Posted in Canada, health and wellness,, rant

Vaccines: No Exemptions

Vaccines have eradicated many diseases in Canada that are still prevalent in other countries around the world.

There’s a good reason for that; science has proven that vaccines work.

We should be proud of that accomplishment and go the extra mile to protect it and our compliant citizens. For some reason our country is more concerned about the cultural rights or beliefs of everyone except our own citizens.

We have become all inclusive to an extreme, risking the safety and health of our own, especially those most vulnerable.

If not non-existent and unavailable, exemptions should be much stricter, for valid (proven) medical reasons only.

A simple immigration rule or federal law could enforce the no exemption/exception. No vaccines, no entry into the country.

Vaccine exemptions should also be banned in schools. Most of us must have our children vaccinated before they attend school. No proof of vaccination means no school attendance…simple, no exceptions or exemptions.

Who’s with me?

Posted in gardens,

The Problem with Interlock and River Rock

Interlocked sidewalks or driveways/laneways and river rock instead of lawn may look nice and tidy, until the weeds move in. And they will try, you just have to stay on top of them for a winning look.

Weeds are inevitable as their seeds blow around in wind, lodging themselves in the cracks between the interlocked stones or river rock. They can settle into the tiniest of cracks then sprout to become a huge mess. Don’t disparage the contractor that you paid to make your yard look nice, it is not (generally) their fault. Weeds and wind are facts of nature.

Polymer Sand

Most landscapers use polymer sand, AKA hardscape, jointing or paver sand, a mixture of fine grains of sand and bonding agents. These products fill in the cracks between the interlock stones of sidewalks, patios and driveways. The benefits are stability (the stones don’t shift), weed control and even insect control.

The problem is, even when applied properly (there is a specific method of applying polymer sand) weed seeds will still congregate on top.

The most recent look in interlock involves larger slabs of stone, meaning less cracks for weed seeds to invade and you to keep clean. That’s a move in the right direction.

Landscape Fabric

Landscape fabric is (should be) used under river rock when it replaces lawns to help keep weeds from poking through from underneath. Some aggressive weeds still do manage to get through the barrier though. As mentioned above, nothing prevents weed seeds from blowing from above and settling between the rocks.

Landscape fabric can purchased in (very) large rolls or smaller, more manageable rolls. Regardless of the roll size, choose the heavy duty kind.

Unstable Footing

One of my biggest complaints about landscaping with river rock is the instability of the rock surface for anyone walking on it. That would be me working in a client’s garden. Even though I always wear stable shoes, I still find the rocks unstable to walk on so worry about twisted ankles.

I do find the smaller stones more stable than larger ones.

The Problem with Interlock and River Rock

Vinegar to Kill and Deter Weeds

Vinegar, and not just regular vinegar but the extra strength “cleaning” vinegar, works well to kill any weeds that do manage to sprout between the cracks of your interlock or stones/rocks. It also deters new weeds from sprouting. I put the vinegar in a large pressurized sprayer to make large applications easier.

The Problem with Interlock and River Rock

Weed Torches

Another method of removing weeds that have sprouted between the cracks of your walkways or patios or your river rock is a propane powered weed torch. I have yet to try one but have heard only good reviews on them.

I don’t mean to discourage anyone from replacing their old, outdated walkways with much prettier interlock or their lawns with river rock, but want people to be aware these types of landscaping still require work. Lots of work.

photo credit: Pexels free photos

Posted in gardens,, nature

Ouch! That Bee Stung me, Four times!

I experienced the weirdest thing today, at least to me. I was gardening in my own backyard (for a change) when I felt a sting on my left ankle. I yelled (it hurt!) and shooed away a fat bumblebee as I don’t like to harm bees. It rewarded me by coming back and stinging me again. In the same ankle!

I retreated out of my backyard thinking I had disturbed a nest or something, but the darn bugger follwed me, stinging me again even though I was now 50 feet away. Once again I yelled “ouch” (don’t believe that) and ran up the slight incline to my front yard with the bee in pursuit. It was quicker than I and stung me a fourth time!

I now have two stings on each ankle! The small red spot at the bottom is a recovering bug bite I got at the cottage. My poor ankles are taking a beating…

Ouch! that bee stung me, four times!
bee stings

I bet I will someday think this was funny; if I had a video of the episode I’m sure I looked and sounded very funny. Lucky for me that I am not allergic to bee stings.

That was enough gardening for today.

