Monday, April 29, 2013

Five items a month

I think people today get too much happiness from stuff. We live in a society that loves shopping, hoarding and one-upping each other. And I am definitely not immune to this. I love shopping as much as the next girl. I love clothes, the latest trends and new gadgets. But as I sit in my house filled with knick-knacks, t-shirts and DVDs, I know that these aren't the things that make me happy. What makes me truly happy are my relationships (with Husband, family, friends and co-workers), my fur babies, my cozy home in general and the feeling it gives me, memories and experiences.

So to honour the things that truly make me happy, I decided to purge some stuff each month for six months. I want to give away/donate, sell or throw out at least five items each month. I actually started this a couple months ago, but with most things in my life, I start doing them and then blog about them way too late!

Items I've already purged:
March - I sold a bunch of DVDs that were just collecting dust in our tv stand. I actually made about $50 too!
April - I went through my closet and got rid of a pile of fall/winter clothes. I also cleaned out our ottomans and got rid of a pile of "Learn French" materials that I've never used (I prefer to take classes), as well as a picture frame that I was able to sell for $20.
May - TBD! I will have to go through my summer clothes, but I may wait until mid-way through the summer once I know what fits and what I'm actually wearing on a regular basis.

Right now it's quite easy to come up with those five items and I've been exceeding that number easily. But I know that as I get closer to the end of the six months it will be hard to give up those five items, but hopefully it will make me appreciate those other non-materialistic things a little bit more.

Anyone want to join me?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

When I do these posts I normally just play by myself, but I figured I'd link up with My 1/2 Dozen Daily tonight.
  • Reading? I finished Black Beauty this weekend. It wasn't what I expected, but still a very good book. I'm still working on Skipping a Beat. 
  • Listening to? A Quantum Leap episode.
  • Watching? See above!
  • Cooking/Baking? Not a whole lot. Trying to be better about my diet, so salads are my current thing to make for dinners.
  • Happy you accomplished this week? I walked home from work every day this week! (I didn't work on Monday, but I did go for a walk around the neighborhood.)
  • Looking forward to next week? Seeing the scale go down! I've started using a new diet tracking app and I'm already seeing results in just a few days.
  • Thankful for today? My sister and sister-in-law - they brought my home cinnamon raisin biscuits from Hardee's in the U.S. (We don't have Hardee's in Canada and these were a childhood favourite on road trips.)
  • *Bonus Question* What is your preferred method for contacting someone? (email, text, phone, letter, etc...) Depends on the person, but usually text. Is it sad to say I'm too lazy to actually email someone? Although I find depending on what needs to be communicated, a phone call is often fastest. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

First Things First

I found this link up on Wifessionals and thought I'd play along!

Today's First Things First topics are:

1. First thing you would do/buy if you won the lottery?  I would pay off our car loan and our mortgage first and foremost. After that, Husband and I would go on a trip somewhere and just relax and have some fun before we put the rest into savings.
2. First person you call when you get amazing news? Usually I can't get a hold of Husband as he sleeps all day, so either my sister or my best friend Jen. Or I pop into one of my co-worker's cubicles and tell them about it.
3. First thing you do when you've had a bad day? Vent to the closest friend, buy junk food and watch tv.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

What are you….

Black Beauty and Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Quantum Leap on Netflix (I loved this show growing up!)

Listening to?
The purring of happy cats.

Sunburst Lemon Bars but they were not good! I made the recipe once and the filling didn't turn out for some reason. So then I tried again and while they turned out, they did not taste good. The crust is very plain and I think the filling has too many eggs. They were so bad we actually threw out the whole pan.

Happy you accomplished this last week?
I got a ton of cleaning done yesterday - I was on my feet almost the entire day cleaning the house so now it's spotless.

Looking forward to this week?
Using the Zombie Run app on my walks home. I'm addicted!

Thankful for today?
A quiet Sunday at home - no errands to run, no places to go, no people to see. It's lovely. I might get productive later, but for now I'm enjoying some cuddle time with my fur babies and watching tv.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

$40 well spent

Our house will be 100 years old next year, so it has a few quirks. One of them is that the bathroom door was difficult to close. The door itself is original, but the hinge on the door is not, so the two don't work together very well. Plus the frame where the door sits when it's closed wasn't in quite the right position.

For the past nine months, we just lived with it as is. The door still closed, but you just had to turn the knob a certain way, give it a specific look while biting your tongue in a certain spot, while pushing on the door to latch. Husband and I both knew the tricks, so it didn't REALLY bother us. However, it was troublesome when guests came over. Plus, because it wasn't quite in the right position when closed, the lock didn't work. So finally we decided to make it a priority on our house to do list.

As neither Husband nor I knew how to fix it (heck, we didn't even know all of the issues until someone told us!), I responded to a few handyman ads on Kijiji and got immediate responses from all three. I emailed the last guy back as he had the best email (clear, concise, and included a rough price, but also an hourly rate if it was more work once he saw it). A couple emails later, we had arranged for him to come over that evening to take a look.

Within one hour, he had the door fixed and it works like a dream now! And he only charged us $40, which is $10 less than he quoted in his email to me. He was friendly and easy to deal with and we'll definitely be contacting him again for other projects.

I know we could have lived with the door as is for longer, but for only $40, it's probably one of the best things I've paid for in the house. It isn't much, but it makes the day-to-day life that much more pleasant. We can close the door quietly and not have to wake each other up (key when your Husband works the night shift) and guests don't have to do a dance to get the door closed.

Does your home have any small quirks that you just live with?

Friday, April 5, 2013

The house saga continues

We love our house and ultimately it is the right house for us. It's the perfect size for us - not too big, not too small. It's been updated in a style that suits us. Both the front and back entrances have two sets of doors (with a small room in between) so our cats can't get out, which is a huge paranoia of mine. It's the right house for us.

BUT - holy crap it has been a PITA sometimes.

I'll recap what we've gone through so far:
  • We moved in to our first house and two weeks later it rains for the first time. I discover during this rainfall that we have a leak in the roof. The leak is in the sun room which is in the addition portion of the house.
  • To deal with the leak, we bring in a roofer.
  • Also, we're curious if there is anything else wrong with the addition so we ask a contractor to take a look. He finds that the foundation under the house has been recently worked out and it is not done to code.
  • So our real estate lawyer starts working to get us money from the title insurance company. Essentially the title insurance company pays for any outstanding orders on the house or any work that wasn't done to code.
  • We pay out of pocket to have the roof of the house done, but the roofer cannot work on the roof over the addition as the foundation has to be replaced first. (Cost - $5,900)
  • We pay out of pocket for an engineer to draw up plans to fix the foundation of the addition. (Cost - $750)
  • We find out that the insurance company won't pay for the foundation claim because we don't have an order from the city. That's all that's keeping them from paying the bill even though we have sent documentation showing that the work wasn't done to code.
  • The lawyer tries to fight them, but just last month we found out they won't budge.
  • I talk to the Chief Housing Inspector from the City and he says if we can get our engineer to send him a letter simply stating that the foundation isn't to code and needs to be updated, he will issue an Order for us.
And now here's the latest - I emailed my engineer to ask him to send this letter to the City. It's a very simple letter that could basically write itself. But he has just today informed me that he will charge us again for a site visit and to send this letter/email. 

I am livid. I mean, we have already paid money for the plans to be drawn up and all I'm asking for is a simple letter saying it isn't to code and it needs to be replaced. Why not do something nice for someone and just write the letter? Heck, not even a letter. It could be an email to the guy.

So now I've left a message with the engineer to discuss things with him (versus his staff) and perhaps he will have a heart and change his mind. But assuming he doesn't, do we pay him more money for this letter? This is our last hope of getting money from the insurance company, but it's not a guarantee. We could get this order from the city and still get denied. I don't honestly see that happening, but it could. So we'd be out more money for nothing. It's not a ton ($350) but after spending so much and having a huge bill looming, I can feel my heels starting to dig in.

Oh, and on the roof issue - once the foundation is fixed (this June), the roof over the addition will need to be done. Worst case scenario - it will cost $10,000 because the roof in this section is very badly damaged and the entire thing needs to be replaced, so it's not just a simple shingle replacement. 

Once the claim is settled with the insurance company, one way or another, we can then go after the previous owner for the roof and possibly the foundation depending on what happens. But the chances of getting money from them is (as our lawyer said) slim to none.

