Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Flight Itinerary

YXU > YQR > YYJ

Point A: London, Ontario

We celebrated the Irish chef's birthday and Thanksgiving in Ontario with family and friends before leaving. We tried out a mystery escape room and it was pretty cool: http://www.lostcityescape.com/. The girls went into one room and the boys into another and when our time was out, both groups were on the verge of breaking free!!! It was fun and challenging and we could hear the boys trying to escape, so we weren't completely segregated. Afterwards, our friends hosted the birthday party at their place and we celebrated with drinks, great people some awesome food!

Thanksgiving:
 The turkey, in all his/her glory!
 The pies we picked up were sold at the farmer's market at the Western Fair grounds (Saturday market: http://www.londonsfarmersmarket.ca/), and sold by The Pie Pantry (http://piepantry.ca/). They were AMAZING! Featured: Apple crumble pie
 My favourite: Pumpkin pie
 While helping out at Wally's Cafe (https://www.facebook.com/Wallys-Coffee-1458949661090902/), my friend wanted to promote local businesses, and I was MORE than happy to learn of STUFFING BREAD that was featured around at The Artisan Bakery (http://www.theartisanbakery.ca/) around Thanksgiving! It was what I used in our stuffing!
By far my favourite dish to make: cranberry sauce. I think it's the sound the cranberries make as the pop! Then, the red becomes so saturated and dyes everything it lands on!

Irish chef's birthday:
 The spread...Only part of it, lol!
 Continuing to stay away from the boys (I really don't know what prompted us to do this!)
 Sorry for the red eyes, boys!
Happy 40th to the Irish chef!
Espresso tiramisu (left), Chocolate fudge cake (centre), Pumpkin cheese cake (right)

Point B: Regina, Saskatchewan

For some reason, I don't have ANY pictures from Regina. It was much cooler there than in London, but no rain-yay!  However, I can now attest that it is a place where you can watch your dog run away for x days!!! Beautiful stretches of sky surrounded us, and we were met by the Irish chef's amazing family who warmly welcomed me! I love them. They're the kind of people you can be yourself around :)  We only stayed a few days, but I wish we would have stayed a few more. I would like to return to Saskatchewan and explore it more! I want to try Saskatoon berries, mmmmm!!!

Point C: Victoria, British Columbia

After too many years, I returned to my old "hometown" of Victoria. I attended the University of Victoria too many years ago. After my master's defense, I left and never looked back. The rain and bone-chilling cold were enough to deter me from returning. However, if you read my previous post you'll know that I thought that coming to BC would give me better work opportunities. Unfortunately, although our time here has been amazing, it has led to zero job opportunities. In December, I resorted to applying to businesses all over Canada, including little ol' London, Ontario. It was all in vain. Nothing's happened. We have, however, enjoyed our time on the left coast! The Irish chef has LOVED Vancouver. It's a shame we aren't staying. I've finally gotten used to the weather...That's not true. I've been taking vitamin D and it's helped immensely! LOL!!! Next step: happy lamp!

The Irish chef and I wanted to go for a scenic drive, so we drove down Dallas Road and stopped at McNeill Bay (Shoal Bay). Although it was a gloomy day, it created an incredible ambiance:

 The cool breeze off the water was chilly, but sooo gorgeous!
 The fog was so heavy we couldn't even see the smaller islands close by.
 I LOVE how pet-friendly Victoria is :)
A lonely otter off in the distance. Can you see it???

Catching up with my dancing friends (Lindy Hop & Balboa) on a Sunday afternoon: We first went to the Wild Mushroom Show and then over to my old friend Goody's place for hot toddy's and mulled wine and great conversation!

 I can't believe I went to this, lol! It was probably one of the most uncharacteristic things I've done, BUT I do love mushrooms!
 The sign that greeted us at the entrance.
 THIS guy! Awesome. Anyone who pulls off a toadstool hat with no fear of being laughed at is awesome in my books!
 What? Mushrooms can be gilled?!?
 There were SO MANY mushrooms there (regional) that it was overwhelming! A shocking amount of people in Victoria have a ton of knowledge about mushrooms.
 This was pretty interesting to see. I learned about what makes truffles so expensive.
I'm not going to lie, the jelly funghi was the coolest form to me. Look at the translucent ones attached to the branch! They reminded me of konnyaku (http://www.shakespeare-w.com/english/konnyaku/whatis.html).

American Thanksgiving: We were kindly invited to celebrate American Thanksgiving with friends of mine who are Canadian Americans. We accepted, and boy am I thankful we did! There was American-style stuffing, which is called 'dressing' and it was phenomenal! Even though I'm not a fan of bread, this was by far one of my favourite dishes!

 The dressing!!! Savoury yams were also awesome!
 I made my maple glazed carrots. Yummy!
I only made it through one plate of food (T _ T)

We settled nicely into Victoria and I began looking for a job immediately. Nothing's come. Not surprising, and if you read my post Generation Jobless, then you'll know that unemployment rate in Canada is at almost 7.2%...Not good. I've been offered a position in Oman and I've accepted. I leave next month. Before that though, food in Victoria!!! Ohhh, yeah!!!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Kiss and Make-up

What? Blogging about make-up??? Yeah, I know it's not what I usually post about, and wasn't my last post just about being jobless?!? So how do I go from tackling a social issue to something so...Frivolous? Apologies, all. I wanted to blog about something a lot less serious and depressing, so why not make-up?

I love make-up because it's fun to play with. I was never allowed to wear make-up when I was younger. My father was extremely strict and wouldn't let me wear any make-up and my mother never wore make-up, so she didn't approve of me wearing any either. When I was FINALLY able to wear make-up (when I started university), I went all out! Okay, I didn't really go all out. I mainly wore concealer, lipstick and then curled my lashes. Eventually, I was more adventurous and would get heavy-handed when going out! WARNING: This was me many, MANY moons ago before I knew about make-up. It was just me goofing around. Also, apologies for the ridiculous amount of pictures of me. I wanted to just crop eyes, but that seemed a bit creepy, so you get my whole mug.

 Hello MAC's Electric Eel!!! One of my FAVOURITE eye shadows!
Feature: MAC's Satin Taupe. By far one of my favourite shadows of all time!!!
For my good friend's wedding, my sister and I, along with the bride and other friends, went to MAC to have our make-up done. It was completely inappropriate and radical wearing fuchsia eye shadow, but it was AWESOME!
At an interactive, participation showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show in Calgary with girlfriends!
Blue has to be one of my favourite colours to wear on the eyes. This was a MAC limited colour that I forget the name of :(

You get the point. I used to wear HEAVY eye make-up, lol!

Somewhere in life, I got a job with MAC Cosmetics (and LOVED IT!), and really developed my own collection and style. Now, I'm a bit more reserved and constantly go through my small collection and give products away or chuck them when they get old. I went through my stash before I left for BC. I threw out a lot of stuff and realized that I didn't have much foundation. See, I used to be an eye shadow junkie. Now, I'm a foundation junkie, and I've always been a lipstick junkie. A week or so ago, I finished my Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation (52 Vanilla) and panicked a bit since the ONLY other foundation I had was MAC's Face and Body (C2) and it was running low as well. I don't wear make-up every day, but I knew I'd need something soon. I went to Sephora looking for samples and tried NARS Sheer Glow (not a fan because I have to MIX shades to get the right colour match), Dior Star Fluid Foundation (in Light Beige. I like it for the days I want less coverage, but due to the hefty price tag, I wouldn't repurchase), and Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place (in Sand). I really like the Double Wear. I mix a drop of oil in it to make it a bit less heavy and also to moisturize my skin (which tends to get VERY dry in the winter). 

Still not 100% happy with what I'd tried, I returned to Sephora and attempted to shade match myself with a colour from Too Faced's Born This Way foundation line. No luck. Then I found the GORGEOUS Re(Marc)able Full Cover Foundation Concentrate. However, the store didn't have any stock in my shade. So we tried the Genius Gel SuperCharged OilFree Foundation, but again, they didn't have my shade in stock. Thinking I'd just buy one or the other online, I went home. However, both were sold out online as well. I thought, "This isn't working for a reason." I normally use high end brands for foundation, but I'd had enough.

After watching tons of reviews on YouTube, I started going through all of the drugstore foundations that I'd heard great things about: Cover Girl Outlast Stay Luminous (TERRIBLE! It has small glitter particles in it! Returned it), Rimmel Lasting Finish 25H Foundation (Not bad, although extremely high coverage. I think I need to try applying it with a brush instead of my Beauty Blender as it sets very quickly!), L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte (Not as heavy as the Rimmel. I like it. It's a tad bit too dark for me-better summer shade!), and the L'Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation (I LOVE THIS! Colour range is awful and I had to exchange W2 for N3.5), but the product gives a nice, dewy finish. If you have oily skin, you might not like this.

After settling on not one, but three drug store foundations, I was quite happy with what I'd found (P.S. it's NOT cool that L'Oreal is much more expensive than most of the other brands. I'm going on a hiatus for a bit from that brand because it's just ridiculous). If I had to rate them in order of how I like them, then it'd look a little something like this:

#1-L'Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation (N3.5)
#2-L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation (105 Natural Beige)
#3-Rimmel Lasting Finish 25H Foundation (103 True Ivory)

Then, Christmas rolled around and I got the Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation (120/Y245 Soft Sand)! What??? I was spoiled for choice. I love it, too!!!

New year, new foundation!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Generation Jobless

I know I whinge and whine about the problematic issues rife in Canada. The struggles that we, as a nation, face are great. The issue of unemployment specifically is the reason I haven't blogged recently. In October last year, I moved to Victoria, British Columbia, to find a job. After I left Kuwait...So long ago...I hoped, rather than believed, I'd find work in Canada. For the sake of brevity, I'll simply say, I didn't find full-time work that paid the bills.

I have a master's degree and have work experience in Canada, Japan and Kuwait. I have worked as an instructor/teacher for more years than I care to admit. In addition, I've worked as a writer and editor for my own private business which, in the past, did very well. However, the market in Ontario was tough and making enough money was almost impossible. Finding myself almost $40k ($40,000CAD) in debt from my master's degree (the cost was so high because I went to school out-of-province), and then still another $15k in debt from my undergraduate degree, I began to panic. I sent out roughly 150 resumes which yielded zero offers of employment. Unfortunately, minimum wage positions wouldn't cut it. I was looking at either filing for bankruptcy or working abroad. I chose the latter.

So why haven't I been able to secure work in Canada, you ask? I don't know exactly why. Unemployment rate in Canada is at 7.1%. The Canadian dollar is weak. Perhaps it's a combination of the two? Could it be a result of corporations hiring foreign workers instead of Canadians? That DEFINITELY has to be contributing to the problem. One article I read argues that machinery and robots are able to provide the services that people once used to. Regardless, I knew I would have to make changes, so I sought professional help with my resume, networked, followed-up with the resumes I've sent out, read as much as I could about how to compete in today's job market and attend free sessions about how to land a job. When I knew I was really struggling, I went to staffing agencies. All this work resulted in zero job offers. 

Although it killed me to see, I felt a little comfort that I wasn't alone. My brilliant best friend received her master's degree from a prominent Toronto university in environmental planning and is also unable to secure a job in her field in the GTA (greater Toronto area). Another good friend of mine received his MBA and cannot find work in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario. I realized that I'd made a mistake. I'd grown up hearing from teachers, family and the media that without a degree, I'd never secure a good job. Now, I wish I'd become a mechanic, an electrician or even gone into the pet care industry. I've yet to meet a poor mechanic in my hometown-even better, I've met an incredible woman who is an electrician, owns a business, has taught at colleges and is training her daughter to do the same! LOVE it!!!

I don't have regrets, and I'm thankful for all that working abroad has offered me, but it's unstable, doesn't always pay well, and even if it does, the work environment/expectations can be unrealistic and unhealthy. I wish the EFL/ESL world would change whereby there was a union in place to protect workers, something that will, sadly, never happen.

I'm disappointed and frustrated and angry at myself for buying into the hype that a degree has worth. Our market is now saturated with over-qualified Canadians vying for positions as a cashier at the grocery store. The government, corporations and post-secondary institutions are not making the situation any better. My advice, not that it's worth much, is this: go into the trades, invest where you can, and don't rely on anyone or anything to help you get ahead because, let's face it, everyone's in the same position and they're willing to fight you for it.

So folks, I'm off, yet again, for work abroad. I leave next month after four stressful months in BC where all I did was realize that I'm not good enough to work in my home country. For the next generation, the only way to stop this is to stop giving money to the government and to universities. Work hard and save so that you don't need to rely on the banks or the NSLC (national student loan centre) to pay your way to school. Go into the trades UNLESS you're planning on becoming a nurse/doctor/surgeon/vet, lawyer or professor, and do NOT think you're going to go anywhere without amazing computer skills.

Further reading: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/markets-dollar-oil-1.3405067