Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Great Find, Even Without the Deal

Last August I told you about my experiences with the online deal sites in Deal or No Deal.  For those deals I payed half of the value of what I was purchasing.  Now I've found Savings Ottawa.  They sometimes offer a coupon which is worth dollars off, or perhaps a two for one deal, without us having to pay anything to get it.  While the ones you purchase almost guarantee you will use them to visit the vendor, these free coupons are still very handy to have.

We had to go into Ottawa today, and I happened to have a two for one coupon for the Merivale Fish Market.  Yes, they sell fish there, but it's also a restaurant, and my coupon said that if we ordered one meal, a second of equal or lesser value would be free.  We had never been to this establishment before, but we thought we would give it a try.  It turns out the coupon was only good from Sunday to Thursday, so we were a day too early to use it. It did say that on the coupon, but I had forgotten. Anyway, it was a nice little place and the plates I saw being delivered to the tables around us were heaped high with good looking food.  We opted to stay and give it a try, and each ordered fish and chips.  Now, there were actually three choices for that.  There was halibut, wild or otherwise, and catch of the day, which happened to be cod today.  We both chose the regular halibut. 

The meal of two batter fried fillets came with fresh cut fries and a lovely coleslaw, served up on a piece of cabbage leaf.  The batter was light and the fish was marvelous. There was both lemon and tartar sauce served with it.  We may not have got the two for one deal on this particular trip, but we did find a great new place to eat out.  We will definitely go back there, and I recommend it to everyone.

Meanwhile, why not sign up at Savings Ottawa and pick up a few deals of your own. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

My House Isn't Actually Shrinking

Earlier this year we were in a furniture store looking for a dresser for my oldest son. When he left home, he took an old one that had been in my own grandmother's house from as far back as I can remember.  I expected he would replace it eventually, but he never did.  When I mentioned that I'd be willing to get him a new one at Christmas he seemed happy to let me.  The thing is, it has to fit into the same space as the one he has.  That's where the problem lies. 

Today's furniture is bigger than the older stuff. 

I guess I first discovered that when I went from a double bed to a queen sized one.  I knew the queen size was wider, but I had no idea it was also longer.  Suddenly the rest of my bedroom furniture no longer fit into the room properly.  When we were looking for the new dresser for my son, I mentioned all this to the salesman. He said they don't even sell two night tables as part of a set anymore.  Apparently others have also found they just can't fit them into the room.

This past week we bought and replaced our old living room furniture.  We got a loveseat, a couch and a chair.  The salesman tried to sell us tables also, but I told him I would have to wait and see how things fit into the room.  I could tell, without doubt, that this set was bigger than what it was replacing, even though it was basically the same style.  I knew that any table wider than the one we already had, would never fit into the room.  And I was right. Even that table has now been moved to the basement, and we will be using my hope chest for a coffee table for the time being.  It's narrower than the table we had.  I have seen no tables anywhere in the stores that would be narrow or small enough to fit in my living room, even with the old furniture.  Apparently they are making everything bigger these days.

I think the couch and loveseat look great, but the chair is absolutely huge. What ever were they thinking?  It's like 3/4 the size of the loveseat, and dominates the room.   From what I hear, that's not uncommon these days.  I may be looking for a smaller chair as time goes by. If I find one, I'll just sell this one off.  Why not just return it you ask? Well, not only did I get lucky and hit a 50% off sale, but the deal we got by buying all three pieces basically makes the chair free, so returning it would not be the best move in this case.  I can live with it.  Ha.  I've actually been living in it, ever since it arrived yesterday!

This house is definitely starting to feel smaller, but then, it is only 900 square feet to begin with.  Some of the houses I see being built today darn near have garages that big. It's not us, it's the furniture companies. They are building things to fit in these big modern houses.

Spring is here.  I have proof.  When I finally got outside after the furniture was delivered, I found my first crocuses of the year blooming close to the doorway. 

When I went for the mail, I found sample teas from the Alokozay company. Apparently they distribute though some Walmart stores. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Freebie Friday - March 22

Did you know that you can get a coupon for $5 off Chapman's Ice Cream products once a year, just by asking for it?  I read that somewhere and decided to try it.  Sure enough, a coupon has arrived, and now I just have to decide what treat I want to spend it on.

The other thing I got this week was an envelope full of skin care products from Mario Badescu.  You may have never heard of this company before. I certainly haven't, but after doing their free skin care analysis, they list the products that would work best for your skin type, and then offer you a sample.  I did this on the 2nd of March, and the envelope arrive just 2 weeks later with not one, but 8 samples inside.  EIGHT!

