Monday, September 30, 2013

The Yummiest Popcorn Ever

Today I share with you my favorite snack recipe, stove-top popcorn. 
We gave up microwave popcorn a long time ago. After we started eating cleaner, I began to think about all of the fake stuff that is in the microwave popcorn. I always felt sick after eating it, so I decided to start popping it on the stove.
It tasted a lot better to me after cooking it on the stove top and I didn't feel sick after eating it. Super bonus!
For a while I was using canola oil, but then I started using coconut oil.
That could have been one of my best decisions:o)
I HATE coconut, but I love what this oil does to the popcorn. It's delicious.
Coconut oil is actually one of the healthiest oils out right now.
When we have a bunch of kids over to play, this is my go-to snack, and they all LOVE it! Crowd-pleasing, cheap snack-ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!!

So here's how you make it.
What you need:
Large pot with lid
Popcorn kernels
Salt
(click on the above link to order..it's cheaper on Amazon than in stores)
 Measure out 3 tablespoons. The oil is in a hardened state, but melts quickly.
Turn your stove on medium high. The oil will melt in just a few seconds.
 Pour 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels into pan, and cover with a lid.
 Once you start hearing the kernels popping, you will want to stand over the pan. I hold the lid while scooting the pan back and forth across the eye of the stove to keep the kernels from sticking to the bottom...usually about every 15-20 seconds.
There will be rapid popping kernels for about 25-30 seconds and then it will slow down to about 5-6 kernels per second. That's when I remove the pan from the heat, and let it sit for about 30 seconds. You don't want it to sit too long on the heat because the popcorn will burn and then your house will stink..no fun! Been there, done that!!
 When you remove the lid, this is what you should have.
Dump the popcorn in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt. The salt will stick to the popcorn, and it's wonderful!
Let me know if you have tried it! I want to know if anyone else loves it as much as us!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Some anecdotal stuff

This conversation was over heard on the GG Gondola by a friend. Not by me, but by a friend who is reliable and does not exaggerate.

Lady. "I am 53 and thought I was going to retire when I was 60, but I just took out a second mortgage to help my son buy an apartment. That just buries me in debt again".

Friend: " I am even older and thought I would be free of debt by now, but my mortgage hasn't been paid out, and I haven't been able to clear my credit card debt before another holiday comes along".

Male friend: " I recently went into my bank to get an higher limit on my credit card for a month, and the   bank employee kept trying to sell me on getting a $25,000 line of credit. "Just sign here and $25,000 will be deposited into your account".  I had to fight her off.

They then discussed how the banks almost forced debt on people. "Quite the difference from a few years ago, when you had to prove you could replay them. Now they don't care if you are nearly broke with debt. "Just get more debt to pay off the old debt."

Then another occupant of the gondola spoke up and said he worked for CIBC and that they had quotas of credit cards and personal debt to meet, and if they don't there was pressure from Managers to get there, that's why they kept pushing customers to get into more debt.

That is were we have got to. The banks have become drug pushers. Except the drug is debt. We are supposed to hope the addict will quit using themselves. And if you can't get your drug from the banks, there are dozens of fringe outfits willing to give you money..'If you have equity in your home'. Which just drains whatever equity you have managed to build up in your home.

This can only end badly.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Changing Table -Turned Dog Bed

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a beat up, run down changing table on the side of the road. It was no longer safe to put a baby on. It was missing two shelves, and was super rickety. Because it was made of real wood and had interesting spindles, I felt the need to bring it home and make something out of it.
The hubs was obviously unhappy that I was bringing more junk home;o) Story of our lives, right?
Anyway, I thought it would make a perfect pet bed.
 This is how it started out. 
I used an electric hand saw and chopped the legs off. That was definitely an experience. Note to self...use a sharp blade next time. I was literally shaking so hard that I had blurred vision while cutting this piece because the blade wouldn't cut through the wood:o) 
I sanded down the feet to get a nice edge.
I then ripped the safety buckles off of the bottom.
And then spray painted it.
The cushion is made from painters' canvas and two large pillows from my couch in the bonus room.
I made the cover removable by adding a zipper to the back. That way when it gets dirty, I can just throw it in the wash.
Not bad for a roadside rescue?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Old Drawer Turned Jewelry Organizer

