Monday, June 23, 2014

My Souvenir of Baker Lake

If I've said it before, I shall say it again - Baker Lake is full of extremely talented and creative individuals. Since we have moved up here, I have been admiring all of the beautiful handmade parkas that the majority of people wear. They vary in thickness so you have beautiful spring ones, wind/water resistant ones for trips out on the land in the summer, and of course, heavy duty winter ones. Part of me wished I didn't buy a Canada Goose because the local ones are so beautiful (and less expensive) and I like supporting local talent.

When we decided to head south again, I said I wanted to have one special item to mark our time in Nunavut. What better souvenir than to have a beautiful custom made parka to bring to the south so I can enjoy it every day - much better/more practical than having a sculpture collect dust because I'm a terrible cleaner. :)

I worked with the lovely Karyn (funny story - she used to work at the post office and when we first moved to town, she knew who we were and had our mail ready for us before we barely got off the plane. So when we walked up to the counter on our first day, her first words to me were, "are you Lily?" before I even introduced myself. The beauty of small town living!) to create my parka. We chatted on Wednesday and I pretty much gave her creative freedom. My only request was that there was a bit of pink (obviously) and that it wasn't too busy. She brought me a few options for trim and she recommended the hot pink/black flower pattern and away she went. I had my fitting on Friday and my parka was in my hands on Sunday.

The workmanship on it is amazing. The fit is perfect. With very little direction from me, she managed to make me a parka that is just so...Lily. I love everything about it!

I'm going to be the belle of the southern winters wearing my new parka! I almost can't wait for it to get cold again! (Almost.)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Beginnings

It is with mixed emotions that we write this post because it feels like it is too soon in coming. It seems like just a short while ago that we arrived in Baker Lake with all the time in the world ahead of us. Alas, we have been here for just about 2 years and with that, our time here has come to an end.

When we decided to come north, we were so excited at the adventure that lay ahead of us...and Baker did not disappoint. We have made some amazing friendships and have grown a northern family that will forever be in our lives. We were welcomed into this small but overwhelmingly friendly community with open arms and open hearts - something that we will never forget. We had adventures, we made memories - and more importantly, we shared our lives, and lives were shared with us.

The next couple of posts will be us wrapping things up, reminiscing and saying our goodbyes. What will become of this blog, you ask? Well, we will leave it up for comments and questions - and will monitor the email address (nunavutchillers at gmail dot com) because we feel it is important to help others moving to the north as much as they need. We know it was difficult to find current/"live" blogs when we were researching, and we want to keep that line of communication open for whoever needs it.

As the sun sets on this chapter of our lives and we await the rising of the moon for our next adventure, we want to say thank you for joining us on this journey and for being as supportive of us as we navigated these (frozen) waters. We hope you enjoyed our time together - because we certainly did! Who knows, maybe our next adventure will lead to more tales...the world is our oyster!

Full moon over a semi-frozen Baker Lake - June 13,2014

Lily, Jeff & Pepper

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Bachelor Life

At the end of our last post, Lily mentioned our posting schedule was going to be intermittent. This is a nice way of saying she was going to the Iqaluit office for a week, and the likelihood that I would remember to post every few days was low. Well, here it is a week later, and I'm finally getting around to it, so good call, honey. 

With Lily away on business, Pepper and I have been relish...sorry, suffering the freedom that only males can fully appreciate. In all honesty, Pepper seems happy enough, but at night, he watches out the window, expecting Lily to come home, and finally gives up each night with a sigh and comes to bed. Other than the part about looking out the window, my routine is pretty similar. We keep in touch by phone usually once a day or so, but it's not the same. 

I'm proud to say that there are no dishes stacked in the sink, and the laundry is folded and put away. This may seem fairly trivial to some of you, but believe me, these are bigger steps than you can appreciate. They shouldn't be, but they are, for now. ;-p

Lily and I recently committed to only eating what we had in our pantry or fridge/freezer, and only buying perishables like dairy and vegetables. On account of this, Pepper and I have been suffering through steak for a few days (the horror!). He seems not to mind as much, because he's a trooper. I just looked over at him for confirmation, and he yawned, which is dog-speak for many things, including "That's right, Jeff!". 

This week has been a lot of cleaning, organizing, and job-hunting (now that school's out, I'm unemployed), and planning ways to make my wife happy (the penguin, walrus, sea lion, monkey, and pony are all on order). Seriously, we can't watch any more films with animals in them, because if they're cute, she wants one. It looks like I'll be better off just buying Marineland and African Lion Safari, and it would certainly be easier than trying to find space for those animals in our house. 

Lily will be back in a few days, and both Pepper and I will be better for it. Come home soon and safely honey. We miss you. 

-J & P

Monday, May 26, 2014

Further to that....

Lily mentioned in our last post that Spring in Baker Lake isn't all fun.
Allow me to add my 2 cents on the subject.

We have regaled everyone with numerous tales of Mother Nature's fury up here, blizzards, whiteouts, etc. You would think then, that as extreme as winter is in Baker Lake, everyone is breathing sighs of relief now that spring is finally here. Not so.

To give you some perspective, I spent a year living in Uganda back in 2000. When I arrived, it was the wet season. It sucked. I prayed for the dry season to arrive. When it finally did....I prayed for the wet season to return. Now, Uganda's climate is a little harsher than Nunavut's, and at the almost opposite end of the temperature spectrum. Still, I understand why winter is so popular here. First, it's the longest season by a wide margin. Ergo, if you don't want to be angry all the time, you need to, if not openly embrace, then at least tolerate 8-9 months of often mind-numbingly, we-are-crazy-to-have-moved-to-such-an-inhospitable-place cold weather.

Also, as Lily mentioned, there are bugs in the summer. Seriously, we get maybe a month of summer, and most of it is plagued with a cloud of stinging insects. It's like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, in insect form. I've camped in Northern Ontario in the summer, and that was pretty bad - almost a four on the Baker Lake scale.

Lastly, as Lily also mentioned: MUD. There are no paved roads here, the grading is inconsistent, and April didn't bring us showers, but nothing flower-like rhymes with "deluge". Last night it felt like a giant big bad wolf was trying to blow our house down (luckily, we used brick), and this morning, the roads were like rivers.

Despite all of this, it's nice to break out the windbreaker, and pack the thermal underwear away for another few months, until winter slaps us in the face again, likely by the end of September. Crazy.


PS - our posting schedule is going to be a little less regular for the next while, but we promise to check in at least once a week. Thanks for your understanding!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring: Not all fun and games

It's definitely spring here - the temperatures are consistently above 0 (though not by much) and the snow has pretty much melted away. There is mud. So much mud. But then the mud dries up and there is dirt. So much MORE dirt. It's everywhere.

There are also flies now. They buzz around and around until they drop out of the air and you find little fly bodies around. It's....not pleasant. In fact, it's the complete opposite of pleasant. Like his mother, Pepper is not a huge fan of the flies either, and I kid you not, we watched him swat one down out of the air when it was buzzing around him, and then walk away like it was no big deal. (I keep telling Jeff we have a superdog, but I'm not sure he's buying it)

So. See? Sometimes the colder weather is good! :)


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hamlet Week: Dog Races

Last week was hamlet week in Baker, and there were plenty of scheduled games and activities for the community. One of the big events was a 3-day dog race out on the lake towards a point about 30 minutes away from town. To win, the team with the best combined time over the 3 days got first place. I believe the time difference between the 1st and 2nd teams were a mere six seconds!

I went down with a friend and her kids, and we had fun watching them take off. Teams left at two minute intervals and it was neat to see the different kinds of dogs running.

It was a beautiful evening when we got to the lake, and plenty of people were already there to see the teams set up.

The lake was actually pretty slushy since it's been warm-ish, which made it hard to run, I imagine. But the dogs seemed to be in good spirits and they were eager to get going!

Listen closely to the kids talking in the background. The little one keeps insisting they are reindeer racing, and her brother is trying to explain that they are doggies. My goodness, the cuteness while surrounded by children and was almost too much to handle!

Monday, May 12, 2014

My perfect wife

When it comes to anything food-related, Lily is the undisputed queen in town. She constantly strives for perfection in every dish.

In most respects, being married to a perfectionist can be exasperating and frustrating. When that perfection streak is applied to food, however, it is a most welcome blessing. The reason is that even food failures, by Lily's standards, are exceptional dishes by mine, and I daresay, most others as well.

For Mother's Day this year, Lily cooked a delicious Beef Wellington. Sadly, despite its excellent taste and design, it did not turn out quite as well as she had hoped. She has vowed that she will re-create the masterpiece she intended.

As much as it may pain Lily if and when future kitchen mishaps occur, I, for one, look forward to them almost as much as her masterpieces.


P.S. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Jeff: On the Land

Earlier this week, I received a pleasant surprise - an invitation to go on a land trip! I realize that may sound a little strange to some of you, so let me explain.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me.

I'm beginning to think that I'm cursed when it comes to traveling. Specifically trying to get home. This past week I was in Iqaluit for work and the travel woes that came with the trip were indeed, woeful.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Square Dance Showdown

Our community loooooves to dance. There are dances held almost every week at the community hall, and it's always a social event to go. Most people know how to jig and square dancing is the main form of entertainment from young to old.

Different communities have different styles of square dancing, and groups will travel around to showcase their talent. Baker Lake hosted the Square Dance Show Down a couple of weeks ago and groups from all over the region came to dance. A friend and I went to go check it out because some students from the school were dancing and we wanted to see what a showdown looked like, and the costumes.

These girls had matching dresses and beautiful kamiks (sealskin boots)

What I didn't realize was that each group danced for 30 minutes. THIRTY. Minutes. Straight!! I was exhausted watching! I am in awe of the stamina of dancers, but you could see the sweat dripping off them by the end. It looked tiring, that's for sure! On the night we went, everything was supposed to start at 9, but an announcement came on around 9:30 that things would be delayed because they needed a drummer - and the back-up drummer was finishing his hockey game. Haha...if people like dancing here, they LOVE of course no one minded the wait!

Baker Lake Band!
The actual event started around 10 in the evening, so unfortunately we didn't get to stay for the whole thing since it was a school night and we needed our sleep, but we did see the finalists for the youth groups. I took a quick video to share; this is the youth group from Rankin Inlet:

It was a fun night and I'm so happy I got to see it!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Our Puppy

I mentioned in my previous post that I have a little more time off now, and it allows me to do more things during the day. One of those 'things' is to spend more time with our puppy, Pepper, and he is just so adorably cute at times, it's disgusting. At 7 pounds, he is going to remain that cute forever, and will probably remain as yappy as he is now.

His cuteness is a topic that crops up far more frequently than it really deserves to, especially since the dog has no idea what cute is, or that he possesses it in abundance. Here are a few of the ways in which our puppy oozes cuteness:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

You Ask, We Answer!

A while back, I asked you to send us your questions and we would answer whatever you came up with. You certainly didn't let us down!

Monday, April 28, 2014

New and Scary

My long-term substitute role at the school has finally ended, and I am back to being an on-call sub. This means less work, but there is still plenty of need, so I expect I will still be going in most days, hopefully. Teaching grade 10 was a great learning experience, and unlike any teaching role I've had in the past. It was equal parts challenging and rewarding, and it's a great feeling, knowing that you're enriching a student's life, or just preventing them from sleeping through class (those are the two extremes). It's also nice having a mid-week break at times, to catch up on things that are usually forgotten or delayed, like laundry, cleaning, and flushing the toilets immediately after the sewer truck comes to minimize the poop smell that otherwise permeates the house shortly afterwards.

In other words, things we all forget to do.

I also get to watch a new show we are taping on our PVR, one that Lily is reticent to watch with me. It's called "When Ghosts Attack", and you can guess the show format based on the title. We like to watch shows like Paranormal Witness and Ghost Hunters, which contain scary moments, but this new show is terrifying. Let's just say that we are thankful it is still pretty light out when we are getting ready for bed. I love it, but Lily will stick with Grey's Anatomy for now I think. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. Just don't do it before bedtime.


Friday, April 25, 2014

I can almost taste it. Summer, I mean.

Unbelievable! The other day I was talking about spring, and warm(ish) weather, and Mother Nature must have heard the hopefulness in my voice. That cruel, cruel deity.

The next day, it snowed. And it's been a balmy -30 or so with windchill since then. A far cry from the -3 of a few days ago.

Undaunted, Lily and I decided it was time to celebrate spring regardless of the ridiculous reading from the thermometer. We had recently inherited several cases of tonic water, so I took it upon myself to mix up a few G&T's for my wife and I. Lily likes hers with a touch of agave syrup, and I must say, it takes the edge off quite nicely.

As a child, I was repulsed by tonic water. Club soda, I felt, at least had the decency to not add any adverse flavour to a drink. Indeed, club soda had no flavour, really, yet cost far less than Perrier. Was I the only child smirking at people who were spending way too much on fizzy water? Unlike my wife who claims she was bottle-fed on it (yes, she is a princess) and has grown up loving bubbles in her H2O. Anyway, I remember going to the fridge looking for something to drink one evening and spotting a yellow can, I grabbed it and read "Tonic water". I figured tonic was another word for seltzer, which meant this can would be a great thirst-quencher.

Wrong. So wrong.

I took one sip and spat it out immediately. I thought it must have gone rancid somehow, because that couldn't be what it was supposed to taste like, surely. Unless the liquor my parents occasionally drank was ultra-sweet, and having sipped one or two, I knew that to not be the case. Why would someone take an awful-tasting substance like gin, and cut it with something that tasted worse? What was wrong with these people? Who in their right mind would choose gin and tonic over Kahlua?

Enter my grandmother. She swears by gin, although she cheats a little, and drinks it with diet 7-up, which is just sweet enough to barely mitigate the unpleasantness of gin. Seriously, for those of you who haven't tried it, knock back a slug of gin sometime. You will forever after love the flavour of everything else in comparison.

That said, I now enjoy G&T's, and Lily and I enjoyed a few cocktails before dinner. G&T's are nominally a summer drink, but summer is so short up here, we have to start enjoying summer early, and since we can't wear our bathing suits yet, gin and tonic is the method we must use to remind ourselves that the end of winter is less than three months away. The things we do. Hurray.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mud: the Spring of the North

Here it is, mid-April, and while the rest of the country is prepping their lawns with fertilizer and planting the first annual bulbs of their gardens, we here in Baker Lake are witnessing significant changes as well. Granted, the landscape is still a near-uniform white, and the temperature has yet to reach above zero, but there are differences now that spring is in full-force. Obviously, we don't possess the same markers as you Southerners; namely, trees and similar greenery re-acquiring their leaves, and birds tweeting (birds have always been the original tweeters, and would have made a fortune if they had copy written the term), and rain.

