Monday, March 31, 2008

Abbreviations and Emoticons!

There is a whole other language that I am learning on the web and through emails. The shortcuts and abbreviations in typing are overwhelming. There are entire sites dedicated to translating those sometimes confusing jumbles of letters, numbers and symbols. One that I found particularly helpful is;
Some of the listings are fairly obvious and some are rather obscure but it has a lot of good info. It lists the abbreviation and then the definition.

There are several abbreviations that we use on a regular basis on the wiki. These include;
LOL - laughing out loud
ROFL - rolling on floor laughing
LMBO - laughing my butt off
(It is also permissible to combine these such as ROFLOL or ROFLMBO!)
JMO - just my opinion
IMHO - in my humble opinion
BTW - by the way
U - you, R - are, B4 - before and b/c - because

I could go on but those are the most common ones that I've come across. However, a few months ago, I received an email called "emoticons" that, well, let's just say that it offered some new and interesting alternatives for expressing oneself. Take a look;

We all know those cute little computer symbols called"emoticons," where:
:) means a smile and
:( is a frown.

Sometimes these are represented by:
-) or :-(

Well, how about some "ASSICONS? "Here goes:
(_!_) a regular ass
(__!__) a fat ass
(!) a tight ass
(_*_) a sore ass
{_!_} a swishy ass
(_o_) an ass that's been around
(_x_) kiss my ass
(_X_) leave my ass alone
(_zzz_) a tired ass
(_E=mc2_) a smart ass
(_$_) Money coming out of his ass
(_?_) Dumb Ass
You have just been e-mooned!



Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nuts! I almost missed it!

Okay it's the end of March and I just learned that March is National Peanut Month! According to "National Peanut Month had its beginnings as National Peanut Week in 1941. It was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1974."

They also list these peanut butter facts;;
- Peanuts are not actually nuts at all! They are legumes, like beans, peas and lentils.
Americans eat 3 pounds of peanut butter per person every year. That's about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon!
- Peanuts may be a favorite food, but we've found many uses for their shells too! You might find peanut shells in kitty litter, wallboard, fireplace logs, paper, animal feed and sometimes as fuel for power plants!
- Two peanut farmers have been elected President of the United States: Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
- One acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

Peanut Butter History
"There are many claims about the origin of peanut butter. Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries. Civil War soldiers dined on 'peanut porridge.' These uses, however, bore little resemblance to peanut butter as it is known today.
In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician supposedly encouraged the owner of a food products company, George A. Bayle Jr., to process and package ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. The physician apparently had experimented by grinding peanuts in his hand-cranked meat grinder. Bayle mechanized the process and began selling peanut butter out of barrels for about 6¢ per pound."

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek Michigan also patented a peanut butter around the same time but his was not as tasty as he steamed the nuts rather than roasting them before grinding them.

In 1922, Joseph L. Rosefield started selling peanut butter in California. It was churned like butter and therefore smoother than other brands of the time. He also received the first patent for a shelf-stable peanut butter which would stay fresh for up to a year as the oil didn't separate from the peanut butter. Swift & Company (which became Peter Pan in 1928) adopted this process for its E.K. Pond peanut butter. In 1932, after a dispute with Peter Pan, Rosefield began producing peanut butter under the Skippy label the following year and created the first crunchy style peanut butter two years later by adding chopped peanuts into creamy peanut butter at the end of the manufacturing process. Thank you Mr. Rosefield!!

Procter & Gamble entered the market in 1955 and their brand "Jif" is the #1 seller in the USA. Canada's #1 seller is Kraft. Peanut butter is a popular seller in many countries around the world and used in a myriad of recipes.

I LOVE peanut butter as long as it's the crunchy variety. I have recipes for: "Thai Chicken Stew", "Thai Pizza Sauce", "PB Brownies", "PB Ice Cream", PB & Chocolate Chip Muffins", and MANY cookie and dessert recipes. I sprinkle blanched salted peanuts on stir fries and even on creamy cole slaw.

PB is a staple in my kitchen and I go through several 1 kg. jars of Skippy Crunchy in a year. Some of my favourite ways to eat it include; on fresh bread or buns; toasted raisin bread; toasted PB and tomato sandwich (don't knock it till you've tried it - especially with fresh locally grown or "on the vine" varieties); spread on celery stalks or sliced apple.

Last Sunday I told you that one of my guilty pleasures was to eat PB and Chocolate chips together. Here is another of my favourites. Take an Eggo Waffle (I like the Fibre Plus) and place a chocolate chip in each of the little indentations. Toast in a toaster oven (don't even think about trying in a stand up toaster!) then spread peanut butter on top and savour the flavour of each mouthful!!!

I'm making myself hungry just writing about it! So have some Peanut Butter in whatever way you prefer or try something new. Be a nut and celebrate the peanut!


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Negativity is extremely exhausting, but some people seem to thrive on it. In the last month, I've had three negative encounters on line. One was on the game site that I sometimes post on and the other two were on the Y&R wiki.
In early March, a wiki member, that I'll call "J" posted this statement; "F do you agree with everything that S says. she seems to agree to disagree with most things that is written."

A number of us came to our friends defense. Here is what I said;
"If that comment was meant with even half the spite that it sounded like, then you need to chill out. F does not always agree with everyone including S They are like minded on many issues, but good friends often are. We are all supportive of our friends - even if we disagree. She is respectful and allows herself to see things from both sides and therefore agree to a point with many posters - an admirable quality. This is an open forum for fans to discuss and agree to disagree. If you or anyone else is going to throw direct insults at the people you disagree with then perhaps you should consider finding another playground. This is a community of people who are respectful of all opinions - even IF we disagree."

I posted this comment after "S" thanked me; "thanks s. Not everyone likes to play nice and obviously someone peed in j's porridge. Actually there was a similar type attack last Wednesday to a well known poster on a games forum that I sometimes post on. The remarks were cruel and uncalled for. At least 10 of us posted comments in support of our much loved and respected friend. He choose to remain silent other than to thank us the following day at the end of his game review for that day. The point is that whether we know the person in real life or just on line, we stand up and support the people we care about when someone takes unjust shots. 'Cuz that's what friends are for!!"

My friend "F" posted thank yous to us the next day and explained that she hadn't wanted to create havoc on the site that night as "J" may have been lurking and waiting to make more snide remarks. I posted the following; "I think you handled the situation very well. That person may well have been lurking and that kind of negativity is exhausting, depressing and unnecessary. Consider it as a cosmic test that you passed with flying colours. Have some chocolate and know that your real friends will always be there to back you up and love you whether we all agree or not. It wasn't necessary to thank all of us as we know that you'd have been there for us. Thanking us was just one more example of the classy broad that you are!"

Well early Friday morning someone else took a pot shot at my friend and two of us posted remarks that it was uncalled for. The negative Nellie basically told us to mind our own business and leave them alone!
Excuse me? This is a public forum. Negative comments on story lines is one thing, but to personally attack members is uncalled for.

I try not to be drawn into negativity. I liken it to a leach that gradually sucks the goodness out of you. When you meet people in person, you can usually get a pretty good feel for their attitude. Meeting people on line is quite another matter. For the most part the wiki and the games forum have been very welcoming and supportive communities and it saddens me that a few choose to be such wet blankets.

It isn't always easy, but I try to surround myself with positive energy and good karma. If a friend is having a bad day or going through a rough patch, I want to be there to be supportive. However if you are being negative for the sake of being negative then please do us all a favour - find another playground!

How some people get their exercise;
1) Jumping to conclusions
2) Sidestepping responsibility
3) Pushing their luck
4) Running down other people

Apparently it takes 27 facial muscles to frown and only 7 to smile. I'm all for getting exercise, but I'd rather get that workout by laughing and enjoying the people around me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fish Friday

I am not Catholic. In fact, I'm not even religious and consider myself an agnostic. However, there is one thing that I do that many Catholics do. I make a point of eating fish and meat alternatives on Friday. I'll eat them other days as well, but I make a conscious effort to eat fish on Fridays.

My dad loved fishing. He even loved ice fishing. He used to bring home lots of jack fish and pickerel. I liked fish as a kid, but I could never see the bones and nearly choked a few times. My mom used to have to pick the bones out for me before I would even taste it. Fresh fish was wonderful, but it wasn't that great cold. It finally got so frustrating for me that I would only eat fish sticks or canned tuna. The only way I'd eat canned salmon, was if someone else picked out the bones and skin. The slimy skin and crunchy bones/vertebrae just grossed me out to the point of nausea.

