Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! This is a time to spend with family, enjoy the food, and show each other how much you care. Please stay safe and cherish these moments, as time goes by too quickly.

Have a safe and happy holiday season and if you drink, please find a safe way home. This is a time for happy memories not sad ones.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Monday, 19 December 2011

Work at Home

As I was looking into some Work at Home programs, I came across one that looks promising. I am always on the lookout for a legitimate way to supplement my income, so do some searching on a regular basis. I am insistent on being able to continue my freelancing, but as many know, it doesn't always pay the bills. It is good to find something to subsidize my freelancing and help me achieve my financial goals faster.

Home Based Working Moms is an association aimed at helping moms (and dads) stay at home with their children and contribute to the family income. There are different programs available, including an affiliate program which is free to join. If you are unsure if working at home is for you there is a Work at Home Kit available to help with determining what is right for you.

I personally enjoy working from home. I am available for my family when need be and I save money on fuel. I encourage anyone who is contemplating making a change to consider all the options. Working from home is rewarding, but you also have to be able to walk away from your work and do other things. This is why it is beneficial to have an office/workroom with a door that can be closed. It is all too easy to spend all hours of the day working - self discipline is a must. I am guilty of sitting at my computer writing at all hours of the day or night, but am trying hard to separate my work time from family time. I do have a very supportive partner and children but do tend to spend a little more time at my computer than I should.

My son gives me a hard time about it sometimes, but I don't mind. He knows I enjoy what I do but doesn't want me spending my entire day at the computer. I have started reading Under the Dome by Stephen King at his request; lately my reading has consisted of marketing, writing and publishing books so this is a nice change. I sometimes get caught up in my work but have to remember to practice what I preach.

Recreational reading is a great way to relax, as is pursuing a hobby. It is important to take time for yourself even when the temptation to continue working is there. If possible, keep your work area away from your living area. I am unable to do just that at this point in time as our home is just over 900 square feet and there is no separate office space for me. I have claimed a portion of the room between our kitchen and living room, and my crochet and sewing spill into the living room and bedroom.

I have gone off topic just a bit, but the point I'm trying to make is do your research and find what works for you. I wouldn't change what I do for anything. If you need a little extra help deciding what will work for you, then spend the few dollars to get that help. If it points you in the right direction and gives you the means to start and build a successful business, then it is worth every penny.

For anyone interested in a writing career, please visit my Writer Worries blog for some helpful advice. Was this post helpful? Please comment below.

Thanks and have a great day!


Last Minute Gift Ideas

We are in the final stretch before Christmas! Where has the month gone? I am like many others and not finished my shopping yet. My goal is to finish it on Wednesday when we go to a larger center, as I have an appointment there that day. Personally I would like to make things for family members, but not everyone is appreciative of my efforts.

I have my list of things to buy, but sometimes there are those couple of people who are hard to buy for. My brother-in-law is one of them. He is the type of guy who will buy something when he wants or needs it. This is why a Canadian Tire Gift Card is usually the choice for him...along with some little gag gift so I have something to duct tape (hey, he started it).

As people have varied interests and home decor, it is sometimes difficult to shop for them. Also, being on a budget (like so many people are) can increase the limitations. I find gift cards to sometimes be the most practical for some people. Depending on the likes and interests (and how well you know the person), there are a few other gifts that may be suitable.

  • travel mugs
  • games
  • puzzle books
  • books
  • electronic gadgets
  • kitchen gadgets
  • car accessories such as floor mats, steering wheel covers, seat covers, emergency kits
  • rechargeable flashlights
  • CD's of their favorite music
  • tool sets
  • coffee or tea baskets
  • gardening supplies
  • craft supplies (this is nice for school aged children)
  • specialty calendars 
This is a small list of the items available, but should get the imagination going. I welcome any other ideas I may have missed. Please comment below if you have any other suggestions. 

Thanks and have a great day!


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Giving New Life to a Worn Out Quilt

As I typed the title for this post, I was going to say "old" quilt, but the quilts I'm thinking of aren't very old. They have just been well used and loved.

The first one that I need to give new life to is a Trip Around the World quilt (over 1000 - 2 1/2" squares) I made several years ago. It has been used almost every day since I finished it, and it is showing its wear. The edges are frayed, the fabric is disintegrating and it has faded slightly. I had thought about cutting it up into smaller projects, but just can't bear to do that.

I have decided to give it new life by making a new top and using the entire worn out quilt as the batting. I spent hours piecing and quilting it, so have an attachment to it. It was the first queen size quilt I made that would stay in my home; the others always ended up being sold. It has a 100% cotton batting which makes it very warm, and I cannot bear to cut it up, toss it or use it in the dog's bed.

I have yet to decide on the pattern, but perhaps a Log Cabin will be in order. I use the Quilt in a Day method to make my Log Cabin quilts as it is a time saver to say the least. I have made several quilts this way in a variety of sizes. Eleanor Burns has done a wonderful job of putting together workbooks and instructor manuals.

In order to make the new top the same size as the quilt, I will have to measure the worn out quilt, figure out how many blocks I will need to make, and adjust the border sizes to make it fit properly. I will definitely be putting my brain and calculator to use when I'm figuring it out. One thing to remember to take into consideration are the seam allowances; always figure it out on paper (graph paper works well) before any cutting is done. This will ensure mistakes are minimal.

In the age of disposable everything, why not give your worn out quilts new life instead of throwing them away?

Have a great day!


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Homemade Oreo Cookies

With Christmas baking getting into high gear, why not try some Homemade Oreo Cookies? They are very tasty and must be hidden from family members if you want them to last until Christmas. The hardest part is hiding them from yourself, especially if you have very little willpower (like me).

You will need:

4 chocolate cake mixes
8 eggs
2 cups of oil


2 pkg cream cheese (8 oz)
1 cup margarine
5 cups of icing sugar


  1. Mix the first 3 ingredients together by hand. (I found using the dough hooks with my stand mixer to work well.)
  2. Roll into balls and place on a metal baking sheet. (I did not have much luck using my stoneware pan for these; and that is all I usually use for cookies. Needless to say, the first dozen cookies were messed up.)
  3. Bake in a 350F oven for 8 - 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and tap hot pan on the counter to flatten the cookies. Let cool slightly and transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Mix the filling ingredients together. 
  6. When the cookies are cool place a teaspoon full of filling between two cookies (flat sides together) and gently press together to spread filling.
  7. Hide cookies from the family until Christmas!
You can of course bake them any other time as well; they are a hit anytime. This recipe was adapted from one I made from the 4H Cookbook. I doubled the recipe as the single only made about 30 cookies.

Enjoy your cookies and have a great day!


p.s. Try them with other cake mixes and let me know what you think in the comments section. Thank you!

Monday, 12 December 2011

10 Cold & Flu Season Tips

It seems as soon as school is back in for another year or the weather starts to change, the flu bugs increase in numbers. The following 10 Cold & Flu Season Tips can help decrease the spread of the bugs and make the sick people in your home as comfortable as possible.

