Tuesday, January 31, 2012

$4.00 Tuesday

Yes, today is $4.00 Tuesday at the Rainbow Cinema. We might go see "Haywire!"  Here's the trailer:

I like a woman who can "kick ass!" And she definitely can! Have you figured out yet how much we like to go to the movies?? We're trying to stick to Tuesdays now as it's less than 1/2 price. AND we don't buy snacks because they're inflated by about 1,000%!

I just had to mention this because it stuck in my mind - yesterday I was at someone's blog making a comment and the comment moderation word to type was "micemosh"! So I had a visual of a mosh pit full of little body surfing mice rocking out to, I don't know, "Modest Mouse" perhaps?? It was funny at the time...I guess you had to be there.

And I also want to give Niki a shoutout for suggesting Disqus to me so that I can reply to comments as they appear - I really like the way it works so thanks for the advice!!

Other than that little tidbit nothing else is new really. I did put a page up top with my February Challenges goals for both decluttering and reaching my financial goal but since February doesn't officially start until tomorrow I haven't started yet because...I don't have to!  You guys who have already completed a challenge or two are getting on my nerves!! Save yourselves...you have 29 more days to get these challenges completed...relax, chill out, pace yourselves!!  'Cause you're making me look BAD!!

You know I'm only kidding right?? ......right??

I also put a little "gadget" near the top of my sidebar to track my progress. I counted the items that I took to donate and there were nine items so I'm 9/29 on that one. Yay me! Once I get going on my clothes closet I'll have about 2900 more!! I'm serious!

Well, that's it for now...there's a soup pot in the kitchen calling my name. ...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

I wasted a bunch of time today trying to get Blogger's "embedded comments" working on my blog but no luck. There is a reply button after each of your comments but when I click on it nothing happens. I set it up correctly according to their instructions but by the look of the feedback I'm not the only one with problems. I SO WANT it to work!!

Oh well..."Keep Calm and Carry On"...that's my mantra! So when I weighed myself this morning and I hadn't lost any weight over the past week I took a deep breath...and carried on! I'm actually happy I didn't gain any weight as this weekend was a bit of a bust. We were invited out for dinner Friday night and I stuck to the roasted veggies, grape tomatoes and chicken (encrusted with corn flakes, I never knew how good that tasted!) and then I had a small slice of lemon meringue pie - my favorite! Oh yes, let's not forget the three glasses of red wine (oops!) Then on Saturday night a friend and I ate at Jambalaya and while I went with the intention of having the Jerk Chicken Salad I somehow ended up with my usual favorite that I simply can't resist - the Pad Thai with chicken and shrimp. I also had Thai soup as an appetizer (which I surely didn't need) and 2 white wine spritzers with sour Green Apple - yum yum! Then my friend and I went to a movie (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - a must see!) but no popcorn or drink for either of us. (I only ate half of my pad thai and had the rest last night for supper!)

So I should consider myself very lucky I didn't gain weight so I sit at a total of 6lbs lost for the past 3 weeks. I can live with that, and have renewed my efforts today resisting all temptations at work and here at home...so far:)

Oh, a wee bit more month end financial information; actually it's very exciting to me, maybe not to  you, I had 17 NO SPEND days in January!! That has to be a new record for me AND I had $50 left in my account so I took $40 out today and put it into my SEALED POT!! WOOT WOOT!! AND I'm starting February with $25.00 in my wallet - I don't even need to take any cash out! It's funny talking about little bits and bobs of money as if I 'm a bloody millionaire or something but really I'm thrilled! And that's on top of my little $14 splurge on Friday at the Goodwill store LOL!

So my mantra for February - "KEEP HOME AND SAVE ON"!

I'm going to put my February challenges and goals on a page up top so I can keep reminding myself what I need to accomplish. But first - to the bat bike bat girl!! It's time to work that butt!!

na na na na na na na na Bat Girl!!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat...Chit Chat!

And welcome to another edition of Sunday Night Chit Chat...starring our lovely host - CARLA! Make sure you go check and see how her evening is going!

Here's my photo for tonight:
A little bouquet of wildflowers/weeds  Michael picked for me from around our place in PEI this past summer.

What am I reading?
 This is THE very issue I'm reading right now. I've been a fan of the National Geographic since I was tiny. One of my ancestors worked for National Geographic a looooooong time ago and we always had a free subscription. I have the one for the month I was born. Currently I'm reading about all the ghost towns being created on the prairies due to drought.

After serious reading one needs a little humour! Just finished watching this movie:
Yes, I agree, not very highbrow but sometimes ya just need to  be entertained. Last night I went to see "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and I urge you to run, not walk, to your nearest theatre and see this little gem of a movie. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and this talented young man:
Thomas Horn, in his first role, as a boy with Aspergers Syndrome, was simply amazing.

What am I listening to:

My default band:)  When I can't think of who I want to listen to or I need some cheering up this song/this band never fails to do it for me!

What am I cooking or baking?
I made Three Bean Chili and Frosted Oat Squares (without the frost but WITH chocolate chips:)!
 Mmmmmm...warm out of the oven, there's only a couple left!
Smells so good - no meat today - strictly veggie!

Happy I accomplished this week?


Looking forward to this week?

February challenges!!

Thankful for today??
A man who can make me laugh!!

February Challenges

So here we go again! I tell you, that Carla, as if another No/Low Spending month wasn't enough she wants us to declutter too! Sheesh! You can read all about it (and JOIN UP) right here! 

But you know when you think about it- it all makes sense. I mean, keeping our hands busy with sorting, tossing and re-organizing will give us something to distract ourselves with when we might otherwise be shopping, squandering and spending! Ahhhh, there's a method to her madness isn't there?  I'm onto you and your tricks Carla....and by the way... ....THANKS!! For what you ask??

Having the No/Low Spend challenge in January really helped me handle the extra costs of  The Flood and it helped an otherwise dreary month fly by! This is the perfect time for such challenges - we're inside, the weather stinks, the clutter abounds after the hectic holiday season and we're all longing for spring. Well, by the time spring gets here we'll be ready for it. Our cleaning and sorting will be done (hopefully), we'll have kept spending to a minimum (again hopefully) and we'll emerge into the sunshine (super hopeful on this one) equipped to handle whatever spring brings our way - like MARCH BREAK!! 

Now...on to the details!

Low (no) Spend February:
1. Set a financial goal: My share of our new TV is $440.00.  We have until the end of June to pay in full. I would like to start setting aside the money for that which monthly would be $440/5 = $88. That doesn't look like a huge goal BUT I'm operating on a budget that has been reduced by $500 monthly due to my payroll deductions restarting Jan. 1st. I will feel extremely fortunate if I can squeeze an extra $88 out of my already tight budget!
2. Plan of Action:  I have been putting off listing items that I want to get rid of on Kijiji. If I sell anything the money will go towards the $88 needed for the TV, then anything else will go into my Sealed Pot. In addition I will keep my entertainment expenses as low as possible. So far for February I know of one night out with a friend and a dinner at another friend's home. I will make a plan for what I will allow myself to spend for those outings. Of course there is Valentine's Day so I will talk to Michael about a dinner at home. I am also pondering getting rid of the home phone (we all have cells) AND cable - no one watches much TV around here.
3. & 4.  I like to use my credit card for most purchases and I check my card online daily for my purchases - when one shows up I pay it online. I pay no interest, I get lots of PC points to use for free groceries AND I have a paper trail for recording purposes. For personal spending I keep a small amount of cash in my wallet and whenever I make a purchase I write it down in my cute little Chapters "Money Spent" notepad. I've done really good at hanging onto my cash as long as possible.
5. Exemptions: Just the two outings mentioned above. I have a baby shower but it's early March so I'll defer the cost until then.

Decluttering Challenge:
1.  Four Main Challenges
Week One: Personal Space Challenge - This one is easy. I have just set up a "Room of my Own" but there are still some organizational challenges to work out. I will finally invite you into my ROOM and share how I've solved my challenges.
Week Two: Family Space Challenge - We have a multi-purpose room set up on the second floor - it's a challenging space as it operates as a TV room, a guest bedroom, the cat's room and my dressing room! I've been slowly working on it but a lot remains to be done. I WILL get this space uncluttered and organized for optimum usage by all!
Week Three: Productivity Challenge - This one will be interesting. Around here everyone does their own laundry. While it's great that I don't have to do Michael and Kazi's laundry it can't be very efficient - I'm sure we could combine some loads, especially since our Smart meters come into effect Feb. 1st! Also, I'm sick of being tied down with laundry on Saturdays - so I'm going to challenge all of us to "mingle" our laundry and do one load AFTER 7pm on weekdays.
Week Four: The Dreaded Challenge - LOL - love this title Carla!! This would be my linen closet. There is a monster in there. I try to avoid opening the door because things fall on me....soft things but still....and they're slippery things too...bed spreads and sleeping bags and TWO electric blankets that don't work and about 18,000 colours of nail polish and several bottles of cold medication with a half teaspoon of congealed "liquid" in the bottom of them and extra towels AND MY SEWING MACHINE - no wonder I don't sew and about 500,000 other partially used then discarded products!! I WILL finally tackle the monster!

2.  Four Bonus Mini-Challenges!! This should be interesting!

3. Purging
Get rid of 29 items during February. Easy peasy! I already have a large bag in the car to go to Talize but I didn't count the items - I'll do that before I drop it off.

