Total Pageviews

Saturday, December 17, 2011



This time of year sees the malls and parking lots jammed full. Tempers flaring, anxiety growing, bank accounts emptying and stress higher than Santa's reindeer in full flight. 

For people with Chronic Illnesses, this time of year is a nightmare at best. The constant agony of trying to shop, carry bags (yeah right) and deal with the demands of family and friends is quite overwhelming.  In the seventeen days of December, I think I can count on one hand the non-flare up days. The closer it gets to Christmas, the worse it seems to be getting.

Yes, the added stress is certainly contributing and likely so is the wet damp weather (that is the West Coast). Of course, the bad news from the Specialist with regards to my Meniere's Disease and it's progression isn't really helping much either. 

The attempt has been made a couple of times to go out and do some shopping and other holiday related activities. Each time, the pain has been unbearable but I keep a 'brave' face on and keep going. 

Being someone who is a total 'foodie' and loves to cook and bake. This time of year is now extremely depressing. Gone are the days that I could bake and cook for hours on end and collapse around New Year's. Now, it's a struggle just to stand in one spot long enough to make a batch of cookies. I can no longer work dough with my hands because they cramp up too much. 

Wrapping presents is a challenge. I can remember sitting on the floor, surrounded by bows, wrapping paper and tags and spending the evening making sure every gift was wrapped in elegance. Now, I'm lucky if I can make sure the wrapping paper is cut straight.

Everything about the holiday season now is troublesome and problematic. There aren't enough medications on the planet to make me feel joyous this year. I'd be perfectly content to sleep my way into 2012. Alas, I don't sleep so even that idea blows. 

Any way you slice it, Chronic Illnesses impede your daily life. Even the holidays  can't fix that. 

Enjoy the holidays, the best you can in whatever means you can. Inner strength comes in waves but it is there. 

Maybe, we can luck out and Santa will bring us all cures!

Merry Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Channukah, Blessed Ramadan, Happy Unbirthday! 



What's happening around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows through my eyes. For my first installment, I present the following:

The Ridge Meadows Food Bank got a nice boost last Saturday, thanks to the boys of the Ridge Meadows Bantam A2 Hockey Team.

The boys sported their jerseys and were asking for a $5 dollar donation which translated into a large paper bag filled with dried goods for the food bank. The foods are pre-selected and placed into the paper bags ready for delivery to those in need.

The energy the boys had was terrific to see and they were all very polite and friendly to incoming and outgoing customers. With the addition and lure of a free candy cane, a $5 donation was an easy sell.

The boys kicked off their Food Drive at 10:30 this morning and by 11:30 had already collected $200 in donations! Thanks to them and their generous nature, alot more families in Ridge Meadows will have food on their tables.

Well Done Boys! 



Today's tip is all about smelling terrific! Christmas is always a great time to spoil someone on your list with a gift of perfume or cologne. Many department stores carry the popular brands of latest perfumes and colognes. For those, more 'hard to find' perfumes or colognes, I suggest the following:

Perfumania is the One Stop Online Store for all your perfumery needs. Great prices, good shipping rates, free samples and free gifts with qualifying purchases! 

From 'Snookie' to 'Beyonce' and everything in between, you are sure to find the right scent for the right price! 

Perfumania also has a great selection of gift sets, bath and body products and great scents for men!

Hurry, there is only 7 days left till Christmas



Pressured by last minute shopping? Let Bruce's Market help out with their 'Top 12 gifts' List. Everything on their list, is available in their store as well as getting all your dinner necessities. Bruce's Market is more than just a fish market. Their fresh produce, gourmet fare and dining area, make Bruce's Market 'A one stop shop'. 

Bruce's Market is open seven days a week and hours vary per season. Be sure to try pick up some of their Seafood before you leave! 

Be sure to sign up for their newsletter! 

