Are you in on the craze of the season? Just stop. Please.

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Are you in on this Hatchimal craze?

I’m not. My kids are not. And if they were, I’m afraid that they would be sorely disappointed. Because Christmas is NOT about getting the latest fad or the most expensive doodad. It’s about sharing time with your family, giving gifts that hold true value to the recipient, not just over-advertised, over-hyped and over-priced poorly made and likely soon-to-be recalled pieces of garbage.

Sound harsh? Yup. I probably am. But I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to raise good humans, people who care more about other people and the world we live in than they do STUFF.

A lot of people pay lip service to raising kids with manners, a lot of people complain about the quality of education their children are receiving, a lot of people are so worried about keeping their children HAPPY, that they are not actually doing anything to prepare their children for reality.

The reality that people are not ALWAYS happy. That not everybody is going to give you what you want. That sometimes people say NO and you need to accept that and move forward, not throw a fit or fall apart. The reality is that you really can’t always get what you want, but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you’ll get what you need.

And yes, I realize that I am quoting The Rolling Stones to try to get my point across, but hey, they had it right. So why fight it?

How to ask for a refund for your recalled Children’s Advil Products

Having a few kids in the house, I tend to make sure that I have fever medication on hand in case one (or more) of my mighty minions comes down with either a high fever or an unshakeable fever. One of the products that I have in my house right now is Children’s Advil, Dye Free. When I heard about the recall, I went online and found the Lot numbers affected and soon figured out that I had two unused bottles of the recalled product.

advil_recall

Without much thought, I took them to Wal-Mart with me the next time I needed to pick up a prescription. I handed them to the pharmacy assistant and she took them, said thank you, and turned away. I asked if I should just take two others off the shelf and she looked perplexed and said no, that they don’t do that. So, I quickly figured out that I was handing over $12 or more to Wal-Mart without receiving any benefit of a product or service, and I asked for them back. I decided to call the manufacturer (Pfizer) directly.

Bada-boom Bada-bing. My refund cheque should be in the mail in 4-6 weeks.

Find the list of effected Lot Numbers here: Healthy Canadians – Government of Canada

Lot numbers are printed on the bottom of the box and also on the side of the bottles. If you have one that matches up, send an email to: pchinfo@healthconnect.ca and make sure to include:

  • The product name;
  • The product size;
  • The lot number;
  • Your complete mailing address, including unit or apartment number;
  • Your telephone number.

If you’d rather leave a voicemail with all of that information included, call 1-888-275-9938, choose 1 for English (if you want), the choose 1 for the recall line. Dollars to donuts they will be experiencing ‘a higher than usual volume of calls’ so if you’re like me and hate donating life hours to being on hold, go the email route. ????

Once you hit ‘send’ you’ll receive an auto-reply that says:

Thank you for contacting Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. Your email inquiry/request has been received and we will respond at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sincerely,

Pfizer Customer Service

Your refund cheque should arrive within 4-6 weeks.

Easy-peasy. For once.

I’ve taken on another adventure – Epicure in the ‘wick

I’ve been A.W.O.L. for a while now, unable to do much of anything other than basic ‘life’ and have, in all honesty barely been doing an adequate job at that, but amidst all of my mediocre efforts/results at ‘life’, I recently decided to become an Independent Epicure Consultant.

I have never done anything like this before. I’ve purchased from other women selling various products – Thirty-One, Grace Adele, Scentsy (currently investigating, never purchased yet), so I can appreciate the actual process of catalogue purchasing, but I’ve never decided to try to SELL anything like this before.

Most of the companies are started by women, for women and Epicure is no different. But one difference is that it was started by CANADIAN women Canadian women. And I kind of dig that. Also, I have a terrible time finding products that I feel that I can trust, are limited or devoid of chemicals, additives (like MSG, tonnes of sodium, tartrazine, etc.) that I can afford to purchase ON A BUDGET. Enter, Epicure with amazing food products, cook and bakeware, recipes, and teas. If you enjoy cooking, or just really good tasting food, it’s worth a second look.

