when death baffles, again and again

I just learnt today that someone I know only through blogging has died of cancer this weekend. She was young (around early 30s), with a husband and a little son. May she rest in peace.

She was always open about the encounters with life about first survivorship and then being a terminal patient. My understanding was that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, treated and was on remission, only tho find out later that she now had multiple metastases in her body. It was frightening to hear the news for me. I had met her when she was on remission and I never thought that she would become terminal. But she did.

Still in that situation, she kept her chin up and her ordeal open for everyone to learn from. She was so positive and upbeat that it was again hard for me to realize that she was terminal. In one posts, she said “make no mistake, I am dying“. That broke my heart and I guess I started to take it a little bit more serious then. Communicating with someone whose days on this life is limited is a strange feeling…. Thinking that next day, next week, next year, this person will not be here…. How fragile and strange life can be, right?

Right.

Another thing that broke my heart was when she said that her doctor would be removing/or not removing (cannot remember which one and it does not matter really) her breast fillers (which she always hoped that one day would help with reconstructing her breasts). I thought she must have been heart-broken…. How did she stand so tall in the middle of all of these frustration and disappointment? She was a strong girl, but goodness knows, this could not be easy.

And a couple of weeks back, just like that, out of blue, we learnt that she was hospitalized, in pain, in hospice care, and having trouble with eating/feeding tube. And today we learnt that she had passed out last weekend.

I do not know what to think, what to feel for. I am certainly sorry for the family and friends. But I am feeling very weird, very weird.

She was here and now she is gone. She knew she was gonna die, but I never thought that would happen (duh me). What did she feel or think prior to her death in the hospital, the hospice care, right before her death? How did she face (I am sure she was courageous) death? The prospect of death?

Thinking about these nauseates me. 

She is not the first one that I knew and lost to cancer. On facebook I am still friends with a friend of mine who died of melanoma at the age of 40. I now follow blogs of not one but two deceased cancer patients. These numbers, you know are, likely to increase.

 I dislike cancer and what it does to us, directly or indirectly. I hope one day we will really be able to control this diseases.

Until then, all I can say is; please be aware of the risk factors of cancer, limit them as much as you can, see your doctor when you suspect something wrong is going on, take advantage of the screening programs (like colonoscopy, mammography and others), and be active in your own health care.

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sourdough with a touch of rolled rye

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What is a Sunday without a home-baked loaf of sourdough?

You got it right – it is almost impossible!!!!! :))))

Since I started sourdoughing last August, except one weekend and when I was away for vacation/business trip, I baked a loaf or two every…single…Sunday! 🙂

I keep experimenting with the rolled cereals/grains in my sourdough loaves. My recent a couple trials including the soaked rolled oat and flax seed in sourdough (for example, here and here) have been quite successful. I think they help with  the moisture even though they lack the gluten so they take up only a small part of the total dough (other wise the loaf does not rise – I know by experience – unless you want a flat and stiff loaf, do not try to have a loaf with only rolled oat).

Anyways, I saw and purchased the rolled rye a couple of weeks ago. Honestly I have no idea what it could be used for, but I thought it would be a nice addition to my baking adventures and a nice ornament for the crust. I was not wrong.

This is the biggest loaf I have ever baked so far; thus rather than a boule I opted out for a baton loaf (I thought it would bake more evenly). Also, I proved the dough in a large plastic bag that kept it somewhat warm (something like a greenhouse effect). I am glad I remembered to do this as I think it reduced the proving time.

Recipe:

  • tend to the starter and prepare the levain as explained here
  • mix 1 cup of rolled rye with 1 cup of water, soak for 30 min
  • add the rye mixture,  1 1/4 cups of starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar together and mix well
  • add 4 cups of bread flour and 2 tbs of salt. Mix and form a shaggy dough. It will be a little bit sticky dough
  • stretch and fold 4-5 times at 30-60 min intervals
  • cover, wrap with a thick towel, and rise at room temp over night. My kitchen is around 17 C
  • the next morning, take the dough on a floured surface, expand and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over itself to form a baton shape
  • cover and rest for 10-15 min at room temp
  • re-shape if required and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  • cover with a thick towel and place in a large plastic bag; tie the ends of the bag and rest for 5 hours at room temp
  • pre-heat the oven at 375 F
  • wet the surface of the loaf with your hands and sprinkle with rolled rye. Gently press to make sure the flakes will stick. Score the loaf as you please
  • bake for 55 min
  • cool down and enjoy!

Happy baking!

saying “no” is a right

I have been practicing being more assertive and true to my own needs (one other example here). I think it could also be described as advocating for myself, if you will.

And that feels good, my friends.

A colleague of mine, who became quite dependent on me and is neither fully kind nor fun to be with called me at home yesterday evening and again today in the office. I do not mind calls at the office but I hate it when people think that they can reach me whenever they want and call me at home. This was not the first time she called me at home, but this time I had finally had it and I reacted; I saw and recognized the number, and did not answer it.

The same thing today when she called my office. I was out for a second when she called (luckily), saw her number upon my return, and decided to forget about it. The funny thing is that if that was important or an emergency, I am sure she would email me. Anyways; I called a couple of hours later when I have had time. It turned out that she called me for a small thing that she could easily handle. But no, she has to bother me, and instead of figuring things out herself, the solutions should always come from me!!! Because I do not have any work to do myself!!!!

I am angry at the situation as you can see.

We should limit our interactions with such people, especially if they are not even kind towards us, not crediting us for the work and help we do for them and pretending like they have figured and done every thing themselves, and are draining us with their constant neediness, negativity, and opportunistic characteristics.

I have taken my first steps yesterday and today. I am determined to distant myself from this person and stop doing their itsy bitsy work for them. She not only took my time, but also fried my nerves.

If you have someone like this in your life, I hope soon you will prioritize yourself over them.

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Weekly budget check

Another #leanspending week 🙂

This was a week with the least amount of grocery expenses; I had fresh produce left from the week before, which I decided to consume before I bought new ones. It was a good decision; I wasted neither the produce nor the money 🙂 I also cashed loyalty card points, which dropped my grocery bill this week (don’t you love them?).

This being said, I have had a social that costed me a little bit. I am not complaining about this, knowing that it happens only rarely and I usually enjoy the food.

And, the most exciting part? The pre-payment I made to my mortgage! This week I made the biggest pre-payments ever; a total of $1,662.5. Almost all of this is my tax return. I am so excited and proud of myself…..

This is my 4th pre-payment done so far. I started in the new year; my motto is that whatever extra I get (from coupons, waivers, tax return, tempting expenses that are not done etc.) will be used as pre-payment. Before I know, they accumulate.

Anyways, here is the week’s account:

————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab drive in the snow storm day): $37

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $37 = $73

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $757.5 (Yahooo !!!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $178 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to shopping for personal care and cleaning products at a store)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $27.5(these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Maybe a small amount, but a penny saved is a penny earned, right? 🙂

—————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and brown lentil meal from the freezer; bulghur (x2), canned bean, and pasta from the pantry 🙂

Honestly, I am very excited about consuming the food that I already have. Since I started prioritizing the food in my freezer and the pantry in the last few months, I have consumed quite a bit of it. This helps me not only with saving money but also with an opportunity to refresh them. Like, last week I shopped for dry food (beans, lentils, seeds, rolled oats etc.) with great joy (oh, the joy of shopping cannot be under-estimated!). I have great and diverse food that can be enough for a couple of months and I am feeling incredibly abundant and grateful! 🙂

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts

I always found March-May kind of tricky; they feel like spring but then they are not. As you can guess, yes we are expecting another snow storm tonite. I am sure it is not going to be a snow day, but boy, do I really want the freedom to walk without thinking about the snow banks or ice? Well, looks like I will wait for sometime for that.

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Nevertheless, I walked this morning and it was a pleasant walk. I had my dental cleaning appointment, which went well. Only that I have been cranky lately and that meant I was not complying with everything. For example, my dental hygienist suggested that I have an additional X-ray, which I refused. She might have had a good reason, but I am not getting an X-ray unless it is absolutely necessary or recommended by a dentist. I am proud of myself for saying NO, which is easier when I am not in the mood. Also, it helped that the hygienist made me extra annoyed by asking all bunch of personal questions, spending time like this, and making me pay for an extra time. Next time, I am making clear that I am keeping the time to make sure I will not be charged more than the required, especially while also being subject to a ridiculous conversation. So, that was how I started my day….

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Anyways; after that it was better. First, I felt hungry and bought some muffins/baked goods and ate them with great appetite and enjoyment 🙂 Since I usually do not have breakfast, this was a nice change that I appreciated very much – I can do this more often 🙂

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The rest of the day was not eventful, for which I am grateful. I walked back home and prepared myself a healthy meal. I still have 10 pounds to shed (that I gained lately), which bothers me. Yesterday, for example I was miserable thinking about it…. Yet, I want to feel positive, rather than negative, and believe in myself that I will take the necessary steps to start removing extra fat from my body… This evenings’ meal was a good example of healthy meal (cracked wheat salad with lots of onion, tomato, celery, pepper, and parsley 🙂
Hope I will keep this determination up 🙂

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The day of sourdough – Sunday

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You know I bake sourdough bread every Sunday. Since each dough, each loaf is different, Sundays are usually very exciting times for me 🙂

This baby is part semolina sourdough – my second take on semolina.

My experience with semolina flour has been consistently good really, but it is true that it does not rise, so I used only a cup in this loaf. There is something nice about it that helps yield a great dough, even though I cannot put my finger on it. Let me know if you have any idea 🙂

Recipe:

Like other times, I fed the starter on Friday, and then again on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon, I added 3/2 cup starter, 1 cup water, and 2 tbs sugar and mixed it well with a fork. Then I added 1 cup semolina flour, 3/2 cup bread flour, and 1.5 tbs salt and mixed everything well using my hand. 

The rest is very similar to other times (check this) except that I proved the loaf at room temperature for 8 hours today – only because I stepped out for a quick shopping trip, bumped into friends, and spent (lovely) time with them, so when I returned back home it was already 8 hours of proofing 🙂 

I was scared that it would be over-proved, but it was not – the loaf turned out to be great; I think if it was sticky, it would not shape this well and would possibly end up being over-proven. So I feel lucky this time 🙂 

Happy baking! 🙂

 

 

 

impulses, mistakes, choices, and life as it is

Like many of us, I made mistakes that shaped the rest of my life for the worse (that is how I interpret them anyhow) upon wishes and desires of my heart, but not of my mind.

I had felt I was suffering anyhow, so the alternative (a.k.a. the mistake) would be equally hurting. So, what the heck? At least I would feel alive; pulsing with life, hope, excitement, and happiness.

And I had 🙂

Yet, I was not the same after a while, somethings were inherently gone, and I missed them. So, that is why I interpreted them as “mistakes”, as there was no opportunity to go back in time and get again what I had had.

I then decided that mindful choices were better than the desires of my heart, safety more than excitement and impulses. Love was out of question, so was taking risks. I become conservative in my look to life and I would rather have a structured/safe life where I would have peace of mind. I also went through financial hardship – being fired twice in a year (even though I found jobs right away and did not even have one day out of pay check) and knowing how valuable a dollar can be (could buy 1.5 cans of beans for a buck those days), I also prioritized financial security as a result..

Now, I have got all of these; a great job with a great salary and benefits in a safe city. Arse boring life, but safe, well structured, and financially secure. 

Do I feel accomplished?

————–

How do I feel really?

————–

I feel like I want to quit this job and find the true desire of my heart again.

Take risks, move somewhere, meet with new people, and have spontaneity and curiosity about life.

Be open to excitement in seeing new faces, new cities, new cultures, and new experiences.

I want to rediscover myself and the course of my evolution…..

But, I will not take an active step and write that resignation letter.

Not yet.

I will know when it is the time to get out of this, and explore and bloom with excitement.

I will know……

I gotta trust that.

Freedom at last.

One day.

I will be waiting.

One day.

 

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it is not that bad

While I have bragged about how boring my life is, this morning I came to the realization that in the last one years or so, I have changed my life in a much better way.

First of; I started baking my own bread – they may not be the best, but they are getting better each time. More importantly, baking gives excitement to my daily life. Every Sunday I am eager to see how my dough and the loaf will turn out like! It is also healthy (I believe – it must be way better than the store-made bread). What a wonderful, healthy, and easy way to have a recurrent type of excitement 🙂

Second of; I eat better – that is for sure. I eat more raw veggies, which agree with my body. I have also lost some weight (even though I gained some of it back lately I am positive that I can do it again).

Third of; I walk more. I walked in the morning not only during summer, but also in winter (for the first time this winter) from home to office! For someone like me who was chronically tired, stressed, and impatient, this is quite an achievement.

Fourth; I have more energy – thanks to my iron and vitamin D supplements. This makes me feel better about myself and it is incredibly satisfying.

Fifth of; I am saving more than the last few years, so I am in much better shape financially.

Funny thing is that I have come up with these out of blue while walking  this morning 🙂

———-

These being said, it is only normal to fix some issues and then move on with identifying and aiming to fix new issues. In this logic, it is almost impossible to be without any issue.

Fine.

So I must be okay with having  a number of things that bother me now; 

I need a more social life; I do not know what that is gonna be but whether I join a hobby class or start hosting more frequently at home, I have got to come up with something.

I need variety – doing the same things and seeing the same faces/places are dead boring. I have every single right to be bored, considering the circumstances. I believe a new social hobby would enrich my daily life a little bit. Also, traveling is an opportunity to break it, but how frequently one can go away?

I need to stop believing that I am old. I am not old – older, yes, but not old. I still have a life!

🙂

weekly budget check

 

This was quite a #leanspending week 🙂

I am constantly saving from my weekly allowance (a.k.a. fun funds): I have not decided what to do with the accumulated funds, but I am sure I will come up with something over time 🙂

Also, I got a tax return last week, which excites me! I will be using it as a mortgage pre-payment next week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and other little miscellaneous expenses): $43

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $43 = $77

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $674.5  (Yahooo !!!! 🙂

Other expenses: $50 (health-related)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $31.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe etc.).

Not too much this week, but that is okay – every dollar counts 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: minced beef, cooked bean meal, green beans, and meatballs from the freezer; rolled oats, flax seeds, bulghur, and pasta (x2) from the pantry 🙂

 Don’t you love using the food at home?

 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

unhappiness

poem

——————

sometimes we must accept that

we do not have all the answers

and we cannot get everyone’s circumstances

in these cases;

empathy has the softest voice

and silence has the sweetest tune……

—————-

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PS: the interesting thing is that I wrote these words in anger as a response to a comment on one of my posts about unhappiness. I hardly get upset about the comments on my posts, yet in this case I had taken the comment as “blaming” me for my unhappiness, which is ridiculous. Nobody wants or plans to be unhappy. Right?

Right.

Cheers! 🙂

boredom

I realized that the majority of the things that excited me in the past (hanging out with fiends, new challenges and hurdles to overcome, seeing new places, being spontaneous, living in big cities that have a lot to offer, falling in love, picking those lovely black shirts at stores etc.) are no longer in my life.

Did I get old?

What happened?

Why do I not have excitement in my life?

How did I end up in where I am and with what I do and live with?!!!

—————-

I have no one but myself who is responsible for this. I should have never moved in where I am. I knew I was not a small city person – walk to the same places, shop at the same malls, visit the same stores, see the same faces, eat at the same diners…. yet, I moved here because I have got an exciting work. Thanks! Argh!

—————-

I must start a social activity; maybe a cooking or sewing class. I am even in favour of attending a bingo night. Goodness, I must do something different than what I am doing – this is such a boring life!

Come on me, come on…

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random thoughts

What a boring weekend.

Sorry – I did not mean to rant and depress, but that is what it has been.

I spent the most of yesterday at home because of a snow storm. Argh… Then a couple of friends called and they said they had no power. I invited them over. I was very happy to be able to help my friends and cook for them with the food at home 🙂 Generally speaking I like being resourceful and helpful. Yet, honest  to goodness, the negativity around these people is incredibly annoying. I feel a lot better around positive people – this is a fact. There is nothing more boring and annoying than people who rant all the time and never seem to appreciate anyone. That is a also a fact.

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So while I felt good about myself, I felt negative about my friends. Do I sound like a hypocrite?

So be it! 🙂

And today was okay. I just felt suffocated at home and went out for a short time and got fresh air. It was very quiet and there was ice everywhere…. Walking was challenging, yet quite relaxing. I have even been to the book store close to my house. Interestingly I only spent maybe 5-10 min and left it without buying any book (when was the last time I left a book store without buying a book? hmmmm)….

On a funny side; I baked a 40% whole wheat flour and 60% rolled oat loaf and what others said was true – oat does not rise. I have a brick-like bread to consume, possibly as croutons. Yay! 🙂

I also sewed a little bit yesterday and today. I realized it is stressing me, not relaxing… This needs to be reversed. I am trying to sew a piece of clothe for my mom and I want it to be great, and also enjoy doing it. I have some mental work to do and I better allow room for mistakes and be okay with messing with fabric and projects… At least for some more time….

Considering how boring today and yesterday was and how annoying my friends were, I questioned once again what the hey I was doing here, rather than being with my family? This is a billion dollar question……It should worth for me to be staying here; emotionally, financially, personally, professionally, health-wise, somehow……. I came to this question time to time, though it has been a while that I have had it last time…. Boy, I must be really bored and mad! I hope not to see those people again for some time.

Anyways; Friday was good friends- I have got my taxes done! I have gone there scared and thinking that I had forgotten to take my cheque book and I hope they could accept VISA or debit for the tax I owe to the government, and came back home just happy. I have got a return! I wanted to celebrate this, but for some reason I did not feel like eating out that days. Maybe some other time 🙂

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What do I want to do with my tax return? A new mortgage pre-payment 🙂 🙂 🙂

That sure makes me feel blessed and happy 🙂

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weekly budget check

When it rains, it pours.

No, not the rain – I am referring to my spending pattern 🙂 

This past week was a relatively high spending week.

Let me explain:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $87

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $87 = $33

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $597.5  (dance with me here! Wohoo 🙂 ) 

Other expenses: $111 (social/dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at home rather than the local cafe etc.)