While Baker Lake is home to our beloved, if slightly stupid, seagull variant known as Ptarmigan (or "Ptasty", depending on who you ask), they do not show up until late May, and are not known for their melodic harmonies. Instead of birds, we look forward to the low buzzing hum, generated by the wings of hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes and black flies. Actually, we won't have to endure that terrible affliction until summer, or mid-August. No, the subtle maneuverings of Mother Nature in Baker Lake consist chiefly of longer days, cold weather, and mud. The roads are already starting to soften and things are getting messy around here.

We are still a tad too chilly for rain, but with the days growing longer, the sun is working mightily to melt the snow off our roofs, and transform our once-winter-picturesque community into a churning, muddy morass. Gone are the insulated, 20lbs boots, and out come the galoshes. It is finally warm enough to take Pepper on outdoor walks, but we make him wear his booties, which he understandably detests, but they are super cute, and more importantly, make cleanup of a muddy canine much easier. As mentioned, the days are also lengthening, and we now see dusk at around 9pm. It's 7:30pm as I type this, and it's as sunny as it was 4 hours ago.

It's a welcome change over dark days and unbearable cold. Though, a sobering warning from a local reminded us that we shouldn't get too excited just yet; more winter will be coming (our last blizzard last year was in June). For now, we'll take our extended days and enjoy them while we can.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Hoppy Easter!

Hoppy Easter! Today is Easter Monday and we are off because it's a federal holiday and many places are closed here in Baker - not sure if it's all over the territory, but for sure it is here! So we get an extra long long-weekend. (Though I am going to pop into work today to do some catching up, since many businesses in the south are open today and I can get some work done while the office is quiet.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chillin' in the Kitchen: Healthy (Secret Ingredient) Spinach Dip

I'm on a salty/savory kick these days when I look for a snack. Cookies and chocolate aren't doing it for me at the moment - but put a bag of chips or popcorn in front of me and I can't stop snacking! Seeing as how I'm trying to be good and watch what I eat, that's not very conducive to my plan. I figured I needed to find some healthy choices or I'd undo any good for the day by snacking through an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (I am not afraid to admit that I love that show. It's too crazy not to!)

I've always been a huge fan of dips. I gravitate towards them at parties, I bring them with me when I'm visiting people - it's a happy food. I love the versatility of them and how everyone has their own version of a dip no matter what kind it is. My favourite is usually a spinach dip - if it's served with pumpernickel I'm a goner. I may or may not have made that a staple dinner when I was in university. Unfortunately, most dips are ridiculously high in fat and calories because they're heavy with mayo/sour cream, etc. This recipe for Healthy Spinach Dip is amazing, and you will never guess what the secret ingredient is: tofu! Crazy, right?? It tastes like a regular dip but I've cut out the fat, the calories and loaded it up with protein. It's so healthy you can eat it as a meal (and you should. It's that good). We have been eating it with everything under the sun: homemade baguettes, homemade crackers (pictured), cut up veggies - even topped on our burgers - mmmmmm it's all good! I promise you, no one will be able to tell that it's healthy - and you can eat it guilt-free! The best part is that it takes about 5 minutes to prepare, so you really have no excuse not to whip up a batch at all times.

Healthy (Secret Ingredient) Spinach Dip
makes approx 3.5 cups

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anti-Bullying Awareness

It takes a certain kind of man to pull off pink well. I am not normally that guy, much to my wife's disappointment. Lily, on the other hand, could, and does, incorporate a terrifying amount of pink into most everything she owns.

The last time I tried on a pink golf shirt, I had a shot at being the mascot for Pepto-Bismol. There is, however, one pink shirt in my collection, and it was very recently acquired. The high school recently held an anti-bullying campaign, and all of the staff and students were given the same highlighter-pink shirts to wear that day.

It was a sobering series of lectures and videos, detailing the causes and outcomes of bullying. Once confined to the schoolyard, bullying now knows no bounds, as the cyber variety has been the result of several suicides in Canada in the past decade. Thankfully, most of the students responded well to the assembly, and vowed not to participate in bullying, nor stand by and watch it happen, which is almost as bad. 57% of bullying stops when a third-party intervenes; at slightly better than half, that is still a good reason to not let it happen.

Studies have also shown that the long-term effects for bullies and their victims include depression, anxiety, and increased risk for heart attacks and similar ailments.

Anyways, I now have a pink shirt in my wardrobe. It may end up being the lone article of pink clothing I ever wear, but I will wear it with pride when I do.


Monday, April 14, 2014

April Blizzards Bring May...Blizzards?

Is it just me or is time flying by these days? I swear March was over in a blink of an eye, and here we are nearing the half-way mark of April as well. How come it feels so slow during the week when I'm at work, then? :)

We are starting to get somewhat warmer weather as it snowed a few days last week - resulting in a blizzard all day Friday (woohoo, unexpected long weekend)! I think I'm beginning to get a reputation as the Blizzard Queen since a friend called Thursday evening to see if I had checked the weather forecast since I'd be happy to know there was a blizzard on its way. I had to hitch a ride into work to pick up some things because I had conference calls planned for Friday afternoon so I just did them from home. Pepper joined in for a few barks but was quiet after I gave him a long-lasting rawhide to keep busy.

We haven't had any storms since our travel ordeal in February since March was pretty boring weather-wise. We actually had to go to work for the whole month, isn't that terrible?? ;) I'm wondering if more storms are on its way now that it's starting to get warmer and there is some soft snow laying about. One of the biggest storms I can remember from last year was in May, never know. As everyone in the south starts worrying about their gardens and golf games, we pretty much stay winter-y until June-ish (the lake won't actually thaw until the end of June) so we have a ways to go yet!

Baker Lake Blizzard - 11APR14
Other than the storm on Friday, it was a pretty tame weekend. I have been using weekends as my mass baking/cooking time for the week so our fridge is fully stocked once again. I am nearing the end of my flour supply - 44 lbs in 1.5 years; that's not so bad! I am trying to use up our supplies so I can move us to alternative options in terms of carbs and sweets - but for now, we're enjoying our breads, cookies, muffins and so on (not all at once, of course)!

Right now, I'm sitting here on Sunday night with Pepper on my lap and Jeff next to me. Perfect end to the week. Hope you had a nice weekend too!


Friday, April 11, 2014

I Spy with my Little Eye...

I happened to have my camera on me one afternoon while driving around town, so thought I would post a few pictures of things I saw in good ol' Baker Lake.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ask Nunavut Chillers!

An idea that I have for an upcoming post is to do an FAQ/Q & A based on your questions/comments to us. We get a fair number of emails using our Contact Us button (yay, keep it up - we love hearing from you!) and to be honest, there is a lot of overlap in questions - so I figure there may be more people out there who have similar queries but just haven't asked us yet.

Now is your chance!

Use the Contact Us button to send us your questions or comments, or leave a comment to this post - or email us directly at nunavutchillers at gmail dot com  - and you will likely see us answer it in an upcoming post. (If you have subscribed to our email feed, you will need to navigate to our blog to leave a comment to the post or use the button. Otherwise, send us an email to our email address - do not reply to the email delivery address that you receive our posts from since that is just a bot that sends it out and not our actual email address!)

