Mini Edible Birdy Nests!

Easter is still a little ways away, but since I have plans for my blog for the month of April (to be revealed soon), I thought I’d share this little recipe early. It can be used as a “Spring” treat instead of a strictly Easter treat anyway. 🙂

I first came across the idea for these yummy little concoctions on a Facebook post that my mother shared, but I’ve tweaked the recipe a little. Both ways work, but I’m going to share my version because they’re delicious. 😀

Ladies and gents, I present to you: Birdy Nests!

No birdies were harmed in the making of these delicious treats.
No birdies were harmed in the making of these delicious treats.

The parts of these cute little creations are as follows:
– Sugar cookie dough
– Shredded coconut
– Frosting (type of your choosing)
– Cadbury Mini-Eggs (or suitable facsimile – I used a generic brand that I found at Walmart that taste exactly the same for about 2/3 of the price)
– Food coloring (as desired…you don’t need it, but they’ll look more like nests if you put in the little bit of extra effort)

The first step in the original recipe is to use store-bought sugar cookie dough. I could have done that, and it probably would have been a little quicker and easier, but I was like, screw it…I’ve got a cookbook! So I whipped up my own batch of dough, because dammit, I can be domestic sometimes! If you’d like to make your own (I can’t guarantee that the store-bought stuff will divide properly for the rest of this recipe), here’s the recipe I used:

Soft No-Roll Sugar Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar (**I actually didn’t have powdered sugar, so I just used 1 full cup of granulated sugar, and it came out just fine**)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat the sugar(s), butter, oil, milk, vanilla, and egg with a mixer, or do like me and just whip the hell out of it with a spoon until it looks thoroughly mixed. Stir in the remaining ingredients until everything is nice and smooth. At this point you may wish to add some food coloring to dye the dough a pretty, Easter-y color, but I don’t necessarily suggest it. I tried to dye my dough purple, but I think the dough is just too thick for the dye to take easily. I used twice as much dye as I once used for a similarly-sized batch of cupcake mix and still I only had the faintest of colors.

Moving on, cover your dough and refrigerate for a couple of hours so that it is nice and firm and easy to work with.

While the dough is cooling, take about a quarter of a cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, and add food coloring of your choice. I did purple, to make up for the fact that the dough didn’t dye properly. Note: when you add drops of food coloring to sugar it will clump. Just smoosh the sugar with a spoon, stirring every now and then, until the color evens out. Now you’ve got pretty, colored sugar! Yay!

Once the dough has been chilled for a while, remove and divide into 24 like-sized balls. Make sure you roll the balls nice and smooth, and then roll them in the colored sugar. At this point you’re going to drop the balls into the cups of a mini-muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. The mini-muffin pans make a nice size for the nests, but if you really wanted to you could divide your dough into 12 double-sized balls and use a regular-sized muffin pan. They’d be pretty damn huge though, I’m just saying.

So once you’ve rolled, sugared, and dropped all of your little sugar-cookie-dough balls into your mini muffin pan, you can pop them in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. DO NOT squish the balls down into the pan. Just drop them in the cups and into the oven they go.

Bake your muffin-shaped-sugar-cookie concoctions for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re not cooking too quickly. You don’t want them to start browning. They’re ready when they actually look like little muffins, popping out over the top of the muffin cups.

Remove the pan from the oven and immediately begin poking in the tops of the sugar-cookie-muffins. It should be pretty obvious what you’re doing at this point: you’re creating the nest shape. The deeper you can make the impression the better because it will make sure that everything else you’re going to add will stay in the “nest”, but don’t scald yourself. The insides of those cookies are hot! (Me smart.)

Now, this isn’t part of the recipe, but when I had my nests all nice and properly shaped, I threw them back in the oven for a couple of minutes. My reasoning was that it would help the nest shape to set. I don’t know if my reasoning was sound or not (I’m not into the whole science aspect of baking), but I can tell you that it definitely didn’t hurt. After the second time I took my pan out of the oven I immediately removed the cookie-muffins from the pan (with the help of a spoon), and placed them on a glass cutting board to cool. Reasonably, I should have put them on a wire rack, but I have to be honest here: I have never, ever owned a wire rack, so I’ve always skipped that step of every recipe ever.

