About Me

October 31, 2013

Happy Haunting!

Welcome to our house, on Halloween night! It's rainy here today, a bit windy but definitely no snow. A nice change and hopefully it will mean we'll see more kids this year than we have the last few years. I'm so excited our little guy, B, can go out in just his costume without a heavy snowsuit and big boots. His first real Halloween where he understands the idea. He's so excited about trick or treating later!

I "borrowed" these shots from my blog post in 2011. But this is is exactly how our house will look tonight, except that our Scarecrow behind the chair is bigger, with a blue shirt and the pumpkin might have a different carving. We still need to do that but we only work this morning, then we're off for the rest of the day. Lots of time to set up the last few items and then carve our big pumpkin!


At dusk, we light our candles and 
let the glow lead the kids to our front door. 

Inside the house, kids have lots to look at!

Our little collection.

Sadly, Celti will not be at our door this year, wagging her tail at the little creatures who come to our house. We miss her every day but this is the one day that we'll truly be aching in our hearts, as we open our door to give out candy but our little Celti will not be hopping out on to the step to say "hello"!

Wishing you and your family a safe and 
Happy Halloween!!

October 29, 2013

Too much death today!

I'm a sad pup today. Too much death around me. 

We had a client die last night and just got notice this morning from her family, so our candle is burning in the front hall, the soft music is playing and the conversations are heartfelt. 

My colleague is out for the day to attend doctor's appointments with her mom and just sent word that they did not get good news on her tests, which probably means that the anticipated cancer is the new path on her journey. 

England is dealing with huge storms and the deaths of many as the coast is beaten down with wind, rain and high waves. 

The kids and staff returned to school today after the deadly shooting in Nevada last week. Can't imagine how these young victims are coping with the loss of a teacher and their classmates.

Here at home, the dreaded huge transmission lines were fired up today, causing sonic booms throughout our county. And a reminder that there are studies that these monster lines have been linked to cancer, autism, learning disabilities and other illnesses. 

I just feel sad and hopeless all around. I've been kind to myself today, doing the basics and nothing else. Tonight, no busy plans and that's probably all I need. Time alone for a bit, then a good dinner, family togetherness and then a full nights sleep. 

Hoping tomorrow is brighter ....

October 27, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat!

It has been quite the busy fall already. So busy, I haven't had a chance to join in on Carla's Sunday Night Chit Chat. Here's my contribution for tonight: 

Reading: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay. I ordered this last spring with a whole stack of books and am just getting to it now. So far, it's intriguing!

Listening to: My husband's sleepy breath as he falls asleep after a busy, crazy and productive weekend.

Watching: The Mentalist. Not paying attention like I usually do. Catching up on blogs at the same time has made me a bit distracted to follow the story line. Or maybe it's just not the most interesting episode!

Cooking/Baking: I made homemade Chicken Tortellini Soup tonight with Parmesan Bread. Yum!

Accomplished this week: All the fall yard work, just in time for the snow that fell overnight. Organized garage. Completed paperwork for our centre. Continued to recover from pneumonia and rested often, without guilt. Ordered 6 Christmas gifts today. Hung up the outside Christmas lights and set our our deer family, the lamp post and the big Angel. Now we're ready!

This week: Hope to finish up the paperwork that is sitting in piles in both my art studio and the library. Driving me crazy, so I'm determined to get it sorted out and tucked away. Or shredded!

Thankful for today: A husband who loves to shop, good food, great sales and warm hot chocolate on a cold frosty day. 

Bonus Question: Am I looking forward to Halloween? No, as our community is not providing alternative activities this year and the predicted weather is warm and snow less, so we may have more kids at our door than we are used to. Need to buy candy on a tight budget. Hate having leftovers, as we might be tempted to eat it all yet hate having not enough. 


Have a great week. And hop over to Carla's to see what everyone else has shared. 

Fall Dinner.

To thank our dear friend, T, for all his hard work with us today, we made him a scrumptious fall dinner: chicken in onion gravy, organic broccoli, carrots and cauliflower, mushroom rice and fresh, baked buns, with fresh, herb infused butter. 

T loved it! We loved having him over!

Cozy and warm inside after a cool day outside.

T goofing off our C, our younger dd.

Tonight, we took T to see Dracula before taking him home. Another dear theatre friend is in the production with our theatre group. Fantastic production! So realistic. The casting was perfect, the acting impeccable, the set intriguing and the special effects were thrilling! Wish we could see it again but it was the last night and we had a hard time getting tickets as it was sold out all the through the run. 

