It’s time to get pissed.

Hi Faithful Follower,

I try to keep this blog light and fluffy, but I am seriously mad. Sure, I’m mad that few people know this is an issue but I’m God damn furious with the Canadian Government. Why? Recent changes to refugee health care.

The back story

In April, Jason Kenney, noted asshole and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, announced cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). This is the health program that refugees and refugee claimants in Canada and provides them with access to the same healthcare you and I are entitled to.

Welcoming Refugees? Probably “Welcoming-ish Refugees” is probably more accurate

Minister Kenney said the free ride was over for these “leeches” on the system because Canadians aren’t entitled to the same “luxurious” secondary healthcare benefits included in the IFHP, like dental and eye care and must seek private care for them (which is another story because I still think it’s a sham that these two aren’t covered under the healthcare act, but I digress). Let’s keep in mind that these are the very refugees that our own government selected for immigration.

By getting these refugees, who are here legally, off of Canada’s healthcare bills, Kenney was thrilled to announce  that the budget for IFHP would save Canadian tax payers $20 million a year. $20 million? I guess if you keep giving corporate tax cuts  at ridiculously high rates (with little success at stimulating our economy but, again, that’s another matter), the best way to balance the books is on the backs of the most vulnerable population in Canada.


So what?

I’m not a refugee, and chances are you aren’t either so why should you care about cuts to refugee health care? Let’s see…

 If you’re Canadian and you believe that one of the tenants of our social fabric is access to quality health care, you should care.

Healthcare in Canada is a complicated thing. But I think it’s one the things that makes ours a distinct and proud society. Cuts like these erode the legitimacy and the credibility of our healthcare system.

If you believe that those who have been forced to flee their countries for reasons of war, persecution and strife deserve a fresh and equal start, you should care.

It is insulting to us, a nation founded by immigrants and refugees, to have Minister Kenney portray those seeking refuge as freeloaders or “bogus” claimants.

Refugees are one of the most vulnerable populations in this country and I’m pretty sure the Canadian government wasn’t elected to make their arrival here more difficult than it already is.

I was talking to my friend Ivana* this weekend on our way to yoga, because, you know, we’re yuppies. Ivana was a refugee from Bosnia and fled the country during the civil war. Landing in Ottawa with her family, starting school, learning a new language, going to university, getting a fancy and successful job (and with that job paying her share of taxes). Ivana and her family are a testament to why Canada brings refugees to our country.

Now, I am not naïve enough to think that every refugee family is as successful or legitimate as Ivana’s, but if the Canadian government accepts their refugee claim and they are legally here, why not give them a step up as they try to make sense of their new reality.

I know there are refugee claimants that are bogus. But that’s a legal issue. Not a medical one.

*Not her real name and she is definitely not Donald Trump’s ex-wife.

If you think doctors know more about medical care than politicians, you should care.

Listen, I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV (or at least no longer as my character on Grey’s Anatomy was killed off in a freak gasoline fight accident). But I do think that doctors are usually better sources of information of what is good for your health compared to politicians, because, you know, it’s their job and politicians serve a different, less life saving, purpose.

Many national health care groups have written to Jason Kenney to register their opposition of the cuts to IFHP including:

The Canadian Medical Association

The Canadian Nurses Association

The Canadian Dental Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Huh, well that seems like a pretty all encompassing list of front line healthcare professionals who would be personally dealing and treating the fallout from these cuts.

Minister Kenney’s response? ***Crickets***

If you pay tax dollars and think they should be spent in a responsible and cost-efficient way, you should care.

Listen, I am not a tax-and-spend type of girl. In fact, fiscal responsibility in government is important to me. However, if you don’t treat acute illnesses and conditions the consequences can be drastic and mega $$$ pricey.

Consider some of the cases  that Canadian Doctors For Refugee Care have amassed in the past three months since the cuts have been effective.

Among others, there was a woman whose asthma required emergency hospitalization from an attack due to a lack of (really quite cheap) medication, a woman whose diabetes quickly deteriorated as she was unable to afford insulin or those with chest pain unable to receive and kids who are unable to start school due to them not being fully vaccinated and unable to afford the vaccinations.

There are many more, but it boils down to treatable conditions or diseases becoming unmanageable due to a lack of medicine or care. Primary healthcare, such as what your family doctor provides, is cost effective. Secondary, such as emergency care, is expensive. So why not reduce the costs bore on our healthcare system and help refugees avoid costly visits to emergency rooms (which oddly enough are covered in some cases under IFHP) by providing medicine and care prior to conditions or diseases spiraling out of control?

Winter is coming. People will get sick. “People” obviously includes refugees. Yes, the government is set to “save” $20 million with these cuts. But how much will be transferred to the healthcare system in light of the changes? Only time will tell but common sense says more than that “saved” by the cuts.

If you care about your own health, you should care.

Cuts to the IFHP have resulted in newly arrived refugee claimants being denied health insurance upon their arrival in Canada. As a result , these claimants aren’t able to access care after arriving from areas where they might have been exposed to many health risks.

In fact, our BFF Minister Kenney thinks  that the mandatory doctor visit that newly landed refugees is “more preventative health care than most Canadians receives on a regular basis.” This would be the checkup that would screen for tuberculosis, intestinal worms and a whole myriad of other ailments that may be communicable. Yep, Kenney is comparing those tests to the annual check-up you get from your doctor.

Included in the cases that Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health provided was one of a man who presented symptoms consistent with TB. Guess what? He was denied coverage for a lung x-ray.

Caveat: The provincial governments in Manitoba  and Quebec  have said they will make up for the short fall in funding for the IFHP. Good on them. That’s great for refugees living in those provinces. But it shouldn’t be up to provincial governments to cover the costs. They didn’t sponsor these refugees, the federal government did and thus must be held accountable for their decisions. (Ooo… accountability in government? What a concept!)

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But it doesn’t mean I’ll be quite about this issue and I hope I’ve motivated you to do something about it.

Write your  MP, or better yet(!) write our pal, Jason Kenney!









Categories: Politics | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Ratatouille: Not just for large, Disney inspired vermin anymore!

Hi Faithful Follower,

It’s fall, my most favourite season. The air is crisp, I can run outside without fear of an asthma attack, I get to unpack my fall-winter wardrobe and pretend that I have brand new clothes all over again (although this is a ritual I also enjoy with my spring-summer wardrobe, but no matter…). But the BEST part of fall is the cooking.

Ah, the autumnal bounty. So many delicious local veggies to eat before the winter sets in and we are forced to eat Chilean potatoes/strawberries/kumquats. And this recipe is a true celebration of fall and makes you want to curl up in your snuggie (It’s the Blanket With Sleeves!™) and read a book as your dinner bubbles away on the stove.

Ratatouille was made famous by a Disney rat in an eponymous movie. But fear not, there are no rats in this lovely veggie stew of French origin. In fact, it is completely vegan (for those inclined, for which I am not, and thus garnish with goat cheese).

Warm Ratatouille

From Sophie Dahl’s Ms. Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights

Serves 4
2 eggplants, cubed
2 zucchini, cubed
4 tablespoons or so of olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon of crushed coriander seeds
2 red bell peppers, deseeded and thickly chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled, quartered and deseeded or a 14 1/2 oz can of peeled tomatoes (I prefer the canned because, yeah, less work)
Salt and pepper
A huge handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Warm country bread (optional)
Sprinkle the eggplant and zucchini with a bit of salt, pop them in a colander for an hour or so. This draws the moisture out of them, as they can be a bit water logged and makes the ratatouille more flavourful.

Chopped up eggplant and zucchini enjoying a bit of a salt bath

 Rinse the eggplant and zucchini and pat them dry.

After the eggplant and zucchini has been rised, dry it all really well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a big heavy pan and brown the vegetables on each side. When this is done, transfer the eggplant and zucchini to another dish.

Brown the zucchini and eggplant. Because black zucchini and eggplant just don’t taste that good.

Finely slice the onions and get them ready while the zucchini and eggplant are doing their thing in the pan.

Sliced onion, minced garlic and crushed cumin ready to go in the pan.

In the same big heavy pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the onions, garlic and crushed coriander seeds, and simmer on low for another 10 minutes.

And now they are in the pan! And getting their sweat on…

Then add the red peppers once the onions have softened…

Add the red peppers to the onions and give ’em a whirl.


Sauté the peppers for 5 minutes then pour in the tomatoes and keep at low for another 15 minutes.

Throw in the canned tomatoes. I prefer San Marzano canned tomatoes because a) the name is fun to say b) they taste the best

Lastly, add the browned zucchini and eggplant and season.

La produit fini!