  1. First and foremost: wash hands frequently. Germs are spread very easily through contact with other people and common surfaces such as door handles, refrigerator doors and taps. Soap and water works well for hand washing and surfaces can be sprayed with Lysol or other sanitizer.
  2. Keep the sick person as isolated as possible. This is not always easy, but it does help in preventing the spread of germs. Give children books to read or let them watch a movie if they feel up to it. Otherwise, resting is best. Depending on what type of bug they have, sleep is often interrupted due to coughing, stuffiness or vomiting. 
  3. Provide plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated. This is particularly important with stomach bugs, as diarrhea and vomiting can quickly dehydrate. Pedialyte or Gatorade are beneficial, as well as diluted ginger ale, water and weak tea. Stay away from dairy products if at all possible. If fighting a stomach flu, also stay away from citrus juices as these can aggravate the stomach more.
  4. For coughs and colds, juice is beneficial as it increases the Vitamin C our bodies need to help fight germs. Dairy products will increase mucous production, so it is best to stay away from  them for awhile as well.
  5. For those well enough to eat offer crackers, toast and chicken noodle soup to begin with. This is especially important for those recovering from a stomach bug. Too much food too quickly can easily upset the system again.
  6. Keep the sick person warm and comfortable. Provide blankets, pillows and buckets (if necessary) in addition to tissue and any required medications.
  7. If they are running a fever acetaminophen is a good fever reducer, as well as a cool washcloth on the forehead. A tepid bath may also help.
  8. To prevent, or at least minimize, the onset of a flu maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan. The healthier you are when and if it does hit, the quicker you will recover.
  9. Minimize exposure to others; keep sick people home and do not allow visitors. This is not always possible but it does decrease the number of germs spread.
  10. If the sick individual doesn't appear to be getting better after 24 hours, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. This is especially important for those with weakened immune systems; infants, the elderly and anyone undergoing treatment for more serious illnesses. Use your judgement; do not wait the full 24 hours if something doesn't seem right. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Taking simple precautions to prevent flu bugs from invading your home is beneficial. If they do attack, following the tips above will make them feel unwelcome and they will quickly leave.

Have a great day, and stay healthy!


p.s. Did you find this list helpful? Please comment below. Thanks!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Tree Care and Decorating Tips

What a change in temperature from yesterday! I was much happier doing chores today; the animals are happier too.

I am getting anxious for Christmas; it is my favorite holiday of the year! I am actually a little further ahead than I was last year as far as having presents bought. Last year we shopped the week before Christmas; this year the majority of our shopping was done when we took my son for his appointment at the Stollery. I am happy to report all is well once again!

My biggest challenge this year is going to be making room for the tree. Our house is little, so we don't have a lot of extra floor space. We already have wrapped gifts (many thanks to my daughter), now we just need the tree to put them under. I have an artificial tree I put up every year; my Charlie Brown Tree as I like to call it. It isn't pretty, but does the trick. once the lights and decorations are on, it doesn't look all that bad.

Today I am going to talk about caring for your real tree (has been years since I had one) and decorating a tree whether it is real or artificial.

  1. The most important thing to remember with a real tree is to be sure it is kept watered. There are many tree stands available and the bigger the water reservoir the better. Be sure to check the level each and every day; real trees take up a lot once they warm up. A dry tree can become a fire hazard, and no one wants to lose their home because the tree caught on fire. (Sadly, it is one of the causes of fires during Christmas.)
  2. A handy (but not necessary) thing to have is a tree disposal bag. This is put down first, then the tree is placed in the center. It can be covered with a tree skirt or left as is. When it is time to take out the tree remove the stand and pull the plastic bag up over the tree. This is a great solution to removing it from your home without having a trail of pine needles across your floor. Once you get the tree to the disposal site you can remove the bag (many landfills have spots for trees).
  3. Another option for removing the tree without leaving a big mess in your home is to use a tarp. Wrap the tree and take it outside. 
  4. When it comes to decorating, individual tastes vary more than night and day. Personally I prefer a traditional tree, with the lights, some ornaments (mix of purchased and homemade) and a little bit of tinsel.
  5. Keep your lighting to electrical or battery power. Many years ago candles were used on the trees, but they are a fire hazard. Keep your family's safety in mind!
  6. No matter your tastes, rule of thumb is to put the lights on first. Chances are you won't get them perfect the first time and will have to redo it (I usually end up redoing mine at least twice). If you are the lucky owner of a pre-lit tree, then all you have to worry about is the decorations. 
  7. Keep in mind when decorating to not go overboard. I have seen real trees decorated so the tree itself wasn't even visible. The idea of a tree is so it can actually be identified as such. if you are going to fill it with decorations, you may as well make a cardboard cone and stand it in the corner.
  8. For those with pets, be very careful with using tinsel. Cats like to eat it, and it can be deadly. Several years ago my cat ate some; I didn't realize it until it had passed through her system. Many cats aren't that fortunate; it can cause intestinal blockage and if not corrected in time can be fatal. If there are animals in your home, it is best not to use it at all. Yes it is pretty, but is it really worth the risk?
If I have missed anything, I welcome comments below. Also, what do you prefer...a traditional tree or one that has a more contemporary look to it?

Have a great day!


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Alpaca Fiber

Today I tried (and I think failed) to successfully wash a small amount of alpaca fiber. I know I have a lot to learn about the industry...feeding the alpacas is the easy part. I asked an experienced alpaca owner how to go about it and she was most helpful. I decided to try with a small amount first, as I would probably cry if I ruined an entire blanket.

What do alpacas and their fiber have to do with this blog you ask?

First of all, I have been wanting a herd of alpacas for years. We were finally able to purchase a small herd of 7 this spring and I absolutely adore them. When you read about them lowering blood pressure, they most definitely have that effect. I think the only time ours raise my blood pressure is when they are all trying to get to the feed bucket at the same time. I don't appreciate getting spit on. Although they don't direct it at me I have been caught in the crossfire....GROSS!

Secondly, alpacas are a low maintenance livestock ideal for anyone to raise. I grew up around cattle and they always scared me. The alpacas are much quieter, smaller and mild-mannered compared to some cows. Being a homemaker, I will be able to utilize my crafting abilities and make wonderful things from the fiber. Plus they will subsidize our income as time goes on; that in itself will be a bonus.

The best part is their fiber is warm, hypo-allergenic and comes in 22 natural colors. I have to admit, I have yet to work with the yarn but I can't wait. I know how soft and warm the fleece is on the alpacas; I can only imagine how warm mitts or a toque would be. And in our cold Alberta winters, anything that keeps my fingers from freezing is alright by me. If I ruined the fleece so I can't make yarn from it, I will be lining my chore mitts with it. My fingers were numb last night and this morning doing chores, and we haven't even reached our coldest part of winter yet.

I know I have a lot to learn about raising them and processing their fleece but it is a road I am very willing to take. Working with them will be a great asset for first hand information when I write about Hobby Farming (a book scheduled further in the series).

My question for you is have you used alpaca fiber? If so, what have you made from it? Please feel free to post comments below.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ice Cream Topping

I know some people must think I'm nuts, posting about ice-cream on a day like today (especially those of you who live in my area). I am a big fan of ice-cream but sometimes plain just isn't good enough.

There are many toppings on the market, but one of my family's favorites is a home-made hardshell. It is very simple to make, and stores well. (It is not recommended for anyone with nut allergies as peanut butter is the main ingredient.)

