joy journal – May 23, 2017

1. I am grateful for feeling better today. I have been feeling like all my muscles were aching since Saturday. Yesterday it was really bad, so I came home early from work and took a healing nap. I am feeling much better now, which is great 🙂

2. I am grateful for eating peanut butter, which I really love, and bean salad, which I really love too!

3. I am grateful for walking in the morning and in the evening despite feeling tired – good job 🙂

4. I am grateful for having a healthy appetite – I am not that sick after all!

5. I am grateful for working quite well today. I am prioritizing my own work needs over others’ now, which is great. 

6. I am grateful for having a relaxing evening and night. It is soothing to know that I do not have to do anything, but relax, rest, and enjoy 🙂

7. I am grateful for watching a movie about an old man who rather than undergoing a second heart operation decides to die by assisted suicide. I have no personal opinion about this topic; but it must be a hard decision to make for many considering the social, moral, and other reasons re; life, death, and suicide. This is the second movie I have watched tackling the same topic lately. It does not make it easy to contemplate on this topic, but seeing why such a decision can be made is interesting. The story line is that a good life matters. Not wanting to live anymore, too… How strange, how controversial (for me, at least), and how true for many.

8. I am grateful for taking the pictures of my breads 🙂 Did you know that whenever I look at their pictures, I am filled with excitement and pride? 🙂 

9. I am grateful for choosing to focus on positivity rather than negativity today and tomorrow and hopefully the days after that…

10. I am grateful for the well being of my family and myself. 

11. I am grateful for the furniture and everything else I have in my house – they make my life easy and comfy.

12. I am grateful for today being a #no-expense day 🙂 I hope to each my biweekly saving target this Thursday 🙂 This will make me feel extra motivated to keep going.

13. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to write these today.

 

a brief snap shot of the day

  • got up at around 8 am
  • felt kind of tired and un-enthusiastic
  • had an untasty breakfast and my coffee was cold. Can you imagine? My COFFEE WAS COLD!!! WHAT IS UP WITH TODAY?!!!!
  • cleaned the house – it lasted longer than regular. Only because of my lack of enthusiasm
  • spoke with sister and mom
  • did the laundry
  • fed my sourdough starter
  • digged up a portion of the yard; it started to look  lot better. I need two more days of work and then it will be fine. I will also plant seeds now that I have a piece of the yard without the grass 🙂
  • ate beans and it was lovely
  • walked to a store and picked milk, egg, soft drinks, and chocolate – ate the chocolate on the way home :)))
  • got bored at home so decided to walk 
  • ended up at the shopping mall
  • purchased freezer bags and parchment paper
  • walked back – it was raining lightly
  • enjoyed walking and getting the fresh air
  • now resting finally 🙂

I have a busy day tomorrow too. I want to shape and prove my sourdough loaf; work on the yard; speak with family; purchase a couple items for the dinner tomorrow; cook for the dinner; bake the sourdough; host my friends and enjoy the rest of the evening 🙂

Kind of feeling like a super girl nowadays 🙂

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weekly allowance

I mentioned in an earlier post that I studied for a very long time, and as a result I had very modest income and thus life style until ~10 years ago. So being a frugal person is a second nature to me. However, in no time in my life I have been as frugal as this year, or a two years period a decade ago.

A decade ago, work was really competitive, things were going really problematic with my boss, I was fired twice (even though I was re-offered a better position in the same place and never had a day without being on payroll), and thus I realized if I want to keep my chin up during financially turbulent times, I had to be extremely frugal.

So what did I do?

I moved into a smaller and cheaper studio apartment, leaving my gorgeous one bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of a downtown complex. It was located 3 minutes away from my work-place; had swimming pool, exercise room, and other amenities; and the apartment had a wonderful downtown view that was always a delight to look at. It was a also secure building. It hurt to move out but it was the right decision.

The studio apartment was 20 min away from my work-place and the apartment complex was nothing like the previous one, but both the apartment and the building were okay. It was a slightly less secure street but nevertheless I was comfortable there. I spent two years in that apartment. I remember very clearly counting on pennies in my purse and making calculations. My very ambitious weekly budget was $50 at that time…..

I do not know how I ended up with this amount, but honestly I made extraordinary effort to keep my weekly expenses (including grocery, personal care and cleaning products, and other miscellaneous expenses) under $50. This budget was extremely restricting at that time – I remember this feeling pretty clearly. I believe I could never manage to do so; my weekly expenses were always more than $50.. I think there was no movie or concert ticket in that allowance. My maximum book budget was $5/week (and I bought books every week). Eating out, hosting, or meeting with friends were a rare occasion, even though I lovingly had my favorite weekend breakfast consisting of two bagels and a cup of coffee. I could never think about a weekend without this breakfast 🙂

While I struggled with keeping my expenses under $50, I also saved quite a bit of my income. I put the money I saved into my RRSP account. I know I was locking it this way, but this gave me an enormous peace of mind at that time. I felt really good and proud of this investment for my future. Unfortunately at around the same time the markets had a bad time (remember 2008 turn-down?), so I think I mostly lost money at that time, but that is not the point 🙂

This year I have a similar budget, only that it is designed in a different way. My weekly allowance is 120 bucks for grocery; not including the personal care and cleaning products, hosting and eating out with friends and colleagues, and house-related or other expenses. If I average all expenses I made, I believe it could be ~$130 per week this year.

Not bad, eh?

It also does not feel restrictive. 

I kind of think that this might be because I budget a reasonable amount (that is $120/week + additional expenses) and I have the flexibility. It may also be because I am a seasoned frugal now?? 🙂

Have a great Friday night everyone 🙂

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weekly budget check

It has been good week. One of these weeks where the expenses are quite low because previously I stocked up food.  Oh, well 🙂

I have had a number of #noexpense days this week; I believe Saturday, Monday-Thursday I did not spend money, not even for transportation because I made the choice to walk 🙂

So it is possible to live without the need of spending money? This, my friends, feels really good 🙂 

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $22.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $22.5= $97.5

Fun funds expenses: $54

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,108.5 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $11.5 (soft drinks for the dinner I was invited to)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $32.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, using coupons etc.). 

Better than spending them, do you not think 🙂

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Mortgage pre-payment: $225.5!

I am so excited about these payments!

I believe this is my 6th pre-payment since new year. Whatever I can save without much of an effort or planning (e.g. savings from would-be-expenses and the tax return are good examples), I use as pre-payments 🙂 I estimate that I will make around 5K of pre-payments this year – let’s cross the fingers! 🙂

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen chicken meal from the freezer; and bulghur, wild rice, red lentil, and canned corn from the pantry. Talking about #endfoodhoarding!  🙂 

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge”  I have consumed kefir (for the first time in my life), corn, lentil, bulghur, wild rice, carrot, meat, green salad mix, and chicken that I had not eaten the week before (and a lot of sweets at the dinner with friends – ooooops! 🙂 )

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

 

another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

I have not spent any money, not even for the transportation; I walked.

These days were very rare last year; I was amazed the first time I could manage not to pay anything (including the bus fare) in a single day. I still am! It just is becoming a routine thing now. Routine, but still exciting 🙂

Talking about surprising myself 🙂 The feeling of empowerment is high. I am one step closer to simple and self-relying life.

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

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random thoughts

I keep waking up early and going to office by 8 am. Our administrative person at the office has joked today by asking whether I slept at the office 🙂 She said that I was there when she left yesterday and I was there this morning when she arrived 🙂 I told her that I think I am getting old – they say we sleep less as we age 🙂 (is that true, by the way??)

I also keep walking to the office, even though I find that my mind is quite occupied while walking. It is usually very quiet in the morning and there is not much of a traffic. I think I am really lucky to live so close to my work place. 

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It was a very busy day at the office today. I was drained in the evening but I was also happy that things moved well today. Tomorrow I have a busy schedule, and possibly Thursday too. If I remember correctly I have a free schedule on Friday, which is awesome. I for some reason thought that I have had the next Monday off (the Victoria day). It turned out I was wrong. Nope – I gotta work that day. Argh… I was so looking forward to working in the yard this long weekend.. Everybody does… It is the Victoria Day! It is the beginning of Spring and gardening!

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I will have two friends, a couple, over for a dinner on Sunday. I have a list of food to purchase and cook on Sunday. It is gonna be fun and lovely. Having the dinner on Sunday rather than Saturday was a good idea as it will be give me ample time to shop, clean the house, and cook without rushing. This will reduce my cooking stress :))))) I am budgeting 100 bucks for this dinner (including the drinks). I am positive that it will work out just fine. Thank goodness that these people are incredibly lovely and down to earth people. So it will not be a problem to feed them without having too much of fancy stuff on the table. Such people are always welcome in my home.

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I feel like my kefir grains are getting bigger. I will take pictures tomorrow, and then again at the weekend, to document the development in grains. I note that the milk is only lightly fermented in 24 hours even though the soury-kefir-y taste is recognizable at the end of this time period. I wonder whether the taste will get stronger over time. Maybe I need to use a larger container and more milk to ferment… Anyways; my grains are still young. I am sure I will know more about them in the future. For now, I am excited to be arriving home every day, and checking, drinking, and replacing my kefir 🙂

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This is it for now, friends. I hope you have had a great Tuesday and are having a wonderful evening!

 

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joy journal – May 15, 2017

1. I had a pleasant night and an easy morning, for which I am grateful. I decided last week or so that it feels great to notice and note when I have a comfy and relaxing evening & night at home. The same holds true for the easy morning. Easy mornings are those when I get up when I want to get up and those that I do not stress myself by having negative thoughts going in my mind.

2. I m grateful for the bright day outside and the sunlight that make me feel energetic, optimistic, and hopeful! Spring indeed is awesome, my friends. One of the best remedy for feeling down and the seasonal effective disorder (SAD) that I probably have.

3. I am grateful for walking to office this morning. I do not notice anymore that I am walking. I just walk and often am thoughtful while walking. This may not be the best practice, but at least I am not counting the steps or the distance and wonder when i will reach the office. I just do it, it is relaxing, and becoming a second nature for my mornings 🙂 When I think about 2-3 years ago how lethargic and tired I was and all I could do was to take the cab to the office, I feel nothing but lucky, excited, proud, and happy for being capable of walking in the mornings 🙂

4. I am grateful for walking with my new assistant effectively. She just joined my unit but is very positive and intelligent person, so I am really excited to be training and working with her.

5. I am grateful for my mid-morning walk. I just put on my boots, my toque, and my jacket and walked out in the forest next to our building. The air is fresher and cooler, and it is so peaceful over there. I had felt very optimistic when I had done this last time, and this time was no exception. I am happy that regardless of the issues at work, I still seem to like my life and sometimes take my mind away from the issues and focus on the present and enjoy what it may present to me. 

6. I am grateful for inviting a couple of my friends for a dinner this weekend. We have the long weekend this week (Victoria day) in Canada. I hope to cook some great dishes and host my friends with confidence 🙂

7. I am grateful for eating healthy today; I have eaten eggs in the morning, fruits (apple, orange), chicken, and raw veggies/salad in the rest of the day. It feels great to eat healthy food, even though my scale this morning showed that I had gained weight this weekend 🙂 It must be the carbs and desserts I had. Argh! 🙂

8. I am grateful for my kefir grains 🙂 I had fed them yesterday with 1% milk and I was not sure whether they would strive in it. The majority of the sites on the net mention that the higher the fat content of the milk is, denser the kefir gets. I had some density this afternoon, which was good to see. However, not sure whether I should have expected more, so I will monitor this for a week or so and if it does get worse, maybe I will try the 2% milk.

