Monday, February 13, 2017

Storm Chips. MacGyvered Muffins. And Pie

I really can't complain about our winter so far, because it hasn't been all that bad.


Sure, we've had days that have been biting cold, and snowy conditions that made driving slow and/or a bit crazy.

But no real 'blizzard-like' conditions.  Yet.

That all changed last night when we came under a possible 25-70cm snowfall advisory.

Today, we have our blizzard.

There is a relatively new phenomena here in the Maritimes.  One that calls for people to prepare for an upcoming storm by putting gas in the snow blower, setting the shovel within easy reach, having candles at the ready, and ... buying their 'storm chips'.

Yes, storm chips.  It's a thing.

Pic taken from HERE

It's a thriving business for New Brunswick's Covered Bridge Potato Chips!

So with the upcoming snow forecast for today, I along with many others stocked up on my favourite chips (Sorry, Covered Bridge, not specifically Storm Chips).

Given that this is expected to be a 'big one', and everyone will be home, I wanted to have more on hand besides just chips.

Yes, I have 'real' food and fruits and veggies, but I'm talking 'storm snacks'.

And I knew just what I wanted.

A few weeks ago, I tried a muffin at Tim Hortons I really liked, and thought to myself, *I* could make this!

No, I don't profess to be a fantastic baker, but the concept seemed pretty simple.

It was a chocolate muffin, with chocolate pudding in the middle, and chocolate chunks on the top.

I picked up a chocolate fudge cake mix in order to make the muffins, as well as a box of chocolate pudding.

But having never done this before, I had no idea how I was going to get the pudding into the muffin.

How DO they get the caramilk inside the Caramilk bar?

And then ... it hit me.  

A way to MacGyver it!

I stopped at the pharmacy, and asked for a small syringe that is used for administering liquid medicine to infants.

They gave me this.

Perfect. Exactly what I was looking for.

I started by making the chocolate fudge muffins.

Then made the chocolate pudding.

I made a small hole in each of the muffins with a toothpick then I sucked the pudding into the syringe, and squirted it into the small hole. 

Finally, instead of adding chocolate pieces on top, I added chocolate icing, and a variety of toppings from walnuts, sprinkles, and cinnamon hearts.

GAH!  They looked good!

The TRUE test was going to be the inside. Did the pudding actually get in there?

YES!  SUCCESS!!!  Not bad for a MacGyver move!

Since chips and to-die-for chocolate pudding explosion MacGyvered muffins are sort of junk food-ish, I figured I'd make something healthy also.

Apple pie.

I have  no idea how much snow we'll end up getting by the end of this, as it started just after midnight, and doesn't show any signs of stopping yet!

So, like most people, I've got my storm chips.  

And MacGyvered Muffins.  

And pie.

And, of course, ice cream is in the freezer.

I'm ready, Mother Nature.

Bring it.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ahhhh Ms. Karma. Ya Know I Love Ya, But Sometimes, You Really ARE A Bitch.

Being a single parent all these years, I haven't had many opportunities to buy new 'stuff' for the boys and I.

I don't mean at times like birthdays, or Christmas. The kids have always gotten new presents for those occasions.

I'm talking about all our material goods, like furniture, was given to me by family and friends, or bought second hand. I haven't bought anything new in a very long time.

Except for the TV.

About five years ago, I took some of my tax return and bought us a new 42" flat screen RCA TV.

No, it wasn't a Sony, and it wasn't a SMART TV, but it was new, brand freakin' new, and it was a flatscreen, and it was all ours, and *I* bought it!

I was so happy with that TV.

And then it sat in a box for almost two years. 

We were still in the old house when I bought it, and at that time, the basement was flooding on a regular basis, so I didn't want to put it down there.

The living room wasn't a great spot either because of the setup, and the fact it got SO much traffic, I was afraid of the TV getting broken.

So in a box it stayed, until we moved, and had a proper room to put it in.  

OK, so it sat on a desk, (not a proper TV stand) once it was finally out of the box, but one thing at a time.

For years,  I have babied that TV.  My one prized possession.

Anytime the boys had friends over, and they were in the rec room, I was guaranteed to say, 'Be careful of the TV!'

And once they started getting rowdy, 'Stop screwing around near the TV.  You know I'll be pissed if that gets broken!'