My master bathroom is in need of some serious organization AND upgrading. Everything, and I mean everything is still builder basic. We have been in our house for almost 4 years, and haven't touched a thing in there. Unbelievable, right? I have so many ideas on what I want to do with my bathroom, unfortunately, we don't have the funds to anything about it right now. 
Tile in the shower, tile on the floor, a beautiful arch above our tub...
(I would love a claw foot tub, but that will never happen...the hubs must have his jacuzzi tub;o)) ...We would love to have separate vanities instead of a double vanity, and big chunky mirrors. The list keeps going, right? 
So, I'll continue to dream; peruse Pinterest and magazines; walking the aisles of Lowes and Home Depot; adding to the list of wants;o)
For my UK readers, if you are in the market for a new bathroom, check out these UK bathroom brands.
So since I can't overhaul our bathroom, I figured I would at least tackle the organization part.
 Today I am sharing another old drawer re-do.
If you guys remember, a couple of weeks ago I shared with you my drawer turned bathroom shelf.
The drawer I am sharing today, is it's little sister.
I found it along side the other drawer.
It's new purpose is a jewelry organizer.
My inspiration for the jewelry organizer came from this picture. When I came across it on Google, I thought to myself, "Hey, I have something like that!"
(source unknown)
As you can see below, my jewelry organization was lacking..in a bad sort of way. I can't tell you how many times I have stood in my bathroom untangling necklaces and earrings. SO very frustrating. 
So here is baby sister in all of her glory. A diamond in the rough.
 I used the same technique of stripping the 4 layers of paint off of the drawer. 
I did wear a mask this time...but I wore flips flops while scraping the paint and burned a couple of holes in my toes. Dumb. 
One of these days I will actually wear all the proper safety gear!
 I attached some glass knobs from Hobby Lobby to hang necklaces from. I also installed baby cup hooks in the top, spray painted this pretty little Union Jack aluminum sheet and hung it off of the hooks.
Now my earrings have a pretty place to be displayed.
No more tangled mess!
Isn't this way better than shoving everything under the sink and hoping for the best?

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This post contains links to affiliates. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Throw Back Thursday-Pumpkin Bread

I thought I would change things up a bit and take a trip down memory lane. For those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you will remember this post. 
I made these little pumpkin loaves 3 years ago. My how time flies! They have been a huge hit across the web. Even Hershey's saw it and posted it on their Facebook page....I felt pretty awesome after seeing that!
Anyway, you can click
to read more.
Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

And then some....

The US Fed blinked. Actually it did't blink, it closed it's eyes and assumed the fetal position.

After talking tough about backing off on buying the US Government debt (the definition of ponzi btw), it stood pat and said.."we will..we will...keep buying! forget what we said earlier this year".

Actually it worked out ok for me, as my poor preferred shares which had been beaten into mush caught a bid.

However it did bring interest rates down a notch now that everyone sees the Fed for the blow-hard-but-do-nothing that it is.

The Canadian bond market which is tied by it's apron strings to the US one also got a bounce and rates dropped.

Now how about September? What are we looking at. Well so far it looks to em like we are going to get some weakness in the HPI and averages for the month.

I see mid range homes (would be super upper end anywhere else) $1.2-$1.6 M selling for a 4-8 % below asking. Of course the asking prices are pretty crazy, made up numbers , but that didn't deter the delusional buyers before.

I have said before that if September didn't show some weakness that I would probably suspend or close this blog but it looks like you may have to put up with me a bit longer. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Coffee Table Redo-Part3

Our coffee table serves many purposes. It's the place where the kids do homework, make crafts, sometimes eat their dinners. It's also a foot rest, and occasionally used in pillow/blanket forts.
It's used A LOT, and had been showing lots of wear here lately.
This coffee table has gone through a couple of transformations.
To see the actual before, you can go here.
I had not been planning on re-doing the coffee table. It sort of just struck me last Friday that I needed to strip all of the nasty paint off of it. 
This was part two...the center is chalkboard paint. I had found some inspiration on Mrs. Mustard Seed's blog with some chalkboard tables she had created. At the time of the second re-do, my children had a nasty habit of writing on furniture. I came up with what I thought was an ingenious idea to paint chalkboard paint on the top of the coffee table; that way they could have at least one piece of furniture in the house to write on with out mommy fussing.
Well, it's been a few years and the kids are past the graffiti-on-my-furniture phase, thankfully. However, this table has been put through the ringer.
 As you can see there are tons of nicks, and scratches all over the top. There was also this weird film that developed...not exactly sure if it was from the chalkboard paint, or if we're just that nasty.
Regardless, it needed to come off. 
After two coats of paint stripper and a little bit of sanding, I was able to restore the wood to it's natural state.
 I applied the same stain I used for the old bench.
I let the stain sit for 15 minutes before wiping it off. I'm not one for waiting hours to reapply coats of stain to get what I think is basically the same result.
And this is the finished result. A beautiful stained wood top.
A much needed improvement.
I haven't applied the coats of poly yet. We had way too much going on over the weekend to get that done.
I love my big coffee table, and love that it serves so many purposes. Styling it, is an issue all on it's own. Because it has so many jobs, leaving things on it isn't an option.
But, the kids and the hubs are away, so mommy gets to play around with some fun styling:o)
 I love these old Bibles. I think they are so beautiful. The thicker ones belonged to the hubs' grandfather. The smaller one was my mother's cousin's Bible that was given to him when he was fighting in the war. They were to put them in their pocket to figuratively and literally protect their hearts.
Definitely a treasure.
 I can't get enough of these old blue mason jars either.
I have them scatted throughout the whole house. 
I have three more projects that I am in the process of finishing. I can't wait to share them with you all!!



Friday, September 13, 2013

Busy Beaver

I have been working the day away trying to get several things done. Laundry, cleaning the house, hanging things on the wall, stripping paint off of furniture(as seen below), sanding, etc. This is the first time since my surgery that I have felt well enough to tackle multiple projects at once. I actually have 3 in the process of being completed. And I'm just a little jazzed at how they are turning out:o)
The weather couldn't be anymore perfect for this sort of thing either. So grateful for Fall-esque weather.
We have a big weekend ahead of us. We have 2 kids' birthday parties to attend, a soccer game, and the hubs is having a birthday on Sunday. 
Busy, busy, busy.
Today I just wanted to fill you in on what's going on behind the scenes with my blog. 
As you have probably noticed, the appearance has changed over the past few weeks. I have been working really hard trying to spruce things up and make it seem more appealing. I have scoured the internet for different tutorials on how to make these changes. 
If you check out my Blogger Tutorials Pinterest Page, you can see where I have gotten all of these great ideas.
I have been playing around with this blog for a little over 3 years now. I have had so much fun learning, creating and sharing with you guys.
Now that my kiddos are at the age where they are in school full time, I have a few extra hours in the day where I can get through more projects.
I also have more time to dedicate to this blog and trying to make it grow. 
Growing will hopefully mean turning a profit...yep, I said it. I want to earn an income from blogging. I absolutely love crafting, sewing, DIY'ing, and everything that goes along with blogging. Why not try to make money at something I love doing?
So, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, I will be looking for sponsors. People who I feel my readers, that's you, would want to purchase from.  That part is still in the works right now. Other ways I am earning, is through ads. Every ad-click counts towards me earning a little extra..so if you see something that interests you, click on it:o)
I appreciate each and every one of my readers. I am so thankful that you guys take time out of your day to see what I have been up to. You are what makes doing all of these projects more enjoyable. It's fun when you get to share something you're excited about with other people who will get excited right along with you. I hope that you will stick around and help this little blog continue to grow!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bicycle Art

It seems like ages ago I told you that I would have a fun little art project for S.R.'s room. Well, I finally got around to making one.
I just needed the right inspiration!
I wanted to do something with a bike, but just wasn't sure what. I came across this really cute vinyl cruiser on Etsy , and knew it was exactly what I needed.


And this is what I came up with.
FrogTape makes a chevron painter's tape. Crazy! I know!
 It's super easy to use! 

I found some at Lowes the other day, but you can also purchase it from Amazon. 
Click the link below and it will take you directly to Amazon.

                               
The tape isn't recommended for use on textured surfaces...says so right on the box. As you can see below, my canvas is a textured surface. I went with it anyway because sometimes you can bend the rules a bit in the crafting world. 
I used a scrap piece of tape to keep my lines even.
Once all of the tape was down on my canvas board, I smoothed out all of the edges, painted, and promptly removed the tape.
After letting the paint dry for about 30 minutes, I placed the vinyl bike on top of the painting.
You have to be patient with vinyl. It can tear easily, and can stick together if you don't follow the instructions.
Once in place, I smoothed it out to make sure there weren't any bubbles.
I had the large frame on hand. I was actually using the frame as a Christmas card holder. However, last year, the cards never made it to the frame. 
So I figured I would make good use out of it, paint it purple, and hang it in S.R.'s room.
I don't normally do anything with colors this bright or go with things that are this contemporary because it's not my style. I'm more of a classic style kind of girl.
However, it is S.R.'s style...so I'm goin' with it;o)


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Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By clicking on said links, you help me make money. It wouldn't hurt my feelings a bit if you decided to click and buy;o)



Photobucket

Craft Dictator

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ladder Quilt Rack

I have so many projects I want to get started on, but I am still having to wait on the doctor's approval to start lifting heavy items. I am reminded several times a day that where once was a gallbladder, now resides a slight tinge of pain when I try to over-do it.. I am not a patient person. If the mind is willing, so should be the body, is my thought;o) 
So I have been piddling around the house, trying to clean things out and make things a little more organized.
I love to organize.
 I cleaned out a closet this morning that had tons of junk in it...it was the hubs' junk closet...shhhhh! Don't tell him I threw away a ton of boxes that had absolutely no purpose what-so-ever;o)
He's never been one to throw away boxes that electronics come in. Some of the boxes have been hanging out in that closet since before we moved here...mind blowing, right?;o) 
That last statement is absolutely impossible since we are the only owners of this house;o) A slight exaggeration. 