9. I am grateful for feeling lucky for having been given the kefir grains 🙂 I believe that they are healthy and by caring for them and drinking them in the evenings, I am doing something great for my body. This is a very positive feeling. Many years ago when I was in Toronto, I was big on healthy life-style; each healthy food I purchased, every tea I drank, every walking and cardio exercise I did would make me feel great (and approving) about myself 🙂 Sometimes I miss those times; like checking the health and organic stores; finding those really rare but healthy products, and being grateful for being able to afford them… 🙂

10. I am grateful for being healthy and free of acute or chronic diseases.

11. I am grateful for taking the stairs (2 stories) up today 🙂

12. I am grateful for having the evening and the night to myself and my ability and opportunity to relax.

13. I am grateful for today being a #noexpense day.

14. I am grateful for my hand creams that keep my hands moisturized and give me healthy-looking skin.

15. I am grateful for flossing and loving my floss!!

16. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note this here today.

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What am I thanking myself for today?

  1. I like the fact that I make an effort to be healthy by walking and eating better
  2. I like the fact that I like to work and find satisfaction in it
  3. I like the fact that I have the time, interest, and patience to have fermented food (i.e. sourdough bread) and drink (i.e. kefir) at home
  4. I like the fact that I enjoy walking in nature
  5. I like the fact that I dream and my dreams are helping me to solve problems, even though sometime they are annoying or scary

today’s sourdough and the creamy wild rice soup

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Here is my baby today 🙂

This loaf is similar to others in making, only with an additional 2 tbs water to make it slightly sticky. During stretching and folding, the dough formed well and the stickiness has almost disappeared. I also did not add sugar to dough for the first time.

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proofing 🙂
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after the proofing step
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this scoring worked well 🙂
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and the end product 🙂 what a beauty! I am very pleased with the oven spring.

 

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And, finally I am consuming the wild rice that I have had for some years!!!

I totally improvised this soup:

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  • Add in a pot 1 cup wild rice, 1 cup red lentil, 1 small potato, 100 grms of butter, and 3 cups water
  • Boil and then simmer for 1 hour, or until rice softens

This is a very creamy and hearty soup because of the lentil and potato, and has a mixture of both soft and somewhat crunchy texture (the wild rice has a tough outer membrane)

Bon appetite! 🙂

 

 

 

my kefir grains :)

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My friend who we visited yesterday gave me kefir grains! 

I am so excited!

Last year I had looked on the net for information about it. I was hesitant to purchase it, so I let it go from among my plans. So when my friend yesterday asked me whether I have had other fermented food (she knows that I have a sourdough starter),and whether I would like some kefir grains she has had,  I was like, yes – please!! 🙂

A wish came through.

Unexpectedly.

I m grateful for my friend and my sourdough starter – it will keep company of my second house pet 🙂

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

This week passed so fast that it is one of those times when I am kind of stressed that it is weekend. Go figure! 🙂 

I got up later than usual today, even though I was woken up a number of times. I should get up as soon as I wake up – otherwise there is a period of half sleep-half awake state where many thoughts, memories, or emotions go through my mind and I kind of find their strength is increasing this way. Naturally many of these are negative, so it makes me feel bad after a while. I must focus more on the positive. Yes….. Yes….. Yes…..

So when I finally pushed myself out of the bed and saw how bright and shinny outside was, I felt great immediately. Spring is beautiful 🙂

We have a social to attend this afternoon and I am looking forward to that. There are kids involved (our friends have two kids), which means we (I and two of my friends, who do not have kids) are excited to see them and play with them. Kids, like animals, are so innocent, so loving that they make me feel grateful and protective again. Like mother nature. It is like returning back to beginning. The original. Where we are all loving, supportive, and happy. Interesting thoughts for a morning friends! 🙂

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Soon it is gonna be two years that I have had a budget, monitored my spending and identified where my money was going, what I could save by cutting expenses, and how I could help myself with all of these. It was a struggle at the beginning, it still is sometime, but I m reaping the benefits now; my chequing account is above $0, I keep doing investments for my future (RRSP and TFSA contributions), I started to make mortgage pre-payments this year (however little they may be), my spending is significantly leaner, and I am feeling great about all of these.

I just want more.

I want to save more and invest more or pay mortgage earlier. Since the most significant expenses are already curbed (like transportation and being overall less enthusiastic to shop and waste), I keep wondering what areas I can work on? I must realize somehow that whatever I will be doing from this point on will not be a significant saving, but rather modest. Like maybe 10 bucks a week. Is it worth it?

It is an exciting activity to do so if it does work without anything negative is attached to it (like feeling depriving myself, feeling cheap, or reducing the quality of food I consume). Otherwise, no, it is not worth it. 

I think the reason I would like save more is because I do see the benefits of it and the debt (aka mortgage) getting smaller. I sure feel able and prosperous. I am not a victim of my expenses and circumstance, but rather am in charge of my of financial world. That is very empowering.

I just need to figure out how to save more.  An exciting new game plan is needed 🙂

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cemetery visit

There is a nice cemetery somewhere like 20 min away from home. I used to walk to visit it time to time before I moved to my current home – my then-flat was very close.

It is a perfect reflection of life; there is a combination of old and young tombstones; big and little ones; single and family ones.. There is nothing nice about death, but there is such a nice feeling of knowing that it is peaceful there. And that we are still alive and have a chance to make the best out of our lives. However miserable our lives may look, we still have it and all the opportunities it can offer us.

I used to be scared of cemeteries when I was younger. After all we always visited the graves of our loved ones; family mostly, and there are so many horror stories/movies we grew up with. I visited my dad’s grave last year; I was not scared but I was immensely saddened….  His name was on a tomb. So saddening… But it was peaceful, too. He lies in a beautiful grave yard, under the branches and leaves of beautiful trees, and away from the hassle, chaos, and noise of city centre. I still remember the voice of the trees; the soothing noise their leaves make when the wind goes through them…. Trees are so magical and there is nothing more soothing than having them at cemeteries.

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When I woke up this morning, I was excited to see the bright day out and decided to walk. I bought myself a nice cup of coffee and bagels at a cafe and then I walked to that cemetery. It changed a little bit since I have been there last time. There is now a couple of sections for the ashes. There are more seating space. I sat on one of them today for a few minutes. I asked “how do I make the best out of my life?”.

I did not have an immediate answer (from my subconsciousness, certainly not from the souls lying in the cemetery – I am not superstitious). But I sure am reminded about all the opportunities I have at life. My life.

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joy journal – May 6, 2017

1. I am grateful for sleeping in today. I woke up at around 7 am again but decided to sleep some more. It was past 9.30 am that I finally got up. It made my day short but I appreciated having a lazy and cozy morning.

2. I am grateful for the breakfast I have had at home. It was healthy and filling. And, coffee was awesome! (as usual 🙂 )

3. I am grateful for wanting to walk and walking to a shopping mall. I walked around 2 hours today. Weather was awesome and I felt quite light. Walking was easy and very enjoyable. I have done very well for my health by walking 🙂

4. I am grateful for going around the thrift stores. I found nothing to buy but i am getting used to this. It is still quite exciting to check the items and hope that one or two will turn out to be mine. In the future. Eventually 🙂

5. I am grateful for my back pack. It is such a sturdy and useful thing. I always grab it whenever I go for shopping. It takes up a lot of things and make carrying items easy.

6. I am grateful for talking to my family; sister, mom, and brother today 🙂 My brother is visiting my sister and mom and it was a fun and delightful talk today.

7. I am grateful for all the healthy food I have consumed today and the milk I have drunk. All of them are helping my body keeping healthy and strong. 

8. I am grateful for enjoying the bright day with blue skies. 

9. I am grateful for the things I bought today; milk which is good for my bones; eggs which are awesome, tasty, and packed with nutrients; coffee that will last for 3-4 months; and the chocolate that felt like from heaven 🙂

10. I am grateful for taking a rest and relaxing into my Saturday night. I need to spend time alone so that I can fully relax. It is strange that when I spend time with others in the evenings, I feel like I miss something…. It is awesome to be spending time with myself 🙂

11. I am grateful for the moisturizers I have! They make my skin feel better. And they smell so good too! 🙂

12. I am grateful for dreaming yesterday. I have a new recurrent theme in my dreams. Wonder what it signifies… Life is so mysterious sometime 🙂

13. I am grateful for being grateful and taking my time to note these beautiful things, people, and experiences.

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What do I appreciate myself for today?

1. I thank myself for pampering myself with sleeping in and treating myself with chocolate! 🙂

2. I thank myself for walking and enjoying it. I now consider myself a regular walker.

3. I thank myself for making a continuous effort to eat healthy and drink milk.

4. I thank myself for being frugal and not buying things just because they are on sale or pretty.

5. I thank myself for having a routine and not getting bored of it all the time.

6. I thank myself for enjoying the Kung Fu Panda! Have you seen that animation movie series? please do!

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what a beautiful day

The day was dull before afternoon. I was down actually. But after that it just became awesome!!

How?

One of my ex-team members came to visit me, bringing along also her 1 year old son 🙂 What a beautiful boy he is and how happy it did make me to see them again.

I am lucky that my team members come by to visit me time to time. I often get emotional seeing them, but I must say it is because it is such a proud and joyful occasion. 

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I always have time and support for my team members. When they worked with me, they were young and shaky. I see them get confident and exceptional over time. May they always be happy , healthy, and have a beautiful life that they love.

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random thoughts

So they say Puerto Rico has declared bankruptcy.

Hmm…. I understand individuals but a state/country? No idea how that would be feeling for its residents. I am selfishly grateful for one thing – I had looked for jobs at Puerto Rico over a decade or two, and if I had found one, I would have moved there. Now I realize that I am in a much better place – this province did not declare a bankruptcy. At least, not yet…Until then I will keep working, soothing my anxiety over losing my job/pension, looking for alternative income resources or jobs, and saving as much as I can.

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I wore one of the thrifted blouses today and I felt lucky again; I have got that beauty for such an affordable price. I plan to go to thrift stores again this Saturday. I thought today; would I ever buy new blouses or shirts (these are the primary clothes I am okay for buying at thrift stores) from other stores? I have a shirt that I have hardly worn that I bought for over 50 bucks 4-5 years ago. What a waste…. I do not think I would do that again, as long as my experience with the thrift stores continues to be positive. There is something very satisfying and exciting about finding a beautiful blouse or item at a low cost, feeling lucky about this, and having savings building up for my future 🙂

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I happen to get my weekly shopping done today. I could not help and bought more stuff than I would usually consume. The difference this week is that I will start bringing food to office…. I so far consumed usually canned foods and fruits, but this had to change; I do not think canned food is very healthy. Not 5 days a week. So I have been meaning to transition into bringing in real food everyday. 

