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Blog: The Frugal Vegan

This blog is for anyone but more geared for vegans and vegetarians


Living Large on a small budget
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've been posting a lot on my other blog and started writing about living like the rich on a small budget. This has been such a fun venture with all my research!

This idea all started when I took a trip to Ottawa (our nation's capital) a few weeks ago. I had a free coupon for an AVEDA Stimulus package and I printed out one for my friend who said he'd be happy to join me. So we went to the store and got our free hand massage, neck & shoulder massage, a sensory journey with chakra oils, a cup of herbal tea and a handful of samples. I got my make up touched up as well but my friend sat that one out :) All this for free!! So I walked out of there feeling relaxed and happy. I also ended up winning a pair of jeans from the Gap from their new 1969 collection (through a card I got in a magazine I also got for free!)!! This was the start of a good weekend. I also ended up at Sephora and grabbed one of their "favorites' boxes for $15 with 5 luxurious creams. With a start like this, I knew I had to look into acquiring luxurious things for free because I sure did feel like a million bucks! I was armed with fancy jeans, aveda samples and discounted fancy creams from sephora. I also walked out of there with a sample of yummy shower gel.

After sampling the fancy creams and aveda products I knew I wanted more, but my wallet wasn't exactly content with the pricetags on these full sized items. So what to do? It's all about research...

Ok, so I got HOOKED on this Korres Guava Cream but for $29US for less than 8oz...i dunno. It makes me smell like a goddess and my skin has never been softer but $29? It's vegan too and organic. What more could I want right? So I went on ebay and purchased the same cream for $12. Score.

I had also purchased a Sephora's Favourite kit that included mascaras and a few eyeliners for cheap. I've been testing all the stuff and decided on my favourites. Again, do I wanna pay $24US for a mascara even if it is vegan, organic and has recycled packaging? Well.....No. But I would love to have this. Ebay let me down, the prices weren't great and most people were selling mini sizes. I emailed the company and they don't give out free samples either. hmmmm.....so it was on to my next favourite mascara, still waiting for the company to get back to me on that one. Worst case scenario, I ask my mom for a Sephora gift card for the holidays :)

Clothes and shoes. I'm pretty good when it comes to this. I wait for sales and discounts from retailers by signing up for newsletters and I am subscribed to Loulou Magazine which I got free with points. Loulou is Canada's version of Lucky Magazine in the US. They post LOADS of contests, freebies and shopping deals. I try to get a lot of my clothes at thrift stores and if I go to the one that's 90mins away, I can get alot of H&M and Banana Republic, two of my faves. I also love Jacob and go there when the sales are on. I got a skirt half price because the zipper was broken and that was half the sale price!! So I got a $80 skirt for $20. I also scored a pair of Lucky Brand Jeans for my sweetie for $40 down from $140! They had a sale and then they asked me to pick a card from a deck to get more of a discount. I picked the highest card with 40% off! Like I said, lucky weekend.

People say I am lucky, but I think frugality is also skill that you just acquire or work on over the years. Your brain just automatically trains itself. For example, when I want to book a flight, it takes me at least an hour to figure out alll the combinations to get there, go to the various websites and look for sales. I always come out with the best deal. Being frugal takes time and determination and some patience. I know some of my friends think I'm nuts but find this skill rather amusing. Often times they are shocked at the things I get and they tell me they don't have the patience to do it. I am the LEAST patient person I know so that comment always makes me laugh.

I've even had friends say I'm made of money which I laugh at. Ok, we're not poor but that's because I've been working and my contract has been extended over and over again AND I always get stuff on sale so it appears as though I have more. I've been stocking up on stuff and collecting points for when I am unemployed. Life as a temp is always an uncertain one so I need to be prepared. Yes, I can buy discounted shoes for $150 right now but likely in a few months I won't be able to and the bottom line is, I get almost everything free or discounted, that's the key. If I had gotten everything I have at full price, I'd be bankrupt right now. So yes, I travel, I buy fancy creams and shoes, go to some nice places for dinner and get massages but all of it is done for a lot cheaper. People just don't always know that.

I also discovered something: when I have quality products, I use a lot less. I have this Kiehl's Facial Scrub which I bought for about $25 back in February. I use it weekly and still have enough for at least two-three months. I've bought the cheap stuff and used that up in a few months. So really, what is cheaper? I tend to use a lot less of the good brands and it lasts longer. And yes, when I am unemployed and don't have much disposable income, it's back to the generic creams but I've seen some fancy brands at the dollarstore too...so watch for that! 

There is nothing wrong with wanting the nicer things in life if they make you feel good and if they don't break your budget. It's also about moderation. I might have my fancy cream but tomorrow I am bringing in beans for lunch with homemade bread. I'm not ordering $30 sushi :) Balance is key.

So if you can afford a few extra dollars for tiny luxuries or are able to get nice freebies, appreciate them because you never know how long it'll last. :)

Till the next post, hope everyone finds a little frugal luxury in their lives!

 


 

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Getting psyched for fall & more travel
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well it's been a little over a week since I've been back from Europe. I came home to 4 paychecks that were waiting for me and decided to put most of the money on our credit cards. Since we had used the cards for a few things while travelling, I wanted to make sure we paid it off.  So we came back to hardly any debt apart from the usual mortgage & car payments. All our bills are paid and our credit cards are almost paid off!

The reason this happened, is that we saved and paid for most things before leaving. We just needed spending money for some food and a few purchases. I was telling my friend that I save $35 a week year round for vacation spending money. This can be used for anything from a weekend trip to a 2 week vacation. It's amazing how quickly it ads up.

Believe it or not, I am off to Florida in less than 2 weeks for a concert. Flight, concert tickets and hotel have already been arranged! My friend and I got a hotel right on the beach with a coffee maker and fridge, that way we can buy food from the grocery store and store it. I managed to save $180 in spending money as well which is more than what I'll need. Travel is my weakness and I am frugal with almost everything since I always crave getting on a plane, it's my luxury. I always travel on a budget and do extensive research before buying a flight or booking accommodations.  

It's finally starting to get a little cooler here, not cold but 20degrees Celcius as opposed to the 28-29C that we've been having. I am not fond of heat, so I am very much looking forward to fall! I purchased a really cool scarf in Holland that I am dying to wear! For fall fashion, all I need are some bangles (easy to find at thrift stores, unmatched ones are good, that's the style), a few belts (cinching dresses and tops at the waist or even on hips over a long top is also fashionable), and a grey pair of slouch boots which you can wear even into the spring.  I splurged and bought a pair of bootie/platform shoes from Fluevog called "Ashbury" (see photo). I got them on sale for 50% off. I've been eyeing them for over a year but just couldn't afford the pricetag. When i walked into the shoe store the other day, I saw them and saw the sale. I asked what sizes were left and there was my size and a larger size only. I took this as a sign. yay!

They are solid shoes, my arthritic toe is very happy in them and they are surprisingly comfortable despite the ginormous heal! It's amazing anyone can walk in these but surprisingly, they're insanely comfy. These are being worn now and will be able to right through to early November. yay! They go great with leggings, jeans or even skirts even though they are chunky. I'm really starting to become this fashionista and find it easy to do by mixing thrift pieces with retail.

I know Yule is months away, but this is the time when I start making things for gifts including soap, jams and other goodies. I have made a Blueberry Agave Jam which is perfect for diabetics. I was getting tired of the sugar in jams and decided to try making it without it. I will make another batch tonight as I still have a few pounds of berries left. I have also ordered some large sealable tea bags to make my own bath tea for gifts and will dry my 3 types of mint in the garden to make "Triple Mint Tea" for gifts as well. Since we had terrible weather this year, I will not be making the zucchini salsa (I know I will get in trouble for this), unless I can get a hold of some free zuchinnis. We also only have 4 tomatoes in our garden right now, sadly the weather hasn't been great for growing.

I heard that my brother is getting married in a month. My mom said it's a quick ceremony at city hall so I won't be going because my brother is like me, weddings aren't really that important to him, it's just a formality. He will be having a little party in the spring (when his friend gets back from Afghanistan) which I may go to. Now I am wondering if I should send a gift or wait till the party. I know he wont' care either way and isn't expecting a gift from me but I'm wondering what the etiquette is on these things. I've really only been to 3 weddings in my life (one was my own) so I am not seasoned. They have everything as she was married before and they are both over 40 now. I am considering sending a movie basket for the whole family as there are 4 older kids in the house as well.

My work contract has been extended again. This is the longest work contract I've had since I started temping 7 years ago. I've been here almost a year and looks like I'll be here till November. wow. Because the money is decent, I am stocking up on everything to prepare for my upcoming unemployment as I never know how long I will go between contracts, sometimes it's only a few days but it can be up to two months.

