Tag Archives: gifts

Ten Cheap Valentine’s Gifts Moms Will Appreciate…

I know I’m a little early for this…most men will probably be hitting the stores on Sunday.  Forget lingerie that requires an instruction manual to put on…I would like to offer this list of ideas for inexpensive gifts for the mother in your life:

1. Let her sleep in on the weekend.  Feed the kids breakfast.  Get them dressed.  Keep them quiet.  For bonus points: bring her breakfast in bed after two hours. 

2. Pick up your socks.  Put them in a hamper near you.  If you’re feeling really generous, do a load or two of laundry (in the correct temperature), fold it, and put it away.

3. Empty the dishwasher.  Put the dishes in the correct places in the kitchen.  Don’t leave the ramekins on the counter and claim you don’t know where to put them.

These are ramekins (the dishes, not the food)...put them in the cupboard...

4. Her own snacks.  Does she love Ruffles Sour Cream and Bacon potato chips?  Buy a bag just for her, and hide it from the kids.

5. An hour of uninterrupted bathroom time.  Shaving one’s legs in the shower just isn’t practical sometimes.  Threaten to subject the kids to watching golf on TV if they disturb her!

6. Fuzzy slippers.  Check her shoes to make sure you buy the right size.  Most of us have cold feet in the winter.  If her toes are warm, she’ll be a happy girl.

Happiness is warm tootsies...

7. Make dinner for the family.  Try to find the ingredients/dishes you need yourself.  It doesn’t matter what it is (with some obvious exceptions)…food always tastes better when someone else cooks it.

8. Quiet time.  Take the kids out for a minimum of two hours, and leave her with the house to herself.  Give her a call when you’re on the way home, so she can avoid the kids catching her in mid-dance move.

Make sure if your kids are going to see this, that their friends are with them!

9. Movie night at home.  Let her pick a movie she wants to see and watch it with her.  Bite your lip if you’re tempted to complain about the lack of ninjas or machine guns.  Agree with her when she comments on how attractive the male lead is.

10. Kiss her and tell her you love her.  Cup her face in your hands and look deep into her eyes when you say it.  

There’s nothing to keep you from doing the whole list if you want to…I’m sure your actions will be rewarded!  If you print out this post and save it, these suggestions work equally well for Mother’s Day!


Filed under cooking, family, rants, satire, shopping

“No, Virginia…There is No Fruitcake Fairy”, and Other Holiday Truths…

Well…here it is…December 6th, and I am being struck by some harsh holiday truths:

1. There is no Fruitcake Fairy.  Somehow, Jim and I completely forgot about making his Grammy Clark’s fruitcake this year (usually a project we undertake while others are getting ready for Halloween).  I remembered it this weekend…too late!  Our kids won’t care (fruitcake haters, all!), but I’m sure Jim’s relatives who we normally give it to might notice its absence!  I happen to love fruitcake…I will miss it!

2. Times have changed.  Gone are the days when I made all my own Christmas gifts (1970’s), sent a Christmas letter every year (1980’s), or had all my Christmas shopping done by the end of October (1990’s).  Crap!  I’ve got to buy the stuff to send to relatives in Ontario – mail service has also gone downhill!

3. I’d rather have a real tree.  Artificial Christmas trees shed worse than real ones…allergies prevent us from having a real one.  The poor thing looks more decrepit every year…

4. Decking the Halls is fun “De-decking” is not.  I think it was March last year before we took the lighted candy canes off the outside of the house.  They have yet to reappear.

5. Gingerbread men have lost their charm.  Children lose their enthusiasm for holiday baking as they get older.  When asked if they wanted to help make Christmas cookies this year, the girls’ response was the equivalent of “Meh!” 

6. They should sell Scotch tape equipped with a homing device.  Finding tape to wrap presents when one needs it in our house is something akin to locating the Holy Grail.  Our tape ends up in young Justin Bieber fans’ bedrooms holding up posters of their heartthrob…(and no, Hope…you can’t have JB for Christmas!  We have enough teenagers, thanks!).

7. The cost of the present the kids want is directly proportional to how much money is in your bank account.  The less you have, the more expensive the present.  Teenagers find it so much easier to spend their parents’ money than their own!  On a related note, you are obligated to spend the same amount of money on each child, down to the penny (they keep track!).

