Friday, January 29, 2010

A Sweet Life

D and I have both known how it feels to live on or very close to the financial edge. We grew up in relatively poor conditions and D has had some tough times as a young adult. I've been quite blessed that since I graduated, everything has looked up.

As my work week and work hours have slowly dropped over the last 6 years, I find myself suddenly feeling like I'm too close to the this invisible "edge" where in reality has more to do with what I've been used to rather than the real edge where I am virtually unable to make payments.

I have talked with a few people lately who have been unable to get necessary health care, make ends meet at home or are fighting to prevent their car from being repossessed. All of them shared a common trait. They were all surprised that this was happening.

What?! How could it have been a surprise when nothing major ie. death, divorce, disease has happened?

I like to operate my life with a certain margin of safety. I don't assume things will stay the same. I don't even assume there will always be 2 incomes. Even if your current life is the perfect fairy tale, I believe it is still smart to plan for the days/months/years where life isn't as sweet for one reason or another.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Other Peoples' Money

D and I know someone who recently declared that they felt retirement savings and emergency funds are a waste of time and effort. They plan to circumvent the need for that by putting all their resources into income generating real estate. That will be their extra cash flow as well as what will fund them for the rest of their life.

As we are live pretty much the exact opposite of this person's ideal, their comment made me stop and wonder if I could do that and if holding a bunch of non income generating real estate was a bad idea after all. Maybe that was their way of bringing that to our attention. After all, why pay for something yourself when you can get someone else to do it for you?

Assuming that what people say is a product of where and what they've been through, I can say that this person's views have largely been shaped by their financial situation. They do not have any savings and owe at least $300000. So I can understand that the idea of savings may be so far away, it may not seem possible in this lifetime.

They are also in their late 30's. Two thirds of the debt is a mortgage and the property is a duplex that is income generating. Their plan is to keep buying more to the point where basic living expenses are covered.

What is difficult for me personally is the sheer timeline of it all. I think it would be neat to have some other people pay for my yearly living expenses but I do not believe I could handle how long it would take to accumulate a decent amount of money in the bank.

I can understanding the ego boost one can get from owning a bunch of real estate and having it paid for by people who are "working for you". Unfortunately I only seem to be able to see it from the "how little equity there is for a very long time" point of view.

I forget that savings isn't what they would like to have. They do not wish to bother with it. They live for today and am enjoying life to the fullest. What a different way of thinking. Living this way assumes a few things. That they will be able to get continued funding from the bank. That their job is stable and they will want to do it for long time. That they will continue to have tenants and be willing to manage all of their needs.

Even thinking of this scenario has challenged my requirement for financial security. I would like to get to a point where I do not need to worry about banks, mortgage rates or income. It is important to me to own real estate or other stuff outright. I also get a kick out of doing it with my own 2 hands. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment. That's probably both a control thing and a result of my upbringing.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Free Money

Great news. I found out the store I bought my laptop and laptop bag from has a promotion where you get 25% off the laptop bag if you buy a laptop as well. I wanted to know if I am eligible for the discount as it was announced with 2 weeks of my purchase.

So 3 phone calls and lots of time on hold, I found that I was. All I have to do is bring my receipt in and they will credit me the difference back onto my Visa. Fabulous. We went after work last night. The amount I got back was $ 15.54.

Not an earth shaking amount but I was perfectly willing to take it. I asked D if he thought I was being cheap and he thought that not getting the money would be silly when it didn't take much effort.

That brought back memories of my behaviour when we were in Las Vegas years ago. I am not a gambler. Because of that, I would freak out in joy if I were to get $5 in quarter slots and if I were to have ended the trip with the $20 I started with at the casino, I would be one happy girl. Nope, I'm not at all big time when it comes to gambling.

I've always thought that lotteries ought to split up the prize money to more manageable amounts (like $250000) and have many winners instead of one person winning 28 million. They would be able to change many peoples' lives without going over the top. I know I'd be pretty pleased if I won $250000 right now.

I would pay off the mortgage, put the remaining $100000 in retirement funds, cut back on work and start spending some of my pay to dust off a few ambitions.

Once in a blue moon, I would buy one of those scratch and win tickets with some extra change. I like the instant gratification of it. The one I tend to chose is where you could win $1000 or $2000 a week for life. Personally I think this is the perfect type of win for me. Not too much but enough to retire on.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cell Phone Mistake

I did it this time. Yesterday, D was checking when his cell phone service expires and I decided to check mine as well. It turns out I missed my payment and my number has been disconnected.

So I got on the phone and 3 numbers and 2 people and 1 hr later, I get an answer.

Yes, your number has been cancelled and you will have to pay a $50 reconnection fee and there is no guarantee that my old number will still be available. OK.

The fellow I spoke with gave me another option. He said that I could get a new phone for $75 which would include a time card valued at $50. Interesting. He also went on to say that because my phone is 6 years old, the battery is probably not charging well anymore etc. etc.

Well, my phone is still fully charged since August '09 and I really like my phone. The thought of having yet another phone doesn't make sense to me as I do not even recall the last time I actually used my cell phone. It is there for car emergencies and is never turned on.

I have a pay as you go service which means I buy time cards -- usually the cheapest one -- 30 mins for $15 with a 1 month expiry date. I have 120 days after the time card expires before they cancel my number. So, what I've been doing for the last 6 yrs is putting in time cards around the 120 day mark.

That was supposed to have been last Friday.

So now I get to re-evaluate the whole cell phone idea in my mind. Because I don't drive often now, it may not be as big an issue to just go without. D still has his phone and we have a world phone (for travelling, whose time never expires) that I'm sure can be used in an emergency.

I think I'm covered.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Pants

Recently I found out that our local library has a slew of travel DVDs, of the Globe Trekker and Rick Steves variety. I remember growing up with them. We took a bunch out and spent a few hours being armchair travellers.

I would highly recommend these programs. Even if you have zero desire to ever darken the doorstep of a particular country, you will have learned some history, seen some cool landscapes and heard a different language or two.

On my list of things to do today is some sewing -- not the make your own clothing type but the shorten the hem of my newly acquired pants type. I would love to go to at stitch it place and have someone do it for me but I'm too cheap to pay for it and therefore suffer the consequences of a bad job.

Seriously, I've been hemming pants for decades. It is one of the first skills my mother taught me. Saves a few bucks and most times, I find the activity therapeutic. Plus it gets me off the computer as I've been overdoing it on the travel planning front. The bonus -- I get to finally wear my new pants!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Laugh At Me

D has had a couple of good laughs at my expense this morning already. I'm taking a break from my Icelandic training to do some other travel research and came up with some new to me destinations that sounded interesting.

I have never been to Washington DC. And for some reason, I never did mentally place The Smithsonian, The National Cherry Blossom Festival and The White House all in the same place. That was why D thought I was being deliberately ridiculously funny.

For those who are in the market, you can currently see an exhibition of Terra Cotta warriors at the National Geographic Museum (they are amazing to behold!), a Turner to Cezanne exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery and the Auto Show.

The second locale was Manchester England. Like most of my travel leads, this too started from a seat sale. The only thing I know about Manchester is their football team Manchester United because we have some English friends who are big fans.

What made D laugh this time was my declaration that if I were to go, I'm going to try and get tickets to see a match -- made sense to me. I like taking in the local sites and sounds. He asked me if I knew how hard it would be to get a ticket? I said, no -- but how hard could it be?

After all, I've gotten a semi final ticket to the men's match on center court at Wimbledon and have been to see tennis matches at the French and US Open, I know how those ballots work. And, really, it is just a local soccer match, right? More laughing.

He said that is like saying The Louvre is just the local art gallery in Paris. OK, point taken.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Food and Supplements

D and I have come up with a couple of new frugal initiatives this year -- relating to food stuffs. He was decided to drink less expensive coffee. That is a big one for him as he has been a bit of a stickler. He will be saving the "expensive" stuff ($17 a pound) for special occasions.

For me, it is less expensive chocolate. I would spend $8 for 1/2 pound and I have found just eating dark chocolate bars or chips to be good enough that I don't miss the other.

The other category that we are considering is vitamins. We take a number of different kinds and I'm going to seriously look at cheaper over the counter substitutes and see if it is worth making the change or make the change and see if I notice a difference. This costs $500/yr right now for supplements that are ordered through a health professional.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Well, I cannot believe it. Guess what I got handed to me yesterday? A thank you note with a gift certificate and an apology for the late delivery!

So, they didn't exclude anyone after all. Am I surprised? Absolutely. Am I relieved? Somewhat as it makes the institution less cut throat in my eyes. The note means more to me than the gift. I'm sending a thank you note back today.

We are planning something fun tonight. After work and dinner (maybe out), I'm returning the one laptop bag that is too big (not the fun part) and then going to look at more up to date travel books. The one I'm reading is 3 years old so I want to see if enough has changed to warrant getting a new one.

Yes, I find bookstores fun. A large part because I rarely buy books anymore but I love them. (I'm not sure I'll jump on the whole digital readers as you would have to still buy books...) I'll likely get a hot chocolate too afterwards.

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interesting Stuff

I jumped the gun the the whole tax submission thing yesterday. I forgot all about those year end statements from the brokerage firms and investment companies that I will need to submit. Whoops!

So in reality, I won't have all the paperwork until early March and what I owe may change depending on capital gains and dividend income.

Our mortgage payment days and my pay are off kilter until May -- just the way the calendar falls. It rights itself once we get our first 3 payment month out of the way.

I played around with the amortization calendar yesterday and we will have around a $30000 balance after our mortgage term expires on the main house. The ski condo will be done by the time its mortgage term expires 8 months later so it is on autopilot.

Other than that, we are pretty much on autopilot with work as well. I did find some cool life stuff though -- such as a great surfing instructor in San Juan Puerto Rico and a great diving package in Santorini Greece.

Some things to file away for another day. Gotta keep things interesting! I'm not great enough in anything to be whisked away to do cool things in cool places like Sue here, so I will just have to dream up stuff on my own!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Taxes 2009

I found out this morning that my online tax program I use was up and running for the 2009 tax year. You cannot file until mid Feb but am able to input all numbers and get a result.

I had been using last year's template to get a rough idea and it turns out this year's template makes a difference of $22 on what I will owe -- less as our basic personal exemption has increased.

So I can officially say my taxes are "done" and I will be filing them online as soon as I am allowed. I owe around $800.

On a neat note, I received an email from another member of livemocha asking if I would look over an assignment for him. He is from Brazil and is learning english. This is a way you can help each other out and give back as the courses are free.

Craziest word yet? Try this -- Voruflutningabillinn -- which means tractor trailer in 7 syllables. I thought for about 2 mins yesterday I was pronouncing it correctly. Today? Lost it! I hope I will not need to use this word, especially not in the context of being hit by one!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Getting With It

There was no change in the first Bank of Canada rate announcement just a few minutes ago. That's good news to us and our mortgage. I do not believe we will escape is rising before our term is over but it is nice to have it hold as long as we can get it.

It turns out it wasn't my over thinking and overdoing it on the weekend that led to my headache. It was a virus and I was actually coming down with a head cold. I'm better today but feeling weak so going to take it easy.

We found another laptop bag and bought it to compare with the one I had originally purchased when I got my computer. This new one is larger and is frankly too large. I am going to stick with the one I've got even though it is a bit too small.

If someone told me even 5 years ago, that I would be travelling with thousands of dollars worth of electronics as a "normal", I would have thought they were crazy. Now I will be travelling with a laptop, noise cancelling headphones, chargers, plug converters, Bluetooth earpiece, ipod, world phone and camera.

By the way, I love love love my new Bluetooth headset. It is so easy to use even for the cheapest unit. We paid $24 for ours. I would like to say "why have I waited so long?" but in reality, it wouldn't have worked with my other laptop because the technology didn't exist then and we didn't have a need for it from a cell phone perspective. I still think they look silly but I don't plan to be walking around in public with it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Finance Stuff

We broke down yesterday and dipped into our fun money to buy eggs, bread and other staples as we had run out. The next installment of grocery money won't be coming until Friday. Thank goodness for fun money! Now we'll know, if we continue to ship once every 2 weeks, we'll need more staples.

I have a nasty habit of thinking too far as well as too detailed in advance. If I really go at it, like I had this weekend, it will often give me a headache -- something I don't need. I'm going to make myself back away from too much travel planning and too much spreadsheet work. I remind myself it is all within my control! Why suffer needlessly?

One of the financial initiatives I am trying out this year is the concept of paying everything off in real time rather than going with the statement date of the Visa company. I find it simpler. It is also easier to keep everything belonging to that month in that month spreadsheet wise. I still get the benefits of travel miles without the waiting until the statement comes out to reconcile the account.

If possible, I would also like to have my non tax savings ready by the end of this year for the next year vs. saving during the year it is meant for. I am negotiable on this. Deep down, it is likely better I do this so that I am not tempted to spend it on another fabulous trip!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Breathing Room

Finished my first Icelandic lesson on Livemocha, a great tip courtesy of a reader -- Thanks again! I have my work cut out for me... I'll have just enough time to get through the beginner course before my trip.

D baked dark chocolate pecan and mint chocolate chip cookies yesterday and the house smelled wonderful.

I have been playing around with my spreadsheet again in hopes of simplifying things. Instead to taking the approach of hording every dollar, I went about it from the other way -- from the what is the absolute minimum I need and lets save that first.

What I was left with was the leftover monies. Much simpler to know that vs. putting everything into an account and drawing from it not really knowing if the account will hold enough.

This year I won't need to be saving for my working accounts. I ended 2009 with that done so there isn't really any ambitious savings goals for 2010 and I've found my spreadsheet a bit chaotic without direction.

I haven't decided if I will allocate anything towards retirement. My 2010 tax free account has been maxed out already. In my master retirement spreadsheet, I have essentially written off the next few years for large savings because of the amount I'm putting aside for extra mortgage prepayments.

In the end, I feel it will depend on how my business does this year. If D's extra work is steady, then we will discuss options. Right now, a bit of breathing room is nice.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bunch of News

A bunch of disjointed news today.
  • My car passed its emissions test yesterday with flying colours!
  • D got an email about some contract work starting hopefully soon. Potentially 200 hrs of it.
  • I got confirmation that my associates are getting more and more cheap. Apparently only people who were working right up to Christmas got a gift certificate ($50) and a thank you letter. Those of us who were away early or didn't work that day, got nothing. This is the first year in 12 that I have not gotten a card or anything. And it was another staff member who handed it out -- not the owners. I am glad I did not have high expectations of them.
  • I've decided to do my best to see as many new places I can during my time off this year. Enough lazing around!
  • My new computer battery is averaging 4hrs on each charge. Not the 6hrs I was looking for but I have a sneaking suspicion it will require some power setting changes I am not willing to make. I like having a brightly lit screen.
  • D likes not having to shop for groceries weekly. I still went about my flyer reading just to see if there is any phenomenal deals out there anyway.
  • The new laptop bag I got is much smaller and I am still trying to fit everything I would like in it as it is also substituting for my purse.
  • D amused me with a story of someone he works with who is up to their armpits in debt but is currently trying to figure out how to afford a $14000 watch. This story helped to shake me out of my tough day at work and made me just howl with laughter.
  • I cannot believe I am even considering this but we are going to learn more about Bluetooth technology this weekend as a substitute for my clunky headset I currently use to make calls on Skype.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Car & Work

Yesterday afternoon, I felt the urge to reduce my work load and thought my time off was not enough. It didn't take long for that place to start getting to me again. It's a shame a place meant for helping people get healthy can be so unhealthy for its workers.

I know enough nurses to know that they don't have it easy in a hospital setting either. In many ways, much worst than I. I think I am just too idealist some days. I will continue to plod along. Two years eight months til the end of our main house mortgage term.

My car is in today to get its Drive Clean test. Every couple of years, the emission of our cars gets tested and if it spews out too much nasty stuff, you will not be allowed to renew your licence until you get it fixed.

My car's numbers have continued to be way below allowable. I'm expecting it be the case again today. And yes, the test costs money, around $35. Licencing for the year costs $74.

My book club selections have been extra great this year. I just finished "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill --Highly recommend it. Some other book stand outs are listed on my sidebar.

Today is a bit gray but we've recently had a string of bright sunny days, no wind, a few degrees below 0 Celsius -- just perfect for walking to work with sunglasses on.

This is my second winter walking and have finally caught on that leaving work socks and shoes at work is so much more convenient. That way, I can wear my really warm socks walking on those - 25 degree days.

Yes, this girl can learn -- it may take a while but eventually it does come through!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I Bought It

I'm happily typing this on my new HP dm3. And yes, it already has a little scratch on it (self inflicted -- I was comparing the weight of it with D's and his memory stick grazed the side of mine). So now I don't have to tip toe around it and just use it.

I love the lightness, look and quietness of it. It is nice to be able to type away from my favorite room in the house again. I came home with a new bag for it and am still debating whether it will work. More comparison shopping this weekend.

It is loaded with IE 8 and Windows 7 so am getting used to it. Plus the left shift key is in a slightly different position and it takes to download mail and bookmarks. I'll know soon enough if the battery will last 6 hrs or not. Total cost -- $799.

And no, the Icelandic language book did not work. Too much in depth linguistic. I'm going to look for something online. Hearing it will make things easier.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I have been fortunate to not yet have to deal with any massive emergency relating to housing, finances or health, unlike the people of Haiti.

When one is uprooted with barely anything reasonable for basic survival, nothing else is really that important anymore.


My December month end is in and I start 2010 with good news. I managed to beat my projections and it will translate to an extra $220.86 take home. What we are doing with any bonus monies is splitting it 50:50 as extra pocket money. Mine gets transferred to my dream account.

It's going to be no go for a birthday trip this year. I cannot get it together in time so we are going to move to a birthday bonus instead -- probably $500 each to do with as we wish. Pretty sure on the laptop right now but cannot seem to quite pull the trigger yet. It will cost my birthday bonus plus another couple hundred dollars.

From now til I depart for Iceland, I will be learning all sorts of things like which restaurants I would like to try, where are they on the map, what walking routes would I like to do, where the supermarkets are etc. etc. Others like when I am going out hunting for the northern lights will be decided once there because it is very weather dependent.

I have been looking around for Icelandic language DVDs without any luck from our local library. However, they do have a course in book form. Not sure how that will work. I'll know soon as it will be picked up today.

The airlines have changed travel requirements to the US again and now the laptop bag I thought worked last week doesn't. Hopefully things will change again before the spring. If not, I do have a back up plan involving the case I bring to work.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I'm starting to conclude that I am not meant to be ballroom dancing with an instructor right now. Remember how I tried to get private lessons going in the summer and it not working out? There was an ad in the local paper recently and have not yet heard back from the instructor.

The library may be my answer. They just got in a 4 disc set of dance DVDs on the Rumba, Samba, Mambo and Cha Cha. I took a look at them yesterday and I'm going to give them a whirl. I've studied latin ballroom for 1 1/2 and don't wish to lose everything. There is a school in a nearby city where I know I can get lessons from. The only issue is the drive is twice the length as the lesson. Right now I cannot justify it.

Speaking of DVDs, I just got one from my professional licencing board. It is a new program whereby they will be starting to get a bit more picky as to the type and duration of continuing education classes we take each year. To the point where we would not be able to renew our licences unless we submit all the required workshop paperwork prior.

What this will translate to is more money will be spent on more categories of courses each year plus time logging everything. The logging part won't be new as that is part of bookkeeping anyways. I haven't spoken to anyone about these new requirements and really, unless you can afford to retire, what's the use of worrying about it? Just do it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bunch of Stuff

We used up our bi-weekly grocery money this weekend stocking up the fridge again. By the time we went out west, we had done a pretty good job eating what we had. What this means is that we will not shop for 2 weeks.

Normally we have money left over and end up shopping weekly. Perhaps the flyers were extra good this weekend? It may be more efficient to shop less often, as long as there isn't food wastage. We'll just have to see how the next 2 weeks play out.

I haven't found any place I would like to go for my birthday. Right now, we are in a bit of a cool spell so somewhere warm wouldn't hurt my feelings. I've priced out 5 days in Chicago and New York and believe it or not, there are some great hotel deals in both cities. Flights are also very reasonable.

There was one place that did pull at me -- Yellowknife, NWT. (What is with me and cold places?!) I couldn't get reasonable and good connecting flights for such a short trip. Unless I stumble upon something I haven't found yet, I will need to tuck this one away for another day.

Since we've come home, I've been really missing the use of a laptop. So, the search for one started again. It didn't take long to confirm the one I would like. I saw it last fall and just noticed it is the one featured in the latest HP commercials. I may just buy myself that unit as my birthday present.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Finance Scenarios

I received the journal with my article in it yesterday at work. It is neat to have something I wrote in print. Though the article wasn't long -- just 500 words -- I was happy to see it. Hopefully my accident experience will help others work through how they would deal with something like that.

I was told a couple of finance related stories yesterday that left me with more questions than answers.

First story was from a new associate who has found their profession to be very difficult physically and psychologically. B is young and has a bit of an ego. It is probably a protective mechanism so that the rest of us wouldn't see the insecurity inside. B is newly married and they bought a house about a year ago.

They are currently having trouble making ends meet. So B decides the best option is to try and immigrate to the US as there are plenty of teaching jobs there. After consulting with an immigration lawyer, they find out that to file the papers needed will cost $7800 with no guarantees. If the request is rejected, then they would have to pay again.

The next plan is to try an immigrate to England because it is apparently easier. I'm not sure they have gone over the numbers very well because the cost of living in England is much higher than where we are. It they cannot come up with $7800 to start the process or their current 35 yr mortgage, they are not likely able to fly to and rent in England.

Mentally, it seems like B has already given up and is looking for an escape route. Having been an escape artist myself, I recognize his yearning and desperation to get out of what seems to be an impossible situation. I'm just not sure immigration is the way to go. It's too extreme and I feel, unrealistic.

Second story involves a 54 yr old widow who does not work by choice. When their spouse died a year ago, they were left with a mortgage free house and not much else. Shortly after, they decided to mobilize some house equity in order to buy an suv.

Less than a year later, that money is gone and being unable to pay, approached a bank for yet another loan to pay for the first one. They were rejected. The answer has come in the form of a private loan but they are grumbling because the amount wasn't as much as they had hoped, instead of being shocked by the interest rate.

I would bet money that they will end up losing their house in another year or so and the response to that will be one of victum. With no income, the cycle of borrowing to pay back earlier loans will just get tighter and tighter. Not a very bright future here. Why not look for work? I don't know.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Not Following Directions

I'm jet lagged and my mind is still in la la land. Made another banking error yesterday. Forgot to transfer extra mortgage money. No real harm. Just pride. I'm going to blame it on the 2.5 oz of liqueur in my post lunch with a girlfriend dessert coffee yesterday... :)

As part of the account switcheroo, we found out something about PC Financial we don't like very much. They have a maximum amount you can deposit per day per banking card.

I thought we were outsmarting them because I wrote 4 checks of $3000 each to put into a checking account so that I can transfer it out to buy investments as I was told that checks written from a LOC would not be accepted even if we really are not borrowing money to invest.

So we have $9000 just on hold somewhere in cyberspace for 5 business days. What hassle. That is one disadvantage of not dealing with a bricks and mortar bank. Other than that, I've had no other issues with them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The great account switcheroo has started -- which means the money in our saving accounts are getting moved to investment accounts. Our cash flow is going to take a hit until it gets built up again. It's a scary feeling seeing those numbers go down even though we aren't losing the money.

Our main library is near where D works and he is picking up 9 items today. We put all our requests on hold while we were away so the big load will be coming in over the next week or so. I'm pretty excited about it.

It seems like the airlines are changing the carry on requirements on a daily basis! When I saw the latest measurements of computer cases, I ran downstairs to get my tape measure to make sure my bag was within the allowable volume. Luckily it passed. D's laptop bag didn't as it is a backpack style and they are not allowed right now.

I'm draining my dream account to pay for my spring trip. All the flights have been purchased as well as the apartment booked. I made a silly mistake on PayPal this afternoon and payed for it using a checking account instead of my Visa (I want the points). The person I spoke with at PayPal was great and reversed it in the nick of time. Goes to show that I ought not to do any type of banking while eating.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great People

On my flight home, I encountered some neat people. One was a member of our country's freestyle Olympic team (very cool!). The other was a great lady that sat beside me.

I love meeting people who are inspirational. I love the glimmer in peoples' eyes as they are recounting a great experience. It gets me excited about life.

The post holiday seat sales are started. D hasn't bought his flight back out west yet and today's news is going to seal the deal for him. We have not seen prices like this before. It gets my mind just whirling with the possibilities.

My favorite driver was the one who took us to the airport. It was nice being told that he was hoping to bump into us again. He went to Alaska a couple of weeks after I was there last May and loved it too. He and his wife are going to tackle Asia next.

My solo trip is finalized. It will be Iceland in the spring. I hope to see the Aurora there. My papers for the apartment I'm renting came through today. Once I send money, it's mine for the duration. I'm trying to talk D into coming but he has a guys' ski trip he is saving up for and will not be able to swing it.

I'm doing my best to not think about the shear number of hours I will be spending at airports to get to Reykjavik. I'm seriously considering getting a netbook after all.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fun Stuff

The last time we were at the grocery store we had lots of time to spare. So, we wondered along the book aisle. It was here where I stumbled upon an old love of mine -- the "Where's Waldo?" books.

They are awesome! I love that kind of stuff. So much so, I almost bought it. Then common sense came around and later I found a few at my local library. D isn't too keen on them. He claims they make him go cross eyed!

My travel planning and learning continues. I'm close to firming up my solo adventure for 2010. It will involve a lot of wait time at airports as I'm building in enough time to make it through all the new security stuff.

Lately, I've been considering bring back my birthday trip idea. I used to go somewhere each year to celebrate my birthday. My place of choice has long been Bermuda with my hotel of choice The Fairmont Southhampton Princess. It is adjacent to Horseshoe Bay beach. I go there instead of their private beach because I like it much better.

It wouldn't be Bermuda this year due to the sheer cost. Bermuda is an expensive island. So I'm thinking smaller... like a city break of some sort for 4 - 5 days... preferably to someplace I haven't seen before.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cool Stuff!

I found out that one of the air miles I collect has an expiry date of May 2010. It was sheer coincidence that I found out. That changes things for me as I had wanted to save up for something bigger. I have a few ideas what to do with them but don't like being on a forced schedule.

D has been doing some research on home swaps. He met a fellow skiing the other day who was here for 2 weeks on a swap and suggested we look into it. I have to admit, it seems interesting but I'm not sure I can do it.

Finally, I found out something really really cool a few days ago. In university, I was part of a wine tasting society. The fellow that ran it has since become a professional rally car driver and is the 2009 North American Rally Champion. Guess what he drives? An Evo!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I would like to make a concerted effort this year to curb food wastage. From wasted milk to lemons going bad because we have neglected to keep an eye on things. Most of the time that's all it is -- not paying attention. And it makes me mad to see wasted food go into the garbage or down the sink.

It has been a very different being here. We have watched more TV than we are used to. I cannot believe the types of shows out there. All the reality stuff literally makes me sick. Part of me find the displays of humanity just incredible. Maybe that's what people can relate to now or what sells.

I'll be flying back home in a few days. It hasn't felt like I've been here very long at all. I'll know just how therapeutic this break has been once I get back to work. I have had to think of work while I was here as I received a message from my associate (didn't appreciate it). He was very surprised that I was calling him back from BC. Other than that, they have left me alone. Or I think they have as I have not checked my messages since then... :)

D and I have been very pleased with how much lower our grocery bill has been this year vs. last year. Our better shopping habits has made a significant difference -- something we didn't think was possible last year. We actually have money left over! Also, there isn't anything big that needs to be purchased for this location anymore. That's a good thing.