Monday, January 30, 2017

I am Sad and I am ANGRY

...and I can't get my head around the slaughter of 6 Muslim men (any several severely injured) while they were at worship last night in Quebec City.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Soup Anti-Nazi

$276.14 - that's how much I spent on groceries for the month of January. I budgeted $280.00 so came in under budget by a tiny bit. I told someone today that I came in $25 under budget but since then found another charge of $20.88 that I missed on my Mastercard bill. Poo. But under is under in my books so bwhahaha! Oh, and speaking of poo this covers cat litter and dry food for Luna and Lily. If I buy it at the grocery store - even if it is stuff we don't eat - it comes our of the grocery budget. Laundry detergent, ibuprofen, toothpaste, shampoo...blah blah blah.

Part of how I keep my food budget low is to make everything from scratch and make BIG batches of things like soup & veggie chilli. (and that way I don't have to cook something new every single night...bwhahahaha!) Whatever we don't eat goes in the freezer. Being a "soup anti-nazi" I PUSH soup on people, especially my daughter. The soups I make are meals in a dish and she much prefers something homemade for lunch instead of eating fast food. (Not to mention she saves money eating her ma's cooking!) She wan't always like that but now, thankfully, she really appreciates the healthy food that we eat. She's not big on meat (pork & beef), me either, so we eat poultry, fish, shellfish and veggie-type meals.

Yesterday I was hankering after some Greek Lentil Soup.  Yeah, weird right? Usually I hanker after chocolate! Fortunately the ingredients I needed to make this soup were all in my pantry and/or fridge. There are a number of things I never let myself run out of- namely: diced tomatoes, veggie or chicken stock, lentils, many kinds of beans, split peas, soup mix, quinoa, fresh garlic, carrots, onions, potatoes and celery in addition to a wide wide variety of spices and hot sauces. So I had everything I needed on hand. Saves me a trip to the store where I would inevitably buy a few things (chocolate) NOT on my list :)

This soup is absolutely delicious!  It's one of my favourite recipes not only due to its deliciousness but also because it is so quick to prepare - you can make and simmer this soup in 30-40 minutes max. and you don't need 20 different ingredients!

Unexpected guests? This is your go-to recipe! (I sound like an infomercial!)

Saute' your veggies and garlic...

 Now that I have a handy dandy chopper I can dice my veggies in seconds :)
Always in my pantry! (If I have my own chicken broth I'll use that but most of the time I'll use a carton from the store.)

Throw in remaining ingredients including a bay leaf, a bit of basil and thyme.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. That's it!

I also always have a dollop of sour cream and/or plain yogurt on hand which really mixes well with the overall flavour.
The cost?
a generous 1/2 cup lentils      maybe 5 cents?
diced tomatoes  1/2 can = 50 cents
1 large carrot (or use baby carrots if you have some you need to get rid of)   =  20 cents
1 or 2 stalks of celery (can be limp like mine was :)  =  20 cents
1 yellow onion    = 30 cents
2 cloves of garlic = 10 cents
spices = 30 cents
1 container of broth = 1.00
1 teaspoon of sour cream = 10 cents
Total = $2.75!!! /6 servings = $0.46 per serving!

Good night nurse!! (as my grandma used to say) I'm going to have seconds!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Foto Friday For the First Time in Forever!

Before I check my photos to see what was happening one year ago today I'm going to predict there will be snow. And cats. And maybe a creative project. Yes, I am pretty predictable! Okay, drum roll please..........................

.......I called it! Luna and Lily are curled up together on the futon in the TV room. Sadly, they no longer curl up together; instead they fight over my lap!


Not a lot of snow... I thought there'd be more. On another sad note we are getting next to NO birds this winter at our feeders as they are able to feed themselves. So CAT TV is a bust so far this (non)winter.

Carvings from the workshop:
-a couple pieces that haven't been hand sanded to a glossy polish yet...

Should I put them together as a pair? That was my original plan...


Which way to display it?

Instead I decided to use a shadow box to display this piece because it was a very thin slice of soapstone and I carved it in relief; ie it has a flat side. You can see my hands taking the photo :)

My life needs an injection of excitement! What should I do to spice things up a little?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Marching for Women's Rights/Human Rights

So much has been said already about the Women's March of January 21, 2017.
I'm not going to repeat all that has been said for and against Trump.
But I am so proud and thankful to have been a part of the largest movement in the world.
This movement transcends Trump and reaches to the furthest corners of our planet.