Instead, I came into the house and visited Mr Google looking for information on why bees might attack or at least sting repeatedly. I have been stung repeatedly before, (lucky me!) so am aware it is possible, I just want to know why me? After all, I’m the one that wears the Save the Bees t-shirt and purchased bumblebee necklaces for my granddaughters.

Back to the research…

I came across this article that says that bees recognize human faces! If that’s the case, I might be doomed…my backyard is not that big!

And another article that says angry bees produce higher quality venom that may help in the treatment and study of osteoarthritis and Parkinson’s disease. Maybe I should go donate blood as this guy (I am assuming it was the same one stinging me repeatedly) was obviously angry.

Interesting stuff.

Well, the swelling and the pain has subsided. When hubby arrived home from work I sent him out to the backyard to check for nests in the lawn or garden. He found nothing.

Photo credit: Pexels Free Photos

Posted in cottage life, garden project, gardens,

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming

Now that I’ve trained my husband to cut the grass properly around it, my wildflower ridge is blooming….

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s lace is dominating right now; I may have to selectively remove some of it next season if it takes over the other wildflowers.

I love the white lacey flower heads that ruffle in the breeze. Queen Anne’s lace were my mom’s favourite wildflower, so they are obviously now one of my favourites as well as a sentimental touch in this garden.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
Queen Anne’s lace

I also have a patch of Queen Anne’s lace closer to the cottage interspersed with black eyed susans, my mother-in-law’s favourite. I love this random patch as it reminds me that both of these wonderful women are always nearby. In spirit only unfortunately.

Globe Thistles or Echinops

Thriving within wildflower ridge are the vibrant blue globe thistles, AKA echinops that I planted from seeds last fall.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
Globe thistle/echinops

Wild Chicory

Slower to thrive in wildflower ridge are the wild chicory plugs I pulled from the roadside on a trek back to the city. It’s a good thing I picked them when I did, this weekend they have all been cropped off.

A member of the daisy family, the pretty cornflower blue blossoms of wild chicory are quite common along the roadsides here in Eastern Ontario.

The chicory roots were only recently transplanted in my wildflower ridge though, so I may have to exercise some patience with them.

Wildflower Ridge is Blooming
photo credit

Not so Wild Cultivars

Mingling nicely with the wildflowers indigenous to this area (those mentioned above as well as daisies, vipers bugloss, milkweed, pink thistles, and achillea) are some not-so-wild, cultivars. These all love full sun conditions and are hardy to zone 3. Coneflowers, malva/mallow, yellow daisies, monarda, and even the recognizable leaves of a holly hock have sprouted from the seeds I collected and sewed over the past few seasons…

Collecting Wildflowers

I’ve used a combination.of seeds collected in the fall and root plugs from the roadside. For obvious reasons the root plugs offer quicker rewards.

To keep our local bees and butterflies content and thriving, it is important to choose native wildflowers (ones that you see growing naturally in your area) for your gardens.

Wildflower ridge is coming alive bloom by bloom; next season should be awesome!!

Posted in health & wellness,

Vertigo and TMJ Syndrome: are they Connected?

I was diagnosed with TMJ syndrome many years ago (in my 20s) when my wisdom teeth were removed to alleviate the migraines that were making my life miserable.

More recently I have had several mild but annoying and worrisome bouts of vertigo.

Are these two conditions connected? I like things neat and tidy, even my medical afflictions, so I took to Google to find out if my TMJ syndrome and vertigo could be connected in my head. Literally.


Vertigo has been described as a:

Feeling of being off balance where you feel like the world is spinning around you


Vertigo is typically caused by several inner ear diseases and disorders, head injuries, and migraines or headaches.

In my case the vertigo only strikes when I’m lying down. This makes sleeping pretty tricky. Exercising too, especially my favourite Planks.

Tilting my head back while sitting or standing also triggers a vertigo episode, as I learned while star gazing with my three year old granddaughter recently. The good news here is that I can make it go away (for now) by putting my head back to its normal position.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome

TMJ, or temporomandibular joints, are located in front of each ear and connect the jaw to the skull in a hinge-like fashion. When you open and close your jaw as you must do when talking, eating or yawning, your TMJs are activated.

TMJ syndrome comes into play when the joints themselves or the muscles and tissue surrounding one or both of these joints are painful upon use. The pain or discomfort can be mild or excruciating, fleeting or constant.

Symptoms include localized pain at the joint, earaches or ear ringing, clicking or popping sounds, jaw pain/limited movement, toothaches, sleep apnea, neck or shoulder pain, tingling/numbness in fingers, headaches/migraines, swelling of the face, a crooked bite, and hearing issues.

