Habanerogal

Posted on: July 20, 2012

Originally posted on Metro News:

VANCOUVER – Chris Sweeney and his husband were driving home to Seattle after a recent trip to Vancouver when they were stopped at the border for more than two hours and threatened with thousands of dollars in fines for dangerous contraband in the trunk of their car.

Their suspicious cargo? Half a dozen Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs, each filled with a tiny plastic toy — a childhood favourite in Canada but an illegal choking hazard in the United States.

“I thought (the American border guard) had done his search and hadn’t found anything, and he was joking with us,” Sweeney, 35, told The Canadian Press in an interview Wednesday.

“He wasn’t joking.”

The popular German chocolate eggs are not sold in the U.S. because they are considered a choking hazard. They are also banned because the treats are considered adulterated food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sweeney said…

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This is one wild ride that I have been on the last year. Exactly one year ago I decided promptly at 8:30 am that I had just become a former smoker. I had been mulling the idea over for some time and had come to the conclusion that I was no longer happy being an addict to the tobacco monster.
Just like that I extinguished the cigarette unceremoniously leaving behind an ugly reminder of the past. I had some holidays to be able to let the emotional baggage go without fear of repercussions from employers. Despite the fact that I work in the health care field and they are always encouraging and challenging us to not smoke, I doubted they would be ready for my expletive ridden tirades at that particular point in time. I told myself that it is OK to feel irritable ( I called it stabby for humor sake)
These are only my opinions, but other than my new found sense of smell that got turned off by the reeking ashtrays and stale smell in the house I felt I was coping pretty well. Suffice it to say I was considered a bit a a crank and the family and friends were gracious enough to tolerate me.
That is how the first few days went euphoria mixed with confusion and a little bit of anxiety. My worst fear is that it would make the bond with my husband weaken as I had “left the gang” so to speak, become an outsider, possibly a converter/zealot. I have always done my darndest not to lecture anyone regarding my choice. The fact remains I did this for ME and nobody else. All I could hope for was someone seeing that I could do it therefore they could too. I have lent out my Alan Carr book to several people but have not try to coach or advise anyone. It is a personal journey and after all I took it without guidance or urging so it behooves me to guide myself accordingly.
This year I will put aside all of the money that I didn’t spend on smoking and do something wonderful with it. Travel comes to mind as does an educational pursuit. I’ll have to see where this journey takes me. For now I am going to remain focused on being a good role model and to take the steps to getting my physical self into shape as I look down the road to my 50th birthday.

PS Not that I am a fame whore but one of the people who inspired me in my quitting among other not so well known former smokers was Anthony Bourdain. I did a shout out of thanks on Twitter this morning to his wife @OttaviaBourdain and thanked him through her for helping me. She stated great to hear that ! Congrats ! Just a little icing and hope it makes them feel good too. Every quitter deserves to be inspirational.

If you happened over here because of the article from the Edmonton Journal I want to thank you for stopping by. At this particular time I don’t have any food posts due to the lack of a decent camera. I have a background in photography and would rather not post crappy photos. Food blogging tends to have more meaning when there are visuals. In my opinion words are powerful but need the images to make the work appealing. Stay tuned the food blog will be coming, for now I’ll continue to tweet at habanerogal and look forward to seeing you in the future

Ok I admit it I am first and foremost a mom, but as the kids have gotten older I have been trying my best to prepare them and myself for the transition to adulthood. I have provided them with all of the basic life skills to function on their own, cooking, laundry, money management all they might need.
My son having turned 18 last October has been seeing more of the adult world that he hadn’t planned on. He has been making all sorts of life decisions regarding his education and work, time management and lots of other areas of life.
Then one fine day as he is enjoying a game of touch football with his classmates things changed in a heartbeat. Luckily for technology he was there on the phone just moments after the collision that changed his summer.
“Hey mom, I’ve broken my leg. It’s pretty bad and they’re going to send me to the hospital in an ambulance. I know you are working midnights this week so you don’t need to come down.” My heart broke a little when I heard those words.

I haven’t really been paying much attention to milestones in my quitting smoking journey. The main reason is that my mindset (which if you know me well leans towards the stubborn side) has been resolute from the get go. Once I put out that last cigarette with not very much in the way of ceremony I was a former smoker. Just like that the switch had been turned off. I can’t explain how I got to that place where I just KNEW that the door had shut and I was walking forward, but I had done it.
Before I committed to quitting I joined a group called Albertaquits.ca. They are an online support group run by the Alberta Lung Association. I have not been active in the support groups but one aspect of the program that I enjoy is the stats and quit anniversary reminder that they send. In honour of my 7 month-aversary here are all of the statistics that make me stand back and gloat a bit and say well done.

Your Quit Date is: Monday, August 17, 2009 at 12:00:00 AM
Test Time Smoke-Free: 212 days, 3 hours, 16 minutes and 8 seconds
Cigarettes NOT smoked: 4243
Lifetime Saved: 1 month, 2 days, 9 hours
Money Saved: $2,035.20

Trust me if I can stay the course living with smokers then you can too. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me to be here in a happier place.

The month of January has slipped through my grasp, however I recently went on a quest for my first cheese of the year along with my new foodie pal @alexglee. We shopped at the Save-on Foods on Jasper Avenue and 109th Street. I figured the selection in the downtown area would be much wider than in my own working class neighbourhood. Our local store tends to stick to the tried and true cheddars and mozzas and the whole point of the Resolution is to try a new type of cheese each month. Not an easy task as I have always been fairly adventurous in my cheese eating over the years. I ended up choosing Cheshire cheese without even getting a sample and came home to give it a taste test.
Upon doing my research as to the origins and pedigree of the Cheshire cheese, I was surprised to learn that it is the oldest commercially produced cheese from Britain, wow nothing like beginning at the beginning.

I quite enjoyed the sharpness and bite very similar to a well aged cheddar which is one of my favourites. It has the same crumbly texture which can be maddening to some, but I find that all the crumbs that fall off find a way into my mouth somehow or other.

The possibilities for enjoying this cheese are varied. I didn’t buy a huge piece so most of it was eaten au-naturelle or with soda crackers. I did try an omelet along with some of my fave veggies, green pepper and mushroom (ya not really a veggie but whatever) and it worked nicely.

This Lazy blogger and shopper would probably not go to the effort of seeking this out again due to the premium price and lack of local availability. I much prefer an extra old Balderson cheddar that I can buy in a vacuum sealed package and be more or less assured of its freshness.

I will endeavour to get back on track with my cheese-athon findings in the days to come. In the mean time go out and have a nice cheese and bacon melt it will make all of the world’s problems just a little less important. Mmmm bacon

I have spent many a December night trying to take stock and decide what needs to be worked on, changed or improved for a Big New Year fresh start. After a few broken resolutions and the beating up of oneself over broken promises, I decided that the best resolution to make was a FUN one.

Perhaps it was a night of drinking or too many Food Network shows that prompted me, but the resolution I made this year was to…wait for it it’s a good one… to try a new type of cheese every month for the entire year. I may decide to blog about it or maybe just tweet but I will promise to share my cheddar files with you. That is all for now… I’m off to the cheese shop.

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