Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Buying vs Making

Welcome to week five of our Thrifty Thursday mini series! Today we will be talking about buying vs making. As in, does making things yourself actually save you money.

Just to give you a heads up, this is totally my opinion on this subject and I haven't actually backed much of it up with numbers. Since the cost of things vary so much from place to place, I didn't bother crunching the numbers. And let's be honest, I didn't feel like crunching the numbers. Although maybe I will start paying more attention now that I've written this post.

The point of this post is to get you thinking. Is it cheaper to buy a product/service or to make/do it yourself?

First things first, ask yourself if you can actually make/do whatever it is you're contemplating. It may be cheaper for you to make your own bread but if you aren't good at baking, it will probably end up costing you more. Same goes with a lot of other things such as knitting, painting, gardening, crafting, etc. I'm not saying you have to be a pro at it to do any of these things, but you have to be prepared for a learning curve and it possibly costing you more during the process.

Let's use the bread example again. In order to buy all the ingredients to make a loaf (or two) of bread, it will cost you way more than buying a loaf of bread. But you must also take into consideration that a lot of these ingredients will last you quite a few batches of bread. So in the long run, it will probably be cheaper to make your own. BUT, if you are just learning, your first few attempts at bread making may turn out to be flops and you actually waste money. Keep in mind though, that your skills will improve and you'll be making successful bread in no time.

Another thing to think about in the buying vs making debate, is if the time you put into making it is actually worth it. If you are crazy busy and don't have much free time, it probably won't be money-saving for you to spend half a day making bread. Sometimes, it's just not worth the amount of time and energy it will take to make/do said item. Time is precious too.

Lastly, there is always the question of health. Making your own bread may not always be cheaper but it may be worth it to you if you like to know what ingredients you're using. Or making your own laundry soap may be worth it to know there aren't 50 different chemicals in it. Get what I'm saying? Sometimes it's better to spend a little bit more for your health.

That's it for my rant on buying vs making. I know it was kind of all over the place but I'm in a slightly brain dead state of mind this morning. So I apologize for the post. I do hope it gets you to thinking though. It may not be a great tip but if it gets you thinking about what you can make instead of buy and ends up saving you money, then I have succeeded.

I want to keep this series fun and have a fun mix of handy daily tips and more broad budgeting tips. So please, if you have any questions or if you have any topics you want discussed, please let me know! I need some ideas or this series definitely won't be lasting until anywhere near Christmas!


Thrifty Thursday Mini Series

Week 1: Tracking Your Spending
Week 2: Monthly Budget 
Week 3: Just Say No
Week 4: Mini Emergency Fund
Week 5: Buying vs Making 
Week 6: Coupons 
Week 7: Debt
Week 8: Christmas Gifts 
Week 9: Thrift Stores 
Week 10: Finale  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Garden Update

The garden is officially done for the year. There is not one single vegetable left in it.

I pulled the rest of the carrots yesterday and gave the chickens the squishy frost-bitten peppers. Then I did my workout for the day and dug/raked a portion of the garden. I figure if I do a little bit each day, I should have the whole garden looking good by the end of the week.

Even though it was a chilly 6 degrees Celsius, the sun was shining and I thoroughly enjoyed my time outside. It felt good to breathe in the crisp fall air and be able to see my progress.

It really was a beautiful day with blue skies and light wispy clouds. It was one of those days where it felt good to be alive.

I've been having a down week of feeling sorry for myself but yesterday really helped me gain perspective. I love where we live and I love our house and yard.

I love Mia and I love that we are able to grow our own produce. I just have to remember all the things I love when I'm having a rough time.

Did anyone else get out and enjoy the outdoors this week? What's the weather like where you are?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lightbulb Light

I don't even really know where to begin for this post, since it's been in the making for almost a year. Are you shocked? I feel like all of our projects take just about a year to finish, it's kind of pathetic. Oh well.

Our house was completely finished when we moved in so we really haven't done much to it. It's mostly been some decorating or fixing up of a few small things/rooms. Really not all that much. Especially since everything is in pretty good condition, we couldn't justify spending money to replace something that worked just fine.

But last Christmas, we were given the most awesome light fixture from my sister Stacey and her husband Eric. Pure awesomeness it is.

We knew immediately that it would go in our laundry room but didn't get around to making the switch for a couple of months. My plan was to do detailed before and after shots of the room with the old light fixture and the new light fixture but that didn't happen. One day while I was at work, Dan got bored and changed out the light. So I came home to this.

Didn't I tell you it was an awesome light fixture?

Anyways, as you can see from the above picture, it was off centered and hanging too low. It was about 1/2 an inch above my head and one of the cupboard doors bumped it when opened. But, once again, we didn't get around to fixing that for another couple of months.

So come September, we decided it was time to move the light over. This time though, I captured some before shots.

Once that was out of the way, we Dan got to work. He had to keep running back and forth to the attic to work out the wires and where to cut and all that. I basically just stayed out of his way, since he was so focused.

Finally, it was done. The new hole was cut and the electrical box was moved over.

Then Dan patched up the old hole, mudded it and then sanded it smooth. These two steps (moving the box over and patching the hole) took a weekend. Next up, painting!

But that took us another month to do, since we're so slow at things like this. We finally purchased the paint and I finally got around to painting the ceiling last week.

Once it was dry, we could FINALLY hang the light back up! And I'm telling you, it looks amazing and so worth the hassle of moving it over and making it shorter.

Doesn't it look spectacular? I love how it's centered in the door frame now and that I'm not scared of bumping my head on it. It makes the room look so much cooler than before and it's a definite improvement over the old boring light. And, we did the whole project for free! We were given the light and used supplies we had on hand to move it over, patch and paint. Well, we bought the paint but it was really for the guestroom so I'm not counting the cost for the laundry room.

What do you think of it? Do you have any special light fixtures in your house? Or any other funky objects?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pear Trees

In last Wednesday's Thank You post, I mentioned that we received two pear trees from some dear friends, Dave and Glenda. These trees were given to us in memory of our four babies.

A couple weeks back, Glenda told me that she wanted to buy us two pear trees and asked if I wanted to go along and help pick them out. We arrived at the nursery to discover they only had the two trees left, it was perfect. We loaded them into my car, she gave me a sweet card and I may have cried a little bit.

I got them home safely and we then had to decide where to plant them. We chose to put one in the backyard and one in the front yard, both along the hedge/fence side.

I love how Mia is hiding behind the leaves on that one branch.
Dan dug both holes because he is stronger than me but I did help by watching and taking pictures. Okay, so not that helpful but oh well.

I'm hugging the tree, in case you're wondering what was up with my arms.
I'm pretty excited with our two new trees and I can't wait to watch them grow big and strong and produce fruit. And every time I look out the window and see one, I will think of our precious babies and our sweet friends.

Have any of you ever purchased or been given a meaningful plant/bush/tree? Do you still have it?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Simple Pleasures - October

Here are my simple pleasures from the past week. I admit, I found it harder this month but I still tried to find something good in everyday. I missed a day but other than that, I succeeded.

My fall display

Clean kitchen

Walk with Mia
Colourful leaves

My new knitting project

Amazing mint chocolate!
Another month is almost over, how time flies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Mini Emergency Fund

This week in our Thrifty Thursday series, we'll be talking about saving up a mini emergency fund. Now when I say mini, I mean that this will be your first emergency fund and you will be making your real full one later.

As I have mentioned, I use Dave Ramsey's budget forms but I also follow a couple other of his suggestions. I don't agree with everything he says but on a few of his points, I totally agree. He suggests saving up $1,000 in an emergency fund to get you going, before you move on to paying off debt.

Now I know that for some people $1,000 may seem like not that much and for others it may seem impossible. Either way, you should have $1,000 put aside for emergencies. Emergencies will come up at some point and you want to be prepared for them. The goal of this $1,000 is so that you can use it instead of having to go into debt to pay for said emergency.

