Folk Festival Inspired

Folk Buddies at the CFMFWhat a FABULOUS weekend. 16 hours spread out of over 4 days of volunteering, in return for the ultimate in enjoyable volunteering pleasure + excellent healthy (often) organic food + immaculate HOT weather + meeting new-to-me artists of incredible talent = the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Folk you say? Well, in my own opinion, to label the artists that performed here as liberally or generally Folk would be a disservice. The artists crossed all boundaries of musical genres, from Pop to Rap to Reggae to Blues to Country to Bluegrass to Folk. And beyond. Any and all expectations. Exceeded. Multi-dimensional. Beautiful workshops of collaborative and spontaneous inspiration. Now that’s what I call musically inclined and inspired to the max. I still shiver at the excellent and brilliant meetings of spirit, soul and music. Lovemaking in the purest form.

New-to-me artists that totally changed my world and expanded my musical tastings? Harriston-born Estheros, Emily Wells, finger banging Chad Van Gaalen, Pacifika, Arrested Development, Steven Page (former lead singer and founder of the Bare Naked Ladies), Mirah, Iron and Wine and Luluc. Just to name a few. Wow. Glad I pushed the envelope of my schedule and busy-ness. It was indeed worth the investment of time and energy. New friends, enchanted surprise rendezvouses and spontaneous eruption of dance and song (on my part!). Check the artists out if you get the chance. They may rawk your world as well.

Hallelujah.

DIY Household Enviro-Friendly Cleaners!

DIY CleanersTired of spending a fortune on something that’s simple and easy to make, when it comes to keeping the home clean, safe and eco-friendly?
I’m all for the simplicity and purity of these ideas. Mother Earth comes out ahead, as does you and your family’s health (and wallet).
Try adding essential oils at your own discretion. Of course, I’m all about the good and natural smellies :). I can provide you with those, if you feel inspired and in need.
Enjoy!

DIY HOUSEHOLD CLEANERS

The healthiest, least-toxic cleaners you can find are the ones you make yourself. They’re effective too: According to a study at Virginia Tech, spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar right after one another is just as effective at killing germs as lung-irritating, stream-polluting chlorine bleach. Here are a few easy cleaner recipes to kick-start your Saturday chores.

EIGHT ESSENTIALS
These eight items make up the basic ingredients for nearly every do-it-yourself cleaning recipe.

  • Baking soda: provides grit for scrubbing and reacts with water, vinegar or lemon by fizzing, which speeds up cleaning times
  • Borax: disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes; very handy in laundry mixes
  • Distilled white vinegar: disinfects and breaks up dirt; choose white vinegar over apple cider or red vinegars, as these might stain surfaces
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: disinfects and bleaches
  • Lemons: cut grease; bottled lemon juice also works well, although you might need to use bit more to get the same results
  • Olive oil: picks up dirt and polishes wood; cheaper grades work well
  • Vegetable based (liquid castile) soap: non-petroleum all-purpose cleaners
  • Washing soda: stain remover, general cleaner, helps unblock pipes; should be handled with gloves due to its caustic nature. Washing soda is usually found in the laundry aisle of grocery and drug stores.

Don’t forget to pick up an empty spray bottle at the hardware store, and keep those old rags and used toothbrushes for wiping up and scrubbing.

WHOLE HOUSE

All-Purpose Cleaner
1/2 cup borax
1 gallon hot water

Mix in pail (or use smaller amounts in a spray bottle: 1/8 cup borax to 1 quart of hot water) dissolving the borax completely; wipe clean with rag.

Floors

Wood
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water

Linoleum
1 cup white vinegar
2 gallons warm water

Mix in mop bucket, rinse afterwards.

Furniture Polish
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix and apply with a clean rag to dust and polish. Reduce the olive oil if wood looks too oily.

Metal Polish
Copper and Brass
2 Tbsps salt
White vinegar

Add vinegar to salt until you’ve created a paste. Adding flour will reduce abrasiveness. Apply with a rag and rub clean.

Stainless Steel
Baking soda
White vinegar

Apply baking soda with a damp cloth, using the vinegar to eliminate spots.

BATHROOM

Toilet Bowl
Baking soda
White vinegar

To clean and deodorize, sprinkle toilet bowl with baking soda, add white vinegar and scrub with a toilet brush.

Tub and Tile
1/2 lemon
Borax

Dip the face of the lemon half in borax to create a hand-held scrubber for dirty areas. Rinse and dry the surface afterwards.

