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A Canadian freelance writer, podcaster, lifestyle and food blogger. Blogs about growing up on the Canadian prairies, adult life, retirement and cooking.

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19 May 2020

Who Holds the Purse Strings By Norma Galambos

Men often love to shop, while some women detest it. In this article, though, I am going with the stereotype that women like shopping more than men. Each household has its method of making spending decisions, and male and female spending habits tend to differ.  

My mom and dad were married for over 20 years before Mom got her driver’s license. Once a week during those years, Dad would drive her to town to do the grocery shopping. It was, "get what you need and let’s go”.  He would wait outside the store in the vehicle for her to finish and then take her home. 

Even though Mom got her license, she didn’t feel comfortable driving in the city, so unless she went with Dad or one of us kids, Mom didn’t get to go shopping much. When they moved off the farm into the city in their 70s, Mom enjoyed going shopping with my sister or myself. She was finally able to browse around, and she enjoyed those outings. 

Ideologies surrounding who holds the purse strings in a relationship have changed vastly throughout the last hundred years. In the first half of the century, men made the money and women were mainly homemakers with little income of their own. In the second half of the century, many women joined the workforce, which provided them with more financial independence than ever before. 

Starting in Paris in the 1800s, large scale department stores began popping up in cities around the world. Department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges (1909) in England were among the first to change thinking around shopping practices. It was no coincidence that they did it at a time when women were gaining in social and economic power. 

The first department stores had the biggest glass windows to date, ornate architectural designs, in-store restaurants, elevators (lifts), escalators (moving staircases) and in-store washrooms for women. Items were put out on display instead of locked in cabinets, and owners invited different social classes in to shop. These business pioneers coined terms like clearance sale and bargain basement, and returns were accepted. 

The phrase, "no thanks, I’m just looking” is one we have all used when approached by a salesperson. There was a time when browsing wasn’t an acceptable thing to do. Employees asked browsers loitering around the store to leave. Savvy business owners eventually realized that browsing was good for business and encouraged the practice. 

I love imagining how excited shoppers would have been entering a large, newly constructed department store for the first time. The tantalizing window displays, the top-notch service and luxury items must have overwhelmed their senses. For women of the time, department stores were acceptable places to be seen unaccompanied. 

Age, income and the stage of life we are at affect how we spend money. Our needs change as our lives evolve. I based my observations below on the shopping habits of people in their fifties and sixties. 

Profile of a Female Shopper

  • Shopping is viewed as a desirable activity
  • The word “sale” causes an increase in heart rate
  • Sense of time is lost
  • Have been known to impulse buy
  • Browsing is a major part of the shopping experience
  • Believe retail therapy is beneficial to their wellbeing
  • Quality of service is important
  • Find late-night online shopping entertaining
  • A female’s shopping list is long because they must anticipate the items everyone in the household will need
  • Women will take items home and then return them because they think they don’t look good in them (how many times have you seen your husband stand in front of the mirror and say “do these jeans make my butt look big?”). 

Profile of a Male Shopper

  • On the way to the store, the male species will inquire as to what exactly the female needs to shop for
  • They don’t consider browsing a worthwhile pursuit
  • Short check out lines and easy parking are important 
  • Sale or not, they go and get what they need
  • Enter a store focussed on a goal
  • Trying clothes on is considered equivalent to torture
  • Walk the mall with as much speed as possible, ensuring the wife and children are running to keep up
  • Get in and out of a store as fast as possible. I am talking SWAT team fast
  • On the drive home lament about what they forgot to pick up
  • Are also guilty of impulse buying
  • Can be heard saying, “did you buy any treats?” 
  • Would rather scratch their eyes out than be subjected to retail therapy
  • Fall asleep the instant their heads hit the pillow, so late-night online shopping isn’t an issue
  • Male shopping lists...do men make shopping lists, or are they only in possession of one if their wives gave it to them? (Asking for a friend)
  • Men don’t like returning items, they simply tear the tags off, leave them on the dresser and are good to go
  • Exude unmistakable body language - arms crossed, foot-tapping, heavy sighs, pacing or my favourite, running into my heels with the shopping cart which causes my head to turn all the way around and a mean hissing sound to escape from my pursed lips
In the 1970s, traditional department stores started feeling the competition from big-box or discount stores. The traditional department stores didn’t provide a one-stop shopping experience. The big-box stores carried cleaning supplies, toiletries and groceries as well as all the items of a department store. Over the last ten years, online shopping has put even more pressure on stores. Department stores like Woolworths, Eatons and Sears Canada are long gone, and big-box discount stores like Walmart and Costco are thriving. 

