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.