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A Little SUV Maintenance

11 Jan

Ok yes I know that as a vehicle owner I am supposed to have a maintenance fund set up for when I need work done to my suv. I don’t have one quite yet, it’s more like I have a general emergency fund and if something happens to my suv I pull from there. I don’t like it, but it’s what I’ve got for now.

The other week a guy pulled up beside me at a red light and motioned for me to roll my window down. When I did he told me my right brake light was out. I was on my way to work so couldn’t really do anything about it then but once I took time to think about it my general thought was:

“Shit. How much is this gonna cost?”

I knew it would cost a stupid amount if I went to a shop because of labour charges, but when a vehicle needs work that’s what you do, right? You take it to a shop?

Except, what if you don’t?

What if you go internet sleuthing, find some instructional videos that show you how to change the brake light on your suv, hit up Canadian Tire to buy the $7 light bulbs, and change it yourself?

Well, then you would have done what I just did, and be filled with a happy little feeling of pride.

And yes I know, feeling pride because I changed my brake lights (apparently if you change one you should change both so I did both) is a silly thing because it turned out to be dead easy, but I don’t care. Car maintenance is soooo not my thing but today I managed it.

I think this deserves a happy dance…

happy dance

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Receipt Checker

10 Jan

I don’t know about you but until last year I’d go shopping, take the receipt, stuff it in my purse where it would get crumpled down at the bottom and stay there until I got annoyed with it and threw it out.

Receipts

Last January I started budgeting. And not in a vague sort-of not researched type of way. Oh no, I did massive research, read books, watched YouTube Videos, read everything on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s website (re-watched a bunch of her tv show episodes),Β  and pestered my parents multiple times a week with questions, sort of way. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, might as well do it right!…or to the best that you’re able cuz oh wow was learning how to budget a frustrating experience. There were a bunch of mistakes made, things I could have done better, a decently large learning curve to navigate but I did eventually manage to navigate it. I learned from my mistakes, took notes so I knew what I wanted to change for 2018, and overall think that starting this whole budgeting dealio was a solid choice.

Now, and all of last year, I take the receipt, write down in a tracker the date of the purchase, what I bought, how much it cost, and I would deduct it from my running tally. Yeah, I became that person.

Today I went to Wal-Mart for some stuff and when I got to the checkout I thought the total was high but didn’t think to question the cashier cause, well, why would I? When I was home, comfie in my sweats, and happy in the knowledge I didn’t have to go out again, I was checking my receipt as I wrote the expense in my tracker (because yes, I’m still that person!) and to my surprise there were two items at the top of my receipt I didn’t recognize.

Now, sometimes the short description on a receipt is not easily translated in to the item you bought but this was a tiny purchase, I only bought 6 things, though this receipt said I bought 8. That and all the other items clearly said what they were and I knew I bought those things.

I had been charged $14 and change for two things I didn’t buy.

Not cool.

I called Wal-Mart, the phone rang over 30 times (not even kidding) and when I finally got a person and told them what happened I was told to call back in ten minutes.

*rolls eyes*

I called back in ten minutes, I stopped counting the rings at 50 but I didn’t stop calling, I just let it ring, and ring, and ring and finally someone picked up. It turned out to be the same lady I spoke with earlier so at least she knew what the problem was.Β  She asked me a couple questions about the receipt and told me if I came back in tonight she would fix things.

Not gonna lie, I was torn between staying home cozy in my sweats or going back out for a refund of $14 but the cheap side of me won out and on went real pants, up in to a pony tail went the hair, and off I went.

Sure it’s only $14 but every dollar counts, especially when you are budgeting and you know where that $14 should be going…like next weeks groceries!

So lesson learned, take a look at the receipt before leaving the store to not only make sure I wasn’t charged incorrectly but to save me having to change out of my cozy sweats and back in to public appropriate clothing. Really, it’s all about comfort in the end lol πŸ˜‰

Tales From the Clumsy Side

28 Nov

Alrighty, so, in case you don’t know this about me, I am clumsy. Not tripping over my own feet can’t function on a daily basis clumsy, but I’d say a tad more clumsy than other people…ok fine, maybe more than a tad *rolls eyes*

clumsy

The other day I was trying on pants in a store’s dressing room and the tag got caught as I was pulling the pants up. No biggy right? Happens sometimes, *shrug*. Well! As I was pulling the pants up, I felt the tag scratching me but ignored it, not like it could actually hurt me, right?

