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?)

25 September 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost)!

Did you know that vermicomposting (using worms to compost your kitchen scraps) can cut down your household waste by approximately 40%? And that red wriggler worms (the special ones you buy for v-composting) will eat 1/2 of their weight in organic waste in 24-48 hours? At the end of the process, you end up with beautiful, nutrient-rich castings (poop) you can use in your garden! And the best part? You can compost year-round!

Local (Ontario) source for vermicomposting equipment and worms:

1. Buy 100% recycled paper products, whether for toilet paper, paper towels, or printer paper. The quality difference is negligible but the amount of trees saved when buying 100% recycled vs 30% is HUGE!

2. Switch from disposable products to cloth: paper towels to cloth napkins is easy, affordable, and earth-friendly. Carry some with you so when you dine out you'll have soft, clean cloth napkins! How many paper napkins or paper towels would you save a day?

3. Do you cloth diaper and cloth wipe your infant? Consider switching to "family cloth", use cloth wipes for your own toileting needs...or at least for #1, if you're squeamish. Trust me, once you try it you won't go back to paper! (I know someone who makes cloth wipes, if you ask her nicely)

4. Recycle all paper, cardboard, metal, glass, and plastic (according to your recycling depot capabilities). How many bags of waste are you putting to the curb each week? Try to cut that in half by recycling everything you can. Did you know you can recycle used tin foil? You can also re-use it!

5. Reduce the amount of waste you have: when you buy something, consider the packaging. Try to buy products that have little or no packaging that will end up in the landfill. Don't buy items that have packaging that you can't recycle.

6. Reduce your heating/cooling use: in the winter, keep your house a little cooler and put on a sweater instead. Wrap your hot water tank in a blanket to conserve heat. Seal your windows and around pipes, electrical outlets, and around doors to protect against drafts and heat loss. Shut that door! Come in and out of the house quickly. Shut the door to any rooms you don't use and close the heating vent: don't heat a room you don't use.

7. Use cloth grocery/shopping bags! Some stores offer incentives for shoppers who use cloth bags. The bags are inexpensive and reusable, buy a few or 5 and keep them in your car or by the door so you remember them. Plastic bags take a million years (or so) to break down. Please don't use plastic bags! If you get plastic bags, use them a few times before getting rid of them, or re-purpose them. Many stores collect plastic bags for recycling, there is no reason you should throw them out.

8. Fix your broken items instead of buying new ones! Get rid of wasteful consumerist attitudes and fix that broken tv/computer/worn out shoe! There are people out there who have NOTHING! Don't chuck out your cell phone simply because there's a newer one on the market that you like more!

9. Donate any unwanted items: post them on Freecycle or Kijiji, give them away, have a yard sale, put them to the curb with a "Free" sign stuck to them, take them to Valu Village, a shelter, Salvation Army, or consignment shop. Someone will take your "junk" and make it his treasure!

10. Turn off the lights! Use CFL bulbs, and turn the lights off when you're not in the room.

11. Unplug any electronic item when it's not in use. Don't just turn it off, unplug it!

12. Use cloth diapers! 5 MILLION disposable diapers go into landfills EVERY DAY in Canada. That's 5 million human waste-filled bundles that seep into our ground water and soil. Antibiotics, viruses, and diseases, wrapped into plastic and chemicals and tossed into the garbage. Cloth diapers are less expensive, easy to use, and safer for your baby. Be nice to the environment, your baby, and your wallet, all at the same time.

We each can make a difference. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Remember, every little bit helps.

23 September 2008

Business Card

No one had replied with a comment that they intended on finding/designing me a business card image so I found my own. I love love LOVE the font this card uses.

I ordered the card from VistaPrint, a company that makes business cards, magnets and more. If you allow them to advertise, discreetly, on the back of your card, and you pick all of the default options such as matte finish and one of their templates, the cards are really cheap. As in, FREE. 250 of them-free. You have to pay for shipping, which is under $10 if you choose the 3-week shipping option. Pretty darned reasonable for 250 business cards, if you ask me!

The contest is still open if people are interested.

