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At Home With Ailsa

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February '05 * January '05 * December '04 * November '04 * October '04 * September '04

August 2nd - 6th * Aug. 7th - 12th * Aug. 13th- 17th * Aug. 18th - 23rd * Aug. 24th - 31st

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Thursday, Aug.12th, 2004. Hi, Honey! Welcome Back Home! You're always welcome to come in and relax -- chillax, if you will! ha,ha! Now, I've already eaten the pie, but I'm sure we can find some chocolate or some cookies for you ... my Pantry and Freezer are always full of tasty goodies! That reminds me of my new way of eating, and I'm hoping lots of folks will try this -- just eat what you love. Or at least, really, really like. Enough of the old days when you might eat something just because it was there -- now I figure that as long as I eat in moderation (ha,ha!), I can just eat what I like. If I find myself looking at something in the Pantry that is just 'filler food', I skip right past it.

Now luckily, I'm very fond of those Popcorn Rice Cakes and Wine Gums -- they are my new 'saving grace' for those night-time cravings. It's hard to get through the whole night without 'even a grape', as Oprah does. For one, no one ever sees me, so I don't have the incentive of '50 million people will be seeing me tomorrow' thing, but I DO want to stay on the path to 'trimness', so those are the two treats that I truly enjoy that I can occasionally have in the evening. The only problem, now, is that I seem to have developed a certain slight addiction to the Wine Gums, so I'll have to cut back on those, soon enough, too! ha,ha! Ah, well.

You know I'm all for Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance, but I find I'm getting a little annoyed with the constant bombardment of conflicting information about it. For one, I don't believe it's all true -- I'm sure there are different things that work for different people, just like everything else on the planet. And when something is ludicrously restrictive, it's bound to fail. That's why I say, "Eat what you LOOOOVE", 'cause that can't possibly include everything, right? Well, hopefully not!

It's really just a matter of thinking about each thing you prepare for yourself or buy for yourself. Make a conscious decision about whether you really like it, or is it just another habit you've carried over from another life? (No, not when you were Cleopatra or the Maintenance Man at her Palace...!) From the time before you had to ever even think about what you were eating -- maybe go back to the pre-teen years for those good ol' days! ha,ha,ha! Oh, and of course I think the Apple Crumble Diet will work for everyone, because not only did I make it up, but I love it very, very much, and it totally worked for me! Good thing I'm not one-sided! ha,ha!

I guess I shouldn't write for very long, today, because I have to get the house all ready for the Open House on the Weekend -- Dwight finally agreed to run it on Saturday and Sunday... I figure that the house is already spotless and all perfect, so why not take more advantage of that? We had a very good response on our Open House a couple of weekends ago, so I put an Ad in the Calgary Sun Newspaper (that's one of the most effective papers to advertise in when you are selling your house, partly because they have one of the best Home Sections on the Weekends) for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When you are Selling Your Own House, it's even more critical to Advertise Effectively, so people will see that you do, indeed, have a House for Sale! You'd be surprised how some folks can't understand why their house won't sell, but they won't spend a cent on Advertising. They would spend $27,000. on a Realtor, but not $70. on a Newspaper Ad -- crazy.

That reminds me -- we used to laugh at this whenever we heard it, but not anymore,since it turns out that some folks actually believe it, so now I have to dispell yet another stoopid realtor myth. Why they say 'untrue' things is beyond me, since it doesn't help anyone. (Before I get into this, we do use Realtors, ourselves, and there are tons of great Realtors out there -- you just have to watch out for the shady ones, is all...) So here's the lie -- that the 'Seller' doesn't pay the realtor the Commission -- that the commission is actually paid for by the Buyer. Uh, nope. Come on, now -- we have a brain... not one between all of us... that wouldn't be good, would it? ah,ha! I am amazed that anyone can utter those words with a straight face, and expect the people listening to that load of crap not to fall down laughing.

