Archive for the ‘Works for ME’ Category

Have you ever thought of pottery class?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

A friend of mine has enrolled her kids, 2 boys and a girl aged 7-11, in pottery classes the last couple years. I thought it was a neat idea but let it float by me. Then, one evening I picked up the local arts information booklet and noticed that there is a pottery school in my part of the city and that it offers parent and child pottery classes. Reid’s school focuses on physical activities but her teacher admits to beng less adept at arts and crafts. Since I’m partial to crafty things, I decided to sign Reid and me up for the pottery class. With only one class under my belt – Ken went to the first one with Reid – I have to say that I wholeheartedly recommend that you search for a pottery class in your neighbourhood.

There are practical lessons to be learned, even if you don’t take up pottery. For example,

Reid at pottery classWhen you want to control the thickness of your dough, use slats of wood on either side of the part you’re rolling.

 Reid at pottery classThose odd plastic doilies that your kooky aunt gave you are great for putting patterns in your dough.

Reid at pottery schoolThose slats I mentioned above are also useful as straight-edges.

Reid at pottery classAlways write your name on your work. If you’re Reid, you will develop a special way of writing your initials – say backwards and forwards – so that your work will be especially special.

It’s good to stretch your horizons. Next, I’m going to check into spinning and weaving or maybe a traditional “fine art” class or who knows what.

View more Works for me Wednesday posts at Rocks in My Dryer or look at my previous Works for me Wednesday entries.

Summer camps – yes, already

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

The deadline for deciding which weeks Reid would be at the day camp that her school runs is tomorrow. Taking a leaf out of Melissa’s book, I printed the calendars for June through September and then cut and glued them so that the weeks ran in single lines, regardless of months changing.

Next, I noted the last and first days of school and decided that it would be best for Reid to attend the last week of school to be sure to be comfortable when class started. After that, I was left staring at the remaining 9 weeks. Then, I hit a small but important barrier. Ontario has Junior Kindergarten for 4 year olds, which means that Reid is without her usual care arrangements but isn’t eligible to attend the vast majority of summer camp, or day camp, programs. Most offer full day programs for children who are 6 or older. Half-day programs are so short as to be completely impractical for our family with two of us working full time. I think that she would enjoy a camp at the Canada Children’s Museum, National Gallery of Canada, or the Canada Science and Technology Museum. They are among those who don’t want little kids, though. I invited, okay begged, my niece to bring her family to Ottawa for one week so that Reid and Dylan can attend the half-day camp at the Canada Agriculture Museum.

I’ll take some time off to hang with Reid but since it looks like Ken will be on French training we won’t be taking a family trip. I sweet-talked Grandma Joyce into agreeing to watch over – or coordinate the watching over – of Reid for a week. I may have assigned a week and then asked about her availability but since the result is the same, why quibble.

Cosmic Adventures and Starr Gymnastics take 5 year-olds for full-day camps. Since Reid will hit that milestone on July 25th, I’ve penciled in a week at each of these for August. For the rest of the summer, Reid will spend time at her school’s day camp. She’ll enjoy spending time with the mixed age group, I think. She’ll be among the oldest and there will be times when she is playing with the toddlers and preschoolers. Reid likes to help out and she’ll have some opportunities to do so even while many of the activities, like swimming and soccer, are offered to each age group separately.

According to the Ottawa Camps website, the Ottawa Citizen will be running a summer camp guide on February 21st. I’ll check it out and still be able to juggle some weeks around if the most fabulous camp ever is featured and accepts girls who are 4.5 or 5. I scrolled through last year’s guide and I’m not optimistic but it’ll be worth a few minutes of scanning.

Andrea at the Fishbowl is tackling Summer day camps for Ottawa kids as well and knowing the type of folks who comment, that’ll be a resource to track as well.

Tips to make soap last longer

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I heard a reporter on the radio giving tips to save money and she explained that soap that has is exposed to the air before it is used lasts longer. Wow, did that ever make me think of Grandma D. The reporter had a twist on the idea, though. She recommended placing the opened bars of soap in drawers with your clothing so that the perfume from the soap scents your clothing. I guess if you splurge on nice smelling soap you can make up the difference by air curing it but the soap that we buy really isn’t the sort that I’d use to scent my clothes.

Not being the sort to believe everything I hear, not even on my beloved CBC Radio 1, I searched for proof that drying the soap made a difference to it’s longevity. It is a popular idea and there seem to have been some unscientific tests done. It seems mostly that people who make homemade soaps cure them in the air before selling them and then made the leap that if a little drying is good more is better. I’m not so keen on the deep cracks that form in dried soap. I’m a liquid soap person, in fact, but I did the investigation for Ken and all of you. You can thank me later.

Organizing digital photos – Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I read Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst (he writes the Good Experience blog) recently. He shares many good ideas for managing all of the bits and bytes we must work with every day. The chapter titled “Managing Photos” is what motivated me to read the book and it offered clear and simple guidance:

1. Take many photos to increase your chance of getting a great shot.
2. Keep only the fabulous shots and the best one of near-duplicates. (This is the part of the process with which I struggle. I have trouble deleting pics of Reid looking cute or sad or thoughtful or whatever.)
3. Store those that make it past the rigorous vetting within a 2 level hierarchy of [year] and [month number - descriptor], for example, in a folder labelled 2008 there might be subfolders titled 01 general, 01 grandma joyce, 02 daycare, 02 general, 02 winterlude, etc.

The text that explains the method that I’ve summarized will motivate you to finally delete and organize your photos and then keep up with it. Hurst’s perspective on tagging photos and the complexity that we sometimes introduce in our quest to organize had me nodding.

Bit Literacy also covered managing emails, to dos, media, and a variety of file handling tasks. If you take the time to read the whole book, you’ll have quite a few other ideas of things that will work for you as well.

View more Works for me Wednesday posts at Rocks in My Dryer or look at my previous Works for me Wednesday entries.

Framed art work – Works for me Wednesday

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, one of the daycare teachers called to tell me that Reid had drawn a duck that you could actually see was a duck. She said that it had been framed and was in the art room. When I got to daycare, I was impressed with the approach – they have a nice wooden frame hanging on the wall. The frame has no glass in it and so the teachers can put the artwork into the frame without much of a hassle. (See the frame and Reid’s masterpiece.) In a daycare, this approach allows for many kids to see their art “featured”. It will work at home, too, and we’ll get Reid in the habit of assessing which of her masterpieces are her favourites. This is similar to a suggestion in It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh and I think that the book is chock full of wisdom.

Keeping your kids safe in the snow – natural gas

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

We  heard a report on the news that said we should be making sure that the natural gas vents are cleared of snow. We rarely watch the evening news but with all of the snow, we made an exception last night and I’m so glad that we did. This is what my natural gas vent looked like before I shovelled it:imgp2891-2.JPG

Not, too bad. There was still air exhange happening but I shovelled around it and will keep an eye on it.

Household advice to Reid – Works for me Wednesday

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Just in case I forget to tell Reid this when she is older, I wanted to get these tips in writing:

1. If your clothes dryer isn’t drying your clothes like it should and the top of the dryer is getting hot, before you call the appliance repair shop, disconnect the vent. When you run the dryer with the vent disconnected and the dryer doesn’t get hot, the problem is with the vent and not with the dryer. This will save you the cost of the diagnosis visit. Appliance repair people don’t fix vents. It also helps if you know where the dryer vents to the outside. Even though they don’t fix vents, the repair people will ask you and you’ll feel silly if you don’t know. I did, anyway. Maybe by the time you’re grown, clothes won’t need to be put into dryers but you’ll know this quaint bit of trivia.
2. If your dryer vent is blocked, it’s not a good idea to disconnect the dryer and use it anyway. The lint might aggravate allergies and the moisture could cause the paint to peel. Of course, I’m not the one that suggested you would do this in the first place. Your dryer repair person will write that you shouldn’t use the dryer until the vent is fixed on your bill so that you can’t sue him/her later.
3. When you get your heating ducts cleaned, ask to have your dryer vent done at the same time, even if your dryer isn’t having any problems. The duct cleaning people will try and charge you for full duct cleaning as well since the set up of the equipment is pretty much the same either way.
4. If you have to assemble a basic metal bed frame, it’s best to prop the box spring against the wall and assemble the frame around it. It’s easier to get the supports that go under the box springs set to the right width – bed sizes aren’t as standard as you might imagine. Watch out that you don’t tear the under fabric with a part of the frame, though. Not that I did but I do have this friend …
5. While we’re on the topic of household advice, never call a repair person until you’ve checked to be sure that all cords are connected to the appropriate places and that the power is on. Turning something off for 60 seconds and then restarting it is another thing to try. No, really, it seems obvious but you’ll save the time / money of a service call.