An additional note, I now have an Etsy store. The address is www.berrymac.etsy.com. For those of you who don't know what Etsy is, it's an online craft market. People and companies sell handmade items from their individual stores on there. It's like eBay, but better. Much better. Check it out! My shop is still under construction, but items will keep appearing!

22 September 2008

Happy Autumnal Equinox


A warm autumn wind

Leaves: orange red and gold

Pumpkins fat on vines


20 September 2008

I Am Not Christian

Monday is the first day of Autumn: the Autumnal Equinox, also known in the Pagan community as Mabon. For those who don't know, day and night are equal on this date, and on it's seasonal opposite, Ostara (the first day of Spring). Delilah experienced her first Sabbat celebration tonight, with a group feast and tribute. It's amazing to me that she's going to grow up learning about all different religions and cultures and gods and not be tied down by dogma.

I'm in the middle of a spiritual upheaval at the moment. I've been re-discovering my beliefs, and lack thereof, lately. I'm less inclined to actually "worship" any gods or goddesses, or God and Goddess, or God, or whatever, and more inclined to just...be. I believe the Earth (Gaia), and all her creatures and plants and rocks and organisms are special, holy, if you will. I believe there ARE gods and goddesses who exist, perhaps because people believe in them. I believe you can put a thought out in to the universe and have it become true. I believe that if you focus your intent on something, you can make it so.

There are a lot of people with different beliefs in the Pagan community. Most people fit into a little box, when it comes to what they believe. Wicca, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American beliefs (not really Pagan), Satanism (not really Pagan either), eclectic Paganism (whatever that is), etc. But what IS paganism? Is it a belief, a sprituality, a religion, a lifestyle? And does practicing magic - being a witch - automatically make you Pagan?

Being a Pagan does not make you a witch. Being a witch does not make you Wiccan. Those two statements are true. But as for everything else, who knows?

So what does this make me? I'm not sure.

I dislike calling myself a "witch", and I'm not sure why. I don't know if it's because of the associated negativity...the fact that people would think me weird, or crazy, or dangerous, or something, because of the moniker. I know it caused a lot of problems when my family found out my wedding was going to be "Pagan". I think there is still a lot of ignorance in the world, and unfortunately a lot of it circles around witchcraft.

Witchcraft is another of those things about which I'm uncertain. Do I do it? I don't cast circles, I don't call quarters, I don't "cast spells" (I find that so cheesy, that statement). But I DO use herbs, essential oils, I believe that focusing my energy while making something fills that item with my intent and wish. I believe sigils work, and have used them. I try to meditate, I believe that words have power. I believe that Santa exists, because people believe in him...but I don't believe he comes to people's houses on Christmas eve and puts presents in their stockings.

When I'm in a bind, I ask for help, usually I just call to "God", but I don't see god as the Christian god. I suppose you could say that's my Christian roots still tugging at me, that I say "God", and not something else. Maybe it is habit, who knows.

I believe there are demons, and other entities that we can't necessarily see all the time. I think it's entirely possible that fairies (of all types) exist, and that my cat can see things I don't.

I think there are a lot of things I don't know.

19 September 2008

Berry Berry Quite Contrary - THE BUSINESS...and a CONTEST

I went out this afternoon in order to purchase Delilah a hoodie. After I discovered that a brand new hoodie at Old Navy runs from $14-$17.50, I decided to head on over to WalMart and see what they had. Delilah's friend A (3 days older) has a couple cute ones from there. So we walked on over.

After I picked out two hoodies for the munchkin, we were cruising the aisles looking at all of the ridiculous licensed products (mostly Walt Disney) and bumped into some ladies who were also shopping for a little one. They admired Delilah's black and purple heart leg warmers. I told them that I made them and they asked me for a business card; unfortunately I don't have any at this time.

Then I went to the sock aisle and picked out a new package of 2 knee high socks and ran into a lady shopping for socks. She asked me where I got Delilah's leg warmers; she was looking for a pair for HER baby. When she discovered I made them, she was awestruck.

Seriously, to make these things is so simple it's insane.

