Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rich Man's Games.

We had the torch come through our town on its' way to Vancouver for the Olympics. It was a very exciting day, even though I have mixed feelings concerning the grave social and financial implications the Games will have on Vancouver and the surrounding province for literally years to come. I was of two minds as I witnessed an historical event in my very own community. One part of me said, "Wow, years from now I will look back and remember the day we took our son to see the Olympic torch, the symbol of hope and unity be carried from one hand to another on to the World in Vancouver. Another part of me was disgusted by the commercialism which was blatant and omnipresent at the event. I don't know how many times I had to hear the words Coke and RBC and the name of my town interspersed in an effort to rouse the crowd into caffeine fueled hysteria in support of The Games. It felt forced and unnatural to me. I didn't wish to take away any of my son's enthusiasm with my dour expression or attitude so I did my best to contain myself and my sarcastic mouth. A few times, my husband and I looked at each other when they yelled repeatedly over the microphone, "THIS IS YOUR GAMES"! and we thought to ourselves, really? How so? In the fact that we will help to foot the colossal bill and all we get in return is a free bottle of Coke and a sticker or two? A few times while at the event I couldn't help to notice the homeless people, probably only at the event to see what could be salvaged afterward in order to make their lives a little better that day. I fail to see how littered tattoos will help them, or even free Coke for that matter. The Vanoc couldn't give away a bowl of soup on a cold day?? I saw a child who badly needed a dentist smiling with the torch and I couldn't help but think how our tax and Olympic money could be better used. Part of my new found effort toward frugality and simplicity is that I am no longer impressed by large displays of flash with little substance. Bright lights and catchy dance beats didn't distract me enough to fully support throwing a big party in these financial conditions. My son had a wonderful time at the event, and I would never begrudge him that. It's up to him to experience joy in whatever way he would like. He is five and innocent of society's ills. I do support Olympic athletes and the idea of the Games. The Olympics is a world wide tradition and I suppose we are lucky to experience the honour of hosting. I just wish we could afford it. I know that we can't, the homeless can't, the poor can't, the working poor can't, and that takes the joy out of it for me. It's a Rich Man's Games.

My Year Without Spending: First Fall Off the Wagon '10

My Year Without Spending: First Fall Off the Wagon '10

Monday, January 25, 2010


We went to Value Village today after work and I snapped up two fairly big mix and match bags of Lego! They were super cheap compared to what you pay retail and they had all the good pieces, like windows, wheels and tons of little guys! Suffice it to say I am now, officially, the best Mom in the world.
For myself, I found a snap press in a miscellaneous bag of sewing notions for .99 and a beautiful piece of sari fabric. I also found some rickrack which is still sealed and looks like it is from the 1960s. I am looking forward to some good wardrobe refashions!
The Lego kept the boy happy, and let's face it, the man too. I made dinner while they were occupied.
Not once was I disturbed. I cooked, alone in my kitchen, in total peace and quiet.
I am truly Lego's biggest fan.
(Also, I used reconstituted powdered milk in the instant chocolate pudding mix last week and no one noticed at all. The bowl was licked clean.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Five bucks for Haiti

In Canada text HAITI to 45678 to donate five dollars to Salvation Army Canada. In the USA it is YELE to 501501.
Do it! It only takes a second and it's a good thing to do, the right thing. Pass it on!~

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off the backburner

I had a rare day to sew today so I thought I had better take advantage of it. The boy was at school, so there was no messing in my pins and running off with things just as I am about to use them. I decided I had better try and finished all of my half finished projects before I cut into my new-to-me stash of fabric from Freecycle. That was difficult for me to do, restraining myself as I did, but since I had three projects pinned and ready to go, I decided to clear the decks and gain a sense of accomplishment for a change. The first thing I did was make myself some more pads. They were already cut out, all I had to do was a run a zigzag stitch around them.

Then I finished my shrug. It is two sweater sleeves sewn together with some trim sewn around for prettiness. I kept talking about this finishing this one, now I am wearing it. I got the idea fron the Wardrobe Refashion site. It's supposed to be kind of like these. It turned out quite cute if I do say so myself.

The next thing on the pile of scraps was the top half of a pair of jeans that I cut off a while back. Again, I ran a line of zigzag and Voila! I have the body of a denim hobo bag. While it is still technically an unfinished project, I had other fish to fry...

Small fry, that is!
I finally made the toque and mitts I had envisioned in my head from a too-small pair of fleece Diego pants. I heart fleece. No fraying edges makes it so easy to work with as a beginner sewer. The elastic around is head is the former waistband of the pants. I turned the pants upside down and then I traced around another hat to get the shape, then cut it out. The ealstic is in fine shape so I thought why re-invent the wheel? I traced my around my hand on a folded piece of paper to make a simple mitten pattern and cut out two opposing mittens, a left and a right from the remaining pant legs. The Diego patch was a last minute applique, though I would do that before sewing up the side seams if I were to do it again. Then I cut up the rest into half inch strips and made a pom pom. They fit my son perfectly and nary a scrap left of what were once too-short play pants!
I like the hat because it covers his ears. He likes them because I made them especially for him. Judging by this expression, it was a pleasant surprise for him to find these on his bed after kindergarten today.
Finally, I took in a pair of flared pants and took up the hem. I purchased the pants at the thrift store hoping to wear them around, they are green velvety jeans, quite neat, but the elephant ear bell bottoms and the wayyy too long hem made this impossible.
I now have a great pair of pants that don't drag in the mud or flap in the breeze!
Whew, I think I had better not pile up so many projects next time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Take 5

It's time I got my priorities straight. I have so many creative ideas that flood my brain and I never seem to get to them. So now, I am making a list of the things I enjoy that I would like to pursue or revisit.

I am a beginner, I love to play but I don't make enough concerted effort. Discipline is key.
Drawing, I find it so relaxing and all I need is a pencil! Why am I not doing more of it?

I adore the idea of upcycling and wardrobe refashion. If only my lack of designated sewing space didn't make me tear my hair out. Here is my last serious project; the matching vests my husband and son wore for our DIY, camp-away weekend wedding.
Don't we look deliriously happy here? That's because we all jumped in the lake five minutes after this photo was taken. Seriously in the next series of photos we were in our bathing suits. No stuffy reception hall for us!

I would love to develop this skill, not only is it frugal and practical but a true art. So far, all I have managed to make is a couple of little funny things, but hey, a start is a start.
This is huge. Writing has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I do a smidgen here and truthfully, one of the reasons I started this blog was to keep my writing muscle from complete and utter atrophy. It's really not the quality and quantity of prose that I would like from myself, but I won't knock it. I will take writing something over writing nothing any day of the week. This type of short and to the point communication suits my present sensibilities quite nicely.
So, that's it.
I'm taking five.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I do not make resolutions

They are a recipe for failure, in my humble opinion. Resolutions in my experience have been fickle promises, non committal and hastily uttered within the context of remorse and guilty feelings in the wake of the gluttony of the holiday season. They usually go something like this: This year I will lose ten pounds, quit smoking drinking, swearing, gossiping AND I will eat healthily and train for a triathlon before Valentine's day.

Then I roll over and go back to sleep. It's freakin' cold outside.

No, I do not make resolutions. I do, however, have goals. When I have a goal, it is specific, it is something I truly want for myself and my family. Do I truly want to train for a triathlon?Apparently not.
Last February I had a goal to quit smoking. I decided I would do what was necessary to achieve that goal, even if it meant gaining those ten pounds or changing my routines and comfort zones. I am currently eleven months smoke free and have saved $1,875.72 according to my gadget over at the Q. I had a look back at my first post where I made some goals. I am glad to say I have stuck with most of them, with the exception of number five. I sometimes need help with that one. For instance, today my husband reminded me not to buy yet another back pack just because it was cheap and on clearance. We already have what we need, I do not need to consume any more bags. It's tough to break away from that mentality, but I am trying. I put back two items today which saved me at least $15 at the checkout.

Here are my first fledgling frugal goals and an update:

1. Collect coupons

I now have an enviable collection and I am learning how to use them in conjuction with sales to get the most benefit from them.

2. actually take back my refundable drink containers, (well, I sorted them out from my regular recycling anyway)
I made over eight dollars last time, (which I was previously chucking out on the curb, literally throwing away money!) I am just about ready to bring in the holiday horde which goes in the boy's piggy bank, so yay.

3. making things from scratch sometimes, such as bread and yogurt,
This is still going great, made some lovely bread and a big batch of yogurt recently.

4. buying in bulk to reduce unit cost and from the bulk section to reduce packaging (but only items I will really use, I still have relish from last year because no one eats it...)
I did have one bad experience here but for the most part buying generic and bulk is going well.

5. simply not buying things the minute I see them, just for the sake of spending
See above.

So, with all this success, my goal for 2010 is to keep up the good work. I have made significant changes in the last year and I say if it ain't broke don't fix it. I will add one goal to this year because I know it will benefit me, my family and my finances greatly. I really want to accomplish this, too.

That goal is to....drumroll please....

Save an emergency fund of one thousand dollars.