Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clean Up Continues

Continuing in the spirit of clean up, I called a couple of places to put a stop to flyer delivery to our house, hopefully starting this week.

The process was simple enough. They ask for your name and number and tell you it is instant -- Fingers crossed!

When we go away for a couple of weeks, we pay to put a hold on our mail. But the flyers and local papers keep coming so you end up coming home to a full mailbox.

I guess we can ask someone to come by to pick up mail and flyers and when we had in house cat sitting, that wasn't an issue. Now that we don't, it has become an issue.

I don't like anyone having access to my house, even for checking purposes. Strange, you are probably thinking, but I don't. We don't have anyone check in on our other places either.

I figure I'll just deal with whatever comes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Another Book Recommendation

The geography of bliss : one grump's search for the happiest places in the world by Eric Weiner.

A lighter funnier take on the subject.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting Balanced

I find people who don't bother to listen and remember really frustrating to be around. All of a sudden I am in the midst of being bombarded with them.

It is really hard for me not to take it personally. The Buddhist in me says experience it, do not judge or get involved as it will pass. Deep breaths.

On a unrelated note, I had a light bulb moment this week. I suddenly realized just how much creative balance I had built into my life growing up.

The amount of music and art at that time was a saving grace to me. Art and piano lessons for 11 yrs made sure it represented a good percentage of my week and served to balance the academic stressors.

I have been without a significant creative side to my life since I started my career. This week, I actually sat down at my piano and started to play again (Chopin Nocturne). It was so enjoyable. I felt immediately the stress relief and tears of joy with finally using a different part of my brain again. 

When we were in Nice last fall, I used D's sketch book and did a quick sketch just for fun. I'm a painter at heart but had suddenly felt like drawing. It makes me really happy to see that side of me coming back.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Good Morning

For a change, I decided to take an early morning walk to do my banking. Usually I go in the evenings but the mild winter we've been experiencing has made for dry sidewalks and clear roads.

It was very pleasant. Saw a different piece of city life due to time of day. Postmen and construction workers going to work. Didn't realized how many people took public transit. Nice to say good morning to people.

Since we've been house hunting out of province, our eyes have been extra open to what we have here. It has so far made us more appreciative.

D has voiced his concern for my potential boredom from not having my career anymore. He also feels having my income is very valuable and that a fun job might not be as fun as it is in my mind based on my history of being self employed and in control.

Friday, January 20, 2012

De Cluttering

D dropped off 2 garbage bags full of our clothing to our local donation center. He said it felt good to be free of it. I think it is a great continuation in our lives to rid ourselves of excess stuff.

Though I'm having trouble with convincing D to part with some books. Since moving over the ebook side of things, my attachment to novels have all but disappeared. However I do own a few beautiful coffee table books I will keep this time around.

Looking around our house with the mindset of potentially moving does make clutter decision making easier. It is a great exercise whether one is moving or not. We've gotten broad quotes on cost of a cross country move. Sounds like a lot to me so I'm thinking less is less.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rude Delivery Guy

I made a complaint to Purolator yesterday. It was my 3rd encounter with an angry and rude delivery guy who is impatient and making up delivery rules I was sure wasn't true. So I called him on it as well as with customer service.

Customer service sided with me and the district manager will be getting in touch with us to resolve the issue. All I want him to do is to do his job without complaint or confrontation. His job isn't rocket science. I'm fine with never seeing him again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Home Buyer Expectations

D and I like to watch real estate shows, especially ones featuring first time home buyers. Once you've seen a couple of them, it is easy to pick out the trend in what people "ought" to be looking for in a new home.

On the flip side, as a fairly seasoned home owners, makes us wonder what's wrong with us because we didn't think to look for some of those list things that are so important to the first timers.

We don't have granite counter tops in any of our properties. Nor was it a requisite for buying a house. There have been some fiery tempers displayed on the show from the lack of them. And what is wrong with Corian? They cost similar to marble but won't stain like marble can.

Those people haven't learned that stone counters don't have anything to do with the quality of food that comes out of the kitchen. Granted, it is a nice look.

What is the issue with "pop corn" ceilings that some have? The trend started as a way to diffuse light in a bedroom or dining room so the ambiance is more gentle. But everyone hates them.

I think people just get in their head to like this or don't like that because they hear others doing and saying the same things, instead of thinking for themselves.

A starter home is a starter home. Some of these peoples' budgets almost make me laugh. They expect the world (3 - 4 bedrooms, 2 + baths, great neighbourhood, large amount of green space, hardwood floors throughout, finished rec room, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, large back yard, double or triple car garage) for $125K in Texas or the Mid West (almost doable) or $350K in Toronto. They would be lucky to find a town home in Toronto. I can't believe what you can buy in Texas.

In a pretty small kitchen, granite counter tops are a $3000 - 4000 upgrade. Whereas I'm thinking that same money can go a long way to towards things that would really increase quality of life, like a backyard patio set, BBQ, fence, furniture etc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mobile Working Possibilities

It has been a big news week. D got the OK to be able to work remote from anywhere in Canada! We have been working/waiting on this for a few years. Our heads are spinning with possibilities and we have been busy with pro/con lists as well as searching the mls.

