Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Workshop Weather

4C this morning - YIKES! On Sunday it was 28C! I suggest a petition that the temperature only decrease by 1C a day...or week!! These sudden changes cause me seasonal anxiety! And also cause me to overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!!

At least the sun is back. We had 5 or 6 straight days of rain. Which means no biking, no long walks through the forest...BUT...it does mean the workshop is now open for business!

From unpolished...

to polished!

 The leaf is a piece I snapped off a larger carving - I wasn't happy with it and this small piece didn't seem to belong. I turned it into a leaf and gave it to my artist brother who has recently named his studio "The Silver Branch". He put the leaf in his storefront window underneath a large vase holding a silver branch. It looks as though the leaf has fallen from the branch! :) I'll take my camera with me next time I visit him so you can see how it all looks.


...polished!  * The base is made of soapstone as are the pieces above. Soapstone comes in a variety of colours - I really like the rich browns in this piece.  I didn't alter the quartz.

In progress...(this is the sculpture that I took the piece off of which became the leaf). More shaping to be done before I begin to polish...

This one is partially polished...will finish tomorrow. I am going to place this one in a shadow box as it is a thin relief sculpture and needs support. I like the other side better but didn't photograph it for some reason.

This one is partially shaped; will work on it more tomorrow.

Future works of art :) Both are quite large so I will be taking a hammer and chisel to them first to make several sculptures out of both - I prefer to work with small pieces.
And there you have it!
This is week two in the shop - I am quite pleased with what I've accomplished so far. As they say...it keeps me off the streets!

Friday, October 13, 2017

So Far So Good

So far so good with the food budget. I made a big pot of turkey soup, didn't use a recipe just used up leftovers that needed to be used along with what started as 1 cup of soup mix (various dried beans, split peas, lentils, rice, quinoa etc) and turned into 4-5 cups after absorbing lots of water while being soaked. I threw in some oldish carrots and some limp celery, half of a leftover sweet onion, about half a can of tomatoes that had lingered in the fridge long enough and a bunch of soft and squishy grape tomatoes, cut in half. I added some chopped up turkey, of course and some basil, thyme, and a healthy serving of crushed chilli peppers to spice it up a bit (a whole lot!)
                                                          I have to say it is delicious!
*I didn't take any photos so am using google photos that look similar to what I made.

While rummaging around in the fridge I realized I had four green peppers and Kazi's favourite meal is stuffed peppers. It is one of my favourites too because once again it allows me to hide things in the mixture :) Kazi saw the peas ( about half a cup leftover from Thanksgiving dinner) but she didn't identify the leftover stuffing!! Kind of apropos don't you think? Stuffing in stuffed peppers? I mixed it up with some of the soup mix, the leftover peas, some marinara sauce and lots of grated cheddar. You can hide a lot of stuff under cheddar! Oh, I almost forgot...I had half of a medium-sized zucchini which I chopped up and sauteed in a little olive oil and added to the peppers. Yum!

Today I did take myself off to the grocery store as planned as I needed to reload up on fruits and veg, along with a few staples like bread, soy milk and a large package of chicken breasts 30% off. I spent about $60 and hope to NOT shop again for at least a week, preferably 10 days but we'll see. After today there is only about $60 left in the food budget. I'll be making mostly meals that stretch to two nights instead of the usual one.

Future meals will include:
Chicken fajitas (always lasts two nights :)
Cheese and spinach ravioli
Spinach and mozzarella omlettes with mashed potato & onion patties
Shrimp & veggie linguine
Greek lentil soup (get 2-3 meals out of this)
Veggie chilli ( several meals)
Salmon steaks and sweet potato fries
Cheese and potato pierogies
Tuna Melts

We have tons of fresh veg and fruit on hand to augment meals, plus a lot of frozen fruit for smoothies. There is always a pot of soup for lunches and we both eat oatmeal in the morning. This should work. I don't usually make a meal plan beyond...well...today...but I can definitely see the purpose.