Causes of TMJ syndrome include injuries to the head, jaw or face, eroded or damaged cartilage (arthritis or connective tissue diseases) surrounding the joint, a misaligned jaw, teeth grinding/clenching, chronic stress/tension and even genetics.

Are TMJ and Vertigo Connected?

Although inner ear issues are historically the most common cause of vertigo, jaw position and movement as well as bite alignment are now thought to be significant factors. A recent theory says:

the jaws and inner ear share a common ligament. Hence, the bones that are intricately responsible in hearing are also closely connected with the anatomy of the temporo-mandibular joint.

Because a TMJ disorder triggers stress and strain on structures associated with the jaw joints, this jointly-shared ligament can be pulled from its natural position.  The trickle-down effect means the middle ear structure, which is responsible for maintaining equilibrium, becomes off-kilter. 

Dr Ban R Barbat

Effective Treatments

Effective treatments for TMJ syndrome to eliminate vertigo and other symptoms include:

  • orthodics/mouth pieces
  • restorative dental surgery
  • electric nerve stimulation
  • stress reduction


In retrospect, several weeks ago I heard and felt my jaw crack when I bit into an apple. I did not feel any pain with the crack, but it did startle me. When I told my husband about the crack and mentioned that it did not hurt, he said “not yet it doesn’t.”

My vertigo episodes started shortly afterward.

I never made the connection, but perhaps I should consult a TMJ specialist AKA a neuro-muscular dentist.  

Vertigo and TMJ: are they Connected?
Photo by Engin Akyurt on
Posted in garden project, gardens,,

Gardens4U New Garden Designs

As well as general maintenance (weeding) and spring cleanups, Gardens4u completed several new garden designs so far this season, although one is still a work in progress. Most of the time I remembered to take before and after pictures.

Continuing the Neighbour Theme

At the end of last season a third neighbour asked me to help them reconfigure their front yard around an updated veranda and interlock walkway.

This was one of my easiest projects as the home owners were very hands on. From shopping for and planting perennials and shrubs to sod/grass removal,(the black fabric smothered the existing grass) soil enhancement, and edging of the finished creation, they barely needed me. My job was to recommend plant choices and their placement based on mature size and bloom time. I also created the garden shape with a hose and suggested the location of the stepping stones.

This is what the yard looked like during the process:

…and this is what it looks like now:

Wedding Preparation

Another client asked me to help him transform and design new gardens on his parents’ farm property in preparation of his daughter’s upcoming wedding. The house is being renovated as well with plans for an airbnb property.

There are seven garden beds; a huge undertaking that I have been working on all summer. The bride and groom to be have been helping too, doing most of the clearing, weeding, mulching etc. This frees up my time for the designing and planting, my two favourite parts of a new garden project.

Here are a few before pics:

some during pics:

and some after pics:

These after pictures are of just the garden at the front of the house. The other beds are still in progress. When this project is complete, I will show you the final pictures of all garden beds created. Stay tuned!

Moving to the Backyard

I have been working with these clients for several years now, first at their old home here in Kanata…

Gardens4u New Garden Designs

…and then at their new Hintonburg area home after they moved. Last season I worked on the front yards of their new duplex. The outside of one side is very traditional looking, the other quite modern, so I designed gardens to match the two different styles…

Before pics:

This is what they look like now:

This season these same clients requested my services for garden design and an overhaul in their back and side yards.

before pics:

after pics:

Next season these newly renovated garden beds will look awesome!

Garden Touch Up

At the end of last (2020) season I modified a neighbour’s garden, moving plants and adding new ones to the expanded space. We also added stepping stones to break up the larger area. At the time she had some natural coloured mulch we used up.

This summer we changed the look by adding dark brown mulch, (right on top of the natural coloured mulch) creating a much more vibrant look, which contrasts well/better with the maturing plants.

Designing new gardens or updating tired, old, outdated or overgrown gardens is my favourite part of my gardening business. Check out my website for more before and after pictures of my creations.

Posted in family, food,

Charcuterie Board and Coincidences

Thanks to Covid restrictions I had not seen my brother in over a year even though he only lives an hour or so from me.

Recently he dropped by with a (belated) 60th birthday present for me that he crafted with his own hands. And tools of course. This beautiful charcuterie board is made from a slab of mesquite he picked up on a (pre-Covid) annual trek to Texas.

Charcuterie Board
Mesquite Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie bosrd

The charcutetie board has a lazy susan feature attached to the back so the board can be spun around to access assorted nibbles.

Charcuterie board
Lazy susan

He also filled in crevices with sparkly, metallic paint…very artistic and creative.


Apparently a bee landed on the charcuterie board while the shellac was drying. My soon to be sister-in-law convinced him to leave the bee imprint there in honour of my blog and Facebook names…Loreeebee and Loree Bee…

Charcuterie board
Loree Bee & Loreeebee

A larger coincidence is the fact that my brother showed up with this belated gift the same day my sons had planned a surprise belated Birthday celebration catered dinner for me.

Another coincidence? The date of the party and my brother’s visit were on the 27th anniversary of my mom’s passing.

The sudden loss of my mom just after her 65th birthday was a huge shock for me and I’ve often said I felt like an Orphan after my father passed away not much later.

I always reminisce (more than usual) on the day she died; I know she was smiling down on me that day!

Posted in dinner ideas, food,

Belated 60th Birthday Celebration with In Haus Cooking

Well, they got me good!

My three sons planned and executed a surprise dinner party to celebrate my 60th birthday, something we never got to do in (or since) April 2020.

I had absolutely no idea of their scheming, thought I was going home from the cottage to hang out with two grandchildren while their parents attended an office BBQ.

Of course that was the ultimate ruse to get me home…dangle a few adorable grandchildren and I bite every time!

In Haus Cooking

Our culinary experience was prepared, cooked, and served at my eldest son’s house by In Haus Cooking founder and chef Michael Hauschild. I’m thinking a more appropriate name would be In Haus Culinary Creations!

Our family has known Michael and his family for several years, since he played hockey and attended high school with my youngest son. His proud parents have shared his hard work and successful career on social media, so it was a delight to sample his talent.

In Haus Cooking
Michael Hauschild

Michael and his staff bring everything with them and clean up afterwards too, so there’s no post party mess for the host.

Our five courses were visibly gorgeous and incredibly delicious, topped off with fresh, macerated strawberries (sorry, no picture) for dessert.

Book a Culinary Experience

Now that Covid restrictions have eased in Ottawa, In Haus Cooking is once again taking bookings for personal catering with an artistic flare.

I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Oops, I Messed up!

The only downside to the surprise celebration was that I managed to persuade my husband to stay at the cottage while I drove home. It was a cool, windy day there with high waves pounding our boat against the dock; I knew he was worried about the boat.

I have noticed too that I am getting less comfortable driving on the windy, hill, narrow, (little to no, sandy shoulders) treacherous roads to and from our cottage. In fact, there was just another fatal accident recently where a young man (22) lost control of his vehicle on a curve and plummeted to his death. I dont want to get less comfortable or less skilled at managing those roads, believing that when You Don’t Use it You Lose it

Hubby has also been Stressed out at work, so I thought he deserved and would welcome a quiet day puttering around at the cottage.

It wasn’t until I got home and found an invitation at my front door that I realized my mistake. I had left him at the cottage without a vehicle and by then it was too late for anyone to go pick him up!

That’s the downside of surprises, the possibility of something (or someone) spoiling the best laid plans…

Posted in cottage life, food,

Bacon on the BBQ? Try it, You’ll Love it!

Do you love the taste of bacon (who doesn’t?) but hate the greasy smell that lingers in your house after cooking it?

For that reason, as well as to prevent the (non-air conditioned) cottage from overheating by using the electric range, I decided to try cooking bacon on our (outdoor) gas BBQ at our cottage recently.

The trick was to start cooking the bacon in a fry pan to contain most of the grease. This pan has ridges on the bottom, perfect for crispy bacon.

When the bacon was almost crispy (the way we like it), I removed it from the pan and put it directly on the BBQ grill (perpendicular to the grill rack to prevent pieces from slipping through the cracks).

I’ve tried the black silicone mats at this stage, but they get greasy and gross for the person on cleanup. Not to mention the grease accumulating on the mats is very flammable.

Try cooking bacon on the BBQ, you wont be disappointed!

Posted in, parenting

Teach Your Children Well

I heard the song “Teach Your Children Well” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young for the first time in ages the other day. The lyrics resonated with me as the parent of three now adult sons, and five grandchildren…

You, who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so, become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye.

Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by.

Don’t you ever ask them, “Why?”
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

And you of tender years
Can’t know the fears
That your elders grew by
And so, please help
Them with your youth
They seek the truth
Before they can die

The second verse is for the children, to help them better understand the parenting skills (or lack there of) of the previous generation.

Teach Your Children Well was released way back in 1970, but the words still apply today, at least I think they do. What do you think?

This is the video, the words sound much better to music…

The tune and lyrics are so catchy and relevant to family life that they are currently being used in a commercial for Sobeys grocery stores.