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Halloween Tricks and Treats

this year's costume
This year’s costume: Day of the Dead! Dia de los Muertos!

 

I love Halloween. LOVE LOVE LOVE! It’s just so much fun to dress up and be something funny or scary or just plain weird for a day. And it’s totally acceptable! It’s also nice seeing people’s faces when they see you in your costume. I dress up every year. I haven’t missed a year since I was a kid – and we made our own costumes from scratch. I also dress up at work – and my workplace is amazing! Most people participate, and we have a pot-luck party every year. This year, Halloween fell in the middle of the week, and I HAD to prepare a scary treat for my office! Here is the making of: KITTY LITTER CAKE! (I got the recipe here). It looks so real and gross, that some people may not want to eat it!!! What kind of halloween tricks or treats are you up to this year??

Make Cake
Step 1: Make two cakes. One chocolate, one vanilla
baking cakes
Step 2: Bake the cakes!
crumble granola and cookies
Step 3: Crumble granola and cookies in the blender (I used chocolate chip, but the recipe called for vanilla wafer cookies)
make vanilla pudding
Step 4: Make vanilla pudding (The recipe called for two, but I only made one!)
add food colouring to granola crumble
Step 5: Add green and blue food colouring to the granola crumble to make it look like kitty litter!
take cakes out to cool
Step 6: Don’t forget the cakes!!! Take them out to cool
crumble the cooled cake and add pudding
Step 7 and 8: Crumble the cake into a kitty litter pan (make sure it’s a brand new one!!) and add pudding
smoosh the cake mixture down
Step 9: Smoosh the cake/pudding mixture down in the pan so it becomes more cake-y (I also added some of the cookie/granola crumble to the cake/pudding mixture while smooshing for visual effect!)
sprinkle granola/cookie crumble on top
Step 10: Sprinkle the cookie and granola crumble on top of the smooshed cake. It’s starting to look authentic!!!
melt tootsie rolls to make "kitty poop"
Step 11: Melt some tootsie rolls in the micro-wave so you can form kitty poops!
place tootsie-roll poops in the "litter"
Step 12: Place your formed kitty poops into the litter. Make sure some of the litter sticks to the poops so it looks real!
make some yellow-coloured caramel
Step 13: I added this step, because I wanted my litter box to be super gross. I made some quick caramel on the stove (sugar and water + boiling) and added some yellow food colouring to make it look like pee.
put the caramel kitty pee in the litter
Step 14: Carefully pour the caramel kitty pee into pools in the litter box!
serve with an authentic kitty poop scoop spoon
Step 15: Serve in a kitty litter pan with a real kitty litter scoop for effect! I found these items at the local dollar store. It looks SO GROSS! 🙂 Happy Halloween!!!
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Meet the Martini Girls!

Looking for a beautiful girl that will make your evening bright? You need to meet the Martini Girls! These vivacious ladies all have something special to offer, and they can drink you under the table! Take any of these ladies out for a night on the town and you are guaranteed to be satisfied. Just keep bringing their favourite drinks (listed below) and you will experience a night you will never forget*

*Unless you black out, in which case you’ll probably forget. Not responsible for lost memories due to overdrinking.

Meet the Super O Selena
That’s not just a regular martini! It’s 3oz of liquor that you’ll be setting next to this firecracker all night. Super O Selena loves the nightclub scene and often wears dresses that get her confused with a disco ball. When you’re out with Selena, all you need is to train your laser pointer on her dress and you’ve got a light show on the go! Don’t forget her olive, or you won’t get your super O at the end of the night!
Meet Eeentyini Esther
Spice up Esther’s Eenytini martini with some cranberry juice, gin, and a blackberry. Esther is a little shy at first, but after 9 or 10 martinis, she’ll be hiking up her dress to boogie on the dance floor. It doesn’t look like it, but Esther is a sucker for old school rock and roll. Pop several twonies into the jukebox, put on some Stairway to Heaven, and pull Esther close for a slow dance you’ll always remember*
Meet Emerald Ella
Ella is a karate fanatic! Her favourite colour is green, and she loves to kick butt in and out of the dojo. Watch out for her dangerous moves when you order her an Emerald martini! It might be gone before you can utter your first pick-up line. Ella loves to drink, but what she loves even more is to tie you up before she makes her move on you. If you don’t mind a few bruises, don’t let Ella get thirsty – in the bar, or in bed!
Meet Long Kiss Goodnight Laura
The red Long Kiss Goodnight martinis you’ll be bringing her will match her dress! Laura insists on wearing red wherever she goes. She says it makes people love her. Play your cards right and you’ll get your own long kiss goodnight after shutting the bar down with this lush.
Meet Cigar Lover’s Cindy
Cindy loves living on the edge and is not your typical lady. She loves a good, manly martini, so make sure a Cigar Lover’s Martini is settled next to her hand all evening! Cindy adores jazz bars and dancing to fast music. Pour her another one, and maybe it will be your cigar she’s loving by the end of the night!
Meet Dirty Cowgirl Diana
You’ll be heading to your favourite country bar if you’d like to impress Diana. This cowgirl loves chocolate with her booze as much as she loves getting dirt on her boots! Send a few Dirty Cowgirl martinis Diana’s way and you might just ride off into the sunset with Diana. Send her a handful, and Diana will be riding YOU. Watch out for her horse whip!
Meet In and Out Iris
Iris prefers her liquor to be deep blue, just like the flower she was named after. Demure and mysterious explains Iris to a T. You’ll be begging for Iris to open up her flower for you and give you more! Keep the bartender making In and Out Martinis, and it’s likely you’ll be doing the ‘in and out’ later with this beautiful bloom.

