Bringing Home the Bacon

Did you think “Retirement” meant golfing in the summer and strolling on the beach in the winter?  Living on a Fixed Income means, for us, that we need to find different ways to add to our income.

Christmas Market

Working for Peanuts 🙂

A few years back, we attended classes for older workers with the view to starting our own business.  That was not the rocket to success but I have been doing Farmers Markets every week.  Selling my art work and fabric was a recipe for starvation, so to bring the buyers into my stall, I added fudge.  A small, easy buy food item.  Now I can say my booth is paid for and there is a bit left over and sometimes I sell my art work.  I’m sure anyone who has done market sales can relate.

I have been keeping my eye out for an additional item, perhaps a Direct Sales kind of business, maybe on line, that I can add to my repertoire without taking away from my first love of painting.

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Home Business

Just this past month I found what I was looking for.  A business with a high quality product that everyone uses.  It had a low start up fee, a low minimum yearly qualifying sales, a direct to customer ordering system web page, and an easy set up for markets.

Not to prolong the wondering – the business is called Sweet Sheets.  Yes, sheets.  Everyone uses them, and these sheets are outstanding!

They are  luxurious bed sheets made from high strength micro fiber yarns with the soft touch comparable to 1800 thread count.  They are guaranteed against pilling, are wrinkle resistant and are shrink free.  They come in 15 beautiful colours and are available in Twin, Double, Queen, King and California King sheet sizes.

I am very excited about this new opportunity.  If you have been looking for something new, drop by Sweet Sheets and become a consultant today.  You will sleep better too 😀

 

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Best Banana Bread

We love Banana Bread at our house and as they grow, our little wolves love it too.  This recipe has been used for many years, tweaked and sampled, until it’s just right.

Best Banana Bread

It is a great treat to bring to a sick friend; after church coffee; welcome neighbour; or glad you are home from school!  I hope you will love it as much as we do.  Don’t forget to try the different additions too.Banana Bread

 

Best Banana Bread

Cook Time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 loaves

Best Banana Bread

Best Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 2 Cups White Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 5-6 Very Ripe Bananas
  • 3 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Baking Power
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • **Additions: 1 1/2 Cups of any of the following:
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Coconut

Instructions

  1. Using a mix master, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Add bananas one at a time and blend. (If using frozen bananas you may need to thaw them partially as they will make your butter hard again) Add vanilla and mix.
  2. In a separate bowl stir all your dry ingredients, include and additions at this time.This is important Dump the two bowls together, gently fold and stir until it is just barely mixed. If a few spots of flour show, don’t worry about it.
  3. Divide into two loaf pans that have been greased or sprayed. At this point you can also add halve the amount of the additions and very gently stir into the batter of one pan. This way you can satisfy the taste of everyone. Something else I do at this stage is sprinkle a line of sugar down the center of each loaf. Don’t ask me why, it’s not as if they aren’t sweet enough, I just do.
  4. Bake at 350 Degrees for appx 1 Hour. A toothpick should come out clean from the center of the loaf. Remove from oven and let stand in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. They freeze nicely.
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A Start to Healthy

waters-3038803_640Today I went to the pool.  It’s my start on the road to healthy.  I lasted twenty minutes in the pool and ten minutes in the hot tub.

Our pool has a “river” that has a current and bubbles and it looks so wonderful.  I was finding that I could walk around the river slowly.  It was wonderful.  My knees didn’t hurt, my foot didn’t hurt, it was easy on the back.  I went backwards and forwards both with the current and against the current.   I also found I had to watch my balance, this will help improve that as well.

Twenty minutes and I was pooched! I wasn’t shaking but was definitely feeling it.  The hot tub was so warm, ten minutes was plenty.

It is my first try at, really, any kind of exercise just for exercise.  I have a friend that will come with me and keep me positive and accountable.  So while I am not doing lengths, I am moving and I feel proud of myself.

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Roots

Photo by Lonely Pine

Ours has been a lifetime of change.  We have, for example, moved from town to town more than I care to confess.  I have also had several careers.

In all those changes we have become expert movers.  The battalion of  boxes became as much furniture as storage, each one being re-labeled with new names and a new lamination of packing tape.

Then we stopped and the now unpacked boxes were broken down and stacked in the corner in case we needed to use them again.  But we didn’t, and haven’t, and so they were slowly dispatched to recycling or garbage or given away.  It was wrenching but afterwards felt good.

In Matthew 9:14/17 Jesus credits former Jewish traditions as things that were useful, but are no more because He is doing something new.  Mercy and grace replace traditions and legalism.  These last two virtues, while laudable, are to service the first two, which are, in every way preeminent.