My fifth child.  After the dog and cat, of course.

A few weeks ago, I invited a friend over to watch a new show I'd discovered.  Animal Kingdom.  Awesome show. If you liked SOA, check it out. 

Both boys were in B.C. visiting their father, so it was going to be a girls night in front of the tube.

Because I was going to stream the show in the rec room, I grabbed the cable from my room, and went in behind the TV to hook it up first to the TV, then computer.

I put my hand on the side of the TV, and then, everything else happened in slow motion.

I pushed just a little too hard on the cable, I wasn't paying close enough attention to stabilizing the TV and before I could even understand what was happening ... IT WAS FALLING OVER!

Of course I screamed, and tried to grab it, only to watch it hit the bin below the desk.

My heart sank. Then broke.

My baby.  Lying face down on a Rubbermaid bin. Broken off at the base.

My friend came running from the kitchen yelling, 'Are you OK?!', and found me just staring at the TV.


I came out from behind the desk with a, 'Yeah, but I'm not so sure about the TV.'

She and I picked it up, and set it back on it's base.

My broken heart skipped a beat.

It was fine!

A small scratch on the side, and covered in finger prints, but otherwise, FINE!  OMIGOD!  YES!!!

So i held my breath, and turned it on.

And that's when I saw ...

Annnnnndddd that's when my heart broke again.  Shattered, like that screen.

Damn.  I broke my baby.

At that point, there was nothing else to do but turn it off, and continue our night with a sip 'n bitch at the dining room table.

I broke our TV. I was going to have to get us a new one. Period.

The hard part, was going to be telling the boys.

That's their 'chill room', where they play xbox/watch movies when there's a group of them here, which is frequently.

Or at least, was frequently.  Until I broke the TV.

I suck.

I decided not to say anything to them until they got home from B.C.

Why put a damper on their vacation?

But, the second one got home yesterday, so ... now, they know.

And now I can share with the world my bonehead moment, while at the same time, giving the boys a moment to bask in the glory of the fact that for all the years I harped on them to be so careful around the TV, *I'M* the one who ends up breaking it.

Ahhhh Ms. Karma.  Ya know I love ya, but sometimes, you really ARE a Bitch.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

I Needed A Job. I Got A Job. I Quit That Job. Then I Got Another New Job.

When it came time to look for work, I mean really look for work, I treated it as a job. I scoured the online job boards and had the most up to date employment links bookmarked and used them daily. 

I applied for approx 29 jobs in three weeks. None were for the same type of work I was doing before. 

The way I see it, I've spent the better part of 20yrs in some form of IT/business/training career, much of that in defense and aerospace. I'm on the downward slope of the 'career' and right now I'm happy to take a 'job' for the next few years, until the boys are 'doing their own thing', and then we'll see what happens and where I end up.

So, I was answering ads for everything that I could apply any of my 'transferable skills' to. From Admin/Exec Assistant, to QA Analyst, Director of operations, to Tester, Marketing, Communications, Flight attendant, 9-1-1 Operator, to Costco worker. 

Anything that would pay the bills, work with my 45yr old, single parent lifestyle and hopefully something that I'd actually enjoy doing.

But I wasn't being picky.

The first week of my search, I met with a gentleman at the local coffee shop to discuss an exec admin position.  He is an entrepreneur who is starting a new business that will be 'local' to nova scotia, and needed a right hand person. Someone to handle the details of the day to day. Not really an interview, more of a chat.

It sounded interesting to me.  We talked for over two hours. It went well.

But it wasn't happening fast enough. And I needed to get back to work, now.

The next week, I decided to send my resume in to a temp service.  I was always seeing their name on the job boards, and knew they had been around for years and were established, so although I'd never worked for a temp agency before, I figured what the hell, I'd give it a try.

I'm OK with change.

I sent the resume, and they called me, and asked me to come down and fill out a few forms and take a few tests.

So I did.

And it went well.

I did well on the tests, they spoke with me and signed me that day, and told me they hoped to have a placement for me soon.

I was looking forward to being 'the temp'.  And you never know what kind of long term placement will come out of any of these jobs, so I saw it as the vast land of opportunity.

But was it going to happen fast enough?

Rent, bills, groceries ... it all needed to be paid/bought.

I decided I would keep looking until I saw how things progressed with the placement agency.

The next day, I saw the ad for a job 10 minutes from home, away from the city and downtown traffic, working the evening shift as night auditor (running a lot of reports and taking care of guests) at one of the hotels near the airport.

Although I had worked in a hotel dining room before, many years ago, I had never been a 'night auditor', but after reading the requriements, I sent in a resume.

I thought I could do the job.

So did they.  They called the same day and asked me to come in for an interview in a couple of days.

I did. My first real interview in about 15yrs.

It went well.

They called later that afternoon and offered me the job.

I was ecstatic.

I thought for sure this was going to be the perfect fit for the boys and I. 

I would get off in the morning and be home to wake the boy and drive him to school, sleep while he was at school, be home to make dinner, and run errands in the evening before work. 

It would be perfect.



IF you can sleep during the day, and don't sleep through dinner, and don't mind that you rarely seek your kids and a work environment that was, not something I had encountered in my close to 30yrs of being in the workforce.

And I'll leave it at that.

I gave it a try.

I showed up every night when I was supposed to, learned, worked hard, and gave it my best.

I really wanted it to work because I really wanted to be back to work.

I even messaged the temp agency as soon as I was hired, and told them they could take me off their file, because I'd found full time employment.

Big mistake.

I knew that after the second night.

But I showed up for work anyway, with a smile on my face, determined to make it work.

Because every night I went in, was money added to a much needed paycheck.

However, I messaged the temp agency again, two days after I started the new job, and asked them to put me back ON their file, because I still wanted them to find me a daytime placement.

I still wanted to see what they might come up with.

When I was offered the full time night position by the hotel, I panicked and jumped at it, but in the end, it wasn't for me.

It wasn't for me physically, or mentally.

I don't like not seeing my kids on a regular basis. We've never been that family and I'm not going to start now. 

Physically, working nights was killing me. I wasn't sleeping much, or sleeping too much and missing the day entirely. I was cranky.  Unhappy. And constantly tired.

So yesterday, I quit my job.

In the last 20yrs, I have never just, quit a job.

I finished my shift at 7am, came home, sat and pondered life for a bit, took the boy to school, came home and did a bit more soul searching, and then called work, and asked to speak with the manager who hired me.

45 min later, I met with her and explained that I was regretfully handing in my nametag and resignation.  And gave to her my honest answers and explained my feelings as to why I was leaving.

It went well.

I left on a good note. But I left nonetheless.

OK.  So I was jobless again.

Until today (the next day), when I had a nice conversation with the temp agency, and found out they had a placement for me if I wanted it, working for a division of one of the universities, right downtown, Mon - Fri (8:30 - 4:30).

Yay!  Mon - Fri (8:30 - 4:30).

Shit.  Right downtown.

Regardless how much I was hoping to avoid 'right downtown' ... Yup, I jumped at it.

I start on Tuesday (because Monday is a holiday).   

Was I foolish to quit a perfectly good job, without having something to go to?


But why waste everyone's time, and why have them invest any more money in me, when I knew in my heart it wasn't going to work.

For many reasons.  Not that I just gave up.

And, ya know, it's just another new adventure for me. That's the way things go.

I needed a job.  I got a job. I ended up hating that job.  I quit that job.  Then I got another new job the next day.

Everything happens for a reason.

Now we'll have to see what happens next.

You know that old saying from The Sound of Music (at least that's where I remember it from), 'When the lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window' well I'm about to shove this window open WIDE, and breathe in the fresh air of new adventure.

 Pic taken from HERE

But for now, I'm going to go catch up on some much needed sleep!


Friday, January 29, 2016

The Really Bad Ending To A Really Great Day

My life always seems to have a yin and yang to it.

When something good happens, something bad usually happens shortly after, and vice versa.

Karma just keeping all things even, I guess.

I had a great day yesterday!  I got a new job!

That's what this next post was supposed to be about, but by the end of the day, things weren't so great, so I'm going to tell you about that instead, cause it has a moral to it.

I spent most of the evening online, chatting with friends and family about the new job.  The boys had gone out to play some basketball, and when they got back, were hanging out in the rec room with friends.

Just a quiet Thursday night.

Until about 11pm, when they decided they were going to take the dog for a walk.