Once the cookie-nests are out of the pan and cooling, it’s time to prepare the final pieces of the puzzle. First, take your shredded coconut and put about half a cup of it in a Ziploc bag. Add a couple of drops of green food coloring, squeeze most of the air out of the bag, and seal. Now just mush the bag around in your hands for a couple of minutes to spread the dye around. It might not seem like it’s working at first, but trust me, it’ll start to spread as you keep mushing.

With that done, get out your frosting. I used a store-bought container in cream cheese flavor, but this isn’t a science and I’m sure any brand, type, or flavor will do, to your liking. I also used a piping kit (I had some bags left over from my last decorating endeavor) to make things a little easier on myself, but it’s not really necessary. You just want to put a nice dollop of frosting in the indentation of each “nest”; it’ll help hold everything together. Once you’ve got a nice bit of frosting in each of your nests, take your now-green shredded coconut and sprinkle on the top of each. The result should look like one of those old Easter baskets (the kind almost no one uses anymore) with the colored “straw”. Too cute, right? But that’s not the end!

MINI-EGGS! Take your mini-eggs (or you could also use something like jelly beans or any other egg-shaped treat as you desire) and poke a couple into each nest. TA-DA! You have adorable little nests, complete with eggs, and the whole thing is deliciously edible!

The first thing she did was put her lips up to it and suck out one of the eggs.
The first thing she did was put her lips up to it and suck out one of the eggs.

As a final note, the original recipe also called for string licorice, cut into properly-sized pieces, to make the “handles” of the baskets. Since I’m calling my treats “nests” instead of “baskets”, I didn’t bother with that…also because I had bad visions of my daughter trying to carry the “baskets” by the handle and causing terrible disasters. But it is an option if you so choose!

Happy munchies! ❤

If “No News is Good News”, what is Fake News?

I was still in grade school when this crazy thing we call the Internet really started to take off. I can still remember the day when our school got it’s first public-use computer. My best friend and I were two of the students chosen to check it out first. I can remember one of the first things we did was to set up our very first Hotmail email accounts. It was all rather exciting.

Since then the Internet has only grown and grown. It has become a place of endless information. A person can type almost anything into Google and come back with hundreds, if not thousands, of results. The Internet has allowed us to share news, information, thoughts and feelings, habits and hobbies, and anything else we can think of with people from the opposite side of the planet and everywhere in between. For the first time in human history we can know exactly what is going on on the other side of world as it is happening. That’s pretty damn amazing.

But while the ever-expanding World Wide Web is filled with a great many wonderful and helpful things, it is also rife with pitfalls and truly excellent methods to make one look excruciatingly foolish. Everything has become so fast, so instant, and so often irreversible, that it only takes a moment of not thinking clearly or a quick slip of the finger in order to do something dumb. It takes half a second to hit a “like” or “share” button, and in this day of rushed moments and instant gratification we often do so without even bothering to look twice at the thing that we’re allying ourselves with publicly.

The worst offenders of this, in my opinion, are Facebook users sharing “news”.

Facebook has become a great place to share things that are important to us. If we see a news report talking about something we feel strongly about, it is a simple thing for us to share that report on our Facebook wall where we know that it will be seen, and possibly re-shared, by our friends and family and hopefully lots of other people as well. This is a great way to get important issues out there.

It’s also a great way to make yourself look like a moron.

Too often, I’ve found, people have become apt to “like”, “share”, and leave complicated, emotion-fueled comments in response to big, scary-looking news stories…without ever once bothering to read the story.

This past Black Friday there was a very scary-sounding story floating around Facebook. It described a number of brutal deaths at the hands of insane shoppers, including one woman who had stabbed another woman to death in order to secure the last XBox One in Walmart. When I saw the story pop up on my Facebook feed I immediately raised a skeptical eyebrow and clicked on the link to read the whole article. It quickly became evident that the article was a joke. It got more and more foolish as it went on, describing complete nonsense and throwing several outright, completely obvious lies in near the end. Anyone who took the two minutes required to read the entire article would easily figure out that it was a load of bull. If they took an extra five seconds to Google the name of the news source they’d have found out that that particular website was a joke and satire news site, much like The Onion. Everything they report is made up.