Serve warm with lots of chopped cilantro, some goat cheese on top if inclined, and some warm, crusty and crunchy country bread. (No photos of this as Chet Kensington and I were too greedy to get this down our gullets, but believe me, it looks lovely and would be a good addition to your dinner party repertoire if cooking for vegetarians)
This recipe’s leftovers make one hell of a good lunch for the next day too!
Yeehaw! (Or yéehâ because ratatouille is French?)
Categories: Eating | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A final celebration of (f)unemployment

Hi Faithful Follower,

Your sporadic blogger here. Obviously, this post is overdue but I’ve spent the last week getting used to my internship at my most favourite-favouritest-favourite humanitarian aid organization ever… ever. But with that comes the adjustment from going to a lady of leisure (lunches, movie matinees etc) to a working girl (hmm… might need to reconsider that title). And what better way to celebrate this transition than with The Ladies?

And who are The Ladies? Well they would include Moxy*, who has been featured in this blog before after recently returning from a nursing assignment with the very same humanitarian aid organization I am currently interning with and our sweet friend Jasmine*, of camp and Stampede fame.

Moxy was only in Toronto for a short period before returning to her gentleman caller in London, Engerrland and Jasmine was in town for a friend’s wedding. The stars aligned and, for the first time in a long time, we were together again. So then came the next dilemma: where to celebrate this momentous reunion.

It being Labour Day and such, Chet Kensington’s parents graciously let us invade their cottage on the last long weekend of summer. Luckily for us, Chet’s sister Little Miss Kensington was happy to join in on the fray.

So how did things turn out? Pretty darn awesome I would say.

A staple of Muskoka weekends: Weber’s has killer burgers and addictive chocolate shakes



Moxy and Trudy ready for some traditional Muskoka fare


Getting ready for the last long weekend of summer requires certain nutritional needs


Trudy the Super Dog ready for a country walk


Moxy and Trudy


Moxy, Jasmine and I getting our floatie on


Moxy, Jasmine and Dolly Parton’s autobiography


Little Miss Kensington hits the dock


Little Miss Kensington and me, dock side, ready for cocktails (totally different than cocktails)


Big hats are in


The weekend wrapped up and we bid adieu. The next time we’ll be together will be Jasmine’s wedding next summer. Can’t. Wait.



*Definitely not their real names. They are smart girls, not, er, working girls (yep, still need to reconsider that term.)










Categories: Friends | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Praying at the Alter of Springsteen

Hi Faithful Follower,

What a weekend. On Thursday and Saturday, Chet and I got to attend the wedding festivities (yes, plural!) for our friends Imran and Selin (which included a wonderful/awesome special guest appearance of our friends Liberty and Deacon). But on Friday… the Prophet came to Toronto.

The Prophet and His Disciples

The Prophet of course being Bruce Springsteen and his disciples the E Street Band. This was the third Springsteen concert I’ve been to and well, will go down in history as THE BEST concert I’ve ever EVERseen (yes, even the Spice Girls paled in comparison). And what added to the awesomeness of the concert was the arrival of my Wee Brother from Calgary.

Wee Brother and Yours Truly

The two of us were raised on Springsteen. Just like our vitamins, his music was essential to our growth. For two people who’ve never worked the line or been victims of a shuttered plant, our parents certainly placed a premium on the themes in Springsteen songs. No road trip is complete without at least a few Bruce tunes.

His newest album, Wrecking Ball, is masterful and anthemic when addressing the strife and economic disparity that faces many American towns. And to think Bruce had this album recorded prior to the Occupy movement further proves his prophetic status.

Anyways, we had pretty much the best time ever, wore a lot of denim, had excellent seats and the roof of the Sky Dome was open. Followed by what must be a record-breaking 3 hours 45 minutes long show, it made for a religious-like experience.

Chet Kensington enjoys his first service at the Church of Springsteen. Budweiser being part of the communion, obviously.


Now if you are a follower of the Springsteen faith, I suggest reading this article from The New Yorker‘s David Remnick. It’s about the preparation of the Wrecking Ball tour and oh yeah, how the eff Bruce can still rock so hard in that (amazing) 62 year-old body of his. It’s well worth your time.

Perhaps you haven’t converted to His church. So in an attempt to convert you (but honestly, more just give me the chance to relive the amazingness of Friday) I’ve selected three of my top Springsteen songs. Obviously, I can’t pick only three, but these are the ones I’m feeling today.

My City of Ruins – This was played as a tribute to Clarence Clemons, the departed saxophonist. From The Rising album.

Born to Run – In the waning days of summer, hit the road and blast this classic.


The River – This is by far one of my favourite songs ever. And an excellent cautionary tale and reminder to use birth control.

The Wrecking Ball tour continues through to the end of the year. See it.

This is what pure joy looks like.





