Wednesday 30 December 2015

Windows 10, How do I Hate Thee, Let me Count the Ways...

Ahhhghghghgh, so we got talked into the free Windows 10 update, more than 30 days ago, and maybe I'm just a dinosaur who prefers things the way they were, but I'm so NOT happy with it. And yes, I looked it up, and after 30 days you can't go through a bunch of steps to get rid of it. Well, maybe someone can, but I can't in my limited capacity as a computer owner.

The latest thing is when I look something up, or click on a blog to read from my list of favourites, the circle thing spins for a while, then a screen comes up showing a little "thought cloud" and the words, "Hmm, we can't reach this page", then three suggestions: make sure you've got the right web address, refresh the page, search for what you want." I click refresh and it usually takes me to what I was wanting.  I end up having to do this round about way of getting to sites almost all of the time.

So... I don't see myself delving into my settings (or wherever I am supposed to solve this), nor do I feel like taking the computer to a professional for a chunk of money. Just wondering if anyone else is having the same luck with Windows 10?

On a different note, who has started packing up Christmas? I have the urge to take it all away now and get back to normalcy.

Saturday 26 December 2015

Christmas 2015

I hope everyone in Blogland had a peaceful, merry Christmas. Our Christmas this year was very nice. We watched our movies that we watch every year (Scrooge, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story) and we opened presents Christmas morning with the big hit being my husband's miniature Godzilla that has a light that shines out its mouth and real Godzilla sound (seriously). We played some games and went back in time with Snakes and Ladders, Uno, and even Candyland!We ate my baked goods, drank some wine, and stuffed ourselves on two turkey dinners (one at our home Christmas eve and one at my brother's Christmas day).  It is so wonderful having our two children home with us.

 As we were driving home from my brother's house in a city two and half hours away from us, we just had to stop and look at this home. There was even music to go along with this spectacle. Is it just me, or is this a little over the top?

I bet their neighbours hate them.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Tree Decorating Traditions

Last night we decorated our tree. I think we are a little later than most people. We have a real tree, and we wanted to wait until our daughter was back from university, so it was better to wait, rather than purchase it too early and have it dry out too quickly, or leave our daughter out of the decorating.

The tree has been in different spots over the years. This year it is in the living room, or "red room" as we refer to it. We moved a wing back chair and little side table out of the way. The tree fits perfectly. The procedure goes as follows: my husband puts it into the tree stand. This involves using the drill with a hook on it to screw the trunk into place, sometimes with blocks of wood to make up the extra space. The tree stand is heavy, so it goes on a mat so that it does not dent the wooden floor underneath.

Next come the lights. We just have plain, clear bulbs. I am in charge of the lights. After that, my daughter takes care of the beads. We have strands of "pearl" beads and gold beads. When she is done putting on the beads, I put on the ribbons. We have had these ribbons for so many years, but every year, they are carefully wound up and stored away to be used again next year. They are wide, wired ribbons that catch the light nicely. My daughter usually rearranges them a bit so they look perfect.

Then everybody gets involved in hanging the ornaments. The colour scheme for the tree is red / green / gold. No blue or silver. We usually start by clustering three plain balls on one wire and distribute those throughout the tree. We have collected ornaments over the years. My husband likes the special glass ones, like Santas or snowmen, or a reindeer. We do have a few "kid" ornaments that either have their name on them, or they made in school.

Traditionally, our daughter puts the angel on the top. This year she only needed to stand on a kitchen stool and place it on the top. Other years, when she was little, she would sit on her dad's shoulders and put the angel on.

A final job for my husband is to use some thin, sturdy wire to wire the tree in place. This year he has secured it to a door knob and the old hinge on the door behind it. We had an unfortunate tree falling incident in the past which resulted in a few busted ornaments and we don't want a repeat this year!!

Of course, the supervisor was there to make sure everything went smoothly.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

On what do you do your blogging?

Hello anyone out there reading this blog... I am thinking of getting either a new laptop or maybe an ipad for a variety of reasons, with blogging being one of them. I was wondering what any of you use? Also, what browser is best for you? Do you just put your pictures into your own computer or do you use another picture storage online? I am not hugely technical, but tend to just learn things as I need them. I am old fashioned in that I actually type on a keyboard. I am not a thumb-typer.  I do not own an iPhone and don't see myself purchasing one anytime soon, if that makes a difference.

I have tried using firefox, but now when I try to open it, it becomes MSN. I have no idea why. I don't like google chrome because it wants to be the boss of our home computer and it messes up other things already in place.

