Monday, March 29, 2010

New Desk Top Picture, & Earth Hour Rocked

Hope you like my new desk top picture for this week. It was shot out on our front walkway. We had had a light dusting of snow over the weekend but these crocus' didn't care. They pushed their way through to spread their joy. Hopefully March will go out the the proverbial lamb in the next few days and that this is the last of winter.

Spring flowers in the front garden.

Earth Hour was very quiet around here. We just had some candles for light as Hubby and I played cribbage. I won three games out of three and luckily for him it was then time to turn on the lights and watch T.V. I guess he wasn't up to anymore that night anyway, (can't imagine why) what with me singing "We Are The Champions" in the background. I don't usually win so I guess I went a bit overboard with the singing and all but I was still in birthday mode so maybe that's how I got away with it. It was a great day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!

Well, it was my birthday this week just past, so now the Witch is now a year older. Actually it was my little brother’s birthday as well. We were born on the same date but five years apart. Maybe my parents planned it that way to save on the cost of cake and ice cream. Who knows, but it is kind of neat. I always know that there is at least one person in the world who will never forget my birthday!

I had a great day. Lots of presents and good food. Hubby made me a cake from scratch. I was reading The Pioneer Woman’s site last year and I came across a really intriguing recipe for Coffee Cake. I printed it out and the recipe has been stuck to the front of our fridge ever since. Hubby overheard me mention to the girls on Games Night that I would like to have it for my birthday cake and what do you know? He actually baked it for me. It is the first cake he has ever made from scratch (won’t be his last now I know he can) and it turned out great. It is delicious and worth every sinful bite. It looked good, too. I think he did a great job on the icing. He’s going have to work on his self-confidence, though. On his way home from work that day he bought a Black Forest cake just in case the Coffee Cake failed. Two birthday cakes, what’s a girl going to do?

The Pioneer Woman's Coffee Cake

My birthday cake, uncovered

These candles were seriously weird!

It tastes even better than it looks!

And there were presents afterwards. I received gifts galore. I got books (including Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s latest), a magazine subscription (Our Canada), gift certificates to the Village, some chocolates and some cash from the folks back home. There is even one more to open tonight (almost like Granny New Year). Hubby tucked it away after we got back from the far-away city last weekend and only remembered it today. The Witch was spoiled and loved it.

One of the books is a children’s story and it is really well done. I happened to notice a copy of “The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes” in the library and it really fascinated me. It was written in 1939 and has a very strong female lead. The mother bunny is a single parent who perseveres in a male dominated world while still raising her family to be independent and hard working. I guess there is no “glass ceiling” for Easter Bunnies. Even if you don’t read too much into it, it is still a great children’s story.

My new books.

That’s it for now but don’t forget that “Earth Hour” happens tonight at 8:30 PM locally. Hopefully, it’s not that time right now while you’re reading!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Get-Away

The Witch, her Hubby and her broom (okay, it was Big Red) went flying off Witch's Island this weekend for some shopping and some fun in the far-off city and we had a great time! Hubby suggested that we should go away on Friday afternoon and spend the night rather than just dashing over for the day on Saturday. He left it up to me to decide but it didn’t take much convincing to get the Witch to fly!

While he was still at work I checked the ‘net for places to stay, found one I liked and booked a room. Hubby got home nice and early and before he could even get the truck in the garage I came out the door and said "Leave ‘er out there. We’re going!" He was a little shocked but away he went to get ready. I had everything I needed packed and waiting at the door.

The afternoon was beautiful, weather-wise and we had a quick and comfy cruise to the motel where we signed in and dumped our bags. Then it was off to Costco! My sweet little brother gave us a membership voucher and gift cards for Christmas knowing that we are too cheap to buy into a membership ourselves. He is our Costco evangelist and routinely informs us of the amazing deals he finds there. We have been looking forward since December to becoming converts.

In the past we have snuck into the store just to see what the excitement was all about but we knew that we weren’t going to be able to buy anything. Not this time, though. We got our membership cards (and we even got a refund of $5.00 because of where we live) and then headed off into the store to inspect the goods. I loved it!

Oh yeah, we purchased quite a few things. I scored big on some new heavy duty baking sheets. They weigh a ton so these suckers aren't going to twist in the oven. The old ones will go in to our flea market box with the old pots. Hubby got some new windshield wiper blades. We saw lots of interesting grocery items, too but we left them for the next day. So, were there lots of bargains to be had? Well, not as many as I expected but there was a great variety of brands and products that we just don’t see on the Witch’s Island.

