Monday, January 31, 2011

Leaving Napanee, Heading Towards Kingston, Ontario!!

Napanee is very pretty in the winter, but I must continue on my biking journey to Prince Edward Island, so....tally ho!!

Ugh - why the heck did I start this quest in January?!? I need teeny tiny
wiper blades on my glasses!

Kingston - here I come - look out!!

Sunday's Nature Walk = Monday's Photos

I think of all the places Michael and I go hiking, Coldstream is THE most beautiful in the wintertime; especially after a fresh snowfall.
It was pretty cold yesterday, but the fearless photographers
must be ready to "snap" whatever the weather.

Come and walk with us.....

Except for a few streaks of pure white clouds the sky
is a brilliant blue.

Reflections in the stream are crystal clear today.

One fearless photographer!
Come on, follow me!

Ooooooooooooooh, take a peek through here!

Looking back at the fallen tree.

We have to cross the bridge - watch out for trolls!

Sometimes the shadows create a beauty of their own.

Walk out on this ice if you want to find out why
it's called "Coldstream!"

View from the bridge - you better get a shot of this!

Oh no! A troll!....woops, that's only Michael:)

A perfect mirror image.

Don't walk on this ice!

Entering the cedar swamplands.
Stay on the boardwalk!

Here I am, waving at you! Are you having fun yet?

My favourite photo today. Why does it make me think
of Valentine's Day?

What's real and what's a reflection?

Taking a picture of my reflection in Michael's sunglasses:)

Almost finished - one more bridge to cross!

Couldn't resist a diamond-shaped frame:)
Ok, let's get back in the car and thaw out my frozen
fingers and toes. It's only -8c but it feels colder
for some reason. Must be the breeze.
Time to go home and have a hot tea.
I wonder where we'll go next Sunday?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January Month End - Money, Money, Money

 I was going to wait until Monday to wrap up January but I went online to look at my bank account today and lo and behold my Jan. 31st paycheque was already deposited so thankyou schoolboard. I also was happy that I was within a few cents of correctly guessing how much it would be. I hope that I've also guessed Feb. 15th's pay correctly too.  We'll see....

I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay

Ain’t it sad

And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me

That’s too bad

In my dreams I have a plan

If I got me a wealthy man

I wouldn’t have to work at all, I’d fool around and have a _________
Title, Artist and fill in the blank!??!  Ahhhhh, it's too EASY!!
I'm tired of January but here's one last look at the numbers.  I love that debt and savings are the two biggest parts of my budget by FAR! I was fortunate to be able to pay an extra $148.30 out of misc. spending on my line of credit this month for a total of $1348.30! I am going to beat that LOC into submission!!
The other bonus was upping my EF to $1300. I'm going to set a new goal for that one I think. $3,000 instead of $2,000. We'll see, first things first, I need to do my taxes, think about topping up my TFSA instead of my RSP this year, as I'm not looking forward to paying the whopping withdrawal taxes on my RSP $$ once I retire. TFSA makes more sense. I was at my max but took out $5000 last year when I made my PEI house purchase. What I didn't know until recently is that I can put  that $5000 back into my TFSA in the following tax year:) Yippee!!
Oops, noticed a mistake in my chart. I meant to divide my insurance payment between Housing and Transportation but I forgot. I pay $205 a month for home and car insurance - isn't that a horrible amount?? Most of it is for the car - having my daughter on as an occasional driver raised it by $50 per month! (And yes, I pay for it:)
I'm looking forward to February's challenge - a NO Spend month. I am so ready for this! I've allotted $400 for groceries, $150 for gas and have $185 for misc spending which totals $735. My goal is to squeeze at least $100 from that little budget and throw at my LOC again. I see a month of self-denial ahead (although I have a Starbucks card, a movie card, and a restaurant card, so I won't be too terribly deprived:)
Oh BTW - we did catch two movies yesterday - "The Rite" with Anthony Hopkins and "The King's Speech" and LOVED both of them! Colin Firth really should win an oscar for his role as King George VI - but being British I'm a little biased.
Happy Weekend everyone - look forward to seeing all of your month end summaries and a No Spend month!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

TGIF (in 6.5 hours to be exact:)
I'm not sure why, but I am so glad that tomorrow is Friday...moreso than usual. It's been one of those weeks. It started off well and then it was all downhill from there.

The bad news:
  • even though my daughter promised she'd text me if she was going to stay at her friend's last night I again woke to find her bed empty and NO message. She and I will be having another heart to heart talk when she finally makes an appearance. (I called her and called her at 6am this morning, and then texted her. Eventually she texted to let me know she was sleeping at her friend's house. So not impressed!
  • had Cora in twice this week for what thankfully turned out to be minor repairs (so I guess that's both BAD and GOOD news
  • after my emotional upset this morning I proceeded to eat candy (winegums) which strangely enough doesn't register too well in the ol' food diary
  • am on my second glass of red wine (at this point that could be considered good news)
  • the extra $$ I didn't spend from gas and groceries and misc that was going to go for extra debt repayment is going to Cora repairs instead (again I guess that could be considered good news that I had the $$ available)
  • 2 of my educational assistants let it be known that they want an easier schedule for next semester - to that I say - BITE ME! We have no "easy" students. They are who they are - I think if you work in the area of special education you would understand that and not be looking to sit around all day working on a crossword puzzle!
"OK" she says taking a sip of wine and a deep breath..."time for the good news"...
  • the two repairs to Cora cost $46 and $56 respectively, not too bad eh?; the first was to replace the thingamajiggy that the washer fluid comes out of to clean your windshield - it snapped in half in the -24c freeze-up we had over the last week; the second was to the rear brake drums to fix a little squealing sound. Can I just give a shout-out to Harry's Automotive Centre on Adelaide at Huron St. in London, ON for honest and reasonable repairs? I appreciate how  you never do unauthorized work and you tell me what really needs to be done and the least expensive way to do it.
  • Raised my EF from $830 to $1300 :)
  • Spent only $300 on groceries this month; usually spend $450 - $500 - love it!! (the extra helped pay for the car repairs - yippee!
  • so far during exam week (started yesterday) I have completed my report cards, updated my students' IEP's and completed the schedules for my 6 educational assistants for the coming semester (and no one has an "easy" schedule!)
  • had 2 lovely bottles of red wine leftover from Christmas :)
  • have a partner who is a life coach who helped me through my crisis this morning with DD and gave me suggestions on how to best deal with the situation - gotta love that man!
The final financials for January will be coming Monday so will NOT do my usual Weekly Wrap tomorrow. I might just do a review on the two movies we plan to see tomorrow: "The Rite" with Anthony Hopkins and "The King's Speech" with Colin Firth. Yes, I do love those British actors! I am leaving work around 12 noon tomorrow because I CAN!! and we are going to two matinees at our local Rainbow Theatre which will only cost us about $12. I might even spring for POPCORN! Hey  - it's got fibre:)

Thanks for listening...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bank Statement Reconciliation

Hokay...I just spent two hours reconciling MY records to the BANK's records because I couldn't get the two to jive and so have lost precious pedalling time and likely gained a pound instead of losing one!!  %7$k#fz*%2@!!

Big sigh....okay....calming down now...why oh why do I put myself through such torture three quarters of the way, more like four fifths, but who's splitting hairs here...oh yeah...ME!! of the way through a month instead of waiting til the end of the month when everything is credited and debited to the account and I have wee little numbers to work with...huh?  If you just followed that line of thought then you must do exactly the same thing!!

So I just drove myself nuts for no perfectly good reason. I forgot that I had made a lot of fancy calculations (errors) but had already manipulated (corrected) them and thus could have saved myself...oh let's see...TWO HOURS AND ONE POUND if I had just waited until the end of the month.

Too hard on myself?? Not in the least - I hope I have taught myself a very good lesson - and that is - WAIT ALREADY!! But then, I have adult ADD, so there you go.

I'm off to pedal twice as far, twice as fast!!!!!!!!!!
P.S. It's a good thing I can type about 120 words a minute because that's how fast my fingers are going right now!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Walk Around the Dorchester Mill Pond

Michael walking on the ice covering the mill pond. Locals said it was 12 inches thick. If that was true then why in some places was there no ice at all?? 
  P.S. I stayed OFF the ice - call me chicken if you want - it won't bother me!

Around these parts people go ice fishing with a tent, perhaps a propane heater like those guys on the left, or just with a lawnchair like the guy on the right. It was -17c with a light windchill but the sun was shining brightly. Our walk was in the shade on one side of the millpond and in the sun on the other. The sun definitely made me feel warmer!

Of course there were the usual areas cleared off for pond hockey:)
Can't take the "Canadian" out of the boy!!

Worshipping the sun god!

Shoulda brought our crazy carpets!

I'll have me some blue sky, straight up.

Ice crystals on top of the pond.

And oh yeah, you can't take the boy out of the boy:)

Hurry up wouldja? There a Starbucks coffee calling my name!

This is what kept me waiting....on second thought, take your time!

It takes a special breed of man to sit for hours over a little hole in the ice while sitting
in a lawn chair in -24 (windchill added in) weather.

The millpond was created by a dam - this is looking down off the bridge
on the other side of the dam.
And now it's time to head to Starbucks and warm up.
Don't fret...I'm using my Starbucks gift card :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

On to Trenton, ON

I was very grateful to receive the above cheque from my insurance company today which was the deductible owed to me from my daughter's car accident in October:)

I made the following disbursements:
Line of Credit - $40.00 because I like nice round numbers
Emergency Fund - $$468.02

I know those two amounts don't add up to exactly $500 but I contributed a little from my misc spending in order to have a nice round number in my EF - which now stands proudly at $1300!!!!! Woo hoo! At $200 per month I'll have $2000 by mid-May. I am so excited!!

Now to come back down to earth. My goal in No Spend February is to stay on budget. Sounds rather lacklustre doesn't it? I've had to reduce savings, groceries, gas $ and misc spending in order to maintain zero budgeting due to having lower income in February. One thing I won't reduce is the $1200 payment to my line of credit (broken into 2 payments of $600.00 each), my monthly $100 charitable donation, $100 for Christmas or the last payment to top up my RSP of $323. So my No Spend February won't accomplish anything miraculous but it will help get me through the toughest month of the year.

March won't be quite so bad. I'll have a juicy tax refund to play with and my payroll deductions will be back to normal. I also plan to play around with numbers while doing my tax return - I'm considering other options other than an RSP and want to see what that will do to my refund.

Now off to my bicycle - only 62km to go until I reach Trenton, ON. Michael's son lives there (he's a firefighter on the army base there) so I'll have somewhere to rest while replacing the bandaids on my feet!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blogger Problems

Happy Sunday everyone. In little ol' London Ontario the sun is shining brightly and you wouldn't think it's -17 (feels like -24 with the windchill) out there. We are still going to go out and brave the elements for our weekly nature walk, but if you don't hear from me again it's because I have become one with the snow and ice:)

I read all of your comments to Michael this morning and he felt so touched by your kindness, and at some comments he roared with laughter. He lives from his heart and every emotion is larger than life...(and I think he's reading my blog more than occasionally now and is checking out your blogs from my sidebar:) He's all about community building and once he gets his new laptop (perhaps in the next week or two) he's thinking about starting a blog of his own. Wouldn't that be something!

Oh, and Maureen, Michael wants to let you know that he's been to Australia twice and we plan to both come in the next few years. I have relatives there that I found on and there are places Michael wants to show me so you may find us knocking on your door!

You may have noticed some changes in my blog. They were made out of necessity. On Friday when I went to make my usual picture change in the header it wouldn't work - it came out really small. Then I found a way to make the picture large and then the blog title disappeared. Sheesh! It seems some changes have been made by Blogger to the templates so I had to really experiment to come up with something that would allow me to have a photo AND still show my blog's title. And be easy to read. I think I've got it figured out now thankfully but there goes several hours of my life I'll never get back lol!

Well I better get off my duff and get dressed really warmly for our walk. Have a great Sunday everyone. Only 8 more days of January 2011!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Post From Michael

First, I must thank you for the birthday wishes. I feel I am so much part of your lives through Jane. I occasionally read Jane’s blog and learn about the tribe she hangs out with. I am impressed at the following and the impact it has on her. Now it’s my turn to tell you a little about Jane and share my favorite pictures.

