Category Archives: How to

How I Conquered the Most Stubborn Stain in the House

Ever since I moved in to this house, I have been in a never-ending hunt for ways to clean my tub.

If I remember correctly, scrubbing the tub (and the entire main bathroom, for that matter) was one of the first things I did the day I got the keys to the place. That and eradicating a trail of ants from the kitchen counter from a sticky sweet mess left behind, as well as a load of laundry for a proud first-time owner of a laundry centre.

But for some reason, no matter how much I scrubbed with my trusty scouring powder with bleach, there were patches of darker shades of beige throughout that didn’t seem to want to come off. Technically, I knew it was clean, but it looked stained.

I don’t know much about the previous owners and occupants, but for a fifteen-year-old house, there were some signs of premature aging. There were some pieces in the house showing more wear and tear than my first apartment that was twice that age, including chips in the enamel of a sink, knife marks on the kitchen counter and some carpeting that absorbed the fallout of a kitty cat with an unfortunate bladder issue.

In the months that followed, whenever I had a few minutes, I was back at the tub, trying to clean it with the same tenacity as the Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. I tried every product on the market and had to hold myself back from using anything deliberately abrasive, in my frustration for the stains that would not come out. Continue reading

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How My Cat Convinced Me to Get Her a Water Fountain

When the season changes from winter to spring, I find that Ivy the Wonder Cat also seems to go through some changes. After being cooped up in the house with the windows closed for a harsh Canadian winter, those first blasts of fresh air with all of the delightful aromas of spring, seem to get her senses and her excitement levels running high again.

In doing so, she also starts shedding her winter coat and her tastes shift from heartier comfort foods to lighter meals (maybe I’m projecting a little on that last one), but true enough, she starts turning her nose up on some of the heavier pâté style cat foods.

But for the last two springs I also noticed that she seems prone to short periods of kitty constipation. Without going into too many details, when I finally do see the nuggets in the litter box coming at 3 or 4 day intervals, I think that passing those little rocks mustn’t be fun for my feline friend.

Last year, I tried adding pumpkin puree to her food to add a bit more gentle fiber to her meals, but Miss Ivy sees right through my mixing and masking. My little carnivore would rather eat more dry food than eat something from the fruit and vegetable food group.

The issue is that no matter how many times I clean and freshen her food bowl, I never see her drink much water, at least not on my watch. If she eats more dry food, that interval between trips to the litter box could get longer and get me more concerned. Continue reading

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How Index Cards Became My New Writing Tool

Throughout life, I have often considered myself a late bloomer, but never more so than now in discovering the joy of index cards. Yes, index cards!

With the little writer’s voice in my head constantly pitching ideas to me, the challenge has always been to find the means to capture those ideas IMMEDIATELY.

I can usually juggle a handful of random ideas for about half an hour until I can get to a screen or a piece of paper to jot them down. But beyond that, I run the same risk as the cartoon dog from the movie “Up!” because the moment I’m distracted by a “Squirrel!” the idea could be gone forever.

Sometimes an idea might just fizzle out on its own, or sometimes it might grow into a mighty oak in the form of a blog post, a screenplay or even a novel, but the key is to capture that idea in order to see what comes of it.

To do that, I do my best to capture them all. Figuring out the best vehicle to capture the ideas has been the tricky part. Continue reading

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Trimming My Cat’s Nails Without Looking Like I Lost a Fight

As much as I have gushed about all the fun things my cat Ivy has brought into my life, one area that has been a constant learning experience has been the act of trimming her nails.

What is it about my normally cool-as-a-cucumber kitty that the moment I attempt to gently snip 1/16th of an inch off a sharp nail, she can turn on a dime, and a zen moment suddenly becomes a scene from The Exorcist?

Trimming Ivy’s nails has been like a trip to the casino. Most times, I walk away with nothing. On a few occasions, I might get one or two nails done. And on a few rare occasions, I may hit the jackpot and get a whole paw (or even two) done! The trick has been to figure out why I am successful some times and not others, and then to follow the pattern.

It’s pretty easy to check the status of her nails without any intervention on my part. During our daily pets, she lies flat on her blanket and starts moving her little arms back and forth, making that kneading motion with her paws. Her little Wolverine claws pop in and out, giving me a full account of whether her nails are still blunt or if they are sharp or jagged, meaning she is due for a trim.

But if I miss the status check, another sign that a trim is overdue is when she walks around the house, when she doesn’t have her collar on. Usually she can be stealth kitty and sneak up on me at any given moment (which can also be a little creepy, quite frankly). But if I can hear her walking through the kitchen sounding like she is wearing stilettos, those nails are getting long.

The trick is finding the right time to do it. If I say yes to any of the following, chances are, it is not an opportune time: Continue reading

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How I Became a New Fan of Wine

wine-bottlesWhen it comes to wine, you could say I was a late bloomer… a very late bloomer. But better late than never, I guess.

My first few tries of wine involved painfully dry white wines that seemingly stung my taste buds. I don’t know whether it was my taste buds that weren’t used to wine yet and I couldn’t appreciate it, but because I did not have any other points of reference, I thought all wines were like that. As a result, I generally stayed away and explored other libations.

It was around age 35 that I had my first sip of a wine that made my eyes light up and brought a smile to my face. It was an epiphany in a stemmed glass!

I wish I could remember the name of the wine to thank the winery, but it turned out to be something a little more middle-of-the-road in terms of sweet-dry balance. It was a nice, light, fruity wine with floral and citrus notes that delicately danced across the taste buds, like a gentle cooling breeze on a warm summer day. It was a pivotal moment that put me back on the path of exploring the wonderful world of wines.

In those first months, I had no idea what I was looking for. Initially, I picked up wines from brands I had heard of through word of mouth. It did not take long for me to alter that strategy upon realizing that I must have been the oddball among a collective of dry wine aficionados.

Then I started reading recommendations from reviewers and picking a few that appealed by their descriptions, suggesting notes of “black cherry” and “chocolate”. If I liked these flavours on their own, why not in my wine? They were quite good, but along the way I discovered that robust red wines made me very sleepy. As Archie Bunker once said in “All in the Family”, they were like “a blanket in a bottle”. It’s hard to become a wine connoisseur when you’re yawning at 30 second intervals and stealing the toothpicks from the cheese cubes to prop your eyelids up. Continue reading

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Fashionably Fifty

mens-clothingI certainly would not consider myself a fashionista or an authority on the topic of fashion, but let’s just say that I genuinely believe that cultivating a personal sense of style does have its merits.

Throughout my professional career, dressing appropriately was something I took seriously, to demonstrate to my colleagues and my superiors that I was interested, engaged and committed to my work and to my career.

By offering attention to detail in my professional wardrobe, I believed it was a sign that my work would also reflect the same attention to detail. To me, it helped project credibility. Also, by dressing appropriately for the office, I never really had to worry about being called to last-minute meetings, as I was always suitably attired.

I would like to think that at this stage of my life, my skills, my track record and my professional reputation speak for themselves. But still, I have no interest in showing up for work while wearing the same thing I would be wearing if I was at home, binge watching Netflix.

Throughout my life, I have turned to men’s fashion magazines for tips and hints for cultivating the right look for me, for my age, and for my body type. After building and refining what I consider to be a classic wardrobe, combining durable investment pieces and a few colourful statement pieces, even if I don’t need to buy anything new, the magazines help me validate that the pieces I am wearing are still contemporary. Continue reading

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The Ups and Downs of Blogging Statistics

statsIn posting articles to my blog once or twice per week, I cannot help but peek at my WordPress statistics from time to time. And I will even admit that every once in a while, I check them out a little obsessively, even though I know I shouldn’t. But when I do, I think to myself that I shouldn’t worry too much about the stats because I am blogging for the fun of it.

On the other hand, I cannot deny that paying attention to the stats and the multiple ways that they can be sliced and diced does provide valuable information with respect to social media and my target audience.

The reality is that watching blog stats is a little like watching the stock market. Once a blog post is in the public domain and its links are posted on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Flipboard, you never really know what will be a hit or when.

As I suggested in previous posts, there are some blogs I threw together in an hour that surpass my previous “personal bests” in page views, likes, comments or retweets. And then there are other posts for which I toiled by the sweat of my brow for days or weeks that barely register a blip.

But I am very proud of all of my posts, whether anyone saw them or not. I love them all equally!… OK, that’s not quite right. I admit, I have favourites too! Continue reading

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