Rakuten: Get Cash Back When You Shop!

Rakuten

Is it too soon to talk about shopping? I know many of us have had our fill of shopping with the holiday season so recently behind us, but some things we have to buy anyway, Christmas or not. Not to mention, there are lots of deals to be had this time of year. Check out Rakuten to earn rebates when you shop, it’s that easy.

rakuten

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten is an awesome online shopping site that gives you cash back and rewards when you shop with them. Formerly known as Ebates, they were founded way back in 1998. There are currently over 750 stores to shop from, including Hudson’s Bay, Indigo.ca, Canadian Tire, Old Navy, and Sephora. Instead of shopping on individual retailer websites, you shop with Rakuten. It’s very simple.

Why Shop This Way?

You get paid to shop for things you’re already buying. Why not get a rebate back? Or, things you want that you could get for cheaper; bargains are much appreciated these days. Plus, get a $30 Cash Bonus when you join today!

Buy Canadian

Did I mention this is a Canadian site? Dealing with Canadian stores? If you are inclined to shop Canadian to support our economy, that’s another reason to check out Rakuten.

No Membership or Sign-up Fees!

Joining Rakuten does not require sign-up or membership fees either.

How Do They get Paid?

It works by affiliate links. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything technological. Basically, the stores pay Rakuten for these links so you can experience one-stop shopping and get rewarded. Log onto their site, click on a participating store, and you will be notified what percentage of the cost you will be rewarded with. Yes, it’s that simple, I promise.

Rakuten gets paid, the stores get paid, and you get paid.

OMG, I sound like Oprah!

photo credit

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Sitting is the new Smoking

sittting

Have you heard? Sitting is the new smoking, in terms of what is bad for us that is. What is really ironic is that this advice comes to us in the midst of a pandemic lockdown where we have been advised to sit on our couch and stay at home.

We (should) all know why smoking is bad for us by now, that is nothing new. Although many people continue to smoke, research has been telling us for years of the damages smoking causes to our bodies.

Why is Sitting Bad for us?

Harvard Medical School reports that sitting is unhealthy for the following reasons:

it relaxes your largest muscles. Even if you’re reasonably active, hours of sitting—whether reading a book, working on the computer, or watching TV—tighten the hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints themselves. Overly tight hip flexors and hamstrings affect gait and balance, making activities like walking harder and perhaps even setting you up for a fall. Plus, tight hip flexors and hamstrings may contribute to lower back pain and knee stiffness, scourges that many people suffer with every day.

So, how can we Flex our Muscles Instead?

We can flex our relaxed and tightened muscles by consciously adding more activity into our daily routines. Many of us working from home are expected to spend the day on our computers. If you cannot remember to do so, set a timer to remind you to get up and move around more. Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to ensure those muscles are not stiffening up:

  • Answer or make your phone calls while standing up. Walk around while you talk
  • If working from home on a computer for extended amounts of time, get an adjustable computer desk so you can stand up while working.
  • Sit on a stability ball, instead of in an armchair while watching TV. This activates your core muscles as you try to stay upright. You might not want to try this while using your computer.
  • If your joints are aching, find exercises to keep the joints loose. Aching joints are a vicious circle, the less you move them the achier they get, but the achier they are the harder it is to exercise them.
  • If you have multiple levels in your home, make a point of using the stairs as you walk around. I used to leave stuff on the steps to take upstairs in one trip, but now I go up every time. Sometimes I forget why I went up, but I do go up!
  • Find online exercise routines to follow if you are used to going to the gym.
  • Take up yoga, starting with beginner poses (find them online too). Work your way up to the more complicated (flexibility required) ones.

My personal in-house exercises are planks, high knees, squats, lunges, and yoga poses. I do most of these on a regular basis in the winter months when my garden business is literally buried under the snow.

Of course, if you can, get outside for your exercise, even in the winter. Fresh air and sunshine are more than just good for your muscles. They are also good for your mental health, immune system, and more.

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Nepo Babies: Advantage or Disadvantage?

nepo babies

Have you heard of nepo babies? That’s the current label given to children of famous parents, coined from the word nepotism. Career success, or lack thereof, should have more to do with work ethic and attitude, not whether or not you got a leg up from your famous parents’ name and/or connections.

