Sunday, 15 March 2015

Don't work for free

During several months in 2013 and 2014, I did a host work for a photo and video company called Northfire Productions based in Newmarket. The owner's name is Stephen Knowles.

During that time, I made several blank scrapbooks to be used in the photobooth portion of his business. Two of these were sold (without my knowledge) to customers, though I had asked explicitly to be present when they were used, he claims he cannot recall the conversation. He sold the two scrapbooks, pocketed the money for himself (after I had spent money out of my own pocket to create the books) and did not tell me they were used until LONG after the fact when I asked. This information was never volunteered to me. In an email, on Dec. 2, 2013, I asked Mr. Knowles what had happened to the books. "I did use both the ones you made. I thought I told you about at least one. One at a wedding and one for a 15th birthday for a girl" Never, at any time, was I compensated for these books. I am still, as of today's date, out the money I spent on the materials. (I had made two more, which were in his possession until approximately one month ago. I requested over and over that he return them to me over a series of months. Thankfully, I have them back now to prevent that from happening again.)

I created numerous business items for Mr. Knowles, including a banner for his Facebook page.

I had to ASK him to put my name on it, that it was created by me. However, he then deleted it. I was never paid for this.

Some of the other work I did while "working" for this "business" includes:

- Researching wedding/event shows in various markets
- Coming up with ideas other than weddings to attend & various marketing ideas for these
- Creating and maintaining a Twitter page, as Mr. Knowles is not well-versed in the use of social media, and uses his personal Twitter to communicate with women, hurting his own branding (The Northfire Productions Twitter can be found @NorthfirePhoto )
- On two separate occasions, Mr. Knowles asked me to find someone to fix his website. The first time, I posted networking ads on Kijiji and Craigslist, then vetted possible candidates via email and forwarded them to Mr. Knowles. He did not communicate further with any of the possible candidates and it fizzled. Several months later, he asked me again to find someone to fix his website, in exchange for photo and/or video services of comparable value to the web developer's rates. I was to vet the clients and select one I thought best suited for the job. I did so, set up a meeting and on the morning of said meeting, Mr. Knowles bailed. (He then sent me an e-mail money transfer for $40.00 with a note that read "Sender's Message: For the hassle and time you spent arranging today's meeting that I had to cancel." This was the ONLY time I was ever compensated financially by Mr. Knowles.)
- I wrote copy for the new website, which was used by Mr. Knowles without having paid, and when I asked why he had my copy on his website when he had not paid, he asked how much it would cost. I invoiced at my regular rate, and was told it was too expensive, at which point he removed the copy. (Wish I knew this before I went to the trouble of writing copy for the site.)
- I had sourced some people to help with a trial run for a pilot project idea that could possibly be integrated into the photobooth. Mr. Knowles had zero interest and demanded I do it myself if I wanted to do a trial of a possible new product. With no training at all on the photobooth equipment, I expressed that I was not comfortable going alone to shoot something. He set up a time to "train" at his home, then bailed on it the night before. Cancelling at the last minute is typical for Mr. Knowles.

During my time "working" for Northfire Productions, I learned how valuable my skills are, not to give them away for free, and not to work for someone who will take money out of  my pocket and act like nothing happened. I still have never seen any payment for the scrapbooks that were sold. My bedroom is full of items intended to have been used for the photobooth. Several items I purchased were never returned, including a scrapbook holder that would come in very handy for the work I do now. Similar to this one:

I am 100% for small business and believe small and medium sized businesses are what drive the Canadian economy. I, myself, am an entrepreneur, and I understand the logistics can sometimes become overwhelming. However, I do not believe in taking things from other people, or having others spend money out of their own pockets to work for me.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Smashing salad with maple walnut dressing

A little while ago, I had a delicious salad at a local restaurant in Northern Ontario. I liked it so much, I've always wanted to make something similar at home.

I didn't follow their salad exactly, but compiled several similar elements and it turned out AMAZING. Everyone loved it.

Here it is! I started with a bed of spinach leaves. I used regular size leaves, but you can use baby spinach if that's what you prefer.

I added the following:
- Toasted  pumpkin seeds
- Toasted walnuts
- Dried cranberries
- Anjou pear (I used 2 full pears for 3 salads)
- Greek feta cheese, crumbled

I sauteed chicken breast to go on top, though you could likely use turkey, fish or maybe even pork?

For dressing, I used a maple/walnut dressing loosely based on a recipe from The Yummy Life (

Which is
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine all ingredients except the oils in a food processor. Blend until well combined and walnuts are pureed. With food processor running, pour olive and canola oil in a slow steady stream through the feed tube. (If the dressing is thicker than you like, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it's the desired consistency.) Transfer to jar or other airtight container and chill in fridge.
Note: This can also be made in a blender.

I HIGHLY recommend this salad, it was SO flavourful and the dressing was a perfect pair. The tart berries and salty cheese and crunchy seeds/nuts were absolutely delightful.

Will definitely be making this again.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Makeup obsessed (with sensitive skin, no less)

When I was younger, I used to be very adventurous with makeup and wear a lot of crazy different colours, glitter, coloured mascara, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I am allergic to a lot of products and constantly reacted to many of the items I would try.

As I became older and more conservative with my look, and had more money to spend on makeup items, I have been buying less drug store brands and more higher-end brands. I am lucky to have access several times per year to attend manufacturer sales for numerous brands such as L'Oreal and Estee Lauder.

I began using Clinique products just over a year ago, and started with eye shadow, liner and mascara. I do still enjoy playing with colour, and enjoy having a wide array of colours to choose from, but tend to stick to greys or browns for daytime.

For many years, I was a devoted user of Maybelline's "Great Lash" mascara. I found it worked well, didn't clump, and was long-lasting. I tried plenty of other varieties of drugstore brands, Covergirl, Revlon, Rimmel, but nothing worked as well for me as Maybelline. Now, I'd say I'm a convert. Clinque offers several mascaras, including a "Bottom Lash" mascara, which I like for a night out. (My lashes are too long to wear it during the day, I look like I'm wearing stage makeup.)

This one is my favourite, the High Impact mascara. I find the formula very easy to put on, doesn't clump and spreads nicely across the lash.

One of the things that I enjoy about the warehouse sales is the ability to purchase the "Gift With Purchase" sets from the previous seasons, which always include a cute makeup bag and miniature versions of products so I can try them out and see what I like.

This was one of the first sets I bought last year, which is the Clinique Bold Eyes To Go set.

The Under Eye mascara, shadow duo, cream shaper in black and High Impact mascara. I love all the items in here, the eyeliner is great, goes on easily, doesn't rub off. The shadows spread nicely on the eye. I'm not super crazy about the lighter colour, but I find when I put a third colour in, they blend nicely and create a nice subtle look for daytime. The little makeup case is very small, I often use it for my jewellery when I travel.

This set, the Party Favors set was one I bought a while back, and unfortunately I did have an allergic reaction to the pink shadow in the eyeshadow quad. I have had reactions in the past to other items with certain dyes in them, including Physician's Formula. I have written to Clinique to ask for ingredient list in the pink shadow so I can try to figure out what exactly I'm allergic to, so I can avoid it in the future!

This set included some items I hadn't tried before, including the nail polish, which worked wonderfully, and the  Quickliner For Eyes Intense in Black Honey. I absolutely LOVE this eyeliner, I use it almost every day. The lip crayon is very nice texture, I find the colour too rich for daytime, but I have worn it on a night out and got lots of compliments. I have only used the "All About Eyes" cream a few times, as I use another moisturizer (also from Clinique) but maybe I'll have to try it again.

For day to day for my face, I don't wear much makeup, other than a little concealer under my eyes and sometimes a light dusting of L'Oreal's mineral powder, which has SPF15 in it, so I'm not too sure what Clinique has in terms of foundations or anything of that nature. I have a little concealer stick from Almay (another hypoallergenic brand!) with some acne treatment in the other end called Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Healing Spot Concealer. I don't typically have many blemishes or issues related to acne, so I can't recommend products would be best for covering blemishes.

For cleansing, I use the 3-step system from Clinique, which I use for dry skin. (There are other products available for different skin types.)


These are the three steps, which are a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. I have been using this system since April, so I'm not sure if I will have to add an exfoliant at some point maybe once or twice a week in the winter, as my skin is much more dry in the winter. This system is easy to use, and I have had people ask me what I'm using. My skin is usually quite clear other than a few dry patches, so again, I'm not sure how the system would work on oily skin (there are four sets, very dry/dry, dry/combination, combination/oily and oily) or other types of skin issues.

Overall, I have been very happy with the products, and since there are often Gift With Purchase offers at The Bay and Sears, I like to wait until the GWP offers are available to replace the items I need. There is this website: Canadian Clinique Bonuses that will let you know when the GWP offers are available. There is one set to begin Oct. 16 at Sears, which includes:

• BONUS CHOICE Cosmetics Bag
• Repairwear Uplifting Firming Cream
• Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
• BONUS CHOICE All About Shadow Trio in Violets or Pinks
• BONUS CHOICE Different Lipstick in Grape or Raspberry GlacĂ©
• High Impact Mascara in Black
• Clinique Happy Perfume Spray

This is from The Bay's website, which explains a little about the products, and why all the products are created without fragrances that can irritate the skin.

 I can't wait to see what the Christmas bonuses are going to be this year. I am running a tad low on makeup remover, but holding out to buy more until next month when the Christmas ones come out.

Do you have skin allergies? Let me know what products you use that are safe for allergies, I'm always curious to try new items. I use shadows and makeup remover wipes from Almay, as well as shadows, liner, blush and bronzer from Physician's formula.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Pretty pastels

People who have known me a long time are reeling. They're confused. They're wondering why I'm wearing pastels, and to be truthful, I'm pretty surprised myself. As someone who thinks wearing light colours is something I may possibly be allergic to, it was pretty surprising to me when I actually decided I liked a few things I've been seeing in stores.

Obviously, there are a few major trends out this spring, including horizontal stripes and nautical themed pieces (that's for another post. Navy and red together? YES PLEASE!)

Soft, feminine pastels have been spotted in plenty of shop windows of late, and while I'm not going full-on floral or anything, I have thrown a few pieces into my rotation for spring/summer.

One of the key pieces I attained was through a very lengthy mission after seeing the item posted on Pinterest, only to find it was not available in Canada. Thanks to my wonderful friend Jill in New Hampshire, I now have in my hot little hands. What is it I've been coveting so? A blush pink blazer.

The blush pink blazer is from Forever21, from the American store. I knew it fit perfectly because I bought the same one here in white. It is from the Forever21 "Love 21" line, which is for young ladies like myself to wear to work, more age-appropriate items in this line, I find. I noticed while shopping for this jacket online, that the website gives you specs on the model wearing it! So when they said the model is as tall as I am (I'm 5'9") and the sleeves were long and the jacket came down far enough on the body, I knew it would work for me. Many blazers out right now are "cropped" and look like I'm wearing too-small clothes. (Some girls on the American site were complaining in the reviews, "I'm 5'4" and this looks like a lab coat on me blah blah blah ... maybe if you had read the model's height and seen how long the jacket is on her, you'd realize it would be far too big for you? Sigh.)

I have paired this here with a chambray shirt, which I've been looking to buy for quite some time. Mine is from Old Navy, which you can see here

I also plan to wear this with my navy blue canvas skinnies, and possibly if I can find the right one, maybe even a skirt.

Here is as better look at the pink blazer. There are a few other pink blazers around, including another one at Forever 21, like this I've also seen them at Sears, the Bay, J Crew and possibly Zara.

I have been looking for white jeans/pants that are not made of flimsy fabric and are not cropped. Being tall, wearing cropped pants usually just makes me look like I'm too tall for my pants, and I prefer my pants to have some structure to them, so many lightweight summery fabrics were not to my liking. I lucked out big time and got a pair of "Sexy Boot" white jeans at the Gap for a wicked sale price ($8, and they're "tall") though I do wish they were one size smaller. however, not tucking in my chambray shirt gives me the ability to hide the fact the jeans are a bit too big in the waist.

The necklace is actually two pieces and is from Aldo! They have a TON of great pastel pieces that could easily be worked into a neutral wardrobe of greys/taupes etc. if you're nervous to start throwing pastels into the mix.

I was really surprised at the selection and the reasonable prices as Aldo. I also bought an amazing clutch bag that I'll post in another entry on another day.

I got a 15% off coupon when I filled in the survey from my purchase when I bought the bag, so I got a discount when I bought this necklace, which comes apart, and also has a clasp so it can be turned into a shorter necklace that goes around twice. I love versatile pieces like this!

And lastly, my rose gold boyfriend watch. I attempted to buy one of these around Christmas time, as I had picked up a seasonal job at the mall, but our store only got five, and four of them were bought by employees and the fifth one sold before I even came in for a shift, so I didn't get one. BUT. I was able to get one someplace else, and love the addition to my pretty pastels. (It looks bronze in this photo, but you'll see better in my photo below)

I've got a photo of it here with my white blazer, same as the pink one from Forever 21, and an aqua shirt I bought last summer and hardly ever wore.

My sister made fun of it and said I look like Miami Vice with the white jacket and pastel shirt, so I put on my aviators just to irk her even more.

I also got a couple pearl stretch bracelets, some resin rose earrings and a few tank tops to wear under these items as well, so now I have a few outfits I can mix/match, I also wouldn't mind wearing some of these with a fitted trouser-like jean, which I'm going to attempt to buy this weekend.

Overall, I haven't actually spent that much on these items, and it's a fun way to get in on a trend for spring/summer without the commitment of going all flowery. As you can probably tell, I'm not really a fan of patterns, I much prefer solid colours.

I'll talk more in another post about accessorizing and how to spice up plain pieces that way :)

What trends are you in to for spring? Are you loving the pastels? Or are you digging the nautical look with stripes?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Goin' Greek

Last week at Loblaws, all the President's Choice lasagnas and frozen dinners were on sale for FOUR BUCKS. They're regularly $10, so the freezer is now full of quick and easy dinners.

A few days later, at No Frills, I noticed another variety I hadn't seen at Loblaws a couple days prior (pickings are slim at the grocery store at 3 p.m. on a Sunday!) and since I had my flyer with me to stock up on another item Loblaws had been out of, I said, "Hey, I think I'll try that!"

So, we tried the Greek lasagna, and while the reviews on the website aren't that good (Here), we thought it was tasty and different from our usual fare. My dad is diabetic and my mom is on weight watchers. Both have high blood pressure, so we are careful with what we eat. The lasagna was not huge, but big enough to serve four. One quarter of the pan was only 380 calories, and had 24% of your daily recommended intake of fibre. It was also 35% of your daily salt.

Overall, for the price I paid, I was quite happy with it.

We had a Greek salad on the side, which worked out well, since I prepared it while the oven was heating, so it had some time to sit in the fridge so the flavours could blend.


You can use any lettuce, I used romaine because that's what I had on hand.

- Five Cups Lettuce, washed and torn
- 2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
- half a cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/4 cup sliced black olives
- feta cheese, crumbled or cubed (I used half a 250 gram package of Krinos light feta, which is in brine, so I chopped it into small pieces)
- oil/vinegar style dressing to taste (I typically use Kraft Greek feta dressing for this, but we had Kraft Italian Calorie Wise in the fridge so I used that)

Toss all ingredients together.

Squirt dressing in and toss to coat.

Chill in fridge approx. 20 mins to half an hour before serving.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Farmers Market Finds

How much do you love fall? There is nothing better than a lovely crisp fall day with the sun shining and a trip down to the local farmers market.

Obviously being a hockey fan, there are certain things you have to appreciate. One of those things, is a good snack with your beer while watching the game. Sadly for us, we didn't get to enjoy a game with our snack, but while walking around the market, we picked up some delicious local vegetables and put together an amazing snack.

We bought some locally grown produce, including onions, red and green peppers, garlic and tomatoes.

First, I pre-heated my oven to about 350 degrees. 

We used the restaurant-style Tostitos, because they're the biggest surface area.

I sliced up:
- some white onion
- few cloves of garlic
- one green pepper
- one red pepper
- one jalapeno pepper
- two tomatoes 

I grabbed some cheese (I almost always have Kraft Tex Mex low-fat shredded blend in my fridge) and threw it in the oven. I baked for a few minutes (can't remember exactly how long, I checked on it a lot of times) just until the cheese was melted and the nachos were toasty looking.

This is what came out ....

 Served this with some leftover homemade chili I had and made for a delicious lunch!

Hope you lovelies are all enjoying your fall!

Don't forget to follow me on twitter @hockey_foxx

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Making memories last: easy brag books

This summer, I have had time to work on some projects that I've been meaning to get to but was too busy over the hockey season.

In February, I made my first "brag-book" scrapbook for my boyfriend for Valentine's Day, to put in some photos of us. (We're both photographers ... we take a LOT of photos.) I had so much fun working on it, that I decided to whip up a couple more.

I have recently been experimenting with different techniques and colour palattes I probably wouldn't work with for my own projects, and I'm hoping to have a  few put together for a craft sale my mom and her friends put on every November for Christmas.

It's super easy, basically all you do is get a cardboard book (They're $1.50 at Michael's and come in different shapes. I have been using rectangle with scalloped edges, but they have other shapes depending on the season, I have a few that I haven't used yet that are star, and one is Christmas tree.) ... once you have your book, you cover the pages with a background paper, and put on whatever embellishments you like, put the little metal ring in the hole, and tie ribbon around it and voila, a little album.

Here are some that I have been working on:

This is the photo book I made for my boyfriend.

The music note is a pocket, and inside are a heart, a ticket and a square with music-note paper on it that can be used for either attaching photos or writing little notes on. I have also seen people tuck little items in there, like movie theatre ticket stubs or stuff like that.

I made this for my girlfriend for her birthday to put photos of her cat, whom she had to leave behind with her family when she moved away for a summer job.

Most of the book I did in orange, neutrals and pale blue, but I had this hot pink paper and those cute little medallions I just had to do one crazy page.

This is the first one I made that wasn't for a specific person or occasion -- I just made it randomly because I had coordinating embellishments and wanted to try a new colour scheme.

Pages said things like "family" and "Happy Birthday" (Pictured here) The red circle is a pocket with tags inside of it as well.

This is my latest, a spring-theme album with a page kit I got at Michael's. I wasn't a huge fan of the colours, nor do I use the "distressed" look in my personal projects, but it is always fun to work with new colours and techniques. You will see here, I have coloured in the edges of the book, it's a process done with an ink pad. After reading up online, I decided the best way was to use a makeup applicator sponge to soak up some ink and then run it around the edges of my book.

Eep look at my toes! The pocket came with the kit and has tags to write on. I had a couple of items I wanted to use from other projects, such as the "together" glitter title, which matched well with the colours here.

It honestly isn't as daunting as you may think, and a really great way to bundle up some photos you've been meaning to do something with.  If you have any tips or tricks to share, please share them with us!