From what I saw on my Facebook feed over the following few days, my husband and I were some of the only people who bothered to take that two minutes and five seconds out of our day. Multiple people on my Facebook feed shared that story, along with angry comments about how Black Friday is evil and the big corporations who support it should be ashamed of themselves. One such friend actually argued with people who commented back to tell him that the article was fake, only giving in when people started quoting the ridiculous end parts of the article that he hadn’t actually bothered to read.

These things happen on a daily basis now-a-days because people are much more willing to take the one second required to hit “share” than the two minutes required to fact-check and see whether the thing they’re sharing is true or not. It’s an extremely lazy reaction that allows false information to thrive, and makes otherwise intelligent people look like emotion-driven fools.

Recently Colorado decided to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Immediately afterward Facebook feeds were pasted with the sensational headline, “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization”. People were losing their minds over this headline, and as well they should have…had it been even the tiniest bit true. The article was posted on a website called The Daily Currant, a website which, when searched for on Google, comes up with the subtitle: The Global Satirical Newspaper of Record. But no one bothered to visit the website. They simply saw the headline, got mad, and shared the link without ever looking into the facts. Whether you agree or disagree with the legalization of marijuana, this is a terrible method for getting your point across.

We are emotional creatures, it’s true. We hate waiting and love moving at breakneck speeds. It’s in our nature. But when we use the internet in the manner I’ve described above, we make ourselves look stupid. We paint a picture of ourselves as gullible fools and destroy any faith that others may have in us as a reliable source. We ruin our image. And a lot of the time, no one even bothers to let us know how foolish we’ve been, because fools like to try to argue and defend themselves, which only makes them look even more foolish.

I won’t claim that I’ve never fallen for such a thing myself – I’m fairly certain all of us have tripped over a false claim here and there – but I will point out that blindly believing in something that sparks an emotional reaction is how we end up with situations like this.

Do a little research, friends. The same tool that allows you to share big scary news reports with everyone you’ve ever met, and everyone they’ve ever met, is the same tool that can help you get your facts straight in just a few short moments.

Jobs I’ve Had (and Headaches I’ve Endured)

After stumbling across this post from lazylauramaisey I started thinking about all the jobs I’ve had over the years and I thought, hey…why not share?

Papergirl for the Cape Breton Post
This was the first job I ever had and believe it or not I think it was one the longest ones I ever had. If I’m remembering correctly, I started the route in the eighth grade and didn’t quit it until I went to college. Sometimes my mother would drive me because the route was a few streets away from where we lived, but a lot of the time I walked as well. It wasn’t a bad job for the most part, and at Christmas I got some pretty nice tips, but there was this one family I spent five years wanting to strangle. They were as rich as any family can be in Cape Breton, and it was like pulling a crocodile’s teeth trying to get my payment out of them. They would actually look out the window – right at me – and then not answer the door. My first “customers are idiots” experience.

Cashier at Zellers
For those who might not know, Zellers was a Canadian department store, much like Walmart. When I was in high school I got a job there for the Christmas season, working cash. I absolutely hated it for two main reasons. One, I was still pretty shy in high school and the job forced me to talk to people all day. Two, there weren’t enough support staff. A major flaw at Zellers was that sales were rarely properly programed into the registers, which resulted in a lot of customers loudly proclaiming, “That’s not the right price!” as I scanned. The thing is, people would do this all the time whether the item was on sale or not to try and cheat the system, and the only way to combat it was to call a “floor-walker” to go find the item in the store and prove what the actual price was. During the holidays calling a “floor-walker” was tantamount to insanity…it was so busy that chances were they would never get to you. So when my line-ups started getting super-long and all the customers started getting super-agitated I just stopped calling for help all together and overrode any price the customer’s told me was wrong. I probably cost Zellers a lot of money that holiday season, but in my defense, they should have hired more damn people.

“Waitress” at the Marine Atlantic Ferry Terminal
I put quotation marks around waitress because I didn’t really serve the food, but I did sometimes serve ice cream. It wasn’t a bad job, but I had an idiot boss who would rather us wash down the same tables fifty times than stand still and do nothing for five minutes when there were no customers. I offset my annoyance by constantly filching Rice Krispie Square treats.
Also, once, my boss demanded that I stay late, even though legally I couldn’t drive that late (I was still a new driver with a restricted license). It was my first run-in with opposing an employer. I told her that I’d happily stay late if she paid my fine when I got it. She ended up sending me home.

“IT Specialist” at the Coast Guard College
This was a work term for my university program, and I can honestly say I didn’t learn a damn thing. The job mostly consisted of things like replacing the batteries in the TV remotes in the residents’ rooms. The one challenge I had was when the speaker at a meeting was having issues getting his computer to work with the overhead projector…that was the first time I’d ever seen a Mac computer, but damn it, I got it working.

“IT Specialist” at Cape Breton University
Another work term, and twice as useless as the first. This is the university that I actually attended, and they created the job just to have something available because they were having absolutely no luck finding work terms for the students in my program. I had almost nothing to do for this entire term. I spent most of my time transposing a huge map via this huge electronic drafting board, which wasn’t part of my job…it was just to pass the time.

“Floor Walker” at a different Zellers
This was the first job I got after my future husband and I moved in together, and I hated it so much worse than the first Zellers. I mostly wandered around replacing merchandise that people had moved, or straightening up clothes that people had unfolded, but those were the “good” parts. The bad parts were dealing with customers, who at this particular store seemed to be twice as idiotic as others I’d dealt with in the past. I remember this one particular lady brought in a flyer the day before the sales were to start, and absolutely demanded that we give her the sales prices that day because one of the graphics on the flyer said, “Come in and enjoy our great sales today!”

A-Little-Bit-of-Everything at a Nova Scotia Liquor Store
As far as customer service goes, this was one of the better ones. Everyone in the store did a bit of everything, so I’d be on cash one day and replacing stock another day, unloading new stock the day after that. But the best part was the drive-thru. Yes. I worked at a liquor store with a drive-thru. It was completely idiotic because legally the customer had to receive their liquor, pull forward, get out, and put the liquor in the trunk. It was just…foolish, honestly. But whatever. I enjoyed working the drive-thru. I particularly liked working it with this one other girl about my age. We would trade off on working the window/cash and actually running for the order. I enjoyed running for the order. It was also quite humorous because you can’t imagine how many customers we got who drove up to the drive-thru speaker with no idea as to what they actually wanted. I’ve gotten orders such as “uh…some kinda rum?” and “this thing in a blue bottle…I have no idea what kind of liquor it is”. I also had more than one traveler from another province beg me to let them take a picture of me handing their order out the drive-thru window. I don’t blame them. Leave it to Nova Scotia to have drive-thru liquor stores.

40035095A-Little-Bit-of-Everything at Walmart
Yes, I did eventually end up at a Walmart, only because the liquor store just kinda…stopped scheduling me in. Anyway, I started in an actual store, doing more floor work, but what I was really hired for was a large group that was set to “build” the new Walmart that was going up. We put the shelving together and arranged it properly, pieced the cash register area together, put up all the signage, and eventually stocked all the shelves. It wasn’t a bad gig for brain-dead work that you could zone out during, but I hated it for one reason: the manager. Never have a met such a stone-cold witch. The best example I have against her is when she refused to let my young coworker have the afternoon off to go to her cousin’s funeral. Apparently “a cousin isn’t a close enough relative”. I was so disgusted that when I got the girl alone I told her to take off and I’d cover for her. She didn’t because she needed the job to pay for school and was scared she’d lose it, which just made me that much more disgusted. When I finally left that job it was all I could do to keep myself from slugging that manager in the face on my way out.

