Monday, February 27, 2023

Tuesday 4 ~ Cowboys


painting by Mark Maggori
 It's time once again for Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.  We're talking about cowboys this week.

1.  Do you like western style chuck wagon cooking?  Stews, chilis, beef steaks, BBQ  etc.?

I like these kinds of food in moderation. I especially like stews with cubes of beef.

2.  Do you make a good chili or do you know someone whose chili is the best ever? Beans, meat or both? 

I used to make a great chili but it seems I've lost my touch. The last few times I've made it it wasn't that great. I use beans and meat, usually beef. Sometimes cubes of beef and sometimes ground beef.

3.  Who is your favorite cowboy movie star?

I can't say I really have a favourite cowboy movie star. I liked almost all of them except Clint Eastwood.  For some reason I didn't like him in cowboy movies but I did like him in other later movies. John Wayne was the actor who seemed like he was in almost all the cowboy movies that played on our two television channels growing up. 

4.  Do you have a favorite western TV show or movie

I liked all of them. I'm not sure why because I never was really into rodeos, horse riding or living on a farm. I attended the rodeo every year because virtually everyone in the family and community did.  The Fall Fair happened at the same time and that was more my idea of fun. The one movie that sticks out in my memory is The Big Trail featuring a young John Wayne. It's about hundreds of settlers in covered wagons moving westward from the Mississippi River. You can watch it on You Tube for free. I did also enjoy all the western shows on television like High Chaparral, Big Valley, Cheyenne, Bonanza among others. I also enjoy Kevin Costner in the movie, Dances with Wolves

It Snowed, Again!

 Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

I hope you are doing well.  It snowed again and has been quite cold since Thursday or so. We had a big dump of snow on Saturday night so I've kept indoors and worked away on decluttering.

I made excellent progress over the past few days and got to sort out a lot of smaller nooks and crannies.

All month long I've been participating in something called a daily declutter challenge.  The challenge is to let go of at least one item each day so the decluttering habit is formed and it doesn't take hours to accomplish.  I have a lot of small items to get rid of because I'm down to the fine-tuning of the major decluttering project I've been working on for awhile. In the fine-tuning stage, it takes me a lot longer to go through every area of clutter and make the decisions as to what to do with things. I tend to collect a lot of paper items and a lot of little things that don't seem to 'fit' into any category of items, a hodge podge, if you will.

I've been surprised to find so much junk in all the places that I decluttered. I suppose it's understandable since some of these small areas haven't seen the light of day for decades.  Literally.  Anyway the month will end in a few days and I'm trying to get as much done as possible. The below items are much of what I've offloaded since Friday.

I've been decluttering something every day this month but I've also been crocheting so I can have a break from the task.  Thursday night I ran out of yarn for the blanket I'm making and I'll need time to go to the craft store to buy at least one more ball to finish the project.

I haven't had time to delve into the books I picked up recently at the library or to finish listening to the audible Spare.

In March, I look forward to getting into these books and planning the community garden for this year.

What plans do you have for the coming month?

Friday, February 24, 2023

Beautiful Friday Sky on a Cold Evening

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

I keep thinking Spring is around the corner but my hopes keep getting dashed. We had an unexpected bit of snow on Wednesday night and on Saturday we are expecting up to a foot of fresh snow. Knowing that I went out tonight and did a few pressing errands.

Here are some of my night shots.  There seemed to be a lot going on including an explosion that happened at the dinner hour just before I was about to get off one bus in the heart of the city. I heard a lot of sirens after that. Later I learned the sad news that 2 were treated for burns and lacerations due to the fire which they believe was caused by some kind of underground electrical vault fire. My bus had passed the site where the explosion occurred just seconds before hand and some passengers that got on the bus seconds later says there was smoke and balls of fire coming from the side of the building. Roads, buses and skytrain in the vicinity were all closed or affected in some way but I was on my way out of the city before that happened.

Here are some photos I took while I was downtown. I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday. Please join in too.

Thank you for stopping by. Have an awesome weekend.

Another Month is Almost Over

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

I hope all is well with you. I have been super busy and not able to blog much or visit your blogs very often. I continue to have issues leaving comments on many blogs but when I can leave one without difficulty, I do. I'm not sure if you too are having problems leaving a comment for me because I have noticed that there are very few comments left on the majority of my blogs in this new year. It's quite possible that it is simply because I haven't been able to leave comments for you. If you have been experiencing any difficulties leaving a comment for me, please do send me an email and let me know.  Follow the link at the Blogger Profile page (you may need to click on the 3 lines/dots at top left of the blog).

