Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

My son called last week looking for one of my old Christmas sweaters, he wanted to wear it to a party he  has been invited to.  An Ugly Sweater party!  I have heard of these, and I am sure I got rid of all my old sweaters (I may have had several of them) when I moved a few years ago.  But the one he wanted was the one with the red pom pom noses on it.....I loved that sweater, it wasn't ugly was it?  I wore in a family portrait that year (about 10 years ago?) I sent it to everyone in our Christmas Cards, it wasn't ugly was it?  I double checked my closet I did get rid of it, probably donated to the Salvation Army thrift store.  I told my son that Thirft stores were the place to look.

By coincidence I saw this on the morning news this morning, they bought their sweaters from a website, called  I should have saved the sweaters, they would be collectors items. (But no I am trying not to collect stuff like my parents did)  The sweaters on that website, sell for $79.50 and they just glue stuff to a sweatshirt, anyone can do that.  Too bad I didn't think of that when my son was looking for a sweater, I miss old craft projects like this! 

No miracles in 30 days

Well I made it 30 days without wheat, and I guess I feel better than I did a month ago, but mostly I feel like I opened a can of worms I wished I hadn't bothered with.  In the long run it will probably be for the best, but I am still not sure.  I have an appointment with a Naturopath in a couple days, so I am going to reserve my final opinion until I talk to her, and have some allergy testing done.

I am reluctant to just start eating wheat again, after a couple of bad experiences eating at Tim Hortons, and the buffet at the River Rock (where I did not eat anything with obvious wheat in it, but I felt ill for 24 hours after) *

On the other hand when I cheated a couple times, at home, I was fine.....I had a beer,  (it was really good and I did not suffer any ill effects) and I had some stuffing last week, with a roasted chicken, it was also really good, and no ill effects??? don't understand that at all.

So I only cheated twice in 30 days, lost 2 pounds (yes, again!), and my shoulder is feeling quite alot better.  But I have been working out with my personal trainer for 6 weeks now and I think that is a more likely reason for the weight loss and the improvement in my shoulder.

It will be interesting to see what the testing shows, maybe it is all just hormones, I'll keep ya posted.

* I have heard rave reviews about the River Rock buffet and I have to say no one in my group of friends were impressed by the $24.95 buffet.   It was not that big, and the quality of the food was just OK or down right disappointing.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

10 reasons why I am feeling organized

You know that feeling you get when you have finished your christmas shopping,.....  it's hard to describe, but I am sure you know what I's like a big sigh of relief or a big feeling of accomplishment!

I feel so organized that I was actually ready for it to snow today (of course that is probably why it didn't snow).   It is strange for me to feel this organized so I had to think about why?

10 reasons why I am feeling so organized this year;

10. The weather has been really good this year, cold but sunny, so it was no trouble doing the outside lights and decorations (and yes I did most of them)

9. I am retired

8. My kids did not come home early from University, usually they would be here for at least a few days in between exams. Now I am not expecting them until the 19th.

7. I decided not to send christmas cards this year ( and I don't feel guilty.......yet)

6. I am not going to make 10 kinds of christmas cookies, like I usually do, the kids aren't here to eat them and they all have wheat in them, so I can't eat them ( that should be instant weight loss don't ya think?)

5. We had the tree up and decorations inside all done on Dec 3rd

4. We have rented dishes, and planned our Christmas menu for the 21 family members who are coming christmas day, just some grocery shopping left to do.

3. I made my annual donations to the salvation Army and the local food bank today.

2. I cleaned out a closet today, it is supposed to be a coat closet but I had it full of old clothes I was going to donate one day, and just hadn't done it yet. Now it is an empty closet and our guests will have a place to hang their coats and I have another accomplishment!

1. The man I live with is very helpful, I no longer have to do everything myself (yes third time lucky!)

 When I think about it though, I guess I am usually finished shopping before the kids get out of school for their christmas break.  I don't have school aged kids anymore, so I am not sure what day that is this year.  So I'll just stick with the good feeling of accomplishment, Thank you!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The days are going by too fast!

It's 14 days til Christmas, I am looking forward to have our families over for Turkey dinner, but it is 5 AM and I am not sleeping, something is wrong with this picture!  As anyone who knows me will tell you, Carolyn is not a morning person.

So if you can't sleep you should get up and write down your thoughts.

It's been 11 days since I wrote in my Blog, I have a list of excuses:

  1. It's been 26 days since we started the renovation on my parents new (22yr old ) house.  I am in charge of helping my parents pick things, and get quotes, for windows, and kitchens etc.  Decision making is hard for older folks, much patience required.  The good news is the Kitchen and bath cabinets were ordered on Friday, the plumber and Electrician started on Saturday.  But the estimate of a 6 week reno, is now more like 12 weeks.  There are still many more decisions to make, flooring, light fixtures, windows, countertops, paint colors etc....I am asking Santa for more patience.
  2. We are planning Christmas dinner for 21
  3. I barely have time to read the newspaper so I don't have a news story bugging me right now
  4. I have been trying to get my Christmas shopping done
  5. I made 3 batches of cookies, mailed some to my son who is at university studying for exams.
  6. I am sure there are many of reasons why I am so busy, being retired is not easy, I don't know how working people fit it all in!