This, I suspect, will be a challenge for me. My primary concern is that I may forget to pick up the food in the morning, or get too lazy to even bother preparing food everyday….. One strategy will be to bring a week’s worth of food on Mondays – we have fridge on the floor so it should not be a problem to store them. Since I plan to walk in the mornings, this also means carrying them in my back pack on Mondays… I need a new habit, see? I gotta say that I am pretty sure this will be a struggle for some time, but we will see how it will go. The worst thing I will do is to eat nuts and trail mix at the office, in addition to fruit. At least they are easy to carry and always tasty.

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Tomorrow is Friday. This week has passed quite fast. This weekend I plan to continue fixing my yard, shop at thrift stores, clean my house, and walk to a park or something. I may as well start reading a book, who knows? It has been sometime that I read a book, so this may be actually a great activity to do. 

These are what crossed my mind tonite, friends. Hope you are having a great night and have wonderful plans for the coming weekend 🙂

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weekly budget check

I have done well this week, too. I think after a while, being frugal becomes a second nature 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and a cab ride): $54.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54.5= $65.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $1,039.5 !!! 🙂 (a milestone! What do I do with this 1,000 bucks I saved from my weekly allowance? Tell me!!!!! 🙂)

Other expenses: $31.5 (gift and donation)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $43 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc.). 

These savings have a special place in my heart because I know that I could easily make these expenses. And, more importantly, every once a while I contribute these saved money as mortgage pre-payments! How about this extra motivation to save? 🙂

——————————–

Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, bean meal, and red lentil soup from the freezer 🙂  #endfoodhoarding; nothing from the pantry this week (ouch! I may have but I just cannot remember…..)

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 7-8 food that I had not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are beet, celery sticks, shrimp, carrot, red lentil, green lentil, and rolled oat. I must confess this is hard – to eat a variety of food and then trying to remember them 🙂 But it is all for good, so I will keep going 🙂

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

work and summer

Life continues, and time flies; this is how it feels this week.

I cannot believe that it is Wednesday! I feel like I have so much to do and not done much. Three office days passed already…

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On Monday afternoon I was at a professional event where one of the speakers said something like that “you gotta make sure you work for yourself, but not for others by doing their work“.

How true… I am so involved in other peoples’/trainees’ work that when I need to take care of my own work, I feel stressed because I either run out of time or the energy. I want to claim my own time at the office. Even though I like having trainees under my supervision, I must admit they are too much of a work sometime. It is interesting that not only my colleagues, but also my trainees feel the need to ask me even the smallest thing that they are capable of figuring out themselves. I do not know why I have this effect on everyone, but this gotta change.

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I kind of started doing  that recently; I aim for having at least 2 days/week without any meetings or commitment to others. I found that when I have such schedules, I am most relax, unstressed, and productive. I like my freedom in those days and the peaceful mindset. I love those “free” days 🙂 They make me happier.

Summer is almost here and I have great plans in terms of work. I have a couple of reports to be finished, new collaborative work to be done, at least one project application to make, while also relaxing during the warm, sunny days. This year is unique in the sense that I am not going to visit my family during the summer. That means I have time for myself. I would love to take 2 weeks off during summer. I am not sure when I would like that and what to do during that time, but I am hoping I will at least make it a priority to enjoy the warm outdoors, whether this means hiking, working in the yard, or sitting at a park. 

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joy journal – May 2, 2017

1. I am grateful that I dreamt yesterday night. I cannot remember what it was but I believe that dreams are a way of my subconscious mind working and expressing itself. It is supposed to be healthy, so all is good 🙂

2. I am grateful I woke up early and I was okay with it. Friends; I keep getting up before 8 am and that feels really weird. I mean, when I was young nobody could make me get up before 9 am, and now I am up at 7 am?? What is up with that? 🙂 And what is next – will I get up at 6 am, brew my coffee in dark, have breakfast, and then leave home for work? This… has…never..happened… Never! Cannot happen… Can it? 

3. I am grateful that weather was nice and I was energetic so I walked to office in the morning 🙂 It was a relaxing walk, as usual. There is something very satisfying about starting the day with something as nice and beneficial as walking; I keep telling myself it is healthy; good for my bones, muscles, cardiovascular system, my mind, and emotions. In addition, by not taking the cab or the bus, I demonstrate self-sufficiency 🙂 These are all great things, right? 🙂

4. I am grateful for brewing my coffee at the office. I could not achieve my Spring plans of reducing the amount of coffee I drink yet. In contrast, it looks like I developed a tendency to drink more…. Argh…. At least though, I am drinking also tea (the original idea was to replace a part of coffee with tea…). Perhaps soon I can cut coffee… Who knows?

5. I am grateful for working between 3 different meetings today. I was actually overwhelmed by the amount of work I must do – so at the afternoon I was rather lost and not focused. But between 4-5 pm, I have worked quite efficiently. This feels good.

6. I am grateful for organizing for a social with my current team and past members 🙂 I am really looking forward to this lunch next week, which excites me. One of my favorite past team members emailed me and gave me some great news about her career. I am so proud of them. All of them were great and brilliant people. I hope they will always have great jobs and be surrounded by awesome people.

7. I am grateful for eating healthy this evening. Have you tried cabbage salad? Since I am  a lazy person it fits me well; basically I shred cabbage and season it with olive oil and salt. Voila – it is ready! 🙂

8. I am grateful for my clothes, shoes, and boots that keep me warm and make my life easier.

9. I am grateful for having internet connection, a great computer, and this blog-space that make it possible for me to explore, read, learn, interact, and write 🙂

10. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

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What do I appreciate myself for today?:

I appreciate myself for not reacting negatively to getting up early in the morning

I appreciate myself for making a consistent attempt to eat healthy

I appreciate myself for collecting the garbage in the yard 

I appreciate myself for walking and not spending a dime today

I appreciate myself for being kind to myself today

 

The 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure :)

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Today is the 1st anniversary of my bread-making adventure!

And what an adventure it has been 🙂

I first got enticed by commercial yeast by chance, and tried my first loaf without knowing what I was doing 🙂 It was a very tasty, very hearty bread though – I enjoyed it 🙂 

With the confidence coming out of that experience, the week after that I tried baguettes and this time I was very badly defeated 🙂 I have had very serious concerns about whether I would ever be able to bake a decent loaf. This lasted some time, while I read, read, and read about how to best bake a bread. 

It was my mom who encouraged me to get hopeful and try again. And again I tried. It was not an easy period I would say; I often failed and only every once a while I could get a decent loaf. I experimented a lot with autolysing, kneading, stretching and folding, over-night dough risen at room temperature or in the fridge, using a roaster as a substitute for a dutch oven, using milk or water in dough, using pre-heated and non-preheated oven, misting the oven versus not doing it while baking, adding rolled oats or seeds like flax seed to dough, and different types of flour (all purpose flour and bread flour).

I got intrigued by wild yeast and sourdough, hence I also experimented with it 🙂 I attempted four times to get a decent starter and eventually got one with a whole wheat flour. It is my Monster starter that has been working just great since last August-September. I almost every single weekend bake a loaf or two using this starter, and I must say every week I notice a subtle progress and development in it. It is a living organism alright 🙂

So I found that while I am still far away from the “perfect loaf”, stretching and folding really works and develops the dough, over night dough is the best, there is no need for pre-heating or misting the oven, or using a dutch oven/roaster to bake a good loaf. All you need is love, patience, and paying attention to dough. If you do this, you will get a great loaf each time after a while. Guaranteed.

Today, on this very special anniversary, I tried sourdough with rolled oat with a recipe similar to this (and without the flax seed). What a beauty 🙂

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my sourdough loaf is “crowned” with rolled oat today to celebrate this important anniversary 🙂

Here are select loaves I have baked within the last year, starting with the first ever loaf I baked. Looking at them literally makes me happy.

If you are intrigued or interested at all, I would say go for it and try a loaf or two. Baking your own bread is very healthy, satisfying, and most importantly, an exciting hobby 🙂

Happy baking!  🙂

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The first loaf  🙂

on being self-sustaining

Since I started baking my own bread last year, I have been feeling more “able“. 

Bread has always been my favorite food. Strange enough after I started baking my own loaves, the amount of bread I consumed has reduced. How strange… I wonder whether it being a natural product with no additives or chemicals has anything to do with this? Anyways, I am proud of the fact that within the last one year I did not buy any store-made bread; I only consumed my own, mostly the precious sourdough loaves. Talking about the joy of baking and the happiness coming out of it 🙂

Anyways, when I bought my sewing machine last November, I thought it was an additional step towards being resourceful and a self-sustaining life-style. I was planning to sew my own blouses, which I have failed so far, but one day I will do this. This and others, like sewing quilt, doing repairs (which I have), and sewing cloths/placemats to be used around the house (which I have, too) will keep me feel independent and able. It feels good indeed.

We may not realize but there are so many ways that even someone like me, who does not like  house chores, demonstrates the ability to self-sustain. Consider cooking at home and feeding ourselves, cleaning our own houses, taking care of the yard (boy, thinking about cutting the grass… argh… one thing that I really dislike, but keep doing anyhow), dyeing our own hair to name a few. I feel so again when I walk to or from the office, or to the shopping malls, instead of taking the bus or the cab.  By walking I freely transport myself and relax at the same time. Do you not think that we in fact all are, to some degree, independent of others/stores/services and rather are self-sustaining?

I have spent sometime reading posts about homesteading this evening. I have no practical interest in homesteading myself as a single and middle aged city girl, but I sure enjoy reading about the daily lives of the homesteaders, their farming adventures, issues, and relationships with nature. My current life and level of sustainability is no-where near the homesteaders’ life, but I am doing way better than many people living in a mid-size city. I guess even though I do not realize it well, I happen to have a kind of simple, affordable, and sustainable life that I must be excited about 🙂

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walking, gardening, and good night sleep

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I am beat!! 🙂 I walked and went around on foot for 4 hours yesterday evening. When I returned home, my feet and legs were aching and they kept doing so the rest of the day. Thank goodness, in the morning everything was back to normal 🙂

I wondered whether it was like this when I was young. I could not remember for sure. I know I would be tired sometime, but it would be because of working/walking/standing whole day? I had so much energy when I was young that I would not be surprised with this.

Anyways, the physical exercise and activity continued today too. I decided that it was the right time to fix the yard. The back of my yard has uneven surface, which bothers me. I tried to level it a little bit in the past, but there is still so much to do. So I decided today was a good time to have this as a project.

Boy… Ok… Long story short; I probably will have to work on that part of the yard 3-4 more weekends. I could continue after 1 hour of digging, carrying soil around, collecting glass and plastic pieces (previous owners did not do a great job with keeping that yard healthy), but at that point my back was aching from forward folds and all the stuff carried around, so I decided to stop for today. 

The work I have done today is not a huge one, but it is a good start. I think by taking it easy I will be able to handle this without taxing my body and mind. I am really looking forward to finishing it and planting seeds and flowers around. And I am glad that I did not wait till end of May when we usually start working in the gardens 🙂 I feel like I am on time, even early to work on the yard, so I feel relax rather than stressed about it.

One other plan of mine is to have mulch and place it around the trees. There is also a part of the yard that I want to cover with it; this section has currently small rocks/stones to cover it and every year more and more wild plants grow in it. I hope that by mulch I can make it look a little bit better and also help get rid of unwanted plants. Good plan 🙂

It is great to have projects and work on them, and it is great to be out there with nature. I am also happy about the physical exercise I have got. I am sure I am looking at a sound sleep tonite and many weekends to come ! 🙂

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weekly budget check

After 2 months or so, finally this past two weeks I have saved a good sum of my salary and improved my chequing account balance 🙂 This feels good and is highly motivating. I wish to be able to keep doing this so that I can start the summer with a really strong chequing account.

