Monday, August 31, 2009

Bench Talk: Our Favourite Potluck Recipes

When you are invited to a potluck, what is the one no-fail recipe you reach for.....

Very timely subject Cathy. Hey readers do you think this is just a coincidence that we are scheduled to go to Cathy's for our second annual Labour Day Weekend BBQ. So we blog about what is our no-fail recipe and guess what, that will be just what she wants us to bring!

So with that said I think my no-fail potluck recipe has ingredients such as Brussel Sprouts, and Banana's! (I know Cathy doesn't like these two things, so I don't have to bring anything now)

Wow Cathy who would of wrote such a thing? Ha! Ha! Ha!

So my potluck recipes are .... You know what readers I really don't have any. I just bring what ever I am told. I do have some things I look for when picking a recipe for a potluck. I look for a dish that is easy to transport, is easy to assemble. Your hostess is busy so if you are bringing the hamburgers, DO NOT give the hostess a pound of ground beef as she has no time to make the burgers you were supposed to bring. You laugh and think to yourself who would do that, trust me it has happened! Bringing a dish should mean that the hostess is not required to do anything with it besides maybe shoving it in the oven to warm up. Also if you are bringing a dish that does require some work get off your butt and make it. It is easier if you have all the ingredients all ready measured and put in containers or baggies for easy assembly. Another important rule with potlucks is make way more then you would normally. If I was going to a potluck for say 18, I would make a dish that would feed 25. Always better to have more then not enough. I have been to potlucks, I kid you not, where there is 50 people and a person responsible for the beverages has come bringing one 2 liter of pop. Wow Carolin you seem very passionate about this.

One idea when going or organizing a potluck for a large crowd is breaking up the dishes, salad, potato/rice, veg, etc by the first letter of a persons last name. If your last name starts with the letter from A - F you would bring the Salad, G - L would bring the potato/rice etc. When we have gone to potlucks run this way they have been pretty good and you don't run the risk of everyone bringing salad and no dessert. This is new to me I have never heard anything like that before. What happens if it is all the same family and the last names are identical. With Mr. Sunshine's side of the family they are pretty much all boy so we all have the same last name. I guess that we would have a lot of dessert of absolutely no main dishes. I think the last name idea works for LARGE groups. But I would think it is a great potluck if everyone brought dessert!

Look at potlucks as a opportunity to make a dish that is a little more special. Even a bag of corn can be made into something a little more festive. Now I am really intrigued, what do you do to your corn to make it more festive?

So what should I bring to Cathy's, I am a lazy person so I don't want anything that would require too much work when I get there. If I bring a dessert it has to be a simple thing cause by the time we get to dessert who knows how many cocktails Cathy's husband will have made for me. Which is my favourite part besides the friends of course. Oh how sweet! I like your desserts because they are always homemade and very delicious.

Cathy here, so how do I follow that? Carolin, rest assured that Hubby is already working out 'muddle' recipes for cocktails so get ready! I was just going to type up my favourite casserole for pot luck. Thankfully, the girls have had it and liked it so I should not get too much grief! :) I fully agree with Carolin about dividing up the menu so it is a complete meal and not all salad or dessert. Have you ever gone to a potluck where someone brings something fantastic and your dish is leftover??? Uh, No cant say that has ever happened to me! I tell you that Carolin has a great big chip on her shoulder or she is a really good cook. I have had her food, she is a really good cook. By dividing up the meal, all dishes are consumed equally, ( I hope ). Just looked and I'm good there is know chips on my shoulders, maybe a little dandruf but thats all.

Well, here is my recipe for a hash brown potato, ham and cheese casserole:
I love this casserole dish.


1 bag frozen hash browns, thawed
2-3 1 inch slices of ham, cubed
1 small bunch washed and chopped green onions
1 bag of shredded Mexican cheese, ie: contains a mixture of monterray jack, cheddar, mozzarella, and jalapenos ( the shredded taco cheese works, too )
3/4 cup milk
6 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste

-preheat oven to 350 F
- place thawed hash browns in a lasagna sized pan
-sprinkle chopped ham and chopped green onions on top
-next sprinkle most of the cheese over potatoes, ham and onions, ( keep some back for the top )
- mix together milk, eggs, salt and pepper and pour over potatoes, ham, green onions and cheese
- bake for 30 minutes, sprinkle with remaining cheese and continue baking for about 10 minutes more or until eggs are set.

Enjoy! I did but that was way back when the little one was born (over 9 years ago). But I am not sure if I can remember just what it tasted like, so you might have to make it for us again. Mind you I can't/wont be doing what I did nine years ago so it has to be just cause you love me or something. I believe that Cathy made that same dish at Louise's house at the end of June for our potluck dinner. I was so tasty. TMI Sunshine. Why don't I remember this?

I really don't think to much about what to bring. If the hostess does not really have a preference then I will make according to what I know people usually like. Sometimes its a tough decision because the kids don't always eat what the adults do. I sometimes bring my ground beef rice dish but kids don't always like the mushrooms.

What I bring depends on who is going and what they like and sometimes I just bring something that I have not made in a long time and we all really love, especially me.

I hope that this is inspiring you all to have a pot luck lunch or dinner or breakfast or brunch with all of your friends before summer vacation is over.

Cathy what do you want me to bring on the weekend? See I told you this was a way for Cathy to get us cooking for her BBQ.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trip to Pennsylvania

Thursday we went on a road trip to see what the big buzz is about some great shopping in Pennsylvania. On the way down about 15 minutes or so past the Buffalo border we stopped at a McDonald's for some breakfast. We then washed up and proceeded to our car. When we reached the parking spot and headed for the car, there was no car to be found. We searched the entire parking lot and our car was definitely not there! I wondered how that could be possible with a parking lot buzzing with activity and us only being away from the car for about 20 minutes or so. Mr. Sunshine headed inside to call the On star number to track down the vehicle as this On star package comes free for the first year. I was outside with the girls still searching and wondering what we would do next, what about my purse and the passports which were still in the car? I was still a bit baffled and could not believe that this was happening. The older daughter was walking around being very vocal and loud about how she could not understand how somebody could have stolen our car.

I was walking towards where we had parked it and I noticed some lady bent over and fixing her shoes while sitting in her car with the door open and she was smiling at me. I wondered if I should ask her if she knew anything about it or did she simply find it very comical? Well she asked me where I was going. I remember thinking is she going to offer us all a ride? I don't think that I would take a ride from a stranger anyways. I told her that we were on our way to Pennsylvania, and she said that our car is on the other side. She said this is the New York Side and you are on the Pennsylvania side. Well it seems that at this particular spot both sides of the highway can exit and cross a bridge and eat at the McDonald's which meets at the middle of the two sides and then you exit back to your appropriate side. She explained that both sides are identical. Her and her friend both followed the girls and I back into the building and they were telling us not to feel bad as they had both done it in the past themselves. One of them explained that she heard my daughter talking and was smiling because she remembers saying the same thing when it happened to her years ago.

We found Mr. Sunshine who was on the phone just about to call On Star and explained, and he said no we didn't do that. He looked at us all confused and we were all a bit embarrassed. We thanked the women and proceeded to the centre which upon really looking you could see two exit signs in opposite directions one saying, ERIE SIDE AND ONE SAYING PENNSYLVANIA SIDE. Still a little reluctant we went towards the Pennsylvania side and thank goodness there was our car! A wave of relief came upon us all and we got in and started driving.

We joked the rest of the drive down about how much fun it would have been had Mr. Sunshine contacted the On Star 911 team only to find out that his car had never left the parking lot. Well we kept on teasing my daughter about her loud voice and how she looked like she wanted to contact the police and how she starts to speak in a southern accent as soon as we cross the border. "Officer, Officer, please help someone has stolen my car with all my treasures an lovelies." Well really, you had to be there. She was not saying that but the little one and I were teasing her and we had a lot of fun for the rest of the drive.