You will need:

1 cup of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy - this is strictly personal preference)
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Colored sprinkles (optional)


  1. Place the peanut butter in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 1 minute. 
  2. Mix well, increasing the time if it isn't heated through and almost bubbly. (Keep in mind microwave ovens vary in temperature, so this is strictly a guideline.)
  3. When heated through add the chocolate chips and mix well until they are melted.
  4. Drizzle over ice-cream and enjoy! Sprinkles may be added on top before it hardens as well.
Note: This stores well; just place in a container with a tight fitting lid and keep it in the pantry. Chances are it won't last long enough to even get to the pantry. It can be reheated in the microwave if it has actually lasted long enough to harden.

Have a great day!


Monday, 5 December 2011

New pattern!

As promised, the new pattern for the Crocheted Headband is now available. This headband may be made in any color you choose, and is easily adjusted just by increasing or decreasing rows. Make a pair of Fingerless Gloves from the same yarn and you will have a very stylish matching set.

Why not visit your local craft shop and pick out some yarn today! The set makes a nice Christmas Gift as well.

Have a great day!


Book Release Update

Good morning!

I had originally scheduled my Cooking 101 release for today but due to some unforeseen circumstances I will be delaying the release. Rather than publish a mediocre book, I will be taking some extra time to edit it. I apologize to everyone, as I really wanted to release it today. I am not happy with how one section turned out, so will be fixing it. My aim is still to have it published before Christmas.

Self-publishing gives an author the flexibility they sometimes require, but it does not mean their work should be shoddy. I have read (or tried to read) some self-published books but was turned off by the poor grammar, spelling and punctuation. I have caught typos in textbooks and traditionally published books, which goes to show that no one is perfect. My problem with some is the frequency with which the errors occur. I will not publish a book that has not been proofread several times.

Now, I must get back to work so I am able to publish my book before Christmas. Once again my apologies!

Have a great day!


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Cancer, Writing and Priorities

Friday was a good day! My son had his 6 month check-up and all appears to be going well. We will know for sure within a week or two, but all signs are pointing toward very good. Appointment times always stress me out just a little, but that is to be expected.

He has now been cancer-free for 3 1/2 years, which makes us very happy! Checkups are once every 6 months now, and they split the other tests between the two. He has also hit the six foot mark on the height chart; chemotherapy did not stunt his growth at all. It was a long road, but he was very positive through the whole process. He did get frustrated occasionally, and still does. His mobility has been limited due to the surgery but he is taking steps to improve it.

For those who don't know our story, he was diagnosed with a Ewing Sarcoma in September of 2007. Being told your child has cancer is one of the last things any parent wants to hear. The roller coaster ride had begun! I was working full time and could not be at the hospital with him all the time. My ex husband was able to take the time off work and accompany our son to the Children's Hospital for treatment. I was able to take some time off, but not without a fight. My employers (people who I thought were my friends) said my job came first, then my family. Had it not been for the health benefits we so desperately needed at the time, I would have quit then and there.

Treatment and surgery was successful and our son is now almost 18. The healing still continues as the surgery on his leg was extensive. The removal of the tumor and part of the fibula in his right leg left him with a scar from above his knee to his ankle. Plus, he also has a few smaller scars on both sides of his ankle and the top of his foot. The re-routing of muscles, nerves and tendons left him with pain and itching that was very hard to ease.

When treatment was complete and he was given the confirmation the cancer was gone, I gave my notice to my employers. I had come to realize there was more to life than working for someone else. I was giving up a good benefit package, but with treatments complete I could afford to do so. I opted for a private benefit package and concentrated on being available for both of my children whenever they needed me. I still worked, but mostly from home. I secured a couple of bookkeeping contracts and worked, but soon found that wasn't where I wanted to be.

In January of 2010 I became a freelance writer and haven't looked back. I have always had a passion for writing and decided it was what I was destined to do. Bookkeeping was good pay, but being tied to a computer all day was not my idea of fun. Life's too short to go through the motions of a job you don't like; if you are able to make the change then by all means do it.

With well over 100 articles and a couple of books under my belt, I am happier now than before. The road has been a long one and I still haven't hit my fame and fortune stage yet, but I am confidant my time will come. I have realized I do need to create new content on a daily basis to benefit financially. In the beginning I wrote and submitted several articles a week; lately I have been wrapped up in my book and have not done so. It is reflecting in my earnings.

I have some advice for anyone who is just beginning their freelance writing careers: don't stop writing and submitting articles. The more you write, the better. If you have decided to write a book keep up the smaller projects as well, as they are the ones that pay the bills while you write your book. Treat your book as a hobby if you rely on the article income. If you are already earning enough residual income to get by then by all means spend more time on your book.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I learn from my mistakes. I also want others to learn from them as well. I have done some extensive reading lately on marketing, publishing and writing. I have come to the conclusion I have once again gone about things the hard way; but then again, that is just my nature. As I was feeling just a bit sorry for myself for not having the income I was hoping for, I realized there was no one to blame but me. I stopped submitting articles and my earnings show it.

I have been working on my book, plus wrote the "Your First eBook" Course; a workbook type format for beginning writers to learn about writing, pricing, publishing and marketing their first eBook. It is a simple to follow format and will be a great asset. I have written it from my point of view and experience; once again letting others know what mistakes NOT to make.

I have also written a report on starting a craft shop without needing to make the crafts yourself. It is a perfect sideline business for any homemaker who has some extra space in their home. It is an economical way to increase your inventory and provide variety for customers.

It appears I have rambled in this post, but I want you to put what really matters most first. Family is number one in my books and I have made personal sacrifices to be able to be there for my children, parents and siblings when I am needed. I have a very supportive partner who loves me and my children for who we are and does his best to support us financially while my writing career gets off the ground.

With that in mind, I must get myself back on track and start submitting articles once again. They were what was paying the bills and with the holiday season fast approaching the extra earnings will come in handy. Plus, there is still the matter of my van.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Pizza Recipe

For a variation of the traditional pizza, try this recipe. You will also find it in the Main Course section of my new book, Cooking 101, which will be released on Monday December 5, 2011.

Macaroni Pizza

You will need:

2 boxes of macaroni and cheese
1 tbsp prepared mustard (Honey Dijon is good too)
2 eggs, beaten
1 can pizza sauce
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion, sliced and separated
2 – 3 cups shredded cheese


1.    Prepare the macaroni and cheese according to package directions.
2.    Add mustard and beaten eggs to the macaroni.
3.    Spread macaroni mix into a greased 9X13 pan
4.    Add the sauce, ground beef, onions and cheese.
5.    Bake in a 350˚F oven for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and onions are tender.
6.    Remove from the oven when done and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
7.    Cut into pieces and enjoy!

As with any pizza, toppings may be mixed and matched. The possibilities are endless.

I added red peppers and green onions to the ground beef on this pizza. Half was made with the peppers and half without.

Enjoy and have a great day!


Attention Crafters!

Oh my gosh!!! Less than a month until Christmas and I still haven't started my shopping yet!

On Friday we should get some of it done; we are going to the city as my son has his check-up at the Stollery. (It is so nice to have appointments spaced six months apart now, and some of the tests a year apart.) I'm hoping the weather co-operates with us; I don't care to drive in the city where there are so many careless people.  Sometimes I think some of them should be on Canada's Worst Driver.

