Tuesday, December 30, 2008

waiting for the dough to drop

enjoying a sociable holiday season = not a lot of time in front of the computer

I'm not complaining though, I'd rather be seeing people and laughing and having conversations than sitting in front of the computer, if I'm honest.

Over the past week or so, we've had a few more people 'round the house than we normally would. Gracie has been taking it all in stride but Sam's been doing his typically Eskie thing and barking like mad at folks. With each new visitor, the outbursts are shorter but it's a little embarrassing.

In a way, he's a little bit like a goldfish. He'll meet a guest, bark and bark, and eventually chill out. When he comes around the corner again and sees them again, it starts all over again. Fortunately, the barking jag is not long but it's still sort of funny, in a loud barking kind of way.

Mark's been back to work the past couple of days but I'm still off. I go back on Monday. It's been a great break for me and he's been able to take a few days off here and there so he's a break as well. I think I'll start to pack up Christmas tomorrow. I put our gifts away on Sunday evening but the tree and the decorations are still up for the moment. They are pretty and I love them but it's almost time and goodness knows it'll be easier clean once everything is put away!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

snow wrestling

snow wrestling
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Merry Christmas!

I hope that you've been having as good a day as we've been having 'round here.

We were up sort of around our normal time this morning. We don't get to sleep in much with the dogs around to wake us up. It was nice all the same though. After the coffee was ready, we just had a lazy morning with the dogs. We opened some presents, they played with their new toys and it was very relaxing and nice.

The afternoon was spent with my parents and brother. My mum made us a delicious Christmas lunch and we got properly spoiled rotten, which is always fun!

At the moment, we're home again and hanging out with the puppies. We have a bunch of new DVD's and some stuff in the DVR so we may just get back into our jammies and veg out on the sofa this evening. I've been thinking that we may make some festive cocktails too, after all, it is Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

totally baked

smarties cookies
Originally uploaded by Julep67
I got my baking done!

Yesterday, I started baking at 5:30 a.m. and was finished by 7 p.m. I did take a break for lunch, and a couple of small tv breaks (and doggie play breaks) and it felt great to get it all done. I usually leave it all to the end like that because then my stuff is very fresh for Christmas.

Today I need to do some housework, get the cookie trays together, wrap a few gifts and that's it. I'll be ready for Santa after that!

How's your holiday stuff going?

Monday, December 22, 2008

eye time

Today was one of the brightest days I've seen in a long time. It was just gorgeous outside, sparkly, clean, beautiful. The day was also cold but not booger freezing in your nose cold so it was tolerable if you were dressed for it.

This morning I had an appointment with my eye doctor. I see her every two years and this year, I knew I'd need new glasses. I've ordered some but because the doctor's office is closing for the holidays, I won't get them until after I'm back to work in January. I can't wait to get them. This time, I've noticed a big change in my vision, mostly for distances, and will be really happy to be able to see better!

Last night, we had call from other driver on Mark's cab. The cab had died (fortunately enough) right near the cab office. There is a garage there so it was towed in for the guys to look at this morning. Mark called them when they opened but unfortunately, the car wasn't ready until after 3 p.m. This left Mark with an unplanned day off. It worked out really well though. He was able to drive me to my appointment and when he picked me up, we did some errands.

Shopping, this close to Christmas, when you aren't in a hurry or a crush to finish up anything is really interesting. Watching folks in a panic, rushing, seeming a little stressed, I felt a little bad for them. I do realize though that for some folks, this is all part of the holiday experience. Odd thing to want to experience but then some folks are odd. We had four or five stops to make, had lunch along the way (nothing fancy, just hot dogs at Costco) and were home by early afternoon.

I did a little bit more baking this afternoon but tomorrow I'll do my "bake-a-thon." I have everything I need right here and I have no plans or any need to go anywhere tomorrow so I'll just putter away at it all day long. The dogs are getting used to me being in the kitchen. They spend their days in the kitchen so it is sort of like I'm invading their domain, I understand. They've both been really good the past few days. Right now, they are both sleep in the doorway to my office. They are snuggled up against each other and it's just the cutest thing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

on baking and Kirsty

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Just a couple of things to say on this snowy Sunday.

I finally started my proper Christmas baking this morning. It's trickier than I thought it would be, baking with two dogs in the house. I would have liked them to stay completely out of the room while I was mixing and beating stuff but I had to settle for them watching me closely from separate corners of the kitchen. Sam was particularly eagle-eyed, hoping that a stray cookie would hit the floor. It didn't happen but he was rewarded for his patience with a doggie biscuit.