Categories: Family | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Why I Can’t Wait To Retire

Faithful Follower,

After my craaaaayyyyzyyyy July with school and Stampede and various gong shows, I spent the first week of August in the fetal position at Chet Kensington’s cottage, sans Chet (someone in our household had to work). It was awesome. And truly made me question my perspective of joining the workforce again.

You see, Chet’s parents, Mrs. and Mr. Kensington have got the whole retirement gig down.pat. Splitting their time between Muskoka during the summer and two other lovely, non-Canadian locales from October-May, I was inspired to never work again. Seriously, if retirement is this good, why delay it by 30 years?

Here are some of the highlights of the week which included my triumphant (HA!) return to golfing after a 10 year hiatus, a trip to the Gravenhurst Farmers’ Market, boating to NorthWest Restaurant on Lake Muskoka for dinner. No photos of me in the fetal position however, as it’s quite unflattering.


Anyways there you have my week of retirement in a nut shell. It was quite a shock to find out you actually have to fund retirement, so I guess my dreams of Freedom 27 aren’t going to come to fruition after all. But when they do, I can say I learned to retire from the best of them.



Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Cure for the Summer Cold: Canadian Club Mixed & Ready (Sponsored)

Hi Faithful Follower,

Is it just me or do you find every time you are go-go-going with school/work/life and then things begin to ease off you inevitably get a full blown head cold? This is the story of my life and obviously happened the first chance I didn’t have a massive final report due.

Chet Kensington was in Miami for a bachelor party (where, I’m told, they spent long hours admiring the art deco architecture of South Beach and discussed the history of the large Cuban population within south Florida and were all in bed before 10pm every night) and brought back a head cold as a souvenir. Obviously, he had to share and my weakling immune system was happy to oblige.

So enter a few awful days of waking up every 3 hours to let Trudy the Super Dog out, coupled with her training, coupled with playing with her every 5 minutes, coupled with my inability to breath without hacking out a lung and mucus. No fun. I should have been outside enjoying the fabulous weather on a patio or in a park and all I wanted to do was stay horizontal.

But you know what made it better? A tall boy of Canadian Club Mixed & Read Ginger Ale. Potentially the most important development in cold-fighting remedies for the past million years.

Canadian Club Mixed & Ready: “Soda Gingembre” even sounds fancy

Think about it. What did you need when you sick as a child? Ginger ale. Now you’re of age the cold fighting properties of Canadian Club and  ginger ale can be put to use in convenient can form.

It soothed my sore throat while I enjoyed it from the balcony. There is a cola version too but that’s more up Chet Kensington’s alley. Which, like most things in life, he will love.

And one more thing for you musically-inclined readers, Canadian Club is holding a contest for unsigned artists. See more here.

I’m on the post-cold mend, which is awesome because summer is quickly wrapping up!

Sweet relief in pill and liquid form



Categories: Eating | Leave a comment

Puppy parenting: The first two weeks

Hi Faithful Follower,

I hilariously thought the introduction of Trudy the Super Dog to the McLean-Kensington household and my coinciding sojourn from the academic and working worlds would leave me with plenty of time to blog about my usual mundane observations.

HOOOO boy, was I wrong. Sure, Trudy spends hours sleeping in (and not soiling) her crate and the rest of the time can easily be amused playing with a rope and a plastic newt (with real newt flavour!) but she can easily spend as much time hunting down my shoes and nibbling unsuccessfully on our glass coffee table. Keeping Trudy entertained and, MOST importantly house breaking her has been a full time job. And today is the first day I’ve felt like I can actually turn my head away from her and towards my computer screen for more than a couple of seconds.

Anyways, here are some gratuitous doggy photos. I have many stories to share from the last few weeks but Trudy is by far the most important.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyways, I’m thrilled (truly, truly thrilled) to report that Trudy is almost housebroken. She has only had a few accidents in the past 5 days (not to negate the biggest accident I’ve even seen come from something so small) and is now happily going for walks, which is excellent as our previous outings had a very World War One/battle of attrition type feel to them.

So keep your head up for posts in the coming days about how I’ve spent my month-long retirement, which is beginning to wind down. Just as Trudy winds up…




PS. On an unrelated to Trudy note (rare these days) click here to see my first foray into actual publishing/writing! Of course it’s about food…! Thanks Emma for the opportunity!

Categories: Family | Leave a comment

Cocktail of the summer: cherry margaritas

Hi Faithful Follower,

Thanks for all your great comments about the arrival of Trudy The Super Dog later today! We are pumped! And you know how we’ll celebrate? Probably with these cherry margaritas.

These are for sure my favorite drink this summer and a recipe passed down through the generations of my family… And by that I mean from my mom onto me.

Fresh Cherry Margaritas

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
Sugar (optional)
2 tbsp agave syrup
2-4 tbsp lime juice, depending on your preference (I lean towards the more tart side, so use 4 tbsp of lime juice)
1/4 cup really good tequila (I use Patron Orange or Silver but whatever is fine so long it doesn’t me you black out)
Lime wedges for garnish

Put 1/2 cup of cherries in a bowl and crush using a muddler (or a potato masher).


If you think the cherries aren’t sweet enough, sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.


Add the crushed cherries, the remaining whole cherries, the tequila and agave syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.



And SHAKE the shaker. Strain into 2 glasses with ice and a lime wedge for garnish.


And a sushi appetizer makes this a very fusion cocktail hour…

So get out there, buy yourself a pint of summer’s last cherries and treat yourself to a delish cocktail (and serving of fruit!) while your at it!



Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Massive, hugest, important announcement

Hi Faithful Follower,

Have you ever felt like you were born to be something ? Maybe a doctor or nurse? Perhaps fashion designer or entrepreneur? Or firefighter or engineer (okay, that might be a stretch)?

I know what those primal urges to realize your dreams feel like. And on Tuesday, I will realize one of mine. On Tuesday, I will become something I was born to be. A mom… Of a fur baby.

That’s right, Chet Kensington and I will welcome home Trudy The Super Dog.


There are only two hardships I endured as a child. The first, and most important, being never having a dog. The second, and most traumatic obviously, being only allowed to eat sugary cereal on holidays. But as of Tuesday, one of these traumas will be healed.

Chet’s family was the lucky owners of the legendary late, great Madison. So he doesn’t know the hardship of not owning a dog, but wanted one of his own regardless.

Chet and I had been talking about getting a puppy for the past 5 years, which is odd seeing that we’ve only been dating 3.5 years, but no matter. But after mulling it over, reading many dog books, understanding the sacrifices we would have to make we committed to taking the plunge into pet ownership.

Then came the difficult decision of what type of dog. That too was an easy decision as Chet had fallen in love with our friends Jen and Dennis’ dog, Arnold, who was the magic mix of a Boston Terrier and Pug.

This is Arnold and Chet. They are best friends.


So we looked and looked in shelters reaching to Pennsylvania for many months to no avail. However we managed to find Trudy by way of an accidental pregnancy (see humans, it can happen to dogs too!)

On Tuesday, we’ll pick her up and I’ll have a month at home with her before starting my internship. It’s going to be magical. Sleep deprived and stained in pee magic.

Here are some gratuitous puppy pics for fun.




So Tuesday is the big day… Eeep! I’ll try not to turn this into a doggy blog from the uh, whatever blog Small Sky Cowgirl currently is but no promises.



Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

School’s out… Forever?

Hi Faithful Follower,

Well, I’m done. After 8 torturous months of work (I hear you saying “8 months isn’t that bad” and I say “HA!”) I’ve wrapped up my post-grad’s academic component and have some time before the practical component starts.

The past few weeks have been a lesson in team work, stress management and unhealthy eating. Seriously, I’m quite sure that until Saturday I was solely sustaining off of white cheddar popcorn and very berry skittles, that is during the times I was reminded to actually eat something.

I managed to dupe my way into the Dream Team (Olympic reference #1) of teams for an incredibly large change management assignment. I still hear large swathes of the rain Forrest crying over the 400+ pages we handed in.

But anyways it was an awesome and hilarious experience and I’m sincerely proud of the work we produced. Plus, we all remained friends during it, including an all-nighter we pulled last weekend…Bonus! However, I’d be quite content never pulling an all-nighter again because in the words of Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon “I’m getting too old for this sh*t.”

The last 8 months have been an incredible experience and I’m so happy I decided to go back to school. I’m feeling inspired and ready for the next chapter. And that sounds all kinds of Oprah-y, but it’s true.


I’d also like to acknowledge what a horribly negligent friend/family member/girlfriend I’ve been since January. Fear not, I’m back. Thanks for being so darn supportive.

I’ve got a full month off before starting an internship at the organization of my dreams. Exciting times ahead, indeed. In the mean time, I’m in Muskoka this week staying at Chateau Kensington with Chet’s parents (sans Chet though, as lets be honest, one of us has to work and be a productive member of society) and have big plans of reading a book for FUN (what a novelty) and get caught up on my Vanity Fair and Conde Nast Traveller subscriptions. Yep… Big plans.

So congrats to my schoolmates… As someone eloquently said on Friday “We did it… And no one died!”




Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at