Friday, May 28, 2010

A Week of Overload, Jerry McGuire-ish Proposals and Bank Blunders

Where has this week gone? Until yesterday, mine was INTENSE. After arguably one of the most stressful days I've had on the job, I took off to the airport Wednesday evening to find myself running late, then flying thru mediocre turbulance, and finally with a massive paper cut on my 4th finger. Luckily, I don't use that finger anyway. Then last night, I had a near heart attack after discovering a bank blunder. It was sorted out, but I'll have to share more with you later.

I do have lots to share with you about my gardening and yard success last weekend, but I have not have a spare moment to do so. Picture will come soon, but in the meantime, here's a gorgeous bouquet to brighten your day! I discovered these in my room yesterday, courtesy of a very thoughtful bf who knew my week needed a bit of pick me up! How sweet eh??  Excuse my mushyness! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

How I'm Celebrating Victoria Day.... Planting Flowers!

I can not recall the last Victoria Day weekend we had weather this beautiful! All my Ontario readers out there will undoubtedly agree. Snow two weeks ago seemed all too normal, and I half expected a similar forecast for the long weekend. Finally, a May 2-4 weekend with the sun and heat it deserves!

This weekend was a garage sale shopper's dream. As I drove up to Bruce County Saturday morning, I could've allowed myself an extra 2 hours just to stop along the way. I hit the beach yesterday and marveled a little at the bikinis out in full [skin?] force. It is only May afterall, and it was foggy when we got there. I don't mean a little haze, but cold, damp fog rolling in off the lake. I felt like I was in Halifax. By 5, the sun had pushed through again and the lake was sparkling beneath it!

Back in the city, I awoke this morning to a clear, blue sky and a full agenda ahead. I'm planting my garden, finishing my flower beds and doing my planters (hopefully) today. Wish me luck and I can't wait to share my finished results!

For now, I saw this pic on this morning, and it could have been the view from my bedroom window this morning.

Turns out, Lou Renzo from High View, West Virginia sees the same thing in the morning! If I had the talent, I would paint this for my bedroom wall, and every day would be bright blue and sunny skies! OK, enough cheese! My coffee is done and it's time to head to work! Have a great day.. if anyone is still inside reading this!

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Junk Drawer

I forgot to post this photo earlier. This is the basket of clothes I purged from my wardrobe. Wow eh? They. are. crammed. in. there.

Now for chaos. This whole week I haven't been able to concentrate, and I've felt overwhelmed with life. Aspirations to at least get my house in order have been thus far, unsuccessful. You never see pictures of people's messes, only prim and proper sitting rooms and unbelievably tidy kitchens. Do people cook in those?? My friend has a house like that. She is a minimalist, however. Perhaps, all people with beautiful kitchens that land in magazines and are home crashed (Young House Love readers will get it) are minimalists.

I am not one. Blue Raddish piqued my curiousity to open my junk drawer. I was surprised to find it had all the things a junk drawer should- wire, tape, flash light, old batteries, scissors. Wait! That isn't a junk drawer... it's really more of a utility drawer. Then I realized, I have an entire junk room. To which I thought, I need to share that. I don't know why... but maybe there is someone else out there feeling totally unfocused and cluttered. Hopefully this tells you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Remember the home office redo? Welll, this is still as far as I've got. No further than where I left it months ago. Stuff boxed up. Paint sitting in a plastic bag. Every once in a while, I move a 'pile' from the kitchen counter to the desk. Nasty.

Ahhh.. the kitchen counter. I can never keep this clean. I think that is because I treat it like my desk.

You'll enjoy this one also. Almost every pair of shoes has found it's way onto my floor. Cowboy boot??! I have worn them in 4 years! You don't even see the pair of slippers and 2 sets of flip flops beside me.

Once writing this, I remembered my junk cupboard also. I suppose this replaces my drawer. It is a corner cupboard, and the bottom shelf is currently propped up on a bag of flour. The rest holds craft supplies, light bulbs, caulking, and basially anything else I can't find a home for, including golf balls and old candle jars.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring Cleaning... My Wardrobe

I did the ultimate purge last week of my wardrobe. It was ruthless. Everything that hadn't been worn at least once in the past six months was gone. Even expensive pieces I'd previously refused to get rid of, because "I paid $50 for that shirt!" I had to get SOME wear out of it before it was fated for the Value Village box. Not surprisingly, if I didn't wear it immediately after I bought it, I never wore it. 

It feels so good to find what I'm looking for when I get dressed in the morning. No more digging through overstuffed cupboards and forgetting about the clothes pushed to the back of the closet. There's also room now for a few new additions- I found some great steals at Marshall's the last couple times I've been in the U.S.

On top of that, I feel... lighter. There's so much clutter in my life, and while I enjoy organized chaos (ask my boss what my office looks like), it wears on me in my home. Dirty dishes, messy piles of 'stuff' and the massive disarray of clothing in my room. So, this purge, though small in comparison to the greater 'clutter', was somewhat therapeutic. Wow! How is that for some psych on your Thursday morning?!

Finally, I'm apparently not the only one who loves the space.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Car Wash Gone Bad

I need to write this post. If only to laugh at myself and feel better in doing so. My brain is so scattered tonight, so hopefully a good post will focus all my energy and put me back on track.

I did an embarrassingly bad job washing my car today. I thought nothing of it, but when I stopped for groceries I cringed as I came around the side of the car. Wow! This is bad.

In the past, $3 in the DIY car wash bay would do it. I could rinse, soap, then rinse my car; all within the 4 minute window that $3 buys you. Black car, eh? I guess 4 minutes isn't going to cut it anymore!

This is further amplified by the fact I live between 2  obsessive compulsive car washers. Their cars glisten in their driveways and mock my Vibe. It must just make them cringe to see this mess!

Random Catch-All Post

I have been so MIA this week. Not only online, but in mind as well. I was so wrapped up in work last week, by the time I had opportunity to blog I couldn't stand the thought of turning my computer on. A lot of couch-sitting, border-hop-shopping, and Pampered Cheffing followed.

Despite a hectic week and busy weekend, I did have a number of possible posts find their way into my brain. As often happens, unless I let these make their way onto my screen and out to you, these thoughts would bounce around in my head for the next week. Undoubtedly distracting me and causing the little 'guilt of not posting' seed to sprout.

Before I share a few of these random thoughts, I'm going to brag a little.

I'm officially a showcased artist!

Well, sort of...

You'll recall my painting experiment for my niece's nursery? They hung the letters on her wall! I'd love to share more of the bedroom, but you'll have to wait until I'm at the farm next. I'm sneaking these off Facebook. I think they turned out quite cute. Once you see the whole room, I think you'll agree it's as 'cute as a cupcake'!

Now, for the randomness...

I love great deals. I love deals so much, and I have become so accustomed to living life on a dime, I can no longer shop. I superanalyze every item and its price, trying to determine if it's truly as valuable as the tag claims. I bought a cardigan/shrug (you know those sweaters that hang down) for $7 a few weeks ago. I LOVE it. I wear it all the time. It was $7. How will anything compare? That is good value. This is the challenge I'm faced with EVERYTIME I go shopping now.

Speaking of great deals... I saved almost $10 at Shoppers Drug Mart last week, the clerk threw in a few samples, and I felt like the richest woman in the world when I left the store. I still spent 3X more than I originally planned, so I guess I didn't save at all.

I made an Inukshuk. I'm very proud of him, and I can't wait to share a photo with you. He deserves his own post though, so one day you'll get to see him.

Does everyone have an iPhone now? Remember when the Blackberry was cool? Do other Blackberry owners feel like iPhone owners go out of their way to 'SWIPE' their finger over their iPhone, just to show the rest of us poor, Blackberry-owning fools that we can't do that???!

Finally, airports are the BEST place to people watch.. FYI. No question.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Home Fit for a Gnome

I am guilty. I have a secret love. Some might find it slightly embarrassing. Others might raise their eyebrow and think "how tacky".

Nevertheless, I can hide it no more.

I like garden gnomes. I have refrained from giving in and buying one for my own yard, because I am holding out for a ceramic gnome. You never see them anymore, but you know the ones I mean. When you were growing up, there was always one lawn that was covered with them.

Meet "Slim".

Slim is the first gnome to make his home in my yard. I'll also admit, he's not ceramic. I am not holding it against him though, because my mom gave him to me last weekend. How sweet is that? She was at a garden centre and knew I had a little thing for gnomes. My mom isn't the kind of mom that is constantly buying stuff either, so I was even more delighted when she told me this little guy was for me.

He's no plastic flamingo, but I think he looks right at home with his solar lantern among the limestone rocks in front of my kitchen window. Wouldn't you agree? Do you have any tacky, outdoor decor fetishes?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Camera! Canon Powershot SX120 IS

My new camera has arrived! After finally making up my mind, my new camera arrived less than a week after ordering it with Air Miles. I was impressed. Gift cards ordered from Aeroplan have taken at least 4 weeks to arrive, so I was expecting to wait the same for the camera.

