30 December 2008

Saving Money and Watching Less TV

A few weeks ago, Ben called Rogers and cut our cable and internet bill in half. He did this by reducing our cable channels down to channels 1 through 28 and the internet was reduced to "hi-speed lite" (I think, I could be wrong). Although the Rogers person on the phone said these changes would take effect on Dec 22, they only just did yesterday.

So today we have channels up to and including 28, and let me tell you, it sucks. The only saving grace is CityTV, and that's about it. Seriously-Maury Povich at 10AM? I don't think so! Ok, I can still watch Regis and Kelly and the View on channel 12 if I want. But bye bye to Discovery, National Geographic (I heart the Dog Whisperer) and my endless re-runs of CSI and NCIS.

This is a sacrifice that I was willing to make, and although I'm experiencing a bit of a shock at the moment, I keep reminding myself that this is a GOOD thing. Instead of watching soul-sucking television, I'm doing other things. Like working on a cross-stitch Kokopelli that I started 3 years ago in Windsor. And I imagine I'll be working on some other projects, too, when I find the time.

Another bonus of our reduced television access is that Delilah won't be exposed to constant television like some kids. A lot of parents I have seen/heard of use the TV as a babysitter. Not us. I'm going to see how this goes and who knows, maybe we'll cancel cable totally!

27 December 2008

I Made a Smilebox Card!

Click to play Holiday Card
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox greeting

Making this card was super easy. I just went to Smilebox and started! You have to create an account, but the basic membership is free. Totally cool and way better than some of those free ecards out there!

26 December 2008

Happy Holidays!

Hope everyone had a Merry Yule, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or whatever it is you celebrate! We're in the midst of the 12 Days of Yule/Christmas. For those who don't know, that's from Yule until the 2nd of January. It might even be the 13 days of Yule, depending on how you count...but that would be too superstitious for SOME folks.

January 2nd will be when I take down my tree and any holiday lights, if I had some up. Leaving them up past this date just shows how lazy you are. But that's just my opinion, don't get offended if you're one of those people who leave them up year round.

On another note, my grandfather declared last night at my maternal aunt's Christmas celebration that Delilah will be walking within a month. That would make her...not quite 9 months old. Gee, I hope not. She just started crawling and we haven't baby-proofed the house yet! I guess that's a task for this week.

16 December 2008

25% Off Sale!

Hey everyone out there in blogger land!

The company I represent by going to houses and selling candles and amazing accessories has really done it this time! Last night at the product launch meeting they announced that there will be a 25% off sale on EVERY SINGLE ITEM in the Fall/Holiday (current) catalogue between December 16 and December 31. Seriously.

What does that mean for all you people who know me? And some who don't, feel free to contact me for info if you're interested...

I'm having a "last kick at the can 2008 party" that will be entered on December 22. Should you care to see a catalogue, email or call me. Those who know me know my cell phone number. Those who don't may check out my profile which will tell you my email address.

Not only will you get 25% off everything in the catalogue, but you also have the opportunity to purchase guest specials and can enter into a draw to win one of four hostess specials-I don't need them! PLUS, with every purchase of $50 (before taxes), you get one ticket to be entered in a draw for a $50 gift certificate to be used toward new 2009 product! Not only that, but you will get an extra 3 tickets if you book a show for January or February. (Plus you'll get all sorts of benefits for hosting a show, like a $125-$150 shopping spree, half-off items, and more!)

Happy shopping!

12 December 2008

Merry...oh, nevermind.

Chances are good (bad) that tomorrow will be Ben's last day at Ultimate Suzuki. At least until Spring, anyway. Apparently a slow season combined with the current economic slowdown has been an issue with their viability and ability to sustain all of their employees over the winter.

I knew this was coming, since last week when Ben gave me a heads up that it was a possibility. Even BEFORE that, I knew it could happen - it IS the automotive sector, after all. It sucks because Ben really likes that job, and it suits him. It also sucks because this means that we'll be making only 55% of our former income, since I'm still on maternity leave.

Yes, I could go back early (and lose my remaining time off). It would gain us an extra 400 dollars or so a month. Is it worth it? No way. I'll consider it if it comes down to us not being able to pay our bills. Other than that, forget it-Delilah needs me. Sure, Ben would be here, but it's not the same. She's still exclusively breastfed (thank goodness, one less mouth to buy groceries for) and there is no way I'd be able to pump enough to sustain her while I was away at work. Perhaps it's my pump but I just can't get very much-even first thing in the morning. Never mind the fact that it would totally suck if I had to pump at work. I would do it, if it came down to it, but it would suck.

Besides the economic part being pretty crappy, I'm kind of happy. Not that he's laid off and technically unemployed, but because he gets some time off (until he gets a job, anyway) and will get to spend a little more time with Delilah. It will also be nice for Delilah to see more of her Daddy.

Another bonus to Ben being off for a bit is that he'll get to see what MY life is like. Sometimes I think he just doesn't get what it's like to care for an infant 24 hours a day. He certainly doesn't see it as a "job" - not like his, where he has to go to work and do whatever for 8 or 9 hours a day. When he comes home and the dishes aren't done, or he has no clean underwear because I just didn't get around to doing that third load of laundry that day, I think he thinks that I sit around on my ass all day eating bonbons and watching soap operas (reminiscent of Peggy Bundy). Au contraire, my friend, au contraire.

U.S. Auto Bailout

So, the Bill that was in the U.S. Senate that was proposing the Big-3 auto maker bailout has bombed. Why? Partly because the automakers refused to slash their costs: namely, the ridiculously high wages paid to employees.



They deserve to go bankrupt. Call me short-sighted. Tell me that the collapse of the auto industry will mean the collapse of the economy.

Oh well. We'll get through it. Why support an unsustainable society? Because we're AFRAID of what will happen when we stop feeding the gluttonous beast that is an over-paid bunch of consumers who discard things when they aren't broken? Because they can afford it?

Maybe we need to re-think our values.

11 December 2008

Yule Gift Giving

Finally - success! I came upon a 5-minute fudge recipe on the back of a Carnation Evaporated Milk label and have since made 2 batches. One in the simple, original chocolate flavour and one in a chocolate and peanut butter flavour. Yum. Next I'll try a maple batch. And if I have time, I'll make an Irish Cream batch.

Aside from my mom's gift this year (Il Divo tickets, don't tell her), I'm making everything. Crochet hats, mittens, scarves...stuffed animals, and more. Add those to a small box of fudge, and everyone in my immediate family will each have handmade gifts, worth more (in my opinion) than something store-bought.

08 December 2008

Did You Say "Fudge?"

I'm sorry, you must have me mistaken with someone who can make fudge. I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to make fudge and other goodies to give as gifts this year. Today was my second failed attempt.

My first batch was supposed to be maple. I used a 5 out of 5 stars Maple recipe from recipezaar. The second, an award-winning peanut butter recipe.

I followed both recipes exactly, yet they both failed. Abysmally.

My maple batch didn't harden and was more like pulled taffy-before you pull it.

The peanut butter batch I made today is like....well, I think it would have worked with less peanut butter. It's really crumbly and soft. Kind of like really old cheese. It tastes fantastic, but it just isn't right.

Dare I try again?

04 December 2008


So. Madame Jean has disappointed me.

During this economic crisis, she has granted Harper's request to prorogue Parliament. Which means, in a nutshell, to suspend Parliament without dissolving it. Why did he want to do that? To grant him time to address the lack of confidence in the House of Parliament. This gives him 6 weeks.

For those not following/understanding the election, what happened was he got called on his bullying ways and all the other parties - ALL of them, grouped together and basically told him they weren 't going to put up with his crap anymore. He had a few options: to resign, call a new election, or prorogue parliament.

The ideal option would have been for him to resign so that all the opposing parties could form a new, allied party and take over. This would have happened if Madame Jean (Governor General) would have denied Harper's request to prorogue Parliament. Instead, she agreed.

This is an issue because it means, during this critical time in our economy there is no Parliament.

Shame, shame on you, Mr Harper.

Edited to add:
For those of you who don't know much about our political system, there is an awesome primer for basic knowledge here. Thanks Stephanie!

30 November 2008

How My Family Celebrated

When I was a kid, I believed in Santa. Even after I turned 6 or 7ish and my aunt told me he didn't exist (thanks!), I still believed in the magic of Christmas. My parents were never religious, even if we did go to church for a few years when I was little, so Christmas wasn't about Jesus so much as the celebration of family and such.

Each year my mother would put up the Christmas tree the weekend following Halloween. Seriously. I used to make fun of her but this year I found myself excited to do the same - even if I haven't actually managed to get it put up yet. I realise that my mom wasn't crazy, just festive. She would turn on the lights faithfully each and every night, inside and out.

Other than that, there didn't seem to be a lot of other festivities. I don't remember carolling or anything like that, I don't think we even listened to Christmas music other than on Christmas Eve and day. These days, I listen to the Christmas music online for the entire month of December. I prefer the secular songs (Frosty, etc) rather than the overly religious ones, but enjoy them all, nevertheless.

On Christmas Eve we would all beg my mother to open a gift. My dad was the worst culprit. I think he was the one who started the tradition and it has continued from there. We were only allowed to open ONE, and we didn't get to choose it. My mom did.

When we were REALLY little, Mom would also wrap little tiny presents and hide them in the tree. That was in addition to our stockings. Oh, our stockings...my Mom eventually started getting so many stocking stuffers that she had to custom make ours. They were HUGE-a small child could have fit into one! And they were always crammed full of individually wrapped gifts.

Our presents from Santa were always wrapped in special paper and had different hand writing on the tags. They were very distinguishable from the other gifts. I think my Mom still buys and wraps presents from Santa.

Christmas night was always a tough time for me, since I found it impossible to fall asleep. I was always so excited! I'd wake up early and creep into the living room. We were allowed to open our stocking stuffers if we woke earlier than my parents, which wasn't often. Then we'd open all our other gifts and have breakfast. Depending on whose turn it was that year to host the dinner, in the afternoon we'd head out to my Aunt Elva's or Aunt Sandra's, or stay home, for Christmas dinner. My mom and her two sisters used to rotate the responsibility for Christmas dinner. On Boxing Day we'd go to my Dad's sister's house for another dinner with his side of the family.

In the last few years we've kept a similar tradition, but Christmas Eve has taken on more importance. Now that my brother and myself are grown and live on our own, we go to my parents' home in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and stay the night. We have a nice dinner and hors d'oeurves later in the evening and listen to holiday music and play games and such. A little alcoholic imbibing also takes place. This year will be Delilah's first Christmas! I can't wait.

I haven't gone to my Dad's sister's place in the last few years, so we'll see if we make it this year. Most of my cousins haven't even met Delilah. My aunt Elva will be hosting Christmas dinner this year to make it easier on my grandfather, who lives with her. He's losing his sight and life has been difficult for him lately.

It's amazing how much things change from when you're a kid. Family traditions evolve, disappear, and new ones continually develop. It will be interesting to see how mine and Ben's take shape as Delilah grows older. Ben and I celebrate Yule, and have no plans to go along with the Santa myth. This year we'll exchange gifts on the day of Yule and have a nice dinner with a few friends and family members then host a stay-awake-over to make sure the sun comes up after the longest night. We plan tokeep a fire burning in the fireplace all night long, play games, drink hot cocoa (and other stuff too, I'm sure) and chat. It'll be nice. Hopefully I can stay awake!

27 November 2008

Update Post

I have several topics of discussion today. First, the One Can a Month Challenge. Secondly, my weight loss self-challenge. Last, I'll talk about my work with Tyler, my Jack Russell Terrier.

Wednesday was garbage day. We put out a can, as usual, but instead of the 3 or 4 small kitchen plastic bags inside the can, there was ONE. How I did this:
~when shopping, choose the item that has little or no packaging (or if it has packaging, make
sure it's recyclable-but no packaging is better);
~recycle diligently;
~compost kitchen scraps; and
~eat leftovers instead of leaving them in the fridge to spoil-or cook so there are no leftovers.

You can do it too!

Yesterday was the first day of the second week in my weight loss journey. The scale read 157. Woo hoo! Even with 10 extra points for nursing, I'm losing. I was kind of skeptical that the additional calories would let me drop the excess weight. I have the feeling that the rate of loss won't be as dramatic as in the past (sometimes 5-6 lbs a week at first), but slow and steady is actually a better way to do it, in order to ensure it is fat and not temporary water loss.

I have yet to make it to the gym but I hope to do that starting this week. Even if it's just to do a quick weight circuit and 10 minutes of cardio, to start, that's more than what I've been doing. I really miss my muscles. And for anyone who doesn't know this already, muscles burn fat. Lean muscle mass burns calories, even while you're sleeping. I like that.

I started watching the Dog Whisperer on National Geographic channel yesterday. This guy is amazing! I've already learned how to address Tyler's food aggression and we've started working on her overall aggression and barking issues. Last night was her first session involving food aggression and already we've seen an improvement. I also told Ben how to keep calm when she's misbehaving, instead of getting angry or frustrated, since she reacts to projected emotions more than commands. I too have been following these instructions and see how Tyler stays calm rather than escalating the behaviour. "Peace, trust, relaxation, and respect." That's the mindset you have to create in a dog. I have a lot of work to do with Tyler, but we'll do it one step at a time. Wish me luck.

24 November 2008


Save trees, save money!
Have you ever wandered into a Chapters bookstore and looked around and pictured all of the trees that were massacred in order to stock the shelves?

There are a few options for those who want to change the face of reading and help save trees. The first is a digital ebook reader, like the one Oprah raves about. Then there's ecoBrain. EcoBrain is an option where you pay less than you would for a paper book, then download it to your laptop, desktop, whatever. Then you can take it anywhere you want!

Hop on over to Healthy Green Moms and read her latest blog entry on ecoBrain. They're giving away a free eBook called Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. The contest is open until Friday Nov 28th.

Monica, the writer of the post over on Healthy Green Moms, talks about the books she hauls around every time she moves. Boy oh boy can I ever empathise with that! I've moved 11 times in less than 10 years, and each time, about 10 or more boxes are books. That's heavy, heavy work. Not only that, but the bookshelves required to house all those books are made of...you got it - wood.

Hop on over to Healthy Green Moms and check out the contest. And who knows, maybe you'll win! Let me know if you do!

21 November 2008

Just Say No to Commercialism

I wanted to share my thoughts on the commercialism that is Christmas.

The holiday season - Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, whatever you call it, is about sharing your time with loved ones, and a good meal or two (or three). It is NOT about who spends the most, who has the biggest pile of gifts, or who got the most Christmas cards.

Alas, the power of advertising has won. Our children are bombarded with toy ads via television and internet. Stores have all of their toy displays right up front and centre in some places (hello Walmart). We hear ads on the radio, see them on buses, and on and on. Santa has become the central theme in Christian and secular Christmas celebrations - ask 10 kids what Christmas means and I guarantee you they'll all mention Santa before anything else.

"There's nothing I can do," you say? Limit your kids' television viewing, get a PVR and fast-forward through the commercials, don't bring the Sears Catalogue into your house, recycle store fliers before your kids see them, and most importantly, change your own way of thinking. Does your 4 year old REALLY need 50 presents? Does he NEED that shiny plastic toy that he'll play with for 3 days and then discard in favour of the next new item? Does she need 15 dolls that all look the same that (of course) have entire lines of clothing and accessories that you must purchase in order for your child's life to be complete?

My challenge for you this year: buy simple, handmade (if possible) toys and clothing. Avoid plastic toys that limit your child's imagination. Think of some pieces of material, perhaps dyed (a family project) in different colours. These scarves can transform into capes, grass, a flag, part of a fort, and on and on. The possibilities are endless. Another idea is to make Christmas gifts. Everyone loves fudge, cookies, peanut brittle, quickbreads! Crochet some scarves and caps! Wrap the gift in some lovely paper or a cute little box they can reuse-this is personal and shows the receiver that you care enough to spend time creating his gift.

