Thursday, February 26, 2009


The other day, I told you how much I enjoyed math. Today, I want to share my thoughts on spelling and grammar.

I am a lousy speller. Always have been. I can read and comprehend what I am reading quite well, but when it comes down to actually spelling the words on my own? Well, let's just say that I LOVE spell check. I have a couple of good dictionaries and a thesaurus that I can use if I get really stuck. I don't know about you but it always annoyed the heck out of me when I'd ask someone how to spell a word and they'd say "Look it up in the dictionary!" Well how do you look up a word that you don't know how to spell?

Learning my ABC's was easy. So were the basic words we learned in the first few years of school. It was when they started teaching us all the rules that go with spelling and sentence structure that I started getting a headache. It really didn't help matters that my penmanship was rather pathetic due in large part to my poor vision. "Needs to work on penmanship" was on all my report cards. The teachers knew I understood the concepts and could converse well. It was my visual limitations that were causing most of the problems and they made allowances for it. Even with that, I still struggled to express myself on paper.

English is an extremely difficult language to learn to spell, write and speak. So many words have their own unique rules. You are taught the basics and then told that there are a whole bunch of exceptions.

More than one mouse is mice, but more than one house isn't hice it is houses. Fish is both singular and plural.

Rain, rein and reign are all pronounces the same way but have different meanings. How about words like "live" that are pronounced either with a long "i" or a short "i" to make two completely different meanings. Words like once sound like they should start with "w" not an "o". Let's not forget the words with silent letters like psychic or where the "ph" sounds like an "f" as in pharmacy or phonics.

Then there is the "i" before "e" except after "c" rule. It is more or less a good rule, except for words such as; beige, eight, either, feisty, freight, keister, leisure, neighbour, neither, rein, reign, sleigh, surveillance, veil, vein, weigh and many others.

Or how about that lovely British way of spelling things with a "ou". Canada sure picked up on that one with words like colour, favour, flavour, humour and honour. Most English versions of Spell Check will tell you these are spelled wrong since they are developed in the USA and they dropped the "u" from such words centuries ago.

Confused? Your darn right it's confusing! When I am doing any type of writing, I often have to stop and think of the way to spell even simple words. Is there one "m" or two in memory? Spell check will tell me, but I can never remember.

Anyone who has ever gotten a hand written note from me, knows my spelling is a bit off, but it isn't horrible. My friends do like to razz me about my spelling. A few months ago, I was talking to a friend who was telling me about a trip to a family members cabin. After I left, I couldn't for the life of me remember the pronunciation so there was no way I could figure out the spelling to look it up on a map! My friend just laughed at me when I asked them again where they were going. They even wrote down how to spell it for me. I remember how to pronounce it now, and I think I still have the spelling somewhere....

Before I had the computer, I used to write all my correspondence out longhand then grab a dictionary and check what I thought might be spelled wrong. Then I would rewrite the whole thing more legibly and hopefully with the words spelled correctly or at least close enough that the person on the other end would know what I was trying to say.

I was never great at grammar either. I generally knew where to put quotes, commas, periods and question marks. I know - more or less - how to use colons and semi colons, but don't ask me to dissect the parts of the sentence and tell you all the verbs, adverbs, adjectives and so on. I'll only get it half right and end up being more confused.

My mom and I did a lot of writing in the 1980's with family histories of both of my parents families and the history of a small local school district. All three books were done on letter sized paper and had about 120-150 pages/book. We did the vast majority of the work ourselves. I did all the typing for two of them (we hired a typist for the third one). There was a white out function on the typewriter and we went through a number of bottles of liquid paper. Luckily mom's spelling is much better than mine, but several spelling errors still made it into the final editions. One of our "kind" relatives was gracious enough to point out that in several spots, we had spelled February as Febuary. After those books were done, I swore I'd never write again!

