You want to go where everybody knows your name

In one glorious week, I’ll be on my flight back to Newfoundland, for a chance to visit with my mom, my Yorkie, play Beethoven’s 9th with my symphony and hang out with friends and family nonstop. It’ll be my third trip home in the ten months since I moved to the US. For some perspective for those who don’t know me well, I’d lived on the same street as my maternal grandparents for the past twenty years. My mom and I are often indistinguishable by voice and mannerism, so much time have we spent together. It has obviously been a big change living somewhere 4,300 km away from home, from everyone you know except your husband.

I’d like to say my favourite thing to do while visiting Newfoundland is “hike Signal Hill” or “eat treats from Rocket Bakery.” But I can’t. I mean, I really like to do one of those things (nom nom nom). My actual favourite thing to do while home is TALK. Because entire days can go by in my life now where I don’t speak to anyone. I croaked out an embarrassing voice mail recently, realizing they were the first words I’d spoken, at 4:50 pm in the evening.

Now with two trips home under my belt, I’ve learned there’s an awful lot of small talk that clouds my conversations, sort of “required” questions people think they need to ask me. You have my permission to skip any of the following talking points. I’m happy to dive in, real talk, straight up, let’s just get to it. I only have 15 days on the ground and I don’t want to waste another minute discussing Cheeto-in-Chief. Today’s post covers the first 6 things people are likely to ask me.

For a lot of the folks I will see while home, I am merely a spokesperson for the person they actually want to see and talk to, that is, my husband. And I don’t just mean his family. My family, our friends. You see, what I’ve realized is that by coming home four  times as frequently as he is able, I’m no longer a subject of interest. I’m old news. I’ve also given up replying to the regularly occurring emails seeking updates on my husband. It doesn’t seem to prevent repeating the conversation in person, anyway. Amazingly, he has his own email. I’ll promise I’ll bcc you on an update if he’s ever indisposed.


This is me, dutifully posed as my husband’s personal secretary in 196- oh wait…

The 3 most popular questions I’m asked:

1. How are you?

Spoiler alert: I wear my heart on my sleeve. It’s my best coping mechanism to keep anxiety down. I don’t pretend, I don’t sugarcoat. What I say is the truth, and how I’m really feeling. But what I’m learning as I get older, is that the truthful answer isn’t exactly what people are looking for. They want to see my teeth in a wide smile, hear that I’m brilliantly happy, and be told everything is wonderful. But that only makes them feel better, and leaves me feeling insincere and unheard. So I don’t beat around the bush. I’m pretty open about how challenging the isolation here is for me, how I feel like a fish out of water trying to adjust to domestic life, where yesterday’s biggest concern was running out of individual hummus packs for my husband’s lunch.

I always answer this question honestly. I’ll start with something gentle: “it was an adjustment at first, but it’s getting better.” (See? That was positive! And not a lie!) Then, I’ll add: “it’s a bit lonely, but I’m…” before I’m cut off with the second most (really the most) popular question, one where I am always able to answer in full, and am pressed for more detail:

2.  How is [husband’s name]?

In the chance you don’t know either of us personally, for his privacy, I’ll call him “Niall.” Here is where I do flash my toothy smile and say honestly, but also ironically: “Niall is great.” Because he is great. He is a happy person. He enjoys school. He is in good health. He has kind friends and a gorgeous wife that usually has dinner ready for him when he walks in the door (barring any exceptional circumstance, like this week’s first degree burn from cast iron pan coming out of the oven). What I want to also say is: how can his life not be great? He now has a personal cook, personal shopper, personal laundry, personal housecleaner, personal assistant to tend to his every need. Niall gets his favourite deodorant replaced within hours without communicating a single word because his housewife cleans his bathroom so frequently she saw the used one in the trash.

Next immediate question:

3. How is Niall’s back?!

Here is where I grit my teeth, and my smile becomes fake, and I am Claire Dunphy once again, smiling, but not with my eyes.

Can I just… yeah, I need to… I just have to say I am so F**KING TIRED OF THIS QUESTION! I mean, I kind of get it. Readers at our wedding will recall my husband then also gritting his teeth through a sciatica flare up, and spending the entire dance laying on his back behind the head table unable to participate, or even stand. But hear me out. Once I watched back the wedding video, I learned, months later, despite arguing before the wedding day until I was red in the face, that he found the stamina on our wedding day morn to fry himself and the groomsmen some cooked breakfast. Standing on his two feet, over a stove, on hard ceramic tile. Energy well spent, my love. Thank you for resting up for our $$$$$$ day.

Yes, for a single, unfortunate week last May, my husband was taking pain killers for unbearable back pain. About 3 days after his return to Florida, he was without symptom, off the pain meds, and back to all regular sitting/walking/standing functions. Call it a miracle, call it wedding jitters (I dare you), it is fantastic that it was so acute, it is even better that it’s over, and now 10 months later it is no longer news. (My scoliosis though, you know, the curve in my spine that had me in a back brace during puberty, and my repetitive strain injury in my neck that I’m still receiving regular treatment for, by the way, are both fiiiiiiiine. Thank you for asking.)

Then I’ll get these 3 most popular statements/exclamations:

1. You’re so tanned!

This is kind of an awkward one for me. I’m not sure you mean that in a positive way. It’s not actually a compliment. Just an observation. It reminds me of the thinly veiled insult I would often receive from an older man I worked WITH, not FOR, who would often say “you’re very driven.” (He wanted to knock me down several pegs, I secretly took it as a compliment that he felt his dominance waning.) I’m never sure if that means you think I look good, or are jealous of my sun consumption, or think I look like I sell spray tans to couples like the Kranks before a cruise.


But I stand before you feeling uncomfortably on display, not sure where to look. I wear SPF 45 all the time. When I sit outside to read, I’m covered from head to hip, only letting the sun on my (45 coated) legs. I’m not trying to fast track melanoma, but a tan is kind of unavoidable in my climate. I also think my distant Inuit heritage leaves me predisposed for a more golden skin tone. I never had the pinky-white Celtic complexion like most folks home. Maybe I’ll start greeting people home with “you’re so pale!”

2. You must be living the dream!

Grit teeth. Fake smile. Brace self.

It’s sweet that you think that. And I appreciate the positive spin you’re putting on this. And sure, like any other 65 year old who has worked hard in post-secondary, enjoyed a fulfilling and exciting career while adequately saving for retirement, rooted themselves in their community through volunteerism, and had an active life in the performing arts, it really was my time to slow down, retire, and move to sunny Florida, where people go to die… OH BUT WAIT. I’m not 65. I’m TWENTY-NINE. I only recently finished school. I only recently found a job I loved. Two, really. I volunteered so much it became a paid position. Sang in a choir, played in a symphony, ran a wedding business on weekends, I was just hitting my stride. What about living unable to work, or unable or volunteer or no local symphony sounds like my dream? What about living away from all family and friends seems delightful? And here’s the kicker – what about existing to cook and clean for a man to pass the time sounds like something I was desperately yearning to do? Hello, have we met?

But okay. I understand why Newfoundlanders think I must be in heaven. The weather in the winter is spectacular (except that one off-week in January when Daytonians saw icicles for the first time in about 100 years) and it never gets old being able to wear shorts and sunglasses every day. If my windshield wasn’t so grimy, I’d take more pictures of the beautiful Florida sunsets this week on my return trip from the grocery store.


Sorry to burst your bubble. This is not the dream. I do not go to Disney World anytime I fancy. I do not go to the outlets anytime I wish (although I am discreetly unpacking one at a time the shoe boxes in my trunk hidden behind reusable grocery bags to make it look like they’ve always been in my closet). Remember that I’m unemployed and my husband is a student. I should be asking you: how is it to have a disposable income? What’s THAT like?

3. (This is usually the immediate follow up to #2, which is such an obvious oxymoron, I can’t believe you need to ask me) So how do you feel about Trump/what do you think about Trump/anything really with disbelief about Trump?!

Deep sigh. I live in a red state, in a red county, and in a town that celebrates the sitting president with signage still proudly displayed on their lawns, or you know, that patch by their trailers. I have cooked Republican friends Thanksgiving dinner. As an immigrant, as a woman, as a human being, I think it’s pretty clear where I might stand on Trump. But it’s not just him. The authorities in my county were totally in favour of arming teachers, before it came out of Cheeto-Benito’s mouth. Out of courtesy to each other, people around here don’t talk a lot of politics. It’s very divided, now more than ever since the Parkland shooting. People lower their voices when I say I’m Canadian and say “you’re lucky.” I once walked out of a lineup at Walmart because I feared the loud, aggressive man causing a disturbance might have a gun. I do not go out alone when it’s dark (ahem, 6:30pm ish). The one time I did, an armed security officer insisted he walk me the 200 feet from the concert venue to my parked car, which I could see across the intersection under a street light. He told me, in is charming Southern drawl that 8:30 on a Wednesday evening was too dangerous for a young woman to be alone in “these parts.”

Last week I sat in front of my tv for two hours with tears pouring down my face, watching students in Tallahassee beg for their safety. I finally had to stop watching because I felt like I could vomit. My children will go to school in this country. Last week I read in my town’s news that in the 2 days immediately following the Parkland shooting, 15 threats were made by students to shoot in schools in my county. By the start of this week, that number was over 28, with some teenagers being charged as felons. There are only 71 schools in my county…

So go back to the part where you think I’m living the dream. Doesn’t quite sound like one anymore, does it? But to reassure you, I do have a nice life. A pleasant existence. I don’t have too much to complain about other than boredom and isolation and another time I’ll share my beef with getting birth control around here. But the constant awareness of my personal safety is an unnerving feeling, something as a Canadian I took for granted.

By now you’re terrified to ask me anything! But you can always ask me this: am I looking forward to coming home?

YES! (Authentic big toothy smile included.)






Housewife survives, succeeds in 1st American Thanksgiving (Part II)

I know you’re probably thinking American Thanksgiving must have broken me. But it didn’t! I’m still here! I enjoyed a very leisurely Christmas break and it was hard to get back into the swing of things. One I stopped moving, it was very easy to stay that way. Something about that law of inertia. Plus I endured a very blue January. I didn’t see it coming. I should have – I know by now I always need something to look toward, to work toward every month. In brighter news, I’ve got plans now for each month up to August to keep me from getting so down and so bored. Big Plans. Still working out some of the details, but Laurida will be going international this spring. Enter Lauretnam and Laurain.

But can I just boast? I did not merely survive American Thanksgiving, I NAILED American Thanksgiving. (No casualties!) Martha who? Move over, Martha! I still can’t believe the menu and the evening turned out to be the successes that they all were, but it’s true. I have my husband remind me often. It’s my biggest accomplishment so far in housewife life.

To my Newfoundland and Canadian family & friends: American turkey dinner is WAY harder than ours! Each vegetable is its own dish. So you must own enough dishes and have enough ovens to cook it all. American stuffing is DELICIOUS and I used sage, no savoury. Would I do it all again? Probably, with a few tweaks, because I had a whole week to devote to it. But all I can figure is that American Thanksgiving is a meal best shared between family and friends – and shared in the sense that everyone contributes to the meal, not just everyone shows up to eat. Bringing one casserole dish to a dinner is something I can get behind. Holiday cooking should not fall to one person all the time. It is no longer then a holiday for that person.

Thanksgiving Day (hereby referred to as T-Day) began after a fairly sleepless night where I dreamed about my mashed potato methodology. I didn’t need to be up early, but I couldn’t sleep late if I tried. The news in Daytona that morning was: STORM WARNING. Yeah, I’ll say.

I didn’t need to start in the kitchen until 12:30pm, so to pass the time once out of bed, I started to sweep, vacuum and then wash the linoleum flooring of my front entrance. Once the floors were shining, I realized the walls of the front entrance also looked quite grubby and needed washing. I worked my way back through the whole apartment, tackling all of the floors and baseboards, and the guest bathroom. Upon reflection, it was not the best use of my energy. I would have done well to chill out and save myself for the 6 hour marathon in the kitchen approaching. Then, like my grandmother would have done the day before, I set the table. I sadly do not have a picture, but it picture it with a silver sparkly table cloth from Target and an aqua lantern centrepiece I (soberly) stole from my girlfriend’s wedding.


My husband did look worried when he woke up later and saw me with the A/C vent unscrewed from the wall, attacking the grime with vigour. I assured him that it was a totally normal thing to be doing. I also filled in the nicks and scratches of my Mainstays coffee table with black Sharpie marker. Again, all totally normal. The smell of it made me a bit woozy and I realized I hadn’t yet had breakfast. I don’t remember this part fully (possibly high on the Sharpie), but at some point I also decided to wash the couch pillow covers. The only part I really remember is 15 minutes before guests arriving, having to hustle my husband to grab them from the dryer and stuff the pillows back in, and then hearing him tear the first cover.

To answer some popular questions:

YES – I did cut myself. My first step the day before was to cut cold butter into flour for my pie crusts. I keep my food processor’s blade and discs in a container out of harm’s way (read: husband’s reach) so that he doesn’t ever cut himself grabbing something out of a drawer. So naturally in between crusts, I grab the blade and slice my index finger to draw blood. Off to a good start. In fact, the whole pie process was a bit of a pain.


I carefully chose my recipes so that they avoided pie weights. Because WTF are pie weights? They look like a terribly uncomfortable 50 Shades sex toy, so I avoided them at all costs (see proof here). Martha did, though, suggest fashioning your own pie shields out of tinfoil, should you suspect your crust is browning too far ahead of the rest of your pie. What Martha doesn’t tell you is that you will risk burning your fingerprints off trying to get stupid f**king strips of tinfoil to hang warily balanced around the perimeter of your pie plate. And you will curse often, as you negotiate laying the tinfoil with the oven racks pulled out, only to all topple off as you gently try to slide the rack back in, or as you bend your body like Hansel or Gretel to fit your torso slightly inside the oven entrance to carefully balance those f**king strips without any rack movement. (I now own proper pie shields.)

YES – I did burn myself. No, not with my crap pie shields. Better. While making the easiest dish on my list on T-Day, the gluten-free stuffing for my one gluten-free guest, from A BOX. I don’t even remember how, but I did burn the fleshly part at the base of my thumb. I tried to press on.


YES – I did have one mental breakdown. I rushed my burned hand to cold water, fearful that I may now have to do this all (channel Rob Lowe here) literally with one hand behind my back. I did not build time into my schedule of 5-minute intervals for treating first degree burns, but I was in tears faster than the blister bubbled on my skin. I had a few “I can’t do this” cries and “now it’s all ruined” sobs for dramatic effect.  My husband took his cue and bravely entered the kitchen to comfort to me, commiserate with me, and then let me kick him out again like a martyr because THE SHOW MUST GO ON.

YES – I did set off the smoke alarm. But just once! I was a little heavy handed with the heat when frying my cornstarch-dipped shallot rings, to serve as a homemade alternative to the American classic, French’s Crispy Fried Onions, popular for green bean casseroles. The rings actually look like little octopi and lost any appeal after I charred them black.

YES – I did have a total monster moment. A very bitchy 5 minutes that I’m not proud of. In my (weak) defence, I had all four burners going at the time, with two dishes prepping for the oven, when my husband asks “is this okay?” and gestures toward his cheese tray, seeking my approval for the three cheese plating with corresponding purple sticky tabs ripped in half to label each one. “The labels look stupid” was my immediate, ever-gentle reply. And I felt the monster rise within me. I did not stop there. Perhaps it was the fact that his three cheeses cost more than DOUBLE my 14.5 -pound turkey. Perhaps I had worn myself out a bit with the housecleaning earlier in the day. Perhaps I was sweaty, and hungry, and overwhelmed with the work still ahead of me. But I unapologetically snapped a bit more at him with remarks like “does it look like I have time for this?” and “this was your idea, you deal with it,” and “I don’t care, I have more important things to worry about.” In his defence, I loved the cheese and ate most of it myself late that night when finishing the wine after the guests had gone. Back to my defence, none of the guests ate the damn cheese.

NO – there is no video this time of me handling the turkey. I was in warrior-mode once I entered the kitchen, and there was no time to be grossed out. I am very thankful my mom made me practice. Because I handled that thing like I snapped its neck myself – no mercy, no holding back. Except what the JESUS was the extra thing inside his cavity? Neck, check. Bag of gizzards (still not sure why they’re in there, but) check. Then this THING (this organ?) that look almost like a set of dentures. I wish I had a picture of me holding it up next to my mouth, with my teeth bared, before I realized it was likely the heart. Then I dropped it in the sink and carried on. Regretfully, I have no photos of the final turkey product either, and hardly any of the prep along the way. There was simply NO TIME.

Well, okay, except, that ONE time I was checking the turkey at the the 1 hour mark. I took it out to add some carrots and celery around it. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I was snapping a few pics of my bird when my mom texted me at the very same moment. “Don’t open the oven unless absolutely necessary to keep the heat in.” Wise. Timely. That’s my mom. Photoshoot over. I popped the turkey back in sheepishly and decided not to post to Instagram for fear of being found a novice.


If I hadn’t practiced in Newfoundland, I would have severely undercooked my turkey/ served up some Salmonella. I had 4.5 hours to roast it, and not a minute more. The oven was scheduled for use for two more dishes immediately at the 4.5 hr mark. The Butterball instructions said to roast at 325 F. I have learned from experience my oven is not the strongest, so I started at 350. After the first hour, he was still looking quite pale, so I jacked it up to 375. At the 2 hour mark, I began to panic, and jacked it again to 400. Thank. God. My meat thermometer read 165 when time was up, and I could finally exhale deeply.

My all-American Thanksgiving was served to 2 Canadians, 2 Germans, 1 Spaniard, 1 Mongolian, and actually just 1 American. His mom, though, is a Cordon Bleu trained chef, so I grilled him for feedback and hung on to every compliment he gave. That’s right, complimentS! My guests LOVED the food. They all had seconds. My husband said, wait for it, that it was the best turkey dinner he’d ever eaten. I smiled demurely. Modestly accepting their praise. But inside I was Winona Ryder at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.


Dinner was supposed to be at 6:00, but we actually sat down to eat at 6:30. I (predictably) ran into a snafu trying to make the gravy, and starting running out of clean bowls to sieve it into. i had only ever watched my mom make gravy once, with flour. And I was trying to make it, without her, with cornstarch (remember, gluten-free!). Strangely, unpredictably, my husband swooped in at that moment, and saved the gravy. He calls it his Hans Solo moment…

I was able to manage almost all by myself but thankfully my one female guest generously asked to help upon her arrival. She probably didn’t expect me to thrust so quickly a dutch oven of boiled potatoes in her arms, but I needed them peeled, and had no idea how to do it. I used the opportunity to duck into the master bathroom to compose myself. I was glistening (from sweat). (And perhaps a runny nose.) I stuck washcloths under my armpits to cool down. The temperature in my apartment was boiling, the oven and stove cooking us as well as the food. I wondered if anyone would notice if I didn’t come out.  Should have nabbed the wine on my way.

I calmly reappeared to find Tamara bravely finishing up her task. I had read, somewhere along the way, that the trick to the best mashed potatoes was to boil them with the skins on. Something to do with lower water absorption, better starch preservation, all for a tastier, fluffier mash. Good in theory – but poor in practice because then those scalding sons of b*tches have to be carefully held in a hand towel so you don’t burn yourself. I just couldn’t deal. (Thanks, Tamara!)

I’ll do a review of the recipes I used, what worked, and what didn’t, another time. I have to admit that I’m a Martha convert now because her recipes were easy to follow, easy to execute, and delicious. I read dozens of recipes, and hers were consistent the with the American style and flavours I was seeking, with accessible ingredients that I normally use/can easily find in my grocery store.

I’m thankful I had such a kind group of guests for my first go. They pretended not to notice the sink full of dirty dishes draped with hand towels because there was nowhere to hide the mess. They waited until I took up my dinner and sat down before any of them lifted a fork. (Right?!) They toasted to me with their wine glasses at the beginning, and, NOT A WORD OF A LIE, applauded me at the end of the night. It was magical. I should like to receive more applause for doing domestic duties. Perhaps the icing on the cake was someone’s comment that my apartment was “the cleanest apartment they’d ever been in.” (Someone please call my mom to make sure she still has a pulse. She’s probably hit the floor.)


They all left around midnight. Which was GREAT because I polished off the Rioja and cheese tray to muster up the energy to clean the kitchen. That’s when I found those damn homemade fried shallots. I’d accidentally forgotten about them and had stashed them in a cupboard when I ran out of precious countertop space. Whoops (#sonotworthit). Don’t they look gross?


If you can see the time there, my day ended at 1:48 am the next day. That’s when I left the kitchen, with pretty much everything finally back in its place. My deepest moment of thanks was that I could sleep for a solid 12 hours afterward.


I want a button that says “I survived American Thanksgiving!”



This Housewife’s 1st American Thanksgiving: Part I

It was mid-October and all of our family and friends back in Canada were eating turkey dinners and posting on Facebook all that they were thankful for. I cook for my husband every day so I made the executive decision not to add to my workload in the kitchen by celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with food. We were both content to eat pizza from a box and drink wine from a box that particular Sunday evening. The emails started pouring in, from female family and friends. Happy First Married Thanksgiving! What traditions have you started? How big was your turkey? I read them with a confused look on my face, cross-legged on the couch as we watched Parks & Recreation, chewing thoughtfully on my pizza crust. Have I already dropped the housewife-life ball? Did we miss a big part of our first year of marriage by not slaving away all day over a turkey dinner for two? Am I… not a good housewife? 

But I mean, sorry fam, no one in Florida gave two clucks about Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s just off the radar, and off ours. And since we are living here in America, it made more sense in our minds to celebrate the American version. So in order to redeem myself as a brilliant housewife, I vowed (to myself, really, since I’m alone every day) to cook an authentic, completely-from-scratch American Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, that’s right. For human consumption. My husband was pretty chuffed over the idea of us hosting a dinner, and we now have a group of 7 expected to attend.

While I was visiting Newfoundland recently, it occurred to me that I’ve actually never cooked a turkey before. Never helped handle or prepare one. Thankfully (see, I was thankful for something last month) my mom had the genius idea that it would be worth practicing. (The title photo is proof that this did indeed happen, but hang in there until the video at the end to see for yourself. And no one got Salmonella.) I actually know nothing about American Thanksgiving at all, except for what I learned on Friends. Please pray for me.

Once I returned to the US in mid-November, I hit the ground running. A lot of me cruising around buying extra dining chairs, flatware, and trying out tablecloths. There’ll be paper napkins, though, at this feast. If you want cloth, then you can drive 8 hours north to my brother’s place because I believe he registered for them in four shades. Then I had to figure out who the heck is gluten free and dairy free. One of our guests is definitely gluten free. I am the dairy-downer these days, but I can also juggle bites with non-dairy dishes and survive. Once I read the literature, though, I knew it would be impossible for me, the housewife ingénue, to manage a dinner free of both gluten and dairy. I am the sacrificial lamb this year. We are going (mostly) gluten free.

Then, well, then I went to Disney for an overnight with my cousin (#selfcare?). But I did spend all of Sunday nailing down recipes, writing out ingredient lists and consolidating them into one giant shopping list. This year I have decided to tackle all American recipes. And who better to go head-to-head with once more but Martha Stewart herself. Yes, even after my fitted sheet failure, I am taking on a mostly-Martha holiday. I can hear some Newfoundlanders groaning and bemoaning the fact there is no boiled veg, no salt beef, no puddin’ at this meal. But hey! I’m not broken up about it at all. We chose to go all-American (when in Rome, as they say), and since most of our guests are international, it’s pretty much initiation for us all. I’ll never cook a Newfoundland dinner better than Nan, anyway.

Fun/stressful/pull-your-hair-out fact: Martha has recipes for Perfect, Classic, Luxurious, and Every Day mashed potatoes. I mean, how do you choose? I actually can’t remember right now which one I chose. One with whole milk and half-and-half. (I might pass on eating the mashed potatoes in order to live long enough to see pie.)

As I write this, it’s late Monday night. Dinner is being served at 6 pm on Thursday. Yesterday I already baked Martha’s Skillet Cornbread for my stuffing. My turkey was moved from freezer to fridge to thaw. I also lined up all of my bakeware that I got from our wedding registry to make sure I had enough.


Today I bought everything on my shopping list, which included two trips to Aldi since I forgot my f**king quarter for the shopping carts the first time around. (For non-Aldi shoppers: you can’t unlock your shopping cart to use without one.) I almost had a melt down in Publix because all of the fresh sage was GONE, and the only dried labels said “rubbed” and I have no idea what “rubbed sage” even is. Well, I’m using it now. Tomorrow, I’ll make the orange-scented cranberry sauce, and figure out what the heck flat washers and lock washers are in order to assemble the additional chairs.

Wednesday, I will bake the gluten-free brownies, apple pie, chocolate pecan pie, and dinner rolls. I’ll prep all of my vegetables for the next day by washing, trimming, chopping. Plus, I’ll assemble the sweet potato casserole to leave in the fridge until baking time on Turkey Day. Before going to bed, I’ll toast the white bread, cornbread, and pecans for Martha’s Classic Stuffing.

Then it’s Thanksgiving! The turkey will go in early afternoon and I’ll make and assemble the stuffing up until baking point. Once the turkey is out, it’s my Everest. I have enough time to bake the sweet potato casserole and stuffing in the oven both at once. The casserole will come out first, leaving me time to reheat my homemade dinner rolls. On the stove top, I’ll also start the mashed potatoes, glazed carrots with thyme, and deconstructed green bean casserole (my only non-Martha recipe). And forget the French’s Crispy Fried Onions. Remember this dinner is ALL FROM SCRATCH. Those crispy b*stards will be shallots hand-fried in corn starch, because corn starch is GLUTEN FREE. (Confession: I bought a gluten-free stuffing mix because I was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of baking more homemade bread. Sue me.)

And then gravy. While the rolls are heating, I have to make the gravy. Somehow.

SOUNDS SIMPLE, DOESN’T IT?! Don’t blink, you might miss a dish.

I have to do this. There is no room for error. Stores will be closed on Thursday, and there will be no chance to buy boxed potatoes or stuffing, or packet gravy. If I don’t succeed, we all go down together.

My husband did offer to help, by the way. He requested to make the cranberry sauce, which I promptly vetoed. 2 reasons: he would require stove top time that does not fit in my Turkey Day Timetable, jeopardizing all of the dishes I’m responsible for, and more importantly, he only wants the cranberry sauce so he can make Chan-berry references and then brag about his one contribution all night over dinner. Not on my watch.

So there’s the plan. It’s ambitious, I know, especially since i’ve never made any of these recipes before. If you’re reading this, I’m probably elbows deep into my 14.5 pound turkey. The process and end result will be documented and I’ll report back with how it all turned out. How many casualties.  In the meantime, I did document the first time I ever touched and cleaned a turkey, last month. All me, unscripted:

(I apologize for shooting this in portrait mode. It was a day of firsts.)


The Life Changing Magic of His & Hers Closets

This week I’m in full on Martha-mode prepping for my first American Thanksgiving. There is no time to do anything but study how to cook everything I’m serving, count how many sticks of butter I’ll need, and stress tweeze my eyebrows. But I did find this post that I’d started writing a few weeks ago during my month- long trip to Canada.

I have a sweet friend who is considering moving across the country. She asked if we could have coffee to talk about my “process” for moving to Florida. I happily agreed because pretty much all I did in my weeks back home was hold my friends’ babies and drink good coffee. But upon reflecting on my own move, I was doubtful I’d be any help to her. I truly had no process when I upped and moved to a new country. Now that I’m long moved in, and have travelled home again, I have a better perspective on what one truly needs to move to Florida.

Here’s a Cliff’s Notes version of What to Take When You Move to Florida, but more importantly What Not to Take:

To Take:

  • A stockpile of birth control because it’s six months in and I’m still without a health insurance card, and have no doctor. My pharmacist thinks I’m an idiot who “lost” three months’ worth last June, but really I was like an estrogen-hoarding chipmunk, stuffing my cheeks with enough supply to last me until I returned to Newfoundland again.
  • Ankle socks.
  • Bikinis. Everyone wears bikinis here. No one pieces. No tankinis. And there’s zero judgement. It’ll take about 20 seconds to look beyond your fears and insecurities because it is hot and you will be thankful you’re wearing as little of the polyester-spandex blend as possible.

Not to Take:

  • 5 pairs of identical Levi’s dark wash skinny jeans. I could have made do with one pair to wear when travelling back to Canada.
  • 2 twin packs of 20 oz containers of contact lens solution. (Exactly five pounds of Opti-Free.) News flash: it’s also sold here in Walmart and is (no shit) cheaper to buy than to ship to a different country.
  • 2 half-used tubes of toothpaste. Same note as above: they do sell toothpaste in Florida.
  • Long gym pants. You’ll die from heat exhaustion. Just get over your thigh jiggle and wear shorts.

I wanted to move most of my stuff so that I felt at home in a new place. Oh, but right. Then my husband got sciatica and couldn’t even manage his stuff when he returned to Florida a few weeks ahead of me. So then I was stuck moving his own crap first, and all of my to-do list got shoved to the back burner and basically went up in flames, like my first attempt at cooking rice. I panicked, and that’s how half-used toiletries ended up crossing the border.

On my last day living in NL, my list was still a mile long, and all I ended up doing that morning was pick up cake pops for me and Janine and hang out at my old workplace wistfully. Moving sucks.

Good thing I love UPS. I love Peter at the Hamlyn Road location because he put up with me bringing in my wardrobe, laundry basket by laundry basket, every day for a full week. I started shipping our belongings like a crazy person. Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook? Sure. Precious soprano sax? Definitely. Millennium Falcon figurine? If I have to. Insurance? Meh. Let’s just MOVE.

I underestimated the size of my spring/summer wardrobe. I ended up shipping 200 pounds of clothing and shoes. It actually probably would have cost the same to just donate it all and buy new in Florida, but I got swept up in the sentiment of keeping everything I’ve bought since 2003 (read: started high school) and “borrowed” from my mother’s closet.

Peter would pack my clothes neatly in clear blue recycling bags so that when the customs offices or border control or whoever opened them up, they could clearly see what was inside and that the contents matched his shipping descriptions. “18 pairs of shoes!” “Very nice purses.” I loved his descriptions. But one particular last load of clothes comprised things I was hoping to have room for in my suitcases, but ran out. My “unmentionables.” A palm tree printed nightie. A garter belt I’ve never worn because puh-lease tell me I must have bought one only intended to fasten around one thigh. A black bikini. Some other very PG-13 lacy items. No big deal. Later, when I opened up the boxes in Florida, I hauled out the clear blue bags only to find a single, black Billy Boot garbage bag at the very bottom. (For non-NL readers, Billy Boot is the t’ickest and toughest garbage bag made in our province.) My “indecent” articles were all inside. Thank you, Peter, for your ultimate discretion, so that no man or woman need lay eyes on my Joe Fresh lingerie. Your attention to detail was immaculate #notallconceptionisthough.

Two weeks later after I flew down, my 200 pounds of UPS packages arrived. Oh honeyyyyy, I’m home.


It was clear this would not all fit in the closet in our master bedroom. My husband’s belongings take up the bulk of that precious space, including important every day items such as this tactical vest and plate carrier (plate carrier is the softened version of what you probably would normally call it):


Please try to imagine my surprise when I discovered these vests while home alone during one of my first days here. I ended up leaving these vests and their respective paraphernalia untouched, and took over the closet in the guest room. Our closets are the only his and hers we have in the apartment, no monogrammed towels or mugs for us. Then I stumbled across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and apart from thinking Marie Kondo really needed a boyfriend during her teenage years, I also kind of thought she is my soulmate. My spirit animal of organization. She inspired me to get rid of all clothes I owned in high school. Confession: I kept one skirt from 2003, because I still believe I can pull it off, as featured below during my brother’s wedding weekend this past September:



I also purged anything I had “borrowed” from my mother’s closet (no offence, Mom, just trying to keep it hip) and everything I had bought from Mark’s Work Wearhouse & LOFT while trying to look like an accountant back home in my day job. And something I think a lot of us are guilty of – I got rid of everything I was hoping I’d fit into someday.  I work out here every day and eat as healthy as I’m ever prepared to, so this is it. This is my final form. There will be no size smaller. Goodbye, Tiffany blue Calvin Klein dress I’ve never worn.

Marie’s motto is: Does it spark joy? If not, dispose of it. My husband should count his blessings that he, through the house cleaning horrors and roommate adjustments, still brings me joy (for now).

Now that my closet here has some breathing room and no one knows how old I am, I’m convinced with enough research on Pinterest I can fool the locals into thinking I’m rocking my mid-twenties for the next decade. I’m not a trendy person but since I have the time (all the time, really), I took it on as a mission to look to look like a local. Like an American girl. After days of pinning and browsing the outlets, the upgrades to my wardrobe included: a J. Crew Chambray shirt, white tennis sneakers, and distressed jeans. It was hard not to feel like Bugs Bunny in my new white kicks, but it’s getting better. I’m also now used to always feeling a slight breeze against my thigh in my expensive jeans with holes in the them.

I downsized my closet when back in Newfoundland, too. Anything that I didn’t wear after my three & half weeks there was shoved in a bag for my cousin to decide to keep or donate. A bunch of items went on consignment to sell (LOFT is still a commodity for current working accountants and moms, it seems). And in owning less clothes (about 75% less), it’s much easier to get dressed in the morning and make cooler outfits. I even now own one of those cool shirt-dress things that have the shoulders cut out, because it’s actually really hard to find shirts in Florida that do have full sleeves.

In hindsight when moving, I could have just checked one extra 50 pound suitcase of clothing instead of shipping anything, because I’ve donated about 100 pounds, and brought the remaining 50 back to Newfoundland this fall. Turns out it wasn’t the amount of stuff I moved with me that made me feel at home here. But don’t gag – it also wasn’t the joy and love of finally living with my husband. I think it really came down to the pink curtains I hung in the living room.


Now that sparks my joy.

My husband gets a passing grade, but there’s room to improve

How many of you looked up ASMR after I told you my husband hangs out in our guest room getting soothed? (After the honeymoon, husband & wife return to respective planets.) Probably not as many of you who wrote me emails saying “OUCH, your poor husband, you’re really giving him the gears. He doesn’t know better.” I got advice saying to accept that he’ll never change. I don’t accept that. One of his family members mailed me a book about getting along in relationships, and I thought, why don’t you just mail him a cookbook? Then we’ll REALLY get along! But props to the beautiful stranger who asked how I managed to not to scream at him. (The answer, by the way, is because I tried that in the past, and all it did was make him non-responsive and cause a break out on my face. Vanity wins.)

I guess there’s one big thing you should know: my husband proof reads all of my posts before they get published. He gets his chance in private to correct my grammar (those of you at our wedding may recall he vowed to try not to do that in public) and I get a chance to gauge his reaction by watching his face as a I describe my life with him. It’s not that it’s some type of censorship – I’m not sure I would change anything even if he wasn’t fully on board, nor does he want me to feel censored. He understands that the point of this is honesty, and nothing so far has been exaggerated. The only time he was (mildly) offended was over my slightly sexual portrayal of ASMR.

In actual fact, when he reads my blog, he usually laughs, specifically laughs at his own behaviour in disbelief. I usually find that the days immediately following a post, he becomes very independent and helpful, and I start thanking him for doing chores. (Thanking him?! Shoot me.)

On my kitchen table right now is a pretty dead bouquet of flowers. They’re there as a reminder of our first real married fight. We had a string of a few hard days, after I applied for a job back in Canada, after I discovered black mold in his shower, after I came home from a rehearsal at 9:30 at night to have to cook supper from start to finish because he was on the couch, hungry for 3 hours waiting for me. (But seriously – my stuffed bell peppers were pretty goddamn delicious, even at 10:30 pm. I’ll brag about that later.) The fight ended with me, looking very Bridget Jones, back sitting on my bath mats, pounding my fists on the floor like I’m a child throwing a tantrum.


I threw around the words respect and partner a lot, and preached about maturity. (Tantrums are a sign of maturity, though, right?) Then I locked myself in my bathroom and texted with my friend for an hour to calm myself down. (Mature people always lock themselves in bathrooms, don’t they?) Then I slinked out of the bathroom after my hips were sore from sitting on the floor and refused to speak for the rest of the night. #potcallingthekettleblack.

The flowers were the start of a very sincere apology from my husband, and we have been making very real, measurable progress ever since. I’m still testing out some methods, but I feel confident that soon I can launch a boot camp for new husbands. I’ll wear a head mic and shake my arms in the air like Oprah in front of rows of betrothed young men and cheer “YES YOU CAN!” I’ll have a slew of inspiring guests, some of the very best husbands I know – the Hugh, the Richard, the Gerry. Maybe the odd webinar by Dr. Owen Hunt and Adam Braverman to give it star power to let me charge more.

Here’s our progress:

Every Tuesday night, my husband cooks supper for us. Tuesdays because I now have a commitment outside the apartment from 7:00-9:30 that night. Plan it, buy the required groceries, cook it, clean up after it. We’ve been trying this out for three weeks, and it’s… well, it’s probably the highlight of his new leaf, so I’ll put a positive spin on it. The first week was PERFECT. I came home to pasta, served with a side salad. I was impressed. My husband hates chopping so the salad was a pretty impressive sign of his commitment to the relationship. The second week was a flop. I wasn’t feeling great, so I texted my husband while he was still in his afternoon lecture and said I’d be home when he got out, and surprise! I was going to be super sweet and make supper for him. He came home without checking his phone, shocked to see me standing there, with a Taco Bell bag in his arm, as I’m getting homemade meatballs in the oven with cauliflower fried rice sautéing on the stove. I’m sweating from the heat of it all, and I see that bag of Taco Bell and it takes everything in me not to lunge at him and swat it out of his hands. He looks confused and disoriented, and then guilty. “Is my supper in there too?” I ask, not naive enough to truly believe that it was. Besides, given that he thought I’d be home 2.5 hours later, who would be gross enough to eat OLD Taco Bell? “I thought you said you could have soup or something,” was his only response. He meant one of the four cans of Campbell’s Tomato in the pantry. I ate my homemade dinner in front of him, pretty quiet, secretly hoping he’d choke a little on his hard taco shell. Week 3 fell somewhere in the middle. I bought the ingredients. I thawed the ground beef. But he seasoned the sauce and the pasta was delicious. Good save.

Every Saturday morning, my husband cleans his own bathroom. And not just by using a Lysol wipe to get rid of his whiskers from the sink. Like, really clean, including the bathtub, which he was surprised to learn is not self-cleaning. For Week 1, I stayed in the bathroom right behind him, first as a silent observer, but turns out I don’t do silent very well. “There, you missed a spot.” “Put some muscle into it.” “It’s called elbow grease for a reason.” I really should coach football or something. I perched on the counter, legs crossed at the ankles, swinging them back and forth, thoroughly enjoying myself as my husband could not get over how scrubbing the tub made his back feel tired. Tell me about it. It took me two hours to get rid of his mold. Week 2 came and went. Week 3 just passed. I mean, I hear you. I read your emails. You say to have faith. You say he’s lived on his own long before me. You say he won’t know until someone shows him. So, I showed him. And therefore I back off during weeks 2 and 3. I had no idea if he had cleaned them or not. I broke down last night and finally asked. All I can say is this paragraph should really begin with “One Saturday morning, my husband cleaned his own bathroom.” Yes, once. A failed mission.

Those are the two biggies, the weekly dinner and bathroom cleaning. But in general, there are chores that are now completely his: putting out the garbage, doing the dishes after supper, putting away the dishes, sweeping the kitchen at the end of the day. Plus our new rule in the kitchen, similar to “you break it, you buy it,” is “you use it, you clean it.” A pan he uses in the morning to cook his eggs can sit there until morning the next day, until he goes to cook again but then has to stop to clean it first. I won’t touch it. I will let it sit there. He used it, he can clean it. And if it delays his daily cooked breakfast, that’s okay. (Is that terribly mean of me? But like, really. Imagine if I left everything I used in the kitchen over the course of the day dirty for him to come to. It’s just gross.)

I used to have to “invite” him to empty the dishwasher. Yes, actually invite. I would stand in the kitchen, while he rewatched The Office and literally use the words, “I invite you to empty the dishwasher.”

“K, babe,” his eyes not leaving the screen. He stands up. He sits back down. I know in that instant he’s already forgotten.

“The dishwasher?”

“Right. Coming.” He stands up, takes two steps toward me, stops in his tracks and continues to watch tv like a statue.


We trade places and he mutters “jeeze” and I stretch out on the couch. You can not only hear the tv from our kitchen, but you can also SEE the tv from the dishwasher, so it wasn’t like I was asking him to make a huge sacrifice. I hear no sound of dishes clinking, or of cupboards opening and closing, so I look over. He’s frozen again, bent over the top rack, mug in hand, eyes glued to the screen. It takes him about four times as long as it takes me to unload the dishes, but at least I didn’t have to.

Now I don’t have to invite him as often. And we’re hitting on some real stepping stones, like he’ll load the dishwasher until it’s full, and then go to school. We are almost at the part where he’ll put in the detergent and turn it on. Almost. He knows now never to leave his laundry in the washing machine, that’s been corrected. We are almost past the point where he treats the dryer as another dresser drawer. When he drys the pots after dinner, he is excellent at stacking them in the drying rack, so much so that it grows like a Jenga tower and removing one object to cook dinner the next day puts the whole shaky structure at risk. We are nearly there, though, nearly getting those pots, pans, lids INTO the cupboards. In the meantime, I challenge anyone to a game of actual Jenga, because i’ve gotten reallllllyyyyyy good.

We’re communicating better now, too. Instead of discovering that we’re out of peanut butter by finding the empty jar he placed back in the pantry, he’s beginning to tell me as he uses it up, so I don’t discover mid-recipe what’s run out.


Baby steps, but at least they’re steps forward. I appreciate how much he wants to help, deep down. A for caring. C for execution. The comment next to the grade on his boot camp report card would read “room for improvement, a pleasure to have in class.”


I swear to tell the truth, the whole housewife truth, and nothing but…

(Disclaimer: YES I’m holding a gin & tonic in that photo. It’s okay, I wasn’t at home alone in the daytime, Karen Walker-style. I was a bridesmaid at a fabulous wedding in Connecticut, melting my ass off in polyester.)

Okay, so I know I’ve been posting less and less lately. But this time it’s because I think there’s too much I want to tell, but I’m afraid that I’ll OVERSHARE, much like I do when the cashier at Publix makes the mistake of making small talk with me. I don’t get the chance to talk to people very often here, so small talk becomes large, philosophical talk very quickly.

I’ve also been struggling with my blog. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s always supposed to be funny now, because I’m surprised by how funny people have found it, or if it’s supposed to be my reaction to my new life, because the two are definitely not always the same, especially lately. I haven’t wanted to write about something that might concern my friends and family back home and lead people to think I’m unhappy. I’m not unhappy. But that doesn’t mean I’m always happy, and it can be hard to find the humour sometimes in what I’m doing here.

I recently cried at a dinner party in Connecticut after about a ten minute chat with a stranger named Rosemary, who was a fabulous conversationalist. Having a daughter my age, about to enter similar circumstances, she zeroed in on the changes and challenges in my life pretty quickly, and concluded, in those ten minutes, that my life sounded “horrible.” Except that writes harsher than it sounded coming from her, because she had a cool Australian accent. I’m not sure if it was the Veuve Clicquot Rosé I was tossing back, the heat of the kitchen with three dozen boiled lobsters, or the snugness of my Gap skirt I refuse to retire from 2003 that was making me feel hot and flustered on top of the interrogation. But I cracked. And I cried. I was sweaty and red faced already, so few people noticed. And I tried to explain – it’s not horrible. But it also wasn’t the plan. I had to reiterate to her that becoming a housewife, without a house, really, for three years, was not the plan. Giving up working and earning an income just when I was really getting started in a career back home was not the plan. Moving to the southern US to watch reruns of Will & Grace on my couch all day long was not. the. plan. But I’m attempting to be flexible enough to adapt to the new plan.

Upon reflection since returning from Connecticut, I’ve decided that this blog is not just supposed to be funny. It can be, I guess. I do laugh a lot. The Publix cashiers now call me Lucy, from I Love Lucy, because I laugh out loud so much, and apparently that’s not very common in a grocery store. But this is supposed to be real talk. My life, as it, funny or sad or awesome or horrible as it can sometimes be.

So I’m sorry, fam, if it bums you out to learn that I cry about once a week sitting on my memory foam bathmat, wondering what I’m doing with my life. But it happens. And I’m going to talk about it, because I was also reminded in Connecticut when chatting with an old friend from home, that I am not alone in my experience. It felt so good to talk to her about being a housewife, feeling at times without purpose, without drive. It felt so good to not feel alone. And I started to laugh a lot more just by talking with her. So maybe I’ll inspire another housewife with my honesty. Maybe us housewives can unite in our chores, our fears, our boredoms, our wonderful wide range of emotions, by just talking about how weird this existence can be. A life that really isn’t taught to you, or recommended to you, while you study and educate and dream about your life as a career woman. So sometimes it can feel awkward to describe to non-housewife folk. I’m not embarrassed by my life. Yes, it can make me cry, but then I think back to about two years ago when my boss moved to Toronto and I was left on my own, and I cried at my desk about once a week for the entire fall. So really it’s not so different. There are still struggles, but the obstacles can just seem much more insignificant now and therefore the tears much more silly.

Today’s post is not so much a story I’m sharing but a promise to myself to be honest. There’ll be no spin on what I write. I’m glad people have found my posts funny so far. I didn’t mean for them to be, it was just my life, as told by me. But writing about my life and sharing it with pretty much everyone I know is helpful to me. It keeps me accountable to myself and my feelings. It’s a wonderful tool for my husband’s own personal reflection. It keeps me from having to cry when trying to explain my new life face-to-face, because you’ll already be up to speed, and therefore when I see you, we can skip right past it.

I can be honest. I think, as the person who may have accidentally flashed her brother’s wedding guests, that it’s okay to own my actions. Own my life. Laugh at myself. Not deceive myself, though, either.

Two things I’ll share honestly right now:

  1. I poisoned myself with tzatziki sauce on Thursday and now as I write this, I’m still suffering from the effects of wrongfully, yet knowingly, putting such a diary product in my body. And in such great quantity. I have a HIGH intolerance for milk fat, but got swept away with my incredible housewifery skills in the kitchen last week, improvising delectable recipes night, after night, after night. I made Greek meatballs and an awesome Greek salad, and then proceeded to eat my face off because WHO DOESN’T LOVE FRESH MINT? Until about twenty minutes later, my belly distended so far, I looked 36 weeks pregnant and it hurt to breathe, let alone move. After a failed attempt of curing myself with ginger Gravol (it’s basically my candy), I dumped myself in a hot shower to stay conscious from the delirium and pain. But the shower made me want to faint even more, so I got down on my knees and proceeded to vomit, in and out of consciousness. Sounds terrible? Yes, yes it was. Frighteningly, it wasn’t the first time I’ve done that. (I once played a symphony concert just three hours after such an episode.) But what’s even scarier stupider is that I brought it all on myself because of my stupid love of Greek food. And who eats Greek food without tzatziki sauce?! Well… guess I do, now.
  2. I applied for a job in Toronto and I got it. I decided it was a worthwhile exercise for me to keep a current resumé and still actively pursue my dream of working for a non-profit arts organziation. So that maybe, someday, when I’m no longer a housewife, I’ll remember what it’s like to be in the workforce.


I didn’t take the job, honestly, since I’m being totally honest here, because it wasn’t enough hours a week to make it worthwhile. Then, obviously, because I have a husband here in Florida. Then, because I have an awesome trip home already planned for several weeks and I feel okay about my life through to New Year’s. But it was a fun exercise. One that my husband and I are still hashing out in case some day it’s a job that is worthwhile. My self-esteem went WAY up that day, and I felt valuable. I felt smart. I felt strong and capable. I read that exact description in a crappy chic-lit novel recently. The author described a woman in one short sentence. “She was strong and capable.” And that was the most poignant part of the whole book for me. I would like to be described as strong and capable, I think, more than anything else. I shared with my old friend in Connecticut that these days, I often feel fragile. I hadn’t said that out loud before and I surprised myself when I did. But it was accurate. She looked at me, jaw hanging, with immediate awe and recognition and shouted “YES!” Because that was exactly her experience, too. And already in being honest out loud to her, I felt stronger.

So I leave you now with this JAM from Working Girl. An excellent reminder than a man’s name shouldn’t take top billing in any story (or life) with a female protagonist. Sorry, Harrison, not even yours.

Always the hurricanes blowing, but I and my welcome mat remained safe

No, Irma did not sweep me away! My lack of blogging for two weeks wasn’t because I was blown to Georgia, but because I was packing, storm-proofing, and travelling to crash at my brother’s place in North Carolina to avoid Irma altogether. And then I spent one week catching up on all of the how-are-you-surviving-Irma emails from family and friends. I feared for a while I had writer’s block. But I’ve been simply typed out.

It would have been helpful to issue a PSA of some kind that said: not only am I safe, I am absolutely unaffected in pretty much every way by this storm.

Truly. Few people in Florida have less to do than me. Leaving town for a couple weeks is very simple for me. (Partially because my carryon and toiletries are always packed ready to go in case I feel so inclined in moment’s notice.) I was not put out in any way and it was actually a pretty rare happenstance that I got to spend so much time with my brother, uninterrupted by Christmas, or weddings, or a revolving door of other people.


I say “leaving town” being using the word “evacuate” seems dramatic and like we were in danger. We weren’t. I promise the only thing that would have happened to us if we had stayed was that we’d have spent likely one night without air conditioning. That’s all that happened to our building. One night without power. My car wasn’t washed away, no debris damage. I even forgot to take in my seashell welcome mat before we left, and it was still there when we returned over a week later! Our home, our belongings were all fine. No looters even cared to take my cello.

In reality, I didn’t have any reason to stick around for the storm at all. I could have hopped the next flight out to YYZ, or YYT for that matter, and escaped it all. But I’ve never done the hurricane thing here yet living as a Floridian, so I figured I’d see what it was all about, and also be a supportive spouse since my husband had to stay close to school.

How I prepped for the hurricane:

  • Bought a three days’ supply of non-perishable food, at the recommendation of the Florida Governor’s tweets
  • Made my own ice packs from the freezer’s ice maker and Ziploc baggies for the cooler because I listened to my husband when he said the town would be SOLD OUT of ice
  • Went to Walmart to buy a cooler to save all of the hormone-free, boneless, skinless chicken breast I’ve been hoarding in my freezer from the Buy-One-Get-One sales (#housewifelife) and discovered STACKS of ice cheaper than my Ziploc bags
  • Did a few loads of laundry in case we lost power
  • Took out some cash in case debit machines went down and ATMs ran out
  • Cleaned the bath tubs and sinks once we decided to leave the next day to prevent mildew from growing
  • Ran the dishwasher so nothing dirty was left to get gross
  • Emptied the fridge of everything perishable and turned down the temperature inside to keep it cooler longer in case we lost power
  • Made healthy chicken wraps and other snacks to eat on the road, foreseeing traffic would be bad and we wouldn’t have time to stop for food
  • Packed air mattress, sheets, pillows, cooler, important documents like our marriage certificate and visas, my passport (you know, in case I do get the itch)
  • Closed all the blinds and curtains to block out sun so that our air conditioning didn’t have to have a heart attack when it returned after a power outage, trying to cool down the place (and save me a heart attack from the bill)

How my husband prepared for the hurricane:

  • Put gas in both our vehicles
  • Unplugged the tv
  • Patted himself on the back for trading in his sports car for his pickup truck


We did leave during the recommended voluntary evacuation when it looked like Daytona was going to get hit bad. I posted a quippy Facebook post from the road to tame the fear mongering back home. While CNN was likely showing footage of highway traffic out of Miami, I wanted to reassure everyone that we were fiiiiiiiine and it wasn’t THAT bad. Turns out it did get THAT bad, especially in Georgia, and then more so in South Carolina. We were crawling at 10 mph at best.

My pro tip for evacuating: DO NOT DRINK ANY LIQUIDS. I was a champ who held it for about five hours, distracted only by the mystery flavour pack of Haribo gummy bears. Skip the coffee before you leave if you’re just the passenger, because you’ll nap from the boredom anyway. Save yourself. The 8 hour drive took over 13 and I ate crow. I could also later safely eat chicken, though, because everything stayed perfectly frozen in the cooler #winning #housewifestsyle.

And while my brother was a terrific host, it felt like at times we had evacuated to a shelter. He’s renting, you see, before moving into a house, so he wisely left most of his things in storage until then. Things, you know, kettles, toasters, FURNITURE. So while I did bring an air mattress and sheets, I did not quite expect to find no other furniture except one very tiny love seat in the whole apartment. We ate every meal cross legged on the floor. I spent my time either watching Grey’s Anatomy from my slow-leaking air mattress, which transitions to a hammock pretty well, or using a Tupperware container of my brother’s kitchen stuff he didn’t care to unpack as a short desk upon which I’d answer emails. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite like a shelter, but it was like camping indoors. Should have brought my beach chair. Boiling water in a pot on the stove to make coffee and using the oven broiler to toast bread was the closet to camping I hope I ever get again.

By the way, since so many of the emails I got out of love and concern could have been answered with this one reply, I’ll post it here so I don’t have to again: Yes, we’re fine, and no, please do not look forward to meeting a baby Irma, nor Irmo, in June #sorrynotsorry.

And although I was simply in a different apartment, not all that different from my life in Florida, it started to feel like time was crawling. My brother cooked, which was a treat. And it’s rude to clean someone else’s place so there went most of what I do with my time, except that one time his kitchen sink’s garbage disposal clogged and made the pipes spew rotting crap, and I got to sweep in and get my hands in some soap and help! My husband and I got so sick of seeing other all the time, from doing nothing, from sitting on the floor for hours until I eventually wanted to grab my sister-in-law’s yoga ball and scream WILSON!

We headed back the day before his school reopened come hell or high water (too soon?). We left not knowing if we had power, but at least driving back gave us something to do. Greenville seems to have held my attention about as long as Daytona does.

The drive back was equally painful as the way up. Slow moving traffic, inching our way through South Carolina. FINALLY we see four lanes again, and it’s clear up ahead, and we can put on cruise control and just drive. It was a little eery seeing the National Guard posted at every exit, but it was nonetheless delightful to be returning to Florida at such speed. I closed my eyes to doze off again, only to open them to find us EXITING the interstate, onto a small state road, definitely off course, and definitely the WRONG direction from home. My husband decided, clearly on his own, that it was the day (it was not) to taste his favourite burger chain in America, so he was taking a DETOUR from our already 12 hour drive to add another 45 minutes to it by driving to a small town for Whataburger. We were headed east, which is where Irma did her worst, as evident by the missing roof tops on a lot of buildings.


Turns out Whataburger wasn’t even open to eat-in, so we didn’t get to stretch our legs or use the restroom, but instead we sat in the drive-thru for another 15 minutes. And I ate a burger that wasn’t what I ordered.

I’m sooo over evacuating. And I’m restless from boredom, and feeling useless when there’s so much help needed now.

I’ve applied to volunteer with the Red Cross. I’m pretty sure I won’t be sent to Puerto Rico, seeing as how under the section titled knowledge of: I almost wrote “West Side Story.” Didn’t think it was appropriate timing to remind them of the unflattering lyrics in “America.” Even Florida now is prone to tropic di-sea-ses, anyway. I could, though, potentially be sent to the Keys or Miami, because the clean-up down there will take months. I also wouldn’t mind being sent to Tampa where I hear Kristin Bell is still helping out. (We could sing Frozen duets.) They were looking for volunteers especially who had availability to go on two-week assignments. Considering my only true commitments left to 2017 are two weddings and one rehearsal dinner, I’m hoping they make use of me. I don’t, however, have a Social Security Number down here yet, so I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t get my application tossed out.

But let me reiterate that we were very fortunate. Fortunate that we had nothing damaged. Fortunate we had family to stay with within driving distance. Many people here in our county alone have lost their homes, their cars, their belongings, and had to stay in hotels they could not afford, eating meals out they could not afford, lost time from work they could not afford, and stay in shelters. The shelters were run out of local elementary schools, which are now back in session this week, displacing all of those who needed that service and now have nowhere to go. The local Red Cross is asking for hotels to assist with free rooms, and people with extra bed rooms in their homes to be generous, because there is a desperate need.

I posted my husband’s old table and chairs on a local buy & sell group on Facebook this weekend. In joining the group, I got caught up in all of the ads of people looking for help. For extra paid work. For extra child care so they can go to work. For rides to work because they no longer have a car. But one ad finally broke me, and I cried. One woman needed to borrow four puppy pads until she got paid, because she couldn’t take shifts during the storm, and then she’d replace them for you. My husband found me sitting on the floor crying over that one, and he was the first to say that we should just go buy her a pack and drop them off. I searched frantically for the ad to reply, but I hope its disappearance means someone already helped.

So please don’t worry about how we are surviving. There are many who need your thoughts and prayers far more. Especially any child name Irmo.