Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Celebrations

New Year's Eve is not a big spashy affair with us. Over our many years together, we have gone out a couple of times. But usually we spend a quiet evening at home with family. This year, just 2 of us.

We have "The Future File" which John pulls out every New Year's Eve. Every year, we make a list of our favourite memories from the year, our biggest surprise of the year, and our predictions for the coming year. Then every year, we look back on our previous memories. Everyone who spends the evening with us joins in, so we also have a record of who we spent each New Year's Eve with. (we even took the file with us one year when we went out for dinner)We've been doing this for 15 years and it's a wonderful memory keeper.

When the evening is done, the file gets put away and stays hidden until the next New Year's Eve.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Memories of Christmas Present - Part 2

Christmas morning was quiet around our place. It's very different when you don't have little ones around. We exchange stocking stuffers with John's kids so we get lots of nice little surprises in our stockings. I must have been a good girl this year. Look at what Santa left me in my stocking:

Hope John doesn't get jealous. But if he does, he has no one to blame but himself. We bought ourselves a GPS in November and agreed not to exchange presents.

A teddy bear ornament given to me by John several years ago. I love teddy bears.

In the afternoon, John's daughter and grandson (Mr.J) joined us. After opening presents, and a nap for Mr. J, the five of us headed over to Cody's dad's place (yes, my ex) for Christmas dinner.

The first ornament Cody ever made me...when he was 3.

We are so very lucky to be close friends with Ian and his wife Diane. It was a lovely Christmas dinner. The only bad thing about it was that it was at someone else's leftovers for us! (we love turkey, and the home made turkey soup I make the next day). Not to worry...we're going to cook our own turkey on our Big Green Egg on New Year's Day.

I hope all of you had a very special holiday season, however you celebrate.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Memories of Christmas Present - Part 1

Our family celebrations start off on December 23rd every year....John's birthday. When he was growing up, he thought having a birthday on the 23rd of December was a downer because he never got a birthday present. When he was young, a hockey stick for Christmas was cause for celebration. Christmas Day would be spent on the frozen lake playing hockey with his mom in goal and 3 brothers.

But, skipping ahead a few a birthday on the 23rd is a good thing because at least one of "the kids" is home for Christmas and therefore able to join in the birthday celebration. Now the best gift we can receive is our family home visiting. This year, only Cody could make it home. But the three of us had a fine afternoon and dinner.

We picked Cody up at the train station at 3:00 and arrived home to find the kitchen in a bit of disarray. It seems that Cassie was a little upset at being left behind, and managed (I don't know how) to pull things from the top of a cabinet. If you have been reading this blog, you know that we have learned that the kitchen counter is fair game for Cassie. Now we also know that the top of our pantry cabinet is also fair game. She (along with a little help from some friends named Mulligan and Cinder) ate a 2 pound bag of flour, a box of baker's chocolate, and a bag of dried cranberries...all complete with packaging. Yes, I know chocolate is toxic for dogs. I was very worried, but no one seemed to have any ill effects (although there was plenty of outside excursions the following day).

After the clean up (welcome home Cody!) we decorated the tree. Cody put the finishing touch on the top...
Time for John's birthday dinner...starting with home made carrot soup. The next course was a spinich salad with warmed apples baked in maple syrup and balsamic vinegar dressing. The main course: baked ham, cheese & brocolli scalloped potatoes, and a mixture of green & yellow beans & carrots. And for dessert...
A two layer home made chocolate fudge cake with a mint flavoured whipped cream layer in the centre. Topped with a chocolate glaze and crushed candy canes...and a dollop of whipped cream. I'm not fond of cooking (John looks after that very well on most days!) but I love making John's birthday dinner. Maybe not so much talent goes into the meal, but lots of love. Since I know he reads my blog...Happy Birthday John! You are my partner, my love, and my life. Thanks for sharing your birthdays...and all the days between...with me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

December 27th musings

I lost my sister to cancer 3 years ago yesterday. There was a 14 year age difference between us, so I didn't know her very well when I was young. She moved away from home before I hit my teenage years. However, we became quite close as we grew older.

She was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer on September 27th, 2004 and passed away peacefully at home exactly 3 months later. I am forever thankful to her husband for taking leave from his job to look after her so that she could spend her last few weeks in her own home.

I have had a tin full of her costume jewelry in storage in our basement. For some reason, I brought it upstairs a couple of months ago and it has been sitting on my desk ever since. Every so often, I'll open the lid. The smell of her perfume is still there after all this time. (a very unique scent called Tabu that I've never know anyone else to wear).

Then through the wonderful world of blogs, I discovered a woman in California that makes wonderful jewelry. I contacted Jamie, and she has agreed to work with Dorian's costume jewelry to make some new pieces for me. I am thrilled! I love Jamie's sense of style. Her etsy shop is Simply Me Art...."traveling back in time at the same time looking at a beautiful moment in the now"

Stay tuned to see what Jamie creates for me.

Yesterday was also a bit sad because Cody left us to return to his new home in Toronto. Since we will be moving far, far away in 2008 all of his things are gone from his room....either to his new home in Toronto, or to storage at his dad's place. So there is nothing left of him here but photos and memories. Saying goodbye yesterday was tough.

But. I'll be seeing him again in Toronto before we leave. And he's always in my heart and on my mind.

He left me a gift on my Beetle, which I didn't see until this morning when I walked down our driveway to get our morning paper.
A smiley face...his signature trademark. A very good way to start my day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Harley crew
We wish everyone a joyful Christmas, and Very Happy New Year!

From left to right: Mulligan, Cassie, John, Sara, Cody (holding Phantom) and Cinder.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Close only counts in horse shoes

Actually, I'm not sure if that saying is correct...close only counts in horse shoes. I've never actually played the game.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had our first showing 6 days ago. The same people came back for a second viewing just a day later. That went very smoothly on our side, since we had done a mad cleaning the day before. Just another quick vacuum, and I had time to wash the wood floors. We packed up the 3 dogs and cat into one car and John and I went for a drive and had a nice lunch while our crew waited in the car. (we were told they wanted 1 1/2 hours for their second viewing).

We were terribly excited. Well, I was terribly excited. John was a little more practical about the whole thing. According to our agent, we were in "the top two".

Well, we came in second. We took a drive by the house that won the competition and we couldn't understand the decision...but then again, I guess we might be just a little biased?

And now we wait again. Hopefully it won't be another 2 months before we have another showing. Still positive. It WILL happen!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Picture This

We had a major snowstorm yesterday...the largest snowfall for that day since 1977. This morning was sort of a lazy morning. John brought me coffee in bed (yes, I know...I'm a very lucky lady). So, I drank my coffee and read my book in lazy contentment knowing I didn't have to go anywhere for a few hours.

Later, after feeding dogs....eating breakfast...reading the paper....I was sitting at my computer reading some of my favourite blogs and drinking coffee. It was 10:30 and I hadn't showered yet. The phone rings, and it's a real estate office...they want to come and show the house at 12:30.


Of course, I said yes. This would be our first showing.

But. I had a lunch appointment in Ottawa (a 40 minute drive) with a friend at 12:30. I still had to shower. And the house was a disaster. (we had let things slide a bit thinking that no one would want to see the house until after Christmas) Yikes!

What to do? First, I told John about it and that I was going into "panic mode". Then, I phoned my friend and changed the lunch date to 1:00. John did a major vacuum and I ran around doing the rest. I put the dirty pots from the sink into the dishwasher (I usually wash them by hand but didn't do it the night before). I made the bed in Cody's old room. (the bed has been naked since he moved out a couple of weeks ago). I cleaned the kitchen, put away newspapers, dusted, cleaned 3 bathrooms (well, okay...I forgot to clean the mirrors but John looked after that), cleared out all the "dog stuff" and put it in the garage. I cleared out all the papers in my office and stuffed them into my roll top desk. Then I jumped in the shower. Off I went to clean off the cars and noticed that the neighbourhood guy who cleans our driveway forgot to clean our front walkway. I grab the shovel and shovel off 1 1/2 feet of snow from a 25 foot walkway. (so much for the shower!)

We did it! We put the 3 dogs and cat in John's car and he took them for a drive. I jumped in my car and drove into Ottawa for my lunch date. Phew!

And...I promise...I won't let the house get to be a disaster any more (ha!)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Family Photo Shoot

We had some fun yesterday taking some photos using a remote. It's a little difficult to organize 3 people, 3 dogs, and a cat! It was easier this year's the first time we have used a remote. In the past, I set the timer and ran back and forth. I'll post our final selection before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Things change

Our son Cody has been home for the past seven months, after spending two years in Theatre School. He lived a 6 hour drive away so we only saw him a few times a year. He moved home after graduating to work and save some money. He has saved enough, he's found a place to live in Toronto, and he'll be leaving us for good on Thursday.

After spending 20 years raising him to be independant, it's time to let him go and live his dreams. I'm so very excited for him, but it's bittersweet for sure.

He's going to have so much fun. He'll be sharing a 2 bedroom apartment with Mike, who graduated from Theatre at the same time. They'll be living one floor above 2 very beautiful young women from the same program. I'm sure they'll go through lots of ups and downs together as they work their jobs, and all try to "make it" in acting.

But I'll miss him.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tough Choices

We heard back from Nova Scotia...looks like we are unable to change our closing date. We will be property owners in NS starting February 1st! Things are looking a little bleak for sales prospects here but who knows what will happen. Real estate moguls...that's us.

John and I had a planning session yesterday for how to handle my business. We decided there are 3 choices: sell the business, keep the business, wind up the business. We then listed pros and cons for each category.

Selling the business doesn't look promising. I had a couple of ideas in mind for this, but they didn't work out.

