Author Archives: Erin Schimpf

About Erin Schimpf

A stay at home mom with the need to express. Owner and operator of Canadian Comforts. Human Slave to 1 cat, 3 guinea pig boars, 1 Yellow Belly Slider and 3 tadpoles. Mom to Ruby (7), Alexander (4) and Joseph (2). Wife to an amazing, playful, pain in the bottom husband (who is loved but still a pain in the bottom).

Blog Entry 56: 40 bags in 40 days.

I love organizing, anyone who knows me knows that, be it helping people with their filing or daily household stuff, I LOVE to organize. A huge part of organizing is toss things you no longer need. I follow a few simple rules:

1. If you have not worn/used it in 6 months and its NOT a seasonal item, TOSS it!

2. Seasonal items, is it worn? Faded? Broke? Toss it. (Exception is items passed down through the family that you (or in this case I) love, like that special Christmas ornament that your grandma bought in her first year of marriage 60+ years ago, that would be an exception.)

3. Kitchen cupboards, AKA the dreaded JUNK DRAWER. I try to go through it once a month. With a family of 5 it gets full fast. Part of the goal with this 40 bags in 40 days is to completely remove the junk draw issue by no longer having a junk drawer.

4. Buy only what you need. Do you need 8 of the same shade of lip stick? NO. In reality we, the average human population, don’t need half the “crap” we have. I’ve seen those “coupon shows” and frankly, the food, toilet paper and other things like that is not a bad idea but the people who buy makeup, deodorant and so on in such bulk needs a good head check because that is nothing but hording. Make up does expire, most things do! So unless you wear that lip stick every day and can easily go through 8 in less than 6 months, STOP BUYING so many. The same goes with other house hold “crap”. Don’t have 30 towels for 5 people, knock that back to 2 each and 2 extra for guests. Take care of your stuff and only replace what you need when you need it.

Pretty simple rules huh.

So moving on past my rules to the real point of this blog entry. I read Clover Lane’s Blog entry: 40 bags in 40 days (Find it HERE) and I was rather impressed. I am ashamed to admit it but even with my wonderful organizational skills I have WAY to much “crap” in my house. Cloths I don’t wear, bags and boxes of toys the kids don’t use, movies I have not watched in years and so on. The only place I don’t have “crap” is my craft room because I know the limit with that room. Heck even the pets have “crap” they don’t use or need anymore.

The idea of 40 bags in 40 days is one I really like, hence why I am going for it starting September 1 2012. I figured starting on the first would be perfect, AND its also a long weekend, score!

Some of you might be thinking, isn’t 40 bags in 40 days something to do with lent and aren’t you pagan? Its true, from what I have been reading, 40 bags in 40 days, is to do with lent, but just because something was started for some type of religion does not mean it doesn’t work for all. I see it as a way of mundanely cleansing my soul.

As a stay at home mom and home business owner, my house is me. How it looks, smells and feels, reflects onto my mood more so than a person who works full time and only ever really uses their home as a place to crash and sleep. Getting ride of all the extra “crap” and setting a goal and date is like going to your place of worship and getting rid of negative energy, like say having a smudging done or going to confession. That’s why this challenge is so exciting for me. A. it gets rid of “crap” and B. its a great way to cleanse my soul.

So umm, reading over this I have yet to explain what 40 bags in 40 days is. Oops!

Here is what other sites/blogs say: During Lent (40 days) rid your house of 40 bags of stuff, things you don’t love, don’t use, junk, accumulated stuff, clutter, garbage and so on.

Here is what I say: Take 40 days and rid your house of 40 bags of stuff… things you don’t love, don’t use, junk, accumulated stuff, clutter, garbage and so on. (Pretty much the same thing but I’m removing the religious innuendo.)

Starting the 1st of Sept, I am challenging myself to toss/recycle 40 bags worth the “crap” in 40 days. I’ll be making a list (YAY another love of mine) and posting it the day I start. I will than post once a week until its done letting you know how it goes.

So dear readers what do you think? Do you think you will try this challenge? Do you think my husband will think I am insane? Well that’s probably a yes followed by a groan because he knows he’s the one who has to take out that bags *wink*.

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Blog Entry 55: Blueberry Jam!