Great day, great activities and great company!!

October 26, 2013

Fall and Finances.

It's a beautiful, sunny day here ~ perfect for finishing up our outdoor fall work. Last night, we raked up 4 bags of leaves and dh put the garage in order. I was going to cut the grass but after just 4 rows, the mower quit. Out of gas! And none left in the garage, so dh is off to the gas station this morning to get a bit more so I can finish the task. We also put the lawn furniture away in the garage and emptied my plant pots. Sad to tuck the dead plants into the compost bin. Such great colors this year! 

Our dear friend T is coming over after lunch today to help dh put our Christmas lights on the house. It may seem quite early but in this part of the country, we could get snow any day now, and although the first snow often melts, it's risky to expect that we'll have clear, snow less days the closer we get to November. It's nicer to put them up while it's warmer. We have a 2 storey house, so this is definitely a 2 guy job!

The rest of the day, our fall tasks include one more rake, one more cutting of the grass, hanging the lights, putting the angel, the deer and the lamp post out in the yard, vacuum out both cars, finish the laundry, put away all the paperwork I sorted, make soup for tomorrow and dinner for tonight and finally, try to make my first key lime pie. Tonight, after we enjoy our dinner with our family and our dear friend, we're going to see Dracula in the city at our local theatre. We have a few friends in this production and it's our favorite theatre company here, so we're happy to support the show. Not sure if we'll go out with some cast members later but keeping it open. 

On to finances. Yesterday, I enjoyed a kid~free, daughter~free, spouse~free morning. I caught up on emails, sorted our mountain of paperwork that had accumulated while I was sick and then started working on our fall budget. I realized that it was just 2 short months until the Christmas season and time to figure out where gifts and celebration funds will be pulled from. Grabbing a blank journal, I created pages for documenting where our money is going and where the extras are coming from. I started with a page for our utilities for the next few months, then a few pages for our mortgage and housing costs, then daily spending, transportation costs and finally, our savings. We use our MasterCard for many purchases but never carry a balance. It is paid in full before the due date each month and to date, we've never incurred interest. We get double Air Miles and it makes life easier when we just have to pay one bill each month but it also doesn't give us a good idea of where the money is going for each category. So now we'll still use our m/c but record in our journal so we have a better idea of our actual spending instead of guessing each month. We need to boost our savings faster than we've been doing. 

I've been following Living Rich on the Cheap for a few years now and love her posts on Christmas frugality. Like purchasing decorations at the thrift store. We did this yesterday when we visited our local charity shop and discovered as we browsed that until 3 p.m., all the Christmas ware was 1/2 price. We had already put a few items in our cart and at the time of the announcement, it was about 2:40, so we did another quick gather, added a few more items and then checked out well before the deadline. This was an unadvertised sale, a fun one that they do occasionally, without notice. We spent an entire $11.25. I'll post later the items we bought. As a side note, we had debated whether we should go early in the afternoon or wait until we pick up our grandson at 3 when preschool would be done. We almost waited and then at the last minute, decided to go early. If we had gone after, we wouldn't have known about the sale and still would have been happier with our purchases but this just made it sweeter!

There is a snow warning out, so we're getting ready to snuggle in for winter. My pantry is full, our house is warm and there are plenty of activities we can do inside this winter to keep us busy. 

How are your fall preparations coming? 
Are  you getting ready for Christmas?

October 21, 2013

And now we wait!

Today, we voted in our municipal election for our mayor, council and school trustees. I can't wait to see what the outcome is and hope by the end of the night, the crew I voted for is successful in getting in. If it goes the other way, I may be shaking my head for days, wondering why anyone would vote for the other candidates! I guess that is what makes our democratic system so valuable.

But still hoping my choices are the winners!!

House Plan!!

After years of dreaming and months of interviewing, then selecting a builder, we finally have a house plan!! Now the fear sets in ....

We're so excited but at the same time, nervous about all the changes. Right now, I could drive home with my eyes closed to this house, as we're so settled here. I know all the creaks and groans of our house, and where the nicks are in the walls. I know which tree will bloom first and where my perennials are buried for the winter. We know our neighbors and know we all watch out for each other. But it's time to move forward, it's time to have a new view, it's time to have our lives run more smoothly, with a bit more space. We're ready and will likely look back and wonder why we were so very worried. 

