Friday, 30 January 2009

Roommate Corner

Sorry I don’t have a roommate anymore - woohoo!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Recipes Jo Mamma Never Told You About

If you are anything like me, you are still recovering from all the holiday food cravings. Cutting back on sweets and salts in January is proving to be very difficult for this busy lady. I try to limit myself to a couple snacks a week to satisfy my cravings and reward all my good eating habits during the week. This recipe is great to satisfy salt/carb cravings without adding too many calories. And really; who isn’t a fan of chipotle mayo?

Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Mayo (taken from

  • 2 sweet potatoes (for two people)
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground fennel
  • 1 tablespoon ground oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground chili pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons salt

Chipotle Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 2 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Mix together seasoning. In a bowl combine 1 Tbsp oil and 2 tsp seasoning per sweet potato. Toss and place on greased baking pans. Making sure that potatoes are spread out in pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes turning every 10 minutes.
  3. Serve with chipotle mayonnaise to prepare mayonnaise combine mayonnaise,* chipotle pepper, 1 tbsp adobe sauce and 2 drops Tabasco sauce. (*I use Chipotle peppers in a can that are in the adobe sauce already, found usually in Mexican food aisles of the supermarket).
  4. Save remaining seasoning mixture in ziploc bag for later.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Beating the Credit Crunch

The daily news had been pretty grim lately (well minus Obama’s inauguration – bring on change!); every time I turn on the TV or read the paper there’s another high street chain closing down or more people loosing their job. You can never be too careful during times like these and cutting back where you can helps the most. Of course I don’t however want to compromise on looking good (even after the war when people were still on rations they’d go to great measures to look good – women would use to ‘paint’ their legs with tea bags then draw a line up the back to make it look they were wearing tights – true story!). Luckily for us we don’t have to go that far to make a difference in our spenditure. Here are some tips:

  1. DIY pedicures & manicures: they’re fast and easy, and above all free! When you get out of the shower, trim your nails and push back your cuticles - removing any excess with a nail clipper. Then paint those bad boys and place a top coat to seal them in.
  2. Massages: We could all use a good massage every now again. If you have a partner, why not buy a nice bottle of massage oil from the Body Shop (or the like) and take turns pampering each other? If not (or you can’t be bothered) try a beauty school, they usually charge less than half the price of most spas so not only will you feel rejuvenated but your wallet won’t suffer either.
  3. Lunch/Coffee: Bring your own lunch to work rather than buying it everyday. Make extra for dinner the night before and you’ll have gourmet meals for lunch. Soup can be dull on its own, why not pair it up with a nice bread roll and/or a side salad to liven it up? In the same vain, why not bring your coffee or tea to work rather than grabbing one from Starbucks?
  4. Groceries: Make a list! Trust me on this one, if you make a list of what you actually need you’ll be less likely to impulse buy and your bill (I promise) will be cut by 20% - if not more.
  5. Gym: Do you keep or membership or give it up? Answer this – how often do you go? If it’s more than half the week then yes, it’s worth it. If you only go every now and again it’s time to ditch it. Try running outside (free) or one of the many fitness DVDs (I highly recommend: 10 Minute Solutions: Blast Off Belly Fat – it’s SO good and easy to do everyday before work. I couple this with going to gym, as I like to swim, for a total workout that works).

How are you getting through the credit crunch?

Monday, 26 January 2009

Complainer's Corner

Why? Well, why not? How many times have you been dissatisfied with a situation, a place or a service? How often do you think about writing a letter or voicing your frustrations to someone? Do you do it? Or do you figure it’s a waste of time or that no one will listen/understand.

I used to think that way, in fact, sometimes I still do. Then I think about the next customer, the next person who forks out money for a hotel or an item, only to be as disappointed as I was. I believe with all the competition out there in various industries, companies have no choice but to be committed to customer service. After all, if we aren’t happy, it doesn’t take us long to go to the competition.

I consider myself a pretty loyal customer. I have favourite restaurants, shops and travel providers. I take any mishaps in stride most of the time. However, after years of dissatisfaction with certain companies, I have decided it is time to let some of them know what I , or better yet, what is really going on in the trenches. It is my duty as a consumer to keep them honest and let them know where they could improve. Sometimes I do it for a voucher or reimbursement. Most of the time, I do it for the next guy…aka you.

Keep tuned to this section for more upcoming info on complaining. Learn how to complain effectively and efficiently…things to say and how to say them. After all, not every letter goes unanswered.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Put Me In Your Suitcase - Mayan Riviera

I just got back from a week in sunny Mexico. Jealous much? Many thoughts come to mind when I think about my trip: margaritas, guacamole, limes, cilantro, chipolte, cerveza..and did I mention the guacamole? The Mayan Riviera (the area south of Cancun along the Atlantic Ocean) is quite impressive. Full of beautiful beaches and a rich cultural history, one will not run out of sights to explore. Tulum and the famous pyramids of Coba and Chichen Itza are popular attractions in the area.

However, you arent likely to see them all in one trip as they are hours apart. Plan on visiting one of the three (Coba is the largest) and also explore the region’s cenotes. Cenotes are underground waterways that have amazing sinkholes and caves to gawk at. The Mayan region is home to many reefs that are perfect for a snorkeling trip. Playa del Carmen and Cozumel offer great nightlife and shopping for the city goer in you. The best part of the Mayan Riviera is the people. Friendly faces, warm welcomes and a love of tourists is what has made this area home to over 50 hotels. Despite all the tourists, it is easy to find solace and peace in many of the area’s beaches.

