About Me

February 28, 2013

Blowing the Budget! Updated!!

We live a fairly frugal life. For many years, while I was home with our large group of little people, we lived on an income and a half. The income was not large and the half was supplementary but we managed to make sure that everyone was fed, had clothes on their backs, toys and books, entertainment, transportation, and the utilities needed to live a comfortable life. No one went with out and celebrations were abundant, though we did have to save for all those extras. We managed a family vacation once a year, which for us often meant visiting our families on the west coast or turning business conferences into a family trip. We made many sacrifices so that our children had what they needed but that took hard work and they did grow up knowing that they wouldn't receive everything they asked for. 

Now we live a life that includes two full incomes and an abundant savings. Our mortgage is almost paid off, we have no other debt, we can go out and shop if we choose or go for dinner. Vacations have become more frequent and our destinations have expanded. If we want to buy something for ourselves or the house, we don't need to save as much, though we are still in the habit of planning, budgeting and waiting until we have the amount saved. I like that we have the freedom now but we are still so careful. 

With that in mind, it's almost funny this week how we have been reacting to a loss that is going to cost us money. I hate stuff like that because it does take me back to those early days of worrying about every penny. We can clearly afford to just pay this upcoming expense but oh how we have agonized over for the last 24 hours. This morning I realized how much energy has gone in to that angst.

Dh lost his keys yesterday. He has two sets. One holds his works keys and his car key. The other holds our house key and a key for my car. It's bothered me for the longest time that he carries them separately. He claims that the weight of having them altogether is too much for the ignition. I have more keys than he does - both sets of car keys, both sets of my office keys, house key, shed key, lock box keys, filing cabinet keys and a key that I have no idea what it is for but I've had for ever and it must be for something! My keys feel light and it hasn't been an issue in my ignition but he insisted so he kept his separate. When he left home, he locked the door, put those keys in his pocket and took out his other set to go to work. When he got home last night, he realized that the other set was gone. He retraced his steps, made some calls and then drove back into the city to go to the one spot he thinks he might have dropped them. No luck but a valiant effort. He was literally on his hands and knees with a flash light in the middle of a downtown parking lot! But no luck. His cell phone number and our home number have been left in case anyone finds them. We may never find them, so I've started to figure out where in our budget will the funds come from to get a new key and fob from the dealership. I was thinking it would be a couple of hundred dollars (ouch!) but our dd suggested closer to $500 would be more reasonable, a fee she and her former husband had to pay when he lost the key to their van a few years ago. Different car maker so I'm hoping it won't be as much but will call this morning to find out. We're still looking and keeping our fingers crossed that someone picked them up and turned them into the security office and magically they'll call us this morning. 

This will blow our budget this month if we have to pay for a new key and fob. I hate the feeling of an unexpected bill. I guess I should take comfort in knowing the money is there and that we have a rainy day fund for those items we didn't count on having to pay for. But it still sucks! Last night, I did come up with an idea to replace the money if we do need to let go of it. Now that our half of our kids have moved out, we have lots of leftover furniture and kids items we could sell easily, so I'll start listing on kijiji and see if we can make the difference back. In the end, we'll have a new set of keys and an empty storage room. 

Maybe not such a bad trade off in the end!!

What have you done when an unexpected expense has hit your budget? Do you put lots of energy into the process or just pay it, writing it off as a life event?

****Updated to add that our misfortune was saved by the kind, unidentified individual who turned in our keys that were found in the parking lot dh spent time looking for. What a relief! We're still going to go thru our house and start listing items to sell anyway. Maybe put that money towards our travel adventures this year. All is well.****

February 24, 2013

My 100th Post Contest!

A week between posts.

Busy, busy time in our lives. 

So 2 posts in 1 today.

A 2 for 1 deal!

My 100th post, complete with 
my 1st contest giveaway. 

And my contribution to 
Mockingbird Hill Cottage's 
"A Favorite Thing" weekly check in. 

I started this blog on 
September 3rd, 2011
It's taken almost 2.5 years for me to 
reach 100 posts. The first year, I wrote 
exactly 35 posts. Ironically, in 2012
I wrote exactly 35 posts. To date,
for 2013, I have now written
30 posts. I think I'll beat my high 
of 35 for this year. 

My first contest, complete with a 
giveaway is small but manageable.
I hope you'll join in! 

I have selected a brand new, tiny 
but cute, picture frame. It measures 
approximately 2 inches x 3 inches, 
with the picture slot smaller. It is ceramic, 
with hand painted flowers 
and a plastic protector that covers 
the photo. Bonus feature: it has a strong
magnet on the back so you can hang it in a 
variety of places. 

To win, please tell me how long 
you have been blogging, 
why you started blogging,  
how long it took you to 
reach your 100th post and 
how you find the blogs you love to
read now. Briefly tell me why a blog 
catches your attention and what you 
like to see to keep reading. 

