Saturday, January 28, 2012

Deal Or No Deal

Groupon, Wagjag, LivingSocial, Koopon, GaggleUp, YourCityDeals....the list goes on. Everyone is out there offering you deals these day. You buy a coupon online that can save you up to 90% off, in some cases. Every deal is different, so you have to read the offer carefully.

 I bought one last summer that got us into a play, 2 for the price of one.  That probably wasn't such a good deal since the play was in Kingston. We spent then night at a hotel, which was more expensive than a second ticket would have been, but it was still a worthwhile weekend, as we went to the Sheep Dog Trails in that same area the following day. Buying that coupon was just a jumping off place to plan a weekend away.

Then, in October I purchased another deal. I paid LivingSocial $15 for up to $30 worth of fare at a local restaurant we had never been to before.  We went tonight. 

We went to the Lock 17 Bistro in Burritts Rapids.  I checked with the waiter to make sure the coupon I had downloaded was good even for the nightly special, and he said, "Oh sure. That's $30 off the top of whatever you want."  We ended up not choosing the specials after all. The waiter brought us a platter of buns seasoned with rosemary while we waited for our meals. I chose the half rack of ribs, with a lovely salad and some really good fries that were cut twice as wide, but regular thickness.  My hubby had a full pound of garlic shrimp, with roasted potatoes and a nice crisp tender veggie medley.  Since we were barely over our $30 at that point, we decided to share a dessert and chose the black forest cake.  I'm glad we decided to share as it was definitely big enough for both of us. It was also delicious!  It was a lovely meal, and we went early enough to have the place to ourselves for the first half of our dinner. That was nice, as I'm rather hard of hearing and a noisy environment doesn't help. The restaurant and bar were filling up fast though, by the time we were ready to leave.

Do I think these deals are worth it?  You bet I do, not only for us, but for the businesses that offer them too.  Buying this coupon saved us $15 off on that lovely meal, and you can be sure we'll be going back. Coaxing us in with this kind of deal,  turns out to be very good advertising.....especially since I'm telling you about it here, and will likely post a review on too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Robbie Burns Day

Officially I'm three quarters Scottish.  But if you ask me about my heritage, I'm more likely to tell you about the other bit.....the Greek quarter.  For some reason that's what I've always been most proud of.  Though I have cousins who try to tell me I'm related to Sir John A. MacDonald,  I'm not so sure about that.  If I could prove it, perhaps I'd start bragging about my Scottish blood instead. 

So, as it happens, I've never had much interest in such things as Robbie Burns Day and had certainly never been to that sort of celebration before.  Today, however, a social group I belong to piped in the haggis.

A piper walked through the hall, playing the bagpipes. He was followed by a lass carrying the haggis. (Okay, so she was a bit older than that). Finally a gentleman performed the Address to a Haggis. Oh how I wish I had that on tape!  He did it with such vigor, it was very impressive.  And after he stabbed it, it was carried off to be divided among us.  While I don't have today's performance, perhaps you might enjoy this one.

Yes, I ate it.  I got a bit brave because one woman I know has had it several times and told me that it's quite good.  I'm not sure I'd go that far, but it was quite edible, and I had no trouble finishing off my portion.  We were also served scotch broth and biscuits.....and of course, dessert.  The whole event was free, and a nice way to spend some time with others. 

I'm glad I had this chance to learn more about Robbie Burns and the haggis. Today I actually feel a little bit more in touch with my Scottish roots.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Techological Orphan

I'm doing something wrong.

This afternoon, on Facebook, I mentioned several of the places where I knew the power was out. I got responses from people who I knew were within a blacked out area.  Even without power, they could still communicate with me on the computer. Well, I'm on the computer, but they are on laptops, notebooks, tablets and cell phones.  Everyone seems to have these wonderful gadgets except me!

In fact, here I sit, on an old Windows XP machine that is built out of bits and pieces by my hubby.  That's right. It's not even a name brand machine.  Now, that's fine by me, as I'm perfectly happy with it.....or at least I was until about a year ago when it picked up some nasty virus.  Hubby cleaned it out, fixed it up so it would run again, and I had to start over with an empty machine. It's been a little fussier about what it will and will not do since then, but for the most part, it still does it's job.

If my power went off though, I sure would be out of luck.  I saw messages online today about school buses (not that I need those) and road closures, etc, but if I didn't have power, I wouldn't see those.  And yet, they are posted on places like Facebook and Twitter for all to see....but where I would definitely need power to see them. 

A couple of people I know have shown me their tablets. I've never really been interested in a laptop, but I'd really love to have a tablet, for some reason.  I watched as one lady I know took a picture with one, in a church basement, without a flash, and it was perfectly clear. Now, that's impressive!  My actual camera couldn't do that!  I also find it much easier to flip through digital magazines on a tablet than to try to do that on a conventional computer. I'm not sure why, but they seem almost made for that kind of application.

I must also mention all the little kids that I see with much fancier phones than mine.  I've never quite understood why a kid needs a phone, but the kids I'm mentioning here are much younger than you may think. I've seen several kids that can't be older than 3 and may even be younger, actually playing with smart phones.  I'd be afraid a kid that age would get mad and throw the thing, but that does not seem to occur to the people who hand them over, for the amusement of little fingers. 

