so despite these houses looking great online, in real life we were disappointed.

Number 1, had an odd layout and the third bedroom had no closet as it was too small, it was a baby's room and I guess could have worked as a sewing room for me.  Needed a new kitchen, again odd layout and the master bedroom was half carpet and half hardwood flooring?  It probably needed around $50,000 to make it how I would like it.

Number 2, well the best bit about the place was the back yard; BUT at some point in the future houses would be built behind you, so your privacy would be lost.  The rest of the house needed work and although mainly cosmetic, I wasn't keen on the neighbourhood and on the whole place in general.

Number 3, was a century home just like the farmhouse.  Even had the same musty smell like our farmhouse, until we had a dehumidifier running full time to get rid of the smell.  Had issues and as I told the agent it was over priced by $100,000..........never ever ask for my opinion, as yes you will get an honest opinion, ask anyone who knows me😊

So all in all our house looking quest was a bust!!  Here's hoping we get some people wanting to take another look at our house this week!!  I hate all this waiting around.....

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Couple more finishes......

I posted back here about getting some new material in the mail.  So the other day I made dd a tote bag using the cactus canvas and the webbing.  The grey material was from my stash.

I used it to go knitting with and it's a perfect size at around 18" x 18"  The sign is from the real estate agent, reminding people to remove their shoes before walking around the house.  We take off our shoes when going into someone elses home, so we don't get their floors or carpets dirty with muddy or dirty shoes.  It's a common practice and it is frowned upon if you don't take your shoes off.

I knit these hats the other week.  I took down the two on the left hand side of the photo.  The orange one was for Nora, but Paige claimed it😉 So I thought I had better make another one for Nora.

 I ended up knitting this one in bubblegum pink and blue, I doubled up the yarn to make it super thick and warm; the pattern only calls for worsted yarn.  Nora is liking blue at the moment for some reason.  I love this knitting pattern as it is so easy.  Using US 8 or 5mm circular needles, cast on 77 stitches, join knitting in the round and then knit two, purl two until the hat measures 9 inches.

To decrease:

Row 1: knit two, then knit two together until end of row
Row 2: knit
Row 3: knit one, knit two together until end of row
Row 4: knit
Row 5: knit two together until end of row

Cut yarn and thread tail through remaining stitches and sew in.
I love this Patons Canadian yarn for knitting the kids' hats, as it's a great priced yarn and if the kids lose their hat it's not the end of the world.  It washes well and has some give and comes in many colours.  I get mine from Angie at The Knitting Basket.  This is The Knitting Basket's Facebook page   If you have chance pop in and say hello and said I sent you!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Produce Box

Every other week I get a fresh produce box delivered.  I contains all local (Ontario) grown produce.  I get the small box which costs $30 and feeds 2 - 3 people.

Here is what I got this week:

 I specifically asked for NO red delicious apples, garlic or lettuce.
Cauliflower with cheese sauce will be on the menu this week, and I can see a curried carrot lentil and kale soup/stew on the menu as well!
 Will boil the beets and eat them cold with salad.  Yummy.  The eggplant and zucchini will be made into a eggplant and zucchini Parmesan type dish with tomato sauce and melted cheese.

They also offered goat cheese this 200 gram tub was $10.
They offer other add on's, like bread, pies, honey, eggs and now a fresh fruit box.  I am very pleased with the quality and the quantity.  Now to get cooking!!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Real Estate Agents and selling homes

I have a love hate relationship with real estate agents, because we are good clients to have.  We listen to what they tell you and make adjustments accordingly.  Our houses are generally pretty easy sells as they show well.  We tend to be flexible and accommodate all viewings within reason.

I am not faithful to a particular agent or company.  We have used a different agent for every house.  The way I chose them is:

  1. Dh and I have to like them; though we did have one agent who got on all our nerves, even Maxine our black lab.  I think it was her voice it grated on you, she sold the house though.
  2. Choose an agent that sells a lot in your area and is knowledgeable of your area.
  3. Is professional and offers good service and has a good marketing plan.  Nowadays internet marketing is the way to go and is so, so important.
  4. Offers a good plan of how they work and what they will do for you.
  5. You have to like them; if your real estate agent is not friendly and willing to listen to your needs, walk away from them; they're not a good match for you.

Here in Canada and the United States, the real estate agents get a percentage of the selling price as their fee.  The rates vary from agent to agent but if for example you sold your home for $500,000 and the agent charged a 5% fee then the buyers agent and the sellers agent would split the $25,000 fee, oh and for us in Ontario there is a 13% HST tax on top of the $25,000 as well, so all in all you end up handing over $28,250.  So although I am willing to hold up to my end of the deal and keep the house spotless I do expect our real estate agent to do her part as well.  Which means lots of publicity, following up with me (super important) and open houses.