Notes: it is interesting that sometimes spending money feels right. For example, on Tuesday morning I took the cab to office for the first time in 2017 (I usually would take the bus or even walk). It felt right and I am not resentful about its fee because I woke up at 6.45 am and by taking the cab I started my work-day at around 7.20 am. It was a very efficient day and I am very happy about this.

Also the dinner expense I have made (today) was well worth it. I took a couple out for a simple dinner tonite. They are very nice people, I enjoy spending time with them, and I have been to their home many times. It was my turn. Also, they just bought a house, which I wanted to celebrate!  It was a great night with great people – so all is well 🙂

Mortgage pre-payment: I paid an additional $270 today as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 This is my third payment this year totaling $870. I am very excited about these payments and am motivated to save more from my regular expenses so that i can keep making these payments 🙂 🙂 🙂

————————————————-

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: rolled oats, flax seeds, soya beans, and green lentils from the pantry 🙂 I love, love using the food at home! 🙂 

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

oat and flax seed sourdough

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I surprised myself with this loaf; if you are looking for a change in the taste of your sourdough loaf, I would highly recommend you to give this one a try. This loaf tastes very realistically “nutty” because of the oat. I plan to bake a loaf only with oat and levain next time – let’s see how that will turn out.

I think it is true when they say that salt brings in the flavor. Salt level in the recipe may be too much for many, so feel free to use less, but for me it was great. 

 

Recipe:

Friday: feed the starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup water, wrap in a towel, and rest at room temp overnight.

Saturday: The next morning, feed  the starter again and divide into two; one part to go to fridge and the other one to rest at room temp, wrapped in a towel for a few hours, which will be used in bread.

Once the levain seems bubbly;

  • Add 1 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup of flax seed to 1 cup of water, mix and let stand for 30 min or so
  • Add to the oat/flax seed mix, 1 cup levain, 1 cup water, 2 tbs sugar and mix well
  • Add to this mixture 1.5 tbs of salt and 3 cups+2 tbs of bread flour. Mix and form a shaggy and sticky dough, cover with a towel, and rest for 20 min. At this step the dough does not have to be perfect and there is no need to knead.
  • Stretch and fold ever 20-30 min 4 or 5 times. Honestly I put my hands on the dough whenever I had time 🙂
  • Cover with a towel and rest at room temp over-night

Sunday: In the morning:

  • Take the dough on a counter sprinkled with flour, stretch and form a rectangular dough, and then fold over to form a round dough. Cover and rest for 10 min
  • Check the shape, re-shape if needed, and try to form surface tension by pulling the dough towards yourself on the counter, repeat 10-15 times till it feels alright. I also “swirled” it around with the hope that it would keep its round shape
  • Wet your hands and touch on the surface to make it a little bit wet. Apply rolled oats and gently press on them to make sure they stick, turn the dough upside down, and place it in a proofing basket (in my case a mixing bowl) covered with a baking towel. Cover and proof at room temp for 3.5 hours 
  • Turn on the oven at 375 F, take the dough on a baking sheet/parchment paper seam side at the bottom, score, and place in the oven. I no longer pre-heat my oven.
  • Bake 50 min uncovered, then 10 min covered, and then another 10 min without cover.
  • Take out of the oven and cool down.

Enjoy 🙂

A day

I keep getting up early.

I was up at around 8 am this morning. When I wake up that early, the day is so long that I can do everything in it. Like today; I got breakfast, cleaned my home, did laundry, talked to my family, walked to my office, worked like 4 hours, walked back home, cooked meal, and prepared my sourdough for tomorrow. Now, I am chilling.

Wohoo! 🙂  This is a lot of things to do in a day without getting bored or stressed. Yep – I did it. I did all of these without getting bored or without getting stressed 🙂 What a blessing.

Everything was nice and easy today. Cleaning was easy. There was only two loads of laundry. It was too much windy but I walked 30 min to office and then back to home and enjoyed every minute of it anyhow; the work I have done at the office was great – I did not stress myself at all. I just worked without any pressure and I did really good. 

Overall, I could not be happier and excited about getting up early, finding a long day ahead of me, and being stress-free! 🙂

Hey, maybe I will do that again tomorrow 🙂

Tomorrow is my bread baking day. Every loaf is an excitement – after all, there can not be another copy of a loaf. Each one is individual. They cannot be replicated 100% – no matter how hard we try. That is why each Sunday I have excitement guaranteed – “how will this loaf turn out?” What an exciting question! How nice to have this excitement every week.

I am so lucky.

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random thougths

It is Friday 🙂

This week has passed pretty fast and I did not get tired. That means I am planning to go back to the office, hopefully tomorrow and take care of some stuff. That does not happen to me frequently, but when I feel like working at the office at a weekend, it usually indicates my eagerness to finish something without getting stressed. So it is a good thing 🙂

Tonite I am listening to Amy Winehouse – Back to Black.

It somehow saddens me to see her singing in this video, knowing that she has passed away. What a strong voice, what a vulnerable person. The video clip is so openly about death that it heightens my sadness somehow – did she ever think about her death while shooting this video, while singing this song? Does anything that mattered to her when she was alive matter right now?

The answer is a clear no.

So, why do I keep get upset about the tinniest s.it? I am particularly agitable about someone at work the last few weeks. I want to get rid of this annoyance, these silly thoughts. I want to enjoy my moment and cherish everything I am grateful for. Yet, when was the last time I wrote my joy journal?  I increasingly believe that it is only the human nature to be engulfed in the little issues in the absence of apparently bigger issues.. Maybe I should be grateful that I have such small issues at the centre of my life right now.

……

The last two months have passed very fast…. I cannot put my finger on why. It is not like I was amazingly busy at work or out of work. It is strange. I wanted to live and be mindful of each day. Yet here I am at the beginning of March looking back two months and I cannot identify anything notable that happened in the last 60 something day… Strange.. Weird..

Something needs to change, I guess. First thing first is to find new projects at work and at personal life. It is boring to keep thinking and doing the same thing, going to the same places/stores, and buying the same types of food.

Where is my adventurous spirit?

Where is the curiosity? Once it was continuous. Now it is hard to find fast….

Please do not tell me that I just got old.

weekly budget check

Interesting times.

First, I feel like I am spending way more than I should, but this should not annoy me; I only purchase stuff that are either durable and on sale, or are needed.

Second, I think walking to the office in the morning now is a thing for even winter! I am making a serious effort to walk by default now, unless it rains or is very icy 🙂 Walking is so cool 🙂

Third, it is becoming a nice habit to use the small savings to pay as mortgage pre-payments – this year I have made 2 and today I ordered another one to be in effect next week. I am excited and very, very proud 🙂

Anyways, going back to the weekly account:

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $73

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $73 = $47

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $564.5 

Other expenses: $49.5 (hair dye etc.)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $46.5 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as walking rather than taking the bus, having breakfast at the local cafe etc.)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans, quinoa, rolled oats, soup noodle from the pantry; breakfast calzone, beef, and pastry sheet from the freezer 🙂

*a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer. This will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste.

————————————————-

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

 

what do I think about commercial blogs on financial freedom?

Sometimes when I read the stories of “highly successful savers”, which are full of glory and high savings rates (like >50%), I get jealous or frustrated or something…

It is because with my best intentions I can only save around 35% of my income and not one (per)cent more (and that is so if I do not get an extra expense related to a serious repair or house maintenance issue). Why? I do not know but I cannot significantly reduce my expenses more than what I already have without seriously hurting the quality of my life, getting really cheap, or foregoing activities, such as visiting my family, that are highly important for me.

When I examine my feelings a little bit deeper, I see that when I read those stories I actually lose my hope to save a lot of money. This is simply because I realize that while I make a great effort to save (saving 35% of my income is not bad at all), since my expense-to-income ratio cannot be reduced more, I become aware that what I can save is considerably less than what I should be saving….. Long story short, those success stories/blogs make me feel like a failure.

Go figure..

Strange, is it not?

When I come to my senses and start thinking objectively, things start to look a little bit better. I think that some of these blogs are not giving us the full picture and they function to inspire the readers (which is awesome), yet one also wonders how much their interest in making money out of their blogs affects the stories they write. 

Since last year I ceased reading such “commercial” blogs, some of which are quite famous in the financial freedom-world by the way. I decided their story was not beneficial for me and I wanted to choose to surround myself with positive – not negative- feelings and confidence during my frugal journey.

Additionally, I must note that: there is quite a difference between those commercial blogs and the blogs I follow here, who are genuine and open about their struggles; their accounts are sincere and naturally full of both failures and successes. These are real people and real stories, just like mine and I am very happy to follow them. I would recommend them to everyone who is interested in inspiration, saving, and making better choices related to their finances.

 

 

verdict on quinoa as salad filler/base

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Quinoa is something that I wanted to try for some time – many people talk very positively about this staple. As someone who likes legumes/beans/dry food as salad material I thought it was time that I bought a pound or two and give it a try. Luckily, it did happen this weekend when at a bulk produce store I managed to find organic quinoa (not that I am particularly interested in organic food – it just happened to be so. Anyways..). 

Recipe: 

boil and bake 1.5 cups of quinoa in 3 cups of water for around 20 min (stir frequently), add 2 tbs of chili sauce, a pinch of salt and chili pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 small radish, 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce, 3 stalks of celery, 1 bunch of fresh coriander, 1.5 small onion, and liberal amount of olive oil.

Verdict:

Quinoa does not have a strong taste, smell, or aroma. So it serves very well as a base/filler for salad. However, it did not appeal me and I could certainly live without it. (These being said, I think considering its protein content, I would give it a try every once a while.)

Also, I think fine bulghur (cracked wheat) makes a better base for this kind of salad (simply boil water, pour it over bulghur, cover the lid, wait for 10 min, and mix with a fork/spoon, and then add the other salad items).  C’est Simple! 🙂

Plus, I wonder whether the price would worth it (i bought around 500grs of organic quinoa for 4.5 bucks). I am pretty sure that its being organic inflated the price this time, but I am certain that I could get bulghur much cheaper.

If you like it, I hope you will continue to enjoy it for many years to come. Me, on the other hand, will stick with bulghur 🙂

 

improvised two loaves of sourdough today

 

Yesterday I visited a bulk-produce retailer and bought myself some flax seed, rolled oats, and some other dry food at very affordable prices!!!

This excitement had to be experienced – I love it when I can get great food at such low prices. I feel grateful 🙂

This being said, I have bought the rolled oats and the flax seed to experiment/improvise new bread recipes. So, today I baked two different sourdough loaves – one with oat+bread flour and the other 100% whole wheat flour+flax seed. 

Boy – they are beautiful, do you not think? So soft, so nicely risen, such great oven spring, and the air bubbles inside are making me fall in love with each one of them.

It is official; I have the greatest sourdough starter ever, which I hope to bake with forever and ever… 🙂

————————-

Recipe

Levain: I have a 100% whole flour “Monster” starter that I feed with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour+1/3 cups+1 tbs water on Friday afternoon. I then let it rest at room temperature overnight wrapped in a thick towel. The next day I feed it again the same way; one hour later divide it into two: one part goes into the fridge till use next week, and the other continues to rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. At that point it becomes very bubbly and that is always exciting to see this 🙂

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Prior to preparing dough, I mix the levain with water and sugar to make the liquid base for dough (my measurements were: 1+1/4 cups of levain, 1 cup of water, and 1.5 tbs of sugar)

Sourdough with rolled oat:

add 1/2 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup water- mix and let stand for 20 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of bread flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Mix well and form a shaggy dough – do not worry about kneading or forming the perfect dough. Just cover, rest, and *stretch and fold every 20 or 30 min or so for 4-5 times.

*I lately started to “slam” the dough to the mixing bowl 7-8 times during each stretch and fold, which I kind of feel like helps stretch and form the dough. It is a strange feeling to do this to my dough and yeast, but then it feels also right…Try if you wish.

Then, cover, wrap with towel, and let rise at room temperature over night (my kitchen is usually cold around 17C. If you are in a hot climate, you may rise the dough at the fridge).

 

100% whole wheat sourdough with flax seed:

Rinse 1/2 cup of flax seed and add 1/2 cup water, let stand for 30 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup + 3 tbs of water, 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Follow the procedure above.

Since whole wheat flour requires a little bit more water, I wet my hand before each stretch and fold to humidify the dough a little bit – it did help with a relatively softer dough. Alternatively you can add an additional 1-2 tbs of water while preparing the dough.

 

The next day; gently place the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour, deflate, stretch and form a rectangular shape, and fold & shape. Cover and let rest for 10 min. Shape again and place in proofing containers (i used a small mixing bowl for the oat loaves and a baking dish for the flax seed loaf).

Proofing time: 2.5 hours for the oat loaf, and 3.5 hours for the flax seed loaf

Baking: I recently started not to use roaster to bake my loaves. It gives a thinner crust and the oven spring is equally successful. I used a non-pre-heated oven for the oat loaf (375F, 50 min, baked uncovered). Once I was done with it, then I placed the flax seed loaf (pre-heated oven, 30 min open lid, 15 min closed lid, and 5 min open lid at 375F.)

Results, observations, and verdict: both loafs are gorgeous and better than what I thought I would get.

I know it is difficult to get the whole wheat flour rise so I was pretty impressed with the oven spring and the overall crumb of this lovely bread. It also had a nutty flavor and was an absolute delight even though for some the 100% whole wheat bread may sound a little bit intimidating.

The oat loaf was a delight from the beginning on – so easy to handle and the first rise was amazing with big air bubbles that I only had experienced with commercial yeast in the past. The taste of oat was undetectable but that is perfectly fine with me.

In both cases (oat and flax seed) the resting them on water prior to adding with flour and water produces a little bit sticky and mucus-like liquid, which I kind of think that helps with “binding” the dough. But of course we need a scientific proof for that.

I would certainly try these two loaves in the future and perhaps with the oat loaf I would increase the amount, just to see how the dough would respond.

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

 

oat sourdough

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smooth dough at the end of the stretch and fold episode
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what a beautiful loaf, waiting to be enjoyed 🙂 )

 

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100% whole wheat and flax seed loaf

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at the end of the stretch and fold episodes – kind of tough dough. would be better if I had added an extra 1-2 tbs of water to dough. I made up for this by wetting my hands prior to handling it each time so that it could get some more hydration. it did work 🙂

a year without dad

Today is the first anniversary of the death of my dad – May he rest in peace…

I have been dreading this day knowing that it would make me deeply remember my dad (for which I am grateful), my regrets of what I should have done or what I should not have done when he was alive (for which I came to realization that there is nothing to be done), and the sadness I experience  over his death (which is so vivid and continuous)…

I am very sorry that my dad and I did not spend more quality time together. That I could not be a good daughter for him. That I was not with him when he died.

Despite these, I also know that he loved me and looked after me all the time. He forgave me too, for things I should not have said or done. My father was a father alright.

Among all these turbulent emotions, I am glad for a couple of things, too. When my father died, one of the fears I had developed was to forget my dad. I am glad that this has not turned into reality. And lately I thought that when I died, he would guide me and welcome me to death. I know this is ridiculous but it so soothes me and makes me unafraid of death. I am still not interested in dying (when he died I developed fear of my own mortality), but when the time comes I hope I will remember this.

Rest in peace dad. I am sorry for a lot of things. You knew these and you still loved me. For that I am ashamed, awed, and grateful. You know I would not choose another dad, but you. I love you.

Till next time. 

 

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weekly budget check

Is Sears closing?

I am asking because there were excellent deals this past weekend and I could not help but shopped there.

I am not sorry 🙂

Seriously not, because what I bought are incredible and the money I paid for them are possibly 1/4th of the actual cost. So, i would like to think that I am in a good shape….

Ok; back to weekly expenses and other financial events: 

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $67

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $67 = $53

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $517.5! (please, let me have a moment of happiness here 🙂 )

Other expenses: $144 (new clothes; see above)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $236.75 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to (such as walking rather than taking the bus, having a breakfast at home rather than outside, etc) as well as savings/extra money made just by chance (like the rebate we all have got lately at work 🙂 )

As it is becoming a lovely habit now, I will be using these savings to make mortgage pre-payment in the coming weeks 🙂 

Mortgage pre-payment made today: $228.5 (from my savings as of last week :))

Friends – this feels so awesome, so awesome! Seeing it getting less and less….Seeing myself making the effort to make my mortgage less and less. And feeling the excitement and happiness coming out if this 🙂

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed:  minced beef and frozen zucchini from the freezer 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

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Death baffles me each time..

I just learnt that someone I know, a most gentle and kindest soul I have ever known, has died yesterday because of complications from pneumonia.

We were not close, but I had respect for him (he was my senior). He was a legend in so many different ways back in the day. When I met him, he was afflicted with diabetes and was over-weight. One common friends of mine was complaining, saying things like “I told him to quit drinking juice so many different times…”  As if the other person would not do that himself if he could. People can be so silly sometime.

Anyways… We used to chat time to time on social media, the latest one being on Nov 25th last year…. The last things we talked about was he asking me going to his city to see him and other friends of ours and me responding to that by saying ” hopefully :)”…

I could not see him or talk to him after that, but I am glad we were nice and kind to each other and I am glad we have had good wishes for each other. I just am shocked that this person now is dead. His body is cold. He will never chat with me or anyone else again.

This is so surreal…

I have a problem with death. However natural it can be, I do not care – I have a problem with it.

Eddie – rest in peace my friend. You are free now. You can be everything and anything you want to be. Wherever you are, I can see you smiling even though it hurts to think that you are gone at such a young age. Rest in peace my friend. Rest in peace.

 

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And here is something as part of celebration of your life – something that you liked so much and were so good at: 

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gifs by:http://giphy.com/gifs/rest-in-peace-qaiMIXADRyo36 andhttp://giphy.com/gifs/gym-lifting-weightlifting-3o6ZsYzuLyRfSGX4f6

random thoughts

I cannot believe we have reached to the end of February!

This year has been passing quite fast. It is hard for me to believe that it has been two months since the holidays when I had 2 weeks off.. Wow! Two months…. It feels like yesterday!