This year, I decided to visit a zoo in Puerto Morelos called Crococun Zoo. Unlike any other zoo, visitors are encouraged to hold snakes, crocodiles, parrots and feed the deer and monkeys all while being guided through the lush tropical grounds with a well informed Zoo employee. Careful not to step on one of the zoo’s 600 crocodiles and get ready to feel the squeeze of a baby boa constrictor on your arm …not a bad deal for $20 if you ask me. You probably won’t hear about this zoo from your hotel rep as it is not a sponsored hotel tour attraction.

If you are looking for an inexpensive fun week in the sun with many attractions and experiences, then look no further than the Mayan Riviera…you won’t be disappointed.

Some useful links:
Travel Yucatan

Friday, 16 January 2009

Angry Annie: Wheelie Briefcases

For most of us living in a big city our daily commute isn’t something we look forward to. Don’t get me wrong, I love going home at the end of the day, definitely; but not so much the physical commute and the struggle of traveling on the trains/tube. Thank goodness for lovely novels to pass the time.

I have a little pet-peeve with some commuters that I’d like to share with you today…a little moan if you will on a Friday afternoon. I get that briefcases can get heavy – what with your laptop (another reason to get a Notebook. Did you like that tie-in?), all your paperwork and gadgets (blackberry, iPod, Nintendo DS etc..) but must you really wheel them around like they’re luggage and cut me off? It looks ridiculous. Honest. It’s the size of child's bag and if you could properly pull it rather than have it drag several feet behind you wouldn't cut people off and take up valuable platform space, we’d all (REALLY) appreciate it.

Our forefathers didn’t have a problem caring their briefcases, did they? I know some advances are good and just but this, this is just…lazy! That’s right I’m calling it lazy. Next we’ll see women dragging their purses behind them and we’ll never get anywhere quick again.

Pick it up. I’m just saying

Have a great weekend, thanks for listen…boy do I feel better now.

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Year of the Netbook

My first computer was a COMMODORE 64 and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. It took forever to start and had only 2 games, but it was something...something new. After good old commi retired, there were several desktops and finally a pretty, compact laptop.

2009 marks my venture into the world of the net book. A smaller, quieter, easier laptop used for surfing the net and other such tasks. After all, what do I use my laptop for more than email anyway? Prices range from $250-500 for netbooks and they vary in size, memory and screen resolution. I still have my old laptop but I am using my net book a lot more lately. Here’s why:
  1. It’s small and lightweight enough to be thrown in a purse and used in internet cafes.
  2. I can carry it anywhere to surf the web, look at pictures or write provoke articles
  3. I can hook it up to my TV and still watch any videos/shows off the web
  4. It has an SD/memory card slot as well as multiple USB ports for printing or using more memory
I will still use my laptop for reports and the benefits of a CD rom and CD burner. However, on a day to day basis, why not use a smaller more efficient device that is greener?

Friday, 9 January 2009

Kicking Bad Habits

As the first full week back to work (after the holidays) is drawing to a close and most of December was spent thinking of others (running around ensuring everyone got their pressies in time…and that they liked them) I’ve decided to book myself a massage. Now, this just any other massage. Oh No! The masseuse uses hot stones (which have been picked from the coast of England and treated for smoothness) to help release the muscle tension then cold stones (we’re not talking ‘freezing’ here just chilled) are placed to help set the muscle and eliminate any soreness that’s usually caused when muscle tension is released, especially the next day – brilliant! I can’t wait.

I think this year should be about me! Not in a ‘spoiled-look-at-me way’ but more in the way to better myself as a human being. I’m starting with the stresses in my life (hence the massage) and will try to eliminate any bad habits by focusing on the good stuff and replacing them with good habits. Too vague? Check out this brilliant article that was posted by Tim Ferris on his blog about Leo Babauta’s ‘The Power of Less’ theory. I say we all try this – I’ve started with my personal email account. It’s a nasty habit I have. I check it. A lot. Especially at work. I’ve decided to cut back to 4 times a day – morning, lunch, after work and before bed. Even writing this makes me aware of how ridiculous it all is, and how I’ve left this habit consume my life.

What will you cut out of your life in 2009?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The Dreaded Resolution

What is it this year ladies? A promise to be nicer, fitter or more productive? More time for yourself? Or perhaps less negativity? Or my old fave: A resolution to not make any resolutions.

As gyms fill with new foodies promising to make exercise a daily routine, one must wonder why we even bother with resolutions? Psychologists say it takes around 21 days to make a task into a habit. Most of the new gymbies never stick it out until January 21st anyway.

So what’s your resolution? Or more importantly, how likely are you to keep it? Sometimes it’s easier to make resolutions/goals that can be broken down into sub goals. After all, you aren’t going to learn Spanish or the violin within a few months, without some time lines.

My three are very simple:
  1. More wine, less guilt…you cannot make everyone happy
  2. Do something everyday that scares me or pushes me to be more
  3. Always choose laughter and friends over other commitments
Cheesy? Yes, but completely attainable and DEFINITELY more worthwhile than depriving myself of cheesecake or shopping