So I think I need to make up some business cards for all the crafty baby-type stuff I make. Leg warmers (need a fancy schmancy name for them though), diapers, diaper covers, baby wipes, baby wipe wash, EC supplies (pee pads, baby training pants, bibs, shoes, baby blankets, stuffed animals, etc...


If any of my readers out there in blog land can find a simple black ink (line drawing or whatever) picture to use as a watermark on the card and stationary, I'll give you one free item of your choice.

My business will be called Berry Berry Quite Contrary (obviously), and if you don't know me too well, I am an oddball and like oddball things. For example, on my birthday 2 years ago, I had a pinata filled with candy...and Barbie doll heads. No cutesy baby images please. I don't want something that will scare away potential customers, but an image that will represent my business and personality, all in one.

Contest Rules: applicants must leave a comment indicating their intent to enter and then email me an image in whatever format they want, as long as I can view it: rmaclary(at)gmail.com. Please make sure it is a simple image, one that can be printed in one colour, as a watermark.
Contest will close next Friday (September 26, 2008) at 3 pm EST. I will post a copy of the chosen image and contact the winner by email so he/she can select the prize. Original drawings would be awesome. If it is a licenced image, please include with the image the contact info for the artist so I can procure permission to reproduce it.

16 September 2008

Ditch the Disposables Challenge: Check in #1

All right. I haven't been quite as successful at this challenge as I initially thought. But no matter, any little bit helps, right? And we still have until the end of October!

I have made a little progress. I've used only cloth for nose blowing and napkins while at home. I haven't actually made any cloth hankies, but they're on my to-do list, which is growing exponentially by the day. I slipped up and used one of my "swiffer" cloths for dusting the other day. Oops. I guess I need to make some dusting cloths for household use. I've also used paper towels, for those messes which are just too yucky to use Delilah's cloth wipes...I'll add utility cloths to my project list. I guess I need to hit up Fabricland for some more flannel. Thank goodness for my Sewing Club card, it'll get me discounts on fabric and notions.

As for the family cloth issue (for the bathroom), I'm in the process of sewing up my cute little #1 cloths (blue flannel with monkeys and pink accents). I sent 2 metres of camo fabric (both are a super soft flannel) home with my Mom to sew. She's way faster than I at this sort of thing. Hopefully I'll finish my #1 cloths today while Delilah naps and will be using them by tonight. We'll see how those go before I switch to using cloth for #2. I figure, even if I reduce paper usage just for #1, that's a huge difference over the course of a year. Think about it, ladies. And cloth MUST be softer than paper, right? Look at all of those toilet paper commercials that try to convince us THEIR paper is as soft as cloth! Why WOULDN'T we use cloth instead of paper? The logistics are easy: I have two 4L ice cream tubs with lids that I'll be placing in the bathroom for the used cloths. Clean cloths will be stacked on the back of the toilet. Once the tubs are full, or we're close to running out of clean cloths, I'll throw the wipes into the washer on hot. An extra rinse with vinegar and lavender essential oil will be used (as usual) instead of fabric softener( fabric softener-liquid or sheets-are BAD, as in toxic and highly flammable). I wish we had a clothes line for outside drying but we don't, so they'll have to go into the dryer. Oh well, the energy used to clean them will be much less than the energy used to make toilet paper, right?

Like I said, every little bit counts.

I Won!

See? Reading other blogs and participating in challenges and such really DOES pay off! Remember my post, "What Do You Remember Most About Being A Kid?" It was part of the "Coffee Chat", a little contest that Write From Karen hosted. All I had to do was pick one of the two topics (or write one post for each one), and write at least 300 words on that subject. Place a link on Write From Karen, and voila! I was entered.

One of my friends saw my blog and wrote her own version, sent her own link to Write From Karen, and guess what!?! We BOTH won! OK, OK, it was a random number generator that picked our numbers, but so what! Stacy won a $25 voucher from amazon.com and I won a $10 gift card from Starbucks! WOO HOO!

Can't wait for the next coffee chat in December!

Check out the link buttons in my sidebars to see all the other challenges I'm involved with at the moment: Ditch the Disposables and NaNoWriMo.

12 September 2008

A Note on Disappointment and Anger

I left off of writing this post for a few days because, well, I was (am) pissed off.

Sunday September 7 was Delilah's Blessing and Naming Ceremony. I wasn't able to invite a lot of my friends, due to the fact that I was supplying food and drink and cake, and felt that our family members would like to be involved with Delilah's life stages.

I was wrong.

Sunday I awoke to rain, and my grandfather calling to find out if I had an alternate location for the ceremony. I told him I didn't, that the ceremony would still be outside, but there was a covered location at the park that we could use. I told him to call me back in 2 hours and I'd let him know what was going on.

The rain stopped just before he called, and I let him know, but he decided not to come because he didn't want to get wet. Fine, he's elderly, and doesn't walk too well.

Apparently that meant that both of my aunts (his daughters), and my cousins didn't have to come either. But then, my one cousin hadn't even bothered to RSVP so I didn't expect her to show up. My other cousin, on the other hand, talked to me in the morning and said she was coming. But just didn't show.

So MY family doesn't think I'm just picking on them, Ben's grandmother didn't show up either. And not because she's feeble, or didn't have a ride: Ben's aunt Linda offered to drive her and she declined because it had been raining. And a close family friend, who Ben considers family, didn't show either.

In total, NINETEEN people who were invited didn't show up. They either didn't RSVP at all (the HEIGHT of rudeness, since all it would take was a phone call), or said they were coming and then just didn't show.

The reason I'm pissed? Because I deliberately didn't invite the friends I WANTED to invite, because I invited our family members. Who then didn't bother to show up. So I spent around 200 dollars on an event that had less than half in attendance.

I bought invitations. I had a dress custom made. I ordered a cake. I made sandwiches. My mom brought fruit. I brought soda. And 19 people didn't bother to call or email to say they weren't coming. Never mind the fact that this was an important day in Delilah's life.

Next time I'll invite my friends, the ones who I know CARE, and will come, rain or shine.

For those of you who were invited, and didn't bother to call me or email me and tell me you weren't going to make it, I hope what you ended up doing on Sunday was worth the slight you have caused me and my daughter.

I apologize deeply to any of my friends who feel left out that they weren't invited. I won't make the same mistake next time.

As it turned out, the day ended being beautiful. The sun was shining, the grass was dry, the birds were singing, and it was sunny and warm. The ceremony went wonderfully and we'll have plenty of wonderful pictures, I'm sure. Delilah's Great Aunt Linda gave her a necklace with a chai pendant (Hebrew for life), Stan and Trish and Linda gave Delilah a lovely handmade Goddess hook-rug pillow, Saphyre, Korbin and Amberle gave Delilah a gift card for Cheeky Monkey,Donna Rod and Jessica gave D a stuffed bear (I think it's homemade, too) and everyone else graced us with the gift of their presence. We love you all!

11 September 2008

I'm Glad I Can Sew

Two days ago I spent 16 dollars on a pair of organic Babylegs, which are baby leg warmers. They're really nice.

However, I decided that 16 dollars per pair is a little costly, since I would like Delilah to have 4 or more pairs, to match outfits, etc. Basically they are desirable because with the EC she can be bare bum and wear a tshirt, babylegs, and she's warm. And that way, I don't have to struggle with getting her pants down each time to go potty. They're useful when she's wearing a diaper, too, for the same reason. They'll also be good for when it's REALLY cold out when she wears them under her pants.

I went to Giant Tiger and bought 3 packs of ladies knee high socks for $4.97.Each package has 2 pairs of socks. I brought them home and went into my sewing room and came out with 6 pairs of my own version of baby leg warmers! Ok, the first two pairs didn't turn out so well, but that's all right. I still consider myself a novice seamstress, but these warmers look AMAZING! And they fit her really well, as I made them shorter than the Babylegs. So for the price of ONE PAIR of Babylegs, I have 4 perfect pair and 2 ok pair. The ones shown in the pictures are my favourites. Delilah loves them too!

