Caught Napping!

“To sleep, perchance to dream…” Hamlet

Our society today applauds those who sacrifice sleep for work, somehow making them look more heroic. People go as far as to boast about how little sleep they get.

I have had more than a few people criticize me for my thoughts on sleep. And up until recently, I have tried to hide the fact that I allow myself sleep when I feel I need it and especially the fact that I like to take a nap everyday. There I said it! This revelation now leaves me wide open to condemnation. More than once I have been accused of having a lack of work ethic, loafing around, or being downright lazy.

Throw tomatoes if you must but there is a growing amount of scientific evidence to support my habit.

According to the University of Cambridge, new research has found that when physical and mental performance are in direct competition, more energy is diverted to the brain than to body muscle. The conclusion is that it takes more energy to perform cognitive tasks than to exert physical force.

Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post is a self proclaimed sleep evangelist. In her article, Sleep Your Way to the Top, she says, “There’s practically no element of our lives that’s not improved by getting adequate sleep”.  In 2010, she gave a TED talk on the value of sleep. She believes the key to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep.

Investor, philanthropist and Mensa Member, Tai Lopez, is also a proponent of sleep. According to him, an 18 minute nap will give you an extra 2 hours of energy. Lopez, a multi-million dollar business owner, naps habitually because he believes it enhances his ability to run his company.

Suzanne Somers, actress and leading health advocate, believes sleep is of vital importance to our well-being. As she wrote in her book, Breakthrough you must sleep a full 8 hours to allow your body the time to heal and restore. Along with Researchers from NASA, Suzanne echos the belief that the perfect nap lasts for 26 minutes. It is said that a mere 26 minutes of shut-eye adds an additional 3 hours worth of energy.

These three are just a sample of people who have incorporated sleep priorities into their lives and had it contribute to their success. They dispel the myth that you must work more, work harder and work longer hours in order to ‘make it’.

Just as napping can increase alertness, sleep deprivation can lead to accidents, poor decision making and just an overall foul mood. So, go ahead, hit that snooze button one more time and don’t feel guilty about catching some zzzzzzzzs at midday.

I, for one, am ecstatic that I  have scientific evidence to back up my view of slumber.  And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nap.


Tips for a Stress Free Christmas

Here we are at the most wonderful time of the year.   According to Andy Williams, anyway.  Yet, every year we seem to get over stressed with the many added activities.

Baking, shopping, card writing, parties… the list goes on.  While I won’t guarantee that you will have a completely stress-free season, I found ways to help reduce stress, which – let’s face it – is the ultimate goal for the final month of the year.

#1  Impulse Buy

Okay, before you shout me down, I only do this for Christmas gifts. Since I have a pretty good idea who is on my list, I  am on the look out for gifts while I do my normal grocery shopping. You would be surprised what you start to notice when you heighten the senses. Then, the minute a thought comes that says, “I think that would be a good gift for…”, I grab it.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something that I thought might suit someone on my list but didn’t buy it. Then, when it came time to shop for gifts, I either couldn’t remember what it was, or if I could remember what it was, I couldn’t remember where I saw it. Or, the worst case scenario? I remembered what it was and where it was but when I went to get it, it was gone. When it comes to gift giving, at any time of the year, if I see it – I buy it (as long as it is relatively within the budget).

#2 Have a Stash

I used to have a bin on a shelf in my basement that, when I bought something ahead of time, I would stash it. That way, when it came time for Christmas shopping, I would check my stash to see if I had already purchased something for that individual earlier in the year.  This works great for birthday gifts as well. Checking my stash has eliminated at least one or possibly several items off the list before I even walk out the door. It has also worked well as a money saver because I purchased things when they are on sale instead of being pressured to pay full price when I needed it.

#3 Wrap Ahead

I have a friend who brilliantly came up with the plan to wrap each gift as she bought it. She would stock up on wrapping paper during the after Christmas sales. Each time she purchased a gift, she would wrap it and add it to her stash. Gone was the last minute rush that entailed barricading oneself in the bedroom with toddlers screaming for attention on the other side of the door. The ultimate hack for this procedure? She attached a tag with the recipient’s name on it and added a sticky note to remind herself what was inside. Great idea for not buying repeat presents if they happened to be purchased throughout the year.

