One Lovely Blog Award!

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 2.36.55 PM

Thank you to  Fabulous Frugality for nominating Saving Without Scrimping for  the “One Lovely Blog Award”! Her tagline is Making frugal fun again! and boy does she do it! I love visiting

Guidelines for the “One Lovely Blog Award”:
•Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
•Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
•Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

7 Random Things:

  1. I’ve already begun Christmas gift shopping. We spend so much every year on gifts that I’ve begun the task of filling our gift closet with things I know people will love. I used to just shop sales but now I’m shopping sales with specific people in mind. There’s a post coming about this particular adventure.
  2. My favourite flower for the longest time were carnations. It really came down to the fact that they come in so many colours and that florists can easily ‘paint’ them. My current favourite is hydrangeas. They’re just balls of multi-colour joy! What’s not to love?
  3. I’ve been trying to reconnect with my faith recently in a secular way. This month was the breakthrough month. I’m still going to avoid church as I find that certain sermons can be awful for my mental health but I’m feeling more at peace with my spirituality.
  4. A lot of people speak about FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) but it scares me. I really had to think of that. I knew the big numbers were throwing me off but soon I realized it was that though I want to be financially independent  I don’t want to retire early. So I’ll continue working on my financial independence and building a nest egg to follow whatever my dreams are, even if they don’t include early retirement.
  5. I’m a huge fan of country music. I’m currently on a Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney kick
  6. I used to be an adventurous coffee drinker but would stick to orange pekoe tea. Now I don’t drink coffee but I love trying new teas!
  7. I’m currently watching Supernatural and Arrested Development. I’ve tried Arrested Development before but wasn’t able to make it more than 2 episodes. I think I’m just in the right head space for it now :).

 

I nominate these lovely folks and hope you enjoy their blogs:

  1. St. Teddy’s Church
  2. Two are Better than One
  3. Dewey Hop
  4. Money Grasshopper
  5. Hart of the Forest
  6. A Great Big Beautiful World
  7. The Little Singaporean Lady
  8. The Minimalistic Mom Blog
  9. The Boeskool
  10. The CFO Mom Blog
  11. Camcoogan
  12. Getting real with Mental Health
  13. Another Frugal Blog
  14. Through my Lens
  15. You! I think you’re awesome. If you’ve  read, liked a post or commented at any time you’re absolutely lovely.

What Happens Now?

For the last few, possibly 7,  years I’ve been halfheartedly attempting to pay off my debt. Last year I got serious, started this blog, and really dedicated myself to being debt free.

In December 2015, it became clear that I would be able to achieve my goal in 2016. Not wanting to lose steam and find myself right back into debt I added a few more goals.

I’m so glad I did! My priorities have changed a bit so I’ve updated my goals and my action plan.

Goal 1: Help ML

Our goal is to have ML be debt free. ML has been paying his own debt but with my debt gone I’m going to be putting 66% of my extra money towards his credit card. By my taking on his credit card, he’ll be able to put more money towards his student loan. With a little luck we’ll both start 2017 debt free!

Goal 2: Home Improvement Fund

A few years ago I owed the government money, I had switched jobs that year and one of the companies hadn’t taken enough off my paycheques to cover my taxes. I ended up owing ~ $700 so I set up a tax savings account to cover if this happened again.

It’s been a few years and I’ve gotten tax rebates every year. So this year I converted the fund to a Home Improvement fund and kept putting the allocated money into it. I’m going to put 22% of my extra money to this. Hello Kitchen!

Goal 3: Emergency Fund

The extra 12% is going here. After I explored my fears regarding cutbacks I’m not as concerned about this. I still feel it’s important to have an emergency fund but I also feel that I have a decent buffer at the moment. The 12% will allow me to slowly have my entire buffer in one place.

Did you make resolutions this year? If so, up to re-visiting or re-committing to them? I’d love to hear how it’s going!

 

If we were having coffee: Let’s Celebrate!

We did it!!!

I just got my final paycheque for the month and it’s actually mine!!!

I even have $165 left in the account, I’ve got $80 left in my budget. This means I have $85 that can be put directly in my Life Happens savings right now to help offset June.

This is how I feel:

firework

If we were having coffee, I’d be a happy mess. I’m at my desk and shaking with joy and grinning like a loon.

If you ever wonder what following a blog, liking or commenting on a post does please know that it has helped me pay off a chunk of debt. Wherever you are and however you’ve interacted with me this is a joint win! Thank you so much for everything and I hope you keep with me as I continue to save without scrimping.

 

Photo courtesy of satit_srihin via freedigitalphotos.net

 

Looking Ahead: June

ID-100151535

Summer is always a bit busy. The good weather means that everyone wants to go out and have fun, weekend festivals are in full swing and friends are able to stay out later to make use of the longer days.

