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!

All I can hope for is that he uses his talents for the greater good one day.

Paxton is now at that stage of development when all of his baby teeth seem to fall out at once. Case in point? He has lost four teeth in the past three or so weeks and most of those have been lost in the past week.

These newly liberated chiclets have been conspicuously absent from his bedtime routine though. Turns out that Pax has a theory. He theorizes that the more teeth he antes up the more cash he will net per tooth. So, he has purposely been saving them up in the hopes of a large windfall.

But, like happens with most of the best laid plans, disaster struck. He lost the fourth tooth at the after school program earlier this week and forgot to bring it home with him (this was not a surprise). Staff, thinking it was just a wad of bloody Kleenex left on the table (go figure!), they tossed it out during clean up (the staff remain blameless and still candidates for sainthood because ewwww – kids can be gross!).

So, last night, having only three teeth, not the missing four, to offer up to the Tooth Fairy, Pax got to thinking.

Not to be deterred by his predicament, really rather not interested in suffering potential financial hardship, and completely unable to accept that it may be the result of unfortunate (albeit avoidable) circumstance, Pax decided to make the Tooth Fairy a card to explain the situation and make his pitch for mercy (and money).

He probably could have spent a bit more time, but he was on a mission to write the actual message inside.
Only this kid would show up without the goods and ask for MORE compensation in return. Lol.

Generally the children who board here receive $2 per tooth. I wonder if Paxton’s strategy worked? And if it did, maybe it’s one that I should explore further… (in some other way that does not involve losing my teeth!)
~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

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.

Is that WEED?

Ugh. So, this is 2020?

I spend a fair amount (read: half) of my life driving my people from place to place, mediating arguments and pulling over to allow any number of body functions to happen outside of my minivan. In other words, kids are fairly gross and my life is the definition of dazzling glamour. Don’t hate. Someone has to do it.

Thankfully, today on our way home from our first outing of the year, there was no call to pull over, threaten ejection from the vehicle or any other emotionally taxing and scarring action on my part. Unless, of course we count having to listen and participate in the conversations that occur behind me while I’m navigating our roads in my quest to keep everyone alive (which, incidentally, is how I spend the other half of my life – trying to keep everyone alive – ugh).

This afternoon’s conversation was one of those.
Driving north on Woodbine Avenue:

D13 – Ewwww. What’s that smell?
M15 – I dunno.
M9 – Ugh. It’s probably just from the fields. I don’t even smell anything.
D13 – Well, Mummy smells it.
M9 – D, just because Mummy smells it, doesn’t mean I have to, you know.
D13 – Ugh. Whatever, M.
M9 – Whatever, D.
P11 (appearing to just tune into the conversation) – Wait! Is it WEED? Is that what WEED smells like? I don’t know what WEED smells like – does it smell like this? This smells really bad. Mummy? Mumma?
Me (age withheld) – It is not weed. I am not sure what it is, but I’m actually fairly certain that it is smell is my brain frying combined with bitter regret and the tears of angels.
D13, M15, M9, P11 (in unison) – Oh.

P11 – Do angels really cry, Mama?

And that, my friends, is the sound of the “Mother of the Year” people shredding my entry and striking my name from the eligibility list forevermore.

Happy New Year, from my motley crew to you and yours! May 2020 bring more convoluted conversations, grey hair and teenage eye rolls. Those are a few of my favourite things ever. xo

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.

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

A Canning We Will Go + A Giveaway For You!

This month (and maybe next month too) we’re going to be having a #CanningParty courtesy of the loverly people at Bernardin. In preparation of our first jamming’ cannin’ party I want to give away coupons for $10 off the purchase of your own Bernardin Starter Kit. After our first canning party, we’ll have a draw for this Starter Kit, which retails for $49.99 (see link to Canadian Tire), so one of you can try your hand at preserving for the first time or if you’re a seasoned canner, maybe enjoy some new tools in your kitchen.