As I usually do around this time of the year, I've been listening to and thinking about Kirsty MacColl. Eight years ago, on December 18, Kirsty was killed in Mexico. If you're unfamiliar with the story of Kirsty's tragic death, I'd like to urge you to click the link on her name just above. 8 years on, her family still seeks justice for her.

Given what happened to Kirsty and all of the violent attacks on innocent Canadians which have happened in Mexico in recent years, I really don't understand why people continue to vacation there. Speak with your dollars folks. Please join me in my boycott of Mexico and help Jean MacColl in her campaign.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


kitchen window
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Not that he needed much of it but I convinced Mark to stay home from work today. He was going to work a short shift but when we got up this morning the roads (well, our street) looked pretty bad. Given that we're due for another 15 to 20 cm of snow tomorrow, I would imagine that the city avoided some of the side streets because they'll just have to do them again on Sunday (you have to love city logic).

Because of the way the snow was drifting, when we were out in the back yard with the dogs ,it didn't seem like we got much but boy, the front porch was really filled in and so was the driveway. Lucky for us, our amazing neighbour Tommy cleaned it up for us. I have said it before but it bears repeating, we have the best neighbours in town. When we lived around the corner, our neighbours barely waved to each other. 'Round here (which is literally one stop sign away from our old house), folk actually help each other out. People also respect each other's privacy and maintain a certain distance but it's the type of place where you know if someone pulled a truck up into your driveway in the middle of the week and started unloading your house while you were at work, a neighbour would call the cops.

Today we were happy to stay home. Mark did some shoveling and I did laundry. Lots of laundry. I've been doing some housework and getting through my chore list so there were lots of things to wash that you don't have to do all of the time. It went really quickly for some odd reason (and I'm not complaining). We also snuck in a mini-marathon of Coronation Street episodes and a nap.

It's been a great day. Tomorrow I think I'll start my baking. I'd thought about doing it today but couldn't get into it. I'm trying a couple of new recipes this year and will definitely post photos of my attempts, if they turn out.

Friday, December 19, 2008

please may I have some salad

So far, my vacation has been really lovely.

We had our office do on Tuesday afternoon. It was just my immediate team (and a couple of ladies who left the team this year) and we had a good laugh. My supervisor ordered a tonne of greek take out and we had a huge feast. I was able to bring home an entire salad and some chicken for Mark so he didn't have to cook that night (which he was happy about because I got home from work so late).

I really love the ladies I work with. I think a couple of times, I laughed so hard that I had actual tears running down my face. It was a good time.

On Wednesday morning, I made myself a little to do list. The list had less to do with the holidays and more about decontaminating the house. We've basically done very little around the house, just the bare minimum, all fall. Between us being sick and having a new dog, and then having a third dog for 2 weeks, the place was pretty grimy. I've checked a few things off the list and am slowly getting through it. It feels pretty good and the house is starting to look a lot less disgusting than it was.

Over the past couple of days, we've managed to get our holiday shopping done. We didn't have a lot to do which was nice. Over the weekend, I need to sort it out and get it wrapped up but I think we have everything we need. If we don't, I can always do another trip to the shoppes on Monday.

As I type this, it's snowing and blowing outside. We heard about the storm yesterday so we got out last night and stocked up on groceries. I'm really glad that we did that because it's looking quite nasty outside. Mark called home a little while ago and said that the visibility was really poor and that the roads were getting bad too. He's going to pack it in early if it gets too rough out there.

It's hard to believe that I've been off for 3 days already but I do love this time of the year. I like being home, in a nice warm house. I got the tree up yesterday so the house is all festive-ized. I'll start my baking on the weekend I think. Today, I have a couple of little things to get crossed off my chore list and I may get a nap with the puppies in at some point too.

It's a rough life for me, isn't it!?

Friday, December 12, 2008

lazy friday

So I had a day off today. Originally, I'd planned that today would be my last day in the office before the holidays but I need to be in the office on Monday and Tuesday next week so I took today off and will start my vacation on Tuesday afternoon instead. It's really quite okay. On Tuesday afternoon, I'll be having a festivus gathering with my office teammates. If I had stayed around for the whole week, I could also attend separate office type parties on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Today I'd intended to do some baking. Last night, Mark and I did a couple of errands so I didn't need to go anywhere today. When I got up with Mark this morning, I felt a little woozy so I took some drugs and hung out under the covers until they kicked in. When I started feeling okay, I got up and started some prep work for a couple of the baking projects I do (they involve peeling hershey kisses). That took me 2 hours if you can believe it. I never did get around to baking though because after lunch, the puppies and I had a nap for over 2 hours. I feel better now, very well rested but not really accomplished. I'd hoped to feel accomplished tonight.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow, right? In the meantime, here's another nugget of silly genius from Andy Samberg & co. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

discount sea world tickets

Last night after dinner, Mark and I were talking about vacations we’d been on as children. We started talking about big theme parks and all of the pros and cons of incorporating a visit to a big park into a vacation. When Mark was younger, his parents had a home in Florida so he’d made many trips to that part of the world. While he’d visit his folks, he had a chance to check out many of the attractions on offer in Orlando (their house was not far from Orlando). One place in particular we talked about visiting was SeaWorld. It was one of the places he wanted to revisit and it is somewhere I’ve never been. We both love dolphins and whales, actually, we’re both really fascinated by sea life so there are many aspects of SeaWorld which appeal to us. I think it’s pretty cool how you can participate in hands on programs at the park, and actually get close to some of the whales and sharks.

While we were chatting, I decided to look around for some deals on discount sea world tickets and was pleasantly surprised to find an awesome source in Orlando Fun Tickets. I looked all over and couldn’t find a source for cheaper tickets to SeaWorld. At the moment, SeaWorld even have a special promotion on offer: when you purchase a one day pass, they will give you a second one day pass (for the next day) for free. Given how cold it is here at the moment, a quick trip to Florida for a visit with a Beluga whale is just what we need!

festivus for the rest of us

doing errands
Originally uploaded by Julep67
So, the big day is now just 2 weeks away. The holiday season feels a little different for us this year because we're doing very little "shopping." I'm not missing it at all but it does feel a little odd.

In an effort to 1) save some $$ and 2) be kinder to the environment, there are a few things that we're doing differently this year. The first thing is about the gifts. We've discussed it with the folks we usually exchange gifts with and have all agreed to do almost nothing. I'm still going to bake so there will be gifts of cookies for everyone on our list but that will be about it. For our immediate family, we're going to do a little bit of fun shopping at our local dollar store but I've put myself on a really tight budget for it.

The second big thing we're doing this year is not sending out a traditional holiday greeting card. In an effort to save some trees (and some postage!), we're doing an e-card (if you'd like one, send me a msg with your e-dress and I'll add you to my list). The money we would have spent on cards and postage will be donated to our local Humane Society.

I'm actually enjoying not getting caught up in the commercial elements of the holiday season. I think it'll be much more restful and sane than it normally is and really, that's what it's supposed to be about, right? ...less about the shopping and more about spending time with the folks you care about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Round rock tx real estate

The other day, I read an article in the New York Times about how history may prove that late 2008 / early 2009 was a primo time for property virgins to take advantage of the real estate market and jump onto the ladder. Given what’s going on with housing pricing and interest rates, I’d say that this was true. As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, I love looking at housing listings for just about any area. The other day, I was looking at some of the deals on offer for Austin Real Estate and Round rock tx real estate on the HomeCity site. Unlike the main real estate search site for my little part of the world, the HomeCity sites provides a lot of information about the area. I think that this sort of detail is really important, particularly if you are relocating from another part of the continent. You can also contact an online advisor who can answer your questions about particular listings. I really wish that my local site was more like HomeCity, it would definitely make real estate shopping easier for me!

call in gay!

gracie hangs
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Although I was not able to "Call In Gay" myself this morning, I support the initiative! Anytime you're taking a stand against hatred and intolerance, I'm there!!

We've been watching all of the goings on, south of the border, about the defeat of Prop 8 with much sadness. I think that it's pathetic that folks still have a problem with gay and lesbian couples wanting to get married. The religious groups just kill me. I mean, it's not like a gay couple who marries makes a straight couple less married. I'm always a little shocked by how ugly, cruel and hate-filled some so-called religious people become when someone tries to do something that they don't agree with. It's closed minded, mean spirited and down right childish.

Hopefully, things like "Day Without a Gay" will provide a much needed slap in the face to folks who seriously need it!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

debt consolidation

Bad to worse, I swear each day, the economic news just goes from bad to worse. This morning on CBC Radio, they were talking about how yet another factory was closing in Southern Ontario. The closure will result in the loss of 39 full time jobs. This is not good news. It’s pretty frightening actually, how up and down the economy is right now. I think that for most folks, a smart idea would be to make sure that your financial house was in order just in case something like that was to happen to you. Whether your job is secure or you think you may be laid off, it’s always a good idea to know exactly where you stand with your debt. Of course, if you have multiple loans and credit cards, the task of sorting out exactly what you owe may seem daunting. If you are having difficulty making even minimum payments on your debts, you may want to consider debt consolidation.