Even so, I still managed to find enough boneless fish products in the stores to eat it once a week. When I started loosing weight, I decided to try and find healthier alternatives. I even found boneless/skinless canned salmon and developed a real taste for it. Then the price went up and I couldn't afford this version. I missed my salmon, so I bought a can of regular salmon. The only way I could stomach to eat it was to clean out all the skin/bones and then rinse it in cold water and set in a strainer. I'd mix it with mayo, spices and a bit of onion and chill it for a few hours. As long as I prepared it several hours in advance, I could eat it no problem.

One of the stores had fresh salmon fillets on sale and I decided what the heck. If I can eat the canned, I can handle the fresh. The fillets were pretty much boned and I just had to peel off the skin. I did it and I loved it! I started buying big trays of salmon fillets when they'd go on sale. I'd skin them, then cut them into individual portions and freeze individually to either grill on my Foreman Grill or bake in the oven.

About a year or so ago I noticed that High Liner was now marketing a package of frozen Wild Pacific Salmon Fillets. Boneless and skinless, and portioned into servings of about 110g (3 1/2 ounces). My local Price Choppers had them on sale, so why not try them. A one pound package was about $4.00. They are fantastic! I went back the next day and bought 4 more packages for the freezer. I've been buying them ever since. In fact they are on sale again this week, and even though I have two in the freezer, I'm going to buy 4 more.

"High Liner brings your family the finest salmon with our premium quality, individually quick frozen Wild Pacific salmon. These unseasoned fish fillets are vacuum packed to keep them as ocean-fresh as possible and are ready to prepare. Simply brush with oil and season as desired or prepare with your favourite sauce. Available all year round, our Wild Pacific salmon is boned, deep skinned and deep pink in colour.Wild Pacific Salmon is a good source of omega-3 polyunsaturates and is an excellent source of protein. Each 454 g sleeve contains 4 or more fillets."

My favourite way to prepare the fillets is to set one or two fillets in an oven proof dish, cover with foil and allow to thaw in the fridge for several hours. When the fish is thawed, preheat the oven to 375F and sprinkle 1-1 1/2 Tablespoons of lemon juice over each fillet. I then sprinkle a little bit of each of the following seasonings on top of each fillet; lemon pepper, thyme, basil, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Cover tightly with the foil and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the fillets flake easily. I drizzle the hot lemon sauce mixture over the fillet and serve with a baked potato or brown rice and a tossed salad or steamed broccoli! It is sooooo good!!!!!!



Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trying to find the perfect phone!

Have you tried buying a telephone lately? The choices are overwhelming. Corded or cordless? Answering system? Multi-line? Call Display? Memory? AC/DC? Unfortunately I can't visually access most of them.

I've never been a fan of cordless phones. The keypads are very tiny and more often than not you get a lot of interference. I know some of the newer models have claimed to overcome that problem, but I still don't want one.

I've had Caller ID since it was introduced in Winnipeg back in June 1993. My number is unlisted and there were a few people that I would have preferred hadn't had my number. I got Caller ID so I could screen calls by number rather than making all callers go through my answering machine. I rented phones from MTS for several years. In December 2001, I purchased 2 "Curtis Talking Caller ID Phones". The phone rings, then it calls out the incoming number. The display panel was large and had really good contrast so it was easy to see and use. They worked very well until late last fall. Almost 6 years is pretty good for $35.00 phones. I looked for Curtis again, but of course they don't make this style anymore or anything similar. I've been looking for suitable replacements ever since.

Last November I purchased a phone similar to the one at right, that claimed to have talking caller ID. It did, but it only said the number as the call came in and the display panel was impossible for me to read. I sent it back and decided to put up with my old phones till this spring when one of them literally died. The other gives occasional bursts of static. I HAVE to find new phones.

I've looked for more Talking Caller ID Phones, but they are a rarity. Anything that even comes close is either cordless or large button. I've never been a fan of large number phones as I go more by feel than sight while dialing. With the big buttons, it is too easy for your fingers to loose track of where you are while dialing.

The first one I bought was the one at left. Uniden is a good brand and this seemed to have a large display. Well it didn't take long to figure out that no matter how I adjusted it, there was no possible way I could read the display. When the phone was in use, it had a hideous blue screen as a background and when not in use the screen was so dark I couldn't even see the display numbers to read the time.

The next one I bought was GE - another good brand. Well the display was slightly better on this one. If I held the base of the phone at the right angle, I could see the display. However, the main reason I disliked this phone was the receiver. It was wide at the top of the earpiece and narrowed to about half the width at the mouth piece. Not a horrid design, except that the top was much heavier than the bottom and therefore awkward to hold for more than a few minutes. This wouldn't work as I talk to my mom for an hour every Sunday morning and also have (almost weekly) long conversations with another blind friend,

So Tuesday, I went to London Drugs and bought an AT&T Speakerphone with caller ID. Apparently it does have a talking feature, but only with the replay of messages. The call display has decent contrast and the receiver seems balanced. (I'll know for sure after this weekends call to mom. It uses an AC adapter for power. I saw several phones with larger displays but they only had DC power source which would mean frequent battery replacement/charging to maintain the stored memory.

I'm still not thrilled, but I've been to eight stores in the last two weeks or so and browsed several on line sites. The pickings are slim. I'll keep looking, as I still have to replace the dying "static" phone but for now I'm really tired of reading manuals and trying to figure out how to use each new phone. At some point, I may consider ordering a Talking Caller ID Box from the CNIB in Toronto. The downside is that it costs about $60.00 plus shipping and taxes. If I don't like it I still have to pay the shipping back.

Ain't technology grand?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Y&R Wiki Shout-Out!

A couple of months ago The Young and The Restless Wiki started paying tribute to some of their contributors by giving them a "shout-out" on the Homepage in recognition of all the work they do on the wiki. Several very deserving people have been given this honour.

I've only been contributing for a few months and was positive that I was no where near that type of honour. There were at least 6 or 8 that I thought would be featured before I would even be considered.
Well I was wrong! On Monday March 17, I'd been on the site in the morning and then I left for a few hours - come back late afternoon and clicked on the "discussion forum" and before I start reading thread titles, I see I have 3 messages. The first two are from a friend, I'll call "B"...

#1 "Could you do me a favor? - Hello Chocolate Hider. How are you today? I need a favor. Tell me about yourself on your profile or in a message will you? Like where you are from and family and interests etc. Thanks. B"

#2 "Oh Never Mind - Hi I see you did this since i was here nosing around before. Thanks my friend. B"

... and I wonder what the heck is going on? Not that I minded her asking for info on me - it was just so out of the blue! Not to mention we had already exchanged a few private "getting to know you type notes". Hmm she has always teased me about my chocolate icon/pic so maybe she's having me investigated so she could find my stash of chocolate! LOL!

Then I read the 3rd message which was from another friend "s", who was sending a compliment and congratulations on making Homepage! Homepage!?!? I went into shock! I clicked over to the homepage and sure enough - there was my chocolate pic about half way down on the right hand side with these words:

WIKI MEMBER SHOUT-OUT "This week's wiki shout-out goes to dnsyl57 ! She was born on a prairie farm and has lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada since 1984.(Check Out Her Profile) to see photos). She has a self-described wickedly warped sense of humor and loves to laugh. She loves music, baking and cooking. Drop her a message or send her a compliment!"

Never occurred to me that I would even be considered for homepage given how few posts I've made! (About 300or so at taht point) I stared at the screen in disbelief. I have no idea how I was chosen for this honour. I needed a "chocolate IV" to revive myself! I went to the discussion forum and there was a thread, created by my friend "s", that said; "Congratulations dnsyl57 on the Homepage"

What an incredible week it has been! The thread has had several posts and I've received several messages, friend requests and compliments from my fellow wiki members. It is a really humbling experience to have so many nice things said about yourself.

The wiki is a very caring and supportive community. I've met some wonderful new friends. We share only what we are comfortable in sharing about ourselves and several of us do not even list our real names to protect our privacy. To an outsider, it may seem difficult to believe that you can make friends this way, and until a few months ago, I would have agreed. The truth is, it comes slowly and goes only as far as you allow it. Would I be friends with these people in the real world? Probably not with all of them, but there are a few that I am sure I would be.

Well, late Tuesday afternoon, March 25, the next deserving candidate was announced. She is also a friend of mine and one of the many that I I thought deserved this honour more than I. I have already posted a congratulatory note on the thread created in her honour and I will continue to congratulate each deserving person that comes after her.
Thanks again to all my friends on the wiki - you made this a very special week and I will never forget the kind things you have written to me and about me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Chocolate vs. Sex

It's official - most women prefer chocolate to sex.
New research reveals that 53% of the adult UK female population - around 12 million women - would rather have a nibble than nookie. A staggering 89% confessed to experiencing physical cravings for chocolate and one in five admitted they couldn't go a day without chocolate.

The poll of 2,500 women was conducted by Red Letter Days, to coincide with the launch of two chocolate-themed experience days.

Over 40% of females said they get 'cranky' if deprived of their choccy fix and 37% consider it an "integral part" of their day. Men, on the other hand, would always plump for sex over chocolate (78%).

And despite both sexes consuming the same average amount of chocolate a week - the equivalent to six small bars - men are less likely to admit their addiction.Only 33% of guys declared they were chocoholics, compared to 51% of girls.
So which is better - Chocolate or Sex? Well a quick web search came up with several thousand hits and several lists of why chocolate is better. Here is a sampling of what I consider some of the better reasons:
1. You can GET chocolate.
2. Chocolate satisfies even when it has gone soft!
3. If you bite the nuts too hard, the chocolate won't mind!
4. You can make the chocolate last as long as you want!
5. You can ask a stranger for chocolate without being slapped.
6. The word "commitment" doesn't scare off chocolate.
7. Chocolate doesn't make you pregnant.
8. You can have chocolate at any time of the month.
9. Good chocolate is easy to find.
10. Size doesn’t matter, it's always good!
11. A chocolate will always respect you in the morning.
12. With a chocolate, the toilet seat is always the way you left it
13. A chocolate never suffers from performance anxiety.
14. Chocolates are easy to pick up.
15. You can fondle chocolates in a supermarket.
16. ...and you know how firm it is before you take it home.
17. Chocolates never need a round of applause.
18. Chocolates don't leave whisker burns, fall asleep on your chest, or drool on the pillow.
19. A chocolate doesn't turn your bathroom into a library.
20. Chocolates don't leave wet towels or dirty shorts on the floor.
21. A chocolate won't eat all your food or drink all your liquor.
22. After telling your chocolate bar all your worries you can simply eat it.
23. A bar of chocolate doesn’t bore you by constantly talking about sports.
24. Chocolates don't hog the remote.
25. Chocolates can stay up all night...
For even more reasons check out;

For the record, I'm not opposed to men or sex, it's just REALLY hard to find one that is worth the effort. If I ever do find one that's better than chocolate - I'm not sharing!


Monday, March 24, 2008

Understanding Chocolate

Rules of Chocolate
-If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.-Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.
-The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car. The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.
-Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It'll take the edge off your appetite and you'll eat less.
-A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?
-If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?
-If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
-Money talks. Chocolate sings.
-Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.
-Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous? Because no one wants to quit.
-Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done.
-Chocolate is a health food. Chocolate is derived from cacao beans. Bean = vegetable. Sugar is derived either from sugar beets or cane, both vegetables. And, of course, the milk/cream is dairy. So eat more chocolate to meet the dietary requirements for daily vegetable and dairy intake.
quoted by; Daniel L. Worona
Want to hide your chocolate obsession?:
Only eat during sex. Your groans of pleasure will be mistaken for sexual ecstasy.
Love/Chocolate definitions;
Romance : The art of slowly and seductively unwrapping your chocolate bar.
Diet : Cutting down from twelve to eleven chocolate gateaux per day.
Self Control : Saving half your box of chocolates until 'later'.
Love : A passionate need for another. Many believe that true love is only possible with one chocolate bar at a time.
Unrequited Love : When your chocolate cake just doesn't seem to care about you any more.
Chocophobia : The totally logical fear that the world will run out of chocolate
Affair : Having a wonderful time with one chocolate ice cream while another is patiently waiting in the fridge.
Sex Appeal : Being so 'hot' that you cause chocolate to melt at first glance.


Sunday, March 23, 2008


Yes it is Easter Sunday and kids of all ages will be devouring sweet treats - mostly of the chocolate variety. I love my chocolate, but am really not that crazy about the majority of the Easter goodies on the market, as they aren't usually made of a decent quality chocolate or are filled with sickeningly sweet marshmallow/cream fillings. I used to love Easter chocolate. It was a chance to indulge in my all time guilty pleasure!
Is it just me or has the quality of Easter chocolate gone down over the last twenty or thirty years? Maybe my taste buds have just evolved to a higher standard. I would swear that some of the better known brands such as 'Allan's" is using a lower grade chocolate. It doesn't have the same texture or taste anymore. It also melts in the hand quicker than it used to.
I was never really a fan of the marshmallow or cream filled treats. Even the "Cadbury Easter Egg" was just too sweet. All I really wanted was the chocolate. Preferably the solid bunnies. The hollow ones left me feeling hollow and wanting more!
The day after Easter, I used to go to the major retailers such as Superstore first thing in the morning and buy a half dozen or so of the one pound solid bunnies at half price. When I got home, I would either grate or chop the bunnies and freeze the chocolate to use in baking, dessert toppings or in my homemade ice cream. It wasn't a great tasting chocolate on its own, but if I used it in another recipe it seemed to be fine. However, I stopped doing that a year or two ago, as I just couldn't tolerate the inferior taste anymore. Yes it was cheap, but I found that I needed to eat at least twice as much to get the same taste satisfaction of a few good quality chocolate chips. The money,I was supposedly saving wasn't worth the sacrifice in flavour.

Personally, I'd rather take a spoonful of crunchy peanut butter and coat it in an ounce of semi sweet or dark chocolate chips! Now there's a treat! All things in moderation.

Whatever your preference, remember to give yourself a small treat - you are worth it!



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Homemade Buns!!

Okay, yesterday I told you that I made "Hot Cross Buns", so today I thought I would share the original recipe plus two variations.


2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon instant (quick rise) yeast
4 Tablespoons sugar OR 3 Tablespoons liquid honey
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups warm water (not hot)
2 to 3 cups all purpose flour (or combo of all purpose and whole wheat)
Combine the whole wheat flour and yeast in a small bowl. In a large bowl combine the sugar/honey, oil, salt and egg till lightly beaten. Add water and stir until frothy. Slowly mix in the flour and yeast mixture. Gradually add the all purpose flour and mix well. As the dough becomes stiffer, knead with your hands so you can get a feel for the dough and know when it is no longer sticky. You will add about 2-3 cups in total.

Cover the dough with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or until double in size (Note; the more whole wheat flour you use the longer it will take to rise.)
Grease two large baking sheets. Punch down the dough and shape into about 30 buns. Place on baking sheets and cover, Let rise for about one hour or until double in size. Bake in 350F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on wire racks. Freezes well.
Variation #1 "Cheese and Onion"
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 Tablespoons onion soup mix
Combine ingredients well with 1 cup of the all purpose flour. Add to the flour/yeast/liquid mixture and proceed as above.
Variation #2 "Hot Cross Buns"
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup red glaceed cherries (washed, dried and halved)
3/4 cups raisins (washed and dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
Combine ingredients well with 1 cup of the all purpose flour. Add to the flour/yeast/liquid mixture and proceed as above.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh the aroma!!

Yesterday, I made hot cross buns for the first time in almost 10 years. I used to bake buns on a regular basis in my 20's and 30's, but got away from it in my 40's as I didn't always have freezer space - and the aroma and taste of fresh buns is enough to drive a person to near gluttony!

I remember helping my grandma shape buns when I was a little girl. I couldn't get the shape right by just rolling it as the dough always stuck to my hands. She taught me to grease my hands - especially along the thumb and up the pointer finger, then take a small piece of dough and carefully squeeze it between the thumb and pointer finger so it comes out as a perfect little ball of dough. Works like a charm!

My mom used to make bread and buns all the time. She used to have this recipe for "overnight Buns". You mixed them at supper time, let them rise several hours, then shape them at 10 or 11:00. They'd rise overnight and then you bake them at morning. I'd wake up to that heavenly smell of fresh buns for breakfast!

One time that she made them, they rose a little quicker than usual. Luckily, she had gotten up during the night and checked them on her way back to bed. I awoke to that aroma about 4:30AM instead of 7:30! We all got up and had fresh warm buns while mom baked the rest of the pans.
Several years later, I was selling bulk baking supplies through a home party system and we carried an instant yeast called Fermipan. It was used by commercial bakers to speed up the process and it was mixed in with the flour rather than the liquids. The package said you could have fresh buns in three hours. Mom and I were very skeptical, but we tried it. It worked beautifully. That was all we used after that.

Fermipan sold out to other companies, but "instant yeast" is now readily available. If you aren't sure if it is the right type of yeast, check the directions on the package to make sure it says to add the yeast to the DRY ingredients.