#4  Stock Up

Once the beginning of November rolls around, I begin to add the extras to my grocery cart. For instance, if I see butter on sale, I will pick up a couple of extra pounds knowing I will need them for the added baking. Chocolate chips, cream cheese, the ingredients I don’t often purchase throughout the year. I also stock up on small generic items that can be used as a last minute hostess gift.

#5   Bake once and forget it

If I’m going to make a huge mess anyway (which is inevitable when I bake), I would rather do it just once and clean up only once. I bake out of necessity, not choice. For me, there are no rules. Once I baked 5 recipes at the same time. Two items were the same Magic Cookie Bar recipe but I swapped out a couple of the ingredients to change the taste. Instead of plain chocolate chips, I used mint, butterscotch or peanut butter flavored chips. For the graham crust, I substituted Oreo cookie crumbs. Since I melt the butter in the base of the pan as the oven is heating, I started 2 pans at once. When the day was done, my Christmas baking was finished and all packed away in the freezer.

#6 Have Extra Clothing on Hand

I have 3 teenage boys. One of the best tips I ever implemented was to buy formal clothing ahead and keep it in my closet. This has spared me last minute anguish time after time. One year, I bought 3 tuxedos when they were clearing out Christmas stock. They each wore one 4 months later when their step-brother got married. This year I had a collection of dress shirts in varying colors, an assortment of neckties and 3 pairs of men’s black dress socks. Sure enough, when Graduation season rolled around, I had several panic knocks on my en suite door. “Moooommm, I have no …” I was able to outfit them all without leaving my room.

#7  List of Decorations

Years ago, I began to input my Christmas decorations into a spreadsheet. {Yes, I’m a computer geek.} I had, by then, accumulated a number of big plastic bins that housed my decorations for 11 months of the year. The trouble was, I didn’t know what was in them.

So, one January as I was leisurely packing everything away, I began to list the contents of each bin. I typed it all into my computer and matched the contents to a number that I scrolled on the outside of the bin. Every year after that, I modified the list as I repacked and this has worked now for a decade. {I know, I surprise myself, too!}

# 8 Pass It On

My mom is now close to 90 years old and lives a 2 days drive away. I try to have her Christmas parcel boxed and ready to ship the first week in December. Part of the reason is to help eliminate some of her stress as well. When I pack it, I add extra unwrapped treats to fill the gaps between the wrapped gifts. This can serve several purposes. Sometimes guests will show up unexpectedly so an extra package of Christmas shortbread can be cracked open to accompany a pot of tea. More than once, she has wanted to take a hostess gift when asked to an event without much notice. Since she lives in a rural area, last minute shopping is not always convenient. A small pack of chocolate treats often does the trick.

#10 Schedule Fun Time

Too often I have been so caught up in the preparation of Christmas that I did not even enjoy it.

Now I write it in my calendar. Movie with my boys.

Coffee with a friend. Playing carols at a near-by Retirement Residence. Every time I step away from the preparations and allow myself some ‘me’ time, I actually become more energized. That’s when I can start another task without the daunting feeling of being overwhelmed. After all, what good is a holiday if you don’t enjoy it.

The best way to have a stress free Christmas, though is to remember what the season is all about ~ Jesus. He is truly the reason for the season.

I hope this has inspired you to have a  Merry, Stress – Free Christmas.

To all a good night!

An Affinity for Pie

When I was a kid, my mom made the best pie. She still does.

She was sort of a plain cook (didn’t care for a lot of seasoning) but she could bake bread and she made the best pie EVER.

My mom’s pie recipe came from her mother who was born in Scotland and brought her pie making skills with her to Canada. Although my mom liked to modify recipes to suit her style, she never tampered with grandma’s pie crust recipe. It was the flakiest crust ever. To this day, I have not tasted a rival. And I have tested a lot of them. I guess I am sort of a self appointed pie connoisseur.

For one of my milestone birthdays, my husband began to quiz me on my food preferences so he could come up with a menu for the party.
“What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?”
“I don’t like cake so I don’t really want one.”
“Well, you have to have cake. What is a birthday without cake? You like chocolate. Do you want chocolate cake?”
“I don’t like cake.”
“How will we be able to sing happy birthday if we don’t have any cake?”
“I like dessert, just not cake. I like pastries. Anything with a flakey, buttery pastry.

Like pie. I like pie.”


“You can’t have pie for your birthday.”

He walked away.

Three days later, he asked me, “Did you decide what kind of cake you want for your birthday?”

It was my turn to walk away.

Last year for my birthday, my elderly friend decided to have a few ladies over for morning coffee. There were sandwiches, savouries and of course, cake. They sang; I ate; and my blood sugar levels increased. In the evening, I joined my church group for a potluck meal and because it was my birthday, there was cake. And lots of it. I ate; they sang; and my blood sugar elevated. As I returned home, my cousin and her daughter decided to arrive and surprise me with – you guessed it – cake. They sang; we all ate; and I said nothing other than thank you. By then I was buzzed on sugar and too many cups of coffee I used to wash down the cake.

For this year’s birthday, my best friend took me for pie.

We went to a restaurant that specializes in pies. The glass showcase held so many choices, it was hard to decide. In the end, I settled on an apple pie that was almost as good as my mom’s. It was a glorious day.

As for my next birthday, well, it is too early to start planning yet.

In the meantime…

… I’ll have my pie now.

Big Box Stores vs Mom & Pop Operation

A few months ago, I emerged from an illness imposed hibernation that left me feeling more than a little hemmed in. Driving around to run some errands, I began to wonder what I felt had been missing from my life for the past few weeks. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t gone to the small grocery store in our neighborhood for the entire two weeks I had been sick. There had been a void in my routine that only a trip there could fill. I made a point to bypass the big box store and go the opposite direction to my favorite Mom & Pop grocery.

As I approached, I pondered… What was it that drew me there? What psychological need did it satisfy in me?

Since the opening of the new super colossal megastore on our side of the lake, I really had no excuse not to shop big box. My justification had always been that it was too far to drive into the city and therefore my husband had done a lot of our grocery shopping as he drove right by on his daily commute. The megastore now in the same locale of my other errands, did have everything after all. You could buy an oil filter for your car, get a new cell phone, purchase a pair of summer shoes, a birthday card, and a gallon of milk all in one cart. So, convenience was definitely a plus.

But what about my favorite Mom & Pop operation? There was a different form of convenience there. In fact, when I pulled into the parking lot the last time, there was a parking spot directly against the wall of the store. The walk to the store’s entrance door was shorter than from my parking spot at home into my house. Immediately upon entry, the produce manager caught my eye, smiled and said a hearty hello.

The employees at the mega store had never done anything like that. The best service I ever received out of them was when I tracked them down to help me find a specific item. I can’t remember one of them smiling. In fact they often seemed almost irritated by the interruption. More than once I have gone away disappointed when they didn’t have what I wanted.

Yes, you heard right. They didn’t carry my brand.

Somewhere deep in my psyche was a growing distaste. It wasn’t until I stopped to analyze it that I realized there was something gnawing at me from inside that wasn’t immediately obvious. If the bulk of the population shops at big box because or price and availability, why then is the Mom & Pop still in existence? Perhaps a deeper look will reveal the answer.

Some hidden perks of the Mom & Pop…
1) Short lineups. If there are more than 3 customers in line, another cash register gets opened.
2) My groceries are bagged for me.
3) I don’t have to pay extra for bags.
4) It is closer to my home because a small grocery store can tuck nicely into a mostly residential area quite easily without having to have a lot of extra real estate.
5) I don’t have to walk across a huge parking lot to get to the store (especially in inclement weather). When emerging with my purchases I don’t have to stand in said inclement weather seemingly forever, wondering where my car is located in the sea of grey sedans.
6) I don’t have to have the correct change for the shopping cart – theirs are free!
7) Since the store is much smaller, I can be in and out of there in a matter of minutes.
8) The long-time clerk knows me by name, knows my kids and usually offers to give them a treat (after asking my permission first, of course!)
9) If I shop the flyer specials, buy during the case lot sales and purchase loss leaders, it makes my grocery bill just about as inexpensive as the big box.

