Tag: lifestyle (page 1 of 17)

Awesome Advice Central: The Empress’s new clothes, part 2

Dear Readers,

This week, we are suffering a crisis out of all proportion:  one of us had had a technical emergency involving a hotel boy and a laptop, while the other has been flying Economy and drinking wine out of plastic cups.  Oh, the unspeakable horror! Continue reading

Fashion rules need not apply

Dear Wendy,

As fall approaches, the annual spate of “What to Wear to Look Like a Total Hot Tamale This Fall!1!” articles are starting to proliferate. In magazines and online, fashion rules and trends are popping up like mushrooms. This season, we’re supposed to Continue reading

Slacker to try-hard ninja

alt="IMAGE-words-with-friends-try-hard-ninja-after-the-kids-leave"Dear Wendy,

I have turned over a new leaf. Given my attitude a hard look and found it wanting. Discovered that while “good enough” might be okay, “my very best” is a whole lot better. Yes, I have decided to become a try-hard ninja, at least when it comes to Words with Friends.

Here’s how it happened. When my old iPhone finally joined the choir eternal a few weeks ago, and I had to replace it, I also had to transfer over all the various apps that make my life worth living. You know the ones: 2048, Dots, Words with Friends…

And of course, technology being what it is, the transition wasn’t all lotus petals and chocolate bonbons. Words with Friends, in particular, decided to get all difficult and tetchy, with the result that I wound up erasing it and re-re-installing it. All fine and dandy, except that for reasons that still elude me, the game started treating me as though I’d never played before. As in, my previous rather dismal record was wiped clean.

At first I was annoyed, but then I realized that this could be an opportunity in disguise.

You see, up till a couple of weeks ago, I treated Words with Friends as a doddle in the park: if I could find a word that fit the board and got me a few points, good enough! In it went, and I considered my job done. Off to the next game!

But when I realized that I was starting fresh with a new scoreboard, something came over me. I started staring at the letters on my board, trying them in different permutations and combinations, calculating how many points I could scrounge out of 5 vowels, an X and a P. I stopped just accepting the first word that occurred to me, and started actually investing myself in the game.

My life as a slacker

This isn’t the first time in my life I decided to stop taking the easy way out, so it’s not an entirely new experience. Still, I’d forgotten how good it feels to really throw my all into an endeavour (even one as  trivial as Words with Friends).

Here’s my confession: I have a tendency to coast, to accept less than my personal best. I tell myself it’s okay, that I’m saving my brainpower for more important things, but that’s just an excuse for laziness, isn’t it?

Back in high school, I was quite possibly the laziest student in my class. I took a certain amount of (completely unjustified) pride in my ability to coast through classes without doing much of anything. Studying? That was for losers. Why bother, when I could drag myself out of bed, stagger to an exam, write it in my sleep, and still pass the course?

The fact that I was getting 60s and 70s didn’t faze me—what mattered was that I was getting promoted from grade to grade. It wasn’t until my Grade 12 English teacher, Mrs. Bolton, inexplicably saw fit to give me the English award for that year that I smartened up, at least somewhat.

Somehow, being told that someone had detected something award-worthy in me prompted me to up my game. In Grade 13, my final year of high school, I suddenly morphed from slacker to try-hard: I threw myself into my school work, started writing up a storm, memorized great honking swaths of Shakespeare and Tennyson, immersed myself in literary theory, and at the end of Grade 13, came away with two more awards.

Just as having my Words with Friends app mysteriously reset itself offered me a chance to redeem my old, lazy ways, getting that first English award seemed to ignite something in me.

It’s occurred to me recently that maybe my tendency to coast is only partly due to the fact that I am bone-lazy. Maybe it’s also partly due to a secret belief that if I were to give it my all and still fail, I’d reveal myself as not half as intelligent as people think I am. Which is ridiculous, of course. Smart people fail all the time.

Huh.

I hadn’t thought of it that way before. This may take some adjustment.

Meanwhile, meet the new try-hard ninja on Words with Friends: I am kicking ass and taking names, and it feels damn good.

Love,

Karen

 

 

 

 

Dandelion Wars: Shit gets real

Dear Wendy,

While you were gallivanting off to Italy with a much younger man, I’ve been engaging in hand-to-hand combat with my long-time mortal enemy, The Dandelion.

First, let me set the stage.

alt="IMAGE-ottawa-silver-maple-after-the-kids-leave"

The fault lies in our maple.

Our back yard is dominated by a mega-gigundo silver maple tree, which casts a lovely leafy shade over the entire garden area. Very nice for sipping morning coffee under. Not so great for growing things.

If you’re familiar with maples, you’ll know that they’re butt-lazy. Unlike other trees, whose root systems dig deep into the earth in search of water, maples take the easy way out, and simply spread their roots a couple of inches under the surface of the soil (or in our case, what used to pass for a “lawn”), in a circumference that’s about as wide as they are tall. This way, they readily suck up all the available water, leaving the area around them parched as a bone.

Oh yeah, and as their roots age they get all big and knobbly, and push up through the soil, creating lumps and bumps to trip the unwary gardener. That would be moi.

