The results of my 30-day spending freeze

Are not so much good. But I did learn some things over the past 30 days that have been helpful and I can use to re-evaluate my budget and spending.

I realized that the only way our family functions without accumulating debt is largely due to:

1) Mr. KB’s amazing talent of being able to fix anything and everything for a fraction of the price of hiring the job out or buying a new beebob;

2) My constant awareness and ability to plan for and predict future needs for our family and, for the most part, have provisions in place to cover these needs;

3) Stockpiling food and other consumables through price-matching, couponing and attention to detail (even though this means that I make the actual shopping trip(s) less about fun and more about function);

4) Ensuring that I maintain separate budget lines and accounts to cover most expenditures – both expected and unexpected, large and small. My one oversight, I have learned was not having a new-to-us car fund started to buy a replacement daily driver. Getting on this now so maybe when the need arises (as we expect it to in the near future), there will be some money available to help fund the purchase.

5) Our combined efforts to make purchasing decisions based on function and price/cost rather than impulse and glitter.

We are so fortunate that we can largely be a one-income household (because can you believe that no one is paying me to write? No, really. I can’t believe it either. Gaw.) Our combined contributions and talents make this possible and while we don’t pack up the family for a week in the Caribbean or Disneyland every winter, we do have family vacations, go to movies, go out for dinner, the kids participate in school pizza days, we hit at least one town fair a year, have swimming and dance lessons, take in a couple of big Rogers Centre events a year, and summers include cruise nights and beach days. And we do it all without racking up expensive, soul-crushing, consumer debt. We use credit cards for the points, gas discounts or other freebies and never carry a balance. If Murphy has been a particularly big bastard, I cut back in other areas to make up the difference without tapping into credit.

These past thirty days have not been the big money-saving adventure that I envisioned it would be. But, staying aware of our family spending and making sure that I’m creating balance, between saving and shopping has been useful. Did I follow all of my original parameters? No. I didn’t. When I find flip-flops for the kids at 75% off, spending 25% of the money now, rather than 100% of the money next summer just makes sense for the way our family and budget works.

Luckily though in terms of reducing the amount of ‘stuff’ I did quite well this past month. We tossed and donated a lot of clothing, household goods and toys. We still have more to go through, but we made a great start at it. Was I sad to say good-bye to some of the clothing that I’ve been hanging on to for ‘one day’? Yes, but the lightness I felt seeing my newly tidied closet and easily closing drawers more than made up for those sad feelings.

The next 30 days, I’m going to work on continuing to reduce our ‘stuff’ Broken or outgrown toys need to go, VHS tapes that no longer play need to go, outgrown clothing needs to go. With this many people in a house, hanging on to every single thing is not reasonable or plausible. I’m all for fame and fortune but the last place that I need to find that fame is on an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive” 🙁

Another day, another self-inflicted challenge designed to increase my awesomeness. Or to reduce my already limited sanity. Same thing.

I know. It sounds impossible, doesn’t it? Increase my awesomeness? Reduce my sanity? It just cannot be done. I hear you, I do. But stay with me on this one, just for a minute.

Ha! I jest because I’m a fool. But it is another day. And I have decided to challenge myself to do something for the next 30 days. But it has nothing to do with my awesomeness (or lack thereof). No. This challenge has a few objectives, but mainly:

  1. To slow the rate of speed at which things (stuff, crap, treasures of little to no value) accumulate in our home;
  2. To use or re-purpose items we already own rather than introduce something else into our space, and to widdle down our current stockpile without adding to it;
  3. To save money;
  4. To follow through with an initiative that I decide to start (other than marriage, kids, work, etc) for longer than two weeks. I’m committing to 30 days initially, and then will re-evaluate to see what’s working, what hurts, what I need to change and what I need to continue going forward;
  5. To prove (to myself) that I can stay on task and on point when it comes to something not terribly fun but still important.

The challenge? No shopping. The only exceptions are: groceries (within budget only), prescriptions (if needed), back-to-school or seasonal clothing or shoes to fill in the gaps that their constant growing has created in the kids’ wardrobes (I have an abundance of ‘nothing to wear’ in about eight sizes, so I shall survive no matter what the weather throws at me). Also excluded from the spending freeze are items NEEDED to repair the house when I break it (as happens a little far too often). Other than those exceptions – no shopping. No picking up that clearance tee-shirt, cute picture frame or that awesome Hello Kitty notebook. No toys, no clothing, or knick knacks or kitchen stuffs. No electronics or entertainment. If it costs money and is a tangible doo-dad – it’s a no go for this chica for the next 30 days. Now, in the interest of fairness, I am going to have to host a birthday party for two my boys during these thirty days, but I have that cash set aside and it should not result in any non-consumables coming into our home.

Believe me, I would love to make the challenge longer, but I’m a chicken-shit at heart and while I feel fairly confident that I can pull this off for 30 days, the thought of trying, at least at this moment, much longer than that makes me feel nauseous and anxious. So, in the spirit of being a bit more gentle on my pathetic, wimpy self, I’ve decided to start with 30 days and go from there.

It will take better planning on my part, a little more creativity, and a lot of willpower to stick with only the necessities and not load up on the ‘deals.’ I’ll just need to remind myself often that the deals will still be there in thirty days. And then sob like a baby when that amazing hair conditioner never goes on clearance again and I missed my last chance to get it for nearly free (with a coupon!). But I’ll recover. It’s what I do.

This challenge is to begin on Saturday, September 26th and finish on Monday, October 26th. I will document just how many times I struggle to stay on track and how it is making me FEEL to not spend, to miss a deal, to have to leave something behind, to have to let a coupon expire, unused. Because I suspect that I am using accumulating things to avoid dealing with my FEELINGS. Because dealing with feelings is no fun and buying five bottles of dish soap for next to nothing is SO much fun.

And so let the adventure begin.


My week of food – a pictorial post

Every night this week I have Epicurized our dinners and the results have been very well received. But instead of reading my blah, blah, blahs, I’ll just post the pictures that I’ve been sharing on Instagram and Facebook, and a few that I didn’t share anywhere else at all. 😉


imageUsing Epicure’s Chicken Bouillon and the Three Onion Dip Mix to jazz it up.


IMG_2878.JPGThe picture says it all. I wish I had a picture of my kids inhaling dinner that night though!


imageI hear you, I do. You’re all like “What the holy Hell is that?” Well, I’ll tell you what it is. It is cabbage roll casserole (without the complicated cabbage rolling part but with tonnes of deliciousness). If anyone wants the recipe, I’ll be posting it later this week maybe? For now I’ll just say that it is a gluten-free friendly meal that appeals to gluten-free and gluten-full people alike 😉 Epicure’s contribution to this meal? The fabulous Italian Salad Dressing mix – used it dry, saved a ton of fat and calories by not using salad dressing (needed to save those calories for the cheese – shhhh!)


imageNot Epicure’d but rather to prove a point about how we’re feeding our children and making up bullshit self-serving excuses why. I posted this picture on Instagram with the following blurb:
This is our after school snack around here. Total cost? $1.57 and a little bit of prep time. Number of kids happily munching away on REAL food? Six. No chemicals, no added sugar, no hormones, just fresh fruits and veggies. Now, if it were a party, I’d probably be mixing up a batch of Greek yogurt Epicure Summer Berry Dip Mix for an extra special treat, but honestly? The kids are thrilled with their snack just the way it is. #DontTellMeYouCantAffordHealthyFood #CheaperThanOneSmallBagOfChips #thekeswickblog #Epicure #RealFoodGrowsHealthyKids #FrugalEating #CheapEats”

Thursday Dinner


Friday – Pizza Game Strong

imageSo, that’s been my week in food. It’s been a pretty stupendous week, from a food perspective anyway. 🙂

And now, here are all the other places to find me (when I’m not hiding under my bed or behind my kids) come and hang out with me at:
Facebook 1  Facebook 2  Instagram  Twitter  Pinterest

Have a wonderful weekend, remember to wear clean socks and underwear, and never leave home without an emergency toothbrush, toothpaste, mascara and lip gloss in your purse. No matter what happens, with those few things in hand, you’ll have the world by the ‘nads. You know, like MacGyver but prettier and with whiter teeth. 😉




Dear L.L. Bean, I am sad. And it is your fault. Again.


Dear L.L. Bean.

I am a long-time admirer of your store. Since childhood I have coveted your monogrammed backpacks, warm sweaters and sassy summer fare. And as a child, you knew nothing of me. Just another Canadian kid with the L.L. Bean dream. But I knew of you and I would, on occasion receive a Christmas gift from one of our American relatives, purchased from your store and wowie wow wow, was I the Queen of the street in those years.

But alas, I am no longer a child. And my relatives no longer send me your lovely goods. And I am no longer Queen of the street.  As an adult (apparently, that’s what I am now) I have some buying power in my own right. And I have exercised that power and purchased online, from your very enticing website on a few occasions in past years. With the promise of free shipping and 10% discounts and the possibility of having my coveted L.L. Bean merchandise in my own home, I purchased. And each and every time, it cost me an arm and a leg. But this year, this year is the last year that I will (almost) fall for your shenanigans.

So this week, here I sit. Another Christmas season is upon me and your emails are flooding my Outlook inbox daily. Your offers of discounts, bonus gift cards, free shipping, and more dance before my eyes, more appealing than the Magic Mike dancers and more palatable than my beloved Snickers bar. So I fall for your sweet words again and I click on your latest link.

And in no time at all, I am adding an ultrasoft this and a Scotch Plaid that and one of those scoopneck whatsits, those tights and that tote to my online cart, while remaining mindful of how my credit card company will violate me with their criminal surcharges and inflated exchange rates. But the promise of FREE SHIPPING repeats in my mind and soothes the impeding sting of my credit card’s slap.

I too quickly reach my spending limit. I have some lovely gifts for others and maybe something for myself in that light-as-a-feather shopping cart you have so helpfully provided to me. I check it twice (it is Christmas after all) and I gingerly click the ‘checkout’ button. I enter my login, and yes, I’ll have a chance to review the order before it is submitted. Yes, I understand that.

I scroll through my order (sounds longer than it really is, but I scroll slowly, so it feels longer than it really is too). I look to the right of my screen, where the charges are laid out and there it is – 10% discount code applied! Shipping $0.00! Yay! I’m so happy, your products are within reach. I can almost feel the fabric of softest flannel shirt in my hands. I hate to pay shipping and it is always grossly over-inflated and who can help but love a discount code? But my list of charges doesn’t end there, does it? No, L.L. (may I call you L.L.?) You know that the list does not end there at all. HST? Duty? What the what? No. No. NO!

I do not want you to collect HST and duty for my government. I would prefer to pay it directly to the CRA myself, at the post office when I pick up the package (for Canada Post will not deliver it to my door anyway). And, in all honesty, I do not believe that all of the items that I am (trying, well, begging really) to purchase are privy to duty charges. NAFTA, maybe? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that having the HST and duty come to more than 35% of the total charges, and having to pay them, at a premium in US funds at higher than bank rates just made the entire order outside of my financial grasp.**

So I close the browser window. I close my laptop. I walk away from my desk feeling so sad, disappointed and unfulfilled. My family will not get to experience the joys of L.L. Bean monogrammed backpacks, most excellent gadgets, beautifully soft and well made linens. And that makes me sad. So very, very sad.

Yours truly,
The Keswick Blogger – wife, mother, and 2014 unfulfilled L.L. Bean so-badly-wanna-be customer.

P.S. I think that I should get brownie points for this letter. I did not swear, curse or use a single inappropriate word. Not even once. I think that alone should earn me a break on all of those charges. I mean honestly, take a look at the rest of this blog, this place is riddled with profanity and inappropriate use of the English language. Wouldn’t you agree?

P.P.S. Despite it all, I still love you. I can’t help myself. xoxo

P.P.P.S. I’m sorry if my letter was mean. Please don’t ban me from your website or your Albany store. xo

Mostly a true story.

Mostly a true story.

** In the name of full disclosure and clarity, the subtotal for my most recent order was for four items and the subtotal was going to be $85.43 USD – ‘you have saved $39.37’ between ‘on sale’ items and the 10% discount code, free shipping. Duty and HST was going to be $29.45 USD or 34.5% of the total order price 🙁  My credit card would have been charged $114.88 USD.


My garden is possessed and not in a good way

It occurs to me that possession, or being possessed is generally considered to be a big, gaping negative. But, had I happened to be writing a blog post sharing what a killer year that I was having in the garden and was positively drowning in vegetable booty, I would very likely be using the term or idea of possession as well. To me, this indicates that in my twisty world, possession isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be lovely and good or wicked and bad. Except for possession of or by drugs or weapons – those possession are ugly assholes and will get a sist’a locked up, so we don’t go there. This is not that blog, yes?

Right then. Moving right along, I will be the first to admit that I am not a natural-born gardener. Real interest really only sparked for me sometime over the past five years. Prior to that, I could kinda-sorta keep a house plant alive (mostly), and I have photographic proof that I planted some veggies a few times with Declan when he was small (I’ll dig out that proof if need be), but really, I was not what anyone would call a get-her-hands-dirty kind of girl and just bought whatever we wanted at the store.

But I have a little bit changed my tune on that and get a kick out of walking outside and plucking a tomato off the vine or yanking an onion out of the ground, chopping it up and serving it for dinner that night. In fact, I now look forward to planting my garden every Spring and preserving my excess bounty in the Fall (together with purchased and found apples, pears, onions and tomatoes, of course!). This year, because we had such a LONG winter and Spring didn’t really show up, I kept my garden goals reasonable, my expectations nice and low and decided to go with ‘sure things.’ Well, this rational road I travelled turned into one hoofing kick to the ovaries.

As luck would have it, for the first time EVER, and probably in the history of forever, my go-to, ultimate sure thing, zucchini, is failing on a grand and fabulous scale. So many huge, yellow, horn-like flowers, a few false starts and then NOTHING. Tiny zucchini shrivel up and die and fall off the plant, unfinished. Combine that amazing luck with some kind of tomato plant-eating disease, a chipmunk who has decided that what’s mine is his, and so ‘samples’ my riper tomatoes before I get a chance to pick them, a wily, out of control cucumber plant that is just now starting to show signs of vegetable production (did I mention the whole polar vortex that is coming next month and sure to wipe out everything, garden-wise?) and potato plants that are having some kind of cross-species identity crisis and producing tomato-looking fruit on their plants. Oh, oh, oh! And please don’t let me forget that I am currently babying along four of the world’s most expensive peppers. Ten pepper plants are possibly going to net me FOUR peppers, if I’m really lucky. Worst. Deal. Ever. But enough words. Let’s go to the pictures, shall we?

If you're going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don't leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

If you’re going to take it, eat it you fucker. Don’t leave it beside the plant like a sick game for me to step on. This is not how you repay the kindness of a meal, Chipper.

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I'm assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don't want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

I planted the tubers, and eventually, potato plants sprung (and I’m assuming that potatoes began to grow beneath the soil at the same time). NOW my potatoes have decided that they don’t want to be potatoes anymore and so are morphing into tomato plants. Honestly potatoes, wtf?

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that's due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Honestly. Even if there was a chance of having normal, average sized cucumbers out of this plant, the frost that’s due to hit us NEXT month will surely take care of that quick smart. Argh!

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I'm not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

Here is one of four peppers I am currently trying to ease into maturity. Given the rest of my gardening luck this year, I’m not holding out a lot of hope, but damned if I can give up on anything.

And now, I am hearing that it is supposed to rain for the rest of the week. Oh  joy. Oh rapture. Just one more thing to throw my garden and winter reserves into a tailspin, as though those identity-crisis- having potatoes and tomato-thieving chipmunks were not enough.

It’s a good thing that I’m too lazy and unmotivated to actually drink. This kind of raggedy-ass nature behaviour/sabotage would likely start me on a three-day bender. Honestly now, what’s a girl to do?

Banana Crumble Cake a.k.a. Wear-Your-Big-Pants Cake

I have no idea where I found this recipe or why it took so long for me to try it but OMG, this is like banana bread and cake rolled up into one thigh thundering mass of yumminess. Miss Miranda and I adapted the recipe we had and baked this recipe recently and I posted a picture on the Keswick Blog’s Facebook page with the hashtags #curvygirl #lovescake. Never were these hashtags truer than after tasting this tasty little toodle.

The Ultimate Non-crummy Banana Crumb Cake to end all Banana cakes

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Cake Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed banana (approx 3-4 large bananas)
1/2 cup vegetable/canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (DIY: 1 cup of milk minus 2 tbsp plus 2 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice, let sit 5 minutes then use as directed)

Crumb Topping Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
2 tbsp mashed banana
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake: Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until well-incorporated. Stir in mashed banana, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the rest of the flour mixture. Mix just until there are no streaks of dry ingredients remaining. (I highly recommend taking your time and doing the additions in stages, as stated above – I usually just throw it all together, but slowing down actually did give me a better result 😉 )

Pour batter into the prepared pan.

For the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and salt. Add in softened butter, mashed banana and vanilla and blend ingredients in (with a pastry cutter or a couple of forks) until mixture is moist and sandy. It should stick together in clumps when you squeeze it between your fingers. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the cake (there will be a lot of it and it will cover the entire surface).

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.


Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into delicious, scrumptious squares of delight. Share this or keep it all for yourself. If the people in your life don’t understand, are they really the right people to keep around? If you’re so inclined, this cake will keep very well in an airtight sealed container for a few days. But beware of thieves. They can be crafty fuckers when it comes to cake.

