Neighbours: They’re Not Just to Complain About

Gladys_KravitzI  grew up in the country where neighbours are few and far between. Now that I live in the big city (suburbs), I’m learning that there’s something to having people closeby. They’re good for more than just a cup of sugar, which is helpful because I rarely (never) bake and the chances of me needing a cup of sugar are pretty slim. However, there’s a much larger chance I’ll need advice from someone familiar with the neighborhood (gossip) or who knows more about cars than I do. 

What your neighbours can do for you

1. Protection from thieves/intruders

Gladys Kravitz is way handier than people gave her credit for. If you don’t know who Gladyz Kravitz is, she’s from Betwitched…and we’re no longer friends.

2. Protection from (potential) murderers

See #1

3. They can keep you from blowing up your car and/or face

I’ve learned to appreciate the inquisitive neighbour who, after seeing me attempt to change a taillight, asks if I know what I’m doing. I did not…

4. Part-time dog friends

This is especially nice when your apartment does not allow pets.

5. Free entertainment

i.e. street peewee hockey, pool parties, etc.

6. Drama.

Just when you think it’s going to be another ordinary evening, you come home to find three cops parked on your street, in front of the house next door. 

7. Music

Before you can wish you can hear Twist and Shout blasting from your stereo, there it is, coming from the obnoxiously loud party next door.

8. Free swimming

Now, I haven’t actually figured out how to swing this one, but I’m working on it. Suggestions welcome. 

I suppose this also means that you should be willing, if able, to do the following for your neighbours as well… Also, this list is not all inclusive. If you have experienced other benefits from your neigbours, please, do share!

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Tips for The Realistic Cooker: Frozen Olive Oil

Olive oilDon’t Store Your Olive Oil Where It Can Freeze Into a Solid Mass

Now, you probably didn’t know this could be a problem, until it happens to you. I didn’t realize this was a thing. The conundrum was thrown at me when I opened my cabinet to find a frozen bottle of olive oil. Apparently the cabinet I keep my oil in is very cold because my olive oil was frozen solid. Faced with the problem of having a salad with just balsamic vinegar, I needed to act quickly.

How to Thaw Your Olive Oil

1. Boil Water

You might think this is the first logical solution, but who has time for that? Plus, it would create more dishes. You have a salad waiting and you’re starving! However, if you’re looking for a fancy solution, this is the one for you.

2. Body Heat

Why boil water when you have a natural source of heat at your fingertips. Take your bottle of frozen olive oil and hold it close like it’s your child, your frozen child who’s on the verge of hypothermia.

3. Warm Running Water

Still frozen, eh? Take that bottle and run it under some very hot water. That should release enough for you to enjoy your salad. Wala! A salad is born.

How to Make the Winter Less Blue

olaf_summer

Well, we’re right in the think of winter and chalked full of grey days with little to no sunshine. How to you keep yourself from crawling into bed and waiting for spring? I’d say reading this blog is a pretty good start. Right, more steps.

Change of Scenery

I’m not talking about taking a trip (although, if you can, I highly recommend it). I’m simply referring to getting your butt off the couch and going somewhere. Anywhere. Sitting by yourself and wallowing in the dark gross day is not going to help you. Where do you go? I recommend going where other people are. However, if you’re not an extrovert like myself, this may not be very beneficial. Plunk yourself down at a coffee shop or a book store with a bunch of people (you don’t have to talk to).

Bring the People to You

I find one of the hardest things about the winter months, is forcing myself to go out into the cold world and do things. Well, have I got a solution for you. Don’t do it. Bring the event to you. Throw a dinner party or a movie night or whatever type of low-key, low maintenance event you prefer. I also suggest inviting people that can bring things and/or are frequently known to bring hostess gifts.

Plan Events to Attend

The easiest way to force yourself to socialize with the world is to put it in the calendar. If it’s booked (and you already paid for a ticket of some kind), you’re more likely to go. If you wait for the weekend to arrive before you start thinking of what to do, chances are, the planning will appear to difficult and you’ll settle for a sweat pants party for one.

Preparation is Key

Buy yourself a good winter coat. One that goes past your butt and will keep you warm even if you’re sitting in a cold place. I also like to keep a small blanket in my car to keep me warm until Ole Betsy warms up. I’ve also found that once I finally spring for a warm coat or a good pair of boots, it starts to get warmer and I have less need for them…

Canadian Thanksgiving: Where Thankfulness Began

efaeeb16dbe5393ff1f2f353f0c633e5Hey, Canadians, wasn’t that turkey fantastic? I just love Thanksgiving. Sorry, Americans, you have to wait another month or so. I mean, this was your choice. You could’ve adopted our holiday, but no, you had to do something all your own. No matter how ridiculously close to Christmas it is.  Although, I’m not quite sure why it took so long for Americans to catch on. That’s right, the first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1578. The first American Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated until 1863. Who are the trendsetters now, eh?

Sure, the origins of our Thanksgiving aren’t quite as glamorous as discovering America and making peace between the Pilgrims and the Natives. We just wanted to eat …… and be thankful, of course. Personally, I think that eating is a good enough reason to get together with family. And taking time to be grateful for our many blessings, including our neighbours to the south, is pretty cool too.

My Cottage is like Christmas

Cottaging. Canada’s favourite pastime. For my American readers, no, I am not referring to a cabin similar to the one Snow White stumbled upon in the woods.

However, with my cottage this rarely involves casually hanging out with a few friends. My whole family is there. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole gang! Just like Christmas, well, Christmas with my family.

With it being my grandparent’s cottage, there are a few stipulations. There’s no alcohol, no swearing, and no scandalous attire. It’s a real test of character and your ability to find entertainment and enjoyment in the mundane. Did I mention that you’re stuck on an island? There’s no sneaking out in the middle of the night.

Watch out, though. At my cottage, you will want to eat all the time. Mainly because there’s food everywhere. Dinner’s are always elaborate and involve the whole family sitting at a crazy long table. Don’t worry, no formal wear is required. Lunches are more casual, but they always involve dessert. Yes, there is dessert with every meal. You might even consider some of the breakfast options as desserts in and of themselves. There are also plenty of couches, not only because there are a crap-ton of us, but after your giant turkey dinner and pie, you’re going to need to lie down.

How do you feel about blackouts? With cottage blackouts, there’s no telling how long they’ll last. Maybe the power will return almost immediately. Maybe never. It’s good to be prepared for never. Aside from the need to overcome your fear of the dark, it’s important to know how to survive with lack of technology. And be prepared to eat your share of the ice-cream bars during lengthy blackouts. We can’t let them go to waste!

Creativity is key and a love of board games is a must. Ok, maybe you don’t have to love them, but you have to be willing to play. Once the sun goes down and the bugs come out, it’s time to retreat indoors.

(Super) Northern Living

 

 I live in the north, or so I thought until my brother decided to move to the “super” north. Okay, so it’s only about 1.5hrs north of where I live, but it’s far for my standards and remote enough to make my Caledon country lifestyle look like a crowded cityscape. However, since he has a beautiful home, and I happen to be very fond of him, I plan to visit often. And with these frequent trips, I figured I should devise a plan for survival.

Tips for Surviving the Super North

1. Indoor Plumbing

There’s just something about the open wilderness that makes you forget about the worries and stress of the city/ my life. That is, of course if this wilderness included plenty of sunshine and indoor plumbing. Living like the first men who walked this earth might sound like a party for some people, but I am not one of them. There’s no sense in kiboshing your hard earned relaxation with the thought of when your next hot shower will be…or cold one.

2. Have a plan-of-action for your long drive.

I’ve decided that I’m good to drive about an hour north. Once I pass that one hour mark and have another half hour of driving through empty fields, I get a little stir car crazy. This often involves a lot of shouting and contemplating abandoning my car on the side of the road and taking a nap. So far, I’ve chosen to power through the drive. To avoid this car fever, it can be helpful to bring a friend along for the journey. I also try to break up the drive with rest stops. You wouldn’t think that a rest stop is necessary for what some folks might consider a seemlingly short drive, but you would be wrong. Fortunately, my route is filled with several conveniently located Starbucks to choose from. I also find that jamming out to some good ole country tunes helps me to get in the small town country mood. 

3. Take the time to fully explore the small-town nuances!

The local paper is a goldmine for neighbourhood gossip and local events. Fun fact, there’s an upcoming Butter Tart Festival that’s sure to be a sweet hit. They also include a two page spread highlighting garage sales in the area so you can plan your Saturday morning accordingly. And don’t forget to take a trip to the local Walmart. Oh sure, it’s just Walmart. I’m sure you have one in your town. Wrong! Here, people walk around unironically wearing cowboy hats.