31
Mar 12

Writers Write, Bloggers Blog, So What’s My Problem?

From the time I was very, very young I fancied myself a writer.  I read very well, far too young and was reading teen romances (thank you, Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’ and ‘Wifey’) and the occasional ‘adult’ romance (a la Norma Klein’s ‘Wives and Other Women‘) by the third grade.  Thinking back on these books now, I realize that I may have been way too young to be reading about losing one’s virginity and extramarital affairs.  Oye vy!  No wonder I felt so mature and ‘in the know’ about “life” as an eight-year-old girl.  And, being the only third-grader who could fill in the other kids at school about Michael and Katherine “doing it” sealed my “the girl who KNOWS” status.  After that, if there was some disagreement about something ‘grown up’ my opinion would be sought.  Come to think of it, I was kind of like the Godfather of ‘knowing too much too soon.’  I really should have made them kiss my ring or something for all the worldly wisdom I was generously sharing with my less-prolific reader friends.

Although three of my 8-year-old self's favourites, I actually read and re-read every single novel by both Judy Blume and Norma Klein and loved getting lost in each and every one of those reading journeys.

And I wrote.  I wrote story after story about everything from soap opera-esque entanglements to beginning after beginning of my ‘novel.’  Needless to say, I have never written a novel and at this point of my life haven’t actually read  a novel in four or more years. Yet, I still identify myself as an avid reader and constant writer.  And I am an avid reader, it’s just now I’m reading the latest and greatest Llama Llama book to my smalls, instead of the newest Brit Chick fiction or whatever else catches my eye.  And I don’t really mind because I know that the time that my smalls will want me to read to them is very limited, so I read.

Writing lists has somehow replaced writing stories.  I don’t journal anymore.  I no longer try to think up convoluted and bizarre story lines and try to develop them into something readable.  But I have started blogging.  And that’s a good start to exercising my ‘writing’ muscles and actually matching my intentions with my actions.

I’ve been very on the fence about the direction I want for my blog.  Do I really want it to be yet another frugal living, couponing blog and do I have the dedication and time to post every deal and every coupon while they are still new?  Do I want it to be an information-based blog, reviewing products or services?  Or do I just want it to be a good representation of me and my life – the good, the funny, the ugly and sad, but most importantly, do I want my blog to be REAL?  Real for me is a smidge of schizophrenic, a pinch of manic and a dash of depressing mixed with a bucket of love, laughter and happiness and pint of arguments, frustration, tears, and heartaches.  My life is not perfect.  My family is not perfect.  Most of all I am not perfect.  I yell too often and don’t slow down to listen sometimes.  I may be emotional more often than perhaps is useful.  But I wouldn’t trade my life (I am truly blessed to have Mr. KB and my beautiful children, big and small) or change my family for anything.  As for me, I’m constantly trying (and failing and succeeding) to change myself.  Well, except my funny-factor.  That I’m keeping.

But, I will still run my coupon giveaways because it really does feel like throwing away money when I let them expire and pitch them into my ever-ready recycling box.  And I will still post about budgeting, fruaglity and personal finance because that is also what I know about and enjoy doing.  An advance warning – I’m not writing a blog FOR children.  I may use questionable or offensive (to some) language at times that is NOT MEANT FOR KIDS – yours or mine.  I’m writing for me and other adult-type people and yes, I use bad words.  Often.  I admit it openly and honestly.  See?  Not perfect.  But 100% me.

So, my new tag line, motto, blog identifier, instead of ‘feeling stabby’ (which is awesome and I love) is going to be ‘Just Like June Cleaver.  Only Fatter.  And Funnier.’  Because I think that is truly more ‘me’ than ‘feeling stabby’ (although I readily admit to feeling stabby far too often!) and I just do not dig the ‘Old Mother Hubbard’ comparisons ( I only have five kids, people, not fifteen!).


26
Mar 12

Sunshine, Pizza Picnics And Unidentified Meat: CSI-Style

Wow!  What a weekend.  Admittedly a little brisker than the week that preceded it, but a beautiful, unseasonably warm weekend nonetheless.

We’re in full swing around here, trying to get ready for our upcoming move.  Mr. KB spent most of the weekend working outside and in the garage dealing with tools, car parts and whole cars.  The Smalls played outside on their bikes and loved every moment of the sunshine.  Meanwhile, I tried to get a handle on Mount Laundry and pack more boxes in the house.  I also arranged to close our Enbridge account, move our Hydro One account and our Internet/cable/phone account.  By the way Rogers works, it would appear that we will be offline for almost a week while they dilly-dally the days away, but it is what it is.  At least Hydro One doesn’t have the same moving/hook up procedures!  No electricity for almost a week would be much harder to deal with than no cable and phone (no internet connection is likely what will drive us the craziest!).

After working all day (with a small break to take the boy-smalls for a ‘real’ bike ride (on the side of the road, no less!), Mr. KB and I decided to take all the smalls for a drive and pick up pizza for an impromptu pizza picnic in Jackson’s Point, in Bonnie Park.  It was definitely getting chillier by that time, but the kids loved their pizza (thank you again, Pizzaville – you rock!) and then walking the pier.  We headed home.

But prior to that we encountered the crime scene.  Or, the accident scene.  Or, just a cheesy Canadian television production in progress (good job hiding the equipment and cameras, guys!), maybe the Real Housewives of Sutton is finally in production? (’bout time, y’all!).  Yellow police tape closed off an entire parking lot, and there was a 5×5 square within the parking lot yellow taped.  And people (police?) were standing around it peering down and looking at the ground.  We didn’t stop (although Sutton is deserted on Sundays after 5pm) because it appeared that they had things under control (and our pizza order was waiting for us).  The absence of ambulance led us to believe that no one was hurt, so we decided to stick with the plan and pick up our pizza.

But, you know small towns.  Everyone knows everything that happens before it actually happens and Sutton is no different.  I learned in Pizzaville that according to the convenience store owner said that some “unidentified meat” had been discovered and the police were investigating.  Now, I’m not a professional investigator, but I don’t think it takes a lot of thought to figure out that it’s unlikely that the kafuffle is because someone tossed a steak or a chick leg out their car window.  Ewwwww.

On our way (with our pizza) to the park, there was a person unloading equipment from a CSI’esque SUV.  The plot thickens, hmmmmm?  I won’t repeat all of the rumours, but if an official explanation is released, I will update.  I know that there is nothing I hate more than a story with no closure or proper ending (yes, No Country For Old Men - I’m talking to YOU!).

I may seriously need to rethink the whole family-of-carnivores thing...

Oh, and it is absolutely freezing out today.  I love it when Mother Nature flips us the bird.  Well played, Madame, is all I can (cleanly) say.  ;)

And how was your weekend?  Any unidentified meat or other strange goings on?


21
Mar 12

I Got A Pinterest Button On My Blog And…

…Now the pressure is really on to post some interesting or neat or awesome stuff so people will ‘Pin it’ and I’ll know that I’m worthy.  Or something like that.  I think.  Oh, I don’t know if I’m good with the pressure of this new button.

I think I need to lie down.

In the fetal position.

And eat chocolate.

But not while lying down, because then I could choke.

And there’s nothing pretty or glamorous about choking on chocolate while rocking the fetal position.

And I’m too fat from all those bon bons to get into the fetal position anyway.

I give up.

Maybe I’ll just go and start dinner instead.  It’s stew night in these parts.  You can see my recipe here.

A little something I snagged from Pinterest, but can't for the life of me remember who from in order to give proper credit for this gem. It may not be the nicest sentiment, but I'm nothing if not honest, eh?


21
Mar 12

Frugal Wednesdays – And We’re Back!

After taking a Wednesday off (for March Break fun) we’re back with another installment of frugal ideas that can work for everyone (nothing extreme, no recommendations of cloth toilet paper or taking one meal a week made primarily of cat food).  Money is on everyone’s minds these days.  Who has it, how to get it, how to keep it, how to spend it and how to save it are the five hot personal finance topics out there right now and while I can’t tell you who has it or how to get it, I can offer tons of ideas about how to keep it, save it and spend it – wisely, frugally and responsibly.  I think it’s Dave Ramsey who fancies sayings “Live like no one else now so that you can LIVE like no one else later.”  I’m not a big DR fan, but he does come up with some excellent ideas and sound bites on occasion.