Now about the shopping. Well we went to a Prime One outlet mall and another mall. Is there exceptionally great deals? There is on somethings but not all. You really do need to watch because not everything is cheaper. For instance I had purchased two things at Old Navy in Canada just two days ago and they were the exact same price in Pennsylvania on the Thursday. One of the sales people asked if I lived in the area and I said no. She said too bad because tomorrow all of the regular priced merchandise would be 40% off on Friday. It was very nice of her to tell me that. So I shopped at Old Navy on Friday instead of Thursday so that was a great deal but had I have not know that, everything that I would have bought on Thursday would have been exactly the same price as it would have been at home except for the taxes but the exchange would have covered most of that. So considering gas and hotel stay I actually would have ended up spending more.

So you do have to be careful but you can find some really great deals if you really look. There is no sales tax in Pennsylvania so that was great. Also there are some great stores there that we do not have in Canada. There is also definitely a greater selection of items and sizes. Some of the best deals are definitely on foot wear. You can get the latest styles and they can be designer styles if you wish and they are about 50% of the price that you would pay here. The only way that you would get those prices on the same merchandise would be to wait until next year and hope to find them at Winners or S'il Vous Plait or some place else.

All in all we did find some really great deals and it was a fun and very enjoyable trip.

Lastly, as we were driving along some residential roads just outside of down town Pennsylvania going towards our hotel. I opened the window and I could hear a very loud strange sound. It was almost like a buzzing sound coming from the trees. These trees were situated on beautiful properties with great houses but I could not understand how these people could sit down on their beautiful decks with this awful strange buzzing sound. When we got to the hotel I had to ask the front desk clerk about the strange sound. She said that she had no idea what we were talking about as she did not hear it. I told her to listen when the sliding doors open as you could hear it from inside. The next door opened and one of the other desk clerks said that it was the cicadas. They are apparently big grass hoppers that come out of the ground every 7 to 14 years. (I have not researched this so I am only retelling what was told to me). They only buzz for a short time and then they will stop and start again some other time. Well ,when we went to the outdoor pool that evening it was very quiet they had obviously stropped buzzing. I wonder if they only buzz at sundown. The next morning Mr. Sunshine and the youngest went swimming and said that there was a cicada in the pool. She said that it was a really big and looked like a grass hopper and was a yucky green colour. I never heard the cicadas buzzing again for the next 24 hours of our stay in Pennsylvania(knowing more about them now, I kind of wanted to hear them again and really appreciate it this time).

Well. we are back safe and sound and we had a fun time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Great Dinner

Went to the farmer's market today. Met Carolin there. I love going to the market as you will always bump into someone you know and it feels so small town! We bought our produce for the week: eggs, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, green onions, pototoes, garlic, onions, cremini mushrooms, strawberries, peaches and hubby bought some pastries as a treat for the boys. So, what to make for dinner?

I washed and tossed the lettuce into a big bowl. I roasted a red, yellow and orange pepper that I still had from last week. I grilled 4 mushrooms. I diced some red onion, ( also from last week ). I toasted some pine nuts ( yummy! ). Tomatoes were sliced and for the best part..... sea scallops! I purchased 10 sea scallops from the grocery store. I made a dry rub of spanish smoked paprika, freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. I then added some seasoned bread crumbs and mixed it all together. I took my big black glorious cast iron skillet and placed it on my gas stove. Heated the pan and added some extra virgin olive oil. Then dipped the scallops, one at a time into the seasoning mix, only on the top and bottom. Placed them sizzling into the skillet and waited for two minutes before turning them to finish cooking them on the other side. After another two minutes I took the scallops off the heat to rest and then I started to plate dinner.

It was so good! We ate this salad with some potato rosti that hubby made along with a very nice spanish red wine!

Definitely, a make again!!!

Tips on Being Cheap (part one)

Today while at the farmers market I ran into Cathy and her husband. We chatted about what was new with respect to the school cafeteria business. Then she mentioned again I should really blog about saving money, using coupons, getting loyalty points etc. In other words she wants me to tell you all just how cheap and frugal I can be! Now that I have admitted to the blog world that I am cheap, where should I start teaching you how to be cheap as well?

1) Want to save approximately $100.00 a month. First of all cut the cable/satellite from your TV. You can get a antenna (looks like a mushroom) and have hubby install it on the roof. With your antenna you will get about 10 Canadian channels and if you have the new HD box you should pick up another 5 American channels. Before you cut the cable first log what channels your family watches on a regular basis. Also look at the shows you and yours enjoy watching then chart it and see if these channel are ones you would normally get free anyway. Also with the shows, are they on channels you would normally get free anyway. Here in southern Ontario Rodgers basic cable is close to $40.00 month and you get a few more channels than what you would normally get with out Rogers. Spend a month or two being honest with yourself and tracking your TV habits. We have not had cable TV for 13 years now and every once in a while I think maybe we should get it. But then I look into the prices and think No Way! Also with the Internet and the library you can watch what ever you want if you are willing to be patient.

2) Use your library! In our city you can borrow movies for a week and complete TV show seasons for two weeks FREE. Yes, you may have to wait your turn depending on when you have placed the hold, but if it is not important to you to be the first one to see a movie or show then this is a great way to save money. Also,use your library for the traditional book borrowing. I am a regular at Chapters, but I very rarely purchase a book from them. What I do is take a pen and paper and write down the title of books that interest me and then in the comfort of my home I request these books on line from my local library. When my turn comes I then have three weeks to read the book FREE! I also will borrow magazines from the library all for FREE. Another place for books is garage sales, but I don't ever pay more then a $1.00 for a hardcover!

3) Get yourself another email address. Most Internet providers give you numerous email addresses with your package. Create an email address and use this one to give to companies when they ask for your email address. Just recently Old Navy (Canada) asked for my email address and in return they sent me a $10.00 off coupon. By having the second email address you avoid the junk mail clogging up your personal stuff. I haven't done this yet but will be doing it soon, so family and friends look out for an email address change from us soon. Also sign up to different companies (if they are brands you use) web sites. Use your new email address and most of these companies will send you coupons for products you use and they are normally pretty good coupons.

4) Most stores have loyalty programs and if you are regular shopper at the store then it is worth signing up for the program. Now some stores make you pay for the loyalty program, with those ones be very careful and make sure you will get your money's worth. I am hesitant to pay for the loality program cards as I find I never seem to get my moneys worth. The free programs, I say join, join, join! I am a big fan of the Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum rewards program. I have received thousands of dollars in free products since the program started. Firstly, I go into the store and buy a gift certificate for the store, as you get points for the GC purchase. Then I do my shopping I try to only buy what is on sale and what I have coupons for, also I do my SDM shopping only when they have 20 x the points events. Now that a lot of the SDMs also sell food like milk (one of the cheapest places to buy milk), butter (when on sale they even have unsalted for the sale price) you can do a bit of grocery shopping as well. And also SDM is one of the cheapest places for eggs. Once you have saved 75000 points (really is not hard) you can cash them in for $150.00 worth of SDM products. There are some restriction but very few and I have never had a problem. What I do is save my points all year long and then before Christmas, I watch the flyers for the Saturday they have their points upgrade day. At this time you can cash in 75000 points and get $200.00 worth of products. I then will do all my Christmas stocking stuffers, and any other gifts I need. It is not unusual for my husband and myself to spend two hours at SDM and we will come out with $600.00 worth of stuff and only have had to pay the taxes! What is nice, especially at Christmas, is the stores have a lot of neat and different gift ideas and you can get products that you might not normally buy because of the cost. It's a time to splurge, we have bought ours and the teenagers camera's at SDM and it didn't cost us anything. We are saving our points this year and hoping to get a Wii for the family Christmas gift.

I also have a Master Card that lets me collect points on every purchase and then when I want I can cash them in for free groceries. This is another point system I save for the Christmas season and then I can buy the nice fancy cheese's, chocolates, and some grocerystores carry more than just food. All this is free for me. And as a added bonus I even earn points on my free purchases. Keep an eye on your monthly statements as sometimes they will have bonus points coupons you can use.

It seems now of days companies are desperate for our business and there are all kinds of loyality programs. My advice is to look for the ones at the stores you regularly shop at and join them. Be careful with the ones you pay for. Also when it comes to credit card loyality programs (like air miles) only get a card that you don't have to pay a yearly charge for. I know the CIBC Visa has a air miles card but it will cost you $100.00 dollars a year for the card. And with air miles you need so many points for even the smallest thing, it might not be worth it. I do have an air miles card and collect points when I can but I don't normally go out of my way to get the points. The corner grocery store near me has a air miles program so it does come in handy. Last year when we went to Disneyworld we were able to cash in the air miles for one child and one adult 5 day disney pass. And of course that was free but it had taken me over 5 years to save for those points!

My advice to all of you cheapskates like me is you must be organized and patient. Stay tuned to part two when I share some of my grocery shopping tips.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday's on the bench

(Sunshine) Good morning to everyone. I hope that you are all enjoying your second last week of summer vacation that is if we are going by the school calender. Mr. Sunshine is off for the next two weeks which is a pretty cool thing around here as he is not home that often (he did however have to work yesterday). He already has a list of things that will be keeping us all very busy. Yesterday myself and my little one spent the day baking cookies. My cousin's daughter is getting married and her shower is on Sunday so in the true Italian tradition they need about ten thousand cookies for this shower so we baked as many pineapple cookies as we could yesterday. For a non baker like myself I must say that I am all baked out for at least the next year or so. Let me decide if your cookies are Italian shower Worthy. Bring some over!!! Save some for the cookie exchange this Christmas! Uhh, Oh know you don't, I want fresh cookies for the Christmas exchange not ones you make in August! What about if she were to make the dough and freeze it for later baking?? Uh, once again NO. She can make the dough in November and then bake the day before the exchange but that's it! ( whisper...hey Sunshine, freeze them from now...I'll never tell...shhhhhh....) AS I TELL MY KIDS DAILY, I KNOW EVERYTHING! Calm down ladies, the extra cookies I did freeze as we are having a big party for my dad's 75 the birthday in October.

(Carolin) For us in Ontario we only have another week and half of Summer vacation :( This summer (as they all do the older I get) seemed to wiz by. I am sure it didn't help that we had so much rain, and yes it is raining again as I type. I still have 3 weeks of vacation left. I hope for sun and heat. When was the last time in August we needed a sweater at night! What has happened to hot, hazy and humid! I love this weather for sleeping, I am actually getting 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night!!!! Yes its a drag for swimming but looks like the husband is given up on the pool for this year. I never went in it, and the little one went in less then a handful of times because of the rain and cold July. The one week we had all that humidity she was at VBS and the pool was so full of algae it wasn't swimable. I'm thinking we are going to have the hottest fall on record, what do you think?? We also had very little pool use this summer. I wonder if we actually went in more than 10 times or so, I'm not sure but it wasn't used that much.

School is approaching and emotions are high, mainly mine as we start a new chapter with our first year of high school for my oldest daughter. My younger one has seemed to turn into a Young lady over the summer right in front of my eyes. I want so badly to be able to stop time and keep things as they are. Will I remember what they look like today in 5 or 10 years? I think that I better start taking lots and lots of pictures.
For our family too, things are changing. This will coming year will be the teenagers last year of high school. She is a senior (for our American benchers) and I am expecting some amazing maturity to happen. That is what one of her music teachers told me last year while on one of our many parent/teacher phone calls. So please pray that this past year of yuck has worked its way out of her system and our wonderful daughter can find her way back. (hasn't happened yet as she is grounded again because of her stupid choices and then attitude when called on it) (Cathy)Well, I have the older one going into his second year of highschool. He enjoys school and doesn't yet show signs of a budding social life. He is working on his assistant water safety instructor and is hoping to have a part-time job this fall. As long as it doesn't interfere with his school work. Maybe, this will keep him motivated to keep the grades up! Our second son is entering his last year of middle school. He is looking forward to seeing all of his friends again. I like the lack of routine in the summer and am not looking forward to getting back to the start of our 'fiscal year' ie: September to September. I love having no schedule and there is less arguing between me and the older one because we are so few things that we need to be on time for. During the school year I am constantly yelling about being late as we always seem to be waiting for her at the front door. I bet that my kids could have given the other late kids at school a run for their money with the amount of times that we were late last year. How embarrassing. I felt bad for my younger one as she is always ready in plenty of time. Well at least this year she will probably never be late as they are going to different schools now, if anything I think that she will always be early.

Last week we dealt with lice in my home and I am happy to say that we worked hard and persevered and we humans won the battle. It goes to show you that olive oil is good for more than just great tasting Italian dishes.
I am so glad the lice is gone, maybe now I can see you again (was to afraid last week!). But I am now concerned I will never be able to use olive oil again without think of little head bugs. That's funny, Carolin! Just think, every time you eat Italian food....... Cathy you're killing me! I really do understand how you feel but believe me if you are ever unfortunate to have to deal with it you will demystify the thought of the lice and you will no longer be thinking about it constantly, rather you will be armed with ammunition and you would with that someone would give you a medal for winning the battle.

We are going to the Poconos at the end of the week. There is much talk of some amazing outlet shopping and no taxes. I have never been and I don't really do much back to school shopping so it is more of a family road trip then anything but I hope to find some great deals. I love family road trips and so does Mr. Sunshine and the kids. You can take your time and play silly car games and just talk and laugh and have fun. I am looking forward to the car ride.
I, as well like car trips so I hope you have fun. And as my family has been on car trips with yours (remember Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump) who knows what route Mr. Sunshine will take. It's always an adventure with Mr. Sunshine, we never know what will happen next and I know that he has every second of our 2 days all planned out. He seems to enjoy all of the planning and I am happy to have someone do it for me. I don't really care what we do as long as we are all together. That's probably why we get along he can do what ever he wants (well sometimes) and I just follow suite. I have never been to the Poconos so I don't think it is the same outlet mall I am thinking of. The one I remember going to in Pen. was anchored by a Tops grocery store and it was on the way home from Florida. I remember my parents going go a mall in PA. I wonder too, if it's the same one.

Back to school shopping. The little one has had to buy school supplies for the first time this year (grade four) and is having fun organizing her new stuff in her new backpack. I just on Monday bought her black shoes and gym shoes. So beside me having her try on her uniform (and hope it all fits) we are set. The teenager and I went to Chapters and bought some notebooks (she says that is all she needs). Chapters had some cool looking ones and though they were more expensive, and she is worth it (I say as she is sleeping and not giving me any lip right now) for every Chapters 'green' product you bought you also got 250 scene points. We ended up buying eight different things so that is worth two free movies. You amaze me still with how you can find all the deals and coupons. Maybe, you should do a blog on how to save money by using coupons and points. Especially, how to keep it all organized and how to remember to use them. Or how you find out about all of them. Have you ever figured out how much you save say, for example, every week or would every month be a better determination? I will tear out a coupon and make a note on my grocery list and still forget to use it! Have you ever gone on I think this is a great idea, the blog idea. Yes, Caroline please help me too. I am so not taking advantage of all of the money saving coupons. I would prefer it even more if you just came shopping with me and had all of the coupons ready. I think that a blog about it would be amazing.

