Saturday, 21 July 2012

My free iPhone!


How did I get a free iPhone, you ask? Let me tell you the story!




I'm not someone who carries a phone around with me all day. I'm not connected to the world very well, in a technical way. I don' text, I rarely turn my phone on and I insist that participants in my programs, kids included, shut off their phones when they are in my groups or come in for counselling. I won't even let my kids have their phones on when we meet for family dinners. I tell them to text their contacts to say that they are shutting off for an hour for the sanity of their momma. Thankfully, they comply and for an hour, we can have peace from calls, beeps, buzzes and texts! I personally don't see the need to be "plugged in" 24/7  and don't ever plan to be but am fine that others are.

So how did I, Justice, with the old phone that in the last 2 months I used a total of 6 minutes of air time decide on an iPhone to replace the old phone when my contract was up?  Well, the guy at the other end of my call told me the benefits and I got hooked!

Here's the good news:

  • phone is free, totally free, no rebate to send in, no gimmick, no hidden cost applied to a future bill.

  • phone was sent out 20 minutes after our call ended and will arrive at my home in the next day or so.

  • my plan has been reconfigured and discounted to a place that I felt comfortable at and my provider gets to keep me as a customer. They took off $25 a month for 3 years just to keep me happy.

  • it's pretty and has cool graphics that my old phone, a Samsung slide did not have.

  • if I ever, ever choose to text (never gonna happen), it has an impressive screen size and a bigger keypad than my old phone.

  • the battery life is more than twice as long as my old phone, handy as I will have this phone on a lot starting August 1st as I will now be "on call" for my job. I doubt I will get many calls after hours but at least for that one that does come thru, I can help out a family without a wait.

The bad news:

  • my plan has gone up by $25 from what it was. My old plan was obsolete and had been greatly discounted because I never used it. So I knew an increase was coming. This is actually less than I budgeted for because of the nice guy I got who offered a discount. See above!

  • Kent is pouting. His plan just came up a few months ago but at that time, the iPhone was not part of the free promotion. He has a great phone, bigger than this one but he's still pouting! I offered to give him this one and I'll take his but he declined. The teasing has been relentless but I'm sure in time, he'll get over it! He is proud that I negotiated such a great new plan for us.

So here's the numbers. We just cancelled our daily newspaper delivery, saving us $28 a month. Our car insurance renewal came in the mail this week. Our policy has dropped down by $42 a month. The cell phone company also dropped Kent's plan by another $5 because of how my plan works, so he needed one less feature. So now his new plan is cheaper than his old plan. We're saving $75 a month with these items but with the new cost of my plan, a $25 hike, we're now saving just $50 a month. We'll put that amount into our travel account, giving us an extra $600 dollars a year towards our holidays, an amount previously not accounted for in our budget. Bonus!

Our cell phone plan together, with all the features, unlimited this, unlimited that and the data plans, costs us together less than $100 a month. All my colleagues told  me this week that their single plans, with most of the features my plan has but not all, cost more than $100 a month, so we're ahead of the game in this department.

So that's the story of my free iPhone. It pays to be a loyal customer and it pays to "suggest" to the cell phone company that you've shopped around for the best plan out there and then ask them what they are willing to do to keep you as a customer. Took a hour or so out of my own time but worth the effort!

Now to call our cable/internet provider and renegotiate our plan with them.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Our Financial Life


I love reading blog responses to questions like this so I thought I'd give this one a shot:

1. What is your income?

Our total income varies as Kent does receive commission on top of his base salary as well as his lead salary. Mine is stable and does not change, except for when a raise comes thru. We've lived a very, very frugal existence and for the most part, lived on either one complete salary or one complete salary and a partial salary from my years at home then Kent's years at home so the kids always had a parent at home. Now we are both working full time and find ourselves in a very weird spot with an annual income, together, in the 6 figure range. I won't go beyond that but we cherish it, as it could change at anytime given the tight economy. We still live as if we're frugally tight but have allowed ourselves some expenditures this year that we've never been able to have in the past.

2. What are your (fixed) monthly expenses?
  • mortgage
  • utilities (they vary but are in a range that we budget for)
  • car lease for Kent
  • car payment for me
  • gas for both
  • insurance: car, house, life
  • roof payment on our Home Depot card (interest free - almost done)
3. What would happen if you died tomorrow?

We used to have it all layed out but now that we are double income without little kids, it is time to do a new plan. Kent knows my wishes and I know his but in terms of finances, we both have life insurance and we both have good jobs that would carry the bills on one salary, so we'd be okay in that respect.

4. Where could you get $500 in an emergency?

Our savings account. If that was totally depleted, we could access our line of credit (low interest), then our credit card.

5. What would you do if you got fired from your job?

I'd cry as I was given this job to expand it beyond the original format. I started at 15 hours a week and now work fulltime. It had one program 3 times a year and it now has 6 programs offered year round. And more as we are expanding once again!

However, I am marketable and would likely have no issue finding another job. We do operate a charity as well on the side as volunteers, so my first plan would be to find funds so I could just work there. I would also take some time for me, which is something I miss right now because I am so busy with this position. Love it, love it, love it but my personal time is stretched.

6. How will you live in retirement?

Frugally but not here. We'd move back to the coast and live in a very small community. But come back here to visit often.

7. What could you sell to make extra cash if needed?

Clothes, extra furniture stored in our basement, baby blankets I make, charge for a couple of births, add up all the receipts I need to submit between my work and the charity I volunteer for!

8. Does your spending align with your values?

Yes. We do not believe in "keeping up with the Jones" and prefer to sock away every extra dollar and only buy what we truly need, hopefully on sale or second hand.

9. What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?

They were raised the same way we live and have all done an incredible job of spending wisely. All still thrift shop and all have chosen lifestyles that are conscious of making good financial choices. I love that they all still get excited about a sale or hunting down a treasure at a thrift store!

