Saturday, December 31, 2011

Taking Stock of 2011


Photo information:  Photo from internet. Not sure the name of the photographer.

At the close of the year,  many of us look back and review how the year went.  Some of us,  make resolutions.  Others of us, set goals.  I've never been one to make resolutions but I usually do set some broad goals for myself.  Mostly these have been unwritten goals in 2-3 key areas.  For the first time last year,  I sat down and wrote out my goals in several major areas of my life.  Last year was also the first time I posted my goals on my blog.  Within each broad goal I identified, there are a number of smaller ones.  I didn't write these down, but kept them in mind as I moved through the year.

I wanted to see if writing and posting my goals would help keep me achieve some things that I "always want to do" but which just never seem to get done due to lack of time.  Does that sound familiar to you?  I've heard it said that if you want to make sure you do something, you need to make an appointment to do it.  Setting broad goals can help in setting those important appointments with yourself throughout the year, and keep you focused on what is important.  It can even help you decide where you will spend your money in a given year and help you be realistic about what you can and cannot achieve. 

Some of my regular readers know that I had major mobility issues this past year.  The lack of mobility and the constant pain impacted negatively on my ability to achieve a number of health goals, despite my best efforts. Nonetheless, I kept trying and I'm still trying.  Eventually I'll get there.  Having a very sick parent that was in and out of hospital and needed to move, also took up a lot of energy and resources.

While I did think about different ways to undertake some minor renovations in the kitchen, in the end I didn't make much progress on my "Home" goals.  I decided not spend anything in this area and I won't spend anything in this area unless I have saved it first.  Debt repayment and living within my means, or living under my means, is one of my key goals for the foreseeable future.  I've been making steady progress in this area over the past several years.  I've managed to make progress by organizing my finances to make things flow better (cutting interest rates and number of bills paid), implementing a lot of cost saving measures in running the household (food, electricity, buying medical prescriptions 3 months at a time instead of monthly, only shopping the sales flyers),  cutting costs on hobbies (buying books and yarn at thrift stores, buying exercise equipment rather than spending on gym members, buying used rather than second hand where cost effective, shopping the sales when buying new) and cutting out expenses that were no longer necessary or changing services to get better value for money (cable television, mobile internet, cell phone, pharmacist).

My debts do not prevent me from giving to charitable causes, like the Missions of Hope , my sponsored children or a variety of other needs.  I am a tither so giving ten percent or more of gross income is something that I do despite my other financial obligations.  Having said that, giving would be easier when debts are cleared.  No more debt would also give me more freedom to do what I'd like as well as prepare me better for whatever comes.

Of course, debt management is only one part of financial planning. One must also think about savings/investments for retirement, insurance needs, and paying off the mortgage while you still have the finances to do it.  If you are still working on all these steps don't forget to have a lawyer make up your Last Will & Testament.  Give some thought to your beneficiaries as well as your last wishes concerning "going home" arrangements.  It really isn't that expensive to have a lawyer draft your will so don't try to cut corners by going to a notary public.  It is better to see a lawyer who specializes in Wills & Estates matters.  So many people don't like to talk about these things but it is all a part of the life cycle and we must be grown up and practical about such things.  Otherwise you make it harder for those left behind to cope when they are grieving and having to sort through your personal and financial business.

While you're at it, you might also give some thought to having a lawyer draft up a legal document as to what you would like to have happen if you find yourself requiring life support.  Hospitals need to know whether their patients want to be resuscitated.  They get these wishes from the patient.  However, if the patient is too sick and weak to properly represent himself/herself, it really isn't a good idea to leave this decision until a critical time. It is important to know ahead of time and to give your loved ones your wishes in a legal document so that they can advocate for your wishes at the hospital.  More and more hospitals simply want to "pull the plug" before the family is fully ready. Don't be caught unaware on this one.  In Canada, this kind of legal agreement costs about twice as much (about $550.00) as I paid for my will (about $275.00) though the price may have gone up since I hired a lawyer.

