Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review ~ The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Image result for the breadwinner by deborah ellis

I belong to the No Name Yet Book Club and we have challenged ourselves to read as many different types and genres of books as possible.  Our recent meeting was to discuss this gem of a book, The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis.

The style and language in this book definitely feels like a young person's voice.  Parvana is an 11-year-old girl living in Taliban-era Afghanistan.  When her father is arrested by the Taliban for having a foreign education the family is left destitute and cloistered in their home.  Women cannot be outside without a male relative to escort them.  It is decided that Parvana will become a boy which is initially very upsetting to her.  They cut her hair and dress her in her late brother's clothes.  Parvana can now go out for food, and she reopens her father's letter-writing stall in the market, and she realizes she loves the freedom she has as a boy.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking story for most any age.

There are more books in this series and they are already loaded to my Kobo.

Journal Prompt 30 Sep 2019 ~ Best Things

Today's Writing Prompt: Best Things

What item in your home is your favorite?

Do I have to pick only one thing? In that case, I would have to say the big solid wood table in my studio. Perfect for every craft and lots of room to spread out.

Craft Room Organization Challenge #5 ~ Stickers, Die Cuts, and Rub Ons

Challenge #5 - Stickers, die cuts, and rub ons 

Stickers, etc. are another great challenge to me.  I have yet to find my perfect storage solution so once again I will be seeking inspiration from you.

Stickers, die cuts, 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 and then they are useless.

SORT: time to be ruthless. Consider if you are really going to use these items. If you bought a whole sheet of die cuts 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, die cuts 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 die cuts where they belong.

When you are done, please share a photo showing your storage system.  Post here.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Baby Mini Album How To

I found this adorable little mini album while "visiting" Pintrest.  I'm planning on trying it out this week.  I think it would be an excellent gift idea.  I found the instructions here.

Sketch Challenge 28 Sep 2019 ~ 13 photos 2 pages


Downton Abbey (2019)

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Mom and I went to see the Downton Abbey movie at the local theatre this past week.  You know how "these things" can go so very wrong but I can honestly say I was enthralled.  It was brilliant.  And be seeing it on the big screen it was easier to see all the details of the beautiful costumes and furnishings.  I will not go into details because I don't want to spoil the event for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

The best part is that you don't have to have watched the TV series in order to follow the movie . . . but . . . it was so nice to see our favourite characters again and how they have changed and, more importantly, stayed the same.  I really loved the downstairs mutiny.  (oops! I guess I let one spoiler slip)

Dame Maggie Smith (aka the Dowager Countess) is her wonderful ascerbic self.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Journal Prompt 27 Sep 2019 ~ Best Breakfast

Today's Writing Prompt: Best Breakfast

What's your favorite breakfast to get you up and out the door?

Image result for peanut butter toast and coffee

My favourite breakfast is coffee and peanut butter toast. I'm not a fan of big breakfasts. I do enjoy brunch though.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Taste of Canada ~ Clearly Canadian

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I know I've seen these in the grocery store but I don't think I've ever tried one.  Can someone tell me what they are like or do I need to go out and buy my own . . . LOL?


There’s only four (4) simple, non-GMO ingredients in your favourite Clearly Canadian Original.
1 - Carbonated Spring Water
From Canada's finest natural water sources
2 - Pure Cane Sugar
Sweetened with non-GMO cane sugar
(25 grams / 325ml bottle)
3 - All Natural Flavouring
The natural essences of your favourite fruit flavours
4 - Citric Acid
For shelf life and a little extra zing

Journal Prompt 26 Sep 2019 ~ Best Movie

Today's Writing Prompt: Best Movie

Continuing our theme, how about the best movie you have seen recently? What made it so good?

Image result for the angriest man in brooklyn

Call me crazy but I loved The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Robin Williams' last movie to be released before he died.  As Henry Altmann, his anger and frustration with the world as a result of his son's death is heart-breaking.  Altmann's alienation from his wife and younger son is just some of the collateral damage caused by his anger.