She was in my room, so I got up from the computer, and as I let her out, I leaned down to give her a rub, pushed the door shut again, and when I stood up, everything went black, and I thought, 'Oh ...shit...'. 

And that's the last thing I remember, until I woke up flat on my back on my bedroom floor.

 Yeah yeah yeah, I have penguins on my pjs!  Keep reading!

And no, before you ask, I hadn't been drinking to celebrate the new job. That comes after the first paycheck.

I have mentioned the occasional 'black out' moments I've had before in THIS POST.

But I haven't had one of those in a very long time. And never one this bad.

Last night, it came out of nowhere.

I have no idea what happened from the time I stood up after petting the dog, until I came to, but this is the best I can piece it together.

When everything went black, I was standing next to the wall you see in the pic above, and I must have cracked my temple on the corner of it, knocked myself out cold, and went down with a bang.

I know about the bang because the boys told me this morning that they all heard it.

When I landed on the floor, I must have hit the back of my head on the bottom board of my bed, because I have a sore spot there today too.

I also must have landed weird on my leg, because today there is a bump and bruises and I can hardly walk on it.

I woke up flat on my back, glasses off my face and on the floor next to me, I thought my head was exploding and I had no idea what had happened or how I got there. 

Or how long I'd been there.

That's a VERY scary feeling.

I honestly wasn't sure if I'd had an aneurysm or a stroke, or if I'd hit my head, it was hurting that bad.

I came to the conclusion that I'd cracked it, because of the bump on my temple that was quickly forming, and when I leaned my head against the wall this morning, in a reenactment for the boy, I can pinpoint exactly where my head first hit.

You know when things start to go black, and everything comes down to a small pinpoint in your vision?  That's what it was like, in reverse, when I came to.

In the distance, I could hear the boy calling, 'Mom!  Mom, we're leaving.  Mom!'

That's what I heard when I came to, and everything was a pinpoint that just got larger until I realized where I was and instinctively yelled back weakly, 'Yeah, OK'.

And then I tried to move quickly before he heard something in my voice, and decided to come and check (not exactly a good position you want your kid to find you in).

Moving quickly wasn't such a good idea, I realized, when I immediately got dizzy and my head hit the floor again.

It took me a few minutes to get up and sit on the bed and process what had happened.

I was dizzy, confused and above all else, my head was killing me, but I managed to lean over, look over into the mirror, and smile.  Big.

OK, good, I didn't feel right, but all the facial muscles were working, so I took that as a good sign that meant it wasn't a stroke.

We figure I was out about 5 minutes.

As i said, the boys all heard the bang (when I hit the floor), but didn't really think anything of it and they said it was at least 5 minutes between the time the dog came out, to when they finally left and called out for me.

They did find that strange, that I didn't answer them right away, but when I eventually called out 'Yeah, OK', they got their response, so went for the walk.

I didn't say anything to them about what had happened.  I was still too shaken up myself, and didn't want to scare them. 

In hindsight, that probably wasn't a smart move, because if my brain actually was exploding, and I simply didn't wake up in the morning, they would have no idea what had happened or when. Or why.

That's definitely one drawback to not having a spouse in the house.  Someone you can tell things like this to when you're freaked out, and don't want to freak out your kids.

As exhausted as I was from not having slept well the night before, I purposely stayed up for another couple of hours. 

I didn't want to go to sleep after all that, for fear I might not wake up.

Yeah, crazy I know, but when your head hurts so bad you can't see straight, all kinds of crazy thoughts go through it.

Today, I woke up early to a splitting headache, bumps and bruises on my leg and head, queasy, unsteady, and I honestly feel like I had the crap beat out of me.

Yes, I know, I probably have a concussion, given it's now afternon and I STILL have a headache, but I know even if I went to the doctor, the only thing they'd tell me to do is rest, and stay off the tv and computer.

Unless of course my brain is actually bleeding or something. Then they'd probably do something.  ;-)

I know my limits, I know I'm not 100% right now, so I'm resting.  Staying off the computer? Not so much, but I'm trying.

And if I'm still not feeling better by tomorrow, I will go see a doctor.

But I'll be damned if I'm missing that first shift at the new job on Sunday!

I'm not sharing this for the 'OMIGOD are you OK comments', or for the well wishes from friends and readers.  I got loads of well wishes yesterday when I announced the new job. I already know my family and friends care and don't like to see me unwell.

