The Year Round Pompom Wreath

easter.2018

So last Christmas I saw someone post a Pompom Wreath for sale they had made in a Facebook Buy & Sell group and I absolutely loved it.  I decided that I would make one this past Christmas.  I decided on the color white and we put a simple gold bow that matched other bows I had in the house.  My tree has nothing but gold ornaments on it, each unique that I have collected from around the world for years.

Well, once the wreath was up my daughter and I simply didn’t wanted to ever take it down and so I decided that we would keep it up year round and “dress” it according to the next upcoming holiday or season.  It’s funny how a mother and daughter can bond over this wreath and get all excited on what we will do with it next.

Since the decorations are constantly changing we don’t glue them on, we simple use pins, wire etc. to attach them to the Styrofoam wreath base.  After Christmas we switched it to Valentine’s Day, then St. Patrick’s Day and it is currently decorated for Easter.   We are keeping all of the things we decorate with and plan to use some of them for different holidays.  For example, we may use the red & white bow from Valentine’s Day for our future Canada Day theme.  I never used to decorate for these minor holidays but I have to admit, this wreath has us looking forward to celebrating all holidays, which is a good thing, celebrating life makes you appreciate it more.

I have a couple of youtube videos we created to show you how to make it and also how we decorate it each holiday.  I hope you enjoy it and be sure to watch other videos I have on my channel and don’t forget to subscribe to be notified of any updates.

How to make a pompom wreath and then how we decorated it for Valentine’s Day

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My Total Knee Replacement Journey

Part One – The Back Story

I had intended to do a lot of things with this blog but sometimes life just makes you change your plans.  I had been having issues with the knees for years.  About 4 years ago, during recovery of blowing both my Achilles Tendon’s I tore the meniscus in my left knee and I could no longer straighten it.  To make a long story short the surgeon fixed my Achilles tendon was going to do keyhole surgery to fix it, but because of personal matters he couldn’t.  Local doctors didn’t want anything to do with me because I had gone to an out of town surgeon so I was stuck in limbo.

Over the course of 3 years I would visit my doctor occasionally and each time tell him how bad my knees were, that I could not walk unless I used a crutch and I needed them fixed and I was told he would send me to someone, but that never happened.  Finally about 15 months ago he decided to send me for an MRI on my left knee.  He didn’t order anything on my right stating he would check out the knees “One at a time”  After the MRI I never heard back from his office so I thought the MRI didn’t show anything of any significance.

I have to admit, part of me felt that I was making much ado about nothing and thought maybe I was a bit of a hypochondriac.  Fast forward to a year after my MRI (3 months ago) and I went to see my doctor and as I was about to leave I asked him about the MRI.  He looked at the results and said “It seems you have a fair bit of arthritis in your knee, I will send you to someone”.  I then asked him about my right knee and he said “One knee at a time, but you can mention it to the doctor”  By this time however, my right knee had become worse than the left.  I had to go up the stairs one step at a time because my right knee was not strong enough.

Much to my utter amazement I receive a call 3 days later telling me I had an appointment with an Orthopedic Surgeon 4 days later.  I live in Canada, if you can get an appointment 6 months away you consider yourself lucky, to get an appointment 7 days after your doctor says he will arrange something is unheard of.

I was very excited.  I imagined I would see the doctor, he would tell me I needed keyhole surgery on both knees, I would get it and instantly feel better and life would be amazing.  Well, things didn’t do that way.

First of all the doctor couldn’t believe I had never had xrays on either knee and was very distressed that my knees were so bent and locked and the only way I could walk was from swinging each leg forward.  If your knees are bent you can’t walk heel to to like you should.  He had xrays taken and about 20 minutes later after he viewed them he called me into his office and told me that I needed Total Knee Replacements on both knees.  He also told me that they were in such bad shape he didn’t know if he would be able to get them completely straight but he would try his best.  He felt it was extremely important to get them done as quickly as possible so he would put me on a priority list.  I was contacted the next day however and told I would be getting the surgery on my right knee 6 days later.  The next few days were a whirlwind of activity.  I had to go in for preop, I had to arrange for a walker, TED stockings, get a lot of groceries in, buy some things for the hospital etc.  While my doctor was more than willing to answer any questions I had, I had no clue what to ask.  Well, that surgery was 3 months ago and though they generally do knee surgeries in my area a year apart (6 months if they are really bad) they are doing mine a mere 3 months apart and I go in for my second one in 4 days.