4. Before and Afters
Take pictures! Hmmmmm....how do I do that lol??  Hee hee, I'm the photo queen!

So there you have it! My Saturdays are all booked up with decluttering projects and you won't see me out on the streets getting into financial trouble! That in itself will be reward enough but our evil darling Carla is also offering up a prize as well!! Check it out!!

I look forward to seeing everyone's before and after photos and can't wait to get started!!

Let February begin!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Closing January No/Low Spend

Well I've done all the cleaning I'm going to do today. The rest will have to wait. With the snowing and blowing that is going on outside my window though it was a good day to stay in and do a bit of frenzied cleaning. I'm sure I got a fair bit of exercise to-ing and fro-ing with the vacuum and running up and down sets of stairs with heavy laundry baskets.

As Tuesday is payday and with plenty of food in the house and gas in the car I think I can call it a month and tally up my numbers. I'm very happy with my low spending this month - I was more conscious of every single dollar I spent than I've ever been before and I still have $300+ put aside to pay for The Flood repairs when the bill comes in February. I also have an extra $50 left and if I manage not to spend it before payday on the 31st then it's going into my Sealed Pot, every cent of it! I'm telling you I'm having so much fun with my Sealed Pot - I don't know which is better - having a NO Spend day or spending a little so I can put change into my pot! It's a tough call! (Thanks to sft for this great challenge!!)

I did spend a little yesterday, just couldn't help splurging after being so "IN CONTROL" all month! It's really not my fault! I had to go to the new Goodwill Store downtown because one of my students has been hired on there and I had to get him to sign a form. Since I'd never been there before I decided to have a look around - oopsy!! See, I didn't go straight home from school in order to have a NO Spend day, but heck, I can't stay home all of the time...can I?  I spent $14.00! There, I've said it, I've just blurted it out - FOURTEEN DOLLARS!!! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeK!!  I bought two tops I didn't need - one was an H&M top with the price tag ($39.99) still on it and another gorgeous blue and white tie dyed top that looks so good with my jeans - how could I resist? Oh, and I've been wanting to get a candle holder of some sort for my Room of my Own and I found the perfect one! My favorite shape is the spiral I think because of my celtic roots.

So there you have it - I squandered $14 on a whim - can you see why I need a personal finance blog to keep me in check?!? Oh yes, and that wasn't the end of my spending, oh no, I also bought some Halls for my dry and scratchy throat - YES - I'm a wastrel!! 

In case you didn't read between the lines there that were dripping with sarcasm directed at myself then go back and reread tee hee! Just having Michael compliment me last night on the H&M top made the purchase worthwhile:) I may wear the other one tonight as I'm going to Jambalaya with a girlfriend and then we might go to a movie. I know I know - I'm out of CONTROL!! (Actually, my dinner will be free and the movie will be $9 and I have $30 cash in my wallet so whatever is left by Tuesday will also go into my pot!)

The next few months will be very lean. This is the time of year when my payroll deductions go waaaaaaay up thanks to the Canada Pension Plan so I will be operating on $500 less per month until July when I no longer pay union dues (July & August)  and then in August my CPP is all paid up for the year and I start to get that $500 back again. So a NO/Low February will not be optional for me. I'll go into the details for Carla's challenges tomorrow. For now I'll leave you with photos of my new purchases!



Thursday, January 26, 2012

An ADD Post

In addition to being an introvert I have ADD. That's actually not a bad thing to have as an adult - I can multi-task like nobody's business and even though my desk is covered...I mean COVERED by about a dozen different tasks in various stages of completion I can always get it all pulled together by the end of a school day.  I can also hear every single conversation going on in the classroom, every noise every student makes and am thus alerted to anything unusual very quickly. Which is also a good thing with a class full of students with autism!

I don't really have a topic today, have you figured that out yet? No, a million different things are rolling around in my head and I can't nail a single one down and make a post about it. So here are my random thoughts, in no particular order (that's half the fun - disorder!) along with a few random photos thrown in for extra confusion!!

Perhaps I could call this post: Spend 5 Minutes in MY Head!