I must admit, I can see how people get carried away when building a house. We need more space but don't want a large house. We want new and character and ironically, a look that screams "vintage" but is energy efficient and solid. Thankfully, our builder works within our budget, not his, and pulls back clients when they start to sway from the original plan. He understands how easy it is and has made it part of his job to keep us in line. Love him already! He's so good, we build again. 

I won't reveal plans here but will share our journey and pictures as we get closer, until the reveal. Truly excited now!! Let the journey and the fun begin.

October 20, 2013

Teaching ....

I love to teach classes and workshops. Today was a perfect session, with 25 participants, in a comfortable setting. The participants? Members of a local Muslim community who provide care to families in their sect. The subject? Grief and loss, my passion. They have set up the most incredible program for bereaved families that I wish we could do in the general community. So many people grieve without support and yet the model they have created makes so much sense as they work hard for these families.

The best part of teaching is watching participants "eat up" every message that is presented. They nod, they reflect, they write it all down. It feels so good to empower other with the knowledge we are so comfortable with, that so many find a mystery. But when they enthusiastically participate in the interactive art activities or ask truly intentional questions to understand the material presented is a gift we receive back, in our efforts to give. Win win!

Today was also the anniversary of my formal graduation from Ryerson University in Toronto. I was so determined to graduate on 20.10.2010. Isn't that the neatest date to remember? We had such a good time at my grad, just my guy and me. We turned it into a bit of a holiday for the two of us and my boss surprised us by upgrading our cheap hotel reservations into a suite at the Sutton Place Hotel! Memorable time for sure and so worth all the studying time, writing papers at night after working all day and agonizing over marks. I graduated with honors and am so proud of this accomplishment. Hoping to do more but for now, still enjoying that I completed the first part of my education journey. 

Have a great week!

October 19, 2013

Windy Day!

I'm a bit fearful we might wake up to snow! So windy here tonight, dark clouds and cold.

Daughter #1 is downstairs playing with our grandson. Daughter #2 is upstairs reading, snuggled in her cozy bed with her pup. Dh has gone to the hockey game with a dear friend. Dishes are done, kitchen is clean, laundry folded, bathrooms scrubbed, floors swept and mopped. I've got the heat on tonight, with the warm glow of lamps turned on, dim but enough to warm our hearts. Finishing up writing my notes for a workshop I'm teaching tomorrow. Then I'm off for a hot, relaxing bath, before heading to bed early to read until dh arrives home, safe and sound.

I attended a great workshop today, ironically, taught by a former boss of mine. He teased me throughout, in a fun way but I still learned quite a bit. I've written enough grants in my life to feel somewhat confident but have never taken a workshop on the subject before. The content was amazing, the delivery engaging and the snacks and lunch were incredible. He's teaching this same day in the city in a few weeks for $300 a person but for our community, the fee was just $20 per person for the day! Our volunteer centre brought him in and subsidized the cost. Well worth the fee. 

Enjoy your evening. 
I'm looking forward to an early night for once!

October 17, 2013

The view ....

.... from my office! I actually have 3 offices for my work. One at home. One in my community at the centre we created. One in the big city.

This is the last one, in the city, where I work 2 to 3 days per week. The rest of the time, I work at home or at my centre. Love the flexibility that works so well for our life. 

This office is located in an old heritage building and is painted a muted blue, green and white. With an old oak banker's desk, a large bookcase, a smaller unit that houses my client files, an Ikea chair and footstool for rainy days to read and a wooden chair that is hard on the bum, so no one stays too long!

Just kidding!! I love company and keep my door open so others feel comfortable coming in.  

I love the view out to the street. A quiet, residential area, we have a park in the middle of the road and houses on the other side. The one I can see from my window is a favorite. bit old front veranda and inviting warm lights in the winter. 

Here's the view from another angle, when I sit with my feet up to write: 

Looks out to the hallway, where conversations are abundant but the view is not as pleasing. Yes, those are my keys handing in the door. Then I always know where they are!

My office at home matches our house, painted a sage green, with white woodwork and wood floors. I have a long table that sits under the window so I can look out at our backyard and our garden when I need a break from the writing. Furniture is eclectic, with an old maple dresser and a matching maple desk, both painted white and shabby chic'd. A rocker for reading, a tall bookcase for books and art materials. Small but cozy, with artwork on the walls. I'll take a picture soon to add to this post. 