Customer Service Rep for Sirius Satellite Radio
…which is a nicer way of saying, “call center punching bag”. I activated people’s radios, took payments, resolved issues with accounts, and helped them troubleshoot issues with their radios. By way of explaining what this job was like, I beg everyone this: if you ever get a Sirius Satellite Radio, listen to the rep who is activating it for you. I lost track of the number of times I asked, “Does your radio have a clear view of the sky?” and received a “Yes!” only to find out later when the radio wouldn’t work that they were really in a parking garage or in the middle of their apartment building. It was all I could do not to scream bloody murder at some people.
Also, occasionally, the Sirius system would screw up and double- or triple-charge people. This made for some very interesting conversations. One man with a trucking company had purchased three radios with lifetime subscriptions (approximately $500 each) and been triple-charged, making his bill jump from $1500 to $4500. He was extremely calm and polite while I fixed the issue. Meanwhile a few years later I got a customer who had been double-charged his $15 monthly bill and he completely lost his mind. I actually hung up on him three times because he wouldn’t stop swearing and calling me every name under the sun. Pleasant!

Instrumentation Maintenance Tech at the Paper Mill
My first “career” job, which is what I trained at university for. This job taught me first and foremost that I knew nothing. I may have spent four years and a crap-ton of money becoming a technologist, but my first few months at that mill taught me that school means absolutely bupkiss without experience. I really had no idea what I was doing, and my older and much-more-experienced coworkers didn’t let me forget it. Within my first six months I burned myself on several steam pipes and once managed to spray myself with hot condensate. It’s really quite amazing that I have any skin left. Oh yes, and lots and lots of 120 volt shocks. You’d think I would have learned to wear my gloves, but…no.
Maintenance is an interesting beast. You learn a lot – because you have to – but it can be very stressful because you have to keep the plant running. When the plant is down it’s losing money every minute, and that’s directly correlated to how fast you can fix something. I didn’t really realize just how stressed out this job made me until long after I’d lost it (when the mill shut down and was sold).

Commissioning Technician on the Kearl Lake Project
My first (and so far only) job out West turned out to be an excellent one. I had a good contract, good coworkers, good (for the most part) bosses, and good work. Sometimes it was hard work – particularly in the middle of winter when you’re outside in minus 40 degrees Celsius – but it was interesting work with very little stress. Since we were still building the plant there was no big scary rush to get things going like right goddamn now!!! I also got to experience the job both from the field and from the control room, which I think taught me a lot. All in all I can’t complain about this one. It was a good job with good people and I made a lot of money to pay off lots of debts and bills. Yes, after ten other jobs, I finally hit one that didn’t make me want to murder the world.

Writer!Okay, so it can’t really be considered a job until you’ve been paid for it, but it sounds better to say that I’m currently working as a writer than to say that I’m currently unemployed. 😛

inspirationMy eighth grade English teacher told us once that by the time we were thirty-five we would have had up to ten different “jobs” and possibly one or two different “careers”. I didn’t believe him at the time, but there you have it: I’ve had 11 different jobs, only two of them part of my career as a technologist, and one unpaid “job” as a writer. Amazing. Has anyone else had a varied string of jobs like mine? Please share!

Distractions are…um…hold that thought for just one second…

This past weekend my husband and I celebrated the dual joys of our 4th wedding anniversary, and the marriage of two friends of ours. We enjoyed a beautiful ceremony in the lovely community of Cheticamp, whilst also spending time with another married couple who we hadn’t seen in a long time, and marked the whole thing off by staying at a sweet little chalet along the coast. It was all quite lovely.

Because it was our anniversary, we were inevitably asked what we got each other, and my husband got to tell our companions that he bought me a Playstation Vita.

For our wedding anniversary.

Because I asked for it.

Hey, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while and haven’t yet figured out that I’m a total and utter dork…now you know.

Hubby bought me a Wi-Fi version Vita with a 32 GB memory card, connected it to his Playstation Network account, and downloaded a bunch of free games for me (Sony, don’t ever change your Playstation Plus system…you’re definitely doing it right), plus he picked up Rayman Origins at Walmart. Since last week I’ve been glued to this little handheld joy-box. The Vita definitely has it’s flaws, as any gaming system tends to, but I’m absolutely loving it.

