Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day 3 of Product Love

I'm a scent snob when it comes to body wash and shampoo. I don't want to smell like a coconut cream pie or some sort of bubblegum tropical drink! So I tend to go for the aromatherapy products because they smell a little more natural. I also like the strength of their scents.

A couple of years ago I was in Toronto for a few days on a business trip. I had forgotten to bring some shower gel so I walked over to Shoppers to get some. There, I discovered the beautiful land of Ombra bodywash. I love them, all, but my absolute favorite is the Ginger Lime. It's scent is unique, fresh--and real. I realize this might not be for everybody, but if you love aromatic shower soap, give it a try. Also recommended are the Lavender and Citrus Sage scents.

I will also add that many shower gels dry out my skin. Ombra leaves my skin feeling smooth and moisturized. (Which only lasts for a few minutes in this dry winter air!)

Ombra also makes great aromatherapy bubblebath. See their website for more info.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Day 2 of my product love posts.

This one might seem like a strange one, but it's one of the very few things I've ever tried that lived up to the hype and did all it said it was going to do. It's kitty litter! No, really.

Last summer, I noticed Pinky having major problems with hairballs--not just coughing them up, but also becoming constipated and consequently getting ill. Thankfully, adding a little fiber to her food has cleared it right up (canned pumpkin!). However, it seems that her earlier painful experiences in the litter box caused her to equate the pain with the litter box and she started peeing on the floor beside the box. I didn't quite realize this until she did it right in front of me a couple of months ago. (We keep the litter in an unheated sun porch and she was just peeing on newspaper or linoleum so I didn't always smell and if it had dried up before I saw it, I wouldn't know). I keep the litter very clean due to Iggy's bladder infection problem--so I knew it wasn't that. There didnt seem to be any territorial issues and I knew she was healthy and not stressed. I tried a couple of different litters, but the problem persisted. From what I'd gatheredfrom reading about this problem--it seemed she had just picked up a habit.

Then I read about Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter. It's a clay based litter with some herbal scent (that only the cat can really smell) that's supposed to attract the cat to the litter. It was made to help train kittens and get problem cats to start using their litter again. I'd read several raving reviews of it at the PetSmart online store customer boards, so I decided to give it a try.

The litter comes with a booklet that you should read thoroughly. Then follow the directions. We're going on three weeks now without one single "accident". And what is it that they always say? It takes 2 weeks to start a habit? I think we're on the right track!

I hope someone out there is helped by reading this. Too many cats are abused or surrendered to shelters every year because of this kind of problem. Dr. Elsey has different approaches for even the worst of problem cats--so with some patience, there is hope!

Visit Dr. Elsey's website to read more about their products, including Cat Attract litter. Cat Attract can be purchased at PetSmart in Canada.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Arggg! After a very busy and stressful week that had me remarking "What contest in hell did I just win?" several times over... I thought I'd turn to shallow and easy topics here on the old blog. Namely, shopping.

Some of my favorite blogs right now are posting their favorite items. "Favorite toothpaste", and the like. I love posts like this. I love hearing about products that are so good, they make people a) want to rave about them to their friends and b) keep a loyal following. So, I hereby solemnly swear, that I shall make a post every day this week highlighting a product that I'm jazzed about. I hope others that read this and have a blog, will do the same. And, if you don't have one, leave some ravings in the comments. I want to spend my money!

I'll start out with Method. They make household cleaners and soaps. Boring, right? Wrong! I first noticed them because of thier beautifully designed packaging (I am a sucker)... but believe me, they are more than just a pretty face. I started with the foaming hand soaps--the Green Tea and Sweetwater scents are so beautiful you won't be able to stop sniffing your hands.

Then, after nearly passing out, yet again, while cleaning the bathrooms with Fantastic (the stench gets in my lungs and holds on for dear life!) I decided to try Method's spray cleaners. I tried the all purpose (the Grapefruit scent) and the tub and tile cleaner (to remove soap scum in the shower). Not only do they smell good, they did an excellent job--and I didn't feel like I was going to cough up my lungs or poison the water system.