Chopped – Home Edition (Part 1)

My girlfriend introduced me to a great show featured on Food Network, which quickly became a favourite channel of mine. If you haven’t seen it, the show is called Chopped and they start with four chefs, give them each a basket of four or five random ingredients, and set them off to cook an appetizer under a time limit. All of the basket ingredients must be used, and the finished dishes are judged by a panel of food experts. The weakest dish is “Chopped” along with the chef who created it, and the remaining three are given a new basket of items with which to cook a main entree! The battle ensues until only two chefs are left to battle over dessert. It’s a neat show, because you get to see how they creatively incorporate ingredients like miso into dessert, how they cook a whole rabbit for an entree in under 30 minutes, and other fantastical food challenges.

The aforementioned wonderful girlfriend came up with an AMAZING idea, “Why don’t we do Chopped at home?” she proposed to me one lazy evening as we watched old episodes of Chopped together. “Let’s get random ingredients for each other and each cook something!” We discussed the details of this absolutely awesome idea, and settled on the rules. We would randomly choose who was doing appetizer, main, or dessert. For this, we needed a third – so it only made sense to rope in her twin (who also dearly loves the Food Network awesomeness) to join us in our food adventure!

It was decided that my girlfriend would do the appetizer, I would do the main dish, and the twin would follow up with dessert! I ended up buying ingredients for my girlfriend, the twin bought ingredients for me, and my girlfriend bought ingredients for her twin! We assembled in the kitchen for an adventure in cooking!

Today, I present to you the appetizer round in photographs! This is my superbly awesome girlfriend creating an appetizer from some admittedly evil ingredients that I purchased for her. Enjoy!

Chef ready to cook
The chef is ready to unveil her ingredients and cook a succulent appetizer!
Ingredients: Koala Crisp (organic, sweetened, with cocoa), garlic stuffed olives, whole Chilean Sea Bass!
The ingredients: Koala Crisp (organic, sweetened, with cocoa), garlic stuffed olives, whole Chilean Sea Bass (with the head and eyes!!!!)
Chef tenatively cutting the head off her fish!
Chef tenatively cutting the head off her fish!
The deed is done - now on to cooking!
The deed is done – now on to cooking!
The fish is cubed, placed in a bowl, and spiced. What will it become?
The fish is cubed, placed in a bowl, and spiced. What will it become?
Chopping the garlic-stuffed olives
Chopping the garlic-stuffed olives
The gluten-free Koala Crisp proves difficult to crush! A crust or breading perhaps?
The gluten-free Koala Crisp proves difficult to crush! A crust or breading perhaps?
The ingredients have been combined, and the chef is now cannelling the mixture
The ingredients have been combined, and the chef is now cannelling the mixture, then placing them into hot oil.
The fried mixture - it looks delicious!
The fried mixture – it looks delicious!
The chef begins assembling the plates, laying down a bed of lettuce and a spiced sour cream sauce for dipping
The chef begins assembling the plates, laying down a bed of lettuce and a spiced sour cream sauce for dipping.
Putting the final touches on plating, the chef is feeling confident in her dish. It looks good!
Putting the final touches on plating, the chef is feeling confident in her dish. It looks good!
Finished "fish nuggets" on the plate. They were amazing!
Finished “fish nuggets” on the plate. They were amazing!