I read reviews on nearly every camera option Air Miles has, and I finally settled on the Canon Powershot SX120 IS. It has been on the market longer than some of the others, so it had more reviews and most were positive.

Upon recieving it, my initial impression was it was very light for a larger camera. It's certainly not slim enough to slip in my pocket. The flash needs to be manually lifted, which may or may not be frustrating. It has a large telescoping lens, which has given me problems on my last 2 Canons. However, I have also beat both of those cameras up pretty bad and I vow to take better care of this one.

Despite this, the SX120 takes the same SD Flash Cards and rechargeable batteries as my last camera. It also has a big viewing screen and picture quality with the 10x optical zoom and 10 MP so far has been good. I snapped a few this weekend to test it out.

I took this photo of my flowerbed while sitting on my deck, 50 feet away.

Here are 2 photos I took of the living room. The first with the flash off and the second with it on. I discovered the indoor mode on the camera after I took these, so I'm looking forward to trying it. Most of the photos I take for my blog are indoors, and I struggled to find the right lighting balance in the past.

I tried to take a photo of Penny and Fergie on Auto mode, but it didn't capture the movement well. It doesn't seem to have a mode to capture movement, but I don't think I ever used this mode on my old camera anyway.

Since arriving at the farm this weekend, I took several baby pictures on Auto, which turned out lovely with the flash. I didn't even use the face recognition feature, which I'm looking forward to.  I do think a small, compact camera would have been nice also, but I might have sacrificed some quality. Overall, I am very happy with the camera so far. True, I didn't "pay"anything for it, so it's hard not to be happy. I'll let you know!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Handling the Friday Freak Outs

Christina over at SFACG recently blogged about her hectic Fridays. I read her post while sitting in an airport, and I had to share some advice with her. This totally used to be me.

Last Friday afternoon, as I tidied up my desk, moved all the outstanding items to my Monday "to do" list and closed my Outlook, I realized I have done a pretty good job conquering the Friday freak out. Further encouraged by a coworker's compliment, maybe I have some advice to share here. Maybe there are more readers out there that find themselves overwhelmed with a week's worth of work on Friday afternoon.

Here are some of my weekday work habits to help avoid the Friday Freak Out!

1) Eat the Frog. This is the 2nd best advice my manager has ever given me. The best doesn't relate here. Eat the frog. It's quite simple, do the item you least want to do, first. By getting it out of the way, you'll  be motivated to get the rest of your list done, and it won't be lingering in the back of your mind, distracting you- "I really need to do..." Simple Truths explains it much better than I can.

I can't find the original source for this gross picture, but it proves the point. “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” 
— Mark Twain

2) Prioritize. Look at your 'to do' list each morning. Physically circle or mentally note the top 2 items that you must get done. Then, do them and don't let yourself get distracted until they're complete. This leads to 3.

3) Schedule work time. If you must, block time on your own calendar, so colleagues can not schedule meetings and use that time to get your 'must do' work done. Forward your phone to voicemail and turn off your email notifications to remove the temptation to look at new messages coming in. This is your time to work.

4) Conquer your inbox. Better yet, take an email or work management course. I highly recommend David Allen's "Getting Things Done". Do you manage your email, or does it manage you? We have a joke around our company that we're email managers. In other words, we have so much information coming into our inboxes, it's hard to accomplish anything else. Maybe you're in a similar situation; you could spend an entire day in the office, doing nothing but email. But, what are you actually getting done? Everyone has different strategies and preferences, so take some courses or check out a book and see what works for you, then do it! It will be the best investment you make in personal time management.

5) Declutter. This is kind of related to the above. Despite what my coworkers would tell you and what my office looks like, I try very hard to 'declutter'. I try to get rid of the piles. Putting them away, even in a "To File" folder or tossing them in the recycling if they're outdated rids me of both physical and mental clutter. I enter handwritten phone messages into my Tasks @CALLS category. And before leaving each day, I try to capture all the lingering items floating around in my head into the appropriate categories. You can see how important Outlook Tasks are in my strategy, but if you're a notebook-person, that works too.

Again, these are just the thing I do to try to stay focused and stay on track during the week. What works best for you may be quite different, but the important thing is to find a strategy that works. Put it to the test and follow it. Just like exercise, if you stick with it and make it a habit, you'll feel much better. I guarantee your personal life will also benefit due to less work-related stress.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Summer Bucket List

Perhaps, it's reading Christen's "Just do it"s at La Vida Lista. Or, it might be a realization that finally having a radio will result in less mind-numbing thinking and planning behind the wheel. Maybe, I am stressed almost to a tipping point.