Original Eaton’s store in Winnipeg, Manitoba 1869
Catalogue sales 1884 - 1976 

Who holds the purse strings? Women now play a significant role in driving the world economy. They have the most control over the purchase of many categories of consumer goods including food, home furnishings, vacations, beauty, fitness and apparel. Women are also making gains in the areas of electronics and vehicles. 

Does any of this resonate with you? If you are in the fifty-plus age group, are your experiences similar to mine? What about younger demographics? How do your household shopping habits and experiences differ from those that I described? 

If you like this post, I’d love you to share it! 

Follow this blog at https://grandmag55.blogspot.com to read new stories.

©️Copyright 2020 Norma Galambos 

12 May 2020

Perennial Gardening on the Prairies by Norma Galambos

A mixed garden was an integral part of our lifestyle growing up on the prairies. In my adult life, I gravitated towards planting annual and perennial shrubs and flowers. This was partly because of space restrictions, but also because I love being surrounded by flowers and greenery. It gives me a sense of peace and calm like nothing else. The feeling of accomplishment I get when a living thing I have nurtured bursts forth into bloom fills my soul with joy. 

Many gardeners, myself included, are collectors. We often don't see ourselves that way, but we are indeed, collectors. Spring finds us searching every greenhouse we can find, looking for new plants to add to our collections. There is a challenge in trying to grow something we haven't tried before. It amazes me that even after gardening for forty years, I still find something new to try every year.  

It is difficult for certain plants to survive our Saskatchewan winters. I live in zone three of eleven on the plant hardiness zone map. I am reasonably confident in saying that I have lost a significant number of plants over the years to our climate. I often see a plant in a greenhouse or a seed catalogue and think that I used to have one of those and wonder what happened to it; another casualty lost from my collection. 

Gardeners are notorious for nipping a slip off a plant in their travels and making it their own. I have never been overly successful at such clandestine activities, but I know individuals that can take almost anything home and get it to grow. The theory that some people have a green thumb has to be true. 

When I travel, I usually return home with pictures of all kinds of random, unnamed plants. One of my sisters lives in the Okanagan in British Columbia, and I am always in awe of how early she can plant her garden and of the beautiful huge hydrangeas that grow there. She is often planting when we are still shovelling snow. 

  • Lilies
  • Sedum
  • Snow-in-Summer
  • Dianthus
  • Hostas
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Columbine
  • Tulips
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Ferns
  • Daisies
  • Pulmonaria 
  • Phlox
  • Lady’s Mantle 

An established garden 

A work in progress 

Naturally, as spring plant buying time comes upon us, I ponder which plants to try. I like the look of variegated foliage, yellow and fuschia flowers and plants of varying heights. 

I want to get more dianthus plants to continue filling in my dianthus bed. I usually purchase a new lily variety each year at Honeywood Heritage Nursery near Parkside. I have a bed of hens and chicks in a dry spot that I want to expand with different varieties. 

Perennial baby’s breath also looks beautiful and I would like some fern leaf peonies. I once had a beautiful baby’s breath plant, but I got a brainwave that I should move it and realized too late that it had a taproot that I had damaged; that was the end of that. 

It is best to read up on pruning, dividing and replanting before you attempt it, not after the fact. Gardening is a continual learning process.

I bought a perennial this year called a Hot Lips Salvia just because the name made me smile. The tag says it attracts butterflies, so I will see how that turns out. 

Hot Lips 

One must be careful though, as things that grow well on the prairies can also be invasive. Shasta daisies, flax, goutweed, catmint and lily of the valley are some of the plants that I have used that have gotten out of hand by either seeding out or spreading. It can take years to eradicate some perennial choices from your garden.  