  • exams start tomorrow at school, I can't believe the school year is almost half over
  • Carla's challenges - need to make some goals and a plan of action...can't think clearly enough now though so hopefully over the weekend
  • sure glad I LOVE vegetables
  • when will I get my report cards done I wonder?
  • need to buy Shelley a plant this weekend, she'll be back on Monday (her dad died this week)
  • why is Kazi so snippy lately?
  • still feeling a residue of sadness from watching "The Whistle Blower" (don't rent it!)
  • should I still take the car in to be checked now that the engine light is no longer on???
  • think I'll wear jeans tomorrow
  • wish people would stop drinking my Fresca!
  • 4/5 days this week are NO SPENDS - YAY, no $$ for Sealed Pot - boo! That's sort of a microcosm of our country's economy these days...hmmmm....interesting
  • gotta get off here and go ride my bike...should I read while riding or play sudoku on the ipad?
  • Michael's supper smells really good
  • sure hope I remembered to turn the coffee pot off at school
  • how can I save any money next month when my income has decreased by $500 thanks to the stupid Canada Pension Plan deductions kicking in again? 
  • I don't imagine I'll get a raise this year - our 4 year contract is up and I know Dalton McGuinty wants to keep salaries status quo - I'm ok with that...that means I've reached my top salary!! Wow, that felt weird!
  • why does my weight go up the day after I exercise and down the day after I don't - makes no sense at all!!??
  • a little nervous about going to Michael's friends for dinner tomorrow night, glad it's just 4 of us though, I get totally lost in a large group
  • yay - Kazi put gas in the car
  • felt strange to see a little dusting of snow on the ground this morning - wonder if we'll get any more?
  • gotta take pictures to sell stuff on kijiji on Saturday - hey - maybe I can incorporate that in each part of the two challenges?? Make some extra $$ (maybe) and declutter at the same time...hmmm...
  • maybe I can finish my book tonight, it's getting so exciting - the 2 main characters are out in a speed boat chasing the murderer and they're almost out of gas and there's a hurricane going on!!
  • really need to watch a comedy tonight after last night's downer movie - so brutal
  • what should I wear tomorrow night
  • how do I stick to my diet when someone else is making dinner and I'm a guest??? AND now going to Jambalaya saturday night with Troy - double yikes!
  • think I'll get the Globe and Mail on Saturday instead of the National Post, just for a change
  • should I go to the market Saturday morning or use the food I have until my next pay on Tuesday? think I'll wait and tough it out!
  • weight has been up and down all week though my eating has stayed the same - plateauing already?
  • poor Demi Moore
  • oh rats, forgot to have a nip of scotch last night in memory of Robbie Burns...oh well, maybe next year hahahaha!
And that's just the surface stuff!
                                 My hummer!
                           PEI coastline - never far from my mind...
                            Pumpkins? No, just very colourful buoys!
                      At Cedar Dunes...now a favorite place to visit!
                   A lonely looking church, but peaceful.
                         Complementary colours....sigh....
                                Here comes the rain!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Michael's Guest Post

First off, big thanks for all the birthday wishes and comments. THANK YOU!
This is a special year, my son turns 25 and me 55. Later I will share a bit with about my son.
Here is how I spent my day.

I received a card earlier in the week from Starbucks offering me a free birthday drink and I saved for that morning and treated myself to a Venti Soya Carmel Macchiato....very delicious.

I purchased balloons which I had delivered at my work place. This created the space into a party all day long.

I also treated myself to a Jade plant. I will nurture it and remember how special I am and grateful for the many blessing of a life well lived.

After work, I met up with friends for our annual dinner get together to celebrate our birthdays at a very small and quaint place called the Black Friars Bistro
My meal was: Black Tiger Shrimp & Roasted Vegetables
in a mild Thai curry with cilantro and coconut milk on a
black pearl medley with candied ginger and Thai basil

Chaucer’s Pub  
After dinner Jane picked me up and we went for a night cap at Chaucer’s Pub

Enjoying the warmth

Thanks Jane, for a wonderful birthday.

"Life itself is a gift.
It's a compliment just being born:
to feel, breathe, think, play, dance, sing,
work, make love, for this particular lifetime.
Today, let's give thanks for life.
For life itself. For simply being born!"

Daphne Rose Kingma
Inspirational Author and Teacher

For You Dad
“You taught me how to talk; you even held my hand and made me walk. You filled my mind with knowledge and understanding that I will never be able to learn if not for you. Thank you for everything!
I love you Dad.” Dane Duhaney

This is Dane and I about 22 years ago. I am most proud of him and the relationship we share. He gave me the ok to share what he wrote in his birthday card to me here

This year he will be 25 and we are planning a big celebration in South Beach Miami.
I feel very special to be included in your lives through Jane’s blog and thank you again for your love and support.
Thanks Jane for giving me this opportunity to share with you blog community of friends. Cheers.

My Vision Board 2012

I leave you with my vision board and a song from Natasha Bedingfield....Unwritten.

What You've Been Waiting For....

is coming up later today!  Michael finished his "guest post" about his vision board late last night so when I come home from work later today I will post it.

Stay tuned.....

Monday, January 23, 2012

I'm Singing in the Rain...

Michael wanted me to take his picture with the umbrella - I've never known there to be a torrential downpour (actually several) during January before. We did have a little snow, but sadly it's all slush now.