You want to save up this $1,000 as fast as you can, so be sure to put all extra money into this account. If you get a bonus from work or a gift from your parents or you sell something or whatever, put the money aside for your emergency fund. You will feel a lot safer once you have some money marked solely for surprise expenses. And that way, you can continue to stick to your budget even when unexpected things come up.

Just remember to make rules for this fund, outline what an emergency is and stick to it. If you are married or in a relationship, discuss this with your significant other and be sure you are on the same page.

The emergency should be a truly unexpected expense that takes you by surprise. And something you HAVE to pay for immediately. Vacations or new electronics don't count as an emergency. A car accident or job loss do. Just be sure to set guidelines and stick to them.

So there you have it, my opinion on emergency funds. I will be discussing a full emergency fund further into the series but for now, we will start small.

Now, questions for my readers!

1) How did you do with the "Just Say No" challenge that I gave you last week? Were you more careful with your money? Did you give in to impulse buys or did you stay strong? I want to hear how you did!

2) How are you enjoying the topics I have chosen for this series? Good or bad? Do you have any points that you want discussed or topics that you would like my opinion on? Please speak up, I like to keep my readers happy and I want to talk about things that are relevant to you and answer your questions.


Thrifty Thursday Mini Series

Week 1: Tracking Your Spending
Week 2: Monthly Budget 
Week 3: Just Say No
Week 4: Mini Emergency Fund
Week 5: Buying vs Making  
Week 6: Coupons 
Week 7: Debt
Week 8: Christmas Gifts 
Week 9: Thrift Stores 
Week 10: Finale  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thank You for Holding Us Up

Since I wrote the post about our most recent miscarriage and we decided to be open about our loss, we have been blessed with so much love and support from so many people.

I would like to take the time today to thank everyone who has called, sent messages, cards, gifts, food and prayers. Our bookshelf is full of cards we have received from family and friends and I enjoy reading them over and over again.

It is exactly four weeks ago today that we found out we had lost Daylin and in that short time, there has been such an outpouring of love and support, we are at a loss for words.

Thank you to Vicky, who came over that first night with hugs and a gift. Thank you for the chocolate for Dan and the chocolate for me. I have enjoyed reading my Living Without magazine while sipping tea from my new tea cups.

Thank you to Jenn, who gave me a gorgeous pot of fall mums to adorn my front porch. I love mums but can never justify the cost for something that will only last a short while. I enjoyed looking at them while sitting on my front porch during that first week.

Thank you to Rachel for buying me another loaf of gluten-free bread so that I could continue to eat my toast and peanut butter, the only thing that sounded appetizing in those first few days. And thank you for driving all the way out here with it, along with a gerber daisy plant and a chicken pot pie for Dan. He appreciated real food while I ate the toast.

Thank you to Sarah-Anne for making some tasty and wholesome fall soup, to give me some nutrients after my toast diet. Thank you also for the beautiful bouquet of flowers from your garden and the GF/DF "fake oreos", they were delicious.

Thank you to Don and Martie who brought over a delicious and nutritious lunch of roast beef, carrots and sweet potato mash and for staying to keep us company while eating it. The dessert of fruit and double chocolate muffins was perfect, exactly what I had been craving. And having the leftovers to eat for the next few days was a huge blessing.

Thank you to Nat and Joyce for the super tasty pork chops, baked potatoes and broccoli and cauliflower. The pineapple marinade was so good, I still need to get the recipe for it. And thank you Joyce for letting me show off my house and yard, it was good to get up and around for a bit.

Thank you to my Bible study girls for the card and flowers, I am still enjoying parts of the bouquet.

Thank you to Glenda for the two pear trees and for letting me help pick them out. There will be a separate post on these sometime in the near future.

Thank you to Kristen for the special Willow Tree figurine to add to my collection. It means so much that you chose and sent me such a special momento, it sits on the dresser in our room.

Thank you to Katharine for buying me the new Jack Johnson cd that I so desperately wanted. I listen to it all the time and treasure it. I also liked the pen.

Thank you to Kari-Lynn for the package of fabulous comfort foods. I already made up one of the brownie mixes and have devoured it all. The chocolate, coffee mints and pretzels were also greatly appreciated, I even shared some with Dan.

Thank you to Leora for the chocolate, brownie mix, tea and new book. I have yet to get into the book yet but I have definitely gotten into the chocolate.

Thank you to Zeke (and Trish) for the adorable decorative stuffed "chickens" (or quails, whatever they are). They are happily adorning my table in my fall display and they make me smile on a daily basis.

Thank you to Jackie for the oh so exciting package of children's books that you sent. I eagerly anticipated their arrival and couldn't be more delighted with the ones you chose. I even opened them in the car at the post office, since I couldn't wait to get home.

I hope I didn't miss anyone and I'm sorry that I don't have pictures of all the gifts, I just wasn't up to it those first few days/weeks. But every single phone call, every single Facebook message or email or text and every single prayer was so very much appreciated by both Dan and I.

Thank you for holding us up and supporting us. Thank you praying for us and showering us with love. Thank you just seems so inadequate but I hope that you know it is truly meant. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brides for Breast Cancer Event

Those of you who follow The Canadian Housewife on Facebook may have seen me post this picture last week.

I was airing out my wedding dress, in preparation for a girls night out on Saturday. A girls night out for a cause that is.

This is the third year for Brides for Breast Cancer and I have attended each one. They raise money for breast cancer research and if you want to read more, please visit their Facebook page.

This year was a bit smaller than previous years but we still had a blast, dancing the night away and eating good food.

There were only six of us but it was kind of nice having a smaller group, especially since that meant our chance of winning prizes was higher. Speaking of, I won an awesome gift basket with a bunch of stuff from The Body Shop all because I caught the bouquet!

I will point out though that I had to fight for that bouquet and totally got smacked in the back of the head during the process. But who cares, I caught it!

I also won an $80 gift certificate to a hair salon and am looking forward to getting a haircut, which is long overdue. Don't worry, pictures will come.

I would like to say a big thank you to Vicky for coming out and partying it up with me every year, as well as taking all these great pictures this year. If it weren't for her, this post would be pictureless.

It was another successful year with lots of laughs and sore muscles (from dancing of course). It's always nice to get out the old wedding dress and give it another go round. I can't wait for next year!

I'm also going to share one of my favourite pictures from the event, which I didn't take. Our awesome photographer, Carl Hoskisson, did an amazing job once again this year and hung out with us for a good part of the night taking pictures. All photo credit goes to him and if you would like to check out his website, you can do so by clicking here.

Don't we look fabulous? We literally stopped traffic. And since it's kind of hard to see, I'm the second one in from the left.

Oh, and if you want to read about last year's event, click here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just One of Those Days...

You know those days, where everything seems to be going well and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, it just flops? I had one of those days last Friday.

It started out so good too. I woke up in a cheery mood and decided that I was going to be super productive and get a ton of stuff done. I tidied the house, did the dishes, collected the eggs, made plum jam, made an upside down plum cake and started making bread (from scratch) all before 11:00am!

I felt good. So proud of myself.

And then it happened. While I was taking my plum cake out of the oven, it slipped.

And flipped onto the oven door.

I admit, I swore when it happened. It made me so mad, after all that work, to lose all my fabulous GF/DF cake I made. But after swearing and feeling just about ready to cry, I decided I could totally salvage some of it.

So I did what any sane person would do. I pulled out a spatula and scraped as much as I could up into a bowl.

And then I tasted some, just to be sure that it actually turned out. Although looking back, I should have tasted it before I went to the work of saving as much as I could.

Unfortunately, there was still quite a bit of cake smooshed between the door and the bottom of the oven.

But it was too hot to work with and it was making me too grumpy, so I left it and went for a walk. At least I got a walk in!

Upon my return, I realized I had to deal with it immediately since I needed the oven to cook my bread that was rising. So I got to work cleaning up the sticky crumby mess. It was everywhere, including the bottom drawer of the stove.

But I finally got it all picked up, minus a few crumbs on the floor but Mia dealt with those.

Once I had the stove ready to go again, I checked on my plum jam that was cool by now. Only to discover, it totally didn't set. Again. Maybe I should just give up on jam.

So after the flop of the cake and the runny jam, I was beginning to get really concerned about the bread. This was the first time I have made bread from scratch in probably four years.

But alas, the bread worked. Good thing too, since the rest of my day had gone to the dogs.

Just to clarify, this bread is NOT gluten-free. It's to freeze for Dan to make sandwiches with. I have yet to try gluten-free bread but I think it should be next on my challenge list.

So overall, the day wasn't a complete disaster. But it definitely didn't go as planned and my proud productive feelings only lasted a couple hours in the morning. Once the bread was done, I gave up on the rest of the day and worked on some knitting while watching Downton Abbey.

What about you? When was the last time you had a day just go downhill?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exercise... What's That?

I figured it was high time I did a post on my exercise goals, especially after I had such a great start to the Spring/Summer with my Fab Ab Challenge and Couch to 5K. I decided to do some research on when my last post on exercise was and was horrified to discover it was from the beginning of June when I blogged about my 5K run.

:::hangs head in shame:::

I cannot believe it has been over four month since I blogged about my exercise goals. But want to know what is even worse than it being four months since I blogged about these goals? It's been over four months since I did any of these goals!

Yup, you read that right. I've been one lazy couch potato this summer and fall. I have done zilch in the working out department.

Although I do have a decent excuse. At least I like to think it's decent. I stopped running mid-June because I was having chest pains and upon a visit to the doctor, discovered I had an irregular heartbeat. I was sent for some further testing to make sure it was just a murmur and nothing more serious but until I heard back, I opted to stop the running. And then it got really hot. And then we smucked up a deer on the motorcycle and I sprained my ankle. And then I wanted my ankle to heal really well before I started anything back up again. And then I got pregnant. And then I miscarried. And then I had a rough recovery from the D&C. And now it is now.

So, decent excuse? <---- Just nod and smile.

But now that all my excuses are done and over with, it's time for me to get back on the exercise bandwagon! I've got plans! Want to hear them?

First up, going for regular walks. My ankle (and the rest of me) just isn't up for running again yet and I know full well that once the colder weather hits, I'm not going to be up for 1/2 hour runs outside. There's no point in even pretending. But I figured that I could totally handle walks for now and I will get back to running come Spring.

Second, indoor workouts. My sister Jackie lovingly put together a little daily workout for me to do which includes sit ups, push ups, jumping jacks, lunges, squats, arm circles and some yoga positions. The best part about it, is that she made it totally flexible. I can start out with the absolute basic number of each and then work my way up as I get better at it.

Third, weights! I was planning on getting into some weights last Spring but it just never happened. I have a Jillian Michael's Shred-it with Weights workout video that was lent to me and I plan on giving it a try, finally.

Now since I know myself so well, I know that I won't actually stick to all of this if I start it all up tomorrow. I'm too lazy for that. So my plan is to start slow and work my way up. I am going to start walking at least twice a week and then as I get a bit more comfortable with that, I will add in some of my indoor workouts and then the weights video. I think that sounds doable.

What do you think? Do you think I'm crazy? Do you think I can actually do it? What do you do for exercise? Go to the gym, work out at home, nothing? I want to hear from you!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thrifty Thursday - Just Say No

It's time again for me to share my tips and tricks on saving money with you all. I really hope you're enjoying my new series as much as I am enjoying writing them. I always love feedback, so let me know what you think!

We've already touched on tracking your spending and making a monthly budget, but this week we will be talking about just saying no.

