Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Charity Shop Treasures

One way we save money is to shop at our local charity shop. We live in quite an affluent community, so the stuff people donate to the store is incredible. Especially clothes. We buy a lot of clothes there. Last week, I scored a GAP hoodie, tags still on, for $2. So soft & warm, perfect during a blizzard!

Here's a few items we picked up on that same shopping trip:

A set of winter themes, all petit point. Love the small details, like gold & sparkly threads. For all three, we paid the amazing sum of $1.50.

Made in England, this piece of china could be a vase ... a place to put my pretty floral pens ... a candy cane holder at Christmas ... or the perfect spot for loose change! The price? A very reasonable $1.

Also from England, I loved this delicate plate & immediately imagined using it for cookies when we have tea on a cold winter's night. I'm planning to change out the ribbon as this one is no longer soft but quite stiff & frayed. And we paid just .50 cents for this gem. All these precious teasures for a grand total of $5. Our budget was $20, leaving us with $15 for another shopping day!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Mom worries ...

I love the age my kids are at. It's so cool to see how well they have turned out & that the personalities they had as kids have really carried them thru.

But it's also a time of life when the worries we had when they were small are the worries I wish we had now.

Because then they were manageable & sometimes controllable.

Now, we have to send them out to the world, hope they do well & support them when we can when things don't go as planned.

Our oldest daughter has been married now for 4 years & we have the most amazing grandbaby in the world!

One of the perks of grandparenthood is bragging about your grandbaby because it really wasn't okay to brag about your kids. I broke the rule & did both but now with our grandson, there are no rules in our book!

Back to our daughter.

She married a lovely young man, who we have enjoyed but because they live 3 hours from here, we don't know really well. He is a great dad & good provider.

But like all married couples, they have had their share of ups & downs. Usually it centers around finances. They live in an incredibly expensive city, with incredibly expensive bills. In December, it was all too much & our daughter packed up & moved home, with grandbaby in tow. We cleared out our basement, rearranged things, painted & helped her move in. This trial "break" may become permanent & that breaks our heart.

It's hard to live in the same house & know she is hurting & we're trying to figure out if it's okay to offer our thoughts ... or keep our mouths shut.

Somehow, we missed the chapter on this one in the parenting books!

We had hard times too & I wonder if it's too easy now to just walk away. But they reassured us on the weekend that they have been doing marriage counselling, so I guess we just need to trust that if their relationship is over as a couple, they are committed to co-parenting in a civil manner. She'll figure it out & with her strong personality, she'll still do well.

One worry explained.

Our second worry is our third child, second son, who is set to be married in May. His fiance is now in the hospital, suffering from an eating disorder that got  out of hand after some grief & family difficulties. Because she can't work, he's stuck with all the bills. He works in a major hospital & is making a very good income at such a young age. But covering their entire financial load on one paycheque is tough & not leaving much room for saving for the wedding. He's searching for a second job right now that he can do on the weekends & again, I trust & know he'll figure it out.

But so hard to watch from the sidelines.

We offered to have them to come home to live with us for a while, to save & get ahead. He's thinking about it but they have a large, furry dog & unfortunately, that part would not work & is the only thing really stopping them. We can't have a shedding dog with us as I would never be able to breathe well or sleep at night.

Something I can do now, selfishly!

I wish we could make everything better for our kids  but realistically, this is the part of parenting where we truly have to step back & let our them work out life for themselves. It may be messy at times but it's life & we'll support them along the way as best we can.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat!


Blogs, blogs, blogs. I'm still trying to get used to wearing reading glasses & suddenly books, with their small print, have not interested me as much as blogs. So for now, I am content reading the real lives of others vs. made up stories that aren't always authentic.


We did watch the Oscar & now the tv is on, low volume, but we really not watching anything. Reading blogs, writing letters, while my husband rehearses his lines for a new play he has been cast in.

Listening to?