Well the first week of school for me will be spent hitting the pavement once again looking for a job. Wish me luck as I really really need one. Carolin I am so happy for you and your new adventure and I can't wait to hear all about your first week. Louise, I am so happy for you and your new job but I know how emotional it is for you at this time. Good luck to both of you and may this new path in your lives lead to bigger and better things for you and your families. Cathy I know that your vacation is coming to an end and that you have to go back to work again soon but at least it is a familiar job which you seem to enjoy doing. I would love to have a job like yours, minus all the crazy hours. ( minus the crazy people, too! )Don't be getting too excited for me yet, Sunshine. Nothing is set in stone. I sent my status report to the principal like he asked and haven't heard back from him. He has always taken his time whenever he has to respond to you hasn't he? Also, the caterer I was hoping to either buy premade food from or let me prepare in his kitchen has said thanks but no thanks they don't think my business is worth their trouble. I was afraid of that. So, at this point I am back to the phone book trying to find some one else. The husband mentioned to me the option of installing a hand washing sink in the old kitchen. I priced a bar sink and the sink and faucet is under $150.00 so I am going to call the principal and ask if that is an option. If we did that I could prepare at the school, and serve soup/chili . That sounds like a great idea. I just could not bake anything in that kitchen. Also, I think I have to break down and go get a Costco card. Which I am sure Sunshine will be glad about so I don't bug her anymore to take me to Costco. I would miss our outings but I know that it will be good for your business so good luck with everything. Remember help is only a phone call away if you need it.

I haven't blogged about the gardens lately. I can tell you two of the sunflowers have bloomed and one is over 9 ft tall. I am thinking of entering it in the Fall Fair this year. Sunflowers are my youngest's favourite flower. Maybe when we get back I will bring her buy to see your very very tall sunflowers. Though the tomatoes have a fungus on their leaves the tomatoes are abundant and starting to turn red. The little one ate the first red one on Monday. I will go check on them after the rain stops we should have some more red, as yesterday they were just about ready to be picked. The brussel sprouts are coming along. A few of the plants are producing brussels but they don't look too good. The peas are just about done maybe another week of picking and they have run their course. We pulled a few carrots a week or so ago and they tasted good but were small. So, I might wait a while longer. I am so jealous, I would really like a garden but I don't know that I am up for all of the hard work and I really don't know where I would put one.

Wow we have got to come and see this in person.

Now I feel bad as I have hardly blogged on the progress of my garden. Too busy enjoying it! I have had no luck with my carrots and as for the sugar snap peas, son number one eats them straight off the vine! No complaints from me as there is not enough growing for a meal anyways. With all of the rain, the vegetative growth is off the charts so I have spent a lot of time pruning, shaping and weeding. I would like some warm weather so the green growth can slow down a little. My herbs are awesome! I have parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (thanks Simon and Garfunkel ). I also have cilantro and mint and chives and basil. The tomatoes look great and the Egyptian onions are starting to spread. I have never heard of Egyptian onions and I am so jealous of your garden too. My lettuce is done but it was the best tasting lettuce we have had in long time. I have just seeded some mescalin lettuce so am hoping for salad greens until fall.

I have a group of friends coming over tonight for a potluck get together. I had hoped to be in the yard, so hopefully the rain stops. I co-facilitate a ladies bible/book study on Wednesday nights at our church. Last year was our first year running the evening bible study and we had a good turnout. We run it the same schedule as the children's Pioneer club. With the hope of some of the moms coming to join us instead of heading to Walmart for the two hours. My friend KD is co-facilitating with me this year and yesterday we met with the head of ladies ministries to go over details. We are going to be studying a video series/workbook called Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore I really enjoy Beth's style of teaching and am looking forward to learning more from her. This series we will study is on the Fruits of the Spirit and hopefully will be educational to all types of women regardless of their background and levels of spiritual maturity. I plan to blog what I have gotten out of the weekly class with you all. Sounds great good luck.

Last night when the husband got home from work (midnight) he showed me a clipping from the newspaper about the book I reviewed a few weeks ago. Lawrence Hill's, "The Book of Negroes", seems Lion Pictures has acquired the film rights to the book and it will be made into a movie. No date when that will happen but that is very exciting for Mr. Hill I am sure. Way to go!

I took the little one to the orthodontist yesterday afternoon to get her retainer put in. She was so nervous that she has made herself sick! We went and this time we met Dr. Gord (Marks dad) and I think Dr. Gord might be better suited for the little one. He is soft spoken, calm and only speaks when he has something to say which is more her personality. Anyway, she was very nervous to the point of tears. After three dental assistants and one Doctor it was determined that the retainer that was made is not the right size and it wouldn't fit. So they had to take molds of her mouth again (which she hates) one for the bottom and three molds of the top teeth. We go back again September 8 to get the new retainer installed. So she gets to suck her thumb for a few more weeks still. For the trouble Dr. Gord gave us two free ice cream coupons and $5.00 GC for Tim Hortons! When we got home the little one was so sick she brought on an Asthma attack and has been on her puffers ever since. She slept for part of the afternoon and then was up in my bed sleeping on and off all night wheezing and coughing the whole time. She seems a little better this morning but still on her puffers. I sure hope this is not a precursor to what it is going to be like every time we go to the orthodontist. I am so sorry to hear that. I hope that she is better soon and that her next experience at the orthodontist will be a positive one. I hate taking molds of my teeth. It always makes my gag.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and stay healthy and safe.
Have a good one all! See you again on Monday, for 'Bench Talk' if not sooner!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bench Talk: Teenagers and Dating

When is the correct age to allow teenagers to date?

Many parents would rightly say that it depends on the teenager, their maturity and responsibility level.

Can they go to a party too, if allowed to date?

(Carolin) Interesting topic Cathy. If this question was asked to the fathers of our daughters I think they would say 38 years old! What do you mean by date, go on a date to the movies with a guy or girl. Or do you mean having a steady boyfriend/girlfriend? I think it really depends on the kid. Some teenagers are more interested in the opposite sex earlier than others. And if we say No dating or boyfriend/girlfriend till a certain age. Then we run the risk that they will do and have behind our backs. I feel the lines of communication are more important then a age. When our children hit their teens I feel our job is more to advise and listen than to control and lecture. Of course, that is easier said than done, especially when our kids do what we feel are stupid things. And let me just say for the record even the most responsible, mature teenagers are going and doing what we would think are stupid things!

(Sunshine) Well I agree it is so hard to step back in our children's lives but at a certain stage, I think that we have got to give them a little more space. I mean who are we really kidding we can all talk and put rules in place which we need to do but inevitably some rules will be broken and others will be followed. I know that my parents did not (knowingly) let me have a boy friend until I was about 18 years old and even when I did I was only allowed to see him about 2 or three times a week total (out of the house or at my house). I actually think that this was the rule until I was about oh lets see married. I could see him more often if we went out in a group but on my own it was twice a week and never in either of our homes alone. It was a bit of a bummer but I did follow the rules and as a parent now so much of my parents rules make absolute sense to me now.

I, ( Cathy ), remember when I was a teenager. It was just me and my younger sister as far as things go. My father would not allow us to go out with a 'boy' by ourselves until we were practically 18 years old. We were allowed to go out with boys and girls as a group when we were 16 years old. I didn't have a boyfriend in high school. I had a great bunch of girlfriends and we did go to parties. I'm trying to remember how old I was for my first 'party'!

I really don't remember going to too many parties. My friends and I would drop by on occasion to some parties but we always ended up leaving shortly after we arrived. The drinking and drugs and promiscuity that was going on was not really our scene. We would stay for a while and really no body cared much if we left because they were all so out of it anyway.

My sister did have a boyfriend from 14 years old. She was allowed to see him only at our home and if they went out, I had to chaperon!!! Like I said, I have great girlfriends! I remember going rollerskating, a lot!

My younger sister would sometimes come to a movie with me and my boyfriend and his little brother honestly more so that we could see each other another night then because we wanted to take them. My younger sister still says that she is traumatized by the kissing that she had to witness from the back seat as we said good night. I don't remember that but when she brings it up I feel bad about it and I am very embarrassed (what was I thinking?).