Whether their parents’ status has any effect on the success of those currently labeled as nepo babies is up for debate. After all, there are two sides to every story. Or should be.

Advantages

The advantages for nepo babies are obvious. Famous last names are magnets in the entertainment, sporting, modeling business, and even politics. A name like Kardashian, Hadid, or Gretsky will at least get you in the door, if not straight to the top of the audition or tryout list.

For example, here in Canada, someone believed they could become Prime Minister, not because they had the qualifications or experience to do so, but because they are the son of a previous leader. The worst (scary) part is that voters were attracted to and blinded by the name too!

Are There any Disadvantages?

I bet it’s not easy being the offspring of famous parents. One only has to look at the media attention swarming around celebrities. That works both ways of course. Sometimes it would have ego-stroking, and fun advantages but it could also be incredibly annoying. I’m sure Prince Harry would agree.

Imagine that you are not interested in or possess no aptitude for whatever it is your famous parent achieved in their career. Would you be coerced or expected to give it a try anyway? Growing up in the lap of luxury, would you learn how to appreciate the luxuries or would you grow to expect them? Either possibility and potentially both could lead to a stressful, mental-health-altering childhood.

Do we Expect More of Nepo Babies?

I think we do. For example, would the biological kids of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie be anything but gorgeous? Although that’s more of a genetic example than what the term nepo babies was really created for, I know you know what I mean.

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Pierre Poilievre for Prime Minister

Pierre Poilievre for Prime Minister

Since Pierre Poilievre won the Conservative leadership race last year, he is proving he would make a great Prime Minister here in Canada. Actually, long before he won the leadership race. For five years prior, Poilievre served within the Conservative government (opposition) as the shadow minister for finance. In this role, he quickly became known for his bulldog-like perseverance in attempting to get answers. I loved (still do) listening to him grill, talk, argue, and explain things to voters, especially regarding wrong-doings featuring the Liberal government and our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

No Longer an Affluent Country

Unless you are a high-paid member of the Liberal party, whose spending habits defy reason and transparency, it could be argued that Canada is no longer an affluent country. Perhaps compared to other countries around the world we appear to be but things have changed. Yes, we have our share of millionaires and a few billionaires in our midst, but the average family or citizen is penny-pinching, even struggling to make ends meet. High interest, mortgage, inflation rates, and taxes mean our earned dollars don’t go as far as they used to. Pension plans are not adjusted for inflation and investments have tanked, so many seniors who thought they could retire comfortably are now scratching their heads. More money is going out than is coming in; a basic accounting issue that continues to plague us. Couples are choosing to have fewer if any, children because of the astronomical cost of living.

These are just a few of the headlines:

  • In Q3 of last year, the Bank of Canada lost money for the first time in its history. Those losses are set to continue.
  • According to a new report, the Bank of Canada is set to lose up to $8.8 billion over the next 2-3 years.
  • Trudeau Campaigning Against Alberta Demonstrates His Unfitness For National Leadership
  • ‘World Stage Trudeau’ Bears No Resemblance To The Trudeau Who Governs Canada
  • More Canadians Leaving Big Cities As Affordability Crisis Continues
  • Bank of Canada has to pay interest too on bonds held resulting in shortfall
  • Growing spending on consultants by ballooning public service is the real scandal

Many are putting their hopes in Pierre Poilievre to change this.

The following recent video shows Poilievre talking about the dire straits many Canadians are facing. He then gets into grilling Trudeau for numerous inappropriate contracts awarded to global consulting firm McKinsey over the years:

Support from Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper, former Canadian Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party supports Poilievre too and would like to see Trudeau ousted from his position.

I have watched with great concern as the Trudeau Liberals – in partnership with their NDP allies –  have weakened our country through rampant inflation, slow growth, billions in new debt, lost job opportunities, an out-of-control housing market, and refusing to fix the institutions that have been failing Canadian families

I’ve seen Pierre in action. He served as my Parliamentary Secretary and was a strong Minister in my government. In recent years, he has been our Party’s most vocal and effective critic of the Trudeau Liberals.

