Monday, February 29, 2016

Just another Money Monday

Don't you just love the end of a month?  I put my nice clean (for now) budget page for March on my clipboard, forever consigning February 2016 to my filing cabinet. I know March isn't until tomorrow but I actually closed February last Friday. I had $60 in my wallet plus $150 in my snowflake box just in case of emergency. And I still had $120 in my chequing account.

So I did what any sane person would do - I went shopping!! No, I didn't go wild. I bought some super bulky yarn at Michael's for my next project - an infinity scarf for Kazi. And I bought a cute little book with a nice variety of crochet projects including a SUPER darling pair of baby shoes :) Well, I can dream can't I? I wonder if they have a kitty-cat version??

Now THERE'S and idea....nope, just couldn't do it!

I used money from my wallet for the yarn and book which came to about $22. Then I danced a jig over to the Currency Exchange store at Masonville Mall and purchased 100 euros!! Woo hoo!! When all was said and done I withdrew the $120 left over in my chequing account and put it into my snowflake box towards my next purchase of euros! I should be able to buy another 100 euros by the end of this week or next! As long as Murphy doesn't rear his ugly head! Thankfully the euro is dropping too which makes it a bit cheaper than a few weeks ago.

My February budget goals were met: a Christmas present for my great-nephew was purchased and I donated $25 to United Way. What really helped me out in February was the weather and the price of gas. We had a bad storm that kept me home for a few days - with another one due tomorrow!! And with the price of gas being at its lowest in years I only spent $68 for gas for Dougie the Dodge. Unheard of!

The big grocery shop in the middle of the month ($102) is still feeding us! And my heating bill was at its lowest in years as well (for a January!) I'm curious to see what my heating bill will be for February - yes, it's a shorter month but I tried something a little different. I set the thermostat at 19c and didn't touch it once! If I got chilly I put on a sweater or put a quilt over my lap. When we watch TV we have an electric fire to keep us toasty. So, happily, I ended up with surpluses in both the gas and grocery budget lines :) Yippee!!

Savings increased by about $550 which was then used to pay for some Ireland-related expenses. Easy come, easy go! Still awaiting my whopping tax refund of just over $200 plus I have some good RSP interest due this month. That will all go towards the trip. So that was February! I think March is going to come in like a lion according to the latest forecast. That's ok, let's get it over with - only 3 weeks til SPRING!! 

Once again my snowdrops are blooming but if tomorrow's forecast is accurate they'll be covered up for the second time. (Just checked - we're in for anywhere between 15 and 30cms)  Crap.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My First Scarf!

Yes, I took a lot of photos of my newly crocheted scarf!! It took a couple of weeks of evening TV watching to complete it. I used 2 skeins of acrylic yarn that was on sale in the clearance bin for $1.49 each!'s a $3.00 scarf!

 I didn't follow a pattern. I just used a double crochet stitch from start to finish. I don't know how many stitches per row as I just did a row of chain stitch until I thought it was wide enough :) I'm
such a rebel!

I know there are sections where my tension varied a bit...but who's gonna know??

 My scarf is kitty approved!

 It's nice and long for only 2 skeins of yarn! coat seems to have grown a tail!

It's long enough to double it and pull the ends through :)  Do you see kitty legs?

Wherever gramma goes....

...a closeup - it has about 4 different colours in it....oops, I see a spot where I need to trim. One of the skeins had a few knots in it :(

Peek a boo!

I see you!  Whatcha doin' gramma??

It goes around my neck several times. I've been wearing it proudly!!

Such a poser you are Luna! With her favourite toy - a piece of ribbon :)

And that's that! Next up is an infinity scarf using a super bulky yarn. I've found a youtube video that I'm going to follow...unless my inner rebel takes over! I bought 3 skeins of a black/grey blend which is all the way down in the TV room or otherwise I'd take a photo of it! Well, it is Sunday ya know - I'll take photos later :) It's supposed to get up to a whopping 12c today so I'll be rambling through Kilally meadows again.

Here's a few photos from my last hike through (last Tuesday I believe...)
If I get tired  I can have a little sit down.

Some trees have been trimmed and an enterprising soul built a little lean to.  It looks kind of cosy in there!  From the front (can you see my little head?)

From the side...

 I think the bridge is going to need some repair this year. I posted a pic of this bridge a couple weeks ago and the water was almost at the top of the bridge! I'm glad the flooding is receding but it is leaving a mess in its wake.

Loch Nessie?

Normally this area isn't under water but we've had a lot of rain this winter.

What's your Sunday game plan??

Friday, February 26, 2016

Foto Friday

A year ago today... Kazi was suffering with a broken heart. She would be upset to know I'm sharing this photo with you (don't tell her!) but I wanted to show how sweet Luna and Lily are. They both snuggled up to her that night, sensing her distress and giving her lots of love :) 

 They still like to give each other baths too, usually it's Luna who gives Lily a good cleaning.

 Luna seems to be the more "mature" one of the two though will have one or two "spaz" attacks every day where she chases her tail and practically runs up the walls for a few minutes.

Also a year excellent concert by Canadian Bryan Adams!