So yeah, maple trees are dicks. And we’ve got us a big one.

What’s this got to do with dandelions?

Dandelion

Well, it’s like this. Evil ginormous maple tree slurps up all the water that the grass would normally drink. It cuts off the sunlight the grass needs to grow. The poor grass presses the back of its hand against its forehead and goes gently into that good night. So long, grass, it was nice to know you.

At which point, the poor yellow trash of the plant world moves in to take the lawn’s place. Dandelions don’t much care about water. They don’t much care about shade. All they need is a bit of dirt (or even a crack in the sidewalk), and they’re in business.

I admit that a field of dandelions in full bloom can look kind of…pretty. Or at least very yellow. And I know their leaves, when young and tender, make a nice salad. So I’m cool with having a few dandelions out there, just to liven things up.

But when they get all aggressive and territorial, and start settling in, revving their motorcycles, and holding wild parties and leaving their beer bottles and cigarette butts all over the lawn? I’m not so thrilled.

Dandelion, I have you in my sights

I spent last weekend in the garden, and about 90% of my time was spent waging war against the dandelions that have become my unwanted guests.

Armed only with my highly specialized Dandelion Digger of Doom, I’d park myself on a patch of our ex-lawn and start digging.

alt="IMAGE-dandelion-corpse-after-the-kids-leave"

Ha. Now who’s the smartass?

There’s a trick to removing dandelions, you know. You can’t just pick them or worse, mow them into submission. If you try to pick them, their root systems remain intact, and they grow back with even greater ferocity later. Ditto if you mow them down—cutting their little heads off doesn’t even faze them. Plus, they go to seed and spread their foul progeny around the garden, just for spite.

“Hahahaha,” they chorus in their insolent little voices. “Nice try.” And then they dig in deeper, and grow back bigger and stronger.

alt="IMAGE-dandelion-digger-doom-after-the-kids-leave"

The Dandelion Digger of Doom

 You have to literally dig them up by the roots, and since they’re very good at putting down long, tenacious roots, you need a specialized tool. Hence the Dandelion Digger of Doom.

On my first round a couple of weeks ago, I dug up (yes, I was counting) 400 dandelion plants before I finally gave in and called it a day. Actually, I didn’t give in, my back did, but that’s because I was bending from the waist. Just ask my chiropractor: that’s a definite no-no, and I was walking around like the hunchback of Notre Dame for a week or so.

This time I got wise, and used one of our Adirondack chairs as my home base. Easier on the back, but it does mean I have to get up and haul my chair around with me as I go. Using this strategy, I’ve dug up another 200 dandelions. As I work, I leave their corpses in little piles around the lawn as a warning to the others…though eventually I’ll collect them all and send them to the city compost, far far away from my lawn. And me.

You’d think that would do it, wouldn’t you?

Sadly, I’ve only scratched the surface in my dandelion extermination program. The yard is still crawling with them, but I’m determined to get them under control. As I go, I’m reseeding the empty patches with clover, a much more polite and friendly little visitor than the Dandelion Menace.

I’ll never have a model lawn (thanks, Giant Maple Tree!) but at least I can have the satisfaction of knowing that I have a (more or less) dandelion-free zone, however temporarily.

 And that would be me.

Love,

Karen

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12 ways to live well with less

Dear Wendy,

alt="IMAGE-listly-live-well-with-less-after-the-kids-leave"On this week’s Saturday Listly, I thought I’d take a look at some resources to help us live well with less…sometimes much less!

I’ve been thinking a lot about downsizing lately—not that we have imminent plans to move into smaller digs, but I do have an ongoing (though somewhat intermittent) project that involves divesting ourselves of a lot of the stuff we’ve acquired over the years.

Getting rid of stuff is one half of the equation, but the other half is making do with less, and that’s where this list comes in. Each of the items has to do with living well with less, whether it’s less space, less stuff, or just less new stuff.

As well, I’ve gathered up some ideas for recycling, salvaging, mending, and generally taking better care of the stuff we do have.

I’d love to hear your ideas on the subject—after all, when you moved to London, you found yourself in a much smaller space, right? You can vote these posts up or down in the list, add your own comments, or add links to other resources…it’s all fair game here!

Living well...with less
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KarenWendy Irving

Living well...with less

Ideas to inspire us to use what we have, fix what we break, and live better with less.

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  1. 1  50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

    50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

    Some great ideas for making use of those odds and sods you've accumulated...." If you're like me, you probably have a lot of old stuff just lying around your house. It's not doing anything but taking up space, but you're either too busy (or lazy), sentimental or just have more important things to deal with."

  2. 2  The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again

    The rise of mending: how Britain learned to repair clothes again

    DIY mending is in again! Why throw away a piece you love, when it can probably be salvaged? When Make Do & Mend ("we make things and mend things," says Pippa Bray, the shop's owner) opened its doors in 2002, they had expected to be reasonably busy. That turned out to be an understatement. They weren't just busy, they were inundated, getting busier all the time.

  3. 3  Small House Bliss

    Small House Bliss

    One way to do more with less is to downsize. These tiny houses take that a step further: how tiny can you go? Small house designs with big impact (by SmallHouseBliss)

  4. 4  Do you know the true cost of your clothes?