I'm a little weary today so I'll make it quick. Last night we watched TWO, yes 2 movies via Netflix. One for Michael and I can't even remember what it was...oh yes... it was called The Peacemaker and starred George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. An edge of the seater complete with Russian spies, Bosnian nuclear arms thieves and lots of suspense. I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars (though 5 out of 5 for George looking so darn good!!)  The second one was a little British drama (for me) about an aristocratic girl from Spain who has to come live in a British boarding school after a bit of an indiscretion and one of the teachers who becomes quite infatuated with her with deadly results!! Ooooh, I should write reviews!

Anyhoo (I'm giddy) because I should have gotten a bit more sleep last night than I did.  So it will be early to bed tonight!

On Mondays I'll be updating my weight loss for the 10 Pound challenge. Last Monday I had lost a total of ...4.2 pounds...now I'm at exactly 6 pounds - only 4 more to go for this challenge but then I'm hoping to continue until I lose a total of 15 pounds. We'll see how it goes....

In other news I had a no spend day yesterday and today - woot woot!  One more week to go and also until payday. I still have the $20 in my wallet (though tomorrow I will be donating towards another gift basket - that's three parents of my staff who have died over the past month!) so my $20 will be turned into a $10 dollar bill :( AND I have $136 in my account to cover food and gas for one more week - that should be more than enough. Again, we'll see how it goes...

Is the weather crazy where YOU live??

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat...Chit Chat

The wharf in Tignish - more fishing boats leave Tignish than
any other wharf in PEI.
Make sure you visit Carla's blog for the latest edition of Sunday Night Chit Chat!

What are you…
Yes, I have two on the go which is why I haven't finished Plum Island yet, but it's an excellent read - the police officer who is investigating a double murder which is NOT on his turf has such a sense of humour - I love when a book makes you laugh out loud:)
I also read about 1,000 recipes today as I went through them all - I have recipes in a drawer, two boxes and on a shelf so I weeded them out and now what I have left fits nicely in the 2 recipe boxes.

Nothing so far...Kazi is watching the football game - go Patriots! at her boyfriend's house and Michael is attaching a new cord from our new TV to our sound system so that the words will be in sync with the movie actors' lips tee hee.  I'm telling you it's taking me a while to get used to high definition. It still seems 3D to me. We'll be watching a movie after dinner but I don't know what it'll be yet...something from....

Listening to?

Feel free to get up and dance!!

Nothing exciting...a big pot of vegetable soup yesterday using up some old carrots and celery - that'll be my lunch this week.  Tried a different scone recipe today and I don't like it as much as my "usual" recipe so won't make them again.  Pan fried some tilapia and made an amazing omelet for lunch with sauteed onions and garlic, crumbled turkey bacon, egg whites and skim milk mozzarella cheese melted on top. Yummy - The 10 Pound Challenge update tomorrow!

Happy you accomplished this week?
You'll love this one! I have a beautiful black wool winter coat that Michael bought me a couple of years ago but I haven't worn it this winter because, being wool, it had little woolly black pills all over it. So I bought some double A's for my defuzzer and went to town. Plus I did a white toque that got washed with some dark stuff (NOT BY ME!!) and a black sweater. I'm so glad I finally got that done - now I can wear my gorgeous coat!

I'm also glad I went to see my artist brother Kim after school on Friday. He has the landlord from hell and had to go to the tenant's rights bureau for help. He really needed to unload. We gabbed for FOUR hours nonstop!!

Looking forward to next week?
I have a few DIY projects to get done this week around the house and I LOVE crossing things off my TO DO list! 

Thankful for today?
I'm thankful that Michael brought me a decaf soy milk american misto from Starbucks after he did his errands.  I'm enjoying it right now. I am so thankful for a "room of my own" it's hard to express in words...though I will try one day this week!  It all started with this:
Love as first sight!!

Yup - it fits me!!
I happened to tell Michael when we were shopping for our new TV back in December that I LOVED this chair so lo and behold he bought it for my birthday!! (which isn't til May!) and this led to the idea of creating a "room of my own" centered around this chair. I'm sitting in it right now!!
AND we can't forget about the birthday boy - I'm VERY thankful for him - especially now that he's the same age as I am for the next 5 months!!
The birthday boy at work.

At Chaucers Pub - you'd never know that outside the wind
was howling and snow pellets pelting the city!

My Response to Judy's Post

A few days ago Judy worte THIS POST looking back 10 years to a time when debt ruled her life  If you haven't read it you really should click on my link and have a read. I am reading a lot about debt fatigue these days and thinking back 10 years or in my case, 20 years, is an amazing exercise to help keep you on the path to debt freedom. There are many days when we feel like we aren't getting anywhere, that we'll always have that burden of debt hanging over us like a black cloud. Well, I'm here to tell you to keep at it because you WILL get there but it might take a long, long  time, even 20 years.But it's so worth it.