  1. Knights Chocolate   
  2. Gift Baskets
  3. Dancing Tea Pots 
  4. Becky's Bowls
  5. Becky's Bean Bots
  6. Festive Lollys
  7. Guy Shirts
  8. Smoked Salmon Trays
  9. Magnet Salt and Peppers
  10. Name Pens
  11. Melissa and Doug Toys
  12. Checker's Fudge


Thursday, December 15, 2011


part 9


Food has always been part of every one's cultures and traditions and this time of year it tends to take the forefront and shine like the Star of David on a dark cold December night.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Saturnalia, there is something to tantalize the taste buds. 

Sweet breads, decadent puddings and trifles, chocolate and marzipan are just a few selections to be found on a dining table. The aromas of cardamon, prune, walnuts and date engulf the senses to create lost childhood memories of 'Grandma's cooking'. 

Pagans have used food in their rituals and celebrations for millenia. Used to ward off evil, offering to the gods, and in general celebrations. Wine, mead and ale were consumed alongside all the rich goodies.

My personal favorites for this time of year are:

Kurtos Kalacs (sweet dough dipped in caramel and rolled in walnuts) 
Dobosh Torte (layered angel food cake with walnut filling and chocolate ganache topping)
Tarte au Sucre (French Canadian sugar pie)
Tortiere (French Canadian meat pie)
Panatone (Italian sweet bread with or without raisins)
Stollen (German sweet bread)
Buche de Noel (Yule log) (usually chocolate with creme filling, frosted to resemble a log of wood)
Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks does it right!!!!)

It doesn't matter what you celebrate. What matters is family, love, honor, tradition and embracing different cultures. 

A Taste of Romania


Deep in the heart of the West End of Vancouver is a quaint little Bakery that brings the sweet tastes of Romania to Canada.

The Transylvania Bakery, has been operating on Davie Street since it's opening in 2008. Owned by Narsica Stoian, who immigrated from Romania in 2007. Her childhood was filled with the richness and decadence of traditional desserts and it was this that she wanted to share with her new home.
From Kurtos Colacs to Dobosh Torte, there is something to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. The dessert shop also serves fantastic coffee and has fresh baked breads (that go quick so grab them when you can). With sodas, water and teas rounding out the drink options.

The Bakery does special orders and birthday cakes! It's a one stop goodie haven!

Transylvania Bakery is open seven days a week from 11am to 9pm.  

Sarbatori vesele



Lounging around has come a long way from just wearing a housecoat and slippers. Today, lounging clothes have taken on a new life all to their own. Finding the right lounge wear to suit everyone can be difficult so here are a websites to help you decide. Adorably cute loungewear at fantastic prices!
Womens Camouflage Micro-Polar Fleece Adult Footed Pajamas in Pink Sexy and sleek for a romantic twist. Great selection for everyone on your list.
Human-i-Tees Women's Flannel Lounge Pants Macy's is always a dependable choice for any purchase. We can't forget the men either.
Club Room Sleepwear Box Set, Long Sleeve Crew and Flannel Pajama Pants

My Recipe Collection: Vinatarta - An Icelandic Christmas Tradition

My Recipe Collection: Vinatarta - An Icelandic Christmas Tradition: Vinatarta is a delicious, delectable Icelandic Christmas cake that my mother-in-law faithfully and lovingly makes every Christmas season. ...

Andre “Andy“ Demers - Obituaries - Welland, ON - Your Life Moments

Andre “Andy“ Demers - Obituaries - Welland, ON - Your Life Moments

Wednesday, December 14, 2011




Here are my top 20 perfect stocking stuffers guaranteed to make you and Santa shine on Christmas morning!