Stay tuned for the next installment – the entree!

Can home and paradise be the same place?

I just got home from a week-long vacation in the paradise known as Aruba. Aruba is tiny little Dutch island in the Carribean that is approximately 30km long from one end to another. The temperature remains virtually the same all year round, and the weather is usually hot and dry (but very windy). After our plane landed and our bus dropped us at the hotel, I stood on my balcony admiring the view of the beach and basking in the hot sun, and uttered the words “That’s it, I’m moving here.”

The beaches of paradise in Aruba
The beaches of paradise in Aruba - Photo by Leila Paugh

Maybe part of the allure was that I was coming from Ontario, in the middle of a typically -16 or so weather stretch, which had been preceded by several dumpings of snow. Maybe it was that this was my first real trip to a tropical island (with the exception of Australia, which is a GIANT island) on an all inclusive ticket. Maybe it was the beauty and friendliness of the Aruban people. Maybe it was the lush fruits and rich foods. Maybe it was a combination of all of these.

At the beginning of the week, I was in awe of the island, the people, the food, the adventure, and the free drinks from the bar. Everything was beautiful. I was relaxed. All of our adventures were fun. There was something new and amazing to see everywhere we went. I found myself considering the possibility of island life and wondering about how to become a citizen.

Along the heels of this thought came the inevitable wonder of if I could do it. Could I leave my country (which I realize, I love very much)? Would I miss relatives, friends, family… winter? What my heart told me was that anything is possible, and that home is where you lay your head. While change is scary and often overwhelming, no matter where you end up – it can become a home to you. Maybe not that “home” that you always hold in your heart… but still ‘a home.’

This conversation in my head was reinforced by the latter-half of my week in Aruba. By the 4th of 5th day, I was quite at home. I knew where to go, who to talk to, what bus to take. I was unhindered by the unknown. It’s so much easier to be less afraid when the island is so small! Much like in elementary school and high school – it doesn’t take long before you feel like you own the place. The same happens at work places and in groups of friends. My mom even made a funny statement on the 6th day when a new tour group arrived. “Oh, the new people are here – they don’t know how things work yet.” It was so true, but also so apparent that my mom felt quite at home too. We all felt more experienced in the ways of the island, even though we had only been there a handful of days.

So to answer to the question “Can home and paradise be the same place?” YES! You need to make your home a paradise! If it’s not the paradise you wanted, you have a couple of choices – either work harder to make your environment the paradise you want, move to paradise, or compromise and visit paradise once or twice a year 🙂

I had an amazing time in the paradise of Aruba. My week away felt like a month. I feel refreshed and rested. But as my good friend pointed out: by Friday, it will feel like my trip to paradise was a year ago. It’s all too true. But what an amazing feeling to dip my feet in to the pool of paradise!

Random Friday

OK, so I missed Wednesday’s post. There is no excuse. Like a good friend of mine kindly reminds me – it’s not that I didn’t have time, it’s that I didn’t MAKE time. It’s so true.

Thursday I was driving to work and I had my driving mitties on. I wear them because the steering wheel is COLD. As I was driving I noticed what I thought was the ever-pleasant smell of McDonald’s fries… I sniffed and drove happily. It was not long before I realized the smell was coming from my driving mitties that I had worn the previous day while shoveling. The ‘french fry’ smell was actually the smell of hand-sweat! Which brought me to a new thought. Do McDonalds french fries smell like sweat? Or did my mitties actually smell like fries? Either way, disturbing!

Some photos from my adventures:

Ralph Lauren Shirt
While shopping, I saw this shirt that all at once looked like someone had vomitted on it AND like something I really wanted to buy. Why? It's GOOD ugly. One of those things that is SO UGLY, it becomes beautiful. This Ralph Lauren shirt was retailing at a mere $180. I would totally have worn it.
St Patrick's Day Glasses
St. Patrick's Day is coming up. I think these glasses become self explanatory at this point 😉
my frozen bottle
I accidentally left a bottle of water in the car and it froze SOLID. If you look closely, you can see an air bubble trapped in the middle.

Shower thought

Every morning, my shower time is a big thinking period for me. Often strange thoughts enter my head, sometimes remaining tidbits from the tail end of a dream. Sometimes it is kind of a mental prep period for the day. As I stand under the water, my brain often does its own thing while I enjoy being enveloped in the soothing hot water.

Sometimes I have what I call “shower thoughts.” Usually, it’s an idea for something. Today it was a memory.

Cross Country Ski bootIn grade 4, our class went on a trip with school to go cross country skiing. The cost of the trip included a bus there and back, ski and boot rental, and a hot lunch. I think there were more classes going, but all I remember is our grade 4 class. I was 9 years old, and some of the other kids were 10. I don’t remember too many details, chatter on the bus, getting there and hearing teachers and leaders talk to us, getting on my ski boots and trying to figure out how the skis worked.

I remember that we were told which trails were small loops and which were longer loops. All of the trails were marked with a coloured ribbon or a coloured mark on the trees so the trails were easy to follow. I think I started out skiing with a group of kids, but ended up skiing by myself along the green trail. I didn’t realize that this was one of the longer trails. I was having a great time by myself, zipping along on my skis. I remember being hot, and undoing my coat a little to let the cold air chill me out.

As I was skiing along in the back woods by myself, I came up to one of the boys in our class. He was crumpled on the ground and crying. I remember his name was Jeff, and that he was relatively new to the school. I glided up beside him and asked him if he was ok.

Jeff sobbed that his feet were all wet and cold and that he couldn’t ski any more. He was in a panic. I took off my skis and sat down with him. I told him that we could trade boots and socks. My feet were warm! He calmed down a bit as we sat together. We traded boots and socks. His crying subsided as his feet warmed and he realized he was not all alone out here. I gave him some words of encouragement, and coaxed him back to his feet. I assured him that we could ski back together – it wasn’t far. Jeff got back to his feet and we skied slowly back to the lodge. My feet still warm in the wet socks and boots. Jeff was in much better spirits.

When we got back to the lodge, some kids were zipping down a small slope. Jeff quickly found his friends and I was left alone again. I sort of joined in on one side of the fun, and had a few laughs gliding down the hill along side the others. It was then that I realized that Jeff had forgotten all about me, and was now in his own world with his friends. He would never have told his friends that he had cried, much less that a girl had helped him. Knowing this still didn’t change my mood. I felt happy that I was able to get him back on his feet and safely back to the group.

Every once in a blue moon, this memory resurfaces – today it was during my shower thought. I think it keeps coming back to me because I wonder sometimes where Jeff is, and if he remembers trading socks and boots with me.  😉

I’m not so great at sports – but they are fun!

I am terrible at sports… I was always picked last in school for any sport. The neighbourhood kids let me be their ‘equipment girl.’ They all knew not to let me on their team so they could win. Thank goodness for some fun competition!!!

Today we had our company picnic! It was fun, there was lots of food, and good company (ha ha). For the past few years we have had a company croquet game, from with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners get a trophy and a prize. I think I won three or four years ago, but that’s only because I cheated 😉

This year I didn’t do so well, but I had fun playing!

I think it’s important for companies to have team building exercises. It promotes comradeship (?) within the office. It oils the cogs, so to speak 🙂  Luckily, I work with a great bunch of people at our small-ish company. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone – as long as nobody takes it personally!

Here’s a photo of me and my croquet mallet! Maybe I can win next year?

54

Someone once told me – you get what you give. The longer I’m on this planet, the more I realize it’s true. I don’t mean that literally, because if I give someone a chocolate bar, I don’t expect a chocolate bar to fall in my lap in the near future…  However, I find that it does apply in the grand scheme of things.

Emit positivity, positivity will surround you. Give compassion, people will be compassionate to you. Get angry, and other people will get even ANGRIER! Laugh, and you will find people around you smiling. Need I go on?

Tthe key is to make sure you’re not always giving to people who are taking, or those who don’t appreciate or give back to anyone else. I personally find this difficult, as I tend to help, give, and love a lot more than I ‘should’ apparently. But in terms of the big picture, I think this just means that I’m going to get some pretty good stuff in return – eventually 😉

And I’m willing to wait.

Even when you’re having a grouchy day, try to get out of that funk. Use whatever resources you have at hand to distract yourself out of that mood. Talk to friends, mindlessly watch Youtube videos, read… do something out of the ordinary! All you need is to *SNAP* out of it 🙂 And get the good vibrations flowing. If you’re negative – who is going to want to hang out with you anyway? If you’re miserable, no one really wants to join in the ‘fun.’ Friends and family might try to help you out of your funk, but only to see you happy again – not because they enjoy hanging out with you when you’re down in the dumps. So grab hold of the hands, the tools, the distractions that are being offered, and clamber up out of the bog of negativity.

I have reason to believe that it will pay off in the end 🙂

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