Out of My Head – I Mean Office

 

Well it’s Sunday morning again, and the sun is shining through the leaves that are just beginning to turn colour outside my kitchen window.  It’s been a slow change this season, and I’m surprised how many are still green this late into October.  I’m sitting here enjoying the view with my first cup of coffee while deciding what to do first today. So far, here’s my list:

– go to gym
– tidy kitchen
– yard work
– clean and re-caulk the shower
– dig up bulbs
– clean out fridge
– finish laundry

Normally my weekend “To Do” lists are much longer, but technically I only have until noon today to finish this one.  I’m still cramming in as much as I can in true workaholic style, but after that, I’m on vacation for a few days.

Yes that’s right.  I am looking forward to some much needed quality time with The Fam.  As such, I may be out of touch with my social media channels for a bit. Over the next week, I’ll be checking in periodically and available to my clients via text or email, but not actively posting blogs.

I’m committing to focusing on my family over these next few days. Face time with your loved ones is more important than Facebook updates and I want to show them I haven’t forgotten this. Working from home more now this year has allowed them to see more of me, but some days its just the back of my head as I sit hunkered down over my laptop.  I highly doubt that this counts in their book.

I swear to everything holy he hasn't even FOUND his suitcase yet. I'm tempted to hide all his laundry that I washed and sorted just to make things more fun (well for me.)
I swear to everything holy he hasn’t even FOUND his suitcase yet. I’m tempted to hide all his laundry that I have spent days washing and folding just to make things more fun (well for me.)

The kid is so excited about our pending adventure that she was up at 6am this morning with daddy as he prepared to head to the gym.  They both kindly let me sleep in a few hours longer but the calm didn’t last as long as I had hoped.  Now we are in a state of simmering anticipation to be on our way.

Of course, this means I need to finish my chores and have everything ready so my husband can waltz in, shove some clothes in a bag and proudly pronounce he is ready to go.  If he has to wait more than 15 minutes he will start to get cranky.   So on that note, I’d better put this post to bed and go make mine.  My “To Do” list is waiting. Please enjoy your week and stay sane. We’ll chat again soon.

Now where did I put my work gloves?

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A Workaholic Weekend

The Stay At Home Workaholic
The Stay At Home Workaholic

What a glorious October day – and a Saturday to boot! Weekends are wonderful, but seeing that sunshine and blue sky streaming through the autumn leaves outside my front window was a better start for my soul than sipping that first cup of coffee. That, and knowing that the day was mine. (Well, mostly.) Upon stepping out my door this morning, I felt as though I’d been turned loose from within a dark cave and couldn’t decide what to do first with my freedom. Should I take down the gazebo? Dig up bulbs? Clean the garage? There were literally dozens of projects and errands I wanted/needed to do. Not to mention my daughter had a soccer game followed by TWO parties this afternoon… I knew what I needed to do to stay organized. I grabbed a pen and jotted down everything on my mind so I could visualize and prioritize my tasks. This is my go-to trick for keeping on top of things when my husband works every weekend. Usually its just me and the kid holding down the fort. So in the midst of playing soccer mom/ chauffeur, I managed to achieve the following in true workaholic style:

  1. Clean the kitchen. This is a never-ending battle isn’t it? Some days I want to take a picture to preserve the moment. It seldom lasts half the day before I have to do it again. I’ve taken to getting up early just to sit in the kitchen with my coffee so I can enjoy it before all hell breaks loose.
  2. Survey yard and plantings. Start planning to dig up bulbs for proper storage over winter. Note I didn’t actually get to the digging up part yet, but I found my spade and tools and I eyed up my plants so I’m halfway there. My husband also wants to plant garlic this year so I have to find a spot in the yard for that to happen…
  3. Put gazebo cover away. OK, my dad came over and took the cover off for me while I was at the soccer game but I had totally planned to help him with it. I did have to find a storage solution that would be rodent-proof and neighbourhood stray cat-proof, so I’m claiming some points for this.
  4. Do laundry. By “do” I mean not just sorting it and pre-treating it but actually finding it first. This often involves scouring the entire house to collect all the dirty socks my family likes to leave for me to find. They each have their own secret hiding places, and I’d like to hope I know where most of them are by now. Sometimes I feel like I’m on some messed up scavenger hunt and the only prize I can win is keeping this place from stinking.
  5. Hang up exterior Halloween lights. Ha! Take that neighbours. Let’s give the kids something to look at when they go out this year besides a carved pumpkin.  Plus, my driveway is pretty uneven, so I don’t want any lawsuits from injured trick-0r-treaters.
  6. Hang up exterior Christmas lights UNDER the Halloween lights. Yes, I hang the lights around here and yes, I do it early. I prefer to stand in my warm and cozy, well-lit front window drinking hot chocolate and waving at my neighbours as they struggle with their lights after the first frost. Or even better, during that first snow storm.
  7. Make dinner using frozen meal I prepped for the slow cooker two weeks ago. This was one of those little tidbits I found on Pinterest that has become a new favourite thing for me. I have always loved using my slow cookers (yes, that’s plural) and having everything prepared for a meal in a bag in my freezer has been wonderful. I highly recommend doing it. Just pick up a few packages of bulk chicken breast next time they go on sale and portion them out with some veg and sauce. You won’t regret it on days like this.
  8. Get groceries. I should start this by apologizing to anyone I may have run over with my shopping cart today at Sobey’s. All I can say is I had 35 minutes to get it done and I was on a mission. But of course, half of the things I went there for were not stocked, so now I’ll be making another trip to Zehrs today instead. You’ve been forewarned.
  9. Get gas in car. Well this only makes it to the list because of dumb luck. I could very well have run my tank dry before noticing my fuel gauge today. In my defense I had a lot of random stuff on my mind today and as long as I didn’t forget to pick up my kid somewhere or end up stuck in a field with no gas I count it as a good day.
  10. Write a new blog post. Honestly this started out as a quick Facebook update, but once I got started I realized it had potential. I had planned to start writing on Sunday based on the rainy weather forecast, but when the creative juices start flowing you have to go where they take you.