Not a good way to start the weekend. I'm hoping by Monday I will have calmed down enough to talk to the engineer rationally.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday's This & That

  • The painting of our upstairs is finally happening! I gave up waiting for Husband to do it and I hired our neighbour who is a professional painter. He's giving us the friends and family rate, so it's a cheap job and well worth the money! The office and the spare bedroom are already done, minus some touch ups. Up next is the hallway and staircase, which is just a basic white, so that won't take too long.
  • My shopping fast is coming along nicely. I haven't bought new clothes in five months!
  • I am re-watching Veronica Mars after news that a movie is finally going to be made! I loved this show when it was on and I own all of the seasons on DVD, so it's a free way to entertain myself at home. 
  • We got a cheap oil change from Canadian Tire (thanks to a coupon) and they also changed our winter tires for us free of charge!
  • We may get the insurance money to pay for the foundation! I talked to someone at the City and all we need is a letter from our engineer and then the City can issue us an Order on the house saying the work isn't to code and needs to be replaced. This is the key component that the insurance company said they needed before they would pay out. So I've emailed our engineer, but getting him to send that letter should not be a problem at all. Once we have the Order, we can hopefully just fax it to the insurance company and wait some more. I don't want to get my hopes up, but this is the one thing the insurance company said they needed...
  • Husband and I both got new phones - the Samsung Galaxy S3! I'm loving the OS and it's a lot faster and easier to use than my old BlackBerry. I'm getting used to the touch keyboard, which I figured I would hate, but it's much easier to use than I thought. Both phones were free as we signed new contracts. The monthly charges will be higher, but Husband really wanted a smart phone and my old smart above average phone wasn't cutting it anymore.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Goals

First, how did I do with my March goals?
March Goals:
  • Lose 5 lbs. PASS. I have been getting lazy again, but I did lose a few pounds. I need some more motivation as once I hit my 120s, I found that I relaxed a bit and these last 5-10 pounds are killing me. 
  • Put $500 towards our foundation savings goal. DONE! We have put aside $3,302 thanks to our tax refunds! As long as we put aside our allotted $500 each month from now until June, we will easily meet our goal. This also frees up my freelance income which I had earmarked for the foundation and we won't have to use our home repair fund. (I know that this is what we have the fund for, but I'd rather keep saving than have to use it so soon after buying the house.)
  • Complete two freelance interviews (and articles, depending on when the interview falls). DONE! I was finally able to get people on the phone and I completed all of the freelance articles I had to do for April 1st, plus some work that came in at the last minute! I did a total of four freelance articles in just a couple weeks!
  • Buy new runners. DONE! My goal was to spend $150 before taxes and I the before tax price was $145 or so. My old runners have been retired and I'll just pull them out when we go on vacations. 
  • Install new shower head.  DONE! I'll be curious to see if our water bill goes down thanks to the new low-flow shower head.
  • Complete Husband's taxes. DONE! And we have already gotten back both refunds.
  • Buy and install new kitchen faucet. DONE! We had some trouble finding a faucet that would fit our sink (it's built in to the concrete countertops rather than sitting on top, so there isn't much room available where the faucet sits). We finally found something that works and that we like, but it was a bit more expensive than we had originally wanted to spend, so we're putting next month's planned spending money towards it too. Unfortunately the soap dispenser that comes with it is a little bit too big still, but Husband should be able to sand it down at the back or do something so it'll fit. That's not done yet, but the faucet itself is in and that's what matters!
Overall, very successful I think. We have also been getting a lot of small home reno's done, like re-caulking the tub and finally *gasp* painting! (More on the painting in another post.)

April Goals:
  • Lose 3 lbs. As I get closer to my goal it's tougher to lose weight, so I'm going to be realistic and aim for 3 lbs this month. That will get me to the higher end of my goal weight.
  • Put $500 towards our foundation savings goal.
  • Go to hot yoga 3x. I bought a 10-session pass on Groupon awhile back and I have 6 more sessions to go. It's not my favourite activity, but I'd like to get my money's worth and it will probably help with my weight loss goal.
  • Do an inventory of our possessions. I want to be sure that if something happens (fire, theft, etc.) we have a clear list that identifies what we own and the approximate retail value for insurance purposes.
  • Give myself an at-home facial. I would love to go for more facials, but it seems a bit extravagant when we're trying to save money for the house and some trips. I'd like to give myself an at-home facial so I can enjoy some of the benefits without the high cost. There are some great homemade facial recipes here to try.
  • Book my spa trip with the girls.  
  • Spring cleaning! This will be our first spring in the house, so I have to do some research on what to do to prep the house for summer. Any advice?