Just so's we're all clear, when the Seller puts the house on the market with the realtor, for say, $525,000., and then the Buyer settles at $500,000., the Seller will get the $500,000. LESS the Realtors Fee. Usually, that's about 7% on the first $100,000., and 3% on the remaining. On a $500,000. Sale, that's a commission of $19,000. And that money comes right off the top of the Purchase Price, paid for by the SELLER. And now that you can see how much a Realtor can make, who wants to be a Realtor?? Hmmmm... They can make some serious coin... OR, now who wants to spend $70 Bucks on a Newspaper Ad and save the $19 Grand for themselves...?? ha,ha!

Tip of the Day: It's a Hot Market out there for Real Estate, so if you are at that Stage where you are considering Selling Your House, give it a shot on your own, first. There's no law that says you can't try that first. And give it more than a few weeks. The average amount of time we've seen people try to sell their own house before giving up and calling in a Realtor is three weeks. Please. Dwight can't decide whether to go to the PARK in three weeks... (yuff, yuff!). It's in no way true that if the house doesn't sell in the first week it's on the Market, you're screwed. There's yet another pile of crap you might have heard elsewhere. The House will Sell on the day when the right Buyer comes over to buy it -- and that can be any day at all. So give it a kick at the can, first -- if you're in a real hurry, you can lower the price all by yourself, or bring in a realtor. And then Advertise, Advertise, Advertise. And put a Sign on the Yard, too -- that'll fer sures help with the Sale! ha,ha!

I'll go get you some new pics! Be right back!

Here's something tasty you might like to add to your regular diet ... and it's very yummy and healthy! I'm sure it's a pretty good balance of Carbs and Protein ... and still has plenty of flavor!!

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I'll go make a quick page to show you how to make the whole Soft Taco Meal -- it's a breeze. Just Lean Ground Meat, Taco Spices, Soft Taco Shells, Lettuce, Cheese and Salsa. Great for everyone in the family, too! You can make it in well under half an hour, and hardly any of that time is any 'real work'... just letting the meat cook while you put the rest of the stuff out -- and still there's time to go sit down and chillax for a wee bit!

Okay, better go clean the house to get ready for the Open House!

Thanks for popping in for a little visit! See you tomorrow, Baby! Ailsa!!

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Wednesday, Aug.11th, 2004. Hi, Honey! You're Home, again! And I'm still here... and I'll be here all week... ba'dump'bump! Did you watch a whole lot of TV last night? Last Comic Standing was on (I like Alonzo Bodden the best, but all three of the remaining Comics were my top picks from the beginning -- Gary Gulman and John Heffron were right on their game, last night, so I'm sure it's gonna be a tight race.) But my brand new favorite Show was on -- Trading Spouses -- Meet Your New Mommy. Man, I loves me that Show! I can't get enough of it... maybe because you actively put yourself in the Show, and try to imagine how much fun it would be to get out of your own life for just a little while -- plus, get $50 Grand at the end. I think I'll pop into the Site, today, to see what the rules are for involvement in the Show -- maybe one of our Readers could participate -- wouldn't that be fun?? And if it's open to Canadians, maybe it could be ME! Now that I would love! ha,ha!

The two Moms on Trading Spouses, Samantha (the nice one) and Lisa (the sarcastic, drinkin' one...) were a pretty good cross-section of North America. I'm thinking that most folk watching would put themselves in one camp or the other -- I'm much more like Samantha, with the healthy eating and positive attitude thing goin' on, and frankly, I don't really get along well with the Lisa's of the world. For one, I can't stand 'teasing' -- it's just a hidden way to make fun of people, and make them feel badly about themselves, and I don't go for that. It's not okay to say something rotten about someone, then chortle and say, "What's the matter with ya'? Ya' can't take a joke?" No. Better to knock these people off their old rocking chairs, if that's where they're sitting...! ha,ha! (Yes, I have a specific incident in mind, since a lot of 'older people' use the cheap excuse that they are as old as the hills, so they can say anything they want... and again, NO. Those old people were most likely horrible in their youth, and they have just continued to be horrible as they get older, they just now use age as a reason to be even less kind, if that's possible.)

I had to take a little time-out, there, to help Dwight find some very large Tarps for a Welding Job he's having done this weekend. We searched the Net to see who would Rent the Tarps, since it's a one-day event, but to no avail, so I finally found a place in town where you can just buy the Canvas Tarps. They are fairly pricey, so I said to Dwight we should rent them out, ourselves, and to let the Welder in charge of the job know that any of his customers in the future could contact us so we could rent them out to them... see how easy it is to increase your Business?? ha,ha!