Do some research and make a list of what would work in your yard before going shopping. When you get to the greenhouse you will then proceed to choose plants not on your list that you know nothing about, simply because they catch your eye. You can never have too many plants, right? 

Botchy’s Greenhouse near Leask, SK

  • No sense of time - plan to go out in the garden for half an hour only to return four hours later
  • Patient - plant a tiny seedling and watch it grow for years
  • Curious - can't resist trying to grow new varieties 
  • Generous - love to swap plants as well as share the bounty of their vegetable gardens
  • Determined - never give up trying, when a plant dies it is stubbornly replaced with another 
Gardening is great exercise, beautifies our communities, provides an opportunity to be outdoors in nature and benefits our mental health.

I invite you to visit my garden page at Grandma G’s Garden 2019 to view my plant collection.  

If you like this story, I’d love you to share it.

Follow this blog @ https://grandmag55.blogspot.com to read new stories.

©️Copyright 2020 Norma Galambos 

29 April 2020

You Might Be A Mother If By Norma Galambos

  • "I’m scared, can I sleep in your bed?"
  • "Lay with me."
  • "Play with me." 
  • "Read me that book again."
  • "Why?"
  • "Put a Bandaid on it.”
  • "What is Mom going to say?”
  • "Don’t tell Mom.”
  • "Taste this, has it gone bad?”
  • "Can you fix this?"
  • "Can you send me your recipe for..."
  • "Why doesn’t mine taste like yours?"
  • “What would you do if you were me?”

  • “I told you so.”
  • “Go to your room.”
  • “If you would’ve just listen to your mother.”
  • “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off too?”
  • "Why? Because I said so.”
  • "I said no."
  • "Don’t sit so close to the television. It will wreck your eyes.”
  • "Do you think I am stupid?"
  • "If you keep making that face, it’s going to stay that way."
  • "What part of no don’t you understand?”
  • "I don’t care who started it.”
  • "Wait until your dad gets home.”
  • “If you don’t listen, you feel.”
  • “Don’t cry.” - to a sobbing child. 
  • “Don’t come running to me if you fall and break your leg.”
  • "Eat your supper.”
  • "Ten more minutes."
  • “Get in the tub.” 
  • “Get out of the tub."
  • "It’s not my first rodeo.”
  • "Get to bed.”
  • “When you’re a parent you’ll understand.”
  • "Call me when you get there."
  • "One day you will thank me for this."
A mother is someone you can go to for advice when you are sick, mad, lonely or anxious. You can comfortably share your joys and sorrows with her. A mother has compassion and understanding, learned from life experiences. 

Memories of our mom’s gardens’, home cooked meals and baking stay with us throughout our lives. A mother is someone who would gladly take the place of their child when times are hard; someone that can be trusted, who loves unconditionally. 

A mother makes many decisions every day and answers all those "why” questions. Motherhood can feel like an overwhelming responsibility at times. It is the most rewarding and sometimes the most frustrating job in the world. 

On Mother’s Day I think of many women. Those who have lost their mothers, are mothers themselves or are mothers not by blood but by love. Women who choose not to be mothers, those that long to be mothers and mothers who have suffered the loss of a child are in my thoughts. 

If your relationship with your mom wasn’t what you hoped it would be, remind yourself that you can’t change the past. It is in your hands, though, to change the future for the next generation. 

I have been a mother for more than 12,600 days and I have thought about my children on every one of those days. The old saying "once a mother, always a mother” holds true. A mother’s love is a powerful force.

"Nothing is lost until your mother 
can’t find it.”

"Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out.”

"A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place 
no one else can take." 
Cardinal Mermillod

“A mom’s hug lasts long after 
she lets go.”

Happy Mother’s Day! 


40 Years: The Class of ‘80 By Norma Galambos

A lot has happened in the world in the forty years since the class of '80 graduated from high school. We have travelled different paths, whether it was marriage, children, grandchildren and/or careers. Our journeys have included setbacks and successes.