At my centre, my office is also green but a very vibrant color, with white woodwork and wood floors. Same floors actually! And the same bookcase but two of them and the matching desk as well. Comfortable but private when needed. 

So, tell me about your office, where you work. 
Is it colorful, comfortable and conducive 
to getting good work done? 

October 15, 2013


This weekend was full of gratitude. We missed our puppy like crazy but kept busy and each day, it's getting a bit easier. Thank you for your kind thoughts and blessings for sweet Celti. Before we gave thanks for all we have, we took time to clean, purge, organize and revamp the house. Then we raked outside and enjoyed the sun on our deck before putting away the furniture and tucking the BBQ away for the season. The snow will soon be here and we still have some work to do outside, including removing the leaves from the gutters so they flow freely in the spring when the snow melts and clean out the garage so we can park in there when it gets cold again. Inside, we still need to redo the kitchen cabinets, back splash and counters before Christmas. Then paint all the walls. And find my warm, woolly socks. Winter jackets and boots are in place but mitts need to be replaced this year. 

For the first time in 28 years, we didn't cook the big turkey dinner for everyone. We started this tradition for all the big holidays when our kids were babies. It was easier to say "come to our house" rather than pack everyone up and go somewhere. We love to cook and we are the only ones with a big enough dining room to seat us all comfortably. Our "tradition" of providing the big dinner was only supposed to be when the kids were little yet it stuck. But this year, we were just done with it all. I'm into my 4th week of pneumonia, so my energy has been lacking. Our dog just died and we've been a bit sad. So my mom and her new beau made us a wonderful ham dinner on Sunday. It was so lovely to just sit and let someone else take care of us. I was starting to get my energy back then and we were able to have a nice, quiet dinner for just our little family on the holiday Monday. With just us, it was so relaxing!


Bacon wrapped asparagus.

Wine and colors!

Dd2 photo bombing the daddy pic.

Blocked her out and got a good shot!

Beautiful daughter.


Dd1 wanted to learn to carve.


Another view of the dish I created.

My very full plate!

There are so many things to be grateful for. I love our cozy house, our cozy but growing community and our beautiful family. We are thankful that we both have careers that we love and that we were and continue to be able to work around our family. The flexibility is such a gift! As much as we miss our puppy, I'm so thankful her ending was peaceful and in my arms. And she has such a beautiful final spot on our acreage. We have good healthy ~ well except for the last few weeks with my pneumonia. Two wonderful grand kids and family all around. There is nothing that I personally wish for, other than that everyone in my life is happy. That's all that matters to me in my life. 

How was your Thanksgiving? 
Were you the cook or the guest?

October 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye.

Celtic-Raine, aka Celti, was born on October 1, 1998 and came to live with us, her new family, on November 20th, 1998. We needed some laughter in our home, after the death of our youngest daughter. We needed something to hold in our arms and ease the ache in our hearts. Celti became our "forever baby" and filled the needs we all had so well. She endured many tears and being carried around by little ones who needed a distraction from the grief that filled our home. Dressed up like a doll or taught to jump like a horse, the fireplace tools lodged in the couch cushions, Celti was the perfect puppy for us. She filled our lives with laughter and comfort and grew into a lovely old lady! As old as she was, she still had lots of "puppy" in her and we'll miss her antics, her snoring, her lovey kisses and her playful greetings at the front door. 

Yesterday, we said goodbye to Celti, an event we knew was coming but somehow we were all avoiding. In the end, her final moments were beautiful and pain free, cuddled in her favorite blanket, freshly bathed and ready to go. We decorated a wooden box that was to be her burial home, signed the back with all our names and filled it with notes and comfort items she'd need on her next journey. The drive out to our acreage was filled with memories and tears but it was an honor to take her there.

My dh and younger daughter, caring Celti through the trees to her final spot. It was easy to choose.

A shot, as the sun begins to set and we prepare her place on a late warm fall afternoon.

Celti is now nestled in the trees, safe and sound, watching over our land, until we get there to reside. We already miss the click clack of her nails on our wood floors. It was hard to come in the door today to silence, instead of our usual enthusiastic greeting. But we are comforted with the image of our little puppy, playfully running from cloud to cloud, free from pain and happy to be with her siblings again. 

Celti: October 1, 1998 to October 10, 2013. "Love you forever, our baby you'll be!"

October 10, 2013

Lottery Win!