I'm sharing as a reminder to others to not be like me, and TELL someone when crap like this happens immediately, because in the words of my boy, it would have been pretty messed up to walk into my room and find me dead, and have no idea what happened.

Extreme, yes.  But you just never know with a head injury and blackouts.

Snow has started.  We're supposed to have a storm today, so I'm OK with staying in the penguin pj's and resting in bed.

The boy is keeping an eye on me while the other is at work.

I also messaged a friend this morning and told her what happened, so there's another adult aware who can come over quickly if I happen to keel over on the kids in the next day or so.

A quiet day of yin so far, compared to the excitement of yesterday's yin/yang.

Note, I said so far ... it's still only mid-day.



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maybe It's My 'Resting Bitch Face'?

As much as we've tried to make all things equal between men and women over the last few decades, there is one (OK, more than one, but I'm going to address one, for today) difference that is still very visible to me. 
When a group of men are introduced to each other, there is hand shaking, back slapping, and very quickly a camaraderie seems to develop based on work, sports, politics, and personal interests, among other things.
When a group of women are introduced to each other, there is hand shaking, smiling, lots of politeness (uh ... yeah ... we're Canadian!) and surface friendliness.
But there is also something else, intentional or not.
No, obviously not all women are like this, but I definitely see it more often in women than I do men.
I've experienced it personally.
Women who don't know me, know nothing about me, can and have decided they don't like me on first glance.
They give me the up and down once-over, but not before I catch them doing it.
Maybe it's because I come off as confident?
Maybe it's because I'm skinny (don't laugh, people hate on skinny people, too!)?
Maybe it's my 'resting bitch face'?
I have no idea why, or what I'm giving off, because I'm actually a very nice person, but the judgement is there.
You can actually feel it. Like an electrical current in the air.
Last night, I was with a group of women I don't know very well, for somewhat of a 'girls night out'.  One of these women I didn't know at all and was only meeting her for the first time.
Over the course of the evening, one woman in particular seemed to be struggling with her emotions.
And then, totally unexpectedly, the floodgates burst and she was in tears.
It doesn't matter what caused the tears. That's not important to this story.
What matters is that this woman wasn't able to hold it in any longer. And let go.
In front of me.  Someone she didn't know.
Initially, it was one of those moments when you're not sure where to look, or what to say, or how to react.
But ... did we judge her for those tears, or for letting them flow in front of us?
Did we "there there', her, and tell her 'oh it can't be that bad'.
Did we tell her to stop crying, and be strong?
No.  We told her none of that.
We got up from where we were sitting, activities forgotten, and hugged her.  Each individually, and then as a group.
Never underestimate the power of a group hug!
We listened to her.  We let her cry.  We cried with her.  I cried with her.  No judgement. 
It simply reminded me, once again, that you really have NO IDEA what is going on in someone's life at first glance.
We, as women, can be such a powerful support to each other, but at times, we seem to forget that, and spend too much time being a judgmental bitch, to realize that we really don't know anything about the person we're judging.
Or how we're impacting them with that judgment. 
That's not right. Or fair.
None of us is better than the other.  None of our accomplishments are more important than someone else.
All of our feelings and thoughts and dreams are important.
We all matter.
So the next time you're with a group of women you don't know very well, maybe give that woman with 'resting bitch face' a smile.
You may just be amazed at how her face lights up.
If you see a co-worker struggling.  Don't think her weak.  Talk to her.  Offer your help.
You're not in a race to the finish line with your workmates, or any other women in your life.
None of you is getting out of here at the end of the day with a bigger raise, or better car, nicer house, sexier husband or perfect child.
We're all going to be in a box in the ground, or ashes on the wind.  No better or worse than anyone else.
Be kind to your fellow women, my sisters.
Draw from their strength and wisdom and personal power. Don't knock them down for it.
Don't be catty.  Don't be bitches.
Stand in solidarity and offer a safe place for your fellow females to be who they are.
We're all one. 
Offer guidance.  Offer hope.  Offer friendship.  Offer a simple smile. 
It all makes a difference. 
And YOU'LL make a difference in someone's life for doing so.

Friday, November 20, 2015

A New Brunswick Girl, Living In Nova Scotia, Singing A Newfoundland Song

I've never been the type of person to 'pine away' for my youth. 