It's been 24 days since I started this wheat free thing
So far I have discovered:
  • There is really nothing at Tim Hortons I can eat, I tried split pea soup, and had the runs for 12 hours.  (This has convinced me that I truly may have a problem with wheat)
  • Fruit is also quite a problem for me, I went without any for a week (except bananas) when I tried adding some fruit back into my life on Monday, I was bloated right away.  
  • I have not been bloated for 5 days, my plumbing is working as it should and today I am feeling like all the stars are aligned just for me.  (partial thanks to some help from an herbal pill called Cleanse More)
  • A friend who has been gluten free for a few years, gave me a list of restaurants, bakeries, brands to look for, and recommended I go for allergy testing just to take the guess work out of what is good for me and what isn't.  So I am going to give that a try, with a Naturopath who does blood tests to determine food allergy/sensitivities.  That is next week.
  • I was totally hoping just to go back to being the everything in moderation girl but it looks like there may be food I just can't eat anymore.  This life change really sucks, but change can be good, so I will do my best to make lemonade!  (you know when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,,,blah blah blah)
  • And Most importantly, I learned for about the 400th time in my life, that the only way to lose weight is to eat less and move more!  the miracle claims that removing wheat from your diet and replacing that with unlimited quantities of other food are just too good to be true!  You actually have to eat less food, like remove wheat bread from your diet, without replacing it with Spelt bread.  (Darn!)

Ok, I think that was all that was on my mind, so I am going back to sleep now

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

All-Inclusive resorts

I can't stop thinking about this article I read last saturday, (yes I know my brain works in mysterious ways) I had to post a comment at the end of it of course.

This is the article The rebirth of All-Inclusive Resorts

I just want to say to anyone who has not been to an all inclusive resort that this article is so misleading. The Author admits to never having been to an all inclusive but yet writes a 2 page article about how they have improved? As in everything in life, there are the good and the bad (writers and resorts).

I have been to many all- inclusive's ( I am not expert but compared to the Author above, I am close)

  • You get what you pay for,  The Grand Velas resort mentioned in the article above, is very expensive and therefore will have better food, brands of alcohol, better wine, better service......compared to a 3 star resort that you can get a 7 day deal for $699.00.  You have to lower your expectations if you want the deal.  
  • For example:  I have stayed at the Riu Sante Fe in Cabo twice (some sites rate it 4* sometimes it shows as 5*) both times we paid aprox $1000. pp, then the next year we paid an extra $200 and stayed at the sister hotel, Riu Palace Cabo.....there was a big improvement, even though I liked the Riu Sante Fe, the food was just that much better at the Palace.  More variety, better tasting drinks, wine, nicer rooms, and less children, although not adults only.  So that extra $200 spread over 7 days, works out to about $28.50 per day, totally work it!
  • I have also stayed at some Iberostar All-inclusives, some have extra charges for a fancy restaurant, or to buy a better bottle of wine.  It's not like a cruise ship where you have no choice but to pay for the extras, there are many choices at All inclusives, most of them included in the cost of your holiday.
  • It is also your choice whether you want to tip or not, but most people find they get better service at the 3 or 4 star resort if they tip.  Funny thing don't need to do that at the 5* resort, there you would tip because they gave you good service all the time.
  • I have never seen a charge for a exercise class, most activities are free and most resorts have lots of to choose from, all listed as free. The only things that have extra charges are motorized water sports, or off site excursions.  This is also listed when you book your vacation.
Now if only I could get the free Trip to the Grand Velas for writing this article!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Final Building Permit Nov 25/11 Yippee!!

For months now I have wanted to write about The power of a City Building Inspector.  I have put it off because we still do not have our final building permit for our new house that we have been living in for the past 8 months.  If you have ever built a home you know that the worst thing you could ever do is make a building inspector mad, or even dislike you in any way.  They have more power than god!

We do believe we will get our Final Permit today, but I won't publish this until I have that little card in my hand.

When we started building our house in 2010 there was building inspector named V (not real name of course).  He had been around for years and made his requirements quite clear either in writing or verbally.   We learned quickly to give him certain level of respect.  In return we could rely on him to answer questions, or provide clarification.   There was one incident when V lost all of our truss drawings, or maybe someone at city hall misfiled them?  Anyway I had to go pick up another copy of the 2" stack of drawings and deliver it personally to the building department at City hall.  BUT the real problems started when V retired in June 2011.

Apparently building inspectors don't write down anything, unless it is on a card they give you.  Not only that, V didn't give us copies of all the cards.