So given all that, I guess it is a little ironic that I am now writing a blog. My spelling, penmanship and grammar are still pretty bad, but I do enjoy the creative process and finding ways to express myself. It does take me a little longer than the average person to put my thoughts down, but it is very gratifying to see the final copy and know that I have actually managed to put my thoughts down in a manner that others will actually be able to understand what I am trying to say.

Just do me a favour and don't check the spelling and grammar too closely. Spell Check is already giving me a rough time!


Monday, February 23, 2009


I had a dream about learning math a few weeks ago. I don't recall the details, but when I woke up, I started thinking about my real memories of learning math in school.

When I started Grade 1, 45 years ago, in the fall of 1964, I remember the teacher giving us sets of coloured sticks. I don't know what the technical name was for them, so I'll call them math sticks. They were all different lengths and they were numbered. The smallest ones were an inch long, all numbered one and were the same colour. The next longest were two inches long, all numbered two and were a different colour. Each length had it's own colour and number. The sticks were about 1/4" wide on each of the four sides. There were ten sizes in all. I don't remember what numbers were matched with what colours, but I did find a graph picture on line that I added numbers to so that it would give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.
We were encouraged to play with the sticks and see what combinations we could find that would match up to the length of other sticks. How many red sticks would it take to make a brown one? If you put a white, red and lime end to end would you have a yellow, green or black?

This was a fun way to play and learn at the same time. I had learned my colours and could do some counting before I started school, so this made sense to me. It was pure logic for me.

Math was always my favourite subject when I was in school. It just came easily to me. I always found it odd that some of the kids just didn't get it, no matter how simply it was explained.

The concepts of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing and even fractions came easily. I remember finishing a 5 question math test very quickly in Grade 2 and taking my workbook up to the teachers desk to turn it in for marking. She wouldn't let me turn it in, as she didn't think I could have done them that quickly and gotten them right. She made me go back to my desk and reread them all. I did, but I knew they were all correct, so I just sat there until she let me turn it in about 5 minutes later. She was quite surprised to see that I had indeed gotten them all right and hadn't done any erasing.

When I was about 7 or 8, I remember going to a local store and the owner giving me the wrong change back. I don't think it was deliberate. I tried to tell him that he was wrong, but he wouldn't listen. I knew I was right and I was frustrated to the point of tears. I went out to the car and told mom. Mom went back in with me and had me show him how I could count change. He checked his money drawer and realized that he actually did owe me a few cents more. He apologized and was always very careful about counting change around me after that!

As I grew older, some of the algebra type questions were a bit harder but they could be solved with a little thought and concentration. In senior high we did a section on log rhythms and that was hard. It was the only time I really struggled with math. I only had to deal with that for a few weeks though, as I was taking a general math course and accounting. Lucky for me, I wasn't taking a university math course or I would have been in real trouble!

In high school, there were awards at the end of the year for the highest overall marks in each course. In Grade 10, I was third for Math 101. The girl who won left at the end of that year and I got second for the Math 201 in Grade 11. The guy who won it that year, had been second the year before. He would have won it in Grade 12, but was away for a couple of weeks helping his dad with harvest, so missed the section on income tax. That brought his overall grade down, allowing me to win the Math 301 trophy and a $50.00 scholarship. He never let me forget that he went on to become an accountant and I was only an assistant cook!

We never used calculators, except in accounting class - and then it was only for the more complicated questions. We were expected to be able to add long numbers and columns in our heads quickly.

A few years after high school, I did work as a junior clerk for an insurance company for a few months and had to learn to use a calculator. It wasn't easy, but I did get the hang of it. It was faster than adding in my head and as long as I entered the right info, it was accurate. Using the calculator came in very handy in several other positions over the years.

I slowly started to use the calculator for personal use - especially if my check book was out by even a penny! I want - no make that need to know where that penny went! When I shopped I used my brain to figure out which size and brand had the best value for my money. I generally knew within a dollar, how much my total would be at the checkout.

