Fate or Destiny: Do you Believe?

The words fate and destiny are used interchangeably.  Do you believe in fate or destiny?  I definitely do.  So many things have happened in my life that I feel fate or destiny had a hand in.  A minor change in any of the details would have resulted in a totally different lifestyle.  Here are just a few examples, all major events in my life.

I met my husband on my 21st birthday when I was celebrating at a college pub in Kingston, Ontario.  Less than a month previous to that we were both in long-term relationships with other people.  A month after we met I would leave Kingston to return to my hometown of Cornwall to finish my college program.  Had we not met that night of my birthday, our paths would probably have never passed, and both of our lives would be very different now.

We dated for three years before marrying, but I knew within a month of meeting him that he was the one for me.  In our attempts to start a family, we suffered three stillbirths, all of which were boys.  We persevered, eventually having three healthy baby boys. 

Now a bit of an expert on the subject of pregnancies, I have since written a book:

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One Sunday, because it was pouring rain and cold at my husband’s family cottage, we returned to Ottawa earlier than usual, stopping to view a model home in a new subdivision in Kanata.  We loved the house so much, we made a down payment on the house that same day.

These are all examples of significant events in my life that I feel were destined to happen.  A small change of detail in any of these events and none of them would have happened.  Without the first one happening, the next two would not have occurred.

The latest example of fate happened very recently.  To support a friend’s daughter,  I had planned to drive from Ottawa to Barrie to pick up my niece, then drive to Orillia to see the musical Chicago.  Because the weather was bad with snow and freezing rain, I canceled my plans for the long drive.  I was, however, able to phone the box office of the Orillia Opera House to transfer the tickets to my niece’s name.   She invited her college roommate to go with her, but those plans did not work out either.  She then asked a contact on Tinder to go with her.  They went to the show together, had a great time, and have been dating since.  She too had been dating someone else until recently but was ready for a new relationship.  If Mother Nature had not stepped in with lousy and dangerous weather for driving, I would have been her date that night.  She may or may not have connected with this new man on Tinder at some other time, but fate intervened to make it that night.

I’m a huge believer in fate, are you??

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The ghost of Christmas past

Every year I try to simplify things and reduce the commercialism in our family Christmas.  That’s because every year it seems to get worse.  The stores are crowded, people spend money because they feel they have to, everyone seems anxious and stressed, and then it’s over.  Until next year.

Christmas, when I was young, was about visiting family and friends, delicious baked goods and candy, homes full of cheer and love and excitement.

With grandchildren part of my family now, I really wanted to bring the special back to the holiday season.  I started off with good intentions and actually made (with my own hands!) some presents this year, but am still running around buying things as the big day gets closer.

So why do we do it?  The commercialized, overcomplicated part I mean.  I’m sure my parents, with six children, spent money buying us each something special to go under the tree.  And, I’m sure they felt the pinch financially in January.  But it seemed worth it then, and not just because I was not paying the bills.  The excitement built for months beforehand and lasted for months afterward.

Then there is the whole politically correct thing.  Not saying “Merry Christmas” because it might offend someone.  Have you ever heard of anyone actually being offended when strangers wish each other Merry Christmas?  No one is forcing anyone to celebrate Christmas by wishing them a Merry Christmas.  The greeting is simply to spread the joy and spirit of what Christmas is supposed to mean.  To me having  Christmas spirit means being kind(er) and (more) tolerant and generous towards others.  It does (should) not matter what God you believe in or pray to, what color your skin is, where in the world you live, or how much money you have (spend).

If the Grinch can get it, why can’t we humans?

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Winter Solstice on December 21st

Today, December 21st, is our winter solstice here in Canada and the rest of the northern hemisphere.  That means it’s the shortest day of the year.  It also means the days will now start to get longer. 

It also means that spring is coming!

Yaaaaaay.  After all, spring is my favourite season, when I can (finally) get back out into my precious gardens and watch everything come to life.

Technically, winter solstice, also referred to as the first day of winter, is an astronomical event that happens as the earth travels in its orbit around the sun. Apparently, the sun sets one minute later each day of the month between now and the summer solstice in June. That calculates out to thirty minutes per month.

This date reminds me of my late father as he, like me, much preferred summer and spring.  He always commented on this first day of winter, getting great satisfaction in the fact that the long winter was getting shorter.  Even though winter just started.

On the flip side, on June 21st, summer solstice or the longest day of the year, he would grumble and complain that the days were getting shorter. All the way to the winter solstice.

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Ebates for Online Shopping

Ebates for online shopping

Have you tried Ebates yet for online shopping?  It is a free website that actually pays you cash to shop.  Instead of points, you get a specific percentage of cashback with each purchase.  Different stores offer different percentages of cashback.   Unlike many other online shopping sites, Ebates included stores ship to Canada as well as to the USA. 

Participating stores include Old Navy, Amazon, Forever 21, Microsoft, Dyson, Lululemon, and many more. Over 750 stores to choose from, with many of your favourites included.

Ebates for online shopping
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

What are you waiting for?  Try Ebates today, to finish (or start) your Christmas shopping.  Membership is free and easy to set up.

Update:

Ebates is now called Rakuten. The premise is the same as are the rewards. Basically, you get money back for buying things you may or may not need. Online shopping has become so convenient, especially with longstanding pandemic restrictions. It certainly doesn’t hurt when you are rewarded to shop with money back with every purchase.

Try it today to discover how easy it is to both spend and earn money. It seems counterintuitive, but if you limit your shopping to things you were planning to buy anyway, it makes sense to do so using a reward program like Rakuten.

photo credit

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Purse Project in time for Christmas

I am off to drop off purses for the Purse Project I saw in the OTTAWA CITIZEN.  Today is the last day for drop-off for this specific purse project, but there are many out there.  Find one in your community to which you can donate.  It is a wonderful Christmastime idea.

Like most women, I have lots of purses hanging out in my closet, collecting dust. Many of them have barely been used.  The idea is to fill a gently-used purse with personal items for women living in shelters or on the streets.  There are so many things you can fill the purses with, use your imagination. Here are a few to start with:

  • feminine products
  • soaps
  • shampoo/conditioners
  • disposable razors
  • kleenex
  • lotion
  • make up
  • face and foot treatments

Find unused products in your home or purchase some to fill the purses with.  Many drug stores have a travel section with miniature sizes of the products listed above.  Gift cards are another great idea to add to the purses.

purse project

I have come up with six purses, all packed with goodies, ready for drop off here in Ottawa.  There are lots of drop-off locations listed in the article above, including many Shoppers Drug Marts and most Ottawa Police Stations.

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Sesquicentennial Medal for Community Service

Sesquicentennial Medal

My nephew, James Sliter, was recently awarded a Sesquicentennial Medal from the Senate of Canada for his volunteer role in making our community a better place to live.  He was nominated by the current Senator and former police chief of Ottawa, Vern White.

James has shown dedication and commitment towards the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ottawa organization (BBBSO) for many years.  He is a former big brother, a former Board President, and currently sits on the business development committee.

Unfortunately, there was controversy swirling around the dispersion of the rest of these medals. These awards were supposed to honor community activists and volunteers or unsung heroes.  The Canadian Mint created the medals as part of our 150 birthday celebration.  That’s where the name sesquicentennial medal comes in.  Our 93 Canadian Senators were each supposed to nominate 12 deserving individuals to receive the 1500 medals.  However, many of the Senators, 47 to be exact, kept the medals for themselves or gave them to former senators.  The last time I checked no senators can be termed volunteers or unsung heroes.  This is pure greed on their part.

Regardless of the controversy, Vern White got it right with his nomination of James.  The rest of my family and I are extremely proud of him!

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The Toys at Grandma’s

This post was inspired by my adorable, very observant, first grandson as he wandered through my house looking for toys. I wrote it from his point of view.

The toys at Grandma’s are not your average, run-of-the-mill toys.  No, these toys are very special.  While Grandma does have some traditional toys that my dad and his brothers used to play with…

Many others are a little different, but still lots of fun.   They are all over the house too, so I can crawl around looking for them.  Come with me; I’ll take you on a guided tour of all my favourite toys at Grandma’s:

After the traditional toys in the family room, I head for the kitchen toys…

Grandma says my daddy used to love to pull everything out of this same cupboard.  It is the only cupboard Grandma lets me play in though.  I tried hard to get into the thing she puts the dirty dishes into, but she kept locking it up.

Next was the dining room where the play structure is still made out of wood!  No pressure-treated wood or PVC stuff that you find in parks.  I am allowed to crawl through this play structure, but I’m not allowed to bite on any parts of it.

Next was the hallway, where this springy thing is fun to play with.  Grandma says it is a doorstop, but all the doors in this hallway are closed so I’m not sure how that works…

Then I’m on to the front door, where the sunlight streaming through the glass makes pretty patterns on the floor.  And, look Grandma, I can see my reflection!

toys

The living room window has these soft white things hiding more toys.  The white things are awesome for playing peek a boo too.

Then I found a tree in the living room!  Grandma says it is a Christmas tree that needs to be decorated.  I have never seen one of these before.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t here the last time I visited.  Just imagine all the things I could grab if it was decorated!

toys

The piano was next.  Do you think I am too young for lessons?

My final spot is the stairs.  Too bad Grandma wouldn’t let me climb them very far.  She thinks because I am only 9 months old that I shouldn’t play on the stairs. If she let me I’m sure I could reach the top!

Thanks for coming on the tour with me.   My big sister will be here soon although she doesn’t appreciate all these neat toys.  

Grandma says I need a nap now, I think she does too!

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Surprise Birthday Party

A few posts back I wrote about my brother’s fast approaching sixtieth birthday. Well, his birthday is this coming Thursday (30th), but the surprise birthday party was last night.  It took lots of scheming and coercing, (did I tell you my brother is stubborn?) but we did manage to surprise him at his own home.