And now, like sands through the hourglass, there are:

Honey Badger’s Frugal  (and maybe fun?) Wednesday Suggestions

1.  Roll your feet to warm and happy.  No, no, I am the last person who is going to suggest that you take up rollerblading, worry thee not!  No, I’m talking about taking one of those 1 or 2L pop bottles you normally fold up and put in your Blue Box (un, you DO recycle, right?) and re-purposing them to make your feet happier.  Fill the bottle with hot water.  Take a seat.  Roll the bottle back and forth under your feet.  Feel your tension ease.  Feel your feet send you lots of foot love.  Rinse and repeat as often as necessary/desired/awake.

2.  Learn how to cook at home. Even a sub-par fast food meal costs exponentially more than anything you prepare at home.  Let alone fancier restaurant food – the mark up is crazy and the food is often disappointing.  Not to mention potentially full of additives and preservatives that if you prepared it yourself, you could decide to add or avoid.  Either way, I’m not telling anyone what to eat or how to eat it, but it should be a conscious decision that you make as to what you put in your body and what you do not.  I am not the picture of health and fitness, so believe me, this ain’t no skinny chick telling the fatties what to eat, but I am aware of the choice I’m making when I order pizza instead of making it at home.  And that’s all I’m advocating for you too.  Oh, and a simple dinner out at Swiss Chalet for 2 adults and 4 kids, with the kids sharing a meal and two milks, is over $50 plus tip.  To put it in perspective, I feed everyone every meal, for a week for $150.00 or less.  1/3 of what a single meal out costs us.  Say what?!?!?

3.  Get honest about your spending habits.  “Thinking” that you only spend $x.xx on stuff is very different than actually tracking your spending and knowing that you spent $x.xx on stuff.  Want to ‘find’ $20.00 a month?  Track everything, I bet you end up finding a lot more than $20 that you’ve been literally throwing away each and every month.  Try it.  It’s a real eye opener and I won’t lie, it can be very painful to see it all in black and white.  Stop giving your hard-earned money away for little-to-no value in return.

4.  Follow the rules.  Yes, I know that you’re in a hurry and that where you need to be is far more important than where I need to be and more important than something so arbitrary as a speed limit but is the fine worth the extra two minutes you make in time?  And, come to think of it, the 15 or more minutes you sit by the side of the road waiting for your lecture and your pricey ticket costs you much more time that actually following the posted speed limit would have. And the wear and tear on your vehicle and the costly repairs will only hit your wallet and send your mechanic and his family on a European vacation on your dime.  If you’re in a hurry, leave earlier.  Stop terrorizing everyone on the road and beating your car into the ground.  It’s not rocket science and for the sake of not paying ‘Stupid tax’ for your haste, by way of fines, repair bills, your obviously very valuable time, and insurance premiums, are the costs and potential risks really worth it?  Follow the rules, be considerate of other drivers – and their cars, their time, and most importantly, their safety.  It is never the wrong choice and it will save you time, money and good karma points!

5.  Take the time to praise, not just to complain.  When you get really great service, a really wonderful deal, have a noteworthy experience, praise those responsible.  If your cashier at the grocery store was friendly and professional, smiled and said hello and thank you, stop for a second and tell the manager that she made you trip to his store better that day.  You would make the time to find the manager if the cashier had been rude and surly, so make the time to point out the good stuff too.   The horror stories of deals gone wrong and poor service and it’s important that bad experiences be shared, of course it is, but it is equally important to share the good stuff too.  When a business or a person goes out of their way to make your day or experience a little better, pay it forward by giving credit where credit is due.  It builds good will and good energy that will attract more positive, good experiences to come your way. :)

What are your favourite frugal or resource saving tips or tricks?  Share, share!


