Tuesday, 14 October 2014

currently - october 14th

time: 7:15 p.m.

location: my incredibly comfortable couch in my living room

drinking: nothing right now.  Should probably have one more glass of water tonight.

eating: a Tootsie Pop.  I keep a jar full on the kitchen counter for when I'm craving sugar.

watching: Love It or List It....This has become a nightly ritual.  Although I'm over the predictable drama of "We need to replace the plumbing/heating/structural system of this house which means we can't do all of the renovations we promised you."  Just once I would love to see them take all of the money they are given and just put it towards making the house amazing.  That would be a shocking reveal.

feeling: determined.  My budgeting/saving is going well.  My guy and I are working on keeping one another accountable in terms of eating better.  Granted, I have to pep talk myself daily, but hey....you do what you have to do.

loving: quiet time.  Work is pretty hectic (that's not new) and when I get home, quiet is all I'm craving.  This past weekend, I don't think I turned on the television or any music for about a day and a half.

thinking: about phone calls I have to make.  I hate calling places to set up appointments.  I have no idea why.  But it means that I put things of for far too long.

making:  I just prepped lunches and dinners for the next couple of days.  I'm in the middle of a sewing project that has been put aside for a couple of days out of frustration.  

wanting: just one more hour in each day.  Okay, maybe two.

needing: to make those calls.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

show me the money

I want to make a change.  One that requires quite a bit of money.  (How is that for being vague?  I am not talking surgery of any sort.  In fact, it would be a temporary change, but one that I think is well worth the money it would require.)

So this means that for the next year, or possibly longer, I need to live as cheaply as possible.  Interesting timing, given that I am less than one year into a new mortgage.  Even more interesting considering that I already live quite cheaply on a day-to-day basis.

My car is paid for.  I eat out only a few times each month.  I don't have any extravagant hobbies.  I've been watching Til Debt Do Us Part for years and live off of cash, using a system very similar to Gail's jars.

Regardless, I still need to find a few more places to cut costs.

I do have a weakness for shopping.  Usually I deal with this by simply not going to the mall.  It is pretty much a given that if I do go to pick something up, I will end up seeing a scarf, necklace, or shirt that I fall in love with and buy without hesitation.  In reality, I have very little need for any type of clothes at this point.  So, impromptu shopping is out.

Cut my cable?  Perhaps.  I am almost down to just the basic package now, but there is still one "entertainment" add-on that could go.  Restaurants will officially be for special occasions only, and good-bye $6 cocktails, hello water.

Grocery shopping is an area where I oddly spend a lot more money than I should.  I rarely get through all of the food I buy before something is going bad, and this is awful for more than one reason.  More diligent meal planning will hopefully help.  Can I become a couponer?  Not sure I have that in me, but I can always try.

Truth be told, I have been considering buying a new car, but that plan has been scrapped.  I will need to put a bit of money into my current car, but that should end up buying me at least three more years without a new car payment, so I'm okay with that trade-off.

I have two trips coming up in the next year.  Both of which are basically bought and paid for, other than our food and entertainment - I'll have to be smart about those.

Beyond those things, I am at somewhat of a loss.  I don't think I have much/anything to sell.  I have a pretty lame (and cheap) cellphone plan.  The hours/obligations of my job don't really leave room for a second one.

Welcome to my new frugal life.

Monday, 11 August 2014

back to the beginning

Confession: I am probably the most out of shape skinny person you have ever met (not that we've met, but...you know).

There was a time that I was in shape - went to the gym three or four times each week, could hold my own in almost any of the classes there, was starting to maybe just maybe become a bit of a runner, took a hip hop dance class once a week, and actually saw muscle definition on my small frame.

Then life happened.  My grandfather spent over six months slowly dying in a hospital, work became a lot to deal with, I started dating a new guy....time for the gym fell away.  And then I got hurt.

I'm leery to even admit what happened because it's so lame, but in an effort to be honest.....a vacuum cleaner did me in.  Long story short, I moved and the base that weighed down with water stayed still.  I twisted as I moved and (since I had already fallen out of shape) something in my back didn't like the motion and subsequent jerking backwards.