This week I did not take the cab at all; rather I either took the bus or walked 🙂 Walking as usual is a great activity that relaxes my body and my mind. I have never been disappointed by walking. The trick is to be able to “think” about walking 🙂 Once I am in the good mood and decide to walk, then walking just comes naturally.

Those days that I walk to office feels extremely satisfying because that usually means that I have no other expense and as such those days are expense-free. Thus I feel completely self-sustaining 🙂

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery): $54

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $54= $66

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $974 !!! 🙂 (next week I hope to reach above 1,000 bucks – this is going to be a milestone for me 🙂

Other expenses: $5.75 (1 thrifted blouse and a piece of scrap fabric)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $65.25 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at a cafe, walking rather than taking the bus, the discounts at grocery stores etc,).

Mortgage pre-payment: none this time

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Pantry and freezer treasures enjoyed this week: frozen bread, chicken, and meatballs from the freezer; canned beans and rice from the pantry 🙂 Hurrah! #endfoodhoarding

And as part of my “eat more diverse food challenge” I believe I have consumed around 9-10 food that I have not consumed the week before; ones that I can remember are chicken, rice, tofu, beans, beef, potato, apple, oranges, and turnip.

Happy savings and happy healthy eating! 🙂

Be humble

I have had a meeting with my unit lead this afternoon about my performance.. Hah ha!!! She did not say it was a performance review as I actually report to someone else but she is the head of our unit so she thinks she has a say in it. As someone who is not good about advertising herself and her team, I actually appreciated the opportunity to present myself in paper. So, I was okay to send her, as per her request, my entire CV listing my work and accomplishments, and see her reaction. Well, sufficient to say that now she has a better idea about my capabilities and work. Great! 🙂

I am nevertheless slightly scared because when someone above you asks for performance related information, it may mean one thing. I doubt that the information I presented would be somehow used to fire me, but you never know with people; if they have the intention they can always find something to brag about. I hope that will not be the case. Let’s cross the finger.

It is hard to work in an environment that you always watch your back and cannot trust people’s intentions. I realize that I do that sometime with my team members if their performance is not satisfactory. Glad to say that I am very ashamed of myself for doing this and I hope I will never let them feel such work-place toxicity again.

So the best lesson I have learnt today was to be humble. And it feels good.

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Spring plans

I used to have posts about the things I would like to change or implement in my life. The majority of the time they did work really well and I have implemented them in my life. I do not think I have done this for some time. So let’s roll again 🙂

1. Eat at least 10 food that I have not eaten in the last one week. I keep eating the same things over and over; apple, tomato, onion, herbs, milk, yogurt, beans, cheese, and eggs are the regularly consumed food. While they are more or less healthy, I am afraid I am missing the opportunity to benefit from other veggies/fruits/dry food. In the past whenever I recognized this, I aimed every week to purchase and eat at least 6 different things that I have not eaten within the last week. This time I would like to increase this to 10 so that I can challenge myself (always fun!).

2. Consume the pantry food that are older than a year. I know what they are; rice, bulghur, and wild rice. I am not into rice that much, but I can make an effort to consume more of it. I will get creative with the others. It will be great to use them up so that I can get fresh ones 🙂

3. Thrift shop for blouses and shirts for a renewed wardrobe this Spring :).  I want to budget 50 bucks to keep visiting the thrift stores and buy blouses and shirts. I am happy with my latest purchases and I have been meaning to renew my shirts for some time (many of them have been in use for at least one year). Change is always good and I am discovering that certain styles are fitting me well. It is exciting 🙂

4. Declutter the wardrobe. After I purchase new tops, I want to remove from my wardrobe those that I do not wish to wear; some can be modified (I hope I can make this with my sewing machine),  donate (those that are in good shape), or dump (those that are old and battered). Since this has been a wish of mine for so long, I think it will feel awesome 🙂

5. Clean the yard and plant veggies/seeds. I do not know how the previous owners managed, but the yard is uneven which requires me to fix it. Also there are broken glass bottle and plate pieces everywhere. I cleaned quite a bit in the past but this year I want to do a better job. I also want to grow herbs and other veggies. Spring is almost here, so I can be busy working at the yard the next few months.

6. Lose another 10 pounds. I managed to lose 15 pounds in Fall. I gained 5 pounds back but I am still keen about losing a little bit more of fat. I know morning walks from home to office as well as eating lots of raw veggies and not eating after 8 pm coincided with my weight loss. So I am interested in replicating these behavior and hope that I can lose another 10 pounds 🙂

7. Drink more tea and reduce coffee consumption. I increased my coffee consumption too much. This coincided with me having my weekend breakfast at home rather than at a cafe. I drink around 6 cups of coffee per day now, which does not sound good to me. I do not experience physiological problems like palpitations, but nothing of too much can be good. So from tomorrow on I will focus on drinking 3 cups of coffee per day at most. The rest of the time I can drink tea. Good plan 🙂

8. Get a new hobby or activity that I do not usually do. Whether it is a sitting meditation or hiking the trails, I do not know.  I have read somewhere about “nature bathing” or something like that. Basically it means sitting in a park or around trees, and exposing our body and mind to the natural beauty and freshness around us. I am looking forward to finding a park and doing this this summer.

9. Surprise myself :). I would like to surprise myself by doing things that I would not normally do. I believe this would help me break my routine habits, or see things differently. No idea how I could do this but having it in the list means I will revisit the idea time to time. Who knows maybe I could come up with something interesting 🙂

10. Sew. I could not focus on sewing yet……. I have the machine, notions and fabric, so all I need is a new project that will help me get excited. Ideas?

today’s sourdough

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the end products! look at these beauties! The scoring on boule makes an impression of a face, do you not think? 🙂

I baked two sourdough today; one boule and the other baton-shaped.

The recipe is quite similar to previous ones with:

  • 4/3 cup of whole wheat flour starter fed Friday evening and Saturday morning,        1 1/4 cup water, 3-4 cups bread flour, 2 tbs of sugar, and 2 tbs of salt. It should be slightly sticky
  • mix, rest at room temperature, and stretch and fold 4-5 times with 20-60 min in between (it is quite forgiving; you do not need to time everything. what is important is to fold and strech so that the dough and gluten form)
  • rise at room temperature over night in a mixing bowl with lid and wrap with a towel
  • the next morning (aka today), shape and rest for 10 min. Re-shape if required, cover the loaf with a towel, and place in a plastic bag for a green house effect (I think that works really well) for 4 hours or longer (this week at the end of 4 hours, the loaves had almost doubled)
  • bake at 375 min for 50-55 min (until it becomes golden crisp. I no longer pre-heat the oven or use a roaster/dutch oven to bake. Eventually if the dough is good, the bread comes out wonderful)
  • cool down and make sure to take your time to enjoy 🙂

 

on thrift stores, spring, and gardening

I continue to be excited after the thrift store treasure I hunted yesterday 🙂

I keep thinking; is it becoming more of a normal for me to shop at thrift stores? 

There are two thrift/donation stores at walking distance that I seem to visit frequently only lately. I am not comfortable with the idea of buying shoes, undies, trousers/shorts, sleep wear, or any other personal items (like towels or bed linens),  but shirts, blouses, jackets, sewing notions/fabrics, and books are okay.

I still seem to be reluctant “to be seen shopping at these stores” (talking about social pressure that I need to deal with in my own mind…) and to buy things that will give me an urge of “cleaning intensely’ before use. No offense meant to anyone with the latter point – I know it is just a personal thing; realistically any of the items at this stores can be cleaned and used, and I have not heard of a case that a serious harm occurred because of an item purchased from a thrift store. In contrast, in terms of limiting waste, recycling, reusing, and protecting not only the natural resources but also the unfortunate and poor, I am clear that it is the most responsible thing to do. Also, the variety is much better than any store we have around here and prices are very, very reasonable. I have not passed that “cleaning” stuff just yet. Anyways.

I was thinking; then why did I not do that before and shop at thrift stores?  

I have no answer to that, other than the fact that I think it just fits my current budget and life-style much better than before and I do see an additional personal benefit in terms of the excitement of browsing the stores (there is always something new), finding something that I can really like (and I mean that – the three blouses I purchased lately are incredibly exciting for me to have and wear), and the ability to purchase them without breaking my current lean spending plans (three blouses cost me 13 bucks so far….).

When was the last time I was so excited about something that cost me so little?

You got it.

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It is a kind of gray and rainy day. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a short walk in the morning. The winter has been hard on us but nature is awakening with trees getting greener and the air feeling a little bit more fresh, more Springy… I am really excited about walking becoming so easy and second nature to me. 

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I want to do better with my yard this Spring. I would love to have a herb garden and some nice flowers. We will see how it goes, but today I am proud to say that I planted 6 potato which had sprouted in my kitchen. My mom advised me to cut them in 2 or 4 and plant in the yard 5-10 cm below the surface. I have done this and i hope that I will see them grow into more potatoes 🙂 I have also planted the roots of fresh mint that I had purchased this week. I really would love them to survive and thrive – so far I was only able to grow mint and peas in the last 3 years…..

Let’s cross the fingers my friends 🙂

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thrift store treasures

 I have not written in a while, have I? I feel like I must write, write, write 🙂

A couple of things;

1) I continue to get up at around 7 am… Never in my life have I done this consistently. and with no good reason, like a flight or something.

Is it the end of winter? Daylight? Or plain old age?

Huh… My friends, they say as we age we need less sleep. I guess I am experiencing this. It is a fact! 🙂

2) I made an effort to take the bus this week, rather than the cab. It is working. I still do not feel like walking because of low morale, but I will re-start this sometime in the future. It is gonna feel great – I know it 🙂

3) I have walked two hours again today to a shopping mall. This is, I believe, the 3rd Saturday straight that I have done this. I checked two thrift stores and found myself a nice blouse – just for 4 bucks 🙂 this is the 3rd blouse I have got in the last three weeks from thrift stores that excites me like this 🙂 It is a beautiful thing and I love it 🙂 I tried around 15 other blouses – one of them was really awesome! I wish it was a little bit larger 🙂 Oh, well. next time 🙂

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I found it very interesting today that I am getting more and more comfortable with the idea of buying clothes from thrift stores. I previously had bought books, sewing notions/fabric, purses, a jacket or two, and one or two shirts over many years. What can I say? Sometimes I can find really amazing stuff and they are very affordable. I also help others by shopping at these stores, I would like to think. So I should feel okay. But, see there is something still bothering me about shopping there. I guess I am worried about people recognizing me and then talking behind me. After all I am not poor, and I can afford new clothes, and I would not like to be called “cheap”. But I must admit it is so much fun to go around the thrift stores, look at all the interesting stuff (they have more diverse items than regular store, don’t they?), and find a lovely piece that I can love and use 🙂 

On a separate note, walking was very easy and fun today. I am really grateful for doing this. It is an healthy activity and it makes me realize how fine my body and stamina is. Especially when I compare this ability to before when I had low energy for years and would not want to walk even 5 minutes… To be able to do this now feels awesome 🙂

weekly budget check

I did not post the weekly budget check last week; it is quite similar to this week.

Basically, I keep staying within my weekly allowance and do not make other expenses, such as dining out or purchase of personal/cleaning products unless necessary. Despite my best efforts though, the funds that I can regularly save after my expenses, mortgage, bills, and RRSP/TFSA contributions is not overly significant. This worries me because this is how I increase the money in my chequing account. So far it has been going only up yet slowly, so it must be okay. Yet I wished I could do better, oh well 🙂

Anyways; I am excited to say that I keep making mortgage pre-payments whenever I find a chance. I did one today 🙂 Looks like every month I can do one or two payments with a minimum of 100 bucks. This does not sound like too much, but I would like to think that it is making a positive change in my debt 🙂 

Overall, I am very happy and grateful for my frugal life. It has been somehow rough lately and i have been taking the cab sometimes even though I really do not like the feeling afterwards, but i want to believe that I take the cab because I need to pamper myself. If a 10 bucks ride is going to make me feel better, honestly, there is no need to brag about it. I just am worried that it may become a regular thing – that is all. 

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Here is this week’s spendings and savings:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery and cab rides x 2): $62.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $62.5= $57.5

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $908 !!! 🙂 

Other expenses: $42 (personal care purchases, such as moisturizer)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $29 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe).

Mortgage pre-payment: $211 🙂

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And, last; I am happy to say that I keep consuming the food I have “hoarded” in my freezer and pantry (e.g. pasta, beans, frozen meals, frozen bread, canned corn and beans, etc.). I have actually replaced some of the food with fresh batches, which feels real good. I plan to prioritize the food in the pantry more – I have quite a bit dried veggies, wild rice, and cracked wheat still to consume, though! Lucky me 🙂

Happy savings! 🙂

random thoughts

It is quite cold, my friends. We are talking about below 0C. 

Air is fresh and crispy but honestly it just feels like when winter is just starting in December. Déjà vu….. Not so cool. We have had with winter already.

Since my morale is low in the last few days, I try hard to feel okay. I am kind of numb or absent-minded. I feel like if I do not keep busy, all the thoughts and emotions will rush towards me and I will collapse under their weights. I know this is irrational thinking. But it just feels so. So I keep busy – I work and work and work and that feels good.

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All my life I worked very hard, except may be a couple of times when I have had personal troubles that kept me from focusing and working a lot. Working seems to help keep my fears and emotions at check and for that I am grateful. It is just that I know that there is no running away from troubling thoughts or emotions, so one day I will have to face my sadness and worries. I hope to gracefully accept them when the time comes, rather than resisting and reacting. I found that not resisting makes it easier to cope with.

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So, am I kind of saying that I am grateful that I am not retired?

What would I do if I had no work to go to or focus in such a mood? Let me tell you – that would not be nice. So, yes I am so very grateful for my job and not being a retiree right now 🙂

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Sunshine Blogger award: nominated and nominating :)

sunshine-blogger

Thank you Corrine at Sew and Sew for nominating me for this blog award!

Corrine and I recently got connected here and we have common understanding about certain aspects of life and importance of support and empathy. Plus, have you seen her projects – she sews! I sure am inspired by many of her sewing adventures and by her warm personality. Have a look at her blog if these features of her interest you.

I am usually skeptical about this kind of blog awards, primarily because I do not know who is benefiting by the circulation of these awards. But I am happy with recognizing and saying nice things about other fellow bloggers, and telling a little bit about myself along the process. So I will go for this one, too.

As usual there are some rules, which I directly copy and paste from Corinne’s nomination post:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award (making sure each one knows they are nominated) and write them 11 new questions to answer.

Here are Corrine’s questions and my answers to them:

  1. Did you have any other names in mind for your blog (if so, what were they)? I cannot remember right now; but I remember initially this was a professional blog where I was planning to write about our job/career. That means it was probably a very boring name!  Boy, am I glad that I switched to a personal blog after realizing that a professional blog was not gonna work 🙂 
  2. If you could choose a language to be fluent in, which would it be? Italian! i always wanted to learn it, especially after I spent a couple of months in Italy when I was young. What a great, magical language. Allora! 
  3. What is the best joke that you know? Hmmm… You have got me there. I am such a serious person that can I say that I cannot come up with a joke right now? How disastrous! Give me a joke book right away!!! 🙂 
  4. When it comes to food, do you prefer sweet or savoury? Savoury. I have no sweet tooth and I would love any salty/spicy food over a sweet one, except the peanut butter which I love and can eat anytime 🙂
  5. Which blog post are you most excited to upload? I like pretty much all of my posts as they come quite spontaneously and are not planned at all (well, maybe with the exception of weekly budget checks, which are quite structured). if I must choose, though, I would say my “joy journal” posts are the most joyful ones 🙂
  6. What is your favourite project that you have completed so far? I believe in the recent years this would be my bread baking adventure 🙂 it has been almost a year and I am progressing quite a bit and it has been literally very electrifying and satisfying experience 🙂 In terms of my sewing projects, I have no excellent product yet but I love the placemats I did for the kitchen 🙂
  7. What was your last search on Google? That was probably the weather forecasts! we are still having quite a chilly weather (today was – 10 C ….You are welcome – I hope now you appreciate the Spring and warm weather more  🙂 )
  8. What song can you not get out of your head at the moment? “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables has been in my mind the entire day. Sad, but beautiful and powerful…..  
  9. What is the best gift that you have received? My mom gave me a gold necklace for my 18th birthday with my initial on the pendant. My mom was working very hard to provide for us at that time. It must have been so hard for her to come up with the money but she had…. I value that necklace more than anything else.
  10. If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower? Heal. I would heal sickness.
  11. What is your favourite day of the week? Friday has always had a special place in my heart! 🙂

And, here are my nominees!

The nominees have a choice of accepting or rejecting the nominations – totally up to them. Of course this list is incomplete as I can only nominate 11 today, but I am hoping there will be other occasions where I will be able to acknowledge and nominate more fellow bloggers 🙂

  1. Deb from https://onceuponahotflash.com/. Her daily grateful posts are a must see! She is really nice and I know that she always has some positive and wise things to say – thanks Deb!
  2. https://quercuscommunity.com/2017/04/18/random-reflections/ here is a nice gentleman with an interest in photography and community work. He is quite fun and wise too – always a delight to follow such bloggers. No nonsense and all beautiful/meaningful posts.
  3. Jessica from https://betweenthreewaters.com/. Jessica always has something funny to say about her motherhood experience and her daughters are two very delightful young kids! I also learn quite a bit about farming and farm life by following her. Take a look at her blog 🙂
  4. https://apparentlyimbipolar.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/normal-is-it-scary/ I recently started following this young lady who is writing about her mental health issues and progress. I applaud her for increasing awareness about mental health/bipolar disease – so well done.
  5. NinaSusan at https://ninasusan.com/. Ninasusan and I have a common pursuit in life – happiness! One of my best friends here at blogger space – always understanding, wise, and supportive. Thanks Ninasusan – one day, we will shine thru that happiness!!
  6. Jennie at https://jenniefitzkee.com/. She is a teacher and always have something wonderful to say about children and teaching/learning. I wish she was my teacher when I was at school. 
  7. https://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/maple-yogurt-multi-grain-rolls/. One of the blogs that I follow which is dedicated to baking bread! So many yummy recipes – check it out 🙂
  8. Cheryl and Becky at https://beckyandchaos.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/spicy-lentil-soup/. These ladies have awesome travel adventures and always great recipes. They  lately started a challenge to try a new recipe every week, which I find very inspiring. Enjoy!
  9. Anne from https://snowbirdofparadise.com/. Anne is one of those bloggers whom I respect quite a lot. She has always been wise in her speech and her comments, and is not afraid to write excellent pieces on social issues and events. 
  10. https://luxuriouslythrifty.wordpress.com/ One of the recent follows of mine; a great and sincere blogger writing about frugal plans/journey, and other stuff. Quite a warm person with honest posts – hard to not like what she needs to say 🙂
  11. Mo from http://devisecreateconcoct.com/. Another great site about frugal life and all bunch of other stuff such as DIY projects. Check it out.

And, here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What do you think is the most beautiful thing about your life?
  2. Do you prefer warm or cool climate? 
  3. If you were to protest, what would it be about?
  4. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  5. What flower do you like most? Please tell us about it.
  6. What do you think about cats?
  7. We all have dreams – have yours materialize in your life? What was your biggest dream ever?
  8. Would you see yourself living in a homestead sometime soon?
  9. Tell us about your favorite dish/food.
  10. Which one is less intimidating – singing or acting in front of 1,000 people?
  11. What would be your advise about being happy?

joy journal – April 17, 2017

I am not writing to feel joyful today.

I am writing today because the best way to heal or to keep the hope is to be grateful.

——————————-

1. I am grateful for waking up early. At around 7 am to be exact. My friends – it is such an unusual thing for me to get up so early. It was a grayish and kinda chilly morning. but nevertheless i got up and prepared myself for the day.

2. I am grateful for catching up the bus. I thought I could walk but as soon as I stepped out I realized how cold it was so i changed into my winter coat and then walked to the stop. It arrived in a minute so I did not even have to wait. What a nice and easy encounter with the bus 🙂

3. I am grateful for changing the fruits this week and eating banana and oranges at the office, rather than the usual choice of apples. I love all fruits particularly apple, but I appreciate giving apple a rest for a while….

4. I am grateful for working really nice and easy. Things are moving well as I have solved some road blocks last week. It is very satisfying to be working like this.

5. I am grateful for taking time to look out of the window several times today; I have looked at the sky, the tall trees, and 4-5 birds across from my building that were either eating something on the ground or were fighting. I thought for a second or two that their lives were harder than mine. What a self-centered life we usually have. I thought that there was a big life and then within it was our live; something that we draw the boundaries around and live intentionally and intimately in. It is our portion of life that we design or protect as much as we can. It can be expanded if external forces/other people allow us to or it can be smaller if we are restricted. But no one or nothing can take our lives away from us, except death. Until then however little or big it can be, we must realize our ownership of life and hopefully make the best out of it. We can do this. Right?

6. I am grateful for having an ex-trainee of mine visiting me! This is always exciting and this is the second time a trainee of mine has visited me this month. This is so nice of them to spare their time and pay a visit. I was very happy and speechless for a minute or two and then we had a little chat and it was great to learn that he was happy and doing really well where he is now (he lives in Norway now, so far away!). May they all be happy and healthy.

7. I am grateful for being kind to myself today. I am taking it easy with myself and I hope that I will keep doing this in the future. I will not let anyone to restrict my opportunity of happiness. I will not let anyone to dictate me how to feel. Whatever the conditions are, I will find a spot or two in my life that will give me a sense of control, serenity, peace, and hope. I will not give up. Neither for myself nor for my family.

8. I am grateful for walking back home from office in the evening. It was a refreshing walk and walking up hill is always challenging and thus quite satisfying once done. I will focus on walking a little bit faster just to challenge myself a little bit further. I think my cardiovascular system would appreciate this 🙂

9. I am grateful for not bothering to cook and eating simple stuff; basically yogurt and my beautiful sourdough loaf that I baked yesterday. what a chewy and tasty bread it is – I am lucky 🙂

10. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. The nights, their quietness, and darkness pacify me….

