Ten-year plan?


year-old me with my dad and three cousins. photo by w.barnes

one-year-old me with my dad and three cousins. ten-year plans included dressing myself and not getting food all-over my face.  photo by w.barnes

**This post is intended to hold my own feet to the fire, and keep certain promises to myself.**

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” is a question I’ve been asking myself a fair bit lately. It’s not a foreign question to me– I’m the type of person who likes to think before I speak and plan before I do. I often like to ruminate on where I am, where I’d like to be, and how to connect those two points. There is a certain amount of comfort in planning a head and finding out the plan works.

On the other hand, when the plan doesn’t work, it’s time for the post-mortem: why didn’t the plan work; what went wrong; how could I have avoided it; what next, etc. For me, knowing where I am and how I got there informs how I should proceed.

Nine years ago when I finished high school, I had a pretty straightforward plan: go to university, live on my own, travel a bit and work. Pretty vague, but I did meet all those goals. Maybe I would have liked more long-term work and less contracts, more travel and less hanging around home, but I did okay meeting goals I set as a teenager. I didn’t decide where I wanted to travel to, what field I wanted to work in or where I’d live, but I gave each goal a shot.

Now here I am, almost ten years later, realizing I need to figure out goals for the next ten years– some personal and some professional. I’ve got a year to finalize the details, but here are some preliminary goals:

a) Steady work and less contracts–  I’d love to continue working on my skills and building work experience, particularly in communications, marketing, project management, business, but I won’t say no to any good opportunities that come my way;

b) Pay off student loans– it might take a while, but it is super important to me;

c) Work out at least three times a week consistently— I’d like to get stronger and more fit, which means having a more structured attendence;

d) Learn to speak another language fluently– I’ve been working on German through Duolingo; and

e) Travel more– Top spots include New Orleans, Cuba, and the UK.

It’s a small start, but I hope this will help me solidify my trajectory think about where I want to be in the next ten years.


Adventures in Food: Motor City Cider


Checking out Motown Records during our Christmas trip to Detroit in 2013. photo by M.Boyd

In this cold weather, all I want to snuggle up in a blanket with a book and a warm beverage. This apple cider recipe was shared with me by a fine lady who sold tea at Detroit’s Eastern Market, and every time I make it, I’m taken back to one of my favourite trips ever (go visit Detroit!).


Warm cidery goodness in a mug that reminds me of my Ukrainian grandma’s cross-stitch pattern

Motor City Cider

• 4 cups of apple juice
• 4 tsp of chai tea leaves (I like the African rooibois from The Tea Girl on 124 Street)
• A dram of maple or whiskey (optional)

Put tea leaves into a tea strainer or bag. Add apple juice and tea (and optional additions) to a pot. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Let it cool off a wee bit so you don’t burn your tongue. Pour into four mugs and enjoy!

Music while you cook

One of Motown’s greatest, Marvin Gaye expressing a pain still happening today:

From Iqaluit to Igloolik

My friend Thomas’ account covering the suicide of Solomon Uyarasuk. Heart-breaking.

Sometimes I Think

I find myself in Igloolik this week, an Inuit community of almost 1,500 people which sits on its own small island about 800 km northwest of Iqaluit, just off the northeast corner of Melville Peninsula.

Arriving Sunday night around 4:30pm it was already pitch dark and about -30C with the wind: an instant reminder that I’m further north than Iqaluit. I’m above the Arctic Circle now, where, eventually, the sun will disappear for weeks each winter.  The average temperature in Igloolik this week is around -27C, before the wind chill. And there are only about 3 hours of sunlight, including twilight.

My official capacity here—covering a five-day coroner’s inquest into the death of a young, popular artist and circus performer while in police custody for Nunatsiaq News

A plane waits on the tarmac of Iqaluit's airport Nov. 22. After flying all the way to Igloolik, my plane turned around headed back for Iqaluit because groundstaff woudln't have been able to de-ice the plane for its next trip, the pilot said. A plane waits on the tarmac of Iqaluit’s airport Nov. 22. After flying all the way to Igloolik, my plane turned around headed…

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Small summer adventures

I got a new camera last year and I’ve spent some time trying to learn all the settings. At school we used Nikons, so switching to a Canon took a bit to learn. My goal was to see if I could learn to take pictures that I wouldn’t feel the urge to doctor with Photoshop. Here’s a small selection, taken over the course of the summer and autumn.  Alberta is ridiculously pretty.

Adventures in Food: Cheddar ‘n’ Grits Muffins



This morning I had a mad craving for Credo’s cheddar corn muffins *again*. Just  this past week I picked up one right at 7 am, freshly pulled out of the oven because I couldn’t wait. Suffice to say, it was getting ridiculous. While I love the cheesy corn muffins with a kick, I needed to find a cheaper way.

I absolutely suck at baking, so any recipe had to be super easy. In a high school baking class, I think I only got a good grade because my partner was incredible; myself and the other girl, not so much.