Hey, I'm watching Famous Homes and Hideaways while I'm writing this, and they just did a bit on Santa Barbara, and they showed the Restaurant on the Wharf where we had our Wedding Dinner. Cool. I really, really want to build something in California -- wonder how long it'll take me to get that together? I found this link for you to check out Foreclosures and things, since that's what I'm thinking about, today. When you have some cash together where you can peruse these Sites to see what's available in an Area that you like and it's a great price, jump on it. These things never last long.

Really, I'm surprised that more people don't take advantage of the opportunities that are out there to Buy (or Buy & Sell...) inexpensive Foreclosures. Real Estate is always a good option, if only for the Land the house is sitting on -- that's always good to keep in mind. Often, someone will look at the Property and say it's too much of a Fixer-upper (which is wise to stay away from if you don't have another big pile o' cash in your other pocket...!), but it's wise to check the Area to see whether it's becoming (or could become) trendy, and the house could be ripped down or moved, then you could build a new house on the land. You could live in it, yourself, Rent it out, or Sell it immediately. You'd be dinged for the Taxes if you did an immediate Sell, but you'd still make a big chunk of cash, which you could use toward the next buy... see how that works?

You know what I am always surprised by? A person's lack of willingness to Buy and Sell a Home, or to do any extra job at all where they could conceivably make some serious coin (and by 'coin', I mean 'lots & lots of money'! ha,ha!), but they won't do it 'because they'd have to pay the taxes'... puhleeeease. Everybody pays the taxes -- it's the price to pay for living in an Open Society, where you have the luxury of having the money and the opportunity to DO the Buy & Sell Game, and hopefully the same person wouldn't refuse to work at any job whatsoever in order to never make anything so they would never have to pay any taxes. That's just plain stoooopid. Make your money, pay the taxes, move on. OR, you can live in the Home yourself (it would be your Primary Residence), stay for Two - Five Years, and whammo, the Profit you have made in the house is yours to keep -- Tax-Free.

< Rich Dad, Poor Dad has everything you need to know to Start Investing in Foreclosure Properties, or just to 'Manage Yourself Rich'! I've been reading these Books for Years, and they are great!>

In the United States, you can make a Profit on the Sale a Primary Residence of $250,000. if you are Single, and $500,000. when you are Married (see, there's another situation where Marriage truly pays off!). Any Profit above those Dollar Amounts you'll pay Taxes on, but, still, that ain't bad! How many jobs will you have over the course of your life where you can make enough money to put that kind of cash away in a couple of years? Not many. And you can get started with a relatively small amount, too. You just have to have the cash available on Purchase when you are doing the Foreclosure thing, but that can happen if you are careful with your money, exercise some patience, and keep a watchful eye out for a great deal!

Tip of the Day: Surprise! It's to do a little researching into the Foreclosure Market -- that's the best way to get a feel for the whole thing, then you can make some serious plans to get involved in it. It's such a great way to amass some properties, and all the people that we know who have done this are very well off, now, so it must work. I still love the Building Side of things, but the Foreclosure Market is definitely something I want to pursue, too.

< ><Get a FREE Trial to! The Better Way To Buy! Buy property at 30-50% below market prices. Homes from $10,000! Try it Free now!><>(They have a Whole Section for Vehicles and Auctions, too -- you never know what you might find!)

Thanks for coming in for a wee visit! I'll go get you some nice new pictures! Be right back!

Here's another little Tip -- and it's definitely not anything fancy, but it really works. Whenever you are baking anything that seems even remotely 'burnable' (it'll burn if you aren't paying attention to it...), put the Food Item on an AirBake Cookie Sheet.

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I have two AirBake Cookie Sheets that I bought about 8 years ago, so they are well-worn. You don't have to worry about the Pies burning, or some of the tell-tale Berry Run-off from a Pie that is always messy. And if you look carefully into the first picture (just click on the picture to enlarge it, as usual...), you will see that the bottom of the oven is lined with Tin Foil. Makes for easy clean-up. Then there's a shot of the whole pie, just because it looks deeeelicious (!), and then the Blueberries being rinsed in the Sink. When you are doing a Build or a Renovation, go ahead and put in a Sprayer in the Sink -- they're great! And, yes, that's an extra large Sink, big enough to hold the AirBake Cookie Sheet -- go figure that I would have that! ha,ha,ha!

Peace! We Out... or is that "Me Out"? No, that can't be right... must learn to be cool! ha,ha,ha!

Later, Baby! Ailsa!!

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Tuesday, August 10th, 2004. Hey, Sweet Thang! How you doin', ta'day?? Is it just me, or does it feel like the summer is flyng by too fast? I can't believe we're almost halfway through the month... and we still haven't done anything really fun (and, no, oddly enough, I don't include Dwight's Family Reunion as 'something fun', because that wasn't a 'real vacation'...). It's funny how many notions you can have in your head about what you consider to be a 'Real Vacation' and what you might think of more as a chore... ha,ha,ha! And speaking of 'Chore-oriented vacations', we were at a campsite over the weekend, and I'd forgotten how much actual work is involved in camping.

We weren't camping, ourselves -- we were at the Holiday Inn, which reminds me of one of my favorite little tunes on the Radio. I don't know the Artist or the rest of the song, but I love the bit where the girl says, "What you doin'?" and the guy responds in this really deep voice, "I'm at da' Holiday Inn..." Those are the only two lines I know, but I love them! ha,ha,ha! Anyway, we were only out at the Campsite in the Evening and following afternoon, but even in that short amount of time there was enough to do that I'd totally forgotten about. We passed the sign with a little Tap on it to show you where to go and get your water -- man, I've spent waaaay too much time over the years 'gathering water', and I don't think I ever want to do that, again. And I can't say I miss the massive amount of mosquitoes and other various insects. Think I have transformed myself into a 'Hotel Girl'!

Since we hardly ever get to go away anywhere at all, the idea of packing up to work harder than I do at home -- that's crazy! No Dishwasher (or in my case -- no dishwashersss, since I like to have Two! ha,ha!), constant cooking and cleaning, and all in the middle of nowhere. WooHoo! Sign me up! It's like a trip back to the crappy old days, where the women cook and clean and the men might chop a little bit of wood, but mostly they sit around and watch the women working! No thank you. That ain't for me, anymore!

We sold our Trailer about a year ago, and although we used to really enjoy going camping, on our last trip out I said to Dwight we should look at how much we were really spending on the whole camping thing. (Okay, here's what really happened -- I was completely fed up with all the work I had to do 'on vacation'and I knew I would have to appeal to Dwight's Financial Side to make him see my way! ha,ha!) So after we broke down the costs of that little 'vacation', including the Total Cost of the Trailer, the gas to get there, all the meals we brought (that I cooked and cleaned up after...), and all the other superfluous things, it turned out we would have spent far less at a hotel. And we would have had a fancy Flush Toilet and with any luck, an Indoor Pool! I finally convinced Dwight of how many 'Real Vacations' we could go on if we sold the Trailer -- and didn't buy another one...! Now we get our 'camp-fire fix' on Day Trips out to the Mountains, and that's working out well for us!

Tip of the Day: Here's a little Hotel Tip, and it took me years to catch onto this one...When you book into a Hotel (Online, on the Phone and even more importantly in person...), always ask if the Pool is currently operational. The old question was "Do you have a pool?", but we've learned the hard way that indeed they DO have a pool, but it is completely drained when you are there, so it's useless to you! That's just annoying! Especially when you're paying some serious coin to be there...

And don't be fooled by the 'Facade' of the Hotel. Many hotels will do a big fancy renovation on the Lobby, so that part looks fabulous. You go ahead and book in, only to get to the Room and it's hideous. I think this is like a 'bait 'n switch', and we've come across this more often than not. Now we hardly ever book in advance, sight-unseen, unless we've already stayed there or itwas recommended by someone we trust to have good judgement. So here's what we do -- when we get to the Hotel, I jump out the car and pop into the Hotel to check out the Room. I need a Non-Smoking Room, because I'm allergic to smoke, plus, it just smells gross, and I want a nice fresh room. Some hotels will claim it's a 'Non-Smoking Room' if no one is actively smoking in it at that moment, and that ain't cuttin' it! ha,ha! Those nuts! That's why you have to check, yourself.

One thing we were very surprised at on our last big vacation was the number of 'Big Name' Chain Hotels who didn't live up to their name -- not by a long shot. Generally, if a Hotel has a good name, you're pretty safe, but not so, anymore. It pays to check. And ask how old the Hotel is, and if it's more than 10 years old, ask when was the latest Renovation. One thing I am always amazed at is the lack of concern about the Bathroom when they are doing Renovations. Even this past weekend, we had a really nice Room and the Hotel was beautiful, but the Bathrooms needed to be renovated. A new Toilet would have been an easy fix. Maybe we should all demand more as consumers, and the Hotels would make the changes they need to make.

Oh, and if you are travelling somewhere where you can get those 'Vacation Coupons Magazines', they can save you a big bundle, and they always have great Maps in them, too. They usually have those Coupon Magazines at Gas Stations and sometimes at the Entry of Restaurants. You can also find Travel Coupons and great deals online (check my Travel Page) -- it's worth checking things like that out before you go.

I'll go grab you some nice new pictures -- be right back!

This is sweet little Tia after she came home from her new Groomer. That's exhausting work going to the Groomers and being all pampered, 'n all! ha,ha!

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Now, the other thing that the middle picture is useful for is to see the size of the Tile -- there are 16" Tiles in most of the Tiled area upstairs -- and we have over 1500 square feet of tiled area in this house, so that's a lot! My feeling on Tile now is 'the larger the better', since it is sooo much easier to install, and is very easy to maintain. Can you see the Wave Pattern in the Tile? I'll definitely buy that style style, again, because it really 'hides the dirt'! Even in a really light-colored Tile... This Tiled Floor is always warm on the cold days, cool on the hot days, so Tia loves to stretch out on it! Cute, eh?

Thanks for swinging by for a visit! It's always lovely to see you!

See you tomorrow, Baby! Ailsa!!

I like Contests you can Enter For Free -- so I thought you might like them, too -- who knows, you might win a big ol' pile o' cash and then you can go ahead and start buildin' that Mansion -- or 'McMansion'!

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Monday, August 9th, 2004. Hey, HEY, Hey! I hope you had a nice, relaxing Weekend! Man, I'm off to a late start, today... Everybody slept in after getting no sleep on the Weekend, and then last night I was up with Cara in the middle of the night -- poor girl was really sick... you always think (before the children are born!) that you'll fer sures get a full night's sleep when the kid hits the age of Two, but that is in no way the truth. (Cara is 16...) Maybe that's a little secret 'they' like to keep in order to get more folks to have children, and keep our Countries Populated! And we went up to Sylvan Lake this past Weekend to go to Dwight's Family Reunion ... we got a good Hotel, but I couldn't sleep for all the commotion in the Hallway -- there was a big Wedding Party on our Floor. Plus, I don't think they tuck their sheets in at the Hotel the way I tuck my Sheets in, so the bed felt unmade all night. Ah, Home Sweet Home, as Aidan says!

That's the big Event that Dwight said was going to be our 'Big Get-away'... hmmmmm. You know how they often say that Family is all the Same, or at least very similar attitudes. Well, I'm here to tell you that is completely correct, and I have proof fromt he Weekend. One of Dwight's traits that I can't stand another minute is his inability to make a speedy decision. It has caused many a fight over the years, especially when it came to anything to do with Building a House, Renovating a Property, or anything at all that involved me and da' kids! (There, is that my whole life, or what?? ha,ha!) So it turns out that his is a Family Trait -- Oh Happy Day! Take that one annoying trait and multiply that by about 4... and what have you got? Indecision 2004. I should make up T-Shirts (or Buffs!) for them all!