I still use my brain for calculating in the store, but I rely on a calculator for most of my other math needs. Like so many other things in life, my math skills have decreased immensely as I have aged. Whether I'm in a store or adjusting the measurements for a recipe, I have to stop and concentrate a little more to calculate the correct amount. The calculator is never far from reach.

I wonder if I should get myself a set of math sticks.....


Friday, February 20, 2009

dn's Recipe Index

Welcome to my Recipe Index. This page contains all of the recipes that I have posted on the blog as well as pages that talk about tips for grocery shopping and food storage. As I add more recipes and related info to the blog, this page will also be updated to reflect the new content.

Every recipe and article (within the various categories) is a hyperlink. Just click on the recipe or article that you wish to view.

I hope you enjoy the recipes and info that you find through these links


LAST UPDATE: 08/15/10

Breads and Biscuits
- Chocolate Scones
- Corn Muffins
- dn's Cloud Biscuits
- Focaccia
- Homemade Buns (and variations)

Cakes, Pies and Desserts
- dn's Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake
- dn's Sinsational Chocolate Pizza
- Lemon Cloud Pie

Condiments, Dips and extras
- dnsyl57's Herbed Croutons
- Fat Free Dip
- Relish

- Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies
- dn’s Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies (and Variations)
- dn's Oatmeal and Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Orange Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies

- Baked Salmon Fillets

Frozen Treats
- Cheesecake Ice Cream (and variations)
- Ices (and variations)
- Sherbets (and variations)
- Sorbets (and variations)

Holiday and Festive Treats
- Chocolate Cherry Fruitcake
- dn's Double Chocolate Almond Shortbread
- dnsyl57's Cherry Brandy Chocolate Truffles
- dnsyl57's Peanut Butter Bars in Dark Chocolate
- Triple Chocolate Pizza

- dn's Baked Pork Chops
dn's Chili Con Carne
- dn's Farmer Sausage Casserole
- dn's Family Favourite Sweet And Sour Ribs
- dn's Pork Chops With Mango And Apple
- dn's Pork Chop's with Mushroom Rice
- Improvised Camp Chilli
- Oven Stew
- Taco Meat

Muffins, Loaves and Quick Breads
- Apple Muffins
- Choco Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
- Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Zuchinni Loaf
- Mocha Muffins
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
- Pumpkin Loaf/Muffins

- Baked Thai Chicken
- Chicken In Peanut Sauce
- Creamy Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Mandarin Chicken Bake
- Mexican Lasagna Casserole

Puddings and Squares
- dn's No Bake Chocolate and PB Slice
- Jollygood Squares (and variations)
- Mom's Apple Crisp
- Peanut Crunch Apple Crisp
- Pumpkin Pie Squares
- Upside Down Pudding Cake (and variations)

- dn's Lazy Mixed Bean And Corn Salad
- dn's Lazy Bean and Corn Salad
- Summer Salad Ideas

- Mom's Stuffing

- Oven Fries
- Oven Fries Seasoning Mix
- Oven Roasted Potatoes
- Oven Roasted Veggies

- Food storage to save you money! - Part 1
- Food storage to save you money! - Part 2
- Grocery Shopping

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Apple Muffins

February is apple month. That means there are great deals to be had on all kinds of apples. About a year ago, I went looking for a new recipe for apple muffins. I stumbled across "The Official New York State Muffin Recipe", which apparently IS the official state muffin! Believe it or not, the recipe was developed by elementary school children in North Syracuse. Way to go kids!

Well it looked like a pretty good recipe, except for the fact that it had no chocolate chips! I played around with it a bit and came up with my own version of Apple Muffins. I used half whole wheat and half all purpose rather than all white flour. I prefer almonds to walnuts any day so that was an easy swap. I eliminated the raisins and added lots of chocolate chips instead.

So, with apologies to the kids and the state of New York, here is my recipe:


1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon peel
2 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 ounces light cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups apples, coarsely chopped

Combine topping ingredients and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda. Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds and set aside.

