Monday, November 13, 2017

Here I Am

Your know you haven't posted in a while when you have to "sign in" on your blog site! I've been busy playing volleyball, going into the forest, going to rallies, visiting friends and relatives and going to a "blanket exercise"and other workshops and a memorial service.

Here's a few photos:
Oh...oops! Here's a photo of Lily binging on "The Walking Dead"! Bad girl...., but she is a carnivore after all!

The following photos were taken in Toronto where there was a rally against privatization of public resources - oh look, there's Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario! She loves to sell off so-called public corporations for a little bit of easy cash that she can spread around while making more false promises. Election time next year Ms. Wynne - I don't think it's going to go your way!

 City Hall and Nathan Philip Square where soon there will be an outdoor rink for ice skating. We did get a bit of a snow squall last Friday but it's melted thankfully.

For over two years the Council of Canadians has been protesting weekly against the sale of Hydro One. Sadly we did not win that battle so while in Toronto we walked down the street where there is a memorial to Sir Adam Beck whose wish it was that everyone have access to cheap electricity. He is now rolling in his grave which you can see in the photo below! Since this campaign is now over we left behind our signs and props. I wonder how the gov't will cover the loss of $750 million per year in revenue that they received from Hydro One??

Last Wednesday was a beautiful day so I headed out to do a little forest bathing :) There are still beautiful photos to be taken...milkweed...

 ...wild turkeys...let me know if you need a turkey for the upcoming American Thanksgiving!!

Most of the colour is now on the ground...

Grape vine always makes for interesting photos...

The sky was as blue as it could be...

Still small areas of enchantment...
I had a number of burrs stuck to my clothing when I left...

Lily lapping up the sun...

...and trying to get used to Daylight Savings Time!  Extra naps needed :)

An event I attended last Thursday is called the "Blanket Exercise" which is considered a form of reconciliation with our indigenous peoples through education. It was an emotional, gut-wrenching experience but so worthwhile if you get the chance to attend one, do it!

We started off with the floor covered in blankets to represent North America.

Gradually the areas where aboriginals were allowed to live grew much smaller as treaty land
was taken away from them. 
Also, as aboriginals were killed, mistreated and abused the blankets were decreased in size until there was barely anywhere to stand.
Everyone has a different role to play in order to walk in the shoes 
of a disenfranchised person.
My role was of a woman who left the reservation and her family to become a teacher. As a result
the government took away my Indian Status and I wasn't allowed to return to my home 
and my people. I had to leave the circle and stand alone, isolated.
The toughest part was the loss of so many children who were literally torn from their parents' arms and sent to residential schools where "teachers" tried to erase the Indian from them. 
It was a very emotional night and the shame and guilt I feel from the terrible mistreatment of our aboriginal peoples is heavy indeed. Being a member of an Anglican congregation for many years I have watched as the Anglican Church has tried to right the many wrongs done to First Nations people. Mostly with money. And mostly inadequate to their needs. If you would like to learn more about the blanket exercise I have included a link below.

Blanket Exercise

Friday, November 3, 2017

November Numbers: New Budget

Good-bye October and HELLO November!

I experienced some belt-tightening in October due to the new car purchase which left me with a much smaller amount of Misc money for weekly spending. Knowing I couldn't play "fast and loose" with my funds I was way more careful with misc spending than I normally am! So...even on a reduced budget I managed to squirrel away more money than usual in my snowflake box! Yippee!!!

A number of factors helped me stash away extra snowflakes:
  • I had set a gasoline budget of $80 for October. I didn't use any of that! When I bought the car the tank was full and I didn't buy any gas during the rest of September or October. When gas went down in price Nov. 1st I filled the tank for a cost of only $40! Looks like I won't be overspending on gas though I anticipate using more now that it is getting colder. If I can make it til the end of November without buying more gas I'll have another $40 to add to the snowflake box :)
  • Both electricity and natural gas bills came in under the budgeted amount. It's been a mild fall so far and I haven't had to use the furnace much yet or the electric heater downstairs in the TV room. 
  • I was very frugal with my grocery shopping this month. I'm still eating from the package of 5 chicken breasts that I bought: first I made fajitas (lasted 2 nights), then I used some in a pasta dish (1 dinner and Kazi took the rest the next day for her lunch); and then I made chicken vegetable soup with the remainder which I am still eating. (yes, chicken was frozen after being cooked!) I had $50 left in the grocery budget which went into the snowflake tin. 
  • November will brings its own savings opportunities. I have switched to a cheaper internet package (more gigs at a lower cost!) I have been paying $93/month for 200g. I was browsing my internet company's website ( and saw a different, cheaper package so I switched. I don't know how much exactly my new bill will be what with taxes and so on but should be in the area of $60 for 250g.
  • My share of car insurance is going down by $11/month - that's not a lot but it's money in my pocket instead of the insurance company's!
  • I've also paid off $2,000 on my credit card: this was the maximum the car dealership would accept from using a credit card to pay for a car. As interest could accrue it was the first part of the car's cost that I paid off.
  • I have made another purchase (a Yamaha keyboard-Merry Christmas to me!!) and paid most of it off (a different credit card). When I receive a GIC interest payment later this month it will go to pay off the rest owing on the credit card. By the end of November I will be 100% debt-free once again. 
  • Now that one c/c is paid in full I have also repaid my savings in the amount of $500. Having no debt means that starting in December over $1,000 per month will re-build my savings to my pre-car purchase balance. If I didn't travel my savings accounts would be totally repaid in 10 months but as I have plans for a couple trips next year it will taken longer to rebuild my savings but that's ok. Can't be frugal all of the time! 
  • Come January my pension will receive an extra bump up due to increased cost of living raise. When I first started receiving my pension not ALL of my pension received cost of living increases. That was due to the pension plan not doing as well back in the financial crisis of 2007-8. But now that the stock market has recovered my entire pension will receive the cost of living increase. I'm very happy about that! I know how much the gross amount will be but not what my net increase will be. 
  • By the end of November my snowflake box should hold about $500.  Along with my PC points from using my President's Choice Mastercard for all purchases (currently around $100) I will have $600 saved for Christmas. I will also have an extra $300 from not having to pay property taxes in December or January (I pay my taxes on a 10 month plan)! That should cover any additional expenses during the very expensive month of December:) 
And there you have it - my spending adventure (car and keyboard) is over for now. Snowflakes are growing and by the time the real snow is on the ground I'll have Christmas expenses covered. Having a plan and sticking to it really helps. I must remember that as I plan my travelling for next year: Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and SCOTLAND

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Weighty Subject

No, I'm not referring to the tree which by the way was light as a feather HAH!
No...I'm referring to my own weight.
I did something I've never done before while at the doctor's office last week but forgot
to mention it in yesterday's post.
The nurse wanted my height and weight.
Nothing unusual about that.
When I stepped on the scale I just looked at the ceiling.
YUP, never done that before. 
Usually I anxiously watch the scale and want to tell the nurse that my
clothing must weigh at least 10lbs so please deduct that from the overall total!!
But...I don't need to know my weight any more or obsess about it.
I don't care what I weigh. 
It took me awhile to find a photo of myself in my khaki hiking pants
but I finally did. Why?
These are my favourite pants of all time.
As long as they fit then my weight is perfect!
There have been times when the zipper is hard to do up so
I modify my diet a bit and/or exercise more.
But when I put them on last week for my jaunt through Kilally Meadows 
they slipped on and did up easily.
That's all I need to know.
I'm the perfect weight!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Medical Report - Gross Photo Warning!!

Last week was a very physical week - 6 hours of volleyball, long sweaty bike rides in rather steamy weather ( I am NOT complaining) and a trip to the doctor's office!

As for my health...I've had no call back after my pap test last week so hurrah for that!

I had a "push biopsy" scheduled for today with regard for a bump on my shoulder but since the doctor made that appointment the bump gradually got smaller and eventually fell off!! Woohoo - the biopsy was cancelled after the doctor had a look.  Which is fantastic as here is a description of a "push biopsy" -
a metal, rodlike instrument with one pointed or cavitied end and one propulsion end to be pushed hard with the palm of the hand or driven with a hammer in order to drive a hole or to excise a small round piece of tissue. punch biopsy. a circular piece of skin excised by a hand driven biopsy punch.

And another different kind of bump on my back was frozen off a couple of weeks ago and has healed perfectly! I'm batting a thousand so far!!

* gross photo warning

There is just one area where the healing FEET! ...specifically my toe nails!

Warned ya!
My poor toesies

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Workshop Weather

4C this morning - YIKES! On Sunday it was 28C! I suggest a petition that the temperature only decrease by 1C a day...or week!! These sudden changes cause me seasonal anxiety! And also cause me to overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!!

At least the sun is back. We had 5 or 6 straight days of rain. Which means no biking, no long walks through the does mean the workshop is now open for business!

From unpolished...

to polished!

 The leaf is a piece I snapped off a larger carving - I wasn't happy with it and this small piece didn't seem to belong. I turned it into a leaf and gave it to my artist brother who has recently named his studio "The Silver Branch". He put the leaf in his storefront window underneath a large vase holding a silver branch. It looks as though the leaf has fallen from the branch! :) I'll take my camera with me next time I visit him so you can see how it all looks.