The products came along with a catalogue, of course, so I can see that there are many more products available.  It also came with a list of my samples, and when and how to use them. That is really helpful when  you are suddenly faced with a lot of new things and not sure what order they should be used in.

The first, both morning and night, is the Orange Cleansing Soap.  It has a delightfully delicate orange scent, and though it doesn't foam on your face, it does leave you feeling soft and clean.  Next is an Aloe Lotion, which you apply with a cotton ball, to remove any residual dirt. I didn't find any, but it's good to know.  I wish this product had a bit of colour to it though as I found it hard to know how much I had on the cotton ball and probably used too much.  You follow this with the Glycolic Eye Cream and the Moisture Magnet (SPF 15) during the day or the Bee Pollen Night Cream at bedtime.

Other products that I found in the envelope were a Kiwi Face Scrub, to be used 2 or 3 times a week, and a Strawberry Tonic Mask which seems to be clay based, and is also to be used 2 or 3 times a week.  Finally, there is a product called Drying Cream, to use on trouble spots such as the tiny clusters of bumps that appear under the skin.  As I have rosacea I definitely have problems like that and really hope it helps.

While my skin does not normally like it when I change products, it has not complained at all this week. I especially like the Bee Pollen Night Cream and will likely be ordering some of that in the near future.  It makes my skin feel wonderful, even when I wake up in the morning.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Freebie Friday - March 15

After a quiet week last week, the flood gates broke and I got all kinds of free stuff this week.

First to arrive was a package full of all occasion cards, some stickers, a notepad and a pen, all from the Heart and Stroke Foundation. They hope for a donation, of course, but I've done that already recently, so I count this stuff as freebies.

Next came a sample of Cream of Wheat.  Since I tend to keep a box of the regular stuff around for one of my pancake recipes, I chose to sample a new one called Cinnamon Swirl. I'm not sure why I picked that. Cinnamon seems to be giving me a bit of a problem these days so I have not tried it yet. The sample came with a 75 cent off coupon for a variety pack. I guess that's to encourage us to try other new flavours too, but I wish they would take a cue from some other companies, like Kashi, that sometimes offer $2 off.

Then I got a free copy of Kraft's What's Cooking and a catalogue from Herrschners. I've never heard of them before, so this catalogue is new to me.  It has a lot of different crafts in it, and while there is something I've been meaning go purchase, adding the shipping costs on top of that will just make me look harder for it in the shops.  If all else fails, I now know where to get it.

And lastly, my latest Yves Rocher order arrived, and, as usual, there were plenty of gifts to make up for the shipping costs of that.  Not only did they send 3 little samples, but also a full sized lipstick. I even got to pick the colour when I placed the order.  The gift for ordering within 10 days was a cute little clock.  It not only tells the time, but the temperature too. It has an alarm, and a "snooze" function, which will cycle the white part of the clock though a series of colours, lit from within. And while it does that, it plays your pick of several nature sounds.  Very cute.  I just wish the face also had some light as it's impossible to see the time in the dark.

It's been a very good week for freebies, if nothing else.  See my previous post for more on that.

Who Needs the Ides of March!

Yesterday was NOT a good day.
I was trying to load my Tax software. The first time I did it a week ago, I
got the payment made but before I could print the receipt and get the access
code, the computer froze up and shut down.

Once I made sure they didn't charge me, I tried again yesterday. I got the
payment made, got the access code, and did the download. Then the program
wouldn't open. All I got was a notice saying it was not a Win32 application.
So I contacted them again, and they said the file must have gotten corrupted
so I was told to delete it and download again. But I accessed all this
through a disc, and the disc, wants payment before you can go any further.
I'll have to go online today and see if I can get my access code to work
with the downloads from there. .....though from what I can see so far, they
want payment before a download too.

And that was just the beginning of my day.

I wanted to submit my latest Art House Co-Op project.  We were supposed to draw a portrait of someone we know, in just 5 minutes time. I'm not used to drawing people from a live model as it is, and mine managed to wander off before my time was up, so it's not my fault he looks 30 years older in this rendition.  Then I discovered the link to upload it had disappeared. Art House tried to tell me it was due two days earlier than my records indicate, but since they have removed it, I couldn't see for myself. They did let me put it up on the Flickr page though.  After that I wrote their techies a note saying that part of the fun in doing these projects was in the sharing, but since they now have decided to delete all the latest projects on the list after the due date, nobody will ever find them.

The day progressed.
My hubby needed a prescription refilled but since his doctor had recently told
him to take a whole pill instead of a half pill, he ran out sooner than expected and the
the insurance won't pay for them.  I had to deal with the medical centre
and the druggist.  Hopefully that's all sorted out, but I won't know until I
go and try to pick them up today.

I got so frustrated with my day that I decided to take a pot of tea and a
book and go have a nice hot soak in the tub ... even if it was at higher
energy rates at that time of day. I just nicely got into the water and the
light bulb blew out.

Later I went to Zumba. We have no actual instructor there, but follow a
video projected on the wall. The lady with the projector didn't come, so we
had to try to follow it from a laptop screen.

That was my day yesterday.
And now it's the Ides of March.
Heaven help me!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Art House Co-Op Keeps Me Busy

I decided early this year that I would make the time to play with my art more often this year. Play seems to be the optimum word so far.  There are a couple of days a week that I gather with others to create and possibly learn new techniques.  Meanwhile I sign up for projects that will force me to think in new ways, and at least get off the computer long enough to be a bit creative.

Art House Co-op is great for that. I first learned of them though a couple of acquaintances who were taking part in their annual Sketchbook project. For a fee, Art House will send you a blank sketchbook which you are to fill and mail back by a specified date. Then it goes on tour all over the United States, and maybe a Canadian city or two. I just don't think I'm ready to participate in that project, but I did find they have lots of other little projects available throughout the part of the year when they aren't busy with that tour.  Last year I got in on a few of those and really enjoyed it. See The Art of Progression from last May.  This year they are offering them far more frequently and I'm jumped on several already.

The first one I did was the Things Found - by Accident.  We all go places on a regular basis and perhaps don't always see what we as going past along the way. This project had us looking more closely, and sharing what we found. I sent them two photos, which is likely against the rules. One was something unusual that I'd actually never noticed before, and the other was something pretty that I passed all the time, but never really looked closely at. They posted the prettier one, above.

The second one I got in on was an infinite scroll which would become a monster when strung together. They sent a template that had the start and end markings, and you could string those together anyway you wanted, and the markings would line up with anyone else's start and finish markings.  It was so popular, they even extended the number of people who could take part. As I've become more interested in abstract and multimedia this past year, I had fun creating this.  Remember, it's just a section of a very long monster scroll. You may be able to see the whole thing at

The third one I got in on was for the encyclopedia of work.  We were to simply to take a picture of our work place.  My hubby and I own a karate club.  He teaches and I do the administrative work, so I took the camera to class one night.

There was one where you had to sketch the tallest building in your town, but you only had 5 minutes to do that in.  I had a lively discussion on Facebook about which building should be considered the tallest.  Though the roof tops of several line up fairly well, the United Church was my choice because it started a full story lower down from road level.  At one time the road was actually down at that level too, but when it was raised, the lower level on the two street sides of the building were buried too.  Five minutes passes very quickly when you are sketching, so there's no time for erasing and getting everything just where it belongs. At least, not for me.

Then we were asked to create a map of some adventure we have either had, or would like to have. I thought the hardest part of that was to figure out where I wanted the map to be of. That was until I started.  Trying to get words and/or pictures anywhere near where they should be isn't all that easy.  But now I have a great little reminder of last summer's vacation, when we went geocaching in the Muskoka region.  I kind of wish I had put a dirty wash around the edges though, just to make it look more like a treasure map.  After all, that is what we were I may just do that yet.

Recently there was a project called The Meal.  Each of us were to post a photo of ourselves and our midday meal.  That doesn't sound hard either, but I tried it from several angles and kept missing part of the meal as I couldn't see what I was aiming at.  I ended up getting most of myself out of the picture.  People from all over the world take part in these projects, and so there was great variety represented in this project. I submitted the standard soup, salad and sandwich luncheon. This project was meant to help raise awareness of world hunger.

 I found I had missed out on another infinite scroll.  This one was going to be of outer space. I would have loved that as I've done a few spacy things in the past.  But the message somehow slipped into my spam folder and by the time I spotted it, they already had the 500 they allowed to sign up.  These spots go quickly.  So, I have just decided to share my last space inspired painting here anyway, even if it can't, and won't fit on the infinite scroll.

The most recent project I've submitted was for an encyclopedia of tools. Now, there are all kinds of tools around here. Some in the kitchen, some in the garage, some for doing crafts, some for doing home improvements and many that I have no idea what they actually are..  I wasn't sure what I would do for this project, until last Friday when I was at a friend's place and saw her paint brushes on the table. I grabbed the camera and took a picture.  Then I used my computer tools and ended up very happy with my submission.