If you’d like to check out the current catalogue, or even place an order or host your own party (online is fine – not everyone has time to have 10 people over to their house for a tasting party), here is the link to my consultant site (Canadian shipping addresses only). Everything from Epicure is gluten-free, so no worries on that front, and many items are now Non-GMO verified (and more are going through the process all the time), which, for me, when it comes to what I am feeding my family, is increasingly important.

February Specials - The After Ate tea is to die for, but so is just about everything else here!

February Specials – The After Ate tea is to die for, but so is just about everything else here! Is it smart for a self-diagnosed Food Junkie to be working a business in the food industry? I don’t know, but I’m going to have a ton of fun finding out!

So, while I want to do so many things everyday/week/month (oh, I also, joined the gym, am trying to re-teach myself piano, trying to write consistently, photograph my rapidly growing babies regularly, keep the house reasonable, the meals prepared, the clothes washed (if not folded and put away), work and earn at four part-time jobs and now Epicure too!), I continue with to struggle of trying to be everything to everyone, do everything I want, need and must do, and falling short at every turn. But slowing down or downsizing what I take on doesn’t appear to be part of my DNA.

But, at the end of the day, I just need to do better, work harder, try more and I’ll achieve my goals. Right? Isn’t that the way we’re told life works? I sure hope that wasn’t just a great big lie that I’ve fallen for.

My character challenge for the second half of February.

My character challenge for the second half of February.

One high speed car chase does not a vigilante make. It takes at least two.

Once, years and years ago, my son Declan and I were dropping off a bunch of things for donation at our local Goodwill. It was a Sunday, so they were closed, and so as per usual, we left our things with the other donations piled close to the entrance. We unloaded the car, hopped back in and left, hanging a left out of the parking lot which lead us to drive past the Goodwill once again.

As we were driving by, I saw that a nicely kept, newer minivan was parked in the space we just left and that a woman and her son were going through the boxes and bags that Declan and I had just unloaded. I swung into the parking lot across the street and watched for a few moments, because I could not believe what I was seeing. I could feel my blood pressure rising, watching this woman load the items that Declan and I had JUST DONATED to charity into her newer-than-mine vehicle. I decided that I had to try to confront her.

Now, realize that this was before everyone and their grandma had a cell phone, smartphone, digital camera, dash cam, YouTube, etc. We had brickish, heavy, blocky cell phones that only stored a few numbers and dialed and received calls – no pictures, no texting, no internet, no 24/7 connectivity with the rest of the world. So, thusly disconnected from our friends and family, off we drove back into the Goodwill parking lot, and rolled right up on her. She knew she was busted. She knew that she was stealing, that she was doing the wrong thing and that I was ANGRY.

She took off. I took off after her. I got her license plate, but I still followed her to just shy of the airport (from Scarborough, for any of you familiar with the area). For those not familiar – that is fuck far. And she was scared, driving erratically and I was single-mindedly in pursuit. What was I going to do if I actually got her? No flipping idea – I was just do infuriated that she would take her kid and STEAL from the GOODWILL, items that MY KID and I just DONATED. You know, TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE.

So, while we’re flying along the 401, I can see her son WALKING around inside her almost brand-new minivan (needs to steal from charity?), playing with a toy that I KNOW that my son just gave away “so another kid who doesn’t have any toys can maybe play with it, Mummy.”

