Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 19, 2014

In Search of Sunshine

Saturday morning, I told my hubby we needed a decent desk for the office.  Currently I'm using a table covered by a computer, printer, office supplies, no keyboard tray and no room to work.  I suggested we go to Costco.  He balked at the idea.

"I don't want to go out," he said in a grumpy voice.  I'd noticed my normally active and easy going hubby had been a little down and low key lately, spending most of his free time parked in front of the TV watching American and European football with the odd hockey game thrown in for variety.  Though there were recent rumours of sunshine, the first few weeks of the New Year were mostly  overcast, grey and even foggy for a couple of days.  I diagnosed my hubby with the January Blahs and immediately went to my laptop to have a look at the Big White webcams.

For those of you who don't know, Big White is a ski hill about a forty minute drive from Kelowna out Highway 33. The internet showed sunshine and blue skies from all seven webcams on the mountain.  

"Why don't we go up to Big White for lunch," I suggested, "We can take a walk around the hillside and then hit Costco on the way back."  So we did.

Here's how things looked on the drive up just past noon.  There's a lot more snow here compared to the patches of green in our yard back in the lower Mission.

As we traversed the mountain switchbacks, I began to worry that it might be cloudy at the top after all.  People often say, "If it's cloudy in the valley, just go up the mountain and you'll find sun," but they also call Big White  "Big Whiteout" because there the weather can bring in so much fog and low cloud they have to close the hill because you can't see where you're going.

As we reached the turn off we could see blue sky, but it seemed to be in the wrong direction.  Oh well, I thought, at least we'll spend some time together and have a nice lunch.

We pulled into the busy parking lot, and walked past the skating rink, tossing hopeful glances over our shoulders as the cloud covered sun inched it's way towards the bright blue sky.   By the time we walked the few metres to  the gondola the sun was shining and we were all smiles.

Hubby made a friend on the trip up the mountain.  Poor little guy was terrified and shivered the entire way.

We joined the mobs of skiers, snowboarders and hipsters in the village centre and had lunch at the newest restaurant: The Woods.  Drinks were quite affordable and I had a glass of Banrock Station Cab Sav for $6.00 and hubby's Steamworks Pilsner was comparable.  The meal was ok and overpriced.  The service was terrible.  It took almost an hour to get our food.  Burgers and smokies were on offer by the fire outside and I'm thinking that might have been a better option.  It was gorgeous outside with temperatures hovering above zero and I didn't need mittens or a hat. 

After lunch we poked around the village, grabbed a coffee, chatted with a couple of friends we ran into and took the gondola back down to the Happy Valley Adventure Centre.  I think I've been to Big White three times in the 18 years we've lived in Kelowna and when I was here, I came for the skiing, so I didn't know too much about the Adventure Centre.  As I watched families playing in the snow, it brought me back to my childhood winters in Sioux Lookout and now I'm really looking forward to coming to visit friends here in February.  Now the wheels are turning to figure out how to get my nine year old niece and her folks up here in the winter.  

Here's the bunny hill.  The people standing in line along the left are actually standing on their skis on a moving sidewalk that brings the kids up the hill.  So much easier for the little ones than the old T-bar.

We watched a brave young Aussie named Nick make his way up the Ice Tower. Australian accents as common as Canadian up here, and most of them are heard in the voices of the staff.  Our waiter, coffee server and the guy belaying in the photo above, were all Aussies.

Here's what I'd like to have been doing... spinning down the hill on an innertube.  There are steeper runs to the right of this photo.  You can see a line of tubes on either side of the hill here.  It's people in tubes, hooked to a line that's pulling them up the hill.  When I was a kid.....oh nevermind...

Besides downhill skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, eating and drinking (there are 22 restaurants and coffee shops on the mountain), there's lots more to do here.  There are cross country ski trails, hiking trails, and snow shoe trails that allow dogs on leash.  There's snow mobiling (kids size snowmobiles too!) , dog sled rides and horse drawn sleigh rides.  Pretty much every winter sport the average person can do is available here.  You can come up for the day or find a condo or hotel room to rent online.  Many of them have private hot tubs!  

Stay tuned for future photos as I guarantee we'll return this winter, maybe more than once! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Snapshot in Time

I enjoyed today's post on Young Love and was inspired to do one myself as I too am a fan of questionnaires and self-reflection. We both did one last year as well.  Hope you did one too, as it's fun to look back and compare.  

Taking Stock II

Making : birthday cards.  With my 2014 goal of not buying anything new, that includes family birthday cards so I’ve been printing some of my photos that are relevant to the receiver, pasting them to a blank art card and writing personalized notes with them.  Such fun!

Cooking : potatoes.  I’ve pinned some yummy potato recipes on Pinterest and I’ve been trying them out.  Not really having success so far in terms of presentation, but they taste good!  

