Enter the MOOC: free online education

“You can go downtown,” I used to say to my son, “but you can’t just hang. You have to have something to do.” I abhorred the thought of my kid just hanging around Main Street, looking bored. 

I’ve felt sort of like one of those teenagers these last few weeks. Just hangin’. An aimless Hum-de-dum-dum, not wanting to do any of the things on my to-do list. You know the feeling.

Before I retired, I yearned for unstructured time. Now that I’ve got it, I find myself yearning for some structure! Thus my feelings of contrariness.

No, I don’t want to go back to work, so don’t even suggest it.  I just want a little something-something in the way of a schedule. Because I’m not as good with unstructured time as I thought I was.

In my working life, I was an administrative assistant at Yukon College.  One of the great things about working there was being totally immersed in an atmosphere of teaching and learning.  In fact, practically my entire life revolved around teaching and learning. I taught dance classes for 15 years, I traveled “outside” regularly to pursue my education as a dance artist and teacher and I took an assortment of college courses in the evenings.

As I sit here writing, I realize that that’s what’s missing. Teaching and Learning! Especially the Learning.

Enter the MOOC.

MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. These are (non-credit) university courses that are open to anyone, anywhere. As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you can take a course. And best of all, the courses are free!

Part of retiring early (early 50s instead of mid-late 60s) was accepting the challenge of learning how to live successfully on a tight budget. So you can imagine how attractive the word FREE is, especially when followed by the word EDUCATION! Lol!

The other day I discovered The Open University’s Future Learn program. Within minutes, I’d signed up for a course: Start Writing Fiction.  The course starts at the end of April, and I can’t wait for class assignments, assigned readings, critical thinking and deadlines! I realize that makes me a bit of a geek. Too bad, so sad. It’s the way I roll. I might even sign up for a second class!

If you are interested, here’s the link to the courses Future Learn offers.

What would you like to learn?

Posted in Balance, early retirement, Health, Philosophy, retirement, School, Thrifty, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

2015 Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge

Happy 5th anniversary to the Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge! It’s being organized by Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. High Five, Sarah! It’s a lot of work to organize a challenge like this!

Quilters are invited to make a quilt and donate it to one of the charities listed on the Hands2Help website. (But don’t worry if you can’t afford to mail the quilt, you do have the option of donating to a local charity. There are no barriers put in your way if you want to participate.) The object of the challenge is to get quilts wrapped around the shoulders of those who need them.

Extra exciting is that this year, Because You Matter Quilts for Kids is the Canadian recipient! That’s me!! Canadian quilters who don’t want to mail their quilts across the border can mail them to me as an option (if they don’t know where to donate locally or want to contribute to Because you Matter specifically.) How cool is that? !!! Thank you so much, Sarah! I’ll also be posting the quilts I’m making as I go along. I have a special project in mind for Because you Matter this year and I’ll be telling you all about it soon.

Sarah has arranged lots of sponsors and lots of prizes, a linky party, free patterns if you need ideas and all kinds of fun for participants, so head on over to Hands2Help and sign up.  Registration opens today!

Posted in Because you Matter, Charity, child, Crafts, Creativity, Gifts, Quilting, Quilts, sewing, Stitches | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Two Bookmarks

I love stitching these little gifts!



I traced the pattern from a little book called Embroidery pour le Jardinier by Sylvie Blondeau that my son gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.



I used Kaffe Fassett fabric on the backs.



Quick and pretty!

Posted in Beauty, Crafts, Creativity, Embroidery, fabric | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

I don’t need a bread maker – I AM a bread maker!

We spent some time staying with Mr. C’s parents when we were in Whitehorse a couple of weeks ago and they have a bread making machine. I was instantly bitten by the “gotta have it” bug. You know the one…that bug that tells you you need this, that or the other thing? I know you know what I’m talking about, lol!

It happens to me a lot. For instance, my friend Cynde got a Janome Memorycraft 7700 last month. Man o Man, was I ever bitten hard! I thought I was going to die if I didn’t have one, too! Well, I didn’t die. And the urge to spend $2000 faded away pretty quickly, thank god!

But that bread making machine….man, wouldn’t that be nice? And then I remembered the last time I had a bread machine.

I am going to stop right here and give kudos to Black & Decker because their machine survived ME! Or, my meddling with it, to be more exact. I could not, for the life of me, leave that machine alone to do it’s business! I was in there every chance I got, taking the dough out to give it extra kneading by hand, adjusting the water:flour ratio, nipping and tucking and generally making a nuisance of myself. That machine probably cursed the day it was bought and delivered to my house, lol!