And then, I just stopped. I took the next exit and headed home. Explaining to my child why we would continue to do the right thing, and why when we see someone doing the wrong thing, causing harm, that we cannot sit quietly by and pretend not to see it. That we must act, because it is the right thing to do. Now, I did also explain that typically high-speed highway chases are rarely the exactly right thing to do either, but that because we had her license plate and vehicle information that we could let the store know and they could decide what action, if any, to take. In the meantime, since it’s highly unlikely that someone drove 45 minutes or longer to hit up that exact CLOSED Goodwill, I cost her a ton of gas and time that day (I was driving a little economy car, so it cost me far, far less than it did her ;))

I never much thought about what I now call the ‘Reverse Donation’ before that day, but ever since that day, I have been hyper-pissed off whenever I see someone looting the donation drop offs. I don’t usually have a camera or other means of recording it, but this past weekend, I did have a camera with me, so I did capture what appears to be yet another mother-son team in a minivan doing the Reverse Donation with a Twist – treating it more like an exchange program than a straight up DONATION program.

Stealing sucks. Stealing sucks even worse when you involved your kids. Don’t suck.

If the sun hadn't been directly in my eyes and making it impossible for me to know if I was actually getting the pictures that I was trying to get, I would have had about ten times this number of pictures. Mr. KB told me later that Ms. Reverse Donation with a Twist was waving at me for a bit, but I didn't see that. I wish I had a picture of it though!

If the sun hadn’t been shining directly in my eyes and making it impossible for me to know if I was actually getting the pictures that I was trying to get, I would have had about ten times this number of pictures. Mr. KB told me later that Ms. Reverse Donation with a Twist was waving at me for a bit, but I didn’t see that. I wish I had a picture of it though!

 

A new look for a new year

Now, if I could just lose 50 pounds, figure out how I’d like my hair done, and work up the courage to use my (very beautiful, very fancy, and very scary) brand new pressure cooker, then a new look for the blog would seem far less monumental.

But for now, it’s pretty much all I got.

And I did not win the lottery on Friday night, despite the fact that I bought a ticket and I was completely ready to win and make life a whole lot better for a whole bunch of people.  Way to screw things up, Lottery Gods.

Oh, and I could tell you about the time I shopped at the Keswick Wal-Mart after 10 p.m. but it would be a lie.  Because the Keswick Wal-Mart hates Christmas.  Or money.  Or Keswick.  Or Keswick Christmas money.  Why else would they not be having Christmas hours and forcing us to drive to Newmarket to spend that same money at the Newmarket Wal-Mart (open until midnight!), the Superstore (24/7, people.  24/7 until the 23rd.  Then they are closing earlier on the 24th.  Because they like Christmas and want people to be happy.), or Toys ‘r Us which is doing their usual open until midnight schtick.  Not to get on a Wal-Mart tirade (everyone is doing them) but seriously, what other possible explanation could there be for not having Christmas hours?  DOLLARAMA is even staying open before Christmas until 11 p.m.  (Spoiler alert: a lot of you may be receiving gifts from the dollar store this year.  Don’t be offended.  The dollar store is the new department store, donchu know?)

We spied a possum in our backyard this morning.  No, we didn’t shoot it, trap it, or otherwise harm or consume it.  We just watched it scurry across the icy snow and into our neighbours yard.  But just saying the word ‘possum’ can sort of make one feel a little rednecky.  Luckily, I’m pretty sure that the whole not eating him thing saves us from wearing that particular badge of honour.

In other news, it is now three days until Christmas and the clock is tick, tick, ticking.  Time to start your shopping.  But don’t bother with Wal-Mart in town.  They’ll only break your heart.  Oh, and I’m partial to things that sparkle (no glitter, please).

Mr. K.B. and our smalls totally rocked the gingerbread this year.  Ho, ho, ho!

Mr. K.B. and our smalls totally rocked the gingerbread this year. Ho, ho, ho!

Decluttering on Cocaine

Um, really?  There are people out there who are searching for information about decluttering while on cocaine and they were directed to The Keswick Blog via their search engines to be informed on said subject? Hmmmm.  I am not sure if I find that information flattering or merely mildly disturbing.

Every now and then, I succumb to curiosity and check which search terms are bringing people to the K.B.  Recently, these are the top search terms (exactly as typed) that brought people here (during the past 90 days):

noses

decluttering on cocaine (sorry, but if you’re high on cocaine and worrying about how to declutter your den, it’s time to find a new dealer because you are getting ripped the fuck off. If cocaine were the ‘I’m so type A that I must clean, declutter and organize all my shit’ drug it would have a totally different fan base.

will ferrell bucket of blood (ew. Yes, well. Um, maybe a typo? Repeated by many people?  Now I have to search that to see what the story is.  Why are people looking for a bucket of blood? Unless you’re heading to prom with Carrie, a bucket of blood is probably excessive.  Just sayin’. )

i want you to shut the f up (um, who are these people talking to?!?  They sound crazy.  I’d probably like them.)

pickupfuckers (still making the list – how weird is that?)

male’s penis into female’s vagina (words. fail.)

freshco keswick hours (people gotta eat. Even in the ‘wick)

I’m not exactly sure what to take away from this information other than (a) I use the word ‘fuck’ too often in this blog (granted some would argue that I use far too much foul language in general on The Keswick Blog, but I have to use it here.  Using it in my everyday conversations would just be wrong, since 90% of my daily conversations are between me and a three-year-old); (b) somehow the K.B. is becoming a technical sex education resource (really should look at spicing that up somehow); and (c) the locals really like shopping at FreshCo, for there was not one single hit for any other local store hours.  I think I feel an experiment coming on. 😉

My life story.

My life story.

 

Even as a reformed retail therapy abuser, this news makes me happy. Oh, and free money always helps too.

For years, our U.S. neighbours have been able to shop for groceries, housewares, books, music, toys, etc. on Amazon.com.  Up here in Canada, we’ve been stuck with books, movies and music, similar fare as Chapters/Indigo hocks.  At least that was true, until now.  This morning, I received an email from Amazon.ca that announced that Canadians can how shop online at Amazon.ca and purchase TONNES of grocery items, specialty food items, and more.

Now, for the most part, I abhor spending money online (or at all really, except for groceries, I like grocery shopping and stretching those grocery dollars to fill the bellies around me) – the convenience mark-up ticks me right off (irrational?  Maybe, but it does).  That, coupled with being tired of spending money on products that fall apart, are cheaply made but costly to purchase have turned me off of all but the most necessary purchases.  But Amazon.ca is a slightly different story because more often that not, I use gift cards earned through Swagbucks.  Free money is the best kind of money to spend.  I wrote more about Swagbucks here (tip #5).   I now usually earn $10 to $15 a month in Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks, and while that alone is not very much, over the course of a year (think Christmas or just pick-me-up gifts) it can equate to $120 to $180 to spend willy-nilly, and when you generally do not buy everything that you want or see, it’s a total treat to spend frivolously (very occasionally, of course). 😉  Use your free money and shop during sales and you can end up with a lot of nice new swag for $0 (watch for free Super Saver Shipping too!).

Not very funny, wordy or revolutionary, but the news of the expanding product lines brought a smile to my face today, so I thought that I would share.

Disclosure: The links are referral links, but I’m not killing it with referrals, so if you’d rather just go to the sites, click here for the Canadian Amazon grocery page and here for Swagbucks. 🙂

 

 

 

These bananas are RUINED! This whole GMO thing may be starting to hit home

I do not pretend to know very much anything about GMO’s in our food (reading up on the subject is on my To Do list, that it’s a long freaking list, so I have not gotten there yet) and I’m certainly not a farmer, plantation owner or even a very good gardener.   But I am a seasoned enough eater that when I buy bananas for my kids (from Costco, no less), neither they nor I expect to find this:

What in the WORLD happened to these seemingly NORMAL bananas?  This ain't right.  It just ain't right.

What in the WORLD happened to this seemingly NORMAL banana? This ain’t right. It just ain’t right.

Are there are any Bananaologists, farmers, really smart monkeys or actually is there anyone out there who can tell me what in the sacred name of Chiquita is wrong with this banana and why does it have this hard rust-red core running through it, rendering it not only scary to look at but more importantly, completely inedible?  This is not the first banana that we have had like this, and I fear it will not be the last.  And in a house that goes through a minimum of four bananas a day (and more usually five or six), not only is this food waste, which I really try to avoid, it is also a waste of our money (I am NOT driving back to Newmarket to return the bananas – to spend $5 in gas to return $1.69 worth of bananas is NOT a sound financial decision, yes?)

So, please.  Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this banana and should I be concerned about more than merely the financial violation against my family?  Should I actually be buying “Organic” bananas (not one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’)?

And yes, I am painfully aware that many of the sentences in this post are entirely too long, but it’s late, I’m tired and when those two variables intersect, my  mind works in LONG sentences. Judge if you will.  It does not change the fact that we are facing a potential banana crisis, which I for one can only say must be more important than my stupid run-on sentences, no?

P.S.  Sorry if that sounded cranky.  I’m actually quite put-out with these mutant bananas and although I took Costco’s advise and put them into the freezer, I can’t help but feel uneasy.  Someone please tell me that it’s over exposure to the sun, or seasickness or jet lag that caused the banana (and others like it) to fall ill.

P.P.S.  Just re-read that and must admit that I now sound insane.  So I’m going to apologize again and then just stop talking/typing.  So sorry.  Stopping now.  Right Now.  Still here.  Damn.  Fine.  I’ll hang up first. NOW.

 

What the people of Keswick want to know. Where’d it go?

In the beginning, Keswick (finally) got a Bargain Shop (TBS!).  Then Wal-Mart opened.  Bad news for TBS!, so they closed their doors (and are currently undergoing a court-supervised corporate restructuring, complete with Notice to Creditor orders and the like (ruh roh – See the Court documents here).

Then time and money was spent renovating, painting and beautifying the old store.  This was not without mystery and intrigue, let me tell you.  And finally, the much-anticipated opening day! What was this painted neon green storefront?  Keswick need not wait too long to find out.  MyMark was here.  And it was clean.  And it still carried the same over-priced stuff that TBS! did, but added some new over-priced stuff (the wall of overpriced bulk candy was an admiral attempt to get those “Mommy, I’ll stop screaming if you buy me a cup of candy” dollars).  But unlike the former TBS! store, it was clean and bright inside.  And never busy.  There was never a lineup at the cash.  The hours of operation matched those of the neighbouring Dollarama, so as to cater to those among us who commute to work and need to shop after 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening.

And then the store hours got shorter.  They now closed earlier than any other store in Glenwoods Plaza.  There were fewer and fewer people shopping there (just a guess, no empirical data to back it up, other than the ‘store closed’ sign currently in the window).  And somewhere between two and four months after the big Grand Opening, they were gone.  And now, today, after performing some half-hearted Google searches, Facebook checks (meh, I’m tired, shoot me), it would appear that My Mark never really existed at all, so completely have they erased the cyber evidence of their retail operations.

And now, the big lime store sits empty and alone, like a beacon in the night, warning the other would-be discount stores: “Just because you build it, doesn’t mean the Keswickians will come. Unless you’re building a discount pajama bottoms and Beer Store.  Then they’ll come for sure.”

Photo credit: Jayda Fox

Photo credit: Jayda Fox

If I could have but two things today, they would be

1) To have a local paper that employs someone to review copy before it goes to print:

Advocatefail

 

and;

2) I would like to have stores at least try to fool me into thinking that I am getting a deal when I shop with them:

Marksfail

What would be your two things today?

P.S.  If you’ have not ‘Liked’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Followed’ along on Twitter or checked out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, then you’re missing out on micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry 🙂  Come on over and share the insanity!
P.P.S.  So now The Keswick Blog is on Instagram , find thekeswickblog there to see some random things that do not make it to Facebook, Twitter or the blog – Too. Many. Sites. Where will it end?  *thud*