Thursday, August 30, 2018

Packing it in...


I haven't ever tried storage vacuum bags for travel before but yesterday I ordered a bunch and will give them a try. Apparently clothing placed in a vacuum bag takes up only 30% of the usual space in addition to keeping things organized.

I'm always looking for better packing methods and with less than 2 weeks to go until blastoff I'm ready to try anything!

Have you used these sorts of bags before? Did you like them? Did they save you space?

Monday, August 27, 2018

Forgot one...

Oops, forgot about this thrifty little purchase from the Re-Store in Bracebridge. I have a 
"thing" about little bowls. We use a couple with pretty much every meal for
dipping sauces, hot sauce, raw veggies etc.
I picked up this cute pair for $0.25 each and I love them!
They are the perfect size for sliced 
mini-cucumbers and for a half lemon.
Every morning I drink the juice of half a lemon and store the other half in the fridge
 (otherwise I have fruit flies)...
Poifect :) and the price was right!
What do you think that is a picture of...olives?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Thrifty Days Sort of...

I love these sorts of posts almost as much as I love a good bargain! The following items are purchases I made when I went with my friend Julie to check out some thrift stores in Stratford, ON. Not all were "thrifty" as you will see...

The hat below is a Goodwill purchase of $1.50. This is a possible throw away item for when my brother and I go to Scotland in less than THREE weeks!! I like this hat, it fits well though I don't know what team it represents...nor do I care. I picked blue simply because my rain coat is blue so I'll be semi-coordinated on rainy days :) If I need to get rid of anything to make room somewhere in my suitcase or backpack when flying home and no longer want to wear a sweat-stained hat I can dispose of it and not feel any regret.

I popped into a shoe store in Stratford because I wanted a good quality product to keep my boots waterproof and supple. This should do the trick!

In no way could my boots be labelled a "thrifty purchase" but this just goes to show that I can occasionally make a more expensive purchase when need be. And good quality hiking boots are no place to try and save money! I have hiked in them and they feel good. Definitely worth $400+!!

Two books from the same Goodwill store - the first I bought for myself, the second Julie bought for me for my birthday and is an Oprah's Book Club book. It's a big fat book, they both are, and I am almost finished the Rohinton Mistry book - it's so good!! Don't remember the price but not much!

In another thrift store, Salvation Army I think...I found two excellent pairs of shoes. The runners are by Sketchers and something I've been looking for for awhile. I like a solid white shoe and they are not big clodhoppers that make my legs look like know what I mean! They were clean and new and worth more than the $4.00 I paid for them.

I found some nice tops as well - this one appealed to my habit of buying grey/black and/or white with a nice patterned material, a cute peasant style neckline and...

...a really cute label hee hee! How could I resist?

This top below was the piece de resistance! And it looked like a million bucks when I tried it on. I love 3/4 length sleever (I have short arms), the neckline was flattering and I loved the colours and the fabric. It was $3 or $4 dollars.

Then we popped into the local Winners to check out the clearance racks. I found two tops - the tank top below with criss-cross back that looks awesome with...

...the sweet jacket/top I had just picked up for next to nothing.

Oops, I'm slightly out of order... here's the other fab pair of shoes I found - Aldo brand with the label stick stuck to the bottoms of the shoes, and again - so cute! I've been looking for flats so another box ticked!

Back to Winners...this was another top on the Clearance rack and it looked great when I tried it on. It's one of those tops that don't look like much on the hanger but when you put it on it's perfect! Hugged me in all the right places...

Gorgeous deep blue tie-dye sort of fabric.

And last but not least (for today) is a freebie: Julie bought this bathing suit top but it didn't fit her so she gave it to me. I've taken to wearing a "tankini" when at the beach - boy shorts and tank top = tankini. I definitely don't wear bikinis anymore and one piece suits are a pain in the washroom. It fits well and I already had the boy shorts - we have maybe one beach day left before Julie goes back to work (school teacher) but I'll be ready! 

Thriftiness while in Bracebridge coming next...

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bracebridge, ON

Remembering our mother in Bracebridge, ON....a quilt is on display in the Bracebridge Library upon which my oldest sister ensured our mother was memorialized: In Loving Memory of Edith (Jane) Harrison :) 


And here is my other sister and one of my brothers pointing to the quilt - it looks like my sister has her pointing finger in my brother's ear!
Earlier this summer I posted a photo of a flower (a mix of white and fuschia Dame's Rocket) that showed polymorphism - two differently coloured flowers of the same species which had morphed into a blend of the two colours -
Apparently hydrangea can morph as well - white..... pink...
...equals a beautiful mix of the two colours!
These flowers were out front and along the side of our Airbnb in Utterson.

