Friday, January 30, 2015

Taking risks and O Canada ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Risky Business

Do you prefer taking risks, or having a safety net?

It depends on what I'm doing.  In my arts and crafts world I love to take risks.  In the really world, I tend to freak if I have to take risks.  I have become braver in my world and more conservative and nervous in the real world as I age.  I wonder if this is normal?

Of course, what really is normal?

March 15, 1967 - Symbols - Special joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons unanimously recommends that the government be authorized to adopt forthwith the music for O Canada composed by Calixa Lavallée as the music of the National Anthem of Canada with the following notation added to the sheet music: With dignity, not too slowly. God Save The Queen was found to be in the public domain as the Royal Anthem of Canada, but for O Canada the committee deemed it essential to take such steps as necessary to appropriate the copyright to the music providing that it shall belong to Her Majesty in right of Canada for all time. This provision would also include that no other person shall be entitled to copyright in the music or any arrangements or adaptations thereof. The committee recommended further study of the lyrics. It suggested keeping the original French version and using the Weir English version with minor changes - that is replacing two of the Stand on guard phrases with From far and wide and God keep our land. Ottawa, Ontario


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Organizing your stickers, die cuts and rub-ons is the challenge for Week 5

Week 5

Stickers, diecuts, and rub-ons are some of the hardest things to organize because the different sizes and shapes pose many challenges.  Rub-ons present their own challenges because if they aren't stored properly, they stick to each other, damaging precious supplies.

SORT: time to be ruthless.  Consider if you are really going to use these items.  If you bought a whole sheet of die cut just to use one or two tags, why are you hanging on to the whole sheet?  Those stickers you bought in 1999 were adorable then, but definitely not your style now, are they?  So, sort into piles: TRASH, SELL, DONATE, TO KEEP

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile.  Bag up, and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile and put them directly into the garage sale box.  Make immediate arrangements to rid yourself of the DONATE items. 

ASSIGN: The KEEP items need to be divided into categories that make sense to you: by colour, by manufacturer, theme, size, or type.

CONTAINERIZE: Here is an article about storing stickers, diecuts and rub-ons:

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrap session, and whenever you return from a crop or a shopping trip to put your stickers, rub-ons and diecuts where they belong.  

The first Canadian in space . . .

March 14, 1984 - Marc Garneau named First Canadian to go into space; member of the Canadian Space Agency's Canadian Astronaut Program. Ottawa, Ontario

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Favourite clothes and the first licensed woman pilot in Canada . . . ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Favorite Clothes

Describe your favorite article of clothing.

My favourite clothing is anything comfy and about a size too big. Right now my outfit of choice is a pair of charcoal grey yoga-style pants and a wine coloured v-neck long-sleeve t-shirt. I know there is nothing sexy or exciting about my choice of outfit but I dress for comfort and for the life I lead.

March 13, 1928 - Eileen Vollick passes her test to get a pilot's licence; issued Private Pilot Certificate No. 77 on March 22; first Canadian woman to be a licensed pilot. Hamilton, Ontario


Eileen Vollick, aviator, born August 2, 1908, in Wiarton, Ontario; died in New York City, September 27, 1968. After Vollick's father died in a mining accident, her mother remarried and moved the family to Hamilton, Ontario; worked at the Hamilton Cotton Co. next to Jack V. Elliot’s Air Service; started flying lessons when she turned 19; while waiting for her 19th birthday, she became the first Canadian woman to parachute into water, walking the wings of a Curtiss Jenny and parachuting 2,800 feet into Burlington Bay. Vollick weighed only 89 pounds and was 5 feet 1 inch tall, so she used pillows to take her lessons. On March 13, 1928, she passed the test along with ten other male cadets, and was issued Private Pilot Certificate No. 77 on March 22, 1928.

On August 2, 2008 (what would have been her 100th birthday) the Eileen Vollick Terminal was named in her honor at the Wiarton-Keppel International Airport.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who did I admire as a child? ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Admiration

Who did you look up to / admire as a child?

When I was growing up I remember reading biographies of women who became nurses or doctors. Among the ones I admired most were Florence Nightingale and Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. I was fairly certain I was going to enter the medical field when I grew up. Unfortunately I discovered I didn't have the stomach for it. The sight of wounds or vomit just make me ill.