Combine eggs, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until creamy.

Stir in the apples. Add dry ingredients, a little at a time, to the apple mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Portion the batter into paper lined muffin pans. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 Dozen

This recipe freezes well.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. "The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

An alternative theory from Belarus states that the holiday originates from the story of Saint Valentine, who upon rejection by his mistress was so heartbroken that he took a knife to his chest and sent her his still-beating heart as a token of his undying love for her. Hence, heart-shaped cards are now sent as a tribute to his overwhelming passion and suffering." (oh, now isn't that just THEE most romantic thought! EEEWWW!!)

Greeting cards first appeared in England in the mid nineteenth century. An estimated one billion "Valentine's" will be sent world wide. This amount of cards is second only to the amount of Christmas cards sent each year. It wasn't until the mid twentieth century, that the exchanging of Valentine's was really expanded to include flowers, chocolate and other romantic themed gifts. On average men spend twice as much as women on the holiday.

The day is celebrated in many ways throughout the world - some more romantically than others. In Japan women are expected to give chocolate to their male co-workers and friends. The favour is returned by the males on March 14. "In Finland Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into "Friend's day". As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones."

I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day. It's not that I am not a romantic - I can be very romantic given the right circumstances and the right guy. I just never really bought into the whole commercialization of a day specifically for romance. I guess some people need that kick start to rev up a romantic partner, but I think the day feels forced. Romantic gestures can be very simple and should come at any time - not just one specific day to boost the profits of greeting card companies, florists, candy makers and other businesses that want a piece of the action.

The commercialization of the day has pretty much destroyed any real credibility to the real or intended meaning for the day. There are so many unrealistic expectations for Valentine's that it is inevitable that most people are disappointed at the end of the day.

Most women expect men to make the big romantic gestures. They want flowers, chocolates, jewellery, heart felt cards and confessions of undying love from the men in there life. They want it all!

Most men don't even remember the date until it is almost too late. They then rush to the malls and florists shops and spend inflated prices on gifts of love that will hopefully get them a home run rather than time in the proverbial dog house. There are some men who know how to romance women, but sadly most believe it is through the grand romantic gestures rather than the more subtle from the heart gifts.

Ladies, let's be honest here - shall we?

Would you rather have a dozen long stemmed roses that he paid a $100.00 or more for and will wilt in a week or a single paper/silk rose and a handwritten note that says he love you?

Would you rather have a dozen gourmet chocolates in a heart shaped box or a one pound bar of your favourite chocolate with a red bow from the dollar store on it?

Would you rather go to an expensive restaurant and spend over a $100.00 for a fancy meal or stay home and enjoy each others company over a meal you prepared together or some inexpensive take out?

I can't speak for other women, but if it was me, I'd take the second option every time! Like the old Beatles song says: "Can't Buy Me Love"! I'll take a simple, sincere gesture from the heart over an overpriced gift that was bought on the spur of the moment to appear romantic.

If you rely on this one day of the year to keep that flame burning, you are sure to be disappointed. Romance isn't easy. It does tend to fade from time to time. It takes a concerted effort on both sides to keep that spark alive.

So, no matter how busy your life gets, take a little time as often as you can (preferably every day) to let the other person know how important they are to you. It doesn't have to be big. A tender kiss or an extra long embrace. An "I love you" note taped to the mirror or stuck in their lunch bag. Really listen to how the others day has been. It's the so called little things that make the difference. These are the things that keep romance alive and make you realize just how lucky you are to have each other.

To all my friends, I hope that this day brings greetings of love and appreciation from the special people in your life.

I Love you my friend!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

200 And Counting!!!

Well believe it or not, this is post #200!! If Blogger didn't keep track of such things - I wouldn't have known - but they do keep track - there is a running total of published and unpublished posts on my Blogger dashboard.

