Asphalt driveway repairs - easy pothole fix!


Tamp Your Troubles Away: The empowering nature of potholes

If you’ve ever dreamed of working on a road crew, don’t be alarmed.  I have that dream too.  But why torment yourself with an unfulfilled fantasy?  You can make your dream come true. 

All you need to fix your own pothole is a bag of bitumen, usually called 'asphalt patch' in the hardware store. Bitumen is a conveniently cooled and packaged version of the hot, smoking asphalt that those lucky road workers use.  You can buy bags of room temperature bitumen for about five bucks at the hardware store, and I think the word “party” comes to mind right away, doesn’t it?  Because strutting around with a bag of bitumen gives you some kind of social advantage over those who don’t have bitumen, or even know what it is.

I learned about the joys of asphalt repair when I was growing up in small-town Ontario.  My Dad would call the town to report a pothole in front of our place.  Twenty minutes later, when the works department STILL hadn’t shown up, Dad would show the town a thing or two about promptness by hauling out the bitumen and filling that dang hole himself.  Then he’d stand out there beside his masterpiece, gloating, while the neighbours drifted over to admire the repair and ask bitumen-related questions.  Life was sweet in the Seventies.

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Wet It Be! A complete guide to fixing a damp basement


"We definitely have a mildewy smell in our basement, but I’m not sure where the moisture is coming from."

- Cliff, via e-mail

Here’s a trick for figuring out whether your dampness is caused by condensation or moisture seeping in through the foundation. 

Start by cutting a one-foot-square piece of foil or heavy plastic (like from a garbage bag).  Run duct tape along all four sides of the square and secure the patch to the basement wall, pressing the tape firmly to seal all edges.  Leave the patch on the wall for at least 24 hours.  When time’s up, inspect the patch to see which side is damp. 

If the side that was open to the basement air is damp, you have a condensation problem. 

If the side that was next to the wall is moist, you’re getting water seepage from the outside.  Proceed to next question.

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How to rewire an old lamp!

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How to Make a DIY Meditation Fountain

Some of us tend to forget what we’ve accomplished in our lifetimes and we find ourselves feeling like we’ve never done anything meaningful, useful or worthwhile.

Some of us may even go through low spots when we feel that our lives haven’t had any validity.

But when we express that to friends, they're aghast, because that’s not their sense at all. They may think we’re highly accomplished, but we feel like impostors.

So, after a couple of years of feeling that way, I decided to start questioning that belief. Just for a few days.

And in that few days I looked back at all the things I’ve done and you know what? Just scrolling through the ridiculous number of things I’ve made, tried to make, or failed to make, I felt better.

Here’s an example: Episode 1 of Anything I Can Do – “Fountain Do” – how to make a meditation fountain. It was my first day on set with this show (early 2000) and I was giddy to the point of hysteria. But it was kinda fun. And I got to shoot the show on the same farm we used when we shot Road to Avonlea. Such beauty and happy memories. 


And if by some chance DIY isn't your thang, here's Episode #1 of my relationship show, Men On Women, which aired in Canada in 2000-2001. 


  • Detecting attraction 
  • When a guy says "I'll call you" after a date, how long does a girl wait for him to call before she knows he was fibbing? And do women ever say "I'll call you" and not call?
  • Call from viewer: Why do guys make a distinction between a woman they'd want to marry and a woman who they want to fool around with?
  • Breast implants
  • Manly Moments: Kissing on a first date
  • Physical affection parameters
  • Rushing or not rushing a relationship
  • Audience question: On a first date, how do you know when you're not interested in a girl, and how do you let her know?
  • Relationships in art


Using your hands helps your brain and increases well-being

  • Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say
  • It may also ease stress, increase happiness by releasing neurotransmitter called dopamine
  • Leisure activities such as reading and crafting may protect brain from aging, study finds


I abandoned my blog over a year ago. In a sense I abandoned myself, because my self was in a weird downward spiral.

When you can't pull up out of a gnarly place, sometimes it's better to not pay attention to your own thought processes.

Knitting got me through the last 18 months, which featured abrupt changes of fortune and emotional lows.

Recent neurological research shows that creating something - anything - interrupts negative emotional loops that can keep us stuck. Knitting helped me release stress and I'm certain that it prevented me from crashing into depression. I didn't quite have the heart for woodworking, welding or more challenging hobbies. But the soft, cozy yarn and the quiet click of my needles seemed to be the perfect tonic.

The CNN article above documents how others have experienced emotional healing through crafting. Maybe you'd like to share your own experience in the comments below. Or maybe just read the article and take comfort in knowing that there's an inexpensive, gentle solution waiting for you if you're in a dark time.

Hand knit socks - ToolGirl Mag Ruffman
One pair of more than 40 sets of socks I've knitted in the last year

Upcycling - ideas to spike your creativity

If you're the type of person who gets fidgety while riding in the passenger seat of a car for prolonged periods of, say, 5-10 minutes, you may need to work with your hands to modulate your nervous energy. 

Crocheting bird feeders out of 40-pound test fishing line is satisfying and productive. Whittling is an effective way to build up your supply of tinder for the winter, and the pile of wood shavings under your feet will keep your toes warm on long winter drives.

Or you can turn to your smartphone for solace and revel in arty/crafty/hacky/buildy project tutorials and start plotting your next DIY attempt.  

If you're naturally frugal with a sideways imagination you might enjoy the incredible range of human ingenuity I've collected in my Upcycling board on Pinterest.  

Who wouldn't want to make a combination candle/TP holder from scrap lumber and steel pipe?

Upcycled toilet paper holder

Or make a bench from an old bed headboard/footboard...

Upcycled bench from bed headboard

Or build a side table out of cut-offs...


Is there any human who doesn't like to make new stuff out of old stuff?  I haven't met one yet.

Drool inducing unputdownable book for DIYers

This just landed on my Christmas list with a big gorgeous thud.  Kevin Kelly has been blogging about inventive gadgets and devices for as long as I've had a computer, and he's finally produced a compendium of his faves.  Don't put this book in the bathroom or you'll have a bum ring from sitting there far longer than necessary imagining all of the things you can do/build/make/share/hack. Glory tool-e-lujah, baby.


Christmas Tree Alternatives - why go traditional when your tree can scream quirkiness?

Things change in an average life and for some of us, that means hanging on to time-honoured traditions, like our Christmas tree style, with renewed tenacity. For others, it means jettisoning the familiar in an effort to redefine ourselves and acknowledge change.  For the latter group, here are a few suggestions for kicking up the festive while maximizing the restive. 

A driftwood Christmas tree...


Driftwood tree


A homemade scrapwood Christmas tree...


Scrapwood tree


A wall Christmas tree made from treasured ornaments...


Ornament wall tree


Another wall tree...




A cardboard Christmas tree...


And of course, you can always create a DIY tree with used spindles, although one of my readers complained last year that it was god-awful and 'what was I thinking?'.  Of course, if you're a died-in-the-wool non-traditionalist, you're used to hearing that.  

What about you?  Any searingly unique tree installations to share?