Just when I think I’m about to really get stuff done and blaze a new path, something like this happens. Every time.

Yesterday afternoon, while two of my smalls (who are all more in the medium-large range, if I’m being honest) worked on their school work and the other two wondered around aimlessly looking for something to do,  I finally finished and posted a new blog post. It only took two-and-a-half weeks, and won’t win me any awards but hey, I got it done, right? As I sat back in my chair, I turned to look out my office window, which faces our driveway and the road beyond just in time to see a huge eighteen-wheeler rumble past our house. Hmmm. That’s strange. We never have vehicles that big on our street. 

Not two minutes later, one of my kids after another filed into my office. “Power’s out” each said with increasing urgency. It suddenly made sense why the site I was trying to access moments before was still loading. No hydro = no internet. Living up here and not on town services, also means that no hydro = no water. Incidentally, yesterday was the hottest day of the year thus far, coming in at around 31C and humid. Good times. Sigh.

We headed outside to see what might have happened. This is what we saw.

Oh. Right. 

A neighbour was on the cross street and yelled over that an 18-wheeler hit the hydro post. Wonderful. It did not escape my notice that the truck broke the hydro pole clean in half and also that a) was no longer at the scene of the destruction and b) that it broke the same hydro pole that has been broken or knocked over no fewer than three times in the past four years, including this past winter when a snow plow took it out after the first snow of the season. Argh.

Police and HydroOne were called. The intersection was closed off and around six hours later, we had power again, and eleven hours later, our internet was restored. Needless to say, it was a long, crummy afternoon and evening. 

Once the power was back on, I finished making dinner (had been using the oven) and set it aside for tonight’s dinner. I did not allow myself a  moment of mum-guilt as I fed the children chips and salsa, sardines (they love those), grapes, crackers and cereal for dinner. Not one. single. moment.

As it turns out, our midnight internet fix was temporary, as just moments before lunch today, the internet and wifi died again as Rogers does the ‘real life’ repair on the line. On the upside though, we did get to keep our hydro though, so it only bites a little bit.

Oh, and it’s only Wednesday. Oh boy.

P.S. Just as I finished this post, our internet connection was restored once again. Only a two hour outage today. Progress!

P.P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

A day late and a dollar short, but I’m still here.

When I started writing this post, I was almost a week late with it. I am now over two weeks late and barreling towards three weeks late with it. Apparently my time management skills hit the skids when I’m surrounded by six other people, 24/7 who all need something from me. Go figure. That said, I am eternally grateful that those six people are here at home with me, where I know they are safe (from the outside world that is, from me, not so much). Meh.

That said, now that I’m over two weeks late with this, I will offer, in my defence, that I have succeeded in other ways these past two weeks. For example, I have only suffered from five self-inflicted kitchen injuries (with more cussing than actual blood being shed); I have showered EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.; I have prepared meals for seven people daily, without skipping any and done so three times each and every day while also providing the occasional (read: constant) snacks; I have only tripped over the cat ONCE; and finally (and I am most proud of this one) I successfully navigated the weekly grocery shopping TWICE without snapping at or stabbing a single other shopper for encroaching on “my bubble” or for being just generally wretched and oblivious. 

So, now that I’ve bragged (read: justified) about me, let me brag about #MyFive. These are pictures of the Mother’s Day gifts each of them made for me this year. All designed, handcrafted, and worked on so enthusiastically and happily. They were each so excited for Mother’s Day this year that it was both touching and a little suspicious. But, my suspicious nature was wrong and they weren’t setting me up for a big confession or repair bill. 😂

While I still have a trunk full of kindergartener macaroni art, tin can vases and recycling-material based crafts that I cherish (even if I can no longer identify the artist or the subject) I have to admit that with this years gifts I won the Mother’s Day lottery. 😂

Happy Mother's Day drawing
Miss Moon captured us enjoying an ‘only child’ moment. Lol!
Carved from wood and painted with love from my Pax boy.
Deacon thought that my letter opener was “a little bit broken” (Read: broke down), so he decided to make me a brand new one. He was particularly proud of the brass screws. Best part? It works as amazingly as it looks like it would!
Deacon, part 2
Handcrafted wooden cutting board
Mas has made this at school and has been waiting to give it to me for months. I admire his restraint almost as much as the craftsmanship. I’m terrible at keeping presents for later!
Declan has been wood working more lately and created this gorgeous set for me. I don’t know how he did the plaque inlay, but I just love it!

2020 has been a weird year so far. Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions have been celebrated “under quarantine” which is something completely new for most of us, but it’s still important to celebrate these times and milestones. I have now celebrated 26 Mother’s Days as a mother, and I think that this was the first one that my kids were SUPER excited for the day, which made my day that much more special. Since Mother’s Day, we have also celebrated our wedding anniversary and Miss Moon’s 10th (!!) birthday, quarantine-style. In all honesty I think both occasions were so much more enjoyable spent at home and not feeling the pressure to find a restaurant and piling everyone into the car to spend too much money on sub-par food.

Of course, this is only Day 74 for us. Check back when we’re closing in on Day 100, lol!

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Quitting Diet Soda and Finding a company with AMAZING customer service. The two events are related, I promise.

Good bye Diet Pepsi

As many people know, I have been drinking diet pop for as long as I can remember. For the past fifteen years, I have seldom been seen without a 710 ml bottle of Diet Pepsi in my hand, drink holder or purse. I have very early memories of cases of pink TAB soda cans in our kitchen. After that, Mum switched us both over to Diet Coke and then, well, diet anything. Then, as a teenager I had a friend who only drank Diet Pepsi and was so positively scornful of any other brand, that hanging out with him 24/7 started me on a long, sometimes expensive relationship with Diet Pepsi.

I wish I could say that I suffered all sorts of side effects from diet soda, but I can’t. I’ve always been (relatively) healthy, and over the past year lost enough weight (mostly by accident) that I am finally, and for the first time in over a decade, at what is considered to be a “healthy” weight and BMI and not considered to be overweight or obese.

I am aware of the opinions, studies and concerns that have been shared about diet soda, aspartame, caffeine, bubbles, the colour brown, etc. etc. Honestly, I’ve heard them all and I wish that I could say that any one of those things caused me to question my dedication to Diet Pepsi, but alas, no. What caused me to finally look critically at my choice to continue my decades long habit was when I realized that I was feeling what I can only describe as panicky any week that Shoppers Drug Mart was not offering their weekend deal on the six-pack of Diet Pepsi bottles (because I would NEVER pay full price – for shame!). Being stubborn, independent and headstrong I resent being dependant on anything, I was also unhappy spending money on something so completely unnecessary for health or happiness. Thus, I knew the time had come to end my relationship with diet soda.

My first step was to tell Mr. KB that I wanted to stop drinking diet soda, and so I would stop buying “my kind” but that if he wanted to keep drinking it, I would continue to buy his, of course. He has never really liked the idea of drinking diet pop anyway, but I suppose when it is the only “adult” drink in the house he naturally fell into drinking it as well. He quickly agreed that he also wanted to stop and that we’d do it together. I would likely switch to various herbal teas and he to water. And that’s when things start getting spicy around here.

Water

We are not on town services. This means that our house is serviced by a drilled well and a septic system. We have a water treatment system in our cold room, that includes a softer and UV light. Our water is safe, plentiful, lovely and we never have to pay a water bill (thankfully so since these ever-increasing bills seem to cause many Georgina households a huge amount of stress every three months). But occasionally, and especially in the spring, we can get a slight sulfur odour in our water and while perfectly safe to drink, is off-putting if you’re trying to drink a glass of water straight from the tap.

So our discussions commence. Option A: Do we buy yet another Brita filter and keep it filled in the fridge? This sounds economical and reasonable, I know. Unfortunately though, for some reason, I HATE having to fill the jug. I can’t stand waiting for the water to filter through, then add more water, make sure the jug is full, on top of having to make sure to create and maintain space in the fridge for this awkward pitcher. I just find it so annoying for some reason. Embarrassed to admit that this quasi-irrational reaction of mine may be there reason that we have purchased and ended up donating quite a few Brita systems over the years. I mean, I really do like the idea of the Brita filter, but the reality of having one never works out. Or, option B: Do we install the under-the-sink water kitchen filter we bought a few years back and use it for all of our cold water needs, including cooking? Since we already own the under-the-sink unit (and it came with a filter) and the specs for the one we chose still fit our needs, I was quick to vote for the kitchen sink thingy.

