Tag Archives: Summer

My car & I

Kelly Snow

I have to preface my blog with a backstory. I will try to make it quick.

In 2011, I was hired at the Howard Johnson Hotel by the Falls by a gentleman named Fernando Morales, who was my manager. This was one of my first summer jobs, where I worked throughout university. Fernando became more than just a boss to me – he was a mentor, a leader, and a dear friend. Even after we both left the hotel for other positions, we remained connected and worked together on other projects.

In 2014, I was looking for jobs after college, and I happened to score an interview with the Ontario Minister of Labour’s Chief of Staff. As a Labour student, this was my dream job. She called me on the Friday of that week and asked me to come in to meet the Minister himself on Monday. I had called Fernando in a brief panic and asked for advice on interviewing – he had done hundreds of interviews during his career – and his powers of persuasion were second to none. He suggested we get together and he generously took the evening off work for me, paid for our meals, and at the end, he thanked me for coming to him for help. He told me that it meant a lot to him that I came to him for this first. If I learned anything from my time as one of Fernando’s lucky staff, I learned to work hard (although, that was a lesson I learned first from my own father), and to be generous with my time and my resources – and my blessings. I learned to treat anyone who came to me for help the same way I’d want my own family to be treated.

In November of last year, Fernando was in a car accident on his way to work. He was airlifted to Sunnybrook hospital where he passed away. Not a week later, I was also in a car accident after being clocked by another driver. I was fine, if a little shaken up, but my car was written off. Fernando’s funeral was on a Saturday, and I spent the latter part of that same weekend car-shopping.  I bought a bright blue 2016 Prius C and it was special because it was the first car I bought brand new. It was the first time I could afford to do so –  a steady job allowed me to be a bit pickier than I had been in the past. I’d like to think that it was partially on account of Fern – he had provided me with the tools necessary to obtain my first professional role out of college, which eventually lead to my current position. And I’d like to think that partaking in No Fixed Address is my way of paying forward and honouring the generosity and kindness he always showed to me.


Kelly Snow is on the YWCA Niagara Region’s Board of Directors and apart of the YW BOD NFA team.

Fresh Start

As Spring transitions into Summer it’s easy to forget that Winter even exists. The sun shine stays longer, you can see flowers, trees and other plants coming to life and everything just feels a little bit more relaxed. New Years is the traditional time to set goals or start a new positive, healthy habit. As we all know, the running joke for New Year’s Resolutions is that the majority of people abandon them by February or March. If we know the season’s have the ability to affect our moods, productivity and motivation, then maybe we should aim to set our goals for a little later in the year.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Traditionally it begins and ends about the same time every year. The Mayo Clinic states, “Most people with SAD’s symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” The Canadian Mental Health Association has research that suggests between 2 and 3 per cent of the general population may have Seasonal Affective Disorder, another 15 per cent will have a less severe experience called the “winter blues.” Lowered energy and being moody aren’t exactly a recipe for success when you’re trying to achieve your goals. A few tips for easing your SAD or winter blues include: spending more time outside during the day, keeping your curtains open during the day, sitting near or in natural light and building physical activity into your life before your symptoms start. If you think you are affected by SAD, talk to your doctor. You can find out more information here.

Our physical surroundings and environment have a direct link to your mood, productivity and energy levels. In the winter the sun rises later and sets earlier not leaving much, if any, opportunity for natural Vitamin D. The Dana Foundation has found, “Adequate Vitamin D levels will elevate your mood, improve your memory and increase other cognitive abilities.” The aforementioned positive effects of Vitamin D are what start to happen and continue throughout spring and summer, which is why it is the perfect time to set and complete your goals. With an elevated mood you are more resilient if you have a set-back throughout your process. An improved memory and increase of other cognitive abilities can aid you in and make you more receptive to change. Fresh air and being in nature also increases your energy levels, research has found that being surrounded by nature, in fresh air, increases energy in 90% percent of people. The smells that bein


g in nature provides have also be proven to release stress and increase happiness. A few examples being roses which promote relaxation, jasmine and lavender can increase your mood and lower anxiety, pine trees increases relaxation and decreases stress. The less anxiety you have, the less you will second guess yourself, the more you will reach for your goals!


In addition to Vitamin D, fresh air and the natural scents that energize and increase our mood, in the spring, you can physically see new plants or trees growing or flowers blossoming. In the summer is when we get to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Around us we can see new beginnings and we are nourishing ourselves with fresh, replenishing, immune and energy boosting produce that are good for our bodies and minds. In the spring and summer, with more flora and fauna, you feel more apart of something. More people are outside, everything feels alive. It is almost hard to not be productive when you can see everything moving, changing and growing around you. Whether your goal, new habit or beginning is small or large, personal motivation, energy and positivity are all important factors when it comes achieving your goals. Feeling apart of something, having the opportunity to be outdoors, getting fresh air, naturally boosting your mood and energy can make your goals feel attainable.

Spring and summer are a fantastic time for a fresh start. You are physically and emotionally set-up for success. Take advantage of natural motivators this month, exceed your expectations. “Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.” —Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty

Written by Valerie Chalmers
Co Chair of Promotions & Marketing Committee, Niagara Leadership Summit for Women
Co Host of The Empowered Millennials Podcast
Member of Promotions & Marketing Committee, No Fixed Addresshttp://nfaniagara.com
Member of the St. Catharines Culture Plan Sub Committee





ScienceDirect – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494409000838

NCBI, PubMed – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19370942

Huffington Post – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/spring-scents_n_5021358.html , http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/20/winter-scent-health-benefits_n_4473935.html

Friday Find – Inside The O’Briens

There is a meme where the one friend says to the other: “I just read this book, it ripped my heart apart, had me openly sobbing, I was so engrossed I couldn’t eat or even stop thinking about it……Here….., read it”.

Well, I have read that book …….. Inside the O’Briens, by Lisa Genova, she is well known for Still Alice.  The subject of this book is Huntington’s Disease and follows one family’s journey through this disease – it is both heartbreaking and uplifting……If you don’t read anything else this summer……Read It!!

friday find - lisa genova

Creative Corner – DIY Water Blob

Yes, you read correctly. I said Water Blob. You may be wondering, what is a Water Blob? I wondered the same thing myself. I won’t keep you guessing any longer. I give you, the WATER BLOB:

If you don’t have a pool but are still looking for a fun way to keep the kids (and maybe even yourself) cool and entertained, you may want to check this out! Maybe your kids are tired of little kiddy pools and want to upgrade to the latest trend in backyard fun! Here is the link for the tutorial on how to make this awesome blob, from Homemade Toast.


It looks pretty simple. It also looks really fun once it’s all done! Here is a video of a how-to and the finished product: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=034S8Uri7fY

Does it remind you of the days when your parents had a water bed?! Happy blobbing!

A Fall Dish with Summer Memories

Fall is about comfort…

fall laneThe fall season is my favourite time of year.  Not only do scarves, baggy sweaters, and boots become acceptable for every day attire, but it also means cooking easy meals that warm you from the inside out.  To go along with my favourite season, I’ve chosen to blog about trying my hand at recreating a cheeseburger casserole recipe that I found online.  Casseroles are one of my favourite meals, not only are they tasty and include everything in your fridge, but they are a dish where the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time – all you have to do is throw the ingredients in a pot and get cooking!

Buzzfeed is one of my favourite websites for everything pop culture and international news.  Once in a while, they will post a blog with seasonal or themed recipes; which is where I stumbled across this yummy idea.  The link on Buzzfeed took me to a Chungah’s cooking blog, appropriately titled Damn Delicious.  Based out of Los Angeles, Chungah offers recipes that are quick and easy to make and yummy to eat!  I chose to prepare and cook the One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole – mostly because of my love for cheese.. and burgers.. but also because the recipe gave me the opportunity to use fresh, local vegetables and meats.

Are you ready to get cookin’?

Here is what you’ll need for Damn Delicious’ One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole:

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef – I’m using ground beef from Viks Meats, our local butcher here in Grimsby.

1 oinion, dicedpic 1

Salt and ground pepper, to taste

1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (8-ounce) can of tomato sauce

2 cups of chicken broth

1/4 cup of ketchup

2 teaspoons of dijon mustard

1 box of rotini pasta – I used Catelli penne and it tasted just as good! *Note: Catelli also offers gluten free pasta in all the same shapes and sizes.

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 Roma tomato – I used a tomato from a Sentimental Farms, a local and organic farm in Grimsby.

2 green onions, sliced

What to do:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat.  Add ground beef and onion; cook until the beef has browned (about 3-5 minutes), making sure to crumble the beef as you go along.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and drain the excess fat.
  2. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, ketchup, mustard, pasta, and add two cups of water.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through (about 13-16 minutes).  Even though the recipe only calls for 2 cups of water, I ended up adding about an extra cup of boiling water – the pasta wasn’t cooking very well.
  3.  Remove from heat and top with cheddar cheese.  Cover   until the cheese has melted.  Serve immediately, garnish with tomato and green onions.

pic 5
I really enjoyed this dish.  It really did taste like a cheeseburger, which gave me a chance to hang onto the remaining “summer” weather.  The recipe made enough casserole to feed a small army, so there are lots of left overs in the fridge and I have a feeling this is a dish that will taste better as the days go on.

Click here to check out the 19 other delicious and easy casserole recipes from Buzzfeed.  Enjoy!


Images courtesy of Google Images and Stephanie Fleming