Pierre is winning the support of Canadians because he’s talking about the issues – especially the economic issues – that matter to Canadian families. He is proposing sound, Conservative ideas, but ones adapted for the challenges of today. And, critically, he’s bringing a new generation of Canadians into our Party.

THAT is how we win the next election.

But, in the days and weeks to come, we can expect Pierre to face a barrage of attacks and criticisms from the Trudeau Liberals, the NDP, hostile voices in the news media, and left-wing special interests determined to derail his positive message of hope and freedom

Stephen Harper, former PM

Rex Murphy on the Conservatives of the Past

In the National Post, columnist Rex Murphy wonders whether Harper is doing Pierre Poilievre a favour by endorsing him or alienating and scaring off on-the-fence voters. This is due to Harper’s unpopularity when he was voted out. I for one like(d), respect(ed), and most importantly, trust(ed) the average-looking, non-flashy, down-to-earth, intelligent, qualified-for-the-job Stephen Harper and the fact that (in the words of Murphy) “he thinks, thinks well and deeply before he acts.” What a concept!

Unfortunately, things have changed drastically since Harper and the Conservatives were voted out:

Protests took place that didn’t bring down the Emergencies Act. When trying to stamp out bigotry, it was the custom not to fund bigots in the fight against it. The administration and distribution of public money in amounts close to a billion dollars to charity-entrepreneurs was not known, and finally, perhaps most extraordinary, Alberta’s oil industry was regarded as a national benefit.
Rex Murphy

Immigration Policies

Harper though had several policies that sunk him, especially his hard stance on immigration, a point Liberals were quick to capitalize on. Liberals plan to increase the arrival of immigrants to 500,000 per year by 2025. Does anyone else feel this is super-excessive, especially in such turbulent times? Poilievre recognizes Harper’s prior unpopularity in immigrant-rich communities like Toronto, so has adopted a promise:

We will maintain the same engagements and commitment for continuous discussions around immigration [including] immigration that is based on family reunification, the recognition of foreign certificates, the scrapping of the English test, as well as the removal of bottlenecks to improving the immigration process,” 

current Conservative agenda

The problem is, as I see it anyway, that increased immigration and an economic crisis don’t meld well together. Higher cost of living, inflation rate, and housing costs are a nightmare for current citizens, how will immigrants fare? Canadian cities are already packed to the hilt. Although we do have lots of jobs available that immigrants might be more willing to fill than unemployed Canadians.

World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland

The WEF is happening right now. Don’t know about the WEF? Check out this information for specifics. Members of the Canadian Liberals love to attend, Conservatives not so much. That’s because of the controversy WEF is tainted with:

It began when an opinion article published in 2016 on the WEF’s website — entitled “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better” and intended, its author says, as “a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development” — started getting attention in 2020, after WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab wrote his own opinion piece arguing for something he called “the great reset.”…..The “great reset” has since morphed into a conspiracy theory claiming that a cabal of global elites is planning to remake society to eliminate private property and impose an authoritarian global government…..Last week, Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre told a crowd of applauding supporters that, as prime minister, he would ban cabinet ministers from attending “that big fancy conference of billionaires with the World Economic Forum” and vowed to remove them from cabinet should they attend.

CBC

Notable Canadians attending WEF in 2023 include Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, International Trade Minister Mary Ng, and former Bank of Canada and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

Tipping the Scale

The problem with politics and politicians is that no one party or member can possibly tick all the boxes for voters, although Poilievre comes close. The current dismal economic state of our country, as well as repeated scandals from Liberals, with Justin Trudeau leading the way, are weighing him down.

My scales are tipped, and heavy is not good.

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Winter Goals

winter goals

Now that I am feeling better, I can get back to my list of winter jobs that I create every year in my gardening offseason. As it is also our cottage offseason, I have things to get done in preparation for spring there too.

Dividing Houseplants and Winter Sowing

My houseplants are all doing very well, in fact so well that I have started propagating babies on many of them. These have already been promised to my daughter-in-laws. I know experts say you should not divide houseplants during the winter but it’s the only time I have time.

