Friday, March 30, 2012

Here I am sipping a latté on payday Friday.....

I won this bit of lusciousness by rolling up the rim!  115 calories of unadulterated goodness! I have never had a latté before and it is wonderful. Plus, it gives me one serving of dairy...that oughta be good!  I chose the caramel flavour, and I really think this is going to be my treat at Tim's from now on in.

Today was banking day. We now do our banking at a credit union quite a distance away, and only today did I realize that there is an ATM in the shopping mall down the street that will accept deposits!  Credit Unions are a new beast for me, but I was attracted by their 'better than the bank' interest rates. We are in the process of switching over, so I have been developing a new pattern of behavior on paydays!  I keep a separate accounts for food, yearly expenses and savings.  I like watching the numbers grow, but I like taking the money out for a fabulous vacation now and again equally as well!

Life doesn't really get  more expensive, it just seems like it does because the numbers are higher. The way I see it, we seem to have a lot more now and pay a lot less for it than we ever did. The problem is that we want more. A good wool skirt doesn't cost  a week's wages. A loaf of bread is not the price of an hour's work.  It all goes back to the magic of how long do you have to work to provide the necessities of life?

Everything is relative.  The problem is that there are far too many choices out there now. We aren't content to buy a "good one" (whatever that may be) at Eaton's and use it for years....passing down, for instance, skirt from one sister to the next.  We have huge closets that fill up overnight with disposable clothing, because we can't trust one garment to hold up to the wear we give it.  I am really trying to simplify, not because I want to go back to the "good old days" (that really weren't any better than today- trust me) but because it was just so much easier then!  Fewer things to keep track of and to be responsible for!  Imagine. Having one purse for winter, and one for summer? Sharing a suitcase with your sisters for a summer at the cottage, and taking all of your clothes? So much easier, for all concerned.

I remember being well dressed as  a child, and it was because my mother was a good seamstress, handy as well with knitting needles and crochet hooks.  But a sweater or two, a couple of skirts and blouses, a Sunday dress and a  pair of shoes whenever my feet grew (well that is another story...I got a lot of shoes! LOL) a winter coat and boots, and that was pretty much it....ah yes. Then there were these plastic "overshoes" that you wore in the spring and summer rains. Lovely little things that you had to jam your shoes into and then slip your foot into this miracle material of the fifties!  Mine actually were clear, with little flecks of glitter in the plastic...they were really stylin' I'm tellin' ya! AND you could also buy the matching plastic raincoat!  These items were usually at home when you needed them but  I can still remember the crunchy crackly plastic walk to school on rainy days!  All of the parents did the same thing. They bought one set for you to "grow into",  so this get up usually lasted from about the second grade on to the sixth! LOL

As for our little family? We really don't have more money than we ever did. We live pretty much the same, pay the same utility bills, buy the same kind of groceries, go the same places and wear the same clothes.  I take that back. We do go to better places, but only once a year! We now have vacations. The only difference really, is that all the numbers have gone up since we were first married so long ago. Our phone bill then, was under five dollars a month...for a basic rotary phone! A coloured one? NO!  How could you justify that fifty cent  extravagance?

All in all, I think my math skills over the years have had to improve to embrace three digit utility bills.  I have heard people say that it is getting pretty impossible for the young people to buy a house after they marry. Well, it took us ten years to gather our down payment for our first house, and we were thrilled. We really thought that we would never be able to buy our own place. We didn't expect it. But, we did start saving, and putting as much as we could away.  After ten years, we had enough for our very own home. Well, the years pass, and people's expectations change. What we considered a dream goal that was possibly in the far distant future, has now become an entitlement that is expected to materialize with not too much initial input from the purchaser. I am not criticizing, just observing.  I sincerely think it is all an exercise in futility anyway! What the young never realize is, that in the long run? You die and leave it anyway!  Go on a vacation instead - those memories will last a lot longer!

Month's End

And my budget is tallied for the quarter. I am so pleased with myself for successfully holding the line on our budget!  Maybe I shouldn't crow too loudly, though, because it all really is just an exercise in juggling the numbers until they suit what you both need and want to buy! Years ago, I read a book called "Orchids on Your Budget" and not only was it entertaining, it was life changing.

The author's premise was this. Money facilitates life. In order to live, you need to prioritize.  If something is important to you? You need to put it high on the list. If you can not live without orchids, they are become a necessity for you. You need to find a way to live life the way you want to live it...if your best friend or mother-in-law doesn't approve? So what?  Of course, it is a given that you look after yourself, and not depend on others to  foot the bill for you! That is just plain rude! LOL The author made her point by giving the examples of several women of her acquaintance that had major changes in their finances, and told how they reacted to their new financial circumstances.  I came away with the knowledge that money can not buy you happiness, but it certainly can go a long way to avoid abject misery!  If we live within our means, no matter what they may be, we are definitely going to be happier than if we are trying to keep up with the Jones! 