It is hard to believe that I have made this many posts, but I have. It will be exactly one year on February 14, since I made that first post. I didn't set out to write 200 posts in my first year. I had decided to do 50 posts in the first 50 days because I had turned 50 a few months earlier. I then switched to every other day and now post about every third day. It isn't that I have run out of ideas! I keep a list of ideas and notes on various subjects that I eventually want to write about. I don't often have to go to that well of ideas, as I often find inspiration in day to day conversations, news and life in general.

I also keep lots of humouous emails and links to various web sites that make me laugh or inspire my creative juices. My recipe files are still overflowing with recipes that I eventually want to try and many that I already know I love and want to share with you.

As many of you have no doubt notices, there is a couple of hit counters at the bottom of the site. The freeware counters help me keep track of the traffic on the site. I started off with Bravenet as it was really basic. New or returning visitor, pages viewed and a few other minor details. Nothing that special. There was a technical problem on their site back in the summer and I was without a counter for a day or two, so I went looking for another counter as a backup.

I chose SiteMeter as it was also free and the details it provided intrigued me. With most hits, I can tell what country the hit is from. It usually tells me the province/state and sometimes the city. Please note that I CAN'T tell who you are unless you tell me who you are by posting a comment, sending me a message or telling me in person that you were on at a certain time. It provides only the basic of details but it is really interesting to see where the hits are coming from. Since July, I have had hits from every Canadian province and territory except Nunavut! I have had hits from at least half of the states in the USA. I have had numerous hits from Australia, New Zealand, England and Ireland. There have been hits from Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, South Africa, Nigeria, Jamaica, Trinidad, Brazil and a few other places. It is amazing to me how small this world really is.

One of the other things I like about using the hit counter from Site Meter, is that it tells me how you came to find my blog. If you clicked on a link at the bottom of an email that reads then I know that someone I sent an email to hasn't cleaned out the info on my email. That's okay though as you were curious enough to come have a look. Several people come in through a bookmark for my blog or through the RSS feed!
My blog is also linked to Google search, so if you hit my blog through that search engine I see what you were searching for. It is amazing what people actually search for!! I haven't kept detailed records of what pages have been hit through these searches but I do know which three posts have gotten the most hits.

The third most popular hit was "Groundhog Day". It got several hits in the first couple of days by people wanting to know whether the groundhog in there area saw it's shadow.

The second most popular hit was for my post about the Blizzard of 1986. There have been at least 25 hits since that went up in November! The hits have come from all over the world!

The most popular post I did was December 23. It was called "A Little Christmas Humour" and was a collection of Christmas themed cartoons. The hit counter went a little crazy that day and the next couple of days as well. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. You see I also post as "dns" on the Give Away Of The Day web site. The site provides an option to link your name to your website, which I had done a few months earlier. I had posted in the forums recently so assumed it was people just looking around to see who had their own sites and what they were about. Well, after getting about 15 hits in a couple of hours, I clicked on the link that people were finding me from.

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! There was a thread called "Some Xmas Chuckles". A member had been looking at various member websites, liked the cartoons I'd posted and started a thread to let everyone know about my little corner of the web! I had over 70 hits in 4 days! That was more than I'd had in over two months!!

In the past year I've had almost 900 page views by almost 550 people. That may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but when I started this blog, I only told about thirty people about it. I have no idea who the majority of you are, but I want to say thank you to all of you for stopping by. I hope you found what you were looking for and enjoyed what you saw!

To those of you who have come back a few times or better yet come on a regular basis, I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me that you take time out of your busy schedules to see what my warped little brain has decided to post! Thank you!!

As I said earlier, I still have lots of ideas, recipes and humour to post in the future. I will say that there won't be 200 posts in the coming year - I'm aiming for between 75-100! I hope you will continue to visit this page and if you like what you see, please leave a comment here or on the guestbook. Feel free to invite your friends!

Thank You!!!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Clean Shave!