I was in physiotherapy for months trying to relieve the pressure on a nerve and get all the parts of my lower spine back into place and working with one another instead of against one another.  It started to affect the muscles in my upper legs and even my knees started to have problems.  I was a mess and pretty much in constant pain.  This was about seven years ago (I actually had to do the math on that just now and feel even worse about this whole situation knowing just how long it has dragged on).

Eventually, my body returned to a semi-normal physical state.  Although I didn't realize at the time that after injury, muscles are incredibly weak, and it wasn't long before I was back to see my physiotherapist for another prolonged amount of time.  I swear that I helped her to build the new house she's living in.... This injury was slightly different and really boiled down to having little to no core strength left.  I couldn't carry things that I thought I could and expect all of the pieces of my back/hips to stay in proper alignment.  But this time, I bucked the system.  I didn't do the exercises and stretches at home that I was supposed to.  I foolishly believed that a good stretching and some strengthening once a week would get me by.

Not surprisingly, it didn't.  But I didn't change my ways until a random conversation with a coworker.  We were talking about his former job as an athletic therapist, and he commented that part of the reason he changed professions was the frustration with clients who lied about doing their "homework" between sessions and then wondered why there was no change.  "You guys could tell?" I asked (horrified.....he had no idea that I was one of those people).  I started stretching at home that night.

The last four or five years have been the same cycle - go to physio when things hurt, get back on track and back into place, stop physio, attempt to work out, get hurt, go back to physio, and repeat.  In there, I've had an MRI (just to make sure this all is in fact still muscular) and realized the power of a really good anti-inflammatory on a really bad day.  I don't do things that I know will aggravate my back - like pushing a full shopping cart, and in pain or not, I have a stretching routine that I do every morning.  A chiropractor has always been off-limits for me...I don't like when my bones crack involuntarily, let alone pay someone else to make it happen.

My nemesis for years now has been squats.  I don't actually hate squats, in fact I used to really like them.  But I no longer have the muscle strength to do them without injury.  Believe me, I've tried (and ended up in physio each time).

This summer I've been slowly working to change this path.  I've talked to my physiotherapist about the progression of exercises that need to happen before I can actually "work out" again.  I'm hoping to get some sort of actual long-term plan in place with her this week.  Or at least find out where and with whom that should happen.  But man....is it going to be a long, slow road.  Right now, I am absolutely the person who needs the 2 lb weights for most upper body exercises (this long without physical activity and everything loses power).  Three sets of ten rehab-type exercises on my lower body is an unreachable goal some days.  Hell, if I walk too quickly on a treadmill, things fall out of alignment (I'm good walking outside though where I control my speed).

The fact is, I'm tired of feeling the way that I do on a daily basis (weak, physically incapable, and only moments away from injury).  And while annoying, these problems with my lower back/hips are not unsolvable.  I just have to consistently and carefully do the work.  In no way is this going to become a fitness blog, but maybe there is something to the idea of making a public declaration - public in the sense that my guy and maybe one or two others will read this.  I want to be strong.  I want to know that I'm strong.  For vanity-sake, I want to look strong.  Due to my job, I will never post progress pictures here, but the "before" ones have been taken.  I am starting to work towards the "after".

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

march book review

Halfway through the month of March, I decided that reading needed to become more of a priority for me again.  It is one of those things that I will immediately push aside when something else comes up, or time that I will forfeit in exchange for sleep at the end of a long day.

That stack of library books that I took a picture of in this post?  I've slowly started working my way through it.  Some have already been renewed because my goal was a bit lofty, but I'll get through them.

The first one that I finished was Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.  I loved her on The Office.  I had no idea that she was also a writer of the show (that tells you how little I look into the television shows that I enjoy).  This book was a great light read - if I only had five minutes to spare while I was eating a sandwich, it was fine because there was no plot to dive into or characters to keep track of.  I thought that it was humourous, but not funny.  I didn't laugh out loud very often, and I wanted to.  After listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey on my iPhone while I was out walking and literally having to stop and put my hands on my thighs because I was doubled over from laughing so hard (yes, out in public, by myself....great visual), I wanted to laugh like that at this book as well.  And I didn't.  That's not to say Mindy Kaling isn't funny, because she obviously is, I just wanted this book to be a bit funnier.