For the most part, I'm happy where I am in my 40's. Yes, winning the lottery would make me happier, but until then, I'm good. 

But there are days like today, when I hear that someone has died, and when that someone has contributed in some way to my early years, I go back and remember for a bit. 

Such is the case today, with Ron Hynes. 

I didn't know Ron, and he certainly didn't know me, but he absolutely made an impact on my early adult life.

For all the ups and downs I've had over the years, I have to say, my 20's were pretty freakin' awesome! 

Those years were filled with good times, great friends and lots and LOTS of music.

In university, you could often hear the music blaring from my open dorm room window, spilling out onto the football field below.

Yeah, my door was banged on a few times.

And then, when the ex and I had our own place, came the house parties.

Oh yes my friends, over the years, we threw some rockin', go until dawn, 'holy crap there's a band!', 'I can't shut the door, there's a lineup to get in!', type of house parties.

We threw the type of parties where not only would people bring guitars, but also a bass, tambourine, microphones, drum sets, amps and of course, we'd install a disco ball, and everyone in the house would be singing along.

Good times my friends, good times.

But even before all that, some of my fondest memories of my 'party experiences' in Nova Scotia, are when I first started going to the bars here.

There were two bars in particular, at that time, where you could find me on the occasional Wednesday night the weekend.  

At night, it was JJ Rossey's (home of the $0.99 shots!), but even before that, on a Saturday afternoon, we'd hit Peddlers Pub, which was conveniently located right across the street from JJ's.

Now, if you were ever in a bar in Nova Scotia in the 90's, there are a few songs you were guaranteed to hear (over and over and ...over), ones that represented our East Coast lifestyle, and everybody knew the words to.

And there was one song in particular, that when I heard for the first time one Saturday afternoon sitting in the pub, it immediately got my attention, tugged at my east coast heart, and made me want to sing along, and I asked the person sitting next to me, 'WHAT'S that song?!?!?'.

That song was Sonny's Dream, and the singer was Ron Hynes.

After that, I was, as my dad used to say, like a dog with a bone. I couldn't get enough of that song.

If there was a live, local band playing at the bar, guaranteed I'd yell from a table nearby, 'Play Sonny's Dream!'.

I'd go up to the DJ booth and ask,
'Play Sonny's Dream!'

Or when the boys would bring their instruments to our kitchen parties, one of my first (and repeated over the evening) request ... 'Play Sonny's Dream!'

Yeah, I was absolutely the annoying 'Sonny's Dream girl'.  And proud of it!

To this day, I STILL love this song, still sing along, and it still gives me chills.

If you've never heard Sonny's Dream, I'm giving you three opportunities today.

Pick your favourite.

This first one, is from 1980 I believe.  The song was written (by Ron) in 1976, and was being performed by Ron and his band, The Wonderful Grand Band.


This next one, is the version I remember from my pub days. Just imagine everyone in the audience, young and old, singing along with the chorus (the only part I knew at the time).  

An entire bar singing this on a Saturday afternoon was a pretty awesome, feel-good, wanna give everyone a hug, kind of experience.

This is from the ECMA ShowCase at the Pub Flamingo.  I believe this was the early 90's. Same time I was first learning the words to it at Peddlers.

This last one, I decided to include because it was a tribute to the man, and the song.  

This one was a collaboration by a huge group of fantastic Newfoundland artists (Great Big Sea, anyone?), at the Night Of A Thousand Songs benefit, held in St. Johns in 2012. Look for Ron over on the right in the blue shirt and tie.

If you've never heard this song, give it a try (I'd suggest the 2nd video!). 

If you've loved this song as long as I have, and it brings back great memories of your youth, then you're probably feeling a bit sad today at the loss of the man who gave it to us.

I know I am.

I think back to those couple of years after I first moved here. I was a girl from New Brunswick, living in Nova Scotia, singing a Newfoundland song.

Those were some great days.

And Sonny's Dream, a great Canadian song.

RIP Mr. Ron Hynes.  

Thank you for giving this girl some wonderful memories, through your music.


" ...your Daddy's a sailor who never comes home, and the nights get so long, and the silence goes on, and I'm feelin' so tired, I'm not all that strong."


P.S.  If you want to hear the radio version, Google it. I'm all about the live music today!