Winter sowing of seeds was so successful last winter that I plan to repeat that process. That’s where all those gorgeous zinnias came from that I transplanted at our local hospice last spring. All it takes is soil, clear plastic containers, and seeds. As you can see below, I have lots of seeds, this is just a small pile. Pretty simple, really. These mini greenhouses thrive on my (part sun, part shade) back deck, under the snow, as they require a cold stratification step for reliable germination in the spring. I am trying both perennials and self-seeding annuals this year.

winter projects

Sewing, the Other Kind

I hope to get some cushions made for a teak sofa at the cottage. The bones are great on it, light and airy, something that is important up there. The problem is we are not far enough along in our indoor renovations there to decide on colours. I’m pretty sure of the colour palette I want to incorporate for the whole renovation project, but have to find appropriate colour chips to show hubby what I like. The sofa colour is an important step but involves finding the appropriate (weight and colour) fabric. Now that my cough and other symptoms have subsided I can venture out to the fabric and paint stores for inspiration.

Spring Cleaning

One of the best things about removing the Christmas decorations around the house is that the process involves a good (pre) spring cleaning. I can almost check this job off my list as I accomplished a bit each day during my (limited) energy spurts the past few weeks.

Updating Family Photos

I would like to update my family pictures too. For Christmas, my grandchildren gifted me with a photo shoot with Hilary Elizabeth photography, the girls that did such a wonderful job at our eldest son’s wedding five years ago. What a great idea; It is so difficult to get a good family picture with six grandchildren and seven adults!

winter goal

Website and Blog Updates

The updates on my website and blog are ongoing from November to March. This winter I have decided to combine the two, so I will be deleting (not renewing) my Gardens4u website. This blog was already connected to it with lots of information overlapping anyway. The website was primarily used to attract new clients. Last garden season I decided to take on a few new garden design projects as time permitted but no more maintenance. I ended up doing some fall cleanup though for a few long standing clients as the wonderful fall weather was extended into November.

As for this blog, I have already created a Gardens4u tab (within the menu at the top, check it out!) with lots of before and after pictures of gardens I have designed and planted over the past ten years. There are lots of pictures from my own gardens, based on the bloom time of the flowers.

I am also contemplating hiring an expert to clean up the blog so it rates better on Google searches. If you can refer me to someone I would appreciate the help. I have done as much as I can with my limited technological and SEO knowledge.

Another goal this winter is to find new sponsors interested in advertising on this blog. Currently, I have mostly plugs for family and friends on the sidebar. Be sure to check them out too please, there is an interesting variety of talent.

Read More Books

Other than garden books, I like to get caught up on other reading in the winter. These past few weeks, when I was feeling under the weather, this love for reading was quite handy. And thankfully, I had just visited our local library before I was struck down. I think I’ve gone through all the James Patterson books, never get tired of his (fictional thriller) writing style. There is a reason he is the world’s best selling author! If you have not (literally) made his acquaintance yet, you should!

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Prince Harry, his Life is an Open Book

prince Harry

Every time I read about the way Prince Harry and his brother Prince William were expected to behave after their beloved mother died, I feel sick. And my heart breaks all over again, especially for those boys. They were only 12 and 15, respectively, at the time. The expectations of the monarchy, and their father in particular, borders on child abuse in my humble opinion. Obviously, Prince Harry’s pain is still raw, bottled up for so many years, now exploding in the form of tell-all documentaries and memoir.

I was fascinated by Princess Diana. Her natural beauty, vivacious personality, and even her vulnerability were so magnetic and refreshing. One couldn’t help feel though, that she was a sacrificial lamb led to slaughter by the monarchy. Once her role of producing an heir and a spare was completed, she was discarded. Like the rest of the world, I was shocked by her untimely death and the circumstances around it.

Fast forward twenty-five years. Many are quick to disparage the (no privacy here) format in which Prince Harry is airing his feelings and memories AKA dirty laundry. I can’t get past the pain I hear. After the ordeal he went through, how can his life not be affected? Through the years I’ve always preferred Harry to William but in all fairness, the stress and protocol of being the British heir must be soooo tough. Harry, as the spare, was able to break the rules more. He also seems to be more like his mother in personality. Her charisma, ease with people, sense of humor and more shine through Harry. Although William looks more like his mom, I believe his personality (again dictated by his role) seems to be stuffier, more like Charles.

Most of the information here is from direct quotes from Harry’s memoir, titled “Spare,” for sale today but leaked in Spain last week. The things some people do for money! Now that all the “scoops” are out in all forms of social media, sales of the book cannot help but be affected.

Princes Harry and William Greeting the Mourners

 go into detail about how strange it was and how actually there was some guilt that I felt — and I think William felt as well — by walking around the outside of Kensington Palace,” he said. “Fifty-thousand bouquets of flowers to our mother and there we were shaking people’s hands, smiling. I’ve seen the videos, right? I’ve looked back over it all. And the wet hands that we were shaking — we couldn’t understand why their hands were wet, but it was all the tears they were wiping away. Everyone thought and felt like they knew our mum. And the two closest people to her, the two most loved people by her, were unable to show any emotion in that moment.

Prince Harry, talking about the days after his Mom’s tragic accident

Walking Behind the Coffin at the Funeral

This has bothered me for years. I could not understand it at the time and still cannot.

…it was decided that Princess Diana’s two sons — Prince Harry and Prince William — would walk behind her coffin in the procession through London at her funeral. And there’s absolutely no way that I would let him do that by himself, and there’s absolutely no way that he would let me do that by myself.

Prince Harry, talking about the days after his Mom’s tragic accident

This past September when I saw Prince Charles and his sister Anne wiping tears away as they walked behind their mother’s coffin I was sickened. Yes, the Queen was beloved for many more years than Princess Diana, but the Queen also lived a long, accomplished life. Her children left behind were adults (senior ones at that) while Princes Harry and William were mere children! Yet, they were expected to show no emotion.

Searching for Closure

Another excerpt from Prince Harry’s memoire details how he requested to drive through the tunnel in which his mother’s car crashed:

While attending the 2007 Rugby World Cup semifinal in Paris, a then 23-year-old Harry drove through the same tunnel where his mother died 10 years prior. In his new book, he recounts the intense pain he felt in his attempt to find closure.

After the driver took him through at the same speed that his mother’s car was driving, Harry wrote, “I’d always imagined the tunnel as some treacherous passageway, inherently dangerous, but it was just a short, simple, no-frills tunnel.”

Prince Harry also confessed to believing (or wanting to believe) that his mother faked her death to escape the media-filled attention her life still ……. long after divorcing Prince (at the time) Charles. For that reason, he requested to see pictures of the crash, even though they were in a secret government file. He was grateful the more graphic ones were excluded from those he was permitted to see:

I saw the photographs of the reflection of all the paparazzi in the window at the same time. I saw the back of her blonde hair, you know, slumped on the back of the seat.  I was looking for evidence that it was true”

Prince Harry

Don’t Believe the Media

I admit to believing much of what I read and see on TV, including many of the “leaked” excerpts from Prince Harry’s book. According to his (hilarious) visit to Stephen Colbert’s Late Night Show recently, many of these excerpts were taken completely out of context. And then plastered all over social media and the news, everywhere, for gullible people (like me) to believe. The story of his military time in Afghanistan was the worst. Watch the video of Prince Harry setting the record straight.

Healthy Soul Cleansing or TMI?

How do you feel about “Spare” and related Netflix airings? Is his soul bearing justified or TMI? Maybe I am naïve but I hope ensuing discussions will be productive, healing for both him and his brother. King Charles or Camilla I don’t much care about.

I wasn’t going to read “Spare” after hearing all the juicy excerpts for free but now I’ve heard his version of the truth, I may just purchase and read it.

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When I’m Sick

when I'm sick

I hate when I’m sick.  I realize not many people like it but some definitely cope better than others, more content (the advantage of being introverted, I guess) to lounge around day after day.  Not me, it’s driving me crazy!

A Cold or RSV but not Covid?

These past two weeks I have been feeling miserable, with a hacking cough and sinus infection.  Hubby caught whatever it is a few days after me.  His coughing is worse (chestier) than mine as his lungs are weakened by allergies. He typically suffers much longer than I do too.

It hit me the day we were scheduled to host Christmas dinner, a mere week after we arrived home from Florida. I woke up with a scratchy throat, assuming it was from a poor sleep. I performed a rapid antigen test, the kind we have available at our local grocers, just to be sure it was not Covid related, so I could warn family members (before they arrived) if it was.

I have repeatedly tested myself for Covid since then with negative results.  Who knows though, if rapid tests are capable of detecting the current variants.

Immune Systems

My immune system used to be much stronger, in fact, at one point in my life its over-reaction was the final verdict (after thousands of tests) in the saga of my stillbirths.  

Within the past (almost) three years that hasn’t been the case.  Instead, I seem to catch everything that goes around. I know I’m (aren’t we all?) getting older but this seems drastic to me, considering otherwise I’m in good shape and health. I guess that’s why they have an over 60 category in vaccination availability, I just keep forgetting that this category refers to me.

My immune system has definitely been significantly weaker since I was sick with a brutal cold in February of 2020, the worse one I’ve ever experienced.   I now believe that the virus that struck me down back then was Covid-19, before Covid was a household name here.  At least here in Canada. Suspicious theories have it lurking long before we reacted to it (shut down) in mid-March, 2020.

Due to our weakened immune systems, and the desire to travel and spend time with our six rapidly-growing, active grandchildren, we obligingly rolled up our sleeves for four rounds of Covid vaccinations over the past two and a half years, and one flu shot most recently. I hate to think how sick we would be without all those shots; it sure does make you wonder about their efficacy. But that’s a whole other story, one I’m quite happy to let the scientists rule on.

Limited Accomplishments When I’m Sick

I’ve been getting lots of rest, in fact wake up in the mornings thinking I’m better, only to be frustrated with a return of coughing fits and green-filled (gross) sinuses around 2 pm. I did the same that other time I was so sick, thought I had recuperated when I had in fact not. Passing out in the shower was the rude awakening then, so this time I am trying to be more patient. Pun intended.

I’ve managed little things around the house, like (lovingly) banishing Christmas decorations to the garage for another year.  And sprouting and potting up new plant babies that were meant to be birthday gifts for my two late-December-celebrating daughters-in-law.  I figured with no human babies due this year (that I know of) some plant babies would be appropriate.  If you two are reading this, your (plant) babies are still here waiting for me to be healthy enough to drop them off.  And, I cannot wait to spend time with your real babies!  And you and your husbands of course. That is the worst part when I’m sick. Hands down, this extrovert misses her family.

Spending time chatting with my youngest son has also been a bonus as he’s been home from Victoria for a month over the holidays.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to go out much; lunches at new (to us) spots are our favourite. We did go check out the outdoor Christmas lights in our neighborhood and downtown one evening though. And cheered on the Canadian hockey team as it competed in the World Juniors tournament, emerging as the champions in the final game. Some of the games, including the final, were a little too nail-bitingly exciting, with the winning goal delayed until 3-on-3 overtime. Despite my cold, I was able to hold my breath (both in fear and anticipation) as well as yell and cheer loudly, joining many other hockey fans across this hockey-loving country.

That’s about the extent of my excitement though, so far this year…Cheers to a happy and healthy 2023!

photo credit

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Garden Style: What’s Yours?

garden style

If you have seen my own gardens (my backyard is pictured above) or happen to be a client of my gardening business, you know that I love the “wild, informal, blended together, some might say jungle” look. I am so happy this garden style is becoming more popular as gardeners are embracing native (plants indigenous to their area) plants and the less formal look.

Advantages of Greater Plant Density

This post was inspired by a Facebook article I read titled “Most Garden Problems can be Solved with More Plants.” This is an excerpt:

Many issues in a landscape bed can be addressed by increasing the number of plants in that bed. I see it time and again — a native plant garden filled with wood mulch and plants spaced far apart, like in a bed that mow and blow landscapers install. Or like sculptures in a museum.
I think we treat our plants with too much reverence. We need to let them get tangled up, struggle, and compete. And even fade away. This is how nature works, and we do the plants — and our goals of creating a sustainable ecosystem — a disservice when we space plants far apart and without layers. 

Monarch Gardens

Listed in the article are several advantages of this garden style including the following:

  • less room for weeds
  • less damage from animals thinking your garden is a salad bar
  • slower water evaporation
  • decreased soil erosion

What is Plant Layering?