Oh how wrong can a girl be?

My leg hurt, quite a bit, and me being me I ignored it. But eventually I got in the shower and then experienced a new pain level on my leg, always fun! I took a look and what I thought would be a tiny scratch is actually quite a long, mean looking, cut.

Guess that pant label was sharper than I realized. lol

Later that night I was prepping my hot water bottle, don’t judge, I am cold all the time so I take a hot water bottle to bed, there’s no shame in that!

I either boil water in the kettle, let it cool a bit, and pour that in to my hot water bottle or I put water in the kettle, turn the kettle on, but listen for when it is almost but not quite at boiling, I turn it off and put that water in the hot water bottle.

You might think that is too hot of water but I don’t, and since I’m the one using it I’m gonna stick with my preference here k? πŸ˜‰

This particular evening I stopped the water before it reached boiling point and was pouring it in to the hot water bottle when oops! I slipped and poured near boiling water over my fingers. I made that sound you make when all of a sudden pain due to extreme temperature happens but did I immediately stop what I was doing so I could put my hand under cold water?

No. Don’t be daft. Of course I didn’t. I finished pouring water in to the hot water bottle then closed the lid, then dried the outside of the bottle, then I tended to my hand.

Cause ya know, priorities! lol

I put my hand under cold water.

That was not pleasant.

I decided I couldn’t stay like that forever, there was a bed calling my name and a hot water bottle that was getting cooler with every passing minute to think about.

So I grabbed an ice gel pack thingy from the freezer, a small towel to put between my hand and the ice gel pack thingy, and headed to bed.

I sit and read or watch YouTube videos while laying in bed and why mess with routine just because your hand feels like it is on fire?

Try your best to picture this…

Me, laying in bed, partially upright so I can read, my legs bent so I make a tent with the blanket so the cat can go under the blanket (that is his night time routine), the hot water bottle on my tummy area (cause it is cozy), a book in my left hand, my right hand resting on my chest area with a cold gel pack wrapped around it.

Super normal way to cuddle in bed, right? lol

The gel pack didn’t seem to be helping all that much. It caused more pain, or maybe that was the burn just getting more painful…hard to tell, *shrug*. Two of my fingers were red and swollen and had that glossy look to the skin that burns tend to get and I thought for sure I was going to wake up with blisters.

Luckily I didn’t! Yay! I did wake up with fingers so sore they didn’t want to bend and skin that felt like it was on fire. Such a great sensation to go through my day with. πŸ˜›

Ah well. Just part of the trials of being a clumsy person! Let’s hope the cut and the mild burn heal quickly and I don’t have another clumsy day for a while *crosses fingers*

 

There Is Still Beauty

23 Nov

Some days life sucks. Or, maybe not life exactly, but the things that happen in your little section of the world that directly affect you, those can suck. Some days things happen that are hard, harder than what you think you can deal with, or harder than what you want to deal with.

Like the universe cares how much you want to deal with at any given moment? *rolls eyes*

Some days the hardness of this world can wear you down, make you want to shut your eyes and pretend it all away.

Thing is, no matter how hard things get, no matter how much they suck, no matter how down you are, if you can manage to look hard enough, you’ll find something of beauty. Something you can watch, and absorb, and use the presence of to soften the edges that are the hard parts of life.

I wasn’t looking. I was too busy trying to get through my days. Managing to perform what was required so I didn’t send my life in to a tailspin, but no extra.

Then I looked up and saw this…

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My Christmas cactus.

It was given to me years ago as a Christmas present, I didn’t expect it to survive it’s first week with me. Plants and I don’t get along all that well. I have the best of intentions but they figure out early on they have been put in the care of someone who doesn’t know what they are doing and they opt for a quick, hopefully pain free, death. Rather than a prolonged, torturous, death at my caring but inept hands.