The weather here has been frightful. I've been anticipating an early Spring but instead we seem to be having winter over and over. The forecast was for snow on Saturday and quite a lot of it (up to 1 foot or 30 centimetres depending on where one lives in the city). I was very surprised to go for late afternoon walk on Wednesday and find myself under snowfall. It was also quite chilly. Fortunately I recently purchased a puffer coat to keep my legs warm in cold weather and I was able to use it. It's already paid for itself in the 2 weeks I had it after buying it on sale. I do have a faux fur coat which is very warm too but I cannot wear it when it's raining so I bought the puffer coat for those occasions.  I took these photos after it stopped snowing and on my way back from the library.

As I write this post I'm getting very annoyed at yet another blogger problem I've been experiencing lately. Whenever I go to edit and tonight, when I go to add photos, a new page comes up called "Post Edit" and it doesn't have any buttons and from that page I can do absolutely nothing except read what I've already written. Is anyone else having this experience or know what to do about it? In the last 6 months I've had so many problems with Blogger compared to all the previous years of blogging with absolutely no issues whatsoever. I didn't figure out the issue but I found a way to work around it. I have to use Google Chrome rather than Safari and that is helping the site to do what it is supposed to do. Sometimes I can leave comments too when I use Google Chrome. 

I'm beginning to think it may be time to move onto another platform. Alas, it won't be anytime soon because there are a lot of other things competing for attention: garden plans, family needs, household organizations and do it yourself projects, technology needs and health management. There is never a dull moment these days, is there? I know everyone else is dealing with most of the same things.

My cousin was visiting from Alberta and we had been planning for long to get together to celebrate her birthday. I haven't seen her since before Covid. Unfortunately she came down with a bad cold and the next day I did too. So she and her sister dropped by and we had a very quick visit and exchanged gifts. We're hoping to have a proper visit in the summer.

While I have been convalescing I started a new crochet afghan. This one is very large as it's meant to be a proper blanket for someone tall to snuggle up in. I found some of the ones I was making were simply not long enough even for me, a shortie. I like them to cover the feet and all the way up to the neck.

This is about 75% complete. The yarn colour is variegated 
and sold as you see it.

In the month of February I've been working away at getting rid of more things and have decluttered numerous items every day. Mostly these are small items because I have already gotten rid of the larger stuff during all my other decluttering projects. I was surprised to see how much 'trash' I've been storing. The items are small so you don't really notice them until you start collecting in a pile. 

An example of small bits I've been storing - 22 items now in trash.

I've been doing a bit of reading too. Here are my latest finds. I haven't gotten too far into any of these books yet. The book Spare by Prince Harry was being offered for free on Audible books. I'm not sure if the offer is still available. I put it on Hold at the local library but it will be awhile before I get it so I can listen to it on audible and then I won't need it from the library.

I picked up the book, little family by Ishmael Beah, because I'd read his debut book Child Soldier years ago. It was a superbly written and insightful book. The other book is fictional and deals with the current topic of internet dating and some of the scams that go on and have made the news around the world.

Last but not least, I'm sharing my 'free' ficus tree. I bought it off Amazon using reward points from my telephone and internet service provider. I also got the fairy lights off Amazon. The lights are strung together on very fine copper wire. There is a total of 66 feet of wire. what a nightmare. The wires get all tangled no matter how careful you are. I hesitate to remove the wire and redo the stringing because I didn't do a very good job but I'll have to be in the right frame of mind with nothing better to do before I try it again! Even so, I'm loving my tree. It will go in the corner near my sofa and replace all the live plants that have occupied the space but don't thrive given the cold and lack of light. If you are eagle-eyed you'll spot containers behind the tree waiting for paper to be shredded and trashed. Yet another project.

That's it for now. I hope to get on a better track with posting and commenting in March if all goes well.  Until then keep healthy, happy and reasonably busy.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Saturday Skies & A Quick Walk

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day and I took an unplanned walk and shopping expedition. Part way through I stopped for Bento Box dinner which was very yummy.

The weather was quite warm and the sky cleared a bit here and there.

The sushi restaurant is located on a very busy street corner and right across the street from where they are building the new Sky Train station (Main Street & Broadway) for the Broadway Sky Train extension.

The dinner was delicious.

Thank you for stopping by.
Even though I'm a day late to post I will be linking up with Skywatch Friday.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Spring Plans

Hi friends, 

Are you all looking forward to spring?  The community gardeners are gearing up and plans must be made because there is a contractual obligation to plant the garden by May 1st.  My nephew's girlfriend is still interested in gardening and so we're trying to get her a plot of her own. We should know soon enough. If she doesn't get one this year she can continue sharing mine. My DH Jonah also loves the garden and takes a walk to the garden and park every day in summer. This year he might also share a roundabout plot with another gardener so we can plant some veggies there.  

I didn't do much in my patio garden last year.  Largely because I heard the strata management was investigating the garden membranes and awaiting a report about whether they need replacement. It seems they do need replacement and one of options for strata members to consider is to do away with the gardens altogether with the exception of what you plant in a container.  Not everyone in the building has a garden that has a retaining walls, dirt and trees like I do. Some people have much smaller patios and no gardens, some have large patios and no gardens, some have enclosed sunrooms and no gardens and some have large patios and a decent sized garden. Over the years it seems like there are more and more rules to follow largely due to critters in the city. We can't even feed the birds or grow vegetables. We can still plant flowers.  I think most people with no garden will not support the idea of replacing everything for those that do because of the cost and also the cost of living increases. I'm okay with this outcome to be honest. I too don't want to be shelling out extra money for a garden I don't really enjoy with the unpredictable climate we've been having year after years for many years now. The decision about the garden will be made soon. In fact I'm surprised I haven't received notice of the Annual General Meeting though it should be delivered any day now.

I loved my garden when it's done well.  But I'm at the point where I really don't want the responsibility of the garden any more.  Not only is the weather very unpredictable but I'm not a natural gardener and I don't keep to a gardener's schedule very well.  I have one bush that has such extensive roots that it's very difficult to grow anything in the rest of the garden. I have another tree, my favourite Dogwood. It died last year after hanging on for several years. I'm not actually sure what happened to it because my neighbours Dogwood has done very well compared to mine but that corner of my garden isn't very good in general for growing as the sun very seldom reaches it and it remains cold a lot of the time. On my neighbour's side, the sun's rays reach her Dogwood tree a good deal of the time.  Perhaps that is why her tree is much healthier. 

There is also the building's structural issues to consider. I understand there are some concerns about the weight of the gardens and the impact on the structure. To be honest, I wondered about that when I first moved in.  Not only is the dirt very heavy, but some gardens like mine have bushes and trees planted in them. When you add the weight of all the watering, it can all get very heavy indeed.  So I've come to appreciate there are lots of good reasons for eliminating the buildings 'planted' gardens.

Indoors there are plans underway for gardening too.  I started buying plant soil so I can replant my succulents and tropical plants. I  got started on the planting but before I can finished I to find some of pots which I stored outdoors.  For now I've cleaned off the mantle. My it sure collected a lot of spilled dirt from the plants over the winter .  I've made do with the pots I had indoors but I may need to repot the one in the terra cotta planter.  I love terra cotta pots and largely use them outdoors.  The colour doesn't go well with the gray, white and black theme on the mantle.

I'm loving my new flameless LED candles.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Baking Memories and New Plans

I love sweets. I always have. When I was much younger I used to bake a lot of sweets because back in those days we didn't eat a lot of them.  Though mother did bake most of our breads and the occasional cakes, pies, pudding or cinnamon buns it wasn't like we had dessert every day. I think these were considered an occasional treat or something for special occasions and holidays. 

I wanted it more often so I began experimenting making my own brownies, a variety of cookies, pies and other things I no longer remember. I even tried making ice cream from a little cook book for kids that I'd sent away for from the Carnation Milk company.  Perhaps some of you remember the cookbook.

Paperback selling on Amazon for $35.

If you wrote to the evaporated milk company you got a free copy. I see it is selling on line for a lot more than 'free'.   Even if I found my cookbook it would fetch nothing because somehow I burned the front pages quite badly though I don't remember how it happened. I still used the recipes that were not scorched, lol.

After a couple of years learning and experimenting I stopped baking altogether. I was worried I might gain too much weight.  I was always on the larger side even though I didn't eat that much. In fact, mother always used to worry about me because I never ate breakfast, hardly touched lunch and ate sparingly at dinner time. I just didn't have such a big appetite and most time I still don't. But if you give me a pastry, I'll probably try and eat it. So I stopped making baked goodies for that reason. I never really started baking again until retirement because then I more time to figure out how to bake breads and other things. 

Some of you know that I've had T2D now for some years.  As you age, the most diabetes generally get worse. I've really learned to eat differently and have tried all kinds of different ways of eating. I think the best approach is intermittent fasting but I still find it difficult.  Even if you do all the right things I find you get fatigued from always having to be vigilant.  

I also know that I still have a love of baked goods.  Some of them are sweet and of course a lot of them have a high carbohydrate content. So I'm finally going to try and learn how to bake goods using alternatives to white flour and other grains. I will go slowly so as not to stress myself. I been wanting to do this for a long while and I've picked up some good library books to get started. If I find one I like very much I may buy it but there is so much online for free too.

Here are some books I picked up. Most of them look very good. Not all of them are baking books. The big one called Simple Healthy is a regular cookbook. I bought a few ingredients to try out some regular meals before embarking on baking adventures.

I gravitate toward simple recipes.  Ones that don't needs a lot of fuss or a high number of ingredients. The Simple Healthy Cookbook seems to fit the bill. I like the look of the bakery books too but not yet sure how complicated things are.

Let me know if you have any experience with baking sugar free and gluten free and whether you have any cookbooks or websites to recommend. Many thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2023

Tuesday 4 - Internet

The Internet Age

 Welcome to another episode of Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 where we are challenged to answer 4 questions on different subjects each week. Thank you to Annie for hosting each week.

Maybe we could talk about the internet this week?  

1. When did the  home internet age enter your life? How much impact has it had?

It took awhile for the home internet to enter my life as I don't usually jump on any 'fads' as soon as they arrive, lol. I honestly cannot remember when we started using the home internet on a regular basis because I was using laptops and desktops at work for word processing and limited internet use for a few years before we had these at home.  I think it was in the early 1990s, possibly even a bit earlier when we had home internet installed.  In those days we tended to use it for learning something as opposed to entertainment, blogging and other things.

2. How powerful an influence if your phone?  For instance, do you feel guilty not answering when you are busy? Do you text back immediately? Does the phone own you? Do you friends feel they should be able to monopolize your time by demanding to know where you were when you didn't answer?  Is it intrusive or welcome?

Cell phones are a powerful influence and I often wish we didn't have them. It is intrusive because that is where I get too many notifications and unwanted phone calls which I tend to ignore.  I subscribe to too many things so there is always something new. I often turn off notifications for a time and I could eliminate most of them but then I'd totally forget about certain things I don't want to forget about.  As it is, I spend a good part of time throughout the day deleting things & trying to identify and keep the things that are most important. Every now and then I cull the subscriptions I have and delete a lot of extraneous email.

I don't get that many phone calls on my cell phone unless it is a service like a dentist or some other service provider, and a lot of crank calls, spam calls or marketing calls. The cell phone reminders about appointments are useful but I get annoyed when service providers call both the landline and the cell phone to leave messages.  Some of them are just trying to ensure that their customers get a message like an appointment reminder or a change in appointments. But spammers and marketers really annoy me when they keep calling and don't leave messages. Friends and family mostly know not to call me on the cell phone and tend to only call my cell phone if they can't reach me otherwise. They know I prefer getting a call on the landline.  In the beginning some people acted like I should always be ready to answer the cell phone just because it rings. Well most of the time I don't even hear it ring or I can't get to it in time. I've explained that I only have a cell phone for my convenience and also for safety reasons, not for having heart to heart talks with people.  Most things are just not that urgent. They generally understand or at least I think they do.  When we do get to talk on my landline it is a much nicer visit and in the comfort of my home.  However, the cell phone is great for keeping in touch with my friends from abroad in Kenya and other countries through WhatsApp and for making quick calls when out and about.

3. What places do you frequent on the net and by phone or PC etc.?  (pc. personal computer, laptop, etc.)

I frequent all the usual places: FB, YT, IG and email. Other than that, I spend time reading blogs, news,  googling directions and travel times and various other things I might be interested in at that particular moment. For example, today I watched a YT channel from Kenya, downloaded statements from the bank, sent email to my bank investor, contacted a local organization about a zoom call for tomorrow and cancelled a physio appointment. I also spent time preparing this blog post and watching a few You Tube videos. I also use the internet a lot for participating in church services, bible reading, questions about spiritual matters and learning more about the work of Christian organizations and other charities. 

4.   Wikipedia is editable and biased  because anyone can edit the articles. Algorithms also determine what you can and cannot find on the interest.  So, how much stock do you place in its information? 

I am aware that Wikipedia is biased but I think all information is biased to some degree. I use Wikipedia a lot especially for fact based information when researching authors/celebrities and their work projects or books, maps and important information about various countries and cities, public figures like politicians and business people I want to know more about, and so on.  I check other sources as well and do a lot of online research in general.  So far I've found the information on Wikipedia fairly accurate for my needs and I do my bit to support the website's efforts. I also supplement the information I find on Wikipedia with other information found on line. If I'm really not sure about something especially with all the fake news these days I try to look at fact checking sites.

I found these questions interesting and I hope you found the answers interesting too! Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your visit.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

The Past Week

Happy Sunday everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

I've been busy this week; mostly with reading, running errands and grocery shopping, dealing with financial stuff, dealing with family needs, connecting with friends from far and administration concerning the community garden plot for summer 2023. 

Recently completed; all equally good.

In progress, a quirky but well written book.

Cooking always takes time as most of you know but I limit my cooking to one main meal a day and something lighter to start the day. Due to high food costs I'm trying to shop less and use what I have. In the past, I really did buy far too much and I need to use it up or give it away.

Saturday dinner was roast beef, broccoli and roasted potatoes and onions.

Sunday dinner was Chicken Cordon Bleu but covered in flour rather than bread crumbs. It was good but next time I'll try it with bread crumbs and use toothpicks since most of the cheese melted into the baking pan. Looking at the photos I see the dinners were too carb heavy so I need try and correct that but as I mentioned I'm trying to use up what I have and vegetables and fruits are always first to be used up.

I've got a lot of paperwork and tidying to do. So last night I decided to get started on some cleaning in my office area and get everything set up again but after I started reconnecting everything I discovered the modem wasn't working and that meant no television or internet services.

So today was an unexpected day of dealing with technology issues. I don't deal well with them at the best of times but since I had no communication services or television whatsoever I had no choice.  The only thing working was my landline.  I was fretting a bit because I have a very busy week ahead.  I was also anxious about how much time it was all going to take because the telecommunications company I deal with is notoriously slow to connect you with a live human being. They always want to direct you to online services and it is usually the online services that are giving me an issue. 

Thankfully once I connected to technical support I was able to get everything up and running again. I also asked to speak to someone about a new service plan. I had been trying off and on for a few months to do it myself but their system only let me see a deal that was not suitable for my needs. Again, I was able to get great customer service and get a deal for a much better price. My monthly bill will be $55 per month less ( for the exact same services ($660 savings for the year).  Plus they gave me a theme pack of news channels (3 channels) completely free for one year (savings of $95 Canadian).  Total savings is $756 Canadian in Year 1 and $ 660 in Year 2.  I only wanted one news channel for my DH but the channels come in packages so we now have 3 additional news channels.  I feel very blessed by the outcomes.

Altogether the time it took for getting things working and looking for monthly cost savings took about 2.5 hours of my time. Not too bad because I've sometimes waited that long just to talk to a live human being about an issue.  Overall I find it very frustrating dealing with the company when I need them so today was a nice surprise and a real blessing. The bonus is that I don't need to have a technician come to my home or wait for new equipment to be delivered because both of these scenarios would have resulted in loss of services for as long as it took to get help.

In related technology matters I'd been having problems in trying to access a Kenyan missionary's blog for some months. Try as we might we could not seem to find a way to give me access to read and comment on her blog.  Today we gave it one more try and thankfully it worked! That is another blessing because I love reading about her family's work and ministry in Kenya.  I've been reading about their work in Kenya for about 10 years.

My good day was topped off by my being able to connect my wireless printer and get it working.  I had been postponing the job due to internet and wi-fi issues which started a few weeks ago and culminated in lack of internet service last night.  Today was the right time and everything is now in working order. Whew!

I do have a few more outstanding technology issues.  My brother had installed extra drives in my old computer and instead of wiping them clean he will remove them and save them for me in a special case. I also backed everything up on a new external hard drive I bought late last year.  Fortunately I culled a lot of my old documents and photos before backing them up. A second issue is figuring out how to wipe the old printer clean. I didn't realize that I needed to do that otherwise I would have done so before disconnecting the old computer. Actually I hadn't even given the printer any thought as I was most concerned about the computer because the former one had been on it's 'last legs' for so long. Anyway it will all get done.  These things tend to take me time especially when I've got many projects on the go.   Everything moves at a snail's pace because my brain can only deal with one big thing at a time.  But there is a saying 'Strive for progress, not perfection' so I try to remember that.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm expecting delivery of an artificial tree for a spot in my living room. I hope it isn't too big. I did read the dimensions of the tree but it's a little hard to know how it looks and 'fits' until I put it in place. It will prevent me from wasting funds every year in buying a tropical plant that doesn't do well in my draughty home if it fits into the space I have for it. I have several appointments this week but I'm most looking forward to a visit from two cousins of mine, both of whom live out of town.

I hope you have some great plans for your week! Thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday 4 ~ Books

Welcome back to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 . Books are such a big part of many people's lives. Maybe we should talk about that. 1. Do y...