So the new building inspector comes along we will call him E.  We called him for the final permit on the back garage and the house in June 2011, just after V retired (which was a surprise to us)
He kindly sat down in our kitchen and went thru a list of things he was missing, like a card showing our insulation had passed and where are the Truss drawings?  (see do you lose that huge stack of paper twice?)  We were able to explain alot of it, and E called into his assistant at the city and she found alot of the missing stuff in our file.  Some of it was found the next day and E called us to tell us not to worry about the truss drawings, the smoke detectors, we ticked them off the lists he had left and went on to worry about the bigger things.

  • V had told us to drywall our unfinished area above the back garage to a height of 4 feet.  E didn't like it, we had no proof V said that and it wasn't to code.  E wanted it done to the ceiling height.  This is a place we are using as storage, so we don't see the point.
  • then there is our beautiful stair railing in the house.  Hand made hammered rod iron, the craftsman who made it assured us it was to code.  E says it is climbable, he will have to ask his boss for another opinion.

5 months of going back and forth, between bosses, (there are many managerial layers) none will make a decision without talking to the other.  Or maybe E was just not allowed to make a decision on his own??There were many excuses or miscommunications:

  • We will have to wait till C comes back from his month vacation in Europe, he is the expert on code.  
  • C comes back and says I already told you and E my decision before I to us of course.  
  • We go to see the top boss, he is very nice and promises to get us a decision within a week.  
  • On and on......finally they decide it is not climable but there are openings at the bottom edges that are larger than 4 inches, which means a small child's head could fit in there.  
  • So how do we fix that?  A question we have been asking them for 5 months, can we use plexiglass? "that's not code" but I'll check with C.........

We called for a final inspection on the back garage, we had fixed the drywall to the level E requested.  We figured while he was here he could give us some direction of what we could do to get the stair railing to pass.

  • the back garage didn't pass because the truss drawings are missing  (No, I cannot believe my ears, and I may have gotten angry! I am only human I lost my patience) and he says "you need to drywall the whole room including the ceiling" I reminded him that he was the one who told us to drywall to the ceiling and he reluctantly agreed, but of course he had not written that down so he didn't remember.
  • As for the advise on the stair railings, he had none, whatever we do has to be permanently attached.  

My handy spouse came up with a creative idea to make wood triangles to fill in the 4" spaces, it looked OK and cost about $400 to get the matching wood.  Also we had to put a 2nd handrail on the other side of the stairway, as the width of the stairs called for 2 rails.  (It all looked kinda ugly but it was to code)

Yesterday E was here for the final inspection again, I handled him the 3rd copy of the truss drawings, he said "what are these? we already talked about this didn't we?"  (what now you don't need them? ) He couldn't remember, and of course he has nothing written down.   Not to mention he wasn't here for a final inspection on the back garage as we had only called in the permit number for the house.

He agreed to pass the stair railing but don't celebrate too soon.......what about those smoke detectors still on his list(again see above, we have more than we need and he already told us they were fine as is)  He has no record of that.  (Grrrr  don't get angry, ten calming deep breathes)  He left saying he will go back to his office today and look through the file again, but we need to call in both permit numbers again so he can issue the final permits if applicable.  ( I assume this is a billing thing for his employer).  He will call and tell us when he approves the final permit....But I need that card, no way we are going to trust him without something in writing.  (Oh and the City is holding a $10,000.00 bond for trees that we took down and replaced, but we can't have that back until we have the final permit.)

We called the City on Nov 25th and confirmed the Final Permits were issued and we could go pick up the written cards.  Yippee!!

Building a house has many challenges, all the people at City Hall are very helpful, kind and informative if they choose, but few really have the authority to make a decision on their own, and this can add months to the process of building.  I am so glad it is over, Thank you for allowing me to vent!

We do love our new house. (and our stair railing is beautiful)

Wheat free update

It has been 10 days of wheat free, can't say I am feeling better or even different yet.

  • I gained back the 2 lbs I lost (story of my life lately, I gain and lose 2 lbs every other week).  I still feel bloated most afternoons, so it must be more than wheat that bothers me. 
  •  I am thinking mandarin oranges, or maybe just fruit in general, or maybe my afternoon snack of nuts??  
  • A friend also warned me that rice flour causes bloating, and almost all bread, muffins and pasta sold at choices is made from rice flour......that is where I first stocked up on wheat free products, so I will avoid those this week as well.
  • my shoulder aches and pains have not changed

On the positive side, My appetite is less, I don't snack as why did I gain weight? well I never used to eat handfuls of nuts in unlimited quantities, or carbs like rice and potatoes at every dinner, it is bad to tell me that I can have unlimited quantities of anything I guess!  (Oh yeah, I did find really good cookies too)

I am not giving up, I said I would try 30 days so I will, but I am going to write down everything I eat this week and see when the bloating shows up, and maybe watch my portions sizes as it would be nice to loose weight while I am doing this.

There is a good web site called  it is free.  Enter the food you ate, (or are thinking of eating) it has most brands, and gives you calories, protein, sugars, carbs etc.  Also recommends the correct daily amounts for you.  

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Life without wheat

So it's been a whole week since I decided to try this wheat free diet, and just to be clear, it is not a "counting calories/lose weight" kind of diet, more of a "change your eating habits" type of diet.  (Although I have lost 2 lbs and I am eating everything I want to)  This is not like the Aitkens diet where you have to give up all carbs, I can still have rice, potatoes or bread made from wheat free products.