KITCHEN

Countertops
Marble: Mix one Tbsp castile soap with a quart of warm water, rinse well, then dry with a warm cloth.

Other surfaces: half a lemon and dip the face in baking soda to scrub off residues. Follow up by spraying with glass cleaner mix (below).

Drains
1 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar

Add baking soda and vinegar to a pot of boiled water and pour down the drain, then flush with tap water. For more stubborn clogs, use a “snake” plumbing tool to manually remove blockage, or try suction removal with a plunger. To prevent clogs, install inexpensive mesh screen, available at home improvement and hardware stores.

Glass
1/4 cup vinegar or 1 Tbsp lemon juice
2+ cups water

Fill a clean spray bottle with water and either white vinegar or lemon juice; wipe with a rag or old newspaper.

Oven
Baking soda
Water

Sprinkle baking soda on surfaces, spray water, then let soak several hours or overnight. Rinse with water.

Stovetop and Oven Grease Remover
1/2 tsp washing soda
1/4 tsp liquid soap
2 cups hot water

Add washing soda and soap to hot water in spray bottle. Since washing soda is caustic, wear gloves.

LAUNDRY ROOM
Bleach alternative
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide

Organization 101 – – a start

declutter houseI’m starting to get into that mode of de-cluttering. Or at least think about it. But where to start? Starting the task of clearing out the ‘stuff’ is always the most difficult part of the challenge, for me. Because there’s always SO much to do. But once I get into that mindset, that mode, the task becomes easier.
Here’s some tips on starting in the bedroom with your closet. One of my own personal tips (adopted from my husband) is to roll all my clothes, when they’re not hanging up. Allows for much more storage and I can then also see everything when they’re not stacked, but rolled instead.

Starting with the closet —

7 Tips For a More Organized Master Closet

1. Keep all clothing and shoes off the floor

2. Keep the floor clear easy to clean

3. If you don’t have built in shoe cubbies and you have extra pole space, use hanging bags for shoes

4. If you need more drawer storage and you have the extra pole space, use hanging shelves for jeans, sweats and other bulky items

5. Use space bags or plastic bins on the top shelf for off-season clothes

6. Remove lids from hampers so clothes actually go into the hamper instead of getting stacked on top

7. Separate and organize clothing items by the way you determine what to wear in the morning. Variations include dividing by color, occasion or warmth.

Moving into the kitchen —

5 Tips For an Organized Kitchen
1. Keep all papers off of kitchen countertop

2. Create zones for each type of activity ie prep, store, cook, bake

3. Keep tools for each activity within reach of that zone

4. Use large lazysusans for deep, hard to reach cupboards

5. Use stacker shelves to keep track of canned good inventory

Now the question is, can she come and help us organize our Airstream, with all the curved cupboard space and limited allotment for weight storage. Time to start thinking about cut, cut, cutting back. That’s HUGE for me. The sacrifices one must make to live the dream :). I’m ready for the challenge! Now I need to find me one of those container stores.

45 Valuable Life Lessons

Blooming life joy in the vision of a sunflowerWritten by Regina Brett of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio.

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.  It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written.

1.       Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2.       When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3.       Life is too short to waste time hating anyone…
4.       Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends and parents will.  Stay in touch.
5.       Pay off your credit cards every month.
6.       You don’t have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.
7.       Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8.       It’s OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.
9.       Save for retirement starting with your first pay cheque.
10.     When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11.     Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12.     It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13.     Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14.     If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15.     Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16.     Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.
17.     Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
18.     Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19.     It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20.     When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21.     Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.   Don’t save it for a special occasion, today is special..
22.     Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23.     Be eccentric now.  Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24.     The most important sex organ is the brain.
25.     No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26.     Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’
27.     Always choose life.
28.     Forgive everyone everything.
29.     What other people think of you is none of your business.
30.     Time heals almost everything.  Give time.
31.     However good or bad a situation is, it will change..
32.     Don’t take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.
33.     Believe in miracles.
34.     God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35.     Don’t audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.
36.     Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37.     Your children get only one childhood.
38.     All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39.     Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40.     If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41.     Envy is a waste of time.. You already have all you need.
42.     The best is yet to come.
43.     No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44.     Yield.
45.     Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Michael Jackson, in his own words, thoughts on Immortality

On September 25, 2007, legendary artist Michael Jackson had his last major public interview with, then editor of Ebony magazine, Bryan Monroe. What made this interview fantastic for me was MJ’s pure openness about his music. To me, that was what Michael was all about. A pure genius at what he did best. In truth, a King indeed. This audio section on immortality foreshadowed the irony of Michael’s words. Forever he will truly be alive with the pop music and dance moves that MJ left behind. In essence and soul, a luminary pioneer and superstar of his times. A Musical Icon, an American Legend, a Humanitarian.