Few of you know of my humble beginnings, of my long journey to debt freedom. I'm not there yet but the light at the end of the tunnel is very bright. A few years ago I created my Seven Year Plan to debt freedom and early retirement to the east coast. Today I have 2.5 years left in that original plan and yes, I'm on track. Reading Judy's post made me think back over the past 20 years to see how tremendously far I have come. I started behind the 8-ball in more ways than one but as a single parent I was a tigress protecting and working for her young. There was nothing that I wouldn't do to give Kazi a decent life while still plan for the future.

The response below was simply a quick outpouring of my thoughts in the moment, but it has turned into so much more for me. I want to thank you Judy for your post. We all have so much to be thankful for and it serves such a great purpose to remember that everyday. As I tell Kazi, be thankful where you came from. And I know she is...this past summer she got a tattoo which is a line of script from a Beatles song called "Blackbird". She said she chose a Beatle's song as she knows they are my favorite band of all time. The line she chose was this - "take these broken wings and learn to fly." It was a tribute to me and all I've managed to do for her in spite of all the problems I had as well as a tribute to herself for growing up without a father in her life. Underneath the line of script are nine little blackbirds to represent her and I, my parents who made a life for me and my four siblings with even less than I had, and her five aunts and uncles. Even though I'm not a fan of tattoos I was blown away by how beautiful, personal and meaningful it is. She has her own vision board right on her skin and uses the idea that you can create a really good life even though you had great adversity to overcome to keep her motivated. I am so proud of her.

So that gives you a bit of sub-context for my response below. Please ask me any questions you want - I would be happy to answer them. 

My face fits my cousin Paul's face perfectly!

In a nutshell - I had to live on welfare (social assistance) whatever it's called in U.S. I'm not sure. My ex was a gambling man, Kazi was a newborn and I didn't know where the next meal was coming from. I couldn't let Kazi suffer so I moved into a shelter for a week, then found student housing and went to teacher's college. For a year we lived on what the gov't gave us and thankfully had a childcare subsidy because of being on welfare. At the end of teacher's college I took two more teaching qualifications courses over the summer paid for with my tax refund. I had an old car that my ex bought for me for about $500 (out of guilt) and when the weather was too bad to get Kazi to daycare I took her to school with me...imagine that...me sitting in class with my one year old with me. My profs used to complain that she got more attention than they did but otherwise they never told me NOT to bring her. Thank God! The weekend before school began in September I got a phone message from a woman I was in teacher's college with - she'd heard of a teaching position in adult education. I took in a resume, had an interview and got the job. It was $30 an hour, more than I'd ever earned but it was only part-time so welfare continued to bump up my monthly earnings and provide a daycare subsidy. After 7 years of no benefits I managed to get a full-time permanent contract. I borrowed $$ from my dad for a down payment on a townhouse condo. We were home owners!! Just me and 4 year old Kazi. Even at that age she knew money was tight and would suggest things we could do that were free. She was such a bright little thing - it must have been going to teacher's college with me LOL! It took me til she was 10 to pay off my student loans and then another 10 years to get to the top of the teaching grid and make good money. We still live in our condo, free and clear. I learned how to make my money work for me and squeezed every penny that came my way. I still do. After all of that I hope to retire in 2.5 years (early on a lower pension because I've learned how to live on next to nothing and $$ is NOT important to me) in my old PEI farmhouse. It's amazing what you can accomplish through hard work and will power. 
Thanks Judy for this post - it has really made me think back and appreciate what I've managed to do over the past 20 years. :)

At Scots Corner pub watching England LOSE (boo hoo) in
World Cup soccer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

NO/LOW Spend January - Week Three

This week I only managed 2/7 No Spend Days. But I don't think I did any frivolous spending - you can give me your opinion as always.  This has been and will continue to be a quiet weekend. Both Michael and I have been diagnosed with the detestable "gucky throat" syndrome which is accompanied by the ever present "dry hack" or "wheeze" depending on your point of view.  Thus we are staying put and resting our weary bods. Well, at least I am. Michael is working today unfortunately but did take a day off yesterday. Last night we decided to give Netflix a try...well, at least we're giving their "free month" a try and we'll decide after that. I'm keeping close tabs on our "internet usage" and the movie we watched last night used just under half a gig. We get 60 gigs a month with our current package and I want to make sure we don't go over or we'll have to pay so much per extra gig.

Without further ado let's get to this week's spending. You'll not likely remember but last Saturday I had $20 in my wallet and $155 in the bank which included $50 car insurance $$ from Kazi. Not a lot at that point with 17 days left of January and now I have a lot LESS!!