So, any suggestions would be appreciated. I don't know if any kind of tablet would be the way to go in terms of convenience of size, or if a laptop is better...  I might make a decision in time for a Boxing Day sale. Thanks for any suggestions.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Stealing 35 Questions from Other People's Blogs

I am borrowing an idea from Home Grown Journal and Our Quiet Life in Suffolk because I enjoyed reading their responses to these questions, so I thought someone out there in blog land might enjoy mine. Here goes:

1. Do you like blue cheese? 
It's not my favourite, but it is my husband's, particularly Stilton blue cheese. In fact, he often receives some as a present for things like birthday, Father's Day, etc. I like it in small doses.

2. Have you ever smoked?
I think I tried a sneaky one with some pre-teen friends and then again later tried a menthol one with a housemate in university. Now, I cannot even stand to be close to someone who smokes, even when they are not smoking, for the smell that comes off their clothes. Blech!!

3. Do you own a gun?
I am Canadian. I don't do guns.

4. What flavor of Kool Aid is your favourite?
I don't drink Kool Aid at all anymore. As a child, my mom thought a treat was orange Kool Aid and salmon sandwiches. (Note: I HATE salmon sandwiches, always have, my mother continuously forgot that fact, confused me with siblings that liked salmon)... the whole thought of Kool Aid brings back bad memories).

5. Do you get nervous before dental appointments?
Not anymore. I'm not afraid of the pain like I was as a child. Dentistry has definitely improved over the years!!

6. What do you think of hot dogs?
They're o.k. if you can have them with fried onions, but I don't eat them very often.

7. What's your favourite Christmas movie?
I LOVE Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase (Save me the neck), and I also love A Christmas Story (you'll shoot your eye out kid! I like the Wizard of Oz. Fra-jeel-ay, it must be Italian). My apologies to those who have no clue what I'm writing about.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
I have one coffee, instant, with milk (NO sugar).

9. Can you do push ups?
Hanging my head in shame here. I used to work out with weights and even then I did bent-knee push ups. Now, since becoming rather sloth-like (I'm totally blaming my waxing and waning hormones here), I don't think I could even do those.

10. What's your favourite piece of jewelry?
I would say my rings. My husband had my wedding ring made from the stones in a gaudy cocktail ring his grandmother gave him. So, my wedding ring has a square cut emerald as its main stone (which I love). He also gave me a ring with three garnets in it. Ironically, my daughter was born in May so her birthstone is emerald. And after receiving the garnet ring, I had our second child, my son who was born in January, making garnet his birthstone. I used to tell them it was like I was wearing them.

11. What's your favourite hobby?
I would say gardening, both vegetable and flowers.

12. Do you have ADD?

13. Do you wear glasses or contacts?
I have never needed glasses until a couple of years ago, when I started carrying cheap reading glasses (magnifiers) in my purse so I could read the small print on packages when I was shopping. I seem to need them even more now and it bugs the heck out of me.

14. What's your middle name?

15. What are your thoughts at this moment?
Will anyone even read this?

16. Name three drinks you regularly consume.
Coffee, tea, wine.

17. What is a current worry of yours?
Hmm, this is tough to narrow it down to one thing. Likely a family issue that I won't go into in blogland.

18. What do you currently hate?
Pajama pants in public.

19. Where is your favourite place to be?
Where I am now - home.

20. What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve?
This year, we are having a family member stay with us for a few days, so likely we will just be home, nothing too exciting.

21. To where would you like to travel?
Switzerland, Greece, England (countryside), other parts of the Carribean...

22. Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their own?
I'm not sure I even understand this question. Is the emphasis on "on their own", meaning without assistance from someone else? Or is this question about knowing three people who would do this questionnaire? I don't know.

23. Do you own slippers?
Yes, I'm wearing them right now.

24. What colour shirt are you wearing?

25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
No. Cotton in warm months. Flannel in the winter.

26. Can you whistle?
Yes, I can. I'm no Roger Whittaker, but I'm not too bad.

27. What is your favourite colour?
There are certain shades of green that I love. I also tend to wear black. I also love a warm camel colour.... (I don't think it's fair to be asked to choose just one).

28. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I don't sing in the shower.

29. Would you be a pirate?
No, I get motion sick on boats.

30. What's in your pocket right now.

31. What's the last thing that made you laugh?
The biggest laugh I had was when my son accidentally scared my husband and the way my husband shouted, did a little frightened dance, and then got mad at my son for scaring him (again, accidentally).

32. What vehicle do you drive?
A well-worn Toyota Highlander. (Which is paid for, I might add!)

33. What's the worst injury you've ever had?
I don't know if you can count this as an injury, but I had a DVT in my right leg (blood clot).

