Tools and Products

June 04, 2013

How to never again get attacked by an insect (black flies, mosquitoes, horse flies, even lice)

I've been exercising and working outdoors all spring, in clouds of black flies, and I don't have a single bite. In a normal year, my face, neck and arms would be covered in red welts that itch and burn and swell, in spite of wearing long sleeves AND a ridiculous hat made of netting that the bugs always infiltrate.  (Once you've got a black fly INSIDE your net hat, you're just a big meat sandwich to that little dork.)

But this year I've been using a Canadian homeopathic preparation called Mozi-Q (one small tablet dissolved under the tongue a few minutes before going outside).

I have no bites. They don't even LAND.  Horse flies, mosquitoes, black flies, deer flies.  Apparently it even works on lice and bed bugs. The homeopathic effect is so thorough that you'll think irrational thoughts like, "Well, maybe the bugs just aren't biting this year."  

Then you'll make your friends try it.  And when they come back to you and say, "My god, I don't have a single bite, even after gardening all weekend", you'll maybe start to believe it really IS working.  

I've given it to 3 people besides me and they all said the same thing, "My god, I don't have a single bite!" 

So if you're suffering with the bugs this season, give Mozi-Q a try. (where to buy)

P.S. I've been using homeopathic treatments for 30 years and even took courses in homeopathy because it's such a fascinating and cool science.  Homeopathic remedies are prescribed extensively in England by physicians. The members of the royal family are huge fans of homeopathy. You can read about the origins of homeopathy in the lovely little book, "Heal Thyself" by Dr. Edward Bach. (available as a free PDF

Available online - about $25/season

March 06, 2012

Make a drop spindle

I've developed the possibly weird hobby of spinning newspaper strips into 'yarn' using a homemade drop spindle. (Sometimes, for the dessert course of spinning, I use strips of plastic food wrap instead.  It's easier to spin and makes a really tough, clear yarn.)  

When I saw drop spindles for sale for $50 at the local wool shop, I came home and made one with some doweling, a picture hook and a chopped-off bit of old candle stand (the circular part). I fastened the parts together with Sugru, the mouldable silicone putty that air cures to a resilient, springy toughness.  



Bottom view:

Yarn from food wrap:

Stay tuned for possiby weird crafts made from plastic wrap and newspapers.

March 05, 2012

Sugru Subterfuge at IKEA!

Sometimes you just have to help giant manufacturers out with a few hacks to their displays...


February 14, 2012

How to Clean a Pizza Stone With Almost No Effort


Renew a pizza stone by letting it run through your oven's self-clean cycle. The worst that can happen is that it'll crack and you'll have to replace it, but most of the time it works fine because the ceramic was fired at a much higher temperature. It might help to warm it slowly to 400 or so before engaging the self-clean cycle.

February 10, 2012

My latest Sugru hacks

This is a food processor lid that snapped in half when I dropped it on the slate floor.  Sugru to the daring, orange rescue. (the food processor body is orange so it all looks absolutely intentional)


The plumbing pipes above the new water heater collect condensation, which then drips on the top of the water heater and wants to run into the electrical well on top of the water heater.  IX-NAY!  I made a nice white gasket around the electrical controls so no pesky water can find its way into the workings.  

Sugru water heater repair

December 08, 2011

Vicky Sanderson's de-stressing gift guide

This is a guest post written by my lovely colleague Vicky Sanderson, a triple-threat guru in the fields of entertaining, decor and cooking! Vicki writes Hot Home Products, a weekly column on home improvement, décor and housewares that appears in the Toronto Star and on - Follow her on Twitter: @vickysanderson 


Feeling seasonal stress already? Relax. It’s supposed to be fun, remember? Just in case that wise yogic counsel didn’t induce calm, here are three ways to instantly dial down the holiday pressure.

Give gifts that encourage family togetherness. Nothing says downtime like a couple of movies in a row on a snow-soaked afternoon. Choose a family favourite, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – just out in a collectible box at HMV  — and add a classic, such as West Side Story. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Puffs

Foodie Blues?

Enough with all the cooking already!  Stock up on high-quality prepared foods from a specialty retailer like M&M Meat Shops. Pop their frozen pot roast in a slow cooker, which will produce a delicious cooking-all-day aroma (nudge, nudge) before adding veg and — if you like — a splurt of red wine. Serve with a pre-mixed salad and artisanal bread. For dessert, pull out M&M’s mini cream puffs, Nanaimo bars and tiny, perfect fruit tarts. When folks compliment you on the meal, sigh with exhaustion, daintily wipe your brow and say they were worth every ounce of the trouble you took. 

Be a Pig Hero

Remember what it’s really all about, and make a donation on behalf of someone far, far away whose life isn’t as blessed as yours. Consider, for example, World Vision, which partners with local communities in developing countries to improve lives.  A donation of $50 and a family receives two hens and a rooster; $40 buys a pig. The bonus here – you’ll raise a smile when you tell folks you gave pigs and poultry as presents this year.



Green Toys - Building tools for kids

Plastic kids' tools made from recycled milk cartons.  Great for fine motor skills, developing 3D aptitude and eye-hand coordination.  What's not to love?  For ages 2+. Thanks to Kevin Fraser for the heads up.  

December 02, 2011

Sugru - Duct Tape for Makers and Gadget Lovers - Forbes


When a Forbes reporter says "This is one of my favorite products," you gotta get some! (I got my first Sugru the day they launched in 2009. They sold out in one day.)

November 09, 2011

How to avoid disastrous paint color choices. And I would know about that.

I once had to repaint a floor 7 times because I couldn't get the colour right. I went through white, straw, green, grey, gold and brown before finally settling on Chili Pepper Red (and only because the paint-counter lady took pity on me and suggested it).  Things would have been way easier with this cool electronic tool, which is now available for free at any ICI paint store.  

November 08, 2011

Jawbone UP - a personal trainer on your wrist



Wow, this little activity monitor looks like a game changer. It tracks all of your daily activity (and any slugfest couch-y segments too). Even gives you little vibratory reminders to move if you've been sitting for too long, has a smart alarm to wake you when you're out of REM sleep, and tracks how your food choices affect the way you feel. Pairs with iPad, iPod touch and iPhone. And an 80-minute charge lasts 10 days. Available at Apple stores for about $100.  More info at Jawbone.


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie