Hot or Not – Costume Edition

I know I know… I’m ANOTHER female that’s going to attack the one day a year women can dress like a hooker and get away with it. Let me say, first off I do not consider myself a feminist. I do believe in equal rights and I do enjoy a great sense of intelligent humor. I believe this day is worth celebrating – let your freak flag fly.. I just prefer it with a sense of humor.

Humor is sexy, so obviously I’m a bit biased on costume preference. I’d prefer a laugh over a homemade pun rather then a sexy nurse any day. Then again, I don’t have a penis. Here are some of my fave halloween costumes to date!

One day, when I have kids.. they will be dressed as Carl Fredericksen in “Up”. Yep, I’m a softy when it comes to this costume. Check it out below and I dare you not to melt (just a little)

Image

Photo Credit: I’m been searching high and low to find out who to attribute photo credit to this lovely ensemble.. Please share if you know!

This one’s just hilarious.. poor little guy 🙂

Image

This one is our costume for next year…

Image

This one is just for laughs.. I adore Gingies that can have a laugh at their own expense.

Image

So those are some of my current faves. I hope you enjoyed.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more, check often !

Trick or Treat?

AS

Advertisements

Family Talent

I’ve always been a bit proud of the artistic talent that stems from my Mr’s side of the family. His grandmother, mom and sister are all so phenomenal. I’m talking Acrylics, Watercolor, mixed media, photography, jewelry! You name it, they can do it. I’ve always been a big fan of the arts. In fact, I was an art teacher when I first moved to NB. I am however a bit awed by the choices that surround me. I think I’m a artistic jack of all trades, master of none. I need a FOCUS! (Refer to my first post).

So, in an effort to get down with my artsy self, I’m going to try out Acrylics for the first time! I’m excited, yet nervous.
I tend to keep my art to myself, as I never feel it’s finished. I do not want to present an unfinished product to my friends and family. They aren’t the judge-y sort, but still….

My sis has let me know that they will be having a farm inspired theme in their nursery. How cute is that, esp since they both come from the farm world AND live in Truro -Agriculture epicenter of NS. I’d like to paint them a mural….How about these little gems I found?

ImageImageImage

Ca—uttteee!

Anyway, this could prove to be another fantastic artsy outlet.

Thanks for listening, now to get sketching!

AS

Renovation Revelations!

My life with renovation

This was my  choice of procrastination method when I should have been finishing up the first renovation project (kitchen).

I was really hesitant at first about painting the fireplace (hello – non reversible!), I’m really happy that I did. It just brightens up the entire space – What a face lift!

REVELATIONS
Revelation # 1 – If you’re in doubt, go with you intuition.

Revelation #2 – Paint that ugly fireplace, it can’t get any worse…

Revelation # 3 – Don’t be scared of color (I’m loving the grey/purple combo – Thanks to JR for the inspiration) – OWN your space.

Revelation # 4 – I’m stealing this one. When we were scared of doing something as it may make the space too quirky for resale, A family member told me to remember that we will be living here until we decide to sell. It can always be switched back (unless it involves tearing out walls). LOVE your space. I truly believe your home should be a reflection of your lives.

Side note: Don’t cha love the bike wheel clock my uber talented Mother in Law built us?

Tastes like Fall

Hello friends,

When my fiance is home on weekends, I love to take the time and get creative in the kitchen. One of my goal’s in life is to go back to school and get an education in food. I do have some basic food skillz, I’d just like to take it up a touch.

Usually it’s just me and my fur-piglets, which are always extremely impressed with whatever food bits fall their way. So, when the Mr. comes home, it’s my chance to cook for someone and get an honest opinion. We wanted to go to a local apple orchard, but they wouldn’t accept dogs in the orchard. Even on leash, What’s with that?! Needless to say, we chose to go elsewhere. What’s the point if the entire fam jam can’t go and enjoy the great outdoors together!

Ok enough with the mini-rant. We went for a walk around the area anyway, took in the beautiful fall colors and then made our way back to the house.  A friend at dinner last night said, we are really lucky when we love all the seasons we live through. I thought about it for a moment as I really do love all the things the seasons give us, especially in regards to produce. I find it incredibly inspiring to cook with whatever is in season.

Using seasonal ingredients and finding new ways them that I personally haven’t used before is exciting (yep, I’m a foodie geek!). The Cortland apples I picked up from the market were a great choice for this recipe as I find they bake really well. This simple recipe was one I learned as a kid.

Simple Apple Crumble

Ingredients

5 Cortland Apples

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1.5 cups Rolled Oats

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup apple cider + mulled spices

Top Crisp

1 cup melted butter

2 cups Rolled Oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Cut the apples into small wedges after peeling the skins off. Then mix all the first  7 ingredients into a bowl so everything is mixed together. Next put all the top 8 ingredients in the baking pan together.

To make the top crisp, first ensure you have softened butter, then by hand, mix all of the 4 ingredients together to ensure the butter is well mixed in. Coat the top of your apple mixture with approx 1-2 cm of this top layer.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 mins.

*I like to serve it with maple whipped cream. Add 2-3 tbsp homemade maple syrup to 1 cup whipping cream and enjoy!

Image

Yep, starting to smell a lot like fall in here!

Next, my family harvested a new crop, a delicious little veggie called Dumpling Squash. AMAZING.

Image

It still has that fantastic smooth buttery squash texture and is a whole lot sweeter then it’s more popular cousin (Butternut Squash). It was love at first taste. To soften, just cut them open and remove the seeds as you would any other squash. I usually put mine in the microwave with saran wrap with butter and brown sugar. Believe me, these babies do not need any additional sweetness. I added a bit of olive oil and some sea salt before stowing them in the microwave for 10 mins.

I decided to make Squash soup. It’s SUPER easy.

Ingredients

Meat of 2 dumpling Squash, seeded and softened

1 x tsp olive oil

1 x shallot

1 x tsp garlic

1 x tsp nutmeg

1 cup shredded yukon gold potato

3 cups vegetable broth

pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Bring all to a boil in a large soup pot, and then simmer for 20 mins. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth and then add 1 cup of skim milk (3/4 cup of heavy cream for those of you who are not counting calories). Enjoy with freshly baked bread, sprinkles of fresh chopped chives and a slice of Havarti!

Image

(Photo cred: Wineaccess.ca)

As I sit down and enjoy my cup of apple cider (with added mulled spices of course), I’m thinking about all my great leftovers for my work week.

These recipes were extremely easy and very flavorful. Therein lies the difference with cooking with only the freshest, in season produce. All the produce I used was local and easy to find. There’s nothing like picking your own ingredients directly from the earth.

Cheers and enjoy your own fall favorites!

Server vs. Servant

Hello world,
I have been a part time waitress/bartender/server/general servant for the general public at multiple restaurants throughout the last 12 years. I have kept this job, in addition to having a 9-5, for many reason including some of the following:

1. Fast (legal) CASH – nuf said

2. Great way to meet interesting people, especially if you’re new to a city. Some of my best friends are people I’ve met along this path.

3. Time passes quickly when you’re multitasking like crazy.

4. Student loans = Freddy Krueger of my financial reality – GO AWAY ALREADY! (Actually insert any one of these lovelies – http://listverse.com/2007/11/14/top-10-evil-movie-villains/ if Freddy doesn’t float your boat)

5. I am a business woman who believes in great customer service, there are way too many lemons presenting themselves as servers out there.

In combination with my other jobs (which have included Teaching, PR, and Event Coordination), serving has always been there for me. After sitting and stewing on this topic for a while, my moral compass urged me to share some trade secrets that I’ve learned along my way. This is not to be a waiter rant, although I do love me some Steve Dublanica. Instead, my blogs’ intent is to be an education to non-food industry workers. More so, to bridge the uncomfortable conversation for many, “How much do I tip?” or “Why should I tip?”.

Here are some general rules of thumb and a breakdown of tipping 101 (my version):

HUMILITY –  Although I am your barkeep/server for the time being, I am a real person. Please refer to my golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated. I believe that Karma is a bitch that can rock your world. Michael J. Neff explains it very well here.

TIPS = COMMUNICATION– I rely on my tips as a  measure of how I perform at my job. It’s a way of communication for all of you who do not like to tell me to my face that a) You hated the American burger that you ordered at a Mexican specialty restaurant. b) You did not like that it took the 20- 30 mins to make your freshly prepared modified meal using real ingredients or c) Hey I was not as awesome as promised, too busy and I didn’t give you the attention you craved. I truly believe if you hated EVERYTHING about your particular restaurant experience, you should not have to tip. (<Period)

There are many reasons that you should tip appropriately at a restaurant (see next point), however I understand that there are some instances that do not deserve that thoughtful 15%. This being said, I know it’s hard to tell me to my face, but PLEASE let me know what you did not like, so I can change it for the next customer. I am not a mind reader.

– Tipping 101: For those of you who believe that waiters/waitresses walk out with mucho dollars, it’s sometimes true. My usual tally is about 10-13% of my net sales, which on some nights can be as low as $30 (Unless I order that amazing pasta that I need at 10 pm = total income $15 – whoa!). This means if something is promo’d, coupon-ed or discounted, I do not make as much money. Therefore, I want you to have the TIME of your life so that you come back (and tip me well!). I do not want you to walk out that door never to be seen or heard of again. You are the reason after all that I am finally getting “Freddy” out of my life. I thought it may be helpful to see the internal workings of a restaurant and to see what happens to the generous tips servers receive. Please note that not all restaurants perform this way, this is only a reference from my personal experience in 5 restaurants.

Here is a breakdown of tipouts that many servers usually have to contribute internally:

Bartender – 1 – 2% Net Sales

Kitchen – 1-2% Net Sales

Management  -1 – 2 % Net Sales

Walk out pool (For all of you dine & dasher’s – we do really hate you) – Set $$ amount, depends on restaurants. This fund usually assists with the customers who leave without paying their bills. This is so your server does NOT get saddled with YOUR tab. I usually refer to this fund as our collateral damage fund.

Busboy – Usually around $10/night. I usually like to tip this gem a little extra depending on sales/return from my customers. I find, if you scratch their back, they scratch yours. A great busboy or girl is worth his/her weight in gold.

This being said, you can see how my precious cashola slips away. If you tip under the above amount, I end up contributing some of my own hard earned cash to tip out others for your meal. 

A great restaurant is a wonderful team, in which everyone wants a piece of the pie (natch’). I’m only as good as the pasta the kitchen sends out, the mojito my barkeep slings and the cleanliness that my busboy assists with – in which everyone wants to get paid. Some people believe that tipping should not be mandatory, in a perfect world the food service industry workers would be paid enough that tipping wouldn’t be a necessity. It is not that way, however, and it’s not going to change. Just be happy you do NOT live in the US (unless you do), where service wage exists. See Dave Jamieson’s insight on the topic that Huffington Post recently published here .

So, my tip to customers is to get an education on tipping etiquette and make yo mamma proud by using those manners she taught you. I’ve done MANY jobs, and serving is probably one of the most physically and emotionally draining positions I’ve done. Many of you may disagree and say, “How difficult can it be to bring me my food and drink order”. I say to you – Step into my shoes and try it, before you slam it. In the smallest of chances you are Crushing it , I’ll buy you a drink 🙂

I’m not boasting that I happen to be the BEST server you will ever have for a million trillion bazillion years. I am a person who thinks the glass is half full, further, I think you should try to be the best in whatever you do. Entitled people are the bane of my existence. Just because you’re entitled to good service does not give you leave to be a douche. Everyone deserves (Yes, YOU who snapped their fingers at me and even YOU, pessimist who yelled at me because your water glass was half empty- real life examples) what Susan A. Friedmann coins the “Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service”. Should your server deliver all this, I believe you should deliver on your end as well.

A smile and friendly demeanor can change the night around for a server who has had a shitty night (see examples of above). This can be also be reversed, for a customer who’s had a shitty day at the office, a friendly smile and prompt service can spark the change in that person’s day.

Go get a yummy drink & tasty treats at your fave local joint and be nice to your server. Remember the bare basics, we ARE real people and we will kindly do the same while delivering you all of the above (If they’re a kick ass server). If you did get a lemon (apologies on behalf of good servers everywhere), let them know where they slipped up & tip what you think is fair.

Cheers friends!

Words of a Newbie

So this is it, I started blogging? Have I opened the closet of my inner rants, hidden wishes and current food fantasies? Will this be slightly offbeat and a tad different then the thousand other diary blogs? We shall see…

My main goal? To gain some sort of accountability on the items I see as my own dirty laundry. Aururin Bevan had it right when he said “We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road, they get run over”. See, I believe that life is short, and I’m wasting part (ok most) of my potential in front of prime time TV. My alternative train of thought is that I also think that you should chill and enjoy things that come your way. The conjoining of these two rivers of thought can really equate to serious ambivalence.

As an indecisive person, I struggle when it comes to setting and following through on my lofty intentions. My trainer (sorry ex. trainer) told me to write everything I ate down to become “accountable”. It worked and I lost 20 lbs. Therefore this sense of accomplishment should translate – no?

Some of my latest life thoughts are trending on the usual:

1. Weight – lose it….again *sigh*

2. Finances – Get organized

3. Art – Lose the lazy & get inspired

4. Eat – Well (this could moot #1)

5. House Renos – Finish them (for now)

My first decision, which one shall I tackle first? Why not knock these puppies down in order…

I know I shall have a GIANT “ta-dah!” moment during this whole process, upon which I’ll brag non-stop. Please be warned and take this as your advanced notice

When I need a little pick me up – http://www.getinspiredproject.com/

AS