You can negotiate with agents on their fees, but somewhere between 4 to 4 1/2 % fee is the usual.  You can get cheaper but I find you get what you pay for.

Here is Ontario we have a land transfer tax we have to pay when buying a home.  Again using the $500,000 as a price you are paying for a home you would have to pay $6,475.00.

Then of course there are the lawyers fees.  For selling your home, it's around $1,200.00, for buying your home it's probably a little more, say around $1,300.00.

Then of course there is hiring a moving company.  The cost varies and also depends on how much stuff you have to move and how far you are moving.  But for this exercise lets say it's going to cost $3,000.00.

Now lets add all this up:

Real Estate Fee:    $28,250.00
Land Transfer Tax: $6,475.00
Lawyers Fees:        $2,500.00
Movers:                  $3,000.00

TOTAL:          $40,225.00

Moving is an expensive and time consuming business.  There are alternatives, DON'T MOVE😏, or sell the house yourself, or use cheaper agents, but for us this is the way we go.

Not sure if this is the same (price wise) all over the world? Would love to hear your thoughts, experiences.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How much house cleaning can one person do?

With the house up for sale it seems to be an endless chore making sure the house is spic and span just in case someone wants to see it.  I have sold numerous houses over the years so know what matters and what doesn't but I feel everyone has their own way of doing things.  I found that dealing with this agent has been totally different from dealing with our last agent. Our current agent is more relaxed and we have a few more things on display that I thought would be acceptable.

I know that having a clean house makes it an easier sell than having one that is cluttered and dirty.  I personally can see through clutter and dirt; hence we bought the farmhouse.  Some people though can't see through things like that.  Mind you I have walked through houses for sale and they were so badly cluttered that even I struggled.

Before we looked at the farmhouse we looked at a converted school house.  There were presents laying around everywhere, plus boxes of thing, and hanging up was a rented tuxedo in a bag and underneath it a fancy dress in a bag. Every where you turned there was "stuff" Turns out the couple had just got married and left all their presents laying around.  It turns out the couple had just got married and went off on their honeymoon without tidying anything up.  We didn't buy that house........not because of that but other issues with it, but the mess didn't help.

I also know that the house photos people see online make a difference.  However what you see in the photos and what you see in real life can be a totally different thing.  We had an agents open house yesterday and the feed back was good I am pleased to say.  Enough that what you see in the photos is as good as what you see in real life.  I am "house proud," so I was super happy with their remarks.

When looking at homes can you see their potential through dirt and clutter or does it have to be super clean and staged?

Tomorrow I am going to talk about Real Estate Agents.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Christmas shopping..........

yes I know I mentioned the "C" word, but you know me I like to be organized. I am nearly done with all the grandkids.  When there is six to buy for it can get expensive, so shopping for deals is a must.

I picked up their Christmas pj's from Hatley's sale the other month.  Love their quality, well worth paying that little bit extra for, and when I can get all six a pair of pj's for under $90 for all of them, I can say I did well.

I also made out like a bandit at Chapters Indigo as well.  They have a summer reading programme on at the moment.  When you buy a child's book, you get a stamp.  Five stamps = $10 off a child's book or toy.  Combine that with the buy 4 items for $10 in the children's department and there was a bonus points thing going on one weekend, I swear I cleaned up there!!!  On the 4 items for $10 table, there were also games, puzzles, boxed crafts as well as sticker books, reading books and packages of books.  I see they also have free shipping on books all summer, so even if you don't live near a Chapter's store, you can take advantage of the deals they have.

I still put $20 a week away in my Christmas jar.  Been doing that for years and will continue to do that.

How is you Christmas shopping going?  Do you buy months in advance or are you a last minute shopper?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Flat Rate Box..........

 As I have mentioned in a couple of posts, I purchased a Flat Rate Box to send my little girl's birthday box up to Nunavut, as it is a much more cost effective way to mail things.

The boxes come in three sizes, small, medium and last.  They cost $15, $20 and $25 respectively, plus the ever present 13% HST tax on top of that.  You can have up to 5 kg in these boxes and they can be sent all over Canada. 

I bought the big box and when I took it too the Post Office to ship we decided just for the "fun" of it to see what it would have cost if I had used a regular box:

As you can see there is quite a difference in price.  $61.26 versus the $28 something I paid including the taxes.

Why I am talking about this; is that prior to me shipping this birthday box I had never heard of this service?  Also when I went to see where I could get one, imagine my dismay to find there are very few places where you can pick up these boxes.  You would have thought that your local post office would keep them?  My local post office doesn't and didn't even know where I could get them.

I looked up online here and you can see how few the locations are in Canada where you can buy them.  Why?  Turns out it's a "pilot programme" that's been in the "pilot" stage for nearly two years?

I posted a message on Facebook asking them to make these readily available all over Canada, no response from Canada Post, no surprise there.  

I know people from various countries read this blog, do you have something similar in your country?  For the Canadian readers, have you heard of this?  Is there another way I could ship things up North?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Northern Birthday Box Project

The Northern Birthday Box Project, is a Facebook group, and here is what they do:

"This page was created to assist in bringing Birthday fun to those in need within remote Northern Canada.
If you would like to send a birthday box to a child between the ages of 1 and 16 please message us today to be matched.
Items should include at a minimum, a cake mix, icing and decorations.
Each child is matched with a sponsor who gets the age, gender and name of the child who is having the birthday, and an address to ship the box to directly. All costs are covered by the sponsor, including shipping. "

I read about them in the Toronto Star the other month and decided I would like to sponsor a child and send them a birthday box. So I signed up, you have to join the group as it's a closed group and they match you up with a child.

I got word about my child, a little girl who will be 2 at the beginning of September and her theme was Boss Baby and her favourite colours were lime green and purple😕 So after I looked up what Boss Baby was (had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER!!) and had a day or two to think about it, I got too work.

Here is what I put into my box for her:
At the minimum you have to add cake mix and frosting.  My child wanted vanilla frosting.  I added a couple packages of jello/jelly lime and grape flavours to go with the colour theme.  I bought purple and green sprinkles and green and purple icing writers things so they could write her name on the cake.  The whole Boss Baby theme was impossible to find, but we did manage to find some colouring sheets that we got customized with her name and age on them.  We got them from Etsy, and they sent us the PDF file and it was less than $6 CDN, so I double sided printed a number of them out.  Also some flavouring for water.

 I picked up a onsie, a pair of leggings and pj's up for $5 total from Wal-Mart on sale.  I knitted the hat; the Beanie Baby had the purple and lime green colours on it.  The Princess crown was purple and sparkly.  Purple balloons, and I got the Happy Birthday candles, and they are reusable.  They can write on the banner and that's purple.  That candy was from the dollar store and I got the markers, along with a 64 pack of crayons (not pictured) for free with a promotion at Chapters Indigo.
 Lime green table cloth, napkins, paper plates and cups, along with some straws and I found purple and lime green packages of pocket Kleenex. A couple packages of purples streamers, just because!!
 This is a closer look at the hat. 
This package went to Nunavut, where it is super expensive to buy these things, so quite often children don't get a birthday party. I was limited in weight and how much I could send as I bought a flat rate box from Canada Post. I am hoping it will be well received and I will do another one probably in late Fall. If you are in Canada and are willing, this is a super thing to do and it all goes to the children.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

some sewing I have done in the past couple of months......

Made another handbag, this time in orange and blue, with the orange and blue cork on the bottom and handles.

 Added a matching key chain as well.  I posted it on a couple of local sites, but no takers as of yet.
 Made Nora and Paige matching skirts.
Again matching but two different colours. 
 Dd wanted a new table runner, so made this one for her.
 It is nicer in person.  She wants a tote bag in the same material.
 This is the back and the binding for it.  Feels very 60's too me.
Another cork and fabric cosmetic bag.
 Peek inside of it:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More goodies in the mail......

I love it when parcels arrive in the mail, don't you.  So on Friday I was all excited to see this box arrive:
It was one of those flat rate boxes.  I will talk about these type of boxes in another post, as I have quite a bit to say about them.

Anyhoo, inside of my box were these goodies from Dailylike Canada.
 The cactus fabric is 60 " wide cotton canvas, which will be perfect for bags.  I just love it.  Underneath the thistle fabric is also 60" wide but is a cotton oxford which is a little lighter in weight but still great for bags.  I LOVE, LOVE that one also.
 She was having a good sale on the weekend and had some remnants for little to no money, so I picked up these three all for under $5 and all quilting cotton.
 I picked up a couple of yards of cotton webbing strap to try.  This is actually grey in colour.  Never used it before but thought it might be a nice change as handles on tote bags?
 This is laminated fabric in a pale pink with houses on it.  Perfect for lining cosmetic pouches.
 I love how she also adds a couple of small samples of fabrics, so you can see what else she has.
 Finally the natural cotton canvas was a bolt end and the green flower is also a bolt end in cotton oxford.
Lots there to keep me out of mischief.  Love the service I get from Dailylike Canada, and love all her products.

Do you have a favourite amongst those fabrics?

Sunday Song - A classic

This song never gets old  I get goosebumps every time I hear it.  We have seen Sarah Brightman in concert twice.  Now I love her voice, but ...