Whatever it is, I decided to create a "Bucket List" of things I want to do this summer. I made my mind up the last time I drove back from my parents' farm; this is going to be the summer I do all the things I always think about doing. You know, visiting the stores you always look at with wonder & curiosity, but tell yourself, "not today".

I actually had to look up bucket list before I started typing this, because I wasn't entirely sure if that was even the right name. It just seemed appropriate for some reason. Well, it is correct with one exception; my list covers only those items I want to do this summer. It does not extend beyond to all the things I want to do before I die, like most bucket lists.

Photo credit:

It's not long. I will probably add to it as the summer goes on. Especially, if I accomplish these items. I can't sit around the rest of the summer and do nothing, afterall!

  • Go tubing down the Grand River and the Elora Gorge
  • Get a hammock and put it in my backyard (okay, this is more of a 'to buy', but I fully plan to lay on it this summer, so it counts)!
  • Go antiquing with my girlfriends
  • Lay on the beach for a day
  • Go camping (in a tent)
  • Enter crafts, baking and/or flowers in a local fall fair
  • Jet boat in the Niagara River
  • Stop at Grasshopper Imports on Hwy #6. If you are from the area, you know this place... it's a lot with a lot of clay planters and the building looks like it was painted by hippies.  DONE - BF & I stopped this past weekend. It was EXACTLY what we expected, but neat stuff and reasonably priced. I have my eye on a glass pitcher... sangria anyone?
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go to Duff's for wings (this is not anything special, except we keep talking about going there and never do!)
  • Run a 10km race - likely a pipe dream, but I ran a 5km race last year, so aim high, right?
Do you have any plans for the summer?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Day Update

Here is what I learned yesterday:

1) Corn gluten will not kill thistles. It will not kill anything, for that matter. It works by preventing seeds from germinating or germinated seeds from growing or something like that. Thus, I am about 6 weeks too late to try this natural, weed control method. In a normal year, it would probably still be effective. Since spring came 3 weeks early this year, I'm out of luck.

2) RoundUp is banned!!!!

"You didn't know this???!!" You are probably thinking. No. For some reason, I thought it was still allowed. It is just soap after all. Thank you, McGuinty government for totally screwing up my lawn (that will be another rant, I promise). So, what does this mean? It means I need to dig my thistles out. Unless, of course, I sneak it back across the border or find another way to get my hands on RoundUp. I would also have to apply it in the dark when I get it. I would never do that....

3) My neighbourhood is THE garage sale neighbourhood. I hit up six garage sales in an hour, just touring the streets near my house and I reached 2 conclusions. The first; living in a good neighbourhood results in sweet garage sale finds. Evidence- see below. Secondly, if I ever decide to have a garage sale, I anticipate success. I overheard one seller's disbelief at how many people had shown up, including one shopper that came at 7:30 when she was setting up and bought her 'big ticket items' as she brought them outside.

All that said, I did get my lawn cut, raked, over-seeded, then raked again. I also bought some netting and laid it down over the newly seeded areas. Hopefully it will deter the birds from eating all my grass seed before it sprouts.

Now, to share my garage sale find!

What's garage saling without some knick-knacks? The shells are for my renovated office, the porcelin figures for my farmhouse bedroom, the blue bottle to add to my collection, and the brass elephants... well, I just loved them!

Don't they look right at home, on the mantle with this succulent?

It's hard to see, but this gold, gilded mirror is beautiful. If I don't like the gold finish, I can always paint it silver and grey for my office. The treasure chest I scored for $2, and the glass terrarium was $5. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet either, but my friend has one and I love how it looks in her living room, housing all her wine bottle corks!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day To Do

Happy May Day! and Happy Saturday!

I awoke this morning to a warm breeze, slightly overcast sky, and the sun coming up on my neighbour's brilliant red maple. I wanted to snap a photo, but worried they didn't want their house on display for the world (or my small portion of it), so I opted not too. This photo P. Breen from Tilbury, Ontario shared on The Weather Network is just as beautiful.

My weekend plans fell through, so I have the whole day to myself. YEEEEYYYY! I like weekend plans with friends and I like friends. Sometimes, it's nice to have a day to do what you want also. I'm finishing up my coffee, then I'm hitting the streets to treasure hunt garage sales!

I am also completing my spring "to do's" today. It'll be a long day, but here's what I have on the agenda:

  • Water new seed
  • Buy corn gluten, netting
  • Cut grass
  • Overseed, reseed new area, spread corn gluten
  • Plant seeds in the garden
  • Vacuum & wash windows
What are you up to on this beautiful Saturday??