Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday's This & That

  • I finished Gone With the Wind! All 959 pages of it. Although I love the book and would highly recommend it, I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I'm now reading Tina Fey's book, which I started last year, but never finished. 
  • It was so cold here last week that our dishwasher, which is on an outside wall, froze! Well, the pipes froze and no water would run through the dishwasher. Thanks to a space heater and warmer weather this weekend, the dishwasher is working again. Now we know to run the dishwasher more often when it's freezing outside so the pipes don't freeze up again.
  • I won the online diet bet! There were 10 winners in total (out of 29 people) and I walked away with $4.93. Not too bad for a $2 bet. My bets with Husband and my friend are still pending (we're weighing in tomorrow or Saturday).
  • I had a lovely and free facial on Tuesday at Zealous Medi Spa. The spa was offering a free relaxation facial if you subscribed to their mailing list. It was a nice experience, although based on the location (not too close to my house) and the atmosphere, I don't think I would go back unless there was a really good deal. It's a nice enough place, but definitely more of a salon than a spa and if I wanted an easy, cheap salon experience, I would go somewhere closer.
  • I'm trying to get my French speaking skills back - I've been reviewing French videos and books over my lunch hours at work and Husband is helping me out at home (he's fluent). My hope is to get the basics under control again and then start classes at level 2 or 3. Once upon a time, I was fairly fluent in French (after taking it all the way through high school and doing advanced placement in the later years). I'd like to get back there or at least close to it! When we went to Quebec in 2011, I was so dependent on Husband to speak for me it was kind of sad. 
  • The latest collective agreement at work was accepted, so no strike! I'm not sure if I mentioned it on the blog before, but we had rejected the first offer and if this offer wasn't rejected, a strike was imminent. While I'm all for trying to get the best deal, I have no interest in walking the picket line! I'm glad everything is settled for another few years. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

A wonderful day off

Husband and I had planned to book today off work and spend the day together. Unfortunately he wasn't able to get the day off because his co-worker already had the day booked off, but before I knew that, I had asked for the day off and I figured I'd still take it. And it was lovely! Although Husband has to work tonight, we went to Ikea this morning and bought new dinnerware. This was our planned spending item for February.

We got this set in purple and in white:

It's very simple, but the combo of the purple and white ooks really nice together. And honestly, just the fact that Husband and I could both agree on it was a big deal. We tried to find dinnerware we both liked when we were registering for the wedding, but could never settle on anything that we were both happy with and that was reasonably priced. And we've been on the hunt ever since to no avail. So in this way, simple actually worked out well for us. And the fact that Ikea finally opened up here!

Our budgeted amount was $100 and the sets were only $29.99 each, so we got our new dinnerware for $67!

Then, we grabbed Subway and went home where I watched How I Met Your Mother on DVD. Then I tidied up a bit, got my old iPod ready for my mom who's going to use it now that I got my new one. I went to the early hot yoga class - the one I can never get to because of work. And now I'm relaxing, watching more HIMYM. I'll wake Husband up soon and spend a bit of time with him before he has to go to work.

It was a nice, chill day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I'm not walking home today

and this is why... 

How to motivate your husband

I've been with Husband for 4.5 years (married for just over one year). I am in no way an expert on men or even my husband, but here's what I've learned about how to motivate your husband to do something....

You don't.


You can't.

Don't even try.

You cannot force someone to do something. You can't create motivation in someone else. I've tried nagging. I've made "honey dew" lists. I've screamed. I've cried. But when all the dust settles, nothing has really changed. Because you can't change your husband/boyfriend/partner. And that's the issue that I think many women face in marriage. The "I love my husband, but...." issue. There's always a but. But I wish he could pick up after himself more. But I wish he sent me flowers at work. But I wish he didn't smoke. But I wish he had different friends. But I wish he cleaned more. But I wish he worked less. If wishes were horses... well, you know the rest.

You can't change anyone but yourself. When you met your husband, there was obviously something that made you like and eventually fall in love with him. The key is to focus on that. Maybe he's a really great cook, but he hates cleaning. Don't try to force him to do half the cleaning chores, but instead ask him to cook the meals. Maybe he doesn't send you flowers all the time, but he does compliment you a lot. Focus on those things! Accept the person you married and remember that you married them for a reason. Don't try to change them.

Husband and I did premarital counseling before our wedding, which we loved! One of the big things that came out of those sessions was to accept the person you were marrying for good and bad. There are things that drive me nuts about Husband and while I am human and I do wish some things were different, I know that I can't change it. And trust me when I say I learned that the hard way sometimes.

That's not to say that I don't have my moments even now - I've had some epic temper tantrums in our year of marriage. One recent one started when Husband put peppers in lasagna (I hate peppers, but of course the peppers weren't the real issue). Sometimes I need to remind myself that I can't change him and there's no point in trying.

One other key point that we learned while doing our premarital counselling was that some things are more important to one person than they are to the other and that's what can cause issues. If something is important to me, I want Husband to do it, but he could care less, so he doesn't. And this is really what it all comes down to. Husband doesn't care if the vacuuming is done or if there are papers laying around on the dining room table, but I do. So why should I make him do something that will make me happy, when he could care less? Just like I don't care if the car is clean, so he knows not to ask me to take it to the car wash.

That's not to say that you can't have a certain amount of expectations, such as not leaving dirty clothes all over the place, but just be realistic. Remember who it is that you fell in love with and focus on his good points. Life is too short to be negative.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top 12 of 2012

Looking back on 2012, we had a roller coaster of a year. We had some really good times, but then we also had some tough times. But isn't that how it always goes? Focusing on all the positive things that happened last year, here is our top 12 of 2012 in no particular order:
  1. Cruised through Hawaii
  2. I completed my management certificate
  3. Visited the capital of Canada and saw Parliament
  4. Celebrated our first year of marriage!
  5. Delivered hampers for the Christmas Cheer Board
  6. Rode the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls
  7. Bought our first home!
  8. Visited family in Toronto
  9. Went horseback riding on the beach
  10. Volunteered together at a soup kitchen
  11. Swam in the Pacific Ocean
  12. Made a baby boy! (I struggled with putting this on the list, but Husband said the miracle of making a baby is something to celebrate, even if we lost him.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

What are you….

Gone With The Wind... still! I'm two-thirds of the way though and still enjoying it!

I'm going to watch Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 right away.

Listening to?
The sounds of football (Husband is watching it while I sit here).

Nothing - I've been working 13+ hour days at work off and on and when I do, we get catered meals, including tons of leftovers. So our freezer/fridge is filled with food.

Happy you accomplished this last week?
Not doing too badly on my diet this week despite not having much control over my meals thanks to all the dinners at work.

Looking forward to this week?
Tuesday evening after all my overtime is complete and I can get my week day evenings back!

Thankful for today?
A free microdermabrasion appointment! This was one of the free gift cards that Husband's stepmom gave to me in the fall and I finally used it this weekend.  My skin feels very soft and smooth! I have another one that I'm going to use in a few weeks too. (When I got the gift cards, I got two of each and most were only good for one use per person, but this company is letting me use both myself!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Life would be better if...

I saw this idea on Becoming Fabulous and thought I'd play along. I changed it slightly, from awesome to better, as life is already pretty awesome! :)

Life would be better if...

  • we didn't have the car payments anymore.
  • we had a maid.
  • our title insurance company covered the cost of the foundation repair.
  • my skinny jeans fit.
  • Husband would sign up for his disability benefits at work already!
  • food didn't disappear so quickly and have to be replenished so often.
  • my cell battery didn't die so fast.
  • there were more long weekends.
  • people called me back about freelance articles.
How would you life be more awesome?

Planned Spending

Ever since we bought our house, we've had a line in the budget for planned spending. For the first six months of being first-time home owners, we were just throwing this $100 on the Mastercard (which we use for everything) and never really put much thought into it as we bought whatever we needed for the house when it came up. Earlier this month, I finally sat Husband down and we figured out what we would do with this extra $100 each month for the next year. I figured this will help us get the house looking how we want, and also keep us accountable and not buying willy nilly whenever we so desire. It'll be a good lesson in patience for me!

January - new light for the bedroom. I have lamented a few times about how much our current light fixture sucks, so we bought a new one. My mom still hasn't come by to install it yet, but I've been too busy this week to set a date with her. But it's purchased and ready to shine!
February - new dinnerware. This is something we've been wanting for a couple years now. Our current set is chipped and cracked and several pieces have been broken. We'd like to be able to buy a whole new set so we can entertain and not be embarrassed! The difficult part here is that we can't agree on something we both like. Thankfully Ikea just opened up here, so I'm hoping we can find something there that makes us both happy.
March - faucet for the kitchen. Our house is old (built in 1914), but it was updated and actually has a great combination of old world and modern tastes. But the faucet is somewhere in between and just doesn't go with anything. I'd like to replace it with something more modern that fits the rest of the kitchen.
April - screen for kitchen window. One of our windows in the kitchen doesn't have a screen. We'd like to add it so that we can open the window in the summer, which will be great when we cook/bake. (With our two cats, we can't open it now for fear that they'll jump out.)
May - paint for master bedroom. We have already bought the paint for the rest of the upstairs with our Groupon deal, but we also want to paint the master bedroom.
June & July - birthday presents. Both mine and Husband's birthdays are in July, so this money will go towards our gifts to each other.
August - closet organizer. Our closet is fairly small and right now only fits my clothes (and not even all of them). I think with a good closet organizer, we can make better use of the space.
September - shelving unit for office. As mentioned in an earlier post, our current bookshelf in the office is a cheap 3-tier shelf from Walmart. I'd like to do an upgrade!
October - picture frames for dining room. We have a huge wall in our dining room that is begging for pictures! I want to print really cool, bright pictures of our favourite foods. I can easily print the pictures for cheap, but I'll need about a dozen pictures frames.
November - table for front hall. Definitely low on the priority list and I'm not even sure if we really want one, but by November, we'll have been in the house for well over a year and we'll have a better idea of whether or not this is wanted or needed.
December - Christmas items. In case we want to buy a few additional decor items or if we need some extra money for our Christmas spending.

Although we have decided it is flexible (i.e. if we find a great sale on something that isn't on the list until a later month, we'll buy it in lieu of the item that month), we'll stick to this as much as possible.

Does anyone else have a line in their budget for stuff like this? Do you plan ahead or just buy what you want that month?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday's This & That

  • I am on day two of three 13 hour work days. Luckily the third one is on Monday, so there's a weekend in there. I've thrown my overtime rule out the window and am getting paid out this time. The reason is that we need the extra money to pay for the foundation work on the house this summer. 
  • I spoke with our lawyer very briefly this week and he seems to be making slow, but steady progress with the insurance company. He's waiting to talk to the manager of claims at the corporate office. Hopefully we'll find out soon if they will pay for the repairs! But if they don't, at least we'll be prepared.
  • I ate my first green monster smoothie today, courtesy of a co-worker. I've been commenting on her green smoothies for a couple weeks now, so she brought me in one to try and it was actually quite tasty. It was made from spinach, cucumbers, banana, dates, flax seed and water. I may have to try making one myself at home.
  • I got another freelance piece yesterday! And it should be an easy one that pays well. I still haven't gotten anywhere with the other freelance project though. Why can't people call/email you back when you want to write something about them and their business? This is a good thing people! I've got 2/5 done though (all due in April), so I'm still ahead of the game.
  • I found this great financial website for Canadians - Get Smarter About Money. It has lots of basic information on investing, retirement planning and budgeting, plus some great calculators and a blog. Check it out!

Monday, January 14, 2013

January Goals - Update

January can be so depressing - no stat holidays, crappy weather and post-Christmas blues (including those post-Christmas bills!). but I'm trying to make the most of it by crossing a few things off my to do list! 

  • Stick to my diet. I have been rocking this! I will easily achieve my weight loss goal plus some! I'm actually surprised how easy it has been, as I'm still eating a lot, but just super healthy and upping my exercise a little bit.
  • Put $500 towards our foundation savings goal. $250 so far - another $250 on my next pay. 
  • Set up interview for my third freelance article. I still haven't gotten the guy to call/email me back. I will continue to harass him. 
  • Install new light in our master bedroom. Not yet. Husband is not good with electrical work, so I'm hoping to get my mom over to do this (and yes, I kind of find it funny that my mom can do this, but not Husband!).
  • Organize files and receipts. Done! I want to buy this and use it for files, our books, etc. Right now all we have is a cheap bookcase from Walmart that only holds our books and not very well at that! It's on our planned spending list, but not until the fall. 
  • Paint one room. Not done yet and it won't happen now for awhile. We chatted with our contractor on Friday and he said we should wait to do anything cosmetic inside the house until the foundation is done. :(  
  • Start walking home from work again. I have been doing really well at this. The only times I haven't walked home so far were when I had a work vehicle and when there was an incoming blizzard. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat

What are you….

Gone With The Wind... it's a great novel! I can see why it's such a classic.

Gilmore Girls reruns and the second season of American Horror Story.

Listening to?
Our furnace working overtime to keep the house warm - we had a wicked storm this weekend which brought a cold snap. Hopefully it's not too cold so I can walk home this week.

Nothing - I have a ton of bananas in our freezer, so I want to make banana chocolate chip loaf, but it doesn't really jive with my diet right now.

Happy you accomplished this last week?
Going to hot yoga and sticking to my diet!

Looking forward to this week?
The weekend - I have a long week coming up at work as we're doing focus group testing in the evenings and the 13 hour days are exhausting! The weekend can't come soon enough.

Thankful for today?
My friend's dad - he is in construction and he's going to do some repairs around our house for a minimal cost! I want to fix some of our cracked baseboards and add a screen to one of our windows (the only one without a screen.

Friday, January 11, 2013

13 Money Resolutions (from LearnVest)

How's everyone doing with their resolutions? Usually a couple weeks in to the year people start to revert back to their old habits. If you made a resolution/goal that was money-related, this article on 13 money resolutions for 2013 is a good reminder of how we can keep ourselves on the straight and narrow. Here are my favourites:
  • Get all of my big picture financial goals in action! 
  • Go a full year without buying new clothes unless a key piece wears out.
  • Not spend my usual $500 a month eating out at restaurants!
  • Always say “no, thank you” to things that are outside of my budget, even if it looks really fun or beautiful.
  • Make more lunches!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday's This & That

  • I had a lovely visit this week with a friend who is moving out-of-town. It seems that getting older means saying good-bye as many people leave their hometown for love or money. :(
  • The contractor who is repairing our foundation is coming by tomorrow to look at our baseboards and give us a quote (some of them are cracked or coming away from the wall). This is just something cosmetic that we may want to fix, but first I want to know the cost.
  • Based on my calculations, we will have almost enough for the foundation repair work by June 1st. I'm $1,000 short (need $10,000 total). I'm hoping that freelance can cover that extra cost, or our income tax rebate will be higher than expected. I'm still playing with our budget though, so we'll see! I'm bound and determined to not have to take on any debt for it.
  • I've walked home from work every day since the holidays. There are a few days coming up where I will have a work car to drive home, but otherwise I'm trying to stick to it!
  • I'm doing a great job of sticking to my diet and I've already seen a difference on the scale!
  • My mom is coming over tomorrow night to install our new light in the master bedroom. I love that my mom can do this, but Husband can't! 
  • Husband and I are going to go see Gangster Squad on Saturday evening. I just want to stare at Ryan Gosling for two hours! <3

Friday, January 4, 2013

The greasy wheel gets the oil

Normally I'm a very happy, optimistic person. But if it's one thing I do well, it's complain. I'm known for my afternoon b**** sessions at work as typically someone has annoyed me at some point that day. (I can't stand stupidity.) Like yesterday when I phoned in my car insurance payment - the customer service rep asked me for my driver's licence number and then when I proceeded to give it to him, he asked me to stop and wait until he was ready. And then when he asked for my credit card number, the same thing happened. Why ask me for this information if you're not ready to take it?!

Anyhoo, I digress... while complaining is often just a way for me to get something off my chest, I am known for getting free stuff because I complain. But I wouldn't call it complaining... maybe just.... telling companies how I feel about their products/service. And often times I get free stuff out of it, which is always a nice bonus!

Most recently I complained to Red Lobster about crappy service we had while dining there for my mom's birthday. The waitress was great and the food was good, but everything took sooooo long. We opted to eat early to avoid the crowds and get in and out faster, but that didn't work out as planned. Our last guest to arrive sat down at the table around 5:30 p.m. and by that point everyone had their drinks, including her, as we ordered ahead for her. But it took 2.5 hours for us to order our food, get our meals and dessert and pay the bill - we weren't back in our car until 8 pm. And we didn't even have appetizers!

So I emailed the company and just said I found this to be a bit bothersome and while the waitress was great (I wasn't about to throw her under the bus as she was very sweet and friendly), something was obviously up that night. I got an email back saying thanks for the comments and they were being passed on to the general manager of that store. And, "as a gesture of goodwill and our desire to continue serving you", the company is sending me a gift card. I'm not sure how much it is, but even if it's $10, it's better than just complaining to Husband and getting nothing.

I'm not a chronic complainer and I don't do it just to get stuff. I only email stores/restaurants if something really has bothered me. But the five minutes it can take are often beneficial to me as well. Often times I find that the way a company responds to a complaint says more than anything else.

One time Husband and I went out for dinner to Tavern United and no one came by to take our order for 25 minutes. Not even a drink order. So we left and I emailed the restaurant's manager. She sent the typical response - apologized, said she would look into it and was sending me a gift card. But the gift card never came. So we will never go back there. Not only did the initial experience suck, but the manager didn't follow through on her promise. If she had just apologized and said nothing, I would have felt better. But to say you're going to do something and not do it - that's bad customer service on top of already bad service.

Another time I went to the Riverstone Spa for a pedicure. It was a really nice spa - one of the most expensive ones in the city, but when I got home, the polish was coming off already. My mom, who was an esthetician (prior to retirement) said based on how it came off and what it looked like, she figured the salon had used old/expired nail polish. So I emailed the spa and didn't hear back. At all. I emailed again and still nothing. Not even a simple apology. And now I will never go back there.

Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"? I know there are many people in this world who abuse the system, but companies are far from perfect and they should welcome constructive criticism to improve their business practices.

Have you ever complained and gotten free stuff?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday's This & That

  • I had a lovely 8 days off work. It was great to just relax, sleep in and not have a schedule. By the end of my time off though, I was driving Husband insane! I kept asking him "what can I do that's productive?" because I was tired of doing nothing. 
  • It's a short work week - only three days! 
  • Husband and I are trying to decide what to do for our next vacation. The choices are: the Maritimes, a road trip to Chicago and Pittsburgh (I have an odd fascination with Pittsburgh, but I've never actually been) or a Caribbean holiday next winter. The last one is on the top of my list, but I'm not sure if I can wait a whole year for a vacation. Any thoughts?
  • I don't use my camera enough! While looking through other blogs I always feel bad for not posting personal images. I think if my cell had a better camera I would post more images, but I'm not about to buy a new phone just for the camera. I should try to bring out my actual camera more often. 
  • I have a massage tomorrow night!
  • We ordered a new light fixture for our master bedroom! The one we have currently is a very dim chandelier that hangs very low and at the foot of our bed. We are constantly gripping about it (not having enough light, bumping into it, losing pieces of it because of bumping into it), so we got a new one that matches our bedside lamps perfectly:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Diet Bets

Over the past 6 month or so, I put on some extra weight. Without going into too much detail, I was pregnant and lost the baby at 16 weeks (in late October), so that meant I gained a bulk of the baby weight and then didn't have the baby! :(  It's been a painful process, but emotionally Husband and I are on the mend. Now with the holidays wrapped up, I'm on a mission to lose the baby weight.

I am very competitive by nature. So when Erika from Newlyweds On a Budget mentioned a blogger's DietBet, I thought this would be a great way to help motivate me and kick my butt into gear. And I might even win some money along the way!

But why do one competition when you can do three?!

I was chatting with a girlfriend about the DietBet and her and I decided to do our own personal bet - whoever loses the most weight (percentage-wise) wins and the loser has to buy her a pedicure.

But this friend lives out-of-town and the DietBet is online, so I figured why not do a competition closer to home? So, I got Husband involved in a competition as well! The loser has to be slave for the day (or a weekend, still in negotiations on that part).

I have done my weigh-in and my friend and Husband did theirs as well. The DietBet goes until January 28th (4 weeks), but the best with my girlfriend and Husband will go until the end of the month with final weigh-ins on February 1st.

I'm currently at 137.4 lbs. and I'd love to lose 7.4 lbs. this month, but even if I lose 5 I'll be happy! I'm hoping to get to my goal weight (117 lbs. - my wedding weight in October 2011) by May 1st.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pantry Challenge


Husband and I are doing a pantry challenge for the month of January.

A pantry challenge, for those of you who have never heard of this, is when you only buy fresh food and you try to use up items in your pantry and freezer. Most people set their challenges to last for one month, but others try to go as long as their pantry can stand it. It's a great way to make do with what you have and reduce waste. Plus saving money is a huge bonus!

Last year we did a pantry challenge and we were able to go a few months without buying much canned/boxed food (we did buy a few things, like canned tomatoes and tuna to get us through, but we went a longer period of time).

Our reasons for doing a pantry challenge are three-fold:
  1. It saves us money (after all the holiday spending, it's always nice to save a few bucks).
  2. It helps to clear out our cupboards and freezer.
  3. It gets us eating more fresh versus packaged food.
So as of now, we're not allowed to buy anything that isn't fresh for at least a month. Only exception is a couple cans of chickpeas, because the last time we were at the store, they were sold out and Husband has a favourite dish which calls for them. Otherwise, we're only buying fresh food, like fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk products and meat.

Has anyone else done a pantry challenge? Anyone want to join me for the challenge?