Jane is one of the kindest people I have ever met. She takes a person for who they are until they prove her wrong. My meeting Jane was unintentional, we were at a dinner outing that a friend organized. We engaged in some meaningful conversations that revealed more about each of us. It was at the end of the evening after we had gone back to the friend’s home that I really began to feel something. We hugged and I knew then that something was ignited. This caught me by surprise; I think both of us as we said good night. Over the next few days we arranged to meet for coffee to explore what we both experienced. We both agreed that fostering a friendship would be paramount. This friendship grew to this amazing relationship that we now share. I am grateful to have met this woman who has a sure confidence about her, a sense of calm, grounded, tells you the way she sees it, is playful, has an amazing smile and what I feel deeply is how genuine and accepting she is.

Thank you Jane for giving me an opportunity to write on your blog and be part of your blog tribe.

Thanks to all of you for receiving me and being a big part of Jane’s life. To all the PEI connections, I hope we get the chance to gather around the fire at Crofters Lane.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes. "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of  comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King
(Guest blogger Michael G. Duhaney,

CBC News - Prince Edward Island - P.E.I. group uses web to welcome newcomers

CBC News - Prince Edward Island - P.E.I. group uses web to welcome newcomers

For those who have moved, or are planning to move, to PEI - JOIN THIS GROUP!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Wrap - Feeling Grateful

I'm so pretty...oh so pretty....I'm so pretty, and witty and my wrap:)

Newsbeat: I used to work with a woman at the Royal Bank about a hundred years ago who used to sing the "I'm so pretty" song every morning before the doors were unlocked. I always wished I had her confidence.
Today was a wild and woolly day. My "broken angel" had a tough day - trying to bite staff (not succeeding thankfully), but biting holes in both of his slippers, biting a pilates ball and breaking it, biting a box and ripping it, ripping his one holey sock into pieces, biting the bottom of his backpack ripping a big hole in it. Oh yes, it was one of those days. All I did was record, record, record. But now the day is done and Michael and I are relaxing, with our feet up, at Starbucks both enjoying a free drink. Me because of a slow order last week so they gave me a gift coupon for a free drink and Michael because he gets a free birthday drink.
It's so nice to unwind:)The week has been full of ups and downs - birthday, sick child, $500 cheque coming from my car insurance, my broken angel. Up down up down. Yet I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for a week spent well: celebrating, reflecting, writing, mothering, reading, exercising, discussing and laughing.

Here is my three week chart. One more week (and a bit) and I'll be able to see the whole month:) The big news of course is the $500 I'm getting from the insurance company (not reflected here of course as I haven't received it yet)but I'm putting some on my Line of Credit and the rest into emergency savings. This will REALLY REALLY help because in February my pay will be approximately $340 less than January. So it's a darn good thing I've joined Sharon's NO Spend February which I may just have to continue til July when my pay will slightly increase due to not having to pay union dues and also my Canada Pension plan will be paid in full. I have six poor months and six good months financially over the year. Could be worse, could be way worse.

My misc. spending will have to be held in check. This month is higher than usual due to $152 being spent on my prescription sunglasses. I am very happy with my food, entertainment, gift and transportation totals and I don't foresee adding very much to those. My food buget still has most of its money due to Angela's "pantry challenge" and Michael has helped with the gas money:)

Heartbeat: While we were driving to Starbucks Michael told me about an acquaintance of his who he just found out had died in November. We had just seen him a few weeks before. At this point we don't know how he died. We find that as we get older we think about our mortality more and more and that we need to stop wasting today by only "living in the future". I used to think I wouldn't be happy until I retired. I found out that my thinking was very flawed. Today is all we really have. Michael finds himself guilty of thinking that he hasn't accomplished enough yet instead of feeling thankful for what he has today. But - we also can't stop dreaming and planning for the future so we have to find the balance. Here's what we came up with.

Live for Today so that We Can Plan for Tomorrow.

Are you living for today?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Kazi was sick yesterday when I got home from school so I ended up not going to volleyball, but that was ok because it turns out I forgot to register for this session anyway! Kazi had flu-like symptoms so I made a quick run to the grocery store and bought gingerale, apple juice, clear soups and soda crackers.

During that time someone left a message on my cell which I forgot at home. Gee I'm getting forgetful...isn't that the first sign of...hmmmm can't remember. Anyhoo, I checked the message and lo and behold the insurance company finally got their hands on the police report from Kazi's accident back in October. AND THE OTHER DRIVER WAS CHARGED!! Kazi can move on now - she was so happy because she KNEW the other driver and their "mystery witness" weren't telling the truth.

