The project that never ends that hasn’t even started yet

Problems that have beset our landscaping:

1) Our wishlist was so extensive that it is beyond our budget. Slowly, everything has gone on the chopping block. Goodbye green wall (never even knew ya), drop down countertop, built in bench,  stadium steps.  We are now reduced to a new deck/landing, a patio, a single Japanese maple.  Sob.

2) Our magnolia tree died a sudden and unexpected death this spring.  #### <–insert foul language.  We were first alerted by the lack of flowers.  Then…nothing.  The only contractor who visited confirmed.

3) Which brings us to: not being able to get a quote from anyone but ONE contractor thus far into the process. It’s already mid-August and the project is/was to take place in September to coincide with the neighbours, which brings us to:

4) Neighbour decides, all of a sudden, to do his work in August so he can throw a party at the beginning of September. So first this created problems of access, because the contractor who has been working with us does not want to damage the finished work of the neighbour (we are boxed in between two townhouses with no access to the backyard except from kindness granted by neighbour).  This morning the neighbour (luckily he is a charming and jaunty fellow) wakes me up to tell me his chosen contractor (a questionable type to begin with) has backed out of the deal by adding $10,000 to the first quote.  Ha ha ha ha.   And neighbour has my bro swallowing the kool-aid, that if the neighbour’s property is going to be done for X amount, then ours should be substantially lower than that, instead of the same X amount neighbour has in his mind (our current quote is between $10K-15K).  Neighbour can be very persuasive, but no contractors are signing up to do his job for the price he has in mind (his property is about double ours because he is a semi-detached vs. our townhouse).

5) What to do with the shoddily placed AC?  We discovered, with the contractor, that our original AC guy had done a shitty job for us and not buried the pipe leading to the AC.   Stupid, stupid.  Contractor proposed hiding AC under the deck, but now I think we may just end up leaving it where it is, but burying the pipe, because apparently contractor ‘doesn’t do that kind of work’ (so it’s not included in the current quote).  I looked at this article about hiding eyesores but it wasn’t that helpful. No pictures.

All this chaos.  My brother at least began demolition (shaving about $400 off of the quote) but now is grappling with the removal of patio stones that are much heavier than he originally thought.  And was forced to cut down the dead magnolia with a flimsy hand saw.

Plus the brother was promoted (so new work) and is purchasing a condo…he’s a tad stressed.

In better news, my daughter took her first step in the past two days!  She’s been standing and bouncing, and squatting and standing again, all without support, but when it came to moving from point A to point B, she would get back down on her knees and crawl.   Walking is around the corner! She’s almost 11 months old.

By the way, I have an amazing Pinterest board devoted to designs that you will love but perhaps not be able to afford.  Wait. I’m talking about myself.  Enjoy the dreaming phase.


What I am reading now

Lengthy salon article on US militarized police presence

I should also say, my 20 day absence is due to a horrible, horrible technical problem (work-related) which has me thinking I ought to invest in a back up machine of my own.  For several years now I’ve been solely working from my office computer (due to plentiful international travel).

Is it time to shell out the dough and buy a laptop for myself? (Sad face).



Stop mindless browsing

I have a problem.  It is called “mindless browsing on the internet”.  I get drawn into link after link after link.  Pretty pictures.  Interesting articles. Wikipedia. Anything but focusing on writing the novel, completing the work, blogging, or something productive that will pay off down the road.

I decided I don’t have time for the time wasting, what with baby already taking up several hours that I used to do…what exactly with?

The first step was cutting myself off of Facebook last week.  Quel experiment.  I mostly did not miss it, although yesterday I wondered what, if anything, L’s dad was posting.  (I used to notice he used to tell me those things eventually though, music he was listening to, photos he had taken…then I had to pretend I hadn’t already seen it on his facebook because nothing ends a conversation faster than, “oh, I saw that on your facebook already.”)

I notice I miss it the most when I’m trying to distract myself from a task at hand. It was a plentiful array of amusements: superficial messaging, stalking-cum-overly-friendly-interest cultivated in the lives of strangers, cute baby shots, irritating posts, gags, birthdays, new music, videos, changing self-flattering profile photos (“selfies”), useless life updates….not to mention the constant, unspoken invitation to compare ourselves constantly with our friends, followers and acquaintances.  Will I too go to Hawaii or buy a BMW? Will I win a pulitzer and get a phD in muslim studies?  Don’t I want that?  After I cut myself off, I dreamt about a woman who constantly posts personal information about herself and her family. Did I go into withdrawal? In my dream we had had a passive aggressive fight….she sent somebody to tell me she was mad at me, a la sixth grade.

The second step – gah- is cutting myself off of email during work hours!  And feedly, an excellent google reader, which is my new time wasting time waster.

I decided I had to get tough with myself.  Bam!  Enter “Stay Focused” a chrome app.  Apps are super easy to use in Chrome.  This one also works across several platforms.  Find it here.  Basically, you enter in the sites you are addicted to — ahem– I mean that you like to browse, and it limits your time within them to 10 minutes (automatically, although you can try to change this and permit more time it will guilt you with a message of, ‘are you sure you want to increase the amount of time you are wasting? that doesn’t seem very wise…).  How….clever.

Either I’ll now become extremely productive, or I will write a novel or blog all the time!!  Or I will discover new, unblocked websites to waste my time on, outrunning the blocker from site to site to site.

I wonder if this will work…..


The (almost) superfast lunch series

I work from home. Mostly, I eat leftovers for lunch.  I am not that big on bread. But sometimes, sometimes….all the leftovers are gone, through miscalculation or attack from other wandering members of the household (i.e. brother).  Then, it is just me, my wits and my raging appetite.

Luckily we keep a rather stocked pantry.

This is a series without photos. Let’s get this straight! This is about fast cooking and satisfying a need not the glory of food production!  Make it fast and wolf it down between dropping baby off at daycare and getting on with the day’s labour! Now, for some people, their needs could be satisfied with raw vegetables and a piece of the macaroni and cheese they made on Sunday.  Fridge to mouth. That’s not me.  Me? I need something reasonably fresh and on these rainy summer days, warming.

But these are superfast for people who regularly spend an hour making elaborate meals.  This can be in yo’ belly in about 20 minutes, stat!

Sorry, this series probably will not have photos because they are conducted and created in real time, and end up hot in my belly pre-styling and pre-photograph.  Although maybe I’ll just keep the camera in the kitchen. TIME WILL TELL MY FRIENDS. TIME WILL TELL.



Source: LUMAS

Lumas is a German-U.S. photography gallery with a massive online presence.  I discovered it several years ago and have coveted their affordable photography ever since.  I think buying a piece from here was on my list FOREVER but somehow I can never seem to justify doing so.  They have reprints of classic pieces, up and coming as well as limited edition prints from established artists.  


I see they’ve recently reorganized their site and it’s a bit wonky in places. The old categories are gone and they have illustrations, movie stills, digital art and painting now in addition to the old photography standbys! They’ve also expanded the number of galleries they have around the world.  Why do I imagine parting with $600 would be much easier if I didn’t hand it over in person… For some reason I chose all images of women but there are landscapes, abstract pieces, still lives, magazine covers, the whole gamut. 

Check it out here.

Homemade cough soother

I wouldn’t exactly call this a syrup because once you do a half and half with honey, it doesn’t have a syrupy texture anymore. Of course you could amp up the honey to something like 80:20 but then you’re basically just eating honey.  I don’t have anything against eating honey, per se, but my body seems to resist if I consume excessive amounts of simple sugars, so I try to resist.

I’m pretty sure this homemade remedy, for which I am providing an unrecipe (aka, a recipe without detailed amounts) is responsible for my FINALLY getting over the most virulent day-care infested cough-cold that I have had since the baby arrived!   I am still coughing but with much less frequency.  The other thing that really helped was slathering my throat with vicks vaporub (I am a vicks addict), wrapping a scarf around it, and slopping it onto the soles of my feet and then putting socks on.  Then I covered myself with a heavy down comforter that mitigates even the tiniest chill in the air (throwing it off in the middle of the night) – and finally – success!    That plus getting MORE SLEEP, always a battle with the earliest of early-morning babies.   I did a quick google for a homemade cough syrup but I couldn’t find one that seemed to hit all the bases.  A lot were just ginger plus lemon.  DUH. Of course you need ginger plus lemon.



  • Ginger root
  • Red pepper flakes (numbs throat)
  • Honey (soothes throat)
  • Fennel seeds (digestive support, flavour)
  • Yellow onions (onions & garlic are natural anti-inflammatories)
  • Elderberry tincture (optional – for vitamin C, FYI Safe with breastfeeding)
  • Nettle tea (good for liver support)
  • Garlic cloves (I should have added these but somehow I forgot)
  • Cinnamon sticks (tasty + various health benefits too numerous to list)
  • Olive oil (soothing on the throat)
  • Lemon or lime – fresh juice
  • Apple cider vinegar

Does that sound disgusting? Cause it actually tastes pretty good.  Especially if you are a fan of sweet, spicy ginger candies normally.

  1. Slice onions, chop garlic and ginger.  Sautee together in olive oil for about 10 minutes at low heat.
  2. Add water, a cup or so, and toss in red pepper flakes (a few tbsps), fennel seeds, loose tea and  the cinnamon sticks.  Bring to a rolling, headily scented boil.
  3. Juice as much lemon or lime juice as you have energy for.
  4. Reduce liquid to about 1/2 cup – cup (depending on how much of this good juju you want and how much honey you have, you will go equal parts honey and decoction).
  5. Cool & combine in glass gar (mason jar works) with equal parts honey, and stir in lemon/lime juice.  VOILA!  Take teaspoons as you wish, or use as a concentrated sicky tea solution and combine 1:2/3/4/5 parts boiling water depending on your desire.   Burns so good…yum.

FYI, oil of oregano and echinacea, two of my go-to herbal supports for sickness, are not appropriate for breastfeeding mothers.

Optional additions?  Tumeric, orange juice, mint….although for the best flavour you might want to reign it in.

Let me know if this works for you!

Here are some other, apparently more useful recipes that work off of the power of onions.  A poultice here – I had one of those nasty deep seated coughs that wasn’t dislodging…and a kid-friendly onion syrup, which I could have been trying on DD.  Now I know for next time….