8. I still cry when I hear “Silent Night”.  No matter where I am, this song still makes me burst into tears…it reminds me of my grandparents, who died many years ago.  My family members stiffen when they see “Silent Night” in the programme of any Christmas concert we’re at…”Oh, man…get out the Kleenex!  They’re gonna sing that song!”  It’s even more embarrassing when I turn into a basket case listening to Muzak in the mall!   

9. Christmas cards are passé.  I used to send out about 40-50 cards every year.  That was back when stamps were 6 cents each (okay, I’m exaggerating…I’m not that old!).  This year, I will probably send them to elderly relatives who don’t have e-mail yet (I should probably pick some up soon – cards, not relatives).  I will also use the opportunity to get rid of the approximately 187 wallet-size school photos we purchased. 

10. Taking a decent family Christmas photo of 10 people and a dog is really difficult.  This is the one we settled on yesterday after about 20 takes (Elise was watching the Garfield Christmas special on TV):

Hammond River Holiday Photo. Front: Hope, Anna with Jake, Brianna, Devin. Back: Jim, Wendy, Dave (Grandad), Scott with Elise, Kaylee.


Filed under cooking, family, food, memories, music, rants, satire, self-discovery, shopping


On Monday, I was working at the bookstore, when Dad brought me a small, brown paper-wrapped package with my name on it…I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, but she had included her website in the return address: it was from Jeanne at FlyingGma’s Blog.  I didn’t really “know” Jeanne the way I know a lot of my other blogging buddies…she’d left a comment or two on my blog, and I’d seen a couple of her comments on my friend Tom’s site.  Before opening the package, I was a little freaked out that she would send me a gift!  Was “Flying Gma” a pseudonym for “Crazy Stalker Lady”?

Suppressing my fears, I tore open the paper…I love presents!  Inside was a card box.  In the box, there was a small, old Webster’s Dictionary wrapped in white tissue paper.  There was also a homemade card with a lovely note written on it:


When I read on your blog this morning that you were a bookseller I immediately thought of this book, and that you might like it, especially after your link on Thomas’ post for savethewords.org

I found the book in a home we moved into when I was 13 (1973).  Walter S. was the owner of the home before we moved in.  He was in his 70’s at the time and a retired pharmacist.  

I’m downsizing my possessions and trying to find people who would truly enjoy them.  If you know of someone who would enjoy it more than you feel free to pass it on or keep it yourself.  Enjoy!

Jeanne aka Flying Gma

Jeanne's note and book...

I sent Jeanne a thank you e-mail, expressing how much her gift had touched me…I am about as sentimental as you can be!  I also asked if I could include the story in a blog post, and she graciously allowed me to share it with you.  I am so grateful for all the amazing people I have gotten to know through blogging!

On Tuesday evening, Kaylee and I went to the Rankin Family show at the Imperial Theatre.  They were celebrating their 20th Anniversary with the These Are the Moments Tour.

The Rankin Family: Cookie, Heather, Jimmy and Raylene...


I have been a fan of this talented Maritime group ever since the early 90’s when my ex-husband got tickets to one of their shows from the radio station where he worked at the time.  We took the kids along: Kaylee was 10 and Anna was two…she managed to fall asleep during the show (don’t ask me how!).  After the concert, we went backstage, where the Rankin girls made a big fuss over our little girls!  They were so tiny and so sweet!

Since then, we’ve seen the Rankin Family perform four times, and I’ve seen Jimmy Rankin’s solo show once.

Even after twenty years, the group brings energy and enthusiasm to every show they do…they are warm, funny, and full of joy!  On Tuesday night, they performed all the old favourites: North Country, Borders and Time, The Mull River Shuffle, We Rise Again (which makes me cry every time I hear it), You Feel the Same Way, and Fare Thee Well Love.  However, the song that made the biggest impression on me was this one:       

Thank you to the Rankin Family for giving us the gift of your beautiful voices for the last twenty years!

On Wednesday morning, Jim had his sinus surgery…it was performed by his mother’s cousin, Dr. Robert Rae.  This was the first time I’d met Robert, a busy ear, nose and throat specialist who also finds time to chair various medical organizations, as well as sit on several committees.  He came in to speak to us before the operation, and shook my hand warmly.  I felt immediately at ease with him.

I kissed Jim goodbye, and went to the waiting room where Jim’s parents sat.  About an hour later, Robert came out, gave Shirley a hug, and sat down to fill us in on how the surgery went.  There had been a lot of bleeding because Jim’s sinuses were full of polyps caused by allergies and chronic infection.  However, the operation had gone well.  We had been told that Jim would have to be in the recovery room for about an hour, so we settled down to wait. 