This little guy though, defied all the odds. I went away for a week and a half the day after I got him, when I returned he was blooming and seemed perfectly happy on his windowsill.

The cat wasn’t so impressed at having to share the windowsill with a plant but that is a whole other story.

So this cactus, if I am really on the ball I remember to water it twice a month. He grew out of his original pot but I kept him in it much longer than I should have because I didn’t know how to repot him and was convinced if I tried I’d screw it up. Luckily my mom helped with that.

He obviously doesn’t worry about what his home looks like because that clear plastic container that I use to hold the water I give him and to keep the windowsill clean is a Betty Crocker tupperware container that I got from the dollar store. We’re super classy over here. πŸ˜‰

When things are going hard watering the plant is way down on my list of stuff to remember.

Despite not tending to him as I should have been that little cactus thrives, and blooms, and makes that windowsill a place I can look at and see beauty. I can see that life is still happening, those around me are ever evolving, and that not all things suck, even if that is how it feels.

Apparently my little cactus is able to give me life lessons just by being itself.

Yeah, things are gonna suck sometimes, but if you can manage to look around, and keep looking, you’ll eventually find something of beauty, something that can momentarily soothe you, and help you remember that things can get better, they probably will get better, and if you keep holding on, you’ll be alright.

Dragon Cupcake Cake

24 Oct

The title says it all! lol

My dragon boat team had our season end party and I made a dragon cupcake cake for one of the desserts.

I would like to stress I didn’t come up with this idea on my own. I saw a video 6 months ago about making a pull apart cupcake cake in the shape of a unicorn and I thought it might be fun to make but instead of a unicorn make a dragon. About a month ago I googled “dragon cupcake cake” and found plenty of images of amazing looking dragon cupcake cakes. I took the two I liked best, and used their images as inspiration to make my own version.

He came out like this…

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You want to start out by making a double batch of chocolate cupcakes. I used 24 for the dragon, I had 3 that were throwaways because they were the first three I frosted, I don’t have experience frosting with a bag and tip and let’s just say there was a learning curve lol

I attempted to make red frosting as one of my team colours is red but even though I used a “true red” no flavour gel dye from Wilton the best I could get was pink. sigh. The frosting tip was borrowed from work and I have no idea what size or number it was, it was star shaped though…in case that is something that interests you. πŸ˜›

I baked the cupcakes on the Wednesday and waited until the Thursday for frosting and decorating, partly because of time constraints and partly because you want the cupcakes to be completely cooled before moving them around and frosting them.

To make the dragon it is just a matter of having an idea of the shape you want and placing the cupcakes down in that shape, moving and tweaking as necessary until you get a shape that looks right. Then frost the cupcakes, which I quickly learned is harder and yet easier than I thought it would be. Once I got the hang of things it was fairly easy, but it took a bit to feel like I knew what I was doing.

The frosting is a simple buttercream frosting, made to be a bit on the firm side, so it would hold its shape for a while – I was worried about what would happen during transport.

I wanted to distinguish the back from the legs and head so I put a bit of black frosting on those pieces. The claws are made from soft licorice that I cut in to triangles. The eyes are a marshmallow that I broke in half and then flattened, the pupils are brown mini m&m’s that are stuck in to the gooey side of the flattened marshmallow. The nostrils are also brown mini m&m’s, the mouth is made of white chocolate chips, and the whiskers are Twizzler Pull ‘n Peels that I pulled apart so I could get the red strips.

It was a lot of fun to make the face, as it came together it made me smile. Its kind of hard to resist a smiling dragon lol

For transport I dismantled the dragon, the cupcakes just barely fit in to my rectangular cake holder. Once at the party it was quick work to put the cupcakes back in order so the dragon was once again a dragon. I had placed marks on the tray he was going to be displayed on so I knew where some of the body pieces went, making it even easier to get him back together quickly.

The team seemed to like him, pictures were taken, comments were made about how cute he was, he was a hit! πŸ™‚

I’ve got to say, of the desserts I have made for the season end party over the past three years this one is my favourite, and I think the easiest to make…I would have thought he’d be harder, or more work, because it seems a more finicky thing to deal with – all those cupcakes and the decorating and the placement of them, but nope, super easy, and fun! Makes me wonder what other shapes I might try making…

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

23 Oct

It was Thanksgiving a couple weeks ago, a holiday I normally celebrate by eating pizza and watching a movie. This year though, a friend decided she was going to do the whole Thanksgiving thing and she invited me over. My contribution to the meal was dessert because let’s face it, it is the only thing I can reliably make lol

I was going to make a traditional pumpkin pie but decided to switch it up a bit and made a pumpkin swirl cheesecake – it sounds fancier than it is lol

Basically it is a cheesecake that had the batter separated so half is normal cheesecake batter and the other half has pumpkin puree and a bit more sugar mixed in, then you layer it and swirl it with a knife. It was dead easy to make and people liked it, so a win in my books!

IMG_0019

The cheesecake cracked along the swirl lines I made with my knife when cooling, which is annoying. I tried the hack of turning the oven off, cracking the door open, and letting the cheesecake cool that way, theoretically making the cooling off process less traumatic and therefore stopping the cheesecake from cracking…you can see how well that turned out. *rolls eyes* I know there are ways to repair the cracks but it would have ruined the marble look so I just left it.

The crust was made by putting ginger snap cookies in my mini food processor and pulsing until the cookies were crumbs, then doing the same with walnuts, pour the crumbs of both in to a bowl, add melted butter, mix it all up then put it in to the bottom of a springform pan and press it down so it is even. As a crust it turned out perfect, firm enough to maintain structural integrity when a slice was cut, but not so hard it wasn’t an easy thing to eat. I liked it but didn’t love it…could be because I’m not a huge ginger cookie fan. It was a complimentary flavour for the pumpkin though, which was why it was chosen.

As for the cheesecake it is like I mentioned above, you make a standard plain cheesecake batter, take out a cup and leave it alone, to the rest you add pumpkin puree, seasonings,Β  and some sugar, mix it in well. Then you pour approximately half the pumpkin batter in to the pan (on top of the ginger-walnut crust you’ve already put in there), make sure it spreads evenly. Put about half of the white cheesecake batter on top, sort of in blobs, then use a knife to spread it a bit. Then repeat! Once you’ve got the second layers of the pumpkin batter and the plain batter in the pan use a knife and swirl it all around. Make sure your knife goes all the way down to the crust without actually cutting through or messing up the crust.

Bake, let it cool, pray to the baking gods you don’t get huge cracks during the cooling process, curse the baking gods when the cracks come anyways, transfer to your serving platter or in my case the cake holder I was using to transport the cheesecake, and all that is left is to enjoy. πŸ™‚

In my opinion it turned out not flavourful enough, but others seemed happy with it so that could just be me. I wish I’d put more seasonings in it (it uses the same as a pumpkin pie) but hey, live an learn! I am toying with making it again but instead of pumpkin I’d make a raspberry puree and use that, I think it would be pretty with a pink swirl in it.

Here are some other pictures from Thanksgiving…my friend hosted a great evening, her meal was delicious, and it was fun to spend the evening with her and her family. πŸ™‚

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New Recipe and Frozen Pie

29 Sep

The other night a friend came over to help me move furniture. She was originally going to help me move but since I don’t have to move anymore (long story!) I decided to use her muscles to help me rearrange my living room.

In the way of friends, and moving, and all that, I offered to pay her for her help…in food. I figure you offer pizza and drinks when bribing friends to help you move, the least I could do was offer her dinner and dessert to help me rearrange furniture.

The rearranging was actually a lot easier than anticipated, which was a lovely surprise.

And the food turned out pretty decent, yay!

I got a recipe from a lady I follow on YouTube, it is called One Pot Enchillada Pasta. She got the recipe from someone she follows online (oh the wonders of the internet). The link to the video is here:

And here is the link to the original recipe…

https://www.iheartnaptime.net/enchilada-pasta/

Cause ya know, it is important to give the right people credit.