A few weeks back I went shopping (like I always do) and came across an amazing deal, 2lb containers of blueberries for $3.99 each! Well, I just could not pass that up and bought 6lbs (3 containers). At first I thought, mmm blueberry pies, but since I am trying to lose a little weight and the fact that a pie does not last very long in this house, I started to realize that I should probably do something else with them.

Hmm what to make, what to make… *Light bulb above head goes off*
Blueberry Jam!

Here is what I used to make mine:

6lbs of fresh blueberries
6 cups of sugar
1 tbsp vanilla (I add this to almost ALL my jams)
2 packages Pectin *

14 Jars (12 250ml each and 2 500ml)
Cooking pot
Spoon**
Water Bathing Canning supplies

Yup its that simple.

First wash all your blueberries and put them in your cooking pot like so:

 

This is the “brand” of blueberries I used:

Next you need to mash them, I used a potato masher, some people find this easier once they are cooked, its really up to you:

Now add in your vanilla and pectin and cook the snot out of it. *Note on the Pectin: I used two boxes at once, it turned out fine but the pectin box says to only use one box, so if you don’t want to risk it, cut this blueberry jam in half (ie 3lbs berries, 1/2 table spoon vanilla and 3 cups sugar).

Here is what it will look like AFTER you add in the sugar (before adding the sugar it wont be super liquified):

Once you get that back to a rolling boil you will need to skim off the foam like bubbles and jar. Following the jarring you with need to water bath it. Each area in the world is different for the amount of time needed to bath it, I did 10 mins.

** Wooden spoons: I like to use wooden spoons for Jams and Jellies but be warned this is what your spoon will look like after your done and it has been wash in just soapy water:

I took this jam to a Pagan Potluck two days after I made it and it was a huge hit, so I must be doing something right.
While I made the jam my youngest was up and getting into things. Here is how he “helps” make Jam.

 

I also wanted to write up a little review of a guinea pig product I am currently using. Its called Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay.

I have a pig who hate timothy hay, local famers hay or store bought, he hates it. Since he wont eat hay he was having digestive issues. I tried this hay and he loves it. I now only use this hay for all my pigs! I want to say, the smell, AMAZING! Its so soft too!

You can buy it in 15 oz, 40 oz, 9lbs, 25lbs and 50lbs online (Chinchilla.ca has all sizes) or in stores. Some stores (at least here) will usually only have the 15 oz bags. Prices for these bags usually run $6.00 to $7.00 a bag. I like buying online because I can get bigger amounts at cheaper prices (and yes that is with shipping).

All 4 of the pigs give this product many wheeks.

Only one word of caution, PetSmart does in deed sell this BUT they also sell pets, so if you can’t find it anywhere else, buy it online.

Odin here says : “This is the best hay EVER!”

Categories: Cooking, Guinea Pig, Home made, House Wife Life, schimpf pigs | Leave a comment

Blog Entry 54: Hawaii 2012 Family Trip

As I stated a few blog entries ago, here is a full blog on the trip I took to Hawaii July 13-21st.

To start out I want to say flying with a toddler was not as hard as people think. Keep them busy, have treats on hand and lots of snuggles and you’ll be fine!

We took a trip to Honolulu, Hi as a family. This wasn’t just me, my kids and my husband. We also had my Sister In Law her kids and hubby, as well as my in laws. There was 11 of us in total.

Our flight was pretty simple. We left from Edmonton, arrived in Vancouver and flew from there to Hawaii. In total I believe it was a 7ish hour flight.

 

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We stayed at the Marriot Ko Olina Resort, amazing place, I highly recommend it! Here are some view shots from around the resort.

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We went to the Dole Plantation, and if you have kids, I would suggest it! It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast on the Pineapple Express Train and the Maze they have.

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I did a lot of Snorkelling and to my amazement, got to swim and touch a wild sea turtle. Sadly my camera is NOT waterproof and I was unable to snap some photos of it. My in laws, the kids and I all took a trip to the north shore. It was amazing there and so beautiful.

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Keep in mind now everything there is so lovely… Want to eat here? I know I didn’t.

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We also saw some of these. The size of them really amazed me!

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At the resort there was MANY things to do for the kids. They didn’t have to just hang out at the beach. There is a very nice kids pool (salt water pool) and LOTS of activities for the kids to join in on. My kids made coconut bird feeders for our birds here in Canada (the birds btw love the feeders).
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Thanks to the other adults in our group my husband and I had a date night. We went to the Longboard restaurant on the resort. The food there was amazing!!