...polished!  * The base is made of soapstone as are the pieces above. Soapstone comes in a variety of colours - I really like the rich browns in this piece.  I didn't alter the quartz.

In progress...(this is the sculpture that I took the piece off of which became the leaf). More shaping to be done before I begin to polish...

This one is partially polished...will finish tomorrow. I am going to place this one in a shadow box as it is a thin relief sculpture and needs support. I like the other side better but didn't photograph it for some reason.

This one is partially shaped; will work on it more tomorrow.

Future works of art :) Both are quite large so I will be taking a hammer and chisel to them first to make several sculptures out of both - I prefer to work with small pieces.
And there you have it!
This is week two in the shop - I am quite pleased with what I've accomplished so far. As they keeps me off the streets!

Friday, October 13, 2017

So Far So Good

So far so good with the food budget. I made a big pot of turkey soup, didn't use a recipe just used up leftovers that needed to be used along with what started as 1 cup of soup mix (various dried beans, split peas, lentils, rice, quinoa etc) and turned into 4-5 cups after absorbing lots of water while being soaked. I threw in some oldish carrots and some limp celery, half of a leftover sweet onion, about half a can of tomatoes that had lingered in the fridge long enough and a bunch of soft and squishy grape tomatoes, cut in half. I added some chopped up turkey, of course and some basil, thyme, and a healthy serving of crushed chilli peppers to spice it up a bit (a whole lot!)
                                                          I have to say it is delicious!
*I didn't take any photos so am using google photos that look similar to what I made.

While rummaging around in the fridge I realized I had four green peppers and Kazi's favourite meal is stuffed peppers. It is one of my favourites too because once again it allows me to hide things in the mixture :) Kazi saw the peas ( about half a cup leftover from Thanksgiving dinner) but she didn't identify the leftover stuffing!! Kind of apropos don't you think? Stuffing in stuffed peppers? I mixed it up with some of the soup mix, the leftover peas, some marinara sauce and lots of grated cheddar. You can hide a lot of stuff under cheddar! Oh, I almost forgot...I had half of a medium-sized zucchini which I chopped up and sauteed in a little olive oil and added to the peppers. Yum!

Today I did take myself off to the grocery store as planned as I needed to reload up on fruits and veg, along with a few staples like bread, soy milk and a large package of chicken breasts 30% off. I spent about $60 and hope to NOT shop again for at least a week, preferably 10 days but we'll see. After today there is only about $60 left in the food budget. I'll be making mostly meals that stretch to two nights instead of the usual one.

Future meals will include:
Chicken fajitas (always lasts two nights :)
Cheese and spinach ravioli
Spinach and mozzarella omlettes with mashed potato & onion patties
Shrimp & veggie linguine
Greek lentil soup (get 2-3 meals out of this)
Veggie chilli ( several meals)
Salmon steaks and sweet potato fries
Cheese and potato pierogies
Tuna Melts

We have tons of fresh veg and fruit on hand to augment meals, plus a lot of frozen fruit for smoothies. There is always a pot of soup for lunches and we both eat oatmeal in the morning. This should work. I don't usually make a meal plan I can definitely see the purpose.

Do you plan your meals by the day, week, or month?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October Budget a Bit of a Challenge

Are you squeezing your budget extra tight this month in order to stay in the black? Me too! Just about everyone whose blog I read is trying to make the most of their food budget in order to stay on track.  I just went through Thanksgiving Day long weekend and spent twice as much on food/drinks as I usually spend in an ordinary month.  I have a fridge full of leftovers but we're a little tired of eating turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. It looks like I need to freeze the remaining food and haul it out again in a couple of weeks when I won't be faced with moans and groans...and that's just ME!

But here's the problem: there are three weeks left in October but there is not three weeks of grocery money left! So how to get to the end of October, providing a variety of healthy meals, while staying within the remaining budget. The age old problem. Doesn't seem possible does it?

And this is where you think I'm going to present an imaginative and tasty solution but I'm afraid I'm going to let you down. Because I don't know. If there were only two weeks left in this month I think it would be a snap...but three? Without hauling out the frozen leftovers? This is when having another freezer would come in handy. But I don't have one and never have so I have to work with what I've got.

Yes...I should have increased the food budget for October but the money still has to come from somewhere! So...I've decided to transfer the $80 I set aside for gas for the as yet unnamed car into the food budget line. Fortunately when I purchased the car they filled it up with gas. It still has over 3/4 of a tank so I won't need to put anymore in til next month, and maybe not then either. There, with a little bit of budget magic, I have my three weeks of groceries covered. That being said, I'm still going to try to get to Friday, my usual grocery day, without going to the grocery store.

Fingers crossed.