One of the potential big issues with leaving Ontario for me is my career. It would mean retirement. I'm not keen on starting again in a different province doing what I have been doing. So that would mean more "fun" jobs what will likely pay no where close to what I've been accustomed to earning.

We have come up with a couple of "sub- full out" move away plans. I call them our chicken/toe in the water plans as a way to make liquidating assets and moving easier.

D and I have different time lines. He would like the move to happen within 3 - 5 yrs. I'm thinking asap because that is how I tend to be. But I also realize the lifestyle we have been able to enjoy with me working too.

We are planning to spend some time with Realtors found in the east and west Canada (leaning west) before making a firm decision. This is shaping up to be an extra interesting year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Travel Necessities

My passport is nearing its expiry date. In my research into faster ways to get it renewed, I stumbled upon this super visa service site which not only helps you get travel visa (for a fee of course) but has the handy chart of the world's visa requirements.

Check out the requirements for a Brazilian tourist visa for fun...

Because a lot of countries have requirements that your passport validity must extend 3 - 6 months past your departure date, I always feel like I am getting jipped 6 months. This time around, I'll be cutting it closer.

When I come home from Hawaii, I'll have 6 weeks to get a new passport before my probable next trip -- Nothing booked yet but I'm looking.

Now that I've studied the world visa chart, I've decided I'm going to tackle the countries that don't require a complicated or expensive or time consuming visa application first. Mentally I'm lumping countries into easy, moderate and hard.

It would be great to find a similar chart for travel immunization and combine the two to get a realistic view of what it will take and the real costs of going to those places.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cost : Purchase Price

Our recent plumbing bill brought an important point to light. At first I felt the $332 bill was too high. We were charged a 3 hr labour rate when it didn't take 3 hrs.

Additional time was charged for travel. I was a bit miffed about it. We used someone from out of town because they were good. Next time we'll find someone good locally.

But what I wanted to get to was this. Even though the bill was $100 higher than I was expecting, the cost of our house maintenance as a percentage of the cost of our house is actually pretty small.

When we started to think in those terms, it was easy to evaluate our other properties in the same way we would consider car reliability. So our main house is like the Honda of homes. Very reliable, minimal maintenance costs.

The cottage and ski condo has been higher maintenance relative to its cost so more like German cars -- fun but there is a much higher cost to maintain. With respect to the ski condo, we haven't had to fix anything per se but I'm using the yearly condo fees as the measure.

Over the 9 plus years of cottage ownership, we've replaced the well, the pump, the stove (fridge is next) and the roof. Some people may add the cost of gasoline to get there and back. And in our case, we have the monthly cost of the Turbo Hub.

I'd like to think that most of the big capital costs for that location are done and should last a long while. Other things like newer windows and bathroom are a want and not a must have, just like landscaping.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Food Rant

I've entered into the cranky phase of my dietary change. The first month I felt great, then cheated a few times while in France and once before Christmas (client gave me some homemade peppermint and chocolate bark) and since then I've felt less than great.

D went through it too and has since moved to feeling pretty good. I hope I move through it soon.

I've tried some soy alternatives and the only thing I really like is Starbuck's Cafe Mocha with soy (no whip). The soy and sherbet ice cream bar was awful and soy creamer made my tea taste horrible.

I miss table cream, whipped cream and cake and pizza like crazy! And our kitchen desk is piled up with tins of cookies and chocolates given to us we cannot eat (will be given away).

This must be what withdrawal feels like. Other than the above, can't say I really miss eating eggs or almonds or pineapple or peanuts or clams.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

D's First Prepayment

D's post tax bonus showed up today and we are pretty happy about it despite the large tax bite (about half). Once the 2012 tax season rolls around, we'll get some of it back from the overpayment.

We applied most of it (I like round numbers) to "the car portion" of the mortgage. I prefer to keep the two separate in my mind. It was D's first prepayment experience and he now knows what it feels like to make a decent dent into the number. He liked it.

There was some back and forth as D debated whether he could afford the time off to come with me to Hawaii. In the end, he didn't want to use up so many holiday days (11) for this trip (Hawaii is not in his top places to see) so he is holding out to see where I go next 'cause he's pretty sure there will be another.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

We were really glad to have gone out at Christmas time. Originally the plan was to stay home and have a quieter time but this past season was the quietest we had primarily due to the economical slow down.

We experienced minor amounts of noise and just moderate crowds vs previous years where there were slews of kids running up and down the hallway. As selfish as this sounds, we enjoyed it. Tried a couple of new restaurants this year.

There were enough people to make the resort festive but not so much we got irritated. I'm sure the resort would have liked to be busier. We'll be back in about a month to help out the local economy.

Our new year's eve was spent on the plane home. We found a restaurant open for breakfast on New Year's day and ate a good meal there, followed by afternoon movies. Great way to begin another new year.

The only coming home surprise was a mailbox stuffed with mail. We paid to have our mail held (to give the illusion we are not away) so D is going to look into speaking with someone about what happened, how to prevent it, and getting our money back.