Becca Jane St Clair

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All’s Quiet on the Western Front….

Sorry I’ve been quiet lately. I came home from camping and developed a slight cold, so I’ve mostly been staying in bed, eating soup, drinking tea, and reading books. My long-awaited package from Tim finally arrived,and he sent me four books for my birthday (he knows me so well), so I’ve been glad for the distraction. I’ve also been watching some of the DVDs I brought with me to just pass the time while I tried to recover from this.

I had to venture out on Wednesday to buy some groceries, as I was down to either eating pizza crust (with nothing to top it with) or Ramen noodles for the third day in a row. I walked down to the Extra Foods, which happens to be “cheaper” over the Safeway across the street. Since I’m sick, I really wanted vegetable soup, and I was feeling too lazy to make some from scratch. Would you believe none of the brands carried Vegetarian Vegetable? Every can I picked up had beef stock in it….I finally found Campbell’s Vegetarian for $2/can! I abandoned that idea and picked up a can of generic tomato instead ($0.69). What is it with prices up here? It’s not even that I’m trying to buy American brands…even Canadian brands and store brands of things often seem really high compared to what I’d pay for them at home. A box of Twinings Tea was nearly $4, at home it’d be $2.50. A jar of store brand green olives here was almost $3, at home I can sometimes get it for even just $1. Even milk is crazy expensive. a 4L big jug (the equivalent to a gallon in the US) was well over $4, and a carton of eggs cost me $2.50! And don’t get me started on cheese. No matter what brand or type I try to buy, it’s consistently expensive, expensive, expensive. Ugh. I tried buying in bulk on some items since I’ll still be here for another month, and things really weren’t any cheaper…I bought 18 eggs instead of 12, a big container of yogurt instead of individuals….and I still really don’t think I saved a whole lot. *sigh*

I also became a klutz on Wednesday. Sarah and Joe have a water cooler that also has a hot water dispenser on it, so I’ve been making iced tea using the hot water from it instead of heating water on the stove. I was putting water into a glass pitcher and the bottom of the pitcher fell right out from under! I didn’t even notice it had cracked the whole way until scalding hot water started to get onto my arm. Then, a few minutes later I was removing dinner from the oven and I was stupid and burned myself on the oven door. It’s a nice big burn, too. And of course it’s in a spot where I can’t actually see it unless I hold my arm up in front of the bathroom mirror. Whoops.

I’ll round out the post with a few photos I’ve taken while stuck indoors, including one of the cats thwarting my attempt at making the bed yesterday morning.

Broken pitcher. Look how it cut itself perfectly along the bottom!

Hobbes and Quincy check out the package from my mom (I bet they smelled Will!)

The cutest slug(?) I’ve ever seen

Casper, Quincy, and Hobbes arranged in such a way that I couldn’t make the bed.

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Shopping in Canada

I was so concerned before my trip about being able to figure out what the current temperature was outside (Multiply degrees in C by 9, then divide by 5, then add 32 to get degrees in F), that I never really stopped to think about the actual act of grocery shopping in another country.

So, here’s a few things I’ve learned so far that might be of help to other travelers:

  • Become familiar with the currency and the conversion rate. I’m fortunate that Canada uses the Canadian Dollar and so the denominations are all the same with the exception of using a one dollar and two dollar coin instead of bills. This morning, I had $10 in loonies and toonies in my purse! Also remember that when you go to convert money back to US currency, most places won’t take coins, even if they are the dollar and two dollar coins. The Canadian dollar is worth about US$1.03, so it’s nearly an even exchange. I can easily convert in my head to figure out how much I’m spending in US Dollars. (And it’s not pretty. Wow, stuff is expensive here!)
  • Learn the Metric system. I wanted to buy some cheese for sandwiches, and I stared gobsmacked at the signs for a good 10 minutes “$2.09/100g”. What’s 100g? 100g is a little less than 1/4 of a pound. So, if you wanted “one pound” of cheese, you’d need to order 100-500g. Fortunately, the deli scale at the Safeway measured in both pounds and grams, so when I explained I was a poor confused American who wanted a half pound of cheese, she was able to measure it out in pound format.
  • Be prepared to spend more money on “American” items. I didn’t come with any toiletries because I wanted to save on the room in my suitcase. I sort of wish I had brought some along, anyway. I still haven’t bought any body wash, because I haven’t been able to justify the CDN$6.99 (US$6.70) for a bottle of body wash. I’ve been using the crappy bar of soap I snagged from the hotel in Winnipeg. I usually get the cheap store brands for around US$2.50….that kind of stuff doesn’t exist here. I also couldn’t find my cheap shampoo. I use the VO5 .99 stuff because it’s good and it’s inexpensive. I couldn’t find VO5, but I did find Suave shampoo in the same strawberry scent I usually get. CDN$2.53 for a double pack of the Shampoo/Conditioner. Not a bad price, but not the brand I usually get. I wonder how much space/weight a bottle of body wash would have taken up? Oh well, too late now! I wonder if Bath and Body Works ships to Canada?
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