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I want to make one small note here. As you may have noticed my hair was up 90% of the time, this was because my hair basically looked like a poodles hair cut most of the time. *Laughs*

All in all we had an all out amazing trip. I look forward to going back again (this time with out kids).

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Blog Entry 53: Fun with the Kids.

My youngest Celebrated his 2nd birthday in June. We didn’t have a party because of all the stuff going on. Earlier this week my husband stopped by his parents who had a gift for him (and Ruby who’s Birthday was the 28th of last month). His gift was a lawn mower that blows bubbles.

We put it together and allowed him to run around the house with it, with no bubbles of coarse. So I thought it was high time he got to play with it outside. Here are some photos of our adventures.

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*You can see the bubbles in this shot*

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After mowing the sidewalk Joseph decided to take a breather with his brother and started playing wonderfully… LOUD… Music.

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Lets just say, he need much quieter hobbies.

Tomorrow I am going cherry picking with my mother in law at her sister’s house. This is so I can make some home made cherry jam, how exciting is that. I plan on taking photos, though my mother in law does not like her photos posted, so I will try and get her to take some of me instead.

Have a great night everyone.

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Blog Entry 52: Muffin Tin Omelettes.

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Last night I decided since it was some what cool that I would make muffin tin omelettes. They are rather simple but you should not try these on a hot day, you need to cook them in your oven.

Its a very simple recipe. Here is what you need:
Eggs

Veggies (any type you normally like in an omelette)

Cooking Spray (or oil if you don’t have a spray)

Meat (if you like things like ham in your omelette go for it any cooked meat will do)

Cheese (I don’t use it because I am lactose intolerant)

Spices (Dill, salt, pepper and what ever else you like)

You will need a big bowl for beating the eggs and a muffin tin (or two if your making a big batch).

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First chop everything up, I used Onion, zucchini, bell pepper and ham. For the kids I added a half a cherry tomato because I only had three left.

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Once everything is chopped add equal amounts to the muffin tin cups.

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In the large bowl beat as many eggs as you need, I did 18 muffin tins and used 1 1/2 dozen eggs, this fed a family of 6. I added a little milk, just a few table spoons as it helps make fluffy eggs.

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Next pour the eggs into the muffin tins on top of the meat and veggies. Add on your cheese, if your using any, and your spices.

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Don’t worry if things float or don’t float, its all part of the yumminess of this.

Next put it into the oven, I preheated to about 400F.
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Cook them until there is not more liquid, trust me when I say you will see liquid in the middle but for time liking people, 10-20ish minutes.

Put them on a plate and enjoy! So simple and so yummy. I love the fact that I was able to feed everyone at once, which when making normal omelettes, does not happen.
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I also had time yesterday to make a TINY jar of saskatoon berry jam. Basically its pectin free because it was such a small amount. I took about a cup of berries, some sugar and some vanilla, cooked it in a small pot, put it in a jar and cooled. This would NOT be safe for storing long term, but frankly who would want to? Its so good I’m almost done it today!

I leave you today with a cute pet photo. This is Spook, my black ball of fur cat, who loves to watch me cook but loves sleeping more.

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Blog Entry 51: City Market on 104th

Last weekend I took time away from sewing, house cleaning and even the kids to check out a farmers’ market that I had not had the pleasure of checking out in the 6 years I have lived in Edmonton.

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I was in utter awe when I arrived there. I decided to take the bus which meant I had to leave pretty early since I am a firm believer in getting to farmers’ markets when they open, frankly its the best time to get the best stuff, but I was not prepared for what I saw.

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Two blocks, tents going one way and back the other! Words fail to explain the awe I was in. There was so many things to look at and buy, I was grateful I only took $75 with me, because I easily could have spent much much more.

