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At Home With Ailsa - July 2005

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Friday, July 29th, 2005. Hey, Baby! What up? Hey, is "G-Funk" the same as "G-Unit"?? These are the things I need to know about... so's I can stay 'in touch with the Youth', wouldn't you know it?! I'm assuming that the alleged 'Fountain of Youth' has something to do with Funkadelic Music in some way or another... I know I feel a whole lot younger when I hear anything with a great Funk Beat! (I'm thinking about that because I just finished Working Out to some very cool music... and if more people worked out to fun music, I'm sure we'd have a lot more 'Fit Folks' -- isn't that how the Kids speak?? ha,ha!

You know what I don't get? Why don't schools put in a fantastic Gym like you would go to if you were lucky enough to find one (I went to a great one in Belleville, Ontario -- lots of big windows and great music... hard to find out here, though...) close to your own neighborhood? If we (collectively) have a real problem with Youth and Weight, why do we insist on just keeping the same old Phys. Ed. Program in schools that kids clearly don't seem to like? (Some kids love it, but not usually the Majority...) Putting a Gym with Weight Equipment, Treadmills, Stair Masters, and maybe some Mini-Trampolines would entice the kids to go in, and if you're playing 'their' music, all the better. And Kids could be encouraged to take Dancercize, or something that involves music and dance that doesn't sound nearly so hokey! ha,ha!

I've just started reading, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. Very interesting perspective... I'll have to hurry and finish writing this so I can go back up to my favorite Sunroom to read the whole book! (Man, I looove my Sunroom -- I highly encourage you to add a Sunroom onto your house... it's a lovely quiet room with nothing to do but read and chat... and eat chocolate! Maybe that's why I love the room so much! ha,ha!) Anyway, I've just finished Deepak Chopra's Peace is the Way, which was brilliant. Deepak Chopra is an amazing man -- perhaps one day I'll get an opportunity to meet him. I'd like to see books like these introduced into the School Systems, too, since their message is one of Peace and and Getting Along, something we could use a bit more of thse days. Wouldn't it be great to get that message out when the children are little? Wonder how that would change the world?

So they've finally started building on the Acreage Lot beside us. Seems funny to have a house so close, but they must be at least 60 feet away, off the far corner of our Sunroom Deck. Every time I go out to look at it (they're at the Foundation Stage), I keep reminding myself that if we were back in the city, any new house would be about 6 or 10 feet away... they really squish the houses in, now.

Oh, hey, speaking of watching a Build or Renovation, I happened upon a 'new-to-me' Renovation Show on the HGTV Channel, called Property Ladder. Terrible name, great Show. Very pretty and well-informed (now what did you think I was going to say, there..?? ha,ha!) Host -- Kirsten, I think her name was. She was trying to help these two Twin Sisters manage their way through a Major Renovation in the Echo Lake Area of Los Angeles. (I used to drive through that area, since it wasn't all that far from where I used to teach in L.A.) One of the Twins ( they looked like they were in their 30's or 40's) bought a small home in Echo Lake for about $415,000., renovated it at a cost of about $80,000 (I think ...), and then sold it 6 months later for $659,000. Not a bad Profit Margin... See how important it is to learn about construction?? ha,ha!

Okay, so here are the things that were crazy in the show, and things we can all either learn from, or have a good laugh at, if we were a teensy bit inclined to snicker... The Twins gave themselves a Timeline to complete the entire Renovation at 4 weeks. that's right, they were sharing a brain... no, now that's just mean. Who said that, anyway? Surely it wasn't me, since it doesn't fit in well with my new 'Four Agreements', but to be fair to meself, I've just started reading the book...! ha,ha! Any Major Renovation (or, for that matter, pretty much any renovation) always takes waay longer than you will think is humanly possible -- Welcome to the Wonderful World of Construction! The trick is to know that up-front, and to time things reasonably. And know your possible Color Choices in advance. These girls agonized over their Color Choices, and that's a serious mistake.