And then a young doctor, pushed to her limits by his anger, brutally tells him that he has a brain aneurism and that he has 90 minutes to live.  Altmann attempts to make amends with all the people he has loved and hurt but is initially rebuffed.  The young doctor, played by Mila Kunis, regretting her own horrible behaviour, is always just one step behind as she tries to find Altmann.  

The ending is beautifully poignant.  I am so glad we watched this movie.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

O Canada! The Best Canadian Books ~ Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

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I am currently re-reading Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro and I am  reminded why I loved it so much the first time around.   

Munro is the queen of the short story.  Her use of words is her gift and her art.  Amongst many acolades over the years, the highlight is winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.  

In Lives of Girls and Women I believe she has written several wonderful, bittersweet, thoughtful short stories and blended them to form the perfect novel about a girl learning about life, love, pain, and death while growing up in small town Ontario during the 1940s.

Read it!  You know you must.

The Final Day of Our East Coast Trip ~ Gananoque to Home

We started from Gananoque ON with some pretty ambitious plans today.  First item on our list was to visit Fort Henry in Kingston ON.  There is a special promotion right now that we were happy to take advantage of.  We paid full price for our visit to Upper Canada Village at the beginning of our trip and that allowed us free passes to Fort Henry.  It works the other way around as well. 

Another thing I learned is that if the entry fees to all the National Historic Sites we visited total to more than the cost of a season pass, we might be entitled to a refund of the overage.  I'll be adding up our fees and if we meet the criteria, we'll see if I'll get the refund over the cost of a season pass.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and the fort is very interesting.  I'm so glad we went. 

Hold on tight, Hal.  You really don't want to fall in!

We bought some of these delicious chocolate chip cookies for the ride home.

Our tour guide

We spent so much time at Fort Henry that we decided to skip the letterboxing and try to make it through Toronto before rush hour.  The 401 was a zoo as usual in the GTA but we survived it and made it home before 7:30 pm.  I had called Tim to put a chicken casserole in the oven for us . . . so we came home to a lovely hot supper. 

It is so nice to be home.  And we got to meet our new neighbours.

Journal Prompt 25 Sep 2019 ~ Retirement

Today's Writing Prompt: Retirement

What do you want your retirement to be like?

Hal and I dream of owning a motor home and just traveling the continent. That simple. That's all we want. Does anyone have a motor home in good condition they would like to donate . . . LOL???

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Journal Prompt 24 Sep 2019 ~ Party Animals

Today's Writing Prompt: Party Animals

Image result for party animals

At social events, where are you usually found? At the bar? Dancing by the band? Welcoming your friends? Behind a bush with a 'friend?' Or are you the kind to avoid the whole thing and stay home?

I like to "work" the room when I'm at a party. You just never know what interesting people you might meet or what interesting conversations you might have. This is fairly new behaviour for me. I used to be the one with a drink in my hand and a fake smile on my face, wondering if someone would talk to me or how long I would have to stay before I could politely leave. I have taken that experience and turned it around because I assume someone else might feel that way and my saying "Hi, I'm Pam, and you are?" could change a long lonely evening into a chance to make a new friend.

Top 250 Movies From the Last 10 Years (2019) - 12 Years a Slave

Image result for 12 years a slave

I really did enjoy watching 12 Years a Slave.  I found most of it to be dramatic and well-acted.  My only disappointment was the way the ending was done.  It seemed like the director said "well I'm bored now" and really rushed the end.  Is the book like that too?  I've never read it myself.

Did you know the original book was writter by Solomon Northrup (the main character in the book and movie) who was a farmer and professional violinist in New York until he was tricked, drugged, kidnapped and sold into slavery?  Well, I didn't know that.  I am going to add this book to my to read pile which is so long I will probably by 89 before I actually open the front cover.

Did you ever watch the movie?  What did you think?