Mr. KB agreed and over the weekend he spent time gathering the bits and pieces needed to install the filter. It leaked. Not at the fittings, but right out the top. Mr. KB is very clever and handy and fixy and nothing he tried was worked to stop the leaking. So, since we need water from the kitchen faucet all of the time, he un-installed it and we weighed our options.

Do we: a) Keep trying to fix this unit? b) Contact the manufacturer and hope that it’s an easy fix (since we bought the unit YEARS ago, there is no way to return it or deal with a warranty claim); c) Chuck it and buy a new one? or d) Just buy the dreaded Brita?

We went back and forth for a bit, but finally decided to go with option (b) as our first plan and agreed to regroup if that failed.

The filter system we purchased was manufactured in Canada, in Richmond Hill to be precise, and that is located less than an hour from our home. I called them up and the woman walked me through the possible issues. She also said that if I wanted to, I could just bring it in and they would replace the itty-bitty spring-loaded o-ring on the bleeder valve, which is what she suspected the problem may be.

My ears (and spirits) perked up. Bring it in, you say? For free? And you’ll fix it for me? Yes, please!

A few days later, I made the trip down Highway 404 to Richmond Hill, filter housing in secured in the seat beside me and within twenty minutes of handing it to the secretary, it had been water-tested and had the o-ring changed out and brought back to me along with a new, free filter! How do you win customer loyalty for life from me? Give me quick service and some free swag and baby, I’m yours. Rainfresh, it turns out, totally had my number.

Under the sink water filter system
Oh, hello there you handsome (and now) leak-free giver of water! You’re so much sleeker than a clunky Brita filter! 😍

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, but occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it all.
xx

Looking for a great water filtration system for your home? Rainfresh by Envirogard is Made in Canada – check them out on Amazon.ca!

Perhaps my most favourite spam email of all time has arrived.

In this day and age, it is rare that I see any of the spam emails that come through my Inbox. These new finagled Junk Mail filters have greatly improved since the early years of email (remember those days of dial-up and seemingly endless waiting for downloads? Sigh), when each email had to be sifted through in order to figure out which were from people I knew, people I wanted to know, people I didn’t want to know / or was hiding from and which emails were from people I should seriously consider obtaining restraining orders from. Ah, the 90’s. Bless.

But those days are a long, distant memory now. I almost never think of email spam, since I never see it and only notice the Junk Mail folder when the numbers creep so high that I feel obligated to right click and hit ‘delete all’. Until, that is, yesterday.

Glorious, wonderful, yesterday. The second day of the second decade of my second witnessed millennia, January 2, 2020. It was on this day that this marvelous beauty nugget of prose arrived and landed squarely in my Inbox, addressed, as it was, to my first initial and my maiden name, I was instantly hooked. So impressed was I, that I decided to share it here. With you. Because I’m a giver and this here, this is a gift.

It would appear that this email was sent to me in error. Poor woman. She is far too young for me. And I am decidedly female. And I am married (to a man). And I do not live in Toronto and avoid visiting there if at all possible. And, well, truth be known, I’m just not that into her. *shrug*

BUT WAIT!

In case anyone reading this is (or knows someone who may be) interested in following up with this stable, clearly sincere and trustworthy person on her/their offer of love (even though she/they is/are trite), mutual communication and more than likely a solid financial and emotional fleecing and is currently (or will soon be) in possession of “a real man’s characteristics” ( and just as an aside, I want need further details as to what these characteristics are, just in case I do have any), this gorgeous mood-lifting email was sent from (spelled out so as to not create a riot or a clickable link) gregorxharriettee at outlook dot com.

If any of ya’ll give it a whirl, please share the update with me and the rest of us? I love a good happy ending as much as the next girl…

Have you gotten any note-worthy unsolicited emails lately? Ones that aren’t telling you that you’re about to get $26 million dollars from a bank in Nigeria (as soon as you send them a few thousand dollars for paperwork) or to “click here” to enhance your manhood/bank account/secure your account? I wanna know!

P.S. Join me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

Pretty sure that this is a true story

Now, I don’t like to brag (kind of lying to you, right out of the gate here 🤷🏼‍♀️), but I’m almost positive that last summer I was a too-cool, quasi-popular,  bubbly and perky fourteen-year-old with poor curling iron skills, hanging with my friends, sporting heavy electric-blue mascara, crop tops, mini skirts and my amazing white Tretorn canvas tennies (true story).

