Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sometimes, you just WANNA be TICKED OFF!

There's this crazy phenomenon out there, you know the one ... ticked off birds sling-shotting themselves at green pigs.  The pigs snicker when the birds miss, the birds celebrate when they connect.  All in fun.  But, addictive.  Waaaaay back when my son was four years old (okay, he's seven now, so not that long ago!) he was mesmerized, I mean really, there is a strategy to knocking over the contraptions and hitting all the targets in as few slingshots as possible, right?  It was a puzzle to solve, so I didn't mind his occasional foray into the games...but then, one game led to another, Rio, Seasons, had taken over the world in the device market.  Thankfully, the games are only $1/each and were often good incentive in reminding him about certain tasks to complete FIRST!  "Remember, you can save your pennies to buy it yourself or, sure you can set the table or shovel the laneway!" 

Well, as time went on, my apprentice had to have everything related to this game... t-shirts, bracelets, calendars, I even made his dream loft bed, but it was the ticked off stuffies hanging from it that he loved most! ..(thanks SPEAK!).  So, what do you give a guy that probably has everything to do with the one thing he REALLY loves? 

I made him a Ticked Off lunch, that's what.! 

Ha Ha.  He enjoyed that one, but then I got to thinking about his birthday.  So I started my search, while there was still snow on the ground, for something Ticked Off.  In fact, my original plan was to get him a themed Bicycle Helmet cover from Tail Wags.  I had seen her products on the CBC show - Dragons Den - and there were many great choices.  So off to peruse her site I did, again.  But this time, there it was, a new item, the TICKED OFF heart leapt.  A perfect present for my boy.  So I ordered, right away, thinking that it would take weeks and weeks to arrive, and I didn't want it to be late for his birthday.  Well, Miss Karen is super-speedy .. and to my pleasant surprise, it arrived four days later.  This was a good thing and a bad thing, all rolled into one.  First off, the packaging and professionalism was awesome.  Timely, neat, well protected, the workwomanship, and handy information included, I was impressed.  The second part, is the bad part.  I had to sit on this surprise for THREE MONTHS!!  Impossible, you say?  Well, I did it ... it wasn't easy, but I hid it, ignored it and tried not to peek in on it (after a test fit on his helmet, of course). 

Skip ahead to the birthday, and the look on his face when he ripped it open was priceless...he wore it the entire day, even while eating the birthday cake. 

Now, it was fun to surprise him with another of his favorite characters, but the best part is that he adores wearing this helmet.  He didn't have any issues wearing a helmet before, but now he thinks he's EXTRA cool, and his friends are always curious about it.  He even brought it into school for his grade one show and tell.  Unfortunately, that day, an older kid on his school bus tried to take it from him (that's how cool it is, I suppose) and in the struggle, broke the strap on his helmet. 

There were some tears over that incident, but, the strap is fixed and back in working and chirping order.

So Thanks Tail-Wags, for a super cool product. 
Its always good to see this kind of inventiveness from a Small Canadian Business.

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio

Thursday, June 21, 2012

If it's gonna be this HOT, I'm just gonna DRINK more!

No doubt this soaring heat has reminded you to up your liquid intake.  It sure has me reaching for more frosty beverages than usual (you know what I mean - but, I'm gonna talk about water today!).... A few weeks ago, before this sticky heatwave, I was looking for something that would help me drink more water, something habit forming.  I think I was really looking for another health reminder by researching the benefits of water, blah, blah, blah...we all know the drill...drink lots of it.  But, as much as my intentions are good, I have a hard time remembering amongst the list of things I have to do each day.  So, somewhere in my internet cruising, I tripped over someone's blog post (A Peek inside the fishbowl), who was attempting to "trim" herself of her jiggle.  Well, I've got jiggle like any healthy person, but I'm not overly concerned about it .. I did however, enjoy her idea #1 (she says she got it from Chatelaine Magazine) of sugar-free flavoured water recipes.  It piqued my interest because, sometimes that's why I don't remember to drink's not very INTERESTING after the first 8 oz.  

She doesn't know this, but I've named it Jiggle Juice!

  Use 2L water and...
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin, peeled
  • fresh mint and basil (from my jardin!), chopped, as much as you desire!
  • Mix and Let it sit in your fridge overnight
How refreshing for a change, I'm sure I drank the whole jug by myself!  Then made more the next day.  And the next day.  Even the seven year old apprentice asks for seconds!

A Drink and A Snack, bottled into one. And, another way to use my "crazy growing" mint and basil plants than the usual ice cream, tea, pesto and pasta.

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Garden Experiment, Rustic Style

The life of an adventurous wooder (okay, I made that up) means that I travel often.  Maybe not alot, but often enough.  I enjoy the travel from time to time, and I think that somewhere in my ancestry, there must have been a nomadic gene, and I've gotten it.  From coast to coast, meeting and greeting, friends, family and clients.!  What that also means, in immediate terms, is my garden suffers...or, let's say, it doesn't suffer so much as it doesn't start!  Sure, here and there I plant containers of herbs, and sometimes tomatoes, but I've always wanted to be in one spot long enough to try a full out garden!  This summer, I only have two weeks of travel planned for out of province, so I thought I'd give it a go.  First step was to decide what I wanted to grow.  I want my first attempt to be successful, so my plan is to keep it safe and simple, and then next year, expand to some more dangerous fare.  I chose tomatoes (million sweets, rose and romas), parsely, basil, rosemary, carrots, beets and cukes.

Off I went to the
Perth Farmers' Market

Saturdays from 8am - 1pm.
May 12th - Oct 13th.
Crystal Palace and Tay Basin

Rain or Shine

Such variety, energetic vendors, outdoor spaces and indoor spaces, the smell of food!  Again.  I said. the smell. of food.
We got distracted. By This Sign.

Sounded interesting!  And the buns looked fantastic.  It was so quaint, we had to give it a try.  Besides, we were hungry!

Borshch and a Bun, glorious....

Do you think he liked it?  At any rate, we still managed to get the garden started with these....$10 for 4 basil, 2 parsely, 2 cukes, 3 million sweet tomatoes and one rose tomato plant from Sylvia's Plant Place vendor table.

Next step is to create the garden space!

Typical Vendors at the Perth Farmers Market :

Aaah Fudge
Products for Sale: Candied nuts, fudge, jellies, produce

Beckwith Gardens
Products for Sale: non-certified organic produce, baking

Blue Chicory Garden
Products for Sale: veggies, honey, hammocks, cedar furniture

Carolyn Patrici...
Products for Sale: Homemade pies, cookies, tarts, loaf cakes, muffins.

Hollyhock Grange
Products for Sale: bedding plants, non-certified organic produce, baking, preserves, lamb

Jameshaven Farms
Products for Sale: BBQ pork, baking, preserves, pork, chicken, turkey.

Joynt Farm
Products for Sale: certified organic lamb, certified organic beef, sweet corn

Kailyard Farm
Products for Sale: garden produce

My Gem Creations
Products for Sale: Jewelry

P.D.'s Greenhouse
Products for Sale: bedding plants, hanging baskets, planters

Queen Beet Farm
Products for Sale: veggies, baking, preserves

Stella's Cake Shoppe
Products for Sale : cakes

Stony Brae Farm
Products for Sale: shitaki mushrooms, wild fruit jams, herbal teas

Strawberry Cottage

Sweet Meadow Farm
Products for Sale: Certified organic vegetables

Sylvia's Plant Place
Products for sale: bedding plants

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fresh! Simple.

Open Saturdays
I do my best to make smart food choices.  Sometimes the choices aren't always right in front of my nose, but other times, they become so obvious, I wonder why I haven't done it sooner (or more often).  See, my life has changed in so many ways over the past 10 years; I used to make choices only for myself, but, when you become entwined in family, choices eventually, if not immediately, become more selfless.  I'm the kind of person that wants the best for the people close to me (for all good people, really), so over time, some basic things around here have really changed and have had a significant impact on us.  Take food for example.  I'm the first one to admit that a quick meal at the local fast food joint is convenient, and in some cases, a matter of life and death when you're starving after a long day of whatever, and cooking is the last thing on your mind.  But, over the past few years, even this 'occasional' break-down has been completely weeded out, much like the dandelions in my driveway.  There are many reasons why, but when you live and work in an area that is brimming with incredibly talented farmers, there really is no reason not to eat fresh on a regular basis, especially, in the growing season.  Choosing farm fresh food supports the local economy, reduces the number of miles your food travels, has little or no packaging, and how about trying out something completely different, like bumbleberry pie or a locally raised bison burger! 

In the triangle (let's call them Perth, Carleton Place and Smiths Falls), a round trip of 92 km's, there are town farmers' markets open on summer weekends, besides a bevy of individual farms that can be mapped on the various side roads in between. 

I haven't been to all of them, but it is my goal this summer to discover as many as I can and to post what I find in a series of summer blogs, so stay tuned for interesting places, and maybe you'll find something you can try.  I hope to make it so that you have NO excuse not to go for a weekend drive if you live in the area - and certainly, if you are an Ottawa scenic drive lover, I will describe what perfect fresh destinations await! 

PS - I even plan to start my own full out home garden, learning from some of these local sages on how to better grow my own food.  I know, I know, LOFTY goals, but I just LOVE my containers of fresh herbs and tomatoes, surely I can graduate to in ground, cucumbers, beets and squash?

Perth Farmers Market

The first market I will tackle is - Perth Farmers Market, stay tuned.

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio

Friday, June 1, 2012


a-ma-zing ::  adjective, causing surprise or sudden wonder.

Is this a loosely used term?  Personally, I find quite a few things in each day amazing and I don't think I use it to-o much.  Frankly, the fact that we even exist is amazing to me.  Did you know an asteroid missed us by a mere 8,900 miles on Tuesday? That's about the same distance as a flight from Ottawa to New Zealand.!  The bicycle, a dragon fly's wings, the aurora borealis, the curious case of benjamin button.  I am still amazed that I have been a parent for seven years, to a life-form, a future adult, that I am in charge of providing a decent foundation for!  The internet! How about that?  I used to think it was amazing, millions of networked computers, sharing bits and bytes that blossomed into useful tools and visual wonders.

When I first logged on (remember that sound of the modem?), utter amazement , but now, it's not as wonderous, as it has become everyday tool for me.  But as a techie of sorts, I teach someone how to use or fix their internet or their computer, or their iphone, and they will mouth that word....

...People say it to my face, and behind my back (you know who you are, I've been told!) as a compliment, for my work, in my play, what I coach, what I teach and to be honest, I don't always know what the appropriate response is.  I think I'm ordinary.  I'm in my mid-forties, and in those years, I have done alot of stuff, and seen alot of things, but I still endeavour to learn something new everyday, and, in my opinion, my footprint is tiny on this planet (no BIG FEET jokes, please!).  I get that people find what I do amazing, and it's only because they don't do it themselves (yet!) .. Put me beside a painter, a music maker, a farmer, a sensei, a yogi, a doctor, an olympic medallist, a duck carver, a helmet-cover maker, a groomer, a fundraiser, a realtor, a tireless volunteer, an elementary school teacher, a police officer, a baker, a cancer survivor, an animal activist, a stay at home parent or grandparent (imagine twins!)...and those are just a handful of the people I respect who do amazing things and who make a real, definitive, impact on lives, including mine.

 I guess my point is that we find amazing things in each other, along with our own individual moments of nature's marvellous gifts.  I respect alot of people in my life.  I find who you are and what you do, and how you live :: amazing.  The fact that I get to walk among you .. and have earned your compliment .. uh-mey-zing!

Insight :: Rustic Benches Studio