34. Do you love where you live?
My home, yes. The surrounding village, not so much.

35. Would you change your first name if you could?
No. It's who I am.

Friday 11 December 2015

Early Morning Gratitude

It is early morning when I try to wake our 15 (almost 16!) year old son, just after 6:00 am. He isn't easy to rouse - he's a good sleeper. I come back two or three times to his room, turning on his light, nudging his arm, reminding him that he has practise. It is a basketball morning. I need to get him to the school by 7:15. We almost always get there a bit late. Even though he showers and gets things ready, packing his basketball shoes, grabbing his lunch, eating a "power breakfast" of a granola bar because he doesn't have time to anything else, he is usually comatose in the vehicle until we pull up to the school.

There is very little light at this time of the morning. The headlights are necessary as I drive the country roads on the back way to the school. It is quiet and peaceful. We don't talk much on the way there. It's only a short drive.

Sometimes it's hard to coordinate mornings with three of us getting ready (and one bathroom, that renovation isn't done yet!), making lunches, letting the cat in and out about four times, remembering to grab my laptop, straightening my hair, figuring out who is doing what after work... and sometimes it is frustrating having to take our son somewhere before our work day starts. Sometimes my husband takes him and rushes to have a shower before he goes to work.

Two recent events, however, make me thankful that I have these busy, dark, early mornings (and had them with our daughter as well - volleyball mornings usually). A young man in the community committed suicide . He left a lengthy note. It was a huge funeral. A young woman, my sister-in-law's niece, just died of a rare and very aggressive form of cancer. She had her whole life ahead of her. I believe she was 22 years old. I imagine the parents of these two young adults would give anything for the opportunity to go into their child's room and wake them up, or share a cold car ride together. They would probably long for another simple conversation, or to have them sit next to them on the couch and burrow their feet behind them, sharing a blanket, laughing at the same stupid scenes in a movie. I cannot imagine what the families must be going through. I'm just truly thankful that our two children are healthy and happy. Those are the basics- healthy and happy- the rest is just icing on the cake.

Go hug your children.

Sunday 6 December 2015

Bread making and more renovating

Yesterday I dragged out my breadmaker. Why? Because I am trying NOT to eat carbs in the form of breads, cakes, cookies, buns... so naturally I thought I should bake some bread (glutton for punishment).  So that's why I picked up some fresh yeast when I went grocery shopping and also a small bag of powdered milk. The ONLY reason I would buy powdered milk is for breadmaker recipes. Otherwise, it smells gaggy to me and brings back a bad Home Ec. memory from elementary school.

I found a recipe online that was for whole wheat bread and included honey and molasses. It was to make a two pound loaf. So, I put everything in, in the order it called for, pushed a button and waited about five hours. I was pleasantly surprised that my breadmaker (which hasn't been used in over a year, maybe more) worked like a charm, if you ignore the squeaky sound it made.

I should have taken a picture of the breadmaker before I took the loaf out. I know it shouldn't have been so big as to press ominously against the little viewing window. But I couldn't really do anything about the ballooning bread, short of stopping it and abandoning the whole venture. So I let it go until it beeped three times at me.

I only had to wrestle it out a little, then tipped it out onto a cooling rack. Then I took a picture.
You can see where it oozed out over the top of the inner baking container and stuck to the inside of the lid of the bread maker.
But even though it looks odd, it turned out to be a very nice loaf of whole wheat bread. I only had one slice, but husband and son have both eaten a couple of slices. I probably won't make another loaf for a while and if I use the same recipe I will have to cut it back a bit.

Meanwhile, our home is often in some sort of state of renovation. Most recently was our kitchen which is now 90% done. The project that my husband is currently working on is the upstairs bathroom. In our old house (more than a century old, but not totally sure exactly how old it is), there was never a bathroom when it was built. When we purchased it 16 years ago, the bathroom was very big and was in a room that was likely a parlour type of room, maybe a dining room. Either way, it was turned into a bathroom at some point. Upstairs in our house there were four bedrooms. Three bedrooms were of a respectable size, and one was a bit smaller. That room was our son's room for a little while but he has since moved into a different room. Then that room was the inevitable "storage room", but let's be honest, it was the junk room, a place to store things that didn't really have a home.

Now that room is being turned into an upstairs bathroom - a real luxury when it is done. I will not miss having to go all the way downstairs (18 of them!) in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. My husband is doing all of the work (in addition to doing his full time job). He was at it this weekend. Here is a sneak peak at the work being done.
The tub and surround is already in place. Where the ladder is will be the spot where the toilet will be tucked in. The ceiling will be dropped from the original high ceiling in order to accomodate lighting and wiring and such.
The blue wall that you see beside the tub enclosure is leftover from when this was our son's room. That alcove sort of space will be a built in cupboard for towels, supplies, etc.
This shot is looking into the closet in which my husband has placed a cheap shelving unit to put his tools while he is working on this project. When everything is finished, this closet will be a linen closet, something I have been waiting 25 years for. In every one of our houses, we have not had a designated linen closet. I have stored sheets and blankets in all sorts of ways like in drawers of dressers placed in spare bedrooms, in large rubber maid containers in "junk rooms", and in a bathroom closet which wasn't really big enough to be a linen as well as a bathroom storage closet. So, although it will be wonderful having an upstairs bathroom, I think I might just be a wee bit more excited to have a proper linen closet!! There is no completion date goal because this reno is happening when my husband has time and energy.