I don't know if there's a market for these things in London. Maybe I'll advertise on Kijii!


On another blog today I read about random acts of kindness, and the responsibility we each have to do the right thing. I know, that raises the question: "who decides what the RIGHT thing IS?" However, I believe that most people, if not all, would say that to pick up a child's dropped toy as they pass you by on the sidewalk, bending and picking something up for a feeble senior, pushing someone out of the way of traffic, and such, is DOING THE RIGHT THING.

It's unfortunate that it seems most people these days are just too busy to "do the right thing". They're thinking of the long drive home, what they'll cook for dinner, or about the upcoming weekend. So they don't see the little girl drop her favourite toy, the old gentleman who leaves his dollar on the floor because he knows he can't pick it up, the bus that strikes the man who is standing too far off the curb...

Has anyone seen the Liberty Mutual insurance commercial? The one where people see others doing random acts of kindness, or "the right thing", and it inspires them to do the same? If you haven't seen it, or don't remember, here it is:

Doesn't this make you want to be a better person? We should watch this every week, to remind us that we all could be just a little bit better.

The blog I read also includes an amazing story, so I'll paste it here as well (I know, not too original today, but it made me think about karma).

The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

09 September 2008

No Words Necessary

Plastic Soup

I was reading one of the blogs I subscribe to, 5 Minutes for Going Green and saw this shocking illustration. I knew there was a mass of plastic floating around in the ocean, but this diagram sums it up quite well. Horrifying, isn't it?

If this isn't enough to make you swear off plastic forever, I don't know what is.

Use cloth bags!

Find a place that will recycle your plastic bags! (I know Walmart does, as well as a few other places.)

It's not too late, change your habits now, Mother Earth will thank us.

08 September 2008

Homeschool Freebie Of The Day

I'd like to talk a bit about www.HomeschoolFreebieOfTheDay.com this morning. This website is an invaluable resource for homeschoolers and parents everywhere. It's not just for homeschoolers, as I'm sure teachers would also find this site invaluable. Every parent looking for after-school ideas for their kids will also love this resource.

Wondering how it works? Go to the website and sign up! It's as easy as that. Every Monday, you'll get an email letting you know what freebies are available in the week to come. If you're interested, go to the site on that day and click on the offer and get your free resource (ebooks, activity books, etc). You can pass on the ones you don't want. I've found some great newsletters and such, too, by going to other sites belonging to the sponsors.

What are these "freebies?" They're unit studies, curriculum, lesson plans, eBooks, and such. There would normally be a charge, but on Homeschool Freebie of the Day site they are totally free...but just for the one day they're offered!

I've started collecting stuff, even though Delilah is way too young to start, but I like to be prepared. I've got eBooks on English and Grammar, Math, Classic Literature, Greek, and much more. All free.

Check it out!

07 September 2008


For the record, Berry does not, in any way, shape or form, endorse any of the products advertised by Google. She tolerates the ads in order to make a bit of advertising money (well, we'll see how that pans out) and has no choice over what ads are selected to be shown.

If it offends a reader to see an ad for formula (as much as it does me), hit the arrow button on the ad and it will move to the next ad.

Sorry for the interruption and please go back to your reading.

Legal staff,
Berry Berry Quite Contrary

06 September 2008

NaNoWriMo, continued

Have you ever, spontaneously, wondered to yourself, "hmmm, what is 50,000 divided by 30?"

Well, lemme tell you: the answer is 1667. As in, the number of words I will be required to write, DAILY, for one month, is one thousand six hundred and sixty-seven.


I'm not sure I can do that. What was I thinking? Is it too late to back out?

Ok, HELL no. Now the challenge is ON! My biggest competitor is myself (I'm not sure if that is normal, but whatever) and I'm not going to quit before I even start! I can do this! I'm not sure when...I mean, I DO have a 4 month old baby to raise...maybe when she naps...or after she goes to bed at night. Yes, that's it! Is two hours enough? Oh yeah, and I've recently been commissioned to create a chainmaille headdress for a friend for her wedding, which is in May. So I'll have that on a burner, too, for the month of November. But hopefully by that time I'll have assembled a good chunk of the piece and can set it aside to write. Funny enough, said bride (Hi Bex!) is also a NaNoWriMo author!

For those of you who didn't know and haven't guessed, that's me in the chainmaille dress that I made over there in the right sidebar, titled Berry Queen of Thorns. I created the dress in one manic 10-day period in 2006 for myself to wear to another friend's wedding (Hi Misha and Joe!), which had a costume reception. It was great fun, that reception. Creating the dress was pretty darned fun, too, even if it did pretty much kill any enthusiasm I had for chainmailling. But lately I've been itching to do some more, and Bex's commission comes at a good spot in my life. I have months to complete the project, so if it takes me longer than I anticipate I'll still have lots of time in which to finish. And after that, I have a second commission. Evil Wizard has asked me to make him a tie. How passive-aggressive corporate is THAT.


I must be crazy.

I've just signed up for (totally on a whim, I might add) National Novel Writing Month. Starting November 1st and ending midnight on November 30th, I will join thousands of people and attempt to write a 175-page, fifty THOUSAND word novel.

I must be crazy.

If you too wish to join the ranks of the insane, go the home page of National Novel Writing Month and sign up.

Now, to decide what my title will be and what it will be about...

For those who are also participating, or anyone else interested in tracking my progress and such on the NaNoWriMo site, my username is BerryMac.

Wine Update

My apple wine, the stuff I spent hours and hours preparing, is dead. It never started the airlock going, and despite all my efforts, is worthless. There is mold growing on top. This is very frustrating since I spent so much time and energy making the must. I think the only thing left to do is to chuck it out.

As for my wine by the bottle, I added more sugar today to the grape bottle to restart the yeast and re-attached the balloon. The strawberry wine is being filtered as we speak into a fresh bottle. I added a little sugar to it for taste. I'll have a sip after it's filtered to check it out.

**edited to add:
After some thought I realized I could probably strain the must and boil it then start over. This notion was confirmed by master brewer/distiller Evil Wizard. I will do that on Monday or tomorrow.

05 September 2008

For Those Who Doubt

Gone With The Wind-A Review of Sorts

For all of Scarlett's faults, her weaknesses, her evil, conniving, self-centered, hateful, conceited, manipulative, abusive, twisted self, I feel bad for her. Really. I feel bad because it took her SO long to see what I saw: that Ashley was a useless twit, lost in the past, and no more suitable for her than a rubber ducky is to a swan.

Now, Rhett...
Rhett is the type of man every man wants to be, or SHOULD want to be. I knew from the beginning that he wanted Scarlett, that he loved her. But I didn't guess what would happen in the end, until the end. Until the worst happened. When Bonnie died.

I'm not sure that any marriage ever survives the death of a child. Without straying too far from my discussion, I don't think, even if Rhett's love for Scarlett was reciprocated, that the relationship would have survived Bonnie's tragic demise.

Scarlett was a fool of the worst kind, in wasting her life, essentially, on a man who was in love with another woman and didn't even realize it. I guess that was the only thing he and Scarlett had in common.

Even from the beginning of the book, I disliked Scarlett but respected her, at the same time. I admired her, for her strength of character, her determination to survive. At the same time, I liked Melanie but disliked her. She was weak. Then again, she showed true strength and backbone in the end, when she defends Scarlett. But there, again, her strength came from her naiveity. Perhaps her goodness is her saving grace. Her death totally shocked me. (As if the killing off of the child wasn't bad enough, with the heart-rending vision of a grief-stricken father refusing to bury his girl child because in life she was afraid of the dark!)

I never really developed an attachment to the girl child, Bonnie, or any of the other children, for that matter, but maybe the author never intended it. She certainly didn't really develop her character beyond stating she was spoiled rotten yet sweet so everyone loved her. I think the part that is most heartbreaking is Rhett's grief. His absolute devotion to the child sets him up for destruction. I think Scarlett's treatment of her children is reprehensible and for that I hate her.