Quick Tip: When you are doing a Reno for Resale, always stick to the Basic Colors -- anything in the Tan group will work, and look nice -- accent with White. Or just stick with various shades of White. No kidding. When a Property is for Resale, Red and Purple ain't yer best choices, no matter how much you love them. Save those colors for a home you plan to stay in for a good long time... With a Resale Property, you're goal is to make the home as appealing to as many possible Buyers as possible. Even shades of Green can be a tricky sell, because if the Buyer thinks the first thing they'll have to do is re-paint, they might just keep looking. Same thing for Carpet -- Keep it Neutral and clean. Tidy and crisp are good qualities in a home.

Oh, and when you are getting your Quotes for Painting, be prepared for a fairly hefty Bill. Painting is always waaay more expensive than you might think. And if you are still in the Building Stage, or you've ripped out all your Baseboard in a renovation, have the Painter Spray all the Baseboard before you replace it. Soooo much easier that way (yes, that's another 'live and learn' moment for us!) Holding up a House Build or a Major Renovation because if Indecision over Wall Color, Fixtures, Cabinets ... you name it, is a huuuge problem.

Careful consideration of what you like before you start any Project is a good idea. Failing that, just choose something Neutral you can 'spice up' with other colors, later. You can lose your Contractor while they're waiting for you to make up your mind, since they all have plenty of work to do, elsewhere, so never risk that. (They'll leave you job to go back to another job in progress, and then you'll have to wait for them to come back -- that's rarely pleasant for the Home Owner... and sometimes, if the Contractor thinks the Home Ownder is a bit of a nut, they might walk off the job completely -- that's just Information that's 'Good to Know'.)

Well, Dwight's home (it's 3:30pm on a Friday, and he's home -- Contractor Hours! Now who wants to get into 'The Business'?? ha,ha!), so I better go chat. See how his day went. And if he'll go out an mow the Lawn. I did it last week, so maybe he'll do it, today... we have 225 feet from one side of the house (South side) to the road, and 125 feet on the North Side of the house -- that's why I want Dwight to do it instead of me! Husbands have to be good for something, lest they lose their usefulness... and then what, hmmmm?? ha,ha!

Talk to you later! Thanks for swingin' by for a wee visit!

Love & Laughter, Ailsa

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Saturday, July 23rd, 2005. Hey, there, You -- you lovely thing, You! Are you enjoying your summer, so far? Do you hate all the people who say, "Hot enough fer ya", yet? That's shere Wit, right there! I've been 'away' for a bit because my computer crashed about a week ago -- funny that I am soooo dependent on the computer, now (the same computer I resisted learning how to turn on well into my 37th year...), that I felt like I was on a Deserted Island, which is the closest thing I think I'm gonna see of any sort of Island while I'm around here... and it makes me think of an entire Island all full of lovely desserts -- now that's my kind of Island! ha,ha!

I think today is 'Trellis Day', meaning that it looks like it might not rain 'til later in the afternoon, so Dwight & I can pop out to start the Trellis Finish on the Bottom of the Sunroom Deck. That's the Deck off our Sunroom, which is off our Master Bedroom (I hate that name for any room, let alone the Bedroom -- ain't nuthin' masterful in there, let me tell ya'...)... Anyway, it's very high off the ground (about 9 or 12 feet at the back of the deck, and about 6 feet at the front of the deck. Dwight's has already done a fair bit of the Dining Room Deck, so the bottom of it is covered in. Looks neater, that way. We're using the Heavy Plastic 'Tight Weave' (sounds like a Hairdo!), Lattice Pattern, in Beige, to match the Stucco on the house. There's a nice wooden Trim around the whole outside, and one Section is hinged so you can still get under the decks.

You know what I've been thinking a lot about, lately? Well, yes, that, and one other thing -- okay, a million other things, but here's the point, today... I don't ever want to be 'House Poor', and that's a Term I had never heard of until I moved out here to Calgary, Alberta (Canada ....). It seemed that quite a few folks out here bought a home they absolutely couldn't afford, just for the sake of saying, "I have a gigantic home", or "I live in a fabulous Neighborhood". Nobody ever plans on saying, "Oops, now I'm poorer than dirt, but look where I'm living!". Now the house would be completely empty -- just the bare bones of furnishings. And it would be a struggle to keep up with the basic House Payments. Now who would sign up for that sort of upsetting Lifestyle, hmmmm? Hopefully, not me!