So, really not entirely sure how this summer I find myself staring into the rapidly falling face a forty-something-year-old bedraggled, unkept mini-van-driving mum with (at best) smeared eyeliner (typically applied hastily to one eye), living in a Costco-special skort, Walmart flip flops and food stained tee shirts that passed “the smell test,” driving to yet another soccer game while asking my twelve-year-old in the backseat to please stop shoving Cheddar Penguins up his nose, no matter how close he is to “the record” while simultaneously pleading with Jesus to “take the wheel” because this just cannot be real life (second true story).

Also, pretty sure that I did not see this situation on the horizon last summer, when I was still young, impossibly cool and had never even heard of Cheddar Penguins (or at least I’m pretty sure that this time existed).

I don’t mind admitting to you that all of this is really causing me to call into question the basis for my belief in my innate “coolness” in a whole new and frightening way. I believe that I may have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed (truest story of them all).

Now, I gotta run. The umpire is about to blow the whistle or shoot the pistol or whatever it is that happens at soccer games to let the kids know that it’s time to score some baskets, drive some balls or steal a base. Never a dull moment here and see? If nothing else, I am finally figuring out soccer-speak. 💁🏼‍♀️

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

She would have been 106 years-old today and I miss her still.

Julia Winepress Phillips, born on this day in Dundee, Scotland, 1913.

My grandma would have turned 106 years-old today. I spent every weekend from the age of two until twelve with my grandparents. She loved me unconditionally, confided in me, listened to all of my blathers, and never questioned the truth or validity of any of my stories (“Oh, aye now, really? Well, isn’t that just an awffie (awful) thing to have happened to ye? Ah well, dinnae ye worry aboot it, Lovey”). She would sit in the backseat of my grandfather’s car with me (while he sped, swore and occasionally hit things with his car) and sing, laugh and delight in our time together. I could do no wrong in her eyes, nor she in mine. I was her best friend and she was mine.

We would sit and talk for hours on those weekends, she would tell me stories about growing up on Malcolm Street in Dundee, and how they would move house occasionally, but always stayed on Malcolm street. She told me about her brothers and sisters and the one baby girl who did not survive infancy, about her stern mother and wee-Irish father, and going to school and being forced to use her right hand rather than her left (she ended up being ambidextrous as a result) and about how terrified she was when she was sent out to work, delivering milk to houses with dark doorways in the wee hours of the morning as just a tiny five-year-old, because her family needed the money. I’m still not sure if she was more scared of the police officer who brought her home or her mother’s reaction that she’d be ‘caught’ and the resulting at the loss of income it caused.

She talked about being a nurse when she was a young, single woman in Scotland, about her dreams of being a nun and being told ‘no’ by her mother, as she was needed to earn money to support her parents and siblings. She told me about working in the factory during WWII and meeting my grandfather there and how during their first date, his temper got the better of him and he threatened to punch another man in the theatre for being too loud (in hindsight people, the signs are ALWAYS there if we are not blind to them).

She told me about coming to Canada on the boat while she was almost nine-months pregnant and tending to her toddler while my grandfather socialized with other travellers for the duration of the journey. She told me about their early years in Canada, the struggles, the scares, the near-misses.

She always stood tall and proud, she always sat straight-backed and knees together, perhaps crossing her feet at the ankles. She wore skirts with tights and was always clean, presentable, no matter the time of day or the weather outside. She tended to her family, house, and home with a fierce determination and pride. Her house was immaculate and her floors were waxed by hand. She worked outside the home for thirty-odd years (retiring at age 67) and still cooked dinner every evening. She cooked, cleaned, ironed, mended, sewed clothing (she made that dress she’s wearing in the picture above and almost all of her other clothes) and she made ends meet. The beds were always made, the mirrors always shone. She had her hair washed and set by the hairdresser every Friday and never once polished her fingernails.

She refused to let the outside world know her pain, heartache or difficulties. “Don’t let anyone know it hurts. Walk on, like your ankle isn’t sprained, like your back doesn’t hurt, like your heart isn’t broken, don’t limp, don’t frown, and for heaven’s sake, don’t cry. Smile and keep your head up and look them in the eye as you pass. You just need to get home. You can cry there. Never let anyone see you cry.”

My grandma never stood taller than 4’10” a day in her life. By the end of her time with us, she was closer to 4’7″ and could no longer sit or stand quite as tall, and her clever and sharp mind had betrayed her, but she was never less than a titan to me.

I will continue to miss her every day of my life.

Happy birthday, Grandma, until we meet again. xoxo




P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

WEEK 4 Update and Wrap Up: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Three weeks (or a lifetime) ago now, I posted a grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 4 results and wrap up.

Preamble
This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up last week. We still have some potatoes, onions and peppers left from that box – see the WEEK 3 Update for a picture of the contents. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 4 Update:

This fourth and final week went fairly well. Now that I’m well and truly on the right side of my gallbladder (the side waving goodbye to it!), I was able to reflect on some of my grocery shopping behaviour and I have come to realize that I may suffer from a semi-severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to great ‘stock up’ prices. Coupled with my resistance and aversion to paying regular price for groceries (or if I’m being honest, paying regular price for anything really), is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to strictly adhering to my (self-managed) grocery budget.

For example I have enough salsa to last a good while, but the one that we like does not go on sale terribly often, and while it is not a super expensive fancy brand, I do have that aforementioned aversion to ‘regular price’ so the it went on sale during Week 3, I bought 2 jars.

Similarly, when I check my weekly PC Optimum points bonus offers and receive a good offer and I find that I can pair it with a sale or good price-matching opportunity, I struggle to let it go and not take advantage of the offer, knowing full well that the item in question is definitely something that we not only will use, but it is something that we regularly run through quickly (like breakfast cereal, berries, milk or apples).

But I’ll stop the blathering and get to down to the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, spill the tea, give you the skinny, ugh, just stop me – here are the numbers.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $70.69
Result: +$10.69

Monthly wrap up:
Spending Goal: $240.00
Actual Spent: $252.85
Difference: $12.85 – OVER BUDGET

Average Weekly Spend: $63.21
Average Weekly Overage; $ 3.21

So, I did not make my $60/week goal, but I’m still going to let the Fresh Prince dance for this one, because going over budget by $3.21/week is the equivilant to three heads of lettuce or four pounds of apples, which I cannot begrudge or regret at all.

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

Now, I still am housing a very well-stocked pantry and full freezers that I would like to cycle through, so I will need to think on a good pantry/freezer challenge to tackle for June or July, we’ll see how the rest of this week goes.

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

WEEK 3 Update: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Two weeks ago, I posted this grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here and Week 2 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 3 Update (spoiler alert, I bent the budget).

This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up this week. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 3 Update:

The third week of May was a tad bit rollercoastery. Recovering from surgery, celebrating our wedding anniversary, having a long weekend (yay Victoria Day!) and celebrating a birthday (my baby girl is now nine!), I definitely faced some physical and budgetary challenges.

Also, I did end up buying pizza for the gang on our anniversary (Mama can’t eat things as lovely as pizza so going out for dinner seemed silly and cooking on my anniversary while also juggling a soccer practice? Um, no thank you. I did though decide to take that from my ‘gift’ category, since who says that every now and then pizza isn’t the greatest gift ever? It would appear that when in doubt or feeling sheepish, I call food a ‘gift’ and slide it right into that budget category, but perhaps that is an issue to explore another time?

Blah, blah, blah. Just stop procrastinating and spill. How did the spending go? Well, in a word, it went OVER.

Did not make special shopping trips, but still, spending money 5 out of 7 days is not cool.

What I did notice from the list above is that 48% of the entries are for produce, 24% for breads and grains, 14% for dairy and just 5% each for meat, fish and salsa. All this means is that of the 21 entries, 10 were for produce (although multiples of each item were usually purchased). This is not pertinent to the budget, more something that caught my interest and confirmed what I thought. This family runs on produce and bread. Lol! We also received our Good Food Box last week, which while not a ton of produce, definitely helped and much of it is already gone.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $TBD

As usual, I do have carry-over from the last week into this week, so I don’t necessarily need to buy certain things each week. This week I will need to buy milk, as I haven’t been stocking up on it (no PC Optimum bonus offer, no milk stock up – hurumph!). I also check the upcoming flyers as soon as they are available and if something (like berries or lettuce) is one sale this week but will be priced higher next week, I will buy it a day earlier in order to avoid the higher price. This week I also have berries, pop and yogurt on my list (with some nice PC Optimum bonus offers), so I’ll be picking those up over the next few days.

If I can keep the spending to just under $60, I think I’ll have met the challenge’s objective and will be in good shape to move onto June’s challenge (which also involves food – go figure).

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

When the long-awaited prognosis is “there’s no hope for recovery.” What then?

To set the scene, you’re at the doctor with a complaint. They diagnose the problem and your first reaction is relief (that you’re not crazy and it’s an actual ‘thing’) followed closely by a practical “okay, so what do we do about it, how do we fix this?” You’re given your options (there are usually at least a few) and maybe a plan is set forth to rid you of this issue, or at the very least, to deal with it. Disgust, fear, sadness, anger, frustration, depression, all of those feelings may come later, and none would be unexpected, depending on the diagnosis and prognosis.

So, that covers what may be a typical scenario, but there are other scenarios, aren’t there? Ones where the outcome is less positive, less reassuring, and far, far less okay.

You attend a hospital clinic appointment for a years-long issue (an issue which was, incidentally, discovered quite by accident when receiving annual follow-up for an unrelated and non-fatal condition). While the doctors have never been able to pinpoint or explain to you how you ended up with this very rare (you meet exactly zero risk factors), and likely non-genetic yet life threatening condition, you have so far endured years of treatments to manage the situation. All the while, never imagining that the mystery of the ‘why this, why me and how?’ will never be answered, but there is it. No answers.

It is while you are in attendance this latest appointment, that you ask the question “so, what can be done to get rid of this?” You are told, for the first time throughout the entire ordeal “nothing. There is nothing we can do for this particular problem.”
“Can it get bigger/worse?” You ask.
“Oh yes, it could.” Your clinic specialist physician says immediately.
“So, I’m a ticking time-bomb? The walking dead, essentially? Nothing will help? No treatment? No laser, surgery, medication, nothing will make this go away?”
“No, nothing. It could stay the same, it could change. We have no treatment options. Please make your next clinic appointment on your way out.”

Now, before I continue, this is NOT happening to me, my husband or my children. None of us are the patient in this scenario and I will not reveal the person’s identity out of respect their privacy. I am, however, a completely entangled and emotionally devastated ‘other’ receiving this news and I am, for the first time in my life, absolutely devoid of coping strategies or ways to either help the patient or myself to deal with the twisted rainbow of emotions, the paralyzing fear and grief upon hearing this news. If I can’t speak the words out loud, or even think them in my head without crying, how am I expected to deal with this?

What do you do when you are given NO hope? How do you cope with the news that not only is there no hope, there is no fight? There is no chance to over come, that no matter what, nothing you do or don’t do will have any impact on the outcome?

How do you prepare to be left? Knowing full well that everyone who is born, everyone who is in our lives will one day die, how do you prepare knowing that it may not be from very, very old age, but rather an unexplainable, unforgiving and untreatable malfunction from within? How can there be no hope?

I can deal with a lot and I have dealt with a lot. I have survived a lot and I will continue to survive a lot. What I don’t know, what I can’t figure out is how to deal with any of this without any hope. I can’t figure out how to survive any of this without even the smallest possibility that it’s all going to be okay.

This is all still new information for me and I am processing while absolutely losing my collective mind at the same time. My immediate rational reaction, to search for studies, treatment, other doctors, specialists, third, fourth, fifth opinions have been exhausted and now I am just broken and sad and trying so very, very hard to pull myself together. My being broken hurts everyone I love and I know that if I am not okay, then none of them are okay either but honestly, how am I going to fake my way through this one? How do I hold on to or even find any hope when I’m told in no uncertain terms that there is none and the only certainty is the loss of this most precious person from my life?

I am open to any and all suggestions, because I got nothing on this one.

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Apparently, carrying a big purse does not give me superpowers but at least my wallet wasn’t stolen.

I carry a big purse. I have tried to scale it down, but alas, it appears as though I am not ready to make that leap to a smaller bag. I also carry a big wallet and I love it. It holds everything I need, my bills lay flat and together with my coins are easy for me to access. 

If only this were true! 😂

One day, I may reach the point that my mother has realized in the last year or so. The point at which she now carries her wallet in her pocket and carries only a pen and handkerchief in her purse. This seemed so strange to me, so of course I asked her about it. She explained to me that she carries a purse because accessorizing is the key to any outfit (duh). She also explained to me that as a senior, she is acutely aware that she has joined the ranks of yet another class of vulnerable people, at least when she is out and about in the world. 

My mother has always been fierce and brave and just a little bit crazy. Being a woman of her generation came with certain vulnerabilities in society, and none of those (now) openly challenged threats ever stopped her from living her life. 

She is still fierce and brave although advancing age has now introduced her to a new level of awareness around her personal safety of which she had thus far been unfettered. “I carry a purse because I love my purses. You know that. And you just can’t find good quality, well-made leather bags anymore. It’s all this over-priced garbage-quality shit. No way, Jose. A good bag will never let you down” she said with the conviction of a woman used to getting her own way (I know the tone well). She continued “but at the same time, if one of these assholes tries to knock me down and take my purse, well, joke’s on him, right? A used hankie and a pen. Ha! They won’t get a dime from me, the fuckers. My keys and my wallet are all safely kept not in my purse. Smart, huh?”

“Yes, Mum, that’s a good idea. But why are you bothering with the purse again? Isn’t it just a pain in the neck to carry about?”

“Ah well, you know I’m never out for that long, have to get back to take care of the dog and besides the outfit just  looks better if I have a purse, you know?”

Well, I don’t actually know because the majority of my outfits look homeless but I do know that while I love my current purse there are still times when I wish that I didn’t feel the need to carry it (and its endless contents) everywhere. While out shopping I spend time and energy keeping my purse safe, all the while also forgetting to zip it up while it hangs from my shoulder. This brings us to this morning.

I was in a slightly shady store in Newmarket (ugh, stop it – not XXX shady, just bargain-type shady). The kind of store where the other patrons will stand too closely behind you while you look at items. The kind of store where you instinctively hold onto your purse with your hand while it is still on your shoulder. Knowing these two things to be true, chose to patronize the store anyway (the frugal voices in my head are loud) and I ignored my inner sensible voice reminding me that I ought to zip up my purse. I wondered the store for a bit, choose a few books then lined up to check out, putting the books on the counter. I then started to look through my purse for my wallet and felt an instant and overwhelming panic setting it. As mentioned before, my wallet is big. It is not one that can hide or get lost in my purse, and I couldn’t find it. The words “my wallet has been taken” were almost finished leaving my lips when I glanced up from my bag and saw that I had already set my wallet on the counter, atop the books. I could have cried. I felt faint with relief and embarrassment as I was thisclose to losing all sense of dignity and having a full-on melt down right there. 

The woman behind me in line chuckled. “You’re okay” she said “I saw you starting to get panicky and I wondered if it was your wallet you were digging for, I was just about to tell you that it was on the counter.” She said with a kind and open smile. 

“Ah, thank you. I can’t believe I did that. Such a space cadet! It’s just that last time I was here, a woman was yelling that her wallet had been taken from her bag and ugh, I don’t know what got into me. Breathe.” I said, flapping my hands around my face, without taking a breath at all.

“Nah, you’re okay. It’s a different world we’re living in now. Doesn’t matter for me, I’m old, but it really bothers me for my grandchildren.” She shook her head.

“Yes. Yes, you’re right. That’s exactly what my mum says as well.” I smiled at her, willing for my body to calm down and my stomach to stop churning. “Well, lesson learned today for sure, I’ll be remembering to zip it up from now on!” 

“Well, now that it’s out of the way, you can carry on and have a good day.”

And so I did.

I should acknowledge that this story could have turned out very differently and if it had, I would have been devastated, full of guilt and shame. As it stands, I feel grateful, lucky and warned. Yes, things can be replaced, it’s inconvenient and cumbersome to cancel cards and to replace identification and I am ever so grateful that is not what I needed to spend the rest of my day doing, and at the same time, the experience has me more acutely aware that most things, once done, cannot be undone. My decision to not take the three seconds required to close my purse could have caused me, my family and others in my universe a great deal of stress and upset, had my wallet been lost or stolen. 

So, on this Monday of Mondays, I will henceforth heed the warning that God, the universe, or circumstance has so generously and graciously bestowed upon me and I will pay greater attention to the always-sensible-and-knowing voice that spends so much time reverberating around my brain trying to keep me safe from harm and far less time listening to the voice of that laissez-faire ne’er-do-well who skulks about up there looking for moments make a mess of a perfectly good day.

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx