Thieves’ Oil

005A teacher with whom I work glows with good health and wholesomeness. She’s chugs chunky green smoothies every morning and regularly eats fruit I’ve never even heard of. (Pomelo, anyone?)

She mentioned that she diffuses thieves’ oil in her classroom every morning to purify the air. Since she began this practice, fewer children are away ill and she herself feels better, cleaner, stronger. It’s a miracle elixir.

That was all I needed to hear. I’m not patient enough to peel pomelos and I don’t have a blender, so no viscous kale and dandelion green shakes for me. I stopped at the health food store on my way home.

“Look what I got,” I said waving the bottle at my sailor. “It’s thieves’ oil.”

“What’s it for?”

“It protects against bubonic plague.”

But there’s more! My research (the pamphlet that came with it) indicates thieves’ oil is antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral, and it smells good! It’s a mixture of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.

“Among other things, it’s been used by mariners for hundreds of years to fight rot and mold on wooden ships. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of it.”

Eye roll and big sigh in response.

According to my sailor, the Canadian Navy has yet to discover wonders of the thieves’ oil.

Since the plague is one of the few things I don’t worry about and I don’t clean pirate ships, I’ve found another use for this wonder product. I put a few drops in my bath every evening. It makes the room smell warm and spicy and the fumes eliminate airborne pathogens and foul odours–never a bad idea in the bathroom.

The Joys of Mid-Week Hookey


My sailor’s post-deployment leave ends this week. (Insert sad face.) After more than a month of holidays, he’ll head back to his drab little cubicle to resume defending truth, justice, democracy and the Canadian way of life.

I realize these are fairly important, but I wish he could stay home a little longer.

It’s been a treat to have my sailor around when I come home for lunch to visit the dog even if I have begun to sound like a 1950’s husband at times. “Why didn’t you load the dishwasher? What have you been doing all morning? Where’s my martini?” Okay, I don’t actually demand a martini when I get home, but I do get a little testy when I find the kitchen’s a mess.

Next week, it’s back to being one of the ladies who lunch as the dog and I bond over kibbles (her) and Pringles, coffee and whatever chocolate I can find (me).

My sailor and I have planned one last hurrah of fun before it’s back to business as usual. I’m taking an unpaid day of leave on Friday so we can hang out together.

Everything’s more fun when it happens on an unexpected day off so I have high hopes for Friday even though we haven’t actually planned anything.

Even without plans, there are three undeniable joys of mid-week hookey:
1. The work week is only four days long. It’s only Tuesday, but I only have two more days of work–yes!
2. You can linger over lunch, smirking at the worker bees who have to pass on wine and don’t have time for cheesecake because they have to rush back to their offices.
3. You can get an early start on grocery shopping and be out of there before the after work crowd comes along, slowing everything down. (Yes, I realize how dull this makes me sound.)

I’m so Sorry, Nanette!

write meg! has an excellent post about her days as an English major. She lived for her poetry class–a small group of ten to fifteen students who discussed and wrote poetry. The small, intimate nature of these classes allowed for each student to contribute to indepth discussions.

I’m also a former English major, but I didn’t take a poetry class. Instead, I took lots of history. I love studying the past, particularly social history. I enjoyed the big, anonymous lectures and the reading assignments. I even liked disappearing into the dusty stacks of Main Library to research essays and term papers.

What didn’t I like?–the weekly seminar that went with each history class at UBC. These were small discussion groups with ten to fifteen students in each. Unlike write meg! I’ve never enjoyed any type of public speaking (so I became a teacher–I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.) I especially dislike speaking in front of a group of educated, well-informed people who’ll realize if I say something wrong. (Okay–maybe this why teaching is a good fit for me, after all!)

Lucky for me, most seminars were filled with confident, intelligent students who carried a discussion with no help from me.

Until a 4th year Canadian history course when I ended up in a seminar with about twelve other introverts.

The prof put out a question for discussion and there was . . . dead silence. We students glanced at each other. Surely there was one extrovert, know-it-all in the group.

Our prof looked disgusted with us. She pulled out her class list and started at the top. Her first victim stammered and answered uncomfortably.

A few people down later, it happened.

“Nanette?” she said. “Can you elaborate?”

Palms sweaty, I tried to put together something, anything, remotely intelligent to say when I experienced a miracle–another girl answered.

Praise the universe–there was another Nanette in the group!

I coasted through the rest of the course, letting other Nanette field all my questions. I don’t know if she or the prof wondered why other Nanette seemed to be called upon twice as often as everyone else and why the quiet girl in the corner never had to answer a question.

It didn’t come up until the last week of class when the prof finally clued in.

“We seem to have a second Nanette in the group!” our prof said, examining the class list. “Where is she?”

Cough, cough. “I’m Nanette.”

I’m so very grateful other Nanette wasn’t a violent woman because she looked like she wanted to rough me up.

I’m so sorry, other Nanette!

3 Tips to Dodge Unsolicited Blogging Advice

“I put something on the back of the truck,” my sailor said. “It was procured with you in mind.”

Remembering the off-colour bumper sticker he’d displayed on his truck in university, I checked my nails to see if they were long enough to pick off a gummy sticker before going outside to inspect the new addition.

I admit I have been known to ask, “Are we there yet?” (repeatedly) on long and even not so long car trips.

“Cute,” I said, secretly relieved it wasn’t much worse.

He grinned at me. “I saw it at Canadian Tire and immediately thought of you.”

“Yeah, you’re really clever.” Was it too early for wine, I wondered.

“You should take a picture of it and put in your blog.”


“It’s kind of funny how you always ask are we there yet and then I got a trailer hitch cover that says that.” He grinned. “You should put it on your blog.”

He doesn’t even read my blog. (I know this because I’ve never had a reader in Afghanistan and he was there for six months.) But he thinks he can engineer “cute” events for blog posts.

This brings me to the point of today’s post–

Three tips to handle unsolicited blogging advice:

1. Remain noncommittal. Did you notice how I never actually said I’d use his idea? I think I was pretty smooth at deflecting his advice.
2. Smile. Mary Poppins told us all that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down and I’m telling you that a smile helps a negative reaction go down.
3. Accept that most advice is offered from a positive place and respond accordingly. My sailor wasn’t trying to tell me what to do or take over my blog. He was genuinely trying to help me. Whether I agree with his suggestion or not, it’s nice to know he cares enough to get involved.

Merry Thanksmas!

I elbowed my sailor awake at 8:00 Sunday morning.

“Wake up!” I hissed. “You have to soak your turkey!”

His eyes popped open. Being a sailor, he assumed soak your turkey was a euphemism for something fun.

It wasn’t.

He had to soak his frozen turkey to defrost it for roasting. Sunday was to be our family’s Thanksmas celebration–an amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two turkey roasting opportunities he’d missed.

His initial disappointment aside, my sailor performed admirably, putting together a complicated turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade stuffing, two different vegetables and cranberry sauce. (Okay, the cranberry sauce came from a can, but he did transfer that gelatinous mass into a pretty serving dish.)

He was in the kitchen for hours, chopping, boiling, mashing, stuffing and all manner of other cooking verbs.

Afterward, I loaded the dishwasher, but he dealt with the grosser aspects of clean-up–disposing of the stripped carcass and scrubbing the roasting tin.

In short, he performed like a kitchen champion.

And he thanked me for providing the opportunity to work his fingers to bone for me.

I love Thanksmas!

Gobble Gobble

I picked up a surprise for my sailor on Friday–a frozen turkey!

I would’ve gotten him a fresh turkey, but the local Safeway only stocks them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Turkey lovers looking for a fowl fix at other times must settle for frozen.

Fresh or frozen–it’s no big deal for me as I won’t be involved in its preparation. (I’ll likely be shopping or reading.)

The guy at the meat counter explained that my sailor will have to soak his turkey (breast side down, mind you–apparently this is very important for some reason) in cold water for six to eight hours before cooking to defrost it. He’ll have to remember to change the water every two hours.

It will be like caring for some flabby water-dwelling pet for the better part of a day–until he massages its wet hide with oil and herbs and slaps it into a hot oven!

I can’t wait for our upcoming feast, especially since I’m ultimately responsible for it. Although I won’t be cooking, I did take matters into my own hands (buying my sailor a frozen turkey.) Woo hoo–I’m finally going to get my much-anticipated sailor-prepared turkey dinner.

Surprisingly, my sailor’s come onboard and he’s also feeling pretty good about my plans. (Possibly because I also picked up a bottle of Jack Daniels, which I’ve heard is necessary for a happy turkey chef.)

3 Ways Blogging Can Change Your Life:

002I’ve been a busy blogger.

In addition to my three posts per week on The Sailor’s Woman, I’ve been writing a monthly guest post on Unhinged and Empowered Navy Wives and Girlfriends since before Christmas. To be honest, it’s a little unnerving because Unhinged Navy Wives has a much bigger audience than The Sailor’s Woman.

However, nerves aside, it’s been a positive experience. Blogger/novelist Stephanie Carroll has been amazingly patient with me, talking me through the process of posting on a different format (Unhinged Navy Wives is on Blogspot) and providing lots of helpful advice on everything from formatting my text to positioning my photos and writing catchy titles for my posts.

My most recent post, “5 Tips for Coping With Family Life & the Navy Homecoming” was featured on Navy Scuttlebut Daily, an online forum which includes popular Navy-themed stories from sources all over the interweb.

Well done, me!

Because I’ve learned that lists are googled more often than other blog titles, I’ll conclude with my personal top three benefits of blogging.

1. If you’re a wannabe writer who is also lazy, blogging is good because it forces you to write regularly. If you’re like me and follow rules religiously, setting yourself a regular posting schedule will ensure you write just to meet your self-imposed deadline.

2. Managing your own blog will force even the most technically inept person to learn SOME basic computer skills. Since starting The Sailor’s Woman at the beginning of the summer, I’ve become fairly comfortable with posting on WordPress. I can schedule posts ahead of time, upload photos and even post in a standard or gallery format. I still can’t insert photos in the middle of a post, but I’m not too bothered about that. I can learn more and get better. The technical sky’s the limit for me!

3. There is an undeniable thrill each time you hit that publish button and send your darling words out into the universe. I won’t say it’s like giving birth because it’s much less messy, but there is a feeling of accomplishment with each post.

WordPress Family Award

#2I’m sending a huge thank you to British Blokes Cooking who nominated me for the WordPress Family Award ages ago. They are talented cooks with a wonderful blog (and a really cute dog!)

It’s lovely to be recognized by fellow bloggers. The requirements of this award are pretty simple–nominate ten fabulous blogs. They can carry the award forward if they wish by nominating ten others, continuing the cycle of goodwill.

It feels slightly pretentious for me to be nominating the following super-talented bloggers. (Who am I to presume to give them an award??? I should be reading and trying to learn from them!)

Here, in no particular order, are my nominations for the WordPress Family Award:

A Story A Day

Texana’s Kitchen

write meg!


Have Bag, Will Travel

Stories From The Stove

Sadie & Dasie

Lady Fi

Adventures of a Dog Mom


Consider this a big, virtual pat on the back.

I’ve Lost the Christmas Chocolate!

008Home for less than a month and my sailor is already gone again.

This time not to war–huge sigh of relief. His mother has some medical issues so he’s returned to Powell River to help her out. Although I’m glad he’s caring enough to support his mom when she needs it, I’m also feeling a big grumpy. (Yes, I realize this is not my finest moment.)

He’s been away almost a week of his month-long post-deployment leave with no firm return date. Best case scenario, he could be home by mid-week. Worst case–this could drag on for most of his time off.

Is he an exemplary son?–you bet! He spent most of his pre-deployment leave with his mom, too. His caring and compassion are qualities I love. I’m just disappointed his leave is ticking away and we’re not together.

What’s a girl to do on a lonely Friday night when she finds herself without her sailor, you ask.

My first choice is the standard: Chardonnay. Unfortunately there was only about half a glass left. (Who runs out of wine??? I can’t believe I let this happen!)

Right then, on to plan B: chocolate. If only I could remember where I put it. All the half-price Boxing Day chocolate has disappeared. I’ve looked in all my usual hiding places, but to no avail. My boy assures me he didn’t eat it and I believe him. I’m the one with the voracious sweet tooth, not him.

When all else fails there’s always custard. One of the classic comfort foods of my childhood. I always have Bird’s Custard powder, milk and sugar. Custard is an easy peasy sweet treat. A monkey could make it if he had opposable thumbs. It’s never failed me–until tonight. Instead of a warm silky pudding, I ended up with a bright yellow mass the texture of loose scrambled eggs.

And I ate it anyway!

Ugh–it’s going to be a long weekend.

Normal Baking Has Now Been Resumed or Chocolate Chip Cookies Circa 2014

With the holidays well and truly behind us, it’s time to put away the molasses, nutmeg and cinnamon and get back to regular baking–chocolate chip cookies!

New year, new recipe. This one was on the back of the Chipits bag. It’s a bit unusual because it uses only brown sugar (almost as much sugar as flour) instead of a mixture of brown and white. I figured this would add moisture and a deeper, caramel flavour so I went with it.

This recipe excited me because it starts with melted butter. I don’t have an electric mixture so I must use brute force to cream softened butter with sugar. Starting with melted butter takes the heavy work out of baking.

I added a splash of vanilla even though it wasn’t in the recipe because vanilla equals flavour. I also love its scent and feel particularly baker-ly when I cook with it.

The verdict: heavy dense cookies with very little flavour (thank goodness I added vanilla–they’d have been like lumps of plaster without it.)

I’m not giving up on the idea of melted butter for baking, but I’m going to tweak some other things.