Portable bed: easy DIY project

A few months ago I saved an idea I saw on Facebook for future reference.  It was simple DIY sewing instructions for a child’s portable bed; perfect Christmas gifts for my grandchildren.  These will be great for sleepovers or just lounging around watching a movie.  This past week I tackled the project and it (thankfully) was as easy as promised.

The most difficult part was finding cute and colorful pillow cases suitable for a young girl and boy. Although the instructions advised to use pillow cases for the whole portable bed and simply sew the cases together, I decided to improvise a bit and purchased themed twin sized sheet sets.  My granddaughter loves pink, purple and rainbows, while my grandson is fixated on cars…

I used the pillow cases for the heads and the flat sheets for the large portion of the beds.  I saved the fitted sheets to take to the cottage for the (real) kids beds there.  Although the instructions suggested a pillow in each section of the body, I (improvising again) used rectangular pieces of foam.  To hold the foam pieces in place, I folded each flat sheet in half long ways and sewed “pockets” into them.  The pillow case was a guideline to figure out the width of the pockets, with an inch added to each one.

portable bed
foam pieces

I figured the flatness of the foam and the added inches between each section would make it easier to fold each portable bed up for storage when not in use…

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I did use (standard sized) pillows for the heads as suggested.  The beauty of this project is that the pillows and foam can easily be removed to wash the casings.

Here are the finished products, ready for use.  Pretty cute if I do say so myself!  I’m sure my grandchildren will gets lots of use out of them, hopefully at my house!

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All I Want for Christmas is You

This probably sounds sappy, but all I want for Christmas is to spend more time with my family.  Two of my sons have grown up and moved out, now raising families of their own.  My three grandchildren are growing like weeds.  My third son is not far off from leaving the nest, soon to graduate from university.  It is understandable that having everyone all together does not happen nearly as often as I would like.

I understand how busy they all are and how there never seems to be enough hours in a day to get everything done.  I remember those hectic days when my boys were young.  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, although the calendar says otherwise. 

As much as I am proud of my sons and their achievements,  I miss their presence in my daily life.  So, when they ask me what I would like for Christmas, I tell them…

All I Want for Christmas is You!

Sleep Deprivation Consequences and Cures

If you google just about any health ailment or nagging symptom, sleep deprivation will be on the list of possible causes. Why is that?  Because people are just too (potentially dangerously so) busy and plugged in to sleep these days. When we do sleep, we don’t sleep well.

From small children to retirement age, our lives are jam packed with structure and technology, leaving no (or very little) down time.  If you ask a retiree, they will most likely tell you one of the most enjoyable things about retiring is the ability to nap when you want.

What can you do to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep to ward off sleep deprivation? Start by unplugging yourself, literally and figuratively, at least four hours before your bedtime. Instead of focusing on the screens of a television, game console, computer or cell phone, shut them down. Read a book, cook and savour a nice meal, or go out for a drink or meal with a friend or loved one. Sans the phone.

This applies to your children too. Remember, you are their most influential teacher. They will pick up your unhealthy habits just as easily as your good ones. They do need routine in their lives, but organized structure not so much. Kids also need down time instead of being shuttled from event to event.

Sleep deprivation shows up in their behaviour and their health.  Research has shown that overly active (organized) kids tend to suffer from anxiety, which in turn leads to poor quality of sleep.  It is very easy to cut back on their organized activities.  Let them play at home with their siblings and parents. Bring back the board games of our youth. Encourage older kids to read books or experiment in the kitchen.  Simply slow down their lives, especially before bed time.

Think of your brain as a computer that controls your body. Even the best computers need to reboot or update regularly to stay efficient and healthy. Similarly, every cell in your body, especially those in your brain, needs down time to repair and recuperate from everything we throw at them. They can only do that when we sleep. When we don’t provide these cells with quality sleep to perform this maintenance on a regular basis, sleep deprivation sets in and cells start to break down, causing all those symptoms you are googling about.

Huawei worries: Are they warranted?

What/Who is Huawei and why are (most) countries worried about them?  To start, they are a HUGE manufacturer of technology components, (reportedly) capable of “invading” the industry globally.  The problem is, they are based in China whose government has relationships with the rest of the world on shaky ground these days.