I'm not sure which song it was but in lieu of holding lighters aloft everyone help their phones up instead.

He sure can belt out the tunes - he had some great hits over the years and still looks very handsome! We got tickets late and were up in the nosebleed section so I couldn't get good photos.

 Here ya're welcome!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thank you for your supportive comments on my last post. Needless to say my confidence was severely shaken by events that happened a couple of years ago but I am on the upswing and have great hopes for the future!

Part of becoming stronger obviously must take into account my physical shape...or lack thereof! It seems that I take in way more calories than I burn! My mother referred to her tummy as "middle-aged spread" which is scarily accurate as I watch my middle spread to my thighs and butt! I have good intentions to eat right and get lots of exercise but my good intentions are often thwarted by the fact I have so many retail stores near me that offer great deals on JUNK food! No Frills, Giant Tiger, WalMart and not just one but TWO Dollaramas!
I'm (sort of) glad I don't know where to buy
chocolate-covered black licorice!!
My greatest indulgence, as some of you know, is licorice and chocolate. Sometimes I buy dark chocolate instead of milk thinking I am making a healthier choice. HAH! More fool me!

So...anyways I try to balance things out by juicing at least once a day, eating oatmeal for breakfast and having dinners that are mostly based on vegetables. Add to that -daily exercise- which will increase with better weather and I still have a lopsided pear-shaped body but it's strong!!

My exercise regime includes walking/hiking on Mon. Tues. and Wed., yoga on Thurs. and volleyball on Fridays. Yesterday it rained ALL day so instead of getting outside walking I rode my stationary bike instead. I hope to gradually increase the length of my walks/hikes so that when Annie's and my trip rolls around in late August I'll be strong and fit (well, fit for me!) Usually I don't do much in the way of exercise on the weekend but I may try to get on my bike for an hour each day.

It's the age old problem, no?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blue Rodeo and The Wine Bar

Yesterday I was too tired to blog. I take about one nap per year and yesterday was my nap for 2016. Sunday night was such a great night out - prior to going to the "Blue Rodeo" concert I treated myself to a $15 glass of wine at The Wine Bar, a funky, comfortable space where I received excellent service in addition to cozy ambiance.
I sat on a lovely leather couch with a fireplace to my right filled with candles. The wine was called Butterfield Station - an excellent CabSav 2014 blend. Smoooooooth!!

This was the first time that I attended a concert by myself. 
It was a bit of an experiment for me to see if I could have a great time on my own - a single, almost sixty-year old woman. Would I encounter any discrimination? Would I feel invisible? Would I feel comfortable? I'm of the mind that I should be able to go anywhere and feel comfortable, but in reality that doesn't always happen. You wouldn't believe  (or maybe you would) the number of women who say to me "oh, I could never do that, not by myself!"
I have experienced ageism and gender discrimination over the past couple of years. It's enough to make a person just stay home! However, that is not satisfactory to me so I've decided to push the boundaries somewhat.

The young female bartender was very welcoming I am happy to report. She came over and lit all the candles, was super-friendly and I really enjoyed the lounge-y feel of the small seating area with leather sofa and coffee table. I took out my iPad and made some detailed notes of the positive experience.

So here's the gist of my quest - there are a lot of social expectations in existence, rightly or wrongly. I want to challenge those expectations in my own little way. Why can't an (almost senior) single woman go out and have a great time on her own without thinking that a) people feel sorry for her; b) she's weird; c) she's a loser and d) she has no friends.

Here's how I feel about that:
a) Don't feel sorry for me or any other 60 year old woman going to events on her own. I sure don't feel sorry for myself. I had great anticipation for the concert and went an hour early so I could enjoy a really good glass of wine first. HOWEVER, I did think about what I would say if anyone (friend or family member) asked me who did I go with? Would I tell the truth (me, myself and I) or would I make up a mystery friend? I plan to tell the truth!! Because I happen to think it's just fine to go places on my own. (And I have experienced those pity-filled looks from people when I say I went somewhere alone because that's just NOT how things are done!!)
b) What's wrong with weird? But truly, I don't think it's weird to attend an event alone if I want to. I had been out with people 6 nights in a row previously to the concert and was more than ready to do something on my own.
c) Am I a loser? I know that over the last couple of years I've felt like one after losing my relationship, my home in PEI and having to recreate/remodel my "future" after retiring. I went through a depression and experienced a lot of anxiety but I'M BACK BABY, I'M BACK, better than ever. Every day my enjoyment of my life increases. In the last few months I've joined an activist group, a book club and a volleyball club. I walk/hike, go to yoga and group meditation. I've gone to all but 1 of the oscar-nominated movies, had dinner and too much wine with friends on several occasions, been out for breakfasts and lunches, renewed two friendships, spent time with family, been out for coffee(s), been to workshops and sit-ins, donated to charities and have purchased gifts for Christmas 2016, learned how to crochet, completed several carvings AND I'm going to Ireland!!