And that’s a bad thing.

Okay, it’s a good thing because it was a present and I wanted it, so obviously one would hope that I enjoy playing with it. But it’s a bad thing because it is a positive time vampire. This morning I got up at about 8:30 am and started playing it. Other than to put it aside long enough to get breakfast for the baby, a coffee for the hubby, and to dance with the baby when she suddenly decided I had to dance with her, I didn’t put the Vita down until 1:00 pm. I got a dozen or so Rayman trophies, and that is all I accomplished all morning.

This is the face of my procrastination.

I didn’t write, I didn’t edit. I definitely didn’t exercise. I didn’t do any laundry or dishes, and I didn’t start tidying up the guest room (which I have to do because we have two days worth of guests coming next weekend). I didn’t even really get dressed. I put on a pair of jeans long enough to run out to the car for something, but I couldn’t be bothered to throw a bra on under my shirt, and I still haven’t as I’m typing this. The baby is still wearing her pajamas. I only just took something out of the deep freeze for supper, and I haven’t established what I’m going to do with it yet. The kitty litter is full and the cats’ streaming water dish has been broken for several days. There are a ton of leftovers in the fridge that have gone bad and I haven’t thrown them out. There are about ten boxes of old baby clothes in the hallway that I’ve been meaning to go through so I can send some stuff to consignment.

But instead of dealing with any of these things that need dealing with, I played my new Playstation Vita for four and a half hours straight. And if I’m totally honest? The only reason I actually stopped playing is because I realized that battery was dying. Yes, the only thing that dragged me away from my gaming is the fact that battery scientists (that’s a thing, right?) haven’t figured out how to make mobile batteries last longer yet.

Distractions are a terrible thing when you’re in a position that requires you to be self-motivated. Currently I am not employed; I’m working on my writing, but I’m not in a position where I am getting paid or compensated in any way. That means that every morning when I get up I have to look at myself in the mirror and tell myself, “Okay. You are going to get some damn work done today!” And then I have to try to follow through with it. I have to pick my own self up, with no hope of any kind of payment of any form, and I have to force myself to sit down and write. That in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, except for the fact that while I’m trying to force myself to write I also have to deal with a child who thinks I should wear little pink play glasses all day, and a household worth of chores and errands that never seem to slack off in any sense of the word.

Distractions are terrible and they must be eliminated. They must be stricken from the lifestyle. It is the only way. Only when distractions have been completely removed will one be able to go on with one’s day productively and efficiently.

Unfortunately, I’m way too distracted by my shiny new Vita to get on with eliminating my distractions right now, so if you don’t mind…

This is the face of my procrastination.
WHY DO YOU MOCK ME SO?!

Accountability Tuesdays – Week 23

Would you look at that? Spring actually exists in Nova Scotia! I was really starting to wonder, but Mother Nature has proven my suspicions wrong again, and in one day she managed to sunburn me. You’re a horrible witch, Mother Nature. That’s why I hide inside like a vampire.

Okay, enough foolishness, let’s get down to it:

Health and Body Image Goal

As per tradition, I’ve been eating pretty poorly while I’ve been home, thought it’s been less because of the abundance of awesome food and more because I’ve been extremely busy. Cleaning and cooking are one thing, but having our niece over for a night…those 36 hours may have taken a year off my life. o.O

That said, I’m not feeling too shabby. I gave myself almost a full week off to let my legs heal (running in cheap, Walmart sneakers is not advisable…I ended up with major shin splints and a very achy knee), and then I went out running with my new Saucony sneakers. I know nothing about running shoes, but I thought I’d give these a shot since they were rated well and happened to be on sale, and I’m pretty happy. They give me a little bounce and definitely cushion the impact of hitting the ground. I think I will do well with these.

As an additional note, I hopped on the scale yesterday to see if maybe I was lucky enough to finally drop a pound or two, and found that I’d dropped almost five! Huzzah! A specific amount of weight loss is not my primary goal, but I definitely have some to lose, so it’s good that it’s going. Sometime soon I’ll track down a measuring tape and see what my measurements are looking like as well. I’d like to lose some belly fat, as I’m constantly reading about the dangers of it.