When I made the buns on Thursday morning, I was very tempted to use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It would have been faster and easier, but truthfully, I really like the feel of working the dough by hand. It is a great way to work out aggression as you knead the dough and brings back fond childhood memories of helping my mom and my grandma as they taught me how to bake.
For the record, I only ate three fresh buns, I gave a dozen away (6 each to two people) and froze the other 15 buns to eat over the next few weeks!


Thursday, March 20, 2008


"Spring has sprung, the grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is?
Tis spring, the bird is on the wing!

But that's absoid, I thought D' wing was on d' boid! "

This was one of my grandfathers favourite poems. Most people love spring and the reawakening of nature. The birds are flying north, trees are budding, fresh sprigs of greenery. Sounds great, right?

The first day of spring! Yeah right! Here in the 'Peg it's more like the first official day of "pot hole" season. Drivers curse them - with good reason as they can do major damage to a vehicle. But, they aren't much fun for pedestrians either - especially us blinks!

By fall we had figured out where all the dips, dives, rises and obstacles were in our regular journeys. Along comes winter and things change with every snowfall and plowing.

Then comes spring and it's a whole new game! With every thaw, freeze and thaw, our landscape changes. New holes, cracks, dips and rises appear on a daily basis. The snow is melting and what looks like a puddle may be deep enough to require hip waders or have black ice under the water. And let's not forget that slippery sludge of leftover decomposing fall leaves, sand, dirt and melted snow that can cause hydro-planing at a moments notice. Are we having fun yet?

Most of the snow has melted and a number of sidewalks are almost dry - but this doesn't mean anything in these parts! It is very rare that we don't get one last great winter blast/snowfall from Mother Nature in late March or early April! It usually hits right around the time the last of the Snowbirds (travellers) are returning home from their winter getaways. I have always considered this as Mother Nature's revenge, because they tried to escape winter and that those of us who stay (by choice or circumstance) are just innocent victims.

I'd swear that at least half the intersections and bus stops in this city are located near dips in the road or drainage grates. You stand at a corner waiting to cross or waiting for a bus and there is a mini lake right in front of you. Most drivers will slow down - BUT - there are those who see this as a sport! "Let's see how big of a splash I can make as I drive by that person! Hey wait, they have a white cane - that means they can't see my license plate - even better! Pedal to the metal!"

Odds are your license plate was already covered with mud and nobody can see it anyway (that is against the law isn't it?), but hey, if that's your idea of fun then I hope your axle takes a nice direct hit on that pot hole just ahead. No hard feelings, okay?

Ah, the joys of spring! Oh well, summer's right around the corner, right? Yup, here in the 'Peg we call that construction season and it lasts through the first few snowfalls next fall.

Why do I feel like a hamster on a wheel?

"Spring has sprung, the grass has ris’,
I wonder where the birdie is?
There he is up in the sky,
He dropped some whitewash in my eye!
I‘m alright, I won't cry,
I'm just glad that cows can't fly!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gray Matter

To dye or not to dye, that is the question.

I've always had very fine thin hair and it never took kindly to perms, curlers or even curling irons for that matter. I had long hair in my teens and twenties, then went short in my thirties. Very short. My style is wash it, comb it, ignore it. I've never actually dyed my hair. I did, however use a product called "Sun In" during the mid 80's to bring out blond highlights in my hair.

I don't tend to see a lot of detail in other people (for obvious reasons) but I do notice colours, especially if the lighting is good. I see what colours they wear and I see their hair colour. It always amazes me how many different hair colours there are - natural or treated. We've all seen the old lady blue rinse. Used to see a lot of them as a kid, but there aren't as many of those around as there used to be.

Mrs. Betty Slocombe (Molly Sudgen) of Are You Being Served is probably the most famous for her multiple hair colours. Only the pilot episode featured her natural colour. Every single one of the 69 episodes after that featured a slightly different hair colour and even an occasional multi-coloured look. Some were died, but most were wigs.

Years ago, I knew a woman who had very dark hair with just a hint of red in it. She started getting gray and decided to have it dyed to bring out more of the red. Well something didn't quite go right and it actually took on a deep purple hue. She wasn't into punk, but it actually looked really good on her. I also knew a guy who died his hair fire engine red, but it took on more of an orange tone and it looked ridiculous on him.

Some people look really good with their hair dyed, but it takes a lot of time, effort and money to maintain that look - not to mention the damage all those chemicals can do to your hair!

Dying ones hair is a very personal choice but I personally like to see the natural look - especially on a guy! As they age, most guys tend to get that little bit of gray around the temples or the salt and pepper look. Some guys are a little freaked by those first signs of gray, as it makes them realize they are getting older, but they needn't feel that way. You are only as old as you feel. If truth be told, most women (including myself) find that bit of gray to be incredibly SEXY and a real turn on! Even a full head of gray hair is sexy - as long as it is well groomed.

No comb overs, or bad toupees please! Let it be natural. I'd much rather see a bald scalp/head than either of those options! Even a blink like me thinks that looks ludicrous.

Hair is such a personal thing. Whether it is thick or thin, fine or coarse, full head or barely there - whatever you got - as long as it is clean and well groomed go for it!

Now if I could only see the details of yout face....


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A tip of the slongue

Do you ever have trouble getting your meaning across? That somehow, what you are thinking comes out with all the right syllables, sounds and letters, but they got mixed up somewhere between your brain and your mouth? Or have you ever been listening to someone speak and thought, wait did they just whip their flurds...or... spew up their screech....? Wait, I mean flip their words..or..screw up their speech...?

If you have, then we speak the lame sanguage. I'm constantly getting my mords wixed and my tang tongueled. These tips of the slongue are most commonly called "spoonerisms",

"Spoonerism; A transposition of sounds of two or more words, especially a ludicrous one. The spoonerism is named after William Archibald Spooner (1844-1930), British cleric and scholar"

The Reverend Spooner was notorious for his verbal mishaps! While attending a dinner at Oxford, he was proposing a toast to the dear Queen (Victoria)." What Spooner actually said was, "Let us toast the queer dean."

As Dr. Spooner led a parishioner down the aisle of the church. He allegedly stated: "Come this way and I'll sow you to a sheet."

He is also quoted as saying;
-"It is kisstomary to cuss the bride."
-To a student: "You have hissed all my mystery lectures, and were caught fighting a liar in the quad. Having tasted two worms, you will leave by the next town drain" ("missed ... history," "lighting a fire," "wasted two terms," "down train")
-"a well-boiled icicle" ("well-oiled bicycle")
-"it's like when your car loses traction because it has tired balls" ("bald tires")

How many of those statements were actually spoken by the Rev. Spooner is debatable. There are countless examples of accidental and deliberate spoonerisms on the net and in lore.

One of the more famous (and deliberate) is; "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!" It is attributed to W. C. Fields, although there are also references to Dorothy Parker and Tom Waits as having made this statement.

One of my families favourites was from an aunt who said she had to "turk a cookey". This has been a traditional statement around holiday festivities for over forty years now!

I learned this as a kid;
"Ocifer, Ocifer! I'm not as think as you drunk I am. I only had ti martwoni's. I'm not under the afluence of incohol, though many thinkle may peep I am!"

I'm not going to use Spell check today as it would probably have a heart attack with this post! I've found some wonderful, well known short stories on the net that have been "spoonerized". I absitively, posoutly promise to share some of them with you over the next few months.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is March 17 - St Patrick's Day - A day for people to wear green clothing, eat green foods and drink green beverages. It is a day that everyone "claims" to be Irish and also to tell Irish jokes. Unfortunately, this is strictly a North American interpretation of the day. The Irish celebrate the life of the Patron Saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick who lived in the fifth century and whom, among other deeds, was supposedly responsible for chasing all the snakes out of Ireland. This feat is debatable though, as there were no snakes in Ireland post-glacier. Oh well, Ireland is also well known for the disastrous potato famine (1845-1852).

"The year 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the United Nations, noting that the Potato is a staple food in the diet of the world’s population, and affirming the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty." Quote from Wikipedia.

So in honour of St. Patrick's Day and an abundance of potatoes, I have chosen to share one of my favourite potato recipes.

Oven Fries Seasoning Mix
2 Tablespoons cumin
2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons oregano
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper.

Stir well and store in a shaker style jar with a tight lid.

Note: This recipe will do for several batches of oven fries!!

Fat Free Dip
Combine 1 Tablespoon Ranch style seasoning mix (you can usually find these in the produce or spice section of your grocery store) and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder with 1/2 cup fat free sour cream. Mix well and store in fridge for at least an hour (preferably 3-4 hours) before serving to allow flavours to blend.

Oven Fries

Preheat oven to 400F and spray a large baking sheet generously with Pam Cooking spray. while oven is heating, scrub 2 large baker (white/russet) potatoes and remove any spots. Slice into fries about 1/4 inch or a bit thicker. Try to keep thickness as uniform as possible to prevent burning. Spread fries evenly over pan and spray generously with Pam. Sprinkle with seasoning mix (a little goes a long way) and bake for about 20 minutes or until starting to brown on bottom. Turn all of the fries and return to oven for an additional 20-25 minutes or to desired crispness.
Serve hot from the oven with fat free sour cream dip. Serves 2. Yummy!!

This recipe also works well using sweet potatoes or yams - but you have to peel the yams and they bake a little faster so watch them closely. They can burn easily.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 6 of 6 - Gaining Perspective

I hit plateaus several times over the years. That can get very frustrating. The trick is not to give up. When you do hit a plateau - and everyone does at some point - you have to change up your routine. Add a new element or increase the length of a workout.

Overall I lost 100 pounds in 32 months (3/15/2000-11/15/2002) and went from a size 22 pant to a size 7. I maintained that loss for a year. I went through some personal and family issues through the winter of 2003/4 and I regained about 25 pounds and now wear either a 9 or 11 depending on style. (sizes are based on clothing from "Cotton Ginny") I have maintained the 75 pound weight loss since spring 2004. Even with the healthy eating, I'd have gained back a lot more without my exercise equipment and especially the Gazelle.

Alas, with low metabolism. chronic fatigue and the early stages of menopause, I have been unable to loose those regained 25 pounds. I am still a little pudgy, but that is okay. When I was at my thinnest, and within the healthy weight for my height/age/gender, I was often told that I had lost too much weight for my body's' frame.

As of March 15, 2008 I have worked out for the last 2923 days - that is 8 years and one day! Have I skipped days? Of course, I take a day off every week to ten days BUT I make up that day with a double workout before or after. I was off almost two weeks post eye surgery in December 2002. but I made up every one of those days! I don't have air conditioning, so if it is really hot/humid in the summer, I will get up at 5 or 6AM and work out or do extra on a cooler day. I've worked too long and too hard to let this old body get out of control again.

I rarely eat fast food or take out. There aren't a lot of sweets or fatty foods that tempt me. When I am tempted thought, I consider whether the fat, sodium and calories are really worth the temporary taste sensation. For the most part the answer is no. I also recall seeing a documentary a few years ago that showed what 5 pounds of fat looked like. It was a large clear plastic bag that was squishy and looked like a combination of congealed fat, butter, lard and chicken fat! It was truly disgusting!

I never used diets - I don't believe in denying myself foods. Denying yourself only creates cravings. It is all about portion control and healthy choices. For some really fabulous healthy, flavourful recipes, I HIGHLY recommend; "Looney Spoons"; "Crazy Plates" and "Eat, Shrink and be Merry". All three recipe books are written by Janet and Greta Podleski and are put out by Granet Publishing. These books are full of creative recipes, tons of useful info and lots of humour!

Many women are concerned about "bulking up" if they do resistance or lift weights. The reality is, that you would have to do several hours/week to look even remotely like a body builder. 20-30 minutes, 3 or 4 times/week will help tone and maintain the muscle that you have built up and allow your body to burn calories more efficiently. This is critically important for healthy living as we grow older.

I've gone through a lot since November 1990. I've learned some hard lessons and put my body through hell. It has taken me a long time to except myself and it took loosing most of my sight and becoming obese to finally kick some sense in to me! It has been a difficult, but necessary journey.

I am a happier, healthier person who has found an inner peace that I never believed existed. I still miss being able to go for long walks, but I have the next best thing.
I have family and friends that support me, love me and make me laugh. They have believed in me, but knew better than to push me into taking better care of myself. They knew that I had to make that realization, decision and commitment on my own. If I hadn't done it for myself, it never would have worked.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 5 of 6 - The Gazelle

There are several types of good fitness equipment on the market, but the one I found to be the BEST by far is "The Tony Little Gazelle" - YES I mean the one from the infomercial. The Gazelle is sort of a hybrid cross between a ski machine and a treadmill. It is low impact on joints and back. You can take large or small steps, fast or slow and also work your upper body at the same time! I've been using it for almost 7 years (March 22, 2001) and am up to 3 miles every other day (about 31-33 minutes average for me). It will kick your butt and IS FUN at the same time!

Like I said before, because of my vision and other health issues walking outside is not the greatest way for me to relax or get exercise - it is more of getting from A to B safely. The gazelle gives me a freedom to move in tiny steps or huge strides like a wind sprint. I crank up my music, close my eyes and imagine I'm out in a meadow or running through a forest with no fear of falling! I've never felt so free as when I'm on it! It is incredibly exhilarating!

The gazelle is a great stress reliever for me. I swear I'd have had a white jacket with extra long sleeves or been dead by now if I didn't have this release. It is an investment but if you use it regularly and watch what you eat then it will pay off in the long run with a healthier, happier you!

The bike was a great starting point, but I wasn't toning any muscles. Fat is 3 times bulkier than muscle and your body runs more efficiently with better muscle tone. In the first year I had the gazelle I lost another 40 pounds and over 30 inches from arms, bust, waist, hips, thighs and calves. I lost another 20 pounds over the next 6 months and another 15 inches.

I got mine through "The Shopping Channel" in Canada but they don't ship to USA. I have seen them at Wal-mart and a few other retailers but the quality isn't as good and there are also a lot of imitation products out there. You have to be careful you get the real thing as these others are poor quality and will break in record time.
And in case you were wondering, no I do not get a cut in profits for promoting the gazelle. (I should though as I've convinced at least 1/2 dozen people to try/buy!) It just happens to be something that I believe in and it certainly has worked for me!

Check out these links;

I still use the bike 15 minutes (average 3.5-4.0miles) every other day. I also bought other resistance equipment including; 5 pound hand weights, resistance cords, Ab Gym (no longer available) and the "Easy Shaper Pro", (similar to photo). I do about 20-25 minutes of resistance along with the bike.

I alternate daily workouts by using the bike/resistance one day and the Gazelle the next to get a good variety of cross training.

For info on the easy shaper, please see;


Tomorrow; "Gaining Perspective"

Friday, March 14, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 4 of 6 - Getting Started

I ordered an exercise bike and started using it on March 15, 2000. The first few days, I only managed to ride for 5 minutes without using any resistance. It took me awhile to get used to exercising, but I didn't quit. Over the next few months I gradually increased my time to 20 minutes and started using a rolling hills program. I averaged 4.3miles/day. Slowly the pounds began coming off.

In late July 2000, I bought a "George Foreman Knock-Out-The-Fat Grill". I grilled beef, chicken, fish, sausage, burgers, vegetables, and sandwiches. I watched the fat drip out into the tray and was glad that it wasn't going into my body.

I started making other changes to my eating habits too. As I ran out of the soft drinks, popcorn, chips and cookies - I didn't replace them. I started drinking more water. I switched from 2% to 1% milk. I started doing my own baking again. I looked for healthier options at the grocery stores. I bought fresh fruit and started eating salads again. I bought brown rice, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat bread. I still made muffins and cookies with chocolate chips in them but I used healthier recipes and at least 50% whole wheat flour. I bought low calorie or low fat or low sodium products whenever I could.

I had a few rules for these new products that I was buying. They had to be the same price or cheaper than the regular variety. If I didn't like the taste/quality of the product then it would be better to buy the regular product and just limit my serving sizes. I wanted to enjoy the foods without paying a fortune and/or sacrificing the flavour.

In December 1998, I had started making my own ice cream, due to digestive problems with the artificial ingredients found in all but the premium/all natural brands on the market. I started adjusting the recipes to make healthier, lighter and flavourful versions that I could have and not feel guilty about eating.

I started keeping a food journal. I listed how many servings of each group I had each day, and I also listed the "extras" like margarine, Miracle Whip, dressings, mustard, sauces, etc. I averaged 6-8 servings fruit/vegetables; 2-3 meat/alternatives; 3-4 dairy; and 4-5 grains every day.

I never denied myself food, I just watched how much I ate and how often I ate certain types of foods. I quit eating between meals. As soon as I my eye doctor would allow it, I also got off the meds that were required to be taken with food. Quitting that bedtime snack was a HUGE improvement!