Garbage is heavy so we reduced the load

Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve been enamoured with the idea of composting our ‘natural’ garbage. This family of mine goes through crazy amounts of produce on a daily basis and all of the inedible peels, rinds and waste really add a lot of heft to the green bin, that up until very recently, I had to navigate or carry down the driveway at some ungodly hour in the morning. Every freakin’ week. And I did not enjoy doing it. But I also did not enjoy the idea of having a smelly house fully of rotting trash. So I carried that trash out all the while still cruising Pinterest and frugal sites for composter ideas.

And then one day, while at Princess Auto, Mr. K.B. saw a rolling composter that was on sale(!!) for $150.00. I balked at that price, but Mr. K.B. took one look at it and said, “I can totally build that.” And so, a few weeks ago, he set about to do just that. And he did. And it’s amazing, function and didn’t cost us a thing because he repurposed a lot of things he already had on hand. So now I have a rolling composter and my trips to the curb have become much, much lighter. Like, it has gone from me dragging two green bins, heavy and full, to taking ONE green bin 3/4 full and seemingly light as a feather.

My fancy and frugal rolling composter. It's a little bit of wonderful in a spherical shape.

My fancy and frugal rolling composter. It’s a little bit of wonderful in a spherical shape.

Having a handy husband or partner or kid is one of the most frugal things you can do!

Having a handy husband or partner or kid is one of the most frugal things you can do!

*Happy dance* (Just to embarrass my kids, because I live for them but I also live to embarrass them, apparently).

The second thing that I now have (read Mr. K.B. made for me) to make the whole ‘ getting the garbage to the curb day while reducing injury and cursing’ thingy is this:

The frugal (free) super garbage trolley of the 'wick!

The frugal (free) super garbage trolley of the ‘wick!

Not even fully loaded - rolls like a dream. No more smashed feet from that evil green bin!

Not even fully loaded – rolls like a dream. No more smashed feet from that evil green bin!

Again, in his brilliance, he fashioned this mega-helpful trolley out of a discarded tow-behind kid carrier (assuming behind a bike, not a car) and some metal shelving he had on hand. And honestly, it really does handle amazingly well. Now the kids WANT to help take out the garbage. Could it be? Really? Might I be actually WINNING?!?!?



There is a reason why I rarely shop retail anymore

And that reason is because holy shit! Have you seen the prices of children’s clothes these days? I thought that consumables like clothing were getting cheaper and cheaper (both in cost and quality), but a quick sprint through The Bay on the way to the dentist last week burst that theory all to fuck.

I had to pass through the little girl’s clothing on my way through the department store to reach the mall entrance. My little Ms. M was not with me, but since she is SO completely and totally crazy about pretty dresses I notice these things more often now. One tiny adorable little sun dress caught my eye. There was not more fabric involved than would enclose one of my thighs (ok, so it was for a chubby four-year-old, but still). So I paused for a minute to check the price. $50. FIFTY-Freaking-Dollars. For ONE dress for a four-year-old. And people are actually doing this? Really?

I can’t remember the last time I spent fifty dollars on a piece of clothing for myself, but I know that it’s likely been a decade or longer. Looking at that little dress, likely poorly constructed in another country by an underpaid workforce, and taking into account the costs of shipping it to Canada, I figured that it was, RETAIL, at a store NOT Wal-Mart, a $10 dress, all day long, it was good for $10. So, that being the case, how, in the name of Sheba, can anyone reasonable justify either charging or spending $50 on a dress for a child who will more than likely cover it with spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, washable (but really unwashable) markers, and if she’s clumsy like me, blood, within a matter of 15 minutes of pulling it over her head? $50 is over 40% of our weekly grocery budget. One stinking little fabric-lacking, stain-attracting dress for $50? Really?

So, while I have a daughter who loves beautiful dresses and clothes and shoes and purses and all of those traditionally feminine trappings, I am fortunate to have a few tools to facilitate her utmost desires while still being able to feed and clothe the rest of us.

1) Shop off-season – all of those beautiful dresses? Discounted 50% or greater in another month or so.

2) Shop the thrift shops – some of us have been doing it a lot longer than Macklemore and can always find new or nearly new currently styled clothing at 75 – 95% of their original retail price. The privilege of wearing something ‘first’ is never a wise financial investment nor worth the price. Think new car and instant depreciation. Let someone else pay the ‘immediate-gratification tax’ on the item and you will reap the benefits when they get bored with it and donate or sell it shortly there after

3) Fix your shit. Now, this is easier for me to say because I happen to be married to a guy who is killer talented with a sewing machine and isn’t afraid to try to use it to make, repair or create just about anything. But I like to think that even if he was not the fearless talent that he is, that I would step up and just get it done the best way that I could.

Just because I refuse to completely buy into this ‘throw away’ or ‘over-inflated-sense-of-entitlement’ obsessed culture, does not mean that any one of my kids walk around looking like homeless waifs. They are clean, well-dressed and shod until ten minutes after they leave my house. Then all bets are off and yes, they may appear to be slightly feral and homeless. To me, that has all the markings of doing childhood right. I don’t need to spend hundreds, no, it would be thousands of dollars (four small kids, so multiple everything by four) every year on clothing for them to look presentable and feel loved, happy or successful. No, having clean, well-fitting clothing and not living in fear of tearing or wrecking a $50, $60, or $70 dollar dress or shirt is about where I want my kids to land.

In my younger years I would have never thought that one day I would feel this way or admit it out loud, because as much as I love sparkly and shiny things, and ridiculously expensive taste, I love my life not being trapped by consumerism and trekking through the mall spending money I don’t have, on shit we don’t need and have no room to house. I am finally at a place in my personal growth (!?!?) where I can see something, admire it, maybe even love it, without needing to own it.

Please don’t tell me that any of this means that I may be a grown up. Anything but that.

Nope. Not a cocaine addict. A different kind of mental illness courses through these veins, but it does so without the aid of narcotics. Yay, me.

Nope. Not a cocaine addict. A different kind of mental illness courses through this body,I am sure, but it does so without the aid of narcotics. Yay, me.

Free samples in the mail. Small in size, big in smiles.

Usually when Miss Moon and I walk over to pick up our mail, I am usually disappointed with the array of bills, hearing aid solicitations, MPP newsletters, and mis-directed mail that awaits me.

Today, there was a bill (of course – bite it Hydro One – SO tired of rate increases, time of use robbery and the eternal ‘debt repayment’ charges that increase our bill to three times our actual hydro usage. So. Annoyed). A RRSP statement (yay to having a good investmenty money guy!) and another piece of mis-directed mail.  We’ve lived here a year and a half and we’re still getting the previous owners mail. 🙁 BUT, amid this mind-numbing collection of future Blue Box filler, there was this:


Free Samples!  I love free samples.  If the sample is for an item that we will not use, I’ll donate it, but if I can find a use for it around here, I will.  Free samples are the reason that I will probably not have to buy shaving razors for a couple of years.  Love, love, love samples!  The contradiction here is that I almost NEVER take the offered samples at Costco.  I’ll let the kids (depending on what it is, of course), but unless it’s a free sample of Valium laced Vodka, I pass.



Even as a reformed retail therapy abuser, this news makes me happy. Oh, and free money always helps too.

For years, our U.S. neighbours have been able to shop for groceries, housewares, books, music, toys, etc. on  Up here in Canada, we’ve been stuck with books, movies and music, similar fare as Chapters/Indigo hocks.  At least that was true, until now.  This morning, I received an email from that announced that Canadians can how shop online at and purchase TONNES of grocery items, specialty food items, and more.

Now, for the most part, I abhor spending money online (or at all really, except for groceries, I like grocery shopping and stretching those grocery dollars to fill the bellies around me) – the convenience mark-up ticks me right off (irrational?  Maybe, but it does).  That, coupled with being tired of spending money on products that fall apart, are cheaply made but costly to purchase have turned me off of all but the most necessary purchases.  But is a slightly different story because more often that not, I use gift cards earned through Swagbucks.  Free money is the best kind of money to spend.  I wrote more about Swagbucks here (tip #5).   I now usually earn $10 to $15 a month in Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks, and while that alone is not very much, over the course of a year (think Christmas or just pick-me-up gifts) it can equate to $120 to $180 to spend willy-nilly, and when you generally do not buy everything that you want or see, it’s a total treat to spend frivolously (very occasionally, of course). 😉  Use your free money and shop during sales and you can end up with a lot of nice new swag for $0 (watch for free Super Saver Shipping too!).

Not very funny, wordy or revolutionary, but the news of the expanding product lines brought a smile to my face today, so I thought that I would share.

Disclosure: The links are referral links, but I’m not killing it with referrals, so if you’d rather just go to the sites, click here for the Canadian Amazon grocery page and here for Swagbucks. 🙂