In the last few weeks there have been a few "news" reports that got me thinking. Apparently George Clooney and Brad Pitt have both been seen wearing mustaches! Now I hope that this is only for a movie role. If this is their way of making a fashion statement, then men will follow it assuming that if the hot celeb's are doing it, then they can do it too!

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

I will admit that their are some historic and iconic figures, such as Charlie Chaplin, Clarke Gable, President Abe Lincoln, Santa Clause and others, who would seem a little strange without a mustache and/or beard, but that doesn't mean that every guy that is old enough to shave should forget how to do it or throw away their razor!

Okay, so you probably have guessed that I am not a fan of beards and mustaches. You're right, I'm not. It's not that I haven't been exposed to them, as there have been several men in my family who have tried various styles of facial follicles over the years.

My dad never wore them and neither did his three brothers as far as I know. My oldest brother wore a beard for many years and actually won/placed in several beard grooming contests - including the annual beard growing contest at "Festival du Voyageur". He always kept his clean, neat and well groomed. An uncle on my moms side of the family, also had a beard for most of his adult life. In his later years, he could have passed for Santa Clause when he wore a red cap and scarf! My other brother wore a handlebar mustache for many years and it looked okay I guess. A few cousins on my dad's side have also worn beards and mustaches, but most have been clean shaven.

I've dated a couple of guys that had mustaches, but I just can't get used to that fuzzy, hairy feeling against my face when things are getting interesting. If it is really short or just growing in, it can be very prickly and irritating. If it is longer and somewhat softer, it just plain tickles and annoys me.

Villains, are often depicted as having a mustache or beard. Just look at Snidely Whiplash and Boris Badinoff - they both wore mustaches and they were some pretty shady characters! Okay, I'll admit they were only cartoon characters, and wore black, but you have to admit, that their facial hair, was a part of what made us believe they were evil.

Please don't misunderstand me. Not all men who wear beards or mustaches are villains. Not all clean shaven guys are good or trustworthy. Maybe it is all a false misconception, but it is the way that it is perceived and frequently portrayed/depicted.

Some men grow beards for religious reasons. For some, it is a right of passage into manhood. There are a lot of musicians and sports figures who have facial hair. It's kind of hard to picture Eddie Rabbitt or Kenny Rogers without their beards. Some guys just look plain silly with a bit of growth such as Apollo Anton Ono. That little tuft of hair under his lip looks ridiculous! Most newscasters are clean shaven. It may well be a form of prejudice but somehow people just don't tend to trust a newsman with a beard or mustache. The facial hair just doesn't carry the same "Trust Me" factor as a clean shaven face. I just can't picture Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson and other well known newsman with beards or mustaches.

Beards and mustaches are often used to "hide" a facial feature such as a mole, scar or something that would make them more identifiable. They think that by wearing facial hair, they can slip under the radar, but it makes me wonder what they are really trying to cover up or are they just to lazy to shave?

I've known some guys whose facial hair can grow in fairly quickly. The five o'clock shadow can appear by early afternoon. They have that Fred Flintstone look! I do feel bad for them, but that still doesn't mean that they should grow a mustache or beard!

Then there is the whole issue of food and other particles that get stuck in the beards and mustaches. Or how about the little bits that appear during cold weather. Oh, those are attractive sights, aren't they? EEEEWWWW!!!!

I know lots of women find the scruffy look, beards and mustaches to be really sexy and a complete turn on, but I just don't get it. It does nothing for me. Sorry guys, but not everyone enjoys your scruffy, fuzzy or furry features.

So please, do us and yourself a favour - get a good razor and use it regularly.

Trust me, most of you will clean up pretty good!!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

You ought to Try Ott!!

Have you ever had trouble seeing small or detailed print?
Have you ever found yourself wearing navy socks with black or brown because you couldn't see the difference?
Have you ever found yourself going over to the nearest window to get a better look at something under natural light?
Have you ever had trouble seeing to thread a needle or other fine detail?
Do your eyes feel tired or strained after reading for a short period of time?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you should check and see when your last eye exam was. Eye health is critical and should never be delayed or avoided. BUT, their may also be a revolutionary form of lighting that can help you see more clearly and with less eye strain and fatigue.

It is called OttLite. It was created by Dr. John Nash Ott who is considered the father of time lapse photography, He created a method to photograph a pumpkin while it grew indoors. These photos were then used by the Walt Disney Company to create the animation for the pumpkin scene in Cinderella. His new found technology was then used as a springboard to create better lighting that reduced eye strain and used less energy. He brought the natural daylight inside in a whole new way!

I first heard about this lighting, about four years ago. I was watching The Shopping Channel and they were talking about this new lighting concept. I thought it looked too good to be true, but kept watching to see what it was about and how it would sell. I'm a bit of a skeptic and I'd watched the channel long enough to know that only products that worked well, made it back to air for more than a couple of visits. Well over the next few months, it came to air several times and sold quite quickly.

Decent lighting has always been a concern for me. Using the standard 75 or 100 watt incandescent bulb, I could read a decent sized print/font for about 30 minutes or so before needing to take a break. If I sat by the window with indirect sunlight coming in over mt shoulder, I could read for maybe 45 minutes - less if the sun was coming in directly as it was too harsh a light. The old fluorescent type of tubes that were used in schools and stores in the 1960's and up were even worse for me. I would start getting headaches in a short period of time. It made doing school work a real challenge. I was having to rest my eyes every 15-20 minutes. I often came home with a headache.

The new low energy bulbs that are being marketed now - and will eventually replace the vast majority of incandescent bulbs are almost as bad as the old fluorescent ones for me. I find them extremely harsh and my eyes do not adjust well to seeing anything under their light. Most new cars use this type for their headlights. When a car is coming towards me with them on I have to look away or shield my eyes to still see what is around me. Many stores, offices and streetlights are now using this type of lighting. For me it is like staring into camera flash bulbs. The low energy bulbs are blinding for me. I also really hate the look of the low energy Christmas lights. The white is harsh and the dark blue is so intense. I really can't enjoy a tree with those lights

I knew that to be able to continue reading and other activities, I was eventually going to have to find another light source. I didn't have a PC at the time so couldn't do the research, but decided to take a chance and see if the OttLite was even half as good as everyone claimed it was. I ordered an 18 watt floor lamp and 13 watt desk lamp package in early December 2005.

I got the lamps a few days later, and quickly did the minor assembly. I plugged in the floor lamp and sat down with a phone book, a magazine with pale print on glossy paper and a book with dark green print. All these items were things that I have had trouble reading. To my complete amazement, they were ALL much easier to read! That first night, I read my book and magazine for almost two hours WITHOUT any eye strain or headache!

So, I'm sure you can imagine how thrilled I was to find a light that I could read by and not get eye strain! I now own 3 of the 18 watt floor lamps and 2 of the 13 watt desk lamps. I use them in the living room, here by the computer and I also move one of them to the kitchen when I am dipping my chocolates every Christmas, as it is much easier to see if I am getting everything dipped properly!

Some of the lamps can be a bit pricey compared to some other lamps on the market, but you can shop around and find decent deals. There are lots of great styles available. I have bought all of my lamps through The Shopping Channel. I've also seen them at local retailers such as Canadian Tire and Office Depot. They also sell the replacement tubes. (Office Depot is by far the cheapest for the refills!). When you stop to consider how energy efficient and the vast reduction in eye strain, using the OttLite is actually a very smart investment both financially and visually!

