Jan

  • Happy New Year! (2014)

  • YNAB on a 75% off sale for $15.00 on Steam!

    I've been using YNAB for a few months, and absolutely love it.  Where other financial software is focused on what you've spent, YNAB is all about taking control of your money and planning what you are going to spend, now and into the future.

    The other amazing thing about YNAB is that they license the software to the household; so, everyone in the house (parents, children, etc...) can each have a copy of the software running on their own computer.  They also have free online courses, a great selection of howto's, and a forum full of helpful information and people.

    So $15 USD for financial/budgeting software for the entire family on Steam is really amazing!

  • Making ferments in bigger containers is so much easier

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    I found a 4L Costco pickle jar I was saving (with no purpose in mind) and thought I would try using it to make a batch of sauerkraut.  I found working with this large jar to be much easier then working with multiple 1L wide-mouth mason jars; I could get my hand into it to press down the kraut instead of relying on "tappers".

    The other new idea I tried was half-filling a zip-lock bag with water a as weight.  Wasn't quite as heavy as it needed to be, but it definitely helped to keep the kraut submerged in the brine at all times.

    Definitely a successful experiment!

  • My quest for a custom suit in Winnipeg

    I found that being a bigger man in Winnipeg left me with only a few options when looking for a suit off-the-rack.  I really didn't like their tendency to arrange two piece suits with the jacket 2 sizes larger then the pants, and buying one piece at a time really made the price jump.

    Ultimately, I started researching local tailors in Winnipeg last December, and had shortlisted down to Giovanni Custom Tailor Shop within a couple weeks.  Some of the tailors I had called were quite expensive, and I found Giovanni to be quite reasonable; barely 1/3 more than the limited off-the-rack choices.  I also found the interview in his Winnipeg Free Press Article to be very good.

    Today, I visited Giovanni's shop, and really had a great vibe from him as a person and really valued his opinions as a tailor; quite professional and personable.  The hard part was picking out the material to use; simply too many awesome choices.  Below I have the initial two I was contemplating on the left, then the ultimate pick on the right.

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    Once Giovanni knows the fabric is in stock and has it ordered, we'll be able to start the process with taking my measurements.  Exciting!

  • Lessons learned about natural deodorant

    When the recipeI was following mentioned that essential oils was optional, I mostly ignored that figuring "why wouldn't I want to add a scent?"  While the recipe mentioned Tea Tree oil as a good option for men, the first extract I grabbed from the cupboard was peppermint, and went with it.

    Lesson #1: Peppermint is not a good choice for a deodorant.  I never clued into past experiences where peppermint caused a nice heating effect when used as an aches-rub, and never expected that I might be inviting a heat rash which took only 2 days to bloom.

    Lesson #2: Sometimes essential oils just need to be eliminated. Trying Tea Tree oil as the recipe had originally suggested next definitely helped reduce the heat rash, but irritation persisted.  At this point I wasn't sure if the recipe proportions would need to be played with, or an ingredient eliminated.  Thankfully, i found my answer in Divine Ms D's blog where she shared the fact that she had to eliminate essential oils for the same issue I was facing.

    While I am finally finding the irritation to be finally subsiding, I may try the recipe she follows (if I'm not happy with the ultimate results) as the proportions are different from mine.

    Thank you Divine Ms D for sharing on your Paleo Sistah blog!

    Follow-up post

  • Received my first order of grass-fed & free range meats!

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    It really does put a smile on one's face to look upon a freezer of lovely grass-fed meats!

    It took a bit of research (made easier by eatwild.com and manitobagrassfedbeef.ca) to compare and figure out where I was going to order from; and in the end I decided to place our first order with McDonald Farm for the following reasons:

    1. Their price is very competitive
    2. They deliver free to Winnipeg once every month
    3. They have many different animal meats/organs to choose from, as well as eggs (seasonal)
    4. I enjoyed reading their FAQcovering many topics, like how they raised healthy animals, treated their sick animals, ensured delivery of grass-fed meats that was free of chemicals and antibiotics, etc...
    5. Accept Paypal as a credit card option

    I saved up a bit so that my first order could be large enough to start me off in a good position to not need meat for a while.  The  hope being that I can place smaller (more cost friendly) orders each month to keep my meat supply up.  In this first order there's:

    • a quarter of beef (ground, steaks, roasts, ribs, stew meat, soup bones, etc...),
    • beef organ meats (tried ordering liver, but short supply steered us towards tongue and kidneys),
    • a couple smoked hams, and
    • a few free-range chickens

    I promised myself that I would not dive into these meats until I had used up my existing supply of store bought beef and last seasons elk; so I can't make any comments yet on the quality or taste... but that is going to be coming very soon!

  • First impressions of grass-fed beef

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    Today, I tried the beef smokies that came with the 1/4 beef order.  All I can say is wow!  They were absolutely delicious, seasoned perfectly, and zero grease-in-the-pan type of lean.  I wish I had alot more of them; definitely something to add more of on the next order.

    Also tried the hamburger patties which were incredibly tender; I swear this must speak to the dry-aging process that they use.  Their taste was also very mild when compared to your average burger patties, which was a nice surprise.

    From the steaks, I have tried only some of the chuck and rib-eye.  I overcooked the rib-eye (the first I tried to cook) so it was not as tender as it should have been, but was an excellent and delicious cut.  The chuck was cooked perfectly and it was hard to imagine it as a lower "ranking" cut of steak; it definitely went well cubed on-top of my salad at lunch.

    Still alot more to try from the order, but the initial verdict is very positive.  Definitely grass-fed for life!

  • Decided to order aftermarket toner for my Xerox Phaser printer

    I've owned my Xerox Phaser 6180N for a few years now, and obviously I am not a huge ink consumer since I have only ever had the factory cartridges that came with the unit until my black started running out over the past week.  In fact, I still have 80% toner in one of the colour cartridges, and 60% in the other two.  But I found it hard to convince myself to buy official Xerox replacement ink when the cost of it was so close to the original purchase price of the printer... ummm, no thanks.  I'd rather buy a new printer at those prices.

    So I started looking online for alternatives and eventually found TonerOnline.ca.  What I appreciated the most was their no hassle warranty and the excellent conversation I had over the phone... looking to get more comfortable with purchasing "generic".  Obviously they said everything right as I decided to place my order for an entire set of colours, not just the black I really needed.  They happened to have a little sale on, and I do like to capitalize on sales... especially at these prices!

  • Decided to add the Drone Mobile to my Compustar

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    After finding that the impressive 1 mile range of my CompuStar Remote Start & Alarm meant nothing in the denseness of the tall city buildings (I'm guessing all that steel in the way); I gave myself a late Christmas present by having the Drone Mobile installed as a companion to my PRO 2-WAY 901.

    The install came with three months of the "basic" plan, which should be ample time to determine if it has any shortfalls that would push me to the premium plan.  It sure was a wake-up call to how the Canadian dollar fares against the $299 USD price tag... almost $370 CDN!  ouch! ><

    Here are some good troubleshooting tips which I unfortunately needed to use on my first day with my Drone/Compustar combo... The Dealer seemed to get it going again (a la “exit valet mode”) but it always end up failing to start again. My internet research told me that the compustar “brain” has lost what it means for the remote start to know it has succeeded, and “locks out” the function after three “failed” attempts:

  • You know not to eat the chicken when...

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    It's been eating too many green eggs and ham!

    First time I ever saw a chicken with a "grass stain" on the inside... cooked or not.

    I'm glad I decided to cut the entire chicken before eating any of it too.  And totaly not interested in finding out how sick I would have gotten.

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