By consolidating your debts, you can save money and get out of debt in less time than it would take if you were paying things off individually. Bills.com has lots of information available to you about the different options which are available to consolidate your bills. I think that most folks think that the only option available to them is to pull all of their debts together and pay them off in a lump sum by borrowing against something like a home. This solution can work for some folks but there is another approach that is helpful for folks who may have unsecured consumer debt. Debt Settlement allows you to negotiate lower payments or interest rates with your various creditors. Not only could you avoid something like bankruptcy, but you can also lower the amount of debt you have.

sofa king sam

sofa king sam
Originally uploaded by Julep67
I think that Bella is totally tuned in to Jamie and Annette in a semi-spooky way. When we got home last night, I called them to find out if they were back in town and if they wanted to pick up Bella last night or tonight. I got their machine and left a message. We went about our business, fed the dogs, got our dinner ready, just regular after work stuff.

While we were sitting down to dinner, Sam and Gracie were hanging out in the kitchen. See, they live in hope that something is going to fall from the table and into their mouths. They aren't greedy, they don't beg, they just watch us very closely, and they hope. Normally, Bella is with them but last night, she was sitting by the front door. Bella never sits by the front door, that is Sammy's spot. She's usually behind the chair, near the furnace register, snuggly and warm.

I tried calling her into the kitchen but she started to sort of cry, sort of softly howl. I think she knew that Jamie and Annette were back in town and she wanted to go home. It was the saddest thing that I'd heard in a while and I'd never heard her do it before. All evening, she was a little off, sort of clingy and sad. Eventually, we started getting ready for bed and the phone rang, it was Annette. She asked if we wanted her to pick up Bella at that time or wait until tonight. Given how sad Bella had been, I asked her to come right over. I think Bella was pretty happy to see Annette, after all, she'd been with us for 2 weeks and the accommodations had definitely changed since her last visit. What had previously been a very relaxing, pampered time had turned into non-stop puppy playfest and I think she'll be happy for the peace and quiet of her country home.

As much as the dogs have been wrestling and carrying on with each other, I think Gracie was missing Bella this morning. She seemed a little out of sorts and I think she was looking for her. Of course, she'll have forgotten all about Bella by the time we get home tonight but was interesting to observe all the same.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Web Hosting

Are you thinking about purchasing your own domain for a new website but don’t know where to start? I would suggest that you find a company that can offer you advice, assistance and the best Web Hosting available. If you think that’s a tall order to fill and that you won’t be able to find that in one spot, you’re wrong!! The folks at Web Hosting Report have done the hard work for you. When you visit them on the web, you’ll see that they have done research and rated the best web hosts that the internet has to offer. They have a tutorial online which will teach you what to look for in a web hosting service. You can compare the different packages which are available and find one that suits you best. If you’re not sure where to start, they also have a library of super useful documents which can guide you through the process of purchasing a domain, creating a web page, and sharing it with the world.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

new doggie door

new doggie door
Originally uploaded by Julep67
Yay Andy!! Thanks so much!! He made us the most awesome doggie door.

For a while now, we've wanted to put one in but we didn't want to put it into the fire door, just in the screen door (we've been leaving the back door open but it's getting too cold to do that now). Andy made the flap for us and cut the hole and he and Mark installed it this morning. It's so neat.

We got all three of the dogs to go through it each way (with a little coaxing and some cookies) and I think Bella has totally figured out. Sam will go through it but only if you hold up the flap for him. I have no doubt that Gracie will get it when she's in need. It's just so nice and bright in the kitchen now, and the flap is so cool. It's going to make the doggie days goes so much better now that they have full access to the yard, all day.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Free Antivirus Software

Some of you may know that Mark has a small computer repair business that he runs in his spare time. The majority of his clients are cab drivers but some of them are folks in the neighbourhood or people he’s met in his cab. More often than not, when someone comes to him with a problematic cpu, the issue is related to a virus or a problem with the registry.

After he has removed the virus (or in most cases viruses) and cleaned the registry, he always advises his clients to use a Free Antivirus Software product. You’d be amazed if you knew how many people don’t have anti virus software on their computers or, if they do, they don’t keep it up to date. Mark always compares not keeping your computer stuff updated to not ensuring that you get regular oil changes for your car. Regular maintenance can prevent so many problems.

CyberDefender is one product which Mark recommends. Not only is does their anti virus scan help detect issues with your CPU, they’ve recently added an enhancement to the package which will clean your computer’s registry. CyberDefender can be downloaded for free and you can install it on every machine on your home network because it comes with unlimited licenses.