Leave a comment below and 
I'll randomly choose the winner 
on Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
the 2.5 year anniversary of this blog. 
If it's a sunny day, I may throw in an 
extra bonus item to sweeten the deal. 
Keep your fingers crossed for 
a sunny day in Canada!!

Now on to our next post within the post. 

For my contribution to "A Favorite Thing",
the most incredible charity shop purchase
we've made to date. 
Special on so many levels. 

Almost 24 years ago, our home was
gutted by fire. A fire set at midnight by 
our foster child, who had an idea in his
head that if he had come into foster care
because he had done something wrong, 
maybe he would get sent home if he did
something wrong. We were getting ready
to have our youngest son at the time
christened on the weekend, 
a small baby just 6 months old.

Foster child admired the Christening gown, 
worn by many family members and our
beloved children as we laid it out that night. 
Hours later, he woke us up to tell us that
the house was on fire. We fled, unharmed
and grateful for the warning. Many of our
precious items (photos, wedding and baby
videos, family heirlooms) were saved or
untouched. But our precious
Christening gown was gone. It was, as the
fire inspector discovered later, the
item that foster child lit to start the fire. 

We did have our son Christened, years later,
when our next youngest baby was born. But
we never found another gown, until Friday. 

Working a bit later than usual, we almost
didn't make our weekly Friday afternoon
trek to the shop. Sneaking in just a
short time before it would be closing,
we rushed thru, finding a few
lovely items and paying before
they called the closing announcement.
We bid our farewells and 
walked towards the door. 

And there it was, tucked behind the 
wall, a small piece of lace catching my 
eye. My husband was almost out the 
door and I quickly grabbed his arm, 
then grabbed the gown. Silky, creamy
and oh so soft. But as I held it tightly
in my hand, I was sure I would turn the
price tag over and reveal a high
figure. To our great surprise, the
tag read just $20. What??!!
Without question and just a 
glance to each other, we rushed up
to the counter. Everyone began to 
comment on our "find" and we
beamed! If only they knew what
this beautiful, not a mark on it
gown means to us. 
Thanking everyone, we gathered 
it in our arms and left the 
shop, our hearts beating and 
our smiles getting bigger as we
headed towards our home. 

It took more than 20 years but
we found our perfect heirloom item. 
Our kids are too old but our newest
granddaughter will be the first to 
wear this special dress. And from
there we will pass it along to the
newest family members as they
arrive, on the day their name
will be proclaimed as official. 

Every family has a story to tell.
Part of ours will be how this
Christening gown came into
 our lives. Discarded by another
family, ours saw the precious
meaning behind the lacy, 
silky creation. 

February 17, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat!

A graphic of what it looked like outside our windows today! So excited for spring ....
My favorite blogs! And the seed catalogue that arrived in the mail this week. As a new gardener, I am trying to get ahead of the game and figure out what to plant this year in our garden. Drooling over pictures of fresh carrots and peas!
Listening to:
Oldest daughter mumble away while she figures out her banking online. The pups nails click on the wood floors. Youngest daughter making her own dinner because apparently the scrumptious dinner dh made was NOT good enough. I beg to differ. Even had a second helping!
The Amazing Race. I do NOT enjoy watching reality shows, which is why I am reading blogs and writing while everyone else watches. Makes me nervous and I feel sorry for the guy who loses.
Dinner was cooked by dh and I devoured my portion plus some extra! Roasted pork rib with creamed corn and risotto. Yummy!
Accomplished this week:
I created the spreadsheet to make the T4 slips for my staff (all three of them!), gathered the items needed to do our review for the organization, gathered our personal items needed to do our taxes (waiting for our T4 slips), bought Turbo Tax and did mock returns to see if we need to buy RRSP products. So far, we do not have to but we still might. Need to make that decision this week.
Looking forward to this week:
1.) Writing my 100th blog post this week. And doing my first giveaway to celebrate the event! 2.) Getting my dining room table back. All the papers are in neat piles, files lined up, scraps shredded and empty files waiting for this years returns to be placed inside. But still, I like an empty table vs. a crowded one. 3.) Looking forward to seeing our granddaughter again. We last saw her a few days ago but thankfully have been getting regular Instagram pictures so we can see how her little body has begun to uncurl and stretch out. I am quite sure she is really missing gramma and grampa, so we need to drive into the city for a little visit!

Thankful for today:
Despite the cool, rainy, snowy, gloomy weather, we had a warm, relaxing day. Groceries and laundry were our only tasks that needed attention. Enjoying an evening to just write and then take some time to put my quilt blocks together so I can start the next step for our second quilt.
Bonus Question: Have you ever received a gift you were less than thrilled with? Did you feel like you had to keep/use it in order to spare feelings from getting hurt?
 My in-laws once gave me a red scarf, knowing full well that I will not and cannot wear the color red. I did not even dress my kids in red (long story for another day). They made a big fuss that they had hoped I had gotten over it and it was to be the first of many red items they planned to add to my wardrobe. I was livid inside but tried so hard to hide it. I think their intentions were good but it still made me upset. Thankfully my dh told them not to try to get me to change my ideas and that was the end of it, though I did notice for the longest time after that they wore red clothes in our presence. Almost like they were making a point silently. I asked their permission to donate the scarf so someone else could enjoy it and they were agreeable to that. The topic was never brought up again!