The wind howing outside. We've had a blizzard for the last 4 days & every once in a while, the wind picks up. Thankfully, today, the sun was out. We finally have snow for the winter but it will probably melt by the weekend again as temps are supposed to rise to above 0 again.

Oh yeah, slush & mud on my nice clean car ...


We made a big pot of homemade chili today. Love the leftovers that taste even better on day 2 & day 3, if it makes it that far!

Happy you accomplished this week?

The blizzard forced us to stay home today & that translated into the following:
  • the dining room hutch was cleared out, dusted & all the china has a nice wipe down.
  • all the wine glasses we own were gathered, washed, sorted, the ones we no longer want donated & the ones we want to keep arranged in the hutch, instead of back in the kitchen cupboard where they become dusty so quickly.
  • the linen drawer was cleared out, dusted, items divided into donate or keep & put back together.
  • the cupboard where we keep our daily dishes was cleared out, items divided into donate or keep & put back together.
  • the medicine cupboard was cleared out, items divided into keep or bagged to take to the pharmacy for safe disposal & then put back together.
  • the pots & pan cupboard was cleared out, items divided into donate or keep & put back together.
  • the drawer were we keep the foil wrap & parchment paper was cleared out & put back together. Discovered it's the right size to also hold our blue bags for recycling & the white bags for the trash that cannot be recycled or composted.
  • the shelves that hold our nicknacks & cookbooks built into the wall was cleared out & items divided into donate or keep. What a difference this made! I moved my teapot collection from the dining room hutch, the dining room table & the sideboard to this area. So much more room now in the other spaces & my teapots are now all together, instead of scattered about.
More to do but I ran out of time & energy. The box for donations is now overflowing & I well surpassed the "29 Items to be sold, donated or trashed"  challenge set out by the wonderful Carla from http://halfdozendaily.typepad.com/my-half-dozen-daily/2012/01/february-challenges.html.

Looking forward to next week?
That I have the next three days off work. I had some extra hours that had accumulated & ended up adding up to three whole days. I'm going to continue to do the February Challenge & work on an early spring cleaning inside the house. Grocery shopping is done, clothes shopping done now until spring, bills are paid, gas in the cars, nothing outstanding that needs to be tackled for now, except for finishing up the T4's for the family centre we run - just need to fill in the forms on line, make copies, scan & send to our 2 employees & then mail the documents in. Really looking forward to getting my house back in to a better order & with less "stuff" that is not needd & taking up valuable space.
Thankful for today?
A day off from other expectations, giving a chance to tackle the things I want to accomplish around the house. We've spent so much time doing raising kids, tackling post-secondary education for ourselves, being immersed & very involved in the arts community, maintaining our family centre, creating our careers & volunteering in our community, & our house hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. But we're getting back on track now to get the renovations done so we can enjoy the newness of everything before we eventually put it up for sale. I love this house but love it even better when everything is back in it's place!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Treasure Hunting!

We had a great time at the Antique Mall yesterday. Went in with a $20 budget & stuck to it. And here's our two new treasures for the house:

I've always wanted an Etched Mirror. Both my gramma's had one in their homes when I was growing up but I remember them being chipped & tarnished. I look often at the Antique Mall & the thrift store we frequent. They are usually in the same shape as the ones my gramma's had, bigger & pretty beat up. And often range from $30 to $130.

But on Monday, we walked in the door & immediately  my eye went up to the display case at the front door. And there was this beautiful, in perfect condition Etched Mirror, for the incredible price of just $15. Perfect for my budget!!

We still had $5 left & came across this unique plate shelf in a cream color. Again, perfect condition & so perfect for our house.

Now I need to figure out where to hang all our new finds. We've been collecting artwork & things to hang on our newly painted walls but haven't had time to actually hang everything up. I have now vowed to stop looking to fill our walls until we hang all the items stashed away. Fun times coming up in our house, trying to line up artwork without killing each other!!

My 1st Award!

I've won an award! Such an honor. Thank you to the amazing Sammy at http://www.sammyleiamoneysaver.com/ for choosing me along with 4 other great bloggers.


I will now nominate 5 bloggers. I wanted to nomiate ALL the blogs I follow but unfortunately there are rules & some of my favorite blogs have well over 200 followers. For those who I have chosen, here are the rules for you to follow & then pass along:

Here are the Liebster rules:
  • Say thanks to the amazing blogger who awarded your liebster and link back to their blog.
  • Choose 5 fantastic blogs and leave a comment on their blog letting them know. (They must have under 200 followers).
  • Post the award on your blog. (Right click on the award image,save it to your hard drive and then upload it to your blog).
  • Enjoy your Liebster Award.
  • And best of all – have fun and spread the lieb! :)
The bloggers I have chosen are as follows:

1. Little Lamb at http://o2bdebtfree.blogspot.com/
2. Cate at http://catelinden.com/
3. Mysti at http://diggingoutfromourmess.blogspot.com/
4. Denise at http://dmoms.wordpress.com/
5. Alice at http://alicesbaby.blogspot.com/


I just figured out that if we put our current savings to our current debt & then put our upcoming tax refunds to the remaining debt, we'd be completely debt free, including our mortgage, in 2.5 years!

So tempting.

But I have to, truly have to have a healthy savings.

It scares the hell (sorry) out of me that if we ever lost our jobs or the economy turned here, we'd have nothing to fall back on. Sure, we could sell the house, but realistically, if it was bad, no one would be buying our house & the value would drastically fall. We'd be totally screwed.

We are fortunate to live in a province that is rich in so many ways. But with the world economy on shaky ground, this richness could dissolve. I'm fortunate to work in an industry that will never die (sorry, pun there as I work in bereavement!). My husband works for a large company that is booming & is operating in 5 provinces but that could always change. He has other things on the go & is the kind of guy that would take any job to pay the bills. Hopefully, he never will have to. But he would!

Currently, our roof will be paid off in October of this year & our car loan in less than 4 years (I'm aiming for 2.5 years). We'll then increase our mortgage payments & pay that off within 3 years, instead of the current 7.5.

Worth the wait to have our savings remain healthy.

It's so tempting to be done quicker but I'm not willing to let go of one security for the other just yet.

And how is your day going?

Sunday, 19 February 2012

My first Sunday Night Chit Chat!

Thank you to Carla for hosting Sunday Night Chit Chat. This is the first time I've done this, so be kind & patient with me!

What am I reading?

I'm reading "The Help" purchased at Costco for $9. My friend has it on order at the library & she is #64 on the list. Which means if everyone who is on the list gets to take it out & returns it within one week, she'll be waiting more than a year to borrow it.

Maybe I should let her borrow mine, once I'm done. I'm about 1/4 of the way in & enjoying it. Haven't seen the movie yet but hope to once I'm finished.

What am I watching?
We're watching "Heartland" on CBC because we have a friend on the show. And our daughters ride horses. And it's shot in Alberta.

What am I listening to?
The washer make our clothes clean & the dryer dry them. It's a quiet background noise but one I love!

What am I cooking/baking?
Absolutely nothing. But two hours ago, we enjoyed a pork roast that slow cooked all day, my dear husband's yummy asparagus & cheesy-broccoli rice. Deciding now on popcorn or digestive cookies (the milk chocolate ones, not the dark chocolate - I hate dark chocolate) for a snack.

What am I happy I accomplished this week?

I caught up on most of my work after being sick for so long. I have a few more case notes to do on some of my recent counselling sessions with clients but will have time to finish that this coming week. I took a chance & offered to be the birth doula for a couple that is having a baby this spring & is not happy with the traditional medical system but found out they were too late to book a midwife. I set up our Mortgage, Car & Roof pay down spreadsheets. I increased our payments on our car loan. I created new packages for bereaved families to send out & or present at home visits or at our support group meetings. I went shopping & bought some new clothes, on sale, with my gift card. And get to do it again! But now I can empty my closet with some of the clothes I have not worn for a while but someone else would enjoy. Recycling is so freeing!