But the best is yet to come... they don't test on animals. Never ever! Not with any of their products. They look good (the bottles were designed by Karim Rashid), they work good, and they don't hurt animals. That's the holy product trinity!

In Canada you can buy Method Products at Shoppers Drug Mart and Zellers. In the States you'll find them at Target.

Check the Method website for a list of their products and more about the business:

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wow, two days in a row. Fancy that!

Yesterday’s mail delivery spoiled me rotten. Allow me to share, without seeming overly show-offy.

The first was a box from Amazon—two gifts from my dearest husband that arrived too late for Christmas (which he expected, so he just told me to expect two extra gifts sometime in January). The first was a DVD “Let’s Rock Again”. A documentary about Joe Strummer (by Dick Rude). It contains tour footage (with the Mescaleros), exclusive interviews and music. All of this was filmed right up to his unexpected and sad death in 2002. This was on my Christmas list, but it’s something we’ll enjoy together. I have to say his death affected more than I thought I would—maybe it had something to do with losing a little of my youth. lol Oh and it happened on that sad and pathetic Christmas I mentioned yesterday. Good timing!

The other item in the box was a book: A History of Domestic Space: Privacy and the Canadian Home. This was something he found on his own, based on my crazy infatuation with the history of our home. It’s perfect! I discussed in an earlier post, my facination of everyday life. But photographs from the 1800’s and early 1900’s rarely pictured everyday life. They were often posed portraits in front of fake backgrounds. This book delves into domesticity and the evolution of how we use our homes—it has amazing pictures of people around dining room tables and sitting in their living rooms. I had to stifle my urge to get out the magnifying glass and zoom in on every item in the room! I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this book in a future entry.

And, can you believe it? There was still something else. A mysterious box from an unknown sender. It turned out to be these indescribably perfect cat glasses from Bridey-Heidi. I mean, really, could these be any cuter? I can’t decide which one is my favorite… Right now the goth in me is favoring “Bad Cat”. Very unexpected and wonderful. Thank you Heio.

I guess the holidays are officially over now. Thank you to all of my irreplaceable friends and family for making me feel like the most loved and lucky person on earth—every day of the year. (And not because you buy me awesome presents ;-))

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I finally got some time to go to the Library and get some more research done in the city directories. I kind of surprised myself at how anxious I was feeling as I checked each year’s entry. I found myself silently saying “please be there, please be there”. I really did not want my Thomas family to ever move! Unfortunately, 1939 is the last time they are listed as living in the house. By then they’d lived in the house for 42 years! (or at least Ida had). They make up so much of the soul of this house. I looked through the next few years’ worth of directories and I can’t find them listed anywhere! By this time, Robert was 76 old and retired for 2 years. It’s possible they found the house too large and moved in with one of their children—as no longer heads of the household, they wouldn’t be listed in the directory. I suppose one of them could have died and the remaining one sold the house, but I can’t imagine that it would happen as fast? I guess we’ll never know. And unless I can find another way to get info, I’ll never know when they died, or who died first. I wonder if Ida became a widow twice in her life?

Whatever it was that happened, the house was sold and in 1940 a new occupant is listed. John Maxwell, Chief Engineer at Imperial Oil. Unfortunately I don’t have access to any other census info after 1911, so I don’t know anything else about him, or if he had a family. I hope to get that from the Assessment Rolls at the City Clerk’s office--the next project! I suppose I have to get to know them more, but I’m still sad about losing the Thomas’ and not so excited about researching the Maxwell’s right now. I can only imagine how attached biographers must get to their subjects!

In other house news, I found a company that makes reproduction twist doorbells! I have a place on my door where there should be one, but it’s long gone. I could have held out for an antique one, but I’m going to give this a try. Now maybe we’ll actually hear when someone’s at the door! I already know the cats will hate it.

So the holidays were a long time ago, but I should mention that they were great. They always are. I can only remember one sad one and that was sad and pathetic for a number of reasons, but we made do. It’s funny how when you look back on difficult situations in your life, you wonder how you ever got through them, but in the moment, you're just doing it. Or maybe that IS the answer.

One lingering problem leftover from the holidays is the need to eat eat eat everything in sight as well as crave crave crave whatever isn’t in sight. This leads to fat fat fat! I’m trying to eat better again and get more regular with the noon-hour workouts. Today we did a Salsa Dancing workout. Fun! And Hard! My legs are hurting already and it didn’t feel like we were actually working that hard.

Well, this was a boring entry so I’ll leave you with this little gem. Those of us that grew up in Canada will remember these “Hinterland Who’s Who” spots airing on TV regularly. Here’s a funny take on those on youtube.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Oh, I’ll make an entry about Christmas soon. It’s nice to have a record of it. But that’s for later.

First I want to share a little story with you. The story contains mostly facts, and some speculation… and remains unfinished. However, I’m betting that more details will reveal themselves before too long.

The story begins 110 years ago… right here, where I am. Mr. And Mrs. William J. Wright lived in a cottage on Colborne Street with their son, John. Just 4 doors down from them, they watched as a tall, yellow brick house began to take shape. Two years later, this house would be theirs. It wasn’t as fancy as some of the houses up the street, but with all of the extra room and modern conveniences, it must have felt like a mansion to them. The family moved in in 1899 and soon after, Otis was born. Their happiness was short lived however, as tragedy struck the next year, and William J. died. Ida was left a widow at 35 with 2 young boys to raise by herself.

Ida was devastated, but did her best to keep strong for the boys. Thankfully, there was some money so she was able to stay in the house without taking a job.

During this same time, Mr. Robert Thomas was experiencing some struggles of his own. He lived around the corner on Waterloo Street with his son, William (10) and daughter, Cora (13). It would seem that Mr. Thomas’ wife had left him with the two children. Nobody was really sure of the story and it wasn’t talked about in polite company. Mr. Thomas owned a Barbershop on Richmond Street and although he had a steady and respected business, it wasn’t the most lucrative of professions. To help make ends meet, he took on two lodgers, a widow and her daughter who had immigrated from England.

Perhaps it was at church, on a Sunday stroll in the neighbourhood… or maybe taking their children to school, but somehow, Mrs. Wright and Mr. Thomas became acquainted with each other. It wasn’t long before Ida Wright became Ida Thomas and her new husband and his children moved into her lovely, but modest, yellow brick house on Colborne Street. The newly merged family did their best adjust to the new changes. In 1905 the biggest change of all came when little Ida Doris was born, the couple’s only child together.

More changes came over the years and by 1911 Robert's oldest son had secured a job as a grocery salesman and moved out to lodge in a house downtown. That past year, a 24-year old niece, Bessie, immigrated from England and stayed with the family. Both Bessie and Robert’s oldest daughter, Cora (now 23) worked as furriers at a local fur business. Ida's oldest son, John (19), worked as a printer for the local newspaper.

A few changes were made to the house and grounds as well. By 1917 the family had an automobile and a stone garage was constructed in the back. As well, an unheated sun porch was added on to the back of the house.

The story stops here, for now, in 1927. The family remains in the house with 64-year-old Robert still working in his barbershop on Maple Street….

If you haven’t guessed already, the above is the history of my house so far. I did a ton of research during the holidays and discovered so much more thanks to the 1901 and 1911 Census of Canada and local city directories and fire insurance maps. There’s so much more to do. It’s unfolding so interestingly. Aren’t you dying to know what happens to the Thomas family? I’ll be so disappointed if they just move away and I lose track of them. To be continued!

p.s. If any relatives of Robert Thomas, Ida Wright (or Ida Thomas) from London, Ontario, Canada find this through genealogy research, please leave a comment. I’m desperately looking for photos and such!