Now, I am the mom of two teenage boys. The going out and dating thing hasn't started yet. I know it's just a matter of time. I'm wondering what kind of mom I will be? Will I be supportive and give them their space? Or will I be a nagging pest??? I hope to be supportive and cool with a nice air of fearful authority that the boys will keep in mind as they socialize!! Just recently I mentioned that to the teenager that I noticed that her boyfriend Dilbert rarely speaks to me. She said that he was afraid of me. I laughed and said GOOD he should be, I don't want him feeling too comfortable, he should have a healthy fear of me. My mom was only about 4 feet 9 inches and everyone of my boyfriends was always afraid of her. Also, being Italian some of my boyfriends would comment about how that had to be careful because they were sure that my uncles (Nick, Vince and Vito) were part of the Mafia. My dad was a man of very few words but his presence was always enough to make a boy nervous.

I agree with Carolin, a lot of how we decide how much rope to give our kids, depends on our kids. We are all blessed with kids who are confident to say no when necessary. ( I hope ) So far they all show signs of being responsible ( for teenagers ). I think we all trust our kids. Trust is also a fine line. Because we trust them when they tell us where, when and how but if they (and they probably will) start lying it is almost impossible to trust them. Also I remember one argument with the teenager when she said "when I tell the truth you never believe me". Just who are we to know when you tell us something if it is a lie or not! I have tried to explain to her that she will get to do more things she wants and have more freedom when she is honest with us.

Trust ,trust, trust..... Some kids will lie for no reason it is just part of the way that they do things and it is a hard habit to break them form. These are the kids unfortunately, who seem to be very good, believable liers. Others would never think of lieing and just doing it would make them feel very uncomfortable. These are the kids that are usually not very good liers and I hope that I have two of those living with me now. I don't know if that will happen however, because I use to lie all the time when I was younger. However, as an adult now, I have a real problem lieing.

A lot of the fear I have is not so much with our kids, but with all the possible situations they can find themselves in. Sometimes through no fault of their own. I know we can't put them in a bubble ( as much as I would like to ), so we just keep on praying and keeping that line of communication open. I remember my mom telling me that one of the most important things in raising children is having an open line of communication. She said you might not like all that you hear, however, if you can discuss it openly with your kids and listen to what they have to say without being too judgemental, you should not have to over worry!!! Keep in mind that teenagers will keep pushing limits. And if they are influenced by a peer to do things that they know you would not like they will lie!

The people that these kids will end up dating makes all the difference in the world as to how they will behave. Sometimes they fall for a person who will only land them in more trouble and other times they will date someone who is very respectful of the rules. We worry when we see a negative change in them however, constantly talking about this negative change and blaming it on the boyfriend/girlfriend, just draws them farther away from us. We need to concentrate on our children's behaviours without bringing up the person they are with and let them figure the rest out along the way. Its a hard thing to do but they have a mind of their own and blaming the person that they are "head over heals in love with" will close of those lines of communication for good. They will be unable to listen if you actually have something to say about this persons character because they will already feel that you are biases. My advice, do not let race, colour, religion, monetary status or our own children's behaviours be a negative topic. If we do then nothing but that will be on our children's minds when we have an important reason for not wanting them to date this person such as we can see that they are not a good person.

Raising a teenager is a lot more work then I had ever expected! And for all you out there with young kids I am sorry to tell you that when they grow into teens they need you even more. But they won't admit it and when they need you they will also be giving you attitude. This past year has been especially trying for us. Each morning I would wake up and give myself a pep talk, smile, speak kind words, don't let her mood dictate yours, stay CALM!

I agree, they need us every step of the way and even more so when they are teenagers. They only thing is that our role changes a bit from when they were younger. I wonder how my parents lives through three teenage girls. No wonder my father has only grey hair left on the top of his shinny head.

I don't know how my parents had the patience to do this??????

One of the things I find hard now is having the boyfriend over at the house all the time. He is a nice boy but still it is like having a guest over who never leaves! The other side of the coin is when she is over at his house then that means you have to stay up past your bed time waiting for her to get home! Or when they are out on a date I worry, are they OK, are they behaving (hello I remember being a teenager!!!!!), have they got lost, is my car OK.

Lets not forget that yes hello we were all teenagers once upon a time and we obviously all made it out of that stage unscathed. Yes, we did some not so smart things and yes we all had our hearts broken but we turned out to be responsible loving parents. This teenage stage will pass with our kids too and someday when they are in their fourties they will be worrying about their children and we will be reminding them of how they were in their teens and how they all turned out just fine.

It's me.............remember.....Lousie

Finally a topic I can relate to. Actually this is the first chance I have to read and write! Mind you, my kids are standing behind me because we are on our way out to a 9 oclock soccer game.

Dating..........Where do I begin, my daughter is currently dating. It's funny how things turn out because I forgot about this party we were suppose to go to, and then my van died, so I was ready to call it quits. We were lucky enough to get a ride from my cousin and off we went. This is where she has met her latest beau. This is very different for me because he is someone I don't know and he's a bit older than she is. He looks so much older, I mean he could pass for a much older teenager. They started talking that night and have been talking ever since.

I'm sorry I have to go soccer is waiting.......I will try very hard to update later..........My kids are screaming as we speak!!!!! and I can't figure out how to save and not post!!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Think I am Self Employed?

Guess what I did on Wednesday? Yes I got my hair cut, yes I had my teeth cleaned but even more exciting then that. I registered my business!!!! I am now (for $60.00) an official business women. OMG I am an official business women! What am I thinking, I can’t do this. Where is the sand box so I can go bury my head in it?

Ok I’m back, so this is what has been happening with the Food Services proposal I presented last May to the school. The school principal and department heads approved my plan, the school board approved my plan. But if you remember the kitchen construction is part of phase two, which will not be completed till Christmas. So that puts my plan on hold for the rest of this calendar year.

Through the month of July I had put the whole business idea out of my mind and was busy with family stuff. Every once a while I would get someone asking a question about the business, but I didn’t have much to tell them. Now that there is just a few weeks left of summer, I went and spoke to the principal again. I was looking for an update on the construction and coming up with some alternative plans till the kitchen is completed. He is still all for me coming in and selling what ever I can.

I have been speaking with the city food safety inspector and of course nothing is easy. So as of today the plan looks like this:

I will set up shop in the old kitchen
I will only sell prepackaged prepared food
I cannot sell soup or make any food on the premises because of the lack of a third sink for hand washing.
I will be open from 8:00 to 9:00 each morning to sell muffins, bagels, and fruit and then again open from 11:30 to 1:30 for lunch selling sandwiches, wraps, baked goods, and candies, and beverages.

Sounds somewhat reasonable right? So why then do I feel like I am about to throw up?

The principal has asked for a status report from me. What I have in place so far and what my plans are till the kitchen is completed. He did mention that there were some questions from board members concerning insurance and liability and such. Again sounds reasonable. Then why can’t I type a single word, every time I try my mind wanders to more pressing matters like I should really clean out the DVD cupboard.

Yesterday I spoke to my insurance broker and she tried to explain insurance stuff to me. You would think I would understand all this stuff as I did work for the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Now if she asked me how to upgrade a client server, or what interface would be best for British Columbia’s government run auto insurance, or even what catastrophes were averted with the fixing of code concerning dates such as 09/09/09, 09/09/99 and of course the infamous 01/01/00 then I’m your girl. I can bore you to death with that information. But this liable for who, what and where and some standard insurance clause forms. I am lost and confused and I know I should, but really don’t give a hoot. I just want to make a couple of egg salad sandwiches and maybe a cookie or two. Anyway I think I understand what insurance I have and she has advised me on how to word it in my status report. Head is moving deeper in the sand.

So lets take a moment and catch up I have a business name and number, and am registered with the government, I have business insurance pending, I have OK’s from school, I have been trying all day to get through to GST to register but the line is busy (but I am working on it), I have spoke to Health Inspector, I have a call in to a pizza shop to get quote for pizza days. Hey, yesterday I bought a couple pairs of black pants as part of my uniform. In other words things are moving along.

So why am I about to cry? I am scared and unsure and think maybe this is a big mistake and what happens if nobody buys anything. What do I do if I fail, or the board changes there mind and wont let me in the kitchen in the New Year? Or they don’t like me, or I say the wrong thing, or I dress the wrong way. This is worse then high school cause then all I had to do is hide under my sheets and pretend I was sick. Now I’m an adult and am supposed to be all-adultish. I need to set an example to my children and, and, and. I think I need to lay down now.

Get grip women. What’s left on the list? I need to buy a cash register, find a supplier of the food, buy some small wares equipment, finish buying my uniform, purchase disposable supplies. Write a status report. I think I am going to eat something now, like the two banana breads I made this morning, we can chat later.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday's on the bench

Hello everyone and how are you all doing today. We are talking from our respective homes today as we are not meeting. We have had the warmest weather so far this year and I have been stuck inside for most of it. My kids have swimmers ear and are both in quite a bit of pain. I have gone to the walk in clinic and to the grocery store and that's about it. To top it all off my youngest said that her head was itchy on Monday morning so I checked her and she has head lice. I am not in a panic as we have dealt with this nascence before so I know what to do. We have been fortunate we never had to deal with lice, but a few years ago when the teenager was young we did have to deal with worms. Gross, gross, gross, though she was the one who had them we all had to take this medicine. Which my husband called worm juice! I do think though she got them from holding a duck feather! I had heard that duck feathers are extremely nasty, and since then I am a little over freaked out by any kid touching duck or bird feathers. Which I know is hard for younger kids and we do have a lot of Canadian geese in our city parks.

(back to lice)

It is very time consuming and tedious work to get rid of these bugs. We are pretty much nit free right now but the olive oil treatments will continue every three days from the very first day for about 15 days. So I will be pouring a very liberal amount of olive oil on her hair (don't worry you don't need to use your most expensive extra virgin olive oil), then I wrap her hair in saran wrap, and put a bathing cap on top of that. She will keep this on her head for about 2 hours and this will ensure that it will kill any live lice in the hair that may have hatched since the last treatment. I know, I know, Gross, Gross, Gross. Then I wash out the hair, shampoo and condition it. Then I rinse it out but leave some conditioner in so that the comb can easily pass through the hair. Why olive oil? Could any oil work? I think that the olive oil is thicker then canola or vegetable oil.I read on used Sauve coconut conditioner. Isn't it funny how as you read this your own head starts to itch!!

Then comes the fun part. My special lice comb and a very good pair of magnifying glasses, I start to go through each section of hair with the comb. I run it through about 5 times per very small section and then wipe the comb on a piece of paper towel. I put each section of hair in a small hair tie so that I know which ones have been done and then continue on to the next very small section. The comb is to remove any nits which may still be on the hair. These nits if not removed will hatch and form new baby lice and the problem will start all over again.

I did this on Monday and it took me about 5 hours to go through the entire head of hair. The first day is always the most work. Since Monday the next two days is dry nit picking which means you go out into very good light and check each section of the dry hair piece by piece and pick out any nits that you see. I did not see any on these on Tuesday or Wednesday but believe me I know that there may be some that were missed. I also flat ironed her hair on Monday because I heard that the heat will destroy anything left on the hair (I'm not sure if that works or not). I would be interested to know if this flat iron method works as I might just flat iron the little one's hair over the next couple of weeks. Can you get the flat iron that close to the scalp where I am told the nits are? You have to be careful but you can get pretty close to the scalp. Does it work I don't know how to really judge that, I can only tell you that the next two days I did not find anything in her hair. So far, knock on wood, we have not had lice. Sunshine, who has researched this subject fully, has told me that lice tend to like straight hair over curly, kinky hair. I don't remember ever saying that. I know that they prefer clean hair over anything with product in it but as to the hair texture, I don't know that they are that picky. If I have said that in the past then I am sorry because I don't think that it is an accurate statement.Well then I don't know where I heard it, all of us in our family have very curly, kinky hair. Also, I have read that because boys do not share combs, brushes and such that there is a diminished chance for the lice to hop on their heads. All the same, take nothing for granted and check.

If you are unfortunate enough to get lice in your home then you must also check all other family members and inform anyone that you have been in contact with for lets see the last 10 days or so (that was the fun part). You are the bearer of bad news and you hope that your friends and family don't hate you and cross your fingers that they too do not acquire such unwelcome guests because of you.

(Carolin)Yes we got the phone call and yes I went into panic mode. One cause we have never had it and the whole thing just gives me the creeps. Sunshine is much stronger with this then I am. The little one is a VBS (vacation bible school) this week at our church so when Sunshine called, I wasn't sure what to do. Wait till she gets home and check or go to the church and have a look. There are about 150 kids at VBS this week and one of the kids had just had his third bought of brain cancer and only had the latest tumor removed a few weeks ago. I had to go to the church and check the little ones head cause if she had it and passed it on to this child I just couldn't live with the guilt. So, I hopped in the car and went to the church. I spoke to the office staff and I got the little one out of her group and we brought her into an office and then proceeded to check. Thankfully, we didn't see anything! I have been checking twice a day since and still don't see anything. I also had my husband check my hair but he didn't see anything. So hopefully we are good.

What was sad though, was when I went to get the little one from her group, she held my hand as we started to walk to the church office and she said very sadly, "Who died Mommy, what bad thing has happened?" She was just about in tears and I had to reassure her that everyone is good. Once I told her why I was there she was a little grossed out but relieved when we didn't find anything. It broke my heart to think if she sees her Dad or I at a unusual time she first thinks someone is sick or has died. For a 9 year old she has just seen too much death in her life. I didn't go to my first funeral till I was 19 years old! That is when my Grandmother died, that was the first time I faced death. For my kids they have lost their Grandparents (my in laws) and the sudden death of my brother, plus extended family and friends. Even today the teenager texted me from camp to say a friend's older brother (19 years old) died on Wednesday of leukemia. I agree with you Carolin a close death changes everything in a family and somehow everyone involved is never the same again. I'm sorry that she was scared and I wish that things could be different especially with our little ones.

(back to lice)

You also need to wash the bedding and comforters on the first day and give your couches and floors and your car a good vacuum. After that you really only need to worry about the pillow case for the next little while and wash them nightly. The most important task in removing head lice is to get all the heads in your house free of all lice and nits, that is really where you should focus most of your attention. Don't drive yourself crazy with trying to find out where it came from because unless someone fesses up and calls you to let you that their children have it and they have been around your children, you will never really know. They can also have acquired it from a chair at the movie theatre or something like that. So, bottom line, I don't know where it came from and I probably will never really know. I don't know about others but I do know when I am sitting in my seat at the movie theater I am conscious of the lice and germ thing. I try to keep the panic down and there are times I will put a sweater behind my head. I don't think it would make a big difference but it makes me feel better. We just went to a movie last night. We saw, "Harry Potter and the half blood Prince". I always bring a sweater to the movies because I find the air conditioning too cold. I actually used my sweater on the back of my seat to hopefully keep my hair from catching lice. There might not have been lice at the movies last night, however, the theatre smelled very strongly of urine! Very gross! I'm not a movie person and I think I now know why....

Enough about the lice topic. This weekend is a very busy weekend. My sister is off on vacation so we will meet on Friday with her and my kids and my nieces. Then on Saturday I have a baby shower,(which I believe I will miss as we are also on vacation) and on Sunday I have a bunch of family over for a BBQ. The next two weeks my husband is actually on vacation (does he need any help with the floors?) I don't think the floors are on his mind at all this time of year. The kids will start school once again.(school, that's sad, I like them home) We are booked with events right up until that time. I am hoping that we can all meet for a bon fire and swim one night before the end of the Summer (me, Cathy, Carolin and Louise). I hope that we can all find the time to do that. If Cathy hasn't mentioned it once she has said it 100 times, keep Sunday of Labour day weekend free for a BBQ at her house. Yes Cathy, I have not booked anything that day it is all yours. Thank-you!!! Yes Cathy I have also reserved that day for you but I was talking about adding another evening in there somewhere for all of us. Yeah!!