This also means I will be receiving a $500 check as the other driver's insurance will be paying my deductible! I'm going to put part of it on my Line of Credit and the rest into emergency savings. My goal for NO SPEND February was to bump up my emergency savings which now stands at a measly $830 so cheers all round:)

Since I didn't go to volleyball I rode my bike, but rode at lower resistance and only 15 km. Knees feel good today. It was good to give them a day's rest.

So here it is, 7:21am and I'm having a great day! Hope you are too!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Food Diary

I received three diaries for Christmas - one, a sacred journey diary, I use for day to day personal things I want to remember, to set goals and dream at little. The second, from Michael's son, I am going to use to plan my gardens in PEI. The third has just been sitting around feeling lonely.

Well, be lonely no more cute little diary - I have designated you my FOOD DIARY!! Yesterday in the National Post there was an article about a study done on two groups of people. The group that got on a scale everyday and kept a food diary lost more weight and kept it off by maintaining these habits once they were at their desired weight.

Hmmmmm I thought to myself - why not give it a try? After all, being aware of my finances and recording my daily spends has helped me become a much better money manager. So transferring that to eating - checking my weight on a daily basis and keeping track of what I eat should help me manage my weight better.

It seems like a good theory - now I'm going to put it into practise:)

The knees feel pretty good today - no cycling last night, but on to volleyball tonight - I'll try to be careful!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eech, Ouch - My Knees Hurt!

My knees :(

The battle of the knees begins. Good thing I have a Costco-sized bottle of ibuprofin 'cause I'm gonna need it to keep me going on my trek to Alberton, PEI. I've adjusted my sidebar to show the total kms I've pedalled so far, (227)including how many are still ahead of me. (1675) At the end of two weeks I am 77kms ahead of schedule:) Hmmmmm...maybe I've been overdoing it just a wee bit..

Hopefully I can get the pain under control. It wouldn't surprise me if it was because of not changing out of my Uggs yesterday into my heavy duty stabilizing running shoes for my 25km ride. Silly me, I should know better, I DO know better! My recreational weekly volleyball game starts back up tomorrow night and I find that it is hard on my knees too - quick starts and stops, quick knee swivels to reach a ball, falling to my knees to bump up a served ball - it all takes its toll but it's so much fun! 

Meh - I'm tough, I can take it...I'm just a baby in an old lady's body, can't let that get in my way:) Is it just coincidence that the pain in my knees happened the same day as the most $$ this month exited my account?? I think NOT!! Misery loves company! The tally for yesterday amounts to almost $1500.00!! Yikes!!

The breakdown includes: $725 towards debt, $171 to cable/internet/home phone, $503 to savings (emerg, Christmas & RSP), $55 for food and $30 for gas. Had a good laugh today - opened mail from ING to find out I've been preapproved for a $10,000.00 RSP loan - YAY ME! However, I don't NEED A LOAN!! as by Feb. 28th I will have contributed my maximum through bi-monthly transfers. The days of me borrowing to finance my RSP are long gone and that is one accomplishment I've very proud of.

How's your week going??

P.S. Michael really enjoyed his day yesterday and we ALL enjoyed his Skor Treatza Pizza from DQ:)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Birthday Summary

Taking a picture of our reflection in a pond.

So I listened to your advice re Michael's birthday present, but there was a slight problem. Some said let Michael buy the tickets and take him out to dinner before the concert (seems reasonable) while others said buy the tickets myself.

Sooooooooo, I bought the tickets AND I bought him a movie card (we go to a lot of movies as you might have noticed) and a book. At Christmas I bought him at book called "A Secret Kept" by Tatiana de Rosnay and he LOVED it, so I bought another one of her bestsellers called "Sarah's Key". I haven't read them yet but will give you my opinion once I do. So I overdid it a bit on the gifties but couldn't help myself. It means I'll be cutting it very close to the budget bone for the next two weeks but I think I can make it. Just in time for Sharon's No Spend February challenge. And boy will I ever NEED THAT!!

I felt kinda bad as Michael is working at Jambalaya tonight so we didn't go out for dinner or anything but I have an icecream cake in the freezer for when he gets home and we'll probably open a bottle of wine.  Cheers!