My Vintage Linen Christmas Tree

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This posting is not from my ‘normal’ topic lists but I’ve had too many people tell me to post this idea and picture so I’m caving to public demand and doing it – but of course, there’s a story to the idea and the picture. 

Once upon a time, my mother had a junk, ‘er  I mean a vintage treasure shop.  Sometimes I have difficulty distinguishing between the two.  Contents of the shop included a few antique furniture pieces, a small library of books, a ton of collectibles, hundreds and hundreds of vintage home décor items and a collection of vintage linens like no other.  Conditions of the linens varied from Grade A Number 1 to “why the hell are you keeping this one?” quality.   The linens covered a wide range of types as well including doilies, table runners, tablecloths, dresser scarves, and pillowcase edging , all the way to full size bed covers.  Most were of the white/off-white/almost tea-dyed colour, some with small patches of embroidery as well. 

So when it came time for Mom to close her shop, my brother and I were assigned the task of distributing the shop’s contents, i.e. some went to Salvation Army, some was given away, some was burned and most of it went to the dump.  But Mom’s favourites were the books and the linens – and those went to a storage area at my sister’s.

About three years ago, Mom passed away and my sister and I went through all the treasures in storage and I ended up with most of the linens and my sister took the books.  We just couldn’t bear to discard the items that our mother had treasured so dearly. 

My sister set up her own mini-library with the books and I was left to figure out what to do with four huge Rubbermaid containers of vintage linens.  I tried selling a few in an antique market but that seemed to be cumbersome, displaying them properly, etc.  I tried to let my creative juices flow to come up with ideas of things that I could make with these linens.  I thought of making lap blankets/throws but that didn’t seem too practical, as the linens probably couldn’t take a ‘heavy use’ task like a blanket. 

As the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I found the vintage linens beautiful but my house can only house so much beauty – and four Rubbermaid containers was too much beauty.  So I sorted through the linens and then the idea hit me.  As the Christmas season was upon me, I was in need of a Christmas tree.  But the idea of a traditional tree didn’t appeal to me – must be because my age has allowed me to see so many that I’m just over that traditional decoration.   But what about a tree made of linens?  Could that work?  I put the idea past the handsome husband and he was supportive of the idea.  So I set to work on engineering the base/frame of the tree, using the base of a hoarded floor lamp as the project base and the heavy cardboard core of a newly purchased area rug as the ‘trunk’ of the tree.  Using my handy drill and numerous pieces of doweling, I was able to make a skeleton tree for the linens.  Then placing/threading the linens onto the doweling was a task of trial and error.  I used a great deal of the linens but certainly not all of them but now I’ve got nieces that are interested in making one of these trees.  In addition to the linens, I used tulle amongst the linens and placed many strings of white lights on white wire to light it.  The final touch (and my favourite one!) is that the decorations are vintage jewelry that was my Mom’s and my grandmother’s.  I used bracelets, pins, necklaces, etc.  The topper is a store-bought metal angel. 

Some may think that this looks just like a laundry rack – and I guess it kind of does, but it makes me smile every time I see it, remembering my mother and all that she has contributed to my life.    I hope all who read this have their own form of ‘linens’ by which to remember their loved ones.  Merry Christmas. 

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Egg Farmers of Ontario Being a Bully

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A recently announced Health Canada document entitled, ‘Health Canada Guidance on Reducing the Risk of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs Produced in Canada’ is causing quite a stir in my neck of the woods.  I checked out the document – actually read it in its entirety – over 20 pages.  As a former egg producer and layer quota holder, the guidelines and recommendations included in the document weren’t new to me.  In fact, it seemed to me that all of these guidelines were already being implemented and enforced.  But then that was my perception.  So imagine my surprise when a friend from within the egg industry tells me that this ‘new’ document from Health Canada is set to shut down many of the small local egg producers that have 100 or 500 birds – those without quota.  I read the document again and couldn’t see why this document was being seen as a business-breaker for these small producers.  I also read Jim Romahn’s blog posting in October (http://agri007.blogspot.ca/2013/10/small-flocks-exempt-from-egg-guidelines.html) where he had reported on this Health Canada document and stated that small producers are exempt from these guidelines.  So I asked the million dollar question of my egg industry friend, “Who is telling you and these small egg producers that they are going to have to stop taking their eggs and having them washed and graded by a licensed, certified and regulated egg grading station?”  Imagine my surprise – or really my lack of surprise! – when I’m told that it’s Egg Farmers of Ontario that is the source of this business-breaking news. 

 I followed up my investigation into the matter with a telephone call to the Guelph office of Health Canada and spoke to a representative there.  I explained to him that this document was causing some concern for these small producers and a couple of the small local grading stations.  He assured me that the intent of this document was not to put any small producers out of business.  In fact he went on to give me a brief history of the document and stated that many, if not all of the suggestions for implementations were already addressed in current HAACP protocols.  When I asked if this document would stop or prevent these small producers from taking their eggs to a local grading station for washing, grading and marketing, he promptly said ‘no’.  He even suggested that EFO does not have the authority to stop any egg producer from taking their eggs to a licensed/regulated egg grading station.  He also agreed with me when I said that it appeared to me that having these small producers pay a licensed, certified, and CFIA regulated grading station to wash and grade their eggs is a far better and safer solution than allowing the same producers to sell unwashed, ungraded eggs from their farm gate.

After my discussion with my egg industry friend, a small egg producer or two and the Health Canada representative, I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem comes with Egg Farmers of Ontario representatives interpreting these ‘guidelines’ (note that these are ‘guidelines’ – not regulations) in a manner different from their intended purpose.  Using this interpretation to ‘bully’ these small producers out of business is exactly what EFO wants.  Harry Pelissero and his ‘Egg Police’ are once again pushing producers around, taking authority that is not theirs and causing many hard-working, well-intentioned small non-quota holding egg producers a great deal of anxiety and fear.  I’m certainly not surprised – but shame on them.   And who governs Egg Farmers of Ontario again?  It doesn’t matter.  Nothing is likely to change.  

  

 

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Vegetable Bread? Really? Come on Dempster’s!

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As I’m currently enjoying some rest and relaxation in a different locale, I’ve been watching some television and noticed a recent commercial for Dempster’s Vegetable Bread.  The bragging rights for this bread is “a half serving of vegetables in every two slices”.  Really?  So to get ONE daily serving of vegetables (Canada’s Food Guide suggests that adults get between 7 and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily), one would have to eat FOUR slices.  My quick math, if I haven’t consumed too much alcohol while resting and relaxing, tells me that I would have to eat 28 to 40 slices of bread in a day to get my required amount of vegetables.  Come on Dempster’s!  Dempster’s bread has so many other nutritional qualities that surely insulting the intelligence of the folks that eat your products isn’t the way to sell more bread. 

 

To add additional insult to your potential consumers, the commercial shows two thin models – one of them eating a sandwich, supposedly made with Dempster’s Vegetable bread.  The one model says in shock to the other, “You’re eating a sandwich!”  The statement is made as if the devil himself made the bread and bargained away the model’s first-born child in order to eat the sandwich.  The response, said in complete defense-mode, “ Yes!  It’s made with Dempster’s Vegetable bread.”  Translation:  Even I can eat bread if it’s made with vegetables.  Well eat up baby, ‘cause you’re gonna have to eat at least 28 slices to get the vegetables you need.  I haven’t checked but maybe Dempster’s owns a portion of the Ex-Lax corporation and they are planning a cross promotion.  That would be rather handy as eating all that bread would require some of that chocolate magic to get that bread blockage moving.  Maybe putting lettuce, onions, spinach, peppers, etc. on the sandwich would be a better idea?  Duh!   You can do better Dempster’s.    Maybe it’s time for a new marketing group?  Time to refill my glass. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There Really is Still Good Service

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There are many posts in this blog criticizing banks, insurance companies, marketing ideas, and some agricultural commodity boards but I want this post to be direct evidence that I can and will write complimentary posts when warranted.  As my years of experience get bigger (that’s just a nice way of saying ‘as I get older’), I find fewer and fewer areas of experience that warrant recommending but I’ve actually found two separate stores, in two separate industries that I am willing to brag about today.

The first one is the Nike factory outlet store located on King Street in Kitchener, Ontario.  I desperately needed a new pair of running shoes as I threw my old, over-used and smelly Nikes out in Philadelphia after running and training for three half-marathons in them.  Without shoes and really needing to run, I would describe myself as a ‘sure sale’ in the retail world.  As the Nike outlet was some distance away, I decided to try a closer Nike retailer, SportChek in the hopes of avoiding a lengthy drive to Nike.  I was honest with the staff at SportChek, specifically stating that I hoped that they could give me a reason not to drive all the way to the Nike store.  I explained that I needed a shoe that supported over-pronation in runners, the sales clerk asked if I had looked at the shoes on the wall display.  I explained that I had but that I wasn’t sure which shoes were for over-pronators.  At this point, as if I had irritated or interrupted him, the sales clerk simply stated, “We don’t have anything for you here.”  I gave the clerk a look of amazement and asked, “with the hundreds of pairs of shoes you have in here, and the ones that you can have ordered in, you have nothing for me to buy?”  The clerk succinctly and quickly replied, “No.”  This clerk should be fired but thanks to him, the Nike store got my visit.  And what a difference!  A young male employee, Trevor, greeted me and asked me how he could help me.  This greeting certainly was a great start to improving my mood.  I then explained (as I had at SportChek) that I desperately needed running shoes and ones that supported over-pronation.  As before, I explained that I didn’t care what colour or style, didn’t even care if it was a women’s shoe or a man’s – simply needed a runner for over-pronation.  Trevor thought for a few seconds and said, “I’ve got two pairs that are on clearance that would work but I’m not sure they’re the right size.”  Unfortunately they weren’t the right size but Trevor went on to offer to check with another Nike store and see if they might have my size.  Really?  That was a great idea!  So he did that, had the shoes shipped in, called me when they arrived and I am the owner of a new pair of Nike shoes!  Thank you Trevor and thank you Nike!

After my Nike purchase, I was in need of supper so I headed to the nearby Pita Pit that was in the same plaza as the Nike Store.  For a second time in a very short period of time, I was given a very friendly greeting from Dylan and Jenna at the Pita Pit.  They asked what they could make for me and I began to check out the featured item.  Dylan quickly recognized my curiosity and pointed out the highlights of the featured item.  The feature had a chipotle sauce that normally would scare me off from ordering it, but upon learning that, Dylan automatically went to the sauce, prepared a small sample of the sauce for me and had it in my hands before we were even done chatting about my apprehension of the spice.  What a guy!  That was all it took.  The great service continued with explanations of other sauces that I had always been hesitant to try.  Thanks to Dylan and Jenna patience and informed suggestions, I had the best pita I have ever had.  It was a great evening and I am so thankful that there really is great service out there.

Have you had great service lately from a retailer, food or service provider?  Tell me about it.  I’d love to share it with other readers who are on the hunt for great service.

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Did Gray, Burnbrae or EFO ‘Inhale’ or Not?

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According to a blog post by Jim Romahn (http://agri007.blogspot.com/2013/06/court-documents-detail-egg-deficiencies.html), Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reports demonstrate that the statements made by Norman Bourdeau about cracks being packed into retail Grade A egg cartons, are true.  Attempts to keep this evidence hidden have been going on for years and now the ‘yolk’ is on L. H. Gray/Gray Egg Farms.  The consequences for this are yet to be determined, but let’s hope there are some consequences.  Especially since Gray, through his legal representative, has been protesting and denying this practice vehemently since this whole saga began. 

 

Gray isn’t the only party who said the equivalent of “but I didn’t inhale”.  Burnbrae Eggs and the Egg Farmers of Ontario also took that position.  So is Mr. Bourdeau correct about them too?  I had hoped that Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission would have at least checked into EFO as they are the supervising body for EFO.  Literally after years of repeated requests, Farm Products is finally (and probably reluctantly) ‘investigating’ EFO – but it’s just their transparency that is being questioned.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been hollering about EFO’s lack of transparency for years so I’m thankful that Farm Products is finally doing something – or at least appear to be doing something.  But this goes beyond transparency and that should be evident to all parties involved – egg producers, graders, Farm Products, CFIA and the Ministry of Agriculture.  If only the majority of consumers understood the egg industry and supply management, this would have been investigated long ago. 

 

It appears that Mr. Bourdeau is not Chicken Little stating that the sky is falling.  The question is how many foxes are there in this tale?  

 

 

 

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Looking for Cracks at EFO – Finally!

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I saw the agricultural heavens open and heard the chicken angels clucking a chorus of “Hallelujah Bock Bock!” when I was informed the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission is going to investigate the operations of EFO.  Will miracles never cease?  Maybe Geri Kamenz will earn his six-figure salary when checking out Harry Pelissero and the boys and girls of the EFO Board of Directors – both past and present hopefully. 

So does this mean that there was merit in those “unbelievable” emails between egg-gradier L.H. Gray and Son and EFO?  (Remember those emails?  Check them out here:  http://agri007.blogspot.ca/2012/12/heres-scoop_7234.html).  Is the EFO Board of Directors still standing behind its general manager and its policies and procedures?  At the end of the investigation, how far behind the general manager will the Board be standing?   I imagine there could be quite a distance of separation once the chicken poo starts to hit the fan.   Maybe all those documents in the egg industry lawsuit are real and indicate collusion and numerous other problems with EFO?  Or does it mean that finally, finally, finally somebody is listening and taking steps to make EFO accountable?   In case it would help EFO, I would be willing to keep minutes of their meetings.  Sure hope Harry calls soon.     

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So Easy to Spend A Million Bucks

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Jim Romahn thinks Harry Pelissero and the Egg Farmers of Ontario are in a hurry to start a new process for quota sales and purchases (April 23, 2013 post – http://agri007.blogspot.ca).  Seems Harry and the Board is in a hurry to spend the egg producer’s money too.  Must be burning a hole in their pocket or there’s an awful lot of women on that Board?  This time it is $1 million towards clinical drug trials for an antidepressant.  Technically the expenditure doesn’t even fall into the EFO mandate or mission since the trials are slated to use fertilized eggs – which aren’t a part of EFO’s oversight. 

 

I would bet that the decision to fund these trials didn’t even warrant much of an explanation to the producers.  My guess is that the producers were merely told that this is what’s happening.  Got questions about it?  Too bad.  Did anyone ask about liability?  Sure hope EFO can’t be associated with future lawsuits from the use of this antidepressant, if and/or when it’s approved for use.  But did anyone even ask?  Doubt it.  Check out a recent Maclean’s article if you think it can’t happen.  (http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/04/20/theres-a-pill-for-that/).  How about getting an outside, independent opinion about the trials?  Was that considered?  Who would know, since minutes aren’t available?

 

And where did this $1 million dollars come from?  It came from the pockets of the producers.  How’d that feel producers?  Does the phrase ‘lay there and love it’ mean anything to you?  Maybe the egg producers are all wealthy enough that $1 million is just a drop in the bucket for them?

 

Is the Farm Products Commission watching this unfold?  Is this what EFO was set up to do?  I don’t think so.     

 

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