Editing Goal

This is a bit of an odd week that I’m not sure how to report. You see, I technically have been doing some editing…just not on what I’m supposed to be working on. It’s going to take me a while to finish editing Nowhere to Hide, and it occurred to me that the less I have to think about, the easier it will be to find the time and energy to work on it. So I’ve set it aside (for a very short time, I swear) in order to instead edit a short supernatural romance I’ve had done for a while. I know I can whip through this one pretty quickly (I’m already finished two of the ten chapters), and when it’s done I can submit it to the publishers I have in mind and then not worry about it for a while. So, I guess you can say I’ve made progress in that sense, right? 🙂

1,000,000 Word Goal

While focusing on everything else, the actual writing tends to slow down, but I’m happy to report that I managed to squeak out 6867 words over the past week, amongst a number of different things. Currently my yearly total sits at about 125k, which is nowhere where I wanted it to be, but still very good for me. In the coming weeks (particularly if I get laid off soon, which is very likely) I plan to delve into a few books on writing that I hope will help my productivity, amongst other areas. In particular I think I’d like to try out The Artist’s Way. I’m a bit put off by the word “spiritual” in the sub-title, because that word always makes me think of religion, but fellow blogger thelivingnotebook has been talking about the book lately and he makes it sound very interesting, so I’ll give it a shot. 🙂

Now, unfortunately, I have to pull myself out of my cave so I can walk my daughter to playgroup. And you can be damn sure I’ll be covered in sunscreen this time.

It’s a Full-Time Job Just to Keep Track of the Jobs…

When I was in the eighth grade, one day our English teacher began talking about the difference between jobs and careers. I don’t recall much of the conversation except for this: he told us that on average each of us would have ten different “jobs” throughout our lifetime (and hopefully eventually end up with one “career”).

At the time I remember thinking how silly a statement that was. Ten different jobs? Preposterous! I was going to have one or two summer jobs, tops, then graduate from college and swoop right into my career. There I would stay for the rest of my working life, and retire a financially stable woman.

Kids are dumb.

Contrary to my childish beliefs, within two months of my 28th birthday (hardly my “lifetime”) I had already had the following jobs:
– A paper route (shut up, if you have to get up before sunrise it’s a real job)
– Cashier/server at the cafeteria in the Marine Atlantic terminal building
– Cashier/floor walker at Zellers
– IT assistant at the Coast Guard College
– IT assistant at Cape Breton University
– Cashier/floor walker at Walmart
– Cashier/floor walker at a different Zellers
– Cashier/stock person at a liquor store
– Customer service at a call center
– Instrumentation mechanic at a paper mill
– Instrumentation commissioning tech at Kearl Lake
– DCS commissioning tech at Kearl Lake

Twelve. Twelve jobs, and no careers. The job at the mill could have become a career if it weren’t for failing markets and the fact that even if I’d stayed there, there’s no way the mill itself will be around long enough for me to retire. Twelve jobs, and there will be more to come because even the one I’m at now is not permanent. I could be laid off any time now, and it’ll be on to the next one.

Thinking about this makes me wonder how many people ever actually make it to the “career” phase of life, and/or how long they are able to hold on to it in such an uncertain economy. Instrumentation, technically, is my career, but at any time I could be laid off and there’s never any real guarantee that I’ll find another position. Ideally writing would be my choice for a permanent career, but that requires sacrifices I’m not currently able to make, so that may never happen either. My husband was an electrician for four years, and is currently a stay-at-home-dad. My father drove trucks for pretty much as long as I can remember, but that’s between a couple of different companies and soon he’ll be heading out West as well. I know tons of people who went to college to train for careers they never ended up achieving, and just as many people who had careers and lost them for any number of reasons. Nothing is certain, and any of us, at any time, could end up in a completely different situation than the one we’ve been in, or the one we imagined for ourselves.

Look at your own situation. How many jobs have you had throughout your life so far? How many careers? Do you feel secure? Is there something you’d rather be doing instead? I’m interested. Please share. 🙂