Do you plan your meals by the day, week, or month?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October Budget a Bit of a Challenge

Are you squeezing your budget extra tight this month in order to stay in the black? Me too! Just about everyone whose blog I read is trying to make the most of their food budget in order to stay on track.  I just went through Thanksgiving Day long weekend and spent twice as much on food/drinks as I usually spend in an ordinary month.  I have a fridge full of leftovers but we're a little tired of eating turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It looks like I need to freeze the remaining food and haul it out again in a couple of weeks when I won't be faced with moans and groans...and that's just ME!

But here's the problem: there are three weeks left in October but there is not three weeks of grocery money left! So how to get to the end of October, providing a variety of healthy meals, while staying within the remaining budget. The age old problem. Doesn't seem possible does it?

And this is where you think I'm going to present an imaginative and tasty solution but I'm afraid I'm going to let you down. Because I don't know. If there were only two weeks left in this month I think it would be a snap...but three? Without hauling out the frozen leftovers? This is when having another freezer would come in handy. But I don't have one and never have so I have to work with what I've got.

Yes...I should have increased the food budget for October but the money still has to come from somewhere! So...I've decided to transfer the $80 I set aside for gas for the as yet unnamed car into the food budget line. Fortunately when I purchased the car they filled it up with gas. It still has over 3/4 of a tank so I won't need to put anymore in til next month, and maybe not then either. There, with a little bit of budget magic, I have my three weeks of groceries covered. That being said, I'm still going to try to get to Friday, my usual grocery day, without going to the grocery store.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Happier Thanksgiving

Recently I came across an article with a phrase that I keep at the forefront of my mind at all times now. It really has caused a paradigm shift in my way of thinking and so I thought that on this long weekend of feasting and giving thanks here in Canada I would share it with you.

The phrase is "self-compassion".  Think about it for a minute or two......what does it mean to you? Don't confuse it with "self-pity", that's a different kettle of fish altogether.

I don't think it was a coincidence that I encountered the phrase shortly after my aborted trip to Scotland. I was being pretty hard on myself for not pushing through the pain and the injuries which in retrospect don't seem that bad now.

Showing myself compassion has always been difficult for me to do. Family members and friends (which includes my wonderful readers) showed me a lot of compassion and understanding and NO judgement after I came home.

So why am I so hard on myself? Is that a female trait? Is it just me and my particular set of circumstances? Don't I love myself? Speaking recently with a sister I wondered why I'm not more compassionate to myself? Why do I set myself such big challenges? How can I show myself compassion instead of punishment?

My first action in being more compassionate with myself was buying my new car. Why was I making my life so difficult when it didn't have to be?

Then I ordered myself a full-size Yamaha keyboard and am anticipating it's arrival with great joy! I took lessons for years and years and was my piano teacher's top student. It was during a search in a used bookshop in Bracebridge that I came across some sheet music that I thought my brother would love and which I bought for his birthday. That compelled me to dig out my big box full of piano books that my siblings and I shared over the many years we took piano lessons. That was quite a teary trip down memory lane looking at those books so I decided to give myself the gift of music which always soothes my soul  :)

I am going to try to be more self-aware and treat myself with compassion accordingly. Last night the first of my toenails fell off; several more to go. I can't imagine how I would have survived hiking another 150kms with my feet in the shape they were so I will ease up on myself and accept that that journey was not meant to be but there are more trips and adventures in my future.

Being thankful for my life can't be celebrated in just one weekend. It has to be on-going the whole year through.  Everyday when I wake up I immediately lay down on my yoga mat and through my practise I feel such a sense of well-being. Instead of only directing those good feelings towards others I must remember to also direct them inwards. Finding ways to show myself compassion everyday won't be easy but it is a necessary and worthwhile cause.

All through the year I march and protest for others...now I will march for myself.  I hope you will join me.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Back to Walking

Words cannot express my happy feelings for being back in Kilally Meadows, my home away from home. I walked for a couple hours and my toes caused me no grief.

I received as a birthday gift this year the book called "The Hidden Life of Trees" and it is fabulous. If you are a lover of forests, as I am, you should read this book. It is an amazing read and the research will help you understand that trees live in very social communities and are much better at supporting each other and communicating with each other than we are. 

Anyhoo...there is still a lot going on in the forest at this time of year. We've had cold weather and hot weather and everything in between. Except for rain - we really need more of that! I went on a sunny day that was around 18c and it was perfect.

          So inviting isn't it?

I love fungi! Fungi play a huge role in the lives of trees in the forest.

I've always loved the way fallen branches create works of forest art.

Look at these sweet little seed fluffies. (definitely a scientific term!)

Still lots of colour to be found.

And lots of wildflowers still blooming brightly!

The last of the phlox. 

I chased this Clouded Sulpher butterfly around til it settled long enough for a photo. 

This is the ugly part of things - invasive species.  Mostly we should leave forests alone.
But sometimes certain invasive species try to take over and kill the whole forest and then
man must step in to try and stem the flow.
In this case it is the European Buckthorn population that has been taking over.

For some reason these milkweed pods below remind me of 
Heckle and Jeckle :)

I'm dating myself! 

Whatever flowers these were is a mystery that will
have to wait until next spring.

Two very fat ducks - they better stay hidden until after Thanksgiving!
.....this weekend in Canada.

A clothesline of sumac leaves - such glorious colours.
And that's it for this week's walk. Hopefully I will get to Kilally Meadows again soon; possibly tomorrow. Today is volleyball - I played a couple hours on Tuesday and am happy to report that my fingers held up quite well :)  And yesterday we had the first rain in weeks so I took the opportunity to work on a couple of soapstone carvings.

I LOVE autumn!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I Caved

A few things have happened that have nudged me towards car ownership once again.

  • my 71 year old neighbour has lost her license; she had an accident a couple months ago which was deemed her fault. She got a driving coach and then tried once again for her license. She didn't pass. She has taken me to appointments and vice versa - I was feeling vulnerable for both of us.
  • my daughter, like me, suffers from anxiety. I could tell she was nervous about me not having a vehicle. She was very happy when I would rent a car from her place of work but I can't do that all of the time.
  • I didn't like the restrictions in my life due to not having wheels especially with winter coming up. I was worried about being more isolated and unable to attend activities in and around and outside the city.
  • I don't like hitching a ride with others - I want to rely on myself. There will come a time when I'll have to give up driving but for the next 20 years or so I'd like to drive myself.
  • Figuring out how to get to an event/protest etc (other than using my bicycle) is a pain in the arse!
  • Can't be spontaneous. (Hey, you want to go to the beach? Sure, just a minute while I rent a car!)
  • My best friends don't drive so I feel I need to. 
  • I found a used car that my daughter (the car expert!) deemed good enough for me :) She doesn't want me driving a sub-compact car. It was within my budget (about $1500 under budget). It's also a Honda Civic Econ model that uses less gas when in Econ mode :) Two thumbs up!!
  • I  calculated how many kms per year I was putting on Dougie the Dodge and it worked out to be about 8,000km per year and that includes three 2000km trips to PEI! Obviously I don't drive the average number of kms that most people do. At that rate this car should last me about 15+ years!!! And now I can visit my two sisters - one in PEI and one in Bracebridge, ON (about a 4.5 hour drive). (One sister can't drive more than 30 minutes at a time due to back pain and the other sister never got her license.)
  • I've had the newish car now since last Wednesday and have driven it twice. I continue to use my feet and my bicycle :) I think the combination of walking, biking and occasional driving is the best fit for me and my lifestyle. Sunday I cycled 20km and yesterday I cycled 30km. Today I am walking to where I play volleyball and then walking to the grocery store which is right on my way home. If I can avoid using the car I will. 
  • I have a brother who doesn't drive and I usually pick him up to attend family events. It makes things rather awkward if I don't have a vehicle. I am imagining taking a taxi to Christmas dinner along with all of our gifts and food!