Thank heavens for Facebook and its event planner feature.  The whole party was arranged, staged, and organized by creating the event on Facebook.  With his daughter in Barrie, me in Ottawa, the birthday boy, and other friends and family members in Ingleside, social media (FB) came to the rescue, keeping us all connected.  I created the event, adding key individuals as cohosts so we could each send out invitations from our own contact lists.  Keeping the surprise birthday party a private event ( an option when creating the event) ensured my brother would not find out as only invited guests could access the details.

From the moment the event was created up to the moment of surprise, we were able to communicate as a group.  Except for the birthday boy, of course, he was excluded from the group. Jobs such as purchasing the party essentials, organizing the potluck food contributions, decorating the venue, and even distracting the birthday boy (definitely the toughest job) were all delegated on Facebook.

It was the easiest party to organize, ever.  Judging by the turnout of all the guests and the delicious food, it was a great success!

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Gray is not my color

Gray is not my color.  My hair started to turn gray when I was just 14 years old, yes 14!  The boys in my classes at school used to fight to sit behind me so they could pull out the strands of gray from my very long hair. Good thing I have always had lots of hair.

By the time I was 30, my hair was very gray. This picture of me and my siblings was taken when I was 34; I’m the sister with the gray hair…

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….even though I am the youngest sister and second youngest sibling.  Very annoying, even though I knew it was hereditary; my father was totally white by 30.

When it was streaky gray (like the picture) people actually asked if I had it colored that way.  It did kind of frame my face I guess.  The straw that broke the camel’s (gray) back came later that year (still 34) when my eldest son started junior kindergarten.  For a Hallowe’en party in his classroom, I dressed up as Snow White.  When I took my wig off at the end of the day, one of the children said “that must be Matthew’s grandmother, she has white hair”   That was when I decided that gray is not my color.

So, for years (twenty some now) I have tried various colors on my hair.   I have always admired red hair on other girls, and because my dark brown hair always had natural reddish highlights in the summer, I have always aimed for reddish brown.  The problem is with so much gray, the reddish brown sometimes comes out orange and I HATE orange.  Even at expensive salons my hair would come out too orangy/coppery for my liking.

The solution?  I finally discovered how to get the color I want by combining two shades.  Yes, DIY haircolor.  I do it myself, saving myself lots of money and the annoyance of paying for the wrong color.  I start with a medium dark brown on the roots, then spread the rest of that color throughout my hair, then add a reddish brown in streaks on top of the medium brown, avoiding the roots.  This phote was taken in the summer when my hair is always lightened by the sun, but you get the picture…

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Over the years I have tried many DIY hair color products too.  My choice these days is Belle Color by Garnier, in shades 50 (medium brown) and 65 (chestnut brown)…

 

It reminds me of a commercial (I cannot remember which one) where Penelope Cruz proclaimed (with her sultry, sexy accent) “the color I want is the color is get”

I love these Garnier products because they make my hair silky smooth (others leave it coarse and tangly) even before I condition it.  Each box of hair color includes a pouch of conditioner that contains argan oil, a well-known miraculous treatment for hair…

 

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The Garnier products are creamy (not drippy) and offer 100% gray coverage.  They also have an almost pleasant smell, unlike others that reek.  My color lasts three to four weeks before those returning gray roots are too obvious to hide.  It is so unfair that dark roots look much better than white ones and are even quite fashionable (apparently)

These Garnier products can be purchased online through Amazon here:

CHESTNUT    or   MEDIUM DARK BROWN

 

So, if gray is not your color either, try your hand at your own conconction of color!

 

 

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‘Tis the Season for Freelance Writing

‘Tis the season, my freelance writing season, as Gardens4u is now officially closed for the winter…

Gardens4u is closed, freelance writing season is open

Although this past spring and summer were wet and cool, our summer was extended recently with the most marvelous fall weather.  Unfortunately, that has come to an end, and reality is settling in.

Now my other interests are able to take over, with a growing list (I am a list person for sure) of the things I hope to accomplish this winter…

  • reconnect with my freelance writing contacts.
  • finish the quilt I started for my grandson last winter.
  • start and finish a quilt for my granddaughter.
  • make nursery curtains for my new granddaughter due to arrive the end of February.
  • clean out the few remaining closets I did not get to the past few winters.
  • reorganize the walk-in closet in our master bedroom.
  • post more frequently on this blog
  • spend more time with my grandson and granddaughter (and their parents).
  • visit with friends I never seem to find the time to visit during the gardening season.
  • read more books.  If anyone has suggestions for a good read, please let me know!
  • clean my house.  Although most people do their spring cleaning in the spring, I do mine in the winter (silly me) so when spring arrives I can get out and enjoy my favourite season.
  • update my business website, adding pictures from this past season.  Be sure to check them out and add your comments!
  • exercise.  Planks are my favourite exercise for maintaining muscle tone.  Without gardening to keep me in shape I have to work extra hard in the winter to keep pounds from creeping up on my bathroom scale.

Phew, with that list I should be busy until spring when I can start a new garden season!

Check out my freelance portfolio to see if I can help you get some of your projects done.

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