Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fresh New Budget!

This was a month of spending......for my trip to Scotland! Everything is paid for by my Travel Savings Account. Otherwise everything else is about the same.

The Good:

  • overestimated utilities by $30.00 - the weather has been much warmer than usual for this time of year!
  • I underspent for gasoline and food! I went to the grocery store only 4 times over the month spending $197 of my $280 budget. Kazi ate out a lot with friends - that's the only reason I can come up with why my food spending was so low. Not complaining :) Also had $20 left in the gas account. I've been walking a LOT! as it's been so mild.
  • Interest from investments comes due in Feb. and March which replaces a lot of what I spent on travel. 
  • went to the 27th annual Firehall reunion! I used to go to the Firehall before they started having reunions ( a loooong time ago!!) - my initiation into the blues! It was an awesome night made even awesomer by the fact that Kazi tended bar that night so my friend and I got in free ("we're on the list") and got free beer - love you Kazi!
  • Transferred $1,000 to savings - my usual monthly amount. 
  • Have enough misc fund money left to purchase more British Pounds Sterling :) 
The Bad:
  • my original iPad has been gradually falling apart and not functioning well. I used it mainly for reading: both downloading books from the library and purchasing books via my Amazon Kindle app. To me this is a NEED not a WANT (or maybe it's both!) so I forked over $372 for a new basic mini-iPad. Used savings to cover the cost. I love the smaller size for reading in bed. I can't tell you how many times I have fallen asleep while holding my big old iPad and the pain when it hit the bridge of my nose was awful! The mini doesn't hurt nearly so much 😂 !!
  • Ummmmm, need to rein in the Amazon spending spree! And iTunes! It's just way too easy to purchase music and books etc especially now that I have free delivery on many items from Amazon. I purchased several guide books for upcoming travel, a few other books which support my future plans, and a COMPASS! I just need to learn how to use it! 
  • Had to pay, yes PAY for a haircut for the first time in 15 years. It was less than $20 but still...
  • Renewed my Ancestry.ca membership ($299) paid by savings
Misc Spending:
  • In addition to the above I had a nice dinner out
  •  went to see "Lion" - the movie about a lost boy in India who gets adopted by a couple from Australia and how he finds his home village using Google Earth. Excellent movie - needed multiple kleenexes however! 
  • Paid for Turbo Tax and completed my taxes - yippee! 
  • two trips to LCBO (one was for a birthday party of a friend - honest!!)
  • have developed an addiction to pistachios!! $10.00 a bag!! Oh well, could be worse...right?
  • okay - here's a good one. Apparently I bought a top and can't even remember what it looks like! I guess I didn't really need it, did I?
So a very spendy (in a good way)(mostly) kind of month! 

Bring on March!! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

What Day is it?

I've gotten to the point in my retirement when I wake up in the morning with no clue as to what day of the week it is! Once I'm dressed (in exercise gear) I head down to get the newspaper out of my mailbox challenging myself to figure out what day it is before I peak at the newspaper. It is a really strange feeling and even once I confirm that today is Monday it still doesn't feel any different than yesterday, which of course was Sunday.
My former desk in my former classroom!
I remember when I was working starting to feel depressed on Sunday nights as it was "back to work" the next day. Then once Wednesday was over it was all downhill from there. And the piece de resistance - FRIDAY - was just the most fantastic day ever! Now nothing much changes from day to day. I have pretty much the same routine no matter what day it is - read paper, drink coffee, eat breakfast, read blog posts, journal, ride stationary bike and read, housework, lunch, go for 5km walk (or 10km if it is nice enough to go to the forest), do errands, work outside/inside on various projects, put supper on, read, eat, watch TV and work on laptop (genealogical research, trip planning), go to bed and read or listen to an audiobook whilst sipping my wee dram.

It's a good life.

I've come to the conclusion that I am an adventuress. Sam over at Sam, Money, Coffee and Thyme mentioned me and my travel adventures in her post today and is looking forward to my trip to Scotland later this year. It makes me happy to think others take pleasure in my trips and I hope that when you get as old as I am that you'll go to all of those places you've dreamed about. When I was a young student my favourite lessons were about the Explorers - Sir Francis Drake, Vasco da Gama, Diaz, Amundsen and all the polar explorers etc. and one of the things I wonder about as I trudge along a lengthy trail is who has walked this path before me.  A Roman army? An Explorer? A Benedictine monk? An ancestor?
Sir Francis Drake
I happened across a book - not sure where I got it from - called "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce about a man who walks from Kingsbridge on the southern coast of England all the way to Berwick-upon-Tweed on the northern border with Scotland. It is a fabulous book, especially for a long distance walker like me. It is funny, inspiring and will make you cry. A true delight of a book.