After looking through a few recipes online, and not really exactly what I wanted, I “MacGyver-ed” my own recipe. I wanted something reminiscent of cheese grits (which I suck at making as well), and I wanted the muffins to have a wee bit of a kick.

Cheese ‘n’ Grits Muffins

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Grits (good grits are hard to find in Canada and these are excellent)
  • 1 Tbsp of baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of cayenne powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 4 Tbsp melted, salted butter
  • 1/2 cup of medium orange cheddar
  • 1/2 cup of old white cheddar


Preheat oven to 425 and grease muffin tin. Mix first five ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat egg. Add milk and butter to mix. Add liquid ingredients and cheese to large bowl. Mix lightly (until all ingredients are moist) and be careful to not overmix.  Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes– knife should come out clean or at least a tiny bit cheesy.  Place on cooling rack or enjoy hot with butter.   Makes 12 muffins.

Music while you cook 

I’m on a bit of a Jack White kick since I saw him perform at Sonic Boom fest. I’ve been a big fan since his early White Stripes days and I still like his recent stuff; since I can’t pick, take two!

Here’s the first song I ever heard by The White Stripes:

And a song off his new album:


Adventures in Food: Barnes’ KC-Style Ribs

photo by k.barnes

photo by k.barnes

I love ribs– but really, what non-vegetarian doesn’t? I’m partial to the ribs from Kansas City, where I have family. Spicy, but sweet and sticky. I don’t get back very often, so I’ve put together  a simple recipe. I start with the oven, then finish on the grill (with smoke-infusing wood chips). It’s not the most authentic, but it works in a pinch.

** I find it’s best to get a good cut of pork side ribs and cut off the large chunks of fat before you start.

Rib rub recipe 

  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 rack of ribs

Rub into ribs. Put in a pan, and cover with foil. Bake for at least an hour. Soak the wood chips according to directions. If they ribs don’t look cooked enough to eat, keep them in the oven longer.

photo by k.barnes

photo by k.barnes


  • soaked wood chips
  • BBQ sauce (I usually use Bulls Eye original– the horror!)
  • Honey

Pack wood chips in foil with holes in the packet. Put in the bottom of the grill. Turn on grill, cover and let the chips start heating up. It should take about ten minutes (unless your chips say otherwise).

Mix 1 part honey to 2 parts BBQ sauce. I usually end up with around 2/3 cup total.  Slather ribs with sauce and place on the grill, meaty side up, medium heat. Leave for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how sticky vs. saucy you like your ribs.  Flip over and leave for the same amount of time.

Enjoy! 🙂

Music while you cook 

A little bit of classic Canadian rock, an a fabulous live band– The Tragically Hip.

Adventures in Food: Harlan County Fried Chicken

Spicy Fried Chicken by M.Boyd

Spicy Fried Chicken by M.Boyd

I love southern cuisine– it’s in my roots to fry and barbecue everything. I’ve been having a hard time finding fried chicken in #yeg that was spicy, crispy but still juicy. Some places have batter that feels flat and frustrating. Some chicken wasn’t spicy at all!  That simply won’t do! It’s gotta be crispy, spicy, flavorful, and juicy!

I tried to hunt down a recipe I liked, but I found that I’d be better off cobbling together my own. My partner was gracious enough to often stand in front of the stove frying it. Recently a friend of mine and I planned a fried chicken and waffle potluck dinner for us and our partners. She’s quite the foodie, so hearing that this was the “best fried chicken ever!” was quite the compliment.

I can’t guarantee that you’d get fried chicken like this in Harlan County, but the name pays tribute to the fantastic Elmore Leonard short story Fire in the Hole, which inspired the TV show Justified

Chicken recipe

  • 3 lbs of chicken (legs and thighs with skin are best)
  • 1 litre of buttermilk
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup of seasoning* (recipe below)
  • canola oil
  1. Put raw chicken in a large bowl and cover with buttermilk. Add hot sauce to taste. Canada doesn’t always have an excellent hot sauce selection so I used Tabasco and about 1/4 cup, depending on who I am feeding. Cover and let it sit for at least an hour. The longer, the better.
  2. Mix flour and seasoning in a shallow dish. Flour should look dirty. Feel free to add more or less if you like.
  3. Cover each piece of chicken with flour and seasoning mix. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  4. Heat up oil in a cast iron pan. It should sizzle loudly if you spinkle a little water on it (around 375 F). Make sure there’s enough to submerge each piece of chicken half way.
  5. Cook each piece of chicken for about 12 minutes. It should look golden brown.
  6. Put chicken aside on some paper towel to soak of excess oil.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Seasoning ( I make a large batch– feel free to divide by three; 3 tsp = 1 tbsp)

  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground sage
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cayanne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili pepper
  • 5 tbsp paprika
  • 6 tbsp season salt

Music while you cook

A song for the show Justified from the wonderful Dave Alvin: