To future employees…

Anyone planning on applying for ANY job this summer please read my post from an employer’s standpoint.
I posted an ad for one 30 hr position at one of our pharmacies and received over 30 applications in just 24 hours. As I was going through some of the applications I made a few key observations which I want to share.
As an employer to future employees, please follow proper email etiquette when responding. Any emails that are not addressed properly or have irregular fonts or are sloppy and careless are immediately discarded. If you do not have the proper qualifications your application is also discarded. 
Time is money ūüíį If it takes time for me to make sense of your application and what you are trying to convey – you are not going to make the cut and your application is on its way to the recycle ‚ôĽÔłŹ bin.
If you write “have an excellent work ethic” then I 110% expect for you to be punctual, respectful, meet project deadlines, adhere to the work place rules and regulations, and have a positive, friendly attitude.
Also, handling of money requires knowledge of math and knowing the difference between nickels, dimes, quarters and so on. So I expect you to know how to add and subtract quickly and correctly (a skills test may be given during the interview).
Do not write things that are not true. I make sure that all employees are placed on a probationary period, where if they do not perform as expected, their position will be terminated after the probationary period – this is to ensure we have the best fit for our company to serve our customers with the best possible care we can provide.
Also be aware there will be a criminal record check and other tests may be required (such as a math skills test, practical measuring of liquids, and reading values to correct precision) to ensure you are a fit for the position. 

At the end of the day, be truthful, be forthcoming, and be yourself. The last thing I need is to find out you are phone shy/ customer shy and do not want to talk to anyone when clearly this position involves lots of interactions with people! 

An interview is a two way street: you are seeing if you can fit with the company and the employer is trying to see if you are a good fit within the company. The end goal is  to have both parties want to work with each other for a win-win situation. By giving your employer specific examples you are able to paint a better more wholesome picture of who you are and what you are capable of.

Good luck with your job search and hopefully you will keep some of these things in mind!

Long awaited biopsy … and the tears

For the past ten months I have been living with uncertainty about the state of my body. This uncertainty (for those that just joined the discussion) has been due to the fact that I have been losing my voice for longer and longer periods of time, and I have a hard time gaining the weight that I lost after adapting to a more gluten free, dairy free diet due to a lifestyle change. 

After going to various doctors, specialists/ surgeons, and having multiple ultrasounds done to track the shape and size of these bumps and lumps found in my neck region I finally had a biopsy scheduled mid-August. A biopsy is a procedure guided with a 3D ultrasound (in my case) where a specialist takes a long needle and collects some cell samples. The cells are examined for irregularities and then determined cancerous or not.
So in May of this year I once again hit a low point as I lost my voice again (allergies?) and had an appointment with my vocal therapist. She investigated and took pictures of my cords and was alarmed they were inflamed. She actually did not want to offer any conclusions so directed me back to my specialist. Luckily, I already had an appointment booked with him the following week (and didn’t have to wait for months to see him). When I saw my specialist, he used a scope to peer inside my nose and throat and immediately put me on some nasal steroids. Meanwhile, he scheduled me for another ultrasound and put a rush on my biopsy procedure.

The fact that he rushed the biopsy had me worried and thinking a hundred things. So the day finally came when I got a call from the Jim Pattison Outpatient centre with my new appointment date, early June. I was nervous and scared, but relieved that finally I would have some conclusive results.

On the day of my biopsy, I went to work as normal and taught a class of chemistry. My mind however was in so many places. My appointment was scheduled during my “spare” blocks and then I had a meeting after school. I was thinking – would I have the energy to go back to work and explain to my students the bandage on my neck? 

My husband and my son were both with me on the day of my biopsy. As I changed into the blue gown and put my clothes in the complimentary plastic bag I teared up. Then I pulled myself together and sat in the private waiting area beside my son and husband. My son briefly noticed my change of clothes then moved on to something else that had caught his eye, a lady with a cast on her leg walking with crutches. While he was investigating I started to lose control, tears everywhere and was almost hyperventilating. I just could not keep it together. With my son facing the other direction, I tried hard to pull myself together and wipe away the tears, but he turned around and saw me. I managed to smile at him while madly brushing my tears and praying they would just evaporate (and leave the salt behind – no maybe not). But he was now leaning in to see the spectacle in front of him – his mom in tears?! “Supermom” … indestructible mom … fix everything up mom … in tears … wait … stop the universe … freeze time … mom in tears?! 

Then he started talking to me about random things and he eventually asked about my tears. I found myself explaining why people have tears and the scientific and nonscientifc reason behind tears. He seemed satisfied with my explanation and we hugged – me holding him extra tight just a little bit longer. 

Finally, I was called in and was prepped for my biopsy. I had the procedure thoroughly explained and signed on a couple dotted lines. At last the radiologist came and along with the nurses positioned me for the ultrasound. While he was conducting the ultrasound he made some small talk and eventually he told me to wipe the cold gel off my neck and sit up as he wanted to talk. I sat up and he said there was no reason for him to perform the biopsy and he never wanted to see me again… I was confused and starting to get dizzy … and he explained  as long as the lymph nodes in my throat area decrease in size after they swell (due to trauma, infection, allergies etc) that is completely normal. 

So I hopped off the examining table, gave the doctor and nurses huge hugs, changed out of my gown, and ran to my husband and son!! This time I had tears in my eyes as I scooped up my son … he saw them … and the huge smile on my face … and he knew what kind of tears they were!

Cacay Oil Hype

Cacay Oil is it all hype or is there really something there?

There has been so much about Cacay Oil in articles that I decided to look into it further and check it out for myself.

Three Main Chemicals found in high concentrations in Cacay Oil:

  1. Linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) reduces acne symptoms
  2. Retinol (vitamin A) reduces the wrinkles in the skin
  3. Tocopherol (vitamin E)  is an antioxidant.

These three chemicals all promote healthy, younger skin. When used regularly, the skin is left feeling softer, smoother, and feels younger.

It was noted, over a course of three weeks, the pores on the nose got smaller and the skin felt smoother and more nourished (all other variables kept as constant as possible!). This could just be in my head! I will look into finding some definitive research articles and share out.

In the meantime, for anyone interested in  the bottle of Cacay Oil I use you can purchase 30 mL of 100% pure Curelle Cacay Oil at Queensborough Community Pharmacy for $46.97. If you contact me, I will give you a unique customer code for a nice discount!

Daiya Cheesecake

We tried this beautiful looking Strawberry Cheezecake from the Daiya line. It is free from all the main allergens so definitely something I was excited to share with my family. We took it out of the box and noticed it was tiny, maybe 5″ in diameter at most but it looked good. When my kids tried, my daughter did not like it at all and my son thought it was okay.

I will definitely not be purchasing this again. Kind of disappointed since the Daiya line creates really good allergen free products and I have high expectations of them (oh right I should lower my expectations!).

The Best Tasting Frozen Gluten Free Pizza

Finally a Frozen Pizza that is Gluten, Egg, Soy, & Dairy Free!

For those days when things get hectic its always nice to have a frozen pizza available. There is only one brand of frozen pizzas I would ever recommended to those with dietary restrictions as we have tried many.

We have found the best and tastiest pizza to be from the Daiya line. In particular my children love personalizing¬†the Daiya Cheeze Lover’s Pizza with their own toppings such as olives, pineapples, tomatoes, meat balls.

This pizza is not only gluten free, but also dairy free, soy free, and egg free Рwow that is hard to come by with pizzas!  Absolutely delicious and kids love it!!

The Glutino¬†Gluten¬†Free Duo¬†Cheese¬†Pizza has liquid eggs¬†and milk ingredients. Also Udi’s Gluten Free Three Cheese Pizza¬†contains eggs as well. Since I purchased these products from Superstore’s¬†Click & Collect, I did not know how to look up¬†product information – but I have figured out¬†how to do that (will not make that mistake again!).¬†In conclusion, I have noticed all the¬†Glutino and Udi brand products contain soy or eggs – so I will not be purchasing from these brands as they do not meet the needs of my family.

Left: Daiya Pizza Ingredients
Right: Glutino Pizza Ingredients

Here is the price* breakdown per 100g:

  • $9.99 Daiya ($2.24/100g) – gluten, egg, soy, dairy free (LOVE IT!!)
  • $7.99 Udi’s ($2.81/100g) – contains eggs & dairy (will not buy)
  • $6.78 Glutino ($3.87/100g) – contains eggs & dairy (will not buy)

*These are regular prices in Canadian dollars at Superstore.

 

 

Pikanik – Gluten Free Bakery (what we liked and did not like)

In box (clockwise): Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, potato cornbread muffin, jam thumbprint cookies, chocolate raspberry cupcake, coconut snowballs (in centre of box). Brownie. Honey Bread

Gluten Free Bakery

I am not going to lie but learning to bake from cake mixes and from scratch has been challenging! I am not a baker and have struggled immensely with finding baked goods for my children to eat.

Last summer I came across this cute little bakery called Pikanik located in South Surrey. It is a bit pricey (but then again most organic, “natural” foods are). This bakery is unique and one-of-its kind as it completely caters towards individuals with restricted diets free from the main allergens. In the summer my family and I tried some baked goods and we did not like anything from there and the children pretty much spat it all out. I feel it was more we were not used to gluten free, egg free foods and thus reacting as such.

Just recently, I decided I would go in and give it a second chance. So I picked an assortment of goodies and thought why not. The worst that can happen is my children do not like it and we continue our search and keep practicing our baking skills at home. My husband said to set my expectations low as then I will not be disappointed…so I went in with low expectations. To my surprise, my daughter ended up really liking the brownie and enjoyed the jam thumbprint cookie. My husband and I liked all the items, and I really liked the taste of the moist honey bread when grilled! The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie was okay but not a favorite for my children. The  coconut snowballs, cornbread muffin, and chocolate cupcake with the raspberry icing were not very tasty and I would not purchase them again.

Here is a break down of the prices:

  • $1.95 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie (okay)
  • $2.65 Sweet Potato Cornbread Muffin (not tasty,  too dry)
  • $2.35 Jam Thumbprint Cookie (LOVE IT! Will buy!)
  • $3.40 Chocolate Razzmatazz Cupcake (no go, can make similar ones at home, icing is not very tasty)
  • $1.95 Coconut Snowball (not tasty)
  • $3.65 Brownie (LOVE IT!)
  • $8.50 Honey Bread (tasty, but will probably opt for other options)

This bakery is pricey but it is nice to have a place where I know there is a treat my children can enjoy freely. So would I go back to Pikanik? Yes, definitely for the brownies and jam thumbprint cookies as they are delicious.

 

 

 

Buttercream Icing without Milk

Buttercream Icing without milk.

Pink frosting on a cooled cake

Blue frosting on a warm cake! (My son could not wait to start frosting)

This is the first time I have created my own icing from scratch and my family loved it! Seriously, how can I go wrong with sugar and food coloring! It was just a matter of stepping outside my comfort zone and just trying it.

Trial 1

So what I did was take 1/3 cup melted unsalted foremost butter and beat it with a hand mixer at speed 2-3. I mixed in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.¬†Next I added 1/3 cup of confectioner’s icing sugar and continued beating. I continued to add another 1/3 cup of icing sugar, and finally one more 1/3 cup and beat the mixture on medium speed. The last step was to add¬†in¬†2 drops of red food coloring.

Trial 2

The second time, I added only¬†2/3 cups of confectioner’s sugar as the first batch¬†was¬†too sweet! And this time I added 2 drops of blue food coloring.

I feel I have some work to do in terms of adjusting the sweetness of the icing, make it more fluffy, and to make it free from butter. So I will try other formulations and post out!

Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Cake Mix a hit!

Cupcakes cooling

Gluten Free Cake

My children love baking and we have found Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Cake Mix to be a good, reliable cake mix and with some modifications we have a nut free, soy free, and egg free recipe.

Ingredients for Cake Prep

I take the cake mix and split it into two mixing bowls so my son and daughter each have their own portions. My daughter adds 3 tablespoons of Filsinger’s Organic applesauce (in place of eggs), and softened Becel Vegan Margarine (in place of butter).  My son adds a medium sized organic ripe mashed banana (in place of eggs), and softened Becel Vegan Margarine. Then we follow the instructions according to the box. The end product is a fairly tasty gluten free cake – not as spongy as a regular cake with eggs. So I still need to work on some formulations! But the children love it and enjoy the Enjoy Free Dairy-Free Mini Chocolate Chips they bite into.

Uncured Bacon

bacon

I suggest all of you who love bacon, give this bacon a try. It is sold at Heritage Meats, Save-On-Foods and goes for a little over $10.00 a pack. This is a very healthy, uncured bacon as it contains no nitrates, no phosphates, or MSG.

It is called Hertel’s bacon and from a local Vancouver Island ¬†supplier. This bacon does not look like the nice pink bacon you find at your local supermarkets.¬†The reason being it contains NO PHOSHPATE, NO MSG, and most importantly NO NITRATES! Nitrates (NO3-) are responsible for preserving the meat, giving it that salty taste, and preventing the growth of harmful¬†bacteria. The more pink the meat, the more nitrates have been added. People have been using nitrates for centuries to preserve meat.

So why is there such a hype around no nitrates?  Well there have been claims that  too much nitrate in the body under certain conditions has lead to damaged links and been linked to cancer. However, this has been carried out in rats and the dosage for their tiny bodies compared to a human body vary significantly! So the legal limit for humans is many factors of 10 greater. There have even been studies showing nitrate may in fact widen the arteries and decrease blood pressure!

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has a good article titled Nitrates: Harmful or Healthy that discusses the pros and cons of nitrates.

Another article that discusses nitrates and nitrites: Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiological context for potential health benefits.

bacon2