  1. Coffee gift cards. Whether it's Tim Horton's, Starbucks, Blenz, Second Cup. These cards are perfect for any one's stocking and come in any denomination you want.
  2. Toiletries. Travel sized toiletries aren't just for travelling. They make perfect little stuffers. Especially for students (toothbrush, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, shampoo etc)
  3. Chocolate! Everyone loves chocolate. From chocolate balls to expensive Godiva Truffles, it is sure to be a hit! (don't forget the sugar free chocolate for those diabetics on your list too)
  4. Movie Passes. Quick and easy to use and buy. Either for one night out, a date or a gift card for several movies. Always nice to receive
  5. Fruit. Fresh fruit consisting of apples, oranges, pomegranates are perfect sized to put in the stocking. (mini tangerines are even better)
  6. Socks. The dryer always takes prisoners, so it's always nice to get a fresh pair or two. 
  7. Hand Scrapers. These are great for heavy snowfall areas. A good handheld ice scraper will fit nicely in a stocking. 
  8. Batteries. All those presents need them so put some in their stockings and really make them wonder what they are getting.
  9. Disposable cameras. These are great to catch spontaneous moments of gift opening and dinner faux pas. 
  10. Hot Chocolate/Teas. For those who don't drink coffee. A couple special packages of holiday hot chocolate or their favorite herbal tea are ideal and appreciated on cold winter nights.
  11. Tools. From small screwdrivers to tape measures. The handymen (or women) will totally love getting these household necessities.
  12. Kitchen Gadgets. Pizza cutters, measuring spoons, spatulas, towels etc (anything small works great). Digital thermometers are perfect!
  13. Naughty naughty! OK so for the 'special' stocking on your list, how about miniature packages of lubes, condoms (Grown teens/students/adults), lotions and potions. Most adult oriented stores have a good selection of naughtiness to fill that stocking.
  14. Underwear. They are perfect to ball up and wrap! Finding cool undies with graphics and cartoon characters are a hit with kids and adults! 
  15. Silly string! Yes, I said silly string. No Christmas is complete until someone is covered in silly string. Most party supply stores carry it year round and the kids will love using it outside in the snow.
  16. Alcohol. For those stockings that are the legal age to drink. A small bottle of wine or even a small bottle of their favorite alcohol. Most liquor stores have smaller versions of wine and alcohol close to the checkouts. You can also add a corkscrew, bottle opener and coasters.
  17. Bath products. Bath bombs, salts, oils and soaps are perfect for pampering.
  18. Makeup. Girls love getting makeup and it fits so nicely in a stocking. From groovy nail polish to razzle dazzle eye shadows. 
  19. Toys. Small toys are great for the stocking and makes the dollar stretch just a little further. Hit up the local 'Dollar Store' and grab age appropriate toys. School supplies like erasers and pencils are great because you can find some awesome seasonal ones!
  20. Cold Hard Cash. Nothing will bring a smile to a child's/teens/grownups face more than cold hard cash. Wrap up Loonies and Twoonies. Shove other denominations in other stocking stuffers for that extra punch!
Stocking stuffers can vary as much as the individuals buying them. Whatever you choose to stuff into those Christmas stockings will be found with joy and love. 

Another Major Blow..A Chronic Illness Update


2 Specialist appointments and 1 traumatizing result. My Meniere's disease is progressing and my hearing is worse than the same time last year. The unfortunate part, is that the symptoms are also much worse. Thus, the specialist is advising surgery to alleviate some of the symptoms. 

Labrithectomy (what a glorious mouthful that translates to me being completely deaf in the operated on ear). They basically remove the part of the ear that causes the Vertigo, Dizziness, Nausea but leaves you deaf. 

There is also a procedure where they put a shunt (tiny silicone tube for emptying fluid) into the ear which is supposed to help prevent the excess build up of fluid. 

My Specialist is recommending the prior not the latter. He indicated that I`m at the max for medicinal treatment and that surgery may be the only solution.  I, however, have a HUGE issue with being `forcefully`deafened as opposed to the `progressive` path I`m currently on. Needless to say, the news was devastating to hear and led to a lot of tears all the way back to Pitt Meadows from Richmond. 