Now is the time to look for those unique and interesting gifts. Gifts such as these are not found in your local department store or even online. I am talking about the handmade gifts, available at the Christmas Craft Sales and at the little specialty stores across the country. There are many talented people out there, why not make their Christmas a little brighter by buying something they have made? Handmade gifts are so much nicer to receive. Granted certain things can't be handmade (like the Kobo Vox I would like) but I would love to receive a quilt or wall hanging. In my family I am the crafty one and not everyone appreciates quilts, afghans or other handmade things.

If you are a craftsperson, now is also the time to market your wares. If you have been stockpiling all year, why not host an Open House during the next three weeks leading up to Christmas? Decorate your home, put on some Christmas music and showcase your creations. If you feel you don't have enough for an Open House, get together with other crafters in your area.

Or better yet, provide a location for others to sell their wares. What starts out as a way to make a few extra dollars for Christmas could easily lead to year round income. For the homemaker interested in a few extra dollars per month, this is an excellent way to do it. I rent space in a local store that does showcases local crafts people, thus giving them constant exposure and custom orders (occasionally). I pay a low monthly fee, and sometimes make tenfold. It gives me the opportunity to sell my crafts without having to spend my days or weekends at markets and craft sales. It's a win-win!

The snow has started to fall, which doesn't impress me much. The good thing is it isn't -40. Hopefully the snow is over by tomorrow evening so the roads are clear for our trip on Friday.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Vehicle Maintenance

I miss my van!

I didn't realize just how much I depended on it until I no longer had it. I blew the engine in it, and now it sits awaiting repair. It had a few other minor issues, but nothing I couldn't work around. Now we are down to one vehicle, which Ross takes to work each day. I am glad I work at home, but having that second vehicle is nice just the same.

As a repair such as this one is an unforseen expense, budgeting for it was not done. I will be working extra hard to pay for the repairs so I am not home bound all winter long. I am not a big fan of driving in the winter, but it sure does come in handy being able to do so.  With almost 270,000 km on it, I have gotten my use out of it. Many kilometers were put on it while my son was undergoing cancer treatment. We did bi-weekly trips two and a half hours away for treatment for nine months. In the beginning of diagnosis, that trip was made several times withing the first couple of weeks.

It is important to do regular maintenance on a vehicle in order to keep it in perfect condition. One of the most important is oil changes, which I was usually adamant about. I regret to say I was a little lax in doing so lately as I felt I didn't drive as much so I could put it off. WRONG!!! I was informed after the fact that oil breaks down, and an engine will use it as fuel. That would explain the burnt oil I found when I took the oil cap off the engine. The worst part was it quit while I was in town and we had to load it on a trailer to take it for repair. (See photo) Inch by inch with a block and tackle; another learning experience for me.

I am not totally naive when it comes to vehicles and how they operate. I have changed my own tires, added my own oil, windshield washer fluid and transmission oil. Unfortunately for me, I got a little neglectful. I will be needing new tires and a new windshield (no thanks to the truckers that threw rocks at me) before it is 100% road ready, so when it is fixed I should be good for another 500,000 kilometers. For a van that size, I do have to say the gas mileage is great. It is hard to borrow a vehicle that gets only 15mpg while my van got almost 30mpg.

As the repairs get done to my van, I will be spending more time working to pay for it. I will be blogging more as well as adding more eBooks and articles to my portfolio. Plus, I have my patterns available as downloads, which can be accessed via the links on this blog. This is perhaps the kick I needed to spend more time marketing.

I have also been reading the information available at Entrepreneurs-Journey and have learned a lot. I would recommend the information contained on this site for anyone interested in blogging or online businesses. I am not an affiliate for the site; I just think it is practical information anyone could benefit from.

And remember...keep your vehicle maintenance up to date. you do not want to be left stranded like I was. I never said I do things the easy way...just ask my Dad!

Have a great day!


Monday, 28 November 2011

Writing as a Homemaker

I have been a member of Ezine Articles for several months now. A couple weeks ago they posted a contest on Facebook, and luckily I was the first one to answer their question correctly. My prize? A very nice leather bound journal, with their logo on the front cover. Plus, a very smooth writing pen! I was so excited when I won, and moreso when the package arrived in the mail today. Thank you Ezine Articles!

Being a homemaker for over twenty years has taught me more skills than any one job ever did. I have learned to budget both time and money; do laundry; wash dishes; cook; fix a leaky tap; unclog a toilet; care for children; live on less; sew; crochet; clean anything and everything; change oil in a vehicle; fix an extension cord; put up blinds; winterize a home - and the list goes on. Being able to write about all of these things is truly an experience in itself. 

Writing has very much become a part of my daily routine. Some days I write on my blog, other days I write articles. My books are also at the top of my writing list almost each and every day. As I spend more time writing, I learn more as well. I have learned more about writing and self-publishing in the past year and a half than I had ever known. In all honesty, the last six months has been the biggest learning curve.

In addition to writing articles, my blog and my books I have also written a couple of patterns I designed. That was a challenge in itself, as the patterns have to be written clearly so the beginner can follow the directions. It is all too easy for an experienced crochet artist to skip steps while writing instructions, as they know all the steps. One such pattern is for my Fingerless Gloves. I had to make sure I put in each step I took, even though it was second nature to me when I made them.

I aim to teach new homemakers the skills I have learned over my 40+ years, and making crafts is just as much a part of being a homemaker as cooking and cleaning is. My designs are aimed toward the practical aspects and can be completed in a relatively short time. I have learned to start small and simple, then try more complicated patterns or ways of doing things once the simple has been mastered. More complicated allows for a challenge, while simple gives us the skills we need along the way. My advice for anyone starting something new is to start small. I have been guilty of taking on a huge project (hence my learning small and simple is best to begin with) only to be frustrated when it did not progress as quickly as anticipated.

A little bit of advice for those of you just joining me: listen to what I have to say. Most of what I have learned has been the hard way, so when I suggest a way to go about doing something, keep in mind that was probably not the way I first did it. It is okay to do things the easy way, as long as it doesn't cut necessary corners. Enjoy the new things you will learn and don't be afraid to modify anything to suit your personal circumstances.

Have a great day!


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Party Dip

Today is Grey Cup Day!

I like to make the following dip for special events, and it rarely lasts the day. The following recipe can be found in my upcoming cookbook, which will be released in just over a week. This is one of my family's favorites, and I will be making it this afternoon. 

Surprise Spread

You will need:

2 pkgs cream cheese
½ cup Miracle Whip (or store equivalent)
1 cup sour cream
1 can pizza sauce
1 each green, yellow and red peppers
1 bunch green onion
1 tomato
1 – 2 cups shredded cheese


1.    Cream together cream cheese, Miracle Whip and sour cream. Spread on a large plate or platter.
2.    Spread the pizza sauce over the base and set aside. (It may be refrigerated while you chop the veggies.)
3.    Chop the peppers, tomatoes and green onion.
4.    Spread the vegetables evenly over the base, then sprinkle shredded cheese over top.
5.    Serve with assorted crackers.

Enjoy and have a great day!


Friday, 25 November 2011

Fingerless Gloves Pattern Available

The pattern for these gloves is now available. I was able to make them in a couple hours from some chunky acrylic yarn. I would recommend acrylic as the cotton yarn (dishcloth yarn) stretches out a bit too much for my liking.