So, with income tax almost done (I am still waiting for some slips) and the figures tallied for the month, I am feeling quit satisfied with myself. The only thing that remains for me to do before the man returns, is to go through this house and give it a good once over.  We will be home for a week, before heading for points west,  so there will have time to install the new kitchen taps purchased in Minneapolis -  and perhaps we might even find time to make a few summery changes to the living room. I  was thinking that it would be nice to buy some new drapes and pillow covers, to lighten it up for the summer months. There is something so crisp and fresh about white cotton, and I think that is the route I would go.  Maybe a nice crisp print on a couple of cushions, to brighten things up a bit. I had to increase our "household" amount, so there should be enough this month to see to the few things that I would need to buy. I mean really, how much can a pair of panels cost?  Famous last words, right?

On a happy note, the man installed a new hotel style towel rack in the main washroom, obliging me to get rid of the heterogeneous mixture of whatnots that are living under the sink.  Now that the extra towels have found a new home on the rack, the elastic waist band theory comes into play in the undersink cabinet.  (Things always expand to fill the available space.)

My wardrobe is in desperate need of a good purge, AGAIN.  I am beginning to think that I really don't do this well enough....I repeat, repeat, repeat and never seem to get DONE. Dusting, laundry, cooking, closet purging...are you ever done?  But now that SPRING is upon us, it is time to attack with renewed energy. It is so nice to open a window and let the fresh air in...allergens and all...while giving a room a deep clean. We have special guests coming at the end of the month, so I need to swing into action and get the guest room spruced  up and ready for them!  Might even find time to shorten the dust ruffle that is a tad too long.. Finding a bit of drawer space and some hanging space is within the realm of possibility, now that we have purged so many articles of clothing.  Now isn't that a happy thought to end my ramblings this evening?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

arrrrggggghhhhh INCOME TAX

I just wish we could be civilized and have everyone pay 10% and be done with it. Imagine if the big corporations would pay in 10% of their profits? Hey, it would likely improve our whole nation's medical care if just the hot shot CEO's paid their ten percent! Ah well. We are grateful that we have income, right?

So, that was the deed done today. No housework. A lot of phone time, and the big task. No great inspirational meals from the kitchen...didn't even make the bed. Tomorrow is another day. I hope to check over the forms and then NETFILE. Sigh. I am too dog tired of it all to send it in tonight!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday Dinner for the Celiacs in the Crowd

Well, I started first thing in the morning, and made a batch of Leek Soup Parmentier (with potato).  Great success and a good lunch!  I also made a small batch of pasta sauce to use for supper. Well, as things happened, we ended up with a guest for supper, so my menu had to expand a bit from our usual humble fare (which is usually "just enough" served up in the kitchen on our plates from the stove!). Here is what we had:


Leek & Potato Soup Parmentier
Greek Salad
Penne with Meat Sauce
(before baking)
Roast Asparagus

Strawberry Trifle with
Whipped Cream & Kijafa

Pinot Grigio - three buck chuck from our last trip to Trader Joe’s

 Pinot Noir (good stuff our guest brought)

Definitely not low cal, but definitely nutritious and delicious!  I love soups of all kinds and the one downside to spring, is that the soup season is nearing a close. There is something so comforting and rich about having a bowl of homemade soup, and nothing is better for you or your budget.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All good plans....

are just that. Plans. Today, my reality was a prolonged nap (from after breakfast till late night!) punctuated by forays into the kitchen when I felt my sugars dipping low. Lazy, lazy, lazy me! The good side of this, is that I didn't have to spend a lot of time cleaning the kitchen.  Always a plus.

There is a lot to be done in the house, but frankly, I have absolutely no interest in doing any of it. The basics were all done on Friday, so I guess I am not going to be living in squalor for another couple of days.  However, my closet needs purging again, and my shoe collection needs a new method of storage that will require a trip to Home Depot and the willing hands of dear hubby.  Of course, my drawers are filled with things that I do not use,  and the bathroom vanity is a resting place for quite a few geriatric cosmetic items. Spring cleaning? No spring in this lady, I tell ya!  It was all I could do today to look after cleaning up ME!  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Luxury is having the time....

to spend an entire day doing nothing!  I am a victim of seasonal allergies at the moment, and have decided that the best way to treat these itchy eyes is to keep them closed. A good plan, right?  Makes it a little difficult to type though. ;)

Today, the plans are simple. REST the eyes. And the digestive system. I have managed to lose four pounds of the holiday bloat, but I have six more to go to get me back where I started...just in time to head out on the road again. And so goes the circle. I am losing the same pounds over and over again.  Last night, although I was craving something deep fried and wicked, we opted to eat Swiss Chalet after the concert. The scale thanked me this morning. We shared a half chicken dinner - which ends up to be a 1/4 for me, and 3/4 for the man of the house. I can eat about 2-3 oz of protein before I just get tired of it,  and Greek salad. It was, as usual, wonderful. And non-bloating, as it turned out!