This post does have a point but I need to work on my ideas a bit more. Needless to say "I got plans baby"!! Lots of travel guides being delivered this week. Ancestors are also involved as I renewed my ancestry.ca membership. My feet, new and familiar places, epic journeys - all tied together in a theme. It is all percolating inside of me...and it's going to be amazing!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Foto Friday

A year ago I was much more productive than I am currently. However, having to "rest" my eye and then wear a splint on two fingers of my right (dominant) hand has forced me to be more creative in choosing projects to work on. 

Here's Lily modelling a crocheted scarf I made a year ago. She doesn't look too happy!

It matches my favourite Mountain Equipment Company "Monsoon" coat that I wear year round.

Kilally Meadows looks about the same as it does now - just waiting for more sunshine before bursting into green leaves and grass.

Deer were on the move at this time last year; and on my many recent visits I've seen a lot of prints but not the real deal.  Soon, I hope.

My snowdrops were in bloom one year ago and are now as well. After the wild thunderstorm we had last night they're probably up another inch or two!

One year ago I fixed a friend's soapstone amulet.

And I shipped off this soapstone sculpture to a friend in the States.

Under the base was a secret spiral!

Sadly, at the moment, I am not crocheting or carving or playing volleyball - so what am I up to?

Well... I have combined mega reading with riding my stationary bike, I hike almost every day, I have this blog, of course, I have rejoined ancestry.ca to further explore my dad's origins, I planned my trip to Scotland, have upped my involvement with the Council of Canadians by attending more frequent protests, have spent a LOT of money on books (thank God I can read!!) from Amazon and also at my local Goodwill Bookstore (bought 9 books there yesterday for $27.00 - a bargoon!) and discovered a great series called "Justice" on Amazon Prime. I did my taxes and use Word to keep up with my journal.

I guess I'm still as productive as I ever was...

So much to do...so little time :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


My brain tells me it can't really be spring yet but my feet aren't listening! I've been out on hikes everyday for going on two weeks now and while it's been muddy and slippery and icy in parts I've danced down the trails feeling light as a feather - cha cha cha!


I realize there is a very good chance that Mother Nature will wreak more wintery havoc on us as spring is still a month away but I'm sure we'll get the last laugh eventually :) Meanwhile I'm throwing caution to the wind and wending my way through thickets and leafless groves of trees to see what I can see!

River Sculpture

Soon this glade will be green and leafy!

I missed you blue sky!

I'm quacking up!

Haven't seen and land animals yet though I have come across a few fresh deer prints - last year the first animal I saw was a skunk and that was March 26, so I have a bit of a wait still. However, if this warm trend continues....

My apologies for not posting over the past week - the decrease in posts is directly related to the increase in temperature!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Riding the Jacobite train (the Harry Potter train shown in my previous post) is an eighty-odd mile round trip to the village of Mallaig and back, beginning in Fort William,  complete with high tea and artisanal cheese board! I have booked a first class table for two for Annie and me - it'll be grand!!

We will pass through several quaint little villages and if it's a clear day we'll see some of the "Small Isles"  of the Scottish Inner Hebrides such as: Muck, Eigg, Skye and my personal favourite - RUM!

The cost for this sweet little diversion came to $255.41 for the two of us. Yes, it's a bit of a splurge but frugality during the year = splurging on trips!

Other costs that have been paid for so far...