A look back at the past forty years - 1980 - 2020:
  • The world population in 1980 was 4.4 billion, in 2020 it is 7.8 billion. 
  • We have had eight Canadian Prime Ministers - Pierre Trudeau, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Kim Campbell, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. 
  • Seven American Presidents - Jimmy Carter, Ronald Raegan, H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, G. W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been elected. 
  • Terry Fox ran his Marathon of Hope. 
  • Charles and Diana were married and had two sons. They divorced and Charles eventually married his true love Camilla.
  • Princess Diana was tragically killed in a Paris car crash and never got to see her four grandchildren. 
  • Harry and his wife Meghan gave up their royal titles and duties and moved to the US this year. 
  • Images of terrorist attacks such as the ones in New York City, Boston and Oklahoma City were forever imprinted in our memories. 
  • HIV/AIDS, SARS, Zeka, influenza, H1N1, Avian bird flu, West Nile, Lyme disease and COVID-19 struck fear into our hearts. 
  • We witnessed Marc Garneau become the first Canadian in space.
  • Technological advancements gave us the Nintendo, Game Boy, personal computer, flat screen television, World Wide Web, computer mouse, iPod, iPad, iPhone, YouTube, social media platforms and music videos. 
  • We saw the birth of Canadian coins, the one dollar Loonie and the two dollar Toonie and the GST (Goods and Services Tax). 
  • Our economy experienced the rise and fall of the Canadian dollar and interest rates. 
  • DNA was first used in criminal court cases. 
  • Actors like Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon entertained us through their movies.
  • Reality television shows depicting celebrity lifestyle, music competitions and dating like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, American Idol and The Bachelor became popular. 
  • Natural disasters around the world abounded including: hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, blizzards, ice storms and heat waves.
  • Plane, train and bus crashes left a trail of grief. 
  • An inquiry into government-operated Canadian residential schools, which were run by various churches, was conducted on behalf of Indigenous peoples.
  • We listened to musical artists and groups such as: Whitney Houston, Elton John, Alabama, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Shania Twain, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bono Jovi, BeyoncĂ©, Madonna, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban. 
  • In the sporting world Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams, Tom Brady, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Peyton Manning, Shaquille O’Neal, Martina Navratilova, Donovan Bailey, Hayley Wickenheiser, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Kirk Browning, Elvis Stojko and Michael Jordan were front and center.
  • Acid Rain, Climate Change, the #MeToo Movement and pipeline protests were headline news. 
I felt overwhelmed looking back on all these things that stood out in my 
mind; lasting memories, new experiences and history made. Cherish your memories, live for today and have hope for the future.  

    My graduation story - 

    The Class of '80

    The first Friday in May was traditionally graduation day at the school in my hometown. It was a heady time to be a grade twelve student and the excitement built as graduation approached. We ruled the school in our rightful place at the top of the pecking order. Graduation was the biggest social event of the year.

    All through the late 70’s my classmates and I dreamed of being “the class of '80” as it sounded so futuristic. Grad jerseys were ordered, and we wore them with great pride along with our high school jackets.  

    In the early spring, invitations were ordered and individual family socials were planned for the big day. Plans for a bush party were in the works. The grade ten class organized the lunch for the dance and the grade elevens oversaw the decorations. Hundreds of Kleenex flowers were handmade as part of the decor.  Roses and plaques were ordered, the photographer was booked and programs were printed. 

    When graduation day finally arrived, the gymnasium was packed with family and friends to standing room only for the evening ceremony. I had gotten my hair done by a local hairdresser and wore a long blue gown made of fortrel fabric that I had purchased in Saskatoon for thirty dollars. 

    There were the customary speeches and acknowledgments. After the ceremony, everyone squeezed into the small Legion Hall a few blocks from the school to await the entrance of the graduates and their escorts for the Grand March. A band played for the dance that followed and the lunch was served. 

    My parents held a gathering at our farm in my honor. My escort and I (later to become known as the The Hubs) stayed a respectable amount of time before we left to join the grad celebration. The grad party was held in a hollow in a wooded area ten miles from town.

    Someone would precariously back down into the hollow to provide the musical entertainment from their vehicle’s eight track player. At that age you still know how to live in the moment, you’re carefree. They were probably blasting out the popular tunes from the last decade. The top songs of 1980 were: Crazy Little Thing Called Love and Another One Bites The Dust by Queen, All Out of Love by Air Supply and Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar. It could also have been something by the Bee Gees or the Eagles. 

    The weather in Saskatchewan in early May can be sketchy at best and it was still chilly at night, so a huge bonfire was built for warmth and light at the party. We were lucky as it was sunny and warm that May day. 

    Things have changed over the years; graduation in recent years has been held at the end of June once courses are completed.  The school provides a midweek afternoon ceremony, but no longer organizes banquets or dances off school property. We walked in and out of the gym with our escorts not with our parents as they do now. Sadly, this year it looks like there will be no graduation ceremonies due to the Coronavirus school closure.

    On May 2, 2020, it will be 40 years since I crossed the stage to receive my high school diploma. 

    Our graduation theme was “New Beginnings”. When the end of June came everyone went their separate ways to pursue their dreams. If you were in the “class of '80” I hope you are having a good life and I wish you many years of health and happiness. 

    Happy 40th Anniversary! 

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    Lived it, comment!

    22 April 2020

    Waste Not, Want Not By Norma Galambos

    Many of us don’t recognize the similarities between situations we are experiencing today and things that have happened in the past. People feel connected to something if they can relate to it. We can’t relate to something for which we have no frame of reference.

    After the pandemic, I think we will have a better understanding of and more interest in what previous generations dealt with, as some of our experiences will be similar to theirs. 

    How things will play out as far as the supply and distribution of food in Canada as the pandemic continues remains to be seen. Will there be mass shortages? How will this issue be managed? 

    Millions of people around the world were suffering from food shortages because of war and natural disasters before the pandemic. What will happen to them now? Thinking about these issues makes a person pause and think about the future. 

    Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods and services. When I see a sign in a store that indicates a limit on the number of an item I can purchase, the word rationing doesn’t automatically come to my mind even though that is what it is. That is not something I have lived through, so I have a hard time relating to it. 

    The last time Canada experienced large scale rationing was from 1942 to 1947 due to World War II. The government was responsible for supplying food for the troops overseas, allies in need as well as civilians at home. As the war dragged on, it became increasingly difficult to import items as many merchant ships were being used in the war effort or had been destroyed. Rationing helped manage issues such as hoarding and price gouging. It was a way to distribute food fairly and equally. 

    Marketers today are savvier than a hundred years ago. Back then, they didn’t sugar coat things to speak to people’s delicate sensitivities. They either withheld information that they thought might panic the public altogether or they just said it like it was. There was a less politically correct middle ground. 

    Wasting food or hoarding was considered unpatriotic. To manage the available supply, the government issued citizens books of ration stamps. The stamps themselves had no monetary value, but they enabled people to purchase an allotted amount of selected items in a certain time frame. People were required to indicate which store they would shop at, and that was where they had to go. 

    The number of stamps you received was based on family size and the ages of your children. In September of 1946, while she was attending business school in the city, Mom wrote to my dad, mentioning that she had received her ration book. By then, rationing had become a way of life.  If you didn't have the stamp for a rationed item, you simply could not purchase it. 
    Items such as tea, coffee, dairy products, meat and eggs were rationed. For example, for a week, an adult was allowed to purchase 8 oz of ground coffee, one cup of sugar and a quarter of a pound of butter. Rations for those under sixteen were tailored to meet the nutritional needs of a child. Even if you had a ration stamp there was no guarantee that there would be enough supply. 

    People consumed more root vegetables like potatoes, beets, parsnips, carrots, onions and turnips to fill the gap. Imported fruits were hard to come by so people were encouraged to eat items grown in this country such as apples. Advertising promoted eating an apple a day. 

    Victory Rationing Spoon 

    Preserving food was encouraged and anyone who could, had a garden. I think that growing our own food is something people will think about more after this experience. The generations of my family that came before me were farmers and they had cellars with bins full of vegetables and shelves lined with jars of preserves. They also raised their own meat, hunted wild game and fished. This gave them a sense of pride and a feeling of security.

    Rationing measures caused concern that people would become malnourished. In response, the government designed a guide of what foods people should eat to maintain a healthy diet. These guidelines became known as the Canada Food Guide in 1942.