After shopping we went back to the motel and parked the truck and then it was off to our favourite Chinese restaurant where we had a great meal and a nice bottle of wine. The evening was so warm that we were able to walk a mile to a pool hall to play a few games. I love billiards but Hubby was hot and I was no match for his superior playing that night.

The next morning we were up early and off to the Farmer’s Market. Every other time we have been to this one it has been later in the morning and it is so crowded that it is hard to get up and down the aisles. This time there were very few customers and we just breezed through! We bought three loaves of bread and a big bag of Honey Crisp apples.

After that we toured around some furniture stores looking for new tables for the TV room but we didn’t find anything we liked. We went to a few other stores including a big building supply chain where Hubby got to look at the power tools (gotta keep your man happy) but the only thing we bought was a planter for the kitchen windowsill and some new plants. Then, we went shopping again at Costco! This time I actually bought quite a bit of food, mostly baking supplies (nuts, vanilla, and SunMaid raisins), oranges and a big bottle of whole cashews. Next we cruised through the mall and bought nothing though Danier Leather had a fitted red jacket that I would have died for but I'm glad I managed to pry myself away. Okay, Hubby, you can stop slapping my fingers now! The thrift stores were next. I bought jeans, one top, a brand new white ball cap, and a flower pot.

By this time it was getting late in the day and we were getting hungry so it was back to Lam’s for dinner (we ordered extra to take home, too) and then we loaded up the broom to fly back home. It was a great little unplanned get-away and I'm still loving it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Paddy's Day

Here's my desktop for this week. Cute little guys, aren't they?

Sure hope your day was green!

St. Paddy's Day

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Games Night Was A Great Success

Saturday night was Games Night here at the Witch's Island and, by all apppearances, it was a roaring success. Our guests arrived around 4:30 which gave us all a chance to chat a bit and have a drink (okay, maybe more than one) before sitting down for dinner. We had some Dr. Dimento's chili over rotini pasta, a nice fresh garden salad and some hot biscuits right out of the oven. Mmmm... very tasty! For dessert we had the butter tarts that you can see in the picture below. Then it was on to the games!

Hubby and I spent some time this week trying out some of the older games just so that we would know how to play them. When was the last time you played "Clue"? I don't remember it being so complicated. Maybe it would have been better when everyone was playing but during our trial run we were playing two hands each and we never did solve the mystery. "Clue" and "Rook" were the only games that we didn't actually play last night. "Uno" was the big hit but the guys had a lot of fun playing crokinole and cribbage. The girls and I had a laugh answering a questionaire I found on Carolee's blog "Musings from Behind the Easel". I'll add my answers at the end of this post.

I think we all had a fun night. The last people left somewhere close to two a.m. so today we're having a very quiet afternoon. Thankfully, house-cleaning was all done yesterday so now we can just sit back with the blinds down and a cool, damp cloth over our eyes!

What Would You Be?

(originally from Lori Anderson's "Pretty Things" blog)

If I were a month I’d be October
If I were a day I’d be Friday
If I were a time of day I’d be midnight
If I were a planet I’d be Saturn

If I were a sea animal I’d be a squid
If I were a direction I’d be forward
If I were a piece of furniture I’d be covered in soft leather
If I were a liquid I’d be French wine

If I were a gem stone I’d be sapphire
If I were a tree I’d be as sugar bush maple

If I were a tool I’d be a hammer
If I were a flower I’d be a lily of the valley

If I were an element of weather I’d be the wind
If I were a musical instrument I’d be a harp
If I were a color I'd be orange

If I were an emotion I’d be joyful

If I were a fruit I’d be a honey crisp apple
If I were a sound I’d be thunder
If I were an element I'd be fire

If I were a car I’d be a Ferrari

If I were a food I’d be cheeseburger
If I were a place I’d be Sable Island
If I were a material I'd be the softest chamois

If I were a taste I’d be sweet

If I were a scent I’d be fruity

If I were a body part I’d be eyes
If I were a facial expression I'd be a smile
If I were a song I’d be uplifting.

If I were a bird I'd be an owl

If I were a gift I'd be a book
If I were a street I'd be a dead end

If I were a city I'd be Quebec
If I were a door I'd be open

If I were a pair of shoes I’d be Prada (just cause I’ll never be able to afford them!)

And what would you be?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Shiny New Pots!