19
Mar 12

This And That And Spring Came Early

It’s smile inducing and worrisome at the same time.  I mean, such drastic changes in our weather can’t be a good thing, can it?  What have we (as a race) done to the planet and environment that has caused winter in Canada to be shorter, warmer and clearer than ever before?  Tomorrow is the First Official Day of Spring.  But I think that we all know that Spring has been here for a while now.

I can get all maudlin about what it all means (as I am genetically programmed to do), or I can choose to be happy about warm sunshine and bright skies and celebrate all the wonderous ways that Spring is making it’s appearance.

Our rhubarb is blooming – woooo hoooo!

Somehow, an onion I didn’t see last fall is growing now – it survived the winter and is smiling at Spring

 

I'm totally taking this one with me when we move - it's got a serious will to live!

The tulips are spouting and getting ready to bloom

 

Must remember to plant bulbs at the new house!

The kids are playing, coat-less and happy at the park and in the yard

** Those pictures on are on my phone – I’ll find the cable and d/l them.  Honestly!  What kind of mother am I?

The birds are singing, the squirrels and chipmunks are dashing around and last night we saw our first… MISQUEITOES!  Booo!  Hisss!  They need to push-off, for sure!  *grin*

March Break

We survived March Break.  Had the weather not been so beautiful, we may not have done.  Many trips to the park and much ‘outside’ time was the key to success.  Also, the boys still had Tae Kwon Do every night, so keeping that part of their routine helped things more ‘normal’ for them.

Stilettos & Sneakers

This Just-for-Women show, for, about and by women is happening this Saturday, March 24th in Newmarket.  For details, check out the Talk of the Town Events website.  I haven’t been able to make it to one yet, but I’m hoping to get to the next one :)

And in moving news…

Our closing day is just over 3 weeks away (!!) and Mr. KB has been working tirelessly on getting all the outside stuff ready, his garage, cars, etc.  I’ve started packing boxes of things that we definitely won’t need (I learned by lesson about packing the wrong things away  – I packed all my shampoo thinking we’d be moving a lot sooner and actually had to go and buy more – not on sale – while all of mine sits in a box in a storage unit – noooooo! *grin*).  Knick knacks, kitchen stuff that only gets used once a year or less (um, why do we have it then?!?), books and dvd’s that we won’t have time to watch for a while (I’m thinking months more than weeks on that one!) and the like.  We have two weeks after closing to get everything ready for the movers to come and move all our stuff, and it sounds like a ton of time, but I know I’m fooling myself.  The time will pass in a flash *grin*

How did you survive March Break?  Are you planting a garden this year and have you already started?  Any tips or tricks to share about moving house?


16
Mar 12

Food Waste Friday – A Little Bit Saucy

Kristen, a.k.a. The Frugal Girl posts her weekly food waste on Fridays. She has inspired me to be more mindful to not waste food, and to use it up before it ends up inedible and fuzzy in the refrigerator. So, I’m jumping on board and joining in the Food Waste Friday fun ;) This is my fourth week posting and yes, I am noticing a difference in the amount of food my family is (not) wasting anymore!

FoodWasteFriday
This week, I wasted about 1 1/2 cups of tinned pasta sauce.  It was my own sheer laziness that led to this waste, so I’m sad about it.  I don’t usually use tinned sauce, but when I do, I put any leftover in a container and freeze it for later use.  This time I totally flaked and left it out all night, in the tin, on the counter.  Bad, Bad domestic goddess!  I pitched it after many attempts to convince myself that it really wasn’tthat bad to have left it out.  And failed.  So out it went.  We also wasted two bananas that, when peeled had weird, hard brown stripes on the actual banana.  Nobody was a fan, so add those to our food waste this week.

Why is it that I never have a post about wasting chocolate?  Or potato chips?  Or Diet Pepsi? Or Kawartha Dairy Moose Tracks ice cream?  Hmmm, why?  Why don’t I ever waste anything that is actually BAD for me?  *sigh*  Oh, wait, I know why – because it all tastes too zipity-do-dah good and I’m a glutton for sweet stuff, that’s why!  Mystery solved. *bangs head on table*  I’m pathetic, I know.

Anyhoo, I don’t have a picture of the woebegone wasted sauce, nor of the equally sad and wasted bananas, but a post without a picture is like a blogger with an internet connection.  Useless.  So, here’s a picture that I snapped last August of a some food that we grew in our backyard and didn’t waste.  And there’s no sugar added :)

 

My basket overflow'th with tomatoes!

2011 was the first year that I planted a garden and we were thrilled with the results. Not everything worked, but I sure learned a lot about gardening and can't wait to set one up at the new house!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it!


14
Mar 12

Grown Ups Have Life Insurance

And Wills.  And Powers of Attorneys.  And Bills.  And big, BIG responsibilities.  And even when we still feel like we’re teenagers, living life wild and free, when we actually stop and take stock of our reality, it hits us.  We’re the Grown Ups now.

Oye vy.  When did this happen?  And, more importantly how did this happen to us?!?

Can you tell that the KB household is in the throes of moving house?  All of a sudden, with new financial obligations (compounded on top of responsibilities to our children and each other) we realized that we had to do the hard stuff.  Life insurance (blech, more insurance premiums to pay – after a while I start feeling premiumed to death!), getting and having all of our “affairs” in order so that we protect each other and our children from uncertainty should our worst-case scenario ever hit.

So, ya.  It’s not fun, and it’s not sexy, but it is necessary.

I shopped around looking for the best coverage for the best price for a while and finally settled on Sun Life Financial’s Term Life policy (there is a Sun Life office in town on The Queensway).  We had the medical examinations last night (blood word, blood pressure, height, weight, etc.  Nothing scary) and now we wait to find out what our actual premiums will be.  So, if “they” decide that the extra 30 pounds that I like to carry around (it’s for exercise, of course! YOU try to carry an extra 30 pounds everywhere you go, 24/7 – it’s hard work *grin*) is a hindrance to reasonable premiums, I may have to edit this post to include my Plan B (likely lose the weight or win the lottery.   Either one, really, but I’m leaning towards to latter, to be honest *grin*)

I’ll be back later with a Frugal Wednesday post, but first I’m going to load up our rented mini-van and take my smalls to see Mr. KB for a totally non-frugal lunch at work.  I love ‘stealing’ mid-week lunchtimes with him :)

How have you dealt with the whole life insurance issue?  Group benefits through work or have you bitten the bullet and purchased an individual policy?


11
Mar 12

When Three-Year-Olds Attack…

This story is best told as a series of photos, or a pictorial rendition with captions, if you will.

We begin our story with:

baby with marker all over her face

The victim: A.k.a. Ms. Moon. She smiles though it all, the trials and tribulations of being the baby (and only) sister to four brothers. Her dedication to her health is evidenced by her commitment to "an apple a day..." even in the face of adversity. And although her smile shines through, the masses agree that "Crayola Goth" probably isn't the best look for this blonde, blue-eyed beauty...

and then we move on to:

The Perpetrator: A.k.a. Rigatoni. Notice the tell-tale signs of guilt: the casual, relaxed pose, ear-to-ear smile, the green marker drawings on his hands (which, incidentally, continue right up both of his arms under those innocent looking sleeves). This three-year-old beams at the camera, seemingly oblivious to the severity of his crime. I bet he sleeps like a baby at night too. Yup, right on both counts. He totally rocks and he knows it.

Having identified the victim and the perpetrator, we then uncover:

The weapons recovered at the crime scene (a.k.a. my living room floor). Bagged with CSI Mom precision. Our team of crack(pot) investigators determined, following a quick examination of both parties that the black Crayola marker was primarily the weapon of choice, but green, orange and yellow were also found on the Perp's body (not the actual markers, mind you, but the actual ink) Oye vy.

But, not to worry.  This crime spree has a happy ending:

Forgiveness and redemption. Although still marred by her pseudo-Emo-Marilyn-Mason-on-a-bad-day cosmetic transformation, Ms. Moon forgives her big brother and seals it with a kiss. She would not however, share her apple with him. This forgiveness stuff only goes so far, people.

The End.
(Or probably more accurately, to be continued often over the next the upcoming years…)


10
Mar 12

Actual, Real, Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten-Free Style (no, really!)