Fight commercialism! Save your money! Spread the love! Enjoy your family and friends this year!

18 November 2008

Weight Loss

Once upon a time (when I met Ben) I weighed 140 lbs, an ideal weight for me, considering I worked out regularly and had a decent amount of lean muscle mass. Then I started working at Autodata and gained the "Autodata 30" lbs thanks to sitting on my arse all day long and working down the street from a Shoppers Drug Mart that sold me chocolate and other fatty/high calorie foods that tasted so good. Believe it or not, when I got pregnant, I weighed almost 170 lbs, not that I looked it. I went up to 201 lbs while pregnant but within 3 weeks of having Delilah I was down to 163.

Now I've plateaued around 160 lbs and want to get back down to my former 140ish pounds. I realize that dieting while nursing isn't a good idea, so I'm falling back on an old tried-and-true method, Weight Watchers. A long time ago I knew someone who paid the $16 bucks a week to go to meetings and she gave me her extra slide points calculator and a daily journal that tracks daily points consumption. I still have those tools and, along with the wonderful world wide web, I will try to lost approximately 20 pounds. If I can drop 10 pounds by Yule/Christmas, I'll eat normally and then go back to counting points after the holiday. Of course, I'll have to watch what I eat and not go overboard. As in, no eating 4 slices of lemon meringue pie.

Last night I went online and discovered that nursing mothers get to add 10 points to their daily allowance. So I get to eat 32 points worth of food each day. That's the MAXIMUM allowed. Plus I get an extra 35 points each week to use spread out over the week, if I want. I also get points credited back to me if I exercise, depending on the intensity.

I'm EXCITED! I've used this method before, while working in Windsor (after I broke my foot and gained 15 or so pounds) and I lost the weight I wanted within about 2 months, maybe less. This morning I started and I've already written the points value on each item in the cupboard so I don't have to calculate each thing before I eat it. Now I have to start thinking about healthy, tasty, low-point meal options.

17 November 2008

Sort, Purge, Clean!

This week I'm dealing with clutter. And junk, either stuff I don't need or actual junk. My amazing fantastic neighbour Susan came over last week and we completely purged and cleaned my kitchen. Now the only things on my counter are my coffee maker and kettle. Seriously. Gone are the pill bottles, pens, papers, and assorted crap that gets put there for lack of a better place. The secret: stuff that doesn't belong in the kitchen is GONE.

Tips for people who have clutter and want to make the effort to get rid of some: get some boxes. Or bags. Pick ONE room and get to work. One box is garbage, one is recycle, one is donate, one is stuff that belongs in different room in the house, and one is keep in that room. Do NOT put away items that belong in other rooms until you are finished. Simply concentrate on getting that first room done. Then take the box of stuff that belongs in other rooms and go room to room putting it away. You'll be amazed at how fast you can get the area clean. Then start the next room.

Next I'm organizing my office/sewing room. I have several boxes to get through and then I need to get my desks made. Once that is complete, I'll take all my partylite stuff upstairs and start on my living room. For anyone who's been in my place, you'll know that my living room is kinda cramped with bookcases and baby stuff and our huge tv. Since Delilah will be crawling and getting into everything soon, I've decided to jump the gun and just cut back on the stuff she can get into. I'm going to pack all my books on the one bookcase into a tote and take the bookcase upstairs to be re-purposed for my Partylite stuff. The altar bookcase will move to where the other bookcase is right now, and the items on it will be moved to a corner curio cabinet and corner shelf in the corner the altar bookcase is now. The curio cabinet will have doors to house my incense and candles and such. There will be a shelf or two for all my esoteric books and then my altar items will be placed on a freestanding corner shelf above the cabinet. The floating shelf that is currently in the sewing room will go above the tv for displaying items and the end tables will be freecycled. My green Ikea rolling table with shelf will house the DVD player, VCR and one of Ben's game systems. The DVD stand will be gone since I plan on putting all our DVDs into one of those storage binder systems. All of the cases for the DVDs, along with our VHS tapes (yes we still have those!) will be placed in storage in the basement, labelled for easy retrieval.

Sounds like a lot of work, and it probably is. But so worth it! I'm imagining how bare this room will be, how clean and relaxing it will seem. And I can't wait to start. But first I need to get some totes. They have them on sale at Zellers for 6 bucks off, only until Friday. I'm going tomorrow to get 4, to start. Then I can pack up my books and take that shelf upstairs.

Well, I guess I can get started sorting through some stuff upstairs in my office. Get sorting!

10 November 2008

Ornament Exchange

I'm excited to break out the Yule tree and ornaments this year. It's Delilah's first and will also be our first, too. Last year was Ben and my first Yule together, married, and didn't put up a tree. So this is a year of firsts!

My mom gave us her old tree at the end of the season last year. It's in the basement, right now, waiting for me to go down and get it. I can't wait. I've been looking for the perfect ornament to get to represent Delilah's first Yule.

Onto the topic of this post: I've joined an ornament exchange! Karen over at Write From Karen put me onto the ornament exchange over at An Island Life. Sounds fun, check it out!

How Time Flies

Wow. Six months have passed since Delilah came into this world. It feels like these months have flown by, yet it seems that she has been in my life forever. I can't even begin to describe the emotions I experience when I look at her. Sometimes, I see her smile at me, and the love I feel is overwhelming.

Everything is new to her. It`s amazing: each time she experiences a new thing it's as if I am too. The dog chasing her tail sends D into peals of laughter. Music enthralls her. She's always happy, especially first thing in the morning. She opens her eyes and looks at me with a huge smile on her face. It starts my day perfectly.

I can't believe how my life has changed, how my opinions have changed, how much I have changed. But I wouldn't change my life for the world.

08 November 2008

Gift Registry for Delilah

I've had a few people ask me for more specific ideas for Delilah for holiday gifts, so I created a gift registry at Cheeky Monkey in London for her. Givers who would like to buy online can do so, or take an updated list (or check it there) to the store and see items for themselves. There are now two stores for shopping convenience, one in the plaza on the NW corner of Oxford and Adelaide, and one at Wellington Rd South in the Listen Up Plaza just south of Commissioners.

For anyone purchasing clothes, try to get organic, locally made (at least on this continent). She'll be running through her 6-12 sizes quickly, as the arms seem fairly short. She'll need 9-12 month sizes and 12-18 month soon.

You can either click the banner above this post featuring Cheeky Monkey's logo to go directly to her registry list, or click HERE.

Please make sure you indicate on the list that you've purchased the item, so it isn't duplicated. Gift receipts are appreciated!

First Time For Everything

Tomorrow Ben and I, with Delilah in tow, are off to Kitchener. We'll visit with friends Dan and Stacy and stay over at their place. Hopefully Delilah will be cool with sleeping in a strange place, it will be the first time she's ever slept anywhere other than our bed. Should be interesting.

Sunday, Stacy is hostessing a Partylite show and I will be the consultant. My first. I'm a little nervous, but not too much. I'm more excited than anything...call me weird but I'm looking forward to starting this new part of my life, the part where I get to work (if you want to call it that!) for minimal hours and have fun while doing it. Because of this, I'll be able to stay home with Delilah! Now THAT is awesome.

Last night I was at my sponsor's house and she has lent me some stuff to show. I have some pieces that will knock the socks off of the guests! I'm really excited to show people all the product I have that will make great gifts for others or themselves. I am totally in love with the products I have to show, one of the best reasons for becoming a consultant is that I get to buy everything discounted or get it free!!!

I'm really hoping for Stacy's sake that there is a good turnout. The more people who go to her party, the more sales she will get, and that equals free product and half-price items, as well as great deals. The main reason that people host shows of their own is to get free stuff. It's that easy. Invite a bunch of people, say, 25-40 (to end up with an attendance around 10-12), provide me a place to do the show, supply some simple snacks (although you don't have to), and let me do the rest! Easy as that. And then reap the rewards. Why don't more people do this!?!

Well, I'm off to bed, I've spent the last hour preparing some notes, thinking about my display, and watching a training video for ideas on presentation. What will likely happen is, I'll be all prepared and then end up completely winging it. Which is usually how I do stuff like this, but it always works out in the end.

Wish me luck!

05 November 2008


By RFD Columnist, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, www.nmaseminars.com

News reports have been flooding us with articles warning that the impending flu season may be the worst in years. Even though it is difficult to separate the facts from the hype, a close evaluation of the flu vaccine will reveal that serious questions must be raised about the recommendations that are routinely touted, namely high efficacy with little risk. Anyone considering a flu shot should become informed about the substances coming through that needle, and should be determined to investigate the safety and efficacy issues that are still unresolved.

The Vaccine Virus

Each year, a new vaccine is developed that contains three different viruses (one influenza B and two influenza A strains). CDC officials select the new viruses based on which viruses were prevalent during the flu season in China and Australia the previous year. The CDC admits that the viruses selected for the new vaccine are chosen on the basis of an “educated guess.” [i]

What’s in a Flu Shot?

The influenza virus is grown in “specific pathogen-free” (SPF) eggs. Eggs are tested for a variety of agents—usually between 23 and 31—to confirm the absence of those specific pathogens. Laboratories limit the number of agents that are screened due to the shear abundance of potential viruses and/or bacteria to choose from. In addition, screening for every potential agent would be cost prohibitive.[ii] If none of the tested agents are detected, the vaccine is reported as “pathogen free.”

However, it should be understood that there is a distinct difference between “pathogen free” and “specific pathogen-free.” In its July 1996 report, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged that “although it is not possible to produce a completely uncontaminated animal, it is possible to produce an animal [or egg] certified to be free of specific pathogens.”[iii] Viruses that are harmless to their animal host, however, may be potentially harmful to humans.

During the manufacturing process, antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin B and gentamicin) are added to eliminate stray bacteria found in the mixture. The final solution can contain the following additives in any combination: Triton X-100 (a detergent); polysorbate 80 (a potential carcinogen); gelatin; formaldehyde; and residual egg proteins. In addition, many of the influenza vaccines still contain thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal (mercury) is being investigated for its link to brain injury and autoimmune disease.

Does the Flu Shot Protect?

There are no guarantees that the influenza viruses selected for the vaccine will be the identical strains circulating during a given flu season. In fact, it has recently been announced that this year's flu vaccine does not include the strain that is being reported by doctors in the community called the “A Fujian” strain. Outbreaks have been reported in Texas, Colorado and elsewhere[iv] that involve strains that do not match the current flu vaccine. CDC tests have confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the 55 strains of influenza virus isolated thus far are the A Fujian strain. Even so, the CDC still maintains that the current vaccine could provide cross-protection against the new variant, but the fact is, no one knows for sure.

Moreover, the majority of illnesses characterized by fever, fatigue, cough and aching muscles are not caused by the influenza virus. Non-influenza viruses (e.g., rhinoviruses respiratory syncytial virus [RSV], adenoviruses, and parainfluenza viruses) can cause symptoms referred to influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Certain bacteria, such as Legionella spp., Chlamydia pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, have been documented as the causes of ILI.[v]

Notably, these microbes are not part of the flu vaccine. Unless an organism’s antigen is contained within the vaccine, there is no protection conferred by the vaccine. It is estimated that most adults will average 1-3 episodes of ILI, and most children will average 3-6 episodes. The CDC also admits that “many persons who have been vaccinated against influenza can still get the flu”[vi]

Targeting the Elderly

The flu vaccine is generally recommended for persons aged 65 and older, and those with medical conditions who could experience serious complications from the flu. Medical journals report broad differences in effectiveness for the elderly, ranging from 0 to 85%.

The CDC states that 90% of deaths from influenza occur among the elderly. Considering that nearly 65% of all deaths (from any cause) occur in this age group, it is nearly impossible to prove that flu shots significantly increase life expectancy in this group. The truth is that most people—young and old—will weather a bout of the flu without hospitalization or complications.

A Serious Concern: Alzheimer’s Disease

Hugh Fudenberg, MD, an immunogeneticist and biologist with nearly 850 papers published in peer review journals, has reported that if an individual had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is ten times higher than if they had zero, one, or two shots.[vii]

Dr. Boyd Haley, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, Lexington has done extensive research in the area of mercury toxicity and the brain. Haley’s research has established a likely connection between mercury toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease. [viii] In a paper published in collaboration with researchers at University of Calgary, Haley stated that “seven of the characteristic markers that we look for to distinguish Alzheimer's disease can be produced in normal brain tissues, or cultures of neurons, by the addition of extremely low levels of mercury.”[ix]

Does this prove that the mercury contained in the influenza shot can be directly linked to Alzheimer’s? No, absolutely not. But further research in this area is critically needed because the absence of proof is not the “proof of absence.”[x]

Flu Vaccine Now for Children

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) adopted a resolution effective March 1, 2003 that expanded the use of the influenza vaccine to include children aged 6-23 months. The recommendations also included vaccinating those aged 2 to 18 years who live in households containing children younger than 2 years of age.[xi]

The flu vaccine most commonly given to children is Fluzone, a trivalent vaccine grown in chicken eggs. Harvested with formaldehyde and containing the recommended ratio of 15 ug of each of the three prototype viral strains, each dose of Fluzone also contains 25 ug of mercury.[xii] The new CDC recommendations include giving the influenza vaccine to children beginning at six months of age and then annually, for the rest of their lives. Children less than age 9 receiving their first flu shot, two doses of vaccine are recommended, with a minimum interval of one month between the two doses. However, the CDC does not provide a direct reference to substantiate this recommendation.[xiii]

On June 17, 2003, the FDA approved an intranasal influenza vaccine for use in healthy persons aged 5–49 years. Flumist is a live-virus vaccine that can cause a litany of problems.


If you choose not to receive the flu shot, have a discussion with your doctor regarding other options. However, some simple and possibly quite effective things you can do for yourself to prevent the flu include: 1) avoid white sugar;[xiv] 2) exercise regularly; 3) get adequate sleep; 4) eat a healthy diet, omitting trans-fats; 5) drink plenty of purified water daily and 6) wash your hands. A common way people contract viral illnesses is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus. The CDC states, “the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands.”[xv]

We are so used to taking medications—for prevention and treatment—that it is difficult to comprehend that these modest recommendations are really the most powerful ways to minimize the likelihood of getting the flu.

Making the Decision

You may decide to consult a physician who is schooled in alternative medicine to assess a variety of options for you and your family. What is most important, in the end, is to become as informed as possible regarding your options for keeping healthy and avoiding the flu.


[i] Sabin, Russel and Reynolds. Breakdowns Mar Flu Shot Program Production, distribution delays raise fears of nation vulnerable to epidemic. San Francisco Chronicle. Feb. 25, 2001

[ii] Charles River Laboratories, A Laboratory Animal Health Monitoring Program: Rationale and Development,' (Winter 1990); Source: Internet address

[iii] Institute of Medicine Press Release: Federal Guidelines Needed to Ensure Safety in Animal-to-Human Organ Transplants. July 17, 1996.

[iv]CBS: The Associated Press. CDC Says Flu Season Is Going Strong in Parts of U.S., Vaccine Doesn't Match Strain Doctors See.

[v] MMWR. November 9, 2001 / 50(44);984-6

[vi] MMWR Nov. 9, 2001/50(44); 984-6

[vii] Hugh Fudenberg, MD, is Founder and Director of Research, Neurolmmuno Therapeutic Research Foundation. Information from Dr. Hugh Fudenberg came from transcribed notes of Dr. Fudenberg's speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997. Quoted with permission.

[viii] The Relationship of Toxic Effects of Mercury to Exacerbation of the Medical Condition Classified as Alzheimer’s Disease by Boyd E. Haley, PhD.

[ix] NeuroReport, 12(4):733-737, 2001

[x] http://www.testfoundation.org/

[xi] MMWR. 2002;51[RR-3]:1-31

[xii] Package insert. Influenza Virus VaccineFluzone® 2003 – 2004 Formula

[xiii] MMWR. 2002: 51 [RR-3], pg. 19

[xiv] All forms of refined sugar depress white blood cells' ability to destroy bacteria. See Sanchez A, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973;26:1180.

[xv]CDC—Handwashing: An ounce of prevention keeps the germs away.

Welcome to the New President Elect!

Ben thinks I'm silly for being so emotional today. I'm overwhelmed with feelings: awe, incredulity, happiness, gratitude, relief...

The success of Barack Obama's Presidential campaign is monumental in its importance, not just to the United States of America, but to Canada and the world. He represents change, hope, and tolerance. He represents black people and white people. He's educated, well-spoken, quiet, graceful, charismatic, and inspiring.

Imagine: there are people alive today who, years ago, couldn't vote because of the colour of their skin. Yesterday, they were allowed to vote - and one of the people they could vote for was BLACK! Not only did a black man RUN for President, he WON! This is huge. Now, every generation that follows will grow up learning about the first black American President and how he changed the world.

Now, Obama has a tough job ahead. He inherits a huge deficit, two wars, and countless other problems. Add to that the promises he has made for change, and you have a potential for heartbreak and disappointment if he fails to do what he has said he will. I do not envy his job at this point, but I hope he realizes the importance of keeping his word and always doing the best he can, to lead the most powerful country in the world with fairness and humility while being decisive, intelligent, and innovative. Major changes to environmental policy are required, immediately, and I think he realizes that. Green collar job creation will be instrumental in taking steps to halt the progression of environmental destruction. Obama, I think, understands that major change must take place, and NOW, in order to avoid going past the point of no return.

His first order of business, I think, will be to try to fix the economy, followed by a decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, deal with Afghanistan, and all the while making policy on environmental decisions. Tough job.

Mr Obama, I wish you the best. Congratulations and good luck!

04 November 2008

US Election

First off, I'd like to say: GO OBAMA!!!! He cares about our planet!!

Now, onto business: is anyone else worried?

I am worried that McCain will get in. But this apprehension is due more to the fact that Sarah Palin terrifies me. I mean, come ON, this woman believes that everything in the Bible really happened. She believes the Bible LITERALLY. She got prayed over by a minister so that she'd be protected against witchcraft. Seriously. Um..what happens to all the witches in the States if she becomes Vice President? And what would happen should McCain DIE while in office? That would make HER the President of the United Freaking States. Sarah Palin. President. Dear Lord help us all.

But I also think Obama rocks. He's charismatic, baby. And I don't give a good goddamn that he's a newbie, I think he'll do a great job. And a black President!! Wowsers.

Go Obama!

I have a couple Obama For President pins. I'll be wearing one tomorrow. Put your energies and thoughts towards him winning!

Yule and Christmas

Well, Halloween is past.

Now we have Christmas carols and Christmas displays to look forward to.

I know I'LL be putting up our Yule Tree sometime in the next week or two. Call me crazy, but I am excited to do it. Funny, that...I used to make fun of my mother for putting up the Christmas Tree the weekend after Halloween, I thought she was crazy. My mom LOVES Christmas. Seriously. I guess it rubbed off.

I've always enjoyed the holiday season/cheer, even if I don't celebrate the whole Jesus Christ birthday thing. I mean, even when I was totally into Christianity, I didn't really get how a magic flying elf named Santa Claus, excessive spending, and drinking egg nog really had anything to do with a little baby born in a manger to a virgin Palestinian woman. But whatever.

The smells, the sounds, the giving, the happy help-your-fellow-man feeling of the holiday season is what I enjoy. I like the planning, the picking, the buying, the wrapping, and the hiding. I like the 24-hours-a-day Christmas carols on online radio stations, even if they do feature songs about Jesus. I like egg nog, hot chocolate with Baileys, snow flurries, and Christmas lights. I like the "magic" of it all.

We don't plan on doing the whole thing with Santa with Delilah. We won't be celebrating/recognizing Christmas with Delilah at home, but we WILL be celebrating Yule. Yule occurs on December 21 this year. It is the Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter, and the longest Night of the whole year.

From Wikipedia: "According to the medieval English writer the Venerable Bede, Christian missionaries sent to proselytize among the Germanic peoples of northern Europe were instructed to superimpose Christian themes upon existing local pagan holidays, to ease the conversion of the people to Christianity by allowing them to retain their traditional celebrations. Thus, Christmas was created by associating stories of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity, with the existing pagan Yule celebrations, similar to the formation of Halloween and All Saint's Day via Christianization of existing pagan traditions....

Many symbols and motifs associated with the modern holiday of Christmas derive from traditional pagan northern European Yule celebrations. The burning of the Yule log, the decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe and others are all historically practices associated with Yule. When the Christianization of the Germanic peoples began, missionaries found it convenient to provide a Christian reinterpretation of popular pagan holidays such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, versus trying to confront and suppress them. The Scandinavian tradition of slaughtering a pig at Christmas (see Christmas ham) is probably salient evidence of this. The tradition is thought to be derived from the sacrifice of boars to the god Freyr at the Yule celebrations. Halloween and aspects of Easter celebrations are likewise assimilated from northern European pagan festivals."

So Ben and Delilah and I will celebrate Yule with a Yule Dinner, followed by a stay-awake-over during which time we will keep a fire burning, play games, and watch movies. This year a few friends will join us in our vigil. After Yule, we will do the merry-go-round of Christmas celebrations with our parents/siblings etc. Everyone (read, Grandparents) will understand that Delilah will NOT be receiving gifts from Santa, and when she's old enough, she'll be told the story of what Christians believe, just as she'll be told the story of what other religions believe. I don't feel it is necessary, however, to lie to her about an imaginary character who sneaks into your house while you sleep (CREEPY) to leave you presents. I'd rather she saw the magic in everyday life than to believe in a magic elf with flying reindeer who can travel faster than light.

27 October 2008


I'm so not participating in the NaNoWriMo contest this year. I am so busy I barely have time to write blog posts, let alone a novel in one month. It's just not happening, at least this year. Maybe next.

I guess that's what I get for putting too much on my plate. I do this literally as well.

Sorry to disappoint anyone who was looking forward to reading excerpts from the novel. I now have a whole year to think about genre, title, characters, plot, etc. Maybe that will give me enough time.

For everyone who IS planning on participating this year, GOOD LUCK! May the gods of inspiration be with you.

Delilah Blessing Photos

Just a few, more to come. Thanks to Mom for making the dress, it was beautiful!

25 October 2008

My First Word

This post will be short, because I just have enough time to pop in and tell you all what the first word I was able to spell.

Not Mommy, Daddy, not dog, not cat.

The first word I could spell?



That's right, you read correctly. I learned to spell "beer".


21 October 2008

Parylite Candles

I had a Partylite candle party on Saturday. I had a reasonably good turn out and, with a few outside sales, the total sales add up to around 500 bucks. I got several bookings out of that party, too. I still have at least 8 people to whom I have to show the catalogue and talk to about having a party of their own.

"500 dollars", you say, "wowsers!" Yep. Apparently that's an average show. And if I was a normal hostess (will explain later), that would translate into $125 of free product and 2 half price items, as well as all the hostess and guest specials. That's a big incentive to have a good turnout. You host a party, provide snacks and drink, invite a bunch of your friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, and acquaintences, and voila! Free stuff! Can't beat that!

I said "if I was a normal hostess"...well, I'm not. Cuz, you see, I've decided to SELL Partylite. Which means that I will make, on average, just under a thousand dollars a month if I do 6 average shows a month. 900 and some odd dollars, for doing about 20 hours worth of work. I'm not kidding. And the best part? It's on MY schedule, and I'm my own boss. I just have to start the ball rolling and get a couple parties scheduled. I already have 5 booked for November. I have none for October and December yet, and one booked in January. I need 6 per month (October and all of November count as one month for me, since I'm just starting) to make the minimum desired cash.

The reason I don't get those hostess benefits is because I get a 500 dollar startup kit that has a bunch of candles, decor items, candle holders, paperwork, and literature on how to be successful, which is paid for with the first $500 in sales I made. I have NO upfront costs. So when I go to my parties (as the Consultant), I have some items to display, so people can see the amazing stuff we sell. The catalogue is nice but it just doesn't do justice to some of these items.

Any sales above and beyond the $500 are bonus for me, since I'll get free product from those. I will already get at least 2 half price items (since I DID sell $500 in product), plus I can take advantage of all the hostess and guest specials. Woohoo!

Why, you ask, would I want to do this-aside from all the reasons I've already said? Look at it this way: if I can manage to make enough doing this, I get to stay home with Delilah. That's the most important reason I will do this. In addition, I can work whatever hours I like, on the days I like. Most times I'll be able to take Delilah with me, until she's old enough for me to leave her with Ben (when she'll take a sippy cup for milk). I'll get super products for my home (and business) for great prices, and I'll have major support from my unit leader (Christine) and sponsor (Kelly). Great ladies! Plus, Partylite has meetings where you can win stuff, like free product and TRIPS! And discounted products too. Even better, I'll get tax breaks on portions of my townhouse rent (home office), cell phone, home phone (when we get one), gas for the car, car payment (when we get a new one), internet...and any other stuff I use for the business. Because I'll be considered self-employed.

Having said all that, it's not like I won't be doing ANY work..I have to create and upkeep a client base, and the initial parties will have to be generated - which means I might be calling my friends, neighbours, and family to help me get started. I'll have to travel to my shows - next month I have one in Kitchener (thanks Stacy!) and one in Amherstburg (thanks Deborah!). I'll have to go to meetings to keep updated on the product, and keep records and such of everything. I'll have to buy product to use at shows, including little items to use for guest gifts (my idea to thank hostesses and guests for coming), and catalogues and order forms and other business-related products.

I promise to do the best I can to make each party the most beneficial and fun for the hostess. I'll offer free gifts to those invited guests who bring a friend, and a free gift for hostesses for every 10 people who show up at their party.

How can you help? Hostess a party for me. Tell your friends, and invite a ton of people to your party (invite 25-40 and expect 10-15 to show up). Take the catalogue around to friends who can't make your party. Get at least one solid party booked with one of your friends BEFORE the show, so you can take advantage of the hostess specials, and get excited, since it's gonna be FUN!

15 October 2008

Stuff I've Made

See something you like? Something you want? Let me know! More to come (all other bibs are in the washer!) Ok, I know she's cute but you can't have Delilah!
1. Grey, White and Black Star Berry Baby Leg Warmers (with Delilah modelling-she loves hers!)
2. Purple, Black and White Stripes and Hearts Berry Baby Leg Warmers
3. Grey, White and Black Heart Berry Baby Leg Warmers
4. Purple, Grey, Black and White Heart Berry Baby Leg Warmers
5. Betty Boop One Miss Undies (not waterproof) for ECing
6. Fuschia One Miss Undies (waterproof) for ECing
7. Pink and Green Dots Waterproof Bib
8. Red and Black Crocheted Wool Soakers
9. Camo Crocheted Wool Soakers
10. Natural Crocheted Wool Soakers
11. Sock Monkey Crocheted Wool Longies front view
12. Sock Monkey Crocheted Wool Longies back view

I'm working on getting all my stuff up on Etsy but that requires more time than I have right now.

Sewing Room!

I've taken on the task of designing myself an office/sewing/crafting room. It's exciting! A place (all in one room) to sew, chainmaille, iron, cut out material, store all my yarn, material, craft stuff, and on and on! And eventually, when I'm working from home, I'll have a comfortable, quiet place where I can go and work-awesome!

The decision to overhaul the spare room (Delilah doesn't really need her own room yet!) was spurred on by the fact that I lay out and cut material on the living room floor, take it downstairs to sew, bring it back up to the living room to iron, and so on. My yarn is currently stored in 2 bins in the basement, a garbage bag in the spare room, a basket in the spare room, a basket in the living room, and a bag in the living room. Material is likewise all over the house. Ridiculousness, really, when I could have it all in one place. Ben agrees as that means at last he'll have some of the boxes out of the basement which means more room for his workbench area, and eventually we'll set up a media area down there. Yay!

So far we've gotten one floating shelf up and will put up the second one tonight. I got some nice cherry coloured baskets from the dollarstore to place on the shelves; the baskets have already been labelled and filled with notions. My sewing machine is in its new spot -although I'm getting a new desk for it, one that will run the entire length of the wall. A matching desk will go along the parallel wall which will serve as my cutting and layout table. Should I require a huge work surface for laying out/cutting, I can push the 2 desks together which will create one 8x4 work surface. Woohoo! I'm so excited!

I'll get pics after it's all set up so all you disorganized people can be jealous. ;)

08 October 2008

Be One in a Million

Let's face it, we women have a lot of power when it comes to product purchasing. Throw your purse into the ring and join the cause: Be One In a Million!

How to Be One In a Million...pledge to spend at least $1000 of your household money on green products. That's it. If a million women do this, that's one billion dollars of money spent on environmentally smart options. Wow!


What the heck is this Twitter, anyway?

Are YOU on Twitter?


Break the Bottled Water Habit!

I pledge to Break the Bottled Water Habit by Thinking Outside the Bottle and using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. I also pledge to support the efforts of local officials to stop spending public funds on bottled water and prioritize strong public water systems over bottled water profits.

The Earth Policy Institute has a bunch of reasons why we should avoid bottled water. I know they're American numbers but they still apply to us Canadians:

  • Although in the industrial world bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more. At as much as $2.50 per liter ($10 per gallon), bottled water costs more than gasoline.
  • In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. Nearly a quarter of all bottled water crosses national borders to reach consumers, transported by boat, train, and truck.
  • Making bottles to meet Americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year. Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.
  • According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating used bottles produces toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals. Buried water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
  • The rapid growth in this industry means that water extraction is concentrated in communities where bottling plants are located. Farmers, fishers, and others who depend on water for their livelihoods suffer from the concentrated water extraction when water tables drop quickly.
  • Tap water is more strictly regulated for health standards than bottled water.
(never mind the fact that drinking water out of plastic CAN'T be good for us)

What can we do? Write letters to our politicians, grocery stores and convenience stores. Ask your local convenience store to stop selling bottled water. Get your workplace to stop selling bottled water!

Instead of buying a waterbottle, make one from something you already have, like a glass jar (thanks for the idea, Colin!)

Convince your family and friends to stop drinking bottled water.

Forward this post to friends and family, blog about your pledge to stop drinking bottled water, and STOP DRINKING BOTTLED WATER!

07 October 2008

Yule Gift Ideas Part Two

I was thinking last night that many people might not know what to get Delilah, besides clothes..and even then, might not have a clue what to get her. So I've compiled a list of links that may help out. There are even some links and ideas for items for the family in general, not just Delilah.

Click on the grey words (they'll go highlighted if you put the cursor on them) for links to the store/specific item.

Dr Bronner's liquid soaps are great. They are castille soaps, which means they are 100% plant derived. They are completely biodegradeable and safe for the environment and people. You can use them for toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, face wash, and body wash. We use the unscented on Delilah, and have since birth. No chemicals for her! I've included the link (click on the name Dr Bronner's) to the peppermint soap. We'd love a bottle of this to use in our house for everything from hands to dishes. Please note that the company has a $20 minimum purchase rule.

Natural Pod
is a company that makes and sells natural toys and clothing and other items made from safe materials. Toys are cloth and wood, clothing is organic and natural. Great Canadian store! They sell gift certificates.

EC Wear sells split crotch pants. These pants help out with D's potty times since we don't have to pull any pants down to get her onto the potty. The sidebar at left shows all the products they sell; they have organic clothes, legwarmers, and training pants, too!

The EC Store also has these items. In particular we like the T-shirt gowns, Split crotch hemp fleece pants, Snugglewool organic backed lambfleece blanket, the Itsy Bitsy spider babylegs, the Bambu baby utensils made from Bamboo, and more! If you aren't sure what to get they even have their version of gift certificates, the EC Store Dollars!

Fliggity is an amazing store that sells the coolest clothes ever. Check them out!

We'd love stainless steel utensils, bowls, plates etc for Delilah. We're staying away from plastic for obvious reasons. There is also a concern about lead in ceramics and other glass products, so make sure the companyindicates their products are lead-free if you get a porcelain, ceramic, or glass dish or bowl.

As most of you know, I'm making Delilah a lot of her diaper/underwear and bibs and such. I'd love a gift certificate for Wazoodle, an online store out of Markham Ontario that sells material and sewing notions, but I'm unsure if they have them. I do have a wishlist for their products, so email me for it and I will send it to you.

I hope this makes it easier on those who wish to buy Delilah Yule/Christmas gifts. For those who plan on handmaking their gift for her, AWESOME! (just please use non-toxic finishes and such)

Edited to add: a gift certificate from Cheeky Monkey is always welcome! They have two locations now, the old one at Oxford/Adelaide and their new shop on Wellington Street South by Commissioners (in the Listen Up! plaza).

Another idea: a stainless steel sippy cup, a perfect one is called Safe Sippy. It's available at Cheeky Monkey.

06 October 2008

Yule Gift Ideas

It's that time of year again: when everyone is thinking about what to buy/receive for the holiday season. Be it Yule, Christmas, Hannakuh, or another religious holiday, people will be getting into the gift giving mood!

I LOVE this time of year: from Autumn Equinox to Yule, with Halloween in between, these are my three favourite holidays. Turning leaves, cooler weather, sunny autumn days, the first snow...ahh, I love autumn!

Which brings me to the point of this post: Yule. Christmas/Whatever...that consumerist, commercialised, giving holiday. For those who need reminding, Ben and I have a list of restricted/permitted items we'd like people to consider when buying Delilah a gift. This list actually applies all year long, not just Yule.

1. Buy/make handmade gifts if possible. Handmade is best! Check out Etsy if you can, it's amazing...your place to buy handmade.

2. No plastic! This includes seethers, rattles, and any kind of toy. Plastic is toxic to people and the planet. You can find wood and/or fabric versions of these things online, if you look.

3. Buy local! Support local artisans rather than sweatshops! Even if it's an artist from another country, at least it's an original or artistic item rather than one of a million items churned out by some soulless corporation.

4. No licenced products: no Disney etc. We'd rather see Delilah in a handmade sweater than a Winnie the Pooh hoodie. Let's teach her to appreciate the clothing, not the label. And rather than paying for the name on crappy clothing, pay for quality clothing! There are tons of SAHM (stay at home mom) businesses online where you can buy great kids clothes.

5. Buy organic! Always try to buy organic clothing items: Cotton uses approximately 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants.). (Allan Woodburn) and the pesticides used end up in our air, water, and soil. It affects animals and insects as well as humans. Pesticides can cause asthma, cancer and other life-altering illnesses. Chemical fertilizers used also cause health issues and harm our planet. Note: when buying organic, try to buy Canadian or US products; consider the transportation required to get the item to your doorstep. Organic cotton from India, for example, is great but how much fuel did it take to get from there to here?

6. Buy second-hand: we really don't care if the item is brand new; in fact, we prefer to use secondhand items if possible. I realise that organic stuff is hard to find second-hand, we'll make exceptions for this. I'd rather see an item be reused than tossed out, so support the local second-hand shops (one here in London that is amazing is called Once Upon a Child, located in the plaza at the corner of Wellington and Bradley, the same plaza as Jack Astors).

As for sizing, Delilah seems to be a little long compared to most sizes for her age, so if you buy 6-12 or 9-12 they'll fit for a while yet, if you buy 12-18 mos they won't fit for a few months but they'll fit for a while. She'll probably fit into the 12-18 mo sizes in about 3 or 4 months.

You may think I'm being a bit of a princess when I state these requirements, think what you want. Just know that if we (or Delilah) unwrap a plastic toy made in China it's gonna end up at the Goodwill or the dump. So just don't buy it.

01 October 2008

One Can a Month Challenge!

I've decided to participate in a 1-bin-a-month garbage challenge, inspired by Enviromom. Yep, I'm going to try to reduce my household waste from 1 bin a week to 1 bin a month! And not just for a month or two, FOREVER! How am I planning on achieving this? Well, we already recycle, but I'm going to add vermicomposting and a bokashi bin.

Why do it? To reduce my family's impact on the earth. Less carbon emission (to transport waste to landfill), less waste=less waste at landfill, less methane produced by that waste breaking down, ...overall, a GREAT challenge!

Vermicomposting uses worms to digest most organic materials, except dog waste, meat, etc. and provide super nutrient-rich waste.
See here for more details. (Canadian company)

Bokashi bins use the process of fermentation to break down non-compostable organic materials-everything you can't put into the vermicomposter. You then put the by-product into your composter or garden to finish the process. See here for details. (Canadian company)
Reduce your waste by shopping smart: do you really need to buy that item that comes with a huge piece of non-recyclable plastic packaging? Do you really need to get a fresh paper cup at your coffee shop each time you go (start using your own cup). Use freecycle, Craigslist, etc for re-usable items you don't want-even your styrofoam (people who make beanbag chairs will gladly take your old styrofoam plates etc (that are washed)! Think outside the box! Join me in my challenge! (You don't have to reduce your waste all at once, try reducing your garbage by half! Or a quarter-any little bit helps!

Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot!!!!

29 September 2008

Harper Must Be Stopped

Originally I thought I would stay out of the whole political issue, and refrain from writing about my opinions.
BUT: Mr Harper has gone too far. Not that he ever had my vote in the first place, but he has completely lost my respect due to his latest idiotic speech. You know the one I'm talking about? The one where he said that "ordinary Canadians" don't appreciate the Arts, that "it doesn't resonate with them"...that artists are all about whining about their little funding and the only thing they do is go to galas. (See article here.)

To make a long story short, he's trying to justify his cuts to the Arts-45 million dollars worth of cuts. For those of you who don't think the Arts are important, or need funding, let's put this in perspective. Last year the Canadian government "invested 3.3 billion dollars in the arts, which would be shocking except for the fact that (as reported by ACTRA's national president Richard Hardacre) the arts returned the favour by providing 1.1 million jobs within cultural industries and contributed $86 billion to the GDP. To put that in context, Margaret Atwood noted that the arts industry employs roughly the same number of Canadians as agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, oil & gas and utilities - combined." (thanks to Stephanie Pearl-McFee for those numbers).

Still think Mr Harper is being reasonable? Now let's analyse his statement further: "ordinary Canadians"-ORDINARY? Does that mean that people who are in the arts are not ORDINARY? As in, not worth the ballot they'd vote on? What the hell?

For those of you who haven't thought about this, the Arts cover a lot of occupations: anything connected to television, film, music, authors, theatre, dancers, illustrators, artists, designers, ...

So those 1.1 million people aren't "ordinary", and don't count? And the rest of the country, those "ordinary" folks, art just doesn't "resonate" with them. HUH? They don't watch tv? Movies? They don't read books or magazines? They don't buy clothes? They don't buy jewellery, art? They don't listen to the radio? Their children don't like to paint, sing, dance?

Right. This man is so disconnected to the country he's supposed to be ruling that he's completely alienated himself from a huge chunk of its citizens and he doesn't even know it. I guess he's too busy going to galas to pay attention to what his constituents think.

So to all of you who plan on voting in our upcoming Federal Election: don't support the Conservatives. Please. Vote for someone who shares your love of the arts, and more importantly, vote for someone who realises the importance of the environment.

27 September 2008

I Love My Cat

My cat, Birdie, is soon to be someone else's cat. Wanda's cat, to be precise. I am heartbroken but know deep down inside me, no matter how sad I am and how much I DON'T want to see her go, it's for the best. I'm sure Wanda will be a good mommy to Birdie and she'll be in a happier, safer home, but still it is breaking my heart to know she's leaving me tomorrow.