Guess who was visited by a dryer repair person and bed delivery people recently ;+)

What advice would you add?

Caramel Shortbread – Works for Me Wednesday

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

This recipe is one that came into the family about 20 years ago from my sister’s Scottish neighbour. In our family, it’s known as Molly’s Caramel Shortbread but since you won’t know Molly, we’ll just call it Caramel Shortbread. It’s nice and easy to make but tastes so rich! 


* 3/4 cup Parkay (really, Parkay works best)
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1  cups all-purpose flour
* pinch of salt

* 1/2 cup butter
* 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk

* 4oz Aero bar


Sift flour, salt, sugar together. Rub in magarine. Knead until a smooth dough is formed. Spread onto a floured cookie sheet, about 1/4″ thick and prick all over with a fork. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-35 minutes or until golden. Cool well.

Put milk, sugar, margarine and corn syrup into a pan and bring slowly to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently for 6 minutes, still stirring constantly. Pour over shortbread. Allow to cool.

Melt chocolate bar in microwave save bowl for 20 second intervals and stir until melted. Pour over caramel layer.

Cut when set and keep refrigerated. In fact, these taste great when frozen and then served about 15 minutes after coming from the freezer.

 For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Christmas gifts for the full year – Works for me Wednesday

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

It’s time to think of what gifts will suit the special people in our lives. If you’re like me, you’re thinking about all of the stuff that you already have in your house and wondering how to keep the Christmas spirit without adding to your burden. Here is what I’ve come up with so far for children:

*  As a general magazine, with stories, activities and jokes, the Owl series – Chirp – ages 3 to 6, Chickadee – ages 6 to 9, and Owl – ages 9 to 13 are a good choice according to the age of your child;
*  For those with an interest in science, or if you want to encourage one, look to Know – ages 6 to 9 and Yes – ages 9 to 14
* If history would be more appropriate, try Kayak – ages 7 to 11;
*  I haven’t seen an issue but I’m trusting in the National Geographic brand to recommend National Geographic Kids – ages 6 to 14 or National Geographic Little Kids – ages 3 to 6;
* For the 8 to 12 year old girl in your life, New Moon kept coming up when I was looking for a book for an 8 year old girl;
* Based on my memories of grade school, I’ve also signed up for Highlights – ages 6 and up  and there is new magazine called Highlights High Five – ages 2 to 6; and
*  If I lived in the United States, I would seriously consider Babybug – ages 6 months to 3, Ladybug – ages 3 to 6 and Spider – ages 6 to 9 but given the subscription costs, we borrow these ones from the library.

If you know of other magazines that should be on my list, please leave a comment.

 For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Pack’em up, move’em out – Works for me Wednesday

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer has written that she is switching her boys’ clothes from one season to another and is feeling at the end of her rope over it. She inspired me to write about my best ever seasonal – or size – clothing switch.

 Last week when Grandma Joyce and Aunt Karin were visiting, I sweet-talked Aunt Karin into joining me in Reid’s room while I went through her drawers. Aunt Karin packed up the clothes that I was designating as “too small” as I set them aside. She even got through a backlog pile of clothes that had been piling up.  When we left the room, Reid had drawers full of clothes that fit and were warm enough for the Ottawa fall and winter and Aunt Karin had boxes to pass along to friends and family who have smaller kids.

My recommendation for switching seasonal clothing:  invite your sister, tag team the project and get the boxes right out of the house. I usually falter on the last step.