The second book that I read from that stack was Butter by Erin Jade Lange.  It's a young adult novel, so I read this partially for work, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Young adult novels are usually pretty quick to get through, and even though this one was longer than most, it was no exception.  An easy read for an adult, but such an interesting plot.  Without giving away too much, the main character - Butter - is an obese teenager who, after a very bad day at school, creates a website where he announces that he will end his life on New Years Eve with one final (extreme) meal.  The majority of the book deals with his classmates' (note: not friends, but classmates) reactions, as well as his own reactions to what he has decided to do.  There are a few different paths that the plot could take towards the end of the book, and Lange does a great job of not making the ending obvious.

I still have quite a few library books to get through, but next on my list is Crime and Punishment (also for work).  I've started to read Animal Vegetable Miracle at the same time as well.  A person can only take so much psychological drama in one sitting...

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

a weekend in vancouver

I am not much of a traveller.  Sometimes I wish that I was, but the fact is that I am a homebody and after four or five days away, I usually just want my own kitchen, my own bed, and my own stuff back.

Since I don't like being away from home for long periods of time, but still love to explore new places, I have become pretty good at weekend trips.  Give me three days in a city, and I'll attempt to get to most of the major tourist attractions.  I absolutely get that this robs me of the thrill of finding amazing spots that locals have come to love, but for now, I'm okay with that.  I'm pretty much the quintessential tourist - major art galleries and museums, local zoos or aquariums, that "thing" that all tourists get their picture taken in front of, and of course, some magnet/keychain/tchotchke purchases.  But frankly, I think there is usually a reason why these things become tourist attractions in the first place, so I like to see them and find out why.

A few weeks ago, my guy and I went to Vancouver.  I had never been before (but always wanted to go) and he hadn't been since he was much younger, so it was a good place that was nearby and full of spots to explore.

When we arrived, it was snowing.  Wet, heavy snow.  And we were not prepared for that.  We had just left -30 something in Winnipeg and were positive that Vancouver would be so much warmer.  Well....when you're soaked with wet snow, +1 can still be pretty cold.  So it took us a bit of time to adjust (i.e. dress properly - including a stop at a Winners for me to buy some tights) and get used to carrying an umbrella constantly, but once we figured that out, we were good to go.

The weekend looked something like this...

The amazing view from our hotel room
(The Hyatt Regency Vancouver - I completely recommend staying there)

The gorgeous Vancouver Public Library (because places full of books that also happen to be very cool pieces of architecture make me very happy).
The Granville Market

The harbour outside of the market (still snowing out)

Stanley Park in the morning (yup...in the snow)

At the Vancouver Aquarium

Despite the constant snow (it literally stopped snowing about three hours after our plane home took off), we had a fantastic time. And still discovered that Vancouver is a beautiful city....we'll just make sure that the next time we go back is in the summer, when there's more of a chance of sunshine.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

full throttle

Some people go through life on a pretty even setting - they don't get worked up over many things.

I'm not one of those people.  Sometimes I wish that I was - at least when I have to deal with stressful or upsetting situations.  When I get really mad about something, I cry.  Some people express their anger through yelling....I sob.  Not by choice.  Life would probably be much simpler if I didn't overreact to situations and the actions of other people.  Give me a few minutes and I'm calm again, but my initial reactions....not always good.

But on the other side of that coin is the fact that when something good happens, I thoroughly enjoy it.  I get excited about little things in life - and I'm not just saying that to use a tired cliché - getting to have dinner with a friend, getting home in time to catch my favourite tv show after a long day at work, finding out that something that I need to buy is on sale - all instances that will make my day better.

I recently took a trip with my guy to Vancouver, and last week we were talking about some of the memorable moments from that weekend.  He said that one of his best memories was my "unbridled enthusiasm" that he witnessed over and over again, whether it was at seeing beluga whales or figuring out the subway system or buying the perfect souvenir.  The weekend was filled with new sights and experiences and I'm pretty sure I was elated for most of it (once I got over walking around in the pouring rain all day long....I can admit that I was pretty grumpy about that at first.  I bundled up and got over it though).

If the flip side to getting (potentially) overly upset or stressed out about something is that I get to feel more excited and happy about things that might not actually be that exciting, then I think I'll take it.  So much of life could be filed under "completely mediocre".  Maybe my reactions to everyday events are a bit extreme, but I would rather do a happy dance in the grocery store when I find out the paper towels are on for half price than not dance about anything at all that day.

I'll just be sure to keep some Kleenex on hand too.

Monday, 31 March 2014

a simple word....a complicated idea

The prompt: Spirit

"Meditation, prayer, gratitude, faith, comfort. How is this a part of your day? Do you pray? Meditate? Express daily gratitude? Go to church or participate in another sort of faith community? If none of this is a part of your life, think about where you find meaning and comfort. What does that look like in your life?"

I can say yes to some of the questions in this prompt. I can say "I don't know" to others.

I know that I think spirit doesn't have to mean a religious practice with regular attendance at church. But I know that for some people, that's exactly what it means.

I know that I see people who take great comfort in their beliefs, and that I sometimes wish that I held as much faith in something that brought me such assurance in the times that I need it.

I know that taking time to acknowledge the things I am grateful for each day is important to me and it has an impact on how I view the events and people in my life.

I know that meditation is hard, but something I should probably work at.

I know that I believe in being mindful, and I think that it can affect a person's spirit.

I don't know exactly what I believe "spirit" to be. I cannot define it or describe it.

I don't know exactly where I stand in terms of religion.

I don't know how to put blind faith in something that cannot be proven, isn't tangible, or cannot be explained.

I don't know how to quiet my mind or be patient when I attempt to meditate. Song lyrics start running through my mind (on a loop sometimes) and no matter how many times I acknowledge them and center back on my breathing, they start up again.

I know that spirit matters. I know that taking care of your spirit is important. I also know that I don't have it figured out yet.


Prompt #4 in Ali Edwards' class "31 things" through Big Picture Scrapbooking is spirit.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

currently - march 30th

time: 5:30 p.m.

location: my office.  Using a laptop and a desktop computer....that's a first.

watching: season one of Community.  After crying at the finale of Friday Night Lights yesterday, I needed something a little lighter on Netflix today.

feeling: excited about this upcoming week off of work and actually having time to do things that keep getting put on hold.  A little sad that my guy still won't be home for another week.

loving: Netflix.  I held off getting it because I had heard that the Canadian content wasn't that great, but as someone who prefers watching a full season of a show as opposed to waiting for it to air each week, there are so many options.  I've barely turned on my television in the past month and have cancelled half of my cable packages.

thinking:  about writing and this blog. I've been thinking about writing a lot lately....how to get better at it, how to make more time for it, what I have to say, and how to say it without sounding like an idiot.

making: there is a substantial list of the things I would like to make/work on in the next week.  I just started working on Project Life for this year, I have a scarf that I would like to finish (even though I won't need it much longer.  Hopefully.), the table in my entryway needs a table runner, all of my photos from Vancouver are waiting to get into an album, and the list goes on and on.

wanting: to not waste time this week, for my guy to come home

needing: to find some new recipes.  I'd like to cook more actual meals, but I need a place to start.

This idea comes from Tina at Life Love Paper

Monday, 17 March 2014


I have a thing with books.  I have a whole different thing with bookstores.  My brain releases endorphins when I walk into a bookstore.  I have always loved the smell of a new book and turning the crisp new pages for the first time.  I have a hard time walking out of a bookstore without at least one purchase, and I have been known to leave with three or four or even five new titles.

When it comes to books:

1. I have good intentions when it comes to non-fiction, but on a random night when I am looking for a book to dive into, I will almost always choose fiction.

2. I own at least 80 books that I have yet to read.  My reading rate has not kept up with my shopping rate.

3. In the past ten years, I have read more young adult literature than adult literature.

4. Of the adult literature I have read, it has probably been an even split between "chick lit" (a label I'm not fond of) and classic literature.  Crime and Punishment is up on deck right now.

5. Starting a daily routine of reading before I fall asleep is forever a goal.  It probably happens 3 nights a week right now.

6. Despite the number of books I own that I have not read, I still regularly take books out of the library.

7. I try to "work" the hold system at the library.  I'll pick a book that's available right now, then one that has a short waiting list, then one that has a long waiting list.  In theory, they should all arrive at different times and be spread out enough that I actually have a chance to read one before the next one gets here.  This theory rarely works out and I usually end up having to take books back without having a chance to have read them at all.

My current stack of library books

8. My current list of books to read (within the next couple of months) include more young adult lit, some classic lit, books about food and its effect on health, books about writing, and books about investing money.

9. I have only learned how to start parting with books within in the past year.  If I didn't enjoy a book (or wasn't even able to get through it), then it should go somewhere where someone else might.

10. I am fairly certain that for every book I have donated in the last year, there are now one - or sometimes even two - in its place.

11. I am not sure that I will be convinced to switch from actual books to an e-reader.  I like the idea of carrying an e-reader around in my purse (much easier than a big hardcover book), I like the convenience of space that an e-reader offers (versus shelves and shelves of books), but I just don't think I will ever give up turning pages in exchange for looking at another screen.

12. I am envious of people who are incredibly well read.  I am working on it.

Prompt #3 in Ali Edward's class "31 Things" through Big Picture Scrapbooking is Read.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

morning routine

6:05 - first alarm goes off
6:10 - second alarm goes off; I start reading Twitter to see what is in the news
6:15 - third alarm goes off....I really should get out of bed at this point
6:20 - shower, put make up on, etc.; always listen to a podcast while I get ready
7:00 - eat breakfast

7:20 - stretch and do some work on my weak weak core muscles (nothing near a work out....more like some basic physio moves)
7:40 - finish getting ready for work
8:15 - realize that I have somehow lost about twenty minutes of time and am now running late; pack some lunch
8:35 - leave for work

The only real change in this routine that happens on the weekends is that I will sleep until around 7:30, and I don't rush out the door for work.  But that's about it.  I'm completely a creature of habit.


"Morning routine" is the second prompt in Ali Edwards' 31 Things class through Big Picture Scrapbooking.

need a table, build a table

Maybe it's something about owning a home that I actually truly care about (versus temporarily renting an apartment), but my desire to make things for my home is unlike it ever has been before.

I have an office that is in the middle of being furnished.  I would like to get a futon or day bed of some sort to have in there, and I need to get some prints up on the walls.  I knew for awhile that I was going to need some sort of small table in that room, and I really hoped that it would be one that could double as both an end table for the futon and a table for my sewing machine.  I also knew that the size I was looking for would be tough to find, and that finding one with adjustable legs (for the different heights that I would need) would be next to impossible.

So on a whim I decided to build a table.  Now, I stopped taking woods classes after grade 9, so my skills are slim to none.  But after my guy found that Ikea sells adjustable table legs, it was just a matter of buying the wood from Home Depot and getting them to cut it to size.

A quick sanding job and a couple of coats of paint later, and I was ready to attach said legs.  Without going into great detail of how I jumped the gun and overlooked some pretty important pieces of hardware - and my guy's total and absolute patience after making another unnecessary trip to Home Depot - he helped me attach the legs and taught me how to use a drill at the same time.  I adore that man.

The finished table isn't perfect - it turns out the piece of wood I bought wasn't totally flat - but I made it and I love it.  And it's sturdy, which is the important thing.  Since the room is still not organized, the table is currently a holding place for any and all important paperwork....so it can take some weight.  Good thing.

The underside of the table with the adjustable legs from Ikea.

Monday, 3 March 2014


When I was a teenager, each year for Christmas my grandfather would buy me some kind of jewelry - always expensive, but nothing really appropriate for a fourteen year old girl.  Or at least not the type of jewelry that I was wearing at that age.  Gold, dainty, always some sort of stone or pearl.  I would thank him for taking the time to pick something out especially for me, but I would always end up putting the necklace/bracelet/earrings in a jewelry box at home and never actually wear them.