The nice thing is that the three months of our winter has passed. The Spring will be here in May – that feels good 🙂

We will also have the daylight saving times reversed sometime in March – that means we are looking for lighter and brighter days ahead. That also feels good 🙂

This winter has been harsh here in Canada, my friends. We have had a lot of snow days 🙂 It has also been interesting: for the first time in my life here (around 8-9 years), I have walked in the morning to the office from home in winter. I think I have done that in January first and, now, whenever I can, I am aiming to do so (like today)…

What a sense of freedom it gives me and what a great way to relax my mind and work my body. I am awed that I am not afraid of ice or falling this winter (which was the reason that stopped me from walking in winter at the first place).. Change is always possible I guess….

That experience also tells me to question our assumptions and decisions, even though they are comfortable. Perhaps they can be re-assessed and reversed, and the new normal would turn out to be exciting as my winter walking adventure 🙂

Nowadays I particularly feel like walking. I blame partly boredom and partly the fact that I get up early, and as such, end up with having lots of time at my hand 🙂 I walked last Saturday and Sunday around 2 hours each day. And I am planning to walk similarly this weekend. I hope I can make this. My plan is to walk to the shopping mall on Saturday, just to grab a couple of tubes of yogurt 🙂 Let’s see whether the weather will be permissive (if it is raining or heavily snowing, I will not certainly do this 🙂 ) 

Since I walked this morning and did not take the bus, today was also a day that I spent nothing! 🙂

Is that not awesome 🙂

I never thought that that would be possible, but now I can see that I was not thinking careful enough – it certainly is possible. Anyone can do this “no spending days”. Give it a try, my friends, and let us know how you feel. It certainly feels weird and sweet at the same time 🙂 🙂 

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do not listen to the negative projections about the future finances

This is one advice I am trying hard to give myself…

As if it was not enough that our organization was talking about lay offs, now it also talks about a pension reform that will increase our contributions and remove the inflation index.

We are screwed..

As if that was not enough I found a pension estimator tool from our HR’s website and guess what? Even before the pension reform, If I retire at 55 (which I would love to), I get something that would not even be enough for my essential expenses (and also consider that it will not be indexed to inflation), and at age 60 and 65 it would increase a little bit but nevertheless would not make me a comfortable retiree.

So, if I may ask, what the hey are we supposed to do??? Work till the end? Throw ourselves out of somewhere out of misery? Stop eating? Stop getting medical care? What exactly are we supposed to do with this economic problem, uncertainty, and hopelessness? 

I just can keep saving, investing, and keeping my job, I say to myself….. If you have any other good idea, please shoot in the comments area. Otherwise, I am off to finding out how to better penny pitch…

weekly budget check

This week is the one with the highest grocery spending yet.

I also bought myself a dinner and breakfast this past weekend – ooops 🙂

I owe this mostly to the bad mood – food, after all, is an effective remedy to help feel good.

Nevertheless, I continue to make excellent choices considering the circumstances and keep spending much less than before.

This week I also made a pre-payment order, using the funds saved by my choices or by luck 🙂 That feels great!

Overall, my mood was negative, I needed to pamper myself, I spent more, but I am always eager to curb my spending. I think this week will be such a week 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $111.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $111.5 = $8.5

Fun funds expenses: $19

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $464.5 

Other expenses: $0 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $91 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. A large chunk of these savings is a discount I asked for for a monthly service 🙂 )

Of note; I am making use of these savings – every once a while they are being paid as mortgage pre-payment 🙂 this is so exciting! seeing the seemingly small savings making such a positive difference in my debt levels. Very satisfactory 🙂

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: canned beans from the pantry; frozen green beans and minced beef from the freezer 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

the 2nd snow day in a row

Wow! We have had today as the snow day as well!

This is the first time I have seen two snow days back to back.

Man, the old man winter this year is sure quite energetic. Or furious.

If I were a student, I for sure would be happy and excited about these snow days. Yet, I was rather bored being at home yesterday and today. I am sure I am not the only one who felt that way – I know because I have seen a couple of people on social media expressing similar feelings.

One can ask why we cannot even enjoy two extra days as paid holidays

Sadly, I have no answer to that…..

———————–

Now back to my lovely hibiscus – rose hip tea with lemon juice and honey. Keep warm and enjoy your evening everyone! 🙂

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another snow day

The snow day! 

Had we not have another one just last week??

We had….

This winter has been kind of strange – the one with the most snow days and the earliest (we have had one or two snow days in December). While my street is not in bad condition yet (total snow around 30 cm), we expect this to continue till tomorrow morning, so who knows how many times I will get out and shovel to keep my tiny “tunnel” connecting my home to the street?

 

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Sunday Sourdough anyone?

Friends; have a look at this 25% whole wheat – 75% bread flour sourdough!

Is it not magnificent? 🙂

With no ego I can tell this is the finest loaf of mine yet.

Sticky dough absolutely pays off – in my experience sticky (that literally sticks lightly-but not overly to your hand when you stretch and fold, or otherwise handle it) yields the softest bread with the best crumb.

This one was baked on a cookie sheet at 375F for 50 min (for 20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent the surface from burning).

I no longer use the roaster to bake my loaves, which gives me loaves with much thinner crust (which I love)!

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

! 🙂

 

my weekend breakfast is back! :)

I have got my bagel and coffee at a nearby cafe this morning 🙂

Like I used to have over years/decades every Saturday and Sunday morning 🙂

Toasted bagel and coffee are my favorite breakfast. I have had temporarily stopped having them in late fall to cover a portion of the money I used to purchase my sewing machine. I think I have done my best and I have done it for long; according to my calculations, 3 months of breakfast-fasting made me save around $100. It is not a huge amount but I know every penny counts and it was valuable when I saved. Now, however, I am claiming my breakfast back so that I  can enjoy my life and my weekends a little bit more:)

Since ending #TheleanSpendingMonth challenge yesterday, I have been feeling good about money not being my primary focus in life. I can choose to do that again in the future, temporarily save money, but right now, I gotta be true to myself and my needs.

Whatever you do, make sure your money works for you, not against you.

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I just want to spend money

I just want to feel good and one of the best ways I can do is to spend money.

It really is!!!!!

Another way is consuming food.

Maybe I could get out and buy myself a nice dinner.

—————————–

I like the feeling of freedom money and spending money gives me right now. Not giving a darn about spending money is a good feeling, my friends.

I think I have been on a strict budget for too long (my #TheLeanSpendingMonth practice is > 6 more weeks right now) and the fact that our boss mentioned about firing people last week, which naturally raised my nerve levels to a new high, I do not want to take “it” any more. 

I will spend money on myself if I want to.

I will buy unessential food/drinks that will help me feel good if I need to.

I will eat good food and nourish myself anytime and anywhere.

I will still be frugal, but I refuse to be cheap, especially towards myself.

With that I am ending my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge.

—————————

I have saved a couple or more bucks with  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge: during this challenge I was more careful and conscious about my spending and savings. But considering the fact that I had already had good spending habits, the money I saved was not too much (maybe around $20-25/week). It is still a good sum of savings but it is not worth this feeling of being constrained and deprived.

I have learnt that I was already a good spender/saver and I could continue like this.

I have learnt that I needed to be kind to myself and addressing my needs were important.

I have learnt that right now money was not the most important thing to save – keeping not only my physical health but also my mental peace was.

I have learnt that while I enjoy challenging myself, sometimes timing was everything – when it is not a good time, it is not the time.

These being said, there will be times when it is a good time to try  #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge again.

Until then, off I go to relax 🙂

 

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weekly budget check

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth  plan 🙂

I think I am doing okay! 🙂

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $63

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $63 = $57

Fun funds expenses: $14

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $475  (yay! wow! can you believe in this? I have saved so much. Wow!! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $86.5 – paid for cleaning products and food at a store that I visit once a month or so. These were needed so I am okay with these expenses 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $137.5 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to, or just by chance did not need to make. For example, a large chunk of these savings is a repair that I was offered for free through my work place – I am so grateful! 🙂 here comes my next mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: bread (from the freezer), rice and canned beans from the pantry 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

7th and 8th Day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Today I realized I needed to be kind and nourishing toward myself.

Not that #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan is hurting me; no. I enjoy challenging myself, finding new ways to save, getting excited about the things I can do; and overall I seem like saving a dime or two along the process (though it is not too much – I will write about this later).

But I, like anyone else, wake up with issues and negative feelings on my mind, go thru life as it is, work hard, and get annoyed by people or events. So, there are times that we just need to support ourselves a little bit better. Whether that would mean to care less about money and eat something unhealthy or luxurious, or do something that requires a little bit more money.

Today has been such a day; I decided I did not want to eat the same things as I have in the last few weeks. So even though it know well that it is unhealthy, I bought hot dogs and ate them with a large salad.

I ate the entire package (around 12 of them) without cooking… I know it is gross…. But, I wanted to do that – it is a manifestation of how much I do not care. And I can say now that I am not eating hot dogs again (at least for some time)…..

So I spent $4.5 for bus fare (yesterday and today) and $8 for food this afternoon. I am still doing strong and frugal.

And now I am craving for sweets… go figure….

 

I Dont Care GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

DAY 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is February 6th, the 6th day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth.

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

But it is also concerning that one day whatever I have at home will be consumed and I will have to purchase them. So there will be purchases coming.

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 3

——————-

Gratefully acknowledging my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff, who is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

Pj Harvey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

DAY 5 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Alright – I did spend $14 unnecessarily. 

Was it a treat?

I do not know.

I just know that since our boss threatened us with firing last week, I have been feeling down, angry, stressed, and anxious.

And today I felt like I needed to do something; eat at a diner, buy fancy food, or just do something that will make me feel better. As if I needed to prove myself that I could afford luxury and money is not important (it is not actually.. but anyways – you have got the idea).  

So I bought lottery tickets.

Strike 1 on #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan.

Darn economy and potential future financial issues..

————-

The good thing is that usually during the week my expenses are quite low. I hope from today till Thursday evening (when I usually do my grocery), the only expenses I will have will be my bus fee.

my beautiful sourdough

img_0459

img_0463

 

I have been getting wonderful loaves lately – this makes me excited and happy 🙂

Maybe the starter got a little bit seasoned, maybe I now have better baking skills, maybe it is just the cold temperature (ironically!), but something is working. I am grateful.

This is a loaf that was very similar to what I baked last week with a slightly sticky sourdough.

Bon appetite!

DAY 4 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

I spent A LOOOOOOOOOT of money today 🙂

Say what!?

Yup!

$86.5.

I did it.

I spent all of it!

——————

I had to.

And no worries, all purchases made were clean.

That means i bought only what I would need and if they were at good price. 

This has been my monthly shopping at a big store where I purchase my office snacks and personal care and cleaning products. By purchasing these items at this store I do save a lot of money so my consciousness is clean.

I had not done this in January so incidentally this was done now in February, which is my  #TheLeanSpendingMonth. Oh, well.

No worries I made conscious choices and did not buy a couple of items that I would normally spend money on. Also, I proudly took the bus again and carried the purchased items back home in tote and back pack (hey, I could take the cab, but I did not – so I am proud of myself 🙂 ). I did not treat myself with a nice cup of coffee and bagel, either. So…. Did I do good?

I think so 🙂

On an additional positive side: I find peace in knowing that my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

when a boss mentions firing people

Two days ago our boss mentioned in a our departmental meeting that the budgetary situation necessitates some sacrifices, including firing people.

We all were stunned for a second and then some of us, including myself, fired back. 

When you threaten people with loss of work, when you think that you can threaten people with the loss of work, you are done; no respect, no loyalty no nothing is left for you. From that point on it is the boss versus workers. This division pretty much is the start of a crumbling organization.

Fear is a bad feeling. If there is any boss out there who is thinking that by making people scared s/he can get something done better, faster, or cheaper,  s/he should forget it.

Thank goodness I am unionized and what my boss suggested at that time is completely at odds with our union – work place agreements. I for the first time understand what a union is, why it is needed, and why I should be grateful for.

Good bye to respect for my boss and hello to my union and unionized life!

weekly budget check

One day belated, but here is my weekly spendings 🙂

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan and as of Feb 1st, I also am recording my daily spendings.

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $55.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $55.5 = $74.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $432  (yay! wow! so much saving – thanks me! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the third week -A miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $37 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have been consistently using the food in my freezer and pantry in the last few weeks 🙂 This week I have enjoyed the followings: canned bean, canned soup, cracked wheat, dry red kidney beans, dehydrated pepper and eggplant from the pantry and frozen carrots and frozen chicken soup from the freezer! Yaaaay!! 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

magic time

Have that ever happened to you?

That you have worked very hard and for very long to remove something from your life that has been bothering you like a bad habit or a very hard/challenging work project, finally it is done, and all of a sudden you feel like you are floating, lifted up, and you need sometime to just savor the time, stay put, cherish the accomplishment, and perhaps start welcoming the wishes and plans for the future?

That is what is happening to me today. 

I realize that I am at an excellent time of my life and career. 

I realize that I now am free of hurdles and things that have been dragging me down, and naturally I am lifted up. That I lifted myself up.

I realize that I am free to go even higher and accomplish way harder, more challenging aims, make my life and career much better.

I realize that I am free, accomplished, and I am confident that I will do better and much better, both on my life and at my work 🙂

………………..

It is strange how strongly accomplishing a long-term aim affects and changes you….

I have been looking at my life and I have seen what a nice, efficient, abundant, comfortably frugal and waste-free, and simple life I have built for myself over the last few years. I should be proud of myself – quite an accomplishment.

I have been looking at my life-style and I see how healthy my life is when compared to 2 years ago: I walk more, exercise sometime, and eat much better. I am also quite energetic – thanks to my vitamin D supplement 🙂

I am middle aged but free of chronic conditions (thank goodness), able, independent, and working. I love my job the majority of the time. I have lost a part of my interest I have had in the past, but I still am doing quite good and I am productive. 

I m ready to do better, though.

Now is a good time; I want new and energizing things integrated in my life and my work.

I have little idea what these would be: personally that would mean maybe developing a new interest, or risking for something quite big (like developing a company or an organization – wohoooo 🙂 )  Professionally, that would mean developing new areas to work on, or new much bigger roles.

I do not know what it would be.

But I know that I will be ready when an opportunity appears in my life 🙂

it is so messed up, so sad

Disclaimer: This is one of my rare rants on political views/actions. As a person with no political or ideological fanaticism or favoritism, I stay away from political arguments. Yet, humanism, mercy, empathy, and universal human values are the things that I do care. This post is about them.

———————————

This entire executive order by President of the USA, the airlines that refused to carry people even though they admit that the order(!) was not clear, the world leaders(!) applauding or not condemning these actions (Theresa May – what is wrong with you??); and all others who are cheering up and thinking that this somehow benefits anyone;

I am speechless at your thoughts and actions.

Maybe it was the fear that grabbed you and made you want these bans. Or maybe somebody thought that scaring you would help with their power, irrespective of the harm done to others and to the country, either in the short term or the long term.

I am not an American, but I lived and worked there for a few years when I was young. It is  (was) a great country and I enjoyed working there where the system was great and errors and delays were minimal. It was a great place to work.

But make no mistake; discrimination has been a common theme there.

This time though, I am shocked that discrimination, generalization, stereotyping, racial profiling, etc, are BOTH politically and publicly backed up.

Openly.

With cheers even.

…….

That is so sad America.

That is so sad.

 

Today’s sourdough

This baby is the product of a little bit sticky sourdough risen overnight at room temperature (around 17 C), pre-shaped, shaped, and proofed for 4 hours (also at room temperature), and baked at 375F for 45 min in an oven bakeware (20 min of which it was covered with a lid to prevent its surface from burning).

This is the softest and the best risen sourdough loaf I have baked in a while 🙂

I think; a) being sticky  helps rise the dough; b) using bakeware may help keep the shape of sticky dough – loaves (which I appreciate); and c) if the dough is sticky and healthy enough, I may not need roaster (I use roaster as an alternative to dutch oven) to bake my bread.

Bon appetite 🙂

PS: I prepared my sourdough starter and levain with whole wheat flour, which dominates the colour and the texture; each loaf is around 30% whole wheat and 70% bread flour. Very healthy and sturdy dough 🙂

random thoughts and #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is going well – this quiet and relaxing weekend I mean 🙂

Weather is good; I walked yesterday for 25 min or so and am planning to do so again this afternoon; I cook and eat healthy with lots of raw veggies; house is cleaned and laundry is done; a number of movies are enjoyed; world news are followed; better spending choices are made; food in the pantry/freezer is being consumed; and life feels overall not too eventful and is peaceful.

Of course, the world news are interesting. What the hey has been happening in the USA? I sometimes think that all the little problems of mine are unnecessary – I guess this kind of mentality and actions are the ones that will fuel a much larger world-wide conflict, unrest, and violence. So who cares about whether I will be able to do every thing I want to do this year? Save that much and invest this much? Nope. We may be looking at a much bigger and global problem to erupt (not to mention the pain and suffering by the people most needed the safety). I am sorry if I sound pessimistic (which I usually am).

Nevertheless, I try to focus on what I can control so that I can not feel hopeless altogether. That brings me to my #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge I assigned for myself (a.k.a. super-duper lean spending month).

I initially had decided to try it on February but more or less since new year I am on it.

What is #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge?

As the name implies – it aims to challenge me to spend the least amount of money on non-essential expenses (for me that would mean taking the cab, eating breakfast outside, buying coffee or other treats, buying more grocery that I can consume, and buying anything new while I still have a working copy at home).

I am not 100% lean in my spending; I decided a while ago that fully restricting myself was not a good idea. So I am buying one treat a week as I please (like peanut butter which is not essential for my diet). But I am quite conscious of my spending, and I am making it a choice to calculate the cons and pros of each of my expenses and think about how I could benefit from by not making the expense.

For example, I walked yesterday 15 min away to get eggs on sale, also thinking that walking is a great exercise that I am looking forward to anyhow. Yet, today I decided once again that baking dry beans would not worth it and the canned beans is a much better option for me regardless of the cost (it takes so loooong to cook beans…)…

I also needed an extra and quite clear benefit of not spending unnecessarily and so I come up with the mortgage prepayment account; I note my savings each week which will be later used to make a prepayment whenever I have more than 100 bucks in the account. I did this for the first time 10 days ago and I am excited about it 🙂 So I have more than enough motivation to keep going. 🙂

If anyone had asked me whether I could budget stricker than what I used to have last year, I would say no. But I am proving myself wrong now – I see that I can save more. This cannot be a long term plan for me though, so I rather see the #TheLeanSpendingMonth challenge as some kind of “shopping ban”. After  all I also have a life to enjoy and I would love my weekend breakfast to come back sometime 🙂

So my advice to you, if you are interested in this kind of challenges, is to learn about yourself and your choices as much as possible. Also think about it as a temporary thing; who knows maybe it will turn into a long-term habit, but if not that should be okay, too. I should also say that it is fun to challenge myself and finding ways to cut my expenses. I hope you too will have a similar and positive experience.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

 

 

 

Thanks Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday!

It has been a while that I was so happy and relieved for it being Friday.

Boy – the last few weeks were somehow edgy at work. I have fixed a significant portion of the issues today. I am not done yet, but this is a progress that I want to celebrate! 🙂

I have three nights and two days to absolutely relax and enjoy till Monday morning. I will so enjoy this time and being away from work.

Have a great Friday and weekend everybody! 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another great week of my super-duper lean spending month:)

I have had some extra expenses (a.k.a. non-essential) but I am okay with that as this is the best budget yet. I not only have stayed within my budget, but even managed to save from my weekly allowance:) While the super-duper lean spending month officially is February, you know I have started early and it feels alright. I will post about its details later.

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $74.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $367.5  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the second week -a true miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $22.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have done so well this week consuming quite a bit of the food that I have hoarded at the pantry and freezer! These included; pasta, canned bean x 2, and canned corn from pantry and two containers of soup, mixed veggies, and croutons from freezer. Not bad, is it not? 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

so it goes the song…

Been a busy day, the bus came 20 min late while I waited on the street in the morning, I looked tired and stressed the entire day due the last week’s hurdles, I thought I/my hair was looking really miserable and that was hurting my image more than I want to admit, but I cannot complain.

I cannot complain because none of these matter so much in my life or in somebody else’s life. Plus, I am listening to a beautiful song right now, which makes me fill with love:) 

Boy, 80’s/90’s were the best time of the Pop/Rock!

 

 

joy journal – Jan 22, 2017

The first post of the year 🙂

I aim for writing this journal everyday, but sometimes it is just not convenient… Sometimes, though, I crave for it – I either feel elated and cannot wait to share how I feel, or I am down or agitated (like nowadays), which makes me want to write it so that I can immediately start feeling good 🙂

1. Whether it is written every day, or needed out of misery does no matter – the positive effect of writing the joy journal is a real thing. I am very grateful that I have this option and am exercising this option right now.

2. I am grateful for having a quiet day. It has been full of work and some stress/down time, yet I managed to calm myself down in the evening by journaling somewhere else. Facing and expressing negative feelings is okay. Often times, I beat myself for not being “perfect” enough – but then it is not true. Developing this compassion, even after an inner storm, is a blessing.

3. I am grateful for eating healthy today.

4. I am grateful for the frozen soup I have consumed today. I have 3 more containers to go. I thought I would be bored of eating these soup, but I proved myself wrong. It was delicious 🙂

5. I am grateful for today being a “no expense” day – i did not spend any money today 🙂

6. I am grateful for talking to my family and having a laughter or two 🙂

7. I am grateful for my lower back feeling good and not needing stretches. 

8. I am grateful for the movies I have watched today.

9. I am grateful for everything I have at home; my food, clothes, shoes, furniture, computer, internet and phone connections, and cable. Everything works together to make my life easy, comfortable, safe, and nourishing. Thank you everything 🙂

10. I am grateful for my house standing tall and strong even though the weather keeps beating us up and the wind blowing parts around. I am very proud of my house keeping so strong. 

11. I am grateful for reading blog posts about inner peace and positivity… Inspiration is always there, if we look for it. many people take their time to share their thoughts or experiences, some of which I can relate. Most importantly, those posts make me remember that I am not the only person who is going thru these feelings (e.g. agitation, feeling down, or stressed). This makes an immediate and positive effect on me…. every.. single.. time.. 🙂

12. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

———

Added after the post:

Someone suggested to write down three things we appreciate about ourselves every day or something  (http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2013/09/11/improve-self-esteem/) .

I loved this idea, considering how hard I have been on myself lately. So here they are:

1. I love the fact that I do not give up at the face of adversary or criticism. It may hurt, I may react, I may feel angry or down, but eventually I will find a way to make things better and silence that critic!

2. I love the fact that I make efforts to make things better all the time. It is sad that I down talk about myself (I not only criticize myself but also make a negative impression on others unnecessarily- the curse of being a modest and humble person), but this will change from now on.  I decided to nourish myself and talk about myself objectively and positively at the same time!

3. I love the fact that I am a good person and am terrific at my job. Nobody else could do what I am doing and so meticulously. I am very good at my role in life and my role at my work-place. Everybody should get over this, starting with my inner critic 🙂

There….

Feeling 100% better about myself already and rightfully!!!  🙂

——–

Added after the previous addition:

How come I never appreciated myself, while I appreciated so many things?

From today on, my joy journal will include positive things about myself! 🙂

 

 

 

 

snow storm and neighbours

Snow storm has passed leaving around 2 meters of snow bank in front of my house and making me anxious about whether this snow bank would hurt my house, especially the window facing it…..

It is strange that my neighbors, even the ones across from my house, would shovel their snows towards my house. Where does this come from? Please keep it in your own area. I had to step out a number of times and kindly ask my neighbors to keep the snow on and around their sides… Sigh… One thing that really ticked me off today… Kind of inconsiderate…

I continue to feel agitated mostly because of work-related issues and the snow bank-neighbour issues. Yet, I am supposed to feel good about my life and myself. So how do I find this balance?

I guess it is time that I focus on the big picture, relax, and find the confidence in me that I can handle everything well 🙂

 

 

while waiting for the snow storm

We are waiting for a snow storm.

Well.. This is winter and snow storms happen all the time. So, I wonder whether you asked yourself what the big deal is and why I write a dramatically titled post about it? 🙂

I will tell you what the big deal is.

Everybody is shopping and there is nothing much left in major stores. It is as if we will never get food anymore.

I usually do my grocery shopping on Thursday. So yesterday I have been to my store. The store was filled with 3X more people than usual. And for the first time in my life I could not find milk.

Milk.

How can you not find milk in a store?

 

And how can this continue the next day; obviously some of my co-workers came in work late, stating that they were out shopping and their line was too long. I checked my store this evening to see whether I could get milk and it was the same (except that I found milk this time). The cashier and I were chatting. I told her what one of my co-workers had said this morning; people shop because for a couple of days the transportation (of food) is affected by the storm. So, it ensures that we will have food after the snow. Hmmmmm. The cashier said that this was not true (though I am not sure how independent her thoughts are)..

Anyways.

It is possible that there may be something really catastrophic  happening and we may not have access to external food and other basic needs for some time. But I am hoping the chances of having such a situation is quite slim. So, I am cool about the entire stuff and I am glad that I have food at my house, and I did not get crazy about the entire shopping thing.

 

weekly budget check

My new “lean” spending scheme is doing well 🙂

I have a tighter budget implemented in the last few weeks, not because I have to but because I was curious about how much more I could not spend.

I have been thinking for some time; how much more expenses, in reality, can be cut?

I am thinking; if it comes to it, I may cancel my internet and phone services, but I will not do that right now. I can cut out my hair or stop have it cut for sometime rather than going to a hair dresser, but I will not do that, either. I can focus more on growing my veggies at home during the winter and in my yard during the summer. I can forgo eating fresh produce and rather focus on whatever is cheap, but I will not do this. I can stop using electricity/power unless it is extremely required, but I will not do that, either.

You have got the idea.

It is usually possible to find areas to save more. I wanted to give this a try with a super-duper lean spending month, which I had originally scheduled for February. But I said to myself “what is the use of waiting”” and I started it a few days after the new year. It has been an interesting exercise so far. I basically only aim to make expenses which are necessary (such as bus fare and  food). But I also allow myself to have one item per week to pamper myself (like my peanut butter I enjoyed last week 🙂 ). And, my friends – it is working: I am spending much less than before. Not sure how long I can continue with such a tight budget, but knowing that I am capable of doing it is a great feeling 🙂

Here is the account for this past week under the duper lean spending month plan:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $58

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $58 = $62

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $322  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 (a miracle! 🙂 )

Savings from would-be-expenses: $44.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 )

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup and bread

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

———————–

So; not bad my friends 🙂

And I am very excited to state this that I have made my first mortgage pre-payment today using my saved dollars; it may be a small amount but it was a great start!

happy savings 🙂

 

 

 

feeling agitated and believing in adventure

One of these times when things are all too much, some people are doing stuff that they are not supposed to, my nerves are cracking, and I feel low and agitated. But hey, it is all adventure 🙂

Why adventure? 

I do not know – I saw a post today by a fellow blogger I like to follow. The post somehow linked the “unexpected” with the “adventure” and here I am; inspired and doing the same thing; linking the agitation I feel nowadays with an unknown adventure 🙂

Naturally, I am trying to move on and feel good by finding the positive among all the muddy and spiky agitating experiences. I know my (agitating) feelings will subsidize eventually and I will feel okay again. So, it is only a matter of time before I leave these behind.

But not before I get what I am supposed to get out of these experiences.

That is the adventure 🙂

 

pantry/freezer treasure finds from the last 10 days

My plan and efforts to consume the food I have hoarded in my pantry and freezer are going well.

I am happy that I am taking steps to actually implement this plan 🙂

I originally wanted to record how well I have been doing re; eating the “pantry/freezer treasures” in my weekly budget check posts. Last week I have not posted it, so I thought I would have this separate entry here. I also aimed for eating at least one food per week.

Overall, I have consumed more than one item per week. For the last ten days, this list included canned corn, pasta, dehyadrated soup, frozen minced beef, frozen chicken, frozen bread loaf, and frozen breakfast calzone.

I congratulate myself for this highly satisfactory performance and I hope that I will keep doing this in the weeks to come 🙂

what important thing I was reminded today

One of those days that agitating stuff has happened.

BUT

I will not let these ruin my morale and spirit.

 

I have so much to worry about and so much to be grateful about. The choice is mine.

Worry is not going to solve any problem, at least in a healthy way.

More importantly, many of the stuff I deal with are nothing when compared to life and death.

In addition, calmer mind works stuff better.

 

So here I am; agitated one minute and providing self therapy the next…..

Nevertheless, I seem to be handling this much better than before….

So, I must wholeheartedly congratulate myself, but the credit is not mine. Carry on and read the rest of the post….

…………………………..

A lot of things in life seems to be relative; youth/age, wisdom/ignorance, experience, goodness/badness, kindness/meanness, especially the breadth and depth and importance of issues..

From one person to other, from one life stage to other, from one issue to other, this relativity can shift easily.

While I was having my silly mental judo this afternoon, I read a genuine and open post from a dear fellow blogger who is a young patient with a terminal disease…. She said “do not ever let anyone steal your joy.”

I was immediately ashamed for suffering and having depressive thoughts about my silly problems….

I am happy to honor her wish and I would like to thank her for this beautiful post and very meaningful, very powerful words.

 

hoarding food

I cannot believe how much frozen and dried/canned food I have….

I have decided lately that it has been time to start consuming the food I already have at home.

A quick inventory showed that I have frozen beef, bones (for stock), chicken, cooked meals, green beans, mixed veggies, bread, bread crumbs, zucchini, carrots, and celery sticks, and another set of green beans, in addition to phyllo dough in my freezer. If I was to consume them, I believe they would be enough for two months or longer…..

Another inventory, this time of the pantry showed that I have a lot of rice, bulghur (cracked wheat), dry beans, dry eggplant, dry peppers, dry okra, dehydrated soup, pasta, other soup materials, lentils, many cans of beans (which I love), canned soup, tomato paste and others (not counting around 20 kg of flour). Another month or two’s food…..

I am making an effort to consume these before they expire or go bad. I must do that to limit my food consumption. I have stopped buying frozen food, beef-chicken, and dried food for now. My plan is to not buy any of these items till I consume the half of the stock….

I must admit it is boring to think that I must eat what I have.

Why is that?

I have been trying analyze this and I realized that I like to buy and stock up food. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. I think I feel safer that way. I should also mention that I like the pleasure of choosing, buying, and storing them. Was I subjected to famine in the past life? (just joking – I do not believe in past lives 🙂 ).

But when they are not consumed and hoarded like this, the entire fun starts to diminish…

There are important lessons that I have learnt along this process.

Some of these food, like chicken, is not something I regularly consume. I will never stock chicken again – when I want them I can purchase fresh ones and cook whatever I want. But no more hoarding.

Freezing veggies (by blanching) is a great idea and I enjoyed doing this. But I must make mental notes to eat them after that. I started blanching and freezing veggies to limit my food waste. It is sad to see that unless they are eaten, they are still wasted….

The same goes with the frozen meal. I have 4 containers of chicken soup… What was I thinking? Since i do not enjoy eating the same food more than twice a week, that means, it will take me a month to fully get rid of them…..

I want to have a practice of cooking at least one meal using the pantry/freezer treasures (a.k.a. hoarded food) every week. i started this last week and it is going well.

Honestly, while it is valuable and gives me a sense of security, the food I have is too much this time. I really gotta find a balance of a healthy level of stocking  food up and consuming them 🙂

 

 

the sound of shovels

The weather is really acting; we have had snow, frozen rain, and the rain all within hours…

I shoveled the ice pellets from the front of the house and heavily salted it. Many of my neighbors are out and abound too. It is a normal part of our winter lives to hear the shovel hitting the road; one shovel at a time…Slowly without much of a rush…One of my neighbors had told me that his grand dad died suddenly while sitting on his chair after shoveling. “He had a good life and good death”, my neighbour said.

I had read somewhere recently that shoveling or physical activity in cold weather may tax the heart; cold through the open parts such as hands, feet, and face may slow down the blood circulation, which may lead the heart to work harder. It does make sense to me and I wonder whether that is one of the reasons that shoveling is usually done slowly. After reading this, I started to slow my shoveling too (I was usually like a machine focused on finishing the work at hand, a.k.a. shoveling – I consciously am slowing down now).

I hope all of you out there who are shoveling take it easy, and return safely back to home to a hot cup of tea or soup accompanied with fresh home-made biscuits, and your loved ones 🙂

 

 

 

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

I wonder whether the end of humanity is near….

There is so many violence, armed attacks, conflicst, wars, and problems in the world that I cannot help but think maybe we are getting close to a significant conflict that will involve too many people, too many countries, and to many blood….

I honestly hope that I am wrong, but, come on!; a day does not pass without bad news here and there that clips the hope I have for the future of the entire human population and all countries.

A classic example of “social depression”?

What is the cause of heightened level of this social depression? Are these events more frequent now? Occur in unusual ways? Are we hearing more of these events now? Are we more empathetic? Are the casualities closer to home?

Based on my limited knowledge on history, mostly based on some novels I have read and some movies I have watched, I thought overall in the past we have had more violence. I thought now overall we were more tolerant and reasonable in our actions and social structures. I think we are better overall and our lives are also better (on the average of course): we have more resources as food and shelter. It does not apply to everyone, every country – I am very aware of this. But I thought overall the humanity has been improving. Except that we also have many organized or sporadic violence and hurt induced by who knows what. Except that through internet and social media, it becomes almost impossible not to hear them.

I know I will go back to my hope in a couple of days should there be no other bad news. But the increasing frequency of these events are very alarming. I fear that it will become our normal and we will watch passively a shift in our overall lives, or we will react and get polarized deeper and deeper. Just when we need unity most.

I hope I am wrong that there is a widespread social depression. I hope that things will be straightened out without further conflicts, pain, loss, and injustice in a very short time.

weekly budget check

The first weekly budget check record of the year 2017 🙂

Like last year, I have started 2017 with a wonderful budget and limited expenses. Hence, overall the numbers look quite good this week 🙂

The only difference between this year’s budget and the previous ones is that this year I will not be counting as savings the cab fare expenses that I have not made (i.e. money saved by rather walking or taking the bus) in my “would-be-expenses” category.

The reason for that is that now walking or taking the bus have become my “normal” (compare this to last year or the year before when it would be a miracle if I had not taken the cab in the morning and evening 🙂 )…While I will be still saving, since these savings will not be recorded, the numbers in the “savings from would-be-expenses category” below will be lower, but that is okay. This being said, I still include savings such as by the store discounts, coupons, sales, or loyalty card discounts in this category.

—————————————-

Anyways; here is the snap-shot of the financial situation last week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $35

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $35 = $85

Total fun funds accumulated so far: $72.5 (from last week; I started my budget recordings for 2017 in late December) + $85 = $157.5 (yay! 🙂

Other expenses: $11.5 (food and snacks purchased for hosting a couple of friends for a light dinner)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $219. A large portion of this savings is the reimbursement I have got for my credit card’s annual fee 🙂 Go ahead and ask for it friends! Banks sometimes waive it 🙂

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: a tasty meal prepared by baking dry beans and using the carrots that I had frozen sometime ago.

*I am noting this because a couple of days ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

———————–

So; not bad my friends; I keep my frugal life style and my hopes for my future:)

 

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

I love assigning financial challenges to me and then seeing how I am doing 🙂

In the recent years, my first such joyful challenge was shopping freeze – I first applied it to books and then to shoes/clothes. I still did purchase a few of these items during the year, but hey, I had assigned these freezes for only a short time and they were needed when I purchased them. It is interesting that these freezes become habits quite soon after I first started them. Human attitude is quite plastic – it does change easier than we would like to think.

Anyways; the two things that I would like to try this year are the followings:

1. super-duper lean spending month. A fellow blogger suggested a no spend month, who I unfortunately cannot remember (raise your hand if you read this! 🙂 ).

