Monday, March 31, 2008

Feeling Low

I'm posting my goals and figures to keep myself on task but I'm feeling so heart broken right now. In a few days I promise to be back to blogging. I am trying to keep myself distracted and keep going even though I feel very lonely without my favorite girl.

End of the Month TCOB Review for March 2008

1) Criminal Record Check - DONE

2) Food Safe Certificate - DONE

3) Start new Job - DONE (x 2) :)

4) Get Learners License - Not Completed

5) Pay last debt under $3,500 - DONE

6) Get my taxes done - DONE

7) Organize my home office - Not Completed

8) Renew Farmers Market membership - DONE

End of the Month Figures for March 2008

It's time to see what type of progress I have made this month as far as debt and savings go.

February left my numbers at:

Federal Student Loan $3910.11
Provincial Student Loan $0.00 (PAID IN FULL)
Savings $410.00

End of the month figures for March are:

Federal Student Loan $3,462.34

Savings $410.00


During April I hope to work on both areas. I am planning to beef up the EFund a little bit more while still tackling the debt aggressively. Check out my April TCOB for more details!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Farewell to Mommy's Little Cherri Baby


Today was a very sad day in our household. This blog will be on hold until I am feeling up to writing again.

RIP Cherri Bear - March 29/08 I love you and you're in my heart and thoughts forever Mommy's Baby.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Snowing!

Ah! I can't believe its snowing here on the Island today. Ugh!

It's sticking too! It's been going steady all day. If this keeps up we may get a few centimeters of snow which will cause everyone here to drive like looney tunes!

Where I live a few inches is enough to close schools which must make some of you reading this laugh but its so true. I personally cant' stand it. As a pedestrian all I think about is the slush to follow and the black ice patches.

Sigh! I wish I had a crazy carpet.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

100th POST!!!

Today marks my 100th post on Blogger!

Thank you to everyone who reads this blog. When I started blogging a few years back it really helped me to keep focused on my goals and to help hold me accountable. I still love using it as outlet and hope to keep blogging for years to come.

My move to blogger has turned out to be a great decision. I am very thankful for every comment I get. Your kind words and support are priceless to me.

If you enjoy my blog please add me to your blog roll and I will do the same. I put a lot of time into making sure my blog is updated regularly for my readers viewing pleasure :)

Cheers to my readers!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday!!! - Spaghetti Secrets Revealed

I promised you all my secret ingredient that I put in my spaghetti sauce and here it is......

Pepperoni

Yup! That's my secret ingredient. I love it and so does my guy. You can try different types if you like. If you like spicy sauce get a hot pepperoni, or try honey garlic which makes the sauce a little sweeter.

If you don't eat pepperoni you could always try sausage. That's a good one too!

The best things about spaghetti sauce are that its never the same and its always best the next day!

I recommend cooking your spaghetti sauce with pepperoni for at least 4 hours. Recently I've started leaving it most of the day in the slow cooker.

Mmmm I'm a pasta girl!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Cleaning!

What better time to start cleaning out our closets and dusty files than Spring?

So by now you have all clued into the fact that I absolutely adore Gail Vaz-Oxlade! While poking around her site some more I clicked on some of the links. I was more than thrilled at what I found.

When I attended the seminar held by Gail a few months ago I received a folder with some tips on how to get yourself organized and some inspiring charts and so forth.

Well I am more than pleased to share with you Gail's "Get Your Finances Organized in 12 Steps."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Finding Money Mondays - 6

Only use bank machines that are affiliated with your bank!!

It shocks me how many people do not realize they are being double charged when they do this. I guess they either don't read their bills, they have this fee covered by their banks, or WORSE they just don't care.

I hate this fee. The ATM fee.

Let me tell you something. When you use another banks machine it usually indicates that you will be charged a fee for the convenience of getting "quick and easy" access to cash now. What a lot of people surprisingly don't know is that you then in turn get charged from your bank as well.

So lets say you are charged $1.50 by the ATM for convenience and then you are also charged another $1.50 from your bank. So that equals out to.... $3.00.

Wow! So if you are just getting a quick $20 out that just cost you 15%.

Ouch! That's ugly.

The moral of the story is plan ahead. Avoid using other banks ATM machines at all costs. No laziness on this one folks. It's just not worth it.

If you go online you check your banks website for branches or ATM's in your area or the area you'll be traveling too.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Psssst! QUICK! Come here.....




My guy keeps bringing up the Easter Bunny. He said flat out "Hey, Valentines is yours and Easter is mine".

Okay, no problem there. I started spoiling him our first Easter together a few years ago with kinder egg hunts and such. When he asked me to talk to to the Easter Bunny about making sure he has a good easter I was way ahead of him.

So here's a sneak peak as to what my guy will find tomorrow when he wakes up.

I had to hid everything in the storage boxes you see behind, along with the things for my niece and nephew. :)

I also bought some mini chocolate bunnies for when his buddies come over for their weekly dinner tomorrow. Yes, I'm a good gf.

Joining the Budget Challenge

I having been thinking of tracking my expenses the last few months but always get sidetracked. I am going to track them during April but there will be one category out of whack. I'm giving myself $100 from my tax refund and matching it with $100 from one of my paychecks to spend on clothes. This is A LOT for me. I'm good at finding bargains so I hope I'll get a lot for my money. I have to volunteers to help me shop for some totally flattering buys.

These girls love to shop! Me on the other hand... I hate it. This is probably the reason behind my sad wardrobe. With that being said I want to make sure I don't go crazy once I'm out there and go over budget so I added myself to Krystal's April Budget Challenge.

I vow to not go crazy or be influenced by my sexy co-shoppers to go over the $200 limit I have set for myself :).

Happy Easter Weekend

My mom and I went in on little easter presents for my niece and nephew to help cut costs. We bought them each a sand bucket filled with fun summery toys and a few easter activities. The one thing you won't find is any chocolate unfortunately because its turns my niece into a crazy person and my nephew is just a wee baby.

We did however stick in some egg shaped gums for my niece just because what is easter without a little bit of candy, right?

I can't wait for us to go over there and give them their gifts. I think my sister has planned an egg hunt for my niece that trails to a new bike that I'd like to watch.

Enjoy your easter everyone!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Today we helped my mom and her bf move most of his furniture into a storage unit. I have a feeling we'll be back there again tomorrow moving a bunch of stuff for him and my mother. I think I'm going to stick behind though and try and organize my office since I still haven't completed that task for my March TCOB goals yet.

I made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce this evening. I'll portion it out and freeze a lot of it. I love having it all ready made. I use the sauce sometimes for making a quick lasagna or pasta rolls. Sauce is always better the next day or after being frozen I think. I'll give you the secret ingredient to my sauce in Wednesday's post.

Sometime this weekend I'm taking my guy to check out a gorgeous bed frame I saw last week. He promised when we moved here last summer that he would purchase one for us and I really like this one. So hopefully he'll like it too because its a great deal. The place we are buying it from is closing down in the next few months.

My guy is making chili tonight in the slow cooker and then freezing a bunch of it too. This will be good to break out when he's having his dinners with the guys. Did I mention he's an amazing cook? Mmm.

I'm just happy for the long weekend! I'm hoping to get a lot accomplished. Anyone else have some holiday weekend chores to do?

Tracking my Bus Pass

I haven't been using my bus pass very much at all this month. I think I should have just bought tickets instead of the pass. Hopefully I'll be working a lot more next month and will need the pass to get back and forth. I've decided to track on my blog how many days out of the month I actually use the pass by showing the amount I would have paid if I had used cash daily to make sure I'm getting my money's worth.

One good thing about riding the bus is that I have time to read my learners guide which is boring as heck. I didn't read the manual the first time I took the test and I did quite well but this time I'm more serious about it. Plus, I want to make sure I learn everything and don't make mistakes on the road because I do respect the safety of others and of course myself.

Riding the bus is tiring for me though. I think its the motion of the bus that puts me to sleep. Every time I'm on it I get off wanting to have a nap which isn't good because I'm usually headed somewhere like work, lol.

Yes, I know riding the bus costs significantly less than maintaining a vehicle. Still, dealing with the weather, other riders and crappy schedules is enough to make me want to start getting my finances in order so I can afford a car and proper lessons.

I plan to get my learners in the next few weeks here if I can just get through that book!

Tax Question

When having my taxes done the other day I asked if I should hang onto my receipt for my Food safe course for next years taxes because it was a work related expense. I was told no because the cost of the course fee would need to be over $100 to claim any of it back. The course fee for Foodsafe is $69. Too bad.

Is this true?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sketchy Job Offer Part 2

So I didn't end up going to the job today for a few reasons.

I was a little worried because I realized I would need to catch a cab there because there is no transit service that early in the morning. I didn't have any cash on me and neither did my guy so I would either need to have the cab take me to a bank machine ($$) or walk to the bank machine and have the cab pick me up there (scary).

Plus, the job is not in the best location and I have to go down this side street downtown and through these gates and I decided I better check it out in the daylight before proceeding to do this.

It wasn't a problem though, I called and emailed him right away to let him know. I talked to him just a few hours ago and he was fine with it. He said there are two other girls who also want the job so he's going to decide between us when he sees who works out the best and who likes it.

So I start on Monday now which gives me the weekend to prepare for it. I hope I'll like this job because the hours are really good. 6am to 230pm Monday thru Friday. Its 40 hours a week and the schedule never changes except for being closed on holidays.

This would be good because it would give me time to be with my guy on weekends and be able to work another part time job if I want to. The down side is that I won't be able to do the Friday Farmers Market during the summer but once my accessories are approved I can do some of the Sunday Cruise Ships that come into town.

I also got a second email regarding a part time evening job at the local newspaper where I would basically be feeding flyers into a machine that inserts them into the newspaper. Not very exciting but I've discovered that I like to work alone mostly so I think this could work out good for me. I'm in the process of just setting up a time to meet with him fill out the paperwork to get me started.

So I have two new prospects but I'm still eying up other jobs and applying for them as well. I hope one or both of these works out because I'm eager to start working. I want to get that debt all paid off and start saving for Australia!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sketchy Job Offer

I applied for a sort of labour job today and got a call right away asking if I would like to start tomorrow at 6am.

Why not? Lol, this should be interesting!

P.S Survivor fans - its on tonight this week.

Thanks Mom

I love my mom! She's always doing little things to help me out all the time.

When I'm away she takes care of my little fur baby and makes sure she's content while I'm gone. She drives me to appointments when I ask nicely. She listens to my crap everyday over the phone at least once or twice. She does a lot and for that I am thankful.

Growing up we never had a lot but we always had each other. My mom always did her best on limited funds to make sure we got by alright.

Recently my mom has been lending things to me so that I don't have to purchase them.

You see, we don't want to invest in furniture or house hold appliances right now because we're leaving in two years. We will have to get a storage unit for the things we want to keep and so we want to be as minimalistic as possible to keep the cost down.

In the past few months my mom has lent us a TV, two cordless phones and now a 4 in 1 printer. She's been trying to make our lives easier in a lot of ways. We are always grateful to be able to temporarily use these things so that we don't have to purchase them ourselves.

She has offered us couches, chairs and other things but we only take what we need. Well, we didn't NEED that newer TV but its nice to have since the other one was always being laughed at by people, lol.

Lending me the 4 in 1 is the best thing she's done so far. It will really help me get organized and not have to rely on my guy to print things off for me at work. I'm always in need of a copier and a printer so this is soooooooo relieving to me to have one on hand. My only obligation is to give it back when I'm done and purchase my own ink once it runs out. I can't wait to get it all hooked up!

Thanks Mom!

What are you doing with your tax return?

I'm debating using $100 of my tax return to purchase some very much needed clothing for myself. If you saw my closet you would probably tell me to use the whole thing, lol.

If I do choose to do that then I would put the other $400 on to my student loan and try to pay it under 3G's next month. That would take a little pressure off me in trying to get this loan paid off before the end of the year.

So I'm wondering what other people are doing with their tax returns (if you happen to get one)? Are you beefing up your EFund, saving it for something special or are you treating yourself to something you really, really want?

Debt Attacker

I am proud to announce an extra payment to my student loan debt of $350.

This brings my total debt tally to $3,529.12 ! At the end of the month student loan will automatically take out another $75 which will bring me to my goal for getting it under 3500.

I feel really good about the progress that I have been making on becoming debt free which is of course my biggest goal right now. The thought of earning money and not having to give most of it away to bills or debt is truly unfamiliar to me now. Thats okay though! I'm ready for this change in my life.

I can't wait for that last debt payment to be made and to know that I have finally gotten that monkey off my back. I have truly learned a lot of valuable lessons and a great deal of patience during this process.

Okay, so I'm not there yet but I'm so close. I can actually see that my dedication is paying off and there is a light at the end of this long tunnel.

What's Cooking Wednesday!!! - BBQ'd Potato Secrets

Last night we had steaks on the BBQ with baked potatoes and a salad. I, as usual, took care of the veggie part of dinner. My guy asked me to try brushing some oil on the potatoes and sprinkling them with salt and pepper before wrapping them in foil to go on the BBQ.

This made the skins sort of crisp and really tasty! I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taxes Done and Done

So I had my taxes done today and I did get a refund!! How much?

$500 smackers!!!

I can't wait to get the cheque in the mail! I'm deciding on whether to throw it all on my student loan or if I should go half and half between that and my EFund.

If I use it on my student loan I could have it paid down to under 3 grand next month... that sounds good to me. On the other hand I got moved to a new section of my job yesterday and will not be getting many hours until another employee leaves.. so I would like to have some emergency funds on hand.

I am looking for another job though so that I can bring in some more cash flow.

Link Love

Here is some more link love for you:

My Open Wallet - I've been reading this blog for a long time and have always enjoyed it a lot. It's regularly updated too :)

Tired of Being Broke - This blog cracks me up a lot of the time. I love when the writer goes off about customers trying to stretch their credit to the limit at her part time gig while she stares at them in disbelief.

The Hustle of Sistah Ant- She's got her internet connection back and she's on a roll folks.

Saving for a Home of My Own - This is a new blog for me but I love reading it!

Save Leigh Ann - This blogger paid off 20 G's in consumer debt in one year using blogging as support. Her posts are always good for a chuckle!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St Patricks Day

Don't forget to wear a little green somewhere visible today or beware of sharp pinches coming your way from cheeky coworkers and friends!

What to do?

I've decided that today during my meeting with my manager that I'm just going to be honest. I'm going to tell him that I am willing to put my best foot forward and see how the job goes but that I really want to be trained in different sections where I'm not dealing directly with the residents for the most part.

Hopefully this works out okay because I did tell him during the entire interview process that the kitchen is where I wanted to be. I hope he'll be understanding and schedule me for training in another section soon.

I'm going to keep my eyes and ears open for other job possibilities too just in case.

In other news I should be able to get my taxes done in the next few days here. I'm also going to call revenue services about the tax situation with my former employer. I can't wait to have the mediation done and over with tomorrow. Ugh! I need to get that dirt off my shoulders. :)

Schedule Conflicts

I just realized that I cannot work a shift that I was scheduled on Tuesday. I just found out about it tonight and then realized once I got home that I am already booked that day for a mediation with my former employer. The mediation is about some heavy topics and owed monies to me and I know I will not be a good state to work afterward.

I have to go in an hour early (paid) to finish filling out some paperwork with the manager. I have three shifts under my belt but the first day was a mess. I barely got trained at all because everything was so hectic. My job is complicated and there is already not enough training so I'm pretty freaked out.

I checked the schedule and it looks like I have an average of 3 shifts per week and that's just not going to cut it. I need to maintain 25 hours per week for benefits and I need to make money this year. This year is all about making money and working hard to keep it flowing in.

I do not like the position very much at all that I am working in right now but I'm trying to wait it out to see if it gets better. I want to ask the manager to train me in some other areas right away so that I can pick up some more shifts. I want to be trained in other areas in the kitchen, which is what I was originally applying for. I just don't really like working around so many people.

I just finished a bunch of paperwork I needed to have done for tomorrow's meeting. It's the bulk of my hiring package and union papers. I still need to go over my notes for my daily routines because tomorrow is my last day before I'm thrown to the wolves.

I still haven't had the time to organize most of the papers for my mediation on Tuesday morning. Most are in the hands of my mediator already so all I really need to bring is some extra supporting documents I haven't faxed over yet. I need refresh my brain Monday evening after work (yeah right) of all the details of my claim against my former employer. I'll need to fish out the documents in the morning before work. Ugh... I'm so tired and I'm really hoping this post makes sense!

Sorry there is no Finding Money Monday today... just overtired ramblings. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Curling your hair with a flat iron

Until recently I did not know that you could curl your hair with a flat iron. I consulted with my best bud who is a hair dresser and she confirmed it.

I looked around on Youtube and found a few instructional videos.

This one seemed to be the one most people referred to by a girl named Susie. I looked around and found a two part series for short hair that I liked better. You can watch them here and here from Mommytobe1115. She's really cute!

Enjoy your Sunday afternoon! I'll be working from 3-9pm again today. :( I'd rather be finishing up the digging of the garden or helping my grandpa out but somebody's got to pay off those student loans, lol.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mid Month TCOB Review for March 2008

1) Criminal Record Check - DONE

2) Food Safe Certificate - DONE

3) Start new Job - DONE

4) Get Learners License - Not yet completed

5) Pay last debt under $3,500 - Planning $350 extra payment March 21 and regular $75 payment March 31st

6) Get my taxes done - Organizing paperwork and waiting to see new work schedule before I book an appointment.

7) Organize my home office - In the works

8) Renew Farmers Market membership - DONE

So I have completed half my goals for the month. The only one that I'm really concerned I won't get done is getting my learners license just because finding the time to read the book has been hard lately. It also doesn't help that its a very boring read, lol. I'm trying to read it on the bus but too much of that makes me ill.

I'm not giving up though! Check in at the end of the month to see if I complete all eight goals.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tax Time

On Thursday my Guy checked our PO box and I am happy to report all of my tax forms have been delivered. Including the one I thought I would have to estimate for.

I noticed for one job the tax amount was huge. I do remember asking for extra taxes to be taken off each cheque during my last few months there because my tax people warned me about the employer. So that should be beneficial to me now.

On the other hand the horrible employer who I will be going through mediation with next week only deducted $15.10 for income tax but I earned $2235.25 in the small amount of time that I worked there. Hmmm

I also have my student loan interest credits so we'll see how it goes. Once I get my schedule for this job I will set up an appointment to get them done.

Progress in the Jiffy



Out tomato plants are starting to grow like crazy. It sure didn't take long for them to start popping out of their soil. The peppers have been a little slower. One has finally started to grow but the other 5 seem to be hiding still. I hope they'll catch up with the tomatoes. It will be weeks before we can plant them but its so fun to watch them grow!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Skippin Out

Tonight is wing night but I'm skipping out on it. I'm just too tired. We went crazy the last few days with the inventory at Grandpa's and my body and brain are burnt out. I start the new job tomorrow so I need to get myself rested.

I want to lay everything out tonight and have it all ready to go tomorrow morning. I have some paperwork to get into order for the Manager and my clothes to figure out still. I also need to review the transit schedule for tomorrow's fabulous bus rides to and from. This will be the first time using my bus pass this month. Ugh

I also have to prepare some paperwork for my labor dispute next week (I'll post about this another time). I need to spend some time reviewing the all information so I'm ready to fight for my rights. I'll need to check the transit schedules on this one too. Gotta get my moneys worth.

I'm a little intimidated about working 4 days straight right off the bat but luckily they are 6 hour evening shifts. I'm an evening person and the shorter shifts will be better for absorbing info.

I want to try and tidy up around the house and find a slow cooker recipe for tomorrow so I can get my house all prepared for me going back to work. Wow, it's been a few months since I've been in the work force and I'm a little nervous! Wish me luck.

p.s Just so you don't think I'm going nuts getting stuff done I also want to block out 3 hours for my favorite tv night of the week! I'll probably sort papers then on commercials :)

LIke a smack in the face

Wow. Sitting here reading some new to me blogs and I stumble across a blog where a woman is writing about a trip she wants to take and the travel costs associated with it. I was floored at the numbers she casually threw out there for travel costs. I realized that I need to get more in focused if I want to make this trip a reality. We always talked about this trip since we've been together and we've been slowly getting into the process of being prepared.

The problem is that we haven't made the goal specific enough yet. We don't have an exact time frame or guesstimate for our departure. We don't have any kind of general game plan for locations while we are there (back up plan). We don't have costs laid out yet. We don't have contact information for reliable van purchase or rental. We need new gear and I need to invest in the proper type of clothing for the lifestyle. We need to find out about one year work visas. We have a lot to get in order! No wonder I've been so lofty about getting things done. The impact has not hit me yet.

I know I shouldn't be too hard on myself. The problem is I'm a planner. I mean a BIG time planner. I plan all the social activities for friends. I throw the parties, organize the games, food and people. I like to know who's going to be there, when and what I need to organize for them. It's nuts. I organize the family functions, holiday meals and birthday parties. This year I threw a surprise birthday party to show my guy all the new friends he had made since moving to this province.

My guys is like.. ok who really cares, we'll just deal with things as they happen. Everything will work out for the best kind of attitude.

Can you see where we might bump heads on a few issues? Its drives me insane!! Still, he's the only one who can make me go from crazy to giddy with just one smile.

If I want to be prepared for this trip in a way that makes me feel secure I can't wait for him. I need to do it for me.

Ring Ring!

Hello?

Good morning ma'am. This is your wake up call.

Thank you.

Dislosure

This policy is valid from 13 March 2008


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Exercising Your Rights

A close friend of mine once told me "Your rights are not given to you, you have to take them." As you continue to read my blog you will realize that I have had to exercise my rights many times in the last year. Once with my ex-landlord, once with my ex-employer and the other day against my neighbour.

A few months ago a house across the street was purchased. The people who moved in were horribly annoying. I'm talking blaring music, noising kids and disturbing mess. This month the house went up for sale again! Yippee! We were so excited that they would be leaving the neighbourhood so that we could enjoy the peace again.

Well they painted the house inside, took down the blinds and left a huge mess out on the side walk for 2 weeks. The house is empty. The mess of garbage spanned across a few feet and had everything from paint cans, children's toys and of course... fast food wrappers. They moved out , put up the sign and left the filth for us to enjoy.