Sounds easy doesn't it? I mean come on, it's just a one little word: no. Say it with me everyone, NO!

The hard part comes when you have to say it to things you actually want. It's easy to say no when you don't want to do something or buy something or go somewhere. But it's really hard to say no when your friends ask you to go out for dinner or that new shirt is just calling your name or you've had a bad day and need a chocolate fix.

But if you want to curb your spending and actually learn to spend less than you make, you're going to have to start enforcing the "no".

Now I'm not saying that you have to say no to everything. Believe me, it won't work. You'll end up feeling deprived and angry and go on a crazy spending blitz where you totally hate yourself afterwards. You will have to say no to some things though. You're going to learn to prioritize and compromise.

When you make up your monthly budget, be sure to leave some money for fun things. Obviously the amount you put into this category will depend on where you are in your budgeting, but it's really important to have some money in it. Just be sure to stop once you have reached your limit. If you budgeted $20 for "fun stuff", stop spending at $20. Like I said, prioritize and compromise.

Budgeting takes self control. It's a constant battle for me, this saying no thing. We rarely spend any big amounts of money but all those little things add up and they add up quick.

So will you join me for a challenge? For the next week, I want you to really think before you pull out some cash or your debit or credit card. When you're asked for dinner or drinks with friends, ask yourself "can I really afford this right now"? If you can, go for it! If you can't, say no and plan to get together with them for something cheaper or free at a later date. Same goes for shopping. Don't impulse buy, only buy things you actually need. Do you think you can do it? Check back in next week to let me know how you did!


Thrifty Thursday Mini Series

Week 1: Tracking Your Spending
Week 2: Monthly Budget 
Week 3: Just Say No
Week 4: Mini Emergency Fund
Week 5: Buying vs Making
Week 6: Coupons 
Week 7: Debt
Week 8: Christmas Gifts 
Week 9: Thrift Stores 
Week 10: Finale  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Quebec Thanksgiving Weekend

As a lot of you know, this past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada and we definitely did the holiday up right. We traveled to my parents house again (click here for last years post) and stuffed ourselves full of good food while spending quality time with family.

We arrived Friday afternoon and stayed until Monday afternoon, with a lot of fun smashed in between. On Saturday, we went to my 9-year-old nephew's hockey game and enjoyed watching him in action.

Jacob is the one in red and white closest to us
Even my Dad came along to watch and I took the opportunity to snap some pictures of the happy cheerleaders.

After the hockey game, we headed home to finish prepping for the big Thanksgiving dinner. While my sister Stacey did 99% of the work, I ran around trying to document the fabulous fall decorations that my mom and sister did all over the house.

My sister completely outdid herself this year. Again. Honestly, the food was to die for. Here is our menu, with pictures to follow.
  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Carrots & Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Stuffing
  • Rolls

She even made special potatoes and gravy for me to enjoy. Seriously, she's the best.

Dinner was AMAZING but I think dessert may have been better. There were five different kinds of pies, pumpkin, apple, strawberry-rhubarb, chocolate-pecan and strawberry cheesecake. Yummy!

Soline made her very first pumpkin pie!

Unfortunately, I couldn't actually eat any of these pies. Being gluten-free and dairy-free kind of has its downfalls sometimes. But, Stacey totally won sister-of-the-weekend-award and made me my very own special dessert, apple-cranberry crisp. It was basically the best dessert I have ever eaten. Seriously.

She made me four little mini-crisps and I ate them all. Sometimes its better being special.

As for all the amazing foods she made me, check out this list and be jealous.
  • Apple-cranberry crisp
  • Corn scones
  • Tortiere
  • Monkey bread
  • Brownie ice cream sandwiches

Not to mention making all the meals totally GF/DF. Yup, she's the best.

Unfortunately, I didn't really get any pictures of people this past weekend, just food. Oops! At least all the food pictures distracted you from the lack of people pictures.

What about you guys? What did you do for Thanksgiving? And for my American friends, what are you planning on doing for Thanksgiving?