Writing my goals down really helped to keep me on track and start doing the things I've been wanting to do,  like reading more and getting on with my swimming lessons.  While the achievement of my goals has been mixed, I am still happy with what I was able to achieve given my limitations and the always unexpected things that "pop up" to distract you.

I put a little mark beside those goals I was able to achieve, and an X beside those that I did not meet. If I was not able to action any goal, consistently throughout the year, I put an X beside it.

In 2012, I will undertake the same process of setting my goals in writing and posting them since I found it to be a helpful process.

* Make more time for prayer and study
* Research and obtain some good study materials
* Support one person in reaching their dreams/goals
* Make one loan to a female entrepreneur in a Kenyan village
* Cultivate and nurture my Christian friendships and broaden my base of friendships
* Write to my new sponsored children in Kenya, send them photos and family/birthday gifts

* Learn more about healthy diet for diabetics and incorporate pulses, grains, dark green veggies into cooking.
* Be more active & do more stretching X
* Ride my stationary bike for 30 minutes 3x per week, increasing to every day X
* Resume weight training X
* Continue with my swimming lessons
* Take a water aerobics class X
* Eat more vegan or vegetarian dishes. Limit protein eaten at any one meal. X
* Learn how to make make bar soap X
* Get more Omega 3 EFA, vitamins & fibre
* Daydream more X
* Laugh more X
* Watch more videos and invite friends for movie and popcorn X
* Use computer time more efficiently

* Continue to visit mom
* Learn about mom's special clothes needs
* Find new home for niece/mom

* Pay down debt X
* Learn tools to pay debt
* Live below income
* Save more X
* Continue saving in the snowflake jar fund for miscellaneous projects
* Think two or three times before impulse spending
* Implement strategic charitable giving (where my dollars will have the most impact to address grassroots needs) √

* Read at least two books per month
* Learn more about creating an edible garden X
* Embroider 1 medium-large piece X
* Crochet several doilies
* Knit slippers, learn to knit sweaters X
*Take a quilting course X

* Redecorate master bathroom X
* Continue major decluttering project and give to the goodwill
* Consider and save for minor kitchen upgrades X

How about you dear reader? 

Did you set goals last year and did you reach them?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Do You Use Wikipedia?

Dear friends,

Do you use Wikipedia?  I know I use it a lot and find it very helpful for the most part.  If you use it too, please consider making a small donation to keep it going. I made my small donation of $5. last year and again this year. If we all do our part, we can continue to have this service benefit us when we need it.

Here is an excerpt from the personal appeal from the founder of Wikipedia.
With just a few days to go in our 2011 fundraiser, we're so close to reaching our annual budget. Then we’ll have everything we need to keep Wikipedia going in 2012.
Only about 1 of 500 Wikipedia users donates each year. But that’s enough to keep us free for the whole world to use, without ads, and without restriction.
When we raise our budget, we stop fundraising. Please help us end this year’s fundraiser today with a donation of $5, $20, $50 or whatever you can.
Thanks and Happy New Year,
Jimmy Wales

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Update on Mama Linet

My friend visited Mama Linet on December 12, 2011 to take her some support I sent to try and help her get on her feet.  Some of you remember me writing about Mama Linet before. She is the young mother with the little girl named Linet who has a cleft palate.

I came to know of Mama Linet through my friend Jonah.  He found this little family while on a medical mission.  On that mission he learned about the little girl Linet who was rapidly losing weight and could not eat.  He felt led to help her get some medical attention and the right food to help her get stronger.  He was so gratified and excited when the little girl stopped losing weight and started to get healthier. Now the little girl is thriving, running around, playing and drawing.  She still needs cleft palate surgery and hopefully she will be able to get it some day.

In the meantime, we also wanted to help this mother try to provide for her family since times are very hard in Kenya with runaway inflation and poor maize prices.  Initially, the young mom thought she would like to try and start a beauty salon.  After she thought about it some more, she decided to start a  charcoal business instead.  I do hope and pray that she will make a success of it for the future of herself and her children.