10. What steps can you take today to improve your financial situation?

Do a better job of setting an amount each month to put into our various savings accounts. Right now, it's kind of whatever looks ok, but there is no real plan.

We need to relook at our insurance as well and bump it up a bit.

And we definitely have to do a better job of saving for retirement. Our RRSP's are not filling very quickly but that is by choice not because we can't. We only have 15 or so years to retire so that needs to become a priority. Soon, soon!

So how are you doing financially?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat!

Reading? Grief Unseen: Healing Pregnancy Loss through the Arts by Laura Seftel.

Watching? Just watched Oprah's interview with David Copperfield. I want to live on his island. Perfect paradise!

Listening to? The shower running & the rain falling.

Baking/Cooking? Made Lemon Raspberry Scones tonight. Pictures below.

Happy that you accomplished this week? Bought 8 photo storage boxes from Michael's (regular price of $4.99 each, on sale for $2.00 each), cancelled our newspaper subscription (savings of $28 a month), got my summer student settled into her position at work, helped Kennedi with her summer school work (exam tomorrow & 2.5 weeks of school work & exams left), paid the bills, power cleaned the house & did a ton of writing.

Looking forward to next week? Starting yoga tomorrow after a two week break. More writing. Only one meeting this week. A dinner date with an old friend.

*BONUS QUESTION*

What goal is your top priority right now?  Getting healthier ~ I meet with my family doctor for a referral to the specialist who can do my surgery. Finally moving forward & taking control of my journey thru this new path in our lives.

Lemon Raspberry Scones:









My new favorite thing in my life right now!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat!

Reading ... Quentin's by Maeve Binchy. Purchased from our local thrift store, in perfect condition, for .10 cents. A bargain, considering the original price was $24.95.

Watching ... a show my husband was watching, but now he's soundly sleeping & the TV is still "talking".

Sigh.

Listening to ... the rain has started again & the wind is whipping up. We had a lovely warm evening, with no wind & sunny skies, after 4 days of wind & rain. It was a nice break but now it's back!

Cooking/Baking ... nothing at the moment. Made a huge salad today with organic greens, feta cheese, almonds, cranberries & dressing. Out for dinner with 2 dear friends. Not sure what my crew had but I enjoyed this "once a year tradition" with spinach dip with cheese as an appetiser (free!), broccoli/cheese soup, then a main course of Lemon Shrimp Pasta, which I had to bring home because by then, I was way too cold!

Happy you accomplished ... organised our receipts for reimbursement, did 2 loads of laundry, washed the floors, unpacked from our trip, shopped then wrapped 2 gifts for dinner tonight, wrote a column for the newspaper, did a session of yoga & meditated with Kent.

Looking forward to next week ... my last 2 classes to teach then a long break until September! We end this time with parties to wish everyone well on their continued journey.

Thankful for today ... that Kent & I were at odds for a bit but got back on track. Sometimes, we're just not on the same page but I love this time in our life where it takes just a few minutes or the right word to bring us back. When we were much younger, it would take forever to get here but now, we've got it nailed down to an efficient science!

Best buy over the last month? We found an amazing tea pot but the price was uncomfortable for our budget at the moment at $54.95. However, the very next day, we were at a thrift store. I was down one aisle, Kent down another & suddenly he called me over to where he was. And there on the shelf was the same tea pot. We were thrilled to see it was in perfect condition, with the packing tissues still inside, which means no one even used it. Best part? It was $1. Yes, $1. Grabbed it, paid & ran!! Love it. :)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Home!

We had the most amazing holiday. We're safe, rested, well & eager to tackle life again. Fit, tanned & healthy. Loving life again. With energy & a renewed appreciation for feeling good!


These really helped!


And long walks along the sea or in deep forests were very therapeutic!

Can't wait to go back. Working on plan to go sooner, rather than later!!

And how was your last 2 weeks?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Finally ~ a diagnosis!

I fired my family doctor.

He is lovely & caring but wasn't taking my concerns seriously. Six weeks of pneumonia is crazy & having to endure test after test after test & then have meds given to me that I'm either allergic to or they didn't work has been so frustrating. Got in to see a new doctor, a naturopath & she had a diagnosis within two hours of sitting & talking with me. And it all makes sense & scary at the same time. But it will be a bit of a journey to recover. I'm glad we leave for holidays on the weekend so I can just concentrate on getting better. I have to teach a class on Thursday night & then Saturday morning & then I'm done for 3 weeks. The diagnosis so far (she thinks there is more but that will come after my June appointment) is Adrenal Gland Disease. Right now, she's trying to determine if it's simply AGD Fatigue or AGD Failure. First is ok, fixable & liveable but life changes to accomodate. Second can be fatal if not treated but we started treatment right away yesterday, so very hopeful. Completely answers why I have pain throughout my body, total exhaustion (driving to my centre is literally a 2.5 minute ride but I'm exhausted when I pull into my parking lot), always dizzy, low, low, low blood pressure, easy bruising, constant nausea & no appetite, even though I've gained lots of weight. Some I clearly needed, as I have been a recovering anorexic all my life but still, the last few pounds have been totally fat! I went to the store the other day to pick up 3 items. Standing in line, my legs started to shake & I had to sit for a minute before I could get up to pay. She describes it like my body is attacking itself & trying to "shut down" which is exactly what it feels like. I felt such relief in knowing there is a reason that this pneumonia has been so stubborn & that all these things are not in my head. I was really starting to think it was. Now we can hopefully get things back on track so I can get back to life!

That's my update. An answer, now treatment & hopefully a good recovery so I can finish up the things I love to do. :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

New Mortgage Payment

We renewed our mortgage on Friday & at the same time, increased our payments again. We started at $200 a week about 5 years ago, increased that to $225 a week about 3 years ago, then uppped it again to $250 a week last year when Kent went back to the corporate world. On Friday, we increased the payments again to $275 a week, starting next week. Still comfortable for our budget & decreased the time left on our mortgage from 8 years, 6 months to 7 years, 4 months. We're now paying mostly principle, with a bit of interest in there. Love seeing the numbers decreasing each week. Currently, we owe just a bit over $96,000. By this time next year, we'll owe just under $84,000.

Our plan is to finish the renovations, put it on the market, build our new house out in the country & become completely mortgage free in the process. We can do this because we bought our land 12 years ago. At that time, land was just starting to increase in value. The acreage was listed for $65,000 but we paid an even $40,000. Now it's worth almost $300,000 & is on the rise. As we only need to pay for the services & the construction of the new house, the equity in our home & our savings will cover the costs, as long as we don't crazy with size & upgrades. It's going to be a fine line as we do want to build a good sized home & we'll want certain features, like granite counters & wood floors, as well as energy efficiency. Keeping our budget realistic & giving ourselves some "wiggle room" for the extras we may decide in the end we just have to have will be the key.

Not sure exactly when we'll build. Life keeps getting in the way. For now, we keep loving this house & fixing it up along the way.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ouch!

Living in Canada has so many benefits but one thing that is a great bonus for us is not having to worry about paying for health care for basic medical services. We are proactive in our own health care & also take advantage of annual check ups & the services offered by the primcary care health networks (nutrition, workshops, over the phone consults, etc.). Over the years, we've also accessed alternative care, including massage, chiropractic service & of course, midwifery. Some of these have partial fees covered by our provincial gov't & some, like midwifery, were out of pocket costs for us but are now fully covered, so our gov't is getting smarter in where the health dollars should go. But there are still a few things that aren't covered. Some extended health care plans offered by companies often make up the difference. However, for those of us who work in the non-profit sector (me) or for those who work for small companies (Kent), extended benefits may not be offered (me) or are limited to a dollar amount per year (Kent). We are 1/4 of the way thru the year & so far, we've used about 1/3 of our total dollar amount given to us each year with dental work & recent prescriptions for my pneumonia.

I've decided it's time to say goodbye to our family doctor. Nice guy, super funny, very cute but seriously, he's changing as he's older. I've been with him since I was 16 & he had just opened his practice, he's now Kent's doctor & our kids. But he isn't as open to alternative therapies as he used to be. And I really need someone who is. Found a naturopath to go to & my first appointment is next Tuesday morning. I'm so excited to see someone who believes in treating not just the symptoms but the root cause of the condition.

But here's the tough part. We have to pay out of pocket. Her fee is $160 for the initial 1.5 appointment. After that, it is $115 for a 45 minute to 1 hour follow up or $65 for a 30 minute each time. This is reasonable, compared to the first clinic I was referred to. Not a true naturopath but alternative medicine. Thankfully, they had a wait list of 6 months to get in. The fee for that doctor is $350 for the initial 1 hour appoinment & $125 for every 30 minute follow up session. I kept looking & on the recommendation of many others, called this one & love her already!. Definitely on the same wave as me. I'm pretty sure that I'll have a series of appointments based on my current health issues but feel that if we can get to the bottom of how I am feeling, then I'll get back on track again.

Just looking at how often she will likely see me over the next few months, the total will be about $850 by the time we're done. I've decided to look at this new expense we hadn't counted on for this year as an "investment" in my health. It may mean cutting back somewhere or not meeting one of my goals for a faster paydown of a debt but worth the individualized care in the end.

Happy to have found an alternative & looking forward to finally getting my body & my energy back!!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Thank you Sammyleia!!


I've been having a rough time lately. This nasty pneumonia will not go away, we're on a roller coaster ride with our daughter's marriage (update: she's now not moving back to her home again, but staying with us!) & our holidays start in 2 weeks but my stress level has risen so high, I can't even imagine being able to leave.

But Sammyleia surprised me with this wonderful Sunshine Award & it's already brightened my day that someone was thinking of me. A lovely sight to wake up to today!

My answers to all the questions:
  1. What is your favourite colour? Sage green is a strong favorite, especially if it is paired with a rosy color or lavender.
  2. What is your favourite animal? We have pups in our house but I prefer small dogs & non-shedding breeds.
  3. What is your favourite number? I love the number 6. It is the number of children we have. My second favorite is 8.
  4. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink? Love, love, love cranberry juice.
  5. Which do you prefer - Facebook or Twitter? Facebook. Have not yet learned how to Twitter & don't think I'll ever have time to go there. And I don't possess a great phone, so it's pointless anyway!
  6. What is your passion? I work with grieving families, including children & teens. My background is in the arts as well as education, so pairing these two together has created support programs that bring healing to these hurting individuals. I love my job!!
  7. Do you prefer giving or receiving presents? I love both. I especially love to create unique gifts for family & friends. I love receiving gifts from my kids & my husband that truly have meaning & bring grins to their faces when I open them!
  8. What is your favourite pattern? I love Celtic knots & florals.
  9. What is your favourite day of the week? Sunday. I love our sleeping in time & no schedule for a whole day! A day to use the creativity that exists in my mind & my body but has to often be pushed aside for the daily grind.
  10. What is your favourite flower? I love roses, hyacinths, lavendar, sage & thyme.
I'm passing along the Sunshine Award to the following bloggers:
  1. Little Lamb Wants to be Debt Free: http://o2bdebtfree.blogspot.ca/
  2. Might as Well Give Myself a Raise: http://givemyselfaraise.wordpress.com/
  3. Shaking the  Money Tree: http://shakingthemoneytree.blogspot.ca/
I hope this award makes waking up on a Monday morning brighter Have fun!!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Having a weepy day ....

So many things right now are making me feel weepy. And the rain outside is making me feel even weepier. Not warm & cozy or even creative. Just terribly weepy.

I've been sick now for more than 4 weeks & it's clear I'm just not getting better. Very frustrated. I have no energy to do anything except sleep but unfortunately, life doesn't just let us sleep when we need to live, work, love & take care of others. I'm doing the best I can at getting as much rest as possible, letting others take on my tasks, working a shortened work day, saying no to everything I can right now & being very realistic about my limitations. Usually when I'm sick, I plug along & push myself. This time, I've been very kind to myself, in the hopes that by doing so, I'll heal quickly.

Seems to have backfired!

Another chest x~ray this week & 4 now new drugs, including steroids. Hopefully this drug cocktail will work & I can get my strength & energy back.

I was late for work & my work mates waited for me before starting our weekly meeting. That made me feel terribly guilty because I had called to say I would be arriving late & to go ahead. They didn't & now I feel so bad, even though it was their decision & they were so gracious. I carry guilt easily.

During the meeting, it was announced the number of "hits" that our blogs posts get. Each of us has to contribute to the community blog on a rotation basis. Over the last 4 weeks, there have been 4 of us send in our writing & out of the 4, guess who has the least number of hits?

Yup, mine.

So now I think I'm a terrible writer because of the low number of hits compared to the individual who manages the blog. She seemed quite proud about who had the highest (her at 65) & quite unhappy with who had the lowest (me at 34). I'm not sure what the point is to broadcast who has the most & who has the least but she looked straight at me, so now, with my achy "please run me over with a truck, oh, sorry you already did that" body, I am feeling so low emotionally for letting my crew down.

Personally, I quite liked what I wrote but I guess for her, it wasn't good enough.

Sigh.

An individual in my community who tried to take one of my key programs from me 10 years ago, has resurfaced & is reeking havoc again. Questioning my ability to do the work I do. Wondering if my credentials are "good enough" & talking with others behind my back.

Yup. Junior high all over again!

Had to deliver bad news to one of our theatre members, who was hoping that we would take on his production for the coming season. But after careful consideration of his plea, we voted unamionsously against the project. He seemed fine at the meeting & had written on his Facebook page that he would honor & respect whatever the board made, prior to the  meeting. But since then, it's gone down hill, badly. He's sent me note after note after note, revealing his frustrations & disgust that we wouldn't just jump on his project. The issue is the risk to us financially. The theatre company makes money every year to put on next year's show. His last two shows that he did independently did very poorly & word on the street is that he lost a lot of money. We can't take that risk plus factoring in other elements, the clear answer was a no. Hoping he comes around at some point & sees our viewpoint but for now, it's just nasty. And as the President of the theatre company, I'm the fall guy!

Our daughter & grandson have been living with us for 4 months & as much as I love having them around, it has created some chaos in our normally settled life. The house is definitely taking a hit & after living a life for the last few years without toys & cheerios as a primary focus in our decor, its taken a while to get used to things being left out & no order at times. Lots of extra work. Our sleep is different, our schedules had to be readjusted & there are so many things we have to think about now that weren't a focal point for us months ago. But we've managed & I know the good has far outweighed the bad. We even have been planning to build our new house finally, with the 2 of them in mind as our house mates for the next 2 to 4 years as she goes back to school to better her life for her & her baby son. Just getting those pieces in to place & then suddenly, life is turned upside down again!

Her dear husband has had a change of heart & she's moving back home in a couple of weeks.

That was a shock! She was in the process of filing for divorce. Guess he didn't like the finality of it all.

So we're now getting used to the idea that they will move home, to live happily ever after & we'll have our house back to ourselves. Order will be restored.

However, last night, she did ask if she can leave her furniture here "just in case" ....

My head is spinning. Not sure if I'm coming or going .... or who is coming or going.

Feels like a roller coaster. I want to throw up!

Did I ever mention how much I hate roller coasters?

Well I have now!!

Can't wait for our holidays to start in 16.5 short days. To sit by the sea & let this all go will be so healing, not just for my body but my heart as well.

How do you handle stress? Clearly, I'm not doing a good job!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May is here!!


Excited for this lovely month!

Kinlee turns 19 this week. We were so excited that she chose to be born on the best day ever ~ International Day of the Midwife ~ May 5th.

The two of us leave for our holiday. We head out to Salt Spring Island on May 20th, for 2 glorious weeks of sun, rain, hiking, writing, kayaking, eating, exploring, antiquing & sleeping!

Jaxon & his beautiful girl get married in a just few short weeks, on May 23rd.

Kai & his beautiful girl visit from the south end of the province this weekend, so we can celebrate Kinlee's birthday, his birthday that was in April, Jaxon's wedding & Mother's Day. The two of them leave for Italy the same day we leave.

All of us together, in one space, to celebrate for the weekend, all the wonderful things happening in our lives right now.

We hold our breath, knowing in an instant, life can change from incredible to tragic, so without skipping a beat, we celebrate every moment we can!

Then we all get ready to head off on our respective holidays.

At one point, we'll be in 4 different countries. Jaxon will be in Washington State, getting married on St. Juan Island, then heading to the Sasquatch Music Festival. Kai will be in Italy, touring around. We'll be in B.C. And the rest of our kids will be home in Alberta with big sister Jade in charge.

I love this time of our life when we can go away, just the two of us, knowing our littles are safe & cared for. Makes for a relaxing break.

Enjoy this wonderful month full of the newness of life, the green of our Earth, the wonder of the garden & babies everywhere.

Happy May!!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

GBU for Sunday

Borrowed from Mysti ....

The Good:
  • We ended the month with money in the bank! Kent is on a base plus commission salary structure, so we have always budgeted using the lowest it can be, so when he gets great cheques, like the 2 this month, it's extra money for us! Haven't decided yet but most likely it will all go towards our vacation account. The paydowns are on track & doing well, so no need at this time to throw the money there. We'll treat ourselves instead.
  • I've been asked to join the production Kent is in for May, as the ASM - Assistant Stage Manager. Which means I get to spend those nights at the theatre with my lovey, instead of being home alone!
  • Our vacation is just 21 days away. The "To Do List" is long but "manageable" according to my guy.
  • I can breathe today! My lungs are clearer than they were 4 weeks ago & I finally have some energy.
The Bad:
  • I did not have bronchitis, as first diagnosed. In fact, it was pneumonia. No wonder I was feeling so lousy!! But new drugs are making it better already.
  • I spent $80 on a set of 80 Cherished Teddies on kijiji. Most are great, a few are faded. It's a good deal but now I have to decide which ones get stored for our Antique Mall booth for sale & which ones go into Kinlee's growing collection. Not my best move but it was extra money. And she'll be thrilled to see new teddies that she's not seen before. Some of them are quite unique, ones I didn't even know about.
  • I was asked to join the production Kent is in for May, as the ASM - Assistant Stage Manager. Which means I will have less time to get ready for our vacation!! What was I thinking!!!!
  • We got word from the Antique Mall that the list of future vendors is very long. We may not be sellers this year but will hold on to our spot on the list & hope for the best. A dream set aside for now but not dashed forever.
The Ugly:
  • Our son is getting married on May 23rd. Just a private ceremony between the 2 of them. I'm crushed beyond belief, even though we'll be celebrating before he goes & again when they come back. But still, a momma should be there. I've stayed silent but keep bursting in to tears for the smallest things. Hate this, but thankful for a husband who feels like me & keeps hugging me!
  • All this laying around to get better has created quite a flabby body. Between our last theatre production at the beginning of April & then coming down with pneumonia, going to the gym 4 times a week has not happened. Yuck!
How was your week?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Rainy Days

I'm not sure why but rainy days are so comforting to me.

It was sunny on Earth Day & since then, it's been cold & rainy.

But I'm loving it!

I love the sound on the roof, the puddles that form, the green that becomes more vibrant every hour, cozy beds to fall into at the end of the day, afternoon naps with "warmed in the dryer" blankets before meetings, tea with my favorite raspberry & white chocolate scones & lots of hot baths to soak in.

I find I'm more creative on these days. I write a lot, dream & plan.

Looking forward to the sun that is supposed to reappear next week. But for today, I'll cherish this cozy environment that has been given to me & creating opportunities to slow down & pamper myself.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Simple Sunday & Sunday Night Chit Chat!

Two posts in one.

Yup, I'm efficient!

From http://www.cottage1945.com/. Simple Sunday. I love this idea & hope other bloggers will join in.


Our grandson, enjoying the warmth of the sun, on Earth Day. Serious here but he keeps us laughing & makes our days bright!


Our new Cherry Blossom, freshly planted. Two more to plant & two large spiral cedar bushes tomorrow.


Reading?

"Simple Pleasures: Soothing Suggestions & Small Comforts for Living Well Year-Round" by S. Seton, R. Taylor & D. Greer. Reading in preparation for our upcoming holiday, with a hope that while I am on vacation, we can implement some changes to our lifestyle.


Watching?

"Games of Thrones". We work hard all weekend for this one treat. Daughters, puppies & one grandson crowd on our bed to watch the newest episode together!


Listening to?

The music from "Games of Thrones". I love it & hope to download the soundtrack.


Cooking/Baking?

I helped make dinner tonight. And it was good! No baking today but we celebrated Earth Day & my mom's birthday with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake!


Happy you accomplished this week?

Helped a beautiful healthy new baby come in to the world on Thursday. She is healthy & born naturally, exactly how her mama & papa envisioned.

Attended my 8th Grief Workshop with Alan Wolfelt. Great guy, wonderful presentation & full house.

Delivered my own Grief Workshop to a full house, on a snowy Saturday morning.

Organized, decluttered, shopped & worked hard. Holiday is just around the corner & our plans are well underway.

Looking forward to next week?

Booking the ferry to get to the island on time.

My new classes start this week. Looking forward to meeting new families & watching their journey unfold.

Our book order from Chapters should arrive this week. Can't wait to open the box to reveal new books for our holiday.

The Alberta election is tomorrow. Can't wait for this battle to be over. And hopeful that more people than ever will get out to vote!

Thankful for today?

Warm weather with sunny skies.

New plants to introduce into our budding garden.

Watching our daughter in her first horse show for the year. And she won 3 ribbons!

A dear friend who called to catch up & then popped over for a short visit. I haven't seen her for so long, she met our grandson for the first time today & he's almost 18 months old!

Making dinner for my mom to celebrate her birthday.

A free iced tea from Starbucks to celebrate Earth Day!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Has anyone ever had ....

.... an Antique Mall Booth? We've sent in a request for a small booth in our local Antique Mall for the fall. Just for fun & to give us a way to continue to enjoy finding "treasures" but not to fill up our house. This way, we can shop, buy then sell!

If you've done this or are doing it now, please share the good, the bad & the ugly. We will be setting aside funds to start with so we are not using our regular monthly budget & we're starting small.

Please share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing how others have done this. TY!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tuesday Time Diary

Borrowed from Sammyleia's blog: http://www.sammyleiamoneysaver.com/time-diary-wednesday.html. Thought it would be a neat idea to see where all my time goes every day. And why I'm so tired at night. So here's what I did, 24 hours ago, on Tuesday, the 17th of April:

7:25 a.m. woke up for good. Was woken up briefly by Kent just before 7:00 a.m. as he was leaving for work. He always wakes me up to kiss me goodbye & make sure I'm awake for the day. I always thank him & promptly fall back to sleep!

7:30 a.m. after a few minutes of stretching & yawning, turned on my laptop to see what's happening in the world. Realized it was chilly & a bit rainy outside. Crawled out of my warm bed to put on my robe & turn on the heat. Back to the "office" aka my bed.

9:10 a.m. up for a shower after an hour & a half of reading blogs, answering emails, writing & watching a bit of tv, while deciding what to wear for the day.

9:40 a.m. showered, dressed & prettied up.

9:45 a.m. leave the house to head to Costco to pick up my prescription that was filled the night before. They want me to start taking the drug as soon as I pick it up to get rid of this nasty bronchitis.

9:52 a.m. arrive at Costco, which opens at 10:00 a.m., to a parking lot full of people waiting. Notice that the spiral trees we noticed the night before are still there. Ooh, score one for us! The night before we admired them greatly, wondered if the price was good & then left but when we got home, expressed some regret we didn't buy any. Our 20 year old cedar bush was crushed in the last snow storm. The weight of the snow pulled it right down to the ground & it split. We recently decided we would spend $500 on a couple of trees this summer, one to replace the cedar & one to replace the Russian Olive that came down in a thunderstorm last summer.

9:53 a.m. head into Costco & am puzzled why everyone is waiting in their cars. The door is open, even though they technically don't open until 10:00 a.m. Lady at the door tells me every morning they open at least 10 minutes early & every morning the parking lot is full of  people sitting in their cars. A very trained community I live in. And yes, I am the true rebel!

10:20 a.m. emerge from Costco with 5 trees consisting of 2 tall spirals & 3 pink flowering plums. Before anyone gets upset with my large, slightly unplanned expenditure, the total for all 5 trees came to a very conservative sum of $164 (including tax). Best part of the transaction? The help I received getting all 5 trees into our car, from a very dear friend of ours who works there & happened to be the guy they called to help me. We had a laugh & a hug & that hug carried me the rest of the day. I love Costco, not just for the prices & the unique items we find there but the customer service from day one has been incredible. I often wonder what they do to train their staff, who are always smiling, helpful & never stressed!

10:25 a.m. go back into the store after the trees are safely tucked in my car to pick up my drug. The pharmacist lets me know, after I've paid, that this drug was a substitute for the original, because as it turns out, the original I would be allergic to. However, the new drug could make me quite drowsy & I am advised to take it at night. I wonder how drowsy I'll be but take the advice & don't take the drug just yet.

10:38 a.m. arrive home & dd helps me unload trees into the safety of our garage for now.

10:45 a.m. head into work.

11:08 a.m. arrive at work. Workmates are happy to see me as I haven't been in since Thursday. Lots to fill me in on. And my student is in for her last full day at the centre. Munch on a large muffin for my lunch. We spend the day getting our resources together for a workshop that is being held in the city for the next 2 days. We have a table display & she's a great help in getting our handouts printed off. We also talk about the workshop we presented on Saturday (great success) & how her practicum has worked out nicely for her. Glad we still have one more day to spend together but then she surprised me by asking if it's okay to volunteer in our evening children's grief program. Yeah!! I get to keep her for now.

3:04 p.m. leave work to head home for a nap.

3:30 p.m. arrive home just as Kent arrives. We spend some time outside as the sun finally came out. Our daughters are done for the day & take our grandson down to the park.

3:50 p.m. start putting together my meeting plan for the evening. Small group so short time to do this. Start working on a Power Point to run on my laptop during the workshop.

5:30 p.m. Kent brings dinner up to my "office" & we eat together while watching House Hunters.

6:40 p.m. leave for my meeting. Get to my office 2.5 minutes later & spend some time listening to voice mails, answering them & gathering more items for the workshop table display.

7:30 p.m. leave the centre. As expected, no one comes to this month's drop in, which I truly thankful for. The last meeting was very small & this group may have a lull for a bit until new members join in.

7:35 p.m. arrive at Dollarama to pick up some cards & stickers. Spend $15.75 - to be reimbursed.

7:50 p.m. arrive home to music & a dancing grand baby! He insists I join in. We dance & play until his bedtime.

9:30 p.m. back to my "office" to work on the PP, in my jammies. Eat a small bowl of fresh strawberries. Take the drug, as advised. Wait for the drowsiness to set in.

10:00 p.m. awake.

11:00 p.m. more awake.

12:00 a.m. very awake.

1:00 a.m. wide awake.

2:00 a.m. still frigging awake!! Obviously this drug is NOT making me drowsy but is inducing some lovely insomnia instead. By now, I have decided who to vote for in the upcoming election, planned out the table display, written in my head the rest of the PP, planned our driving route for our upcoming holiday, decided what to do with the "oops, I forgot to add that to our income budget" fee for teaching coming to me this week (an extra $320 we hadn't counted on), wrote a chapter for the book I'm writing, in my head & tossed & turned so much, it woke Kent - oops!

3:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. still awake. Finally around 6ish, as the sun is rising, I fall asleep.

7:00 a.m. reluctantly, Kent wakes me up. Thankfully, because I am at the workshop tonight, I had cleared my morning, so I can rest anyway before heading into the city around 2:00 p.m. this afternoon. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay awake until the evening is over at 9:30 p.m.

And that was my Tuesday! How was yours?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat ....

Reading?

Everyone else's blog! My chance to catch up, while laying on our bed, pettered out. I don't have the energy to sit up to hold a book. Thank you all for keeping me entertained this weekend! And a letter from my pen friend in England. Hoping to be able to write her back tonight so I can mail it tomorrow.

Watching?

House Hunters. Looking forward to watching "Game of Thrones" tonight.

Listening to?

My girls & grandson laughing while helping the dear daddy guy make dinner. Not sure what is so funny but I'm know the story will be relayed to me soon!

Cooking/Baking?
They are cooking pork, rice & peas, with mushroom soup gravy. A childhood favorite comfort food. Think they are trying to make me feel better.

Happy you accomplished this week?

A workshop that I had always wanted to do. Written from scratch. Including a great Power Point & wonderful handouts. Created an art activity & bought journals with matching pens for all the participants. And yummy snacks, which they loved! The best part: I anticipated 4 to 6 to register. Ended up with 12 registered & 10 attended, despite an unexpected snowstorm.

