10 Random Tips To Make Your Life Easier

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Don’t you wish that there was a book or manual you could buy that would tell you exactly what you needed to do for just about anything?  Me too…. but if there was, it would be the size of Lake Erie and not all practical as a coffee table book.

Over the years I have come upon or discovered tips that make my life easier.  Most come from happy accidents or the “what happens if I do this…?” scenario or passed down from older relatives who have gone down the wrong path to discover new ideas.   There may not be many of them, but they will certainly make your life easier  knowing how to tackle these particular problems.

Things copy1.     Windex removes tree sap…from fingers, cars, Christmas ornaments, etc. and doesn’t damage paint finish, but don’t tell the Windex people this or they will charge more for it.  This was a happy accident after cleaning the front windshield of my car last summer and discovering that it removed the sap with little effort.

2.    Use a dry paint brush to clean your computer keyboard…it gets into all the nooks and crannies of the keys and brushes out dirt, dust and toast crumbs.  Just hold the keyboard upside down and brush away.  Hubby just did this the other day with amazing results.

3.    Balsamic Vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap attracts and kills fruit flies.  Anyone living near a fruit orchard most likely knows this little tidbit.  Fill a shot glass half full of balsamic vinegar and place 2-3 drops of liquid dish soap into it.  Stir to mix in and leave out on the counter or window sill.  Fruit flies are attracted to the Balsamic as it smells like fermenting grapes, but the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar and the fruit flies can not land on top. They fall in and drown.  I have lost count in the summer on the ones I dump down the drain.  See an earlier post here.

4.    Squeaky knitting needles…for those that knit, especially when the weather or room you are in is really warm, sometimes your yarn will *squeak* and be really tight on the needles.  Simply slide the needles through your hair a few times and continue on… Voila! no more squeaky yarn.

5.    Grow Marigolds around the perimeter of your garden to ward off insect pests and rabbits.  Both of which do not like the smell of them.

6.    Place mothballs in areas of known mice traffic…mice do not like the smell of mothballs.  We keep mothballs in our boat during winter storage and have never had mice in it since after having 3 life jackets shredded one winter.  Note ~  If you are over run with mice, use a mousetrap baited with a dab of peanut butter, gets them every time.

7.    Non-bleach laundry whitener ~ Say goodbye to toxic ammonia bleach by combining 8 cups water, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 cup lemon juice; mix well (I store mine in an empty 2 liter pop bottle). Use a 1/2 cup per load.  More laundry/cleaning tips can be found here.

8.    Last minute lint roller ~ Wrap masking tape sticky side out around your hand and pat down on the areas of your clothes to remove fluff n’ stuff.

9.    Wrap paint rollers and brushes with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while waiting for paint to dry before applying another coat.  The paint will not dry out and ruin the roller or brush.  Just remove from the freezer and thaw for about 30 minutes before applying the next coat of paint.

10.    Coffee filters make great liners for plant pots ~ Place a coffee filter in the bottom of a plant pot  before filling with dirt.  The filter will keep dirt from falling out the drain hole in the bottom.

Feel free to add any of your own tips in the comment section as someone, somewhere, will undoubtedly be thankful for it.

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12 Days Of A Northern Homestead Christmas

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This will be the last post of 2013.

With Christmas just a handful of days away, I have to get into uninterrupted overdrive to get everything accomplished.

Meanwhile, I have made a video for you all to enjoy in my virtual absence
(make sure you turn your speakers on).

Merry Christmas to Everyone!  Enjoy the Holidays with your Family and I will see you on or around January 2, 2014!

Oh… Happy New Year too!

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I am almost done….

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With the Christmas chaos that is.  This time of year requires strength, stamina and fortitude.  Pretty much equal to running a marathon.  Marathons have an official distance of 42.195 kms (26 miles and 385 yards, bizarrely, neither number is rounded), I bet that is how much mileage people put on their feet doing their Christmas shopping.  People train for years to run a marathon.  Some do it only once, but others do it religiously every year, sometimes running several in one year.

Can you imagine going through all the hoopla and hullabaloo of Christmas multiple times in a year?  Call me a Grinch, but I would rather poke my eyes out than go through this more than once a year.

christmas chaosThe To-Do lists seem never-ending.  Baking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, decorating, smiling, planning, partying, hosting, visiting, etc.

It’s enough to turn the most diehard Christmas fan into a Scrooge.

We start off the Holiday season grinning stupidly with visions of sugarplum perfection dancing in our heads.  By the end of the Holidays, we are bloated with food, sugar and booze, eyes puffy and ringed from lack of sleep trying to figure out a way of explaining to your boss the need to wear stretchy pajama pants to work come January 2nd.  All in the name of the Christmas Season.

There is still lots to be done in my household, mainly food related (cookie baking day is today with my daughter, which is one of the days I cherish the most this time of the year), putting a tree up and preparing for our annual Christmas Eve Open House dinner and Christmas morning brunch.  But I am feeling less harried now that the shopping is out of the way.  This is what drives me around the bend the most.  The clogged roads on the way to the mall, the clogged parking lots at the malls, the clogged stores IN the malls.  The moody shoppers pushing and shoving to get that last prized hugging Elmo.

I will now spend the next 2 weeks locked in the kitchen, which is a fate I much prefer over being banished to an over-crowded mall any day.

My advice to all of you?  If you can move to a teeny, tiny island for the month of December thus escaping the pressures of the Holidays - DO IT!

If not….well, your stuck like the rest of us….may as well grab a beer and drown out the jingle bells.

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Top 10 Hints That Winter Has Arrived…

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In case you don’t know how to read a calendar (or simply do not have one), I will run down the top 10 hints to let you know that Winter has arrived.  If you come up with at least 5 of these, chances are Winter is in your neck of the woods.


One ~ The butter that sits on the counter is rock solid.

Two ~ You  have to bribe the dog to go outside to do his business.

Three ~ The mice are cozying up to the fireplace in the family room,
mug of hot cocoa in hand.

Four ~ Suddenly wearing flip flops outside turns your toes blue.

Five ~ The thermostat set at 67F for Summer, now feels awfully chilly for Winter.

Six ~ The salad spinner goes away and the crockpot comes out.

Seven ~ Bathing suits, shorts, tees and tank tops are popping up in the retail stores just in time for Winter sun/fun vacations.

Eight ~ You swap garden shovels for snow shovels.

Nine ~ You go from shaving your legs once a day to once a week.

Ten ~ Your Travel Agents tel # is now on speed dial for said vacation mentioned above.

I already have my vacation to sunny Mexico booked for Winter…how about you?

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It’s Here! It’s Here!

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My AirMiles present has finally arrived!  I am SO excited!  Did I tell you I was excited? maybe you didn’t hear me…MY AIRMILES PRESENT ARRIVED! (that is yelling on the computer screen in case you didn’t know how it’s done).

Back to my present though.  Actually, so far this week presents have been delivered to the house 2 out of 3 days, and a third present I had to go out for.  We shall start with that one, kinda boring, but it was a necessity and not at all exciting…it was a new tire for my car (altogether now….YIPPEE!).  A week or so ago, I developed a couple of slow leakers in two of my tires, which is a real pita when you have to stop at the station every couple days to top them up.  Since they were purchased at a big box bulk store, they had an extended road side warranty on them.  So off I went last week to get them fixed.  One was easy, a bead leak which they resealed, the other was a puncture, and not just a regular puncture, but one through the side wall which meant I had to buy a new one.  B-U-M-M-E-R.  Especially when I drive an Impala SS (the SS means SuperSporty Ridiculously Expensive Tires ~ or SSRET for short).  Thankfully I only had to pay about the third of the price of a new one with the warranty, but I had to wait for it to be ordered.  So today (yesterday) I headed over to get the tire replaced as it had finally come in.  I wisely took my knitting along to pass the time as they had to squeeze me into their schedule.

2 hours later I was back home with a new tire and to my surprise, present # 3 had been delivered while I was gone.  Meanwhile, present # 1 had come in the mail yesterday (Monday), THAT one is just as special as present # 3 as it consisted of 2 books that will teach me how to use Bob ~ the loom.  I am almost set to actually sit down and figure out this ancient technological fabric making device.

But I know you are getting real antsy to see what my airmiles present is…

it is…


I traded in my hard-earned airmiles (5,400 in all) for a brand spanking new Sony SLT-A58K Digital Camera with an 18-55 mm detachable zoom lens.  Even though there is nothing wrong with my old camera (a Sony Cybershot, one that has done me quite well over the years), it was time to bump up the technology and get a current one.


Can’t get much better than that in my book.  So here is my new camera AND my new weaving books for Bob (I figured you didn’t need to see a picture of my new tire…as I said…kinda boring, unless your last name is Michelin or Goodyear)…

PresentsI can’t wait to get started with both new toys.  Now if you’ll excuse me… I have to toss a coin to see which one I get to play with first…

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Road Trip!

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I am off to Cobourg, Ontario this morning.  From Burlington, that is about an hour and forty-five minutes barring any Toronto traffic nonsense.   Why the road trip you ask?  Didn’t you just come back from one?  Why yes I did, but, this is a one day road trip to pick up a very unusual object of which I will share with you all tomorrow (Wednesday).  I have to try and contain my excitement though…which isn’t at all easy…

Here is a clue as to what it is though, can you guess what it is?

Warp.  Beam.  Raddle.

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Can You Spot It?

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While on our trip to the States last week for the much enjoyed NASCAR race, we also took some time to get some shopping done.  Shopping in the States is fun – mainly for 2 reasons…1. stuff is cheaper and 2. there are many different things available there that are not available back in Canada.

I don’t know anyone that crosses the border only to sight see and NOT shop, I would suggest to those folks that do not want to shop that they should have their heads examined by a relative of Sigmund Freud.

Anyway, we wandered into a Bass Pro Shops (we have them here in Canada, but selection is sorely lacking from the U.S. stores) and spotted this table lamp.

Total impulse buy.  We both fell in love with it as soon as we laid eyes on it.  So we bought it and brought it back to the Homestead where we tried it out in several different places until we sort of liked where it was (it is still a work-in-progress).

Here it is all lit up in the evening…

Lamp_oneIsn’t it the funkiest thing ever?  Complete with faux fishing lure hanging from the top of the shade.

The next day, while we were moving it around our teeny living room, we noticed something…. let’s see how long it takes you, the general public to spot the not-so-seemingly-obvious defect.  Share this post with your friends and family to see how observant you all are.  This is your opportunity to show up your know-it-all Uncle Fred….

Here is a daytime shot for a better look:

Lamp_two Good Luck!

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Greeting Cards…

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In my quest to find the missing vehicle ownership the other day, I expanded my purge zone to my bedside night table.  I keep lots of stuff in there.  Stacks of photos in those paper jacket/envelopes from the good ‘ol days of print photography,  an MP3 player (apparently passé in technology), a pile of old pay stubs, new cheques, and greeting cards.

Lots of old greeting cards.

CardsMostly Anniversary and Valentine cards.  From me to hubby and hubby to me.

I don’t know why I have kept them.

So this prompted a question to be thrown out to the masses.  Are you one of those people that keep every greeting card that was ever given to you over the years?  Birthday cards, Anniversary cards, Christmas cards, Valentine cards?  If you do keep them…why do you keep them?

Today I actually tossed mine.  Purge mode has now taken a firm hold.

and yes, I am still looking for the damn vehicle ownership….

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Retro 70′s Flashback…

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I was lucky enough to have gone through the 70′s in my teen years.  Actually, lucky enough to have made it through to see the 80′s.  The era of bell bottom jeans and platform shoes, cut-off shorts and halter tops, tasteless leisure suits (shudder) and Classic Rock blaring from muscle cars parked by lake with everyone trying to look cool in aviator sunglasses.

Smokey & The Bandit, Jaws, Towering Inferno and The Godfather (to name a few) were the blockbusters of the drive-in movie theaters for the decade.  Who misses the drive-in?  Actually, there is still a few operating in my area, albeit without the speakers that hung on your window, apparently everything is broadcast over your car radio these days.

Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, KISS, April Wine, Supertramp et al ruled the airwaves and everyone flocked to the ‘Record Store’ when the latest album came out.  I was no exception.  Anytime a new record came out from one of my favourite artists, I headed off to the Mall to snag a copy.

When I got home, I would lock myself in my room and play my new acquisition until I just about wore it out.  Many of my records from ‘back in the day’ (yes, I still have them) are so full of scratches that it looks like the stylus is part jumping bean.

I know your next question, what were you playing it on?  Well, I would have loved to have played it on my parents stereo, but it was monopolized for the entire day and evening by my mother and her love affair with Elvis and everything country.  So I had to listen to my records on this…

70's RCA Record PLayer

Pretty cute eh?

This is what mine actually looked like, same colours too.  I loved the thing and have been kicking myself for eons that I got rid of it.  I am sure it would be worth a whole lot of money these days.  Ok, maybe not, but I still wish I had not thrown it out.

Out of all the albums that are still hanging out in our crawlspace, there are a couple of standouts that I feel the need to share…..

Our most obscure artist is this one…


‘Calling Occupants’ was the highlight of this album (and most played on the radio), but I loved one other track on this album titled ‘Anus From Uranus’.  It was fun because of the way we used to pronounce Uranus back then:  ‘Ur-AY-Nus’, but apparently it was changed somewhere along the way to ‘Ur-Ah-Nus’.

I hate when political correctness creeps in to spoil my fun.

Even though I am a huge Led Zeppelin nut and have every album (including the Box CD set put out in the 90′s), my most coveted album has to be this one….


and not because Peter Frampton (along with Robert Plant) epitomize the 70′s long blonde locks look…but because of this….


The Gold Vinyl Edition.  Two of them even as this was a double album.  At the time, I thought it was the coolest ever, still do today and am glad we have hung onto our albums.  Have no idea what we will do with them as our old stereo probably wouldn’t work, but you never know, they may come back in style.  Otherwise, they will stay in the crawlspace until the kids have to clear out our stuff after we kick off.

So why am I all of a sudden nostalgic? The other day I was headed to the local Farmer’s Market, and as I pulled into the parking lot, this song came on the radio.  I literally had not heard it since the late 70′s.  It was one of the records (a 45rpm) that I played and played and played until I either drove my parents nuts or ruined it.  My apologies for all of you now having this song stuck in your head for the remainder of the day…

Little Willy by The Sweet

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