Words of healing and restoration are what his fans need right now. For the record, Michael Jackson was more, so much more, than tabloid headlines. I forever honour you Michael.

Bob Geldof epitomized it best “When Michael Jackson sings, it is with the voice of angels, and when his feet move, you can see God dancing.”

PS If the audio can’t be heard, click here for the audio or here to read the text of the whole interview.

Memories of the great King

Michael Jackson: the King himselfMichael Jackson …. a huge influence on my beloved music style, growing up. Oh how I thrilled to dance along with his awesome music videos. I had all of his early vinyl records (wonder where they are now?) and often plastered my bedroom walls with his handsome rockstar King smile (always with a twinkle in his eye, like the glimmer of Tinkerbell’s magical dreams). He was an idol of mine growing up, indeed. This utmost respect andadmiration continued on into my adult years. To a time when my innocence and naivety waned, yet belief of all that is good existed and remained. When the days of judgement bore down on Michael, accusations of child molestation, I truly was a disbeliever. Acquitted on all 10 counts filed against him, I celebrated in his purity and innocent child-like wonder. He mirrored such raw huge talent, but reflected back a boy-like wonder that never left him.

Today I watched and cried as the world mourned and memorialized MJ at the Staples Theatre in LA. A most befitting tribute to a King. THE King. It was strange to simultaneously witness the live CNN streaming of Facebook profile updates that either glorified or vilified this man so dear to my heart. I couldn’t understand why some people chose to disrespect this man, his family and friends during a time when millions paid their last respects? Can you imagine that happening, say at a funeral of your dear friend or sibling? Incredibly sad and disrespectful are words that come to mind. I say this in light of having lost my own brother, and recalling the pain of loss and finality. So easy to judge. As Michael would say, why not look at the man in the mirror.

I’m Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

With the title of ‘King of Pop’ comes the pitfalls and serious problems which blur reality and fiction. It’s a crazy world we live in where there are more people focussed on the likes of ‘Kate & Jon’, etc. than the ailing weaping wounds found elsewhere in our world in … Iraq / Iran / Afghanistan / Darfur / Poverty / War (the lists are unending) You name it, we look for releases / avenues of escapism from the woes which are untouchable from afar (human suffering around the world) but wreak havoc on our emotions if we let it. We look to the likes of Celebrity as a means of idolization. But, for me, in my adoration of MJ, I looked at his incredible talent which he gifted to the world, my world. I only have to listen to ‘Rock With You’ or ‘Remember the Time’ or even ‘Thriller’ to take me to a happy place and a time in my history when his music had a huge emotional impact on my being and my childhood. His craft and musicianship left me often speechless. And that had nothing to do with hearing about who and what and when he did whatever. His music was powerful. And I loved him, for all that he was, in light of his humanity and imperfections. Beyond that, I look to the contributions he made … countless charities; children’s organizations; world hunger; musical genres stretched and musical milestones achieved (beyond anyone’s imagination); and, above all, MJ inspired those around him to dream of potential in a world where minorities are often crucified for their skin colour / beliefs / actions / innocence. Michael stretched the boundaries of public opinion and personal change (to the consternation of many). He however repeatedly dusted himself off after being knocked down. He may have stepped back into hiding in his darkest hours, but rebound he did.

His latest impending comeback was especially exciting for me. I seriously contemplated buying tickets to his concerts being held in the UK at the O2. In fact, had MJ lived, today would have been his first comeback concert, July 7. Tragic and heartbreaking indeed. He was one performer I would have spent thousands to witness live in concert. Gone too soon indeed. Not just for me or for his billions of fans. But for the 3 children he left behind. I can’t imagine losing a Father, especially at such a young age.

I honour you Michael for your life here on this earth. Thank you for your music, your innocence and contributions. MJ will surely have met his maker and judge on June 25, 2009. Bless his soul. May he rest in peace.

May all those that have passed before us rest in peace, free from the suffering and burdens placed upon us as we live from breath to breath, moment to moment. Blessings to all.
Amen.