I have found some really yucky bread and muffins, crackers that taste like old cigars, and ones that have way too much salt, but also on the positive side I don't really miss bread????
Months ago when I talked myself out of trying this wheat free idea, I was sure I would miss my whole wheat english muffin and peanut butter each morning, and for sure there was no way I could live without my daily bowl of high fibre cereal and berries.....but I was wrong.  (notice how small the print is here, I pretty much like to be right all the time)

Now the book "Wheat Belly" that I am reading, wants you to give up anything with wheat in it, even traces of wheat, so read labels and go cold turkey, no gradual reduction in wheat products.  The author warns there may be withdrawal symptoms after 3 -5 days, I haven't really noticed that, but I am having a constipation (shh) problem that is really getting on my nerves and causing tummy aches.  I am trying to eat more fruit and prunes now.

The really good news, ......Red wine and Chocolate are still good for you!! limited quantities of course and the author prefers 70-80% pure dark chocolate...(funny I don't so there may be some compromise here.)

The big thing that bugs me about books like this is that they want you to go to such extremes!

The author recommends avoiding not only wheat, but:

  • gluten free foods, sugary snacks, candy, ice cream, fruit rollups, honey, high fructose anything, dried fruit, 
  • limit your quantities of dairy, all fruit, corn, fruit juice, rice, oats beans, potatoes, soy products.  (note that was just a summary)  

Unlimited food you can eat:

  •  meat, eggs, cheese, good oils ( Olive, avocado coconut, walnut, sesame, flax seed), non sugary condiments, (mayo, mustard, salsa, tapenades etc), Raw nuts and seeds (as many as you like) and lots of vegetables......

Yesterday my Mom gave me a loaf of bread, and some buns made at a bakery in Ladner, they use spelt flour, the loaves are really small and you keep them in the freezer as their shelf life is short (probably because there is no preservatives).....but I had peanut butter toast this morning and it was Yummy!  So there is hope for bread and maybe a good sandwich again.  I have also found some really tasty extreme chocolate cookies!

I am hoping next week my tummy will be feeling even better and I will see more positives to this experiment.  I'll keep ya posted

Thursday, 17 November 2011

There can't be Wheat in Everything!

So today I am feeling kind round, I had 2 birthday lunches and 2 birthday dinners, in the last week and then there is all that Halloween candy that I am trying to get rid of........I know I don't have to eat it but I bought the ones I like.  (thankfully my daughter took the whole bag with her after her last visit)

I did go to the gym today, and while I was running up and down stairs my trainer was reading a newspaper article to me, about a wheat free diet.  She does this to distract me from the task at hand.  I did come home and look up that article, it did sound interesting.  My trainer also believes that we can all live without wheat, she has been wheat free for years. (I do listen to her but it sounded too extreme for me)

Here's the link to the article in the vancouver sun, about a new book called  WHEAT BELLY: Lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health (by William Davis, MD)
New book on wheat goes against the grain

Read more:

There are several reasons for me to try this 30 day wheat free diet but it seems so difficult to give up my high fiber cereal every morning, or the toast and peanut butter, a really good sandwich.....but I have been hearing hints for years that changing your diet can help.

  • I have a nagging shoulder injury that I cannot seem to rehab properly, that happened Sept 2008.  One yoga teacher said that she suffered from a similar rotator cuff injury and it took a change in her diet to correct it.  (I wrote that off...too extreme for me, I am the everything in moderation girl)
  • I have had months on prescription antacids, I was told the digestion problems are related to menopause.  I am not on them any more, but have rotating bouts of constipation, bloating and gas.
  • Menopause causes round belly, which is a fight all on it's own
  • I could stand to lose 5-8 lbs
I also read a book this summer called "Gluten free girl" about a girl who learned she had celiac disease, it was interesting, but again I thought that was too extreme for me.

So I am starting by putting this in writing, I am going to try a wheat free diet for 30 days!  
Beyond the obvious, No Bread or High Fiber cereal (that I love), No chocolate bars, pure chocolate has no wheat, so I will have to read labels.
Darn I just had a bowl of Tomato soup, the label says it has wheat flour .......this is gonna be a challenge!

I will be following the blog on, let me know if you have any other advice.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Another year older

Yes, I am another year older today, 49 (the 4th), I could go on about how aging sucks, but I think I'll stick to the positives today!   I don't feel older, and there is nothing I cannot do!
  • My new favorite saying is "Smile, wrinkles are just part of the whole sexy package"
  • Yes, Leopard spot is still one of my favorite colors, favorite neutral actually, some people prefer beige, I prefer leopard!  I have been told that wearing animal print can really age a person but that leads to the other thing I believe,
  • Everything in wine, chocolate, exercise, leopard print.....

Too bad Cher had to have all that plastic surgery, I am sure she would have aged very gracefully without it

Thanks to all my friends, for being my friends, and for all the Happy Birthday wishes, have a great day everyone!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

What is your earliest childhood memory?

My memory was sparked last night when I read a friends post on Facebook, she was asking about a Thomas the tank engine train table and why does it have to cost so much.   One comment posted said "You have to get it! I never had one and resent my parents to this day"   

I have to wonder how old the author of that comment was when he didn't get that gift.  I also remember  the disappointment of not being allowed to have gogo boots, although that wasn't Christmas.

Try and think back to the first good memory you have from your childhood and how old were you?  I find it sad that the disappointments stick out more than the good things.  
  • I do remember having a cat that had kittens, I was 5
  • having pet turtles that we took out to the back yard for a walk and forgot about them, I was 3 or 4?
  • my first friend was my neighbor Cindy, I was 3 or 4
  • my first trip to Disneyland, we drove for days and stayed in Motel 6's, I was 10ish?
  • Memorable christmas gifts from my childhood.........I remember Barbies, barbie fashion show stage, and a doll house my grandpa made......again I would have been 9 or 10 what happened before that?
What is the earliest Christmas gift you remember?

I am just asking this because I do remember very well the year my son asked Santa for a "Cool Tools Tow Truck"  I think he was 3 or 4, he didn't like the experience of sitting on Santa's knee, so I put it off til a couple weeks before Christmas.  (lesson #1)
I knew what my son and daughter wanted for Christmas, and I had all my shopping done, or so I thought!
I did not know my son would ask Santa for a "Cool Tools Tow Truck", oh well I will just go get one.  
Of course you know where this is going, there were no "Cool Tools Tow Trucks" to be found anywhere in the lower mainland.  We tried everywhere, it was such a stressful time, worrying that my son had to believe that Santa would bring that one thing he asked for.  Luckily a friend did finally find the "Cool Tools Tow Truck"in the small town of Walla Walla Washington, we paid to have it shipped here in time for Christmas.  Big Sigh of relief!  

I think my son played with it for 2 minutes.  I wonder if he even remembers getting it?    

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Christmas 2011--Birth of a New Tradition

I received this email today, I am not sure who wrote it, so I did a google search to find the author.....Wow this message is posted everywhere, on blogs, facebook etc.  I didn't find the author.
So you may have already read it, but just in case you missed it here it is again.

Christmas 2011 -- Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Canadians
with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of Canadian labor. 
This year will be different. 
This year Canadians will give the gift of genuine concern for other Canadians. 
There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Canadian hands. Yes there is! 
It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
  • Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. 
  • How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?
  • Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
  • Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Canadian owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
  • Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamines on a Chinese made flat-screen? 
  • Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
  • There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Canadians with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
  • How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the working guy?
  • Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
  • My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
  • OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
  • Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
  • Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
  • Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining Canadian pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Canadians, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new Canadian Christmas tradition.
Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?

I like most of these ideas, it reminds me of my youth when I used to make gifts for my family, or give my parents a coupon to clean their car.  I have been trying to avoid giving gift cards at christmas as they often do not get used, and the big companies are just keeping our money.  But I would be OK with giving or getting a gift certificate to a local restaurant, or my hairdresser cause I really will use that, and if for some reason I don't, they can use the money.  I would feel so much better about that, than I do owning the 5 unused gift certificates from Cineplex Odeon that expired Oct 31.  (p.s.note to self: don't buy gift cards with expiry dates)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Are you paying too much for Shaw Cable?

Has any one noticed the changes dealing with Shaw lately?  I have always told everyone how impressed I was with their service, you could always call them with a problem and they had a solution.

Now it takes 4 hours to get thru to ask a question, they will do a call back but, where will you be in 4 hours?  While you are on hold you will hear a recorded message offering great career opportunities at Shaw.  So we get it, they are understaffed!
It took a month for me to get thru to a person who could fix the settings on my email.....mostly cause I could never wait the 4 hours or I missed the call back, and then I left it for a few days, anyway when you do get thru they have an answer.

  • Last week we wanted to watch a canucks hockey game, 
  • Last year we got the games on HD  (love HD the picture is so much clearer, nicer to watch)
  • This year the games are on Sportsnet pacific, channel # 23 we get this channel but the HD version #218, we do not get!
  • At some point this year, Shaw changed the whole channel line up, we lost all those time shift channels # 70's thru 80's and a bunch of other stuff.  Apparently that was around March 2011 when they switched to this new Shaw Plan Personalizer.
  • Am I the only one who didn't know it would be cheaper to change to this personalizer??
I played with the online Shaw Plan Personalizer on the weekend, trying to figure out how much more it would cost me to get Sportsnet Pacific, it was very confusing, .... all the channels come in packages that are cheaper than buying just one looked like it was going to cost me a lot more money and my shaw bill is already $180+ per month ( I have phone and internet in there as well).

Anyway I picked some stuff and hit the button to "Order Now"  This gives you a message that a customer service agent will call you the next business day.  It took 3 days, but at least I did not have to wait on hold.

The agent spent a long time trying to explain all these channel combos to me, It just did not make sense....basically she could change my plan to include #218 sportsnet pacific along with about 70 other channels for $5.00 more than I was paying now????    Well I don't really need all those channels there is nothing usually on them anyway, I rather pay less and have just what I have now plus the sports net pacific......guess what, it would be more expensive to do it that way???

So I stopped trying to understand and now have the 70 extra channels, it quite nice so far, cause you no longer get that blank screen when you select a channel that you don't subscribe to.

But now I wonder

  • how much I really should have been paying for the lesser channels I had since March 2011?  
OMG I get it now, they had to make it more expensive to keep it as is, and add one channel, that way I can't complain about being charged too much since the change in March!

  • But why did they take all those channels away in the first place? Why not just send me a letter saying "for $5 extra you can have this channel line up" ?????
If I am not making sense to you, don't worry......just call Shaw or email make sure you are getting your money's worth.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Facebook Follies

Did you see the CBC documentary called "Facebook Follies" ?

Here I was thinking that I have all my privacy settings to "Friends only" so I am safe!  Well apparently not!  This program showed several experts including the security firm that monitors Facebook, (yes they can see everyone's content), as well as stories about the good and bad things that happen when you post on facebook.

I learned:

  • photos and comments remain on the web forever, and if your friends chose to copy and paste them elsewhere, that may surprise you when they turn up 10 years from now.   I do feel sorry for the young man who tried to run for provincial politics, only to have to withdraw because of old high school photos that resurfaced.  It didn't matter that he now had a university degree and was a good citizen, all that made the news was the old photos.   
  • I am thankful there were no cameras around when I did stupid stuff in high school, (I mean I might have done something stupid once.....), luckily I can just leave that in my past, unless one of my friends wants to joke about it.  Today's teenagers are never going to be allowed to forget, there are cameras everywhere, and once that photo makes the internet, it is there for your future to see!  Back in the day (never thought I'd be old enough to say that phrase)  when we went clubbing, cameras were not allowed in a bar or night club, now they all have websites that post photos & videos of their customers partying!
  • How many friends do you have in real life that you can truly trust? How does that number compare to your number of friends on facebook?
  • Say you can safely trust all your friends on facebook, well what about the people they share their facebook page with? You cannot possibly know all the people who could see your facebook page, never mind trusting them!
  • So don't post things like photos while you are on vacation, or even comment about being on vacation or looking forward to vacation, etc.  Wait til you get home.  You may not have your address on facebook but it is easy to find in a phone book or google search.  Thieves know what to look for and will take advantage of this easy opportunity!
  • I loved the good story, of Kelly Hildebrant meeting and later marrying her husband, Kelly Hildebrant, just by searching her name one night, and contacting this cute guy with the same name as her.  Also loved Conan O'Brien's comment "record number of guys change their name to Megan Fox"

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Occupy Vancouver has lost my respect.

  • I am disappointed in the 99% protesters camped out in downtown Vancouver. 
  • It started out as a good intentioned weekend (although I don't think people in Vancouver are that bad off) I will listen to other opinions, but once you make your point, you should stop now
  • Blocking intersections in a busy city makes you the 1% distrupting the 99%
To the protesters: I ask
  • What is your goal?  I keep hearing on the news that you are going to stay as long as it takes to reach your goal. 
  • Please put your goal in writing so we will all know when you reach it.  (Stop the BullShit is not a clear goal)
  • Have you heard of Craig Kielburger?  He is living proof change can be made without protest.
  • Do you know that you had the support of the community, but you are losing it quickly!
  • Do you have jobs? 
  • Are you students?
  • Were you homeless before this protest?
  • Wouldn't working or going to school get you closer to your goal?
  • Think of the money the City could be spending to help you reach your goal if they weren't wasting it on policing costs to guard your tent city!

I saw one sign that said "Put the politicians on minimum wage and watch how fast things change"That would be an interesting challenge, why not work toward something like that? I am just not clear on how  camping in a tent or disrupting traffic is going to accomplish anything?  
Please help me understand.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tolls and Translink Vancouver

The other day we were talking about how much tolls are going to be on the new Port Mann bridge.

I have heard anything form $3.00 to $5.30 per trip, the cheaper rate is with a transponder.

In August we took our first trip over the Golden Ears bridge to Maple Ridge, we had no idea how much that would cost, there are no signs showing the cost.  The next month the bill came in the mail for $8.20.  That is a roundtrip without a transponder. (I won't go into the additional cost of mailing this bill)

So a good friend of mine says we should all just get a transponder no matter how often you take a bridge.

Which brought up another topic......They are building a huge new IKEA store in Richmond, which to me is great because I was thinking when they toll that new Port Mann bridge from Surrey to Coquitlam, I won't want to go to that IKEA store that I love!  But I will drive to Richmond cause there is no toll to go through the tunnel.  I betcha those wise IKEA folks knew I wouldn't be the only one on this side of the river, thinking like this, so they decided to expand the old IKEA store in Richmond, good thinking I say!

Dear Translink, you need to think more like IKEA.

  • Why doesn't every one have a manditory transponder? Instead of more new gas taxes, put a toll on all bridges and tunnels.  
  • Start with the 25 cents they were going to use as a new gas tax.  
  • So every bridge and tunnel you go through everyday will be the same price, new or old.  That way we are not all avoiding the expensive new bridges, and cramming up the old ones that are free.
  • Then the real users of the bridges and tunnels are the ones who pay for them, not just  people who buy gas.
  • I do not travel daily over bridges, so this seems like such a fair way of doing things.
  • the only con I see is the initial cost of putting up those toll cameras, and who should pay for the transponders (I think that ICBC should issue them with your insurance and all those reserves they have should pay for them nicely)

What do you think?

Did you know you can share your opinions with Translink

And on another note, all you folks who complain about ICBC, you can share your opinons with them as well.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

It's called an accident for a reason, it's not an "On Purpose"

Hopefully you have never had the misfortune to have been in a car accident, but suppose you were, or your teenage child was?  What's the first thing you would do?

I know that both my kids took driving lessons, and were taught what to do if an accident occurred, but were they listening?

I just assumed that they were, until the day my daughter called and said she had been in an accident.

She was rear ended by another vehicle.  It was a dark and rainy night, she and the other driver pulled over, but instead of exchanging information, the other driver said, "you OK? there isn't any damage" and got in his car and left.

You would be surprised how much of a shock it is to your body/brain, just being in an accident, even if you do not feel injured.  I was an insurance adjuster for many years, specializing in injury claims from car accidents.  I don't know why I did not discuss "what to do if you have an accident" with my kids, I just assumed the knew or they would call me.....(too much assumption on my part )

So here's my advice:
Print this list and put it in your glove box

  • call 911 if there are injuries
  • take photos, use your cellphone or a passenger can do this for you.
  • take a photo of the other car, get the license plate in the shot.
  • take a photo of the intersection, street signs, and actual resting place of the cars if they have not been moved
  • look for witnesses, even take photos of car's license plates that were behind you, they might leave before you can ask for a phone number, ICBC can track a license plate to get witness info later if needed.  (best to get witness names and phone numbers if you can)
  • Call your parents, family member if you need help (no one will be mad at you) 
  • Now get out a pen and paper and write down the license plate number, look at the other person's driver's license, is it the right person? write down the D.L. number, and the registration number from the insurance papers that go with the car, as well as driver's phone numbers & passenger names.
  • if you don't have a pen take pictures of those items (make sure it is clear though, could be hard in the dark, you could also do a voice recording on your phone of the numbers ) 
  • There is no need to get into a discussion about who is at fault, or how much the repairs will cost etc, You have Insurance for that, let the experts handle it!
  • If the other person knows it is their fault and they want to pay for your repairs privately, you can tell them you will discuss this tomorrow to avoid conflict.  But the next day you should tell them the answer is NO, if the other driver is at fault he can repay ICBC for the damages and his insurance will not be affected.  All drivers have this choice.  Using a stranger's bodyshop to repair your car is just asking for trouble.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Harper government proposes tougher language rules for immigrants

Harper government proposes tougher language rules for immigrants

Harper supports tougher language rules for immigrants

Reading the province newspaper this morning, "Harper supports tougher language rules for immigrants". The changes proposed are not drastic, immigrants would have to prove they can speak English or French when submitting their application for citizenship. The article then goes on to say why immigration lawyers think this is too tough, and we should leave well enough alone. There must be a potential for a loss of money for these lawyers???

I believe all Canadians should speak English or French and then any other language they choose as well. See my post from July 3/09. I firmly believe that people who want to live in Canada should speak one of our official languages and we should not have to pay for them to learn that language. We would save millions in ESL education costs, as well as being able to understand what our neighbors are saying. I am sure the lawyers can find another way to make money.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Never too old to learn a new trick!

For the past 2 days I have been helping my in-laws learn to use a computer, they are in their 80's and have no computer experience but they really like this new iPad and want to give it a try.  Good for them!

As for me, I have learned that

  • the iPad 2 is way better than my last year's iPad, wish I had waited, but it still doesn't have Flash player, so maybe I'll wait for that.  
  • to set up a new iPad you need a computer, (which the in-laws don't have) 
  • When you plug in the new iPad to your computer you should sign out of your itunes account first, cause the ipad just syncs with the account already on itunes, and changing that took me hours! (because I didn't sign out, and the screen that asks you if you want to create a new account did not appear???, it did the second time I tried.... an hour later)
  • When teaching older people something new they should be wearing their glasses, and hearing aids (if applicable)
  • I am a patient person, and I feel good about that!

In the news today is a story of a 100yr. old man who is going to run the Toronto marathon, he just started running when he was in his 80's.

This is all good news to me, as I am not anywhere near 80, so of course I can write a blog, and get in better shape, and fix that nagging shoulder injury,  just do it, move more, eat less, all those easy things to say.....time to get busy!
Have a great Day!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Planning your next vacation?

When the weather starts to change, the travel deals start showing up in the newspaper and I want to go somewhere...It's hard to ignore the ads for $495 for a week in the sunshine!

Every year, (well about 3 or 4 times a year now) I sit down at my computer and try to find a great sunny vacation.  Now that my kids are away at university I can take advantage of those deals, but most often I find they are not for me.

  •  I don't like the food at 3 star resorts in Mexico, and if I am going to Hawaii I want to stay on the beach not a few blocks away. 
  •  Often those great deals are in the off season, like pacific coast Mexico is August - very hot and humid, Atlantic Coast -in hurricane season from June to November.  
  • We did try the Riveria Maya one year in October, it was so humid we did not feel like doing anything and the mosquitos ate us alive!  Great deal though,  a fabulous adult only resort called the Valentin Imperial Maya (would pay a bit more to go back at a better time of year)

So I start by deciding what is important to us for this trip, sometimes it is just because of a great deal, (I would still pay more than the $495 for a 5 star resort, they would be on sale too) but it could be to see a new city/country, (then the priority is location and timing, when's the best weather?)

I have found:

  1.  the best site to research prices in Canada is  this site has almost all tour operators and usually beats the price of booking with the actual supplier
  2. you need to spend some time reading reviews on Trip Advisor, what do others think of the food, beach, accommodations, service, good for kids or adults? whatever is important to you......but read at least 10 and take an average cause some people are just whiners!
  3. If you are travelling without kids, Adults only resorts are heaven!  It may cost a few hundred $ more but averaged out it will be sooo worth it.  The food, service & Alcohol are all a better class, and no one else's little brat is screaming beside you at your table or by the pool,  Heaven!
  4. Booking a condo thru is easy and saves a lot of money.  Tripadvisor, owner direct, flipkey and many more sites also do this but I have only used vrbo, so far.
  5. If you have a credit card that collects travel points, spend them at peak periods like christmas, spring break, if you aren't using a credit card like this, you are missing out on free airfare every year.  I don't recommend you use points for the land, the amount of points needed is too high.
  6. Check they have a travel planner that tells you the average weather you can expect for the dates you are thinking of.  Also try the city or country's tourism website for their description of the annual weather.  
  7. I often use a travel agent to book trips for me after I have done all the research, because Travel Agents have insurance to protect you if a tour operator goes bust.  Your credit card may offer this protection as well.  
  8. Travel agents can do all of the above for you, but even with their recommendations I still feel the need to research places myself before I decide.

I have a few reviews on (username : carcar47), I am not a travel agent but I love doing this kind of research, so if you have any questions or other good stuff you have found, let's share.

Monday, 10 October 2011

July 3/09 published letter to editor


Immigrant's responsibility to learn the language

Vancouver Sun
Fri Jul 3 2009
Page: A6
Section: Editorial
Byline: Carolyn Keay
Source: Vancouver Sun 

I don't agree with Manori Ravindran's letter of June 30. Why should it be the financial responsibility of Canadians to educate people who choose to immigrate here?
Unless you are a refugee, you probably planned to move to Canada. If you want to work and be part of society, you need to learn the language, so why not learn it before you get here?
I also disagree with the Canadian government paying for ESL students. Why should we hire extra teachers to teach English to young children whose parents haven't bothered to learn English?
If I (a third-generation Canadian) want to learn to speak another language, I have to invest my time and money to learn it. I'm not asking Mexico to pay for my Spanish lessons.
Carolyn Keay

Edition: Final
Story Type: Letter
Length: 129 words
Idnumber: 200907030030 

Nov 15/10 letter to Editor published in Vancouver Sun


Variables mean not everyone can have a couple of drinks with dinner and safely drive

Vancouver Sun
Mon Nov 15 2010
Page: A10
Section: Letters
Byline: Carolyn Keay
Source: Vancouver Sun 

I don't think you need to change the new drinking driving laws; it is probably good the public is scared to drink and drive because of these penalties. What needs to be done is to make it easier to go out to dinner or to a local pub without driving. We have tried to take a cab, but there are not enough of them available at night. I am not interested in taking a bus at night (in south Surrey, where we live, there are no buses anyway). When we go out, we prefer local restaurants, a 10 or 15 minute drive. Taking a cab involves a 40-minute wait to get picked up and a constant busy signal trying to call a cab to get home. There is no standing on the street to flag a cab like in downtown Vancouver. So either give us more cabs or allow restaurants and pubs to run their own shuttle services, then we can all abide by the law, and reduce fatalities caused by drinking and driving.
Carolyn Keay

Edition: Final
Story Type: Letter
Length: 175 words
Idnumber: 201011150016 

It"s Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for?

Canadian Thanksgiving, Oct 10/2011, my first blog post ever, .........

Things that I am Thankful for 

- my family, even though they often make me crazy, life would be boring without them 
- that handsome and talented man that I love
- 2 great kids, a constant source of joy and pride and alot of other emotions
- 2 turkey dinners in one weekend
- chocolate
- red wine
-my personal trainer, I will visit tomorrow