Home early from fall cleanups in my gardens due to the cold, rainy weather today, I came across this unique idea for fundraising within the hospital I worked at for thirty years. Women in Philanthropy is a group of, you guessed it, women, who donate money then collaborate on how to spend it for the benefit of the hospital.
I spent a good chunk of my adult years at Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) in Nepean (a suburb of Ottawa) so have always felt a connection to it. Hired there at 22 years of age, I retired at 52. At the time the laboratory I worked in (several departments over the years) was switching over to a regional format (Eastern Ontario Regional Lab Association or EORLA), offering severance packages to those employees wishing to opt out of the switch. I left one day, started my gardening business (officially) the very next day, and never looked back. Although I did spend many hours gardening there before the expansion made it impossible for one person to keep up with the landscape demands.
It was this connection to QCH that first drew my attention to the Women in Philanthropy article. As a female business owner I was intrigued so read more about the idea. Making a difference in healthcare has an enormous appeal to me, especially at the community level. I recognized the chairperson of Women in Philanthropy as someone I used to work with; in those days the hospital was small enough that most employees knew each other. I messaged her to see if she remembered me and to express my interest. She answered within ten minutes that of course she remembered me and would love to have me on board.
I am excited about this new adventure, a combination of my gardening business and my healthcare background. Especially as gardening season is closing down with the threat of rain turning to snow only too soon.
If Women in Philanthropy appeals to you too, sign up and join us!
Do you know how to make rich, dark brown gravy the natural way? Without the store bought box or package of gravy? No package of seasonings or dyes ever touch my gravy. I learned this trick from my mother years ago. Before you put the turkey in the roasting pan, slice up a small onion and a few cloves of garlic and add them to the bottom of the pan. As the turkey cooks, the onions and garlic will brown up, colouring and flavouring the juices, creating wonderful brown gravy.
You can puree the onions and garlic with the gravy if you like your gravy smooth and lump free, or leave it chunky. This trick works for roast beef or pork as well.
A few other holiday dinner tricks:
Gluten-free brown gravy thickener: reserve (approximately) 1 cup of the water you cooked your potatoes in before you drain them. That water contains lots of potato starch, which is naturally gluten-free. Add the reserved water to your gravy, let it simmer for 10 minutes until the gravy thickens. Works like a charm, without the use of a roux made of wheat flour.
Decorating your dinner table: I like to use whatever is colourful in my garden at the time. In spring it is tulips or other bulbs. In fall I use leaves, ornamental grass spikes and decorative gourds. Place the collected items in a vase, display on a cake pedestal, or lay them right on the table cloth (leaves work well flat)
Getting the creases out of your table cloth: Do you ever forget to take your table cloth out early enough to remove the folds/crease? Or change your mind on which table cloth you want to use at the last minute, and then cringe at the creases?
This product from Melaleuca is amazing. Called Revive, it does just that, removes wrinkles and creases, without the use of an iron, reviving table cloths or clothing. Keep some in your laundry room and bedroom for a quick fix. It comes in several fragrances; this one has a tropical scent. I sprayed it on my table cloth right on my table today. The spray is a fine mist, so will not damage your table. I always have a protective cover between my (antique) wooden table and table cloth anyway.
I hope these tips come in handy when you are preparing your next holiday meal. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, so I plan to use them all.
I had an interesting (and very telling) post debate discussion with my youngest son (22 years old) this morning. He asked me whether the federal debate changed my opinion of the political leaders we have to choose a prime minister from.
My own post debate opinion? If you are interested in personality, I thought Singh (NDP) was the “winner” last night. He was charming, funny and an eloquent speaker (no ums or aws), but weak (sometimes even evasive) on the primary issues. Unfortunately (for Singh) nice and charming does not necessarily make a good leader, at least not a leader of a country as diverse and large as Canada.
Scheer (Conservative) had to repeat himself often as was often talked over by either Trudeau (Liberal and current PM) or May (Green), although he did a fair share of it himself. Not a good look for any of them. The other two, Bernier (People’s Party) and Blanchet (Bloc Quebecois), were/are only interested in Quebec. Their presence was distracting in my opinion for a federal election debate. I don’t think they should be included in these circumstances.