So, I feel less like a loser every day. I should have never felt like a loser in the first place but society has certain unwritten rules: you must be married or in a committed relationship in order to be happy, you must be outgoing and busy every minute of every day, you must accomplish things, women must be super-moms and employees, we must spend beyond our means so as not to look (or feel) deprived. I could go on and on.
d) Have I NO friends? I do have friends, sometimes it feels like I have too many friends after I've been out 7 days straight and I need time to unwind and recharge.

I have a plan to return to this topic frequently over the next year or so. I'm going to rate my various solo experiences that are outside of my comfort zone and that challenge society's mores. Sunday's experiences were wonderful! I'm off to a great start!
Greg Keelor

Jim Cuddy

I want this guy's job!

Jim - still yummy after all these years!

Mike Boguski - so immensely talented!
One bonus of going alone - I had an empty chair on my left and right - lots of room for dancing!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Vibes: Blue Rodeo - "Hasn't Hit Me Yet"

It seems like I just posted yesterday, but alas, no. Time has been slipping and sliding away as I go to yoga, meditation, volleyball, dinner out & laughs with friends, activism, and tonight I get to see my favourite Canadian band "Blue Rodeo"!!! Then I plan to spend a few nights at HOME!

February has been a great month and amazingly I haven't run out of money yet. I don't know why but I feel like February is over and I have to keep reminding myself that there is still a week to go before my pension shows up again. So the shortest month is feeling like the longest month. Weird.

Last night Julie, Troy and myself went to Ben Thanh's for a scrumptious dinner and I have leftover pad thai in the fridge for dinner :)  I tried to eat healthily by having fresh spring rolls instead of the deep-fried kind but there's no way my pad thai could be considered a healthy choice! Or the multiple glasses of wine once we got home.

Winter is hard on my waistline - I found that some of my jeans were a lot little snug last night when I was trying to figure out what to wear. I usually wear black or navy tights which fortunately AND UNfortunately can expand to accommodate the ebb and flow of my muffin top. Jeans are not so forgiving.

I need to get more active and spend less time eating! That's hard at this time of year, at least for me. Being inside so much has me checking the pantry for goodies :(  I need SPRING!! I'm pretty faithful to going to yoga and volleyball but I need to walk/hike more. It's just so much easier to pick up a book and a big bowl of popcorn than it is to get all bundled up and head out into a stiff cold breeze!

Speaking of a cold breeze.... on Friday we got some inside info that the premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynn, was going to be in London so some of the members of the Council of Canadians took the "Ontario Hydro is Not for Sale" message right to her door.

We waited in the cold about 2.5 hours before she came outside en route to her black SUV with its blacked out windows and security detail. She saw us, had to hear us as we were so loud, but we were not acknowledged. However, we were acknowledged by the various news teams that were invited to hear her announcement (inside).
Fighting for democracy in the cold!

Waiting to be seen and heard by Ontario's Premier.
We're not giving up!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Work in Progress Wednesday

Yes, it is indeed time for a workshop update. Over the past few weeks I haven't been in the workshop nearly as much as I'd like to so this Wednesday Workshop update post (WIP - work in progress) will hopefully spur me on to become more productive.

I just find that time gets away from me and before I know it it's time to make dinner. This is another busy week, though all of my activities are in the evening. Which is good because then at least I have my mornings and afternoons to be productive.

Last night I went to my book club and I got a FREE book! The leader of the book club is a librarian and gets advance copies of books before they are published - yippeeeeee! I chose a book about England's "flower sellers" at the turn of the 20th century - it looks really good :)!! Tonight I am learning about proportional representation at our monthly Council of Canadians meeting. (sounds a little dry but there are SNACKS!) Tomorrow night is yoga and group meditation, Friday is volleyball, Saturday I'm hopefully getting together with 2 friends for dinner and a movie and Sunday night I'm going to the "Blue Rodeo" concert.

None of that explains why I'm not getting into the workshop more often. Last week I did spend 3 afternoons in the workshop as the weather was horrendous. Which reminds me that the week before last the weather was up above 10c (setting record highs around here) and so I was outside hiking a lot. OK, that explains things somewhat.

There are just so many choices of things to do around here - recently I've been doing the weekly Los Angeles crossword puzzle which can really take up a LOT of time. And I'm reading a huge trilogy blah blah blah...OK, enough excuses - here's what I've been working on...
...oh, but first a photo of a junco on my fence! Isn't it sweet?

Ok, getting back on track again...I completed the soapstone carving below - it was a thin scrap of soapstone so the back of it is flat. I was trying to figure out how to display it - it could just sit flat on a table or shelf but then I had the idea of putting it into a shadow box... that's what I did! Though I have to say it's extremely hard to get a decent photo once it's in the box! You'll just have to take my word for it that it looks freaking AWESOME!! (hee hee!)

The piece below was also a thin slab of soapstone - I used the stone to the best advantage that I could
the front...
...the back...

...and the cross can see how thin it is - if it juts out on one side it indents on the other!

This is my current piece and I am not happy with its shape at all so will get back to it after I eat some lunch.

Does it look phallic to you because it does to me!!!

Back to the workshop I go!! Unless anyone is interested in a phallic shaped piece of soapstone?!?

Are you getting creative these cold winter days?