Honestly I have no idea what no spend month means. I only think that the grocery, medication, transportation, and other essentials are excluded from this challenge.

Knowing my budget and daily life and requirements, I am pretty sure I cannot keep up with this – there will be at least work-place or socialization-related expenses; somebody will require some sort of gifts/donations, or I will find myself needing something all of a sudden. So, I do not have an interest in no spend month challenge.

So, why the hey am I talking about it here?

I want to give it a try and see whether I can rather aim for a “super-duper lean spending month“. That would mean finding alternative ways to contribute/donate/gift people; refuse or deflect social encounters (this is a challenge, but doable); and think really, really hard before I open my purse for anything other than essential grocery, cleaning and personal care products, transportation, medication and so on.

Certainly doable! 🙂

I am thinking February is a great time to do this challenge. And, no, not because it has less days than a regular month 🙂 I chose it because right now I have a good momentum in terms of spending (i.e. I shopped and stocked up quite a bit in Nov-Dec; that means in January I project to spend quite low anyhow).

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

2. Pantry/freezer challenge: I have many food stored in my pantry and freezer. I have been meaning to consume them during the holidays, but time flied and things/socials happened. But I have not stopped thinking about it. My plan is to eat at least one meal per week prepared by the food already stocked up at my home. I also plan not to stock up any further until I consume half of the entire stock (then I can start stocking up them when they are on sale).

I kind of started it today when I baked a bean dish with the dry beans and frozen carrots 🙂

I know if I can put it in my to-do-list, I will make an effort to work on this challenge.  That is why I plan to record my pantry/freezer challenge activities within my weekly budget check posts.

If you have other challenges, please feel free to comment 🙂

 

The 14th and the last day of the staycation

I am spending the last day of my staycation for being grateful for this break and the experiences and lessons it brought to me.

For the last 14 days, my priority was not my work, but my home, sales/discounts/shopping, and my inner world. What a nice shift in mental focus...

The first week, if I remember correctly, was spent with cleaning my office and home. I had also planned to do decluttering – I have half-done this and donated a number of items, especially from my kitchen. I am glad they have found their new homes. I have not removed any of the old socks, shirts, or blouses yet, but I am sure I will handle it when their time comes. I also did not get into my storage area – it bothers me, but I know when the right time comes, I will handle that too. This one task is what is left from my to-do-list. And I am okay with that.

One of the lessons I have learnt during this staycation was it was not the end of the world if I had not done what I thought I must. I always have other choices. This is quite a change from my regular (and stiff) practice that if I have something in my mind, I should complete it right away. I learnt that I could be flexible and at the end, it does not feel horrible. So, I am good and slightly changed (which is interesting and quite welcome)….. 🙂

I also reinforced my opinion that I really crave for my own time; while I like being with others  and socializing if they are nice and kind people, I do not want it to be too frequent. I am okay as I am and I am okay being with myself. I knew that for a long time; there is no change in this. And that is okay. Of note; I went to two socials and hosted one during the last two weeks; more than enough for me 🙂

I shopped in four-five days of the staycation. The holiday sales are hard to miss and every year I take advantage of them. I had a list of items to purchase, the majority of which I have. The things I have not bothered buying this time were a tea pot, new socks to stock up, and new blouses/shirts. I know I can get these some other time, so there is no rush for buying them. I left them behind mostly because since November I shopped so many different times that even shopping has lost its attractiveness…. Anticipating to find them in the future is more exciting 🙂

The lesson reinforced is that even too much of an exciting activity can be boring after a while. Like shopping. Like staycation… 🙂 It is true that in the last few days I have been feeling bored at being home, or even away from the office. I am glad I have these feelings – now I will jump start my work at the office tomorrow. No resentment. No disappointment. It is a real balance indeed.

And the inner world; well, work is important, money/saving is important, rest is important, but nothing is as much important as family and people I love. Interacting with my family in a closer and natural way as in the past was the highlight of this staycation. I am grateful for every second I spend with them and I am grateful for their well-being, love, support, and time on this planet. May they all live a long, healthy, happy, and peaceful lives as their hearts wish to.

I hope you all have had a great time during the holidays/new year break and are ready to start a new work year with enthusiasm, determination, and energy 🙂

 

 

 

when was the last time…

I sang from the bottom of my lungs?

🙂

Cannot remember but today was close 🙂

I am very grateful!!!! 🙂

There is something awesome about being one with a lovely tune, letting your body feel and work out that tune, feeling its energy reaching to every single cell, not caring whether anyone would hear, get irritated, or make fun of your song, voice, or enthusiasm.

Singing may be one thing that makes me feel amazing, alive, and immortal today 🙂

I have had vocal cords problems a while ago, which had affected my voice. I thought I would only talk with a whisper and never gain my voice back. Years passed, body and vocal cords are healed, and here I am screaming from the bottom of my lungs a song that I thought I had forgotten!

Wake up.

Let go.

and, for goodness sake

SING YOUR SONG!  🙂

 

just another lovely day

I have one more day left at my staycation.

Honestly, I am getting bored being at home, and not being at the office, which is a great sign 🙂 I am ready to go back to work without any resentment. What a pleasure! 🙂

It snows in a slow motion with trees and fences covered by thick fluffy snow. I enjoy looking at this scenery and sipping my coffee, while also listening to a relaxing music.

Have a great Monday everyone 🙂

img_0416

those little things..

Life can be very surprising sometime.

Yours, our lives, my life.

if you let yourself floating with life, not structuring it, your desires, or actions, sometimes you may realize that there are things that you can do and change for the better. Often times it is a product of spontaneity.

Let yourself be spontaneous today. Have no particular aim. See how your day develops.

Hope it will surprise you too.

I feel like an author of a self-help book or blog; that is not my aim. I am not trying to say what you should do or what I say is the best and the right thing for you. Heck, I do not get, or plan to get, any personal gain out of this. At least not in the form of material.

I just do not know how else to describe and share what I have experienced today.

Being tuned with my inner core thanks to the long holiday staycation, crying induced by some devastating and painful news about people cowardly killed somewhere, and the love for my family all made this first day of the new year very special for me.

I am very grateful for today.

 

 

happy new year!

Just hours from starting dating documents with 2017 🙂  I just wanted to say happy new year to everyone – hope it will bring joy, mental clarity, re-focus, better handling abilities, opportunities, health, and well being to everyone. Also Peace.

And I say this in case you have not noticed:

Be like life. Life is perfectly imperfect! 🙂

cheers

I have everything I need

I spend the New Year`s Eve as I wish it; at home and in peace.

I have found time to reflect in between the clogged toilet and my efforts to fix it; talking to my lovely family and enjoying every minute of it; and baking and eating my traditional meal of beef pie 🙂

I also have had negative thoughts crossing my mind (mostly because of the irritation some people gave me recently), feeling like sh.t sometime as a result, and also watching a horror movie just out of curiosity while I am also scared to watch it :))

It is a mental judo to deal with negative thoughts and annoyance; I easily pay attention to them, so they are usually very, very annoying. But when they become too much of an annoyance, the moment I make a conscious decision to not react to them, I find peace. I love those peaceful moments.

My reflections nowadays have made me realize that I have everything I need in my life; my family and their well-being; my own well-being, my job, salary, and financial independence, and meaning and hope in life. I am content with where I am and with my life, character, mind, and heart. I like myself and what I have become, and I love my family.

For the first time in a very long time, or perhaps even for the first time in my entire life, I feel whole, content, lucky, blessed, and satisfied all at the same time….. I should thank for my efforts, love and support of my family, and all the people and things that in a way constituted my life and helped make me who and what I am.

I especially thank those people who annoyed me with their unfair and unkind behaviors and ridiculous characters that make me realize how good-hearted, mature, kind, and genuine I and the people I care about are. It feels great to credit myself and others in my life who are awesome. This would not be possible without having annoying, selfish, ridiculous people in my life. They annoy, yes, but I now gained from this annoyance and it is priceless 🙂

Like anyone else, I strive for feeling better, having better life experiences and physical, emotional, and financial health, accomplishing my dreams, or just going thru the demands of life and work without losing my mind 🙂 There are many bumps along the way; I too have suffered by set backs, losses, emotional damages, bad people and circumstances, and my own inexperience and mistakes. Yet, here I am at mid-40`s that is perfectly fine with the imperfect world and life.. Even if this turns out to be a short-term thing, I am grateful that I have both thought and felt this way today...

Perhaps it is really true what they say; that we should sit and do nothing for some time. Then we remove all the rush and demands of our lives and find our true core. That life is life, with all the ups and downs. And we constantly strive to make it better as we wish it. And sometimes, just sometimes, we realize that we actually have everything we need among all the struggles, plans, pain, and laughter…

I hope you too will find this moment of peace and realize what a blessing your life is 🙂

Happy New Year!

new year resolutions

I have been thinking, and I have been thinking really hard, and I came to the conclusion that I have no particular resolution for 2017.

The past year I have made some significant changes in my life; such as an effective budget; doing light stretches and weight training to strengthen my lower back, arms, shoulders, and abs; walking whenever I can;  losing weight slowly without a hard diet or heavy exercise regimen; feeling generally better, more energetic, and sometimes even happy; having a low waste life-style and decluttering my home regularly (though it was one thing in my list that I could not find time to do this holiday season yet), etc.

Overall, I seem to be doing what matters to me as a person. I think the majority of these have mattered to me for a very long time, so I am happy with 2016 🙂

But, I have feelings… I miss my family. Just this afternoon it hit me hard once again that I am not sure whether being away from them, being here where I am, and doing the work I do are all worth it.

Honestly I do not think it does. But I am also hesitant to return back – I feel okay where I am. Not overly happy or content, but okay. I have a life here.

Yet, I keep missing them.. This is a wonderful thing actually – it does hurt, but I am happy I have these feelings toward my family.

Just yesterday I was thinking maybe this year too I will not try to structure my life by resolutions, but rather take the new year as it develops. Maybe I should even let it surprise me (and, hopefully in a positive way).

Maybe not looking for only a pre-determined wish is a good thing. Maybe this way I can see the opportunities as they arise, rather than seeing what I make my mind to focus and see (a.k.a. resolutions).

I will let 2017 be a spontaneous year full of unexpected opportunities, love, peace, success, happiness, family time, and health.

May your new year too be filled with beauty and with people and experiences that will give a meaning to your life and tremendous joy to you 🙂

Happy new year everyone! 🙂

the 9th and the 10th day of the staycation

Well.. Well… Well..

It has been 10 days already 🙂

Well. Yesterday I shopped fabric just to feel good about myself, but honestly it did not help 🙂 That is okay. Fortunately a friend of mine called, I mentioned her that I was feeling like I have had tons of things to do, she said that I am too fixated on this and should rather relax and enjoy my time (she was working), I realized that was totally the truth and decided that I should quit being a drama queen. And I invited them over for a lunch today.

It was a fine day 🙂 I did not get crazy about cooking, all meal was loved and consumed, we have had a relaxing afternoon, and we even sewed together 🙂

The lesson is that sometimes even those that we do not appreciate enough can see the plain truth and tell us what it is. Then the entire fog miraculously lifts and brightens our day.

In the new year, try giving chance to those that you may not be 100% of fond of – maybe they will see your truth better than you do 🙂

 

the 8th day of the staycation

Wow!.. Days pass quickly. I cannot believe that I have 6 days left before I return back to office and start a work-marathon….This thought somehow depressed me, but I will let it go.

I have had a fine day with shopping and nothing else in particular. I am making an effort to have free time so that I can reflect rather than keep myself busy with doing house chores or other activities.

The year 2016 has been quite an interesting year for my life. I felt happiness quite a bit; especially when I started yoga/stretching classes in January. It was going well, I was feeling connected to my body and appreciating it, but then one night I pulled a muscle on my back and I quit those classes. Alas..

I under-estimated how bad that lower back problem was and even though I was recommended to see a physiotherapist I did not and two weeks later I pulled it again. I had no chance but to take it serious. And I have. I attended physiotherapy, my work-place purchased me a standing desk, and I have been doing my back stretches/strengthening exercises  quite frequently. My back is feeling alright, but I am not naive to think that it has been healed completely. I will keep taking care of it.

Then late February my dad passed away and sadness engulfed me. if you follow my blog, you know I am grieving quite a bit… He was a gentle soul who deserved much better. I wish our lives were different.. May he rest in peace.

My relationship with my family strained a little bit after my dad passed away and we are trying to mend it. I never thought that I could have such a serious issues with my family members, but I did. Just recently I decided to go visit them this summer – I hope things will be back to normal. Love is stronger than anything else, even though time to time I too succumb into disliking things and people. Nothing changes the fact that my family is important to me.

In October, I went to a European convention and got strained there for two additional days because of a labor issue in the host country. The stress and anxiety I felt was palpable – would I be able to find a hotel room to stay? When could I return back safely? . Eventually it turned out to be okay, but this incident changed me a little bit. perhaps next time I can handle it better (not that I wish another adventure like this…). During those times I accidentally stepped on a song by Sia – Chandelier, which remains to be one of my favorites since then. I believe there has not been a day that I have not listened to it. The voice is captivating (though I am not sure what to think about the video).

 

In May I started to bake my own bread and in september I started my own sourdough starter 🙂 these two have been quite interesting adventures and  I am so happy that I have them in my life 🙂

And lately in November or so, I also became interested in sewing; I bought my sewing machine and have been collecting all the notions and supplies since then. I am not good at sewing yet, but I hope I will be over time 🙂

And, as per my budget; I have had the greatest budget at the beginning of 2016; it was the leanest budget I have had in the last 7-8 years and it did wonders for me. I was able to significantly reduce my spending, bring my chequing account to a positive balance, increase my RRSP contributions and my mortgage payments. During summer I succumbed back to spending unnecessarily, yet I hope the new year will give me a chance to keep my budget on track.

And finally; I lost around 15-20 pounds during the the past year. I suspect that baking my own bread and my lower back problem both contributed to it. I am feeling good about it and wish to keep losing some more fat in the coming year.

As per work; it continues to stress me out and I perform well, however, less than before. There are times that our interests change and I guess it has been the case for my work too. I still do a considerable amount of work, but there were times that I wished I could retire. Retirement is a distant dream, but it is such a freeing dream… I wonder what else I would discover and get interested in….

This year was also one of these that I made an attempt to be more social. I hosted a few times at my house, but it worked out well. I socialized with friends and colleagues and enjoyed them to some degree. Honestly I am not very interested in hosting or socializing again anytime soon, but I am glad at least I tried, made an effort to enjoy these occasions, and realized once more that solitude is the best life-style for me.

Quite a busy and influential year, is it not? 🙂

7th day of the staycation

cannot believe it has been 7 days that I have not been working… 7 days is a huge number. I was not working at the office but i was working at home and busy with socials. I really am looking forward to resting now..

Anyways; as per my sewing adventures; I have been trying to sew a dish cloth to have my water pitcher to rest on. It usually drips some water when filled and when I put it in the counter, sometimes it drips all the way down to the outside of the drawers. I was very aware of the water damage and I thought that should be the first thing I should be trying.

And I have. The end result was funny:) one side longer than the other (no wonder why I do not have its photo here); while I liked the colour (lovely and fresh-looking yellow) and the use of it, I thought I could fix it by appliying a bias tape. So yesterday I tried that and the end result was horrible. Sewing is difficult friends!!! 🙂 I tried it again today with a larger bias tape – again the same problem – the corners not done well.

I was very frustrated and was about to dump it in the garbage and start a new one. Then I wanted to give it another trial. The corners are not the best, but it seems slightly better than before with a much larger bias tape. I was happy and wanted to make it better. So I tried a decorative stitch around it. This time, though, the tension was not good so the back thread showed on top, the back thread needed to be replaced in the middle, and it went all messy after that. decorative stitches are diffiult to fix in the middle of the way… So I thought I could cover it with a lovely ribbon. Okay.. It looks not great, but honestly I love it and I am using it 🙂

By the way, yesterday I also tried a larger dishcloth this time to have my flour jars on it. It turned out to be not devastating, though I must confess I messed up with the corners again. I tried cross stitch to cover this mess, which made it even worse. So my only solution was to have those ribbons again!! Do they not look great? 🙂

I need to hear “good job” to feel good about myself and keep going with sewing. I tell ya; sewing is hard… it is not for the faint hearted like myself.. So please let me hear “good job!!” :))

the fifth and the sixth day of the staycation

Finally I feel like I have done quite a bit done today 🙂

Yesterday I baked three different loaves for a social I was invited to, cleaned some more parts of my house, had great time with four kids and four adults at a lovely dinner.

I am glad the socials are done. I just need to host a friend of mine whose mom is visiting them. This, honestly stresses me out as I am not a great cook. But, then the way I see many people are not, either (a positive outcome of frequent socials in the last few months). So I say – go for it and enjoy! I cannot wait this “task” in my to-do-list to be over (see how joyful I am about this? argh…).

And I am done with cleaning the kitchen, floors, and every single corner of the house today 🙂 I have more space in my fridge and kitchen cabinets now. No need to say that I am dumping a fair amount of clutter and gathering items to be donated. It feels good. I am not done with decluttering, though. I still have my storage cabinet to be cleaned and decluttered. Honestly it always scares me, but I think I will be fine once I start it.

I also need to wash two shag rugs at a nearby laundromat. After that I want to sell them. There I said it… I bought and use them with love, but I think it is time we depart our ways and get new ones…. That also feels good to me 🙂

My rotary cuter and cutting mat are not delivered yet – they were supposed to be here last Thursday, but alas.. I have been waiting for them to start doing some serious sewing but this afternoon I was not feeling well and I decided I could work it out somehow. And I kind of did – I sewn a lovely yellow and large dish cloth to be used on my counter 🙂 It is simple yet lovely and I am sure it will help me keep me my counter dry.