I often wonder what it would be like to have a totally finished home. Have you ever lived through multiple renovations? Do you hire people, or do it yourselves?

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Made to Last

I was reading a post in Hopalong Hollow Gazette  where the blogger was describing her collection of threads and wooden spools and it made me think back to the little front sewing room in my grandmother's house. She had a treadle Singer sewing machine in a wooden cabinet. There were some small drawers in the sewing machine cabinet as well as in a desk with sewing items in them. I used to love looking through them with their collection of threads, yarns, thimbles, bobbins... I used to watch my grandmother and sometimes my mother darn socks. My uncle wore what we referred to as barn socks which would have been thick work socks. If a hole developed in the heel, it would be darned. This meant that a glass light bulb was put into the sock where the hole developed so that a rounded shape could be achieved, like a person's heel. Then a darning needle and some yarn was used to weave and repair the hole. The sock was then able to be worn until a new hole developed.

Now if I get a hole in one of my socks, that sock is no longer worn. I WILL NOT be darning socks. Why? Well, because people just don't. Things aren't made to last anymore, anyway. Things get purchased, used for a short period of time, then they break or wear out, and they get trashed. And it is ridiculous. Actually, I don't throw out my son's socks that have holes in them. He likes the ankle height socks and I have a collection of them in a basket that get used as dusting rags. They fit perfectly over my hand and I spray them with something like Pledge and then when they get dirty with dust, I throw them in the wash with my towels. But, apart from my son's holey socks, many things get thrown away.

We have had fairly new items break on us over the years. Often this happens soon after the year's warranty is up. We purchased a washer and dryer set: stacking and high efficiency. My husband enjoys researching what to buy by reading Consumer's Reports. Regardless of good reports, the washing machine stopped going through the cycles. It wouldn't fill up properly. My husband thought perhaps it was the "Mother Board", i.e. the brains of the thing, so he ordered a new one. That wasn't it. Luckily I am married to a rather handy guy and he was actually able to figure out it was all down to one flimsy cheap little piece of tubing which got a tiny hole in it due to the action of the machine and he was able to replace it. Most people do not have the patience, skills, or tools to fix their own appliances. Do you think the manufacturers count on that?

We bought new kitchen appliances when we finally renovated our tired, old kitchen. Sure enough, the nifty little digital read out on our stainless steel dishwasher stopped reading out. Well, it shows some things, but doesn't show everything anymore. I really liked the words that let you know the load was clean and not just rinsed. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Likely this is a part that costs less than a dollar. Yes, our appliances are still under warranty. No, I can't be home between 10:00 and 2:00 for someone to come and fix it. No, there isn't someone who can hang out in our house and wait for you.

My parents had things for years. I mean YEARS. There was a refrigerator in the basement. It was called the milk fridge. (That's another story). Anyway, this was a small fridge that wasn't always in the basement. At one time it was the fridge in the kitchen. It was old. It likely wasn't very energy efficient. But that fridge still worked after all of us had grown up and moved out of the house! That fridge put our appliances to shame. I'm not kidding when I say that we have gone through three dishwashers in the course of maybe 15 years. My son wants a new gaming system for Christmas because the one that he had for, hmmmm, maybe two years??? doesn't work anymore. Prior to that gaming system, the one we had when the kids were younger also "gave up the ghost" and we had to replace that as well.

These are expensive things to replace. These aren't socks. But even little, inexpensive things break easily, long before they should. I was cutting a delicious gourmet  frozen pizza with a circular pizza cutter and the round blade broke off of the handle. I honestly wasn't leaning into it or anything. Can I survive without a pizza cutter? Yes, but that's not the point. (And actually handy dandy husband went out to the shop with the broken cutter and replaced a part and now it's useable again... but most people would toss it in the garbage).

And don't even get me started on vacuums. We have gone through A LOT in the course of our marriage. Granted, my husband sometimes has been known to use a house vacuum more like a shop vac and suck up various home renovation chunks and particles with it... but I recall my mother using an old long canister Electrolux for what seemed like my entire childhood. (Come to think of it, we've gone through a few shop vacs as well!!!)

How 'bout you? Tired of things not lasting? Or do you have a good old tried and true item that has lasted for years?