 

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I found produce that amazed me, purple bell peppers, zucchinis the size of my arm, goat meat, breads and so much more. I carefully made my way through all the stalls before buying anything. There was clothing stalls, gifts, even home made rhubarb wine! (NOTE: that is a penny on the cutting board)

 

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I did fall in love with one stall and was grateful I was near then end of my money when I saw it. This wonderful stall was a lady selling painted rocks. I have to say her work is AMAZING. There was all types of animals on her table but two caught my eye, guinea pigs! When I asked her how much they were, she said the large one was $60, I nearly died. BUT it was my hearing that had failed me, not the price. It was $16 a much better price to deal with. The smaller one (1/3 the size of the large one) was $10, I opt for the larger one (photo above) and named him Hermin. (NOT Herman)

Sadly (and happily) I have to go to Panfest this weekend. But for those of you in the Edmonton area and would love to go here is the information for this Market:

Location: 104th Street and Jasper Ave
Time: 9AM to 3PM Every Saturday.

Website: City Market Downtown

Here are some suggestions I want to add:

1. If you are bussing or walking, bring a buddy buggy or wagon.

I found that my arms were so tired by the time I got home that I wanted to soak them in ice water for a week.

 

2. Bring Cash!

There is a 7/11 that you can pull out cash but unless you are with that bank (which seems to slip my mind) you get charged $1.50, and while that is not a lot, pulling some before hand at your bank is free (not counting your bank fees if they charge you). Another reason is the fact that you can bring a credit card (and some places even a debit card) but you will spend MUCH MUCH more than planned, having cash means you have see how fast its going.

3. Bring your umbrella.

I didn’t and it rained for about 20 mins or so. Not fun but not bothersome.

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Blog Entry 50: Just a minute!

Yup that’s about all I have for you today dear readers.

I wasted to update you and let you know that Hawaii was amazing!

I have so much going on. I have Panfest in just a few days, Merlin has a fungal infection on his underside, I was given 5 fire belly toad tadpoles and two died yesterday so I am fighting to keep the other 3 alive. The kids, though busy fighting with each other, are doing great. In fact Joe-joe is talking more! Still not where I want him to be but getting much better.

The pigs are all happy and healthy. In Just a few days Mojo turns 3!!

I’ll leave you with some photos of the trip to Hawaii and go more into detail later.

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Blog Entry 49: A group is not for all.

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Just as the title says, a group is not for all. Be that a facebook group, yahoo, forums or other wise, some people should not be part of a group. These people I am talking about are the type that derail posts by talking about something unrelated, starting fights and just being a pain in the arse for their own pleasure.

Here is a list of things one should not do on a group:

  • Never join a conversation that never ask for an opinion to express your opinion. Yes, the original poster may have posted something about that topic but if they are not asking for advice than you are probably making am inappropriate post. It could in turn make the person feel attacked because they are doing/saying something wrong.
  • Stick to the topic at hand. This means just that. If a post is about, for example, a dog, posting about your cat would be a derailment of the original post. This makes the original poster feel ignored and that their post is not a valid post.
  • Never post an attacking post about someone because of your personal feeling towards that person or organization. This makes you look like an idiot and don’t be surprised if people get upset with you. It may also cause more damage than intended for the person you are attacking. Organizations usually have an area (google, yelp or testimonial page) that you can write your comments about on.
  • Keep things private. Time and time again I see people posting their personal “dirty laundry” about a person, people, or other group. First off, if its not a group or section dedicated to postings like this, then it is unlikely people give too poops about it. This can also lead to upset from the person you are posting about.

If any of these sound like you, then dear reader you may want to either rethink your approach on groups or not post on them anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a fluffy, everyone loves everyone, kind of group (though I am sure if you want one there is one out there). What I am trying to show in this blog entry is that;

A. There are some things people do not realize about groups (forums, what ever) that they should know.

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B. That behind every post there is a real human being with real issues. Calling someone a flaming moron after they posted a question may in fact upset the poster, who may be going threw a divorce, or had a family member die. The possibilities are endless, the fact is, you don’t know that person or their life.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), someone around the globe commits suicide every 40 seconds (link). How would you feel if you found out that a friend of yours or family member committed suicide because they could not longer bare their life. Now take that and think about how you would feel if the “straw the broke the camels back” so to speak, was someone being a jerk on the net. I know, it seems far fetched, but let me explain.

When a person starts to with draw from their life, they end up using the internet instead of socialising face-to-face. Now thinking about how you react when talking to someone face to face. How would you feel if someone did any of the above listed things? Well you would be upset, feel ignored and even hurt. Add in the factor of having a bad day, week or month. This can all add up and for a person using the internet instead of socialising face-to-face, could in fact cause more depression.

Is this something you feel comfortable helping? I sure as heck don’t.