I've been looking at Real Estate and Building Lots in a variety of places (okay, mostly California, but that's because I'm obsessed with the idea of living where it's nice more than one month out of the year... and I really, really like Disneyland! ha,ha,ha!). I'm struck by how much Homes go for in different Areas. Since I know for sure how much it costs to actually build a house (hence this lovely Website...), I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of coin on something that is, say, about a million more than what it cost to build. That's why I would need a little piece of Land and a Building Permit! Wonder how hard that is to get?? ha,ha! (On the extreme upside, though -- if you could find a nice piece of Land and go ahead and build, then you'd make the extra million in profit, and that wouldn't be bad, at all!!)

Two Quick Tips: Think long and hard before you start a Giant Renovation, and by that I mean renovating pretty much your entire house. You would most likely be cheaper and faster to tear the whole thing down (except for one wall, apparently in L.A. -- looks like there's a 'Contractor's Trick' to build the Renovation on the existing Side Wall -- Side wall because it's probably the only part you'd want to keep -- then the rest of the dimensions can change according to the New House Plans... I hear this can cut down on Permitting time, so that's a good thing, and worth checking to see if it would apply to you in any future Build...). When you are doing a Major Renovation, it takes a massive amount of time to try to fit new stuff into old slots, so-to-speak. The Electrical might have to be completely redone to handle all the new technology, or just to handle your now-basic Appliances and such. Same with the Plumbing... and almost everything else. The only time I think I'd maintain an Old Structure is if it was of Historical Significance, otherwise, 'bring in the dozers'!

The other Tip is to make sure you know up-front exactly how much it is going to cost you to Buy and Maintain any new home -- and any 'New Home' is a home you've bought that's 'New to You'! Sometimes a Buyer will have some notion in their head (again, this might be me!ha,ha!) of how much something should cost, but when you're dealing with money, you need to look at the Bottom Line that will be the reality of your new life. If it looks like you'll be really tight, change your plans. It's much more relaxing to live free from money worries than to be in the fanciest place and broke. That wouldn't be good, at all, at all...

Oh, here's a more personal update -- have I mentioned my burning desire (no, it doesn't's just more of an ember, right now...!) to be on TV? Yep. I think part of it is the Teacher in me (so-to-speak), which makes me want to share information that would help as many people as I could reach -- thus the TV Medium... plus, I really love TV! I want to show folks how to Bake some Pies, make the Apple Crumble for my Scottish Diet (because it's easy and really works, and we've got quite a wee 'weight' problem goin' on in North America, which I think I could be of some assistance to help...), do some easy Exercises, Build a House ... wee things like that! ha,ha!

So last week, Cara (my lovely 17 year old Daughter!), taped me while I was making a couple of my favorite Peach Pies. One for us and one for a Teacher at Cara's Summer School Program -- teachers don't get enough accolades, so if I can make a wee pie for them every now and then, I'm doing my little part in making a Teacher's Life happier, right! Anyhoooo, I'm going to send the tape (as soon as I figure out how to get the taped piece out of my Video Camera and onto a VHS!) to Ellen. I love the Ellen Degeneres Show, and have followed Ellen's Comedy for years and years -- she is , without a doubt, the Funniest Woman on the Planet, and wouldn't I love to meet her?? And show people how to make a Pie without a big fuss? So I'm going to send in the Tape, and I'll let you know what I hear back! Wish me Luck!!

Dwight's up, so that means I have to go make some sort of fancy 'Weekend Breakfast' ... Sausage and Eggs, me thinks...gotta go! Thanks for popping in, and have a Great Weekend! Oh, and check out my new Big Brother the Seeexth Update Page -- Cara got me into it, and now we're having a great time watching all the Fights! ha,ha!

Love & Laughter (and Money -- why not?? ha,ha!), Ailsa!

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Friday, July 8th, 2005. Howdie, Folks! I only say that because the Calgary Stampede started, today, and it's this enormous Cowboy Festival here in Alberta, Canada... normally, I wouldn't go with the whole 'Howdie' thing. I thought we were going to pop down to the Stampede Grounds to check out the Calgary Stampede, last night (for Sneak-a-Peek), but it didn't work out. Apparently, the children don't want to be around a whole lot of 'drunks', so now I have no idea when we could go, since The Stampede is pretty much one giant 'drinkfest', only you have to wear a Cowboy Hat (and, yes, I bought one just for that sort of thing! ha,ha,ha!). Cara says we should go on Seniors Day -- why she wants to see a whole lot of drunk Seniors is beyond me... doesn't she see enough of that at home?? ha,ha,ha! If you are anywhere near Calgary, though, and are looking for some fun, go check out the Stampede. I highly recommend 'The Birthday Game' if you want to win the Giant Stuffed Animals!

Actually, I saw a picture of myself from one of last years Stampede Breakfasts (they have these fancy Breakfasts all over town for the entire Stampede -- July 8th to the 16th, I think...). Anyway, I have a White Cowboy Hat and a Pair of White Lace Cowboy Boots -- not the usual Cowboy Boots, 'cause I couldn't go very far down that path -- these ones are pretty fancy schmancy. And I only wear them when it's a nice dry day during the Stampede, so they haven't been worn very many times. I thought I looked a whole lot better in them the the picture lets on -- not sure whether to bring them out of hiding this year, or not... ugh. Stooopid pictures and their annoying need to be 'truthful'... Maybe it was the Dress and not the Boots, so I could try them one more year -- they are very pretty in the Closet! ha,ha!

Did you happen to see that I put the Big Brother page on my site? Yep. Just added it, and Cara and I watched it last night. Dwight did, too, but he's huuugely inappropriate when anyone ever appears on camera in a Bathing Suit, so he has to be kept apart from 'the chilluns' when he's watching it. I don't think he realized there'd be any Bathing Suit Action on the Show, so now I think they might have a Brand New Viewer! And if you saw it, what did you think of the potential 'Shower Scenes'?? Ooooh, that's gotta be good for Ratings! So funny! Raises the old question of what really sells in Hollywood, don't it?? ha,ha!<Catch every second of Big Brother 6 live on SuperPass> I think I might just do the Follow up from the Big Brother Show -- I had asked Cara if she wanted to write it, but so far, no answer. Those teenagers -- they're too busy to answer...

Dwight and I are back to 'discussing' the Garden, and by that, I'm wondering just how mad he would be if I went ahead and had our Bobcat Guy, Ron, pop over and scrape away about five areas in the Garden (lawn, if you're not from Scotland, and are wondering what I'm talking about...) so I could plant a whole pile of Trees. Dwight seems to hate Trees, from what I can tell, and now he says that he no longer loves gravel -- now he wants all Bark. All bark and no, no. That's the Dog... Very annoying, though, since he wanted to clear away all the land in the Lower Patio Area in the Spring, and fill it with even more Gravel... don't know where he's going with that, now. If I could just get him to give me the 'go-ahead' with this Landscaping thing, it would be a lot more pleasant around here... and I wouldn't be nearly so resistant to doing the regular Weeding, which I greatly resent doing, right now. Ah, well. It's all part of the Joys of Home Ownership -- and Marriage...!

We were so sad to see the Events that happened in London. Man, when is that going to stop? Horrifying. My first thought was that it is a miracle in itself that nothing happened at the live8live concerts, since that would have been so much worse. It's still not too late to add your name to the lists for the live8live movement -- pop into . Our hearts go out to the poor souls who were hurt, and the families of those so much worse off... there must be something more effective we can do to deal with this now World-Issue. There's a Deepak Chopra book I'm reading right now that deals with ways to find World Peace. It's a very good Read, and has all sorts of interesting ideas on how we can achieve World Peace on an Individual Level. One Peaceful Person at a Time...<Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End Peace Is the Way: Bringing War and Violence to an End >

Well, Dwight is home early, today, and he's working on the Riding Lawn Mower -- that crazy thing has been acting up, lately. The Tractor, I mean, not Dwight... ya' ha,ha! Ah, I have to amuse myself with those wee jokes! Okay, better go see if he'll let me plant some more Trees! Wish me luck!

Thanks for Popping in for a wee visit! Hope you have a chance to wear a Cowboy hat and have a wee drink this weekend! Now that must be a fairly peaceful thing to do, no?? Take Good Care of Yorself! Love & Laughter, Ailsa

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Friday, July 1st, 2005. Happy Canada Day, to all my Canadian 'Home-ies'! And a very Happy Independence Day on July 4th to all our American Friends! Busy little weekend on the continent... be extra careful on the roads -- it can be a little crazy out there! I'm not sure what's going to happen around here for all the campers, because all the campsites have been flooded out. Everywhere you go, you can see caravans ( that's the Scottish word for house trailers...) all sitting up on higher ground, since most of the Campgrounds are down by the Rivers in Alberta. The flooding has been so bad in our area (Okotoks, Alberta), that Aidan's two favorite Parks have been all but washed away. Entire Trees have been washed right up into the Play Area, and in one of the parks (we call it 'The River Park', which is definitely true, since the river literally runs right through it, now!), the rapids are so strong since the flood that the playground is right at the River's Edge, now. It's scary, yet oddly beautiful. Man, it's the Power of Nature...

Yippee! School's out for the Summer! (Reminds me of Alice Cooper, each and every time I ever say or hear that! ha,ha!) Aidan had his End-of-the-Year Fun Day for his Kindergarten Class this past Wednesday. Lots of fun -- I got to be the Leader for 'The Green Group' -- all boys, which, Thank God, I'm completely used to, now! Boys, they're always a bit crazy, but very entertaining... I made a lovely big 'Round Sandwich', which I, of course, took pictures of so I could show you how to make one for your own Party or School Event.

This is sooo easy to make, and looks very fancy schmancy... tastes great, too! You can get the Round Loaf of French Bread at your Local Grocers -- if they don't have it already, talk to the Bakery and ask if they would consider adding them to their regular line of Breads. It's just French Bread shaped into a Circle, so no biggie to make for them. (As with all the pictures on my site, just click to enlarge the shot...)

Quickie Directions: Cut the Bread into Two Sections -- one for Ham & Cheese and the other for Turkey & Cheese. Slice each side in two, then just put in your favorite ingredients that are good for everyone. I skipped the Tomatoes, since some people might be allergic, and they can be messy. The object is to have a delicious sandwich that is easy to handle with one hand -- so the other hand is free for, oh, perhaps, a Beer! ha,ha! (Not at the School Function, though -- that would be huuugely inappropriate...!) Anyway, you just cut each 'Half Circle' gently so you don't break the bread, then arrange in a circle. You can put Fruit or Chips in the Center -- very nice for Presentation.

Oh, remember I was saying about cutting a hole in your Basement Floor to put in a Sump Pump to prevent Flooding in your Lower Level (which, of course, not only reminds me of Depends, but my favorite 'Lower Level of yo' Body Exercises'...!)? Dwight's Dad put one in his house last week. The flooding in his area of Calgary has been terrible -- so here are a few more details in case you have experienced some Flooding in the past and want to prevent any further flooding in your Home. Using a Cement Saw, Dig a 3 foot X 3 foot square in the Furnace Room -- that's the room that is the least likely to be 'Fully Developed'. There is probably a Main Drain in the Furnace Room, too.