This time around though I have decided to document the experience so that others who have the operation can get a general idea of exactly what to expect.  The series will be both a blog write up as well as a youtube video.  I will show what happens to my right knee right from day of surgery, and document how my other one heals from the 3 month mark on.  So ver the next 3 months people can see what to expect from day 1 to 6 months later (1-3 months on my left nee and 3-6 months on my right).

Hopefully during that I can write a few blogs on other things that i had hoped to start doing months ago.  So here goes.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

In our house we make chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s every year.  So many people ask for us to make them some thinking it is too timing consuming or tricky to do and honestly, they are one of the most simply things you can make.  There are a few things to know, so today’s post will be about the things some things might now.

The easiest chocolate to use is chocolate chips.  For every 1 cups of chips you use, add one tablespoon of shortening.  The shortening does not change the taste, nor does it make them greasy.  The shortening thins out the chocolate a bit and makes it much easier to dip the strawberries.

Your strawberries must be dry because water will seize your chocolate and then  can’t be used and will have to throw it away.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, start with 45 seconds.  Stir the chocolate and then continue to put in for an additional 30 seconds at a time stirring well after each session.  When there are no lumps left in the chocolate it is ready to use.

If you find your microwave just won’t melt the chocolate for some reason, then chances are it has been exposed to moisture and while you can use the chips for cookies and such it is no longer usable to melt for dipping.

Watch my video to see how very easy it is to make chocolate dipped strawberries and make some for Valentine’s!

Valentine’s Day – Thinking of Others

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I know all too well the struggles some couples experience just making ends meet. When days like Valentine’s Day comes around I am sure there is some stress when you can’t afford to buy anything for your Significant Other.  Social Media certainly doesn’t help when people of means show off all the amazing things they get or give, and you stay silent because you don’t want to announce “Hey, we are broke, I didn’t get anything”

Companies often send me things that I do not use, so I thought I would put this little jewelry set up I received on a local Pay It Forward group.  I specifically said it was meant for someone unable to purchase a gift for their female Significant Other.  I even went on to say not to say you were interested if you could afford a gift as it would lesson the chances of someone truly in need of winning.

Well I have to say that the although I was not surprised, I was disappointed by the amount of greed people show and how little compassion some people have.  About 98% of the people asking to be considered were female, and while it is open to gay females to give to their partners, these woman were not gay, their profiles were full of pictures of their husbands and boyfriends.  There was also the “interested for my daughter, interested for my mother-in-law” etc.  Not only that, when you checked their profiles they looked nothing like people in need with professionally landscaped homes, new cars in the driveway etc.  I ended up disgusted because this is an inexpensive set that most of these people could buy easily.

I would never dream of asking for an item meant for someone in need, yet people today simply don’t care.  They see something for free and they don’t care if they need it, want it or could use it, they will take it if they can get it, for the thrill of it I guess.  Which is ok, if it is just a giveaway open to everyone, but not ok if it is meant to help someone in a tight spot.  It’s pretty sad, but I guess the only way to change things is to continue to be generous, but be selective in who we are generous to.  Then hopefully the people that were shown kindness will in turn look for opportunities to help others in need and just totally ignore all the selfish people out there.

 

 

Pork Loin Freezer Prep

Freezer Preparation of Large Cuts of Meat

Your local grocery store of butcher will often have large cuts of meat on sale for much less per pound than a smaller cut.  In my area, this is especially true for large cuts of pork.

I am bewildered by the fact so few people take advantage of the significant savings available by purchasing this way.  This week I purchased a large loin of pork for just over $12 that will make a couple very good dinners for us, but even more meals for people with smaller families.

The trick to purchasing this way is to ensure that you package them properly for the freezer so they last for months without any damage.  I am a huge fan of vacuum packing for several reasons.  First of all,  if you vacuum package food it will last longer in the freezer, often twice as long as it prevents freezer burn and ice crystal formation.  Secondly it allows you to add spices to your meats and vacuum seal them together then, during the defrost process your meat continues to marinade resulting in a very flavorful cut of meat.

For pork cuts, such as in the video, I mix olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic salt and black pepper.  Using fresh rosemary is always preferable but when I don’t have any fresh I don’t hesitate to use dried rosemary.  I rub it all over the roast, then I place in the vacuum seal bag and seal it.  I then freeze it and when we want to eat it I allow it to unthaw in the fridge or if I am in a hurry a bowl of cold water.  I then allow it to come to room temperature before cooking it in the oven.  Some people prefer to sear it prior to putting it in the oven and that method works just as well.

Cook at 325°F until your meat thermometer registers at least 145°F (up to 160°F).

It takes just a few minutes to cut, season and vacuum pack a couple of roasts and not only do you save money, it allows you to season them in advance which results in a more flavorful roast.

Seasoning Recipe:

3 tbsp olive oil (vegetable oil if that is all you have)
3 tbsp  fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Mix ingredients together and rub over roast and then package and freeze.  You can double or half the recipe depending on the size of the roast you are preparin

This is the food saver I use to package things at home.  You can purchase it on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com

Saving Money On Hand Soap


Most people seem to buy the pump hand soap containers and put them in each bathroom and often one in the kitchen and in the course of a year go through a great deal of them.  Even though they are only about $2 each, over the course of a year, the cost adds up.

So lets work things out based on purchasing 20 containers per year.  If you bought 20 of them it would cost you $40 per year, however, companies like Dial offer refill packages that can fill up a container 5 times at a cost of $4.  So if you used refill containers you would need 4 per year at a cost of $16.  That means rather than spending $40 per year you are now spending only $16, an easy savings of $24 per year.  Yet, you can save even more money than that.

So what’s the trick?  Well, in our house we actually prefer the pumps that pump out foam rather than liquid.  It’s not only a personal preference but a huge money saver because, unknown to most people, inside the container is not regular hand soap but watered down hand soap.  Regular hand soap just won’t foam, it’s too thick, so they need to dilute it…and that is where the savings come in.

We buy the refill containers of hand soap and when we need to fill up our hand soap pumps we fill the container about 1/4 full of hand soap, fill the rest up with water, mix it and you are ready to go.  That means that a refill container will not fill up the containers 5 times but 20 times.  That means you will need only 1 refill container per year and will only spend $4 per year on hand soap!  Now that is an amazing savings.  Now imagine if you have a bigger family and go through 40 hand soaps a year?  You will only spend $8 and save $72 per year.

These refill containers also go on sale on a regular basis, so watch out for sales and then grab a couple of them to lower your costs even more.

Now I know some people will say “Well you only save $20-$40 dollars a year” and my answer is “Isn’t that awesome!!!”  You see, the best way to have a decent financial life is to watch your pennies and when you do, the dollars will take care of themselves.  Save $20 here, $50 here, $30 here and pretty soon your backside is parked on a lounge chair in a sunny climate enjoying a vacation you never used to be able to afford and it’s all because you stopped wasting money on things you simply don’t need to!

TV Dinners From Scraps

I love the Bento type boxes with the 3 different sections because they truly are a real money saver.

Now I know you have probably seen people post pictures of an afternoon spent in the kitchen making up a week’s worth of lunches that they appear to bring to work each day that week.  And you know, I’m really happy it works for them, but I can’t imagine myself eating rice, chicken and veggie for 5 days in a row.  I just really enjoy variety which is why in our house, leftovers in the fridge rarely get eaten.  If they do it is because I have created a new dish from the leftovers rather than a repeat of the meal before.

There are also plenty of posts about someone spending the day making various TV dinner style meals for the freezer for days when you don’t have time to cook, or you are eating alone, and those are great as well and something I do on occasion.

What I have done frequently of late though is making TV dinners from what I consider scraps.  Previously if all I had left from dinner was a little bit of mashed potatoes, I would just throw them away, but not any more!  What I will do is grab one of the 3 section freezer containers and fill up a couple of them with the leftover potatoes and pop them in the freezer.  Then, when I have a bit of left over meat I will add it to the containers with just potatoes and a bit of gravy.  At that point, if I don’t have leftover vegetables, I will just throw on some frozen corn that only takes 5 minutes of my time and add the vegetable and I now have complete TV dinners made from scraps I would have normally thrown out.

In the past 6 months I have probably made 50 TV dinners at least completely from scraps from meals made over several days all of which would have been tossed in the garbage.

When we want to eat one, it’s as simple as popping off the top, covering it with an ordinary microwave lid (the ones with the perforations to let steam escape) heat it up and dinner is served.  These containers are freezer, microwave and top rack dishwasher safe so super easy to use and very little clean up since you can eat out of the container if you want to.

Saving money this way is very easy and over time the savings can really add up.  If you find little ways like this to save money every month you will start to notice it.  The trick though is that if your grocery budget every month is less, take that money and put it towards something that matters no matter how little. So if you can spend $50 less a month on groceries, take it and make an extra payment on a debt to pay it off sooner, or save for a vacation or whatever.  You need to first find savings, and then do something constructive with them other than flitter it away. Financial stability makes life a whole lot easier!

You can purchase the containers I use on Amazon.ca as well as Amazon.com

Watch my video to see what I mean!