Depression is one of the leading causes to suicide as we all very well know. So you can see that your comments on a group (forum, what ever) could in fact cause things to become worse for someone.

I know what your thinking, well if they have issues why even bother post or join a group that may in fact cause such issues. Well this boils down to the fact that the person is using the internet as their way of socializing. It does not make it right or fair, but is what happening to them in their real life fair or right, who knows. Life is not fair but if you all have a little more compassion about our fellow man (or woman) things would not be so bad.

This also leaves open a whole new argument as to why moderators and admins are not doing their jobs right. I will leave that for another day though.

The bottom line is, read what you write. If you are in a heated discussion, walk away until you have a clear head, this is what you would do in real face-to-face interactions, why not use that method online.

For all you people reading this who use the internet for socializing, think about why you are doing this, maybe you need some help. Talk to your family, friends or doctor about what’s going on in your life and try not to take what people say online to heart, there will always be a jerk out there who wont be bothered to think about your feelings or what they are saying.

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Blog Entry 48: One… two … three… why the hell me?

I been putting of writing this because its so personal to me.

As some of you know I had my niece staying with me. Her mother, who I no longer accept as a family member anymore, dumped her on me and did so many bad things. From doing drugs, sleeping with every one who would sleep with her to only visiting her daughter once in 6 weeks. She brought so much drama in to my life in the short 6 weeks I care for her daughter.

When CPS finally when and took her rights to my niece away life got scary. I wasn’t so much scared of her as I was the people she was hanging out with. They scared the poop out of me.

On June 29th CPS came and took my niece away for everyone’s safety. I cried all weekend. Even now, a week later I am still sad.

On the last day she was here I did up some photos. I wanted to share three with you all. I am crying while posting these but I wanted to share them with you all.

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Blog Entry 47: Guinea Pigs Are Cheap… NOT!

*Image from Guinea Pig Today Site, used for my original post there*

Monthly Guinea Pig Cost
Many people seem to think that guinea pigs are a low cost pet. This can’t be any farther from the truth. In one month I go through a good amount of money taking care of my six guinea pigs. This does not include any of my other pets.

Some of the things you MUST take into account is that guinea pigs need high quality pellets and hay. Lower quality can cause upset in their digestion and other health issues. I personally feed my guinea pigs Oxbow pellets and a 2nd cut timothy from local farmers. Buying my hay local does save me money because I do not have to pay the high mark up at pet supply stores.

After that cost you need to think about their bedding. Are you willing to buy bedding every month? Make your own or buy liners for a one time fee? Buying fleece cage liners has its advantages. You don’t have to fold or binder clip fleece to your cage. Buying bedding material like CareFresh can run you over $50 a month just in bedding. Aspen is a little better but not by much.

Next is, in my personal experience, the most expensive part aside from vet costs – the veggies. In the summer, veggies are in their prime. You can easily find lettuce for 70 cents. Come winter, that’s a different story. Here in Canada lettuce can fun as much as $1.50 per head of lettuce. That’s not counting their daily bell peppers, which in the winter time can run over $2.00/lbs!

If your lucky you may never end up seeing a vet, but sadly no matter how well we take care of our loving guinea pigs issues can still arise. These issues can cause huge vet costs. Having a savings on hand for vet care is a VERY good idea.

Here is an idea of what a guinea pig can run based on my own guinea pigs:
Pellets: $22.53
Hay: $4.16
Veggies: $16.66
Vet: $40.00 (savings)
Total per month: $83.35

I have been using fleece cage liners for years now but if you use CareFresh or Aspen or even Pine, I can guess that you are probably over my monthly total.

Some saving tips:
1. Buy in bulk. Pellets can be put in deep freezers for months at a time. I buy 50lbs of oxbow from a local supply store every 6 months. I keep a few weeks worth out and the rest go in the freezer.

2. If you have farmers around your city or town, call them and see if they have Meadow Grass or second cut Timothy Hay. First cut will work but it tends to have too many stems which can hurt your guinea pigs. I personally buy three 50-55lb bales, which is one years worth for me. I keep them in the shed behind my house.

3. If you see your daily veggies go on sale, buy a few extra. Don’t forget about them or they will go bad. Every month try and put at least $10 per guinea pig into a vet fund. This could be a savings account or even a cookie jar. You never know when this money will come in handy.

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