It's a trait I don't understand, though, because I don't get how anyone can live without having some clue about what might be happening next, when the decision is their's to make. Wouldn't that drive you out of your mind? The 'Big Decision' that couldn't be decided on was 'whether to take the kids to the Park' in Sylvan Lake. Yes, that's a tricky one. So we all stood in the rain while no one seemed to be thinking about the decision, until I said to Dwight that I was gonna pack the kids into the Van and we would wait there until they had finally come to some decision about the stoooopid park. At least we weren't going to get any wetter waiting around. That's why it's nice to be on your own, where you can make your own choices any time you like. And you don't have to stand in the rain while you consider -- very slowly -- your choices! ha,ha!

I'm not talking about making life-altering decisions, like contemplating a divorce (although, that sounds pretty good, today!), a Move or a change in Jobs. I'm just talking about the tiniest wee things -- what to have for dinner, should we go out for dinner, where should we go...who with... what time ... how will they ever know we're there?? See how tricky?? ha,ha,ha! Man, you've gotta laugh at it or you'll just end up in tears, and then you won't be able to see where you're going... And that crazy Dwight dosn't have a good sense of direction when he is outside of Calgary, his Home Town, for the most part. I happen to have a very good sense of direction, but Dwight won't accept that, so whenever we go somewhere outside of Calgary, I say to him in the car, "Turn Here. That's where we need to go." He won't answer me at all, and won't use the Turn Signals for whatever reason, so I never know whether he will actually take the right Turn-Off, or not. Fun, fun, fun. Eventually, we'll pass the correct Exit, have to backtrack to get back to it, and all the way Dwight saying that he's not sure this is right.

So the only thing worse than someone who has a serious issue with Indecision is to be the partner of said person, and have the indecisive one never listen of believe the other one's ideas. Maybe the indecisive one can never make a decision on whether their partner might be right, or not...! Either way, it ain't workin', and I'm glad to be back home and ship Dwight off to work, this morning. Dwight used to love to talk about all the travelling we would do when we are Retired, but I said to him the chances of us still being together that long are slim to none, and there's not a chance in hell I'd subject myself to 'lifelong travelling' with him. Yuck. Retirement doesn't appeal to me -- too much time together, and we work much better pretty much when I am alone and Dwightie is at work -- go figure! ha,ha! And I know for a fact we're not the only couple like that! And the complete irony of this situation is that at work, Dwight makes a million decisions a day -- he says he's too tired to decide about stuff at home... good thing that's usually my job! ha,ha!

Tip of the Day: You know what costs the most in a House Build or Renovation? Nope, it's not always the Products or the Labor... it's Indecision. When folks can't make up their minds on a specific color for the walls, or a style of Cabinetry or Flooring... or whether to add another bathroom on the roof... some of the craziest things happen during a build or renovation. The bottom line is that you need to make all your changes to a new home before construction begins, or before that stage is met, in order to keep the costs in-line. As soon as the build is underway, and a home owner is strolling around the structure saying, "You know what? I think I'd like a bathroom over here by the Back Deck..." where there are no plumbing pipes anywhere near there and the Flooring is already in, that's a major problem and will cost an arm and a leg to accomodate. And almost any change in the Plans can bring to whole Project to a grinding halt.

So know what you want, before you build it. You can add on a few things if you are very careful with the Location (let's say you DO want another bathroom or a sink area -- just be sure it's located in the same area where a bathroom already exists, so you can tie into the existing Plumbing. And if you can't make up your mind (or your annoying partner won't make up their mind...), go with something neutral that is good for resale in case the only real decision that is left for you to make is how much longer you might stay with 'The Indecider', I'll call them! ha,ha,ha! Might as well make the house marketable, and if you do stay together, you can just decorate the house in the color each of you liked when the build or renovation is done!

Oh, and don't forget that every change comes with a Cost -- always in terms of Price, and most of the time in terms of Time, too, so remember to ask for the cost of any changes before you decide to go with them. That'll save a whole lot of headaches and any misunderstandings in the long-run.

I've got some nice new shots for you -- be right back with them!

It's a cold morning for the summer, today, so I was looking around for Tia and couldn't find her anywhere -- turns out she was cuddled into our bed, right in the middle of the Pillows! Doesn't she look all comfy and cozy! That looks like a good idea -- maybe I can score a nap later this afternoon -- I could use my 'exercise time' and have a nap instead... now that sounds like a good idea, and no one around to discuss it with, ad nauseum! ha,ha,ha!