Head over to http://halfdozendaily.typepad.com/my-half-dozen-daily/2013/02/sunday-night-chit-chat-2.html to join in!

February 15, 2013

Tiny Glow Lamp.

Here's my contribution to
Mockingbird Hill Cottage's
"A Favorite Thing".

A tiny lamp that we found
at the charity shop. I think
we paid $1.00 for it. Bonus!
It lights the upper hallway,
sitting on an old radio, with
a lace doily & tiny
vintage pictures hanging
on the wall above.

I love the colors, the
tiny details & the
soft ambient light
that glows.
We have an unspoken rule
in our house. Whoever is upstairs
at the end of our busy day,
whoever happens to be there
as the sun begins to set,
turns this tiny lamp on.
It warms the hall &
our hearts as we climb the
stairs each night. It makes
our home feel even
more like a comfy
place to be.
Do you have
"A Favorite Thing"
this week to share? Hop
over to Claudia's to add
your link in:

February 14, 2013

Fertlizer Friday!

I'm joining in for
Fertilizer Friday at
Tootsie's blog.
My contribution?
This beautiful Campanula plant
from my dear husband for
Valentine's Day.
I am thrilled with this gift.
Like most women, I
love a bouquet of flowers
here & there. But plants
last longer & I love
to watch the changes as
they bloom & grow.
Thank you B for brightening
my day today! As a new
gardener, I'm thrilled
he is just as excited as I am
to create new garden spaces
in our yard.
Hop over to Tootsie's to see
what other gardeners are
posting. Here's the link:

February 13, 2013


 Our two grandbabies met each
other for the first time
on the weekend.
For big cousin B,
it was almost like visiting
Santa Claus at Christmas. 
The build up to that special
event was so exciting.
It is all he talked about
for days. But
when he was placed
on the lap of the
 jolly man, he screamed
until he was put back down.
He loves the pictures of
himself screaming, while
Santa is chuckling. And
chatters about this experience
still, two months later.
Visiting cousin L on Saturday
was much like this event,
minus the screaming!
L arrived, safe, sound & small
on Friday. And then it was
finally time.

B was coy at first,
keeping a safe distance
& clearly unsure of the
small mewing noises
she was making.

He would start to get closer.

Feel brave.

Then change his mind!

Eventually he sat on the bed.
It was safe, as mama held
her brand new niece.

Suddenly, the phone was more
fascinating. He would peek over
at her every few minutes but
truly, being the cool older
cousin was an image he needed
to project & protect!

Finally, it was time to leave.
He never did touch her or
get too close. But he said
good night & chatted about
her all the way home!
I am sure one day, they will
be the best of friends.
For now, he is keeping a safe
distance from the action
until he figures out his new
role & his new place in our
growing family!

February 10, 2013

Tiny Toes!

For this week's
"A Favorite Thing"
I chose the tiniest toes
I could find:

First "recorded" footprints!

Baby L goes home today.
Can't wait to visit once
everyone is settled!
Head over to Mockingbird Cottage
to see what everyone else has
submitted this week:

February 8, 2013

Sweet Baby!

 After an adventurous week,
(don't you love my
witty sarcasm?)
our sweet baby granddaughter
arrived today,
three weeks early
but safe and sound.
Six pounds of pure bliss.
Lots of dark hair.
And a tiny cry that I'm
sure will grow in time.

More pictures to follow
as we visit with
sweet baby L!

February 3, 2013

A Favorite Thing!

Linking over to Claudia's blog,
Mockingbird Cottage,
with "A Favorite Thing!"

I received this incredible
bouquet of flowers
for my "big" birthday
in November.

The one that starts with
a "5" and ends
with a "0."
It was a fun birthday,
made even nicer by the
arrival of this surprise.
They lasted almost 3 weeks
and filled our home with
spring scents, in
the dead of winter.
Gone now but the
pictures remind me of
how special I felt
and how loved that
my aunties and cousins
took time out of busy lives
to brighten my day!
What is your Favorite Thing
this week? Hop over to Claudia's
to see what everyone else
has captured to share!

February 1, 2013

A Walk In The Woods!

We had a photo shoot
last weekend.
The photographer took us for
a walk in the woods.

Warm day, bright sun,
crisp snow.
This week has been
bitterly cold.
But the weekend promises to
be uncharacteristically warm.
Like t-shirt warm.
Maybe even bikini warm!
We might just have to go back
for another walk in the woods
in such a beautiful setting.
Happy Friday!