Morning Brew, my newest addiction, has listed five (potential) reasons (from the MIT Technology Review) in today’s edition:

Kill switches: Huawei builds networks carrying data for power grids, financial markets, etc. And some fear the Chinese government could sneak “back doors” into Huawei’s gear with the ability to weaken or disable networks in foreign countries if a crisis occurred.

Data snooping: Chinese spies could theoretically gain access to Huawei’s networks undetected to extract sensitive info from people and businesses. Another possible avenue for espionage? Smartphones—Huawei’s one of the top manufacturers in the world.

The 5G rollout: The next generation of wireless networks is arriving fast…and the last thing the U.S. wants is for Huawei to connect the world with 5G. As the authors note, “This will dramatically expand the number of connected devices—and the chaos that can be caused if the networks supporting them are hacked.”

Defying U.S. trade rules: Huawei’s CFO is accused of tricking American banks into doing business with Iran, which would be a violation of U.S. sanctions. More of that activity could happen.

Chinese government influence: The U.S. and allies suspect Huawei’s execs are cozy with the Chinese government, which is the reason they’ve taken such a hard stance. 

Making headlines around the world last week, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who just happens to be the daughter of founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada for reason #4 above.  After all, Canada is one of USA’s allies, and is (should be) equally concerned for the same list of reasons.

Huawei

Only the Good Die Young, an Ancient Proverb

The saying “Only the good die young” has evolved from an ancient proverb that read “Whom the gods love dies young; Best go first.”  It seems particularly appropriate today as I was shocked to learn of the death of a well respected hockey dad within our community.

I did not know this man well, just enough to say “hi Mike” when we ran into each other at the rink.  My youngest son is the same age as one of his sons, meaning the rink was a common ground for us.  Our sons have since graduated from minor hockey so our families have not crossed paths in a few years.  We had no idea what his family was facing with his terminal illness and subsequent death at the untimely age of 53.

What I do know was that he was a lover of all things hockey.  As a former player, a coach, a hockey dad and most recently a referee, he was the kind of guy you never heard anything negative about.  Even more admirable, he never had anything negative to say about anyone else.

He was definitely one of the good guys, that goes without question.  What I do question though is why do only the good die young?  Why do the rotten criminals get to live to old age? This is not the first time I have grappled with this theory.  Several integral people (all of them good, kind, and law-abiding) in my life passed away much sooner than we all expected, including a best friend and my mother.  The proverb certainly doesn’t give you much incentive to be a good person.  Perhaps it was the same proverb Billy Joel was alluding to in his hit song of the same name.

Only the Good Die Young

 

Bananas get a bad rap but deserve respect

Even though grocery stores sell more bananas than any other fruit, (my son told me that when working in the produce department of Loblaws years ago) the jury is out on whether they are good for you or not.  Some believe their high starch and (natural) sugar (fructose) content should be avoided when watching your weight.  Others believe their high potassium and fiber levels as well as good protein content are all good for our muscles and energy levels before and after a workout.  The potassium also helps regulate blood pressure levels. So, who is right?  Both, it just depends on your goals.

For example, if I am trying to lose a few pounds I avoid bananas, relying on healthy food choices with less starch and sugar levels. That’s because this sugar and starch causes a rise in insulin levels which in turn results in fat storage.  Not good if you are battling those dreaded love handles or sporting a not so flat stomach.  My diet motto however is “moderation is key.”  I believe if you totally restrict things you like, you will tend to crave them more.

Bananas are very convenient for providing a quick energy boost and light snack.  They do not require refrigeration and transport easily.  In fact, I resort to one often when working in my gardens because I can easily peel one without touching the edible portion with my not so clean fingers.  They also provide creaminess in my morning smoothies and make an excellent substitution for unhealthy fats in baked goods.  I also found them effective at reducing morning sickness way back when. But only if almost green, the over ripe ones made me gag.

Bananas are also particularly effective after a bout of the intestinal spasms and diarrhea experienced when I eat something I am sensitive to.  That is because bananas represent the B in the BRAT diet (with rice, apple sauce and toast) I learned about when my kids were young.  All bland foods, these four staples were recommended to get their system back to normal after flu symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting.  For the same reason, bananas are reportedly good for curing hangovers.

In my humble opinion, bananas get a bad rap, with the pros far outweighing the cons.  For that reason, there is always a bunch of bananas on my kitchen counter.  Not to mention my grandchildren love them.

bananas

Francophone vs Anglophone battle in Ontario getting old

Does anyone else think the Francophone vs Anglophone battle in Ontario (and the rest of Canada) is getting (literally and figuratively) old?  The number of ethnicities populating Canada reported on censuses rose from just 20 in 1871 to 250 in 2016!  Thanks to the massive increase in immigration since the mid 80s, the population of allophones (mother tongue is neither French or English) doubled to 20% in 2006 and is projected to be a whopping 30% in 2030.

Francophones (French being their mother tongue) now make up less than 20 percent of our nation.  Anglophones (English as a mother tongue) have dropped from 62% to 58%.  So what makes the Francophone population so special and more important than any others in Canada?   Why are they demanding their own universities and hospitals within Ontario?  Why has this issue invaded our provincial politics?  Have we not got better (more important) things to worry about?

Canada has always been known for their acceptance of all ethnicities and I hope we continue to carry and own that reputation.  My maternal grandfather was named Beaudette; you can’t get much more French than that.  His parents immigrated from France shortly before he was born in 1904.  I am very proud of my own French heritage, but not to the exclusion of the other parts of my ancestry,

Morning Brew, a Caffeine-Free Addictive Habit

Morning Brew is a free daily publication, delivered to your inbox, and filled with interesting tidbits of news.  Remember way back, when we used to sit and read the newspaper with our morning coffee? Who has time for that anymore?  This email newsletter provides the same comforting ritual but is much more efficient as it only takes a few short minutes to peruse.

Now that I am not rushing off to a garden first thing in the morning, I have added Morning Brew to my daily to do list.  It’s right up there with watching Ellen.  My only complaint is that it only covers American news. Generated in NYC, it includes news from coast to coast and border to border.  My suggestion for improvement?  Blur the friendly northern border a bit; I sure would love to see some Canadian content in there!

Sign up to add Morning Brew to your daily routine.   Once you are hooked, share this caffeine-free but equally addictive habit with friends and family.

Morning Brew

 

 

Culinary World Cup 2018 in Luxembourg

On his blog, Michael Hauschild describes the  Road to Luxembourg, AKA his culinary journey, to represent Canada abroad.   Passionate about all things culinary, his training has been particularly intense since he was selected a year ago to compete on Canada’s Youth Culinary Team in Luxembourg later this month.

In Canada (and many other countries too) we are all aware of a World Cup for hockey, skiing, curling and many other sports.  I’d be willing to bet though that most people, myself included, are probably not aware of a World Cup competition for culinary skills. If you aren’t or even if you already were, check out the team’s Facebook page for more details.

I heard about this event from Michael’s (very proud) grandmother, one of my gardening clients, whom I also know from my days as a hockey manager.  Michael, you see, is one of my son’s hockey teammates that nicknamed me Lorieb many years ago.  Obviously his biological family is very proud of him as is his (very large) hockey family.

We and the rest of Canada are rooting for you Michael and your new team.  As Luxembourg’s primary language is French, I will end with Bonne Chance!

culinary

 

 

Offseason To Do List is Growing

Well, I pushed my garden season as far as possible……but my frozen fingers and toes convinced me to pack it up. Although I miss my garden business already (I’ve only been closed for the season for one week) I do admit there are (a few) good things about my offseason.  My to do list is the only thing growing these days.

offseason

 

‘Tis the season instead for tackling my to do list of things I don’t seem to have enough time for the rest of the year.  Some are fun, others not so much….

  • freelance writing
  • watching Ellen every morning for a good laugh
  • sleeping in, especially when the weather is bad.  Look out the window, roll over and fall back asleep!
  • baking, although that can be dangerous without all the exercise I get during gardening season
  • spending even more time with my grandchildren who are growing in leaps and bounds
  • preparing my tools (sharpening and cleaning) for next season
  • decluttering the gardening stuff in our garage

 

In reviewing a similar post from last year at this time,  I am proud to say I did accomplish lots of the items on that list, especially the sewing projects.  Can you tell I am a list person?  Of course, the things that did not get accomplished in that offseason will be added to this year’s list.

Isn’t this a dreary looking picture?  That’s the advertising on my van (or garden mobile as my son and his friends call it) being pelted by snow.  It sure makes miserable weather for gardening!

offseason

 

Enough procrastinating, back to my list!