I`m not entirely sure how many people I hurt in my past life but apparently it was too many. I really didn`t think I deserved all this shit.

The journey continues yet again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sher's Stromboli



  • 1 package of pre cooked chicken
  • 1 large red onion
  • 10 large button mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups mozzarella/tex mex cheese shredded
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 small can of pizza sauce
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (proofed and risen to twice its size)
  • large baking sheet


preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. place dough in a pre floured bowl and let it rise until twice its size (at least)
  2. punch down the dough and let it rise again
  3. in a frying pan, sauté pre cooked chicken, onion and mushrooms in olive oil
  4. add garlic and wine
  5. continue until moisture out of mushrooms and onions nicely caramelized
  6. roll out pizza dough till you get a large square (or as close as you can get)
  7. spread pizza sauce all over dough
  8. place chicken, onion and mushrooms in centre of dough
  9. cover with cheese
  10. flip both sides of the dough into the centre till it looks like a burrito
  11. pinch the ends  to seal in the cheese mixture
  12. cut 3 slits on the top of the Stromboli
  13. bake for 30-35 mins.


  • 2 cups of ricotta cheese, blended with cheese for topping
  • omit pizza sauce inside and use it for dipping
  • can use pepperoni, steak, bacon, ham, peppers (whatever pizza toppings you like you can use in this)

 **I like the pizza dough from Golden Ears CheeseWorks. They have white and whole wheat available** 

Chronic Illness Update

Chronic Illness Update

So today was my appointment with my Rheumatologist in downtown Vancouver. The drive is painful at best and gives me just enough time to push my anxiety level to maximum overdrive. (roughly 45mins drive). 

Mercifully, she is fantastic and took me earlier than my appointment time. (how many Doctor's can do that?)  We spent the majority of the visit, discussing my Fibromyalgia and Disability Tribunal in February. After having such a horrid visit with my family Doctor a couple weeks ago, I was determined to make sure my specialist knew everything that I was feeling and experiencing before being 'pushed out' the door. 

She allowed me the time to sit and cry hysterically at one point while talking about my lack of appetite and inability to eat most days. She is quite concerned about my weight loss and vomit/nausea issues. 

While acknowledging my Chronic Illnesses (Osteoarthritis, Meniere's Disease, Fibromyalgia, Depression, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain), she is also now checking me for Lupus. 

I guess, the best part of the visit, was the fact that she sat and let me vent about my family doctor. She made worthwhile and logical suggestions as well as ordering tests that haven't been done (that should be done on a monthly basis).

I told my doctor that I was fully aware of the progression and deterioration of the diseases and I'm at peace with that. What I cannot contend with is the day-to-day issues of the illnesses. I never know what to expect from one day to the next and that is the frustrating part.

I would love to know that tomorrow my pain level would be a 6 (that's amazing and as close to pain free for me as I get). I would like to know that I won't be strapped to the bed/sofa because even the slightest movement causes excruciating pain. I would love to be able to plan events days or months in advance without worrying about having to cancel because I'm completely immobile.

The guilt I feel is tremendous. Not because I can't work but because of the fear that I may have doomed my child to the same issues. Goddess, I hope not for her sake.

So now the countdown starts to the Tribunal. I'm far from confident on my case but know that whatever happens is supposed to happen. Of that, I have no doubt. Fate and destiny are the two things I never dispute. 

The journey continues.....



Today's tip is for all the 'Foodies' on your list. 

What is a 'Foodie', you ask?

A Foodie, is anyone who has a passion for food and enjoyment from food. From baking to cooking elaborate meals for friends and families. You don't have to be 'schooled' to be a Foodie, you just have to have a passion for food.  The Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver is the place to go for those Foodies on your list. Founded by Caren McSherry in 1989, she strives to provide top quality products and gourmet food through both the online store and the store front itself. (located on East Hastings St)

The Gourmet Warehouse, serves up everything from 'Le Crueset' cook ware to 'Pain is Good' hot sauce. They offer gift baskets that are delivered in wooden crates! 

The Gourmet Warehouse also dishes out Bath and Body products as well as Cookbooks and of course gift cards when you just can't decide.

They will ship anywhere in Canada through 'FedEx', so be sure to check the different rates for the different provinces. 

Tomorrow is the cut off to make sure your purchases make it by Christmas to be sure to login to their site and scoop up some delicious treats for all the Foodies. 

Wooden Crate


Monday, December 12, 2011



Getting squeezed on time for those last minute gifts. Most online companies are offering 'free shipping' to Canada that normally charge for shipping outside of the United States.

With the ability to ship to any destination, it means that your online purchases can get shipped right to the recipient from their warehouse. It also makes shopping for family/friends that are scattered all over much more efficient and definitely easier.

Be sure to check out some of my advertised sponsors for their great deals and free shipping! 

12 days of shopping left!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


part 8

Blending Religions  

Nowadays, more and more families are becoming both blended in marriage and blended in religious outlooks. Years ago, most men and women wed within their respective faiths. While that may still hold true for some, it isn't seen as 'taboo' to marry outside of one's own faith. So celebrating the holidays usually wasn't a problem because your spouse would be of the same faith. 

Which do you celebrate? Which is more important or more widely accepted? What won't offend parents and siblings? What about children? Do you teach them one or both religions? All these questions have merit and can be the basis for 'heated' discussions.

Being in a blended religion family can be tough if you are the only one that is different. My family is Catholic, my husband's family is 'Anglican' and I'm personally Pagan (Dianic Wicca to be exact). My problems started early on when it came time for 'church'. 

Growing up my brother and I both went to Catholic school but I always had questions regarding my faith and Catholicism in general. I never fully digested the 'food' I was being fed by my teachers and clergy. As a result, my path wandered into several different religions before landing on where my feet stand now. Of course, some of it could have been rebelling against parental guidance etc., but as I got older, it became clear that my beliefs were not Monotheistic in nature.

I still celebrated the Christian holidays with my family and would have my own little 'ritual' celebrations for whatever holiday I was celebrating at that time. I spent many years 'hiding' my true beliefs and thus hiding my true self as well.

Now, at 44, I'm firmly entrenched in my beliefs and have a firm grip on religion  and theology as a whole. I became an Ordained Minister, a High Priestess and an Educator in Pagan Religions. I've studied everything from Ancient Egyptian Mythology to Buddhism and everything in between. What I have found, is that Pagan religions are more tolerant of other religions. We like to share 'our' gods with everyone else. I've also found that it is easy to celebrate Pagan holidays alongside Christian ones without too much difficulty.

In our home, we have the traditional Christmas tree and assorted decorations. We also have a Yule Altar. It sits prominently in the house for all to see and blends with the rest of the holiday decor. I conduct my rituals as needed and celebrate with my family on their holidays. 

It isn't always easy to blend religions but it is possible. No one said life would be easy and if they did, I highly doubt that included religion. More wars have been fought over religion than any other reason. If we stopped looking at 'labels' and 'colors' and only looking at humanity; perhaps we would be a much nicer earth. 

In the end, we all die. So it doesn't matter what you believe in when you are alive. It's what you do with your life that really matters, not who you do or do not worship.

Plain, simple, easy. Right? 



Today's tip is for the philanthropies on your list. Giving has always been better than receiving and that point is amplified by those who spend their lives giving to others. So today is highlighting some wonderful organizations worthy of a donation this holiday season. 

Making a donation in someones name is a wonderful way to show your appreciation for them and a way to make our world a little nicer. There are so many charitable organizations out there, it can be a task to decide on who to give to.

Here is my list of worth while causes: 

These are just a few of my personal favorites but there are thousands of other great charities to donate to. 

Don't forget that even donating of time in the name of someone is a wonderful gift as well. Volunteering is a terrific gift that gives back!