So what old baggage do we cling to?  What has served its noble purpose but must be consigned to second place.  These are hard questions because we cling to whatever we must demote or dispose because, well, they are a part of us and without them we become vulnerable.  Sometimes, however, we just have to “do it” for the sake of a future for which we have been waiting for so long.

 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.  Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”  Matthew 9:16&17

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Super Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken CacciatoreI really did not feel like cooking tonight!  Thank goodness I had taken some chicken breasts out of the freezer yesterday.  Chicken is so easy to do anything with.

The barbecue did not appeal to me and I was sick of potatoes.  What, what, what to make?  I really wanted spaghetti so chicken cacciatore it was.  Now did I have all the ingredients?  Nope, however that just makes it a challenge.  I did find a jar of spaghetti sauce, a box of spaghetti and of course the chicken.

The chicken breasts I poured over my Sundried Tomato Infused Olive Oil from Mix Party added some tomato basil seasonings and wrapped them in foil.  These I did put on the barbecue until cooked and tender.  Heated up the spaghetti sauce, cooked the spaghetti.  When the chicken was done, I took one chicken breast and sliced it in small pieces.  I grounded some pink sea salt over them and set it aside.  Once the spaghetti sauce was hot and the pasta cooked it was dished up and the chicken placed on the top.  Add the cheese of choice, a little fresh basil, and a slice of artisan bread and Voila, easy dinner.  By the way, I did not make the bread, Bop did and it just came out of the oven in time for dinner.  It all tasted wonderful!

 

Super Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Super Easy Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
  • Spaghetti
  • Cheese, parmesan, goat, or cheddar
  • Fresh Basil

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts in a zip bag or bowl
  2. add two tablespoons of olive oil, (I used Mix Party Sundried Tomato)
  3. 1 tsp of tomato basil seasoning (I used Epicure)
  4. Wrap in foil and bake on the BBQ for 20-25 minutes, turning once
  5. Heat 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (you may add whatever veggies you want, I had none)
  6. Enough pasta for two or three people cooked dente
  7. Slice cooked chicken thinly and grind some sea salt on top
  8. When pasta is cooked, sauce is hot, dish up your plate!
  9. Top with chicken slices; cheese of choice and 2-3 leaves of fresh basil torn up.
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Easy 3 Ingredient Jam

Apricots

Chopped up

Living in Orchard country means to me, putting down fresh fruit for the winter.  One of our favourites is Jam. Bop, my sweetheart, loves jam and what better way than to make it ourselves.   You know what goes into it and you can keep the sugar down as well.

I have used this same recipe for both apricot and plum jam.  Just three ingredients; fruit, sugar and lemon juice.

Wash your fruit and make sure they are ripe but not bruised.  You can cut out bruised bits.  Chop your fruit into smallish chucks, I don’t peel them.  You will want 12 cups of chopped fruit.  Put this into a large pot, add sugar and lemon juice.  With Apricots I also added a few pits, I have heard it said they have natural pectin, I’m not sure about that, but we have always done it that way!  If you decide you want to do that, be sure to count how many pits you put in.  I used eight so I always knew how many to take out.

Chopped up and Heating up

Stir it all together and bring to a boil over medium to low heat.  I don’t like to rush things in case it burns.  You need to watch and stir fairly often.  Add in your candy thermometer to keep a close eye on the temperature until it reaches 220 degrees.  But check for your altitude.  A good guide I found for you was this:  http://www.portlandpreserve.com/testingthejellypoint.pdf

Deep Rick Colour

Apricot jam

Keep your jars hot and be sure to sterilize the sealers.  I boil them in a small pot and keep them on simmer until I need them.  With my jars, I have them washed and then pour boiling water into them just before use.  It keeps them from cracking with the heat of the jam.

Fill your jars fairly full, leaving about a 1/4″ head room.  Wipe off any spills with a clean damp cloth, then put on the hot sealers and add the rings.  Set your hot jars on a tea towel or cutting board to cool and wait for that wonderful sound of the “pop” of sealed jam.

Harvest

 

Easy 3 Ingredient Jam

Easy 3 Ingredient Jam

Ingredients

  • 12 cups of chopped fruit
  • 4-5 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Put chopped fruit into a heavy bottomed saucepan
  2. Add sugar, and lemon juice.
  3. Stir over med heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil.
  5. Boil, on med heat stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F.
  6. Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headspace, and seal.
  7. Process in a water bath 10 minutes for storing.
  8. If the jam is going to be eaten right away just refrigerate.

Notes

Because we like our jam fairly runny; more like a heavy syrup; I only cook my jam to appx 215 degrees. More to the sheeting stage. For more information, I found this on line for you to look over: http://www.portlandpreserve.com/testingthejellypoint.pdf

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Plums are Ready!