So, this week while the man is away, I will have a reprieve from kitchen detail. I am planning on three simple protein and salad dinners, fruit & veg lunches and my usual poached egg & toast breakfast.  Can't get easier, or better than that shopping list!  Come to think of it, there is a good selection of fish and chicken in the freezer, so I really don't even have to bother going shopping! I really hope to melt one or two pounds away this week, but what will be, will be.  Wish me well!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


our wheels all weekend and have been traveling miles!  We have been running ever since our feet hit the ground on Saturday morning. It reminds me of every weekend back when the boy was still at home!  We went to the new Eddie Murphy movie last night...not worth the ten dollars but it was fun to be out.  And tonight, we took in ``Battle of the Bands`` at the Garrick. Our dear Mark`s band  opened, and were just excellent. There were two original songs played that were really, really good. I am a little biased, but my ears sure are not! It drives me nuts to hear off notes and talentless musicians . The ``Octopi`` rocked the house, for sure. I can't tell you how proud we were of them! Then, off to Swiss Chalet for dinner. Two old people on a rampage, for sure!

Notes from my wardrobe:

I have managed to test drive two pairs of my new shoes this week. The brown ones on Thursday, and today, I chose to wear the gold "Transvestite" may remember them from a previous post. Platform, high heel, gold metallic.
Add that to the fact that they are a size eleven, and if you saw them on a shelf in the store, your first reaction would be exactly what mine was, and hence the moniker for this very distinctive pair of shoes!  They weren't the most comfortable things in the world, but for "sitting shoes" they worked out just fine!  And since my dress was plain deep purple, and the scarf had all sorts of rich colours in it with a gold metallic thread, they didn't look out of place at all on a Sunday afternoon at all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some people don't have the sense to go to bed at night....

and tonight, I happen to be one of them. I have been working on my budget. Things are working out surprisingly well, since I have cut out just about every item that is not necessary.  I have been pleasantly surprised every month's end so far this year, when I have been able to squirrel away a my target amount. Mind you, some months, especially when you go shopping in the US, it is a little more difficult than others!  Hubby has needed an entirely new wardrobe since his illness, and that has been a constant drain. But his weight has stabilized now, so no more trashing two week old pants because they are too big for him! 

We were out and about today, stocking up on Gluten free products. Bread and pizzas. The stuff that makes life worth living.  I am really trying to lose my 'holiday gain', so tonight we had kale, potatoes and a nice bit of cod for supper. Everything was fine, until the man asked if I wanted a grilled cheese sandwich...sigh. Then, of course I had to crack the bag of holiday M&M's that were stashed in the pantry. So much for losing a pound today. Tomorrow, I hopefully will do a bit better.  Not really a big priority these days to lose - mainly because I am tired of finding nice clothes and then having to get rid of them because they are too big, but on the other hand? I do not want to go back up the scale. It is always such a struggle. The trick is to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

CeraVe Makeunder

So, you all know I am a bit of a freak when it comes to form and function. I really like simple, clean things. These labels scream at me. I know who you are, and what you do, there is no need to scream at me from my sink top!  So, today, with the help of a little elbow grease and lighter fluid........

TA DA! Isn't this a lot quieter?   I am a creature of habit and put things back in their places, but just in case....

Each bottle has a tiny label on the back for my becoming more frequent senior moments!  I am in love with every aspect of this product line.  Really, truly in love!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I am finally finished unpacking, and in general, am very pleased with my efforts. I showed restraint, and only bought what I really, really liked, and what I really needed. We didn't shop till we dropped, since we are both too old for such foolishness. We shopped until I couldn't stand on my poor old feet, but I definitely did not drop.  I found two tops, and one black sweater tunic that just did not photograph well. But have a gander at the ones I did manage to capture digitally.

It was difficult to find things at this time of year, since the summer things weren't in, and the winter things were all gone. But the benefit was, that the prices were irresistible!  

On the skincare front, I purchased an entire collection from CeraVe.  The line was very highly rated by Paula Begoun. A huge 16 ounce tub of all purpose moisturising cream,  moisturising lotion (that lives by my bedside) an AM Moisturiser with an SPF of 30, a PM Cream and a  hydrating cleanser (dry to normal) for me, and a foaming cleanser (normal to oily) for the man.  I wanted a lower priced skin care routine, so here's hoping this is it! I am thrilled that the price of all of the products I need on a regular basis equal what I have been paying for my night cream. 1 measly ounce of it!  That sure doesn't go as far as these products will. The performance of all of the products so far has been excellent, so hopefully, I have solved one little problem in my life. 

Did I mention that the labels will peel off cleanly, leaving faceless white bottles to live on my counter? I know. It is an obsession. I love having plain containers for my products.  The only problem I run into is when there are two identical containers for two different products.  Well, no system is perfect, is it? 

Did I buy these for my real life, or my fantasy life? Only time will tell!

Can you ever have too many pairs of knee high boots?
Or brown suede shoes? Or gold lame pumps?

And how have I lived without burgundy dress shoes?
Basic black satin pumps go with everything, right?

And the one and only pair of sensible shoes in the bunch...sparkly bronze metallic is a neutral, right?

Now where will I find space for these? The only sensible ones are the ruffly number in the last picture...flat as Saskatchewan and just as comfy! But even though I may wear them rarely,
I REALLY love the pumps....round toes, thicker heel, and that nice little platform to even help with my problem of being under-tall for my weight.

Continuing on.....Here is a pic of my new jacket. Over the last ten years, I have possessed a black, a red and now a purple quilted jacket in decreasing sizes. I find them so versatile, and comfortable for the way I really live. Tossed over a thick sweater, they are warm enough to wear out on a cold prairie day, yet light enough to be barely noticable when you are wearing them in the mall. Over a short sleeved tshirt in the spring, they are just the ticket to keep you chill free when the spring winds blow.  The trick is to get them in a neutral colour that goes with red or purple! It works for me! And just happens to be perfect to layer over this knit tunic with a braided cozy for our last few weeks of winter!

We are on the way home!

This trip has been fun, although frustrating when it came to shopping. Shopping between seasons is difficult to say the least.. The summer merchandise isn't in the stores yet, and the sale stuff is very picked over.  However, I did find multiple pairs of high heeled know, the ones for the fantasy life where I wear dress clothes more than two times a week? Never mind. The styles were perfect for my less tan perfect feet...round toed, thick heels and a little platform, bringing my delicate frame up to 6'1" - but I  am comfortable up there. The air is clearer!   I am mourning the loss of my favourite casual shoes. They have just completely disintegrated over the course of the past eight days. They hit their expiry date, and pouf. Gone. So, most of the time my feet were too sore to shop! The shoes I bought just don't seem to work with my travel basics of jeans and a hoody. The gold sparkly shoes don't look or feel quite right, nor did the satiny numbers with the Minnie Mouse bow at the toe....sigh. I love my new fantasy life shoe collection!  I am looking forward to rearranging my closet when I get home to accommodate the new finds, so hopefully, pictures will follow.

Minneapolis was a fun destination. Our hotel  was in the heart of downtown, so we had the usual irritations and expenses  of staying in a big city downtown hotel, but the suite was very spacious, and made up for tit all!  While there, we did eat at one notable restaurant...Lurcat. The food, literally was the best I have ever had. We had the date night special, which was far too much food, but oh, so good!  We both had the same appetizer, Thai meatballs with the most amazing sauce, I had pot roast with a red wine sauce, Rick had pork tenderloin with garden vegetables. I had ice cream, while he indulged in six little donuts (three flavours)  that looked so good I almost stole one!  The restaurants we have eaten in that were touting their  Michelin stars pale when compared to this gem. Amazing food. Gluten free was no problem and we found a lovely new wine that I expect is quite reasonable when bought outside restaurant world.. Sycamore Lane Pinot Grigio.  MM MMMMM good. We looked for some to take home, but it was unavailable in the stores we visited. SO, we settled for a bottle of Three Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's, since it fascinated us. It is supposed to be very good. However, since we failed to bring a bottle opener, we are going back with just one bottle.

We visited the Ikea store three times. I couldn't get enough of the eye candy kitchens! I love the "cook's kitchen" look. Free standing units to house appliances, with open shelves. You just buy the units  you need, and hook them up to the utility lines.  Stainless steel drawers, chopping board counter tops, oiled wood tops, so you can work anywhere in the kitchen without worry!  Slick 'city kitchens' are great, but for me? This style is my heart's desire. I am so looking forward to our store opening in Winnipeg!  Then bye bye white laminate builder's cupboards, and hello "cook's kitchen".

So that is what I have been up to over the last eight days. Eating too much, spending too much and sleeping too much. The coming month I will have to focus on getting all of this fine dining off of my belly. Stay tuned for 'next to no calorie' recipes!