That’s because I’m a bread maker. Ask anybody who makes bread from scratch and they’ll probably tell you a similar story. Bread making machines are great. Unless you’re a bread maker yourself. In which case, they become shear frustration-making machines!

So this morning, after reminding myself that that I AM a bread maker and don’t need to buy one, I set about making some. First I fed the sourdough starter. I divided it and put half back in the fridge for another day.

Then I fed it again and set half aside to ferment for a couple of days. This will make an awesome loaf of authentic tangy sourdough bread probably on Thursday or Friday.

I added yeast to the rest and mixed up a batch of faux-sourdough. Two freshly kneaded and shaped loaves are rising as I type. :) Mr. C and I will be fighting over the heel ends of the loaf at dinner. Good thing a loaf has two heels, eh?

My sourdough even has a genealogy. It’s an interesting story. Read it here! It came over the Chilkoot Pass in the late 1800s with the Christiansen family. It came to me from Millie Jones. Thanks, Millie! We’re sure enjoying it!

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailTo feed your starter, mix 2 cups of warm water with 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp sugar. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Lumps are okay. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Posted in baking, Blog Categories, Cooking, food, recipe, Yukon | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Another Vintage New Look 6510: are you kidding me?

Well, what can I say?

007It was Valentine’s Day and for the very first time I was going to a Big Band dance as a general audience member and not as the bari player! A gal needs a new dress for such a monumental occasion, don’t you agree? I mean…I held down the bottom end for what…17+ years… and never heard ‘em out front! Not once! Calls for a new dress, don’t ‘cha think?

003And reason #2 (as if I need a reason #2 to sew a dress): the Big Band is in Whitehorse, duh! Which meant that I was going home back to my beloved Yukon for a whole week! In February! Whoot whoot!

Valentines Day 2015I had a fabulous time! My in-laws were there. My sisters-in-law & brother-in-law was there, my niece was there. My number-one-son was there. My girlfriends were there!

006Yes, these photos are taken on the deck of our little cabin in the woods at Fox Lake. In the Yukon! On a very balmy day, I might add! Excuse the wrinkles…suitcase, you know. And while I do have an antique iron at the cabin and can heat it up on the wood stove, I don’t have an ironing board there anymore. (note to Whitehorse friends…if you see a cheep ironing board at the Sally Ann, grab for me!)

014Why yet another version of the vintage New Look 6510 shift dress? Because I only decided to sew the dress the day my flight left. Yup! You read that right. I woke up in the morning and said to myself, “Nita, you have 3 hours. You should sew a Valentine’s Day dress.” And of course the only dress I have ever sewn is this one, and I knew I could do it fast.

013I didn’t have enough fabric to cut the dress as one piece. So I split it at the “adjust length here” line. In retrospect, that was the wrong place. I should have split it at the natural waist. Because when I wear a belt, it sits up on the bottom of my ribcage. Not the most comfortable spot to wear a belt…

008And because I am Thrifty Retirement Girl (♫ insert super-heroine music ♫)… guess what? The dress .25. YES!!! I made this dress for twenty-five cents. Out of three pillowcases. Yes, pillowcases. From the thrift store. Ha Ha!

004Gotcha!

(this post is dedicated to my friend Cynde who just can’t get over it, lol!)

Posted in Fox Lake, Made by Me Clothing, me-made clothing, sewing, Thrifty | 10 Comments

Tall and Flaky Baking Powder Biscuits to Die For

Every once in awhile my son will ask me how to make a favourite food that he remembers from childhood. Over Christmas he requested my baking powder biscuit recipe. So I did up a quick tutorial for him on my iPad and sent it to him in a message. The pictures aren’t great, but you get the idea.

(null)Today I am making them to go with homemade soup. Maybe you would like to make some too?

2 cups flour
1 rounded Tbsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp sugar
4 rounded Tbsp Shortening
3/4 cup milk.

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir them up with a fork. Next, add the shortening and cut it into the dry ingredients until it is blended:

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Add the milk and stir until it is all mixed together:

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Put a bit of flour on the counter:

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Put your biscuit dough on the flour and pat into a circle:

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Cut out with a biscuit cutter or a water glass:

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I usually get nine. I like them to rise up tall , so I cut them thick:

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Bake at 400 degrees for approx 20 minutes.
These are so good!! Honestly, you won’t be able to eat just one.
If you want to add a handful of grated cheese and make cheese biscuits, you’ll need to cut back a little bit on the shortening. If you don’t, they’ll be heavy. Something to do with the fat to flour ratio.

(null) Enjoy!

Posted in Cooking, recipe | Tagged , , | 7 Comments