    It has often been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Recipes for puddings, muffins, cakes, meatless dishes and casseroles were created during this time. Different versions of existing recipes were introduced based on what ingredients were available. Tomato soup cake, which substituted a can of soup for milk was a popular recipe. Many people also remember the colourful jellied salads that were served on special occasions. Kraft Dinner, which most of us grew up eating, came out in stores 1937. 

    The best cuts of meat were sent to the troops and civilians ate the organ meat - liver, kidney and tongue. A meat item that was eventually found on almost every table at the time was invented. Special Processed American Meat (SPAM) is a canned meat product made from pork. Many of us remember the first time we saw it slither out of the can onto a plate. Mom fried it, baked it with brown sugar on top or served thick slices on homemade bread. When fresh meat was running low, soldiers on base got a one-inch slice of warmed SPAM weekly and two slices on holidays. 

    I am trying to do my part by discarding less food and making better use of leftovers. I hear myself saying "waste not, want not” to the Hubs. 

    History is made up of the experiences of individuals and history is lost when we neglect to tell our stories. My grandparents lived through the First World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic and my parents were young adults during World War Two and the rationing it brought. 

    Those experiences shaped their perception of many things in life. In turn they tried to teach me to think that way, but because I hadn’t lived it, I found it hard to make it real in my mind. I realize now that at the time I dismissed the possibility that such things could ever happen in my lifetime. Little did I know. 


    It’s barbecue season so get your Grandma G barbecue meat rubs today. 

    Chicken & Seafood, Beef, Pork
    4 oz jar                            $5.00

    20 April 2020

    Little Red Wagon by Norma Galambos

    My little red wagon must have been broken down often because my parents always said they were going to fix it for me.

    Little red wagons have been a cultural touchstone for the past one hundred years. I think every family I knew growing up had one and we bought one for our kids too. Since I wrote this story I seem to be in tune with little red wagons as I now notice old metal wagons in yards all the time. I see them abandoned in the middle of yards or tipped up against the backs of houses or on fences. 

    When I ask people if they had a wagon when they were young their eyes light up, they look off into the distance and are transported back to their childhood. The sound the wagon made as it rumbled over the gravel and the feel of the cold metal beneath their hands are forever locked into their memories.

    A gentleman in Chicago named Antonio Pasin started making little wagons in 1917. He eventually started the Radio Flyer Company which has sold over one hundred million wagons. He named his first wagon Radio Flyer in homage to the newly invented radio and the dawning of air travel. They were originally made of wood, then as demand grew, he went into production of metal and eventually plastic wagons. In 1923 a little red wagon sold for three dollars.

    The design intention was for the wagon to be pulled by hand, but what fun was that? One kid sitting in the wagon holding the handle trying to steer and another pushing from behind was where the fun was. What could possibly go wrong? Those good times often ended with the wagon jackknifed and the driver, the pusher or both lying in the gravel crying. It was fun while it lasted; a true badge of childhood bravado. Come on, you know you tried this.

    My sister and brother 1951

    After a crash, a debate inevitably ensued regarding what caused it; the driver’s inept ability to steer or the pusher’s overzealousness. The incidents were sometimes blamed on a faulty wagon issue such as a broken axle, the outlook for the wagon wasn't good when that happened.

    If you were lucky enough to find someone to pull you in your little red wagon they often would take off before you were ready sending your head whipping back, your feet in the air and your hands frantically grabbing for the sides of the wagon. When a puller wasn’t available, another kid could be enlisted to tie the wagon behind their bike with some bailer twine and a treacherous ride ensued.

    The handles came in T, D or O shapes. Our wagon had a D shaped handle which I hung on to for dear life when I was at the helm. Wagon tires could be filled with air or made of hard rubber or plastic. It was very disheartening if you went outside with an important mission in mind and saw you had a flat tire on your wagon.

    A little red wagon had many uses on the farm such as hauling pails of water to pour down gopher holes or to give the cats a lift. Kids in towns and cities used their wagons for newspaper delivery routes.

    I think they are a symbol of the power of imagination. For over one hundred years, generations of children in Saskatchewan and around the world have been linked by the rediscovery of the joy of creative play with a little red wagon.

    Why did they paint little red wagons red? I imagine the paint itself was to keep the wagon from rusting and for buyer appeal, but why the colour red? Wagons did at first come in other colors, but red eventually became their best seller. I personally think it was to make them more visible for safety purposes or maybe Antonio just got a lot of red paint on the cheap. Another one of life’s great mysteries.

    Do you know why wagons painted red were the most popular?

    If you like this post, I’d love you to share it.  

    Follow this blog @ https://grandmag55.blogspot.com to read new stories or visit my podcast at https://anchor.fm/grandmag552018 to listen to the audio version. 

    ©️Copyright 2020 Norma Galambos 

    15 April 2020

    8 Container Gardening Tips By Norma Galambos

    Container gardening is fun and can provide you with amazing floral displays and delicious produce. 

    Here are some tips to help you have beautiful results. 
    • Fill containers with enough plants so they will look full, with minimal soil showing, when fully grown. This makes the container more pleasing to the eye and reduces watering needs. Read plant tags so you are aware of each plant’s height and width to avoid over-crowding. 
    • Garden soil doesn’t offer enough air, water or nutrients to a plant growing in a container.  Potting soils are specifically formulated to overcome these limitations. I usually do a combination of garden soil and potting mix in my containers.
    • Plants sharing a container should have similar watering and sunlight requirements so they all thrive. 
    • If you live in an area where the growing season is short, buying more mature plants will give you faster, better results. 
    • Make sure your containers have adequate drainage in the event you overwater or during periods of heavy rainfall. 
    • Fertilize your containers with fertilizer appropriate for the type of plant. Different species have individual requirements as to the mix of fertilizer that will be the most beneficial. Do this every second week throughout the growing season. 
    • Deadhead your flowers regularly and trim plants if needed. 
    • Small or hanging containers dry out quickly and need to be watered frequently during hot weather.  If you plan to be away for extended periods you will need to have someone maintain your containers. This is something to keep in mind when making your plant and container purchases.
    There are many plant options for containers. On my blog’s garden page, you will see that I have several flower beds but no suitable space for a vegetable garden. Over the years I have tried a wide variety of flowers and vines in containers. Vegetables and fruits such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, kale, herbs, peppers and potatoes have done well in the recycled two-foot by two-foot cattle mineral tubs we use.  

    Plants that repel mosquitoes can also be beneficial. These plants include citronella, peppermint, basil, garlic, lemon balm, lavender, marigolds, rosemary and eucalyptus.

    This year I think I will do an herb container with dill, oregano, thyme and basil. I plan to fill my flowerpots with geraniums, verbenas, petunias, spikes, daisies, begonias and whatever else catches my eye. A strawberry pot may be in my future and, of course, tomatoes and peppers will be planted and carefully tended. I love being able to walk out in our yard and pick fresh produce or a bouquet of flowers. 

    Do you think making one of these into a strawberry pot this spring would work? 

    Will Mother Nature cooperate with our container gardening plans? 

    In Saskatchewan, we start our containers as early as possible as our season is short. Some years we only get eight to ten weeks of frost-free weather. Frost warnings often send gardeners into a frenzy, covering containers or lugging them inside. The Hubs has carried in his share of heavy flowerpots over the years. I think after thirty-nine years I finally have him trained to do it even when I am not around. He loves all my plants.   

    Norma Galambos

    08 April 2020

    Easter On Our Own By Norma Galambos

    As our distancing due to the pandemic continues into a new month, many parents and grandparents have heavy hearts. 

    Being physically separated from our children and grandchildren is painful, even though we know it is for the best. Easter is an added weight on our hearts and makes us miss family even more. The last thing a parent would want to do though is jeopardize the health of those they care so deeply about. 

    As adults many of us are separated from our elderly parents as well. My mom is in a nursing home and I miss visiting her. I feel like I have abandoned her, but I stay away for the protection of the residents and staff. 

    Many families lived far apart and didn't see each other all the time before the pandemic, but it somehow feels so different when we are told that we aren’t allowed to see each other.  These are unprecedented times and the fear we are experiencing for our children’s and grandchildren’s wellbeing leaves us feeling helpless. We are fortunate to have technology that can help us stay in touch, but we are not physically there to help out. 

    After a time of separation, I start to feel a physical pain in my chest, longing to hold those precious little ones and to hug their mommies and daddies. Technology can never take the place of seeing someone in person. To feel them in your arms, to smell and kiss the little one’s heads. 

    We will never get back the moments we have missed during these difficult times. Our oldest granddaughter is now a pre-teen, the next granddaughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall and their little eighteen-month old sister is learning to talk. Our grandson will have his first birthday next month and is learning to walk. 

    To those separated from loved this holiday, try to enjoy it as best as you can. Start a new tradition - make a different meal, decorate and eat chocolate with the kids on video-chat. Tell them you just saw the Easter Bunny hop by, keep the magic going for them.   

    There will just be The Hubs and I for Easter in the village this year. I bought a tiny ham to cook and some chocolate for a treat. We will video-chat with our children and grandchildren and will remind ourselves to be grateful for them and all that we have. 

    If you have been ill, please know that your strength is a source of inspiration. To those whose loved ones have been taken by the Coronavirus, my heart breaks for you. There are no words. I pray that you have someone with you for comfort and support. 

    When this dreadful time has passed, there will be happy people cautiously greeting their loved ones around the globe. It will be a time of jubilation and renewed freedom - like a war has ended.

    These days will become memories, something we went through.  

    If you like this post, I’d love you to share it.  

    Follow this blog @ https://grandmag55.blogspot.com 
    to read more of my stories or visit my podcast at https://anchor.fm/grandmag552018 to listen to the audio version. 

    ©️Copyright 2020 Norma Galambos 

    06 April 2020

    Easter Traditions by Norma Galambos

    Parenting requires a lot of creative skills. Society expects parents to be costume designers and makeup artists, provide inspiration for fabulous show and tell ideas and buy and wrap the perfect gifts. 

    When my younger sister wraps a gift it looks like it should be in a magazine, when I wrap a gift it looks like it fell off the back of a truck. Praise be for gift bags.

    Although our celebrations may look different this year, Easter is no exception. Parents are expected to show their children how to decorate eggs. It is imperative that parents ensure that the Easter bunny doesn’t forget to hide baskets of chocolate treats for excited kids to find on Easter morning. I would usually be lying in bed when I realized I forgot to do my Easter bunny duties.  

    I had totally forgotten about the little crocheted baskets Mom made for my kids and filled them with chocolate until I posted the picture below.

    Have you ever tried to successfully decorate an egg? My mother-in-law showed me how to decorate eggs with hot wax and dyes, but that style isn’t a project for small children. It’s an art form. 

    The ones I did with our kids looked pathetic, but I went through the motions. We dipped the eggs in cups of different coloured water and drew pictures on them with special little markers. I sadly admit that I once purchased an egg decorating kit that included plastic wrappers that you shrink-wrapped onto the eggs. That was a creative low point for me. The question after the decorating frenzy was over was always are coloured boiled eggs safe to eat or not? No one wanted to eat them. 

    All of this has gotten us away from the real reason why people began decorating eggs in the first place. The egg is an ancient symbol of new life. For Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Eating eggs was prohibited during Lent, so they were used as treats at the end of Lent. 

    Some claim that the word Easter originated from Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility. According to folklore, she found a bird dying from the cold and turned it into a rabbit so it’s fur would keep it warm – but that rabbit still laid eggs like a bird.

    French and German chocolatiers pioneered edible Easter gifts in the 19th century. The first eggs were solid. Molds were eventually designed to produce hollow chocolate figures. Today you can purchase chocolate Easter eggs that are giant or mini, creme filled or with other flavours added to the chocolate. 

    The hot cross buns Mom made for Easter are a favourite memory. Their spicy-sweet flavour with icing dripping off the top was a special treat. I can’t forget to mention Mom’s famous bunny cake that I wrote about last year in my post "Easter: Epic Bunny Cake”.

    No matter what your beliefs and traditions are, I hope you have an enjoyable Easter with good food and an abundance of chocolate. 

    If you like this post, I’d love you to share it.  

    Follow this blog @ https://grandmag55.blogspot.com 
    to read more of my stories or visit my podcast at https://anchor.fm/grandmag552018 to listen to the audio version. 

    ©️Copyright 2020 Norma Galambos 



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