March 12, 2014 - Military - The Canadian flag is lowered in Kabul, marking the end of the longest-running combat mission in Canadian history. Kabul, Afghanistan

Monday, January 26, 2015

What would you grab? and Thank you James Naismith! ~j

Today's Writing Prompt: Salvage

If your house was on fire, what would you grab and save before you escaped?

Funny enough, I have given this question a great deal of thought. It started the day someone took down all the signs in our apartment building that would have warned us that there was going to be testing of the fire alarm system. So the next day when the alarms kept going off I know I wasn't the only one a little "concerned" by them. We quickly found out is was a test, but it made me start to think about what I would grab in the case of a fire or other emergency.

On the lucky side, I am in a main floor apartment so I knew, unless the fire was in my own unit, I would have a few minutes to prepare my departure. I decided the things I would grab would be medications, coat and boots or shoes, a change of clothes, house and van keys, purse, a box of memories that could not be replaced and the external hard drive of my lap top which contains copies of all my documents and files.

Hubby wondered why I wouldn't take the laptop but my thought process was that it was easier to unplug one thing (the external hard drive) than to unplug everything that is attached to the laptop.

Anyway . . . a little while back there was some trouble with my hydro panel and Hal wasn't home. Although I was reassured that there wasn't any risk of fire I didn't really believe them (Hal and the superintendent). So I put my coat and shoes, purse with my keys and medications, a change of clothes, my memory box and the hard drive right beside the patio door figuring if the smoke detectors went off I could grab them on the way out the door.

Fortunately, nothing happened during the night . . . so I guess Hal and the superintendent were right . . . and the fuse thingie was fixed the day.

March 11, 1892 - James Naismith, from Almonte, Ontario, organizes the world's First public game of his new invention - basketball; at the YMCA training college. Springfield, Massachusetts


Thanks, James!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Morning Routines and Some Interesting Canadian History ~j

MONDAY, MARCH 10, 2014

Today's Writing Prompt: Mornings

Curse you, Daylight Savings Time!

What's the first thing you do when you wake up every morning?

I am a creature of habit, especially in the morning. In fact, I get cranky if my morning routine is tampered with in any way. Don't worry, I will skip the parts you really don't need to know about.

When I wake up in the morning I go to my studio and turn on the light and my laptop. Next step is to make coffee and throw bread into the toaster. Third, back to the studio to enter my password in my laptop. I then return to the kitchen where I put peanut butter on my toast, collect any other food items I plan to include with my breakfast such as fruit or cereal, pick up my fresh hot cup of coffee . . . and return to the studio where I leisurely read my emails and catch up with everyone on Facebook while enjoying my breakfast.

Only when these things are accomplished can I shower and get dressed and start my day.

March 7, 1878 - Education - University of Western Ontario chartered. London, Ontario
I attended Western University, as it is now called, as a mature student and loved every minute of it.

March 8, 1945 - Women - International Women's Day first celebrated on this day in Canada and around the world. Canada

March 9, 1977 - Terry Fox 1958-1981 loses right leg above the knee to cancer; fitted with artificial leg; learns to walk, drive a car, play golf. Vancouver, BC

March 10, 1876 - Technology - Alexander Graham Bell 1847-1922 makes the first successful test of his new invention, the telephone, a month after patenting the device. He transmits the First intelligible speech, room to room, telling his assistant, 'Come here, Watson. I need you.' Back at his father's house in Brantford Ontario on August 3, he makes the First building-to-building call with his uncle David Bell, and a year later sets up the world's first telephone service in Hamilton, with four customers. Boston, Massachusetts

It's Week 4 of the Get Organized Challenge . . . Tools & Adhesives

Week 4

The next task in the Get Organized Challenge is TOOLS and ADHESIVES!

Gather together all of your tools and adhesives into the Big Box, and let's start them!

Sort: one by one, put each item into piles: FAVOURITES, TRASH, TO SELL, STORE, DONATE. 

Purge: For the SELL pile: bag up and assign a price and your initials to tools/adhesives that you don't love/use anymore and put them in your garage sale box.  Throw out the TRASH pile. Arrange pick-up or drop-off of the DONATE pile.

Assign: Store your most used items in a basket or box or other system ring on your desk, within easy reach.  Divide the STORE items into categories that make sense to you: cutting tools, pens, punches, templates, etc.

Containerize: This is the time to tidy up your tools.  Tools need regular maintenance to keep them efficiently working.  As you put your tools away in whatever container (drawers, shelves, boxes, baskets - always ensuring the container is clearly labelled) give them a little maintenance.

scissors - sharpen your scissors using a small scissor sharpener, or have them professionally done. Carefully clean the blades (I like alcohol swabs to remove sticky adhesive)

pens - test pens and throw out the ones that are dry or don't work well.

craft knives - change the blades

trimmers - clean the deck of your trimmers with a damp cloth, and a little cleanser if necessary. Replace dull blades, or cut through fine sandpaper or aluminium foil.

work surface - clean ink, adhesive and paint from the mat.

punches - to prevent punches from sticking, punch through wax paper. Problem punches may need a little lubricating oil such as sewing machine oil, then punch through scrap paper several times to remove oily residue. Dull punches can be sharpened by punching through aluminium foil or fine grade sandpaper (both right side up and upside down)

rubber stamps - stamps should be cleaned after each use, but if there is a build up of ink on your stamps, you should clean them with an alcohol free baby wipe, or paper towels moistened with a mild cleanser (ammonia free/bleach free) Use a soft toothbrush to remove ink stuck in the crevices of a design. Store stamps flat, rubber side down.

EQUALIZE: Once you have a system in place for you tools, putting them back in the same place every time will become a reflex, and you will never have to hunt for you scissors again!  Take a couple of minutes at the end of each scrap session to put your tools away.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Random Acts of Kindness and Happy birthday Toronto ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Random Act of Kindness

Have you ever been on the receiving end of kindness from a stranger?

I've been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness many times.  The time that touched me the most was 10 or 12 years ago.  I can't remember the exact date.  I used to run a bunch of craft related Yahoo! groups and the women I met on these groups were my company every day.  A couple of times we had made afghans to send to a group member who was expecting a baby or going through tough health issues.  It was during this time that I was having trouble with allergies.  You know the whole sinus pain, itching, runny nose misery.  And this went on for months and months.  I was so sick.  And one of the fun side effects was an eye infection that totally went out of control to the point I had to keep wet wash cloths handy because if I closed my eyes they would seal shut.  My eyes hurt like they were full of glass.  I'm sure I whined online once in a while about how lousy I was feeling and how much I appreciated my online friends since I wasn't able to get out anymore.  They were able to keep their plans top secret until the day my beautiful comfortghan arrived in the mail.  I still have that blanket and use it whenever I don't feel well and I'm curled up in my chair.  

March 6, 1834 - City of Toronto, formerly the unincorporated town of York, incorporated under its original name, from "Le Passage de Toronto," a portage route to the "Lac de Toronto" - today's Lake Simcoe. "Toronto" in Huron referred to the fishing weirs at the narrows in Lake Couchiching. The city's population is now 10,000; the city is divided into five wards - St. George, St. Andrew, St. David, St. Patrick and St. Lawrence - and the first municipal election will be held March 27; William Lyon Mackenzie will be elected Toronto's first mayor. Toronto, Ontario

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Failure, sketch challenge and Mary Margaret O'Hara ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: Failure

What have you ever failed at in life?

Wow . . . do I have a long list.  I think the failure that bothers me the most though is that I never finished high school.  Looking back I realize how much growing up time I missed out on.  I made myself a "grown up" at 16.  Not one of my brightest decisions.  I do have a college degree and a university degree though.

In the mood for a little scrapbooking today.  Have a little fun with this simple sketch:

March 5, 1989 - Toronto blues singer and songwriter Mary Margaret O'Hara makes her British debut at the Duke of York Theatre. London, England

Freezer Coleslaw

1 medium cabbage, chopped and spread on cookie sheet.
1 tbsp salt sprinkled over cabbage.
Let stand one hour.
Squeeze juice out by hand.
Chop up celery, carrot, pepper, etc and add to cabbage.

Mix together 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups white sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1 tsp celery seed and 1 tsp mustard seed.  Boil one minute.  Let cool.
Pour over cabbage.

Place in bags and freeze.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Books in Stock

Books In Stock:
All prices include taxes and shipping

Album in an Afternoon black & white edition $11.46

Album in a Day -- Large Print $19.00

Complete a Scrapbook Album in One Day black & white edition $ 16.50

Design Strategies for Scrapbookers $28.71

Design Strategies for Scrapbookers black & white edition $17.00

Scrapbooking with Sketches black & white edition $19.33

Scrapbooking with Two-Page Sketches $40.13

Scrapbooking with Two-Page Sketches black & white edition $20.40

More Scrapbooking with Sketches black & white edition 19.69

Remembering Alma College $39.00

The First Step:  An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas $24.06

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Week 3: Organize your photos . . .

Week 3

So, your paper is beautifully organized, your scraps carefully stashed or purged, and your desk is gleaming!  Doesn't it make you feel creative?  Don't you want to get cropping?  Well, you CAN'T scrapbook without PHOTOS!

Our third challenge is to organize our photos.  Here are a few articles to get you thinking about how to organize those precious photos before we S.P.A.C.E. them:

SORT: Gather together all of your photos, and sort them into categories that make sense: TRASH (it's okay to throw out photos with bad colour, expression, composition.  Why keep them?  You're not going to scrapbook them) TO SCRAPBOOK (the shots you know you are going to use) TO STORE (photos that need to be kept, but aren't necessarily going to be going into your scrapbooks) TO GIVE AWAY (doubles that you want to send to friends and family)

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile.  Put the TO GIVE AWAY photos in envelopes and mail them to friends/family, or put them in your car so you can drop them off the next time you visit.  Do not leave them in your studio, or they will creep back into your organized space. 

ASSIGN: Sort the final two groups of photos into a system that makes sense to you:

CONTAINERIZE: Now it's time to decide how you want to store your photos.  Perhaps you want to put your TO STORE photos in acid free envelopes or albums.  Perhaps you want to put your TO SCRAPBOOK photos into photo storage boxes, or accordion folders.

EQUALIZE: Next time you get new photos from the photo processor, spend a couple of minutes and put the photos where they belong: throw out the bad shots, give away the extras, put the keepers away in their album, and sort your photos for scrapbooking into their container.

In common, recipes and Bertha Wilson ~j


Today's Writing Prompt: In Common

What is something you and your spouse or best friend have in common?

My dear hubby and I are very very very different people but we actually do have a few things in common. We love movies especially if one of our favourite actors are in them like Meryl Streep (my fav) or John Wayne (Hal's fav). We love some of the same kinds of music like 50-70s rock. We both agree that our children and grandchildren are mostly perfect. We both love letterboxing but for different reasons. I love to carve stamps and solve clues and the social aspects of the hobby. Hal loves to drive me around and make me happy and he will pull letterboxes out of creepy places that might have snakes or bugs . . . even though we both hate snakes and bugs.

Here are a couple of interesting posts you might enjoy:

1982 - Bertha Wilson appointed first woman justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vegetarian Chili with Tofu

Tofu haters are going to go ew! yuck!  I didn't even try to serve it to Hal, the king of the tofu haters.  And it is his loss.  This chili was lovely and meaty and flavourful.  It also freezes very nicely (without the sour cream).

1 onions, finely chopped 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 dried chili peppers, minced 
1 carrots, finely diced 
1 stalk celery, finely diced 
1/2 green peppers, finely diced 
3 tbsp canola oil 
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tbsp brown sugar 
260 g firm tofu, finely diced 
1 2/3 cup red beans (canned) 
1 1/2 cup canned tomatoes (diced) 
1/2 cup water approximately 
1 pinch salt [optional] 
ground pepper to taste 
2 tbsp fresh cilantro [optional] 
1/3 cup Cheddar cheese, grated 

Keep the serving plates in the oven at the lowest setting so they are warm when you serve.

Prepare the vegetables: Chop the onion, mince the garlic and chili pepper, finely dice the carrots, celery, and bell pepper.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic about 2 min until the onion is translucent, with occasional stirring, paying attention not to let them burn. Add the carrots, celery, and bell pepper, then cook 4-5 min, with occasional stirring. Add the minced chili pepper, cumin and brown sugar, then cook 1 min, with stirring. Finely dice the tofu then add it to the mixture, then cook until golden-brown, about 8-10 min.

Drain the beans, rinse them and drain again. Add them to the pan, mix well, add the diced tomatoes and enough water to provide a moist environment. Cover and cook over low heat an additional 10 min, until the carrots are tender.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro leaves, grated cheddar and serve.  I served this dish with quinoa.

Homemade Granola

Preparation 10 min / Cooking 35 min
150 calories per serving [See all nutrition info]
Cooking dish: 30x38 cm

vegetable oil spray, or butter , for the baking sheet
8 cups rolled oats
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 3/4 cup hazelnuts, shelled, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Lightly oil or butter a large baking sheet (about 30 x 38 cm).
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the oil, honey, and maple syrup into a small bowl, then warm it up about 30 seconds in a microwave oven. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients then toss well. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 to 40 min or until golden brown and crispy. Stir every 10 min to brown evenly and avoid burning the mixture.
Let the granola cool down: It will become crispier and dry as it cools. Make sure to break up any large clumps of granola while the mixture is still warm. Once it has completely cooled, transfer it to an airtight container or plastic bag.
The granola will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator; up to 3 months in the freezer.

Makes 12 cups (36 servings).

Recipe comes from

Chicken Goulash

2 onions, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, chopped 
2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced 
1 yellow or red sweet peppers, cut into match-like strips 
2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into 3 cm cubes 
4 tsp butter, unsalted 
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp paprika
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup chicken broth, or more 
1 pinch salt [optional]
ground pepper to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 tbsp sour cream [optional]

Prepare the vegetables : thinly slice the onions, chop the garlic, deseed and dice the tomatoes, and cut the peppers into match-like strips. Cut the chicken into 3 cm cubes.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Sauté the meat until it is well browned on all sides, about 8-10 min, then transfer the cubes to a plate.
Lower the heat to low, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally until they are well cooked, about 15 min. Return the meat to the pot, add the paprika and cumin, then cook 1 min with stirring. Add the chopped garlic, tomatoes, and peppers, then pour in the broth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
Cook, covered, over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 30 min, adding some broth if needed to keep a moist environment.
Peel the potatoes, cut them into cubes, then add them to the pot and cook an additional 30 min.Adjust the seasoning.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream (optional).

Makes 4 servings.

This recipe is from

Baked Sausage with Vegetables

I cooked this dish for supper tonight and it was DELICIOUS!!!!!

6 small potatoes, whole or halved
1 red onion, cut into 2 cm pieces
1 yellow or red sweet pepper, seeded, then cut into 2 cm squares
3 Italian sausages, cut into 2 cm pieces
2 tsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Generously oil an oven-proof dish.  Prepare the vegetables and cut them into uniform pieces.  Put the pieces in the dish then coat them thoroughly with the oil.  Add the sausage and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast in the middle of the oven until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden-coloured, about 30-35 minutes.  Stir once halfway through the roasting time.

Makes 2 servings.

This recipe is from

Monday, January 12, 2015

My publisher is having a great SALE . . . check it out.

Don't let shipping charges get you down! Today through January 19, we are offering free mail shipping or 50% off ground shipping with code SHQ15.

What a great time to order one or two or more of my books at
Album in a Day - available in large print
Complete an Album in One Day - available in ccolour and black & white
Design Strategies for Scrapbookers - available in colour and black & white
Scrapbooking with Two-Page Sketches - available in colour, black & white and ebook
More Scrapbooking with Sketches - available in colour and black & white
Remembering Alma College - available in colour
Scrapbooking with Sketches - available in ebook, colour and black & white
Album in an Afternoon - available in colour and black & white
The First Step: An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas - available in print and ebook

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Week #2 Challenge: Paper . . . and I mean ALL of your paper.

Annual Organization Challenge Week #2


How did you make out with last week's challenge? Did you find your work table?

Here's this week's challenge:

Your challenge this week is to S.P.A.C.E. your paper - - and I mean ALL of your paper: cardstock, patterned paper, specialty papers, and all those SCRAPS!

SORT: Bring all of your paper to one area. Sort it all into piles: KEEP, SELL, DONATE, TRASH

PURGE: bag up, and assign a price to paper bundles that you want to SELL at a garage sale or online, and put the bags in the garage sale box. Throw out the TRASH pile. Bag up the DONATE pile and immediately make arrangements for drop-off/pick-up or put  in your vehicle.

ASSIGN: separate your paper into categories that make sense to you. For example, you may want to divide it simply into cardstock and patterned paper. If you have a huge stash of paper, you may want to divide it by colour, theme, or manufacturer.

**Another way to sort your paper is in page kits. Package matching patterned papers in a zip lock or similar bag, add matching cardstocks and embellishments to create kits.

CONTAINERIZE: store you paper in a way that makes sense to you:
- vertical paper holders
- hanging vertical file folders
- wire cubes
- paper trays
- paper organizers
- bookcases with adjustable shelves
Click here to see lots of different storage ideas.

EQUALIZE: each time you finish a scrap session, return from a crop, or bring home new papers, spend a few minutes putting your paper away where it belongs.