While out walking one day we came across some photo-worthy subjects - a sweet book-reading nook in an artfully bent tree...
 And below - she's no dummy! A creative garden display :)
In Gravenhurst we tried out some craft beer at Sawdust City Brewing Co. I wanted to get my photo taken in a huge Muskoka chair beside the brewery but the shorts I was wearing were made of a slippery material so I didn't dangle my legs over the edge for fear of sliding right off. Getting down was easy as I turned around and slid down on my bottom.

Here's my sister and I having a good laugh about something that I can't remember...
 And the three of us outside the Chinese "all you can eat" buffet - I definitely got my money's worth! We all did!
And there you have it - another year, another adventure in Bracebridge...I'll show you my purchases in my next post if I can remember what I bought! memory doesn't work as well as it used to!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Back from Bracebridge

Bracebridge is in the area of Northern Ontario known as Muskoka - it's known for its 1600+ lakes and rivers as well as tons and tons of rock, as opposed to soil.  Farming is next to impossible so the area has become famous for being "cottage country" instead. For the second year we stayed in a large red brick house that was at one time the General Store of Utterson, about a 15 minute drive from Bracebridge where one of my sisters lives.
 She can only drive short distances due to a back injury suffered many years ago so we go to her instead of her coming to London.  Some of you many remember me writing about a nephew who had a severe motorcycle crash - it's this sister's oldest son. He received 23 "major traumas" to his body and is recovering still - 5 or 6 years later. He is also diabetic (discovered when he was a little boy) which also hinders his recovery. 
So she is struggling somewhat as he has his own home but can't look after it so my sister, in spite of her own injury, looks after him a fair bit as he is in a wheelchair at present. 
But we had a great visit and made the best of things. However, we'll have to look for a different Airbnb next brother and I loved the old house in Utterson and developed a routine of walking each morning past Long's Lake...but part of the reason we stayed in Utterson was that there was a variety store and take out food place right across the street from the house and we LOVED their greek salads and french fries (not to mention their fantastic butter tarts and ice cream) - BUT THEY HAVE CLOSED!! Darn!  There's only about 6 houses in Utterson so it's understandable that they couldn't make a go of it.

My brother makes me laugh as you can see...
I was extremely fortunate this year to receive no black fly or mosquito bites!! They went after my brother instead - thanks bro! 
 The house has a large front porch and we each bought some salads and roasted chicken and basically had a picnic every evening on the porch. We explored downtown Bracebridge as usual and bought books at the used book store. We always check out the Re-Store as well and found a few treasures. Of course no hot and humid summer day would be complete without a mid-afternoon pause at the many pubs serving local craft beer!

We were early to bed so that we could get in our brisk morning walks and much needed showers afterwards! 

 We walked on a paved road but there wasn't much traffic except for one day when a long line of old classic cars drove by us on their way to Gravenhurst for a boat ride (the people not the cars!)
I showed my sister my yoga app and we worked through the positions that have helped me with my bad back. She wasn't in worse pain the next day so I hope she'll keep it up. Each day the sun shone brightly except for the day we drove home - we drive on the back roads in order to avoid the major cities, like Toronto, which got flooded from heavy rain for the 2nd time in a few days!

It's a bit further and takes quite a bit longer driving on the back roads but the countryside and villages are gorgeous and much less stressful. 

I'll have a few more photos tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Seesters and Brudda: By the numbers

It's been ages since I did a "by the numbers" post. goes!
  • My first post after my blogging break was #1300!!
  • I have been retired for 1505 days!
  • I have two sisters and two brothers - ALL older than me. Yes, I'm the baby of the family! My two sisters are 9 and 12 years older than me. My brothers are four and seven years older. 
  • I'm visiting one sister and one brother this Bracebridge, ON (Santa's Village!) My other brother and I are going to Scotland soon and I hope to see my other sister at Christmas in PEI though Kazi has a new job and we'll have to see if we can make it happen. 
  • Bracebridge is about a 4 hour drive and at one time both of my sisters lived there.
  • We leave for Scotland in 30 days!
  • Yesterday I rode my bike for 26.7kms :)
  • I used points to purchase a $100 Esso card and two $50 grocery store cards (the budget is tight this month!)
  • My property tax went down $7 per month! Woohoo!
  • My cell phone bill will be increasing by about $15, so much for the previous savings of $7. I added unlimited long distance minutes anywhere in Canada.
  • My natural gas bill was a mere $32 in August...but my electricity bill went over budget by $2.37 due to running the A/C. Considering how deathly hot it's been here for weeks and weeks I'm surprised my bill wasn't sky high!!
  • So far this month I've spent a whopping $44 on food plus $7 for lemon tarts to share with my Scotland bound brother. Lemon is his favourite - I go to his place for tea every other Thursday and to make plans for the Scotland trip. 
  • I have gone to Dairy Queen THREE times so far this month- I only get a plain cone as it has the least amount of calories!!
  • And speaking of calories - between eating better (most of the time), cutting out a few things like bread & pasta and riding my bike almost every day I have lost 10% of my overall weight!! I haven't been below 130lbs in 15 years!! 
  • I don't think I'll have any $$ to put into savings this month but that's ok. I paid off well over $1,000 on my Mastercard to cover new hiking boots ($423), almost $200 at the Mountain Equipment Company, Greyhound bus tickets to get us to Toronto's Pearson airport, travel insurance and an early birthday dinner with Kazi. Never fear...I clear off my Mastercard every month and pay no interest. 
  • I also did some thrifting with my friend Jules; photos in my next post. Can't remember how much I spent but it wasn't much!
Thus ends "By the Numbers" August edition :)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sneak Preview

Preparing for our trip to Scotland is taking up most of my time these days. I have used the airbnb website as well as Google satellite photos to get pictures and locations of all of the places where my brother and I are going to stay. I'm giving you the "sneak preview" so here goes:

From Glasgow airport we are taking a shuttle bus to the downtown train station where we will take a train to Stirling and pick up our rental car. We'll be staying in the village of Dollar for a couple of nights doing some hiking near the Campbell Castle and the Stirling Castle.
Looking out the bedroom window towards the Ochil Hills.

Dollar, near Stirling UK
Campbell Castle
We are descended from the Campbells as well as the Gordons.

From Dollar we head towards Perth, Scone and Pitlochry staying at the Kirkmichael Apts near Blairgowrie.
Kirkmichael Apts
Most places we are staying for 2 nights except for Isle of Skye (5 nights) and Taynuilt, Oban (6 nights). These places are jumping off points for further exploration, hiking, boat trips and other excursions (distilleries!)

After our time in Kirkmichael we head further north to Grantown-on-Spey, just skirting the Cairngorms National Park and staying in an inn called The Hearthside. We'll be hiking around Loch an Eileen - one of the most picturesque places in Scotland.
Loch an Eileen, Cairngorm National Park

From there we have to get around Loch Ness so we will drive to Inverness and then drive on the northwest side of Loch Ness stopping to explore along the way. This will be the longest day of driving as we are headed for the Isle of Skye and staying near the northernmost part of the island.
Glamping on the Isle of Skye!!
Isle of Skye
We have lots of time to explore all that Skye has to offer including a boat trip to Loch Coruisk located in the Cuillin Hills. Of course we'll be stopping at the famous Bridge of Sligachin where it is said that you can gain eternal beauty by washing your face in the water under the bridge. I may have to stay there for a good while!!
 Loch Coruisk
Bridge of Sligachan
After the Isle of Skye we will either take the ferry off the island to Mallaig on the mainland but that depends on the weather. If unable to cross via ferry we'll be taking the long way back, but either way we'll end up in Gairlochy which is near Fort William where my Gordon ancestors had a castle (one of many)! I have a ticket on the Jacobite steam train (Harry Potter's train to "school") which I am very excited about!
Our BnB in Gairlochy, near Spean Bridge

Jacobite steam train
Spean Bridge; near our BnB
From Fort William we head south to the village of Taynuilt, close to Oban. This will be our jumping off point to go to the Isles of Kerrera, Mull, and Staffa, again depending on the weather...fingers crossed!
BnB in Taynuilt
Isle of Staffa
I would really really like to take the ferry from Tobermory, on Mull,  across to Arndamurchan which is the westerly most point of the mainland that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day you can see across the water to the islands of the Outer Hebrides - Eigg, Muck and Coll.
Which reminds me - while we're on the Isle of Skye there is a ferry that crosses to Lewis and Harris of the Outer Hebrides and if we get a nice day we might go across. Time will tell...

Then we start heading back to Glasgow but first a wee visit to Fintry where we've booked a night at the Montrose Estate in the Fintry Hills.
Montrose Estate
Looking out from our bedroom except it will be fall, not spring.

From Fintry we are a short drive back to Stirling where we will be dropping off the rental car and taking the train to Glasgow where we've booked 3 nights in a historic area of the city and to do some major shopping :) and museum/gallery visiting.
By then, and likely before then, I'll be very homesick and needing a good cuddle with Lily and Luna and of course, Kazi!

Lots of things are dependent on the weather in Scotland, as they do get a lot of rainy and windy days but we won't let that get us down. We both have good rain gear and hiking boots and with having a car we can go where we like. Torrential rain means a day in the nearest town/city - and we both LOVE used book stores! I just checked the weather in all of the places we are going to and every single one of them is cloudy but no rain. A good sign with a month to go :)