Here I am on Friday, after a week of school, chopping and processing plums.  Ripe fruit waits for no man.  Thank goodness I love doing this and Bop will pick all I need.  Today is one batch of plums – seven jars cause that is what fits in my boiling bath.

Processing fruit is fairly easy and plums must be one of the easiest.   You don’t have to peel them at all, I love that.  This is what I do.

First and foremost is clean, chip free jars.  I love using wide mouth jars and pretty much don’t use anything else.  I have in the past but prefer wide mouth for easy of getting raw fruit and hot syrup into the jars.  Anyway, back to clean jars.  This is a must as germs will grow if you don’t.  I have also found hand washing the best, after all you are only doing 7 jars.  The rings, I wash and set to one side.  The sealers, I wash, rinse and then put into a small pot.  Always use new sealers, don’t try to get one more use out of used sealers.  Cover them with water and set on the stove to heat to boiling.  Once boiling turn the heat down to simmer until you are ready to put them on the hot jars.Plums

Get your jars all together, a chopping board and your clean plums.  Cut each plum in half and remove the pit; put the two halves into a clean jar.  I found that 12 plums generally filled one jar.  Once all seven are filled you need to add syrup.  This is basically sugar, water and lemon juice; not basically at all, it is just that!  I make a very light syrup as we don’t care for a heavy sweet one.  For 12 cups water I added 4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice and bring it to a boil.  This should fill all seven jars perfectly.

The big processing pot I will fill partially with warm to hot water because I don’t want to put hot jars (with the boiling syrup) into cold water.  Then once all the jars are in add warm water until the rings are covered.  Cover and turn up the heat.  Once it starts to boil set your timer for 25 minutes.

I put a towel down then remove the jars using a special lifter, you can find them in the canning section of a hardware or grocery store.  The jars, the water everything is extremely hot so take extra care.  Quite a mess

Sometimes, even when I try very hard not to over fill, the jars will leak out.  They will still seal but what a pain!  You will need to use soap and water to wash all the jars before you store them.

Syrup still leaking

All the work, mostly standing, is well worth the effort to have all this goodness for the winter to come.  Easier on the grocery bill too.Plums to Go

 

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Problems in Property: These Issues Are Common In Older Homes

There’s something incredibly charming about older properties when you walk through their rooms you can imagine times gone by, the families that once lived there and the moments they shared. Older properties tend to have more character, features that you don’t see in more modern designs which can make them interesting and unique. However, when a property has been around for a long time, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, especially if it’s been sat empty for a while. Perhaps you’ve bought a fixer upper at auction or are considering buying an old home, if so, here are some things to consider.

Photo by Mikes Photos from Pexels

 

Plumbing

The older the pipework is in a home, the more chance it has of failing. Weather conditions can cause pipes to expand and contract and over time, slow or severe leaks can occur. It’s worth hiring plumbers to come in and give everything a check over, make sure all of the pipework is in order and replace any components that have failed, or look like they’re going to.

 

Electrics

Old wiring can be a huge problem. Not only is it not up to current safety standards, but it could be worn and pose a fire hazard. These kinds of old systems also aren’t able to cope with the demand of modern electronics. In most cases, an old property will need complete rewiring if you can see it hasn’t been touched in some time. Make sure that this is a cost that you’re bearing in mind, as it’s not cheap. The benefits of having a rewire done in the house you’re renovating is that it’s easy to get it all in before plaster, paint and flooring goes down, and you can have your electrician to fit you more sockets and switches where needed.

 

Pests

Because older properties are built to different standards to their modern counterparts, it means they can be more prone to pests. Things like natural settling, constriction and expansion from weather can all add to the issue, and over time the general breakdown of construction components can mean pests find it easier to get in. If the home you’re buying has been unoccupied for some time then chances are, pests could have moved in so this is something to lookout for. Dead insects and droppings are a sure sign, but more severe problems could have been caused such as structural damage from termites or chewed wiring from rodents.

 

Have a Survey Done

Before you sign on the dotted line and part with your money when buying a property, it’s always worth having a survey done. This will outline any issues and major faults, mean you go into the purchase with your eyes open. It means in some cases you can negotiate the asking price to reflect the cost of the work that needs to be done, or back out on the sale before it’s legally binding if it’s more than you wanted to deal with.

 

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Apple Goodness!

Inez by Design

Years ago, a dear neighbour had an aluminum juice extractor that she would lend to me to do our giant crab apple tree.  It was an old and kind of beat up extractor but it worked like a charm.  I have been keeping my eye out for one ever since.Steamer2I found it on Amazon and I was so excited to get this baby in the mail.  The stainless steel were a bit more expensive, but with doing fruits and veggies that contain acid I felt it was a better choice.  Amazon US also has one with a spigot, but it was considerable more expensive.  This is perfect for me.40lbs Applessink full

My handyman went out to a local orchard and purchased 40 lbs of apples, they were approximately half of the cost of apples in the grocery store. We got busy and produced our first batch of apple juice.

With a…

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How To Make Money By Owning A Holiday Home

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There are many advantages to owning a holiday home. Not only does it give you your own private vacation spot to which you can escape to at any time, it could also be a chance for investment. Many people are now buying holiday homes with the primary purpose of renting them out to holidaymakers and generating an income. Just like a buying a rental property, you can help to cover the mortgage this way, on top of making a profit. Being able to use it for personal use is simply a bonus.

For a holiday home to be a successful investment, it needs to attract guests all year round. Here are some ways in which you can ensure your holiday home is always booked up.

Choose the right location

A good location will attract lots of guests. Somewhere that’s too off the beaten track may not spark people’s interest – guests will want attractions and amenities nearby. Ideally, you want an upcoming touristy zone in which property prices may still be fairly low but the influx of guests may still be high. This should be somewhere that attracts guests all year round so that it won’t sit empty for six months

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The perfect location depends on the type of client you want to appeal to. Your guests could be young holidaymakers, in which case you want somewhere with a good local nightlife scene. You could appeal to families in which case you may want a few more kid-friendly attractions in the area. You could even appeal to people travelling on business by targeting places that are centres of commerce.

The property doesn’t have to be local to you – you could buy somewhere on the opposite side of the world if you desired. Whilst a local property is easier to clean and maintain, there’s nothing to stop you hiring a property manager to do all this for you who you can keep communication with.

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Make sure there aren’t any hidden pitfalls to the area. You don’t want to accidentally buy a property in a flood zone or buy a property with a sea view only to have another property built in front of it in a year’s time. Research the area and look into future planning projects to get an idea of how the area is likely to evolve. Local festivals are always a plus as they always attract people – you may even be able to charge more to guests when the festival is on.

Choose the right property

Once you’ve settled on your ideal area, you’ll next need to find the ideal property. You should spend a couple months scanning the market in order to see the type of the properties that come up – if you’re buying a property for travelling professionals in Singapore, this could include reading up on Singapore property news and finding the next upcoming neighbourhood. Eventually you should start to get an idea of what you can get for your money.

The property should have facilities catered to your target guest. If you’re buying a property in Majorca in an area that attracts largely families, you may want multiple rooms and child friendly safety measures. If you’re buying a property in an area that attracts most retired senior citizens on holiday, cater to mobility issues by buying a ground floor property with facilities such as a walk-in shower and wheelchair access.

You can make improvements to a property to make it more luxurious. This could include upgrading the bathroom, adding a bright lick of paint, adding air conditioning/heating and potentially even adding a hot tub. Try not to personalise it too much with your own possessions and personal stylings, by appealing to a broader audience you’ll generate more business.

Take out the right mortgage

You may be lucky enough to be a cash buyer. If this isn’t the case and you require a mortgage, you’re best looking for lenders that offer specialist holiday let mortgages. Standard buy-to-let mortgages aren’t applicable to holiday homes, so don’t make the mistake of taking out one of these. Most lenders will let you buy 75% of the property’s value. An alternative borrowing option could be peer-to-peer lending in which you may be able to find better loan deals.

Get marketing

You need to constantly be marketing in order to keep your property booked up. The likes of AirBnB and HomeAway are great sites for listing your property – this will be many people’s first point of call. You can also get yourself features in travel brochures as well as teaming up with travel agency companies to advertise your property.

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Try to collect positive reviews from guests that you can use to help boost the reputation of your property. Many listing sites allow guests to write public reviews. Alternatively, you can email all guests after their stay to offer feedback, or leave a feedback form within the property for them to fill out with a pen – you can then use any positive comments as testimonials.

Social media is also a popular marketing medium. You can run ads on Facebook and Twitter, take photos of your property to advertise on Instagram or even create a video advertisement on YouTube. All of this could help to spread the word of your property.

Also consider offering your property as a prize. You could get people to pay a couple dollars to sign up to the competition and then offer it for free to a random entrant once you’ve collected enough money in entries.

Keep your property clean and well maintained

Maintaining your property in good condition is important if you want people to leave good reviews. Hire a local property manager to take care of cleaning after each guest has stayed as well as attending to repairs when necessary.

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It’s possible to set rules that could help to preserve the condition of the property such as not allowing smoking or pets. You can also charge a deposit as insurance for yourself.

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