Anyone who lives a life that is not safe can take refuge in this movement.
The immense support I felt and the solidarity and love
of all participants, be they women of any colour, be they children, be they
men, be they First Nations, be they sidelined by sexual orientation or hate - 
all are one and equal and will never stand alone. 

We are just getting started.

Monday, January 23, 2017

An Electrifying Frugal Hack

Once in a while I try to fix something myself instead of calling for a repair person.  I have this vision of myself as a handy woman. A couple of times I've even followed instructions over the phone from my internet company, the hydro office and my furnace repair guy.
A friend told me that she had replaced all the electricity receptacles in her condo. So...
I hard could it be?
Not very as I found out.
This outlet in my kitchen had thrown out a couple of sparks so
I decided to replace it myself after watching
many DIYs on Youtube. 

 You need some good flashlights as of course you have
to turn off the electricity....
And, not shown here...I used a thingamajig to test if
there was any charge...
I really don't want to be electrocuted!
No charge so safe to continue...
 Also not shown...
I made a diagram and took photos (obviously)
so I'd know what wire went where. 
Instructions also came with the
new receptacle so this was a very easy process...

I'm guessing that perhaps the problem with this receptacle
was caused by all the plaster and caulking used when the subway tiles were
installed. There was guck everywhere so once I detached
the wires from the old receptacle I did some
cleaning of the space.

Once the wires were detached I hooked up the new receptacle
according to my diagram and pushed it back
inside its wee home...
 Put on a new cover plate...
 ....turned the electricity back on....
and TA DA! it works... just like magic!
You may or may not wonder why I didn't use a white
receptacle and cover plate to match the tiles...
Well, because all of the receptacles in the house are "ivory" and I 
didn't want to make the investment until
I knew whether this was a job I could handle or not...
turns out I can!
Total cost of this repair:
$22.88 for the new receptacle, the cover plate and
the voltage tester.
Boost to my handy woman self esteem: 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I am tired of being so inactive and I am well informed of the dangers of sitting too much so I re-started my home physical program this morning by doing 5 sun salutations. Then I set the timer on my phone for an hour so that each hour I would do a series of stretches and yoga positions. This works really well when you keep your phone nearby.

I think mine is on the kitchen counter....nope...maybe I left it in the laundry room where I spent 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back flattening out the Christmas tissue paper earlier (does anyone else do this?)......nope, not there, but I left a closet light on in the basement so took the opportunity to turn it off......maybe I left it up in my bedroom.......nope.....OMG, I was sitting on it hee hee hee!

Fifteen minutes to go but perhaps I can consider the last few minutes of going up and down 2 staircases as my exercise break this Who asked you!!

I have 12 minutes left and then I am heading to my stationary bike.

Then....get ready for it....I'm going out!!! Yup, I went to print off my passport renewal and while I have every colour of paper imaginable I had only 1 piece of white paper left. As I'm not sure if the passport office will accept fuchsia paper I'd better go buy a package of white. And.....I need some fan brushes for my upcoming water colour project so will kill 2 birds with one stone!

Oh, and here's my sign for Saturday's march:

And there goes my timer!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dark as the Grave

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Simon & Garfunkel

I am acknowledging the "darkness" inside of us all I think I read that word in almost everyone's post. More to do with the darkness of the day (dark as the grave) but also people's state of mind. 

The alarm went off...I went back to sleep. I got up and fed the cats, they were grateful, and then they went back to my bedroom and back to sleep. I don't think they realize that it's daytime. But then, how can they went the day is dark as a tomb!!

Could it be any darker? (said in a Chandler Bing voice!)

Today I made a poster in support of "The Women's March in Washington"taking place on Saturday, Jan. 21st.  I have friends marching in Washington and friends marching in Toronto. I'm sticking to the march here in London, ON as I have plans later in the day (I'm marching to the FOOD & WINE Show with friends!!) It'll be my first big day of somewhat normal activity. As long as I don't trip, fall and conk my head I should be OK. I actually did fall last year as I attempted to climb a huge snow bank in the parking lot (in the DARK!) instead of walking further down the street to the entrance of said parking lot. I'll be more careful this year. It's going to be so mild anyways that I'll be dodging puddles not snow piles.

In addition to poster-making I made a big pot of soup - it's a new recipe that I found in the London Free Press and includes sweet potatoes and chickpeas. It's quite pleasant - not dark at all! Tonight is fajita night :) - our favourite! Lots of chopping and dicing - I got a great chopping/dicing device for Christmas (oh the joys of receiving practical kitchen gadgets) which really speeds up the process and saves my sprained (?) finger (jammed it at volleyball before Christmas). It's not getting any better so went and had an x-ray done yesterday. 

So my advice is to make light of the darkness - read a funny book (I'm reading Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" which made me guffaw in the lab's waiting room yesterday. Snuggle with your pets, have a light meal (SOUP), paint a poster...or a picture, dance in the kitchen while you wait for the kettle to boil, have a nice cuppa, and remember that while it is dark as a dungeon out there we are actually getting 2, yes TWO more minutes of "light"every day now til the summer equinox! 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Couch Potato

Couch potato, that's me! My retina is still attached, that's the good news. But I am still seeing those darn floaters. Flashing lights have greatly reduced. I was reading more about the condition today and it can take months before all that activity settles down. Boo. I also read that most (not all) detached retinas follow PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment). However, if retina is in good shape at the time of a PVD there is only a 2-5% chance of a retinal detachment occurring. That's pretty good news. Except that it could happen within days or weeks or months.

I can't sit still for that long!!

So... a pretty boring week. But I would choose boring over surgery any day of the week, or the whole week as the case may be!

We have Hannah banana staying over tonight. Kazi has restaurant and movie gift cards so they're using some of those - not sure where they are eating or what they are seeing - I am just full of information!

I filled the day with a short walk outside, being very careful of the ice, finished watching "Zodiac" which I started yesterday and "State of Play" today on Amazon Prime video, both were good but Helen Mirren was wasted in her small role. Tonight I'll watch an episode or two of "The Fall" which has some new episodes - excellent show!

**never thought I'd be reduced to telling you about what I've been watching on TV!! 

Other than that I've been researching for my next trip to the UK, thinking about Scotland this year :) likely in September. Looking at the various long distances trails trying to figure out what part of the country I'd most like to see. Hard decisions. Lots of time :)

Well, I don't think anyone is out in my kitchen making me dinner so I'd better hop to it! See you in the funny pages :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Had a bit of a stressful day yesterday. On Monday I started to see flashes of light, shadows and "spiders" out of the corner of my right eye. I'd keep turning my head to the right to follow the movement of the spiders.  Two years ago my brother had surgery for a detached retina so I was aware of the symptoms. Also, my daughter had a partially detached retina a few years ago after a fellow concert goer threw a glow stick which struck her eye. Due to the "partial" aspect and her age her retina repaired itself over time. She advised me to contact my eye doctor in the morning.

So I called and was able to get in within an hour. And what a crap day of weather we had! Lots of snow followed by snow pellets followed by freezing rain followed by rain. Oh joy! I found my eyes were more light sensitive than normal so being out in a totally white world added to my stress.

But I made it without incident (thank you Dougie the Dodge and your awesome 4-wheel drive!) After pupil enlarging eye drops and a scan and exploring my eye with a variety of intense light gadgets my eye doctor announced my right eye was going through PVD - Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  This condition can lead to retinal detachment and/or macular degeneration but so far my retina and macula are in tip top condition.

There is no treatment for PVD and it is caused by aging and being nearsighted. It will also happen to my left eye but that could happen tomorrow or in 10 years; or it could have already happened. Many people put up with the annoying symptoms without seeing a doctor. There is no pain, just lots of activity in the peripheral vision of my right eye.  Now that I know it is very common and the likelihood of my retina detaching is low it feels more like a "senior moment" than an alarming condition.

Within days or weeks, in some cases months, my brain will no longer recognize the flashes, shadows and squiggly moving lines. My vision hasn't changed and for that I am most grateful. When it happens to my left eye I will know what is happening. It is ok to read and watch TV etc but I was advised to limit my physical activity as I don't want to do anything to cause my retina to detach while my right eye goes through this transition.

What is happening is this:
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a very common eye condition. It's caused by natural changes to the vitreous gel which takes up the space inside the eye.
Although PVD causes some frustrating symptoms it doesn’t cause pain, harm the eye or cause permanent loss of vision.
Have you or a family member experienced PVD? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ups and Downs

I should have mentioned when I posted on January 5th that so far in 2017 I hadn't spent any money! Five No Spend days in a row! I wondered how long I could go this month without spending anything at all and well it was Jan. 5th :)
My friend Julie was back from LA and had an empty fridge so I picked up food from Hong Ping and we had a feast! Definitely a money-worthy event.

And it was all downhill from I checked in my local thrift shop for a warm brown hat. There were tons of hats but nothing that suited me or went with its intended brown coat. Oh well, might as well have a wander...
I love metal decor of all sorts and I like watching pieces get weathered.
This will go out on my patio to keep DREAM company.
Now I won't just be dreaming I'll be hoping and dreaming:)

I seem to be lucky lately finding silver filagree work. These 3 flowers are displayed in a shadow box.

Remember this one? Same store. 

And also for my patio - 2 cast iron birds/candle holders - extremely heavy. 

Okay, I'm ready for summer! Too bad it's about a hundred below zero today!
Speaking of the cold... 
I managed to finish a crocheted headband for Kazi.
It looks amazing on her, me not so much.
I'm making one for Hannah too; it's almost done except for 
sizing and sewing on the buttons.

I'm also back in the workshop and have 4 carvings under way - they still look like blobs at the moment so I'll wait til I get to the polishing stage before taking any photos.

Over all I'm happy with how the week went - played volleyball 3 days and rode my stationary bike a couple of times while watching "Trapped" on Netflix. I really love Scandinavian crime shows! This one takes place in Iceland.  And I did my stretches every day (for my sad knee) and my sun salutations as soon as I get up, even though it's still dark out! The result - less pain. Who knew? Well, I guess my physiotherapist...

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Budget Template

January, 2017

December 2016!!

I couldn't do all of these changes, margin notes, additions, deletions, scribbles blah blah blah on my computer. Well, maybe I could...but I don't want to!! Paper will always be a major part of my life!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Another Year Another Budget

Living on pensions, as I do now means my budget is pretty much set for the year. Same amount of money in, same amount of money out. The rest goes to savings and Misc. However, a new year brings cost-of-living increases and of course the inevitable increases in monthly bills.

What goes up:


  • Teacher's Pension
  • Canada Pension Plan
  • Savings - comes out of my pensions but worth a mention. My monthly savings amount has increased due to now receiving the CPP. All of it goes into savings so what with investment interest etc I am saving roughly $1000/month. And we know what that goes to - TRAVEL (and large items like a new appliance or furniture) but mainly TRAVEL!!
What goes down:
  • GST Rebate - Prior to receiving the Canada Pension Plan I was eligible for a tax rebate which was $105 every 4 months. Now that I am receiving the CPP my income is higher therefore I may no longer be eligible for the rebate. I will receive it in January and April however. As for what I'll receive based on 2016 taxes shall remain a mystery until July 1st.
Hah, short list! 

What goes up:

Monthly bills
  • Property taxes - well, I'm assuming they'll go up, I've never known them to go down! But it usually takes a few months for City Council to figure out by what percentage they'll increase. I wait with bated breath! 
  • Condo Fees - guaranteed to go up every January. I'm sure I received notice of how much but I don't feel like going up to my office to rummage around (my filing is a trifle behind) so we'll just have to wait and see. I budgeted $290. 
  • Cell phone - will remain the same (I hope)
  • Internet - will remain the same (same hope)
  • Insurance - things are in flux with insurance - I think I have a credit coming to me in January (about $20) and then my regular payment beginning in February is $134/monthly. Kazi has her own policy now so I'm paying for Dougie the Dodge and condo insurance. That is up a little but not much. I had an at fault fender bender in 2014 so that will continue to affect my insurance for a couple more years. 
  • Union gas (heat, hot water tank & dryer) will increase a bit due to carbon taxes. I still pay the least of anyone I know averaging $30 in the summer to $80 in the winter. Yes, Kazi is always cold; you think she'd be used to it by now :)
  • London Hydro - electricity for my American friends. Continues to go up and up and up! Still reasonable though I think. I budgeted $80 as we are using an electric fire in the TV room as it is in the basement. 
  • Netflix - $9.99 no change.
  • Reliance - I rent my hot water heater. I remember when that was about $8 a month - now it is $35.00 and will likely increase at some point. The cost usually goes up once a year. 
  • Misc - covers my allowance :) and I rejig it to reflect the amount of $$ I have left after paying the above. It's usually around $150+/week. That covers meals out, clothing, wine, wine, wine...etc. household
  • Variables: gasoline & food - I have been over funding my gas budget for quite some time so have cut it back a bit ($100 monthly); food continues to be a little overfunded as well so have cut it back a trifle. ($280 monthly). Any extra left in either budget line gets carried forward to the next month.
Remains the same:
  • Debt - ZERO! I continue to have no mortgage, no loan, and no credit card debt. 
So there you have it. I'm hoping that by February changing amounts will be set for the rest of the year. There is a lot of hope in my budget! All I can say for sure is money will show up in my account once a month and I'll do my best to get rid of it. 

P.S. I had money leftover at the end of December. Since I practise zero budgeting I'm wondering if I forgot someone's Christmas present? 
P.P.S. I kill myself!