No, we didn't win the $32,000,000 that is the current balance on Lotto 649. But we did win twice in the last 2 weeks. First, a free ticket last week. Then a win of $10 for having 3 numbers this week. The other numbers were so close to ours, it was scary. A bit of relief we didn't win big! What would we do then?

This lottery is the only one we've ever played, starting in the early 80's when we were first married. At that time, it was one draw a week for $1. In our budget and as a young married couple with a mortgage, fun to invest, knowing our chances were slim but our only vice, so we never looked back. Over the years, we've won continually, small  and larger amounts but not the jackpot. Now the draw is twice a week and it's no longer $1 per draw but for us now, still affordable and the only thing we buy that has no purpose, other than taking a chance to win.

With our 6 numbers firm in our head, we never miss a draw. Can't imagine if we ever forgot and then our numbers were drawn. What an awful feeling that would be! We are frugal, counting every penny and making careful purchases. Our only debt tiny is small, just a bit left on our mortgage and nothing else. But we still dream about winning more than the bits and bobs we've won to date. 

It would be so much fun to give money to the 2 charities I work for and hiring staff to fill up my team. It would so much fun to give each of our kids money to buy new homes so they are set for life and set up trust funds for our grand babies. It would be so much fun to fly everyone to a tropical location in January when the weather here is bitterly cold and the sunshine is in short supply for months. It would be so much fun to pay for our daughter's university tuition in full so she would have no debt at grad. It would be so much fun to pay off my friend's mortgage, so she wouldn't have to worry about making the payment each month. 

All of this would be fun but we do know there is a downside to winning money. Hopefully, our friends, family members and ourselves are sensible enough to remember, if it ever happened, that its' just money and we would still be us. 

With no one winning the lottery last night, it now stands at $40,000,000. Too large in my opinion, so hopefully, multiple winners will be lucky. 

Do you play the lottery? 
What would you do if you did win?

October 9, 2013

Last BBQ of the summer!

Our summer was incredibly hot but fall has been beautiful so far, warm, colorful and the perfect weather for a bbq. We won't be able to do this much longer. Soon, our green oasis will be bare and white. For now, we're cherishing the final moments!

Thrifty find ~ Ikea lantern ~ $1.

B reading to grampa.

Getting a closer look at the words.

Different view!

And grampa has left the scene, to finish
making our scrumptious dinner.

Distracted by our noisy squirrel!!

Have you had your final BBQ yet?

October 8, 2013

My favorite season!

I love that we have 4 very distinct seasons here in Canada. My favorite season has always been fall. Spring is muddy and wet. Summer hot and unpredictable. Winter is cold and gloomy. 

But fall is full of color, warm and playful. The leaves dance on the street as cars zip by, moving in the wind, covering my green grass with a blanket of color that makes me smile. The last blooms in the garden hold out with vibrant shades of summer. The rain has stopped, the snow has yet to arrive, the frost is minimal but the sun is warm. Not hot like summer, when fans must be on all hours of the day and night just to be comfortable. 

I love filling up our pantry with warm, comfort foods. Planning meals and dreaming of Thanksgiving turkey and delicious pies. Fragrant and filling soups with fresh baked break. Vegetables pulled from the earth, washed and gracing our dinner table. Scrumptious berries, ripe and abundant. This is truly the only time of year that I love to cook. 

Our walks outside at night become shorter as our eyes try to adjust to the early dusk. The air is crisp and we walk faster, eager to get back to our warm and cozy home. The hot chocolate has found its way from the back of the cupboard to the front, our favorite fall mugs in the dish rack waiting for the kettle to whistle.

After a summer of very little electricity being used, suddenly we are turning our lamps on throughout the house by 4 in the afternoon, as the days grow shorter and the natural light begins to lessen. The soft glow of small lights looks so homey and inviting from outside. While the world fights battles and negotiates disagreements, we cozy down to hibernate from the busyness of life around us. Warm quilts come out from storage, favorite DVDs are lined up for the day when the snow finally arrives and we are content to be here, safe from the elements, both weather and society. Life slows down as the leaves fall gracefully to the ground. And we become grounded with nature all around us ....

October 6, 2013

Love is ....

.... a warm bed on a cool fall night.

.... a belly full of warm, healthy food.

.... a house full of children, ready for bed.

.... a partner who gives his all each day.

.... a career that involves helping others.

.... family and friends who support our life.

.... future plans that get more exciting each day.

.... finally good health after a long bout of illness.

My feelings about Love!