What Tree are You?

Thanks to Karen for the idea for today's blog entry.

Find which tree you are based on your birthday then scroll to the bottom to read the character description. Do you agree?

Dec 23 to Jan 01 - Apple Tree

Jan 01 to Jan 11 - Fir Tree

Jan 12 to Jan 24 - Elm Tree

Jan 25 to Feb 03 – Cypress Tree

Feb 04 to Feb 08 - Poplar Tree

Feb 09 to Feb 18 - Cedar Tree

Feb 19 to Feb 28 - Pine Tree

Mar 01 to Mar 10 - Weeping Willow Tree

Mar 11 to Mar 20 - Lime Tree

Mar 21 (only) - Oak Tree

Mar 22 to Mar 31 - Hazelnut Tree

Apr 01 to Apr 10 - Rowan Tree

Apr 11 to Apr 20 -Maple Tree

Apr 21 to Apr 30 - Walnut Tree

May 01 to May 14 - Poplar Tree

May 15 to May 24 - Chestnut Tree

May 25 to Jun 03 - Ash Tree

Jun 04 to Jun 13 - Hornbeam Tree

Jun 14 to Jun 23 - Fig Tree

Jun 24 (only) - Birch Tree

Jun 25 to Jul 04 - Apple Tree

Jul 05 to Jul 14 - Fir Tree

Jul 15 to Jul 25 - Elm Tree

Jul 26 to Aug 04 - Cypress Tree

Aug 05 to Aug 13 - Poplar Tree

Aug 14 to Aug 23 - Cedar Tree

Aug 24 to Sep 02 - Pine Tree < Me

Sep 03 to Sep 12 - Weeping Willow Tree

Sep 13 to Sep 22 - Lime Tree

Sep 23 (only) - Olive Tree

Sep 24 to Oct 03 - Hazelnut Tree

Oct 04 to Oct 13 - Rowan Tree

Oct 14 to Oct 23 - Maple Tree

Oct 24 to Nov 11 - Walnut Tree

Nov 12 to Nov 21 - Chestnut Tree

Nov 22 to Dec 01 - Ash Tree

Dec 02 to Dec 11 - Hornbeam Tree

Dec 12 to Dec 21 - Fig Tree

Dec 22 (only) - Beech Tree

TREES (in alphabetical order)

Apple Tree (Love) — quiet and shy at times, lots of charm, appeal, and attraction, pleasant attitude, flirtatious smile, adventurous, sensitive, loyal in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner, very generous, many talents, loves children, needs affectionate partner.

Ash Tree (Ambition) — extremely attractive, vivacious, impulsive, demanding, does not care for criticism, ambitious, intelligent, talented, likes to play with fate, can be very egotistic, reliable, restless lover, sometimes money rules over the heart, demands attention, needs love and much emotional support.

Beech Tree (Creative) — has good taste, concerned about its looks, materialistic, good organization of life and career, economical, good leader, takes no unnecessary risks, reasonable, splendid lifetime companion, keen on keeping fit (diets, sports, etc.).

Birch Tree (Inspiration) — vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly, unpretentious, modest, does not like anything in excess, abhors the vulgar, loves life in nature and in calm, not very passionate, full of imagination, little ambition, creates a calm and content atmosphere.

Cedar Tree (Confidence ) — of rare strength, knows how to adapt, Likes unexpected presents, of good health, not in the least shy, tends to look down on others, self-confident, a great speaker, determined, often impatient, likes to impress others, has many talents, industrious, healthy optimism, waits for the one true love, able to make quick decisions.

Chestnut Tree (Honesty) — of unusual stature, impressive, well-developed sense of justice, fun to be around, a planner, born diplomat, can be irritated easily, sensitive of others feelings, hard worker, sometimes acts superior, feels not understood at times, fiercely family oriented, very loyal in love, physically fit.

Cypress Tree (Faithfulness) — strong, muscular, adaptable, takes what life has to give but doesn’t necessarily like it, strives to be content, optimistic, wants to be financially in dependent, wants love and affection, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered at times, can be unruly and careless, loves to gain knowledge, needs to be needed.

Elm Tree (Noble-mindedness ) — pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, modest demands, tends not to forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but Not to obey, honest and faithful partner, likes making decisions for others, noble-minded, generous, good sense of humor, practical.

Fig Tree (Sensibility ) — very strong minded, a bit self-willed, honest, loyal, independent, hates contradiction or arguments, hard worker when wants to be, loves life and friends, enjoys children and animals, sexually oriented, great sense of humor, has artistic talent and great intelligence.

Fir tree (Mysterious) — extraordinary taste, handles stress well, loves anything beautiful, stubborn, tends to care for those close to them, hard to trust others, yet a social butterfly, likes idleness and laziness after long demanding hours at work, rather modest, talented, unselfish, many friends, very reliable. Extremely intelligent. loves life.

Hazelnut Tree (Extraordinary ) — charming, sense of humor, very demanding but can also be very understanding, knows how to make a lasting impression, active fighter for social causes and politics, popular, quite moody, sexually oriented, honest, a perfectionist, has a precise sense of judgment and expects complete fairness.

Hornbeam Tree (Good Taste) — of cool beauty, cares for its looks and condition, good taste, is not egoistic, makes life as comfortable as possible, leads a reasonable and disciplined life, looks for kindness and acknowledgment in an emotional partner, is strong, loyal, very independent and serious, self-confidence,mistrusts most people, very conscientious.

Lime Tree (Doubt) - intelligent, hard working, accepts what life dishes out, but not before trying to change bad circumstances into good ones, hates fighting and stress, enjoys getaway vacations, may appear tough, but is actually soft and relenting, always willing to make sacrifices for family and friends, has many talents but not always enough time to use them, great leadership qualities, is jealous at times but extremely loyal.

Maple Tree (Independence of Mind ) — no ordinary person, full of imagination and originality, shy and reserved, ambitious, proud, self-confident, hungers for new experiences, sometimes nervous, has many complexities, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.

Oak Tree (Brave) — robust nature, courageous, strong, unrelenting, independent, sensible, does not like change, keeps its feet on the ground, person of action.

Olive Tree (Wisdom) — loves sun, warmth and kind feelings, reasonable, balanced, avoids aggression and violence, tolerant, cheerful, calm, well-developed sense of justice, sensitive, empathetic, free of jealousy, loves to read and the company of sophisticated people.

Pine Tree (Peacemaker) — loves agreeable company, craves peace and harmony, loves to help others, active imagination, likes to write poetry, not fashion conscious, great compassion, friendly to all, falls strongly in love but will leave if betrayed or lied to, emotionally soft, low self-esteem, needs affection and reassurance.

Poplar Tree (Uncertainty) — looks very decorative, talented, not very self-confident, extremely courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, great artistic nature, good organizer, tends to lean toward philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership seriously.

Rowan Tree (Sensitivity) — full of charm, cheerful, gifted without egoism, likes to draw attention, loves life, motion, and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.

Walnut Tree (Passion) — unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egotistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromise.

Weeping Willow (Melancholy) - likes to be stress free, loves family life, full of hopes and dreams, attractive, very empathetic, loves anything beautiful, musically inclined, loves to travel to exotic places, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with when pressured, sometimes demanding, good intuition, suffers in love until they find that one loyal, steadfast partner; loves to make others laugh.

Me as a pine tree:

(Peacemaker) — loves agreeable company (agree), craves peace and harmony (agree), loves to help others (agree, to an extent), active imagination (I can convince myself there are SHARKS in the swimming pool with me), likes to write poetry (not so much until just recently, I’ve developed quite the liking for Haiku), not fashion conscious (not overly accurate), great compassion (true), friendly to all (mostly), falls strongly in love but will leave if betrayed or lied to (probably), emotionally soft (depends on the circumstance, I cry watching tv but am strong in real life), low self-esteem (um, not a chance), needs affection and reassurance (doesn’t everyone?)

My Weightloss Progress