My son’s opinion? “The debt our country is faced with is not really a problem.” I believe (with a sick feeling in my stomach) this is a typical response from his age group. They are more interested in the “perks” that might be promised or taken away. This opinion was spoken like an uninformed youngster who does not (yet) pay for his own:
We (my husband and I) have tried, over and over (in many heated discussions) to get this youngest son to acknowledge that living in growing debt is never a good thing, especially a staggering debt like the one our nation is faced with. We feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall. Are we bad parents because he does not understand this concept? I keep telling him he will understand in ten years (hopefully less), but he refuses to think that far ahead, let alone plan for it. In our defence, this son does pay for his own cell phone and clothes as well as car insurance, gas and repairs . Oh, and LCBO and Uber tabs.
Thankfully, our two older sons, both with mortgages, car payments, and children of their own, get it. There is only five years difference between our second and third son, so it appears (to me) that it’s not a full generation, but just a demographic, that don’t get it. At least this theory is apparent in my family. I have heard from many others that their much older children have the same myopic outlook.
Did you watch the debate? What are your post debate conclusions, thoughts, opinions?
This article was (very well) written by Queen’s University engineering student Chris Kitchen. He makes an interesting argument for why Canadian oil reserves play an important role in climate change and other issues in our current political debate.
I am impressed by the insight of this young, fourth year university student. Too bad (most of) our political leaders vying for the job of prime minister don’t have similar insightful convictions. I wonder if any of them have read this. Judging by the same mudslinging rhetoric in the news every night, I doubt it.
We could definitely use more of this proactive, scientific thinking and reasoning to pull Canada’s sinking economy out of the mess we find ourselves in.
There is yet another political battle going on in Canada. Four years ago I warned you to be careful what you wish for when Canadians hoping for a change gave Justin Trudeau a Liberal majority. Many of us were skeptical that the majority of his election promises would/could never happen and those that did would cost us dearly.
One (huge) example is the federal budget. An election promise in 2015 claimed the budget would be balanced by 2019, with Trudeau assuring voters it would balance itself. Although many of us saw that simplistic prediction as an enormous red flag, (the majority of) others were willing to play along, blindly. Perhaps blinded by the handsome smile and fashionable clothing although they are worn by someone that has never balanced let alone lived on a budget in his life.
Fast forward to the present: not only is the budget nowhere near balanced, our national debt is through the roof by BILLIONS of dollars and growing by the second. Why that does not scare more Canadians I am not sure. I worry most about my sons’ and grandchildren’s futures as the cost of living skyrockets out of control.
Let’s not forget about the scandals that have plagued the Liberal party these past four years. Topping the never ending list is the SNC-Lavalin (an engineering and construction company) fiasco where our Minister of Justice and Attorney General left the Liberal party because she felt bullied and pressured into intervening in an ongoing criminal case against the company. An investigation proved she had reason to feel pressured.
Then there are the recent black and brown-face pictures as well as the outlandish garments Trudeau wore representing Canada abroad. Our incredibly immature, shallow and inappropriate Prime Minister apparently likes to play dress-up, fitting I suppose for a (former) drama teacher craving the spotlight. Hardly the image we (most I hope) Canadians want to represent us on the global stage. Trudeau may be a charismatic and friendly man but he has also proven to be foolish, naïve, a liar, a bully and a cheater, not to mention an elitist, without a clue how most of us live. Any of us “average citizens” with those characteristics would be fired from our jobs!
So, what’s the purpose of this rant? Not to convince you to vote for a specific political party. To warn you to think long and hard about how you want this wonderful country of ours to move forward. No one political party will (now or ever) tick off all the right boxes for the issues at stake. Individual voters have to decide which party ticks off the most and the most important (to us) of these boxes, then vote accordingly.
I have not even touched on the other important issues that divide the political parties. In addition to the budget and financial deficits, each party has their own stance on climate change, oil pipelines, abortion, gun control, health care, same sex marriage, child care, education, immigration, indigenous rights and more. The list goes on and on, be sure to read up on these crucial issues before you vote.
Of course there are the outrageous campaign promises flying around too. Are reduced cell phone rates really a life necessity or just another calculated attempt to grab votes from the younger, phone-obsessed generation. Just like legalizing marijuana was last election. After all, most of the voters thinking cell phones and marijuana are important issues don’t yet pay the exorbitant taxes or hydro and electricity rates the rest of us are mandated to.
There is so much desperate political garbage and yes, fake news, on every form of social media these days. I am sick of it, yet it’s only going to get worse within the next few weeks, building up to a frenzied pitch until the election is over. Instead of getting caught up in social media’s mudslinging, do your own research to see where each party stands on the issues. Here are a few sites to peruse, but remember, all of them have the potential to be biased!
In a previous post on body cleanses I told you about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. The problem with drinking ACV (diluted with water) is the strong (unpleasant) taste. I gave up the practice of drinking ACV for that reason. A solution to this dilemma has been discovered; enter the world of apple cider vinegar gummies, from Goli!
I first heard of this new product on the Ellen show of all places. Watch this video:
Made with real apples, Goli’s gummies are 100% organic, vegan-friendly, gluten-free and contain no preservatives, chemicals nor artificial ingredients. These ACV gummies offer many health benefits in a convenient, tasty and fun packaging.
Yes, I know, I said fabulous fall. Last year I posted about how fall is not my favourite season and provided a (quite short) list of things I like about it. Well, this year I have come up with a few more things to expand my list. I grudgingly have to admit that fabulous fall does boast these advantages, over and above the gloriously colourful foliage of course. The incredible display of colour always seems to be at the top of every fall lover’s list, at least here in the north.
I love opening the windows in the house to let the breeze cool and refresh the air, but my husband and the only son left living at home prefer the AC. We have arguments every summer over canned air versus fresh air. My argument is that fresh air is free, not to mention it lacks the feel of an artic blast!
Our AC lowers our home temperature to 18 degrees (Celsius) overnight to prevent them from getting too warm when they sleep. I too like the lower temperatures to sleep, but not during the day. I absolutely hate when it’s too cold in the house in the summer. Somehow wearing a sweater in the summer (when it’s sunny and hot outside) does not feel right. As a compromise, I set the temperature to a liveable 22 degrees during the day.
So, when the nights are cooler (less than 18 degrees), I win with the open windows method of air conditioning at night. And during the day too if the temperature stays below 22 degrees.
Great gardening weather:
In my gardening business, fabulous fall probably (spring is close too) provides the most productive days. In the hot summer months I have to get started quite early in the day to avoid the overwhelming temperatures and humidity that slow me down. These (fabulous fall) days I can work longer hours, although some mornings are quite nippy so I wait until it warms up a bit.
When my children were younger I used to bake much more frequently. In fact, I used to spend hours making and decorating their birthday cakes, until they were old enough to graduate to Dairy Queen ice cream cakes.
Now that my grandchildren are old enough to help (sort of) and appreciate freshly baked goodies, I am getting reacquainted with the fine art of baking. Although my 2.5 year old grandson is a little too exuberant with the buttons on my mixer. Our last batch of blueberry and banana muffins were pretty tough, not to mention greenish in colour. Blue and yellow do make green, if you mix the colours enough (excessively). Folding the blueberries into the batter at the end was not his idea of fun.
These are my latest creations, made for my granddaughter’s 6th birthday…
My neighbour helps with the decorating ideas, she is the most talented decorator with unparalleled artistic imagination. She bakes to fundraise on National Cupcake Day supporting Sit With MeShelter Dog Rescue. Check out the link to support the cause, any time of the year. If you live in the Ottawa area and would like to sample some of her incredible creations while supporting the dogs, let me know. I will send you the link to her next event. Here are a few examples of her talent…
Incredible Deals at Garden Centers:
Fabulous fall is the best time to find great bargains on perennial plants, trees and shrubs to spruce (pun intended) up your (and mine) gardens. The deals are especially awesome at locations where their garden centers are seasonal; Canadian Tire is a great example. Some of the plants may look a little sad and bedraggled, but the beauty of perennials is that they come back bigger and better each year.
Fabulous fall is also the best time to plant or move perennials, shrubs and trees. As long as you do it NOW, (in my area) at least six weeks before the ground freezes. This will allow for the roots of whatever you are planting to settle in for the winter before they are assaulted with the looming cold weather.
Less bugs at the cottage:
The bugs (mosquitoes, black flies and horse/deer flies) seem to disappear this time of year at the cottage. They were brutal earlier, from April right through to August, making it difficult to get any work done outdoors. We can finally sit around a campfire without getting eaten alive.
Cheers to a fabulous fall, may it last a long time…
Shame on the haters that are so quick to judge others. It is disgustingly common on social media these days. Anyone commenting or posting is quickly pounced on by these haters who respond with scathing comments of their own. It’s called trolling for a reason; these haters are ugly as trolls, and I’m not talking about their outward appearance.
The latest example I encountered was all the nasty comments surrounding the appearance and demeanor of Bianca Andreescu’s mom during the recent US Open. At a restaurant watching the final, I heard firsthand things like “oh my god, that must be a wig” “what’s with the sunglasses?” and “doesn’t she ever smile?”
This Twitter conversation started with a tweet from Chrissy Teigen, answered by other examples nastiness:
Bianca’s mom looks like someone is pretending to be Bianca’s mom. Someone check on Bianca’s mom!! — christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) September 7, 2019
That’s what I thought, too! Hahaha! I was like Is that a wig? Sunglasses? Is the in the Witness Protection Program?
Was she trying to disguise herself or is she just Unattractive 🤷🏽♀️
Bianca’s response? “My mom’s a straight G. I will never be that cool”
I chuckled when I later heard an interview with Bianca, knowing some of these haters might be (should be) pretty embarrassed about their comments. When asked how she maintains her composure and concentration during such stressful times (US Open against Serena Williams), Andreescu was quick to credit her mom. Apparently her mom has been teaching her talented daughter yoga and mindfulness for several years. So, when stressed on the tennis courts, all she has to do is look up and focus on her mother’s calmness to settle her nerves, block out the external issues (like the noisy crowd cheering for Williams) and return to concentrating on the game at hand.
“I don’t only work on my physical aspect. I also work on the mental, because that’s also very, very important,” Bianca added. “It’s definitely showing through my matches where I’m staying in the present moment a lot of the time. I don’t like to focus on what just happened or in the future.”
Shame on the haters! As Taylor Swift advised, “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, shake it off!” Good for you Bianca for shaking it off, putting these haters in their place, refusing to let their judgements ruin such an awesome achievement. Your parents are obviously very proud of you and you of them. Your appreciation for the sacrifices your parents made for their family is very mature and touching.
On a more comical note, after thrilling us with her tennis prowess, trophy in her arms, Bianca addressed the Williams’ fans displaying her sense of humour too:
“I know you guys really wanted Serena to win, I am so sorry about that”
Arthur Ashe Stadium in NYC may have been filled with fans cheering every point American tennis powerhouse Serena Williams won this weekend, but proud Canadians were cheering just as loudly from their homes north of the border. Not for Williams of course, but for their new sweetheart, tennis upstart Bianca Andreescu. This teenager first captured our attention last January when she defeated some big talent in New Zealand’s ASB Challenge and then qualified for the Australian Open a few days later.
Yesterday, we proud Canadians were riveted to our TVs as Bianca Andreescu dethroned Williams with an incredible show of steely determination, perseverance and youthful charm. What a matchup; David and Goliath revisited. Andreescu as the inexperienced underdog, playing in her very first (but I’m betting not her last) US Open, against the seasoned veteran Williams playing in her 24th.
Andreescu’s composure was incredible with the fans roaring their approval of Williams’ every move. When it appeared that Williams was mounting a comeback in the second set, Andreescu dug deep, rebounding from a change in momentum with fierce and impressive passion, winning two straight sets for the victory.
After winning the Canadian open just last month, Andreescu moved up to a ranking of 14th, from 152nd at the beginning of the year. By the way, she was the first Canadian woman to win that title since 1969, gathering fans across our country. With her remarkable win in the US Open yesterday, at just 19 years of age, she became the first Canadian to win a grand slam event. Not to mention, the first woman ever to win the US Open in her first attempt.
What a year! 35 million proud Canadians are very impressed!
Because I am a nature lover, I assume that my grandchildren will automatically be nature lovers too. What I have come to realize is that teaching children to love nature is all about immersing them in it. This practice does not have to be an expensive endeavour, more of a shared life style, that can and should begin very early in life. One of my fondest memories of both of my grandmothers is their love of gardening.
I love all things garden related, so I make sure my grandchildren tour my gardens, patio and veranda plantings when they visit. I have added a few whimsical features throughout my yard to pique their interest, my way of teaching children. I love their sweet reactions!
I also have a few nature inspired features in my home décor that the kids love…
Teaching children has to be age appropriate or your students quickly lose interest. As my grand kids get older, the teaching or mentoring gets easier. In the spring they help me plant some decorations on my back deck. Then they water them throughout the summer to keep them thriving. I haven’t met a child yet that does not like to water flowers! Morning glories and sunflowers are easy to plant and grow quickly…
A word of caution when teaching children though, make sure you don’t care if they break your touches of nature. For example, the resin bunny has a broken tail and foot from two separate, accidental drops. And, one of my birdies cracked after my grandson threw it on a hard floor attempting to make it fly. I have to keep a close eye on the elephant as it is a sentimental (and very old) souvenir their great-grandpa brought their grandfather back from a trip to Africa.