Even with all the changes, I never gave up chocolate - but I did make a rule that I haven't broken. If I didn't have at least two servings of fresh fruit and vegetables that day, then I wasn't allowed to have my 1 - 1 1/2 ounces of plain chocolate for dessert at supper.

My energy level still wasn't great, but it was better. My good days were increasing and the bad ones weren't quite as bad. I still had to be very careful not to overdo it, but I was on the road back.

In the first year I lost 40 pounds and was almost into a size 16. It was a great start, but the bike was boring. I was just sitting there pedaling. I wasn't working my upper body. I needed a better workout program.


Tomorrow; "The Gazelle"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 3 of 6 - The Realization

There are only two advantages to being obese. You don't have to worry about being blown away in a strong wind and you have extra insulation in the dead of winter.

I'd never been comfortable in my own skin. I hated my appearance. I've been stared at and made fun of my whole life. I felt like a freak of nature.

When I lost my sight, one of the things I thought was that at least I don't have to look at me anymore.

Being obese was not fun. My body ached and screamed with every movement. Climbing even two steps on or off the bus was exhausting. Lifting my legs over the edge of the tub to get in the shower was excruciating. Bending to tie shoes or boots was something that I dreaded. I knew I couldn't keep going the way I was, but finding the will to care enough to do something about it was a challenge.

I had a couple of deeply personal "Aha" moments - the type that make you really stop and examine your entire life.

One was humiliating. I slipped on some ice and landed on my back while wearing my backpack. I was like a turtle on its back. I couldn't move. Two women came and helped me roll over and remove my backpack so I could get up.

The second was an exhilarating experience. I was using Handi-Transit (local door to door service for the disabled) and crossed paths with a man who exuded chivalry - the art of being a gentleman. He introduced himself (a rarity among the drivers), opened doors for me and offered me his hand to lay my hand on for balance as I stepped down out of the van. Our brief conversations were genuine and sincere. He treated me with such a strong and sincere level of respect that I couldn't help but start to care about myself. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like a lady.

I know this sounds really corny or that he was probably just acting but he wasn't. I talked to his employer and found out he'd been named "driver of the year" a year earlier and that this was the way he treated everyone. He was raised to show manners and respect to everyone regardless of the circumstances. I only had him as a driver 5 times, but I will never forget him or his gentlemanly qualities.

Don't get me wrong, I have had good experiences before. Not everyone treated me badly. Others had opened doors, guided me etc. - but this was different. He treated me like a lady because he believed that is the way to treat a woman. Most men treat a woman as a lady because they want something or because they feel they have to, not necessarily that they want to. Would I want all men to treat me the way he did? No. I don't want someone to pretend to be someone they aren't. Be yourself, but a little sincere respect goes a long way.

I've never seen him again, but that brief encounter lit a spark within me. I actually felt like I was worthy of respect. Maybe there was hope for me yet.

After a lot of soul searching and reflection, I realized that it was time to take control of my life, and that meant making some major changes. It wouldn't be easy and it wouldn't be quick. It had taken me years to get into this mess and it would take a long time to get out of it. This was the beginning of a new journey...


Tomorrow; "Getting Started"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 2 of 6 - The Descent To Obesity

Loosing most of my sight was a cruel blow. Emotionally, I beat myself up pretty badly over the next few years. It took me a long time to come to terms with the loss. Not being able to enjoy walking anymore was torture. Even with some mobility training from the CNIB and other visually impaired friends, life was a daily struggle. I hated having to rely on others to do the things I had always done for myself.

As soon as I could, I started making changes in my kitchen so I could cook and bake. I had my appliances, measuring utensils, and spices all labeled so that I could see them. I had a number of recipes done in large print and had my mom put several on cassette. I was regaining control of one of the things I loved.

Unfortunately, I loved my food too much. I ate my three meals a day and also snacked between meals. One of the medications that I was on for a number of years, required that it be taken with food. I took the last one of the day at bedtime with a tall cold glass of milk and chocolate chip cookies.

I did make a half hearted effort to watch my weight and I even tried using the exercise bike for awhile but it was uncomfortable, boring and I couldn't see the monitor to see how far I'd gone. I gained about 35 pounds in 5 years, but felt like I didn't have any options or reason to deal with it.

In late July of 1996, I started getting severe fatigue. I had no energy and just wanted to sleep. I wasn't clinically depressed. I saw my doctor and numerous specialists for countless tests over the next few years, but was never able to get a definitive answer for the symptoms other than a probable mild form of "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome".

I had about two good days a week. If I overdid it, I suffered more. I had to hire someone to help with cleaning and laundry. I didn't do nearly as much cooking as I wanted to do and I rarely baked anymore. Needless to say my self esteem was pretty much non existent. I had completely lost control of my life.

I developed a "fondness" for Fudgeeos, Chips Ahoy, Dad's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Old Dutch Potato Chips (sour cream 'n' onion, Au Gratin and salt 'n' vinegar) and microwave buttered popcorn.

I was slowly eating myself into oblivion and I didn't care. I knew I was gaining weight but since I couldn't really see myself clearly in the mirror I didn't know how bad I looked. All I knew, was that my favourite clothing store had sizes 5-15 in regular and 14-24 in the plus sizes. As long as I could still get clothes that fit, then that was all that mattered.

I had always been a little on the pudgy side for my 5' 5 3/4" big boned frame and was probably about 20 pounds over weight before November 1990. By March 2000, I was 100 pounds overweight - morbidly obese. I was also up to a size 22.

I had to find a way to get out of this mess.


Tomorrow; "The Realization"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

THE JOURNEY: Part 1 of 6 - From freedom to...

I used to walk everywhere. I couldn't drive and I didn't always have a ride or money for the bus. When I lived on the farm, our mailbox was about a 1/3 of a mile away and the nearest neighbours were about a mile away, so that was a nice walk or bike ride.

I've also lived in a couple of small towns and always got around on foot or bike. I carried groceries in a backpack or in the bike carrier. I'd walk a half mile with a duffel bag to the nearest Laundromat. I never really thought twice about it. It was a great way to get exercise and get familiar with your surroundings. I abandoned biking when I moved to Winnipeg as it was just to dangerous with my low vision.

Taking long walks was a great way to relax and sort through whatever was weighing on your mind. I found it pretty much impossible to stay mad or stressed after a long brisk walk. Granted there were a few times it took 5 to 7 miles to get rid of that anger/stress, but I never came home mad.

It didn't matter if the walks were with a friend or a solo excursion. I walked in the cool of the morning or the beauty of dusk. I walked in the sun, by the light of the moon, in the rain and in the snow. Walking was my therapy to whatever life through at me. I averaged about 20 - 25 miles/week year round. I was in pretty good shape.

That all changed in November 1990 when I suffered a detached retina in my good eye. I was in the hospital for three weeks and on very strict limitations for the next few months. I wasn't allowed to use the stairs or walk outside of my apartment block without assistance. I couldn't even use my exercise bike or lift anything over 2 kg.

I thought I would loose my mind. My freedom and independence was gone. I went from 40% corrected sight to just under 10% by the time the restrictions were lifted in late March '91. When I was finally given more freedom of movement, I quickly learned that I wasn't really free at all.

Walking was no longer fun and relaxing. It was a major feat of concentration to move safely from point A to point B. Where were the curbs? The driveways,? The cracks? The dips and the rises? Is there any construction or roadblocks? I can hear vehicles but will those drivers actually see me and is that a walk or don't walk? The sun can be so bright that I can literally get headaches even with protective eye covering.

I was not amused. One of my greatest joys was now a journey of anxiety and stress.


Tomorrow; "The Descent to Obesity"

Monday, March 10, 2008

Family Humour

I was never a "Seinfeld" or "The Simpson's" fan. I preferred "Frasier". Then again, my humour is all over the map - from "Burns and Allen", "Wayne and Shuster" and Victor Borge to "Looney Toons", "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Animaniacs" to "Maude", "Barney Miller" and "Soap"!!

I come from a family that is pretty good with quick come backs and smart remarks. My dads side of the family is more jokes/funny stories and my moms was more dry wit/puns. How's that for variety? Sometimes the humour goes over the other persons head but we never purposely set out to hurt the other person. Usually you can sense pretty quickly if the person has a sense of humour and if they can take a joke. My humour has occasionally gotten me in trouble (misinterpretations) but usually it helps others feel more comfortable around me. Sometimes you have the perfect line and you can't use it because the other person just won't understand - that can be so frustrating!

I hate when I can't think of the perfect comeback or when you think of it later! I also hate knowing what to say and for whatever reason not being able to say it! Humour really gets me through a lot of tough times and it has also helped me make some very good friends!