Looking forward to next week?

Dr. Alan Wolfelt is coming to town. Looking forward to seeing him again.

Thankful for today?

My comfy bed to recuperate in, warm water for a soothing bath & nothing pressing on the agenda so I could relax, though I'm feeling almost depressed that I'm not feeling better. I've been so sick for so long I actually can't remember what it feels like to feel good again!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Success .... Sick ....

Kent & I are so sick.

We've never, ever performed on stage sick before but did last week.

We've never, ever, in all our years together been sick at the same time but were last week.

This week?

We're still sick.

I'm wondering now if this is not just a bronchial cold but maybe pneumonia by now.

It's now been more than 10 days.

If we're still this bad on Monday, we'll head in to the city to our doctor, if we can get in, or the clinic out here, if we can't.

I hate going to the doctor.

Have you sat in a waiting room recently?

There's sick people there!

Yuck ....

Success for today: my students & I pulled off our pilot project. We hoped for 4 to 6 adults to attend our grief workshop. We had 12 register & despite the unexpected snowstorm we woke up to (again), we had 10 attend. And at the end of the 3.5 hour workshop (scheduled for 2 hours but they asked us to keep going), the request was that a workshop wasn't enough. They want more! So it's back to the drawing board to see what we can provide in my community, which tends to pretend that things like grief do not need support. Happy that our hard work paid off.

Back to bed for this weary, achy, sneezy, congesty but happy body!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Scary

We bought a piece of land 11 years ago. Contemplated building many times but we kept putting it off. I think a couple of things were key in holding us back:

  • waiting would give us more money in the bank to build a true dream house vs. just a house.
  • waiting would mean the kids would be older, more self-sufficient or even moved out!
  • waiting would mean we could find careers where working from home, out in the country, would be a possibility, even just for snow days.
  • waiting would mean we could be mortgage-free without other debts.
So here we are. We have a nice savings base in the bank. Our kids are older, self-sufficient & 2 have moved out. We both work full time in careers that mean we can work from home when we want, not just on snow days. We are not quite mortgage-free but the debt we used to have is gone & the car loan will be done by next fall. Manageable debt. Under the guidelines for a bank loan to build if needed debt. Our goal is to be mortgage-free at the point of possession, very realistic because we own the land outright. But it will depend on the size of home we choose & the finishings. We'll have to really keep a tight rein on ourselves. If we do have a mortgage, it will be much smaller than the one we have & we'd pay it off within 2 to 4 years. We could live with that if we're happy with the design, the size & the finishings.

Alright. Sounds good. But we're scared. Why? We're not sure.

Went to look at showhomes this weekend. We got excited, dreamed & looked lovingly into each others eyes.

And then we got scared!

Maybe it's because we've never built before & all we hear is how stressful the process is or how bad it went. Having gutted & renovated every house we've lived in, building can't be worse, because at least we're not living in it!

Maybe it's because we've both never lived in a house this long (21 years this summer) & it's become comfortable, livable, familiar, home.

Maybe it's because we've birthed some of our children here. How do you let go of your child's birthplace?

Maybe it's because we could never imagine loving a house so much yet here we are.

I think we'll need therapy to think this one thru!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat


My favorite Cherish Teddie: Iris,
perfect for a sunny Easter Day!

Reading?

House plans! We toured some show homes today to start the process of building a new house. Hoping to do it without a mortgage but even if we did have one, it should be much less than the one we have now. So while it may seem silly to build a new house when we have debt, in the end, we'll either be mortgage free off the bat or paying off a smaller mortgage. And in the end, have a bigger house!

Watching?

Game of Thrones, with my dh, our two oldest daughters & our grandson, all piled on our bed together.

Listening to?

The sound of our grandson "reading" his new Easter books, while we try to hear the show.

Cooking/Baking?

Nothing! I plan not to eat for the entire week. Full of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, caesar salad, peas, gravy & desert. Yummy but ah, now my tummy is aching.

Happy you accomplished this week?

We pulled off a full scale, professional theatrical production, in front of full audiences, with 120ish cast on stage, 30 in the orchestra & 20 backstage crew, plus hair & makeup artists. It was a struggle with so many obstacles along the way but we did it, with out any issues on & off stage. I'm so happy because it was my first year heading up our board & even I wasn't sure I'd be able to pull this one off. But it worked, we're all happy, tired, swollen feet & raw throats, but so very happy!

Looking forward to next week?

Going back to work. I love my job & have been off work for the week to be in the production. Some of my workmates came to see the play, so I'm excited to chat with them again, even though they came backstage to see us.

Thankful for today?

Warm weather, sunny skies, fabulous food & a big bed, especiallly with this many people piled in to it!!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Putting life in order!

I love days like today, when I have a bit of extra energy & I can put life back into an order that feels so good. Here's what my day has looked like so far:

  • Sorted the bills.
  • Paid the bills for the next month.
  • Updated spreadsheets.
  • Made piles of the loose paper.
  • Sorted, filed, shredded & dealt with the things that needed attention.
  • Made phone calls, answered emails & made future plans.
  • Gathered, sorted & started the laundry.
  • Put donations into a box & sorted the recycling.
  • Swept the deck & vacuumed the front step rug.
  • Cleaned the kitchen, swept the house & washed the floors.
The things I still need to do before I go to bed tonight:

  • Finish the laundry & put everything away.
  • Revamp a PowerPoint for a co-worker who is away.
  • Go to the newspaper & hand in my freelancer contract - yeah!
  • Head to the library to return a book & hang a poster of our workshop.
  • Take the donations to the charity shop & do some shopping of our own.
  • Go with my daughter to get our eyebrows waxed - a last minute change for today.
  • Shop to order cakes for our theatre production, flowers for opening night & little gifts for the cast & crew - a tradition that is a small budget expense but fun to give to say "thank you for helping us pull this huge production off each spring"!
Busy weekend ahead with groceries to buy, costumes to iron, make up to sort for each of us into our own bags, three rehearsals for two different productions, one dinner out with my guy, just us & time with our family before we spend the rest of the week literally live at the theatre!