    Do you know the true cost of your clothes?

    Buying cheap clothing seems like a bargain, but cheap factory-made items carry hidden costs you might not even know about. Emily Hundt 16 May 2013 Riding home on the tube yesterday, I saw two women clinging to their oversized paper bags, stamped with the Primark logo, bulging with that day's haul. Since moving to London, I have reluctantly got very used to this sight. But I wasn't expecting to see it this week.

  5. 5  De-Clutter Now: 8 Things You Can Live Without

    De-Clutter Now: 8 Things You Can Live Without

    This writer has taken the tiny house challenge, and won! "In 2009 I moved into a 200-square-foot cottage. The rent and location were awesome, but there was one problem. Half my stuff didn't fit in the place. So I got rid of it. Furniture, old clothes, books, shoes, art. And you know what? I haven't missed a..."

  6. 6  5 simple steps we can all take to make more of the food we buy and avoid wasting precious water

    5 simple steps we can all take to make more of the food we buy and avoid wasting precious water

    One part of simple living: wasting less. Much less. Here are some tips to help. There are 5 simple ways to help us all waste less of the food we buy and avoid throwing away millions of tonnes of precious water at the same time It's already causing environmental damage through the use of water, fuel and energy to grow, make and transport our food, and on top of that it rots in landfill when we then throw it away, generating climate changing gases.

  7. 7  The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living : zenhabits

    The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living : zenhabits

    This blogger takes frugal living to heart--not sure if I'd like to be quite this spartan in my lifestyle, but they make some good points! "Confession time: I'm a cheapskate. Some would say frugal, which sounds much more positive, but in reality I can be a real cheapskate. I am fairly frugal (though not always), but sometimes I take it too far: I have T-shirts with holes in them, I never buy new clothes, we're shopping for a new couch because our current one has holes in it, and I ran my current pair of running shoes until the soles fell off...."

  8. 8  Home remedies are sometimes the best remedies

    Home remedies are sometimes the best remedies

    Carol Cassara has put together a list of home remedies you can try yourself for minor ailments. As she says, "PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor. These home remedies are not medical advice. Please consult your physician before embarking on any new course of treatment or use of any natural remedy.
    What's old is new again, it seems, and some of the natural remedies that date back hundreds of years - if not ...

  9. 9  Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers

    Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers

    I love to garden, and some of these recycled plant containers make it just that much more fun! Top 10 Recycled Plant Containers We know -- working in a garden filled with the same old standard clay or plastic planters can get really boring. If you're dreaming of breathing a little more life into your greens, just look to the materials you already have in your home.

  10. 10  Ana White | Free and Easy DIY Furniture Plans to Save You Money

    Ana White | Free and Easy DIY Furniture Plans to Save You Money

    Ana shares her DIY projects and makes them look completely do-able! She says, "Of course, I'm partial to all things made of wood - but really, the same basic skills that help you make wood projects nice, translate to other mediums - like tile!"

  11. 11  Consumers May Not Know They're Getting Lower-Quality Clothes At Outlet Stores

    Consumers May Not Know They're Getting Lower-Quality Clothes At Outlet Stores

    One part of doing more with less is making sure you get the best deals on anything you do buy. Sometimes "warehouse stores" look like the ideal place to pick up great buys...but this article warns that you might be getting less than you bargained for.

  12. 12  Homemade Natural Beauty Products - 7 Ingredients and 20+ recipes

    Homemade Natural Beauty Products - 7 Ingredients and 20+ recipes

    It's completely possible to make most, if not all, your own beauty and personal care products. Here's how: "Now that we make all of our own personal care and beauty products, I keep a lot of the ingredients on hand in bulk ( from here). I looked at the numbers from last year, and we actually saved money doing this!"

  13. 13  Soda Bottle Drip Feeder for Vegetables

    Soda Bottle Drip Feeder for Vegetables

    Another great gardening tip, that uses up your old soda bottles, saves water, and nourishes your plants at the same time! Soda Bottle Drip Feeder is a great DIY Project Drip feeders are great for a variety of different vegetables. Most vegetables prefer the moisture at their roots rather than overhead sprinklers which can encourage some leaf problems. There are many retail products available but this Soda Bottle Drip Feeder makes use or recycled materials and works really well.

  14. 14  over50feeling40: Goodwill: Where do I Start?

    over50feeling40: Goodwill: Where do I Start?

    Over-50 fashion blogger Pamela Lutrell knows a Goodwill bargain when she sees one. Here are some of her great finds... Whenever I enter my local GOODWILL locations, I always begin the same way... First, I check Julia's Attic...the top fashion selections.... Second, I check my favorite clothing racks and accessories.... Third, I never leave without looking over home decor!

  15. 15  Cash for laptopssell laptop online for cash

    Cash for laptopssell laptop online for cash

    About CashInYourLaptop.com: Sell Laptop for e-cycling CashInYourLaptop offers you a Golden Opportunity to sell your used and broken digital gadgets like a lapt...

View more lists from KarenWendy Irving

Hope you have fun, and let me know what you think!

Love,

Karen

 

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