When I was originally planning June it was a simple month. May isn’t over yet and so far we’ve got plans for every weekend in June:

Friend’s birthday: $100;  Archery tag ($30/person), gift ($25), and gas. We’re going to skip the dinner portion of this.

Wine Tour: $60; I doubt I’ll spend it all but as a girlfriend is coming down that weekend the $60 includes any activities with her

Father’s Day hosting and tokens: $150

Hosting Family Barbecue for 12:  $200

Baby Shower: $200 from Life Happens account

Crazy work week: I’m going to be working 13 hours/ day for a week. So I know I’ll be tempted to purchase lunch, buy coffee and generally treat myself. ML and I have chatted about how we’ll tag team this week to ensure that we keep our spirits up and budget down.

As it  stands we’re going to have to get creative to keep to the budget we created for ourselves but it’s going to be fantastic.

How’s your June shaping up?

 

Image by artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes I Need a Smoke Break

No, I have not decided to pick up this particular vice. I promise.

I have, however, been listening to Carrie Underwood’s most recent album non stop. One of the singles is Smoke Break about people who don’t drink or smoke but crave the release those activities promise.

I was thinking about smoke breaks because my work is unionized so we have two 15 minute breaks we can take in addition to lunch. Guess, who tends to go outside and take these breaks? Smokers.

Today was gorgeous but I only got outside because I had a meeting in another building. Sitting for 8 hours is awful yet I do this to myself at least 5 days a week so I’m going to start taking ‘smoke breaks.’

It seems counterintuitive to leave my desk for fifteen minute increments when work is hectic but I think these breaks are necessary. I’m going to start small with a walk around the block twice a day. I’ll get outside, get moving, give my eyes a break and my mind a rest.

Here’s the song that started it all:

Going Old Fashioned in the Kitchen: Peach Iced Tea

ML has been wanting peach iced tea for a couple of weeks. I’m not a fan of iced tea but decided to keep an eye open for some when I was shopping. I didn’t see any but began to wonder how difficult it would be to make.

It turns out it’s not hard at all! It’s a combination of steeped tea and simple syrup. So when I saw that peaches were on sale this week I decided to surprise him.

Part 1: Peach Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 peaches, thinly sliced

Method:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil
  • Once boiled, simmer  until all sugar is dissolved. Stir constantly and use your spoon to press the peaches against the pan
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from heat and keep it covered for about 30 minutes.
  • Once ready to use strain the syrup into a jar.
  • Store in the fridge

Part 2: Tea

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 teabags, I used Orange Pekoe

Method

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Put your teabags into a large teapot or heat safe container and pour the boiled water over the bags.
  • Steep for 5 minutes then remove the teabags.
  • Allow this to cool and then pour into a separate container.
  • Store in the fridge.
  • Note: the four cups is because the jar I used only holds four cups.
IMG_20160522_204505
My jars of tea and peach simple syrup

Part 3: Putting it together

The ratio we seem to like is one cup of tea to one tablespoon of syrup. I generally am not a fan of iced tea but I’m quite enjoying this!

Quick note on the storage:

I have kept my syrup and tea apart for a few reasons.

  1. The mixture will spoil more quickly
  2. This way we can adjust the ratio to suit our tastes
  3. Since my 1 cup of syrup is 16 tablespoons we  can have 16 cups of peaches iced tea. That’s 3.78 litres  of iced tea!

Do you have any iced tea tips?

Going old Fashioned in the Kitchen: Vegetable stock

My grocery budget for this week was $45 and I was able to create a list that was $42.61. Even when I added a few ingredients when I found out my mushrooms had turned I still managed to come out at $44.66.

Big win!

Then I began trying to choose which recipe to start with. Since the mushrooms had turned I decided to make the cauliflower soup as we’ve had three quarters of a cauliflower in our fridge for a week.

It turns out I had forgotten that I had used all my homemade chicken stock and couldn’t find any packages of it. Considering how good I had been about our budget I didn’t want to wreck it. One site suggested I make a vegetable stock instead.

Small problem, Bunny takes care of all our vegetable scraps and I only buy the vegetables I know we won’t waste so there were no extras hiding the fridge.

That’s when I found this Vegetable stock base. I adjusted it to suit my needs.

  • 5 cups of water
  • 3 cloves  of garlic, smashed
  • Half an onion chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A good shake of peppercorns
  • A good shake of dried thyme
  • Tsp of salt
  • Remaining cauliflower stalk

I simmered it until I needed it, about 25 minutes.

I probably should invest in cheesecloth or a sieve but my reusable coffee filter did the job this time. I strained it and got my 4 cups of stock.

I’ve got to admit it smells divine!

 

My Grocery List

Yesterday at lunch I began prepping my grocery list. Usually we’re alright if we play with our numbers a bit but this week I’m determined to not go over my budget. It took some doing but, using Reebee, I was able to compare and figure out the best deals for us.

Eggs  $       2.78
Yogurt  $       2.00
1 lb Peaches  $       4.00
5 Kiwi  $       3.00
Craisins  $       5.00
Strawberries  $       1.47
2 packages of Rice cakes  $       6.00
4 lbs Ground Chicken  $    10.00
3 Tinned Beans  $       2.37
Bathroom Tissue  $       5.99
 $    42.61

Based on the list and our current pantry the menu stands as:

  • Spaghetti with sauce and mushrooms
  • Rice, ground chicken, green beans
  • Quiche: eggs, sweet pepper and olives
  • Curried cauliflower soup: plan is to use milk rather than cream and add potatoes
  • Snacks: Yogurt,strawberries,kiwi,rice cakes, craisins and bananas

ML has bee wanting peach iced tea so I found a recipe that I’m going to try. We generally aim to keep our spending at $50/week at the grocery. Though as we’re both being more active we may have to increase this. I’m alright with an increase as long as we’re not spending on things we might waste or junk food. This week I’m feeling pretty good about our list.

 

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee: Positivity

ID-100165311

Bunny and I are currently having tea. Come join us!

IMG_20160416_112717.jpg

Bunny has one of the bedrooms in our home. It has a TV stand, that holds her food and toiletries, and a small filing  unit. There’s a built in cupboard that holds various  office supplies and our extra stash of hand soap and toilet paper.

The previous owners had removed the doors from all the cupboards and we asked them to not put them back. Instead we hung curtains. They take up less room when open and add a nice touch. We had originally planned to have a collection to swap out and change the décor but never did buy extras.

Bunny loves her closet curtain. At least  once a day I’m treated to a Bunny Ballet. She grips the edge of the curtain in her mouth and twirls herself in it.

There’s no seating in her room, as Bunny has no use for chairs other than as expensive chew toys. Instead, she invites guests to join her on the floor. I usually sit near the door so my tea cup can be outside the room. Though we can be closer to her TV stand so you can rest your cup there.

So Bunny doesn’t feel left out, I’ll give her water in a tea cup and we’ll have a party. She’ll probably sit between us and find the best position to be petted.

It always amazes me that this little animal who hated to be touched eight years ago now demands to be petted. I’ve been with her for 30 minutes and she has no interest in my stopping.

People are like that too. They can learn to fear and therefore avoid your company, and anyone who reminds them of you. Or if you’re patient and kind they seek you out.

The past few weeks at work I don’t feel that I’ve been patient and kind. I know that I’ve been polite and professional but it’s not the same.

A lot of it has to do with how I think and allowing myself to focus on negatives. A few years ago I did an exercise where for every negative thought I tried to find 2 positives about the person or situation. Today I’m going to do that but I’m also going to do it for me. When I look at my growing to do list and feel inefficient I’m going to remember that the time I spent on the phone with someone trying to get the answers they need was important and that helping with a project mattered to a colleague.

What would you like to share over coffee?

Hotel Minimalism

I love going to hotels. At first I thought it was because of the fact that there are no chores when I visit a hotel and I get a pool. Over the past few years I’ve come to realize it’s the hotel aesthetic that really makes me want to live in one.

Hotels are all about minimalism and the ones I love always have interesting features. The washroom in my most recent hotel had some great light fixtures, a gorgeous mirror and an interesting addition in the shower to put toiletries on.

IMG_20160515_101251

On this trip, I also found a store I loved and it was apparent to me that part of its charm was the decor. Like my favourite hotels it was bright, felt spacious in spite of being tiny, had some great splashes of colour.

Well I shouldn’t be going out of my home to feel at home so now that I’ve returned I’m trying to bring some of that hotel feeling with me. Before we left we cleaned the house as there’s nothing worse than coming home from a trip to a messy home.

The benefit of this was everything already felt spacious and the counters were fairly clear. I’m currently going through our main living spaces and trying to make them a bit more relaxing. It’s meant moving knick-knacks that aren’t bringing me joy and re-arranging the placement of a few things.

I changed the curtains in each room by swapping them for each other. The master bedroom currently has the curtains from Bunny’s room, Bunny got the curtains from the guest room and the guest room is keeping the master bedroom curtains. It cost nothing but each room has gotten a change.

I’m also going around each morning and opening our curtains. Now that we’re coming home while it’s still light outside it’s great!

Do you get the urge to re-arrange your home sometimes?