Thursday, May 29, 2008

Washed up at the ripe old age of 10?

Brittney got her first paying job this past weekend. Our neighbour went out of town on a business trip and needed somebody to feed her cats. Brittney was more than happy to get the job for two reasons --- she loves cats and she would make some money.

Jake, being the money guy in our house, was a little ummmm .....uneasy about the fact his sister had a job and he didn't. Cookie selling season is not yet open and to say he's getting anxious, is an understatement.

Our neighbour returned home and that meant payday for Brittney. She was quite happy, bubbling and showing us her earnings. The more she talked....the more upset Jake got. We were quite sympathetic to him, trying to reassure him he'd make money just as soon as he started selling cookies again. We really did feel badly for him.... but just couldn't keep from smiling when he threw his hands wildly in the air as he said, in his overly exuberant way,

"But don't understand.....I'm poor.....I have nooo money.......I'm just a bum!!! Why can't you understand? I feel really jealous when she gets money and I don't......I want to be like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or the Queen!!"

Sooo, after some serious thought, he's decided this weekend, cookie selling season will be open. Which means....I will be over seeing the buying/baking/packaging of the cookies. He will do all the work (even the clean up) but I will be there watching....just in case.

Oh....and on top of it all, he's decided to include his new friend. At first, he didn't know whether he should hire him as an employee, or take him on as a partner. He finally decided he'd make him a partner and they'll share the profits equally.

Sooo, if the weather is good, it will be his opening weekend. Wish him good luck (and me the energy and patience to keep up with them).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've been tagged!

Linda from Our Little House in Town has tagged me!

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.

Each player answers the questions about themselves.

At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

a) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Well, Jake had just been born in April. We were living in Oshawa, Ontario but were having our 'dream home' built on Scugog Island, Ontario. We were in the process of trying to sell our home, pack up our things and look after a newborn. Tyler was 5, Brittney was 3 and I was a busy. Larry was taking a course on archeology and teaching full-time in Toronto.

b) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today:

I didn't do too much today. It was my birthday and I got spoiled. Brittney made supper and wouldn't let me into the kitchen. Jake made an interesting dessert and Tyler did the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. Hmmm....I could get used of this ;)

c) Snacks I enjoy:

Chocolate!! *grin* I also like potato chips, popcorn, ice cream, candy (hmmm I guess my secret that I'm a junk food junkie is out lol)

d) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Travel ---- Larry and I love travelling so we' be all set. Places I would visit --- Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, California, The southern states, The Caribbean (a cruise), England .... hmmmmm...I'm sure there are more places but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Larry would retire, although continue to substitute teach, tutor...just so he didn't get too bored.

We'd renovate our home to make it exactly as we'd like.

We'd put money away for each of the kid's education.

Hmm....wonder if there'd be any left? I hope sooo....we'd put some away to generate an income to live off of.

e) Places I have lived:

I was born and grew up in Port Perry, Ontario. I moved to Oshawa, Ontario. From there back to Port Perry and now in Newfoundland.

And who am I tagging?





Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Chocolate....(click pics to enlarge)

Tool Box...with tools!

Christmas Stockings full of goodies

Chocolate Piano

3-D House

Dove Box made of white chocolate

Nut Barks

Trinket Box

Trinket Box packaged with chocolates

Chocolate Box


Golf Bolfs

As I wrote about here, I am a chocoholic. I always have been and, most likely always will be.

I've been working with chocolate for about 13 years (eating it......well...that's been much longer ;0) ) What started out as a hobby, has now become a part-time, home-based business.

I still remember the first time I saw a chocolate mould and the melting wafers....I thought...."hmmmm.....I can do this". I immediately bought a mould, some melting wafers and hurried off home. Much to my amazement, it worked and my creation actually turned out!

From there...I moved into selling a few pieces --- suckers, novelty items and boxes made completely of chocolate. Although fairly happy with my creations, I was only using the melting wafers purchased at the bulk store. While this was ok and I was selling some......I longed for the real stuff --- pure, silky Belgian and French chocolate is what I wanted to work with. After all, as a true chocoholic I needed the real stuff and wouldn't be happy until I could use it (and then of course, eat it).