The house is directly across from mine and everyone who comes to visit commented on the mess. I tried emailing the owner, calling the number and everything. Finally I found an ad for the house online and emailed him directly through the ad. I warned him if he didn't clean up the mess last weekend that I would call the city on Monday since it was violating a city bylaw.

You have to understand readers that the garbage men will not clean this mess and I don't think they should have to. It has rained and its also been hot and the pile smelled. Not only that but it was starting to go into the street and some had even blown into my yard! Grrrrrrr.

So the weekend came and went with no clean up. On Monday I called the city and reported it. On Tuesday I watched the garbage men drive by the mess and shake their heads. Wednesday morning I saw the garbage once again as I left to go to my grandfathers. Wednesday night the garbage was gone.

So I guess the owner just needed a little push from the city and the threat of fines to get his butt into action!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What's Cooking Wednesday!!! - Chicken and Corn Saute

Last Saturday night I was all excited to try out a new electric wok that I bought half price only to open it and discover that half the components were missing. :( I was upset, especially since I had bought a few things to start cooking in it. A few months back my mom bought me a great stirfry recipe book and I've been dying to use it.

After flipping through many mouth watering recipes I settled on an easy one and got everything all ready. Once I realized cooking with the wok was a no go I decided to just use my frying pan. It turned out great.

Chicken & Corn Saute

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
9 oz/250 g baby corn cobs
9 oz/250 g snow peas
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
pepper
rice or Chinese egg noodles, to serve

1)Using a sharp knife, slice the chicken breasts into long, thin strips.
2)Cut the baby corn cobs in half lengthwise and then top and tail the snow peas.
3)Heat the sunflower oil in a preheated wok or a wide skillet.
4)Add the chicken and cook over a fairly high heat, stirring, for 1 minute.
5)Add the baby corns cobs and snow peas, and cook over a moderate heat for 5-8 minutes, until evenly cooked. The vegetables should still be slightly crunchy.
6)Mix together the sherry vinegar, honey, and soy sauce in a small bowl.
7)Stir the vinegar mixture into the pan with the sunflower seeds.
8)Season well the pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
9)Serve the dish hot with rice or Chinese egg noodles.


This was so good! I did change things up a little though. I only used one and a half chicken breasts cuz the ones I have are huge. I also cut the amount of peas and corn in half. I used snap peas instead of snow peas becuz thats what I had and I like them better. I didn't use sunflower seeds becuz I didn't have them on hand. Also the recipe indicated that if you didn't have sherry vinegar you could use rice vinegar or balsamic, so I used the balsamic since I had that in the cupboard. We had it with some leftover rice and it was great! This one is a keeper in our household for sure.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cleaning House

This weekend my Guy cleaned out our storage room and laundry area. Thank god! There is nothing worse when doing laundry then tripping over boxes. I was so grateful to him for doing this. Of course I still need to go through my boxes in there but on the whole it was good.

We also sorted out a stack of papers we had accumulated together. In them was my passport! Wow, I was freaking out becuz I have not been able to find it since returning from Montreal at the beginning of January. He also found some cheques he had not cashed yet. Bonus for him!

I also found my cheques! *wiping sweat off brow. Being disorganized is so stressful, so I'm glad we are teaming up to get things done. It's up to me to clean my jewellry office though! Oh procrastination is so ugly, lol. Its one of my March TCOB goals though so I need to get on that.

On Saturday I'll post an update of my March TCOB progress so you can see where I'm at for the month. I reviewed it last night and I think I did a good job on selecting goals that are attainable for me this month so I'm feeling good about my progress.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Safety First??

My friend had a mini crisis last week when her baby was hurt by her baby gates. She purchased the gates made by a company called Safety First. The name of the company obviously does not portray their products very well.

He is teething right now with 4 teeth already grown in. He likes to chew on things constantly. She was tidying up and he was holding on to the gate watching. He started to chew on the gate when she heard him suddenly start shrieking. She rushed over to find blood rushing from his mouth. There was a sharp edge on which his gums were sliced open!

She took a photo to document the injury. His poor gums are red and swollen so she's keeping an eye on them. Poor little guy, his gums are sore enough with all those teeth trying to break through.

She returned the gates to where she bought them and was given a refund with a nonchalant attitude toward the injuries that her child endured (Wal.mart). She asked to speak to the baby department management about having them pulled from the shelves. The manager was not in that day and so she'll have to wait to speak to them.

I advised her to contact the company directly and send them a photo of his poor little baby gums. This is completely unacceptable. Baby products need to tested and they need to be safe.

Make sure you do your research when purchasing products for your child. Check online for any customer rants and complaints. I hope this company responds to her complaints in an appropriate manner!!

Finding Money Mondays - 5

READ YOUR BILLS

A lot of people receive a bill, look at the amount owed, pay it and toss it to the side. This is a bad habit. I can't tell you how many times I've found weird charges on my bill or I haven't received promised credits or promotions on my bill. It's important to keep track of all the expenses on your bill because if you read the small print many companies give you a time limit in which you can dispute charges after the fact.

It's also a good idea to read the side columns for information on current promotions or upcoming changes. Having worked for a few different call centers in my time its amazing how many people don't read their bills and then call in and complain when they see a charge for something has increased. For example, the price of calling 411. If you don't read your bill from top to bottom you could be costing yourself more than you realize and companies typically don't credit back for this. If you get a good agent they may credit you the first time but you can bet they will notate your account so that you don't get that credit again. If its a big charge you may only get a partial credit. Since they informed you in writing (your bill) they technically don't have to do anything.

The point is it's your responsibility to check that all charges are accurate and that you are up to date with fees associated with your usage. So get out your magnifying glasses and get informed!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Foodsafe Done and Done

Knock anther goal off my March list!

Foodsafe is fully completed with a test score of 92%! Yay me!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Blogger Issues

Sorry there was no post this morning but everything I clicked on gave me some weird error and after about 5 minutes I became impatient and gave up.

Today I was at Grandpa's again helping with the inventory for things we could recognize. We found a box of my mom's framed pictures so that was uplifting. Anything we can salvage at this point is a plus. We only have a few more weeks before the place is bulldozed so we have to act quick but honestly it takes so long because you have to itemize every single little thing for the insurance company.

I must admit though I am not happy about the circumstances I do love seeing my Grandpa all the time when I'm there helping. He's my favorite person in the whole world.

Tomorrow I have my Foodsafe course to attend all day. I can't find my cheque book so I'll have to borrow one from a fresh booklet. Hopefully its in my mess of an office (yes I know.. bad bad bad).

Don't forget to set you clocks forward tonight! Remember.... spring forward.. fall back.

I'm off to bed. I already packed a healthy lunch for tomorrow and had a shower so that all I have to do tomorrow is straighten my hair and slap some mascara on. Ugh .. why couldn't we be setting the clocks back so that I could get an extra hour of sleep instead of less?

Good night all!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Outback Fund

I know people who read my post about spending one year in Australia must have a lot of questions.

How are you going to pay for this?

Once my debt has been paid off completely and my EFund goal is reached I will start another savings fund for the trip.

How will you save enough to stay a whole year?

We plan to buy a van to live out of and to work odd jobs through out our entire journey to pay for day to day expenses as much as possible. We will have one backpack each for personal items.

What if you decide you don't like it there?

I don't expect this but if it did happen we would continue traveling somewhere else.

What if something unexpected comes up and you desperately need funds?

I plan to bump my EFund up a few grand before going. Ideally $5000.

What about money for when you return?

I will have some cash put aside for when I return, a great EFund, some GIC's, and of course I'll have my RRSP's working hard for me. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Done in a Jiffy




Last weekend we were near Home Depot so we stopped in to look at seeds and things for starting our garden. We need to start some indoors before planting them in the garden so we picked up this nifty little thing called the Jiffy Windowsill Greenhouse 24.

It has 24 peat pellets inside that are pretty straightforward to use. First you add water and let them soak it all up and get big. Then you fluff the tops and pull back the netting. Then you sow the seeds, put the top on and place it in a warm place out of direct sunlight.

We did it the other night and I'm anxiously waiting to see results. Ok, so I'm a little impatient :)
We started 6 mixed bell pepper plants, 9 beef tomato and 9 sweet cherry tomato. The seeds for the bell peppers were 2.99 which is a steal of a deal I think, once they grow, because peppers here are 2.99/lb.

I'm really excited about getting things started on the garden. This weekend we are back to digging up the yard and maybe picking up some other seeds. We are still debating what to plant.

I want to make sure there are peas, beans, carrots and corn. My guy wants the same things but he also wants radishes and a few other things he hasn't disclosed yet, but he has a list! We wanted to also grow potatoes but we have a feeling they take too much space so we're not sure yet. We have some research still to do.

I'm lucky to live on the west coast where you can grow all year long for the most part. The only downside is we are renters and this house was previously for sale before we rented. We did get a chance to talk to the owner two months ago and he said he had bought the house as an investment but the previous renters trashed it twice. I could tell though he was impressed by how nice we kept it and all the work we had done in the yard. Still, if the realtor thinks its best to put it back on the market he will. So my guy wants me to be prepared to have to say goodbye to my garden just in case.

I refuse to do it! I have wanted one for soooo long.

I guess we'll see what happens.

Waiting Until 30

You may remember me posting about going to a birthday party for my friends baby who just turned one.

Well something happened there that has been weighing on my mind lately. Why is it that people think they know what is best for you and have no problem putting their two cents in on personal choice?! I was quite weirded out by one particular conversation that was had.

What am I talking about? The personal choice to start having children.

So there are 4 couples sitting around joking about life and relationships while two babies play around with the newly opened gifts on the rug. Everything is going fine until that stupid question comes up.

"So what about you two? When are you going to start having kids?"

I almost choked on soda. I hate those types of questions. Especially when you know you're about to hear an annoying lecture on it. I tried to be blunt and matter of fact about it by stating that we have made the choice to wait until after we are 30. This was not received well. They immediately wanted to know why on earth we would do that.

Here's just a few reasons why...

a) Children are a 24hrs, 7 days a week, 365 days a week x forever.
b) I want to be in a relationship a few years before marrying and married for a few years before having children
c) We want to travel for extended time periods (one year or more)
d) We want to make sure we have our finances in order
e) We want to have our careers in order
f) Because thats what we are comfortable with and its our lives and our bodies

This of course was met with typical answers.

You will be 50 when they move out! - Ok, and your point is?
Kids travel and eat free - That is not a reason to have kids
You are putting your child's health at risk - I plan to very healthy at 30 and I'm sure it will be fine (ps the woman saying this has one child under 2 and is 32)

I could go on and on with the responses back and forth but in the end.. its my choice. I don't think anyone has the right to tell me when I should have children if I even have them at all. Thats right! I said it! I may decide at 30 I don't really want children and that will be my choice.


Ugh! Sorry to rant! Just had to get that one off my chest!

I guess I'll just have to avoid kidlet parties where all the moms are talking about the best positions to conceive a boy in. Lol!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Meal Review

Just to let you all know.. had that meal that I linked you to earlier today and....

MMMMM! Pretty good and our whole dinner took 15 mins to make! (not including thawing chicken)

What's Cooking Wednesday!!! - Chicken Parmesan Link

Wow! You lucky people get 2 cooking posts today! LoL

My sweetheart has his messenger on at work all day so I can harass him periodically. Today I asked him what he'd like for dinner and he sent me a link for a new recipe he found online.