(Click photos to enlarge)

Here is Mama Linet with her children and the charcoal she is now selling.

My friend also visited some Internally Displaced People (IDP) in early December.  He returned to see them on December 24, 2011, to take food.  I wrote about this in my last two posts in case you are interested in reading more about this. It will bless you so much to see that someone's Christmas was brightened.

Jonah has visited the IDP Camp whenever he can to try to encourage the people and bring them hope. He tries to take blankets and mosquito nets whenever he can purchase them.  These IDPs are Kenyans and they were displaced about 4 years ago from their homes.  They lost everything and escaped with their lives after the ugly violence that erupted soon after the last national election in Kenya.

Here is Jonah distributing candy and medicine to the children as well as mosquito nets to some of the elderly.

These are the living conditions at the IDP camp.

We know that most people will never get a chance to go and visit these places.
We want to show you the conditions the people live in so you can determine whether you can share whatever you have to help these people.

Even a little goes a long way but we don't want anyone to give what they cannot afford. We only want you to give if you have enough food and if you are thankful for what you have.
We want you to give if you feel blessed enough to help someone else and have faith that your future needs will be met.

If you can help, you can do so here.

God bless.

Photo credits:  Jonah, Missions of Hope

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, 
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
~ Isaiah 9:6

God is love. ~ 1 John 4:8


Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself ~ Matthew 19:19

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas for the IDPs

On Christmas Eve day,  my Kenyan friend Jonah went shopping for food at the local Gilani's Supermarket in Nakuru town. He hired a truck and got together some volunteers. (Click all collages for a large view).

Their mission was to visit and encourage some people living in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons outside of Nakuru.  These people live in deep poverty.  That means they do  not have proper housing, jobs or food or clothes.  They live in ragged tents and ramshackle buildings constructed with scraps they have been able to find. They live without water, electricity or basic toilets. It is a miserable and hard life.

Now and then if they are lucky they might get a glimmer of hope through the gifts of strangers like Jonah and those that help him in the missions.

Here are a few photos of the children and the people of the camp.

Children love to be remembered. These small gifts of snacks made them happy at this time of year.

The grownups also love to be encouraged and remembered.  Many of the people in IDP camps once had land, homes, jobs. Now they live like beggars not knowing what will happen to them tomorrow. They are trying very hard to get some kind of compensation and a new start from the governing powers.

They were very happy to receive the gifts.
This is what the spirit of the Christmas season is about.
Bringing joy to others.

Blessings of the season to you.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Blessed, Peaceful Season

I wanted to share something with all my blogging buddies for Christmas. 

Originally it was going to be a Christmas photo, But I came across this video which really "blew me away" and instantly knew this was what I wanted to share with you all.
The song is introduced by David Foster,  Canadian "boy" and well known music producer
and composer and sung by the wonderful Andrea Boccelli and the world reknowned
Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Whether you are a Christian, or not,
I hope that the peace and beauty of this song will bless you.


Peace, Joy, Love  & Hope,
be unto you.

Wise Words

A lie does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become a lie because nobody sees it.
~ Mahatma Gandhi


31Then said Jesus ...If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;  32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

  50And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.  51Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

John 8: 31-32, 50-51

~ Jesus Christ 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wise Words

It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.

~ Confucius

Hoping you are all enjoying your holiday preparations. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Catalogue - Missions of Hope

Hello friends,

I know you are all busy preparing for Christmas. If you are still considering what to gifts to buy for Christmas, I have some ideas for you. It is becoming more and more popular to purchase charitable gifts on behalf of someone else. We have some great ideas for you through the Missions of Hope. Please take a moment to consider whether any of these gifts would speak to your needs.  It would be also be great if you would feel free to share this post with your friends who may still be looking for Christmas gift ideas

Soon I will do a post on a woman who has been helped by gifts such as these.  Thank you so much for considering these needs.

Merry Christmas and happy shopping!

Orphan & Family Needs

$155 to $205 US - School Fees per Boarding student
$25 US School Uniforms per student
$15 US School Shoes per student
$25-50 US monthly for Orphan support
$55 US Family Support

Farm Animals

$5 US per chicken
$6 US per rooster
Just a few hens can help provide eggs and chicks to raise poultry for sale.

$55 US for one goat ($50) + vet inspection ($5)
A goat can provide milk and if two goats of opposite sex are purchased, can provide a simple livelihood for a family.

$800-$1000 US for one high grade cow

A good cow gives quality milk for consumption and for sale.
8 or 10 donors can help to purchase 1 cow.


$120 - $250 US for seeds & fertilizer per growing season   For several years, Missions of Hope has planted communal crops (corn, cabbages, potatoes) and given out the harvest to the widows and orphans.  We were unable to do this in the Jan.- March 2011 planting season.  Instead each farmer must find adequate funds for planting. Help us to help them, with the planting in Jan.-Mar. 2011.

Other Suggestions

* corn 30 kg  $22.00 US
* oil 1kg  $7.00 US
* beans 5kg $4.00 US
* flour $2.00 US
* onions 2kg $2.00 US
* royco 500 gr $2.00 US
* veggies $3.00 US
* rice 3kg $4.00 US
* meat 2kg $6.00 US
Based on monthly needs per family of 5 members
* $250 US to sponsor 1 mother for small business start-up or to learn a trade
* 300 US/yr to help 1 child attend school
* $3000 US to send 1 youth to college/uni.
* $60 US to buy 1 cell phone for pastor or college student
* $10 US/mo. to buy airtime for pastor or student

* misc. $10.00 US (eg. soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.)
Based on monthly needs per family of 5 members
* 1 pit latrine - $60 US
sponsor 1/2 latrine - $30.
* legal title deeds - This need has been met.
* Build 1 Refuge Centre  $15,000 US OR any amount to help get project underway
* blankets n mattresses
$25-$50 US for 2-3 people
*day clothes 1 child $15. US
* medicine n doctor - $20 US
NOTE:  All prices fluctuate greatly in this time of incredible inflation. We have tried to give accurate costs to the nearest rounded up dollar. These figures will be updated when there is a significant change in prices.

DONATE HERE   (See top right of page).

If you wish to donate more than $300. US kindly contact us first by clicking here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Missions of Hope: Mama Linet

I wanted to share this uplifting missions update out of Kenya. (Click on the highlighted title below, to read the post).

"Mama Linet" and little Linet.

Missions of Hope: Mama Linet: Hello friends, I was able to meet Mama Linet on Wednesday of this week. Mama Linet, is of the Luo tribe, like President Obama in USA. She ...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Soft Glow

Lamplight keep on burning while this heart of mine is yearning.
Lamplight keep on burning till this love of yours is mine.
Song: Lamplight (sung by the Bee Gees)

I stand at your gate and the song that I sing is of moonlight.
I stand and I wait for the touch of your hand in the June night.
The roses are sighing a Moonlight Serenade.
Song: Moonlight Serenade  (sung by Carly Simon)

Join Skywatch Friday here for more beautiful skies.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sponsorship Needed ~ Please Pray

Missions of Hope enrolled Kipngeno in university in Kisii Town, Kenya where he is majoring in pharmaceutical studies.  Kipnegeno waited years after graduating from high school to be able to start university.  Several times we thought we had a donor for him.  Several times our hopes, but more  importantly, Kipngeno's hopes, were dashed because the would-be donors never followed through.

Kipngeno kept busy on the farm while he waited for his time to start university studies.
In September 2011, we took a leap of faith and enrolled Kipngeno in school and have managed to help him through 4 months of student housing and all needs associated with living in a new town and going to university.

The term finishes at the end of December and we are appealing for someone who feels led to help Kipngeno, to come forward.
Are you the one that can help him?  
You would be changing a life for the greater good if you can help.