After unsuccessfully trying to locate somebody who would actually teach me how to work with the real stuff, I finally realized I'd have to find out for myself. Off to the bookstore and library to peruse the multitude of books. As with many things one book directly contradicted the next book....very confusing. I took several notes. Again though, much to my amazement, my first creation with the real, pure, ooohhh so smooth chocolate worked out! Ecstatic I was....Some of my customers did not understand the change in price, they were happy with the taste of the imitation chocolate.....but to me, nothing comes close to the real, pure stuff. Mmmmmm

After I had learned the technique, I did find a baking school that offered some courses. Larry and I enrolled in these and while I was there to make sure I'd been doing things properly, I think Larry was there to see how many of the creations he could eat lol. Oh well....I enjoyed his company lol. I was glad to know, everything I had learned through the books and on my own was right.

One added benefit of doing this is the flexibility it offers me ---- and I love flexibility (one reason why we homeschool). I can homeschool as well as make chocolate and the two fit beautifully in around each other. I can arrange my day the way it works best for me like. So whether I'm making truffles for a wedding or suckers for a birthday party or batches of almond bark for a fundraiser....I can mix it up and pour it before we start homeschooling, let it set up while we do our schooling and then finish it before lunch.

The kids love helping me with this venture too....helping me sell at a sale or taste testing a new product or learning about ties in beautifully with homeschooling. They've learned a bit about running a business, making change, interacting with customers and even making a sales speech (this one is Jake's speciality lol)

Chocolate also allows me to be creative, without really being creative. I've made 3-D houses out of chocolate, a 3-D piano, golf balls, tool boxes, gift boxes made completely of chocolate....the only real limit is the imagination.

So while chocolate started out as a passion for me, it then turned into a hobby and eventually into a business. It's also taken me places I never would have thought of on my own. Over the years, I've been asked to teach a workshop at the local community college, been invited to do demonstrations at various women's groups (sometimes this takes the form of a demonstration, sometimes it's more of a workshop where they create things), the opportunity to do a Valentine's Day workshop with some homeschoolers, provide a chocolate making opportunity at birthday parties, provide hands-on experience for my children, participate in sales, weddings, fundraisers...the list goes on. Whenever a new opportunity is presented, I try to rise to the occasion. I'm not sure how successful I am but I always have fun with it.

I'm always looking for new suggestions, challenges or bookings for local I'd be interested in hearing any ideas you may have!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Feeding a family of 4 - 6 on $70.00 -- Really???


I quite often read claims on various sites that make me go....hmmmmm. They are usually claims of how little it costs to do a certain thing and....if you, the reader, will only have the wisdom, then you'll be able to do so as well. They make it sound so easy and make the reader feel inadequate.

These claims always make me feel I'm doing something wrong because usually it's costing me a lot more to do what they are writing about than the claims they are making. Now, before I continue, I must preface this with the fact I am no stranger to being frugal. I've had more than one bank manager ask me about this. There was even one who said, "I have many clients that make twice as much money as you and they still cannot make ends meet. I don't know how you do it. If you are ever considering re-entering the work force, please come and see me first. I can't guarantee you a job, but I would certainly like the opportunity to have you on my staff."

I recently found such a claim on this site. It claims a family of 4 - 6 can be fed on $70.00/week. Hmmmm....I know *I* don't feed my family of 5 for anywhere near that amount, not even close. We don't buy cookies, chips, pop, or any convenience foods....just the necessities and our grocery bill is still much higher than $70.00. But.... this writer claims it can be done (and elsewhere on the site it even makes claims of menus that actually cost less than that).

So....I thought I'd take a bit closer look. After all, maybe I am doing something drastically wrong and if I can feed my family for $70.00, them I'm all for it. I started by picking 10 items off the list on this site. I went to my grocery store, equipped with my list and wrote down the prices. For my comparison, I chose the cheapest brand on the shelf. Also, as our grocery stores sell things in grams, kgs etc., I had Larry convert them into the same units (and therefore prices for the same quantities) as on the original list. This is what I found:

................................Price listed on web site..........Our price

Hot Dogs, 1 lb .................................89 ...................... 2.47
Margarine, 3 lbs ............................1.35 ...................... 7.17
Ground Beef, 5 lbs .........................6.90 ......................18.80
14 oz. Tin of Salmon ....................... .97 ...................... 2.33
1 lb frozen peas ............................1.00 .......................1.09
1 bunch of celery ...........................1.30........................1.79
10 lbs all purpose flour.....................1.92........................5.70
4 boxes Mac & Cheese.....................1.33........................2.36
3 doz. eggs..................................2.17 .......................6.81
3 lbs long grain rice.........................1.00.......................2.69

TOTALS .....................................18.83.....................51.21


I've only compared 10 items --- there are a total of 48 items on the list. At the end of these 10 items, I've already spent $51.21 and somehow doubt I will be able to buy the rest of the list for $18.79. I would even go as far to say if I purchased everything on that list, my weekly grocery bill would be a lot more than I already spend.

So much for feeding a family of 4 - 6 on $70.00. (I even left a comment on this website and the response seemed to indicate there was no idea what I was talking about and probably it was just a banner ad. When I left another comment with a link to the original post, the comment was never published or answered)

Mom...We found a fossil!!!!

Tyler has finished his bookwork part of his he's now done for the summer. This now allows him the time, in the nice weather, to focus on what he wants to do. Much of this time is divided between cartooning and exploring around outside.

Today, him and Brittney decided they'd like to explore around outside for a bit. Jake was busy drawing and didn't really want to be disturbed but after a bit of coaxing, he decided to join them.

That meant I was home alone....and did it ever seem quiet! After a bit of time had passed, a couple of excited kids come bursting into the house, yelling, "MOM, MOM.....WE FOUND A HUGE FOSSIL". They were obviously excited and seeing how our area is rich in fossils, they were sure they'd found one --- and a huge one at that. Before heading out again, they asked for the camera so they could take a picture of their latest find. A little while later, they returned with the above pictures. was a little difficult to see from the pictures, but it was much larger than any fossil I'd ever seen. A closer look is what I wanted, so we struck out again. On the way, we enlisted the services of our neighbour's friend. She gladly came along to analyze 'the fossil'.

Much to their disappointment, it turned out to be a cleverly designed piece of art work and not a fossil. Using the natural colour of the rock (no paint was used), the creator used a rock tool to dig very tiny holes which created the design. A very interesting technique and find, even though it was a fossil they were looking for.

Oh well....the hunt continues. ;0)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Homeschooling support

As we're winding down our sixth year of homeschooling, I can hardly believe we've been at it for so long. In the beginning, our intention was to homeschool Brittney and do it for a year or two, until she regained some of the confidence she had lost.

I spent the better part of a year researching the whole idea of homeschooling. It really wasn't something I thought I could do. Larry, on the other hand, said, "Oh it will be a piece of cake." Easy for him to say.

Just as I was ready to say I thought I could homeschool Brittney, Tyler announced that if she got to stay home, then he wanted to too. Oh my....I was sort of confident I could homeschool one, but TWO??? ......I wasn't so sure. Back to the research.

My biggest support came from the internet. I knew one person, sort of, that homeschooled. I called her first and she was more than happy to talk about it. I made *the* biggest mistake though that most people do.....the first question I asked her was "What about socialization?" ....ooohhh....that makes me cringe to think I would ask that .... it is the most asked question homeschoolers get (and the most dreaded as it really is a non issue).

I read many articles and joined a couple of on-line discussion groups. I received a lot of info and ideas from the experienced homeschoolers there. After researching for almost a year, we were fairly sure we would homeschool. Before making the final commitment though, we attended one of the many conferences held in our area. It was after attending that, we were convinced homeschooling could work for us. After all, we'd just be doing it for a year...maybe two.... and how much damage could we do in that short period of time?

As I mentioned off the top.....we're now finishing our sixth year with no plans of quitting just yet.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Memory

It was 25 years ago today that I started working at Aviation Supplies at the Oshawa Municipal Airport in Oshawa. Wow, time sure does fly by!

I had gone for an interview just a few days prior and it was there I met Mr. Bill Cox. It was an interview I wouldn't soon forget as it was much different than any I had been on or have been on since. Besides Mr. Cox, there were two other younger guys there. One named Jim (who I later found out was Mr. Cox's son but didn't know that at the time) and another young guy named Dean. I was invited in to begin my interview, and these two other young fellows came along as well. The one named Dean brought coffee for all of us....and the interview began.

Now, Mr. Cox was one of these people who's bark was worse than his bite. He appeared gruff on the outside, but (as I later learned)....he had a heart of gold. It appeared to be coffee break time as the two young guys stayed in there and listened to the interview while they drank their coffee. Mr. Cox sat at his desk in front of me asking me questions. The fellow named Dean, stood behind me and told me the all of the questions I was asked. I know Mr. Cox heard Dean....but he never batted an eyelash...just kept on going. Having Dean tell me the answers made it rather difficult for me to concentrate on the interview.....I was afraid Mr. Cox was going to get angry and yet I didn't know Dean well enough to know what was going on. I still remember the final question from Mr. Cox....."What is a P.O.?" he asked in his gruff voice..... to which I replied, "A post office?". After a few seconds of *that* stare he had.....he shook his head back and forth and said...."Don't ask me.....I don't know."

I got the job.....and that started a new chapter in my life. I had so badly wanted a job in the city. I wanted to get my own apartment and move out of the small town I had grown up in. This job enabled me to do all of that.

Mr. Cox was one in a million. I never ever heard anyone say a bad word about him....not ever. He was a great guy to work for.....he made me feel like one of the family. He always had great advice. Sometimes it didn't seem like over the top kind of advice at the time but proved to be invaluable later on in my life.

I was saddened by the news I received recently......Mr. Cox passed away a few days ago. He will be missed by many.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Cox.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some things just take more time....

I have been diligently working with Jake on his bedroom-cleaning skills. His bedroom is as busy as his mind is. With so many things to do, well there just isn't enough time in a day to accomplish all he needs to and tidy up his room as well.

This has been going on for some time now and this skill doesn't come quite as quickly to him as skills have. That's ok, I know some things are learned faster while others take a little bit more time. I, sometimes-very-patiently-and-other-times-not-so-patiently, work with him on this skill, day after day, week after week, month after month and yes...year after year. He is making progress though, compared to where he once was.

He's 10 now and getting older, so I've bumped up my expectations too. (I have visions of a not-too-happy-future-daughter-in-law asking herself why his mother never taught him how to pick up after himself.) He is expected to pick his room up every day and leave it tidy (and I use that very loosely --- his idea of tidy is not quite what most people would consider tidy). I've even instituted the rule, it must be tidy before he can head to the library to use the computers.

Every day seems to be the same takes several attempts to even be passable. Most days it's frustrating for him and me....but he has to learn to pick up after himself and I keep telling myself he will...eventually.

The other day....I was simply elated when I went to inspect his room. Finally, a break through! Woohoo! You see, he had plans to go with his sister to the library (there are only three computers there and first come, first served so they strive to arrive early) and knew his room had to be done first. I was just so pleased when I entered his room.....the bed was made, the desk was fairly neat, there were no clothes or papers or markers or crayons or toys or half-finished creations etc. on the floor. It looked amazing!! I was so proud (of him and me.....for the patience on my part which had finally paid off). When he knew his room passed inspection, he quickly flew out the door.

About a half an hour after they'd left, still feeling pleased with our accomplishments, I headed downstairs to the family room. As I entered the room, I noticed three, large, green garbage bags. That feeling of elation was starting to be replaced with a sinking feeling. As I looked around the room, I noticed these bags looked as if someone had made half an attempt to hide them around the room --- one was sorta behind a chair, another under the table and the third hiding behind the door. Knowing that these bags were not there earlier and knowing that *I* had not placed them there.....caused that sinking feeling to get stronger.'ve probably guessed it by now......Jake had scooped everything off of his floor, desk, bed and placed it into the bags. Then, somehow, he managed to get all three of them downstairs without me or anyone else here, seeing. His plan worked too....bought him just enough time.

.....sigh......ingenuity he has.....bedroom-cleaning-skills.....still need work.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day

Well another Mother's Day has come and gone.

I always struggle with this day and therefore have sad and happy thoughts about this day.

This day brings about sad thoughts for me as I think about my own mom. She is no longer with me and while it's getting easier as the years go by, I always find Mother's Day to be difficult. Lately, I've been trying to focus only on my good memories, rather than the fact that she is not here. It is helping, but I still do miss her.

Mother's Day brings lots of happy thoughts though as I celebrate it with my own children. I am glad to be their mother....not sure how good of a job I'm doing some days.....but am glad to be their mother just the same. They're good kids and I am truly blessed.

This year brought about new blessings too --- it was my first Mother's Day, on The Rock!

The kids and Larry usually go all out....and this year was no exception. It started with Jake waking me up with a 'HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM!!!". They then brought to me in bed, fresh strawberries, sprinkled with brown sugar (well as fresh as they can be when imported from somewhere far away) --- but they were good!

They were then prepared to make me bacon and eggs.....but I just didn't think I'd be able to eat that plus go out for lunch (my tummy was already acting up), so we skipped that. I opened their gifts while I enjoyed my coffee. As you can see from the picture above.....I got quite the haul. Chocolate bars, licorice, a t-shirt, a Newfoundland key chain, a 2008 quarter (from Jake ;0)) and gift certificates from Larry.

Then on top of all that, they all took me to Swiss Chalet for lunch. There, Swiss Chalet gave all the moms a carnation and card with some coupons for free food items, good at future visits. On top of that, we used our VIP card (a card given with a subscription to Downhome magazine which entitles the holder to discounts at participating places) and got 10% off our meal. So, it was a win win situation!

What a great day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Three generations of us! (A tribute of sorts for Mother's Day)

My mom.....(click to enlarge pic)

Me.....(click to enlarge)

Brittney....(click to enlarge)

These are pictures taken of my mom, me and Brittney. We were all around the same age and I find it interesting to see the similarities in our looks. Actually, there are four generations, the other lady is my grandmother but unfortunately the original picture was not the best of quality. Technology certainly has came a long way!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Taking a Break from the Icebergs

OK....I know I've posted a lot about icebergs lately so thought I should take a break. (grin). I saw this posted on another blog I like to read and thought I'd play along.......


Snagged this from Molytail :-)

Where is your cell phone?
Well...I don't really have one that I use. The one I have, has an Ontario number. Since we're not in Ontario any more and it would cost an arm and a leg to use it here, we simply don't use it. But....the phone itself is out in the van.

Your significant other?
Larry is at work.

Your hair?
Shoulder length and brown (and no....those two or three grey things in there are NOT grey hairs ;0))

Your mother?
Hmmm...I could write a book here. My mother is no longer living and has been gone 18.5 years now. Wow time flies. In some respects, it feels like just yesterday I saw and talked to her and at other times, it seems like an eternity. I miss her a lot...we were best friends! She was always there for me and I could count on her always. She always wanted grandchildren and never got to meet any of them (between my brother and I, she would now have five!) Mother's Day is coming up and I always have difficulty with that day. I hope I can be half the mom my mom was.

Your father?
He lives in Ontario with my step-mom, Marilyn. He enjoys fairly good health, is very active and very busy with his life and various activities. About five years ago, he made the transition from the family farm, where he was born and lived for 77 years, to an apartment in town. They travel a lot and spend every winter and Christmas in Florida (while the rest of us freeze here in Canada)

Your favorite thing?
My new laptop ;0)

Your dream last night?
Hmmmm...can't remember any dreams from last night.