My scribbled up “To Do” list is a part of my weekend routine. To some, it may seem like I’m overdoing it but my list helps to keep me sane. Writing down my tasks helps me to stay focused on my goals. If I don’t finish my list that is fine. The world will not end and I’m not a bad mom. I know I’m not alone in this, so please share your stories and solutions. After all, how many parents out there can relate? How many of you have days like this, feeling like you need to tackle the world in one weekend? Drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter, or comment on my webpage. Here’s wishing you a sedate Sunday full of no obligations and a chance to actually unwind. Cheers!

Celebrating Fall Flavours: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll Cake

The fall season is once again upon us here in Niagara.  Surprisingly, the leaves have retained their lush green hues for much longer than usual.  Personally I have enjoyed the extended summer-like conditions, being a flip-flop wearing sun-lover, but I must admit that I am finally ready for autumn.   Time to break out the boots and scarves!

"O suns and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together. Ye cannot rival for one hour October's bright blue weather." -Helen Hunt Jackson
“O suns and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together.  Ye cannot rival for one hour October’s bright blue weather.” -Helen Hunt Jackson

But seriously, I love this time of year. I can finally go for a walk without the oppressive heat and drought we have had here in Niagara all summer, and there are ALMOST no mosquitoes following me either. The air is filled with crisp scents of leaves turning and grapes ripening, with hints of rosehips and woodsmoke, and the blue of the sky is made more brilliant by the changing colour of the leaves.

This would also be the time of year when everyone seems to remember their spice cupboard. For some reason, we North Americans (yes I am calling out both Canadians and Americans on this one) share a common taste.  We absolutely loose our collective minds for a spice blend known as Pumpkin Spice. We will put that stuff on just about anything. Frankly it is shocking how much it appears in everything from coffee and tea, confections and condiments to pasta. I like it as much as the next person, but I do have to laugh when I see things like this video posted in fun at our own obsession:

The Holderness Family’s Pumpkin Spice Anthem

So having said this, here is my own contribution to the pumpkin spice craze. Instead of pumpkin, I am using sweet potato although I assure you that it can quite easily be substituted for it. I originally came across the basis for this recipe on Pinterest, so I am including the details in case anyone wants to look it up, but I did adapt it to be dairy free and reduced the sugar as I was using sweetened almond milk. I often leave off the final glaze as I find it sweet enough without it, but do what you like.
The texture of this cake is amazing and the glaze is completely decadent. It tastes absolutely heavenly when served still slightly warm from the oven, but is also quite excellent when sneaking a square out of the fridge for a late-night snack after the kids and your spouse are asleep. Another bonus is that it contains vegetables and I guarantee you will not have to convince your kids to eat this.  I wish I had a picture to post, but every time I make it the thing is devoured before I can get my hands on the camera.

I hope you have enjoyed your (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend. Do let me know if you decide to try this recipe out – remember, it also works great with leftover mashed sweet potatoes. I sometimes keep them in the freezer just so I can make this. Canned pumpkin or sweet potato will also work in a pinch. As always, I love to hear from readers, so drop me a line and let me know how it turns out!

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll Cake

Originally Posted To GFCAV Presents Food Recipe Central
Posted By: Sharon Daniel-Roane
Adapted By: Bonnie Servos (The Stay At Home Workaholic)

Cake
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 cups cooked sweet potatoes or pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Almond Milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsps vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Topping:
1 cup coconut oil, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 TBLS flour
1 TBLS cinnamon

Glaze (optional)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 TBLS vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl combine flour,sugar,salt, and baking powder using a fork.  In another large bowl beat sweet potatoes and almond milk until smooth. Add beaten eggs, and vanilla, then blend until combined. Slowly add flour to sweet potato mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Slowly stir the melted coconut oil into the batter until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Make topping.

Topping directions:
Mix all the topping ingredients together until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake cake for 30- 35 minutes. After cake is baked, cool slightly while making the glaze.

Glaze directions:
Combine glaze ingredients and mix until smooth. Glaze cake while still warm.

Learning to Jump With Help From Madonna

As I began to make this new blogging venture of mine a reality, I experienced a tumultuous riot of emotions. Waves of ecstasy and happiness at being in pursuit of a dream I had sheltered for many years. These feelings would be followed by moments of sheer panic and doubt over what it meant I was walking away from. It truly felt as though I was standing on the edge of a cliff and testing a pair of wings I have never used, trusting that they knew what to do once I stepped off into the unknown.

Turning your back on the familiar is extremely difficult and can lead you to question your own sanity at times, but the older you get the more you begin to realize that you it’s true what they say – you only live once. “There’s no time like the present” and “the longer you wait the harder it gets” and all that. Yeah. No kidding. Like many today, I knew I was spinning my wheels and time was wasting. It was time to make my own way.

“There’s only so much you can learn in one place
The more that I wait, the more time that I waste
I haven’t got much time to
waste
It’s time to make my way
I’m not afraid of what I’ll face
But I’m afraid to stay
I’m going down my road and I can make it alone
I’ll work and I’ll fight till I
find a place of my own.”
-Jump, Madonna
Confessions on a Dance Floor 2005

header stay at home [214800]

So here we go. This blog will be a reflection of my own journey into freelance writing and blogging, and I hope it will serve as a source of inspiration for others seeking to make a change. I will be sharing tips and tidbits here on a variety of subjects that I am passionate about including ways to live a healthier lifestyle, and the buzz here in my local stomping grounds of the Niagara Region in Ontario Canada. I have a strong background in retail and tourism, and networking is my middle name. As such, I want to help spread the word on local business and restaurants. I will also be testing out and giving feedback on popular Pinterest recipes. I hope my blog will also be a source of positivity for those seeking a little push in the right direction just like I was, or at the very least an escape from the tedium of daily life. I also look forward to sharing my learning process as I grow and evolve my freelance writing business, Niagara Writing Services. If you like what you find here, or have an idea for a post please feel free to drop me a line – I look forward to interacting with my readers and sharing ideas. Jumping into a new venture is always easier when you have someone to do it with.

Thankfully I have a great husband who gave me the push I needed to make my dream of writing a reality. His love and support has always been strengths I have drawn upon and cherished. I don’t think I can say I jumped of my own free will so much as got lovingly shoved into this, but however it happened I am glad it did. Our work schedules had become very conflicted and the demands were placing stress on our family. We both knew it was time for a change and it is in part thanks to him that I have followed through on this new path. Having the support of your loved ones is always beneficial, but sometimes you do start to wonder if your loved ones are in fact slightly biased in your favour and not the best focus group to be bouncing your ideas off of. Fortunately for me I had other guiding influences and a great group of friends which helped with me making my decision to jump.

When the time finally came I was surprised at how easy it was to do it; to make the decision to walk away from a stable paycheck and familiar routine. For a time, I felt like I was in free-fall – floating around, weightless, and ungrounded. I admit I did feel a bit lost at times, as I struggled to bring my dream to reality. During my transition to becoming a freelance writer/blogger, I also rediscovered an old favourite Madonna song which always helped me to focus on my goals, and in this case helped to reaffirm my decision. It is a song which has always lifted my spirits and continually reminds me to seize the day.

The funny thing is I was never a huge fan of Madonna. I don’t recall how I came across it, but from the first moment I listened to it, her 2005 album Confessions on a Dance Floor has resonated with me and several songs have found their way into my permanent iTunes collection. The song “Jump” in particular has always struck a chord with me. The lines quoted above have always struck me as less of a love song and more about finding the strength to move forward. Like the song says, I knew I didn’t want to stay where I was and I felt time slipping away from me (I turned 40 this year – ugh!) I too was more afraid to risk staying where I was for the rest of my life than I was to face the unknown.

I think many of us today are in this same spot – questioning the path we are on and wondering if we are making the right decision. Do we risk it all for a chance at our dreams, or do we stick with the way things are – for our own sake and the sake of those that depend on us? Can we afford to take that risk and what happens if we fail? While I can’t offer a solution that will offer a simple answer that works for everyone, I can share here what I have found to work for me so far. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to your views on success and fulfillment. By this I mean that what makes me feel successful and fulfilled may differ significantly from you. Find out what being successful means to you and what you find fulfillment from in life and try to create a balance between them. Making subtle changes in your life now may result in significant improvements in these areas over time. For me, finding a balance between my career and my family was key.

By asking myself what I was more afraid of – the unknown of pursuing my dreams or staying in my present reality – I was able to make the decision that was right for me. This of course implies that you have done your homework on the subject and considered your financial situation – don’t take a leap without a parachute! And just like Madonna says, I know that “I’ll work and I’ll fight till I find a place of my own.” Every day I am working to bring my own dream to reality and I feel blessed to be doing so. I no longer feel like I am in free-fall, but am heading down the path I was meant to be on. I wish the same for you my readers and look forward to sharing this path with you through my blog.

“Are you ready to jump
Get ready to jump
Don’t ever look back oh baby
Yes, I’m ready to jump
Just take my hand
Get ready to jump”

Jump with me. Let’s see where we land.

Bonnie

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