I have had a busy but family free week so far. As I mentioned earlier, the teenager is at camp this week as a camper (it is youth week and the last week of camp for the summer), the little one is at VBS and the husband is working (yeah) on the day shift. So the house is quiet during the day. I have gone and had a pedicure, hair cut, (I can't wait to see the new hair) teeth cleaned and did some shopping at Walmart and Chapters. I have also been working on the cafeteria business I proposed back at the end of the school year. I met with the principal and we discussed details. I will save all the nitty gritty for another blog. But looks like I might be self-employed as of the first day of school! (yeah!) Way to go Carolin, I hope to be employed by then or shortly after the start of school. Really, where??? Sounds like another new blog idea. By the way...what's happening with the story???

Remember when Louise's car wouldn't start. So, after church on Sunday we drove over to her house and the husband tried to boost it but it still wouldn't start. Then Louise's cousin came over with a new battery and the two men spent some time getting the old one out and putting the new one in. Guess What? The car started!!!!! Louise had such a look of relief on her face when the car started. I haven't spoke to her since so I hope it is still running smoothly. I hope we can talk and see her more once she gets her work shifts worked out and the kids soccer ends as that takes up almost every evening and weekends. I can't imagine, I am just to lazy and selfish to give up all my free time to drive my kids around. I am glad that Louise's van is fixed as I know how dependent I am on my vehicle. I did the crazy soccer and it did take up my entire summer last year with both girls and it kept us very busy and it was too expensive. Good for Louise for she just keeps going and going.

Have a great weekend!

I too should be off doing stuff. As well as talking to Insurance and public health about the business I am trying to get organized for a potluck I am hosting next Wednesday to kick of this years Ladie's book/bible study that starts in September. We are going to be doing a Beth Moore study and I am supposed to watch a couple of the sessions, as is KD for our meeting next Tuesday with the head of Ladie's ministry. I am hoping to blog about the study, so far it looks very interesting. Hey KD have you watched your dvds yet? Have a good one!

Yesterday, Hubby, the boys and I went down to the 'Beach' in Toronto. What a beautiful day! The sun was hot and it felt great! We walked along the boardwalk and just people watched. They had so many beach vollyball nets set up at Ashbridges Bay and they were being used. We had wanted to walk along the length of the Leslie spit, however, it turns out it is only open to the public after 5pm and on weekends. We were explaining to the boys that the Spit used to be a land bridge to the centre islands. Time eroded the 'bridge'. There was also terrible garbage and pollution. It is now a protected site for both wildlife and vegetation.

We walked through Kew Beach Park and then along Queen street. We ate lunch at 'Il Fornello', a pizza restaurant. It was very tasty! I had a pizza topped with prosciutto, artichokes, black olives and red about salt intake! I am now retaining about 4 pounds of water!I have only eaten there once and I had a mushroom pizza but it was too gourmet for me, 5 different types of mushrooms and there was some type that I did not like. I didn't eat it, my husband ended up having it. His was tastier then mine, but I can't remember what was on his. I am not a huge pizza lover and very rarely would ever order pizza at a resturant. But both of your pizza's sound good to me.

We drove home after lunch and had a dip in the pool. My sister and family came over for a dip and then we went to the 'Harry Potter' movie. Did you enjoy the movie? Yes we did although they did leave out huge chunks of the book! Tonight we are going for german food at, 'The Musket'. A very good german, bavarian restaurant in Etobicoke. You are making me very hungry. Is this the same german restaurant we went to a few years ago? Same one. I will have the Jaeger Schnitzel, with spaetzle and rotkohl. I have the samething everytime we go!

Have a good weekend all and stay tuned for the next posting of 'bench talk'...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have been talking about the skunk living under my porch for a while now. Well he was gone and is now back again and he is once again being very persistent. As you can see the skunk has dug up some of the path way and a lot of the soil and is digging a trench to try and get back into its favourite home in the neighbourhood. It has dug deep enough to expose electrical material and every morning when we wake up we are not sure what we will find.



Well if you are following our story then you know that Carolin is hoping to go away for a few days in the future and has asked to leave her girls with us. She had said on one of our Thursday meeting that she will be doing me many favours until that day comes. Well I jokingly commanded her to make me a banana cream pie and in true Carolin fashion, she called me over a few days later and asked me to come by and pick something up. Well it was a freshly made banana cream pie. I am not much of a baker but I love to eat anything sweet and well made. Well this pie was amazing. We had no trouble devouring it in one day. Thanks so much to Caolin for the sharing of her wonderful dessert. She is the master sweet maker and I wish that I could do as good a job as she does.


Sometimes life gives us such sweet smelling roses which are right in front of us but we don't take the time to see them or smell them or allow ourselves to enjoy them. We can very easily tend to only focus on the unending lemons rather than the sweet roses. Yet if the roses disappeared, we would have absolutely nothing left. My roses come in the form of great kids and a loving husband. Amongst those sweet smelling flowers are great family and friends.

We can look at the lemons and wonder how you can make lemonade or you can embrace the sweet smelling roses in your life and be thankful for their existence.

Take time to smell the roses.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bench Talk - Technology & Teenagers

Will this generation of teenagers be able to communicate like we can?

Will they be able to communicate face to face or only with aid of a device?

(Carolin) I like the technology cause I can text people and I don't have to speak to them! I can get rid of the the useless chit chat and just get to the point.

I found these short cuts for texting on the Internet and thought it might help when you are trying to decipher what your teen is saying to you.

ct (Can’t talk)cyrma (Call your mother)cyrpa (Call your father)deti (Don’t even think it!)eol (End of lecture)g1 (Good one)gtgb (Got to go. Bye!)ilu (I love you)lvu (I love you)18r (Later)mu (miss you)ruok (Are you okay?)ptmm (please tell me more)sry (sorry)xoxo (Hugs and kisses)yw (You’re welcome). What about pos(parent over shoulder), and is lol-laugh out loud or lots of laughs or lots of love??? This is only confusing me even more. What's so hard about a good old fashion phone call?

I like the technology on the most part as long as it is used wisely. It drives me crazy when the teenager does not reply to my text or phone call. Attention all teens the excuse of "I didn't get it or I didn't hear it" is totally bogus cause we all know you can hear your phone vibrate when you have left it on the kitchen counter and you are up in the shower with the music cranked! I was with a teenager just yesterday and her phone text went off and she ran for the phone. Her friend who was over with her asked her why she did not text back and implied that it must be her mother texting her.

(Sunshine) I know that we have to progress but sometimes I feel as though all of this texting is driving me crazy. That seems to be how the teens communicate and yes it's fast but, I am not looking forward to texting my daughter while in school next year (high school) probably because I am not so good with the texting. I would much rather talk face to face or at least hear the persons voice.

I too am not very good at the texting, by the time I can get one sentence typed the teenager has sent me four text asking the same question and is starting to get mad at me.

(Cathy)I remember being a teen, (not so long ago :) ), and spending so much time on the telephone. Now, with my teenagers, when I ask them what's happening with their friends, they say they have to go on 'msn' or they need to 'text' them to find out! The other day our Internet was down. I told the kids they could have a friend over. They said to me that they had no way to ask them. I advised them that I had their friend's phone numbers so they could call them. That just was not an option. They refused! Is it that they can only communicate comfortably now by typing? Are they not able to 'speak' verbally to each other? My teenager gets her phone taken away from her all the time because she does not always complete her chores. When this happens her social life is non existent and she will also say I have no way of reaching them because there Numbers are on my phone. The phone book with accessible numbers is just not an option. Following along the same path is my husband who if he does not have his black Berry on his person has to ask me for his parents phone number because he doesn't know it.

I remember not to long ago having the teenager and three of her girlfriends in the car. As I was driving them to the mall you could hear a pin drop, there was no conversation. But the four girls were having a long conversation with each other texting through their phones! Yes, they text and they giggle and they text and they giggle. Well at least it's nice to see them being happy.

The Internet is a great things you can find out information instantly, and to communicate with family and friends through out the world. But with every good thing there is the element of evil. Though I can talk to my sister in Alberta, I can in theory talk to a total stranger, who does not have my best interest at heart. As frustrating as it can be, we can talk to our children till we are blue in the face about talking to strangers on the Internet but they are going to do it anyways. The advice I have been given is to stalk your child's computer regularly. Some might find that an invasion of privacy but I say "Too Bad". I regularly check the history on the computers, the recycling, the picture files, and I will dig deep into the computer files looking for any hidden files. If I find stuff I don't like we talk about it and yes she is mad but again, too bad. I will also at time just delete stuff I find questionable. What I do notice though is if you give your email address to business (like a retail store) within a day or two I start getting unsolicited emails from casinos, dating, business venture, and some very objectionable sources. The access to our children from the outside evil part of the world is very scary. I try not to think about it so much but I know that I need to monitor and be aware of what they are spending their time on.

I am also starting to become more comfortable with the Internet the more I use it. I even find myself giving out more info, ie registering on sites to get information knowing full well that the site now has access to my info, too! I keep justifying it my saying to myself there is nothing on this computer that personal. Also, I feel that those who are up to no good can get the info anyways, no matter what you do. I have visited sites for example I was looking up a berry juice that helps to detoxify and I never left any information on this site but on my e-mail the next day there was e-mails from various sites trying to sell me this very product. That was pretty creepy.

This is probably a good segue for my cousin Chris about now! He is involved with a company called 'Pre-paid Legal' and one aspect is Internet fraud and security. He would have to tell you more about it. See his blog listed on our main page, '.

Phone texting has it's place. As much as I bug the kids about all the texting they do, this weekend my husband was in the States at the Nascar race in Michigan. He and I stayed in touch by texting, a lot! I found it both fun and convienent. (don't tell the kids!!!)

Technology is advancing so quickly these days, who knows what we will have to contend with in the not so distant future........."Scotty, two to beam up...."
My niece was over the other day and she was commenting on how much things had advanced from when her mom and I were kids and she was saying that if we had come so far, what will it be like when she has kids. I can't even imagine.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday around the pool

Hello everyone, how are you all doing? We are here at Cathy's house for a BBQ and a dip in the pool. Unfortunately, all of us girls are not able to go into the pool because of our monthly delivery. Oh, my gosh, monthly delivery!!!! I think she means PERIOD. It is too obvious that we spend way to much time together. Was that info really necessary??? It's been a slow but warm week and we have had some great weather and outdoors has been beckoning us. We are having a good time but we were hoping to be all together but somehow that didn't work out. Louise had some major car trouble and once again we miss her.

We look forward to reading your comments and we enjoy the interacting.

We have had some wonderful dinner, Cathy has treated us very well. The teenagers are actually interacting and I was bugging Cathy about taking a picture because she always complains that they do not speak to each other, well they are talking today. They have now gone in the house and are downstairs listening to music. We are talking about playing the game Risk and one of the boys has brought it upstairs but we can't play it outside because the game is too old. I am not exactly sure what that means. The game has been in the family for a long time and still has all of the original pieces, plus Risk has many small pieces which could get dropped and blown away in the winds!!! When Cathy says old and in the family a long time she means it! We all remember the time we tried to play Monopoly at Cathy's house. Sunshine was setting up the game and as she was taking the elastic off the cards, the elastics broke because they were so old. At this moment Cathy walked in and started to tell us how old the game was and that even the elastics where original. Oops! So, to this date we bug Cathy about how old all of her stuff is!
I need to explain how well Cathy takes care of all of her things. I recall living next to her and someone asked to borrow her wheel barrow which she had received as a gift for her birthday. The person needed to move some gravel from the front yard to the back yard and Cathy said sure but please make sure that you don't put any scratches in it because it is brand new and very special to her. Needless to say, I think that they borrowed a different wheel barrow because not putting a scratch in the wheel barrow when you are using a shovel was just too much pressure. So, although we bug her about how pristine her things are, secretly, I admire her for taking such care with everything because she treats them all like treasures The world would be a better place if we were all so respectful of everything.

It has been a long day for me, I was up early and went to the farmers market, then I drove the teenager back to camp for a week of youth camp. The traffic was very busy and it took us three hours instead of the normal 2 hours to get there. After spending half an hour at camp saying hello to all, I then turned around and drove home. Which was another three hours because of the heavy traffic on the way home. I was one hour late for Cathy's BBQ, but I made it, better late then never. I was one hour late too, sorry Cathy. It has been a beautiful, and now relaxing afternoon. The kids have been in and out of the water and having fun. We have been discussing how much we miss Louise and wish she would have come or let one of us pick her up .

So, I have all next week to myself, what to do, what to do. At this moment all I have planned is a pedicure on Tuesday and I want to get my hair done at some point. I am going to call Louise on Sunday and offer her a ride to work for Monday if she needs it. Well Caroline for this week I command you to bring me a basket of Cherry Tomatoes from your beautiful garden. (just joking, she said that she owes me for the future watching of her children at the end of September but she really has not even booked the trip yet). Trust me, as soon as the tomatoes are red, everybody will get some.

So, here's a question. When is it OK to say no? When something is asked of you and you have no real reason, ( except selfish ones ), is it OK morally to say no or should you always say yes, even if it is an inconvenience.

I am OK most of the time with saying no, but I do understand that to say no to some people it can be very difficult because I don't want to hurt any ones feelings. One thought though is if a person needs help then they have to ask, as I can't read their mind and as selfish as this is, I do not have other's needs on my mind very often.

Alright, so what if the person doesn't ask. Do you just go barge in and help. Isn't that being a little arrogant. What if you have offered many times and are not taken up on your offer. Do you stop offering and wait or keep being a pest and offering hoping to be taken up on your offer?

Its very difficult sometimes because we want to be good people and you want to do your best in life. What does that really mean? For me, it just means that I need to do what feels right in my heart. Sometimes what feels right in my heart may be very different from what the other person is expecting from me and hopefully my history as a friend and the person that they know will speak for itself. There are many times when I may ask for something but the answer is not always yes and that's OK. I feel that yes is a bonus and if it happens then that's great but if its no then hey, maybe next time. It's not a judgement in character. My friends are who they are and I love them for the people that they are. Its very simple for me but I am bothered when I know that I have disappointed someone. We are all human and we will disappoint. Maybe, just maybe our expectations are sometimes just too much. As long as we love and respect each other, that is enough for me. Holy pressure, how do I make my tomatoes ripe within a few days! Does anyone have any red paint?

Carolin and Sunshine are now speaking about branding. Who should brand who? How long and how large. I don't think this is a topic we should be discussing, but I'm too 'safe'. This topic has been raised because of situations between Carolin's teenager and her boyfriend. When we speak of branding what we mean is hickeys. I have made it very clear how I feel about hickeys but I will save this for another blog.

It has been a lovely day today, the kid's and Carolin's husband are still playing Risk. Everyone has had strawberry/rhubarb pie and Neapolitan ice cream. It's still warm out. I'm missing my husband who is with family in Michigan for the Nascar race. I'm glad for him as he has wanted to go to one for so long. He is having a blast! We all miss him very much too.

The CNE or the EX as we call it is starting soon. To me this is a depressing time as it means summer is coming to an end and the kids go back to school. I like having my kids home. I miss them when they are at school. I will miss the kids very much as summer has gone by very quickly and the kids are going to drag me to the CNE really soon. Don't tell the others but the little one and I bought her 'back to school' backpack, lunch bag and most of her school supplies. She is so excited about having to buy school supplies for the first time. Everyday she is pulling her new stuff out and looking at it and organizing her pencil case and backpack. It is very cute to watch but also a little frustrating as I think nothing will be new by the time school starts. And I love the CNE but am not too sure if we will make it this year or not.

Have a fantastic weekend and enjoy the rest of your summer!