  • Sunday, Jan. 15:  We went to Starbucks/Chapters (my downfall) and I spent $11.38 for a card and a small gift for Michael - did I need to buy him anything more? No, but I saw a really cute metal case with a small notepad (yup, fell for another notepad but not for me this time!!) that locked when you slid the cutest little pen through the closing apparatus. I also had a coffee but used my gift card. I put the change into my sealed post when I got home ($3.62) So I was left with $5.00!  Then Kazi gave me her insurance money in cash so I added that to my wallet giving me $55.00 and I immediately turned around and stuffed the $5.00 into my sealed pot.  If I run out of money before the end of the month it'll be because I LOVE stuffing money into my sealed pot!! Money in my wallet now - $50.00
  • Monday, Jan. 16:   NO SPEND - Hallelujah!!
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17:   took Michael to Chaucer's pub for a glass of wine followed by a specialty coffee which cost me $30.00 including tip - YIKES!!  But yes, as you all know...he's so worth it!! So now I have only $20.00 in my wallet.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18: Good grief it's date night!! We met on the 18th day of April so every month on the 18th we do something for date night. So I picked Michael up after work and we went to Coffee Culture before going to see a movie (Contraband - really really good!) At Coffee Culture I had a soup and a coffee for $6.00 including tip.  The movie was $9.00 leaving me with $5.00 which I tucked into my sealed pot when I got home - see what I mean??? In my wallet now?? Nada! Nothing! Zippo!
  • Thursday, Jan. 19:   NO SPEND!! Well of course - I had nothing in my wallet!
  • Friday, Jan. 20: withdrew $40.00 on my way to work so I could get a coffee - my Friday treat for $1.80.  After work I spent $11.41 at No Frills on a few items we needed - not only did I stick to my short list but I decided a few things could wait! Then I spent $13.03 on quinoa at the Bulk Barn - why is that stuff so damn expensive?? Well, it was 20% off so I bought more than usual. I used my debit for both of these purchases, not cash.  When I got home I put my change into the sealed pot. After I ate I drove back to No Frills because I had promised Michael some gingerale for his poor throat and tummy and I had forgot the first time. I paid cash and put my change into the sealed pot leaving me with $30.00 cash from my original $40.00.
  • Saturday, Jan. 21: drove Michael to work and bought my coffee and newspaper for my usual Saturday morning routine. I live for my Saturday mornings! Cost - $4.80.  Because I like to live on the edge I tucked $5.20 into my sealed pot! I now have $20.00 left in my wallet.

As of today, including food and gas money I have $136.00 left in my chequing account plus $20.00 in my wallet to get me through the next 10 days. That seems a bit challenging in my estimation (gulp) but I am super motivated. I also have another $300+ in my account that I've set aside (in my mind) to pay for the "pipe" bill next month related to The Flood and replacement of my hot water tank. So if I had to I could dip into that but my intent is to forget it's even there and live on the $156.  The car needs gas but it's Kazi's turn to put some in so that will help. We'll just have a low key week and keep plugging away. I'm not going to add any cash to my wallet - I can easily make it through with just my $20 (no birthdays or other unusual expenses on the horizon) and use the $136 in my account for groceries if we need any. We pretty well stocked right now but I'm sure we'll need milk and lettuce at least. 

So that's my highly detailed spending for the week. I feel really good about the results - we had fun, we celebrated but all within reason. I love keeping track of my daily spending - it really helps me be more mindful of what I'm buying or not buying as I seem to pick up a lot of stuff but almost always put it back on the shelf. I'm very clear in my mind what we need and don't need and right now I can't think of a darn thing we need!

Upcoming posts: a response to one of Judy's posts, A Room of my Own, February's Budget, Clean Eating

Hope your week of No/Low Spending was successful.....was it??

Friday, January 20, 2012

Re Vision Board

I am loving your comments about my Vision Board. I am just on my way to school so later today I'll respond to your comments and answer questions later today.
Cheers everyone & Happy Friday

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Vision Board 2012

Yes, I'm finally going to share with you my Vision Board. Michael and I each created one and this year's version had its beginning HERE:
Winter Camping - The Pinery
January 1, 2012

Michael and I took a few bags full of magazines, scissors, glue and paper so that we could spend some cozy time inside the yurt clipping out words, phrases and pictures that spoke to us in some way. During the cutting out stage we don't spend a lot of time analyzing we just go with our gut.

Here are a few of the phrases that I found and
clipped out.
It's an interesting process because when we go to the assembly stage words, phrases and pictures make new connections due to the way in which we arrange them creating new ideas and dreams that we hadn't been aware of but that "fit us" in exciting ways.

I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos - it was difficult to get angles with no glare yet allow you to still see the details. Plus, I dropped my camera at the Wine and Food (some call it Food and Wine but not me...;) and since then I think the quality of the pictures it takes has declined. It seems I am in the market for a new camera. Lucky me I am already saving up towards one!

 J'adore Louise Pitre!(the woman in red!) She is Canadian, the same age as me (55), attended my alma mater (University of Western Ontario) and is the epitome of glamour & talent (she sings and acts on stage across Canada & in the UK) and I want to be her when I grow up!
 Louise says: "A lot of the lines I have are because I laugh a lot. I don't have a problem with those!" Me either:) :) :)!! I love that a woman of 55 can look HOT!!! - she OWNS that red dress! Also in this section of my vision board are references to health and fitness, something I'm always working on: find your fit, love your shape, get outside, walking, having adventures.... encouraging phrases to help me stay the course at work, in my relationships, and with my goals: challenge, intense, passion, love, never cry quit, triumph and this special one: It may challenge my strength, but I am stronger. It may challenge my independence, but I am resolute... and "happiness and staying positive": Happiness levels change but, in my experience, the more positively we approach things in life, the happier we will be.
 Here is the lower half of my vision board which emphasizes clean eating which means no processed foods, nothing from a package or can, no chemicals, no additives - just plain, wholesome and delicious foods. More about this in a future post. I am always looking to "simplify my life" ( no more stuff!) and to "celebrate life" with family and "friends". I want to "reach" for my goals ("Think Big. Be Big"), be "bold" and "love No. 1" (that's a hard one sometimes!)  Some of my goals found in this section include learning to cross country ski, learn more about gardening, getting back to the basics (a more sustainable way of living - these goals have to do with when I'll be living full-time in PEI), travel, ("I had always dreamed of travel..." PEI & perhaps the Iles-de-la-Madeleine or Halifax this summer), and of course I want to "have fun"!!
I need to continue to "save" and "love my shape" no matter what weight I am - but if I reach my weight goal I just might buy a pair of skinny jeans!" I have to "face facts" and get on my bike and pedal my ass into those jeans!! So far "Will Power: 1....Giving Up: 0!" 
P.S. I love mischief, oh yes I do!
 I've included a lot of pictures of the outdoors such as the northern lights and a garden pathway I'd like to create in my PEI garden. Photos of birds and animals (I'm not too sure what the sheep illustrates but isn't she sweet?!!) The hat I covet!!
These two phrases speak VOLUMES to me. "EXHALE" is something I've finally begun to do. I've been holding my feelings in very tightly all of my life. There was never time to grieve, to celebrate, to let my guard down or even to slow down. As a single mother I've had to fight my way through life holding myself together for the sake of Kazi. Now I have my very own life coach who rejoices with me that I've started to let go a little, let myself feel and release myself from a lifetime of stress. Now that I have a partner I don't have to be the only one "holding it altogether." I CAN take a break, I CAN take a bubblebath, I CAN have a "room of my own" to escape to, I CAN look after myself and the world won't fall apart. I CAN exhale and learn to trust. I'm not there yet but the process has begun. The "room of my own" ("this room must be off limits") feels like the platform from which I'll finally be able to accomplish a lot of my goals, especially the one in the bottom right-hand corner: I FINALLY FOUND me ME me Me me ME!
Isn't that sheep too cute?!
 I see a dog in my future, though I don't know what kind. I'm saving for a camera - good thing!
 I finally found me! I am a lover of oats and blueberries (I'm having some right now!)
 Under "life" it says "taking care of what you cherish most" - which is ME! See, I can type it, but I don't feel it 100%. I've always put others, especially Kazi, first...it even "feels wrong" to cherish myself the most. I understand the logic, but it's hard to change a lifetime habit.
 See that blurry picture under the word "comfort"? A woman is relaxing outside in a hot tub and all around her are snow covered trees! I am SO going to make that happen in PEI!!
 I am under "NEW MANAGEMENT - YOURS!...well MINE!" I AM going to try something new this summer - I am going to be staying in PEI for a few weeks all alone! This excites me (being the introvert that I am) but I am also going to have many adventures, travel, explore, visit friends, make new ones, and CELEBRATE MY LIFE!!
 Because "life matters"! If you turn your head to the left and read the small print beside the lighthouse it says "I am a lean, mean health machine." HAH! Not sure if I'll ever be lean again but I'm going to try!!
It's a new year; anything is possible. Will I triumph? Yes, I rather think I shall! I keep my vision board on the wall beside my stationary bike. I see it every time I bike, every time I go to bed and everyday when I wake up. I take a moment to scan and see what will inspire me today. Hmmmm...I think today will be all about LOVE - self LOVE!
Do you have a vision for yourself in 2012?