Academy Awards, USA 2014

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Brad Pitt
Dede Gardner
Jeremy Kleiner
Steve McQueen
Anthony Katagas

12 Years a Slave (2013) became the first film directed and produced by a black filmmaker (Steve McQueen) and also the first to be written by an African-American (John Ridley) to win the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Lupita Nyong'o

Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley


Oscar Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Chiwetel Ejiofor

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Michael Fassbender

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Patricia Norris

Best Achievement in Directing
Steve McQueen

Best Achievement in Film Editing
Joe Walker

Best Achievement in Production Design
Adam Stockhausen (production design)
Alice Baker (set decoration)

Declining your ballot: Not in the next federal election

Declining your ballot: Not in the next federal election

The federal government has no interests in changing the federal elections law in the near future to allow voters a chance to register a declined vote, a form of protest vote that hit record numbers during the recent Ontario election.
The federal government has no plans to change its elections law so that voters can register a declined vote, even though that form of protest hit record levels in Ontario’s recent election.
The Conservative government made sweeping changes to the federal election law this year through the Fair Elections Act, including detailed rules around voter identification at polling stations. However, the office of Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre said this week that the government “has no plans to amend the Canada Elections Act to track declined ballots.”
More than 31,000 Ontarians declined their ballot in the June 12 election, the highest number to do so since 1975 and a dramatic increase over levels in the last election.
The next federal election is expected by the fall of 2015.
Formally declining to vote is different from spoiling a ballot (or not showing up at all): the voter must publicly declare his or her refusal to vote at the polling station itself. Provincially, the right is available in Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. Voters who formally decline their ballots do so for a variety of reasons, such as a conviction that none of the candidates on the ballot represents their beliefs, coupled with a desire to ensure elected officials know this.
Federally, Elections Canada simply lumps those ballots into the “rejected” ballot category. That is a much broader category that includes ballots left blank, marked for more than one candidate, defaced or not marked properly. There is no way of knowing what the voter’s intent was in failing to mark the ballot properly for one candidate.
“It should be on the ballot as ‘none of the above’ on the bottom with a couple of lines to give a reason,” said Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch.
More than 25 years ago, the federal elections agency unsuccessfully pushed for the right to register a protest vote. Two private members’ bills to enshrine the declined ballot in federal elections law — including one that would have allowed Canadians to write in why they were declining to vote — also failed to capture the necessary endorsements.
“It clearly is a mechanism for combining a message of being an engaged citizen (willing to come out to vote) while also saying no candidate, and/or their party, has the citizen’s support in a particular election,” said NDP democratic reform critic Craig Scott.
“It is well worth including it on the list of electoral reforms — including reversing the negative effects of this government’s ‘unfair elections act’ — any government will need to consider after the 2015 election.”
That list of needed reforms is long, said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, but declined ballots isn’t a priority for her. Topping her list is proportional representation, which would distribute seats in the House of Commons based more closely on parties’ overall vote counts.
May said the declined ballot should officially be offered to all voters, and that it might be possible to make it a confidential ballot, but this would be a more pressing need if accompanied by mandatory voting.
“It should be an opportunity,” she said. “Anything that gives voters the chance to participate in the electoral process and feel empowered by it is an important step.”
Liberal democratic reform critic Scott Simms said the idea of declined ballots sounds good in principle, but he questioned how it might work federally.
“It’s one thing to do it, but then you have address the question (of) what do we do now if the majority decline?” said Simms.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Journal Prompt 23 Sep 2019 ~ Best Book

Today's Writing Prompt: Best Book

What's the best book you've read recently?

Usually the best book I've read is whichever one I am currently reading. I actually have a huge list of favourites. Among the old stand-bys are Gone with the Wind and Vanity Fair and just about anything by Jane Auel. I recently read The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.  And of course I've read every book and novella I can find in the Outlander library by Diana Gabaldon . . . and watched the series.  I just love to read.