I did get a new cell phone recently, as my old one would no longer hold a charge and it was so antiquated that they don't even sell batteries for it anymore.  This new one is the first cell phone I've had that actually has a camera on it.  Now, I realize the photos you take with such things are not all that great, but at least now I'll have one with me more often without it weighing as much as either my regular camera or my old cell phone.  But even so, I'd never be able to upload pictures to some social network, or e-mail it to you, as I can't substantiate paying the extra price for that privilege.  Computer connections cost enough, and the necessity of a home phone is another expense. I get along fine paying $10 a month to keep my cell phone alive, as I never use all of that, since it gets used mainly so I can be located in the mall, or phone for help if a bear chases me in the woods, or some other such emergency.

Since everyone else seem so technologically connected, I put a request on Facebook to be adopted.  I am, after all, an orphan, since both my parents died of many years ago.  I'd like to become part of one of these families that can not only afford all these technological toys, but also afford to connect them. When I think how much some of them pay out each month, it just boggles my mind!

I started out having a computer long before most people I knew. It was a Commodore 64 and I could converse with people all over the country using forums on the old BBS system.  It was great, at the time.  Some people thought I was rather tech savvy so how I fell so far behind in this tech race is beyond me.  I've gone from the front of the pack to the back. Yep.  I'm definitely doing something wrong.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Family Favorite

While this might not be the most appetizing photo, Chipotle Shrimp with Couscous has definitely become a new family favorite. 

I tested this recipe on November 14th for Chatelaine magazine, and it appears in the latest issue (Feb 2012).  The picture there makes it look a lot better, especially since I forgot to put the basil on it before taking the picture. Honestly, I think I was far more interested in eating than taking any pictures that night!

This is, without a doubt, the fastest, easiest dish I have ever made and perfect for when we have been out all day and come home hungry. It can be on the table and ready to eat in about 10 minutes.

I always have shrimp in the house, and now I plan to keep a jar of roasted red peppers handy too.  We had never had couscous before, so the first time I made this dish (a home tester has to follow the recipe and directions to the letter) I also made some rice, just in case.  The couscous was fine.  Apparently toasting it first gives it more flavour.  Of course, you could use rice instead, if you prefer.

The name of this dish would normally have had me skip right by it, but I was feeling adventurous when they asked me to try this one, and I'm certainly glad I accepted the challenge.  It's spicy, of course, with the roasted red peppers and the Tabasco sauce but that certainly makes my man happy.  I like that :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's a New Year

Happy New Years Everyone!

Do you have a New Years resolution this year? 

My main one is to spend less time on the computer. Obviously, I'm not doing very well at that so far, but I'll keep trying.  But I find I've become much more sedentary over the past couple of years. We finally got a high speed internet connection here, and now it's just too easy to come online and just stay.  I really need to get back to being more active.

Another resolution is to have more positive thoughts about my art. I'm often told I'm my own worst critic, so I'm just going to try not to do that. The art journal is helping, I think, since I know what goes in there is nothing more than play, but I seem to be willing to share it anyway. That's a good start, I think.  I do know that what I produce has improved over the years, and that I made some major strides in the past year, so I'm really hoping to have a much more positive outlook for this year.

The only other resolution I can think of is to finally open an Etsy shop. I've been wanting to do that for the past couple of years, and while I have a few ideas in my head, I've only just begun to work on them this past year. I'm definitely closer to this goal than I was last year, but I've still got some work to do first.

So tell me.....what resolutions did you make for the upcoming year?  Maybe we can encourage each other.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Year One.... A Summary

I had a well established blog about my geocaching adventures but I came to the conclusion that sometimes I wanted to tell you about other places I go, or things I felt like talking about, so a year ago I decided to start this new blog. I have tried to tie the two of them together, but never succeeded.  Now that this new one has a good following, I'm thinking I might just put the future geocaching adventures in here too.

Blogging has been quite an experience for me. This is my 77th entry in this new one, and I've published 82 comments so far.  The most popular post so far was called Nothing Natural About Art.  I was in an online webinar by Johannes Vloothuis with at least a thousand other students at the time.  I happened to mention the blog post in one of the forums about that at the time, and so it's not surprising that so many people decided to check it out.  The second most popular post was Girls Just Want To Have Fun, and that's not too surprising either. It was about Red Hatters and Elvis Impersonators, so I'm sure it popped up well on the search engines.  The third most popular post is my own personal favourite. It's called In Case You Didn't Know .  I just felt the need to explain why it is that I am always offering so much unnecessary, and likely unwanted, information and advice.  The next three most popular posts all have to do with food.  They are either about  testing Chatelaine recipes, or about the 17 Day Diet. 

Statistics show that I not only have a following across all of North America, but also in Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom and even Singapore.  Others have dropped in from Sweden, Iran, Hungary and South Korea, among other places. I can't help wonder what it was I said that drew people from such far away locations to my page, but I do hope they continue to drop by.

Most of the comments I get are from people I have never met, and I love that they take a moment from their lives to let me know what they think. I often click on their link, if they have one, and follow it back to their own blogs and leave a comment there too. 

Because of that, this year, through blogging, I have enjoyed watching one family adopt 3 little girls, to add to the 4 children they already have, and then try to get to a point where life could continue in some sort of normal fashion. I really enjoyed stories another mother writes about her "twinnies" and younger daughter....and sometimes her hubby who, like many men, is often just one of the kids anyway.  I have followed several art related blogs, where I learn all kinds of interesting ideas and techniques.  I have recently become more interested in multimedia and art journals, and always enjoy stopping to watch the videos by Donna Downey, where I learn not to be afraid to just try something different.  There's no telling where it, or blogging, will take me.

I actually feel like I've made a few new online friends this past year, and I even got a lovely homemade Christmas card from one of them.  So, please, if you're reading this, feel free to comment at any point.  I'd love to hear what you think.