Here's the pots in their original box, just as advertised.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about money issues but this week I’m going to tell you how we saved ourselves $600!

You may remember awhile back that I mentioned receiving an inheritance from a long lost relative. At that time we decided that we would buy a piece of original artwork from the money so that we would be able to remember receiving this gift for many years. Well, it turns out that there were more assets in Eric’s estate that needed to be distributed and so; we will soon receive another small amount of money. The question was how to use this in such a way that we would think about him and what he had done for us.

We’ve had the same crappy old set of cooking pots for over 30 years. It’s been this mismatched amalgamation of an old set from Sears and 2nd’s from factory outlets in the States that my Dad bought for us. We also had a few extra pieces we picked up here and there. The lids of some of the pots had started to crack off years ago. Hubby has had to reattach them using various methods including hot melt glue (not advisable) and epoxy. It was embarrassing for us to let anyone see them and we have wanted to replace them for a long time. What a perfect way to use Eric’s money!

So I started to research different cookware manufacturers. I was looking for both high quality and Canadian manufacturing. There were not too many manufacturers that fit this set of requirements but Paderno soon rose to the top of our list and we began to look for stores to buy them from.

This is the old pots, a mismatched mix, at best.

Last weekend we spent a whole day crawling every kitchen supply store on the Witch’s Island looking at pot sets. Have you any idea just how few pots available in our stores are actually made in Canada? Not many, is the short answer. Paderno sets were particularly hard to come by and we ended our shopping experience by deciding to do some more research.

While on the internet I decided, just for fun, to look at some used goods sites and to my great surprise, I found someone who was selling a set of Paderno pots for $500! The set she was selling is listed on Paderno’s website for a staggering $899! On top of that they had apparently never been used and were still in their original box. What kind of crazy person spends this money on pots and doesn't use them? Apparently, someone who receives them as a gift and who already owns a set.

This is a much bigger set than we had even considered but it had everything we needed and more. Here’s the description from the Paderno website:
“Paderno's largest and most complete set of "Pots for Eternity" are made in Prince Edward Island and feature a heat conductive bottom pad for superior cooking performance, durable welded handles and a flared, no-drip lip. Paderno's precise heat control, durability, ease of use and elegant design make it ideal for both home and restaurant use. Backed by our exceptional 25 year warranty. Set includes: 1.5L, 2L & 3L Saucepans, 3L Steamer, 6.5L Dutch Oven, 24cm Frying Pan, 1.5L Double Boiler, 4L Casserole, 6 covers List Price: $899”

I decided that I would try and get even more of a bargain. So, I called and told the woman that I was looking for a Paderno set but I only had a $300 budget and would she consider this amount? I was amazed that she said “yes”. I even said it again that I could only spend $300, okay? She agreed again and the next day we traveled all the way to the Big City to see the pots. They were exactly as advertised, still in the box, still wrapped in plastic and still with their original price tags in place! Wow, we grabbed them and ran, thinking that there had to be a catch somewhere. We even had to stop in a Timmy’s parking lot to count all 14 pieces just to make sure. They were all there; my faith in humanity is restored! All we have to do now is sell off the old stuff at a yard sale this summer. The “Urge to Purge” will be the theme! Thank you, Eric.

Ah, the new Paderno pots freshly released from their packaging.

The Paderno pots all put away in their new home.

After all the excitement of bargain pots, we went to the Village to look for some bargain clothing. I found some great stuff there, too. I got two pairs of jeans, a game for next weekend’s “Game Night” and a flower vase to replace the one Hubby broke last year while “dusting”. I bought this all with the last of my Christmas gift certificates meaning no money out of pocket. The vase is “Hoosier” glass and it weighs a ton so it’s not going to tip over, easily. I can hardly wait to put some flowers in it. Hubby, are you paying attention?

Lots of great stuff, bought cheap.

Then it was on to grocery shopping. Why, oh why, do we go grocery shopping at the busiest grocery store on Witch’s Island at the busiest time of the week? We had to line up just to get down each aisle. Then we had to wait for almost twenty minutes at the checkout line. Hubby was set to blow and swears never to go back to this store again, we’ll see.

This week's groceries. Worth $100?

We did get some good buys, though. We spent $100.02 on all the stuff you can see in the pictures but $40 of that was for the chicken which we split into 8 two breast packs. That’s enough for eight different meals for us so it was a real bargain.

All in all, it was a very successful shopping day.