I think that I was fifteen the year he gave me a ring.  This gift was slightly different from the others, because this one was my birthstone specifically, not just something pretty that had caught his eye.  The extra effort alone gave this ring a fighting chance at being worn, at least once and awhile.  It was far too dressy looking to wear to school, but maybe when we went to a family dinner or some sort of occasion.

I tried wearing the ring a couple of times, but it felt uncomfortable, like the points at the top and bottom dug into my finger constantly and the stone stood out far enough that I snagged it on anything and everything.  So into the jewelry box it went with the others.

Two weeks before my 26th birthday, on a Sunday morning, the phone rang.  I was still living at home with my parents.  My grandmother was in a panic.  My grandpa was acting weird - dropping things and not talking properly.  She made him toast for breakfast and he tried to put one of the slices into the teapot on the counter.  My parents rushed over to their house and called an ambulance.  I knew before they had even left our house that he was having a stroke.

By the time they all arrived at the hospital, his speech was all but gone.  I arrived about an hour later - my parents suggested I wait until the initial chaos had settled (if that's possible) and they had some idea of what was going on.  The CT scan had been done and now it was a matter of waiting to see the damage the lack of oxygen had caused.  When I walked up to the stretcher in the hallway, everyone looked scared and the one word that my grandpa kept saying repeatedly was "hanging".  He was using it as a noun, verb, curse word, everything.  Once and awhile a "he" or "they" would slip in, but mostly it was just "hanging" again and again and again.

Miraculously, my father had figured out some way to communicate with him - maybe it was due to the fact that his own father had had a stroke thirty years prior and the only word he was left with for a few days was "shit" - but the rest of us struggled for the next couple of days and weeks.

His speech slowly improved.  He had a lot of speech therapy both at the hospital and then at the rehab center he moved into for the next two months.  My grandfather was a stubborn man, and that tenacity carried him through every moment of rehab that he could get his hands on.  Being a teacher, I was one of the few people he trusted to help him outside of his sessions, and he would wait for me to come visit so he could show me the new cards that he had been given to practice - cards that stretched his vocabulary closer to what it used to be and cards that listed words that the speech therapist noted he was having trouble pronouncing so that he would work on them in between sessions.

Eventually, he moved back home and life looked differently after that.  He had some cognitive impairments from the stroke as well - tasks that involved multiple steps were a challenge, cooking food in particular could be a bit dangerous.  But he never stopped trying.  He never stopped working to figure out what he could and couldn't do - and then he would try to find ways around the things that were difficult.

And then eventually, more strokes would come, and each one would leave more damage than the last.  When he passed away, his death followed an arduous six months in a hospital bed, where he still managed to communicate with us through lip reading and some animated facial expressions.

That first Sunday that changed everything - two weeks before I turned 26 - I slipped that ring with my birthstone on my finger as I left to go to the hospital.  I'm not sure what exactly drove me to find it that day.  My mom recognized it immediately when she held my hand and cried a few hours later.  I continued to wear that ring every day after that - to work, to run errands, to see my friends, to the rehab center, to the intensive care units, to his funeral.

I am 33 now, and I still wear that ring each and every day.  At times, wearing that ring has made me feel closer to him since he has been gone; at others, it has reminded me of all of the years I had packed it away into a jewelry box and didn't appreciate it.  That ring has brought me comfort and made me feel guilt.  That ring has also brought on panic attacks when I haven't been able to find it. I still have several of the pieces of jewelry that he bought me over the years, but this one holds more meaning to me at this point than all of the others combined.


In 2012, I signed up for an Ali Edwards class through Big Picture Scrapbooking, called 31 Things.  The class consisted of 31 different writing prompts.  Two years later and I'm finally making time to tackle them. The topic of "jewelry" was prompt #1.

Thursday, 13 February 2014


Is it possible to breath life into a blog after a year long break?

Maybe it's time to find out....