Your favorite drink?

Your dream/goal?
.....Need to think about this one.

Your ex?
I would think Ontario

Your fear?
Mice --- eek!

Where were you last night?
At home, talking on the phone.

What are you not?

Muffins? all muffins!

One of your wish list items?
Health and Happiness

Where you grew up?

Port Perry, Ontario

The last thing you did?
Ate lunch.

What are you wearing?
Bluish/Purple Slush pants, T shirt

Your pets?
None, although I told the kids while everyone else talks about their pet cats or dogs etc., they can talk about their pet icebergs (lol)

Your life?
Good, most days.

Your mood?

Missing someone? mom

Your car?
2008 Pontiac Montana Van

Something you are not wearing?
A winter coat

Like someone? lotsa people

Your favorite color?
Die hard pink fan here----love pink! Red would be my next colour

When is the last time you laughed?
Hmmm...not sure

Who will re post this?

Not sure...but if you want to play.....go ahead and repost this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

And even more Pouch Cove Icebergs.....(Click pics to enlarge)

click to enlarge

Looking north off of our property.

(Click pics to enlarge)

Same iceberg as below, only taken later in the afternoon.

More Pouch Cove Icebergs...(click pics to enlarge)

What we saw when we looked out the back of our house yesterday morning (click to enlarge)

Home Educators Carnival

The third edition of the Canadian Home Educators Carnival is now up and running here. Stop by for a visit with some other Canadian Homeschool Families.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nature's Travelling Art Gallery (click to enlarge)

We took a break from our regularly, scheduled classes on Thursday ;0), to take a brief, impromptu field trip. We went to 'our' local art gallery, which happens to be right in our backyard. Now, it's not your regular, run-of-the-mill art gallery with walls and pieces of art work hanging up or displayed in showcases. No....this was just the our art gallery, there are no walls and the pieces of art I'm talking about are Nature's very own travelling the form of icebergs....each of them sculpted in their own beautiful unique way.

Now I know I've blogged about the icebergs on occasion...(well ok I've blogged a lot about them).....but they are just so magnificent to see. And....they keep getting better!.... bigger in stature and more abundant in numbers. Just when we think they can't possibly get better, they do! For every one that comes into our little bay here, there are 2 or 3 waaay out there that never seem to come in. At last count, there are 5 grounded here in our little bay.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to our own art gallery, where we have front row seats. We first viewed from the high, look out point and then down to the lower look out point. It's amazing how they can look so different just by the angle they are viewed at.

I guess this field trip falls under, art appreciation.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ahhh...gathering wood

We're still trying to get used of life here on 'The Rock'. So many things are so different than what we are used of.

One thing that is new to us is wood burning. We enjoyed having an almost full year's worth of wood that came with the house. We burned that and thoroughly enjoyed our first winter with wood heat. the saying goes, all good things must come to an end .... and this is no exception.

The winter has gone and the wood is too. We have been scrambling....or what feels like scrambling....trying to buy some wood for the upcoming burning season.

We finally scored some wood. It was delivered last week, ( per usual here, the guy didn't come to the door to be paid, instead telling us to drop around and pay him whenever we got around to it). The wood was still in log form, which means we have to chop it up, but not having a chainsaw, makes that rather difficult. Our friend Paul offered to bring his saw and chop wood, just as soon as he got it fixed.

Not knowing when this would happen, we decided the boys would try and saw some by hand. I was surprised....but they did quite a bit considering. We joked around as they cut, about how long it was taking or that we were going to get the largest logs for them. All in good fun and it made the time go faster. Eventually, Paul showed up with his chainsaw and made the job go much quicker.

Yep...I can just about feel that heat now.

Just as an aside, you can see from the above pictures how foggy it was this morning. In the pictures with Tyler and Larry, you can't see the ocean or the icebergs. By the time Paul arrived though, most of the fog had cleared and the ocean and icebergs (although it has rolled) are once again visible.