I'm still currently signed up for two other projects due this month, but as you can see, I'm having fun.  There are also plenty of projects that I have not signed up for.  Some of them are even for writers.  If  you think you might like to have a look at what is available, just go to The Sketchbook Project and have a look around.  I'll try to keep you up to date with these things as they happen from now on.

I have also managed to do a few real paintings this year, all in watercolour, but I'll tell you about those some other time.

For those of you wondering what happened to Freebie Friday last week, I spent the Kellogg's free product coupon on a Jumbo Sized box of Frosted Flakes, and saved $7.48.  It was a very slow mail week, but I did get another one of these coupons in place of the other gas card application I made.  I'm quiet happy with that, but I doubt you wanted to see it again.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Soupfest 2013

The 5th Annual Soupfest was held in Kemptville, Ontario on Saturday March 2.  This was the second year the event was held at the Kempville Municipal Centre after 3 years at the Winchester site.  There were only 15 restaurants represented this year, but the soups were far better than last year, and it was more difficult to pick a least, for me.

The room quickly filled up with people, and, as usual, there were not enough chairs for everyone.  It's meant to be a social event though, so they expect you to move about and mingle and discuss the various soups with others.
We tend to gather family members from Avonmore and Vernon each year, and it's great fun to have lively discussions over which soups are marvelous, and which, to some, are just plain gross.  Most of my table this year chose the Squash Bisque with Chicken Dumplings sauteed in ginger jus from the Brigadoon as their favorite.  I must admit it made my finalist list, even though I have never been fond of squash.  The winner for me though, was The Butter Chicken Soup from Chuckles Jack in Smiths Falls.  There was only one soup I didn't taste, and that was because I watched everyone else at my table make a face and dump it in the trash.  I should have gotten that one after the first protest, while I could still give it a fair try. But I waited too long and then just chickened out.
 I think the best display this year was by the Nakhon Thai Restaurant, which we just discovered a week ago at the Wine and Food Show.

I'm not sure how we managed it, but most of those at my table somehow found room for dessert. There was a table with a wild assortment of goodies which could be had for just an extra dollar.  It's all for a good cause, after all, as Soupfest is a fundraiser for the TLC Ministries. We made that small extra donation and forced ourselves to devour a piece or two of pie or cake or some other goodie.  I did see one clever person with four treats on a plate, ready to take home.
There were a few goodies reserved for auction.  Celebrity judge,  CTV2 host,  Kurt Stoodley, helped out in that department.
Brad the Balloon Guy was on hand to entertain again this year. This fellow is easily the most talented balloon artist I've ever seen. He can create a wide variety of things, including a full length Mountie, complete with an actual face.

There was also a musician in one corner, playing an acoustic guitar. When we first arrived, we were careful not to place ourselves too close to where the music was going to be as we didn't want it to interfere with our conversation.  No worries there. He was completely unamplified and I had trouble hearing him even when I went right over and stood nearby to purposely listen to him.  He might as well have stayed at home.

I'm afraid I can't tell you who the winners were this year.  We got tired of waiting for them to tally the votes and left before the winners were announced.  I usually find it interesting that the winners the judges pick are not necessarily the ones that win the People's Choice award.  I think some of the restaurants try hard to please the judges.  After all, Chef Michael Dunn, who was chef  for the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace for 16 years, was one of the judges, so who wouldn't try to impress him?  But if you are in the business of selling soup, wouldn't you rather please the people?  They are the ones who will come to spend their money at your establishment, and tell their friends, if they like the taste of what you created. This year, most of the competitors certainly succeeded in pleasing the public. It was an enjoyable day out, and we all left well fed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Freebie Friday - March 1

Sometime last year, Kellogg's had an offer inside their cereal boxes that entitled you to a free gas card. I don't drive but I sent for it anyway, in my hubby's name.  It seems they had an overwhelming response to that offer.  Gee, I wonder why.  LOL  Anyway, since their stock was quickly depleted they have now sent me a coupon for a free Kellogg's product.  The letter that came with it says I can spend it on any Kellogg's product I want, including those that are of a greater value than the gas card would have been.  I seem to remember that was for five dollars.  So now, do I get a big family sized box of something we know we use and like, or do I spend it on some other product that I've never tried?  Hmmmmm........

The only other thing that has come in the mail this week is a nice little booklet from the Canadian Beef people on Ground Beef. It contains some nice recipes I will have to try out soon. There are more recipes and booklets available on their site, so follow the link provided above.