Drinking : really good coffee blend (Ignition) from Cherry Hill Coffee in Kelowna.  And Market Spice Tea from Teaberry's.

Reading :  The Firebird by Susannah Kearsley and listening to Double Feature by Owen King.  Double Feature is really awful so far. 

Looking : at my photos from our French Polynesia trip from 2011, while I make my latest Blurb book.

Playing :  tug of war with the doggies.

Wasting :  too much time on the computer...can you relate?

Sewing : rips and hems.  At least that’s the plan when I get my sewing machine out this weekend.

Wishing : It looked more like winter out there.  Temperatures are predicted to be above zero for the next fourteen days.  I wanna snowshoe!!!

Enjoying :  The Bachelor.  What a guilty pleasure.  I’m totally hooked after only two episodes. Could it be because Juan Pablo is Venezuelan?

Waiting : for outstanding funds. 

Liking : using the elliptical on the mornings that hubby walks the dogs.  Really enjoying the music on my work out playlist. 

Wondering : how I got to be so blessed.

Loving : change.

Hoping :  I can keep incorporating exercise into my schedule.

Marvelling :  at how bad the drivers are in Kelowna.  In the last week, someone backed into me in a parking lot and I narrowly avoided being hit in two other instances.  We've all gotta be more careful out there!

Needing : to get organized.

Wearing : silver earrings.  Love them!

Following : the path of least resistance.

Knowing : you should never say never or the universe will make it so!

Bookmarking : holiday rentals in Hawaii.

Opening : my mind to different philosophies.

Giggling : at my own foibles.

Noticing : how easy it is to agree to disagree rather than get caught up in an argument that nobody can win.

Thinking : about volunteering in the next federal election.

Feeling : like I know what you’re going to say...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Tracks

While taking out the garbage yesterday I noticed how many different little tracks and footy prints there are all around our front yard.

Pulling the recycling to the curb

 The quail march all over our lawn through every season.

Wouldn't you fly over the stairs if you were a bird?

Me and the birdies back and forth along the path as we go about our daily tasks.

Big doggies walking past the house.

Our kitties running down the driveway.

A racoon whose footprints stop at...

...a broken mirror waiting to be tossed.  I would love to have 
witnessed what happened when they saw their reflection.

Lots of dog tracks at the corner by the Wishing Tree.  Someone lost the their..
"thing that you hook on your boots when you're walking on ice".  Looks like it 
could match the print near the cat feet once it was stretched over a boot.

Friday, January 10, 2014

So Far, So Good

Well it's still early days in my 2014 goal to reduce my commercial consumption, but so far I think I've met my challenges quite well.

The first thing I was faced with was a birthday card for my husband.  I often buy one at the same time that I buy his Christmas card, but I wasn't quite as organized as I usually am.  I decided to make a card.    I printed a photo that was taken on our trip to Venezuela to celebrate hubby's 50th birthday and adhered it to the front of one of the art cards (blank on the front, and the inside) my daughter had gifted me a few years ago.  The photo was a bit small for the size of the card so I cut the card to fit (you quilters will likely be horrified to see me using my cutting wheel on heavy paper).  Then I used a fancy pen to write a personal note inside.

The next task was to find myself a pair of jeans.  I have two pair and one of them is that style that's a little lower cut on the hips.  I have no hips to keep them up and having lost a little weight this year, plus the weight of my pump clipped to the waist band, they have a tendency to shimmy down exposing more flesh than I'm comfortable with.  I thought I could cheat a little on this one because, as I had mentioned before I was going to buy myself a couple of new things before the end of the new year, but illness kept me home past the 31st.  A pair of jeans was on that list.  Jeans are difficult to find at the best of times but if I want to make a commitment to reducing my consumption, then I realized I'd have to stop trying to buy new on a "technicality".  

Yesterday I was off to the Springfield Bulk Food and noticed Jen's 14 Plus at the corner of the Spall Mall.  What the heck, I might as well give it a try, I thought.  I took two pairs of jeans into the change room as I wasn't sure of size...most consignment stores seem to have clothes with older sizing.  One pair hung off me but the second pair was perfect, and on sale.  I managed to find myself a pair of Calvin Kleins in great shape, for $8.00 in a matter of minutes!  Winning!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Resolutions, Revelations and Rants

I did mention in my last post that I plan to say "yes" a little more often in my life, but I'm not really considering it a New Year's resolution, just a good piece of advice that I'm taking.  I don't like to make Resolutions, there's something intimidating about that word.   I do often give myself a goal or challenge each new year -  you might call it....... a resolution.   This year, I've decided I'm going to do my best to decrease the size of my consumer footprint.  The idea began (as so many good ideas do) when I was listening to CBC radio.  