Gluten-free living and baking certainly has its challanges.  Chocolate chip cookies no longer need to be on the challenge list.  We’re moving them over to the ‘Conquered’ list!  We started again with a very traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe (from Betty Crocker, no less!) and modified, altered and Frankensteined it into this crispy, yet light and chewy, moist but not greasy gluten free chocolate chip cookie.  And unlike so many gluten-free baked goods, they are not dry and dusty the morning after, either!  But, as I warned in the similar, yet very different cookie post Honey Badger’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chunky Chip Cookie recipe – DO NOT EAT THE RAW DOUGH.  It’s enough to make an ogre gag (believe me, I did!)  It’s not about raw eggs or getting poisoned.  It’s about not having to try to get the intense taste of raw bean from the guar gum out of your mouth in time to devour the baked heavenliness that these cookies will become.  And the angels sang…

Honey Badger’s Gluten-Free Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies

Honey Badger's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies from Heaven

Makes 3+ dozen

Ingredients for goodness

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine (softened)
2 tbsp Earth Balance Shortening (or 1/4 cup regular shortening)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend (I used Bulk Barn’s, but Bob’s Red Mill or Pamela’s would work too)
1/2 + 1/8 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4-6 oz chocolate chips (or a couple of handfuls, if you like)

Directions, or rather suggestions, well advice, really (’cause we’re all just learning here).

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, shortening, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well, until combined.  Add chocolate chips to suit your fancy.

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart (they will spread and if the balls are too big or close to gether you will end up with a baking sheet sized cookie).

Bake for 8-10 minutes until light brown – stupid caveat here – do not over-bake!  I know, I know, but it had to be said.  Remove from sheet and let cool on rack until you have a moment to pour a glass of milk.

Gorge, um, I mean enjoy!

It bears repeating:  *FAIR WARNING and FULL DISCLOSURE:  To all cookie dough sneak-eaters.  Do NOT eat this cookie dough raw.  Please.  I beg you.  It tastes terrible because of the guar gum (which is made from beans and is very concentrated).  Once baked, the cookies are delicious, but the cookie dough itself is gag-inducing and the after-taste is long-lasting.  Trying the dough may turn you off cookies for a prolonged period of time and lead to depression due to that loss.  It’s just not worth the risk.  You have been warned.  Govern yourself accordingly. *grin*

Happy (Gluten-free and Gluten-filled) Baking :)


09
Mar 12

Food Waste Friday – It’s A Doozy

Kristen, a.k.a. The Frugal Girl posts her weekly food waste on Fridays. She has inspired me to be more mindful to not waste food, and to use it up before it ends up inedible and fuzzy in the refrigerator. So, I’m jumping on board and joining in the Food Waste Friday fun ;) After missing last week, this is my third week posting.

FoodWasteFriday
This week, I some romaine lettuce, a small chunk of meatloaf and more than a slice of gluten-free pizza.  The lettuce was buried at the bottom of my crisper and apparently my mind, because when I remembered about it, I was sure it was only a week old but looking inside the leaves convinced me otherwise.  The meatloaf was wasted out of sheer stupidity.  I put it in the container and then didn’t put the lid on it and put it in the fridge.  See?  Totally stupid.  And the gluten free pizza?  Well, that was an experiment gone wrong.  Mr. KB is gluten intolerant, and pizza is the one thing he missing the most (other than birthday cake!) so we have been trying and trying to find substitute for the usual gluten-filled crust.  Other than Pizzaville’s GF pizza, we’ve been pretty much out of luck on the home-made-pizza-front.  I’ll do a post on this most recent crust failure later on though.  Suffice to say, the piece pictures wasn’t the only piece that was tossed, but it was the only one I snapped a picture of (incidentally, I apologize for the poor quality of the photos.  I took them with my phone out of haste, but don’t think I’ll do that again!)

Not a good week for food waste around here. But, on the upside, a new week is starting soon :)

Yes, I agree.  I fairly shameful showing this week.  But, but, but, Im’ma gonna do a lot better next week *grin*

I hope you all have a wonderful Supercalifrugalisticexpialidocious weekend!