Saturday, December 31, 2011

This Year Next Year

I don't have any desire to write up my annual review. My mind has already transitioned to 2012. The next 2 yrs of spreadsheets are very similar. I guess that means I am not expecting month to month life to change too much.

We don't have any lofty financial goals, just keep plugging along with monthly savings. Not expecting any major changes in work. Outside of full retirement, my work load is as small as it is going to be. Hopefully D's work will continue to be predictable.

I want to continue to simplify our home and life next year. Already have a list going of donation items for when we return home. No firm directions for 2012 travel. I tend to let opportunities guide me, finances pending. Our yearly return to France is the only set thing.

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

1st Trip 2012

The first trip for 2012 has been booked. Destination will be Hawaii for a couple of weeks. I've never been and am excited to get an overview of the islands.

I'm quickly finding out that helicopter tours are what people rave about and are the scenes from which people think of when Hawaii is mentioned. Not surprising, they are the most expensive tours. I'd like to take some surfing lessons. And eat some great local food.

Can't believe it has already been a week since I last worked. It hasn't felt like that long and it will be another week before I return to work. Not going to rush the time. I'm enjoying not having a schedule. This year was full of running around.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quality Issues

Against my better judgement, I purchased a "no name" hand held massage device to replace a 14 yr old one one its last legs. They are excellent for sore muscles after work or workouts. We have one at home too.

At the mall the other day, we weren't able to find an exact replacement. So in desperation, I bought one that didn't look too durable (from one of those stores that well stuff you see on TV commercials) without checking on the return policy. Once we got it back home it worked for less than a minute.

I called and spoke to the gentleman who helped us and was told they didn't have a return policy, just an exchange one. The news didn't impress me but it was my fault for assuming. I don't want another one and have found some other things on their website we will exchange for tomorrow when we return.

Contrast that experience with a phone call I made to Bose this morning inquiring if they service and sell replacement ear cushions for my noise cancelling headphones.

I had a couple of instances on flights in this year where I experienced shocks to my right ear during an in flight movie. The gentleman I spoke with helped me troubleshoot whether that was caused by a faulty line or not.

We narrowed it down to the 2 prong connector that some planes require and he promptly sent me a replacement for free. My job was to use the headset with my iPod and computer to see if I can reproduce the shocking feeling. If not, then the headset is fine. It has been fine.

What a different experience dealing with a company that stands behind its products! I thought I was going to be buying a new headset ($399 + tax) and now I will just be replacing the ear pads for about $40 instead with shipping free, plus the free 2 prong adapter.

He really was discouraging the idea of my buying a new headset. That's not what you expect nowadays. Should the day come I need to actually consider a new set, I can buy just the headset part, (use my existing battery and line) for just $109 + tax. So I would never need to spend the original amount again. Pretty awesome news!

I'm going to buying their in ear bud headphones as well. The ones that come with iPods are in my opinion, pretty awful. Plus the rubber around it disintegrated ages ago. I've been using my Blackberry ones.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Electronic Cleanup Continues

I cannot adequately express how much better I feel since clearing out excess email subscriptions and old emails.

In this dense electronic age, I've found myself increasingly bombarded with self and non self inflicted emails. What a time waster it is just servicing it daily. As my emails can also be read on my Blackberry and tablet, I'm potentially dealing with them three times.

I've opted to cancel forwarding all my email accounts to my tablet. I'm going to look at it for my phone as well. The clean up continues!

Next up will be Facebook. I'm not a huge user and I use it to keep in touch with friends that I am not able to see in person. Thus my list isn't large and I love looking at others' photos as most of my friends are out town/country.

I think I will also eliminate some peoples' updates -- those friends who have a habit of updating every minute of their day thus clogging up my news page. Or those people who have decided to use Facebook to continually sell stuff.

D and I had a simple Christmas dinner this year. We had giant shrimp cocktail followed by homemade bacon potatoe leek soup and a candy apple. Hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas holidays.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Settled In

I've been out west for the last couple of days. Takes a day or two to roll with the rhythm of this place. The snow is squishy and easy to ski on.

It will be a green Christmas back home with local ski resorts not at full opening yet. I feel bad for those businesses because they are relying on holiday business and I know a few kids who were looking forward to the holiday time ski and snowboarding camps. Not to mention the tobogganing and tubing fun.

I'm also wrapping up final 2011 expenses with what's left of income. We are anticipating some more expenses next week ie. new convection oven and pillow for me. On the list for this location was a new TV but to our surprise, we found out it wasn't the TV to be blamed for the bad picture.

