Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring Projects Galore

It was another CHILLY day but the sun was blasting down so I decided to make the best of it and head outside. The snow is gone, hopefully for good this time (damn you Mother Nature!), so it was time to tackle my two small flower beds at the front of the house. Yes, I am testing the weather gods, I know! I cleaned up the back patio and it snowed...I clean up the front and perhaps we'll be blessed with hail...any bets?!

There will be several steps to the cleanup process, of course, and today I just started with picking up the dead leaves, pruning the hydrangea bush and moving some rocks around.

Darn, I should have taken some closeups while I was working as I came across some lily of the valley poking up here and there. The bleeding heart bush is up about 8", about the same as last week before it got covered in snow. Same with the daffodils - they're about 4' high - no change from last week.

My other small bed - I cleaned up the dead leaves and moved more rocks over from the other bed. This garden has killed hundreds of dollars worth of plants over the years - nothing grows well here. About 20 years ago it was dug up for some reason I can't recall and then the dirt was put back in with the clay on top. I've tried different bushes and trees with no success. Right now there are a few different types of ground cover and lots of rocks. My plan is to find a "statement" rock/boulder, call it a rock garden and be done with it.

Cleaned up with more rocks. I have a new hose to replace this sad one, you know, for watering the rocks lol!

Inside I am sick and tired, VERY SICK AND TIRED, of the mess of boots/shoes in the foyer.

Time to fill a few bins with the detritus of winter: boots, toques, scarves, gloves etc and CLEAR THE CLUTTER!!  Another view - what a mess!!

This area needs some work. We do have a coat closet but Kazi prefers to hang every coat and scarf and throw every pair of boots and shoes she's ever owned onto this coat rack/shoe rack. The two bins on top hold all of our hats, gloves and mittens. Oh, and a bike helmet. Oops...that's mine!

Here's her shoe rack tidied up. I haven't finished the coat rack yet. That involves lots of shifting around from upstairs closet to downstairs closet - I was feeling faint and had to go meet a friend for coffee!

My rack - hiking shoes, Blundstone boots, hiking boots, more Blunnies, and underneath my hiking sandals and my shoes du jour. Much tidier...
Lots more to do but it's a start. And at least I'm not tripping over things...for now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sluggy's Giveaway #3 for the Year!! Golly she's generous!!

If you would like to participate in Sluggy's giveaway then please go HERE!  There's a lot of really good stuff for you to win but I would appreciate it if you sent the Starbursts to me...just kidding...not really :)

It's a Brand New....

SEASON!!!...I think I'll call it "Sprinter" and Spring better just sprint right back here before I have a tantrum!

Poor Dougie the Dodge getting attacked by snow pellets...he did nothing to deserve this...

Aren't I glad I got those free rolls of paper towels when I bought Windex at Giant Tiger...looks like I'll be using them again...sometime...

Sprinter: spring chairs, winter weather.

Today it was even worse as it snowed more during the night. But I was off for a hike this morning and didn't get any photos.  Some has melted away but a lot remains. It's pretty chilly out there.

Today brings one week left in April's budget. I'm very happy with how and where the money went this month.  The heating bill was down!! The electricity bill...stayed the same (boo, hiss)...well, the bill would have been lower but rates are being raised AGAIN!! As Carla pointed out this week if you live in Ontario your hydro bill is obscene.

However, in spite of that I'm ahead of the game right now by $400.00. Even after tucking $350.00 into savings earlier in the month. April was the month of chairs - 3 zero gravity chairs - 2 have gone to the trailer; and today Canadian Tire had their andirondack chairs on for $16.99 (regular $23.99) so I bought 4 - they're in the back of Dougie waiting for the next trip to the trailer. Other than chairs, tealights for all of my lanterns and a new album on iTunes I kept my spending to a minimum. Oh, and I bought a book.... Oh, and a bottle of wine....oh, and another bottle of wine :)

What really helped is I only went out to dinner once and breakfast once. You can save a LOT of money by eating at home. AND I still have $109 left in my grocery budget of $276. And $87 left in my gas budget. AWESOME!! Obviously I won't have $400 left by next Thursday when April's budget is complete but I bet I have $300. Even $250 would be good. Or $200. See, I'm not picky, as long as I'm in the black I'm ecstatic!!

How's your budget going? Black or red?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Elvis the Pelvis

Saturday night I volunteered at an event benefiting the Independent Living Centre in London - a place where folks with physical disabilities can go for a number of programs - exercise, work support, financial workshops etc. It was a great evening of music and dancing and we hopefully made a profit!!

The event took place at a local legion, hence the "Lest We Forget" sign in the background - you thought it was about Elvis didn't you!!  Who could ever forget Elvis?!?

The Elvis impersonator was a lovely fellow coming into the audience and onto the dance floor to interact with guests.
Look deeply into my eyes....SWOON!

Some of the band - there was also a keyboardist and drummer, altogether an excellent group of musicians.

After an Elvis set he came back as Johnny Cash (yay!)....
...and then Roy Orbison!