Thanks for popping in for a wee visit! I'm gonna have to make more time to get back on my Stepper, because it's always a little shocking when you see yourself in the glaring lights in the Hotel Bathroom -- must 'step up my work-out program'!

And now to go and have a piece of Blueberry Pie! ha,ha! I'll work out, later...

See you tomorrow, Baby! Ailsa!!

Here you go -- some nice FREE Entertainment for you!

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It's The Weekend! WooHoo! Sat. & Sun., Aug. 7th & 8th, 2004. Yo, yo, yo... what up wit' my Home-ies?? You're lookin' goooood, Baby! You know what I just realized? A year ago, today, we were just driving into Los Angeles, one of my favorite Cities ever! I love it there -- it has everything you would ever want in a great city -- restaurants, Dance Clubs (who play more than just Country Music...), Events, great Museums, and an endless number of cool things to do. Plus, a gigantic Beachfront! I include all the Beach Communities in the L.A. category, since Cara and I used to live in Santa Monica, 17 Blocks from the Beach. Man, I miss that. Maybe one day that'll happen again -- you never know!

Dwight has gone out alone with Aidan to go into Town. Oddly enough, I think this is one of the very few times Dwight has ever been alone with Aidan, and it might be the first time they've left the house together, without me along to make sure Aidan is okay. Funny all the things you have to think about when your small children are out of your sight. I can't stand to see children left alone in a vehicle while a parent 'pops in' to a Convenience Store -- or, God Forbid, a Mall or Grocery Store -- it always takes far longer than anyone imagines to pick up even the smallest item, and there's the kid (or kids) all alone in the car. Scary. And around here in the winter, you often see children in the cars with the keys in the ignition and the vehicle running, if you can believe that. Now maybe the police could spend less time looking for JayWalkers and more time for these poor little kids. And Aidan better not ever be one of them...!

Well, they just got home from their little 'outing', and Aidan is in one piece! And all full of Ice Cream, since it's hard to go all the way into 'Town' without stopping at the Dairy Queen. (On the off-chance that you are a Brand New Reader -- Welcome! -- we're out on an Acreage a full 7 minutes outside of 'Town'!) Dwight went in to clean my Van at the CarWash, and what wee boy (or great big one!) doesn't looove the CarWash? I was just saying to Dwight the other day how clean his White Truck always is, and how not-so-very-clean my Van was... so he was off to clean it for me. It's that whole 'Division of Jobs' that you have in a marriage, and the vehicles fall in Dwight's category. That seems about right, since I do everything in and around the house...!

You know how I mentioned that Cribs is a great Home Show? Well, one of our other big favorites is Ty Pennington's New Show, Extreme MakeOver: Home Edition. What a nice Show -- I was not that happy with a few of the Renovation Shows that seemed to focus on people who were Loaded (with Money, NOT Booze! ha,ha!), so that didn't seem right that they were given even more. Now you know I love to see people doing well (after all, that's one of the Big Goals...!), but when there are soooo many folks out there who desperately need a hand up, Extreme MakeOver: Home Edition is a welcome change. They don't just change peoples' houses, they change their whole lives. Beautiful!

They always choose a Family in Need because of Life Circumstances that have made things very difficult for them. The Extreme MakeOver Crew, headed by the Hilarious and Good-Looking Ty Pennington (no, they're not paying me to say that -- if you've seen the Show you'll see it's all true, since he's bound to take his Shirt off at some point in the show! ha,ha,ha!) come in and revamp the whole House, often adding a tremendous amount of Square Footage to make the house huge, and then the re-do the whole thing. In Seven Days. If only every Renovation Project went that quickly! You know what would be useful to the Viewers? If they had a little Section where they said how long it would take in Reality to do that type of a MakeOver, and roughly how much it would cost. Most Renovations end up taking far longer than you ever would have imagined, and Cost a whole lot more, too! Ah, well. That's Construction! Good thing we love it!

<Ty's Tricks: How to Make, Repair, Fix Everything
Ty's Tricks: How to Make, Repair, Fix Everything


Also, they always show all the different Construction Crews in the House at the same time, when in reality, if you were to do that, everyone would be stepping on each other's toes, so-to-speak, and sometimes all the work would just shut down. There are some Construction Crews that can work side-by-side with other Crews, like the Electricians and the Mechanical Contractors, but the Painters shouldn't be at the house when the Cabinet Guys (or Girls...) are there... and Drywallers like to work alone. As do the Painters. And the Carpet Installers... the important thing is not to book one Crew on top of another Crew, in an effort to make the job go faster. Those guys'll just take off if they get annoyed -- now that's reality!

Tip of the Day: When you are getting ready for a House Build or a Home Renovation Project, you can draw out a TimeLine that will help you to see what needs to be done, and when. It doesn't need to be really involved and fancy, but make yourself a little Chart that might go Month to Month or Week to Week, and write in what you think will happen and when. Then when your Contractors come over, have them look at the Chart, and if you find they can't stop laughing, thinking that you've shown them a funny little joke, go along with the laughter, then ask how much time you should allot for each Project. At the very least, they'll let you know roughly how long their part of the job will take, then you can adjust your Chart from there.

It's good to keep in mind that every home is unique, and a Brand New home actually takes far less time to work on than an Older Home, since all the Wiring might have to be changed in an Older Home, or the Plumbing Pipes might not match up with the new ones -- that has cost Dwight an incredible amount of extra time over the years. It's much easier and faster to install all new equipment than to work around older stuff. Many Home Owners believe that it's better to try to keep some of the older stuff and try to work around it, but for the most part, it's better to rip it all out and start fresh if you're going ahead with a major renovation, anyway.

Oh, and the other thing is that sometimes the guys on the Construction Crews don't get along with each other. This doesn't happen a lot, but it can happen, and when it does, your best bet is to keep them as far apart as possible. These teams should definitely not overlap, and if you are ever brave enough to do another Build or Renovation, choose the Team of the Two who didn't get along, and only use the Crew you liked the best the next time around. And occasionally, YOU will be the one who can't stand the Construction Crew another second, and in that case, stay out of the way while they are working, watch their work later, and never hire them again. We had a couple like that during our build, and they'll never see me again, with any luck! And I hope to never see them, although my memory for faces is sooo bad, now, for some reason, I probably wouldn't recognize them anyway, but still, you get the point! ha,ha!

You know how I made the Blueberry Tart on Friday Morning? There's hardly any left, now, but that's the whole point of making it, right?? But I wanted to show you an easy way to make any Fruit Pie. Perfect if you are on a Diet and still want to have a delicious treat! Or if you just want a Special Treat for no reason at all!

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So all you have to do is make up my Easy Schmeasy Pie Crust (or go buy a Frozen Pie Shell...), then mix a few tablespoons of flour with a few tablespoons of sugar. Three of each should be enough... then put about a third of that mixture on the bottom of the Pie Shell. Mix the rest of it into the Fruit, then pour the Fruit into the Pie Shell. See how easy? That should be my Motto! ha,ha! If you are really watching your Sugar intake, you can just skip that, or maybe try some Artificial Sweetener -- I never use that because I'm allergic to it, but that's another story! The Flour and Sugar Mixture thickens the Juice from the Fruit so it's not all watery -- it ends up juuuust perfect! And yummy! And even Healthy! Can you believe that?? ha,ha!

Thanks for coming in for a little visit! That's nice to see you, all sober 'n all -- or mostly sober... really, I have no idea how much you can drink and still be able to stay on the computer! That reminds me -- we're all out of my favorite Black Currant 'Sody Pop' Wine -- man, that stuff is deeeelicious! It's like Pop with a serious kick! I told Dwight to keep an eye out for it in a 'Six Pack', but they hardly ever sell Wine that way! ha,ha,ha! (Yes, that is for my own amusement! ha,ha,ha!)

I hope you have a fabulous Weekend -- I think we're on a 'Weather Watch', here, since we're right in the middle of Tornado Season... straight from Snow Storms to Rain Storms... fun, fun, fun! Now where's that Sody Pop Wine?? ha,ha!

Later, Baby! Ailsa!!

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