It's canning season and giveaway time! Free coupons and a canning starter kit - woo hooo!
Coupons! Save $10 off!

Want a coupon? Like and Share this post, and leave a comment (either here or on The Keswick Blog on Facebook with either your favourite thing to preserve or what you are most looking forward to trying to preserve this year. Ten people will be chosen at random and I’ll mail each of them a coupon out to whatever address provided to me. 🙂 Winners will be chosen next week, on July 11th, 2019.

Bernardin Start Kit Giveaway Preview
This could be yours! Everything you need to start canning and preserving all of the wonderful in-season produce we are currently enjoying.

We’ll start the entries for the Starter Kit next week once we have finished with the coupon draws, but here’s a preview of what could be coming your way. During the week of August 5th, I will either deliver (within Georgina) or make this available for pick up to the winner. Because of the size and weight of this kit, I will not be able to send it out via Canada Post or courier, as the cost would be prohibitive for me to cover. Details to follow next week!

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

Snickerdoodle Scone Recipe: A weekend and lunchbox treat – Family Favourites Friday recipe

When I first got married, I admit that I was not much of a baker. In fact, my husband could bake and cook circles around me. I could make enough food to keep people alive, but nothing really stood out as a ‘me’ thing. Over time and with lots (and lots) of practice, my cooking and baking got steadily better. My husband attributes this to my competitive nature and not being okay with not being the best in the house, lol. I don’t know, maybe he’s right, but whatever the reason or motivation, pretty much everyone in the house has benefitted from my dedicated practice to improve the quality, quantity and variety of dishes on offer.

For the next little while, I’m going to post a Family Favourite recipe every Friday. Weekends should be delicious, always. The recipe will not always be a dessert, but sometimes, it definitely will be. 😉

Week days are hectic and I’ve never been a big breakfast person, so generally it was cereal and fruit for the kids before school. On weekends, my husband liked a nicer breakfast: waffles, Johnny Bread (a Bermuda tradition), pancakes, bacon and eggs, typical breakfast fare. In the early years, he liked to prepare one of these things for everyone every other week or so. I suppose, being competitive, I didn’t feel good not being able to make anything special for everyone on the weekend mornings too. That’s where Snickerdoodle Scones make their simple, yet delicious entrance.

Just a few notes: I make these on the small side, so that there are more to go around and also leftovers to put into the lunches for a treat during the week. I have also doubled and tripled this recipe at times.

Admittedly, these are in no way a health food, but following the adage of ‘all things in moderation’ their smaller size makes them a perfect fit and lovely with a cuppa tea. Despite their sugary coating, they are not too sweet, just right, really.

Snickerdoodle Scones recipe
Perfection in the palm of your hand, are these right here.

Snickerdoodle Scones

Ingredients

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp butter, chilled and cut into smaller pieces
6-8 Tbsp (start with 6) milk or cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Snickerdoodly coating:
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liner.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar.
  4. Add the chopped butter and mix into the flour mixture, using either a mixer (like Kitchenaid) or with your fingertips, breaking the butter down into course, small pieces.
  5. Combine the milk and vanilla extract and add slowly to flour and butter mixture, starting with 6 Tbsp. Stir (or mix) until the dough comes together. It should be a very slightly sticky ball, not too wet and not a crumbly mess. Add additional milk/cream if needed, one Tbsp at a time.
  6. In a small dish (I use a 1 cup Pyrex container with a air-tight lid), combine the sugar and cinnamon. You will have plenty left over to use next time.
  7. Roll each ball of scone dough (a single recipe should typically yield 12 – 16 scones, depending on the size you opt to make), in the cinnamon mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet, flattening the ball slightly with your finger tips.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes (a bit longer if you like a crispier, darker bottom), until scones are set and begin to brown.
  9. Cool on wire rack a few minutes, serve warm or cold.
  10. Leftovers keep well for up to five days in an airtight container or ziplock bag. They also freeze and defrost well.

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