Going car-free, even for such a short time, has helped me sort out my needs and wants when it comes to car ownership. I could live car-free but find I don't want to. Not yet anyway. As far as my budget goes I have put the insurance and gas budget lines back. I paid cash for the car as I refuse to have any debt. So now it's SAVE SAVE SAVE until I get my savings back to what they were before. That would take about a year or so except for the fact that I am already thinking about three possible trips for next year. Whether I can do all three remains to be seen but so far I'm thinking about British Columbia (again), walking in the Cotswolds (again and with Annie), and Scotland (again) with my brother. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Heading Out

This post isn't about the Air Show last weekend but it was spectacular so will use a few (very few considering how many I took!) photos to illustrate said post. It was a glorious day weather wise and I rode my bike as closely as I could get to the local airport without actually paying admission to get in. 😎
My favourite wheels!
After a fantastic show I was about to leave (the sky had been quiet for quite awhile) when suddenly the famous Canadian Snowbirds appeared - I can't tell you how much of a fan I am - there is nothing I love more than the exhilaration of feeling my chest pounding from the supersonic thundering of nine jets as they fly overhead! They did not disappoint!
However, this post is not, I repeat, NOT about the Snowbirds...well, maybe just a little...
What I wanted to mention was an article I read in the paper this morning about another of the Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island, located in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Last May/June I explored Galiano Island and next to it is Salt Spring Island. The article talked about one of my favourite subjects - forest bathing! I've been thinking a lot about visiting the west coast again next year because of how much I enjoyed my Sphere time and I think this article was a direct message to ME! 
And of course, if all works out, I would LOVE to visit my Vancouver Island friends again - Tammy and Troy!!
The Salt Spring Island Chamber of Commerce is focusing on the powerful effects of being out in the forest. Walking amongst the trees is proven now to affect us on a cellular level. In addition our immune systems are boosted from the antibiotic and antibacterial properties in the air!! WOW!!

Another claim to fame are the mysterious "fairy doors" that are located in the forests of Salt Spring Island; that alone makes me want to visit B.C. once again! 
So...I hope I can make it happen. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a week! I will have to save, save and save some more! I made a rather large purchase recently which I'll talk about in my next post. And another costly purchase is "not in stock" at the moment but could become available very soon. So my savings are taking a beating. 
That's ok because I have the ability to save $1,000 per month so I'll be working on saving as much as I can over the next 8-10 months. 
 There's not much point being Frugal with a capital F 98% of the time if I then don't reap the benefits a few times a year.
Agree...or disagree??

Saturday, September 23, 2017

On the Bright Side

Loch Lomond
I am one of those people who always look on the bright side. Sometimes I have to look really really hard for that silver lining but it's there, I swear.

This time around it wasn't so hard.
Loch Lomond seen from Conic Hill
Once I got home and emailed my siblings to let them know one of my brothers wrote to me that he has wanted to return to Scotland (he last went in 2012) and he thought we would have a really great trip if we went together.

Right now you're thinking "oh what a nice thing for her brother to do"...which is exactly what I thought..."oh he feels sorry for me and is offering to go with me so I can see what I missed."  But, as he told me Thursday night when we went out for dinner with another brother and his wife he'd gotten the bug to visit Scotland again while I was planning my trip. It wasn't a pity gift!!! (Not that I would have minded!)
Loch Lomond from Conic Hill
We haven't set a date or anything but I now have this opportunity to get to Scotland again. YAY!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Yes, I'm Back

Bridge over the River Clyde in Glasgow

Just a quick little quickie to let you know I'm here and will be back later to catch up with you all. My trip ended shortly after it started due to a freak accident - I squished several toes under a door. Yup, you heard right. It was my first day in Glasgow and the door was the door into my hotel. I pulled...nothing happened. I planted my feet firmly and gave a good yank, the door came loose too quickly for me to respond and get out of the way. The pain...was tremendous!
Walking along the River Clyde

The next day I hiked 33kms - way longer than I thought it would be because I didn't account for how far I had to walk from my hotel to the trail head; then I hiked along the Clyde River, the Kelvin River and the Allender River. (not sure if I spelled that correctly) I must have been walking differently to compensate for the injury and ended up with a bunch of blisters. I hiked two more days, one not too long the next one very long ending up in Rowardennan. By that point I was running out of bandaids, had 3 infected toes and a bunch of oozing blisters.
Still in Glasgow
The next day was going to be another long one with no way to contact anyone and no villages along the way; so I was very leery about pushing my "luck" any further. I was feeling very low and felt I couldn't continue without putting myself and my feet in real jeopardy. I had walked 24km to Rowardennan and every step was painful. I had to call it a day.

Next post I'll tell you about the FUN trip home, she says with dripping sarcasm!

AND there is a bright side to all of this...stay tuned!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Count Down is on!!

Just a couple more days and off I go! This week has been busy getting last minute items, cleaning and waterproofing my boots, waterproofing my coat, packing and repacking and finishing off my September budget.

I ordered a couple things from Amazon.ca and am so glad I purchased Amazon Prime back in January. I paid around $80 for the year and in exchange I get super fast delivery on most items, no shipping fee and thrown in for free is their movie and TV show streaming. I am hooked on "Justified" (watching for the second time!) In shipping costs alone I have saved more than $80 so this membership more than pays for itself.

A couple days ago I ordered Granger's XTreme Repel spray for my gore-tex raincoat. Apparently the DWR (Durable Water-Repellent) wears off and needs to be replenished from time to time. So I washed my coat, sprayed it, wiped off the excess and dried it in the dryer and did a little water test on the sleeve. Water beaded up and rolled off. Here's hoping it will continue to repel water over the course of my trip. (I am taking a back-up coat this time around as it rains a lot in the Scottish Highlands. )

Then on Tuesday I ordered a new cable for my laptop as old one was making a crackling sound - THAT can't be good! Shipping is free again and the cost of the cord is less than half of what I have previously paid here in London. It is supposed to arrive today - just 2 days after ordering.
Amazon has done well by me so far and I do love getting packages in the mail rather than driving
all over the city looking for what I need. Win/win!

For packing I used a list from previous years making note of what I did and didn't use, for example last year I took a pair of shorts and never wore them. Also took a nice black top which I never wore. So I won't be taking those items with me this year. I also made a note of what I could have used more of - like hiking socks. I was able to wash the dirty ones thankfully after sloshing through the peaty bog.

I think I've finally got my suitcase figured out. On one side I put my hiking boots, socks, sock liners, undies, tank tops, PJs, toiletries and first aid supplies.

Then in the pouch on the flip side I put extras & misc, safety pins, kleenex, duct tape etc.

On the other side are my clothes...under a couple of plastic bags which I will use to put dirty clothes in.  Three pairs of pants plus I'll be wearing my jeans on the flight to Scotland, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and a couple of cozy fleece sweaters.

Some I lay flat and some I roll depending on the spaces available.
 My daughter bought me a new hat for the trip - I like a hat with a large bill so that my glasses are protected from the rain. Plus this style of hat fits well under the hood of my coat.

I am taking my wonderful Gregory backpack with me as per usual - it holds my daily snacks while hiking plus backup rain gear, first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, rain proof backpack cover, bug spray, bug hat, bug jacket, gloves, head band & skull cap with omni-heat interior so my head stays warm on those windy days, emergency blanket and emergency chocolate, just in case, my extra litre of water in addition to the one I attached to my backpack...I think that's about it. Then for travelling and city exploring I have a fabric purse with many compartments for passport, money, phone and maps.

So I am just about set. Left to do is tidying up the house, taking out garbage etc. That and throw in my suitcase the last few items I need such as toothbrush and rechargers.

So...why is it I feel as though I'm forgetting something really important??