What am I looking forward to this coming week?

Finishing up & sending a letter to my Irish pen pal. Helping our son find a new car to replace his old car that keeps breaking down. Big purchase for him but we're along for the ride to help keep him on the right side of the decision. Having time to do some writing. Setting time in my work day to work on creative projects that are part of my programming. Spending one of my Chapters gift cards to buy some books I've been longing for. Sleeping in for a bit tomorrow on Family Day Weekend.

What am I thankful for today?
I caught up with an old friend, who found me on Facebook. We haven't seen each other for more than 18 years & she now lives on the other side of the country. Now we are reunited by the power of the internet! We chatted for almost an hour & made plans to meet online again. I'm also thankful for the great shoot we did today at my place of work. Crew was great, our staff did all the right things & we wrapped well before the planned time. Can't wait to see the final product.
And that's my first Sunday Night Chit Chat!

Friday, 17 February 2012

I love Fridays!

I work full time hours but get to decide when those hours are executed. I usually do a 12 hour day on Tuesdays and a 12 hour day on Thursdays, leaving me with 12 hours to use up as I need. I let myself sleep in on Fridays because I also teach on Saturdays for a full day. Friday is my "end of the week sleep in" before the big sleep on Sundays!

Friday is a day to catch up.

Catch up with housework.

Catch up with paperwork.

Catch up the shopping.

Catch my breath from the busyness of the week.

A day to hang out at my centre, meet new families who are looking for programs and check out the charity shop once my dh comes home early from work. It's our Friday ritual and we have no expectations of buying anything. Just a look around for treasures if we find any.

Today, I'm heading over to meet with my administrator. We're finishing up the T4's for my staff, mailing the charitable receipts for our donors and working on the spreadsheets for our current families and our new families coming on board for the fall. I'll be there well before she can arrive today and my hope is to tackle the two storage rooms that have become the place to store the things we still need but don't need today. They are messy and not orderly.

I hate disorder!

Right now I have four rooms that are in slight disorder. The two at the centre. And two at home: my scrapbooking/sewing/guest room and our future library/office/den. The first is all renovated but stuffed full of the items from the second room, which is almost ready for painting and the new wood floor to be installed. Once that is done, everything will be moved back in and viola, two restored, renovated, decluttered, orderly spaces for me to relax in, to craft, to do our paperwork. I can't wait!!

Re-working our financials today as well. Started a series of new spreadsheets to track our progress. One for our spending, one for paying down our car loan, one for our savings goals and one I still need to finish up that will track the progress of our mortgage paydown. Because we pay weekly for everything, I love to see how quickly the numbers decrease (or increase for our savings).

I should have been an accountant.

I'm such a numbers geek!

Back to why I love Fridays. It's a day to be on my own, to tidy my life, to shop for me or for those I love vs. just the groceries or the necessities, a day to take care of me. I love waking up when I'm ready and spending time, snuggled in the coziness, figuring out the best way to fill the day. I love this "me" time, without a moment of feeling guilty. After 26 years of raising our children, I am cherishing this precious time that I know I have earned and loving every moment. Well worth the sacrifice and hard work that went into my parenting. I'm still parenting but on a much smaller scale. And it's much less stressful at this end.

Happy Friday everyone!

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Raise!!

I knew it was coming at some point in 2012 but did not know that it would come this early on the first pay for February. I'm now at the top of the grid, the only employee at the very top, except for our director. And I'm not allowed to tell anyone that.


Everyone else is at the bottom of the grid but I've been there the longest and graduated from my post-secondary journey just over 18 months ago. In 18 months, my income has increased by over $18,000.

Now, what to do with the extra money each month.

So many choices. 

Pay down the car. 

Pay down the mortgage.

Put the extra into our savings.


This could be fun deciding ....

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Back at Work

And my head is killing me!

The aches have finally gotten lighter.

My energy is coming back.

We've even been to the gym twice this week!

My appetite is back, small but back.

The ginger ale is almost gone.

It's the headache that won't leave.

Sigh ...

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Trying to catch up ...

Still not feeling well.

Thought of many things I could write about this week, as I lay on my bed, on the couch, on the floor, on my desk ...

Still hurt from head to toe but now my new symptom is complete and utter nausea.


I almost wish I could be sick just so the feeling would go away.

I ventured into the city for 4 hours of work on Wednesday, managed to do pretty good but woke up on Thursday worse than Tuesday.

Unfortunately, Thursday is my big day, usually 12 hours in total, but I was way too ill to do a full day. Thankfully, I have an amazing crew and knew everyone would cover. I was able to get in for 2ish and with the help of my practicum student, we got the class set for the evening. It went well, everyone attended, the activities went well, smiling faces when we left at 9ish.

Home to bed, where I stayed until late the next morning.

Spent a few hours with my admininstrator at our centre here in the county and then headed home again. Planned to stay home and rest so I'd be good for the weekend but ended up going with Kent to his tv shoot. It was fun but totally exhausted me. Stayed in bed on Saturday until noon, had a long bath, then we headed out, slowly to manage my pain and my stamina. Although it was a No Spend Day, we hadn't spent on other days so we did it all in one day. We made 4 stops: Chapters for 4 journals for the centre for a preschool project ($46.16), thrift store ($0), Costco ($161.06) and Safeway ($55.21).

Underbudget in every transaction.

Came home to clean out the fridge, composted, recycled, made packets of food to be frozen, did 2 loads of laundry and tidied the house. I was then tucked in to bed by 5 p.m. with my soft jammies, ginger ale and my laptop. I wrote 5 modules for 2 new facilitators and sent those off for completion, then spent the rest of the night reading blogs, writing a letter and responding to emails. Kent brought me a lovely hot meal and then he cleaned the kitchen and joined me for a lazy evening of tv.

Today we are visiting with our son for a bit this morning and then off to our theatre group for the afternoon. We have one purchase to make that  we couldn't do yesterday: stretched canvases for the preschool program for this week. They are being displayed next weekend at our annual art show so we have to get them done so I can show our teacher the techniques I usually teach the kids. Can't wait to see the finished projects!

I'm off to soak this aching body. And hoping this flu is on its way out the door. :)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Not the Best Day!

I woke up with the flu.

Actually, I didn't wake up with the flu because I didn't go to sleep, all night long.

Not even for 5 minutes.

Can't wake up if I haven't slept.

Thankfully, it wasn't the stomach flu.

Just the "achy, I hurt everywhere, even my teeth hurt" flu.

Not even achy.

Down right pain.


As I laid in my bed, rotating behind ripping off my sweatshirt (now I know why it's called a sweatshirt) & rolling around miserably in just my tank top, I had one lucid thought midday.

"Yeah, it's a No Spend Day & I'm stuck at home, so this one is achievable."

Except my dear husband, in his valiant attempt to help me out, went to the store & brought home two cases of ginger ale.

"Just in case your stomach turns", he proclaimed, with a big smile on his face.

He loves to save the day.

Except it's now the next day, I'm down to achy, not painy & the ginger ale remains unopened & sitting on the floor beside our bed.


Really, it wasn't my fault! I didn't ask him to be sooooo nice & go to the store to buy me something to help me out.

He did it all on his own.

I'm anticipating a call today when he suddenly realizes he screwed up the last "No Spend Day" for January.

Love that my family is on board with this.

And love that they care enough to not worry about messing up my new system.

If I wasn't feeling so lousy, I'd get pissy.

But for now, I'll bask in the love!