This technique refers to the practice of locating taller plants in the center of a bed with shorter ones in front and shorter yet along the edges. If your bed is huge, it can be broken up with pathways creating multiple smaller sections with their own layers. It is also advised to strategically place plants based on their bloom time, colour, and texture so you have variety all season. That’s where an expert comes in handy.

This garden is an example of using sections with taller shrubs and plantings in the center of each. The stepping stones permit the client’s grandchildren (as well as mine and other kids in the neighbourhood) to hop through the garden without damaging any plants. They also make weeding easier.

This picture was snapped just after planting, (2020) so many specimens are not yet mature. The more mature shrubs were already in the garden, some were moved, others left in place and worked around. There are multiple varieties of edging plants closest to the stepping stones and the outer perimeter with layers of depth moving into the middle of each section. By this coming summer (2023) plants should be close to maturity, so less mulch and more plant will be visible, and the strategic layering more pronounced.

garden style

Have I convinced you yet? Are you too ready to embrace the trend? Now (winter) is the time to plan and dream!

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Bunkie Contest: Enter to Win One!

bunkie

Does your cottage or seasonal property need a bunkie to accommodate more guests? I know we could use one at our cottage. I came across this contest from Bunkie Life recently and entered their contest. Use this link to get your name and email into the contest. Draw date is January 29. You must be a Canadian citizen to enter.

bunkie
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Online Betting: Harmless Entertainment or Dangerous Addiction?

online betting

Is anyone else concerned about the deluge of ads for online betting on TV? It seems everyone is promoting this form of entertainment, including athletic superstars like Auston Matthews, Wayne Gretsky, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and other famous faces. Notice though that these famous faces can afford to lose a thousand bucks here and there:

  • Jaromir Jagr ran up a bill of $500,000 with an online sportsbook before repaying his debt and quitting
  • Charles Barkley admits to losing $30M in blackjack and sports betting before realizing he had a problem
  • Ashton Kutcher revealed to Esquire magazine that raking in $750,000 in four weeks of college football was his reality.
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr likes to tweet about his bets:
online betting

In my (humble) opinion, these guys have more money than brains. I worry more about the average Joes though. No one ever mentions what they lose, just brag about the thrill of their winnings.

The Risks Involved

Online betting, AKA gambling, is an addiction. These betting sites can be u Like most things that are bad for you, moderation is the key. Of course, the risk to online betters depends on how responsible they are with their money. And, how educated they are on the process. The ads are catchy and glamourous though:

  • Unibet Ontario Sports Betting: Bet Anytime, Anywhere
  • Bet 365, the World’s Favourite: Bet on a Wide Range of Sports
  • No Sweat First Bet: New Customers in Ontario get up to $1000 back if their first bet doesn’t win

Was Online Betting Spawned by the Pandemic?

Did lockdowns dictated by the Covid pandemic fuel the fire increasing the popularity of online betting? The timing of all the ads sure is suspicious to me. Apparently, Alberta made it legal in September 2020, while Ontario followed suit in April, 2022. Coincidence? I think not.

The Buzzer, CBC’s sports newsletter, explains the legalities:

Bill C-218 changed that, removing the federal ban on sports betting and paving the path for more types of gambling to be allowed, like futures (e.g. a Stanley Cup bet placed at the beginning of the season) and single-game betting (e.g. the Leafs to beat the Lightning tonight).

Ontario is the first province to launch its regulated sports betting program, with multiple sportsbooks officially opening for business today. With a population of around 14.57 million people, Ontario is expected to generate $800 million in gross revenue from sports betting this year — hardly a gamble for the provincial government.

The U.S. passed a similar bill in 2018, and 30 states now host legal sports betting.

The Buzzer

I’m willing to bet (pun intended) that online shopping also increased significantly in 2020 and ’21 when people were forced to stay at home. Then in 2022 many were so used to staying home, they continued to take advantage of the convenience.

Know the Risk

The only TV ad I’ve seen that even mentions the risk involved is from the Canadian Responsible Gambling Council promoted by Andre DeGrasse advising you know the risks of gambling before imbibing.

I admit to being enamoured with and reliant on Amazon too that first Christmas, but call me old fashioned, the online betting worries me. Maybe it’s just the mother in me.

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