adventures with kefir

I have had the excitement of owning kefir grains in the last one month 🙂

At first I left the kefir grains+milk mixture in a jar on the counter with only the top/lid being covered by a clean piece of cloth (secured with elastic band). I replaced milk everyday, directly from fridge. It did not get thick (that is, curdy) but tasted tangy and salty in 24 hours. I kept it that way for a week or so. 

Then I decided to wrap it with a kitchen towel and hoped that it warmed it and helped with fermentation. It did not make a huge difference in fermentation/texture/taste I would say.

Then I decided to put it in a cabinet and wrap with a thicker towel, away from sunlight. Again, there was no significant change.

Then, my sister convinced me to use warm milk; basically I put the fresh milk in a clean jar, covered the top, and put it in hot water bed for 10-15 min to warm it up. I then added the grains in warmed milk and also covered it with a thicker blanket. I replaced the milk everyday, and then started to change it every two days. These changes occurred last weekend (June 3-4). There was some thickening of the milk (curd) around the grains and there was some kind of mucus-like thing going on around the grains, but again there was not significant change in the texture. 

Then my best friend gave me the idea to warm up the thick blanket in the dryer to help fermentation. I did this starting this weekend – 3-4 min in dryer is enough. I did this whenever I changed the milk.

And a couple of day later, yesterday to be exact, I have had the kefir fermented in 12 hours! 🙂

I have removed the grains, fed them with fresh milk (which nicely gave me another batch of kefir today), and left the fermented kefir at room temperature away from sunlight (not covered by anything, except the lid) yesterday. This is called “second fermentation” by sources in internet. It started to separate (the curd and whey) a few hours after that and this evening I planned to make cheese/spread out of it (total of 24 hours of second fermentation). 

It was very easy.

It turns out if you leave it like that, the curd naturally moves up and it almost drains itself of the liquid part (i.e. whey). When used the spoon, I was surprised by how solid it felt 🙂 the bottom part where the curd touches the whey is naturally a little bit wet, but one can strain/drain this using a strainer (I did not this time, but I am planning next time). I added some salt, chili flakes, and dried dill to my first ever kefir spread! Yum 🙂

A couple of notes: I noticed that if I warm up the milk and the blanket, the jar/grains keeps warm for quite some time (for hours) and it is especially important to keep it warm where the grains are; my grains are always on the surface so covering the top/lid of the jar really good with a clean piece of cloth first and then with warm, thick blanket is a good idea.

Also, the fermentation temperature seems to make a difference; when it is colder temps, then it is more sour/tangy. However when it is fermented in a warmer environment, then it is not. There must be some bacteria that like colder temps and produce the tangy taste.

I used 2% or homogenized milk. I am not sure whether skim milk would yield such robust kefir grains. I must also say that there has not been significant change in the size or numbers of the kefir grains since I adopted them a month ago.

Overall, I am very excited and would love to try a cheese or two using the kefir curd. Here is one recipe that makes it sound really easy. Hope I can succeed in this 🙂

a regular Saturday

I am not having an extraordinary Saturday, but it is beautiful like the other ones.

I always loved, loved Saturdays. The day after the school/work week where you are free to do everything you want to do, every store is open, every cultural or entertainment-related attraction/event is available. It is beautiful and I like the sense of “freedom” it usually gives me. 

Like any other Saturday, I may be involved in cleaning the house, doing the laundry, feeding my starter/preparing levain for the Sunday sourdough, getting milk and egg from a store 10 min away, and speaking to my family. It may be all routine, but I still love it! 

It is Saturday! Wherever you are, hope you are having a wonderful day 🙂

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appliying for a job

I am feeling optimistic nowadays, which is awesome.

You know what I will do soon? I will apply for a job that I thought was suitable to me and is meaningful and challenging at the same time. 

I had saved the link to this job ad for some time and today I started drafting the application letter. 

I am not 100% sure that this is what I want to do; maybe things would change here and I would feel better with some change/some people leaving. But then maybe the fiscal situation would only go worse, and with that many other things like the way we run our organization, our work-loads, and the pressure on us – who knows? Seriously.

I feel obliged to trainees that I have recruited and believe that they are the only thing that can keep me here even if they offered me the said job opportunity….. Or, maybe I would talk to them and get them new places within the institution so that I could free myself from them and leave for the new job… I do not know.

This is an example of classical dilemma of being responsible for others versus being responsible for yourself – you can never know which one is better and always feel selfish if you choose to be responsible towards yourself, even though your primary responsibility is your own well being and happiness. Right?

Right…

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Seriously – what if I am offered this job and also like what they get to offer and decide to leave my position here? How soon can I leave here? Would I really do this? How would I do this? Oh, boy – it must be a really great job to be able to leave my job here…. Unless of course, something awful occurs on top of everything and acts as the last drop to help me end my bond with (and suffering) here…

I know it is too early to think about all of these because I did not even apply yet and there is no guarantee that I will be even selected for an interview, let alone be offered the job, but I cannot keep trying myself with the future possibilities. It is good to know that I still have some kind of faith for my current work-place, care about my team members, and am hopeful that a positive change can occur. At the same time I should also be cautious about the possibility of issues increasing over time and the low self-esteem this position/institution left in me.

I think I will go and make this application mostly because I am eager to know whether I can get this great job. If I cannot get it, I will not get lost, but if I get it, then my confidence will be higher.

It is worth it.

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What I would not do in the name of frugality

I would;

  •  not lower the home temperature below 16 C
  •  not eat spoiled food
  •  not dumpster dive (no offense meant)
  •  not re-use tea bags or coffee grains
  •  not shower in cool water
  •  not not use soap or other cleaning products
  •  not have no social life
  •  not wear torn clothes/shoes
  •  not not dye my hair
  •  not not give to people whom I care
  •  not not donate for good causes
  •  not not give gifts to those that deserve
  •  not cut my power, cable, water, or internet connection
  •  not not use moisturizers
  •  not not visit my doctor or not buy medications
  •  not use re-usable hygienic pad (no offense meant)
  •  not not use toilet paper
  •  not not visit my family
  •  not let others pay for my expenses

But it would be awesome if I had won the lottery! 🙂

dream

I have had a vivid dream this morning.

I was in a new dormitory. I was given a bed and locker in men’s unit. I have had around 8-9 roommates. I was pretty confident and comfortable being around them. They were young and kind. I felt like the boss – none of them could hurt me or could suppress me. Everything was gonna be fine. I was fearless. Nothing was a problem. I would make friends with them. Roommates alright!

Everything was so perfect. There was a lovely and clean kitchen. The bathrooms were very clean and sparkly with marble and everything. Then I could not find my locker – I have looked everywhere. Then I noticed that the bathroom doors were not secured – so I thought how do they manage privacy here? 

I left the building into a busy and large street. And then I could not find my way back to the dormitory. Was it this one or that one? I was not too far away, so it must be one of these streets. But which one?

I realized at that moment that nothing was as perfect as it seems. I was not the boss. New places, new challenges had their own unique problems. I was stressed. I lost my confidence that I could survive in this new environment.

Sounds familiar? 🙂

That dream was life. 

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the perfect day

I have got a great day today.

We have had a career celebration event for a past associate of mine. It was such a great ceremony 🙂 After the ceremony we went for a lunch and had a cozy afternoon. I was care-free, comfortable, feeling being among friends/family, and we had candid talks and laughter. So what else did I want?

Nothing much really……

It was a perfect day.

 

 

random thoughts

These are what have happened today:

1. My kefir needs 48 hours of incubation – period. Since we almost never get hot temperatures here, I better get used to this. 

2. I did not walk in the morning, but I did not take the cab, either. The honour went to the bus this morning 🙂

3. Chatted with a colleague today and he thought that a couple of people from our unit would leave considering the toxic and fiscal situation. That changes things for me, for some reason. I realize I have problems with them and their leave would be beneficial for us/me – we can change things in our unit if they go. More room to breathe and do things as we design, decide, and like.

4. Three work-related issues that I have been trying to overcome for months have finally resolved today.  One of them is a potential partnership.  It is preliminary but there is an interest. Things are moving at last! 🙂

5. I continued to contemplate about myself, my performance, my achievements, my strengths, and my limitations. 

6. I gained weight nowadays, which I link to eating too much peanut! Every time I eat it, I gain the weight. So why do I do that????

7. My arm continues to worry me. Finally I made an appointment – I wanna know whether there is something seriously wrong with my arm. I hit it to my desk at the office 2-3 weeks ago. It was not bad at the beginning but after I started digging the yard, it acted quite badly and it has been like this since then. Time to get it checked.

8. I do not know whether I will apply for the job opportunity I identified at the weekend. maybe I will. maybe I will not. What do I lose if I apply?

————————

Here is to all uncertainties and career problems; an amazing song.

Cool down those senses and have hope my friends!

 

 

on brutality of social media

I will write about the brutality in social media. Like Twitter.

Boy.

You risk getting a blast back if something you say pisses someone for some reason. It does not have to be personal, but there are many people out there who are ready to strongly oppose/make fun of an opinion. It does not matter that your intentions were good to start with. This is particularly true for sensitive topics. Or for topics that some people have sensitivity towards. 

I am not interested in adversity but I am not interested in restricting my freedom of speech, either. I certainly am not interested in apologizing for something that is not intended to hurt anyone. A healthy conversation is fine, but then when it becomes a piss race what do we do? What is the best way to stop people, especially those that I do not know, to respond and attack/make fun of my opinions?

Can I label is as a “rant”, or “please do not respond”, or what? Would that even stop getting a negative and unsolicited response?

How do we find that balance between expressing ourselves and risking adversity? 

It depends I guess.

There will be times that I will be hesitating to post a tweet but risking it and going forward with posting it anyhow. And there will be times that I will remember twitter is not the only place to express myself – even though I have every single right to do so.

keep going onward

It is a beautiful Saturday full of house chores (!) and freedom to do nothing and everything 🙂

It is not bad outside; it was rainy in the morning but right now we have a bright day. I worked a little bit on the yard. It bothers me that I am not done with it yet… Can I please finish it tomorrow and plant the seeds? I am so close, but my arm still hurts. Maybe I can make an effort tomorrow and hopefully cut the grass too. I meant to buy mulch and use it to make my yard look better/control weed. Alas…. The yard work was quite a progress this year, but honestly I am late to finish what I wanted to do, and may not be able to handle it all….. Oh, well 🙂

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I continue to be cranky about my job situation and considering changing it. Based on my past experience, once I put it in my mind, I will do it. But I try to be careful and play safe, too. I cannot lose a job that pays well and with some level of security for another job that does not excite me and does not give me what I already have. The best thing would be to keep an eye on job opportunities, apply if a great opportunity exists, keep going in the current job as if it is the best thing that occurred to me, and if something better is offered to me, consider it seriously. Until then, I will keep going. 

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My sister and mom gave me good information about kefir; while my kefir grains seem to be working in terms of the taste, I cannot get the texture right. I left it undisturbed for 48 hours last time and there was some clots, but nothing too much again. I now have it in a cupboard, the top part is wrapped loosely by a thick cloth, and hopefully it is feeling a little bit warmer, and the bacteria and yeast are feeling more active and alive! 🙂 My sister also suggested that I warm up the milk or the container a little bit to expedite the process. Sounds all great to me 🙂

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And I want to finish this post by stating that I have shopped and feeling better because of it 🙂 What is it with shopping and feeling better, friends? Why is this activity have such a great effect on us/me? 

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job situation assessment

I do not know whether what I am doing is right or plain stupid, but I am looking for jobs. I think I have found one ad that may be a good fit for me.

But I am hesitant to apply – is it too much of a work to make this application/interview? Do I really want this change in my life? What if it is not a unionized position and they can kick me out anytime they want?

What are my choices really?

Right now I have a respected position. I have a nice-figure salary. I have benefits. I am capable of doing many different things and getting involved in a variety of activities that are related to my profession. I have a simple life in a small city. I am capable of saving money. I have a routine. Life is easy and abundant. I am bored sometime, but life works well. Work, however, is stressful and full of problems and problematic people. One problem of mine is to be involved in too many stuff and getting fragmented. We also have the demoralizing financial issues, for now and for the future, and the constant nagging feelings of “we should be doing more” and “I am not good enough“.

While the idea of resigning and leaving things behind sounds awesome to me, I think I should be careful about the risks of potentially incorrect decisions. I realize today, for example, that being unionized is very important to me. I also realized that my salary is in fact a great one that many people would love to have. So would it not be possible for me to look into the positives of this job and identify more as to what is important for me?

Analysis

What I appreciate about this job and my life in this city?

  • Great salary/respected job position
  • Some level of safety/being unionized
  • Freedom on projects and activities undertaken
  • Ability to save and invest for my future
  • Simple and easy life

 

What I do not like/appreciate about my job and my life in this city?

  • The stress of undertaking too much work/not being able to say no to requests for help (This can be fixed)
  • The delays in organizational support systems; lack of efficient systems to keep things moving (I cannot do much about this, other than accepting the situation as it is)
  • Feeling inadequate. The constant struggle to “achieve” things. (This feeling is constant and life is too short – so what do I do? How do I handle this feeling? Work better? More? Smarter? Luckier? Among everything else, this is the one that is hard to digest. I really dislike this feeling)
  • The unhopeful future financial forecast and pension plan changes; the possibility of deeper provincial financial issues that can erase what has accumulated in terms of pension contributions and the house equity (This is very scary)
  • The possibility of more pressure on us because of the fiscal problems; the talks and acts of firing; the demoralized and agitated environment

 

I can still apply for jobs and who knows, maybe I will come across a great one. I do not have to seriously consider a new job unless I have got a great offer. Those that did not yield an offer, or with unsatisfactory offers are not the problem – I can turn them down. So.. With this in mind, I think I will just relax now. I gotta relax and handle the future uncertainty as well as the feeling of being inadequate… That is the best remedy for now. Let’s hope I can do that.

you know it when it is over

We have had a day of strategic planning for our organization yesterday and today.

The theme has been “how do we strive in this challenging financial situation” considering also the fact that our institution is firing people and this will likely increase over time.

While I was happy to contribute and produce ideas for a better organizational future, I also felt that it was just too surrealistic… Like an ideal world that actually does not exist… I know that it is not gonna happen even with our best efforts, so why do we pretend like things can really get better?

I also heard one or two people who came here with big ideals, plans, and names, and now were leaving for smaller jobs somewhere else. I did feel some kind of inspiration from this – not the smaller job part but leaving here for a new job part –  and I am feeling like I will be leaving myself in a year.

Right now, I do not know where I would go or which kind of a job I would get (ideally I would leave my current life and work only after finding a new job), but I would love one that gives me joy and excitement. My current job is too stressful, too demanding. Like many of my colleagues in my position, I am feeling inadequate and inferior. I do not feel good about myself or my work performance. I do not work my best.  I do not contribute my best. I do not feel good or excited anymore. My entire life is negatively affected, not only my professional life…..

So what is the point in keep going?

I am making a mental note that if I can find a good and exciting job, I would like to leave my work and life here behind me and start a new chapter in my life. Who knows; maybe this is exactly what I need to feel good again about myself and about my life.

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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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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my kefir grains :)

IMG_0996

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 🙂

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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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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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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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

Garden GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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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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?

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 🙂

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?

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. 

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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!

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.

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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.

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.

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.”

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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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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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!

🙂

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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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.

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 🙂

 

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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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…

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! 🙂

Snow GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

acknowledgement: gifby:http://giphy.com/gifs/snow-siMYarzDqIBMI

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?

 

Lost GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

acknowledgement: gif by/from:http://giphy.com/gifs/lost-CJLezn9jaRGgw

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.

Dancing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

gif byhttp://giphy.com/gifs/dancing-good-times-feeling-l0HlNe0NkUg53bMBi

7th and 8th Day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Dont Care GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

DAY 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

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

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

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

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 3

——————-

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

Hurrah to us 🙂

Pj Harvey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

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!

DAY 2 & 3 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

The total expenses in the DAY 2 and DAY 3 of the #TheLeanSpendingMonth is

grocery: $55

bus fare: $2.25

 

It is going well and I sure could save more but this is possibly the minimum spending I can make without feeling deprived and I am okay with that 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 2

magic time

Have that ever happened to you?

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

That is what is happening to me today. 

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

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

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

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

………………..

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

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

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

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

I m ready to do better, though.

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

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

I do not know what it would be.

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

it is so messed up, so sad

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

———————————

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

I am speechless at your thoughts and actions.

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

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

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

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

Openly.

With cheers even.

…….

That is so sad America.

That is so sad.

 

Thanks Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday!

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

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

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

Have a great Friday and weekend everybody! 🙂

 

weekly budget check

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

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

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————-

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

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

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

so it goes the song…

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

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

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

 

 

snow storm and neighbours

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

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

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

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

 

 

while waiting for the snow storm

We are waiting for a snow storm.

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

I will tell you what the big deal is.

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

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

Milk.

How can you not find milk in a store?

 

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

Anyways.

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

 

weekly budget check

My new “lean” spending scheme is doing well 🙂

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

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

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

You have got the idea.

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

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

Weekly allowance: $120

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

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

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

Other expenses: $0 (a miracle! 🙂 )

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

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup and bread

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

———————–

So; not bad my friends 🙂

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

happy savings 🙂

 

 

 

feeling agitated and believing in adventure

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

Why adventure? 

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

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

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

That is the adventure 🙂

 

what important thing I was reminded today

One of those days that agitating stuff has happened.

BUT

I will not let these ruin my morale and spirit.

 

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

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

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

In addition, calmer mind works stuff better.

 

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

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

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

…………………………..

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

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

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

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

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

 

hoarding food

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

the sound of shovels

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

if I had 172,800 bucks..

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

There.

My dream for today 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder whether the end of humanity is near….

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

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

A classic example of “social depression”?

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

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

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

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

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certainly doable! 🙂

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

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

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

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

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

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

 

The 14th and the last day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

when was the last time…

I sang from the bottom of my lungs?

🙂

Cannot remember but today was close 🙂

I am very grateful!!!! 🙂

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

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

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

Wake up.

Let go.

and, for goodness sake

SING YOUR SONG!  🙂

 

just another lovely day

I have one more day left at my staycation.

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

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

Have a great Monday everyone 🙂

img_0416

those little things..

Life can be very surprising sometime.

Yours, our lives, my life.

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

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

Hope it will surprise you too.

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

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

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

I am very grateful for today.

 

 

happy new year!

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

And I say this in case you have not noticed:

Be like life. Life is perfectly imperfect! 🙂

cheers

I have everything I need

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

new year resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy new year everyone! 🙂

the 9th and the 10th day of the staycation

Well.. Well… Well..

It has been 10 days already 🙂

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

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

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

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

 

the 8th day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7th day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

the fifth and the sixth day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Self-reflections to continue…..

 

 

the third and the fourth day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bon appetite! 🙂

the second day of staycation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great evening everyone!

 

first day of the staycation

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

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

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

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

feeling more optimistic today

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

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

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

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

Have a great night everyone 🙂

weekly budget check

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

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

here is a snap-shot of this week:

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

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

total fun funds accumulated to date: $120.5

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

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

———-

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

have a great Thursday everyone 🙂

 

 

social invites; when it rains, it pours

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

So what do I do now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There.

I did rant.

And feel slightly better already 🙂

feeling what I feel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well….

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

the plans for the holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then?

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

random thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Sunday everyone! 🙂

exciting thrifty store visit :)

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I have had a blast today at two thrifty stores 🙂

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

It turned out I was wrong 🙂

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

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

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

I cannot wait to get my hands on these 🙂

how did I breathe the same air for two days?

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

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

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

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

I am surprised.

Very surprised.

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

Today?

Why did I not get out today?

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

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

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

Lessons learnt and over.

 

 

sourdough loaf with part semolina flour

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This is my second time adding semolina flour into sourdough.

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

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

 

Recipe

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

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

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

Let rise at room temperature over night

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

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

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

 

weekly budget check

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

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

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

—————————————

Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

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

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

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

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

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

————–

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

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

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

The half full glass of sewing

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

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

I do not like this thought at all.

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

Here is my case for sewing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, what is my verdict?

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

 

sleepless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sigh….

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

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

Have a great night everyone!

is there something called “excitement addiction”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well.

Maybe all I need is a sewing project 🙂

 

shopping spree continues :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

my sewing machine arrived! :)

Well, rather I picked it up from the courier’s office, but that is not the point!

The point is I have got my sewing machine, the first one ever, the one that I bought by catching a good deal, and the one that I am in love with 🙂

I cannot wait to learn how to use it, care for it, and make wonderful stuff with it 🙂

not picking the cheques anymore?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There will be some learning,  I guess 🙂

weekly budget check

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

—————————–

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

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

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

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

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

———————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

I guess we will see how it goes 🙂

I ordered my sewing machine :)

The day was full of great things, like it is being a wonderful sunny and warm November day; I walking in the morning and the evening, feeling good overall, working nice and easy, and eating healthy.

But one thing stands out as a unique source of joy – I ordered my sewing machine!

I did!

The last one week I was reading about different brands/models and trying to choose one that would be good for beginners’ as well as intermediate users’ sewing adventures. I decided a Singer 7258 was what I wanted. Looks like I can do up to quilting, the purchase includes 9-10 presser feet, in addition to many functions that are useful.

I have been checking online where to get this machine and its price. The price is considerably changing from one resource to other and I can say it is not a cheap machine. I ruled out purchasing a second-hand machine this time (even though I like second hand items).

I was determined and obviously I checked on Amazon for too long, for too many times; they sent me $10 promotion code a couple of days ago. I was hoping that the machine would further discount, especially towards the Christmas. So I was checking it almost everyday and today I have seen yet another discount (around $100 total). Together with my promotion code and free shipment option, I had a chance of getting $120 discount from its original (and the cheapest) price out there.

It would probably go down a little bit more in later days, but I thought; 1) what if it does not? 2) I really would like to get the machine soon enough so that I can start working on projects especially during my 2-weeks Christmas holiday, and 3) I was lucky and able to save an additional $142 this weekend, mostly from purchases/expenses I would normal do but did not.

So, I ordered it this evening – it is supposed to arrive next week 🙂

I am excited!

I hope it is a fantastic machine, I will be able to take excellent care of it in many years to come, and together we will be able to create many wonderful things once I get to learn it 🙂

 

*no advertisement intended.

 

a great long weekend so far :)

Friday was the Canadian Remembrance Day and an official holiday. May all those perish/killed/hurt at wars and because of wars may be remembered by compassion, love, and respect. As one of my friends said “No war is a good war”…

Anyways; mostly because I have had a great weekend last week full of shopping, I felt like I could work on Friday. That has been a wise decision as it was quiet and there was no distraction. I had a productive and easy day.

Yesterday was full of socials! First I met with an ex-colleague/assistant of mine who has a young baby. It was so exciting to see her again and meet with her little baby. What a lovely, happy, and cute baby he is – may he have a long, healthy, happy and pleasant life.

Then I went to a dinner I was invited to and met with great people and enjoyed conversations on many different topics. I had great time and I felt really lucky to have these people and occasions in my life. See, lately I have been making an attempt to be social and so far it has been going really well, making me feel like it is awesome to socialize with great people!

And today, I am baking a carrot-sourdough loaf, which I hope will turn out to be great. We will see in a couple of hours 🙂

Overall, I am feeling great about this weekend.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone 🙂

feeling lucky (again) :)

This past weekend I switched from my lovely canvas purse to another leather one, as the weather started to act and rain is a regular event now. Yesterday I noticed that it has a zipper-secured section on the side. Just out of curiosity I checked inside and found around $22 worth of coins 🙂 I must have put them there last time I used it.

This is the second time I find a considerable amount of money forgotten; once in a coat’s pocket and now in my purse. It both cases, I was surprised quite a bit. But, most importantly I also felt lucky to have them back 🙂

It is not too much of an amount, but, hey I have a sewing machine plan to save money for! Together with a $4 savings I have had from a regular expense today, I have a total of $26 in the sewing machine account. $274 to go 🙂

sewing may be my newest hobby :)

Since I used my little portable sewing machine to sew myself cloths to use during baking last weekend, I cannot keep thinking about how enjoyable that activity, the feeling of being capable of and self-sustaining were.

I want to buy a sewing machine!

I can sew table cloths, napkins, bread bags, curtains, pillow cases, and make quilts, embroidery and much more! I can repair my clothes. I can re-purpose whatever I have. I can make gifts for family and friends. After many trials and errors of course 🙂

I really am excited about this idea.

I want to be an informed consumer; one thing I would hate would be to buy a machine that would not be comfortable to use, or suitable for my projects. I was looking at the internet and there are so many different brands and models – which one is it that I would like to get? I know I am looking for a beginners/intermediate level model that allows me to sew, quilt, and make embroidery. I know I need a machine that have many stitch options and allows me to adjust the stitch length and width. I will need a machine that fits many different foots suitable for my needs, hopefully coming with the purchase as accessories but not needing extra purchases and thus inflating the cost. I know I can get a mechanical or electrical one, and hopefully with a lot of room on the right side of the needle to help comfortably handle the fabric. I also would love a light machine that does not produce a lot of noise while operating. Something that can handle thin and thick fabric would be nice, too. I will keep reading to find out what else I need to be aware of while selecting my sewing machine.

Information, however, is overwhelming and somehow putting me off; so if you, the dear reader, have any recommendations, please feel free to share in the comment area.

I am thinking I can catch up the holiday sales if I can make my mind till then. I really would love to spend as little as possible. I considered the second hand ones and actually found a nice Singer sewing machine at $60, but I decided it was not worth it. A new one is probably the best bet with all the accessories available with the purchase (if possible). Plus, I can trust that the machine is at good condition.

So, with this decision, my next hurdle is to identify how to save for money to purchase this lovely addition to my life. I am perfectly capable of buying it right now, but honestly there is something nice about saving for it first by cutting expenses in other areas.

I have 6 weeks till the holiday season to save around $200-300. Wish me luck my friends 🙂

Feeling lucky :)

We have had such an incredible day today that I could not help but felt very lucky 🙂 It was a wonderful November day; warm and shinny. It is very unusual for where I am, which is known to have gray sky and cool weather year round. Once cannot not take note of such an exceptional day 🙂

I felt lucky for an additional time when I took the artwork I have got from a thrifty store last Friday to my office and when it just fit the wall and its environment so well! It is a simple canvas painting of a house on a summer day filled with light, shadows of the leaves, trees, and flowers 🙂 Just by looking at it I feel like I am in a Mediterranean country and vacationing 🙂

It is exciting to feel lucky.. I hope all of you have had a similar experience that made you feel this way today.

coupons can be exciting sometimes

If you follow me, you know well that even though I am on a frugal journey, I am not interested in couponing, unless coupons show up at my doorsteps as inserts or are stuck on the items in the stores.

This week I have got 3 inserts and several coupons that I can use. Two of them were manufacturer coupons for my hair dye ($2 each), which I was planning to purchase this week (they are on sale on a store nearby). I went to the store this morning and found out, to my surprise, that the packets also had $3 store coupons on them. So I bought three packages and together with the sale price, I paid $20.5 and saved $21.

Can you imagine?

$21…..

This is the first time that I have got that lucky with coupons. Perhaps I should be paying more attention to them?

I honestly think that I can start a new project where I can donate the savings I got from coupons. It may not be too much, but even a small amount is helpful.

🙂

random thoughts

It has been a fine Fall day; a little bit cool but otherwise nice and shinny 🙂 I love this year’s Fall – from the scenery to nice weather, it has given its full potential to our enjoyment.

I have not worked too intense today; I rather left the office at noon and walked to a nearby shopping centre 🙂 It is very rare for me to go shop on a work day, so I loved the fact that I permitted myself a bout of spontaneity – talking about breaking the routine 🙂

My first stop was at a thrifty store, where I found a fine piece of art work for my office 🙂 It is a canvas painting with lots of natural colours, trees, and plants in front of a lovely house with great wooden doors and windows. Just looking at it makes me feel in the nature – loved it 🙂 Money well spent.

I then proceeded to check another store and was able to find two gifts for my neighbours and one of my good friends. I could not believe how affordable they were, which was quite a relief. One of the gifts I purchased was a product of my home country, which made me extra excited 🙂 I thought at first the gifts per se would not be enough but then I decided to supplement them with a freshly baked loaf of bread. The fact that there has been budgetary issues where I am and, lately, my organization increased our pension plan contributions, made me very aware of the limited purchasing power. I believe the gifts are just appropriate and the bread will just make them even better 🙂 So my consciousness is clear.

I also visited my favorite dollar store. Well, the majority of the items are not $1 anymore, but still things are quite affordable when compared to other stores. I am excited about the new oven mints (they are bright red and look so lovely 🙂 ) and the pens (they have been my favorite in the last one year or so) I purchased 🙂 I did not buy everything I wanted to, leaving the joy and excitement of shopping to some other time.

Tomorrow a friend of mine and I are going to a shopping centre again. We would like to put our hands and minds on some craft, so let’s hope we will be able to find those fabrics. I also have been meaning to get some left-over pieces of fabric, which I plan to use during baking/dough preparation. We will see how it goes 🙂

This weekend seems like a triple dose of shopping as I am also planning to go to another shopping centre on Sunday! I know, I know… You are thinking; what is she doing – talking about frugality and saving and then shopping three days in a row? See, sometimes you need to do what excites you. Shopping always does excite me…. I do not buy things that I do not need, so no worries about over-spending. I want to buy a couple of items which are on sale this week, like olive oil, as well as hair dye for which I have a coupon. I also need to buy another set of gifts for my friend, which I am happy to check for sales now rather than later.

So my friends, the holiday season is coming, the sales are on, and gifting is somehow both required and exciting. My past experience is that I spend more than average during the holiday season, but this is mostly to take advantage of the sales. I have a list of things that I hope to catch good sales for and this certainly excites me. I would like to buy new pairs of socks and pants, for example. In the past I was able to get really good deals during the holidays. Then I can forget about looking for them during the rest of the year. So that is what exactly I am planning to do this year too 🙂

Hope everyone will be able to get the exceptional deals and enjoy their purchases 🙂

push-up surprise

I sometime surprise myself….

Very amusing I can be 🙂

Well, I have been in a great mood this past week (mostly because of the motivation coming out of losing weight lately and steadily) and I even started doing some push ups. It has been years that I have had the energy to try them (thank you again vit D and iron supplements…). My maximum number of push ups done all at one round was 55. This was something like 10 years ago. Sure, I have started small this time; with 6, then 8 the next day and now 10 push ups today. Well, you know what? I do not think I will go up 55 as before, but I sure will go high. I am in love.. They are so good for building the arms and chest as well as the back and abs. I am very excited 🙂

There is something so powerful about feeling the energy and strength I once had. I may be getting old, but I am not that old.

Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

socialization attempt – II

I have been blessed with yet another successful social yesterday 🙂

A friend of mine connected with me a colleague that just moved where I am and we thought we could get together over a brunch. I also invited another friend of mine, who is also a colleague. We had a wonderful brunch and then came to my place to do some baking together! 🙂

It was a fine day with lots of laughs and working together on food. None of us seemed to be an expert yet we all were interested in putting our hands on the dough. We tried mid-size and small loafs filled with beef, spinach etc. and they turned out to be tasty and lovely. We decided to do this again. It also turned out that the hubby of the new colleague has a tasty bread recipe from his mom, which we sure are to try sometime.

Company makes all the difference, is it not? I love and value both of my colleagues. There is diversity in our attitudes though – our new colleague is very down-to-earth and smart but not a dominant person. She also made herself at home, lovingly rolled the loaves and was excited to do so. It is a pleasure to be with this kind of people; it is comfy and friendly.

My other colleague is also very nice, but she thinks that I should change and arrange my furniture in a way that she thinks is best. I am so far kind and not taking it as a serious intervention in my life. But honestly, do you not get annoyed by people who think you should replace your furniture with the ones they like and then also arrange your home the way they like? It makes the impression that they do not like your house/furniture and also think that they know better than you do, even re; your own house?

Somebody needs to awaken these individuals; that we all have choices and when the right time comes I will make the arrangements in my house the way I like or decide. I guess young people are like that but I can be the wise one between the two and let this one go. I would love to deal with it better next time and make it clear that I have my own plans for my home – I think that would cut this down 🙂

Aims and plans: 3) eating healthier and losing weight

I continue to tackle my recent aims and plans to make my life better, as I wish it.

The third item on the list was: 

3. eating healthier and losing 25 pounds and keeping it off

I have always been a chubby girl, but not overly over-weight until something like 8 years ago when I moved to my current city and I gained weight – around 30 pounds to be exact. I am not sure what exactly caused this; I am thinking possibly the increased stress levels as well as the reduced physical activity levels. In anyways, two years ago my doctor informed me that my blood sugar levels were borderline and even 5% fat loss would make a positive difference in my sugar levels. I took this to my heart but I could not really implement any weight loss/better diet strategies for a long time. Luckily last time we checked it had improved but I was advised to lose weight if I can and increase my exercise levels.

I have made several attempts in eating better and exercising more over my life. Long story short; I know: a) exercising does not make me lose weight, b) if I can limit my night-eats and if I limit carbs, like bread, rice, or even sweets, I feel lighter, c) there is something about chewy raw veggies that helps with water retention or fat dissolution (not sure which one), d) I keep consume the same types of food, which needs to change.

Knowing these I now am ready to remind myself that I can do better and in fact lose the dreaded extra weight. I just need to get more conscious about these, that is all. And this post will just function to do so.

Plan: 1) Shop for 6 different veggies/fruits that I have not consumed in the last 1 week. I did that in the past with success; it aims to facilitate me consume a variety of food

2) drink not one but two glasses of milk every day – I read somewhere that calcium helps keeping the bone health as well as managing weight. I want to see how that goes

3) keep walking in the afternoons and if I can, in the mornings to the office. Make an attempt to walk at the weekends too, even for 10 min.

4) everyday eat at least two raw veggie in the form of salad or snack: lettuce, onion, herbs, spinach, carrots, tomato, and others. There are many options to choose from.

5) For mid-night snack, continue to choose yogurt, milk, and fruits.

6) Continue with the reduced intake of bread (now that I bake my own bread, interestingly I consume less of it..)

7) Have 2 refined carb-less (bread, rice, pasta, etc.) days per week: I just came up with this idea right now and I wonder how that would work….. Since my weekends are usually pleasure-oriented, I guess what I need is to focus on the beginning of the week. Maybe Mondays and Thursdays – how about that? Exciting 🙂

I am currently 200 pounds (ooops 🙂 ) Let’s see where I am gonna go from here.

Aims and plans: 1) getting a leaner budget and b) paying mortgage early

With this post, I start to dissect the aims I have posted yesterday and focus on my plans/thoughts/ability to achieve them.

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The first item on the list is:

1. getting a much leaner budget and getting rid of the extra expenses for good

Ok. Now, since June 2015 I have had a great budget that worked wonders for me. Since the new year it has been a lot better, only that since June this year I lost track a little bit and started to over-spend. I am still keeping frugal, taking advantage of sales, implementing a nice no-waste food policy, continuing my shopping ban on books, shoes, and clothes, taking the bus rather than the cab almost every day, and am very keen about designing my meals around the on-sale food every week, yet these extra expenses are draining me.

So what is causing me to spend more?

Stress. It is causing me to consume stress relieving but nevertheless unhealthy stuff. It is crazy how much money (around 70-80 bucks per week) I spend on these junk! I had completely erased them from my life at the new year when I had achieved a great/the leanest budget ever. My savings were up and I had a positive chequeing account for the first time in the last two years or so. It was so satisfying, so exciting to be feeling so. I felt abundant, enriched, and proud.

Now, I want to feel this way again!

Root cause: stress (or lack of will power – you tell me). This is one issue that I must tackle soon and quite effectively.

Consequences: unhealthy life style, harm to my body, and reduced self-respect. I also lack the excitement and other positive feelings associated with not doing these expenses. Plus, my savings have been down lately, which is rightfully annoying me.

Action item: Stop it!!!! Simple and effective (we will see how this goes, right?). I did it once and I would like to think that I can do it again. Please, please, wish me luck with this!

———————————————–

The second item on the list is:

2. making an extra payment to mortgage till new year and increasing my payment after that sometime. My very ambitious plan is to drop it to 100K in 3 years. Likely not gonna happen but whatever I can do is good

My current principal/mortgage debt is 175K… This is a lot of debt, which bothers me. The interesting thing is that in 3 years (sept 2019) with my current payment plan, it is supposed to fall to $132,200. When I think about it, it is awesome that I can drop it to such a much less amount.

But I feel like I can do better.

I have been saving some cash since last Spring, which I had planned to contribute towards my principal. Initially I had planned it to be around 5K, but with the recent extra expenses, it will be around 4k. I plan to make this payment around new year; better before the new year to celebrate 🙂

An extra 4K would make my mortgage drop to $128,200 till Sept 2019. I have always felt like if it is less than $120,000, then I would have a greater motivation to pay faster. Now, I think the best way for me is to actually aim higher and make it drop to $100,000 till then. The question is how am I going to do that?

I am currently contributing to my RRSP (maximum allowed), paying HBP (home buying plan in Canada – basically I borrowed money from my RRSP as down-payment, which I am supposed to pay back in 17 years. I pay almost double the amount I am supposed to pay each year so that I can pay it off early), a small personal retirement plan with an annual payment, and my TFSA.

Since I had taken money out of my TFSA when I purchased my home, my TFSA is not maximized yet. It looks like with my current contribution levels, I will need around 3 years to maximize it. While that would be awesome, I am more inclined to keep it below the allowed maximum level, and rather channelize the TFSA payments to mortgage. My current plan is to contribute another 9K to TFSA (which would take around 13 months or so) and then stop contributing to it for two years (till the end of my mortgage term).

So, 2 years of not contributing to TFSA would mean an extra $15,600 to go towards my mortgage. Together with the one-time lump sum payment I plan to make this december, that would mean at the end of the term my mortgage debt drops to $112,600.

I am not at $100,000 yet but it is possible that I can come up with an extra $12,600 sometime, somehow to make it finally become $100,000….

Action items: Make 4K one time lump sum payment to mortgage in late December 2016. Continue with contributing to TFSA for another year or so, and then stop it to use the money to increase the mortgage payments. Whenever an extra amount of money is saved, use it to pay the mortgage. This last one can be possible if I had got back to my lean budget – one more motivation to start it tomorrow! 🙂