11. I am grateful for my home, furniture, clothes, shoes, and everything else I have in my house that make my life safe, sounds, warm, and convenient. 

12. I am grateful for my computer and internet connection that allow me to express myself through my blog, read and learn others’ experiences, and interact with others:)

13. I am grateful for taking my time to remember, cherish, and note the things, people, and experiences that made a positive difference in my life today.

joy journal, April 16, 2017

It is a sad day because of something I cared most about crumbled for good today. 

In any ways, a living organism finds a way to entertain its survival instinct. In anyways, it finds ways to survive.

So here is my way for today.

————————————-

1. I am grateful for getting up early and having a long day in front of me. It is a challenge to fill a long day with activities. But it is also an opportunity to do things without rushing.

2. I am grateful for the coffee I have brewed at home. It is such an affordable and enjoyable activity.

3. I am grateful for enjoying my morning walk. It was chilly but a bright day and the walk was quiet and lovely. Looking at the houses on the street and assessing their characters is always an interesting activity. A good scenery makes a good difference.

4. I am grateful for not buying peanut butter today! Boy, I love this butter! The trouble is when I buy it, the entire 1 kg bottle is finished in 2-3 days. It is insane! So many calories.. It is not good when I am trying to lose weight. It has been a struggle to not buy it today, but I know that it was the right decision. I congratulate myself 🙂

5. I am grateful for drinking two tall glasses of milk. I have no warm relation with milk really.. Other than the fact that I am making an effort to drink it so that I can get some calcium and vitamin D. That is all. So when I drink not one but two glasses, naturally I feel great about it 🙂

6. I am grateful for the bean dish I cooked today. Friends, I learnt how to best cook beans easily (thanks mom). I am excited about the fact that I am consuming much less of canned bean. Feels awesome.

7. I am grateful for the two sourdough loaves I have baked today. I have had a great dough in the morning. Shaping and baking them was fun – the oven spring was nice and easy and the crumbs are much better than I had expected. what a great sourdough starter I do have! Come to think about it, in two weeks it will be a year that I started baking bread… what an exciting, satisfying, and healthy adventure it has been 🙂

8. I am grateful for speaking with my family and their well being. May they always be happy and healthy.

9. I am grateful for drinking water. I enjoy drinking water especially if it is kind of cool. what a refreshing drink.

10. I am grateful for eating tomato and cheese for breakfast. I am eating tomato quite frequently lately. I have never been a fan of this fruit (I think it is considered a fruit), but it makes a good breakfast material with a dash of olive oil. very tasty indeed 🙂

11. I am grateful for having the evening to myself. It is quiet and I can do whatever I want to do.

12. I am grateful for the movies I am watching and the songs I had listened to earlier. what would I do without the background noise at home? I am lucky to have my TV.

13. I am grateful for shopping my night cream today. It is kind of pricey and i am about to run out of my last bottle. So finding it on sale was an unexpected excitement for today.  

14. I am grateful for thinking and reading about how to be happy. How do we get happy? What is happiness? How do we make ourselves happy? One person was saying on a website that she was happy when she spends time with her husband, son, friends, and while driving. My goodness – I have none of these (no hubby, kids, or car – friends are on the other side of the world so I cannot spend time with them). Joke aside; what is happiness really? How do I make myself happy? How do I become happy with my life? With life? there are so many issues at life and I am so “incomplete” in some ways (being away from my family is the most important reason for that). They say we are responsible for our own happiness. Boy, is it really? Happiness, to me, is not a choice but may be a consequence of choices. Why do we need to choose? because we believe that one option is better than the rest and we take that option. It solves a problem maybe, maybe not, and then time passes and now we are somewhere in our lives where that choice does not matter anymore, yet the conditions are such that we are not, we cannot be happy.  Or may be we can be happy, but we think it is dependent on something that we do not have at that time. I do not know what happiness is but I know what makes me feel good. Perhaps that is what I should be focusing on – to feel good.

15. I am grateful that walking and doing weight exercises make me feel good about myself. 

16. I am grateful for writing these here.

—————————-

What am I appreciative of myself today?

I thank myself for being a resilient person – I may be sick, I may be down, I may fail, but I will always rise back on my feet.

I thank myself for making an effort to eat healthy and have a healthy life-style

I thank myself for making an effort to continuously save and for having a frugal life

I thank myself for loving my family

I thank my body for being healthy

I thank myself for being resourceful

I thank myself for not giving up on hope

I thank myself for still keeping going….

having energy and new projects feel fine

It has been a fine day today. I am kind of bored and anxious about something I care a lot, but other than that, it has been going well.

Today I got up around 9 am, had a light breakfast at home, and then walked all the way to one of the shopping mall’s area. There are a number of dollar and thrift stores in that region, which I really love to visit. I did not buy anything today, but it was so much fun to go around the shelves, look at items that are usually unique, browse the books, and checking the sewing items/notions.

I then walked back home. I estimate that I walked around 2 hours today. I think this is awesome 🙂  I feel strong, powerful, able, healthy, and lighter 🙂 Thanks to all vitamin D and iron supplements that I was prescribed two years ago.. What a difference they have made in my energy levels. 

———————————————–

My interest to consume the food hoarded in the freezer and pantry is going strong. I have consumed quite a bit of the “old” items and have replaced some of them back with fresh ones (like minced beef, chicken, pasta, and legumes). I still have a number of food that I have not touched in the last year or so, including some frozen veggies, wild rice, bulghur, and dried veggies. So I would like to prioritize their consumption in the coming weeks. That is my mental note for today.

My interest in designing new projects continues. Now that I have had all bunch of different projects implemented in my life (decluttering, budgeting, saving money, being frugal, using coupons and discounts, shopping bans, baking bread, taking the bus or walking to go to work, etc.), I am naturally looking for new ones. It excites me, learning about this kind of things, planning, putting an effort to implement them, monitoring my progress, and then improving it if I am still interested in (remember the #superduperleanspendingmonth that I left in two weeks or so because it did not work out for me? 🙂 it is okay every once a while). 

I now am interested in reducing my waste. I have checked a couple of sites and it sounds like I have a lot of extra waste at my hand: I still use paper towel when needed (for cleaning the bathroom for example), wet-disposable clothes for cleaning the sinks and the floor, facial tissue/napkin after meals. I do not compost, though I do recycle paper and other items accepted by our city. I donate what I do not need/use anymore and shop from thrift or second-hand stores as appropriate. I re-use the plastic/nylon shopping bags as garbage liners. I reduced my food waste quite a bit by shopping small amounts (store is 5 min away from me – so it is easy to stop by more than once a week). But I still have waste (1 large garbage bag/week – not too much but it can be less).

So what do I do about it?

I think I should keep reading and continue to be inspired by others’ experience. I will also have a careful look at what my waste and garbage includes. I really want to compost but I will have to see whether I can do this inside the house (no worms or anything) – if I want it to be a continuous activity I must find the most practical way to do so even during our harsh winter.

So these are my new plans 🙂

Shoot a comment if you have ideas to help me reduce my waste/garbage!

random thoughts

The entire week was warm and with blue skies. I think the spring is coming. I think the winter has left us. I think things will be only better after this 🙂

I was at a boring social yesterday with a colleague of mine and I went to office and had a very productive day today. So, if you had asked me which one made me happy, you know it is the day at the office. Honestly, the lack of distraction is the best thing I can have in my office. I left the office feeling quite happy about myself and the work I have done. I think I have resolved a couple of road blocks in this project so far and from now on I can only move faster and better. This feels amazing 🙂  

I am really happy about this.

 

this was not the life I wanted

This was not the life I wanted.

I was supposed to love, be loved, and have a family of my own.

I was supposed to be happy and joyful, smiling and laughing. I was supposed to be with my friends, having care-free and fully supportive relationships without personal agendas.

I was supposed to live in a fair and just life.

I was supposed to work at an organization that valued me and my efforts rather than belittling me because of my gender, where I was from, or what they assumed I believed in.

I was supposed to be comfortable under my own skin, feeling great about my own identity, body, character, and acts.

I was supposed to feel confident and strong against any tides life could throw in my direction.

I was supposed to be free, walk in the weekends in busy streets, see the movies and dance to the songs I have loved.

I was supposed to discover myself in relationships.

I was supposed to have excitement. 

I was supposed to live somewhere else.

I was supposed to be happy.

but I am not.

————————————

I have none of these that I thought I was entitled to. Not because I did not want to. But because I made choices.

I chose to move here and take this position, which now is under too much stress and the environment is getting more and more toxic, with lay offs and people blaming, belittling, or pushing away each other.

I chose to have a secure position that will give me financial stability and a sense of meaning and strength. I chose to do what I once loved to my bones – my job.

I chose to stay even after I realized whatever I was getting was not enough for me to feel good about myself or my life. In contrast, I was in so much stress and pressure that I do not know why I have stayed. Tell me – why did I choose to stay?

I chose to not have trips to see new places or friends to rather save the money for my future.

I chose to over and over take a mental note and saying “there is nothing much here for me to do alone”. A hobby class? A dance/sports club? A cooking class? Poetry? Writing? New language? Anything. I chose to have no such interests.

I chose that instead of having zillion of friends, I would have a few good ones in my life.

I chose to believe in that I was not a good cook so I hardly host my friends at my home.

I chose that the most interesting activity for me at the weekends would be to visit the two shopping malls in my city, browse the stores, and purchase what I may need.

I chose to believe in that at my age of mid-40, I was already old.

I chose to believe that I was not lovable.

I chose to have no future plans. I have tried multiple times. It just does not happen – what am I waiting for?

What is it that drags and anchors me down?

————————–

What am I supposed to change in my thinking, my priorities, my life?

What choices I must reverse and what new choices I must make to be happy?

Tell me.

I have forgotten

poem

—————

I may have forgetten

got busy with work

but pain remains

for not being who I could be

if I were with you

I may have forgetten

got hopeful with future

but my dream remains

hinting how it could be

if I were your girl

I may have forgotten

got down with misery

but my grief has remained

for not being what I could be

if I could be

I would be happy with you

eventually I have forgotten

my heart mended

and mind refreshed

but tears remained

I got cold and void

for not forgivin’

weekly budget check

I continue to take the cab in the mornings this week – one gets used to comfort quite easily 🙂

I had forgotten what a blessing it was to get up whenever I want and not worrying about losing time by waiting for and taking the bus. Taking the cab in the morning sure does give me a warm feeling of being pampered.

Sadly, it also means that I am spending more than I would like to 🙂 

I know this is just temporary so I am not worried, but I wished I had started walking or taking the bus, rather than taking the cab, starting tomorrow. Let’s see how it will go.

Anyways, this week the spending is higher than before because of the extra cab expenses, but other than that I continue to spend consciously and keep saving.

Here is the week’s account:

—————————–

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast, and a cab fares): $104

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $104= $16

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $788.5 (🙂)

Other expenses: $84 (health-related and social expenses, in addition to personal care and cleaning product purchases)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $60.75 (these are the savings from expenses that I would normally make, but decided not to; such as having breakfast at home rather than at the local cafe, not picking up the bill for others at socials).

——————————

Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup (x2) and bean meal from the freezer;  quinoa from the pantry 🙂 Thank goodness, I am done with quinoa…..