Get a Large Heavy Duty Plastic Tub that will be going in the hole in the floor -- get out your shovel, 'cause there's planty of digging to do... You'll need to dig a hole deep enough for a very deep layer of Gravel (I'd say a foot of Gravel, but I'll check with Dwight to see if that's excessive -- I tend to move closer to 'excessive' when it comes to safety or prevention ... gravel's cheap and a flooding disaster will cost, oh, about $10,000., so I say go with the extra Gravel!

So now you've cut the cement out of the basement floor, have found a big Plastic Tub, and have dug a hole that is deep enough for a good layer of gravel and the top of the Plastic Tub is slightly below the Floor Level. Drill Holes in the Plastic Tub -- all over the Bottom and around the Sides of the Tub. Place the Tub in the Hole, and fill all around with more Gravel. If there is another Flood Situation, the water will run to the lowest part, so it'll flow into the bucket rather than your Basement. Much better.

Get a Sump Pump, and place it in the Plastic Bucket. Attach a big Hose to it, and position the hose to the water will go down the Main Drain in the floor, or if there's a massive amount of water, invest in a really big hose and let it flow outside. Just make sure there's a safe place for the hose to go where the water will definitely run AWAY from your house, since that's the final objective... Oh, and make sure you check your Eavestrough for any possible obstructions, in case the water isn't flowing away from your house the way it's supposed to. A bird's nest or Excesive Leaves will play havoc with water flow, so if there's an issue with flooding, check that out.

Oh, and my Forums for this Site are almost all ready to go online! Yahoo! We can all chat together -- or at least post each other messages... I never did really figure out how to do the 'online chat' thing -- or I've never felt like committing that kind of time to chatting! Cara loves online chats, though -- I'm better at checking emails...more my speed, no doubt! ha,ha! Anyway, I've created all sorts of Interest Groups that though would be good for all my Readers, but if there's something I'm missing, please drop me a line and let me know. I always enjoy your letters, and I'm looking forward to reading your postings... I'll let you know as soon as we're 'up'...

Oooooh, and I have a couple of new letters on my Ask Ailsa page, so pop on in there to have a wee look -- and a new Associate, too, with The Religious Jewelry -- cool Site. They have some very interesting information on the Saints, which is of especially great interest to me and about a 'petrillion' (as Craig Ferguson of The Late, Late Show says all the time...) other Big Fans of The Da Vinci Code since I've just finished that book -- a great Summer Read, if you haven't read it, yet. Here's a funny wee take-off on The Da Vinci Code that I just picked up when I took Cara, my 17 year old, in to see The Sisters of the Travelling Pants (cute little movie, in case you're wondering -- we love Amber Tamblyn, and want to see Joan of Arcadia put back on the Air, but that's another story...). Anyway, the book is The Va Dinci Cod, by A.R.R.R. Roberts -- hilarious! Laugh out loud funny... my favorite kind of 'funny'! ha,ha! ( )

Okay, it's Canada Day, today, so everyone's waiting for me to go make them something tasty -- I'm thinking delicious French Toast -- who doesn't love that??

Have a Fabulous Weekend! Cheers to a Great Holiday, and a Fantastic Summer! (I assume that you have a drink of some sort in your hand! ha,ha!) Love & Laughter, Ailsa

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Live, Love & Laugh, Ailsa!

Hey, you can help spread the word about my Site -- here's a new 'Tell A Friend' that my friend James made for me. He's been working away to teach me some new things for my website that I desperately need to learn to make the improvements I really want. Oh, and don't feel restricted by the whole 'Tell a Friend' thing. You don't even have to really like someone to tell them about! What do I care? I'm just interested in loads and loads of people coming in for a visit -- maybe even buying something through the Site! And who knows??? Maybe they'll quit borrowing money from you by learning how to Manage their own money after reading my Articles! ha,ha! So here it is, and it's easy schmeasy to use!<

> Thank You!! Soon we'll be enormous! (And I don't mean just because of all the Caramel Apples, neither! ha,ha,ha!) Uh, oh... I see there's no apostrophe in the Friends Name Box -- must tell James! Rest assured ( I don't want you to lose sleep over this!), I do know it needs and 's... we'll fix it for you! See ya'! Ailsa

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