I would appreciate some feedback on the clarity of the instructions from those who buy the pattern. I have crocheted for most of my life, so I tend to forget some steps a beginner may need. The size of the gloves can easily be adjusted by changing the size of the hook. This particular pair was made using a 4mm hook; switching it up to a 5mm will make the gloves just a bit bigger. The size may also be adjusted by the number of rows made. The instructions specify the adjustments possible.

My next project will be to make a pair of mittens; I will have to visit the local department store to stock up on some yarn. I have several balls of cotton yarn on hand, but not much in the line of acrylic yarn. I will be trying my hand at making a pair or three from alpaca yarn as well; but that may not be until next winter. We will be shearing our alpacas in the spring and I will have the fiber processed into yarn. My impatience may get the best of me and I will most likely order a few skeins from a fellow alpaca owner.

Along with making things to keep hands warm, I want to try my hand at making things to keep feet warm as well. For anyone who spends any amount of time outdoors in the winter, they know how important it is to keep feet warm and dry. Alpaca yarn is supposed to be one of the best for socks. I have yet to try it myself but I will be keeping you updated on my findings. For anyone wanting to try crocheting with alpaca yarn, please visit A to Z Alpacas. They also have a great tutorial online for making felted insoles.

I have also made the "7 Quick Household Tips" available for download. Please click on the link on the left side to get yours today!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fingerless Gloves, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American neighbors! May the day bring you health, happiness and good will!

Today I am working on an eBook, which will be available for sale by month end. I will also be putting the finishing touches on Cooking 101 over the course of the next few days, which is still scheduled for release on December 5.

I am enjoying my time spent writing as well as the time I spend cooking, baking and making various crafts. Today I will be making cupcakes...and they will be ready by the time my kids get home from school. I am thinking chocolate would be a good flavor; chocolate is always a good choice in our house.

I am almost finished another pair of Fingerless Gloves, which I started last week while babysitting my nephews. I have made a few pairs, and have found the acrylic yarn to be better than 100% cotton. The cotton is warm enough, but it stretches out and the gloves soon become too big. My daughter claimed one of the first pairs I made and they are now big enough to fit a man. It was a good lesson to learn, as now I know what is the best yarn to use. I am anxious to try alpaca yarn as well, but have to wait until spring. Ours will be ready for shearing then and I plan on processing the fiber myself. Perhaps I will buy some yarn from fellow alpaca owners so I can work with it before the winter is over.

Now that I have made a mental list of things to do today, it is time to get busy with them. The most time consuming part will be writing out the instructions for the Fingerless Gloves, as I have designed this pair. The pattern will be available for purchase by month end.

My baking and crocheting await! Have a great day!


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Decorating Tips

Here we are, with just a little more than a month until Christmas! I haven't started my shopping yet; have you?

I haven't started to decorate yet either. I prefer to leave the decorating until after the 15th of December. Some people I know decorate right after Remembrance Day, but I think that is too early. Our little house needs to be rearranged to accommodate our tree so I leave it as late as possible. In the event we are able to have a real tree this year, the decorating won't get done until Christmas Eve. If we decide on using the artificial tree again (our Charlie Brown tree) it will be set up before Christmas Eve. I am hoping to be able to set up my little Christmas Village as well; perhaps my plants will be relocated for a few weeks so the village can be set up where we can enjoy it.

The village consists of two sets of ceramic lighted buildings four to seven inches high. It is fun setting it up, as I use quilt batting for the snow, a small oval mirror for the pond, and can rearrange the little people as I see fit. Santa's sleigh usually gets perched on a rooftop or between two buildings. My kids like to move the little people around. Sometimes they'll move something just to see how long it takes me to notice it.

When getting ready to decorate your home, there are some safety factors to consider. First of all, ensure the cords are tucked away so no one trips over them. It is also important not to overload an outlet; if you must have a few cords plugged in to one outlet use a power bar or power block. These usually have built in surge protectors and will trip the breaker if there is too heavy a load. It is best to not overload your outlets at all; many fires during the holidays can be prevented.

Also, do not leave lights unattended. The new lights available are cool to the touch, but sometimes old sets are used as well. If you have lights on a real tree, be sure to keep the tree watered. A real tree will dry quickly if not kept watered and can easily burst into flames. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time; don't let it be the day you lost your home due to carelessness.

Take a few moments to check over your outdoor lighting as well. Repair or replace sets with frayed wires, as these too can be a fire hazard. A few extra minutes taken while decorating can mean the difference between a happy holiday and a disastrous holiday. Don't cut corners when it comes to electrical cords.

Stay safe when stringing your lights on your roof. Do not go on your roof if it is icy. Many people will string their lights in the fall, before the snow flies. This is not a bad idea, especially for anyone stringing lights on a steep roof. Any roof is dangerous when it is slippery; use common sense. There are many brackets and hangers on the market which attach directly to the edge of the roof or eavestroughs, which makes the need to go on the roof minimal. If you have a fence, perhaps it is best to string lights on it instead.

There are many solar lights available on the market. Using solar sets outside not only cuts down on your electric bill, it also eliminates the need to have extension cords running all over your yard. Eliminating the extension cords also eliminates a tripping hazard. It is the home owner's responsibility to ensure their property is safe for visitors; do not let carelessness result in injuries.

Enjoy the season and the decorations. Keep safety in mind at all times.

Have a great day!


Friday, 18 November 2011

Snow Removal Tips

With winter comes snow. Now is the time to get ready for it.

There are a few things to be done before the major snows hit your area (if they haven't already).

1. One of the first is to make sure you have your shovels and ice chippers handy. Trying to retrieve them from the shed after it snows a foot or two is not fun.
2. Decide beforehand where you will be piling the snow when it is time to shovel. Remove any planters or items that could be damaged by the weight of the snow.
3. For those with snow blowers or garden tractors and quads with blades, be sure your equipment is ready to go. Perform your Fall maintenance so when the snow comes you can get right to it. Keeping your equipment maintained is crucial any time of year, but even moreso when temperatures dip well below freezing.
4. One of the biggest mistakes people make with the first snow fall is shoveling too much too fast. Remember to pace yourself to avoid sore muscles later. Doing some stretches before you even pick up the shovel is a good idea. For anyone with a heart condition, don't rush; the snow isn't going anywhere. If you don't get it all shoveled today, there is always tomorrow. It is not worth ending up in the hospital over.
5. Make snow removal a family affair. Even toddlers can have a little shovel and will enjoy being able to help. It is a great way for the entire family to get some exercise and fresh air. When the snow is shoveled, warm up with a mug of hot chocolate and a family movie.

For those of us who live in snowbound country, we must learn to embrace it. It comes whether we like it or not. I am personally not a big fan of it, especially when it comes to traveling. Perhaps I need to take up a winter sport so I can learn to appreciate the snow. What do you do for fun in the winter?

Have a great day!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Old Man Winter is Here to Stay

I do believe winter is here to stay! I am not looking forward to it, but we live where we live and we have to deal with it. I know I will whine and complain about it, but will make it through just as I have any other year. I don't completely hate winter; the best thing about it is there aren't any BUGS! The other advantage is I get more done inside; during the summer I spend very little time inside so only the basics get done. Winter is a time for me to crochet, quilt and scrapbook.

In addition to my crafts, this winter will also be spent working on book number three: Cleaning, Storage and Decorating (date of publication TBA). I have learned a few tricks over the years and will be sharing what I know. Not everyone has unlimited space, so finding storage solutions that look nice can sometimes be a challenge. There are many organizers, storage totes and shelving available on the market but some come with a hefty price tag. My goal is to offer practical solutions for the lowest cost possible.

In our climate, the cold settles into the walls and floors of our homes. For those that live in homes built before the invention of pink insulation, chances are there is no longer insulation from top to bottom. As the years go on, the insulation used in the 40's and 50's (and earlier) has settled and no longer offers a barrier between the walls. For those who renovate the older homes, the foam insulation is placed on the exterior walls then covered with siding. Doing it this way eliminates disturbing the insulation inside the walls, and makes for a more cost efficient renovation.

Upgrading the windows is also a good idea, but can get costly as well. A few years ago I had inquired about having windows replaced in a home I was living in. I had mentioned to the contractor I wanted bigger windows put in, and he told me in the older homes they preferred to install inserts into existing frames. The reason for this was because once they start cutting they may find, or cause, more structural damage. The end result for me was the windows did not get replaced as the house was a rental and the owners did not want to invest that much money into it. I did learn something from talking to the contractor, and that in itself was a good thing.

If renovating your home is not an option, there are steps you can take to make it warmer in winter. On October 28 I explained how to install the plastic film on interior windows to help winterize, as well as how to check for drafts. To give you an idea of how cool an interior wall can be, we have a digital thermometer on a North wall in our kitchen. This morning the outside temperature was -15C and the wall temperature was 15C while the rest of the house is at about 20C. That is a big difference in my world. That coolness will permeate into the rest of the home, thus increasing the need to turn up the heat. Something as simple as displaying quilts on the walls will help insulate against the cold. (I can think of many who would be rolling their eyes at this point, but believe me it works.)

It is time for me to suck it up and go out to do the chores; our animals await. Then it is off to my sister's to babysit my nephews for the day.

Have a great day!


p.s. Have you done what you can to winterize your home to keep out Old Man Winter?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Where has 2011 gone?

It is hard to believe it is mid-way through November already! Where has 2011 gone?

This has been an exciting year for me, as I have been able to concentrate on writing my books as well as several articles. In addition to my series, I have been busy writing shorter eBooks as well. I recently published "Your First eBook" Course on Lulu and am currently working on a craft related book. (The title is not finalized yet, which is why all I am revealing so far is "craft related".)

It has also been a year of learning for me in more than one area of life. I have (and am still) learned about self-publishing, writing, marketing, blogging and staying on track. I have also learned about alpacas (we bought a small herd in June) and pot belly pigs (one joined our family in July). My experience with farm equipment maintenance and repair also increased this year, which is a good thing.

As I continue to write my series, I constantly make notes for the next books. Life has so much to give, and there is still so much to learn. I have learned most of what I know through trial and error (some of the errors are just downright funny, but more about those in the books), and life's experience is the best teacher. That is not to say a formal education is not important, because it is. However, some things just cannot be learned in books.

As I reflect on the past ten and a half months, I must say it has been a good year. Things have been a bit hectic at times, but we have gotten through. The only major catastrophe for me has been the motor going in my van just recently. I am afraid to find out cost to fix it; looks like we may become a one vehicle family for awhile. That will put a bit of a damper on things, but I will save money on gas. I will be home bound for the most part as my partner works full-time, but that too is not a bad thing. I don't care to drive in the winter anyhow, so my feelings aren't seriously hurt. I am not looking forward to not having the use of a vehicle though in case of an emergency. My sister told me I should just saddle up the horse when I need to go somewhere; don't think I want to make the 10 mile trek to town on horseback though.

Cooking 101 is in the final stages and is still scheduled for release on December 5. I am still interested in featuring a few more home-based businesses (cooking/baking related). If you or anyone you know would like to be featured, please let me know. Location is not an issue as these books will be available internationally. I look forward to helping anyone with an existing business increase awareness, as well as providing the information so others may make informed decisions on what is available.

Upcoming books will also feature existing home-based businesses; no matter your business, I will most likely be writing a book on something that it pertains to. Let me know what it is you do, and I will let you know where in the series it will be. The next book in the line-up is Cleaning, Storage and Decorating; date of publication TBA.

Have a great day is time for me to take my son to his orthodontist appointment (thanks Dad for the use of your truck).


Monday, 14 November 2011

Wanted: Home-based business info!

Good morning! As each of my books in The Homemaker Helper Series has a section dedicated to home-based business, I have decided to showcase local and not-so-local businesses in each book. I regret not thinking of this sooner. Cooking 101 is scheduled for release on December 5; I am very interested in showcasing Party Plan, Catering, Farmer's Market Vendors, etc. Your location can be anywhere, as this book will be available worldwide.

Everyone is being asked the same questions:

1. How long have you been at this business?
2. What are your reasons for starting this business?
3. How much do you make, ball park? (I understand some may not wish to answer this question; that is fine.)
4. How many presentations do you do per month, on average? (This question is directed at Party Plan, but if you have a table at a local market or cater, just include the average number of times you do it per month.)
5. What else would you like to share about your home-based business? Experiences, website, etc.

For those wishing to be included in this book, please send me an email ( with the answers to the question. Links will be included in the book which may result in orders or inquiries about your business for years to come.

Please contact me before November 20, 2011 if you wish to be included in this book. Thank you!

Have a great day!


Friday, 11 November 2011

Remembrance Day

Today is the day we officially honor those who fought for our freedom. Let us not forget the sacrifice they made. Many made the ultimate sacrifice; their lives. It is so easy for us to go about our daily lives and not give much thought to how fortunate we are. Although today is the day of honor, how many take time throughout the rest of the year to remember?

On Wednesday I attended an early Remembrance Day Ceremony at my children's school. My son and several of his classmates were responsible for putting together a program and delivering the message to all who attended. It was an emotional ceremony to say the least; there were many tears being wiped away throughout. The students had covered the stage door in black paper, had the lettering surrounded by poppies, and had candles lit on tables in front of the stage. Candles were also lit by some of the students for peace, love, dedication, honor and freedom. There was a slide show to correspond with the program, which showed our soldiers in full gear fighting for our country. Also honored were the soldiers who continue to fight for our freedoms today.

The students were fortunate enough to be able to interview a teacher whose son spent time in Iraq. It was very moving, as we don't generally think of anyone so close to home being in the service. Her and her family can look back on the experience and be thankful he is still with them; others weren't so lucky.

I encourage everyone to wear a poppy; not just today, but other days as well. I have poppies pinned to wall hangings in my home to honor the soldiers every day, not just on November 11. They deserve the honor and respect, as many paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Honor them with silence...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Holiday Wreath Pattern

As the holidays quickly approach, it is time to start considering putting up the decorations. I usually wait until after December 5th; that way Remembrance Day Ceremonies are over and the season is almost in full swing. One of the first things I like to put up is a wreath. There are many different types available on the market, but sometimes home-made is best. The following is a pattern taken from The Homemaker Helper Series: Crafts and is very simple to make.

Braided Wreath


3 strips of holiday fabric, each 3” X 36” – each strip should be a different print
Polyester stuffing
Ribbon – ¼” wide and 1 ½” wide
Sewing machine


1.    Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew using a ¼” seam allowance. Be sure to leave one end open.
2.    Turn the tubes right side out and fill with stuffing. Don’t overstuff as the tubes will be more difficult to braid.
3.    Stitch the tubes together at the open end. Braid the tubes, securing the other end with a few stitches as well.
4.    Join the two ends in a circle and secure with a few stitches. Add a hanging loop and a bow.

This wreath can be made to suit any season. Holiday prints with gold or silver threads would make for a very festive wreath.

For a larger wreath, all you will need to do is make the tubes longer. Make yours today!

Have a great day!


Monday, 7 November 2011

Crocheted Mitts

It is getting to that time of year when hands get cold, but it is nice to have one's fingers free. I made a pair of fingerless gloves this evening, modifying a pattern I found online. It is worked in single crochet and took me less than two hours to complete the pair. I added 11 rows to the original pattern, as it didn't allow for much wrist coverage. The pair I made is almost too small for me; perhaps a 5.5mm hook would have worked better than a 5mm.

When it comes to crocheting, sometimes all you need to do is change the hook size to modify the size slightly. Another factor that will influence size is the weight of the yarn. Using a baby yarn will make a nice soft item, but the size may differ drastically from the original. It is interesting to try the same pattern with different hook sizes and yarns to see the difference it makes. For a more elegant look (but not practical for warmth) you can use crochet cotton with a bigger hook. This will give you a lacier look. Adding a few rows will also make the gloves longer which will look very stylish when using crochet cotton.

This rule also applies to mitts, hats and scarves. In the case of these three however, you will want to use a heavier weight yarn with a tighter stitch to keep out the cold. Alpaca yarn is perfect for mitts and hats, as it is very warm. It also breathes and wicks moisture away from the skin, making it perfect for outdoor activities. Another way to make a heavier item is to use a double strand of yarn; this will make the stitches tighter and the mitts or hat warmer.

These go together quickly and sets can be made for the entire family in a weekend.

I will post pictures as I make the items; they will be available for sale locally and online.

Have a great day!


Sunday, 6 November 2011

10 Tips for Winter Travel

With the approaching winter, it is very important to be sure your vehicle is ready for the extreme cold many of us endure. I bring up this topic because I had a breakdown on Friday which reminded me one can never take a vehicle for granted. Needless to say, I am now without the use of my van. Perhaps my Dad will let me use one of his trucks for a couple weeks while mine gets fixed. My sister suggested I saddle up the horse and use him for transportation; don't think he'd appreciate the 10 mile walk to town though. Besides, I'm not too keen on it either. All I can say is BRRRRR!

No matter how much or how little we travel in the winter, it is important to always be prepared for an emergency. When it is -40 or during a blizzard, a 5-mile drive could end in disaster just as easily as a 500-mile drive.

  1. Good tires are very important, especially for areas that receive a lot of snow. Winter tires are best, but a good all-season radial will suffice. Ensure your drive tires are in good condition, but don't skimp on the free-wheels either.
  2. Keep your fuel above half a tank. There is less chance of moisture building up inside your tank and causing engine failure. Putting in a few ounces of gas line antifreeze doesn't hurt either with your fill-ups, especially in extremely cold weather.
  3. Do regular oil changes. Now is not the time to ignore the fact, as oil breaks down and can quickly cause engine failure. (Let's just say it is a lesson perhaps learned the hard way. Intentions alone do not save the engine.)
  4. Be sure all fluids are topped up. This includes the windshield washer fluid, proper engine anti-freeze, transmission fluid and brake fluid. 
  5. If the windshield wipers on your vehicle are on the verge of falling apart, replace them. Winter temperatures can wreak havoc with them.
  6. Keep extra blankets and a few snacks in the vehicle at all times. Also have a few bottles of water as well; they will freeze but can be thawed in a pinch.
  7. Keep an emergency kit containing: first aid kit, booster cables, candles and matches, extra winter wear, and a flashlight with extra batteries. Adding a couple of extra emergency blankets to the first aid kit won't hurt either. They don't take up a lot of space and can mean the difference between life and death.
  8. Drive for the weather conditions! Don't be driving 100km/hr if the road conditions only are safely traveled at 70km/hr. Many vehicles end up in a snowbank because the driver was in a hurry. Also DO NOT use cruise control in winter, as the tires keep spinning the same speed no matter what surface they are on. Hitting an icy patch can quickly send you into a spin and you end up with a real close view of the ditch.
  9. Most people carry a cell phone with them, so keeping a separate one in the vehicle for emergency use only is not usually feasible. However if you don't regularly use one, investing in a pay-as-you-go phone may not be a bad idea. You may not have trouble, but may come across another motorist who needs assistance.
  10. Something else to remember is in the event of a breakdown or collision, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE! Sadly, people think they can walk to find help and the end result is often grim. it is easy to become quickly disoriented when trying to navigate a blizzard.
Keep these tips in mind and winter travel should be worry free. And in the event of a breakdown, you will at least be prepared. 

Happy travels!


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The True Spirit of Christmas

Less than two months until Christmas! Have you started your shopping yet?

As we get closer to Christmas, we tend to panic when we start running out of shopping days. My question is, when did Christmas become so commercial? There is more money spent on advertising this season than throughout the entire year I'm sure. Kids watch TV and end up with lists a mile long; and they want the most expensive things.

When I was growing up, my Grandma made us flannel pajamas and knit slippers almost every year. I loved getting them! Sure, I had wish lists too, and my parents always made sure we got a toy of some sort. I can recall getting games, Legos and other toys. The one Christmas gift I got when I was perhaps 10 or 11 (don't quite remember) was a beading loom, which I still have. I spent hours making little bracelets with it. My point is, the handmade gifts and the simple gifts were the ones I remember most. Money was not as plentiful as it seems to be now; or perhaps people just go into debt more at Christmas to buy whatever the kids want.

Whatever happened to Christmas being about family and friends getting together, and not about the dollar value of gifts? I was raised to believe it was the thought that counts, but with the limits and lists today it seems the true spirit of the season is gone. I have made gifts for family members in the past; some were appreciated and others not so much. What many people don't realize when they receive a hand made gift is the love and work that has gone into it. Anyone can buy a gift, but one that was made is that much more special. I loved getting handmade gifts. I do have to say I hated to give up the worn out comfy pj's though.

I understand that not everyone knows how to make things, and not everyone wants a handmade gift. Sometime there are items on the list that we do not want to buy ourselves; or we can't justify spending money on something we don't really need. My ex husband refused to buy me appliances for gifts; I always said it didn't matter if it was one I wanted or needed. If it is on the list, should it be ignored? My opinion, no it shouldn't be. A few years ago my kids bought me a sandwich maker; it is one of the most used small appliances in our home. I was very happy with it.

As much as I like handmade gifts, this year I have a Kobo Vox eReader on my list. I have told family they could even pool their resources; it is something I will get a lot of use out of. I have downloaded several eBooks onto my computer and would love to be able to sit down and read elsewhere. Plus with the apps available for it, I will be able to utilize it for my own book writing and marketing. I had considered investing in a smartphone, but I think the Kobo Vox will be just as good.