There are definitely some, though maybe not so obvious, downfalls of the bigbox store. Despite the huge amount of goods in the store, it lacks variety. Bedazzled by rows & rows of product, it is not immediately obvious that there is just a lot of the same thing in large quantities. This is a strategic move by the big box stores to cut down on the constant stocking of shelves and saves money.

The result of this is… the big box dictates the brands to the customer by availability. Usually, if shoppers can’t find the specific brand they prefer, they will opt for an alternative, most likely the less expensive store brand in lieu of the one they had on their list. Eventually, they will switch to the store brand if it is less expensive even if it means compromising quality.

Mom & pop stores know they must carry the popular brands in order to keep the customer. Brand name companies know, as well, that they are competing against store brands and often run promotions that the small, independent store can take advantage of without having to lose money. Thus, they look good in the eyes of the consumer by offering brand name items at discounted prices.

At Mom & Pop’s it is all about pleasing the customer. At Big box, it is about luring the consumer in by price and offering items other than groceries to keep them coming back. It’s a game all right. No longer is it a case of Big Brother watching. It has come down to Big Brother controlling.

But is everyone buying it?

I, for one, am not.

How to Breed Fruit Flies

Wait, you were expecting me to tell you how to get rid of fruit flies?

Well, you know what they say, write about what you know. As it turns out, I know the secrets to breeding fruit flies in my home and I’m really good at it!

I came across it quite by accident. To begin with, I purchased peaches from a local fruit stand where the fruit flies were soooo thick, they bounced off my face as I walked. But I didn’t worry. Of course, I thought I could get away fly free because I selected fruit that had no visible flies on it. What I didn’t realize until later is that fruit flies lay eggs that will hatch once they get into your home. And that’s exactly what they did. Hatch.

At first there were only 3 or 4. No problem. Nothing a little swat here or there wouldn’t take care of. After a few days, however, there were more so I began to hunt them with wet hands because it is easier to catch them than with dry ones. I had a few triumphant kills so I was pretty confident they were gone.

A couple of days went by but then one morning as I stumbled into the shower, two fruit flies buzzed by my head. Turns out, they like moist places, so showers, sink drains and other wet areas are their delight. Who knew? I felt it was time for more aggressive action. I turned to the world wide web to provide me with answers. Then I read that coffee grounds will keep bugs at bay. That’s great! I dumped all the used grounds into each of my plants and walked away, smugly. Take that, you pesky pests!

Two days later, fruit flies were circling the bottom of my plants.

As I neared the pot for further inspection, dozens more rose from the dirt. Oh oh. Now I was really in trouble. Not only was I not getting rid of them, I was actually providing ideal conditions for breeding them. I had been misinformed. For some reason it seems, fruit flies like coffee grounds almost as much as rotting fruit.

Okay, so what is next on the list? The blow dryer. Pardon me? It is suggested that if you turn the back of the unit toward the colony, the flies will be sucked in the air intake. Sounds cruel. Who cares – they are FRUIT FLIES! So I did just that, sucking up several of the little creatures and enduring the smell as they were incinerated inside. Then, click. It shut itself off. No problem, I let it cool off for a few minutes before returning it to the cupboard. Later that evening, my son was calling me.

“Mom, the blow dryer won’t work.”

“Just hit the reset button, it will be fine,” I yelled back. I heard a series of clicks and then a slam as the blow dryer hit the counter top a little harder than normal. My son scowled at me as he left the house with his wet mop hanging in his eyes.

Stupid fruit flies. Now I have to go buy a new blow dryer!

As I slumped down in the nearest chair, one charged at my face. This was serious. Do I move out and find another place to live? Do I call the pest control company? I decided to try one last home remedy before I resorted to professional help. Another quick query to the inter-web and I settled on ‘the trap’. I put out a container of juice with plastic wrap covering most of the opening except for a small hole. The idea is that the flies will find their way in to consume the juice but when the try to leave, they hit the plastic and become trapped. Eventually they drown in the liquid. The first 2 days – nothing. And then 2 and then 4 and finally 10. Then next morning there were more than 20. I added another location and got more than 40 in a matter of hours.

But it was too little, too late. When company arrived that evening, someone spied a swarm of ff’s on a narrow shelf above the plant. That was it. After humiliating me in front of a crowd, I was done. It was more than I could take. Good bye Mrs. Nice Guy. After weeks of torment, I going out to do what I should have done in the first place.

I’m going out to buy RAID™.


What my Dad taught me about not being Sexist

Growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, I was aware of all the unrest in the world, especially in the arena of feminism. This was a time when women began to protest loudly about lack of equality and lower salaries that were based solely on their gender.

That was the outside world. Inside my home I watched as my mom and dad co-parented without a struggle as to which gender should be considered more prominent. My mom was the one with the regular job and my dad had a seasonal business with downtime in the winter. So, he was the one at home making the meals and driving my brother and I to our activities. During the summer, when my mom was on a break from her teaching job, my dad worked long hours on construction sites. As far as I could see, gender never seemed to affect the decision making process.

Fast forward to my 16th birthday when my parents gave me a car. It was, by then, 14 years old and it was a 4 door, family sedan, but it was what I wanted at the time. My dad had ordered it from the factory and when he got a new car a few years later, he didn’t have the heart to sell it. It sat in the yard for about a year before I asked for it.

Within the year I had moved 1,200 miles away to go to college, leaving the car behind. When he brought the car out to me, he officially transferred the ownership so that it was legally mine. The first order of business was to have an oil change after it had been driven that many miles.

We pulled into a fast lube business with me driving and my dad directing from the passenger seat. One of the two male employees caught my dad’s eye as he got out of the car.

“Would you like us to do an oil change for you today, sir?” he asked, ignoring the fact that I was the one exiting the driver’s seat.

Without a moment’s thought or hesitation, my dad politely replied, “Ask the lady. It is her car.”

Wow! That single statement spoke volumes to me that continue to resonate even decades later. Here was a man who had ordered and spec’d out this very car from the factory. He  paid for it completely with no help from me. By the way, the purchase price would be equivalent to $38,000 in today’s currency. At that time, he had already owned it for 14 years. It would have been so easy for him to simply say something like, “go ahead with an oil change” and no one would have thought anything of it, including me.

Both men shifted their gaze toward me. I’m sure I looked as shocked as they were, standing there, not more than 18 years old but probably looking more like 15. I managed to mutter an affirmation that we indeed came for the oil change. Then, without another word, my dad and I made our way to the waiting room to drink coffee with tasteless powdered substances added to it. Less than an hour later, we were once again driving down the road, me behind the wheel of my new old car with a renewed sense of confidence in who I was as a woman.

Later in his life, my dad began to shift responsibility of his  affairs preparing for the one day that he would no longer be here. The person he picked to handle them was me. Not because I was his favorite (as my brother so often cites). And of course, the fact that I was female was never a consideration so I was not passed over because of my gender. No, the one and only reason my dad picked me over my brother was because I was his first born. Plain and simple.

To this day, I still conduct family affairs on his behalf, having taken on some of his patriarchal duties with no resistance to the fact that I am female. Although I universally acknowledge the physiological and psychological differences between the sexes, I do not take kindly to being discriminated against because of them. Read my earlier post on genders.

Through one incident, my tall, strong, masculine dad taught me that I was valued as an individual regardless of my gender. Thank you, Dad.

Captain Garbage

I first saw him while I weaved my car through the thick morning traffic. He was at the crowded bus stop but he was the only one who caught my eye. When I drove the same route 40 minutes later, he was still there. He was wearing a bright yellow Wolverine costume with a blue bow tie and a heavy winter fur hat much too warm for the 21°C (70°F) fall day. Obviously he was not waiting to catch a bus.

They call him “Captain Garbage” but his real name is Verne. He’s been homeless for 4 years but today he is really exceptionally happy! He gets to go look at a place to rent.

He is on government disability and the government wants him to get off the streets. A logging accident left him unable to work and now he suffers from arthritis of the spine.

His only possessions are a guitar, a bike, and the few things he salvaged from the garbage dump. He pushes them around in a ‘borrowed’ shopping cart.

By the time I circled back to talk to him, he had moved to the parking lot of the local grocery store. The fur hat was now missing. Perhaps it was somewhere in the accumulation of goods or maybe he had taken it off and left it at the bus stop. He wasn’t sure.

Soon, the parking lot security man showed up to shuffle Verne on his way. Off he goes to start a new chapter in his life. One that he can add to his already interesting story.


What I wish we were taught in kindergarten

When I penned Words of Wisdom for my Sons, I wrote a section about opinions. The book was written for my children who were ages 12, 10 and 8 at the time. The point I wanted them to get was that a person’s opinion is just that, an opinion.

An opinion is defined as a judgement formed by the mind of an individual. Does that mean it is correct? Does that mean the person is absolutely right?


Touting your opinion for all to hear will serve to do one thing only. You will simply cause others to judge you based on your opinion. When it comes down to the crunch (such as at a time of election) most people already have their own opinion. And they will usually default back to it no matter what you say. Trying to influence others by boldly stating your opinion will only reap derision.

And on the subject of opinions, here is one of mine that I would like to share with you. It is my strong opinion that gender stereotypes need to be dissolved. I did say stereotypes, the notion that a person act only in one particular manner based simply on their sex. Don’t get me wrong, I did not say we are not different.

I saw this quote attributed to William Golding, Nobel Prize winner and author of Lord of the Flies. I thought at first his words were refreshing – a quick feel-good comment from a famous man about women. But, I don’t agree with it any more than I agree that men are superior.

Superior WomenSo, may I address Gender stereotypes once and for all?

Men, women are not your inferiors. Not to be oppressed, repressed, suppressed or put down in anyway.

Women we are not their equals. In some ways we may be inferior, in some ways, superior. The bottom line is we are different and we need each other. We are not opponents, we are allies. What you lack, I will supply. What I lack, I need you to supply. Let us begin to celebrate the differences instead of trying to mold others into a shape that they will never fit. I am not for gender equality any more than I am for gender inequality.

We are 2 halves of a whole and when we come together in unity, we make a great team.


Why I don’t want to live in the city.

There are several reasons. Noise. Traffic. Sirens. Restrictions. Fluoride in the water. Pollution in the air. Did I mention traffic? Control. Cities are all about control. You can’t do this and you can’t do that. I currently live in a townhouse complex where the rules are extreme. But I bite my lip when I read the notices that come to my door disguised as ‘friendly reminders’. This is when I strengthen my resolve to get out as quickly as possible.

Right now, I have made the choice to remain living in the city because this is where my sons want to be. They want to finish their education in the school of their choice and I respect that. For this reason, I have put my life on hold until they are done. But the 145 acres of land I have on the prairie looks more promising every day.

I will escape one day. Watching something like this video gives me hope: 90 year old cyclist isn’t willing to slow down anytime soon (It is only 47 seconds long)

I also like what Joel Salatin has to say in this video …

And when I do finally leave here, I know I will never come back.

T. Harv Eker’s 80/20 Principle

by T. Harv Eker

When it comes to getting rich, most people pour their time, energy, and money into the wrong areas.

Instead of focusing on the actions that are most likely to help them become wealthy, they end up wasting their time and energy – and if you haven’t been as successful as you want in life yet, you’ve done this too.

Maybe you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before – it’s the principle that states that 80% of your success is determined by only 20% of your actions. If you think about most areas of your life, this is probably true – some things are just more impactful than others.

There are three parts to business:

What you will discover in the video below may sound counterintuitive. It’s not common knowledge or common sense — but it does work in the real world. I’ve seen it time and time again with my students.

Most people don’t focus on this area of business. That’s why most people are working too hard AND earning too little. You may be one of them.

… You can actually work less but earn more!

And if you liked this video, join T. Harv Eker for free training, The 500 Million Dollar Secret, and you’ll learn how to approach this one area of business in a whole new way… and reach the success you’ve always dreamed of.