Enough about the characters in particular. Before I read Gone With The Wind, I had never really considered anything about the Civil War, other than it was about the South wanting to have slaves and the North fighting for the Negroes' (no offense meant with that term, please no one take any!) rights and freedom. Freedom from terrible treatment from their plantation "owners", freedom from slavery, etc. I never considered the other side of the story, the one that Margaret Meade portrays. The possibility that some of the slaves WANTED to be where they were. Now, I suppose it could be all a crock of propagandic shite, a well-written story done for amusement, but then again, maybe it isn't. Maybe it DOES tell the tale of a time where people had their place in society, and the well-treated slaves took comfort in their positions. That some of them loved their owners, and their owners loved them. There was a fierce loyalty portrayed on behalf of both whites and blacks, for a good slave was "family". At the same time, the attitude that Scarlett showed in regard to slaves being akin to simple children who needed guidance and direction, now, that was terrible. Did they really believe that? Is that how they justified themselves?

In that same society the young girls pretended to be stupid and shy and innocent and sweet, all the while flirting and conniving and manipulative. It astonishes me to think that the girls would be that way, willingly being that way, accepting the demands of society. Society, propriety, demanded they act a certain way until they were married, and then they could be themselves (but only behind closed doors, I'm sure). And worse, that the men KNEW it! Oh, they pretended not to, but really, could they be that stupid? Everything was contrived! All for the sake of show. Ridiculous.

My discussion on this topic is done, but for this: Rhett was a good man, and he deserved better than Scarlett.

02 September 2008

Spread the Net

Spread the Net - www.spreadthenet.org

In Africa, malaria is the leading cause of death for children under 5.

The disease kills 3,000 African children a day.

Malaria takes 1.3 million lives a year.

Buy a mosquito net for 10 bucks and save a life.

Click on the banner and help. Spread the word and donate.

EC Update

Yesterday I caught 4 pees and a poop-wow, that one was a surprise, but completely by accident so I can't really take credit for that one.

Today we got up at 8 AM and I immediately gave Delilah a potty opportunity (some say pottytunity but that's just a little too cutesy for me) but I think she had gone before her morning snack. I offered her another potty 20 minutes later and off and away, that started an awesome trend for today! So far I've caught all of her pees but one (and that was my fault, she was on my lap and I ignored her squirming so I got wet), and a poop! Woo hoo! We went outside and I had her in the carrier so I put a diaper on her, but pottied her before and after and she was dry the entire time we were outside (over an hour) and peed as soon as we came back in. I've noticed she usually pees at every opportunity I give her as long as they're spaced every 15-20 minutes or so.

Some people might think I'm crazy or whatever but so far it's been pretty rewarding. It's a neat feeling, to say "sssss" while holding Delilah over a pot and then seeing her pee a few seconds later. And no wet diapers! This DOES work!

01 September 2008

Ditch the Disposables! (Challenge)

Yep, it's time again for another challenge with the peeps over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. The basic idea: give up one or more disposable item for September and October in place of using more environmentally friendly options.

I've pretty much already switched (while at home, anyway) from paper tissues to using handkerchiefs or cloth wipes, and paper towels to cloth napkins. We also use cloth diapers and wipes, and cloth grocery bags instead of plastic. For this challenge, I'm going to go whole-hog and refuse to use paper towels at all (ok, maybe I'll use them for pet vomit, but that's about it, ok?) I'll also stop using my "swiffer" wipes (even though I reuse them a million times before chucking them out) and will use prefold diapers in their place and cloth wipes for dusting.

I've been toying with the idea of going to "family cloth", as in, no more toilet paper...yes, I know, some of you will think I'm nuts for considering it...but I'm still trying to work out the logistics of that one. Ben is ok with the idea, as far as I can tell. I'd have to make up a bunch of wipes for specific use, get a bucket for them to be stored in after use, and wash them separately, I'm thinking. In hot water, obviously. Maybe this challenge will be the nudge I need to get going on this. I'm thinking a dark flannel cloth, maybe?

For anyone interested in joining me and many others in this challenge, click on the button in the left sidebar and follow the instructions. Let's Ditch the Disposables!

My Weightloss Progress