Keeping the business is a possibility, however I won't be able to operate the same way I do here. Currently, I have a bakery to bake all the biscuits. I pick up the biscuits and bring them to my workshop where I package and ship them. If I want to keep the business I have to find someone willing to pick up the biscuits and package and ship. (I should mention that it's a 3 hour round trip to pick up the biscuits). At our new home, there's no room for a workshop unless we build one. I might be able to find a new bakery in Nova Scotia but I'd also need to find a packer and shipper.

Keeping the business all boils down to costs. It's not a business with big profits, so there's not much room for hiring people and still making money. I'm still trying to work out some details. The good news about not moving on Feb 1st is that it gives me some extra time to come up with some business solutions.

Winding up the business. This is a tough one and where my Gemini personality shines through. One minute I think it would be great to wrap up the business on a high note...and move on to other dreams. The next minute I think I would miss it terribly. It's been my identity for over 9 years.

Choices. Sometimes it's hard to make them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a challenge.

So far we haven't had any viewings on our house, which is quite disappointing and a bit tough on the nerves of steel that we have. We purchased our new home in Nova Scotia with a closing date of February 1st after meeting with a real estate agent to discuss "realistically" how quickly our home here would close. We were assured that things would move quickly.

Now one month has gone by with no viewings. That's not to say that we haven't been busy. We've cleared out so much (to charity, to auction, to the dump) that it makes me wonder where we were keeping it all! I've painted a room with cathedral ceilings (formerly "Cody's condo"...our son's tv room outside his bedroom on the second floor) It was Marigold (aka orange) and is now a creamy colour called Wood Lily.

To top it off, I had been negotiating to sell my dog biscuit business. I thought it was a perfect fit. Someone experienced, in a similar but non competitive business. But we couldn't agree on terms.

When that fell through, it sent me on a bit of a tail spin. House not selling. Business not selling. Oh boy. Maybe we're doing the wrong thing?

New day. Back to positive. Things happen for a reason. True...I won't be able to package and ship biscuits from my new home. But. I do have other options. Better options. I'm working on those now. Keep your fingers crossed. Please.

We're also checking with the vendors of our Nova Scotia home. They are planning to build a new home, so we've asked them if they would consider a later closing than February 1st. Keep your toes crossed. Please.

So, everything looks much better. Not all roads to your dreams are smooth and straight. Sometimes there are bumps and curves along the way. That's what makes it interesting. And that's what makes changing it from a dream to reality truly rewarding.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Presents in the mail

A gift arrived last week from our granddaughter...the lovely Miss M. This is a drawing of John (on the right) and me. If you look very closely, you can see that we have blue noses. So, I guess we really are officially Bluenosers!

Miss M has lived in Nova Scotia her whole life (6 years!) and we'll be joining her early in the new year. We'll be living an hour away from her, but that's much closer than the current 15 hour drive it takes us to see her.

Also arriving in the mail:A book full of Nova Scotia sayings. The one we've noticed most in our travels down east..."right" used as an "intensifier". As in : "She is right smart" or "It's right windy today".
I can't imagine saying it myself. I guess I won't be a true "coaster" until I catch myself saying things like that!

What We're Leaving

Let's take a tour of the home we're leaving behind...

To see the listing of our current home, click here. Once you reach the MLS page, you can click on "view multimedia". Then, choose between still photos under "photos" or 360 views under "panoramas". The panoramas are a little skewed. Basically, they are a series of photos that have been linked together to make it look like a video.

The house looks so good, I wonder why we're moving? Hopefully someone else will love the house as much as we have over the past 9 years. A few weeks ago was a blur of getting our home ready for people to view. We painted, did minor repairs, gave away furniture and clothes, threw away 10 garbage bags full of "stuff" (mostly old election signs from John's days on council which are of no use to anyone), and sent 8 green garbage bags of shredded paper to recycling. Phew! Well, we're ready for people to come. Now we just have to do a cleaning blitz before each viewing.

So far, it's been over 3 weeks and no one has been interested. But we're still hanging onto that dream. It will happen.

Choose your dream and work it. Dream big and go!

Time To Live The Dream

Welcome to my first "Dream Big and GO!" blog post.For the past 25+ years, I have lived in Ontario. Before that, I spent one year in Alberta and before that, 20 years in Ontario. I was an Ontario girl with a heart on the east coast. A "Blue Noser Wannabe". I'm not sure how it started. Maybe it was because my parents took me on a trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia when I was small. For whatever reason, I've always felt a special place in my heart for Nova Scotia.

But life happens.

I had a career in banking. My job as bank manager disappeared in 1998. I was given a choice...take another job in the bank or take a severance package. Well, why not? I took the package.

I started my own business in 1998...the first dog biscuit company in Eastern Ontario. I won an award for "Most Innovative Local Business in Ontario" in 2001. My company was featured in countless newspaper articles, magazines, radio and television shows. I created "Paws for Charity"...a unique collaborative effort of 4 dog businesses raising funds for breast cancer charities.

And it's time for another change. Time to live the dream. My husband and I went on a little trip to Nova Scotia 1 month ago. One week later, we finalized a real estate deal. We bought a house! 20 acres of land...totally isolated...on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.

My oh my. Time to live the dream.

Stay tuned.