  • $775 round trip Toronto- Glasgow. Took me awhile to find direct flights as I abhor stopovers. It's worth it to me to pay a bit more for direct flights but $755 is still quite reasonable.
  • $96.12 flight insurance - necessary.
  • $125.92 - deposit on my hiking trip which covers accommodations and daily baggage transfer, maps etc for my 10 day hike. The final payment due in July.
  • $513 sent to Annie for my share of accommodations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oban and I need to pay her for Fort William.
  • $49 for a boat tour to the Isle of Staffa
  • $285 for 3 nights on the Isle of Mull
  • $107 for two nights in Glasgow before heading home
  • $421 for 250 pounds sterling
For a total of $2947.....so far. I have a few trains to book, more pounds to purchase and the rest of my hike to pay for. My trips usually come to about $5,000; this one might be a bit more but I'm staying almost a month. The biggest cost by far is accommodations. One of these days I'm going to seriously consider backpacking/hosteling. Yeah, at my age. It's not that I can't afford my trips it's just I would like to stay longer or take 2 trips per year instead of one. Spread my $$ a little further. 👍

Monday, February 13, 2017

Never Give Up

Saturday was a very mild day so I headed to Kilally Meadows. I might have been rushing the season just a little. While it was warm enough for a spring jacket and no gloves it wasn't warm enough or sunny enough to melt all the way through the ice on the trails.

The forest was chock full of robins, cardinals, crows, chickadees and a busy woodpecker - it was a very noisy and busy place! 

It's a good thing I brought along my trusty walking stick.

It was a little a LOT sloppy  and although I safely reached the bridge I heard loud cracking as I gingerly tiptoed across the ice.

The sun wanted to peak through the cloud layer but just wasn't strong enough yet.

The highlight of the day was stalking a gorgeous red-tailed hawk - a sure sign of spring!!
 Zooming in...

Our Christmas cactus continues to bloom. It bloomed just in time. I actually had it in my hand to throw out because some bad kitty had chewed the end off each stem and leaf as you can see and I figured it wouldn't ever bloom. Just goes to show you - NEVER give up on a plant!

Here's the culprit but how can I get mad at this sleeping cutie all curled up in a ray of sunshine? 
Doesn't she look innocent?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Foto Friday

 A year ago today was the day of the BIG snow. A week before this my snowdrops were up a few inches as well as a few other perennials.  I was hiking in short sleeves.

This was the only significant snowfall of the entire winter.

I was really happy to be retired!

I could watch the snow piling up from the safety and warmth of my home :)

Dougie - you can stay right where you are!

Too bad sucker.....!

This year we sent our snow to B.C.!! You're welcome!

I took the photo below looking out across the street from my bedroom window and posted it on facebook last year asking if people could guess which of my favourite books was represented by this photo.

Can you guess the book?

Meanwhile the snow got deeper and deeper...
 Lily decided to ignore the weather from the comfort of her box!  Smart kitty!

I kept shovelling an area on my patio and tossing out birdseed for the juncos and chickadees and the doves...

This year we have next to no snow and what little there is should melt in the +7c temperatures forecast for tomorrow. We've had oodles of rain and very little snow. My maple tree has buds on it. Not good!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Blahs

So this is what I'm working with these days - I saw an Occupational Therapist last week who said if I didn't stop playing volleyball and put my fingers in a splint for at least 6 weeks I would have permanent damage. Being right-handed I had to take her seriously. Php$pb#bbt%t! I can only remove the splint to take a shower and even then I'm not to use my hand. 

Just think about all of the things you do with your dominant hand and/or use two hands for. Basically everything.  Just try pulling up your pants with one hand...or brushing your teeth...turning the key in the ignition...doing dishes...using the bathroom...turning doorknobs...the list is endless. 

To make a pot of chilli I had to get Kazi to open the cans of beans and tomatoes etc. I've had two other cans sitting on the counter awaiting her two good hands but I haven't seen her for two days...so they wait...I'll get even with her later as it's recycling day! 

Technically I shouldn't be typing either...I'm using my left hand plus my index finger of my right hand. Typos like crazy!!

Last week we had a bit of sunshine and snow so I went out and took a long walk and a few photos (with my left hand!) It was glorious to be outside.

Unfortunately neither the sun or snow lasted long and now it's raining like all get out with the promise of freezing rain just to mix things up a little.


 I have a bag I keep stale bread in - I made the duckys' day :)

 I love patterns in nature - here the warp and weft and the water and the icicles made for a pleasing photo.

 I'm pleased I didn't drop my camera in the water - I'm not very dexterous with my left hand.

Finally...My darling Lilypad knows something is up - I've covered the dining room table in maps and passport renewal form and notebooks and calendars!  More on that another day. It's time to hit the exercise bike - don't need hands for that!