We'll do an answer post next week! Can't wait to see what you come up with!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Bandwidth - More Valuable than Gold!

You've probably heard me/us complain about the speed of our internet before, and how we have had to really scale down our use since moving up here. Actually, I wrote a comparison post before we moved up as part of the research of setting ourselves up for the move.

For the most part, we have been pretty good at staying within our monthly cap - and that is really good for us considering how much we were using in the south. The last while however, have been a little difficult and we usually find ourselves capped out near the end of the month (usually the last day or so). There is a brief phase of misguided optimism where we proclaim indifference to the dial-up speeds - but that usually lasts approx. 10 minutes before we cave and painstakingly try to log into our account and pay for more bandwidth.

Just a glimpse at what we get for what we pay - and before we go any further, I want to clarify that I'm not looking for alternatives for satellite internet or anything like that since we don't want to pay for the dish and deal with the set up. We are sticking to our current provider but just wanted to share what the plans look like.

We currently have the cheapest plan; though at $80 it's really not cheap at all. That gives us 10 GB of bandwidth a month before we are bumped down to dial-up speeds (and they aren't kidding - dial up speeds are enforced the second you hit your cap...and they are so painful). We are looking at 1.5 Mbps as the average speed we typically get. If we want more bandwidth to hold us over to the next month, we can buy them 1 GB at a time for $18 after tax, or upgrade for an extra 5 GB for $53 or 20 GB for $270 (HA!).

Compared to the plan we were on at home (which by no means was the cheapest plan we could have found, but did the job) - we paid about $40 a month for 14 Mbps and 125 GB/month. Huuuuuge difference.

Just wanted to share/shed some light on it since I was just checking our account and noticed that we are 6 days into the month and have used up 1/2 our bandwidth (eek!) - I'm seriously contemplating spending the $50+ to get us an extra 5 GB. Internet is our biggest indulgence here and what keeps us connected to our family and friends, plus allows us to do the things we need to do (ie. everything) so there's no way we could go through the whole month without internet.

To all our geeky friends out there - see? Yours isn't so bad now, is it?? :)


Friday, April 4, 2014

Lessons from the Kitchen

Today, I learned some very important lessons. The first is that I am not Canada's next baker. Actually, that's an overstatement. If there is a gene that makes baking things easier, mine has been altered slightly. Or is possibly missing.

The second important lesson I learned today is that plans, even solid, well-thought-out plans, can go awry. Fast.

The third lesson I learned today was that it is indeed possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can make you believe in miracles.

All of these lessons were learned today in the kitchen, as I and my entrepreneurship class spent a feverish hour and a half baking for our bake sale. As the first few sentences suggest, all did not go as planned; actually, it would be fair to say that little went to plan. I blame the marshmallows. No, wait, I blame the internet site that stated the marshmallow recipe was quick and easy. It was quick, for sure. It was anything but easy.

The task seemed relatively simple: 4 no-bake recipes. A little mixing, some chocolate dipping, and we would be good to go. How amusingly naive. The chocolate wouldn't coat, the marshmallow wouldn't cut, and the time ran away from us as fast as it could.

While things didn't work out as smoothly as I hoped, the end result was better than I expected, and we are on track to make some decent profit for our efforts. The Nutella cookies were awesome, as were the chocolate chip coconut cookies. The peanut butter truffles sold out in a heartbeat, and the cake batter truffles fared almost as well.

Despite everything, our project was a moral success, if not quite a commercial one. Next time we will focus on easier and more profitable choices like cupcakes. And to make sure they bake well, I'll ask my wife to make them. :-)


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

You Can Bank On It

No really, you can!
Because Baker Lake got its very first banking facility!


Before the FNBC (First Nations Bank of Canada) opened its doors here, you had the option of doing some light banking (ie. cashing cheques) at the Northern for a crazy high fee (think a la Money Mart) or doing your banking online. Which works if you have direct deposit and need to transfer money, etc. but if you received an actual cheque, you either had to wait to go south to deposit it, or mail it home to be deposited for you. Though, ING and CIBC both offer e-deposits and will deposit your cheques if you take pictures of them on your tablet! (We actually opened a CIBC account when they announced this feature and just deposit it in and e-transfer it where we need it.)

Located inside the Co-Op store, they built up a pretty nice location in the back corner. The grand opening was on March 20, after numerous delays in building and resource issues - but they opened with a celebration with a few big prizes and of course, cake and cookies!

They also presented the high school with a donation, and the Vice Principal was there to accept the cheque.

The mayor of Baker Lake was there to make a speech.

Bank officials posing with a traditionally dressed youth.

All in all, a good addition to the Baker Lake community.


Monday, March 31, 2014


I'm sure by now you've heard about the famous selfie that Ellen took during the Oscars - and how it generated $1.5 million dollars toward a charity of her choice. Ellen raised the money for Humane Society, specifically towards the end of the Canadian seal hunt, which on her site, she claims is "one of the most inhumane acts against animals allowed by any government" and also wrongly claims that baby seals as young as 3 months old are being harvested (not true, as this was outlawed many, many years ago).

Aside from the misinformation that is floating out there about the seal hunt, and stories such as this frequently mentioning the food insecurity crisis that Inuit face - I think if a person with such influence/exposure is going to make a statement, they need to get their facts straight. I love Ellen, and am a big fan of her show - and I am vehemently against the abuse of living creatures, but I truly feel that the Canadian seal hunt is one of the most unfairly depicted issues out there.

In response to the selfie, Canadians are speaking up and using social media to get their messages to Ellen:

This eloquent young lady's YouTube video addresses some of the key "issues":

This Newfoundlander created a portrait of Ellen made from a seal skin pelt.

And then, there are the #sealfies. People are taking to Twitter and posting pictures of themselves and their seal products (clothing, meat, etc.) to raise awareness. There have been hundreds of photos posted in the past few days - you can see some of them, and read more about it here and read this article here.

Just my two cents on it all.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chillin' in the Kitchen: Chipotle Nutella Chia Seed Pudding

I am in love with chia seeds. I eat them every day - in smoothies, in oatmeal and even as part of a sweet treat. They are good for you and super versatile. Plus, unlike flax seeds, they don't need to be ground up to be enjoyed. Once they are mixed with water, they expand and create a gel-like substance, so if you have a problem with the texture (similar to tapioca) you can zip them through a blender or food processor to smooth it out.

In my search for healthier choices for sweet snacks, I discovered chia seed pudding - it makes for a great dessert or late night snack, but it's healthy enough you can eat it for breakfast. The beauty of it is once you get the base of it down (chia seed + liquid) you can add whatever you like to it to give it flavour. I've made a few different versions (peanut butter & coconut milk, maple syrup and walnut, coconut and berries, etc.) and they all turn out great. Use your favourite flavours and make it as complicated or as simple as you like!

This is our current favourite flavour - Chipotle Nutella Chia Seed Pudding. The chipotle gives it a smoky spicy kick and the Nutella gives it just the right amount of sweetness. Jeff likes it blended to smooth it out, but I prefer it whole. Either way, it's delicious!

Chipotle Nutella Chia Seed Pudding
makes 1 serving

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Produce Problems

We try to eat fairly healthy when we can - and that typically includes as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. Sometimes it can be difficult because the produce isn't in the greatest condition by the time it gets to us, and sometimes when the weather is bad, the shelves at the store are pretty bare with no planes flying in to drop off freight.

It is no surprise that groceries and supplies are expensive in the north. Everyone knows it, we've talked it about it numerous times - it doesn't mean that it makes it easier when you're shopping. Flyers are home sometimes have multiple pages of fresh fruits and vegetables on sale - here, in a 3 or 4 page flyer, you might have 2 or 3 *items* that are fresh produce on sale. Even then, the sale prices are still many times more than what you'd pay in the south. The lack of fresh produce in great condition is amplified in the winter months, obviously. It makes you more appreciative of a good salad or fruit that is crispy and fresh.


The kicker is that produce is supposed to be heavily subsidized under the Nutrition North program. In some cases, such as milk, the savings are noticeable (4L for about $5.09) but you can't tell me that $14.99/kg of bell peppers is subsidized. Imagine what it would be if it wasn't!

We save a bit of money buying frozen fruits and vegetables (still not overly inexpensive, but better than the condition of some of the fresh stuff), but sometimes you just really want a good salad, you know?

I keep trying to make myself feel better by saying that it's ok, summer will be here in just 4 months.
Wait...that's not close at all. Sigh.

Trying to keep the scurvy at bay,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Travel Insurance

Remember the ordeal we went through trying to get back from our trip a month ago? When we returned, I was lamenting to a friend about it, and how it was a lot of money that we weren't expecting to spend. She mentioned that some credit cards offer travel interruption/delay insurance and I should look into it. I wasn't feeling overly confident at my chances, since weather delays aren't paid for by airlines and I assume it would carry into insurance carriers, but I decided it wouldn't hurt to look into it.

When we moved here, we looked into a few different travel reward credit cards and eventually ended up with the platinum American Express Aeroplan. The annual fee is daunting when you see it, I know. BUT it comes with a 2 for 1 annual pass that allows us to fly a short-haul flight for half the points (a $3,000+ value in itself considering Baker to Winnipeg is considered short-haul) and it comes with a wide range of insurance options as well, apparently! It was a really painless process to make a claim - I called the customer service line, explained my situation, had a claim started and they sent me forms to fill out. The forms were easy and didn't take much time, so I packaged them up with my receipts, sent it ExpressPost mail (ugh, $20 for an envelope with a tracking number. That hurt.) Within 2 weeks I was mailed a cheque back for my expenses! Considering I wasn't expecting any of the money to be returned, what a nice surprise to open my mail and see it waiting for me. The only thing that the policy does not cover is transportation (car rental, gas, taxis, etc.) but everything else was covered. That almost made the frustration of a 6 day delay better. Almost.

To summarize, the moral of the story is - check to see if you have travel insurance through your credit card! If you don't, it is definitely something I would look into - especially if you're traveling in and out of the north!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Birthday (+1 day), Jeff!

Although Jeff's birthday was yesterday, Pepper and I wanted to send birthday greetings for him here as well. So, to our amazing Jeff: we hope this year will be better than you can even imagine, and we hope we made your day special. This is your year. xoxo.

A few days ago I was looking at the weather forecast and predicted that a blizzard would be coming for Thursday. I'm the best wife, aren't I? I tried to control *weather* as a gift to my husband! Things were looking pretty good too, since we were under a blizzard warning - but as is typical in the north, things take a while to get here. The warning was lifted mid-day (and broke my credibility streak at predicting storms, grr!) but the forecast still reads as though there could be potential for something overnight and into tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

We also got a nice gift in the form of railings put up on our stairs, finally! That is exciting in itself, since we have been asking for them since November 2012. A safety concern that was amplified after I took a particularly nasty spill down the stairs, they are now much safer - and it only took a 1 1/3 years. Hooray!

Birthdays and other celebrations are bitter-sweet while we are up here, since it is typically an occasion for us to be reminded of how far our families and friends are. We are blessed to have made a wonderful Baker Lake family to share our special days with, and that definitely makes everything a lot easier. Next year is a big birthday for Jeff - I think it will warrant a location that will be as far away from blizzard-ready as possible. Drinks with tiny umbrellas may be on the docket as well.

The planning and plotting begins! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Scientific Breakthroughs

When you stop to think about it, science is a pretty amazing subject. It has been responsible for many amazing breakthroughs, discoveries and inventions over the last half-century. Cures for diseases, technological advances, and medical triumphs are only a few of the incredible achievements we owe to the faculty of modern science endeavour.

That said, there are still a number of key mysteries that remain unsolved; mysteries that, once solved, with greatly enhance our comfort levels. One of the most important and pressing issues science needs to unlock, in my humble opinion, is how to make dog pee odourless to humans.

I realize I may have lost a few of you just now, but for those of you with dogs, you can perhaps better appreciate how difficult a struggle this can be. Pepper is a wonderful animal and both Lily and I love him dearly, but given his diminutive size and our harsh winters, he is an indoor dog for most of the year. This means using pee pads, with which he is about 80% accurate. That leaves 20% under the heading of "accidents", which tend to congregate along baseboards and furniture.

He knows he's not supposed to do this - I've caught him several times, and his ears go back and he slinks away unhappily, but for some reason, he still has these accidents. So roughly once a week, I pull out the mop and bucket and swab the deck. And I gotta tell you, dog urine has a really unpleasant smell. About the only thing that effectively counteracts it is vinegar, and that also leaves behind a potent and disturbing odour.

Look, I get it - prehistoric dogs had to mark their territory, so it makes sense that there would be a powerful smell to accompany it. But it really sucks having to clean it up. So if anyone out there knows some scientists who are working on seemingly important projects like flying cars or the fountain of youth, please tell them to put these frivolous tasks on hold and focus on something that really matters - pleasant-smelling dog pee.


Monday, March 17, 2014

You Know What Today Is?

Today is a very important day for me, for two reasons. The first and most obvious of course, is.....

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sun Transits

Lately, our normally-brutal internet has become almost unbearable for certain parts of the day. I have been SO CLOSE to throwing the laptop out the window because it is so frustrating. At first I thought it was the modem or the router, and then was reminded it was the dreaded season of sun transits.

What are sun transits you ask? Or maybe you didn't ask, but I will tell you anyway!

Twice a year, the sun aligns itself directly behind satellites for a few minutes each day. When a satellite is directly between the sun and the receiving satellite dish on earth, the sun's enormous radio frequency noise overpowers the satellite signal. This causes a brief service disruption which may take the form of noise, fading or interruptions to long distance phone calls, data, internet, television and radio services whose signals are carried via satellites. The interruption can last up to 20 minutes a day for up to 14 consecutive days.

You can imagine trying to get anything done during those periods of time. Especially when we rely so heavily on satellites to stay connected. Frustrating!

Hopefully it'll be over soon and we'll to back to just brutal connections, rather than unbearable. ;)


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

C for Customer Service

When Lily and I lived in Ontario, we used to frequent restaurants...frequently. With Lily's side hobby of being a food critic, we would often go with a fairly critical eye when we were out. Of these, there were a select few that we called favourites. To rank in our top five, a restaurant had to have a combination of excellent attributes; namely, food, and service. Atmosphere was also important, but if a restaurant lacked that but had great food and amazing customer service, we could live with that.

Fine dining has not yet found its way to the Northern locale of Baker Lake, but there are several (3!) establishments that provide regular mealtime offerings. We visited one of them today to celebrate our neighbour's birthday. To say that this eatery's interpretation of customer service met none of our needs is like saying a person in the path of a tsunami is likely to experience moisture.

There were six of us, and the dining room was sparsely populated. I asked for a clubhouse sandwich with a side caesar salad, and could they bring me the salad to start? Of course. I received my starter salad. I also received my side salad with my sandwich. I was salad-heavy at that point. One of the other guests ordered a hamburger, minus the lettuce. She got plenty of the form of two caesar salads. Another guest ordered a hamburger and asked for fried onions instead of raw. He got raw, of course. Lily ordered a grilled cheese and chef salad. She got a grilled cheese and caesar salad. There was a lot of caesar salad going on tonight. The birthday boy ordered soup and a sandwich. He received the sandwich first....long after the rest of us were finished eating, and only after reminding the staff he hadn't eaten yet. The soup arrived later. I asked for a refill on my water, and my water glass was taken away, never to be seen again. Actually, that reminds me that my plate was taken away while I was still eating the last few bites of my sandwich...table clearing is obviously a top priority.

On the plus side, the food was good, if a little expensive, but you come to appreciate that fact up here. The service was baffling, but with only a couple of restaurants to choose from, chances are good we will be back there eventually, since sadly, this is one of the better places in town. Perhaps next time I'll ask them to hold the burger - I might just end up with a double patty. :-)

Some days, I cannot wait to return to Ontario and re-acquaint myself with excellent customer service. Today is one of those.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Trouble on the Homefront

Pepper and I are not speaking to each other.

Well, that's not entirely accurate. I would be perfectly happy to continue our previous relationship, but he can be quite grouchy at times, and is known for holding grudges. Here's what went down recently that has him in a snit:

First, I got a call over the weekend from the guardhouse (loyal viewers will recall the ridiculous lengths I went through to qualify for the job) looking for extra coverage. Being that I hadn't worked there in months, I took the shift - a lovely 8pm - 4am job. It was reasonably quiet, and having walked to work, I wisely decided not to wake Lily and walked back.

That was the easy part.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crazy Healthy

The inspiration that started it all...Lily read this and was committed...I took a bit of convincing.
The quote continued with, "The goal to live a healthier life is almost universal. Everybody feels better, worries less, and enjoys life more when they are actively improving their health. You deserve this better life. Today is your day." My wife was a goner after that; jumping back aboard the health train and she hasn't looked back.

If I had been Adam, I would have probably eaten the apple.

By this, I mean that I am fairly easy to distract with temptation, which is a problem, now that Lily has convinced me to commit to a regular workout routine and healthy diet. With cookies and ice cream and various other snacks readily available, it is very difficult to not cheat, which is kind of what Adam and Eve did, thanks in small part to a demon disguised as a snake. I guess that means Oreos are the product of the devil, and given how good they taste, it would not surprise me at all if one of Satan's monikers is Mr. Christie.

Still, the benefits of even just last week are noticeable. Working out is not as painful, and when you mute the video and play dance music, many of the exercises resemble club dancing. I should clarify though, that by club dancing, I of course mean Caucasian-style. My wife would argue that those two words do not belong together, but that response is typical of someone who is (very) secretly jealous of how good a dancer her husband is. She will almost certainly deny this, but you now know the truth.

We are eating healthier, and being better about portion control, too. Lily is even weighing and measuring our food so we can see what a proper portion looks like - and man, our portions were way off! However, the benefits of doing this together is to cheer each other on and support one another if one of us wavers.

One of the easiest excuses for eating poorly is that we are stuck in the frigid Arctic away from everyone back home. While this is true, it rankles Lily and I a bit when people say things like "Oh, it's so incredible what you're doing up there, I wish I was that brave!"

Please allow me to set the record straight. Thus far, we have not pulled anyone to safety from burning buildings, avalanches, or collapsing houses. We have not trekked longer than two hours, and that is usually in the summer. During the winter, it is rare for us to be outside longer than ten minutes at a time. We have not yet saved the world from thermo-nuclear destruction, zombie attack, or environmental catastrophe. Lastly, we have not fought in anything approaching a war to safeguard the freedom of those we love.

The above examples are indicative of "brave" behaviour. We are simply living in a small town, much further north than anyone reasonably sane would consider. Crazy is a term I can better identify with, and I know it has a negative connotation, but it is far more accurate.

So, to sum up: we are healthier, and happier, and crazy.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I was browsing the territory's website recently and noticed a section called "How can we help you?" Pretty standard, I suppose. However, this site offered drop-down menus based on "I am" or "I need" - and that's a little different...

I thought I'd share what comes up in the "I am" drop-down. There certainly are lots of options that I wasn't expecting! At first glance, I chuckled a bit since there are a few in there that surprised me. Then I started to think there must be a wide range of issues that need to be dealt with here for a list like that to be necessary. It certainly makes it easy to navigate if you are having a particular problem. Perhaps other territories/provinces should go the same route to make it extra accessible for people to find information/help.

What do you think? Any surprise you?


Monday, March 3, 2014

Getting Back into the Swing of Things...

I have to admit, things are pretty slow around here these days. We are just ramping up to get back into some sort of normal schedule after our adventures last week, but it looks like this week may be a full week without interruption. You have to imagine how much disruption nature can cause not only on individuals, but businesses as well! I think my office was open for a total of 10 hours last week...crazy! (I'm sad I missed it since I love blizzard days at home - it's the perfect time to be comfortable and snuggle with the dog a lot!)

Baker Lake blizzard - Feb 28, 2014

Our Friday blizzard meant that school was closed right off the bat so Jeff got to stay home all day, but I had to go in for 2 hours before our office closed. I have to say, driving home in whiteout conditions is pretty darn scary! Thankfully it's a relatively short drive so we were safe and cozy just after 11. The storm blew around until Saturday afternoon, at which point the sun came out and it was a quiet evening.

Days/weeks like this past one where the storms seem never-ending, really drive home the fact that we are pretty isolated. When you can't fly in/out of the community, and the shelves in the stores start to look really bare because planes can't drop off's a little disconcerting. Thankfully, we have warm houses and plenty of food and water (yay we didn't run out) so we don't have anything to worry about - but still, makes you appreciate the conveniences of being accessible! Just in case!

If we've said it once, we will continue to say it - we are so appreciative for all the things we tend to take for granted in the south. It truly is the simple things that make such a world of difference.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Travel Woes

We are finally home after quite the adventure trying to get back! Final tally: 2 days of vacation, 6 days of trying to travel. The math seems wrong there, doesn't it??

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Blogging!

Recently, our friend Sarah asked us to write a guest post over on her blog and we happily obliged. The beauty of blogging in the north is that the community of bloggers is fairly small so we start to get to "know" each other, even though we live so far apart. You may remember Sarah from when she blogged for us in the fall. It is fascinating to see how other people are experiencing similar things, yet are in completely different communities.

For our post today, I am going to direct you to Sarah's blog to read what we wrote! Also, if you are looking for another Nunavut blog to read about life in the north, I highly recommend checking out Sarah's blog about her life in Pang!


P.S. We are always looking for guest bloggers to share stories on our blog. If you are currently or have lived in the north, or have an interest in writing about the north - please contact us and we will be happy to feature your post!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Still Vacationing...

Our mini-vacation has been extended (un)fortunately...we were supposed to have left on Saturday, but after a few delays we were finally told our flight was cancelled and we had to re-book. The kicker is that the flights for Sunday and Monday were fully booked, so the earliest we can leave is Tuesday. And since it is weather-related as to why the flight was cancelled, we are on the hook for our own costs of staying. Like I told Jeff, I would have been fine if we had planned to stay longer, or if we had been told earlier our flight wasn't going anywhere...but the hassle of having to scramble and pay for 3 extra days of hotel and car, plus having to unpack our carefully packed groceries and waste a whole day in the airport, made me mad. Had I known we were going to be away this long, I'd have booked us all the way home to Ontario for the week!

As it stands, we are making the most of our extended vacation after settling in and making sure Pepper was ok for a few more days. We went to see the Lego movie in 3D on Saturday, and yesterday we spent a few hours lounging in the book store with some hot beverages. Life isn't so bad (just really expensive, lol). Our hotel room has a kitchen in it, and I have started to dip into the supplies we bought to bring back...not quite what I was expecting to do, but it's cost-effective and saves us from going out 3x a day.

It's actually a pretty good thing we aren't flying today since Baker is under a blizzard warning and we probably would have been stuck along the way. (At least that is what I keep telling myself.)


Friday, February 21, 2014

A Weekend Away...

It's hard to plan a surprise getaway when you live in Nunavut. There are many more logistics than booking a b&b and packing an overnight bag into the trunk of your car. I managed to pull it off (though a day late) and spent some of our Aeroplan points to whisk us away to the paradise that is Winnipeg. Side note: I am terribly saddened that Winnipeg is considered to be exciting, and have vowed to expand our horizons as much as possible. 

It was a plan that needed many people helping, and a lot of finagling but I confirmed the tickets on Wednesday at 2pm and we were on a plane by 4pm. In 30 minutes we were able to pack, find a Pepper-sitter, book a hotel and grab something from the post office. The rest, as they say, is history.

I surprised my husband with the news and we were off! So far, it has been a relaxing trip in the sense that we didn't have a plan, or things that needed to be done...we are simply here to reconnect and spend some time together in the "big city." Highlights so far have included scoring some amazing deals: our car rental ($10/day and unlimited kms?!), our hotel (hooray for government rates!), our food (dinner the first night with...plenty of adult beverages came to $30 after tax and tip, and our 2 huge hot breakfasts came to $9 after taxes!!). We then spent a long time walking around the shops, cheering with a crowd of strangers in the middle of the mall while we watched the Canadian women's hockey team win their Olympic gold medal, driving about town, and generally regaining a sense of normalcy again.

It's been a while since we have gone south and we needed the change of scenery and a bit of warmth (only -14 here!). Tomorrow we will hit some more shops, maybe go to the spa and get a haircut, and then have a nice dinner before we head back on Saturday morning. It's not a long trip, but it is just what we needed. We are as excited to be here as though this were a honeymoon!

I feel so rejuvenated! :)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You Know You Live In The North When...

I found a funny list in the teacher's break room at the school, so I've decided to re-post it here. Believe me, it's all true.

You Know You Live In The North When...

  1. You instinctively walk like a penguin for ten months of the year.
  2. You think nothing of drilling through 13 feet of ice and sitting there all day hoping that dinner will swim by.
  3. Your suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of your forehead.
  4. You have had lengthy conversations with people who dialed you as a wrong number.
  5. You measure distance in number of flights it takes to get there.
  6. You can drive a snowmobile through four feet of snow in a raging blizzard and not flinch.
  7. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a parka.
  8. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes on your dirt road are filled with snow.
  9. Going "down South" means Winnipeg.
  10. Your four seasons are 'almost winter', 'winter', 'still winter', and 'mosquito.'
  11. You find -20C on the warm side.
  12. Your 1st of July picnic was moved indoors because of a blizzard.  

Just another reminder not to complain to us about how cold it is. We are unsympathetic. :-)


Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy 2nd Anniversary (tomorrow)!

Tomorrow is our second wedding anniversary and I can't believe how quickly time has flown by. It seems like just yesterday Jeff and I started dating (and subsequently spending every waking moment together). Our whirlwind romance and the years since then have been the most adventurous, fun and loving years that I have lived. I cannot wait to see what the rest of our lives brings us - because we have started off on such a high note, it's hard to imagine it getting even better. :)

To reminisce, I thought I would share some videos of our special day. Hope you enjoy!

This first one was taken a few months after we got engaged. We played it at our wedding reception as a pre-introduction of the wedding party and had such a fun day filming it. You'd never guess that a 4 minute video would take nearly 6 hours to film...but there you go. Actually, the day started bright and early with hair and make up for my wedding trials - and then we went down to the lake to take engagement photos, and then we ended the day with our stag and doe late into the night. Phew! What a day!!

Our wedding day was magical in every sense of the word. The day started with a light dusting of snow which made it perfect for pictures, but as the day went on the sun shone in full force and we had a warm and beautiful day for the ceremony. The only stress that I felt was when the limo picking us girls up was late because the boys drank all the champagne on the way to the church and the limo driver stopped to pick up a bottle for us (#firstworldproblems I know). The rest of the day went off without a hitch and we even threw in a surprise lion dance for our guests after an elaborate dinner and prior to the late night buffet of a poutine bar, hot dogs, pizza and all the sweets in the world. It's my wedding - of course there will be tons of food! :) We were fortunate to have had our families travel from across the globe to join us, and this 5 minute video is a tiny glimpse of how perfect our day was.

I loved re-living our wonderful day and I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane too!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Be My Valentine

Not Pepper. Tho I'm sure Lily would buy this shirt for him if she could.
Dun dun duh! Today is a very special day for Lily and I, and I'm sure all of you know why.

It's four days before our wedding anniversary!

What did you think I meant?

OK, it's also Valentine's Day, a day when men everywhere buy their special loved one a card, some candy, and maybe a teddy bear, and figure that to be good enough to last another year.

Trust me, fellas - that is a big mistake. It's only good for about two, maybe three months, tops. :-p

Truthfully, every man should treat Valentine's Day like just another opportunity to demonstrate to his wife or girlfriend how much he cherishes her, like every other day, minus the chocolates, roses, and movie tickets.

Flowers and chocolates are out - the former because of the cost of shipping, and the latter, because I'm trying to become smaller so I'm not bringing temptation into the house. I bought Lily a cute Yorkie stuffed toy for Lily for Christmas, but Pepper has claimed it as his own and has eaten its nose, so stuffed animals are also out.

As such, this year, I'm going to do something a little different, provided Amazon gets me my package here on time. I'll do a reveal in one of the posts following today, but my wife is a present-snooper, so my lips are sealed until after I've given it to her. Hopefully it will be on par with the exacting standards of gift-giving my wife and I have set for each other. If not, I'll have a few days to find something at the Northern store that will make up for it. (unlikely)

To the rest of you, please make sure your loved ones know how much you mean to them, and they to you. Have a great day!


P.S. For everyone in Baker, remember to look on the bright side - Valentine's Day means only 4 more months of winter!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


With our pictures from our last post showing the blizzard, some people asked if we could show what the view looks like on a clear day - just for some perspective.

Of course we can do that! One side shows the blizzard picture from the last post next to what the view looks like on a normal day. You can see why I said it was one of the whitest blizzards I've been through! :)

The big building in the back is the Baker Lake power plant

Don't mind the dirty window smudges on the clear picture!

Imagine how much worse it would be if we had more snow!


Monday, February 10, 2014

When it Rains, it Pours...

Actually, the correct saying should be that when it blows, it blows...because we had a doozy of a week last week with blizzards hitting us every other day. Our week was a little disruptive with half of Monday, Wednesday AND Friday off due to weather. (I would be lying if I didn't say that the schoolkid in me came out and loved our snow days.) We have all been complaining that there has been hardly any snow this year because it's been bitterly cold since October; -50 or below has been normal for months now...and I have to tell you, it's getting might tiring. This time last year, snow drifts were well above 10 feet high - this year, there are barely any drifts in town. You know you're living in the north when it's actually too cold to snow!

We did have a warm day or two last week (warm being -18 or so) and it snowed a bit. That seemed to have been enough for one of the whitest blizzards I've ever seen, a couple of days later. When we first came to Nunavut, we were told that we could be subject to blizzards so white that you couldn't see out the window, let alone across the street. Sometimes they could be so bad you couldn't see your hand in front of your face if you were to hold out your arm. We hadn't really experienced that, so we were somewhat skeptical...

Well, when you have a tiny bit of fresh, soft snow and winds of 90+ km/h, you'd be surprised at what you can see. Here are a couple of pictures...and keep in mind that it's not because I have a bad camera, it really is that white from the snow!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chillin' in the Kitchen: Super Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (No Butter)

I was speaking with a friend recently and the topic of oatmeal cookies came up...and that got me really, really craving some. I also have an obscene amount of oats on hand (we eat a lot of oaty things, what can I say) so I welcome any excuse to dig into our stockpile.

One of the things I dislike about baking is the use of butter - mainly because there is never any butter in our house because I always forget to buy it, or I'm too lazy to soften butter in advance of baking when I want instant gratification and don't have the patience to wait. If it's a one-bowl, one-utensil recipe, it earns even more points. I am proof you can be lazy and still make delicious food!

My favourite kind of Oatmeal Cookies are ones that are soft and chewy - I don't particularly care for the super flat ones that are crispy. These cookies used coconut oil since that's what I typically have on hand, but you could use olive oil or canola oil - or even try doing half oil/half unsweetened applesauce. The nice thing about coconut oil is that it makes the house smell super coconutty but you don't really get a coconut taste.

You can do so much to this simple starter recipe but I like it with raisins the best. Chocolate chips/chunks, nuts or other dried fruits would go really well too. Whatever you do, try not to eat all of them in one sitting (unless you have a lot of really cold milk on hand...then, you should definitely eat them all.) :)

Oatmeal Cookies
makes ~28 cookies

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A New Day

Things have been difficult here the past while for us. A few different things have been causing us a bit of stress and some days, it's really, really hard to be far away from home.

But when things are a little down, we just need to have faith that things will get better and become clearer when the time is right. It helps that our view most days is so beautiful. Can't help but think positive when your day starts off so wonderfully.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Creativity Abounds!

One of the most inspiring things that I have witnessed here in Baker Lake is the amount of creativity that lives here. Even when traveling throughout the territory, you would be hard-pressed to not notice the beautiful arts, crafts, clothing and more that are created here. In Iqaluit, it is common to be sitting down for dinner and local artists approach your table with prints or carvings for sale.

Baker doesn't have restaurants per se, so people here tend to use Facebook to sell their wares unless there is a community event. Just before Christmas, there was a community craft sale where people came out with all sorts of homemade items that we oooh'd and aaah'd over. I ended up buying a knitted hat, but many of my colleagues walked away with ivory jewelery, knitted wares, traditional prints and more.

There is something to be said about not only supporting your community, but supporting the artist who worked so hard to make the items they so proudly showcased.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Thank You, @PenguinCanada!


A few months ago, I hosted a girls night where as the night went on, we all decided it would be a great idea to start a book club. Most of us haven't been in a book club, but we like to read and the thought was if we read together, we would also have an excuse to regularly get together and enjoy each others company (and each others wine, if we're being honest, ha).

The library in Baker is not the biggest library by any means, and the selection can be fairly limited compared to the libraries in the south. (For example, although I am here, I am still able to borrow ebooks from my library at is wonderful, isn't it??) On a whim, I decided to reach out to a number of book publishers via my Twitter account to see if any company would be interested in helping us out. My message was simple, as one can't be too wordy with a limit of 140 characters: "We are forming a book club in Baker Lake, Nunavut and our resources are limited. Would you be interested in helping with donations to the community?"

Of all the messages I sent, only one company responded. Elizabeth from Penguin Canada was very open to the idea and my proposition - if we received the books for our book club, we would be more than happy to donate them back to the community when we were finished so we could keep the literacy cycle going. A few weeks later, I received a box full of books and then just this past week I received a second box that even included signed copies of one of the books. It's like Christmas for our brains and we are so overwhelmed with Penguin's generosity! :)

It's always amazing to me to find a company that is so receptive to helping and giving back. It means a lot to not only our small group, but the people that we will be able to share our books with. Growing up, I have always been a bookworm and in Jeff I have found a husband who also shares the same passion for reading that I have. To be able to share that joy with our community with Penguin's help is a gift that means so much to us.

Thank you, Penguin Canada - especially Elizabeth - you have reminded us that we are not forgotten all the way up here.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plastic Brains

A bit belated, but once again, one of the side benefits of living in Baker Lake is that Santa overcompensates, being that we're so far from loved ones during the holidays. No complaints!

Amongst other great gifts for Christmas, my mother gave me a book entitled The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. In classic Jeff form, I procrastinated reading it until just recently. Once I got into it however, it became as engrossing as a Lee Child or Tom Clancy novel. It talks about neuroplasticity, which simply means that our brains can be changed positively with a little exercise. The book documents examples of people with Alzheimer's, strokes, brain injuries, and other ailments, and shows how what was once considered permanent brain damage can be reversed using the latest in neuroplastic advancements.

I'm only into the third chapter, but already, the information I've learned is incredible. The book explains why people become forgetful as they age, and the best ways to prevent this from happening. As the author explains, medical science has gotten very good at keeping people alive into their eighties using tools that make us more physically healthy. What's needed is a comparable amount of focus on mental health, so that everyone can fully enjoy this longevity.

There is a website one of the neuroplasticians founded called Posit Science, and you can try several exercises for free that help train your brain to become better.

It's a great book that explains complicated brain functions in a simple way, and every chapter is more interesting than the last. I HIGHLY recommend reading it. Don't procrastinate. :-)


Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting Healthy

Pepper is as energetic as ever, and still adorably cute. It's hard to get used to the idea that he will only ever be max. 7 pounds, even as a grumpy adult. Right now he is snuggling next to Lily , legs splayed out like he was drunk (he's not), and Lily is engrossed in one of the hidden object games I downloaded for her iPad. Typical evening in our quiet household. We had an eventful weekend in terms of weather - Lily came home around 3pm on Thursday and that blizzard lasted until late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Most of Saturday was clear and sunny, but we were under a second blizzard warning for the evening, though when we went to bed it was still pretty clear out. Winds picked up Sunday afternoon, but it never got terribly bad even though we were supposed to have a blizzard until Monday evening - by later on Sunday, it was pretty clear again and our blizzard warning sadly ended. It was brief, but reminds us that if only there were a bit more snow, this could be a very different winter.