Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Wrap & Other Crap

Took a sick day today. No, I'm not dying or anything but I've had a scratchy sore throat for three days and had a pulsing pain above my left eye last night, thankfully gone now. So thought I'd spend a day laying on the couch and dosing myself with oil of oregano. Man that stuff stinks...and it tastes even worse than it smells. But it seems to work...I think my body is so repulsed by the stuff that it heals itself so I won't subject it to any more torture.

Speaking of torture, September's budget has come to an end...

Now...on to October!  I will start using Spendingdiary again this month which will help me to keep better tabs on my spending, at least that's the theory. I used it last year from about October to June and it did help me stay on track.

So once again I have no fancy pie charts to show you where all of my money went. But go it did. There was Kazi's birthday, back to school expenses, new tires for the car and plenty of dining and drinking. Did I tell you yet about the new pub we've found - "The Waltzing Weasel?" The best chicken wings ever!

But I digress - yes the stack of receipts from this month alone is a good half inch thick. Money came in and quickly departed. I just couldn't hang on to it. But, although I spent freely I also saved over $1,000 and paid down my line of credit by $1300.  And thanks to receiving a cheque from Michael today which will now be a monthly event to very much look forward to I was able to cover our overdraft and pay off the Mastercard.

So I stand before you today with my only debt being my Line of Credit ($35,000) and the roughly $45,000 mortgage on my PEI home. I have upped the bi-monthly mortgage payment which has brought the amortization down from 25 yrs. to 16 yrs. and I plan, yes PLAN, not HOPE, PLAN to have the Line of Credit paid in full within 18 months! So by the end of March 2013!!

Other goals for this year:

  • get the Emergency Fund back up to $2000 (currently @ $1450)
  • increase the Christmas fund to $1131 and stay within my budget this year 
  • (currently @ $531)
  • transfer $5000 into my TFSA by year end (currently @ $4300 & the transfer will increase my TFSA to $15, 186)
  • get my line of credit down to $29,000 by year end!! This one is the most exciting goal!
Is your October budget ready to go?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work

The day I let Todd get up on the custodian's floor cleaning Zamboni!
Hey, it was his birthday!!
And nobody got hurt!
Most of you will remember the staff difficulties I was having back in May and June when two of my educational assistants filed grievances re safety or lack thereof in their work environment due to having to work with students who can be aggressive from time to time. I was finding it all very stressful and was relieved when June 30th finally rolled around and I could forget about it for a while.

Over the summer I discovered a little gem of a book called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work." I've read some of the other "Don't Sweat..." books but this one has topped them all IMHO.  I have learned so much that is directly applicable to this on-going situation.  Here's an example:

"Unhappy people often feel victimized by others and their working conditions. It's difficult for them to be solution-oriented because everything is seen as someone else's fault. In addition, they are usually poor team players because they are often self-centered and preoccupied with their own issues. They are defensive and, almost always, poor listeners." p.6

This chapter goes on to talk about it being OK to be "happy" at work no matter what else is going on..."you'll feel more inspired, creative, and driven to make an even greater contribution than you do right now. You'll see solutions and opportunities where others see problems..." p.6

I can attest to the truth in those words. I no longer worry about anyone else. Some folks "thrive" on negativity and work hard to establish who is to blame for all of their problems. Me - I enjoy so much what I do and work hard to look after myself both mentally and physically. I feel like I am being a very positive force and hope I can set an example for others to follow. If they're with me that's great, if not, then they'll have to find their own way - I can't control them but I can live with that and be happy anyway. 

Todd was pretty proud of himself!
And I was pretty proud of him too...if only we'd had the key!!
One grievance has been dealt with and that EA has had to move on to a different school. The other one should be finalized soon and I already know it won't be in the EA's favour so she could be moving to another location too. It's been a long and painful process but it seems to have been a necessary process in order for these more challenging students to have the care and support that they need and deserve. I truly believe that when all the cards have been played I will have the staff I need to move forward and who will put the needs of the students first. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday's Music to my Ears

I've made a big decision...well I made it a while back but it still holds true today and for every Monday hereafter.  Wait for it....

I've decided to LOVE MONDAYS!

I mean, why the hell not? 

What's good about Mondays? It's a new day, a fresh beginning to a new week, a chance to try again and get things right! Or "laugh trying!" That's my new motto - instead of "I'll get it right or die trying", I'm going to "laugh trying." 

Mondays are highly underrated. Everybody loves to slam Mondays - "there's still five more days of work, I need to drink a vat of coffee to get through the day, I'm tired from all the partying I did, work sucks"...these are typical comments you often hear on a Monday. 

But no more I say...embrace MONDAYS! Throw yourself into your new work week with enthusiasm, humour and vigor! Today, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, will never come again.  Make it memorable!  What did you do today that was worth remembering? 

Here's what I did: 
a) I went for a 30 minute walk on my lunch and decided to swing by the police station to see how the planned protest again police violence was was the usual assortment of riffraff, disengaged high school students and street kids holding up signs that read "F-CK THE POLICE"....I chuckled to myself when I realized they had just ruined their chances of being seen on tonight's local news.

b) I weighed in this morning at 9 pounds lighter than I was 5 weeks ago which made me grin and say "wheeeeee" and 

c) I found a great way to display some data for a meeting tomorrow and that also put a smile on my face.  

So that's how I'll remember today, it wasn't just another "Manic Monday!"

Here, for your listening pleasure, is one of my all time favorite protest songs. Feel free to sing along...I know you will!

Signs signs everywhere are signs.....

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm Really Lichen Sunday!

Scenes from today's walk in the forest:

Please make up your own captions as I'm tired and going to bed!  You know, like, "there's a fungus amongus!" and other such pithy remarks. I will go on the record, however, and say that today was a gift.  So warm and sunny - we had an amazing hike. 

Didn't see the white spider til I uploaded photos onto my computer!

Caption this!

The bee flew in from the left just as I snapped the photo!

This is the life!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap & Other Crap

Now here's a Weekly Wrap I can really sink my teeth into har har! 

The past week has really been a No Spend week! I cut way back at the farmer's market buying only green beans and sweet new little potatoes. Total cost - $5.00. At the grocery store I bought: salad greens, tomatoes, baby cucumbers, bagels, plain yogurt, cottage cheese, nectarines, blueberries, raspberries and skim milk. I am proud to say I made a list and stuck to it - nothing extra found its way into my cart. In fact I didn't even USE a cart, just put things into my cloth bags as I shopped! Total cost $27.00 so amount spent on groceries this week - $32.00 instead of the usual $100.00 or more. Money saved will be applied to credit card.

This week I plan to skip the market altogether.  We have all kinds of frozen veggies that Michael blanched from fresh and we need to use them up. We still have chicken, fish and steak in the freezer. I will need to buy more salad greens, bread and milk. That might be enough to get to next Friday's paycheque when a new grocery budget cycles in. 

Personally I bought myself a coffee today at Timmy's as I was facing a long tedious day of professional development. It's tedious because usually the PD doesn't apply to me in my capacity of a teacher of students with developmental disabilities. However, it was a day of catching up with other teachers that I don't see very often and that was fun.  Unless some emergency happens I should make it to payday with between $100 - $200 to apply to my credit card. 

I have been on my fiscal fast for one week now and I can call it a rousing success, albeit a boring one (see yesterday's boring post called "Life is Dull as Dishwater":)  Even Michael is holding my feet to the fire - today I texted him that there were some good movies on at the Rainbow Theatre (only $6.00!!!) and he reminded me I was on a "spending diet" as he so descriptively called it!! Why did I ever give him my blog URL I ask you!?! 

Oh well, no one said living on loose change while saving every dollar to put towards debt and retirement savings would be a barrel of laughs! But if I don't have some FUN soon someone is going to feel my wrath! AND the rainy weather isn't helping any. AND it's the weekend........mumble.......grumble......mumble...

I saved today's FREE newspaper to read tomorrow so I won't be tempted to buy one for $3.00. AND I am about halfway through a REALLY GREAT book called "Waiting to Exhale" by Terry McMillan so I have THAT to finish.  AND I have about TEN FREE movies from the library still to watch....AND it's supposed to be in the low 20's this weekend with partial sunshine so hiking will be a GO on Sunday...HEY...things are looking up!! 

Here's hoping YOU have a fantastic non-boring weekend!! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hi there: yes, life is currently dull. I've got to think up some creative and frugal things to do other than get up, go to work, come home, use  computer, eat dinner, exercise, read/watch a movie, go to bed. Repeat. Repeat...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

You would have laughed at me today and, thanks to blogging, you still can! After work I picked up a free newspaper from the office, drove to Starbucks and sat outside on their patio in the sunshine reading my paper and drinking a tea that I had made at WORK!! Tee hee...or should I say tea's that for CHEAP!!

I'm going through a bit of shopping withdrawal. It's insidious pull on me is still there.  I thought I had buried that along with my previous smoking habit. (It's been EIGHT YEARS since my last ciggy!) But after a summer of buying this and that for our PEI house, then coming back and shopping everyday for school (at no cost to me, totally reimbursed) and buying some second-hand clothes at Talize (for me) and then buying some new clothes from Winner's it started to be fun again and I wanted to keep on shopping and shopping! 

It wasn't til I examined the budget numbers a week ago that I realized I quickly needed to apply a tourniquet! But part of me is still hankering to spend. But I won't. I have become a fairly proficient freeloader instead. I had a free dinner last Saturday night at Jambalaya...again.  Then Michael took me dancing so that didn't cost me anything. Sunday we went hiking and to the beach. Michael bought some fries and shared them with me and put gas in the car. I think I missed my calling.  Perhaps when I heard God say "go forth and teach" He was really saying "go forth and mooch"?!?

Just call me Minnie.
Minnie the Moocher

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Link Lovin'

It's been too long since I thanked my Referring Urls. Wow, that's sounds impersonal doesn't it? Ahem...

It's been too long since I thanked YOU, my blogging friends, who support me by linking to my blog, listing me in your blogroll, following me or mentioning me in a post (thanks Kim - photos and all!)  You also inspire me, give me great ideas, give me encouragement, empathize with my mistakes and applaud my victories.

Isn't it interesting that a group of people from all across the world can meet up daily online and share what's bugging them, what they've failed at or what problem they've managed to solve and receive immediate feedback in the form of commiseration, cyber hugs, humorous and sarcastic remarks, support and encouragement, cheers and acknowledgement. I just LOVE it! 

Hence...I acknowledge the following bloggers and their blogs for sharing a little LOVE with me:

Canadian Saver @

Sam @

Sharon @

Judy @

Laura @

Sarah and Jenny @

Niki @

And Mr. and Mrs. 444 @

Thank you and you and you and you and you and...


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fiscal Fast Update

I was asked on the weekend what creative ways I was going to come up with to solve my overspending problems this month so I tried really hard to think of something really new and amazing that you would oooooh and ahhhhhh over and then you would say - gee that Jane is really smart...why didn't I think of that?

Well, I failed to come up with any new ways to save some extra $$ so that I could pay off the $443 that is sitting very uncomfortably on my President's Choice Mastercard right now. 

My navel gazing has only resulted in the usual and the mundane. Here is my list of things I am currently doing so that I can a) not go any further into debt and b) perhaps end the month with a few dollars leftover which will be immediately put against my outstanding debt.

  • make the groceries in the fridge last until next week and skip grocery shopping this week much as possible (with $200 left in the food budget I've spent just over $30...I hope to have maybe $100 left if I pull in my belt another notch or two...this could really benefit my weight loss program! those hidden benefits:)
  • go eat at my friends' homes - can you guys give me your addresses? 
  • drive as little as possible; siphon gas out of other cars at work (ha!)
  • take my own snacks/drinks absolutely everywhere; I already take my lunch everyday to work (I suppose I could steal food from other peoples' lunches?)
  • stay out of stores and coffee shops! (especially Starbucks because I now have only 34 cents left on my card
  • go directly to work and then go directly home after, no pit stops! no passing Go or collecting $200!
  • grab a free newspaper daily from the main office or read news online (for reals as my daughter would say!)
I am open for suggestions. Any other creative ways of saving a few dollars come to mind??

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fitness Challenge

Had I entitled this post "Scenes from Yesterday's Hike" would you be reading this right now?  You would?  Phew!!  

As part of my effort of getting back into some kind of reasonable shape I have been eating VERY nutritiously and trying to exercise EVERY day for at least 30 minutes. 

At school I go for a 30 minute power walk at lunchtime.  If it's raining, like today, I go to our school's cardio room and use a treadmill. Today's treadmill walk was so much fun (for a change I'm NOT being ironic) as I can see downstairs into the double gym where two boys' physed classes were engaged in a seriously intense game of murder ball. One class was made up of tiny pre-pubescent Gr. 9er's while the other class was made up of hulking bearded Gr. 12's. You might think that makes for an unfair matchup but the tiny little Gr. 9er's were faster and ...well, a much smaller target.  It was truly entertaining! At the same time I was listening to the Bangles on my iPod repeating "Manic Monday" a few times:)

Yesterday my knees were killing me after Michael and I spent several hours at a club dancing til the wee wee hours Saturday night. But, that didn't stop us from going on a 6km hike - it was a glorious day, sunny and mild, and after popping a couple of ibuprofen liquid gels I was all set. I am pleased to report that after four weeks of exercise and good eating habits (mostly good...I am human after all and have indulged in deep-fried icecream and a couple of other tasty treats) I have lost seven pounds. Woo hoo!  Don't get too excited however, I still have twelve more pounds to go...

Here come the nature photos...just letting you know in case you want to go on to the next blog!! can scroll down for the latest newsflash coming straight to you from my source at Jambalaya!! This is real news folks!!
Still lots of flowers blooming!

Decaying log and leaf

Natural sculpture

Uh oh, a three-pronged fork in the road...which way should we go??

Black-eyed Susans

Black and white is beautiful too!

The woods out by Kilworth have many different habitats including this bog.

Wish I'd brought a book - this looks like the perfect spot to relax and read!

Don't know what these flowers are - I thought they were very cool with
different-coloured centers.

Nice landscapes, but are they as beautiful as PEI?

Where exactly is this path leading us?

Ok, this one is in the wrong spot...oh well.  I stopped this morning at the top of the overpass on Quebec St. (for my fellow Londoners...and yes, no one was coming up behind me thankfully) in order to nab this great sunrise. Soon after it was pouring down rain but it was nice while it lasted.

I love the tenderness of life holding death.

Nature: the most incredible arabesque!

Yes, it was as enchanting as it looks!

You can't beat complementary colours for maximum impact!

So delicate - it reminds me of the crochet patterns my gramma used to invent.

It was a very YELLOW kind of day.

Even in death there is beauty.

Marguerite - help me identify this one please! I was so thrilled to find these flowers as I have many of them
in my hedgerow in PEI!

I didn't want to leave - it was the perfect day!

Don't they just make you smile?!

I think the sky is bluest in the fall.

My favourite photo of the day! This photo reminds me of my students - something might be missing but that
doesn't take anything away from their appearance, their joy, their exuberance or their spirit!!

Fragile, yet enduring.


The most incredible sculptures are not made by humans.


Captivating pine trees.

Definitely not ready to call it a day!

But fall is almost here!
Look at the tiny little hooked ends - now I understand how they attach to our clothing!
While I've been typing this Michael has been excitedly texting me from Jambalaya, a London restaurant where he works a couple nights each week. Just before he arrived there tonight there was a STABBING!! involving tenants who live upstairs over the store next door!! One of the kitchen helpers heard the kerfuffle, ran outside, saw what happened and called 911.  Michael says there is a "stakeout" currently happening out front.  Police captured one of the assailants but two others ran off. I guess police are hoping they'll return to their apartment though with them standing out there I wouldn't count on it!! Coincidentally, the restaurant is VERY BUSY, especially the seats by the front window!!