It’s silly to get caught without protection when such an amazing product is available at no cost to you!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Prop 8 - The Musical

Partially, I blame being sick for basically the entire month of October, and then spending November recovering, for the way the time feels like it's just slipped away from me. Our neighbourhood had exploded in the past few days with all sort of holiday illumination. I like to have ours up by now but I've not gotten around to it yet. With the three dogs and me still feeling a little wonky, it's just not something I've been able to accomplish. Hopefully, by this time next week, I'll have some of it started and will feel a little more like I'm actually a part of the holiday season this year.

Of course, what would the holidays be without a little lovely music. Saw this over at Margaret Cho's blog and had to share!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

waiting for Mark

waiting for Mark
Originally uploaded by Julep67
The three dogs continue to get along. Bella will be here until at least Monday I think, possibily Tuesday.

Whenever I see them tearing around the house or the yard, I muse about how silly it is to buy expensive, pet store toys for dogs.

I saw the three of them get more fun out of an empty paper towel tube than they ever did from the giant kong which is always under foot.

I guess it's like kids huh?? They'd rather play in a refrigerator box than a plastic playhouse any day. Thinking about it, I can't say that I blame them!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Come Together

Just helping in my small way, to spread the word!

From: Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

Hello everyone,

All of the chips are on the table. This grassroots movement does not have the budget of the Conservative party. Instead, we we have each other. We can cut through the Conservative counter-offensive to make sure that the voices of over 60% of Canadians rallying for a progressive coalition are heard! There are 10,000 of you on this listserv. So many, that this message may not reach some of you until after Harper's message. So - this message assumes he does not resign and let the coalition govern.

We need everything you have to reach our goals for this week: winning the struggle in the media for the hearts and minds of Canadians uncertain about a coalition and showing the progressive parties that Canadians support them. In addition to usual - letters to the editor, call in radio, forwarding this message - we need you to:

Sign up 5 Friends

We are going to submit the petition on Friday and it needs to be absolutely massive. In order to increase our already impressive numbers on our petition, we are challenging everyone on the mailing list to get 5 of their friends to sign the petition. The petition is at: http://www.progressivecoalition.ca/

You can email them the direct link by clicking on the "share" button at progressivecoalition.ca/form.php, then clicking on "email". Alternatively, you could forward them this message!

Join a rally, Bring a Petition!

There are a variety of rallies happening on that day. They are listed on our facebook event page, www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=55449301160, and on our website, progressivecoalition.ca (Under the "Show your Support" link), and others at makeparliamentwork.ca. These rallies are great time to collect additional signatures for our petition, which we are aiming to present to the Leaders of the Opposition on Friday.

If you are attending any of the rallies posted, or any other events, please bring along a copy of the paper petition, which can be found at the following address: progressivecoalition.ca/petition.pdf Please get signatures only from those who have not already signed our online petition at progressivecoalition.ca. After you have collected the signatures, please add them to this spreadsheet: progressivecoalition.ca/petitioninput.xls , and send the completed excel files to events@progressivecoalition.ca.

Light a Candle for the Coalition!

We want to spark a new spirit of cooperation in Parliament.

On Wednesday night at 8PM, light a candle in front of a street-facing window and turn off the light in the room for 20 minutes. (Make sure to keep the candle away from anything that can catch fire!)

On Thursday, at 5PM we are organizing Candles for a Coalition events across the country. We are going to take pictures and show Canadians from coast to coast support a coalition. If you can't attend a major event invite some of your friends over to light candles or do it yourself. Send us pictures!

Bring your own candle! And spread the word!

Rally locations:

VICTORIA Candles for a Coalition – Thursday Dec 4 5:00 PM
Location: Hillside and Douglas Street

VANCOUVER Candles for a Coalition - Thursday Dec 4 5:15 PM
Location: in Front of the Trades and Convention Centre
Will join the Make Parliament Work Rally afterwards

GUELPH Candles for a Coalition – Thursday Dec 4 7:00pm
Location: St. George's Square

GUELPH RALLY - Saturday, December 6th 12:00pm
Location: St. George's Square

STRATFORD MARCH TO CITY HALL - Stratford, Ontario Candles for Canada - Thur Dec 4 5-7pm
Location: Meet Ontario St between Downie and Waterloo Streets
Walk to city hall at 7pm

GREAT VILLAGE, Nova Scotia - Candles for Coalition in the Village!
When: 6 pm, Thursday, December 4th
Where: 33 Lornevale Road

Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

Monday, December 01, 2008

an attempt at sanity

Finally, someone did the math! This makes a lot of sense to me, if it makes sense to you too, please sign the petition at http://www.progressivecoalition.ca/