I won’t go in to the details of how to make the dish since I have just provided you with two links to that info, but here is a brief overview of my cooking adventure with this recipe.

The hardest part was finding enchilada sauce. Yup, you heard that right, that sauce was an elusive beast. I just sorta assumed it would be in the Old El Paso aisle at any grocery store so I stopped at Superstore on my way home from work to grab that and a bunch of the other ingredients, only to discover they don’t carry enchilada sauce, in any aisle, by any brand. Uhh, it is sorta one of the main most needed ingredients considering “enchilada” is in the title of the recipe! I had a sneaky suspicion that if Superstore didn’t carry it other stores might not so I then proceeded to call a bunch of other grocery stores (figured calling saved me more time than driving all over the place) and it turns out nobody had the sauce.

Just greeeeeat.

There goes that cooking plan. *rolls eyes*

Later that night at home I googled the sauce and discovered that Save-On-Foods carries it and they have the whole order online and pick-up the order whenever it is convenient for me deal so that is exactly what I did. I placed the order, timed my pick-up for after work the next day, problem solved!

The actual meal is easy to make, mostly because it is dumping a bunch of stuff in a pot lol Just brown the meat (ground beef or turkey, whatever you prefer), add the other stuff, stir, cook for a while, add a couple last minute things, stir, cover and simmer for a while, add some cheese and cover until the cheese has melted, serve.

Easy peasy.

I opted to not put the cheese on top and let it melt, mostly because the recipe called for a lot of cheese and sour cream and pasta, and is just in general a not-healthy recipe and I thought the least I could do was have us add our own cheese to our own bowls so we can decide how smothered our food was. It probably didn’t make much of a difference calorie wise at that point but hey, a girl can try!

Oh, and you can top your serving with a whole variety of things, tomatoes, avocado, green onions, sour cream, really, whatever you want. So I prepped some stuff for use as toppings and had it ready to go.

My bowl ended up looking like this…

one pot enchilada pasta

Yes, I know my ratio of sour cream to everything else is out of whack but whatever, I like sour cream and very rarely eat it, shrug. You can’t really see the actual dish I made, only the toppings, but it is under there!

It turned out tasty. Spicy, thanks to the green chilies and possibly the enchilada sauce (I’m not sure just how spicy that sauce is since I didn’t taste test it separately before adding it to the pot), but not so spicy it is hard to eat. I used regular penne pasta for mine, and I added in one cup vs the 2 cups of ziti noodles the original recipe called for. I gotta say, one cup of penne was plenty! I don’t see why you’d need more than that. I think other than the change in cheese and the change of noodles I stuck to the recipe.

I’m happy with how it turned out, it made a huge amount of food, I had left overs for daaaaays! Despite that, I probably won’t make it again, unless I am making it to take somewhere, because it is so unhealthy, but as a one off it was enjoyable.

Dessert was also served that night, in the form of a frozen pie I actually bought from the friend that was helping me. She was fundraising and selling frozen baked items and one of the things I bought from her was a peach pie. I never got around to baking it and her coming over seemed the perfect excuse.

All I had to do was pop it in the oven for an hour, it then said to let it cool for two hours, which we felt was extreme so we cut in to it sooner than that lol Whoever said patience was a virtue wasn’t waiting for a pie to cool!

The crust was nice and flaky, the peaches were delish, the glaze or sauce or whatever you want to call it that the peaches were in was interesting. Not bad, just not what I was expecting. I think they added the juice or flavouring of another fruit in there, which is odd, is it not? Maybe that’s just me…

peach pie

I was able to send left overs home with my friend and take a good chunk of the pie over to a different friend’s place a day or so later, the pie sure did make the rounds lol

All in all, it was a good pie, I could have made better (yes, I know that sounds smug but don’t hate a baker, that’s not nice πŸ˜‰ ) but it was nice to have the convenience of just popping a ready made pie in to the oven and not have to do all the work of actually making it. Which I guess is why ready made foods are such a massive industry lol

So yeah, there we have it, two yummy dishes, made and enjoyed by all. πŸ™‚

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