Jonah pays a visit to Kipngeno. Jonah is on far left, Kipngeno on the far right with his lab coat and stethoscope, a friend of his in the middle. Can you imagine how excited Kipngeno must be?

Once Kipngeno finishes his education he will also be added to the ranks of the medical profession. Kenya is greatly in need of medical personnel.

According to Oxfam,  there were only 14 doctors for every 100,000 people in Kenya in 2006.
There is a critical shortage of doctors and specialists in Kenya.
Food for thought.

You can help publicize this need  by using the share buttons below.
You will never know how one simple act can change someone's life.
If you can help or know someone who can help, financially, then please contact me here.

Photo Credits: Jonah at Missions of Hope

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ever Changing Weather

I was reminiscing about a road trip to visit my mom last Spring. Just look at the ever changing weather and sky in a few short hours. In the case of the bottom photos, it is only a few minutes between photos.

Join Scenic Sundays hosted by the Holleys to see more beautiful scenes from around the world.

Macro Flowers - December 2, 2011

These flower photos are from my archives as of course we have no flowers growing here at the moment. You can enjoy more flowers from around the world at Tina's Pic Story and Maia's Macro Flower Saturday.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chocolate, Nut, Molasses Cookies

Cooler weather always brings out the desire to have hot tea and eat wonderful cookies. These cookies are my latest experiment in the kitchen.  The recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter. You can make the "drops" larger or smaller to your liking.


  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup molasses (black treacle if you live in Africa)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 gently rounded tablespoons unsweetened chocolate (I used cocoa powder)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (I used a mix of white and whole wheat)
  • 1 cup of  oatmeal (or enough to make a drop cookie batter, see photo)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar; beat in eggs, vanilla and salt, beating until well blended. Beat in chocolate and stir in flour and chopped walnuts.  Add oatmeal until you have the desired consistency.

Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on well-greased baking sheet.I have a coated sheet so I did not grease the pan.

Bake in preheated 350° oven 10 minutes, or until edges are crisp. Cool for 1 minute; remove to rack to cool completely.

I enjoyed these cookies. You can readily taste the molasses, chocolate and nuts. If you don't like the strong flavour of molasses you could substitute about 1 cup of sugar for the molasses.  I've read that the treacle is not as dark as molasses so I'm assuming that molasses also gives the cookie a stronger flavour. 

Enjoy the cookies with hot tea or milk.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday & Meeting a Blogger Friend

Today is a beautiful, sunny day in Vancouver.  Though there are some grey clouds around it is a bright and beautiful day.

Taken Monday from my balcony.

Yesterday, it was so lovely to meet Kay from Medicine Hat and her Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel blog.  Kay came into the city while visiting family and friends in the Lower Mainland. We had a chance on Grey Cup day to meet and get to know one another over coffee.

The coffee shop was jam packed with students studying and cramming and people watching the Grey Cup game on the courtesy screens. At times it got a little loud, but we carried on talking over the din.

Kay and I have a mutual blogging friend, Jo, and that is how we came to know each other's blogs.  Kay has a kind heart as she was one of the people who contributed to help this little boy in Kenya.  We didn't get a chance to take a photo together.  Perhaps next time.

This is Kay.
 Kay is such a world traveller and we had a lot to talk about.  If I keep on travelling perhaps I can catch up to her journeys and perhaps some day we will have another chance to meet again.

I'm happy because this is the second blogger buddy I got to meet in person.  Both experiences have been wonderful. I hope I get even more opportunities in future to meet more blogging friends.

 To cap off the day, the BC Lions won the Grey Cup!! Yeah!!!

I was pleased to see I had captured seagulls in flight in both my photos today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mountains in Scripture

 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

 Isaiah 55:12

Hear ye now what the Lord saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice.

Micah 6:1

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.

 Luke 3:5

How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, 
"Your God reigns!"

Isaiah 52:7

We've had a beautiful day here today. 
I send you wishes for a wonderful weekend.

Neighbourhood Street Scenes

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I hope you are well today. These are photos I took on a recent walk in the neighbourhood. You can see the...