I recently learned that the OttLite is now also available in a bulb that will fit the standard incandescent socket. They are available in 15 watt Ott (60watt), 20 watt Ott (75 watt) and 25 watt Ott (100 watt). I phoned about 10 Winnipeg retailers and wholesale outlets a couple of weeks ago looking for these new bulbs. No one had them in stock yet. Several had the OttLite tubes and said they were excellent light sources and good sellers. Half had never heard of OttLite and tried to tell me that all low energy bulbs are the same! HUH! That's what they think! If they tried them, they'd be sold on them too!

I'll keep looking and also have friends look in their travels to the USA. Thesse new lights for the old sockets would make my daily living so much easier!

Seeing is believing! Until you've tried Ott, you ain't seen nothing yet!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

Well today is Groundhog Day and that means that the groundhog prognosticators will be woken from their winter slumber so that they can tell everyone when spring will arrive.

An early spring or six more weeks of winter. Hmm... an early spring would be nice, especially after the winter that most of us have just come through, but even if the sleepy little guys sees his shadow, six more weeks isn't that long. After all, that would only take us to March 16, which is only a few days before the official start to spring on March 20. So why the big deal over whether or not the little guy sees his shadow or not?

Groundhog Day always seemed like a waste of time to me. Getting up out of a nice warm bed before dawn on a cold winter's morning to see if a groundhog sees it's shadow. Yet people all over North America and parts of Europe have done this for well over 150 years. Come on, people, it's not like the groundhog actually speaks and says I saw or didn't see my shadow! It is the human "handler" who interprets whether or not a shadow has been seen.

Many Europeans used the hedgehog as their forecaster, but due to a shortage of hedgehogs in North America, settlers switched the custom to watching woodchucks or groundhogs. The first reports of this custom in North America date back to the 1840's.There are also some European countries that watch certain days in June or July for weather predictions. If it rains on a certain day, then it will be a rainy season ahead.

Here are just a few of the groundhog prognosticators across North America:
- Punxsutawney Phil found in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA
- Jimmy the Groundhog of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA
- Wiarton Willie found in Wiarton, Ontario, Canada
- Staten Island Chuck found in New York City, New York, USA
- General Beauregard Lee, PhD found in Atlanta, Georgia, USA
- Dunkirk Dave in Dunkirk, New York, USA
- Malverne Mel and Malverne Melissa found in Malverne, New York, USA
- Brandon Bob of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada - Balzac Billy of Balzac, Alberta, Canada
- Shubenacadie Sam of Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada
- Gary the Groundhog of Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada
- Spanish Joe of Spanish, Ontario, Canada
- Sir Walter Wally of Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
- Pardon Me Pete of Tampa, Florida, USA
- Octoraro Orphie of Quarryville, Pennsylvania, USA
- Holtsville Hal of Holtsville, New York, USA
- Buckeye Chuck of Marion, Ohio, USA

The official forecaster here in Manitoba is known as Manitoba Merv. His partner is named Maria. They are residents of Oak Hammock Marsh, but Merv isn't your average groundhog. Several years ago, the staff at Oak Hammock, decided that they would use puppets to embrace the spirit of the day, rather than wake the real animals. Groundhogs normally sleep through late March, and it was agreed that waking them for that one day was not really that good for the well being of the animals. Bravo, Oak Hammock Marsh!!

I know of a couple of people who were actually born on Groundhog Day - one a very close family member and the other is a longtime friend of the family. They have always been razed about seeing their shadow on their birthday! We've even threatened to blindfold them or keep them indoors some years!!

So, regardless of whether any of the Groundhogs sees their shadow today, I thought I'd share a little Groundhog Day Humour:

Q: Why was the groundhog depressed about his den?
A: He was having a bad lair day!

Q: What would you get if you crossed February 2 with a Christmas drink?
A: Ground Nog Day!

Why bother with Groundhog Day?
- It's already on the calendar.
- with all the wannabe prognosticating rodents out there, at least one of them has got to be right!
- often more accurate than the regular weather forecasts and networks!
- As the old radio show used to say: "The Shadow Knows"!
- For those of us who are single, it is less depressing than Valentine's Day!