So this is what we'll be dining on tonight.

This dinner sounds easy and delicious. We have everything we need right here at home so thats a plus as well. I figure we'll pair it with some steamed veggies and baked potatoes.

Is it dinner time yet??

Pay Per Post

Some of you may have noticed a little advertisement for Pay Per Post on my blog now. While checking out some other blogs I noticed people advertising how much they loved Pay Per Post. I used a referral link from a fellow blogger and signed myself up.

Signing up was really easy! Any problems I had were easily resolved with a quick email to their customer support. Today I got my first peek at available topics to post on. So far things look pretty good.

The reason for me signing up was that I am always looking for alternative ways to generate income. I have a lot of finance goals and I need every cent I can get. I plan to use the money I earn to add snowflakes to my debt.

I hope me adding this won’t discourage any of my current readers from regularly stopping by. I will only be “complimenting” my blog with these posts. All paid posts will be marked so that you will know the inspiration behind the topic. I will only choose topics I find interesting and wouldn’t mind sharing.

I don’t see any harm in adding this to my blog after disclosing my intentions to my readers. I’m hoping it will bring new stuff to my attention and keep me up to date on all the new things happening out there.

With all this said, if any of you are interested let me know and I’ll hook you up, lol.

Thanks for your support as always,

Dolly Iris



Link Love Continues


I've added some more fantastic blogs I'd love to share with you to my blog roll.

1) Gail Vaz-Oxlade
You probably remember me referring to her at the beginning of my blog entries. She is amazing!!! I begged around to get a reservation into her free seminar held in my home town because it was booked full and managed to get in. She is hilarious and has no nonsense attitude towards finance. She has no problem calling you a dope. For you people who may not recognize the name you will remember when I mention her show "Till Debt do us Part". Check out the pic of us above ( Gail always gives a moment to her fans).

2) So Sick of Debt
This blog really hits home for me a lot of the time. The struggles of impatiently wanting your debt to be gone and to move forward with your life is always hard. I find her posts to be very thoughtful and honest. She has made some amazing progress and I know she'll reach every goal she puts in front of her.

3) No More Debt
You want to read about somebody who puts their nose to the grindstone everyday to get that debt paid down? She predicts 2008 will be her year to reach "financial freedom". Everyday she gets up and tries to get out there and make that money! She's so busy I get exhausted just reading it about but the most important part is that she's consistently making the effort.

I hope you are enjoying checking out these blogs!

What's Cooking Wednesday!!! - Grilled Asparagus

The other week my Sweetheart decided to invite one of his friends for dinner. I had no problems with this as he was going to be doing the cooking and clean up :). So with the menu left up to him he decided on BBQ. Now I know what you are all thinking. Sure, the man picks BBQ of course. He is actually an amazing cook but when then boys are around... yeah it always seems to end up BBQ night.

Deciding on sausages, chicken breasts and baked potatoes he had it all figured out. I decided to suggest he also cook up the asparagus we had in the fridge to add a vegetable to the meal. He immediately put me to the task of researching online to find the best way to cook it on grill. Everything made last night was made on the grill. Anyways in case you were wondering this is what I came up.

Grilled Aspargus

This is a very easy and simple explanation. They were delicious. I didn't use as much salt as listed because I like the taste of asparagus just as it is and have been trying to cut back on salt.

I would like to add that when you are shopping for asparagus to look for grocers who keep their asparagus bottoms in water. When you get home find a glass or a container with a base wide enough to stand the spears up in and then add some water to the base to keep them fresh!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Holy Bus Pass !!

In anticipation of my new job and having to get around more during the month of March I decided to purchase a bus pass. It's been a few months since I bought one so I was shocked to hear the price had gone up yet again.

WTH? Ok, seriously if you are going to up the rates please also improve the service. It seems prices go up and service quality goes down. I'm am completely unimpressed. Not only that but the "adult" pass is double the price of the "student/senior" pass. Now how is that an incentive for working adults to bus to work instead of drive?

Total cost ? $60.75. Dagnabbit! Before I buy another one I'll need to track how often I will actually use the pass and see if its going to be worth it. Depending on my work schedule it might be good but geeeeeeez.

There is an up side to all of this. I can keep the receipt, expired pass and claim them on my taxes next year for a 15.25% tax credit. If you take transit you can check out the details here.

Last year I knew about this but never kept track of my expired passes and receipts. This year I'm going stop playing around and missing out of money because of my organizational flops. I've already labeled an envelope to keep them!

$50 Snowball

I always liked the thought of snowballing but never knew there was a term until last year. I've decided to add the $50 payment I was paying to my BC loan to my Fed loan payment. So now instead of $75 automatically coming out of my account I will commit to transferring the extra each month until its paid off. Since I'm so accustomed to expecting the deduction monthly it shouldn't be a big deal.

That's exactly what I just did to get the ball rolling. I know I will pay more off monthly than that because its my goal to become debt free this month but its still a commitment for me to keep no matter what happens financially.

It is my goal to pay my last debt below $3,500 hundred this month and every bit helps!

Job Offer Accepted, Job Offer Declined

I'm sorry I haven't had time to fill you in yet about the new job that I was offered!I went to the interview and it was pretty great. The hiring manager seems to be a pretty great guy. I liked talking to him a lot. He's got a great sense of humor and he's seems quite supportive and has an open door policy.
The job is better than I had thought, on paper at least. So here are the perks:

  • 25 hours a week minimum to be eligible for benefits plan
  • will reimburse me for TB test ($20)
  • will reimburse me for Criminal Record Check ($30)
  • has refresher Food Safe courses for staff
  • if I want to do First Aid they will ship me out of town all expenses paid for training
  • free meals when working ($ saved)
  • paid uniform cleaning allowance (pay me to keep my uniform clean)
  • union job (fees but I'm ok with that)
  • has multiple departments related to serving and kitchen that I can utilize to make extra $
  • 6 week schedule in advance (great! maybe I can work another part time gig)
  • benefits include holistic healing ( $200 for massage therapy y'all)
  • low turnover rate
  • company is global so I can be transferred if decide to move and theirs one in my new area
  • good wage with raises during the year
I'm pretty sure there were some other things that he mentioned that are slipping my mind right now so I might have to update this but its looking pretty good. The staff all looked to be pretty happy and friendly when I went on a quick tour. I could have started last Friday but I wasn't able to due to family and personal obligations. He will be out of town this week so we settled on March 14th as my training start date.

Congrats to me!! Yay! lol

Now I just need to inform the other job I was offered that I'm no longer interested. Ugh! Well its the same job with none of the perks and they want me to do tasks eventually that I'm not interested in doing. Without researching that job though I wouldn't have realized what a good offer I have now.

So I'm hoping this job will work out while I'm biding my time here paying off debt and saving for Australia. I am both excited and nervous to start! Of course I'll keep you all updated on my progress!

Monday, March 3, 2008

As Promised!


Look at what came in the mail! As promised I have posted my paid in full letter as my first picture on this new blog.

Isn't it pretty?

Playin Around

Since moving to this new blog I'm still playing with templates, trying to settle on one for a bit. I like this one a little better than the last.

Operation Blog Link Love Has Begun

Last week I promised to add some links to blogs that I read often and enjoy so that the rest of you could check them too. I've started slowly adding my favorites. Make sure to check the list periodically for updates. I've currently named it "Favorite PF Blogs".

Today I've added 3:

My first add was Give Me Back My Five Bucks
I really enjoy this blog. It's inspiring and full of energy. Plus, we're practically neighbours! She is currently hosting a "bring you lunch to work " challenge for herself and her readers

My second add was Saving for Later
This blog is updated everyday without fail. The daily admissions to spending and driving are interesting to read. This woman really tries to nail her goals every day and I find that inspiring in itself.

My third and final and for today was Fabulously Broke in the City
This blog cracks me up. This lady knows how to say it and she doesn't hold back. This is a newer blog to me, just stumbling across it recently but I'm always curious as to what she is going to say next. She's really on the path to clear her debt including selling off all her unused, like new clothing, footwear and accessories. Check it out for some deals!


I hope you all enjoy reading these blogs as much as I have. If you want to recommend a blog to me just leave it in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out. Stay tuned for more link love coming soon!

Finding Money Mondays - 4

The Dryer

Ok! Here's a place where we can save money a few ways.

1) Dryer Sheets

Cut these babies in half. It still does the trick with only half the sheet, so why not? This means one box will last you twice as long and saves you $.

2) Lint Trap

Keep this baby clean because the lint trap is your friend. Make sure to check your lint trap all the time because your clothes will dry faster, using less electricity. Ask an attendant at your laundromat to do this as well.

3) Energy Saving Settings

Use them! Oh, and if you recently bought an Energy Star appliance look for Federal tax credits here and a rebate from Hydro here.

4) Use Wind Power - It's free

Invest in a clothes line. Then go to the dollar store, buy pegs and a peg holder. This is both a cost effective and environmental win. Hang those clothes up to dry and then tumble them for 5 minutes if you like. You should see some savings on your electric bill for this one!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

March 2008 TCOB

When I was in high school I had an amazing teacher who threw out the regular learning schedule and taught us the more important things. How to manage your life! One of his lessons was on TCOB. Taking Care of Business was a list of things you needed to get done. No whining, no complaining, just get it done. Handle your business. To this day I don't write "to do" lists, I write "tcob" lists. Here is mine for March 2008.

1) Criminal Record Check - Job search related

2) Food Safe Certificate - I have taken food safe a million times but I don't have the certificate because it was in school. When I call they can't find it on record so I will be taking it again on March 9th. This is also job related.

3) Start new Job - I've got some prospects in the work. Two job offers in the same field but one is seeming to far exceed the other one in benefits to Dolly.

4) Get Learners License - Yes, as you know if you've been reading my previous posts I do not have my drivers license. It's a goal to at least read the book and get my learners this month to start me off in my journey to getting this fear off my back.

5) Pay last debt under $3,500 - Last month I focused on paying off the remainder of my BC student loan and adding some money to the EFund. This month I plan to knock another chunk off my debt and bring me a little closer to the finish line.

6) Get my taxes done - I'm still waiting for some of my T4's. I am betting one won't show up at all because we are in a labor dispute but we'll see. Yesterday was the cut off for employers. I called Revenue Services and they told me to estimate my earnings with whatever figures I have and send in an attached note explaining the situation. They will then go after the ex employer. Oh happy day!

7) Organize my home office - I haven't shared this on this blog before but sometimes I design jewelry in my spare time. I really enjoy it but the last year its been stifled by too much external stress. I hope to organize my space to get the creative juices flowing again. Hopefully then I can make some extra money at the local Farmers Market. I have a special room dedicated to my crafts but its been overrun by mess and disorganization.

8) Renew Farmers Market membership - self explanatory. $20 fee but it goes to charity.


I think all of these thing are very attainable for the month and it will be a great relief to me to have them done. Money will be tight this month but I'm going to try and watch my spending very carefully. Next month I'll start tracking expenses.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Exhausted

Boy am I ever tired from hauling and sorting things from the burnt out house today. I think I'm going to crawl into bed with the sweetheart and our little rat to watch a movie.

Tomorrow I'll post some goals for the month!