It was the quality of the cable here. They must have fixed/upgraded it because the picture is much better so no new purchase needed. We are rocking a 22" CRT from who know how long ago -- came with the condo.

Merry Christmas to my fellow bloggers and readers. Here's to another great year!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I just got off the phone with my insurance company. We went over some scenarios I had with respect to the different types of potential water damage.

In order to be mostly covered (mostly because there are exclusions we cannot buy coverage for), we would need to to upgrade our coverage by about $240/yr. I said yes.

A couple of friends of ours found themselves in flood damage situations recently. One had the right type of coverage and the other one didn't and is currently spending a lot of money just in the clean up phase of their basement.

We have a hybrid of coverage of our friends'. As we all have different insurers, our respective packages are slightly different. So the exercise was partly topping up and adding on to our existing policy.

Next up will be re-evaluation of our extended health care and life insurance policies. Each year, for one month, D's company allows such change. We will be coming up to that time shortly. I've been given the chart with all the categories but haven't the time to really look at it yet.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


What a long couple of weeks. D had been putting in 60 hr weeks as he had been asked to help out with a few extra projects due to teams being short staffed. It gave him a nice taste of how life would be at the next job level.

We talked about the pros and cons of him working towards the next job level and pay grade. There is an overlap between pay grades and he is already well into the next one but his job level is not which really only affects bonus percentages.

Neither one of us feel the next level up positions are worth going for. He doesn't want to work those increased hours or have to check his Blackberry on weekends. We are happy with his bonus structure and all that extra work for an extra couple of percent at the end of the year doesn't pay off in our minds.

He doesn't have to work more and neither do I. Our savings rate would obviously be quicker if we both did but I've already done my sprint money wise. D and I are going to take the rest of they way like an ultra marathoner -- moderate and steady.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mortgage Brokers

Plumber did return and the job was completed well. No idea what the bill will be. Will be budgeting around $300.

I've heard a couple of horror stories about mortgage brokers recently. One of my friends who had a 1 yr term had an impossible time reaching his broker to talk about renewal. Finally, with 6 days left till the deadline, went directly to the bank who handled it for him.

The other story was from another friend who upon being told they were "approved" for a mortgage, went ahead and bought a house and now with a week left till closing, found out they weren't really "approved" and because of the extent of paperwork outstanding (the deal was signed 3 months ago), the deal may not close on time.

My one and only experience with a broker came from a recommendation from D who used one for one of his house purchases. When I spoke with him, I found him to be abrupt and when I could not get a firm answer on the pre-approval process vs the approval process, I ditched him and went back to my banker who was able to assure me I was really approved and can go in firm (back when I bought the cottage).

Are brokers making so much money they can afford to let deals and relationships go sour? Is there so much business going on that details like required paperwork can run 3 months behind?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All Adds Up

No plumber. Truck wouldn't start. D was not too impressed. Rescheduled for today. Good thing was the city did come out to identify where the water shut off was and tested it. Now we know it won't interfere with any future driveway replacement plans.

One of our windows has developed a crack in the glass. I hate losing a pane of original glass but we have been told the replacement is "pretty simple" (famous last words..). Probably won't get around to fixing it before our holidays.

End of year spreadsheet balancing always starts off fine and then all hell breaks loose. Extra expenses crop out of nowhere and I cannot even blame it on buying presents as we don't have gift exchange in our family.

I'm scrambling to figure out why now? D needed a new winter coat. His down jacket leaks the equivalent to one duck's worth of feathers with each wearing. We scored a great down North Face jacket at a really good price because it was last year's style (who cares?).

I put in a vitamin re-order. We have a few medical appointments what won't get reimbursed until later. We have gone out for a couple extra meals. It all adds up and it messes with my neat spreadsheet.

It would be easier if I didn't have every penny accounted for but the temptation for mindless spending is higher when all I see is an account with money in it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Water Issues

D was pretty embarrassed on the weekend when he went to identify himself as a winner of his purchase. I teased him with the thought of getting his picture taken. As with most winners, he turned around and spent (planned) what he had won as we needed pillows.

We had a plumbing issue later that day when D went around testing taps in an attempt to remember which taps we will be closing for safety purposes before we leave to go out west. In previous years, we hadn't taken this step but have recently read it is a good idea to close the water to toilets and washing machines.

D took it one step further and touched the main tap coming in from the street. So now we have a small leak. A plumber has been called. D rigged up a system to it drained into our basement drain using our dehumidifier bucket which has a hose attachment.

No idea how much it will cost to replace the tap but the city will have to involved because our main water has to be turned off before any work can be done.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Paring Down

I'm a bit stunned because my estimate taxes I did using my yearly online software is showing a refund this year, much larger than the $60 odd dollars I got back last year.

Didn't think my numbers were that different from last. In fact I made more money but my expenses must have gotten bigger too. Right now I'm not seeing it but I'll be looking at those numbers many more times until filing.

I must have missed something. If it turns out I didn't, I'll hold off claiming my rsp donation until next year.

Am in the growing out phase with my hair. Had enough with bangs and shorter hair. Found it to be fun but way higher maintenance. Long hair costs less for me. So back to long it is. Plus I can donate it again when the time comes.

To get a handle on the amount of paper (trees) we seem to get in the mail each month and the feeling of having to read a whole pile of stuff, I've been paring down on our magazine subscriptions.

I cut out 2 last year, just decided not to renew a 3rd and have one left which won't expire for another year -- Considering cancelling and getting some money back. Meanwhile D has added 2 so we are going to have a talk about it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Answers Finally

Well, the decision was made for us. D's bonus is going to be cashed out this year. The account D opened back in Sept to house any bonus monies was supposed to include a fax in of the paper copy which D was not aware of.

It was due Nov 30th. Had he done it, the entire amount would have been sheltered and a tax receipt would have been issued. Now that we know, we have till Nov 30th of 2012 to get that fax in for next year's bonus (hopefully).

An interesting discussion came out of it with one of D's colleagues -- The only one D found (outside of the finally locating someone in the pension dept) who had knowledge of how this all worked and has chosen not to take advantage of it.

He is anti RSP and likes knowing what his bottom line is all the time so non registered investments is his preferred vehicle. He figures you either pay tax now or later. You may as well get it over with now.

I can respect that. Plus, having a good pension will mean a higher tax bracket come retirement so you stand to pay potentially higher taxes later. Made us stop and think about D's retirement big picture vs mine. Maybe this fax error was a blessing in disguise.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Clipping Along

We haven't made it up to the cottage yet to check out how things look after the plumbers did their thing with the plumbing. I'm still a bit scarred from the mess they left a few years ago. Last year was good. If the weather holds, we'll be heading up this weekend.

On the receiving free money front, D's roll continued with a couple more gift cards totally $70 courtesy of Sporting Life Bikes and Board store where he purchased his road back a couple of months ago.

Maybe this is an emerging trend as neither of us have been given such gifts after purchase before. I'm sure there has been some study done showing how much more people spend if you give them free the feeling of goodwill you get for the establishment.

Part of my down time work yesterday involved getting a quote for new attic insulation for the cottage. I don't know the breakdown of the parts of the job yet but I'm guessing the bulk of the $3000 - $5000 quote range is for labour. It seems high to me. I was mentally budgeting no more than $2000.

We are still waiting for D's 1st pension statement to magically show up. We've been told Nov, Dec and now it is officially Apr/May. It's frustrating when no one seems to know when that happens. Why the secrecy? Or perhaps it is because people don't track it so it doesn't matter when it appears?

As we are trying to get answers about D's bonus savings options, D is finding most people are relying on it to pay for Christmas and even though they know (vaguely) of the sheltered route, only one person he has talked to so far have taken advantage of it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Down Time Work

I'm rarely sick and when it happens, it is usually because I've overdone something and got out of balance. So I've spend a lot of time today clearing email clutter. It is amazing how much time it takes me. I aim to do it once a year but realized I hadn't done it last year. Multiply by 3 addresses and the process has eaten up lots of minutes. The day is flying by.

We got lots of good news yesterday. D got the numbers corresponding to his tiny raise and bonus. The raise is approx $30 per pay cheque. His bonus is just shy of $10K which surprised both of us. Don't worry, we are not complaining!

As mentioned in an earlier post, we have to put it into a registered savings vehicle in order for it not to be taxed at almost 50%. D told me he can only do it for 85% of it. The other 15% has to be taken as cash so therefore be taxed fully. The sheltered 85% will garner a tax refund which he will put towards the "car" portion of the recently consolidated mortgage/car loan.

I came home from work to find a Christmas card from my Capital One MasterCard. Inside was a $15 gift card to a department store. When have you ever received free money from a credit card company? Especially when the card is free? First time for me!

Later in the evening, D got an email from a department store we shopped at on the weekend stating we won our purchase! He filled out something online with our receipt code and voila, he won. Now, our purchase wasn't large or anything, under $40. It doesn't matter though!

Friday, December 2, 2011

What the Heck?

Are you serious?! I asked my computer when it started to not like the 2nd new battery yesterday.

I'm going to keep it plugged in and charging even though it isn't really charging to see if things snap magically back to life. Not impressed.

There are 5 more work days until holidays so I'm not going to worry about it. The computer is usable when plugged in. So I'll just have to bring the charger with me to work until I figure out what to do next.

Just put the old battery in and it likes it...what the heck?

End of year is exciting for me from a bookkeeping perspective. I get to see soon whether I owe tax or not. Last year's projections were pretty much spot on. I got about $61 back from the government.

I'm expecting next year's income to be smaller so I'll be happy to cut back on my quarterly tax payments/savings.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Whenever I "declare" something, the universe seems to send an automatic temptation to test my resolve. This came in the form of a cyber Monday sale courtesy of KLM.

Pretty incredible to consider you can fly round trip to Istanbul from Toronto for $749 taxes in, considering I just paid $690 to fly out to BC. I didn't budge but did search out apartments though.

Not this time, D says, there's many more chances to come! He doesn't believe I will be able to hold out for long.

D had errors made on his last flight and didn't get all the award miles expected. But a couple of emails later, it was corrected and he is on his way! He was quite impressed with Delta and their efficiency.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I'm taking advantage of the recent gray weather to look at next year's basic savings goals.

Thanks to what I thought was a real computer failure scare, I am going to make sure my business working account will cover a new computer way sooner than I had anticipated.

In addition, I want $3000 in my business education account as I have my eye on some future training. My business costs me an average of $516/month.

I'm aiming for $5000 in our cars' working account. All the other working accounts are OK for now. If there is extra money I'll give them a boost.

D told me yesterday that our average monthly expenses in 2011 came to an average of $1380.

This number includes the running costs of all 3 properties (taxes, electricity, water, gas, insurance) and 2 cars (insurance, parking and gas). Not bad.

There will be no changes to our long term savings plan.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Out West

Great news! Canadian companies have taken advantage of the whole "Black Friday" hype in the US with their own sales. Discounts were enough to entice us to buy tickets out west for Christmas after all.

Mine, because I leave a few days later than D, cost $120 more but over all a respectable price considering the season. We had already planned our winter activities at the cottage but now we get to ski instead.

Add to it 2 more times out, we will chalk up a healthy 6 weeks total time spent out there this winter reaching our goal amount of time and the whole reason for wanting to own out there to begin with.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Drama Doesn't End

Here's another one for you.

What do you do with someone who believes that gossiping/talking about people is akin to having a relationship with them? Where does that even originate from?

I know someone who believe they have a relationship with me but has never asked me in person how I'm doing in the 8 yrs they have "known me". But they talk to D and ask him.

They so believe in this "relationship" that after a number of drinks manages to burst into tears when asking D why it is they don't see me! Personally I think it is the alcohol talking.

I know when someone cares and when they don't. I am also good at smelling drama from miles away.

It's pretty straightforward in my mind. If you want to become better acquainted with someone, you must make an effort to get to know them, directly.

Should you even have to teach that to an adult?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frustrating Friends

I'm going through a rough time with a few of my girlfriends. One is lonely and angry and want help but says she is happy and loves everything. How do you work with that?

Life can be happy and nice and when it truly matches what's really going on inside, it is congruent and beautiful. When you lie to yourself in the effort to be "positive", you are not fooling anyone and it is exhausting to be around because their is nothing more to be said, is there?

Fulfilling lives come in all shapes and sizes. But sitting around trying to stay all positive and such will not result in a happy life dropping from the sky onto your lap. Part of the beauty of where we are in the world is the ability to dream up and create the life you want. We are free here. Why not exercise it?

The other girlfriend believes and lives by the idea that any comment "against" them/their ideals/goals is "judgement" and therefore to be ignored. But what if the comment is to help them improve on an idea? A very teenage view of life that is costing her a ton of money.

Taking a "positive" approach to life as well as keeping "focused" on a goal are basically alright beliefs if done in moderation. Admitting something isn't working is very valuable because telling yourself the truth is valuable. It opens the door to change and improvement.

This year more than others I'm seeing the gap between myself and them. I have less patience with the same old stories as I have continued to grow and realize my goals and dreams.

We all get into rough patches from time to time but when it has turned into a lifestyle, it's downright depressing. I'm going to make less of an effort to stay in contact from now on as I need more inspirational input.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Computer Update

Well, my 2nd replacement computer battery arrived and my computer likes it!

All diagnostics checked out and I'm relieved. As much as I'd love a new computer, I'm happier not having to spend the money right now especially when all the money we've been putting into the investment markets have magically disappeared...

By the way, my visit to see the latest MacBook Air went really well. D reluctantly admitted he was impressed and it was the clear choice amongst everything else that was there at Best Buy.

We surprisingly liked the 11.6 in version when in my mind I had thought for sure the 13.3 in was the one. There is only a $100 difference between the 11.6 inch 128GB and the 13.3 inch 128 GB so it comes down to size and weight (1 1/2 pds less than my current 13.1 inch laptop) and it won out.

Screen wise you see very similar amounts of material which is pretty impressive. Typing felt normal and processor speed was great.

It's another market day for us. Last weekend we learned to remind ourselves to get some cash out of our food account as we are so used to paying for groceries by debit or credit card.

Friday, November 25, 2011

More Work News

D's yearly review just happened. They are happy with his work. He will need to travel once a month next year for a day or so. He got the OK to work another day at home making it Mon/Wed/Fri which works really well for us. Even with my higher cost of gasoline we are coming under or the same compared to when I had my old car.

D will be getting a small raise (highlight small as he is already at top of his pay grade) as well as a bonus. We won't know the numbers until Dec sometime. We are still waiting for the value of his pension to show up. Apparently it magically appears online when you sign into the benefit part of your profile.

I'm still feel strange about the "ownership" aspect of D to his manager/team. As I have no corporate experience, I don't know if that is normal or not. All I know is that it makes me feel weird as I'm enough of a control freak to not want to feel "owned".

I understand that it would be chaotic if people are changing around all the time but from what I hear from D, most people he works with have been doing the same job for 25 plus years. Honestly, I would have happy if I can make it for another 10.

Continuing with my spreadsheet, I have 2013 all set up. It looks a lot like 2012 which I feel is good. I've written up all my rent cheques for 2012. One less thing to remember. My licencing and liability insurance fees are due Jan 1st 2012 and post dated cheques have also been written.

I have the option to pay monthly but I don't want to pay extra for that and I'm not going make any significant money letting it sit in a bank account so I might as well pay it off and live with a real bottom line.

Whereas my association dues do not penalize for monthly payment so I didn't bother changing it from the way it was set up years ago when I couldn't afford to pay in one lump sum.

When I tell people who ask that it cost an equivalent of insuring 2 - 3 cars (as I'm part time now) just to be able to work, they are often taken back. I'm not unique and I'm sure that is a small number compared to dentists and anesthetists. But there is potential to make a good amount of money so that's why people do it.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Future Plans

A few weeks ago I mentioned how D had a parallel job opportunity. He had a quick interview and was "accepted" but his current manager has decided not to let him go citing the 2 yr regulation thing.

D has only been officially full time for 1 1/2 yr. We were hoping they would count the months we was contract. Next year he will be able to consider moving to a different department, one with more growth potential.

The manager who offered the opportunity says there will be a place for him when the 6 months is up. Fingers crossed for that.

Now that the count down to Christmas has begun our family calendar has suddenly started to fill up. The hype is in the air!

As we aren't heading out west for Christmas this year (I'm working past the pre-Xmas seat sale dead line which translates to almost double for flights), we are keeping our whereabouts hush hush because we don't want to be busy. We will likely hide out at the cottage. I'd like to give snow shoeing a try.

Happy US Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Settling Down?

I spent the day tweaking my spreadsheet for 2012. It is the first full year of my working part time. Each work day is responsible for a portion of my taxes, monthly credit card bill, rent and savings.

When I put in known holiday times some juggling has to occur so that I can make my time sensitive payments. This year was full of taking advantage of travel deals which required a lot of spreadsheet shifting.

I'm expecting next year to be calmer which ought to mean more money in my bank account.

So far, it is looking like 90 total working days compared to 105 for this year. I don't expect income to vary too much but you never know until you are into it.

We are slowly settling into a yearly life that is calmer and cost effective (relative to our particular lifestyle). There is something peaceful about it.

I think I maybe starting to settle down a bit. And it doesn't sound or feel like the bad word I used to think it was.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Travel Priviledges

Whenever I take a flight where I am expecting to earn points, I keep an eye out for the points to show up in my account.

This last flight turned out to be extra special because I have finally managed to reach a frequent flyer status whereby I get free upgrades and early boarding privileges.

Not having to pay to be in business class is a big deal to me, especially the eastbound leg when I'm hoping to get some sleep. Getting reduced rates for preferential seats in economy comfort class is great.

Not having to weed my way through the throngs of people who are standing there by the check in aisles when their rows haven't been called yet would be excellent.

I am anxiously awaiting my luggage tag to arrive in the mail. D is pretty excited too because my companion gets to receive the same privileges. He hasn't flown enough yet but eventually he will.

We are still fairly young and are committed to more travel in our futures. He is rationing the last of the Turkish delight supposedly until I return to buy him some more...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Making an Effort

D and I were registered to this event next week and we found out it has been cancelled. We've been to a number of this type of speaking event before and really enjoyed ourselves. The caliber of the speakers are high.

The very first one I attended Mark Burnett opened the day. Was he ever funny. I had no idea he served undercover with the military and was so accomplished. Had I not heard him speak, I'd never end up reading his books. They are entertaining.

This weekend we are making an effort to drive out to local produce markets. A large part of what appeals to us in France is the availability of outdoor fruit and veggie markets. We go everyday and pick out food that is ready for eating that day.

Here at home, we tend to buy in larger quantities and is without charm. In order for us to integrate more European habits into our lives we have to make an effort. Because distances can be far, we will have to drive and organize our day accordingly.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Computer Issues

Well, the new computer battery arrived and is now gone again. My computer didn't take to it and the diagnostics says one or more cells didn't work in the new one. So it has been sent back (at my cost) and I'm waiting for a new one...

All of a sudden my computer likes my old battery again. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't my computer that is the problem. If you remember, I didn't have a great start with this laptop with its loud fan noise and dealing with HP hadn't been wonderful. The warranty is now expired but I don't know if it will be economical to try and fix.

I remember deciding then should it konk out on me, I'm going to Apple for my next laptop despite D's eye rolling and threat of no IT support. This current experience reminded me of that thought and I've started my research, just in case.

When the time comes, my 4th laptop shall be a MacBook Air, probably the 13" size. That way I won't have to buy a new carrying case. When we are out and about this weekend I want to go and look at one and ask some questions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It is back on the non dairy, non egg business for D and I. We did "cheat" while away.

I resisted for about 3 days and I started nibbling on corners of the pain au chocolat which led to entire ones as well as croissants eaten. I also had a couple of cafe cremes and tiramisu. D went all out and enjoyed every bite.

He was given this supplement to counteract the effects of eating dairy after being off of it for a while. It is really ironic that having eaten it all his life with no pain, after being off of it for 6 weeks has meant stomach cramps now.

I didn't get any pain myself but after a particularly heavy dairy day, I decided to take one of his pills just in case. Well, that was a mistake because I broke out in hives all over my back.

It took 2 days of anti histamines to get rid of it. D had no issues so I don't know what happened with me. Needless to say I will not be partaking in those pills again.

Curiosity almost took out the cat.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Scary Stuff

We came home to some bad and badder news. The easy one is my computer is telling me I need a new battery. It was barely over 2 yrs old! A new one has been ordered.

The badder piece of news is friends of ours' daughter had gotten into a serious car accident on her way to school (university). Her barely 1 yr old Ford Focus was totalled and was basically crushed underneath a dump truck.

The incredible thing is that she walked away with a couple of knee sprains, a broken wrist (non dominant), sore elbows and a bruise across her nose from the main air bag. And a huge fear of driving right now. But not one sign of whiplash or concussion!

Otherwise she didn't see anything once all the airbags deployed. We all agreed from the pictures of the accident she did incredibly well and the car literally saved her life.

A person at the scene happened to be a trauma nurse and he assumed she was decapitated from the wreckage as all the crumple zones did their job and the car looked an accordion.

They had to tear the car apart to get her out and she was found just sitting there stunned, ducking down, covered in dust with no idea what the results of the noise and impact were. She is one lucky girl. We are so thankful she is recovering well.

They do have the type of insurance coverage that will replace the car and she has already gotten the cheque and paid for another Ford Focus, a 2012 with even more safety features.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Return from France

We didn't deliberately plan our return to the south of France during the G20. Add to it the torrential rains in the region requiring evacuation of small coastal towns in France and Italy, it made for an interesting challenge.

Paris wasn't spared of rain either despite it being much further north. This trip marked my 10th to France and 1st time I left without an intense longing to return to Paris. Both the city and I have changed.

I find myself much preferring the slower pace of life in Nice and environs. We cruised the Seine a few times, visited favourite restaurants and haunts and was glad when the time came for our connection south.

Due to the request of our original apartment owner to find an alternate logging so he could secure a long term rental, we opted to give Nice Pebbles another try. We used them about 5 yrs ago when they were brand new and didn't have the best experience.

I'm happy to report they have come a long way and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone looking to visit the french riveria. They aren't the cheapest game in town but with them, you don't have to worry about a thing.

It is back to work today and I have a hopping schedule. Jumping right back into the fire.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Great Turn Bad Turn

I got a second opinion on my winter tires from the tire guy at the dealership and he gave me better news. The front set is 50% worn and the rear set is pretty good.

There isn't need to buy new tires for this season after all. I was concerned the difference would not be good for the car but he didn't seem to think so.

Should I repeatedly see my traction control light come on to assist, then I can consider replacing the 2. Great news! I had already mentally prepared myself for the expenditure.

The winter tires don't do curves (or maybe hugged too well) as well I noticed yesterday. Tried to do a sharp turn at 80 km/hr (possible with my summer tires) and ended up locking my brakes and maybe skidding? slightly.

Didn't come close to losing control or anything but I probably shouldn't have tried that on dry pavement...silly girl...note to self...I told D upon arriving home and he told me he wouldn't have tried that to begin with and shakes his head.

I have a few more office loose ends to tie up before the packing starts. Cheers Everyone, back in a week or so!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Time To Go

I'm glad we are leaving soon. D so needs a vacation. He has had a lot on his plate and is having trouble keeping everything straight.

He left a new bag of frozen shrimp at the cottage this weekend...Our fridge has been shut down...Luckily the temperatures will be cool enough to keep it partly frozen until we get back up there in a month...

Yesterday he locked us out of the house. It also happened about 4 yrs ago. So, I walked to the bank to deposit some money while he used a neighbour's phone to call the locksmith. One hr later and $110, we are back in our house.

D's company year end is at the end of Oct so he has been very busy finishing up reports and stuff in anticipation of that and being away. His part time contract gig was coming to completion too.

He also had a job interview yesterday (internal posting). It looks like a lateral move financially but will be in a different department which is where the action is. So more room for advancement in the future.

His office policy says they are supposed to stay in one posting for 2 yrs before moving to another position. D is at the 1 yr 8 month mark and they would like him to start in a month. He is going to talk to his boss today.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Living Life

We had a great long weekend up north. Both of us want to spend more time there during the fall. My travelling didn't make that possible this year but we are going to make it a priority next year.

Was tempted by a KLM seat sale but didn't act on it. For those who are interested, the sale ends today. As part of my research, I found a nice apartment in Budapest for when I'm ready to go. There are lots to chose from on Homeaway.

I for see 2012 as more of a reflective year. I'm already feeling that way. Lots to digest after the changes of this year.

It has been a challenge eating out with our dietary restrictions. We have been told that once off the offending foods for a few weeks, interaction with them will create symptoms. D has been at it for 6 weeks now and he gets stomach cramps immediately after eating dairy.

I haven't been off of things long enough to feel it much. But apparently, once our 6 months are up, we will be able to re-introduce the foods in a moderate way without total relapse. One thing I have noticed is my energy has gotten better. Too soon to tell if it is just coincidence.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shiny New Office

I know of a colleague who has just opened their new office -- At a cost of $80K. It's a really sleek office. Designer furniture, coffee maker etc.

In reality he does the same job I do but in a larger city center which can demand more payment, about $20 more than I charge.

I find myself thinking to myself, is that difference worth the large start up costs? When does the break even point happen? What about the stress of carrying such an amount fresh out of school with plenty of school debt?

I don't know all the numbers so cannot figure out the bottom line. It just makes me nervous. And I forgot there would be a fairly pricey commercial lease on top of that.

As unglamourous as my office is compared to his, I know I can pay my overhead with less than a day's work. However I get no bragging rights for playing small. People don't admire that.

They may just assume I cannot afford to do it any bigger and feel sorry for me since I've been at it for a much longer time. When in reality, I live a pretty full life. For me, that's what really matters.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good News Bad News

Bad news about the new to me snow tires. They have less life than I was told/expected. They do pass safety and I've been told I could try and see how they perform and decide from there.

I've sent an email to the seller with the findings and hope he will do the right thing and send me some money back.

We are heading up north for a few days to A -- Do our close the cottage part. The plumbers may have already done their part. B -- Soak in some great fall air and atmosphere. And C -- Have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

The much tracked Bank of Canada rate stayed put. Now that I'm not involved in the heavy pre-payment scene anymore, I actually missed the 9 am press release. Normally I have that page up and waiting anxiously.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspired Living

D getting his new bike has inspired me to bike more myself. I feed off the excitement of others. It's fun. That's why I like reading blogs and meeting interesting people so much.

His first ride was very successful. He couldn't believe how fast he got and and much easier it was to go uphill while still having a few gears left to go either way. It felt like driving a sports car.

We are looking forward to increased home time in 2012 to cultivate our local interests more. I also want to get to the next level in health and fitness.

I was the unfortunate messenger of bad news recently. The ceiling of my office storage room sprung a leak. The building has a flat roof. I don't know what's involved in fixing it. Hopefully it won't be a hugely expensive ordeal. Nice to be a renter!

I've pretty much given up hope with finding reasonable air fares out west this Christmas. However, we have secured flights in Feb for a couple a weeks.

It will coincide with D's annual guys ski trip so that will save him an extra ticket purchase. Which doesn't hurt his feelings as he has drained his dream account on his new toy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Guy!

Meeting the fellow who sold me his tires and rims was a highlight of our weekend. He was younger than I had expected, D thinks between our ages. And so enthusiastic! His energy was contagious.

It was really obvious he was wealthy, happy and non apologetic about his success. A great positive energy to be around. Most people we see who want to be wealthy appear to be trying too had to make others notice them. It didn't hurt that he was naturally really good looking, fit and stylish.

This guy is one of the few people we've met who is joyfully living and enjoying his life and has the means to realize some pretty cool dreams.

When his third child was born, he had to get rid of his vehicle for a larger one, thus the reason he had tires and wheels to sell. We talked about how hard he was hit with depreciation as he bought his vehicle new in 2008. Oh well, he now drives a large Mercedes SUV that seats 7.

He told us about bringing his previous car to the track and how much fun that was. He drove the model up from what I drive which has 100 hp more but recounted with disbelief how there was someone in the group who was driving my model and was constantly on his bumper and passing him.

He remembers exclaiming out loud, "Where is that 100 extra horsepower?!" He figured the other guy had a heavier foot. I suggested maybe he was driving with the sport button pressed.

Told me to take care of the rims as they will still be worth a lot of money when I'm done with my car. That he hoped I'd be driving my car to pick up the tires because he missed his a lot and all the modifications he did on it.

He couldn't believe I had driven a Honda for 14 yrs and made the leap from that or I that had bought my current car used. No more than I could imagine buying his last car new. We were gaping at each other different reasons.

He also apologized many times for being 15 min late. He had emailed me but didn't have my number and worried I left. I like that in a person because it tells me they put a high value on their time and hates when they are wasting someone else's time.

I want to exude his energy and enthusiasm.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What a Saturday

What a marathon day yesterday. We ended up staying at a hotel the night before meeting my guy with the tires to save the long morning drive. The driving time was saved but the experience at the hotel I think shortened D's life.

There was a family who took up 3 rooms across the way and they were going back and forth amongst the rooms while letting the doors slam. After 11 pm, their neighbour told them to quiet down while D went down to the front desk to see if we could switch rooms.

Unfortunately the hotel was full. They did quiet down but were at it again at around 3 am, then checked out aft 5 am. We did our best to understand that with multi-family outings, it can be loud.

However, travelling with the family requires some learning that when co-habiting with others, new habits need to be cultivated in public spaces. This applies to supermarkets too.

The purchase of my snow tires and rims went through. The front tires were more worn than the rears which is understandable but were more worn than I had expected. I was worned about that due to the weight of the vehicle. What I am planning to do is use them in the back this season.

D got his bike fitting and pick up done earlier than scheduled. We had planned to go for lunch before his appointment but they were ready for him so we pushed through instead. There was an impressive level of biomechanical checks in the fitting. I found it fascinating. We definitely felt we got more than our money's worth.

My travel cancellation refund arrived Friday! It has been safely deposited. One less thing to wonder about. I was worrying about what I would do if it got lost and how long I would have to wait before they would re-issue another cheque.

It has been an early and busy morning. D got confirmation of our refund and bonus from our apartment rental owner and has booked our new spot. He was very grateful we were able help out.

We toyed with the idea of cancelling the trip in light of both of our recent expenses and food allergy findings. I am usually the queen of that, first for D. He feels it is my influence. I wasn't against it as I have done my share of travelling this year. But D really is looking forward to it so full steam ahead.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It's perhaps a sign of the times. We got an email last night from the owner of the apartment rental in France asking us if we would consider finding a different spot because she has an opportunity to take on a long term rental contract.

As she may be losing her job and is expecting a baby, the extra security of the long term rental is needed at this time. She also offered us monetary compensation if we would be able to accommodate.

So D and I got out our laptops and started searching. We've had a good relationship with her over the years and if we could find another place in short notice, we would help out.

We haven't been able to find another waterfront spot at anywhere close to the price we are paying but there are 3 we like which will cost what we paid plus the compensation we would be getting as it is coming in close to double.

I've made inquiries into one of them while the others can be booked instantly online so I'll give it til the end of this weekend to decide as we are heading out of town anyways.

I hope this isn't going to mean the sale of the apartment sometime in the future. I am projecting my own feelings onto this scenario when I say it would be sad if it came to that. But I don't know if it was bought originally as just an investment or not.