After three hours, we were all starving.  I decided to ask what was taking so long.  A friendly nurse came out and told me that Jim had been experiencing some “oozing” which was perfectly normal.  However, he was convinced that after doing pre-surgery surfing on the Internet, his brain fluids were leaking out!   Robert was summoned back to the hospital to reassure poor Jim that all his juices were still where they were supposed to be…the doctor did decide to give him some extra packing though.

Finally, about four in the afternoon, we were told that we could bring the car to the front door, and they would bring Jim down in the wheelchair.  We got him into the car, and Shirley and Gordon drove us home.  After dropping us off, they headed to the drugstore to pick up Jim’s meds.  They brought those back about an hour later…Tylenol 3’s, and an antibiotic to combat infection.

Thanks to Jim’s parents for all their support…I can’t imagine spending all day in a hospital waiting room with anybody else!  Thanks also to  Robert for fixing up my man! 

Today is Remembrance Day, which is the day when we pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice…those who fought and died for us so that we could live in freedom.  Thank you to those brave men and women, and to our veterans, and to those who continue to  serve our country!  Your gift to us is treasured by all!

Every Day is Remembrance Day...image from glanmore.org...


Filed under blogging, books, family, friends, music

Scenes from a Bookstore…

As alluded to in several previous posts, we’ve been busy at the bookstore (see link at right side) in the past few weeks, mostly drowning in books that people have decided they no longer want.  In the last month, I’ve personally appraised about 50 boxes of books.  We had two more calls today from people with bulk lots: one was a retiring Anglican minister who has somewhere between 15 and 20 boxes (religion is one of our specialties), and the other was for 5-6 boxes from someone settling an estate.  Our local secondhand furniture dealer has about 40 banana boxes waiting for us when we can get around to it.  There’s a lady in St. Andrews (another estate) waiting for us to come to see her books.  Oh, and the man who started in our space several years ago and then went completely online, is now getting out of the business, so we’ve been getting some good deals by visiting his warehouse.  Here are some photos of what our usually tidy store floor looks like now:

My desk and the 23 boxes of books which surround it...I'm considering learning the hurdles to get to my chair...

Dad's Desk...He's lucky...he only has seven boxes around him, but his room is smaller!

The children's section is behind here, somewhere...

More boxes at end of shelving...

Dad set up at the Canada Day Flea Market yesterday, and did quite well…he took books we had duplicates of.  However, I still have three boxes of books to put away.

We had a cruise ship in port the other day (they’re in 2 or 3 times a week in the summer), and actually had 4 separate parties from the ship come in the store!  Usually, we call any cruisers that find us “the escapees” (they were brave enough to strike out on their own and not get roped into the shore excursions).  Two of the four couples even bought something.  The first couple who came in were from Australia – they came a long way for a cruise.  I particularly enjoyed the last couple of the afternoon – they were nice people from Brooklyn (yes, Brooklyn, New York)!  The woman was the same age I am (birthdays a month apart), and just a sweetheart.  Her son, who was a tall 13-year-old, sat on the floor and read a book about Spanish while her partner was in the other room looking at art books.

We had a couple of decent Internet orders this morning…here’s what we pack those in:

The world's biggest roll of bubble wrap...yes, it's really 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide! The delivery man had trouble getting it through our front door!

Our curved front door made of Honduran mahogany and leaded glass...ca. 1827...

We’ve made some good friends among our customers over the last ten years.  We have a retired Asian physics professor who comes in every once in a while, drops a box of very expensive textbooks, smiles and walks out – he refuses to take any money for them!  We have sold a couple of his books for more than $200! 

This plate came from a customer who thought we should have it…it was even colour-coordinated to our paint:

Book plate sits on our mantel...

This little guy came from a customer who was moving to Ontario…she had some lovely art books, and presented us with this present when she came to pick up her cheque:

Owl clock...I'd never seen anything like it...

The best thing we get from our store is knowledge…I tell people I learn something new every day!  After ten years, I’m finally getting to the point where I think I know what not to buy!I have also amassed a tremendous amount of useless facts in my head, which may come in handy if I’m ever a Jeopardy contestant.  Yesterday, I had a spirited discussion about philosophy with a new customer (I knew nothing about it, but I learned about the Gorgias Dialogues from him).

Our actual 10-year anniversary is coming up in August…I’m trying to come up with an event to celebrate that would be fun, easy and cheap…any ideas would be appreciated!


Filed under books