It appears I have strayed off topic, but that's what makes life so interesting. Now, back to the spirit of Christmas. If making gifts isn't your idea of fun or you feel they won't be truly appreciated, why not make some ornaments for the tree instead? Spend some time with family members making ornaments for your tree and a few extras which may be used as gift tags. Make a Star for the tree or a Wreath for the door. Patterns for these can be found in the first book in The Homemaker Helper Series which is available in print and as an eBook.

Spend quality time with your family; that's what really matters. Don't get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and forget what it's really about. Slow down; invite friends over for eggnog and a visit. Take the time to go for a walk and enjoy the lights and decorations. Make decorating your home a family affair. It isn't too late to make a gift or three; go through your list and create something they will cherish for years to come.

I am off to help my Dad for awhile today, then Ross and I are going to the Terri Clark concert tonight! I can hardly wait!

Have a great day and remember the true spirit of Christmas; not what it has become.


Monday, 31 October 2011

10 Tips for Halloween Safety!

Happy Halloween! It is hard to believe October is almost over!  Tonight is the night when all the little ghosts, goblins and Harry Potter's will be out and about; not to mention the cute dragons, tigers and princesses. It is so exciting for the kids today.

With the Trick or Treat festivities, it is also important to keep safety in mind.

  1. Wear a costume that doesn't inhibit the ability to see properly. A painted face is better than a mask which blocks vision. Also be sure it fits properly and isn't going to trip you as you walk.
  2. Do not cross back and forth across the street; walk up one side, then cross at the corner and walk down the other. Not all motorists drive safely, so be sure to be extra careful.
  3. Do not go inside stranger's homes. If they ask you to come inside, politely refuse. If it means no treat, then that's okay. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Do not eat any homemade treats or apples; there have been far too many injuries from pins and other things being in them. Not everyone gets in the Halloween spirit; they would just as soon cause harm as do good.
  5. Parents, please go through the candy before the kids eat it. If they want a treat along the way, give them something they can have from home.
  6. Carry a flashlight. Not all homes will be well lit; safety wise it is best to avoid those that do not appear to be welcoming.
  7. Leave your pets at home. The little doggie costumes are cute, but even the cutest dog can bite. With all the activity, pets can become stressed. 
  8. Keep in contact with each other; have a route mapped out and carry a cell phone or two-way radio. This is especially important in bigger centers, but don't let the small town atmosphere fool you. 
  9. Travel with a group rather than alone. Safety in numbers!
  10. If you are the one behind the wheel driving your little ghosts and goblins about, be careful. Not all kids will remember to look before crossing the street.
Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!


Friday, 28 October 2011

Winterizing Your Home

As the weather in my part of the world gets cooler, it is time to start winterizing. We live in an older house right now, and the windows are 1940's and 1950's originals. I say 40's and 50's because the house was built in two parts. The original construction has 10 foot ceilings, while the addition has 8 foot ceilings. The windows however, are not the latest in energy efficiency.

The first winter we lived here we put plastic on the inside of the windows, but quickly learned it would have been good to have it on the outside as well. When the northwest winds blow, our kitchen and living room are cool; when the southeast winds blow it is the bedrooms and bathroom that feel the chill. To avoid paying a $500.00 gas bill each month, we take measures to keep the wind from blowing through the house. The biggest places we lose our heat is the windows.

The inside windows will get their new layer of shrink wrap this weekend; possibly even this afternoon. I think this is one of the best inventions anyone in a cold climate can utilize. It is available in almost any hardware or department store, and is easy to apply. Be sure your window frames are clean and free of dirt, dust or grease otherwise the double sided tape won't stick and the plastic won't stay in place. When you are ready to install the plastic, carefully place the tape on the window frame first. Do not remove the paper on the topside of the tape until you are ready to put on the plastic.

When you are ready for the plastic, remove the paper from the tape. Ensure your plastic is cut at least 2" larger than your area to be covered; this will allow for any minor miscalculations (and believe me, it does happen). Apply the plastic film as evenly as possible. There is no need to stretch it at this point, just be sure it will cover the area. Once it is secured to the tape, use a hair dryer to shrink it so you have a clear view of the outside. The shrinking also helps with the insulating qualities by not allowing drafts to stretch the plastic. If in any event the wind blows hard enough to stretch the plastic you can always reapply the hairdryer.

Along with the windows doors are also a prime spot for drafts to come in, especially in older homes. Now is the time to replace weatherstripping that has cracked or peeled off. Also be sure the door sweeps aren't cracked or broken so drafts can't get in. Sometimes it is difficult to prevent 100% of the drafts getting in under the door, so you can easily make a draft stopper.

To make your own draft stopper measure the width of your door, and add 4". Cut a piece of fabric (this can be any type; denim or corduroy work best) the length of your measurement by 8". Fold it in half right sides together, then stitch along three sides using a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the tube right side out and stuff with fiberfill, fleece scraps or bits of quilt batting. Stitch the end and place at the base of your door. This will help keep the heat in and the cold out.

An old but simple trick to finding out where your drafts are is to hold a candle near the window and door frames. You must be very careful doing this so you don't accidentally get too close to curtains or blinds. The last thing you want is a fire! It is best to remove them before doing your draft check. Also check around outlets, as they are another source of drafts. Outlet insulation is available at your local hardware store.

I am off to winterize my about you?

Have a great day!


New Survey

Good morning! I have a new survey available. The results will help me provide better content for upcoming newsletters and blog posts. I encourage everyone to take it; it's only 5 questions.

As I continue with my book series, I come across more to write about. There are aspects of homemaking I hadn't even considered when I started, but see the opportunity rising to share what I learn. When a person is a homemaker (man or woman) there is so much more to their job description than most people realize. They are partner, friend, parent, chef, maid, bookkeeper, nurse, vet, plumber, electrician, and the list goes on. Granted not all homemakers have the same circumstances; some have children, some do not; some live alone and work from home, others have a spouse.

The skills needed to maintain a smooth running household are also not just for homemakers; they are for anyone living under their own roof. Many are skills they have learned while growing up. In some circumstances however, caregivers have not taught children all of the skills they will need when they are on their own. Many parents take it for granted their children will just "know" what to do. As my son gets older (graduating this year) I fill him in on things he will need to know. He knows how to cook basic meals, can do dishes (when he chooses to), knows how to operate a washing machine, and is well aware of the responsibility associated with having a license and a vehicle. There are also the other tasks he will be responsible for once he is off to college and living on his own, such as the grocery shopping, paying his bills, keeping his car maintained, and keeping his apartment clean. It will be a whole new experience for him, and I wish him the best.

There are also those young adults who have not had the role models in their lives to shape who they are. They have not had loving parents or a safe environment to come home to. That is sad but realistic. My goal as an author, homemaker and mom is to help those who need some guidance in the right direction. My books will cover all aspects of homemaking; whether it is done full time or part time. I realize not everyone can stay at home, as we need cashiers, doctors, dentists, postal workers, restaurant employees, etc. I am very interested to help those who could use that extra little push in the right direction. The best part is, no matter how old you are you can always learn something new.

As the saying goes, "A little guidance goes a long way."

Have a great day!