Radio West's Rebecca Zandbergen was saying that she and her family were drawing names for Christmas gifts and they were restricting themselves as well by not giving any "new" items.  It made me think about the clothing stores and thrift stores and other stores selling pre-loved items in town.  I'm always complaining about the glut of "stuff" at the mall and in our closets and I wondered What if I stopped buying new things and bought only used items instead? 

That very day I'd been killing some time in Home Again and was very impressed by the quality of the items.  Everything looked brand new and I found a stock pot for the incredibly low price of $18.00.  I'd been wanting one for ages and hadn't seen one new for less that $100.00.  

I also purchased a picture frame (still in it's original wrapper), that was perfect for a project I had in mind.  It's not quite complete as shown above.  The photos are of our family as children at Christmas time - my mom, sister, son, daughter, husband and I. There's a quote that I want to add above and below the photos, but I'm afraid to wreck it.  Someone told me I can get a stencil made but I guess I've waited too long as that would come under "new" purchases.  Maybe I'll get brave eventually or get my more sure handed daughter to write it out.  It's a quote from a poem by  Elizabeth Akers Allen  - "Backward turn backward, O Time in your flight,  Make me a child again, Just for tonight."   

When I needed to accessorize my Christmas party ensemble with a silver purse, I knew that the vintage clothing store Georgie Girl would be the perfect place to find one, and I was right. In fact I had a choice of four different purses.

The whole idea of purchasing used items, and only when needed, appeals to me for many reasons; the reduction of clutter, the money saving aspects and also for the reduction in trips to the landfill, or the recycling depot.  Recycling is the last of the three "R"'s - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and to me it's only a small step up from the landfill.  

The fact that small appliances have become disposable is something that really irks me - coffee makers and toasters are my particular bĂȘte noire.     They just don't make 'em like they used to and if you are in the market for a small appliance I highly recommend you look for a used older model.  For years my family complained about our "toaster curse", and I carried it with me to my marriage.  No matter what we paid for a toaster, after a few short years the appliance would fail and only toast the bread on one side.  

Often, my husband would moan about the fact that someone had stolen his Sunbeam toaster while he was at university, one that he had brought from home and was at least twenty years old.  About twelve years ago I set myself a quest to find one at a thrift shop and eventually I came across several models at a now defunct used record and furniture store on Pandosy.  If you need a new toaster I suggest you buy an original Sunbeam Radiant Control Toaster.  It cost me $25.00 plus we had to replace the cord  but for some reason we had a retro style cord stashed in the workshop.  It took some time to clean the toaster so it didn't smell like burning dust when I used it, but it has never failed us and if it ever breaks down I will pay whatever they charge to have it fixed, whether I can buy one for less than the cost of repairs or not.  Lois Lane might be a good place to start if your looking for one of these little gems.

Consumerism is still consumerism, even if you are shopping at thrift stores, so I'm not going to use this as permission to fill my home with used goods rather than new.  We have a household rule that when you get something new, something old has to be donated, recycled or thrown out (the last resort).   My goal for the year is to buy only the things I need, and only used items. There are exceptions of course.  I intended to buy new socks and underwear before the new year, but I've been struck down by a cold and haven't been out of the house for a while so I hope you'll forgive me that future new purchase.  I'm not a big shopper anyway so I don't think it's going to require a lot of effort, but I have a feeling there may be a surprise or two in store.  I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Just Say Yes!

It's been years since I've seen in the New Year, but last night, despite a wretched cold, I hung out with my hubby and my daughter on the couch while we watched movies, munched on chips and dip and drank bubbly beverages until we switched to a delayed Niagara Falls feed at two minutes to midnight to ring in the New Year.

My daughter picked the movies, one of which was Yes Man.  We'd all seen it before, but she thought it was a movie with a message appropriate to the beginning of a New Year.  If you haven't seen this movie, it's well worth viewing.  If you have seen it and you're over 40 you've probably don't remember most of it so you'll still enjoy it the second time 'round. (FYI, though it's rated PG13 there is one scene that might be objectionable to some.)  

The movie is about a loans officer named Carl Allen, played by Jim Carrey.  He' a lonely man who has given up on life until he is convinced to say Yes to everything.   As someone who needs to be pried out of the house with a crow bar somedays, it's always good to be reminded that you never know what could happen when you say "yes" to an opportunity, that at face value may seem fairly benign.  If I have any regrets for 2013, it's likely the result of saying "no" to an invitation or opportunity that came my way.  

Though I don't make specific New Year's resolutions I think I'll try to encourage myself to be open to new challenges and adventures this year.   You never know what they may bring.  For you my friends, I wish you all a New Year filled with joyful opportunities and happy adventures !