For his final set he returned as "VEGAS ELVIS" to the appreciation of the audience.  I'd say he was in a bit better shape than the original Elvis...thankfully :)

I have to say that "Elvis" did a great job at reading the audience and playing songs that got folks up and dancing. The evening also included a silent auction and 50/50 draw. I can't wait to hear how much cash was raised! This was the first ever "big gala event" for the Centre so I really hope it was successful.

In other news...KAZI GOT A NEW FULL-TIME JOB!!! And I have to hand it to her - she did this all on her own. A week and a half ago there was a London Music Awards night held where she works as a bartender. She got to talking (NETWORKING) to a woman who was in the process of looking for someone to be THE FACE OF A NEW MICRO-BREWERY called TOBOGGAN in a building which will also house a restaurant and bar serving the new local craft beers. Kazi said she'd be interested and met the owners a few days later. She found out today she GOT THE JOB!!

I've included an article from the London Free Press about the new business. SO EXCITING!!

I'm so PROUD!!

MICROBREWERY: Brand name inspired by 19th-century winter pastime

New brew echoes heritage 17

By Hank Daniszewski, The London Free Press
London restaurateur Mike Smith (Free Press file photo)
London restaurateur Mike Smith (Free Press file photo)
A new beer brand — Toboggan — will soon be sliding into London.
The local beer will be produced by the microbrewery set up recently by London restaurateur Mike Smith.
The brew will be made and served at the Toboggan Brewing Co., the new name for the freshly renovated bar and grill that now houses Jim Bob Rays and is next door to Joe Kool’s, Smith’s flagship restaurant on Richmond Row.
Smith said the toboggan is a authentic Canadian icon and the name was suggested by a family member who has researched the history of tobogganing in London.
Two huge wooden toboggan ramps were constructed near Richmond Row in the 1880s.
Smith is working on perfecting several different brews that will be marketed under the Toboggan brand.
“London used to be a big tobogganing centre. The beers will have their own name, but it’s a good name for the company,” said Smith.
Smith is working on acquiring a provincial licence that will allow him to sell Toboggan beer at other local bars and restaurants.
The microbrewery has been installed in the basement of Jim Bob Ray’s, but renovations to the bar and grill upstairs are still underway.
To bolster the menu of the new establishment, Smith will move his P.Za.Pie operation into the Toboggan location.
The restaurant has been operated at Richmond and Piccadilly streets for six years. The staff and pizza ovens will be moved into Toboggan in the coming weeks, Smith said.
While Jim Bob Rays’ has been a favourite watering hole for students, Smith said he hopes the renovations, and the menu, featuring P.Za.Pie pizza and locally sourced products, will broaden the establishment’s appeal.
“I want people of all ages. I want people to bring their kids in,” he said.
Toboggan will join two other local small breweries, Forked River Brewing Company of London and Railway City Brewing Co. in St. Thomas.
Railway City recently scored a coup, getting distribution for Dead Elephant brew at 13 Beer Store outlets in London, St. Thomas, Woodstock, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Burlington and Toronto.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thames River Cleanup

Saturday was a day of volunteering involving both coyotes and Elvis.  First I spent the morning cleaning up along a  portion of the Thames River. Once a year there is a big event where members of the Thames Valley Trail Assoc. help cleanup along the river. Why oh why people have to discard such large amounts of garbage along the river banks eludes me. Just lazy I guess. And NOT nature lovers.

My helpers, Michelle and Miriam, were bold and eagle-eyed! When I spotted a broken recycling bin down in the ravine the 3 of us climbed down and hauled up all kinds of discarded treasure including a mattress, a seat from a car, tons of barbed wire, plastic bottles, glass bottles, coffee cups from Tim Hortons (TONS), windows, lots of broken glass, broken buckets etc etc etc...

Our first pile, then we went down into the ravine again and found lots more...

We found several animal carcasses, we think they were coyotes because of the long and shaggy hair and their shape was dog-like....

Apparently farmers are allowed to kill coyotes if they find them on their land...(I guess the coyotes aren't aware of where their land ends and the farmer's land begins!!

There was a total of 43 people in our location and we easily filled a large bin with our collected we recycled all that we could...

A peek inside the bin...

Men with trucks came along periodically to collect our garbage which we just piled along side of the road...

 There's a better picture of the bin.

It was a glorious day - warm and sunny.  The camaraderie was apparent and lots of laughs were had.

 Can you find me?

Some big bird's foot!! Poor thing! Maybe a coyote got a hold of him. I thought it looked a bit like Woodstock, the bird from Charlie Brown. Some macabre humour to lighten your day!

Stay tuned for an Elvis sighting!!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thursday - the Non-Existent Day

Well, not totally non-existent...but close! Thursday (yes, I'm still catching up!) began with a nice hike from Gibbons Park in London up to the University and back making various expeditions on side trails along the way. The flooding of the Thames hasn't been too severe this year so while we encountered some muddy spots none of the trails were flooded. I'm still having some pain in the backs of my legs so am trying to remember to do lots of hamstring stretches. Is there a muscle that hasn't hurt in my body the last couple of months??? (said in my best Chandler Bing voice - we've been binge-watching Friends lately!)