There are so many stories that I could tell about my families sense of humour! One of our families favourite's was always played on a first time guest at a meal or over coffee/snacks - especially if it was a date's first time there. Whichever of us kids had invited the guest would say semi-quietly "would you like some more to eat?". Usually the person would respond quietly, saying something along the lines of "no thanks, I'm fine" To which we would reply "DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T LIKE MOM'S COOKING?" We'd all stare for a few seconds then start laughing. It was our way of seeing just how well they could take a joke and if they would fit in with our zingers. Most guests returned many times and if they brought someone with them, they would carry on the tradition.

Some people were really thrown, but that was the whole point - to see what their level of humour was. It was a great form of initiation. Once they were over the shock, they were cracking zingers with the rest of us or they didn't come back even if we promised to behave! It was our version of "when in as the Romans do."

Humour is such a huge part of my upbringing that it drives me nuts if I can't be funny around the people I care about.

So, if I crack smart remarks around you, consider yourself a friend with a sense of humour. If I'm more serious around you, well please don't take it personally, I'm probably just trying to figure out where your funny bone is hiding!


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Oven Roasted Veggies

I enjoy cooking. I always have. What I really like is playing with different recipes and finding new ways to tweak a recipe depending on what I am in the mood for or what's in the fridge and pantry. They aren't all winners but I always learn something and am making notes on what I did differently. My sister and my mom do this all the time. My maternal grandma was a home economist from the 1920's through the 50's. She was always trying new recipes, so I guess we come by this honestly!

Anyway, today, I thought I would share one of my favourite "whatever ya got" recipes. Have fun and I hope you like it!

dnsyl57's Oven Roasted Veggies

Spray a 2 litre/quart casserole dish with Pam. Fill with thinly sliced carrots, chopped onion, sliced fresh mushrooms, sliced celery, sliced zucchini, and chopped red pepper. Use whatever quantities you prefer.

In a separate bowl combine;
1 Tablespoon low-calorie Italian Dressing
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon white cooking wine (or top up the dressing and juice if omitting wine to make up the missing liquid)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

Pour over veggies and mix well. Bake uncovered @ 350F for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes until done to your liking. When you have about 15 minutes left to cook, you could stir in 1 - 1 1/2 cups of broccoli florets. Return to oven till tender.

Try other veggies such as fresh green beans, cauliflower, green peppers, etc.
I have also made this using a combination of potatoes (scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces), onions and red peppers.

You can also try other dressings such as; House; Roasted Garlic and Herb; Greek; or Sundried Tomato and Herb. Try other spices such as oregano; Mrs. Dash; Garlic Pepper or dill. Use your imagination!

Makes 5 - 6 servings.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Forward

Okay it is time to set your clocks ahead one hour as daylight savings time begins in the wee hours tomorrow morning (2:00AM March 9, 2008). This used to be a fairly simple procedure, as most homes had only a few clocks and watches. However in the last couple of decades this has become a major semi-annual annoyance.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy that extra hour of daylight in the evening as much as anyone else. What I hate is resetting ALL the items that have clocks! Every single item has its own method for changing the time and the odds are you are not going to remember the "secret code" to change each and every one of them without digging around for at least one manual. You could ignore one or two - but at some point, you forget which are correct and which are an hour out! This can make life interesting and probably not in a good way!

A few years ago many electronics manufacturer's caught on to this annoyance and started adding a feature that pre-set the date/time and automatically adjusted the time at the beginning and end of Daylight savings time for you. All you had to do was tell it what time zone you were in. That was great - until just over a year ago when the US government decided to extend DST by an extra month! Now it begins the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.

Curses! Foiled again!

Electronics have gotten a lot smarter, but they aren't smart enough to know about this change unless it is hooked up to the Internet or cable company. My computer and my digital cable box are the only clocks that I DON'T have to reset.

My apartment isn't that big but there are clocks everywhere. It's not that I am obsessed with time, it just happens that most electrical items come with clocks these days. I use most of the clocks for specific purposes related to that particular item and the wall clocks for a larger and more accessible view of the current time if I don't have my watch on.

I have three wall clocks; two VCR's; TV; two clock radios; mini system; two phones; answering machine; microwave; stove; talking clock; and my talking watch (audio and visual). That's 17 items to reset just for myself!

For some interesting reading on Daylight Savings Time check out;
Be sure to click on the "incidents and anecdotes" page.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to find some manuals and get to work!


Friday, March 7, 2008

Please Hold...

Well, as I told you on Monday, Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent for the telephone on this date in 1876. I also said that I didn't think he'd be too thrilled with all of the "advancements" that have been made. One of the most hated advancements is; "Please continue to hold for the next available operator...."

NOOOO! Don't leave me on hold!!!

On-hold technology is a multi million dollar business. One of the bigger players in the marketplace is Audiomax. I found some interesting things on their website, including a tongue-in-cheek version of how on-hold came to be,

One of the statements I found was this tidbit;
"1994 National On-Hold month is adopted by Audiomax. This is a month to recognize everyone who has been placed “on-hold” after calling a place of business, and to honor those businesses who make this hold time more enjoyable by supplying informative messages and music for their callers waiting on-hold."

National On-Hold month? Yup apparently this is a recognized national observance. I found references to it on a number of websites that list all kinds of obscure holidays and celebrations. It is celebrated in the month of March to honour Mr. Bell and his first patent.

I found some interesting stats on regarding being On-Hold. Rather than listing those stats, on this page, I have added them as a comment to this post. They are an interesting read!

I, like millions of others hate being put on-hold, and am not impressed or softened by their tinny canned music and self promotion. Depending on the reason I called, I may hold for a few minutes but if it is a general inquiry, I rarely wait more than a minute. If they really want our business they need to answer our calls quickly.

Voice mail and automated system hell is probably just as despised as on-hold, as you are prompted through the various options only to be placed on-hold or have the system hang up on you when you enter an invalid option! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!

If, for some reason you were still using rotary phones as opposed to touch tone, the system would kick over to an operator after about a minute, however most systems have now been upgraded to hang up if no numbers are entered within a certain time or you are instructed to leave a message for a call back. You used to be able to get around the automated systems by pressing 0. This would alert the system that you needed assistance. Alas, this option rarely works anymore either as companies just aren't prepared to talk to every customer. They want our business and our money, just don't want to have to talk to us! There is a growing market for the secret codes to bypass the automation and two of the more popular sites can be found at

I really don't think Mr. Bell would be impressed. Where is Ernestine when you need her?

"One ringy dingy... two ringy dingy. Yes Hello ..Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"


Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Typical Female - NOT!

I am not you typical female.

I am most comfortable in jeans/casual pants/sweats and a T-shirt/sweater. I haven't worn a dress or skirt in over twenty years. I don't even own any anymore. I've never worn more than a one inch heel and even then it was easy to loose my balance. I don't own any nylons, lace, fancy lingerie, frilly things or even any prints. I don't have pierced ears or wear makeup. I hate PINK and RED! I don't obsess over shoes and purses. I refuse to follow the fashion trends.

Am I a tomboy? NO, not at all, I'm just a woman who knows what she likes and doesn't like. I refuse to bow to the so called fashion guru's and what they think I must have to be a "real woman".

It took a long time to figure out what I liked and didn't like. There were a few things that I have never liked such as; nylons, lace, frills, heels. I've never liked bright colours or prints in any area of fashion or decor - especially in the pinks and reds. They literally hurt my eyes. I have owned some deep burgundy but much prefer the blues, greens, purples, greys, blacks and browns. I buy as close to 100% cotton clothing whenever possible. Wool and man made fabrics irritate my skin!

When I was in high school we had a dress code. The girls had to wear dresses or skirts, although we were allowed to wear dress pants in winter months (November through February). The guys were not held to as strict a code. They were "encouraged" to wear dress pants but as this was a farming community they were also allowed to wear good jeans. What a horrible double standard. We tried to fight it but lost.

I tried wearing makeup in high school and early 20's, but if felt weird and unnatural to me. I also got skin reactions to most of the products I tried, so I finally decided to go natural and if people didn't like the way I looked then that was their problem. This is what I really look like - get over it and get to know who is inside or get out of my way!

I've tried a few trends over the years, but I tend to stick to the same styles and colours - the basics and the classics that look good on me. I know what I like and what makes me feel comfortable. If I am comfortable with what I wear, then I am more relaxed and confident.

This may seem boring and even sacrilegious to the fashionista's and some women but this is who I am. This is my style and a lot cheaper to maintain and upgrade than a whole new wardrobe every season!


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I was probably born listening to music! My siblings, all older than I, listened to the early days of rock and roll. My sister played piano and I can remember her playing the songs recorded by Elvis, The Everly Brothers and many other artists.

One Christmas, I think I was about 12, I phoned long distance into a radio show on CJOB that my mom listened to. You could win an LP if you sung a Christmas carol on air. Most of the time the hosts only let you sing 3 or 4 lines or maybe a verse if you were decent, I sang "White Christmas". They let me sing the whole song! I was thrilled!

I used to sing along with the radio and fall asleep listening to CKRC and CKY. I lived and breathed music. I spent all my allowance on 45's and LP's. I even took voice lessons for a couple of years in my teens. I hated doing scales and practice pieces - I just wanted to sing the songs I heard on the radio. I dreamed of being a singer!

I took piano for a year but really didn't enjoy it. Even got my Grade One Music Theory. How I ever passed that exam is still a mystery as I can't read music to save my life. I could tell one note was higher or faster than another but not what it was or sounded like. My musical ability has always been by ear! A friend taught me a few guitar chords while we were working at a summer camp in the early 1970's.. I worked mostly in the kitchen but also helped with the music program so learning a bit of guitar helped.

The first time I sang in public was at a recital that my voice teacher arranged for her students at a local seniors' home. I was terrified. I'd sung for family and a few friends but never strangers. I don't remember what the song was, but I remember what happened like it was yesterday. I got about four or five lines into the song and then heard an old lady a few rows back say to the person beside her - in a not so quiet voice - "I can't hear her can you?' I was mortified! I wanted to run but I saw my teacher motioning to keep going and to sing louder. Somehow I managed to finish and even got polite applause. I didn't want to sing there again but about six months later we had another recital for the seniors. I really didn't want to go back. What if that lady said something again? My teacher said, "Don't worry, she died!"

Well I did go back several times. Over the next twenty years, I sang in choirs, in small groups and did more solos than I can count. I've sung at weddings, church services, coffee houses, country fairs, talent nights, and house parties. I was in my high schools production of "Fiddler on the Roof'. I even ended up on the radio a couple of times - once on a talent show.

In an ideal world, I probably would have pursued some kind of musical career but music has become a visual world and I, alas, have a face for radio.

I still sing a lot but now it is usually just for my own amusement. I sing in the shower and I sing with the radio while I'm in the kitchen or working around my apartment. So far the neighbours haven't complained, so I guess the old pipes are still in pretty good shape. Then again most of my neighbours are seniors!

The last time I sang in public was about ten years ago. Arthur Black used to host a radio show called "Basic Black" on CBC radio. One Christmas, he had a contest and had listeners call in and leave a recording of a reworded Christmas carol. What did I write and sing you ask? Isn't it obvious?

"I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas!"


PS; If I can find the words to my rewritten song, I'll post them this coming Christmas!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


March 4, 1966 - "Snowstorm of the century in Winnipeg. 35Cm's snow fell and winds reached 120 km/h. The city was paralyzed for 2 days." This is a quote from; That was 13 inches of snow and 75mph winds!

The local radio and TV stations were constantly giving updates and allowing people to call in live on air and let family/friends know where they were and that they were safe. People and communities pulled together to take care of each other and especially those that were stranded.

A year or so ago, I was waiting at a bus stop during a snowfall and the elderly gentleman (whom I frequently cross paths with while grocery shopping) who was with me started telling me about being stranded at the downtown Eaton's store during that blizzard. Most of the employees and a number of customers stayed there for two days. They pretty much had the run of the store but no one took advantage of the situation. They played cards, board games, read, watched TV or listened to the radio. Eaton's was a large department store which sold everything from appliances, furniture, linens, clothing to food. There were also a couple of restaurants within the store. So I guess if you had to be stranded away from home that was a pretty good place to be!

I wasn't very old when that storm hit, but I remember it well. We were storm stayed on the farm for days! It was several days before the school buses started running and I can vividly recall the bus going by plowed banks that were as high as the bus in places. It was awesome and a bit terrifying at the same time to see that much snow!

My dad had to use the front end loader on the tractor to clean out the lane. He piled a HUGE bank up along side the barn, then he and my brother made a toboggan run from near the roof down to the nearby creek. There was even a bit of an angled curve and bank about halfway down so that you could slide even further along the creek bed if you had a good run! They even built snow steps so it would be easier getting back up to the top. Over the next several weekends our place was pretty popular among friends, neighbours and family, as everybody wanted to try the newest run. People brought coffee, hot chocolate, baking and lots of other goodies to keep all warm and happy while we enjoyed the snow.

Manitoba winters are long and Winnipeg has had the nickname of "Winterpeg" for as long as I can remember! It's almost like a badge of honour to survive the winters here! There is a possibility of snow today but no blizzard in the forecast! Even if there were, we are a tough bunch.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. Bell!

We've come a long way since the days of "smoke signals" and "One if by land, two if by sea". Even Western Union no longer delivers telegrams. Communication has grown leaps and bounds since Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent (Patent Number 174,465 was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876 by the U. S. Patent office).

Alexander Graham Bell was born on this date in 1847. He died at age 75 in 1922. He saw a lot of changes and advancements in the 46 years after that first patent. I can't help but wonder what he'd think of all the new fangled phones and their gadgets on the market now and the so called improvements in phone services.

As you know, I grew up on a farm. I've heard my parents talk about the old days of having to crank the phone to get the operator. When I was a kid, we had what was called a party line. Several households would share the same line. Each home had its own ring. Ours was "two long rings". There were usually four to six homes on a line (2 or 3 on each side of the line to avoid a lot of confusing rings) as it was way to expensive to even consider having a private line. It eventually got down to two/line and private lines finally arrived in the early 1990's in our area.

It was a bit of a pain trying to call a neighbour. You had to dial their number, then hang up and let the phone ring until it quit ringing which meant the other person had answered. You had to try to remember to answer in the middle of a ring to give a clear signal.

The biggest disadvantage for most was that you could not have a private conversation without someone picking up the phone and saying "Is the line busy?" or "How long are you going to be?" The priority was supposed to be given to business, emergencies and long distance but not everyone was that respectful.

Eavesdropping was very common. Usually you could tell when someone else was on the line as the quality of the connection wasn't quite as good. Most eavesdroppers would hold their hand or a cloth over the receiver to prevent unwanted breathing noises from giving them away. My parents used to talk about one neighbour who loved to "listen in". He would be on his chesterfield listening and sometimes fall asleep and start snoring into the phone!

Radio often made fun of the telephone and the mostly women operators who helped direct all those phone calls. Probably the most famous radio "operator" that was never heard was on "Fibber McGee and Molly". Wikipedia has this to say;

"Myrtle, also known as "Myrt" - a never-heard telephone operator that Fibber is friends with. A typical Myrt sketch started with Fibber picking up the phone and demanding, "Operator, give me number 32Oooh, is that you, Myrt? How's every little thing Myrt?" Commonly, this was followed with Fibber relaying what Myrt was telling him to Molly, usually news about Myrt's family, and always ending with a bad pun. Myrtle made one brief on-air appearance on June 22, 1943 when she visited the McGee's to wish them a good summer--the McGee's did not recognize her in person."

Television also had some famous operators. Harriet Oleson on "Little House on the Prairie" had great facial expressions as she listened in and got the latest town gossip from the people of Walnut Grove! "M*A*S*H*" had Radar O'Reilly and in later years Klinger to keep track of the goings on at the 4077th.

My favourite telephone operator, hands down is Lily Tomlin's
character "Ernestine" These quotes are from Wikipedia:
-One ringy dingy... two ringy dingy.
-Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?"
-The phone company handles 84 billion calls a year, everything
from kings, queens, and presidents to the scum of the earth.
-How may I, in all humble servitude, be of assistance?-What's that Mr. Veedle? Privileged information?... that's so cute.
-You're dealing with the phone company, Mr. Veedle. We are not bound by city, state, or federal regulations. We are omnipotent.

-You are not dealing with just anyone's fool. I am a high-school graduate.
-Don't hang up. You've angered me, and when you anger me you anger the phone company and all the power necessary to tie up your lines for the next fifty years. Do I make myself clear?
-Well Mr. Bush, it may be true that Mr. Kerry avoided being in a war, but at least he didn't start one.
(At a political event doing a sketch pretending to transfer a call by George W. Bush.

You can read more about Ernestine and Lily Tomlin at;
Somehow, I don't think this is quite what Mr. Bell had in mind!