——————————

Happy saving! 🙂

random thoughts

It has been a long and productive day. If you are like me and have a busy work, please make it a priority to have no meeting or other commitments for at least 2 days a week. Do what is important for you and your work in those days. Nice and easy. And enjoy being independent of others and free of distractions.

I recently started this prioritization and benefiting quite a bit of it. I am also planning to remove further unnecessary tasks, commitments, and activities from my calendar now. We must care for ourselves if we want to be happy with our own performance, and helpful to others. After many decades of reading about time-management, I am curious why now I have come up with this plan for myself. I must have had it…. I am glad I have had it because this is working for me.  

I was bored of being home early (around 5 pm) so I thought I would either sew something or read a book. I oped out for a book and guess what? I re-started reading The Class of Kings, the second book in the A Game of Thrones book series of GRRM. Boy, it has been a year that I left it in the middle as it is one of the most boring book I have ever seen. Would you, would I expect this from this series? Noooo… But it is so true – officially this is one boring book. I have been told that if I can finish it and move on with the third book, things would get better. So let’s hope that will turn out to be true for me. All these things I have done for the Jamie Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Sansa and Arya Stark, and Tyrion Lannister :))))

Brienne GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Weather-wise, we continue to have snow and rain and everything else in between. Those of you who have sunshine, blue skies, and warm temperature, please take a moment to reflect how lucky you are. You really are lucky 🙂

Libby Vanderploeg GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/snow-winter-blizzard-l0HlVixqvZq8aqXGo;https://giphy.com/gifs/brienne-10YhbjJfLkG7zq

preferences for social activities

I have just declined a social invitation from a nice couple that I happen to like. I have met with them last week for a dinner and I will be meeting with one of them for a breakfast this Wednesday. The social that I refused to take part was scheduled for the next weekend.

This is the second time that I said no to these lovely people. Seeing  them rather frequently is the first reason for my refusal and the restaurant choice is the second. The place they have chosen is an expensive diner with food that does not appeal to me. Honestly I have no reason to spend 90 bucks on something that does not even excite me.

But the first reason re; seeing them lately too frequently is something that I always knew but never voiced before. Well…. It is true. I live alone and am perfectly happy with it 99.9% of the time. When I see people rather frequently I develop negative reactions. I cannot help it.

At least I have been true to them and to myself.  I really like these people. Hopefully next time we will eat at my place.

These friends of mine seem to get me and do not push it, which is awesome. I had friends in Toronto who would get quite upset if I had declined their invitations. It was so weird, so ridiculous that eventually our friendship has ended. I have not talked to them for quite a long time. Honestly I could not care less. You cannot force people to socialize with you whenever you want it. See, I am still angry with those people.

Anyways; I am thankful that I continue to be assertive and say “No” as necessary and I have great friends who totally get it and still be cool with me.

I feel good about myself and lucky 🙂

in awe and in love

You know what I love most about falling in love, or seeing a historic monument/art piece most?

The feeling of being awed.

The admiration  I feel.

The feeling of being how lucky to have this experience.

Getting all the cells in my body energized.

The mesmerisation, excitement, silly smiles I get. 

Forgetting everything and focusing on a great thing, a great person.

With increasing age I found that these feelings are showing up less and less.

One may not be able to fall in love with planning, but one sure can plan a trip to see what they want to do, what they want to see. I hope all of you guys have some plans for the summer.

Today’s loaves

Sourdough loaves are for myself (of course! – since I started baking sourdough in August-September last year, there has not been a week that I have not eaten it 🙂 ) while the bread loaves with commercial yeast will be given to my colleague who gave me a ride last week.

Sourdough loaves were done very similar to previous ones with flax seed and rolled oat.

The loaves with the commercial yeast were prepared similar to this one, only without the milk. I am aware that the shapes are not the best, but we will hope at least  the taste, crumb, and crust are superb 🙂

 

 

joy journal – April 1, 2017

There I am – writing to my joy journal again today 🙂 

It is because in the last one hour or so, I started to feel a lot better. I was reading one of my self-help books that opened my eyes again. The message is that “the more you dwell in negative experiences, thoughts, and emotions, the more they are pronounced in your life.”

How true.

I knew it. Yet, I needed to be reminded it. 

The opposite is also true – the more we dwell in positive experiences, thoughts, and emotions, the more they are pronounced in our lives. I realized that while I am scared of being fired, I actually have no reason to be fired – I am productive, creative, and very well contributing to all aspects of my organization, as expected from me. So why do I have this negative self-suspicion about my own worth? I am worth it; I deserve this job as much as anyone else, even sometimes more than many. I should start pushing away my inner critique and other poisonous people around me.

Very well.

——————————

 

1. I am grateful that I have not given away the book that I am reading when I decluttered my books last year 🙂  This is a book that I bought in 2015 and it seems timeless and very beneficial for me. Thank you whoever wrote, published, distributed, and sold it.

2. I am grateful for waking up early this morning, around 7.45 am. Quite early and that means the day is long and opportunities are limitless 🙂

3. I am grateful for the coffee I brew at home and enjoying it. I like my morning routines – coffee, browsing the news, and checking the emails before I start doing more serious work. Lovely routine 🙂

4. I am grateful for cleaning my home and doing the laundry. This is my Saturday routine and it works well with me. I am lucky that cleaning my home is usually very easy and does not take much time or effort.

5. I am grateful for speaking with my mom and sister and having lots of laughter. I told them what one of my co-workers said to me this week. I was having a stressful and defensive conversation about something that negatively affected both of us and my co-worker said ” life is so big“. He did not continue but when I heard what he said, I knew how I interpreted it “life is so big and this is such a small issue. Like a little point in the entire universe“. What a beautiful thing to say!  Visualizing this little point in a big circle puts everything in a realistic context for me and many little issues lose their importance right away (do you want to give it a try? – see below).

 

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look at this beautiful upbeat life symbolized by the circle and the small “issue” symbolized with the dot; is it really worth focusing on it so much while there are so many other “points” in life? What is this dot’s worth really when compared to the whole life?

6. I am grateful for taking the bus and going to a mall. I broke the frame of my eye glasses and luckily could find the same frame. All I need to do is now to have the glasses fit in a store.

7. I am grateful for buying canned fish (that I snack at the office), personal care products, and canola oil from a store today.

8. I am grateful for preparing two dough today; one sourdough and one commercial yeast dough. Tomorrow I plan to bake 4 mid-size loaves; two for myself (the sourdough) and two plain bread; one for my neighbor and one for a colleague of mine. It was too much trying to deal with both of the dough at the same time, but both are looking very strong and it will be exciting to see them in the morning all fluffy and risen 🙂

9. I am grateful for the healthy meals I have had today; I did not eat for breakfast, but I have had beans and rice for lunch and quinoa salad with greens and turnips in the evening. The fact that I eat a variety of food that are usually prepared in a healthy way (e.g. not fried or so) should be credited for. I should credit and appreciate myself for these healthy choices.

10. I am grateful for consuming up quinoa! My goodness, I am not buying it again. Such a tasteless and expensive grain. Good bye! 🙂

11. I am grateful for trying to fix a collar that I messed up a while ago. Basically I wanted to see whether a binding tape could make it better and it looks like it is not a bad idea. I just need to make sure to stretch it a little bit so that the collar will hold itself well. This is a progress – there is hope, my friends! I will make it! One day! 🙂

12. I am grateful for having lots of smiles on my face this evening 🙂

13. I am grateful for feeling a lot better today; very positive, and content. Even a little bit silly but yes, I am feeling good and this feels fantastic. Feeling good is a birthright – even though I am guilty of being a perfectionist and a worrying type of person, and thus, usually not feeling good. This being said, it does not mean that I do not enjoy and appreciate it when I feel great. This evening is such an evening. After feeling down for a long time, and dealing with one issue after the other since new year, I take this opportunity to breathe well and put a smile on my face. Till next time.

14. I am grateful for having the night to myself and tomorrow. Tomorrow my plan is to get up early again and walk to a store to get milk and eggs. Then I will bake my breads and a cauliflower dish. I also would like to try another neck line to improve my skills. Yes – sounds like a good Sunday 🙂

—————————–

I appreciate myself for the followings today:

  1. I appreciate myself for being healthy
  2. I appreciate myself for having books and benefiting from them
  3. I appreciate myself for re-realizing my worth and the great things about myself
  4. I appreciate myself for taking excellent steps to ensure that I eat nutritious and healthy food
  5. I appreciate myself for not having expensive hobbies or wants
  6. I appreciate myself for constantly expanding my understanding about myself and life
  7. I appreciate myself for smiling 
  8. I appreciate myself for not making unnecessary expenses today
  9. I appreciate myself for being lighter today than yesterday (by one pound)
  10. I appreciate myself for laughing together with my family today

what future is like

I have been working in my field in a very dedicated and intense manner in the last 23 years or so. I worked in 4 different countries, did really well considering that I am a female and have been a “foreigner” in three of these countries (ah, yes I have been insulted, discriminated, and stereotyped many times), and have a great job that I think I deserve and is good for me. Except the stress levels and negative criticism that are inherently high in this line of work and the recent very annoying uncertainty about our future economy, salaries, and retirement benefits.

At one point in my life, maybe 10 years or so, I was again strained like this re; work opportunities and future stability, was having a personally bad time, and questioned how well this line of work was working for me, the efforts I put into it, its negative consequences to my mental and physical health, and what I was feeling like doing (sadly, I had lost my interest, enthusiasm, and dedication to my career and was desperately looking for an exit for a new, better, energizing, and positive life and work experience..).

It took me around 2-3 years to turn things around, by luck I would say (so grateful), but I was so lost (it is hard to figure out everything alone) and so depressed that it really hurt. Eventually, I never re-gained my naturally “extremely intense” enthusiasm towards my career. When such a strong bond, love if you will, is hurt, it is hurt for ever. My sincere verdict.

However, when I got my current job, I was filled with motivation and was still interested in, competitive and hard-working, even though that something was missing. I did really well, accomplished the majority of the things I put into my mind as much as the conditions permitted. Of course, I could do better. I always wanted to do better. And I could not at some points, because of some reasons. Whether they originated from me or from external resources does not matter. What matters is that I have changed, I have got tired of certain things, and now I want nothing but to change many things, including the topic of my work. I am hoping this will energize me and give me yet another push.

At my position, we are free to work on any topic we like (is that not fantastic?) as long as it is a productive and relevant topic. I think as the first step, that is what I will do; try to change the topic. That requires some thinking with a neutral state of mind, so hopefully I will have some time off to just focus on this. A new topic means a new excitement, another shot at an intellectual challenge 🙂 Always exciting 🙂 Problem is I have been meaning to do this for 3 years now; what are the chances of this happening anytime soon? We shall see….

Yet, not even this erases the scary fact that slowly, one thing at a time, my overall interest and dedication to this job, especially with the negative economic climate, are decreasing. 

Previously, I considered resignation from my current position many times because of the fact that it took me quite a while (many years) to adjust to the city and the work place culture, the stress levels it creates, lack of opportunities and support needed for a more successful career, and overall boredom that comes from many little things of life. Just this year I started not reacting badly to being here. But then started the provincial economic problems and the firings…. Talking about low work-place morale… This has had profound effect on me. I really want to get out of this situation and find a better, more secure job. I know the chances to do so is low, but I keep wanting this. It is only normal to want so. It is the human nature.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking; I probably have another 20 years to work before retirement (let’s cross the fingers… hope I will be able to work till then and hope there will be retirement possible at the future economic climate).

Twenty-years…..

Twenty more years I will struggle with the high level stress, criticism, reduced levels of enthusiasm towards my work… If I am lucky enough to keep my job, of course. Constantly I will find myself in the same situation with the need to handle stress, the need to change and improve the things, longing for somewhere new, some organization better.

The idea of constantly trying these has made me feel tired already.

Perhaps it is the best time that I quit this work and start another one/another career, maybe somewhere else with hopefully less stress levels. Will that ever be possible for me? Will I be able to work out and handle the stress better one day? I doubt it, but there is always hope. Will it be a better job? More secure? In a better city?

The more I think, the less it seems possible – status quo may be better than another position somewhere else.

So, what is it that I should be thinking about my future?

Well, unless I am fired from my job, I will keep going and doing my best. I know I can do this. I will focus on having a good life and putting in a positive attitude in my position. I will keep making financial plans and saving as much as possible to somehow help secure my future. I will take it as an opportunity, should they fire me, to listen to inner myself and find out what it is that I want in life and what my next chapter in life is like.

In the mean time, I sure can look for jobs, nothing serious but like a past-time activity, and who knows maybe I will come across one that will be a good opportunity for me. Where I will feel appreciated, valuable, and respected and where my efforts will make a significant and positive impact.

Until then, I am likely to come to this point again and again.

To make this easy, I think I must trust life. As a recent comment on one of my posts said (re-phrasing) “life does not work out the way we predict it to be, sometimes it is hard to understand the turn of events until we realize that whatever happened was only the start of a better life, better experience, better opportunity.”

joy journal – March 31, 2017

I am not good at writing my joy journal this year…… I believe this is my only the second post in 2017.

I am the best person to know that writing this journal is one thing that always made me feel better, more hopeful, and joyful.

So, why is this neglect lately? Was I too joyful so that I did not need to write it, or was I not joyful at all so I did not even bother writing?

The answer is neither.

I was slightly down; that is for sure. Work has had some stressful & pissing moments in February and March. But other than that many great things happened, almost on a daily basis.

I was just lazy, I would say.

Now is a good time to break this pattern and start being and benefiting from being grateful.

——————–

1. I am grateful for being safe and sound in this stormy day. I was not hurt, fell, or got washed out by the rain or pushed around by the wind. 

2. I am grateful for my home standing tall, strong, and safe in this weather. This year we have had quite a bit of winter with lots of wind and snow. And now we are having rain. But the house has been great with no problem at sight. I am very thankful for this.

3. I am grateful for deciding to remove from my work list those that drag me down emotionally. Whether they are the unnecessary tasks or people, I say “no” more often now and it feels good. I will keep doing this as long as it serves me best.

4. I am grateful for all the food I have in my house. 

5. I am grateful for having the night to myself. It is quite peaceful to have no one around. 

6. I am grateful for having the energy and feeling good about myself. 

7. I am grateful for eating fruits today and enjoying them.

8. I am grateful for feeding my sourdough starter this evening. I hope to make a dough tomorrow and bake a loaf on Sunday, as usual. This weekend, I will also have a loaf or two with commercial yeast to give to my colleague who gave me a ride this evening. I do not necessarily like getting favors without giving something back, especially from those people who I have no close friendship. For some reason, when someone who is not a close friend of mine offers me this kind of help/kindness, I have a hard time accepting it gracefully. Old habit… And bread sounds great – I am sure they will enjoy. And I will feel even.

9. I am grateful for the movie I am watching; my internet connection; my computer; my power and heating; my phone line; my furniture; shoes/boots and clothes and everything else I have at home. All is necessary or useful, and well liked. 

10. I am grateful for reading and enjoying reading; whether it is books or browsing on the internet. But learning is the best thing a mind can relax and grow into. I have so many opportunities to do so that I am loving my life very much right now 🙂

11. I am grateful for re-starting my joy journal and being grateful 🙂

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Added after the post:

I forgot – as of Jan 2017, I also would like to note at least 3 things that I appreciate about myself. Here is today’s list:

  1. I appreciate the fact that I am not a cheap person
  2. I appreciate the fact that I can say “no” now
  3. I appreciate the fact that I make an effort to keep a simple, peaceful, healthy, and meaningful life
  4. I appreciate the fact that I am more focused on my own well being at the office
  5. I appreciate the fact that I have simple but effective/meaningful hobbies, like reading, writing, listening to music, or watching movies
  6. I appreciate the fact that I have a character and its genuine – what you see is what you get
  7. I appreciate the fact that I make a good effort to eat at least one type of raw veggie per day – it is essential for losing weight (for some reason, it does work for me..)
  8. I appreciate the fact that I am resourceful
  9. I appreciate today especially the fact that I am writing on my joy journal and also making this “self-appreciation corner” an integral part of it 🙂

Yay!! 🙂

random thoughts

Our storm continues with heavy rain, rather than snow, and with high winds. It has been a wet, cold, gray, and miserable day, but luckily not a snow-day. I worked whole day at the office and one of my co-workers gave me a ride back home. What else do I want from such a stormy day? Maybe a cup of tea 🙂

I am determined to try to sew a collar again this weekend and start a new blouse project. It is the collars that screw everything most – once I do achieve sewing one acceptable prototype, I know I can keep progressing….. But  there were three trials so far and all were fails. I know I should be more patient and keep going. Eventually I will know how to best handle it. After all, there are so many people who can do a collar. Is there any particular reason why I cannot make it?

I did not think so.

Confidence and determinism are rare traits sometimes.

I have watched a number of youtube videos. There are many different ways to sew a neck line. I can do this! 

———————————–

I have not posted my “weekly budget check” this week. It has been similar to previous weeks where I saved by shopping items/grocery on sale, minimizing anything else. The only difference was that this week every morning I have taken the cab to the office. This was partly because of the bad weather and partly because of my need to feel good about myself. For some reason, I am not sorry. Perhaps one or two days I could rather take the bus, but in the other days taking the cab was the right decision. That is why I am not sorry. And the fact  that money is not everything. And the fact that it is okay to prioritize comfort every once a while 🙂

I wonder what the future years will bring. If our economy was not this bad, in the coming years we would expect to get salary increases. This would be nice and help me to make further plans to pay the mortgage off. I have a little increase coming in April, for which I am grateful. But knowing that our salaries will probably not increase, in contrast, may even be reduced after that, I am feeling disappointed.

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The other day I was thinking: what other expense I can reduce in my life? How can I get more income? One of the options is to get a roommate – but this will not happen without sacrificing my comfort and freedom. I wish I had a basement apartment where I could rent. At least that would feel like some kind of freedom. But in terms of the expenses, I cannot cut my cable-phone-internet combo; I sure can walk more frequently to office once the weather becomes more permissive; I cannot sacrifice from my grocery and food any further. None of these can happen without reducing the quality of my life or my life style. I can reduce the expenses related to my social life, but hey it is already not too much. So what do I do?

Nothing much. Cherish what I could achieve so much, aim to save as much as possible (possible is a great word here) while also enjoy my life. That is pretty much it.

2017 has been the leanest year in terms of my spending so far. Since it is March 31st, I thought it would be a good idea to check my finances. I usually do this at the end of each year, but it is good to know how I am doing in terms of budgeted categories.

Notable financial accomplishments/facts are as follows: 

1. I am spending much less money this year than before

2. I am walking in the mornings whenever I can – the first time in winter this year (well, okay this is not completely a financial achievement, but an important change in my life this year – so I will keep it in the list 🙂 )

3. I have made an effort to consume the food in my pantry and freezer and it worked really good for me

4. I started to make mortgage prepayments this year and it has been going well. I am more motivated than ever to keep saving, however  little it can be, and use it to make a pre-payment

5. My weekly allowance (of $120) has never been over-spent so far and I am constantly saving in my fund funds (these are the funds left from the weekly allowance). If it continues like this I will have an extra $2,000 – 2,500 at the end of the year in my fun funds account. This is additional to what I predicted that I could save this year. Maybe I will use it for my enjoyment, or maybe I will use it to invest/pay mortgage. We shall see 🙂

6. Of $6,000 funds budgeted for socials, personal care and cleaning products, hobbies, medications and other health-related expenses, gifts, and all expenses other than my weekly allowance, I spent around $1,000 so far. Considering that it is the 1/4th of the year so far, this number is good. I should keep going frugal in these areas, as I happen to shop a lot during the November-December to take advantage of the sales. I hope to keep within this budgeted amount this year.

7.  My chequing account is healthy, above $0, and as usual, I continue to contribute to my RRSP and TFSA investments biweekly. The only thing is that despite all the frugal life-style, regular savings to improve the chequing account has been quite difficult (because of the increased tax, pension contributions, and mortgage payments) compared to the last year. Nevertheless, since it is in a good shape, I am grateful for whatever I can do and I am determined to keep going. 

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random thoughts

We are waiting for yet another storm in a couple of days and naturally I shopped this evening and stocked up some fruits and veggies.

I am not looking forward to this storm yet; I am not interested in shoveling, not going to office and not taking care of the work, and spending another day inside. 

But what can I do?

Nothing much. So, I may as well choose to enjoy it, should we get another snow day or two. As a matter of fact, I think it will be a good opportunity to try sewing a simple blouse again. We shall see how this will go.

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There are talks about “firings” to happen in my organization. The provincial situation is really bad and it shows itself in the lay offs. The morale is low and the future uncertainty and the fear of being without a job or its benefits are giving me a chill. I feel for the people who are laid off so far. Sometimes I think if that to happen to me, rather than feeling saddened by it, I should gracefully accept, collect myself and my belongings, sell my house, and go for a trip for a year or so. Just to find myself; just to figure out what I want in life. What I need in life. Without too much of thinking – like I have always done. Freedom should feel good. It always does.

This being said though, I would not like to lose my job. I do not wish to lose my job. So, I hope this kind of freedom will have to wait till my retirement. 

Since the current provincial government is pretty interested in increasing the taxes, firing people, and reducing the contributions for important services, such as schools or hospitals, our future looks pretty gray, including pension plans.. One wonders how this government could take such extreme measures and created such a depressing outlook for our current life and the future one? This feels so surreal; not having the safety/security and hope for our future while we put 100% of our minds and hearts in to our works and the daily economy. I am very disappointed. Perhaps it is for the best if they let us go and we find jobs and lives somewhere else. That crosses my mind so frequently. But, I should stop giving the wrong messages to my subconsciousness. I like my job and I would like to stay. I do not wish to lose my job.

Looks like my mental judo about the prospect of bad economy, seemingly impossible retirement, chance of being fried, and a currently secure/safe job, and my need for it and everything else it does bring (salary, benefits, a sense of meaningful life and efforts) will continue some time. I hope the future will bring positivity rather than desperation.

I want to continue to like life.

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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:

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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? 🙂

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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 🙂

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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:

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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 🙂 🙂 🙂

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

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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:

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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.)

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*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.

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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!)

————————————————-

*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….

 

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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 🙂

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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

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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!