 It was a really mild day and I was in my shirt sleeves before too long. After the hike we went for coffee but my head was aching and I was feeling tired so I trekked on home. I caught up on (see, it's a theme, a boring theme but a theme nonetheless!) two days of newspapers and had some homemade ratatouille for lunch. I must have added too much hot sauce though as I ended up with heartburn AND a headache - not a good combination. So I stretched out on the sofa, kitten tucked cozily behind my legs, and listened to a book on my iPad while dozing off and on until 9:30pm!!

Good grief! At that point I got up and went to bed!

And that was Thursday...

On Friday there was no hike so a friend and I walked at the BMO centre which has an indoor track. I made up for my couch potato status the previous day by also going for a 2 hour bike ride (yes, another nice mild and sunny day) and then I finished raking and cleaning up the back patio.

Then I walked over to the Wine Rack and bought a bottle of chilled Reisling, bought some socks, a tank top and some undies at Giant Tiger plus took advantage of their "special" - buy a bottle of Windex and get a free package of paper towels - and walked home where I made myself a lovely white wine spritzer and enjoyed the fruits of my labour out on the patio with the kittens.

I wrapped up the day by watching the last episode of "The Slap" on Netflix which I highly recommend. I'd read the book last year and thought it was good. Don't slap a kid, please, especially someone else's!! All hell will break lose, trust me! In fact, just don't slap anyone, including animals! Have a wine spritzer instead!

**Oh yes, speaking of kids...Kazi is in Austin,Texas this weekend! A company that she sells concert tickets for sent her to Texas to a music festival - all expenses paid. All she has to do is write a review of the festival. Cool eh? That would be her dream job if she could live on nothing. In other Kazi news she now has some furniture!! Woo hoo...we're getting close to independence - I can feel it! A friend of hers who worked for Target's head office before they closed it and all the Target stores here in Canada is moving back home to go back to school and gave Kazi some of her furniture.

I'm sure it's an omen of things to come!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Catching Up

It's been a busy time here at Crabapple Landing and beyond. The last time I posted was on Tuesday - since then I've been too occupied elsewhere or recuperating from a head/stomach ache. So I'll be posting about the (recent) past playing catch up!

Wednesday was trailer day. Wow, the weather was so nice! However...the difference in temperature between London and Bayfield, where the trailer is located, is about 6 degrees. Here's why...

The ice on Lake Huron, which was especially thick this year due to our month or more of -30c temperatures, is still breaking up!

Despite that the temperature was a balmy 12c while it reached 18c in London. It was warm enough for me to be in short sleeves after raking for several hours. About 6 hours to be exact!

My yard was full of leaves...and I mean FULL! In the midst of my travail the original owners of the trailer stopped by, Ross and Linda, very nice people. They've offered to help me in any way they can as they've always been fond of their first trailer but have since purchased a year round trailer instead just down the road from me. How fortunate for me! However when they told me they regularly raked 30 bags of leaves.....!!!

This is the area at the back of the trailer - there is a nice cozy area where there is a swing - a quiet spot for a book and a glass of wine:) To the left of this picture is the shed which you can see in the next photo...

That's my fire pit and unfortunately there's a massive amount of my leaves...

Ross told me all about the was originally built as a bunkie with a large storage box on the left side which accommodated a single mattress. The shed has a couple of windows and a small porch on the front. There is also overhead storage which he showed me how to access. There's all kind of stuff up there so I'll have to explore next time I'm there.

I didn't get all the leaves bagged as I ran out of bags! But all of these in this picture are gone. I filled about 20 bags so far. Then I filled a few with the refuse left behind in the trailer. The previous owners, not to be confused with the original owners, didn't do a very good job cleaning it out. So quite a few more bags went to the dumpster with children's toys (they had 6 kids!) and crap from the cupboards and closets. Nothing I wanted to keep and use.

I took a lot of bins of stuff up to the trailer - towels, sheets, dishes etc but didn't unpack anything as I haven't cleaned inside yet. It could be another week before I get back as the mild temperatures we have been enjoying are not sticking around past tomorrow and the water isn't turned on yet at the trailer park. Tomorrow I have a 16km hike and then it's rainy and much cooler next week.  It was nice while it lasted - I went on several hikes and rode my bike twice - 2 hours at a time. My patio is all cleaned up and the kitties and I have really enjoyed being outside. The kittens spend most of their time trying to swat bugs out of the air - pretty comical!


Gee, who does this remind of you of SonyaAnn? Lily looks a little concerned about the fact that she's making a cozy nest for herself in the messy linen closet. Or perhaps she's telling me to clean it up!

Luna almost disappears into the furry blanket she's napping on...

Lily's having a snooze on my lap - I love it when she lays on her back with her paws in the air:)  She looks pretty pleased with herself.

And that's a wrap for today. I'm off to volunteer at a fundraiser - there's an Elvis impersonator and everything!! More later!