So anyway, here is another way I have been organizing.
I found this cute ladder (1/2 a ladder to be precise), on a Facebook yard sale page.  I have been able to find so many great deals on our local site. If you guys aren't apart of one, I highly recommend it; from a buyer and seller standpoint. 
It's so much easier than having to get up at O-dark-30 every Saturday morning. 
This little ladder has been a great way to store our blankets in the living room, and it's super cute. And guess what?!? I only paid $10 for it. Awesome, I know.
Now to teach the kids and the hubs how to properly fold the blankets and re-hang them...one can dream, right?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What are you doing with your money while you wait?

Assuming you are waiting to buy or have decided not to, then you have a nice pile of cash building up. What are you doing with it in this forced low rate era?

None of the Central banks (UK, Canada, Euro), despite talking tough about soaring consumer debt have had the balls to increase rates. We are STILL sitting with rates at emergency levels and below inflation.

So what options do we have for our money?

Well a few and none are that enticing.

There is the GIC. Rates are pretty low at the moment. The banks still haven't budged much from the 1.0-1.4% for a one year fixed. You can get a little more by bargaining with your advisor. This has always irked me BTW. Why not just post better rates for everyone. Our banks, like our telecom carriers either need competition or serious regulating.

I just picked up 1.8% for a one year at ING direct which is owned by Scotia now. I got this from a brokerage account and was better than their posted rate. Other institutions with lower credit ratings offer up to 2%for a one year and 3% for a five year fixed. The CDIC will insure up to $100,000 if the GIC is under 5 years.

Either way you slice it, it isn't a big chunk of money. After taxes, it is below inflation. It used to be that a one year GIC matched inflation after tax and a two year beat it. Not now that the Central banks are trying to force us to speculate (and then complain when we do)

So what else is there?

Bonds.

You can buy bonds via any brokerage account. The rates are not much better than GIC rates at present for high credit companies and Government of Canada bonds are even lower. You can tweek things by buying stripped bonds which have a lower tax rate (capital gains instead of interest taxation). You can google this if interested.

Preferred shares.

These are shares that behave like bonds. They come in several flavours, some pay a steady % until maturity, others reset the rate depending on the Bank of Canada rate or rates for a ten year bond, others maybe convertible into the shares of the issuer. They pay higher rates as they are considered 'long bonds'. However as they are shares too, they are taxed better than bonds and so a 5% yield in preferreds would be the same as getting almost 7% in a bond if you pay tax at the highest rate.

Here is a good site which explains and tracks them. Though he also writes of other stuff in his commentary which I usually skip over.

Garth Turner used to be a big proponent of them on his site Greater Fool. They have done very well for the last few years and then got slaughtered recently as rates have been rising. He has not mentioned them recently :)


Then there is the stock market. You can buy stocks directly, or mutual funds or index funds etc. Bank shares have done very well as they have been in the sweat spot.

They have borrowed short (from all the people having one year GICs or getting near zero interest in their savings account) and lending out several % higher to mortgage borrowers. Even though rates are low, the spread between the short end and then long end of the rates curve has been widening and therefore the banks have been making even more money than before.

The best thing is that they have been doing this risk-free. Anyone with high leverage or poor credit risk they passed off to that garbage can of risk - the tax-payer back CHMC. A scandal IMVHO.

However this circus is slowly coming to an end, as outsiders from the World Bank to Investment houses to independent economists have told our Government how poorly risk is managed at the CMHC, they seem to be finally getting the message.

The stock market was a good place to be for the last four years, especially the US market. But I am too leery to put new money unless there is a good correction. Rising rates are usually bad for the earnings of companies

That's about it. Can't think of many more options.

What are you doing out there?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to School Shirts

The regular school routine has set in, and things seem to be moving along just fine. It has taken this mommy a little more adjusting than these two kiddos. 
They were both pumped and ready to go. Me, not so much.
I miss them.
The first day back broke my heart and I might have sobbed like a baby...in front of my baby...who is now a kindergartner.
My kindergartner might have shed a few tears because her mother lost it in front of her, but waited for her to leave. Such a strong little girl.
My first grader was a brave and happy little soldier. He's an old pro at this sort of thing now; in his mind's eye.
It does my heart good to see how happy they are with their teachers and their classmates. My favorite part of the day is when they get in the car at the end of the school day, smiles beaming, ready to tell me every detail of their day...competing to see who can tell the most.
Yes, I know these days are very short lived, and there will come a time when they won't say two words to me. 
I'm living in the moment and soaking it all in.
I love it.
We had a "morning of" photo shoot. This year wasn't nearly as fancy as last year's;o)
I will say that this impromptu photo shoot was a lot more fun and waaaay less stressful!!
 I made the kids' shirts to wear on their first day of school. I forgot to get good close up shots, so bear with me.
I found the fabrics from Hobby Lobby.
The shirt S.R. is wearing was created by using a pattern I had on hand. Super simple to put together, and took no time at all. I actually made it the night before school started because I am a last minute kind of gal;o)
 Here is a full view of the shirt along with a pair of shorts I found at a yard sale for $1...I really scored some awesome boutique deals that day.
This has to be one of my favorite shirts to date. I love the bright colors. Super fun!
 I asked E's permission before making his shirt. It needed to be something that didn't seem baby-ish. There is a fine line to walk when you mix applique and almost-7-year-old boys.
He approved, thankfully:o)
I made a pair of shorts to match, but when I finished them, I realized he might have been made fun of if he wore them. And we can't have anybody making fun of my sweet boy!
I haven't taken the time to make anymore clothes for them right now because we're about to head into Fall.
Hopefully I can get a few things together soon.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hey Y'all...

Soooo....I had my gallbladder taken out last Friday. How did your Labor Day weekend go? It couldn't have been as interesting as mine;o) I mean, how could it get any better than laying in bed with 5,000 pillows tucked under each and every bend of your body, and flipping back and forth between HGTV and the My Fair Wedding marathon?
I had all of these grand plans to host a college football kick-off party and to find somewhere fun to take the family, and just relax...didn't happen.
Pain pills and David Tutera...that's what happened. 
But I will happily report that this is the best I have felt in a month. I will take the soreness over the nausea any day! Good riddance you evil non-working gallbladder!

Enough about that.
 I guess you may or may not have noticed, but it's September, and there hasn't been one mention of a certain child's birthday coming up in 2.5 weeks. 
We're going stress free this time.
We're having the party at a local party space where they get to fix the food, AND clean up. All I have to do is show up and pay them...WOOT!
E wanted to have a camping themed party and actually camp out. In theory, it sounded totally awesome. In reality, it seemed like more work/stress than I could handle.
I talked him into having it at a local party spot that has putt-putt, kiddie carnival rides, bumper cars, and video games. 
It's a pirate themed spot, and he's never really been into pirates, but we're getting there.

I will be putting together some cute party favors, and I will share those with you once they have been assembled.
Since I'm not going through all of the steps of this party like I have in the past, I thought I would share a few pins I have on my 

  
The shirt is really fun. It makes me laugh. I think the hubs needs this.
The little pirate cookies are adorable. We may go this route instead of the cake. Less to carry and no one can spit on these when the candles are blown out;o)
I love the invites in the picture below. I'm still debating on whether to use paper invitations, or go the e-card route. 
I'm totally feeling guilt-free about not going all out on this party. The kids were able to get 6 good years out of me. I want to actually enjoy a party for once, and not be completely exhausted once everyone shows up.  I plan on doing so, starting with this this one.
Gone are the days where I feel like I have to compete with other mommy bloggers to have the most awesomest (not a word I know) parties.
We can still make a big deal over their birthdays without sending mommy to the loony bin. 
This party is going to be a blast!
 I can't wait!
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If you haven't seen some of the parties from the past, you can go 
to check them out.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Averages up.

Larry as usual provides the numbers.

Detached MOI = 6.9
Attached =  5.6
Condo = 6.1

These MOI are in the 'balanced' range. However they are a LOT lower than last August. Is this demand pulled in because of the interest rate and CMHC changes or is the Bull back?

Some higher sales have skewed the numbers. Lots of local and HAM big buys in August in the Multimillion range have pulled the numbers up.

Is HAM buying drying up? Not yet. There are some signs that emerging markets are under some financial stress with the Fed TALK (only talk so far) of pulling back on ponzi monetary policy.

However the Chinese PMI number has come in above expectations and that may bring more hot money to our shores.

As I have said recently, we SHOULD have seen the top with everything stacked against RE. However there could be some new dynamic that I have not taken into account which will ignite further buying and if so, then it is time to move on. We will know very soon if this is the case.