Enjoy your weekend. Financial totals to be added up some time this weekend & shared. Fingers crossed we did as well as we think we did this month.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Feeling a little Springy!

The sun is out, after days of snow, sleet, rain & fog. Melting away, creating puddles & mud but at least the pavement is visible again & I can have my sun roof open!

Recent charity shop treasures:


Small Boyd's Bear. I already have the matching boy bear wearing little green overalls. So cute together.

Cost me an entire .75 cents.


A small china basket, perfect for little Easter eggies!

This started out at $1 but blue tags were half price, so in the end, cost me exactly .50 cents.


Bag of Easter eggs for decorating. My plan is to put them in 6 small plants pots, with ribbons tied around the front. I "color~coded" my kids when they were small. We called it their "family color".
Pink, blue, green, yellow, orange & purple. So much easier when it came time for things like Easter Egg Hunts.

Rule #1: you are only allowed to put the eggs in your Easter basket that match your "family color". Worked very well!!

This little bag of eggs will now become my creation of 6 little plants pots with my kids "family colors" to signify each of them.

A bargain at .25 cents.


As a new gramma, I couldn't resist this cute little plate. I have the perfect spot for it, once the library is all reno'd.

This plate was not on sale but I was quite happy with the $1 pricetag. Well within my budget.

My favorite spring colors are pink & green. What are yours? Hop over to Carla's blog for a great giveway & to answer this very springy question! You just might be the lucky winner!!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Not wanting to rush time ....

.... but very excited that at the end of this year, our roof loan will be paid off in full, we'll have paid off 42% of our car loan (in just one year) & just over 49% of our mortgage. Right now, we have paid off 33% of our roof, almost 10% of our car & just 44% of our mortgage.

Quite a difference.

Moving right along!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Really?

After several attempts to have the leader of our fine province come out to see the work we do, at her request, after moving the date several times to accommodate her schedule, after making sure we had all staff, who have wonky schedules & aren't always in the building at the same time be here together, after polishing the floors & shining the water decanter, after sweeping the steps & making sure our shiny, freshly washed cars were all lined up outside, with space set aside for her shiny limo, after giving up our lunch so we could be all ready (can you hear my stomach protesting the lack of food?), after another last minute change necessitated moving the 2 hour visit this morning to a 30 minute stop this afternoon, she is now late & clearly not showing up ....

Sad really, when we are just weeks away from a provincial election & her job is on the line!

And I even wore makeup today ...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat ....

Reading?

An old Martha Stewart magazine from May 2008. Looking for spring ideas & a couple of recipes to take along on our holiday, when we have time to cook gourmet meals for just the two of us!

Watching?

Oprah's interview of Lady GaGa, a favorite of mine. Love that GaGa still stays with her mom & dad when she's in New York, in the bedroom she grew up in.

Listening to?

The wind outside & the noise our grandbaby contributes to the house.

Cooking/Baking?

Nothing but we just devoured two freshly baked cupcakes from Crave. I had lemon lime icing on a vanilla cupcake & Kent had vanilla icing on a red velvet cupcake. Just for us. No kids or grandkids particiated in this activity ....

Happy you accomplished this week?

Filing, organizing, shredding at both my offices & delivering a great workshop on the weekend. A great meeting with a couple who have lost several babies & have asked me to be at their birth as their doula. Also standing up to a very tough lady today who won't take no for an answer. I may be a good head shorter than her but my might is just as strong!

Looking forward to next week?

Playing with a sweet baby tomorrow afternoon. A new program to launch tomorrow night. Gym dates with Kent. Watching my hyacinth's bloom. Transferring some funds to the trip savings & making plans for our holiday. I have mixed feelings about meeting with the Premier this week but also looking forward to showing her the work we do in the community.

Thankful for today?

That we could sleep in for a bit to make up for all the early days last week. A fun trek to the Antique Mall. A great rehearsal. An incredible crock pot dinner waiting for us when we came home. Chatting with a new friend on Facebook, making plans for a lunch together.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

We did it!!

We survived with just $25 in our spendable account. I kept checking the account yesterday, worried I had forgotten about an expense that would go thru but last night, just before my pay went in, our balance was still $25. Yeah! And never again shall I put money into the savings without a more accurate account of what needs to be paid first. Paying self first is a great plan but one must be able to support the plan too!

I did a quick tally to see where we're at for total debt repayment. A few years ago, our debt totalled $207,310. We are now down to $126,585. So we've paid off $80,725. I wish it was the other way around but we're getting there, one payment at a time! Most of our debt is our mortgage, now sitting at $98,410. This is good debt & not one we lay awake at night worried about. We make payments on a weekly schedule & we've upped our payments every year when we renew so that we're paying it down faster each year. We're now paying 85% of the principal off with every payment. We have 2 plans: stay here & finish paying off the mortgage OR sell, build on our acreage (without a mortgage because our land was paid for years ago), then eventually sell & buy a small condo here & our main home on Salt Spring Island. The second plan gains us more financially but we also love this house & our neighborhood. We can't completely leave this community forever as we have created a legacy project here & we have family but we're open to having two homes down the road, as long as we can do both without a mortgage. And Salt Spring has been our dream since we were both 18 ....

Back to our total debt. The rest is our car loan & our roof, sitting at a combined total of $28,175. Both will be done in the next 24 months, the roof by this October. At that point, except for the planned kitchen remodel, we will be just dealing with the mortgage. Kent's leased car goes back in 2015, at which point we'll decide then if we'll continue to lease (bonus for him now) or buy. But not something to even think about for now!

That's our current tally!!