As my to-do-list is being taken care of, my reflection time is coming along…. Somewhere above I mentioned I was not feeling well. I missed my family and I am very aware of the fact that none of us are getting younger. When there is family there is love and when there is life there is death.. 2 + 2 = 4. It is very scary. I love my family and I do not wish to them to die, but this can happen anytime. Heck, I may die myself anytime. Why am I away from them? When am I going to be done with the work and start spending time with them? I was not planning to go visit them this year, but I guess I will do it – I want to do it. I was telling a friend of mine the other day – if I could retire I could quit work, too, but I just cannot. Money is not the most important thing, yes, but it can provide opportunities and some kind of happiness, right? Right.

The past one year I have been grieving after my dad and my relationships with the rest of my family has been slightly strained as a result. I am still grieving for my dad, still feeling the reality of death (some mornings I wake up thinking that “there; one more day of my life to be wasted. yet it is so precious. How can I enjoy i and make it more meaningful?” I have no answer to these questions…), but I have nowadays started to feel the fear of losing my other family members.. This clenches my heart…

I believe it is time that I care about my family members more.

After his death, I developed this strange fear of forgetting my dad, but I know that this will not happen. I think my father too would love me caring for the rest of the family.

Self-reflections to continue…..

 

 

the third and the fourth day of the staycation

Today and yesterday were kind of busy and high-speed days; but they were both good 🙂

I have done great in terms of cleaning my home; except the storage area, entrance deck, and the kitchen I am done cleaning; window sills, every corner, behind the furniture, and most importantly the laminate floors are wiped! Yay! I so dislike cleaning the floors, but it is done until further notice (heh he! 🙂 ) I also lightly wiped the rugs, except the one on the stairs and started my decluttering activity.

I am so into decluttering. I so far threw away quite a bit of clutter and am trying to sale some other minor stuff. Ones that will not be sold will be donated next week. This feels good. I still have a long way to complete my decluttering, but at least I have started and am enjoying it. I cannot wait to remove the clothes from my home – some of them have not been worn for some time and it is time to donate them. Old socks are always fun to throw away, and finding new treasures hidden here and there is a surprisingly delightful activity 🙂

Cleaning, if you do not like it, is a huge burden. One of my colleagues suggested I hire someone to do it; while I like the idea I think as long as I am capable of doing it, I will keep doing it.

I have baked this beauty for a social yesterday 🙂 does it not look awesome? It was an overnight dough prepared by milk (add 1 cup of warm skim milk, 1/2 tbs of dry yeast, 1tbs of sugar together; activate the yeast for 10 min with the container covered by a towel; add 2.5 cups of bread flour and knead; stretch and fold 4-5 times when you have time; rest at the fridge overnight; take it out in the morning and bring to room temperature (takes around 2 hours); shape; proof for an hour; and bake at 350F for 30 min (not pre-heated; it helps with the raise of this dough, which has a small amount of yeast) after applying whole egg wash and generous amount of sesame seeds on top).

Everybody loved it! I am baking a similar one for another social tomorrow, together with my sourdough 🙂 we will see how they will turn out tomorrow.

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Bon appetite! 🙂

year end finances

Year end financial calculations are always exciting for me! After all, I make plans and try hard to stick with them during the year. Now it is time to find out how I have done and what I can learn from the past years experiences.

Here is how I have done in terms of my budget, expenses categories, and savings:

A. Expenses within the weekly allowance:

Taxi cab (not including bus fare): $435.25 (ouch!…)

Unhealthy/junk food: $973 (OUCH!)

Grocery: $2,104.5

Eating out, including my weekend breakfast: $534.05 (maybe too much?)

Others (such as occasional books): $223.75

TOTAL: $4,180.6

 

 

B. Extra expenses (these are the expenses other than the weekly allowance expenses):

Dining out (myself or with others, excluding my weekend breakfast): $1,011.5 (ouch..)

Hosting at home/visiting others: $296

Gifts/donations: $754.5

Health-related expenses (e.g. dental visits, yoga etc.): $1,292.5

Cleaning and personal care products: $1,933.5

Clothes/shoes/sewing machine/sewing related expenses: $695

House repairs/furniture/extra house tax: $1,259

Annual vacation/family visit: around $6,200 (worth every penny!)

Fun funds expenses (expenses for my own enjoyment): $943.5

TOTAL: $14,385.5

 

C. Special savings

Total fun funds (savings from $120/week weekly allowance): $1,219.5 (yay!! – it is great to see these savings 🙂 ). I end this year with a positive balance at the fun funds (~$188)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $7,784.3!!! These are the money that I save by not taking the cab (as I would usually do), by using coupon/sales, and other lucky encounters. Honestly I am very surprised by this amount and am very excited!. can you imagine? Under different conditions I would be spending this money but I chose not to; I chose to follow the sales; and I chose not to make unnecessary expenses…I am very proud of these money that are now left with me!

D. Total savings and investments: Around 31.2% of my income after taxes (not including the home equity)

E. Others. I increased my mortgage payment in September by $100/biweek, which is not reflected in these calculations. Nor the bills, insurances, etc. (i.e. fixed expenses).

 

——————–

In summary; I see that I am capable of spending frugally and sticking with my budget to my best, but there are areas that I can focus. For example, I can reduce those junk food category and increase my hosting expenses. I should keep following the sales and taking the bus/walk to keep save a considerable amount of money.

Overall, I am content with what I have done, but I would love to save more of my net income.

Maybe in 2017! 🙂 happy new year everyone!

 

the second day of staycation

It has been a busy day, but I have done some of the stuff on my list, which is pleasing 🙂

First thing first, I met with my financial advisor and made a number of changes to my investments. I am hoping to get better return, yet once can never be sure of the future or the markets, so I am not raising my hopes yet. But I am glad that I have changed one plan that did not yield return much over the years. It has been bugging me big time and it is done. I also inquired about some additional information, which will be useful in the future. More importantly, my advisor was able to waive the annual fee for my credit card, which  I love! It is not too much but bothers me a lot! I did that for the first time last year and I was told that there would be no other chance in the future, yet here I am. I feel so lucky guys!

The next item at my list is of course cleaning the house. I did regular cleaning today; nothing fancy. I thought I would first need this get done. Then, slowly built on it. I dusted and wiped everything (such as heater, behind the items, window sills, floors etc.) of the powder room and the laundry room. It is not too much but at least this part is done and I feel like I am progressing 🙂

I want to do more but I am waiting for a delivery…. It feels kind of strange to be locked up at home but if I do not receive it at home, I will have to take the bus and get it from the courier’s office. Not so great.. So, I am waiting. I hope it can arrive soon so that I can get out and do some grocery shopping and pick up an item at a store 15 min away from here.

Oh, and I treated myself with a breakfast this morning after I talked to my financial advisor 🙂 It felt great to treat myself and remind myself that I deserve little indulgences, especially if they signify the start of a staycation and waiving of the credit card fee 🙂

I will calculate my savings for this year and the expenses in my expense categories now – let’s see how I have done 🙂

Have a great evening everyone!

 

first day of the staycation

Boy… I cleaned my office furniture today and it took me 4 hours or so..I dusted and cleaned everywhere, particularly my coffee station and the desk. Lots of paper is dumped, old projects and scars are let go, and space for new ones are opened….

I also decluttered my emails; I have deleted quite a bit but I mostly archived. I do not know how the heck I am going to find particular ones, but I have done it anyhow considering that I may one day need them. Now my inbox is relax, I do not get an reminder about my inbox being almost full, and I feel good about dumping lots of stuff. Well done 🙂 Considering the fact that I have also cleaned my personal email account in the last week or so, that means one task is done and decluttering started! Yay!! 🙂 Can’t wait to start with the home 🙂

I then left for shopping. It was nice to walk in the crispy weather. I bought a number of scrap fabric, mostly of cheerful colours. I was so excited when I bought them, but now I think as if I am wasting time, money, and hope on sewing. See, the problem is I could not sew not one thing so far. Nada. Zilch. I tried two blouses and they both are messed; I never knew sewing a neck could be this difficult. Darn…..I tried a dish cloth that is also messed up (cannot even stitch straight, my friends)…  I am losing my hope time to time… I am in desperate need of doing something, something with my sewing machine…If I do see one done, I will find some confidence I am sure. Alas, it is no where to be found…. Not yet.. I have not given up yet, but I really need to come up with something nice quite soon. Please wish me luck.

Anyways my friends; I am cranky, yet I must be excited. My staycation for two weeks has started today! Who knows what the tomorrow will bring? 🙂

feeling more optimistic today

After feeling quite overwhelmed yesterday, I am feeling much better now.

I worked intensely today with two of my colleagues. I was drained but we have done a good job. I decided tomorrow was the day of cleaning the office (dusting and decluttering) as well as cleaning the work email box. After that i plan to leave my office for the holidays and start my break with visiting the fabric stores 🙂 And upon returning back to home, I hope to work on the blouse I have started today and maybe do some laundry to jump start the holiday plans! 🙂

Thursday morning I have an appointment with my bank. I will not make a lump sum contribution to my mortgage that I had planned earlier, but I decided i could increase my payment a little bit and still feel like doing a good job with it (without feeling deprived of money). I think I must give myself more credit; this year I have done really well in terms of my budget, savings, and increasing my mortgage and RRSP contributions even though some of our taxes increased. i will calculate my finances (savings and spendings in each expense category) for the year 2016 soon; I am excited about it 🙂 2017 will be somehow tough because our pension contributions will be increasing too, but I want to go through it. I can always reduce my TFSA contribution should I need cash. I must remember this.

Back to sewing; I started a new blouse project today. I must admit I am intimidated by sewing – there is so much to figure out and to try. It is good that I bought the fabrics at my hand at good price (from the thrift stores); even though they are now mostly wasted by my trials and errors (!), it is a necessary part of the process. Tonite I watched a couple of youtube videos and they were helpful in learning how to best sew a neck… Sewing a good looking neck and fitting the arms may be the hardest part of the sewing for me right now. I will develop over time I hope.

Have a great night everyone 🙂

random thoughts

Three more days till my two weeks holidays time off 🙂 I cannot wait!

Honestly, I am done with work. I have things to do but enough is enough. I have been working very hard and made a good attempt to finish ongoing work. I will make one last push tomorrow and Wednesday, and then I will take Thursday off (even though it is not  apart of our holidays). I deserve this extra day 🙂

I have done the majority of my shopping by taking advantage of the sales, though I still would love to check trousers and get one or two if they are on sale. Other than that, I have no need for shopping and I feel good about this. Of course I have many socials to attend, especially this week, which kind of makes me bored already, but I will go through it. The exciting things will be to declutter my home, clean it up, and get some time for myself.

I have quite a reflection to do and the holidays have always been the best time for me to do so… This year has been full of ups and downs…. While on the average it was one year that I have had felt happy, it was also the one that brought me the most profound sadness; my dad has passed away this year.. May he rest in peace…. I did not know what sadness was prior to this and I had never appreciated life as much I have since my dad’s death…My dad has given me life and also taught me the best lesson ever by his death; that I must appreciate life while I have it…. How could I not feel this before, when he was alive? He has seen me mostly depressed and fed up with life; that feels so unfair to him… But I am sure he would love to see me now with this new zest towards life.

I am also older now and getting close to 50 🙂 hah haaa. I have never thought I would but here I am! With age comes change in the body as well as in the attitude towards anything really. I appreciate my family and I still care about my work, but I want to have a better and healthier life-style overall. I am losing weight slowly but steadily, which is good. My mood is overall better, which is awesome. I must continue to care for my back and keep doing my stretches and light weight training, which have been really good for me. I want to get better at sewing and start doing some serious projects, which I hope the holidays will be a good opportunity to do so. I am still keen about saving and paying down my mortgage, but I am not going to get too enthusiastic about it and would like to make it a priority to enjoy my life and care for people I love…

It looks like I have little new projects for the new year. This somehow bothers me (i.e. does not excite me that much) but I would like to think positive. Perhaps this is an opportunity to go with the flow. Who knows, maybe I will develop new interests and projects without thinking about them? After all my two current interest, blogging and sewing, were never planned and were just spontaneously born 🙂

random thoughts

It was a kind of “oh well, I think I am getting down with something” day…

I think the windy weather is making me kind of sick; it is quite strong and when it hits, it hits.. Time for the hot chocolate 🙂 Lots of it 🙂 🙂

The wind outside is quite concerning; I am so grateful for my house standing tall in this weather. We have had a strangely cold, snowy, and windy week. Two days were snow days and this evening was certainly not great. I managed to go to grocery store nice and easy, but when I had left, the snow and wind were just beating us. It is great that my house is very close to the store 🙂

I have socials to attend this weekend and I am hoping (yes, I am..) that we will cancel them. I am supposed to have a hair cut; clean the house; do the laundry; shop at a mall for my needs; and then attend an early dinner tomorrow – how am I supposed to do all of these, while I also feel kind of sick and cranky and the weather is crazy?

Nevertheless, I am hoping that at least the weather will be better, I will feel a lot like my regular self and enjoy my time as it develops tomorrow.

Have a great Friday night everyone! 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

I believe I have not posted my weekly spending and savings last week. It was quite similar to  this week.

Notably; my minimal spending plan is going really well (i.e. I do not stock up food or other house items, I am careful with my grocery purchases, and I have my weekend breakfasts at home but not at a cafe), my “fun funds” have a positive balance for the first time in a few months (yay! 🙂 ), and I am making a lot of expenses, especially related to sewing notions and fabric 🙂

here is a snap-shot of this week:

expenses within the weekly allowance (all grocery): $26

fun funds this week (i.e. funds left from weekly allowance): $120 – 26 = $94

total fun funds accumulated to date: $120.5

other expenses: $266 ($49 was made for a social and the rest were for sewing notions and fabric)

Savings: $204. These are the savings thanks to sales/discounts, or thanks to not making the expenses that I would normally do but preferred not to (such as taking the cab rather than the bus). It is amazing how much I can save this way…

———-

My plan is to keep doing what I am doing, except that I am hoping I will be done gathering the sewing notions soon so that this one large expense can be minimized in the future. I need scissors and some other stuff in addition to fabric, but I think I have got the majority of the things I need. This is a relief as I love making these expenses! 🙂 I have been to stores this evening and collected some left-over/remnant fabric to use here and there. They cost me $26 bucks but I was the happiest person on earth 🙂 So, I am assuming I will keep doing this for sometime until I realize that I have more fabric than I could efficiently use. I am hoping I will not become a fabric hoarder 🙂

have a great Thursday everyone 🙂

 

 

joy journal – December 13, 2016

In an attempt to feel better, this is my conscious attempt to remember the beautiful things, people, and experiences that enrich my life and my well being.

1. I am grateful for the soup I have prepared and drunk this evening. The nice thing about cold weather and winter is to be able to pamper myself with a hot drink or soup. I hope to remember to purchase hot chocolate packages this week; they are my favorites.

2. I am grateful for venting out via my blog this evening and getting rid of some of the negative energy.

3. I am grateful for the TV series I am watching (Rush, which is an Australian TV series) that makes my evening interesting and okay to go by.

4. I am grateful for my family; no matter what happens, loving them is a blessing. We may argue, we may mis-understand each other, we have have heart-breaks. but we love each other. Solid.

5. I am grateful for accepting my feelings as they are; they may be negative, I may be feeling down, but eventually I believe I will be okay. I may not be able to have a great relaxing holiday staycation this year, but whatever it is gonna be, I will be fine. I can always take some time off from work and try again..

6. I am grateful for thinking once again to have my will and estate planning done. I have been meaning to do this for so many years.. The problem is I feel like when it is done, I will die… This is a ridiculous feeling but this is how I feel… I must do this for my family. I must do this to have my stuff done while I am alive so that after my death I will not be a nausea for anyone. I am scared, but I will start it. I will check online and see what my options are. Then I will make appointments to talk to people/lawyers. I may be scared but this is the right thing to do. I hope to be able to accomplish it this time.. the truth is we never think we or anyone else we love will die. But we do…. Often times suddenly…. While I would love to live a long, happy, and healthy life, what is my guarantee that I will? That is a sad question that depresses me, but it is great to know that I want to live.

7. I am grateful for not having chocolate right now 🙂 I would eat the entire box! And then would feel resentful about it 🙂

social invites; when it rains, it pours

It was not even 5 minutes that I have written a post where I bragged about attending too many socials during the holidays, and now I have got two more invitation emails asking me to join them for a social. One of them is from someone who has been kind to me at the beginning and then was mean for no reason at one occasion. I had not seen her in the last 3-4 years.

So what do I do now?

I guess I will keep being polite and ask her to join me for a coffee or something like that. It gotta be short.

Sometimes I feel like people “feel” for people like me who live alone and almost feel the need of “saving” us from our loneliness by inviting here and there, especially during the holiday season. It is like “poor thing – please come and get some joy”… I wonder how many people think or feel this way.

One other time the host (who is actually a good friend of mine) had “kindly” said that they invited me over because they were worried their kids were not exposed to enough diversity (I am not from here). It was so awkward for me (I felt like I was being treated like a display object on a store’s window or at rare items museum), but obviously not for them…

And another friend of mine insists that I spend the new year eve with them. Last year I made an exception and went there. But this year I do not want to. I told her that I was not sure and we will talk some other time. If I am going there, it will be on my terms; I will leave early like 8 pm. I want to be home and by myself reflecting to welcome the new year, with hope, joy, and appreciation for the last year. However it was and however it will be.. I told her my wishes for the new year night last year, but it does not go through. Why is that I wonder?

How do I tell people that I am okay spending time by myself… No. Correction.. How do I convince people that I am okay spending time by myself?

As a matter of fact, why do I ever have to convince anyone?

Not everyone wants to spill their guts out; some of us are okay rejoicing themselves or mending their scars alone. Living alone does not mean that we are lonely.

There.

I did rant.

And feel slightly better already 🙂

feeling what I feel

It has been a snow day, meaning I stayed in the whole day and worked through my computer. It also means that I shoveled 🙂

I think the winter is gonna be harsh this year; it is one of these rare occasions that we have had a snow day before January…

I felt bored at home but kept working anyhow. It is one of days that I would rather be at the office, but there is nothing I can do about this right now.

The holidays season is upon us and I have too many social events to attend. I have 3 to attend this week and at least 2 other the next week. Every once a while it is great but I question myself – do i really want to do this? Possibly not, but I gave my word so I am going. I am prepared to gracefully accept the fact that if there is nothing I can change, then I must make an effort to at least enjoy…

I am feeling down.. I have been feeling down for some time and I want to feel good again. I know life is a cycle and we are entitled to both good and bad times, but it does not defer me from wanting to feel good.

There are a number of thoughts and things that bother me. I do not think I can solve them. Yet, I am still bothered by them. it is one of these times that forgetting would be a good and useful option. I try to change my perspective and try to approach from another angle. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it does not.

In the middle of everything, I just want to feel good again.

Sometimes I know what can make me excited and sometimes I have no idea. Food is good, so is exercise. Being grateful is probably a powerful healer – should be writing my joy journal today….

I am worried that I will have a shitty holiday vacation this year. Time to time I have had it. A time that I have just for myself without the requirements of work does not always mean that I will have a great time. As a matter of fact, if I do not lift my spirit up till then, I am sure it will tire me.

Oh well….

Maybe all I have to do is to grab a box of chocolate:)

the plans for the holidays

I have 11 days till a two-weeks break during the holidays 🙂

I sure have a lot of things to do. One thing I do not want to is to work 🙂 I will have to do light work for a couple of days, but I am okay with this. I will mainly stay away from the office and this change will feel good 🙂

As per my other plans, here is a short snap-shot:

1. Cleaning the house: Yes, yes… The dreaded house cleaning will have to happen this year too 🙂 I plan to dust and wipe very corner at home; wash the shag rugs, pillows, and everything else; wipe the rugs; wipe the stairs’ carpet; and wipe the floors.

The last one will take some time; my floors are mostly laminate, which is hard to wipe. It needs to be wiped with a damp but not wet cloth and immediately dried by another cloth… I can do this the majority of the time without much of a trouble, but the attention it requires is boring… Nevertheless, i will do this and then forget for some time 🙂

I do not enjoy wiping the rugs either; my rugs are lovely but one of them is quite thin, making the wiping a little bit difficult. I must be careful about not applying too much water – that is all. It is gonna happen 🙂

2. Decluttering and re-organizing the house: I have been excited about this! 🙂 Yes, I love to declutter. I am amazed how much I have dumped, gave away, or donated; but there is still a lot to sort out and get rid of.

I am particularly aware of the shoes and the paperwork in my storage. Honestly I dread the idea of getting into my storage area but I must do this…. There are a bunch of stuff from the past that I kept, which I am determined to get rid of this time for sure. I must leave only those that are absolutely necessary and the rest should be dumped. A couple of months ago I had one attempt and thinned things out, including 8-9 containers of half-used paint (which I air-dried prior to dumping them in the garbage). So I have had quite a progress but it was not 100%. This time I should be done with it. When I am done with it, I would like to be not scared of thinking or going through it… Wish me luck 🙂

And the shoes: I do not know what I will do with them. Among everything else I have gotten rid off, shoes were an exception. I have some quite battered shoes that should be dumped and some lovely ones that I should be using… The fact that I have not opened those boxes in many years tells all… They should be donated so that somebody else can enjoy them…. This mentality helps but I still resist the idea of departing with them. Help!!

To declutter, I will star with the easiest part, which is the bathrooms. Then I will move on the bedroom closet; I am pretty sure I will retire some of the socks, pajamas, and shirts this time too… Apart from this, I have no other decluttering planned for the upstairs ( I had decluttered the rest of the rooms/closets a few months back).

On the first floor, I will have some time spent… The study/living room has some declutering needed – it is not too much (sort of mostly paper), so I am sure it will be okay in a few hours. I will sort out the bills for this year and put them in the storage area… This always feels good, opening space for new bills :)))

The kitchen on the other hand will take some time. I bought a new set of dining plates so what will I do with the previous ones? I am planning to donate a portion of the previous set but not everything.. This means I gotta pack or find a place to put them. I will also get rid of chipped plates and some plates that I bought with joy but hardly used.. There are a number of coffee mugs that have the same fate. But more than that I want to have a good look at my kitchen cabinets and re-organize the shelves. I hope to achieve a more lean and efficient system. I have a couple of stuff, like a juicer that I use once a year or two – I must decide what to do with it. The same thing with the waffle – maker; I have not used in 3 years and I just saw it last week while looking for something. I think nobody would miss it if it was gone, right?

3. Going through the pantry and freezer: I will do that not only to declutter but also to identify what I have (and hopefully to consume them without more delay) and to sock up new stuff 🙂 I believe I have frozen veggies I had blanched last year – man, these gotta be eaten..

4. Video-typing of the house and its contents: I have a habit of video-typing the outside and inside of my house for insurance purposes. I do that twice a year to document is condition and to update the record on my stuff. Nothing major, just needs to be done.

5. Shopping!!! 🙂 Yay!! well, I kind of shopped and bought the majority of the stuff I needed, but I still need a couple of things. First pants – I cannot miss the sales and I often catch good deals during the holidays. I cannot wait. I also need socks but nothing that cannot wait – only if I can find really good deals. I will visit the thrift stores a couple of times. After last Friday’s fabric haul, I cannot wait to excitement of checking them again 🙂

6. Sewing adventures. Ahem.. i still do not have a particular project at my hand and am still trying to figure out the tips and tricks of using a sewing machine, cutting fabric, using notions, and coming up with a piece that does not fall off places :))

I do not want to just do something that will not be useful…. Do you know this feeling? I just do not want to sew to sew.. That is strange because without practice how am I supposed to get better at it anyhow?

I think what I am feeling is like I just do not want to stitch the edges of a large piece of fabric and brag that now I have sewn a table cloth… I think what I want to try is fancier, more creative stuff.. Like, I have this wonderful fabric that can be a table cloth but I want to have something sewn around the edges so that it can look more than just a plain cloth. But then I am thinking maybe I can do something at the centre to give it a more character. But what will it be? Also I have like 6 table cloths – what is the point of making another one?

I am, however, for sure sewing a dish cloth for my kitchen. I have been playing with some fabric this afternoon, but decided that I needed more vibrant colours to give it a cheerful air. I also would like to sew a lady with a hat and nice clothes on it, but I have no idea how I will be able to turn it around. This will require some research on the net and figuring out a pattern that I can work on.

I also would like to re-try the blouse I sewed yesterday. It is gonna be so nice – I am excited 🙂

I have another nice fabric that would make an excellent and cozy blouse, yet I have no idea how to design it. I am not that good at modeling or taking measures. I am only at the stage where I can try basic and un-detailed work…

And then?

I do not know… Maybe it is time that I try a quilt?

random thoughts

There is snow on the ground. I has been snowing constantly but lightly the last few days. I have mixed feelings about it – I love seeing it fall from the sky when I am inside, but when I need to step out of the house, it is a mess 🙂 The slushy, wet, or icy snow has never been appealing to me. As a matter of fact, the icy one is scary..

If you are living in a city where the sidewalks are cleaned and salted, please take a moment to thank your tax dollars and city for doing this very important preventive measure for you. My current city does not and as a result, pedestrians like myself often walk on the road if there are snow banks on the side walk (or when the road is less icy and more clean than the sidewalk). Not safe for the pedestrians or the motorist alike…..

Anyways; I have had some sad news today. Someone I know has lost her second son yesterday. Both sons died young; one in a car accident and another one in an attack (he was a police officer)…. I cannot imagine how the parents are feeling….. They have no children left…. May they find the strength to carry on… I am profoundly saddened.

My sister once had told me that my dad had a long life and he would not wish to die after any of us. She was right. I am quite saddened that my dad has died, but today I have found some peace in knowing that he did not see us dying.. I think this is what he would want.

Anyways; this weekend was interesting and more or less relaxing. I have 2 weeks till the holidays and I am so looking forward to it. I have many plans that I hope to pen down sometime soon. After all, it is the anticipation that makes things more exciting 🙂

Have a great Sunday everyone! 🙂

My first serious sewing trial

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After yesterday’s exciting fabric hunt, I could not help but try to replicate a favorite blouse of mine. I thought that I needed to start somewhere to get a feeling of sewing.

I surprised myself though. Seriously, no it was not a great work, I need to have better neck lines and also desperately need a rotary cutter, but hey do you not think this actually looks great?

It does!

Too bad its cut is small (how did that happen?)

Great that I have more fabric and an idea about how to better sew it next time 🙂

 

exciting thrifty store visit :)

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I have had a blast today at two thrifty stores 🙂

Gals; I was reading that some of you were able to get sewing fabric and notions from thrifty stores. I had not believed in it.

It turned out I was wrong 🙂

I took advantage of finishing some critical work early today and despite the slushy roads (which is not fun when one walks), I decided to check my favorite stores; a.k.a. thrifty stores 30 min walking distance from my office. Man, there is so many interesting stuff in these stores.

I have found lovely scrap fabric in great condition 🙂 These were left overs from who knows what project and were on sale. All in great condition and clean, and absolutely do not have any dirt or offensive odor or something 🙂 Some are as long as 7 meters, the shortest is around 1 meter. And I paid a total of $42 for all of these (12 different fabric accounting for more than 30 meters of fabric)!

This is my first serious fabric hunt so far (after I purchased my sewing machine). I am planning to use some as backing fabric for bed cover/quilt trials; some of them I would love to see as tunics, and many of them will be quilt pieces/placemats 🙂

I cannot wait to get my hands on these 🙂

I love my money

No, not in a way that it becomes the entire focus of my life.

No, not in a way that I would do anything to have it or keep it.

No, not in a way that I would sacrifice the quality of my life, well being, safety, or security.

No.

I love my money in a way that I would like to see it in my chequing account and not getting crazy about not having enough money because I am so interested in investing it for my future or paying my mortgage early.

There, I said it.

Watching my chequing account and trying hard, very hard, to see it not dropping to a negative level is getting on my nerves.

I have had negative balance starting three years ago till last December (when it was finally positive). I like it being positive. I like it growing every paycheque. I like using it to contribute to my RRSP, HBP payments, TFSA, and a personal retirement plan. But since all of these are significant contributions (totaling around 20K each year), certainly coming up with these amount of money is a significant commitment and effort on my side.

Do not get me wrong; I love saving, being frugal, finding ways to limit spending and waste, and help secure my future.

What I do not like is to constantly feeling like I am running out of money and I must be very careful while spending my own money. This has started to bug me a lot lately because I have no reason to reduce the quality of my life or to generate extra stress for my life by getting anxious about my money and my chequing account.

My mortgage will be paid in a shorter time than many; whether I can make it 2 years earlier should not matter to me right now.

Right now, I want to breathe.

That is why I am not going to make that 5K extra contribution to my mortgage before the new year (that I had planned).

Making that contribution would make my chequeing account quite low (still on the positive side, but low) and I would be spending the next 6 months saving another 5K for my personal retirement payment in summer. And, when I make it, then I would be saving money this time to again beef up my chequeing account and buffer for extra expenses that may happen.

Forget that..

It is becoming a constant struggle, a source of stress and even sadness, to keep constantly save large amounts of money for something.

Should I not be instead celebrating all the positive changes I have made in my life with my budget and savings?

Yes, I should be feeling like celebrating rather than struggling….

how did I breathe the same air for two days?

Do our homes aerate themselves, or do we keep breathing the same stale air over and over?

I have 6-7 plants that are supposed to generate oxygen during night, but I am assuming our homes are not air-sealed and I hope there is some exchange is happening here and there.

Otherwise, it would mean that in the last 50 hours or so, I have just breathed the same air because since Friday evening I have not left my home!!!

I do not know how that happened! Even in snow days I would get out of home, even for a short time.

I am surprised.

Very surprised.

I know I was supposed to get out and shop on Saturday, but it was heavily raining that day. So I stayed in, cleaned the house, did the laundry. Okay….

Today?

Why did I not get out today?

I do not know.. But what I know is that this is possibly the first time in the last handful decades that I have stayed in for two days straight.

I hope I will not do this again – it does not feel right.

Time to start my weekend breakfast at the nearby cafe again – they almost motivated me to get out and made me enjoy my day right away….. I missed the smell of the coffee and the taste of the bagel….. I missed carrying the cup out with me and drinking it while walking…. I missed feeling the fresh air on my cheeks and nostrils… I missed being with the life that is happening outside.

Lessons learnt and over.

 

 

sourdough loaf with part semolina flour

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This is my second time adding semolina flour into sourdough.

This time something really worked; this was the best rise I have ever seen with my starter 🙂

Not sure whether I have a starter that evolved and works robustly at our cold climate (rises even at ~17C, which is the temperature of my kitchen) or it was the semolina flour that kicked the dough a little bit, I am not sure. But whatever it was, this recipe is something that I sure will try again in the future 🙂

 

Recipe

1.5 cup of starter that is fed with 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of water a night before and again in the morning

Add to the starter 1 tbs of salt, 2 tbs of sugar, 2 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of semolina flour, and 1 cup water. Mix well and knead 4-5 minutes

Cover and let rise at room temperature, with occasional stretch and fold (I did a total of 5 of these)

Let rise at room temperature over night

The next day, shape the loaves (I tried one baton and one whirled loaf; the latter one did not turn out to be great-looking, but you can try to shape your loaves as you wish. I floured a large piece of parchment paper and placed the loaves on it on a cookie sheet). Place in a big plastic bag and let proof at room temperature for 2 hours

After proofing, heat the oven to 375 F and bake the loaves for 45 – 50 min

Sprinkle with a minute amount of water, cool for 5-10 min, and enjoy 🙂

 

weekly budget check

The minimal spending plan till the holidays is continuing. This was a great week in terms of spending my weekly allowance frugally (covering grocery, transportation, weekend breakfast, and other little daily expenses).

The additional shopping and taking advantage of the deals are also continuing, meaning money is spent now to save money over the long run (what an interesting thing to say….).

My fun funds are nowhere near being positive, which is bothering me. Hope to lift it up above $0 before the new year 🙂

—————————————

Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

Fun funds (left-over from the weekly allowance): $120 – $48.5 = $71.5

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

Total fun funds accumulated to date: -$53 (yes, yes… it is a negative balance. no, no…. this is not great…)

Other expenses: a hefty $238.5, $100 of which is made for sewing supplies and notions

Savings from sales, transportation, and other expenses that I would normally do but have chosen not to this week : $222.5 (at least that is a good number; i could as well spend all of these. I am glad I have not..)

————–

Overall, I am benefiting from the “minimal spending plan” – it helps me to consume what I already have, which is awesome (also helping with limiting waste and food hoarding). Since I still have lots of fresh and dry/canned/frozen food to be consumed, I think I will be fine with continuing with this plan for some time.

I will slow down with my other expenses and am not planning to make any stocking up or additional shopping for personal care or cleaning products (other than for sewing-related needs) .

Let’s see how the next few weeks will go ahead 🙂

The half full glass of sewing

I became interested in sewing only lately – I believe 3 weeks ago or so. I had used a little toy-like machine to sew around the edges of a piece of fabric to have extra baking cloths. I immediately fell in love with it!  I looked for a good deal, finally got a nice one, ordered a wonderful sewing machine, and eventually received it last Friday:)

Well, there are also expenses associated with it. I ordered additional bobbins, presser feet, and needles; am buying threads and fabric; and am needing other supplies like cutting mats, rotary cutters, scissors, pins, and more threads and fabric. I will possibly need more stuff and notions over time. So, it will cost me money….As a matter of fact just yesterday I have had that dilemma again – is this really worth it considering that I am on a saving adventure?

I do not like this thought at all.

I believed genuinely that sewing was good for me and that is why I bought the machine. I enjoy it and I sure will benefit from it. So tonite, I have been busy trying to list all the benefits of sewing and now I am feeling better 🙂 .

Here is my case for sewing:

1. Sewing is a great, interesting, and exciting hobby: Everybody needs a hobby or two that will distract our minds from the daily stress and issues and make our lives whole and better. I used to read books till last year as a continuous hobby; then started baking bread; and now am moving with sewing. I am in fact lucky that I have these beneficial, positive, and lovely interests in my life!

2. Sewing can help me make my living environment better: Once I got the supplies and necessary trial-error-experience, I can do so much with the sewing machine and improve my home. My long-term plans are to sew curtains, table cloths, bed covers, quilts, pillow covers, placemats, dishmats, napkins, sewing machine cover (yes, I will do this one too 🙂 ), bed sheets/linen, to name a few.

So for all these new and hopefully beautiful things crafted just according to my taste, soon and over the many years to come, am I not supposed to be actually joyful and grateful? I project that these will cost me more money than the factory produced items I could buy, but may not the pride, excitement, effort, and anticipation of making them myself just worth the extra price?

3. Sewing can make me more self-sustaining: I know from my bread baking adventure that it feels wonderful to be able to keep trying and baking my own bread (sometime brick-like, but that is okay), not buying store-made bread any more, and sharing my loaves with friends and neighbours.

If I can sew stuff, including clothes, then I sure will be more self-sustaining and I sure will feel the pride coming out of it. I did not sew till just 3 weeks ago!! Is that not a great ability now?

4. I can repair clothes and household items: I have a number of shirts and trousers that need a stitch or two. I also would like to fix certain problematic areas of select clothes that are in good shape but are not my favorites right now (like sleeves that are a little bit longer than I desire). My other alternative would be hand-repairing them, but this type of sewing has never been very successful with extensive repairs/fixes. So, in fact now I may be able to do these a little bit better. Will this not limit waste and increase savings over time?

5. I can sew clothes: In fact I would love to sew tunic tops; I even have a plan for a green one in my mind (it will be my first serious sewing project). How about pajamas?

6. I can make gifts by sewing and save money: This will be a penny-saver that is for sure. Every year I spend around 300 bucks for gifts. There are people that I love who are away and I do not gift at all (like my good friends). So, why do I not just improve my sewing and craft skills and make them gifts myself? A nice table cloth or quilt is sure to warm even the coldest heart.

In summary, here are the main benefits associated with sewing: better mood, better self-sustaining abilities, limiting waste, reducing a portion of my regular expenses (like gifts), and making my home/clothes the way I want it…

With these in mind, can I really brag about the expenses associated with sewing?

Especially that I am making an effort to identify the best priced supplies and do not do haphazard expenses?

And also, I just remembered: at the beginning of a new adventure like sewing, certainly the expenses are higher because of the additional but durable items required (like scissors, cutting mat etc.). Over time, my main expenses will be threads and fabric.

Overall, what is my verdict?

I will be okay and I should focus on enjoying my sewing journey!

 

sleepless

I have submitted an important proposal today, and as usual immediately after that I felt beat….

That is a usual experience – I think it pressures and stresses me so much that when it is done, I get completely drained…. It is like being mentally exhausted and needing a refreshing break..

As a result, I came home early today and spent time with my lovely sewing machine:) I also cooked a healthy meal and enjoyed it very much.

Yet, now I cannot sleep. As a matter of fact I do not want to go work tomorrow. In my case, sleeping late almost always translates into getting up late anyways. Maybe I will take the morning off… I feel like I need that distance from the office….

Anyways, sewing is great, my machine does awesome, I have identified nice projects to start, and I am all excited about it. I just need stuff – like fabric, additional presser foot, threads, rotary cutter, cutting boards/mats etc. I finally ordered a portion of these just a few minutes ago and I plan to shop at the weekend for the rest.

Although it is expensive right now, I believe sewing will open new possibilities and excitements for me. So, it is all good (well.. it would be better if it was cheaper, but what can I do?).

I am kind of worried because I shopped quite a bit lately and I still aim to make an extra lump-sum contribution towards my mortgage before the new year. I am kind of feeling this plan will be difficult to implement, which further stresses me…. I want to convince myself that all expenses I have made lately were for good reasons and were required. Almost all were… Except the sewing stuff of course – but I must also be okay with gifting myself, especially considering how much I gift others, right?…

It is one of these times that focusing on saving money and living the life I want are contradicting each other.

Sigh….

Perhaps I should make that mortgage contribution right away so that I will have a better idea about how much money I have available to me. There is no point in waiting, is there?

With this little self-rant, now I am ready to give another try to sleep 🙂

Have a great night everyone!

is there something called “excitement addiction”?

I feel like I am addicted to excitement and am in constant need of feeling it.

I have been feeling really good, happier, more excited, and calmer in the last 6 weeks or so (I am so grateful for this). These has been mainly because I was able to walk more and see that I have had my energy back; I was able to save more and as a result, buy more (of those that I needed);  I was losing weight and feeling a little bit better; I had developed a new interest (sewing); and I was able to eat better with more diverse and healthier food.

Doing/feeling each of these great things almost every day/week was a constant source of joy and pride that made me excited! 🙂

Yesterday and today I feel like meh for no apparent reason, even though I have so much to be grateful and joyful about.

Is it because these beautiful things/activities became a routine? 

Perhaps it is true – too much of something great may not constantly feel good over the long run. Perhaps I should refrain from and miss those first, for example shopping, to enjoy it next time…Dully noted…

Or maybe, I need to strive/plan/work towards something new?

Oh well.

Maybe all I need is a sewing project 🙂

 

joy journal – Nov 27, 2016

Tonite, I have find my mind going around negative thoughts and feelings- what better reason to write my joy journal? 🙂

1. I am grateful for sleeping well, having many dreams, and interpreting them. I am not an interpreter but among all three dreams, there was one common theme – that I was dwelling on/keeping the (negative) past memories and events too much. It is time to let these go and move on with a positive attitude, and create new memories…

2. I am grateful for the coffee I have had at home. I love brewing coffee at home 🙂 why did I not do that before? Until three weeks ago, I only brewed my coffee at the office and at the weekends I bought  myself coffee at coffee houses. As part of my minimal spending plan to finance my additional shopping during the holiday season, three weeks ago I started brewing it at home and this week I realized how much I actually enjoy this 🙂 I would love to make it a better experience by buying maybe better and aromatic beans for a change. I love vanilla and hazelnut – flavored coffee :). Otherwise honestly the coffee at the coffee houses are much better than mine! Time to change this 🙂

3. I am grateful for speaking with my family and having lots of laughs together.

4. I am grateful for catching the bus and going to the shopping mall. On the way back, I needed to wait around 40 min for the bus, but, hey, what can I do? In the past I would take the cab, but my conscious choice is to be able to save my money for more important things… So, even though it was a dump and rainy day, I was grateful for waiting for the bus inside the mall and keeping dry..

5. I am grateful for the french press coffee maker that I purchased – it was on sale and I have got an additional discount. It did not cost me too much and it looks really lovely. Upon my return I brewed coffee in it and I must say it is even better (lid is more solid and secure) than the presser at my office. I could not be happier for having this affordable, beautiful, and useful item 🙂

6. I am grateful for all other items I purchased today, which all will be useful in my life.

7. I am grateful for dying my hair 🙂 I am so not excited about this, yet I gotta do it every month or so 🙂 I am trying a new shade and it looks like the dye itself was better than the previous one. Thank you 🙂

8. I am grateful for being 190 pounds 🙂  I was heavier. In 2016 I lost around 15 pounds, very slowly. I am no sure about the exact reasons, but it is mostly because I do not eat late at night anymore (I used to eat a lot before I go to sleep…). I am very happy with this new habit and the positive outcome it brings to my life. My aim is to drop another 10-15 more pounds, maybe in a year or so and hopefully keep them off. The trick is to have this healthy eating pattern over time – a great trick 🙂

9. I am grateful for making conscious choice of letting negative things go off my mind and reminding myself to keep having a happy mental state. There are things that bother me… yet, I have been feeling so great lately that I will not let these thoughts/feelings ruin my overall mood. Feeling good is an amazing thing and I would love to keep it as much as I can.

10. I am grateful for making the better choice of buying and eating dried fruits than biscuits at the shopping mall 🙂

11. I am grateful for the big salad and the healthy meal I have had at home for dinner 🙂 They are healthy and good for my quest to lose fat.

12. I am grateful for having the night to myself and enjoying it as much as I can by watching movies and reading – what a blessing!

13. I am grateful for being safe and sound in this bad weather. We have had quite a rainy and windy day today and the wind is pounding everywhere. It is awesome that my home is standing tall and keeping me safe during this difficult weather.

14. I am grateful for having lots of food at my fridge. freezer, and pantry. I have a lot of things to consume in the coming months. The minimal shopping plan that I implemented in the last three weeks was very useful in consuming what I already possess, but I am thinking I can do better. For one, I have not eaten dry food lately and I may as well focus on consuming them this week. This will help me not only save from my current grocery bill, but also give me a chance to replace them with fresh ones.

15. I am grateful for my computer, internet connection, power, heating, appliances, furniture, clothes, books, TV, and all other items I have at home. They make my life easy, comfy, enjoyable, and safe.

16. I am grateful for my joy journal and taking time to note all the lovely, exciting, interesting, valuable, lovable, and appreciable things, people, and experiences 🙂

shopping spree continues :)

I have been shopping lately; I bought a new sewing machine, ordered plate sets, and yesterday and today I have been to shopping malls – yay! 🙂

Do not worry; I buy what I must and am absolutely taking advantage of the deals. I have done well with my sewing machine (almost 40% off), plate sets (50% off), and others I bought this weekend. I am also shopping to replace old and unhealthy pieces at my kitchen- whether or not they are on sale does not matter to me (my health is more important, right?).

For example; I have got rid of two non-stick frying pans that were now full of scratches. Honestly I do not like non-stick products at all (stainless steel is the healthiest, but it unfortunately sticks..). So I wrestled quite a bit with myself and only after I promised myself that I would take excellent care of this new one and never buy another one again in the next 5 years or so, I placed the new non-stick frying pan in my shopping cart.

Similarly, I had also noticed that the lids of some of my mason jars were blackened here and there. After all these years of faithful service, I thought it was time to replace them (I think it is rust…). So I have got covers and lids for the small and the large jars and am slowly replacing all that are in bad shape. For my health, that is one great investment and I am feeling very good about it.

And today, I have got myself a nice french presser (coffee maker) to use at home. It was on my shopping list for some time and when I saw today that one product was on sale and there was an additional 25%, I could not help but buy that beautiful rouge presser 🙂 I had decided to buy a french presser because of three reasons: when I host at home, I bring in the one at my office which is cumbersome; I now am getting my weekend coffee at home rather than at a coffee shop (and interestingly I very much enjoy this); and I thought that I could also brew tea in it (I also needed a new tea pot). With one product, many problems solved 🙂

And of course I am building, however slowly, my sewing supplies, like thread etc. It will take some time to get everything I need, but I am getting there. And it is very exciting 🙂

Overall, I have had a great weekend and I hope you all are enjoying your Sunday night 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Yay! The second week on minimal spending plan has been a success 🙂

————————

expenses related to weekly allowance: $38.25

funds left from weekly allowance (re; fun funds): $81.8

total fun funds accumulated to this day: -$44.5 (it is still on the negative side, but it is getting closer to $0 at least. Considering that just 2 months ago I had -$300 in this funds says a lot, does it not?… I hope to make it positive till new year and hopefully really use these funds for something I can really enjoy 🙂 )

other expenses: $203. This included a set of plates I ordered (I love them; the set I have has been with me for 15 years. It was time to retire it. I am not sorry for this expense; rather I am pretty much delighted…) and an expensive dinner I had had with my friends last weekend.

———

This “minimal spending” plan aims to limit my weekly allowance expenses (transportation, grocery, weekend breakfast etc.) till the holidays season so that I can save  funds to use during shopping during the holidays 🙂

As part of this plan, I walked everywhere this past week and saved my transportation funds. The number of days this week in which I did not spend any money was 4. I also am trying to consume what I already have, so my grocery expenses are pretty less than before and I had no breakfast-related expense this week. While I have lots of food and each week also buy fresh produce, I am not sure how long I can keep going like this (I am especially fond of my breakfast at the weekends), but I am making a great progress towards saving for my shopping plans 🙂

How to maximize the value of grocery funds


I am not an expert; but I have been making effort to save from grocery budget and limit food waste. These two goals together have helped me to try and find out ways that were useful in my journey. Here what I found are useful practices:

DO:

1. Follow the sales: Take advantage of the flyers that appear at your door steps. If that is not an option for you, do not despair – the majority of the stores have e-flyers that can make this exercise quite easy.

2. Shop at variety of places: I am not saying go travel 30 min to a store just to pick up a cartoon of milk. But if there are items that are on sale at different stores and if they are practical options to do so, you may want to consider visiting them. Often times, different stores have different items on weekly sales.

3. Buy bulk: Consider this if you are certain that you will consume the product. Dry food, like rice, pasta, legumes, and canned goods are good examples. Fresh produce usually does not last too long, unless they are dried, frozen, or canned.

4. Use coupons: Whether they come in the inserts, news papers, or apps, you can use coupons to save a dime or two.

5. Use loyalty cards: Many stores offer their own or main stream loyalty cards to their customers. The points accumulate and can give you a free item or two.

6. Freeze food: You can freeze almost any of the veggies or fruits with some practice. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies, for example.

7. Freeze meals: Freeze extra portions of meals for future consumption.

8. Take an inventory of your fridge, freezer, and pantry: Know what you already have. This helps you to not only appreciate what you already have, but also to identify what you really need.

9. Make your own pickles, jams, peanut butter, sauces, etc.

10. Prepare meals from scratch

11. Bake your own bread: this may be intimidating to many, but it is a lot of fun! It is quite affordable and healthy too 🙂 Expand it to pizza and noodles

12. Opt for un-cut/unprepared meals, veggies, and fruits to save instantly

13. Use your own shopping bags/totes if your store charges for nylon bags

14. Have a meal plan and make an effort to stick to it

15. Take advantage of holiday sales

16. Use left-overs as lunch the next day or to prepare soups

17. Use bits and pieces of veggies or meat in hearty soups

18. Share what you have, especially if you think that you will not consume the food. Family, friends, neighbours, soup kitchen, and food banks are good examples

19. Buy frozen veggies

20. Keep a good stock of regularly used items so that you will not feel deprived

21. Know your coupons and their characteristics (e.g. expiry dates, brand/model they are eligible for)

22. Be grateful for what you have and try to appreciate your efforts

23. Shop when you need, not when you think you should shop

24. Check your bill at the cashier and correct or remove items if their price is not right

25. Change your habits; whether it is the food types, stores, or shopping habits, give a better habit a chance

26. Try new recipes and improvise

27. Learn from others: there are many blogs out there that gives good tips to reduce the grocery bill and the food waste.

28. Monitor your savings 🙂 whether you saved by following the sales, using coupons, or loyalty cards, once you realize how much you do save, it will make you feel great and motivated to keep going!

 

DON’T

1. Buy things only because they are on sale or you have coupons for

2. Care about peer pressure; rather focus on your own needs and goals

3. Get crazy about saving all the time; everyone deserves a nice treat every once a while

4. Buy suspicious food from dollar stores or from the stores’ sales rack

5. Sacrifice your health and well-being by under-nourishment or by consuming limited types of food

6. Forget to celebrate!

 

*In my experience using my credit card works for me (I pay the full balance at the end of each month and I do not buy things that I do not need) – so I cannot solely recommend using cash.

**I am not very familiar with price comparisons – if that works for you, go ahead.

***I am not into using food that are beyond their expiry dates

 

 

not picking the cheques anymore?

You know I have been on a budget to spend less and save more for my future, whether I do that to pay extra mortgage payments, to finance future house repairs (likely considering my house being an old one), to built an emergency fund (we all can need it anytime), to help family (they are important to me), or retirement (hey; I am important too).

And lately, you know that I got interested in sewing and have been saving extra to finance my new sewing machine, in addition to support my shopping plans for the holiday season.

You may also know that I like to be generous and pick up the cheques as dinners/cafes, if I am with friends or colleagues.

I came to a point that being a saver/conscious spender and being generous do not go well sometime. Sometime one has to choose one over the other.

Yesterday I have had two socials with the same people; a brunch and then a dinner. I offered to pay the bill of the brunch, but I was not let to. I am grateful for their kindness. Then later during the dinner I decided I did not want to pick up the bill. So, we got split cheques after a few awkward moments.

I felt cheap, I still somehow feel cheap, for not paying the entire bill, but it was the right thing to do.

One; I had no say in the choice of the diner (one of my friends yesterday made the reservation). It had one fixed menu. (by the way, that is quite strange… what if I do not feel like eating those?). Honestly I would love Asian cuisine much better and then it would worth every penny. So, strike one.

Two; it was an expensive restaurant. Do not get me wrong; it was a fine restaurant, food was interesting, and the service was excellent, but do I really need to pay around 80 bucks for a 5 course meal? I am here sacrificing from my weekend breakfast (that consists of a cup of coffee and one bagel) to help save for my sewing/holiday shopping needs, and then at one night I can spend 80 bucks? 80 bucks pay for 20 breakfast……That is a huge….The best choice is clear.

Three: as I was conscious of my money, I did not order extra meals/drinks like my friends did. Should I really pay for this?

Four: in the past I have picked cheques for both of my friends, so we should be fine.

So after this analysis, I am feeling better and I decided I might have been cheap but not unnecessarily. The question is; how am I going to continue making better choices in the future with other socials?

There will be some learning,  I guess 🙂

weekly budget check

It has been a great week in terms of how much I did not spend 🙂

—————————–

expenses within the weekly allowance (grocery only): $35   🙂

funds left for fun funds: $120 – $35 = $85

total fun funds: – $126.5.. ahem.. negative balance…

total savings from purchases I was tempted to but did not (like not taking the cab); use of sales/coupons; kindness of people: $278 (this also includes a brunch which I was not let pay = kindness of people)

Other expenses: $278, including ordering the sewing machine and some accessories, taking the cab and some food to friends who invited me for dinner. That is a lot of money, but all is well.

———————–

This has been the first attempt of mine to have a minimal spending week and so far it seems doable; I have a lot of food in the fridge. Freezer has many bags of frozen veggies, meat/chicken, and breakfast pastries (to be consumed at the weekends), as well as frozen soups with chicken or bone broth. My pantry is also in a good shape with lots of dried veggies, pasta, rice/bulghur, lentils, and canned beans. I think I will be able to stick up with my minimal spending aim till New year 🙂

I am continuing to buy perishable essentials, such as milk, yogurt, and fresh produce. So no unreasonable sacrifice here.

I continue to walk in the morning and evening, rather than taking the cab or bus; I hope to keep doing that as long as the weather permits.

I will focus on consuming the food I already have rather than buying new ones. I kind of hope that before and after the holidays, there will be good grocery sales; I may be able to stock up/freeze again at that time.

I only let myself to stock up durable items, like paper towel, if the sales are really attractive. Otherwise, I am good with waiting till the holiday season.

I had decided to let go my weekend breakfasts and rather use that money to finance my sewing machine and supplies I will need. One wonders whether $7-8 a week (my breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday, consisting of a bagel and a cup of coffee) can make a positive difference…. Honestly I have mixed feelings about it myself (I am so fond of my weekend breakfast…); at one hand, yes I may be able to buy small sewing supplies, like thread and scissor, with these savings. But then, is it really worth it, considering how much I enjoy my breakfast?

I guess we will see how it goes 🙂

minimal spending plan till new year

Holiday season is coming. That means; a) I am socializing more often than usual, and b) shopping! In both cases, I will be spending money 🙂

I want to take advantage of the sales and the fact that I will be off for two weeks during the holidays means that I have time to go around and shop without rush. it is quite fun actually!

My plan is to purchase a new dining set, mixing bowl, sifter, french press for home, tea kettle, and other small stuff. I also would like to stock up my cleaning products, such as garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towel, dish detergent, and others. The regularly consumed food, such as canned food, are also in the list. Sure, I will also buy new pants and shirts when they are on sale. And socks.

The list was actually bigger than that, but I felt that I must trim it….Considering the fact that my biggest financial aim till new year is to make an additional payment to my mortgage, while I am excited about the idea of shopping and purchasing stuff that I will need, I am also aware that I may be financially strained if I am not careful and cut some of these expenses.

Since it is more beneficial to take advantage of the sales (and to socialize with great people), I have just decided I should implement a “minimal spending” plan. It is not as strict as “shopping ban“. It just aims to be more resourceful by using the food