Just two more days of work, then a great weekend ahead. I am planning to make soap and go on a Thrift Store spree for a few fall fashion items. Will try to post some recipes soon, I am cleaning out my freezer!
 



 

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Travel and DIY Facial Products
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wow it's been ages since I've written here. I am still blogging on Wordpress but miss the crowd here sometimes and thought I'd post a few things in case anyone was intereted :)

I've been really busy at work, holding the fort while my boss is gone this month. He did my paperwork for my pay last week and told me I had an extra 30 hours for two weeks! I am still on a healthy government salary till the end of the month till I go back to my temp wages so in terms of money this month and all the hours, I will technically get an extra paycheck! With this salary it really works out great so I'm pretty happy about this. This extra money comes right in time for my vacation in a few weeks.

Speaking of travel, I have booked 4 plane tickets in the past two weeks. Two for our upcoming trip (Belgium, Holland and Czech Rebublic) , seeing Depeche Mode in Florida in September and my 40th birthday trip to San Francisco in February. I got cheap tickets to all of these destinations and have become very good at finding them. The key is to sign up to all of those sites where they send you weekly travel deals, as well as airline websites. My 40th is in February and didn't plan on purchasing tickets so soon but then I found a deal that was impossible to pass up. If you are going overseas, there are dozens of no frills airlines which offer discounts. Our trip from Holland to Prague (about a 2 hour trip) is costing us 68euros return for two tickets! If you do your research, you can get such good deals. I also discovered that airport taxes here in Canada are ridiculous, so if I am flying somewhere in the US, I make sure I don't make a stopover in another Canadian city. If the stopover is in the US, the ticket will cost me less...sad but true. I know I travel alot but this is where I spend my money. Some people buy stuff, fancy foods, dinners, have a few cars but if I have extra money it goes towards a train/plane or bus ticket. I was often called a gypsy before I settled into one city for awhile. I just love to move around. :) If it's too expensive for you to fly somewhere, get a rideshare to a neighbouring town or perhaps a bus and look up some people to stay with on couchsurfing.com. Getting away doesn't have to mean getting on a plane, even just a change of scenery is good! Also try hostelworld.com for cheap accommodations worldwide. No one is ever too old to stay in hostels or fun budget hotels. :)

I also recently started making all my own facial products (toner, cleanser and anti wrinkle cream). I have been using them all for about 2 weeks ago (in the morning only) and am shocked as to how my skin looks. I have always had pretty good young looking skin but I no longer wanted to spend $28 on a jar of Avon cream. I was a little worried as to how things were going to go after I stopped with the Avon but am pleasantly surprised. I decided to sell a facial kit in my Etsy.com shop for $8.50 as I wanted to share and be able to offer this to those like me who want nice skin but not want to spend the money on it.

We had a month of rain/clouds which just ended two days ago. Unfortunately due to the bad wet weather, I didn't plant my garden which means no harvest this year. I am really sad about this. It's been a huge problem for some farmers as well. I still had my strawberries and rhubarb which I made jam from, and my raspberries which should be ready in two weeks. This will give me enough jam for presents!

I've also been hosting a bunch of couchsurfers which has been very rewarding, as usual. Some of you already know that I am on couchsurfing.com and have people stay free at my house year round. I met a wonderful med student from Taiwan who gave me some lovely treats from Taipei, a charm which is often used for the dragon boat festivals and somat as he is having the good chinese medicine advice! The beautiful thing about hosting travellers is being able to learn so many things from different countries and also enjoy some good company and of course a free place to stay if I visit their city/country.

Since we're going away for 2 weeks and no longer have friends in town who can house and cat sit, I had to figure out a way to get someone to do this. Since I can't really pay to have someone come in once a day, I decided to join a housesitting network. A lot of people form aorund the world do this when they retire, just go around the world and housesit for people for free. This gives them a place to travel and a free place to stay. I also didn't want to board my 14 year old cat as he has trouble walking and needs care. He is in good spirits but is physically a little challenged. Long story short, i will meet the couple who will housesit for us for free. They live in New Zealand but are here now visiting family for 3 months. I am very excited that my cats will be cared for and the house will have people in it which will prevent the house from being broken into. A win win situation. Try housecarers.com if you are looking for anyone

That's about it for now. Till the next post! Hope everyone is having a good summer. Below is a photo of one of the places I will be going in August. Looking forward to visiting the oldest Jewish Cemetary in the world, largest castle in the world and Kafka's gravesite. Very cool.

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Getting ready for the season!
Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I haven't written on here in awhile as I have been busy travelling and I've also been posting on my Wordpress.com blog (so check there for recipes and ideas). http://thefrugalvegan.wordpress.com

Looks like I'll be travelling more this summer, which wasn't my intention. A friend of mine is having a terrible crisis and I have to fly back to where he lives (I was there 3 weeks ago). Luckily I am on my friend's partner list to fly alone on his flight passes so I can get there and back for $150 (as opposed to $400!). I also found out one of my favourite bands of all time is playing in my home town on July 25th! My friend is moving on the 24th and is headed where I am going, so I will get a ride with him, then fly back on my friends flight passes. YAY :o)

Other than that, I must report that the guests I've had from Airbnb.com have been GREAT! I always get my payments from the website the day the guests actually leave which they deposit in my paypal. Two guests actually bought me a fancy bottle of wine on top of paying for accommodations! I only charge $20US for the room so perhaps they felt it was worth more? I always make muffins or leave out bread with homemade preserves. Last night I had a guest come around dinner and I had some leftover Pad Thai and Rhubarb Strawberry crisp. She was pleased :) I've made $100US in a month through Airbnb bookings so I'm pretty happy. I still host couchsurfers for free (www.couchsurfing.com) as well and the season is getting fairly busy. I make sure to put fresh wild flowers from my garden in the room and a small piece of handmade soap. I LOVE to host people and the fun part is that I get to meet folks from all over the world and have a place to stay when I go there. 

Yesterday was my day off and I spent the whole day making Ethiopian Dishes. If you do a search on Thrifty Fun for Ethiopian all the recipes are posted on this website. I froze everything and am in the midst of making a sour dough type mixture to make the special bread which is called Injera. I've never been successful at making it but am giving it another shot. *crossing fingers*

This year I am attempting to make my own teas, so I planted some Coleus Mint, Apple Mint, Pineapple Sage, Chamomile & Lemon Balm. I've purchased empty tea bags as well so let's hope this works! 

My goal is to save water this summer by making a rain barrel. A friend of mine can get a hold of an oil barrell to make one and he says buying a tap won't cost more than $10. They sell rain barrels at the store for about $100 and I really don't want to spend that when we can easily make it ourselves.

Other than that, things are coming along with the renovations. The painters are coming in 2 weeks to paint the trim. Right now the front of our house looks pretty terrible and the painter said the paint job might even be 10 years old and someone did it themselves. I wanted it to look professional and was happy with the price they quoted me. The installer for the kitchen also came in to measure so I'm pretty excited. It probably won't get done till September though.

My sweetie keeps getting job offers left right and centre from the company he works for. They are throwing money at him and all kinds of benefits, one guy even said that he can ask for anything he wants and he'll get it. wow. They do this every month or two, and I am getting tired of having the moving conversations with him. I'm glad he's not a corporate climber type or else we would have moved a long time ago (and I probably would have left him). He's a brilliant man but his personal life is more important than work, which is why I am with him :) We concluded that life where we are is better and that the corporate rate race is only going to make him miserable. My dad dug himself an early grave, he was a workaholic and ran companies and died at 66. My husband doesn't want that fate. Maybe we are not millionaires but we are healthy and happy. I think with all that money, he'd be working too much and there would be no quality life for us. So I'm happy..money isn't everything and I know this from experience.

Hope everyone has a nice frugal week! 

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Cleaning, Gardening and Yoga
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I feel like winter has lasted way too long this year! Even in April, it's fairly cold where I live and we still have to wear spring jackets, sometimes even scarves. Yesterday we were blessed with 80 degree weather (definitely abnormal!) and it's now back to being cool again today. Typical atlantic weather :) 

Luckily, I had the day off yesterday so I was able to enjoy some of the beautiful weather. I planted 8 spider plants from all the cuttings I had and hung some laundry on the line for the second time this year!

I also hired the least expensive cleaners I could find and two of them spent 6 hours in my house spring cleaning and organizing! We couldn't believe the difference!! I wish I had been blessed with being able to clean well, but I suppose I was just blessed with other things. Their services put a small dent in my wallet but at the same time it was needed and since my mom is coming to visit, she won't say things like "How can you live like this?" :D When she visits I get stressed out because she inspects my house and makes comments....if she says anything, I'll tell her to call the cleaners instead and tell them :P

I also have a guest from airbnb.com coming in tomorrow so having a clean house is great! The extra income is nice and I am hoping to host at least a few nights a month. I have decided to have these cleaners come every two weeks now that I can afford it, and when my contract ends hopefully I can find someone who likes to barter.  The cleaners even brought me some homemade cookies to snack on! wow! During these times, customer service is really what will get people clients, they definitely won me over with their exceptional skills and friendliness. What surprised me is that their quality of work exceeded what other more expensive cleaners had done in my house. So if you are starting a cleaning business, bringing homemade goods to first time clients might be a way to get them hooked :)

On another note, I am back at doing yoga regularly and out of my hibernation! I was itching to do a teacher training course but upon doing research again, I realized that it would be a minimum of $3000 and that's if I wanted to take it in my city. I haven't connected much with the schools that offer it here and flying to India and Thailand for a month isn't an option at the moment. I could do it in September when my contract is over, but since I don't know if I'll have work lined up, spending that much money to go away for a month is too risky. I ended up finding a recognized correspondence course for $370US and I have a year to complete it! All exams and tutoring are included and there is an online community and forums as well as videos and podcasts to stay in contact. I had been looking at it for a few months and finally bit the bullet! I am really excited!!!  I have a year to do it but apparently depending on your level it can be done in 3-4 months. I'll see how it goes :)) To motivate myself, I have made a website with information and potential dates for holding free yoga classes on the full moon later this summer.
 

2 more weeks till my next trip. I have a feeling this is going to be a good one. I have $200 spending money saved up for it and already found a cheap yoga class while I am there. I love to get on a plane!

Hope everyone is enjoying their spring and watching the flowers grow. :)

 

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Parties and weekend chores
Sunday, April 19, 2009

I havent really known what to write lately. My life has been pretty quiet. I had a hectic day Friday at work as I was holding the fort alone and one of the cabinet ministers and the mayor were in so I had to organize everything for all kinds of meetings. YIkes! I was happy to be done at the end of the day and met for coffee with a friend.

I finally got out to socialize last night. An ex took me to a party where I knew no one but recognized some people from around town. I made some new friends and was pleased to know there were more alternative people over 35 still around! yay! It restored my faith in this city. I really thought I was almost alone in the way I live. The ex provided the alcohol for the party which was nice. 4 various fruity coolers that were quite tasty! I am not much of a drinker so he knows I like those :) I didn't have dinner because I knew food would be supplied, ALL VEGAN! So i stuffed my face with all kinds of yummy appetizers and also made cookies for the party. The french in me always needs to bring food wherever I go, it's definitely a cultural thing!

I then went to another bar to see another ex who was in from out of town. He bought me two drinks so I only spent $5 on cover charge and that was it for the night! People should be so lucky to have exes like mine..i love them dearly as friends and they are incredible! I've never had a boyfriend treat me badly or be a jerk. For the most part, they are all great people even though the relationships ended. I am even still in contact with two exes from over 20 years ago! Ive been blessed with good people in my life :)

Today is the day to do groceries and laundry. It's finally nice enough outside so I can hang my laundry for the first time this season. I am so excited about that. One of the grocery stores is having a 2/1 sale on lots of items, including soymilk so I will stock up for the summer. I will also plant some seeds since the house is finally getting a bit warmer too without heat. I made some planters out of egg cartons and also toilet paper rolls. I bought luffa seeds which i've never grown before but heard they are easy. I am so excited as i'll be able to use them for gifts, and grated in soap for exfoliation.

That's about it for me! Hope everyone had a frugal weekend too!





 

 

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Purging for spring and making room for new things!
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ok, so lately I've been on a shopping kick (mostly online) trying to replace old bad shoes and replacing some clothes with more sustainable fabric ones. I'm happy that my money is going to good places for good things but am feeling a lot of guilt for spending. So here is where I need to justify it to myself:

I was telling my sweetie that now that I am working and making good money I should do these things now before my contract ends when I won't be able to. I am making sure to pay my credit card which is almost paid off, so I'm not doing too badly! I am also using paypal for purchases since I do sell things on Etsy.com and have some money in there at times from my sales.

Ive done a lot of spring purging and am in the midst of replacing a few things including cotton menstrual pads. My sweetie had sewn some for me years ago but they were ready to be thrown out and to get him to sew ones for me can take awhile. He's pretty busy and does do it when asked when they are small projects but sewing a bunch of menstrual pads is a lot of work and sadly I can't sew even though I've tried numerous times. I found someone on Etsy who was selling 3 for the price of two and since she lives close to me the shipping was inexpensive. I find I need at least 5-7 of them but will settle for 3 for now :) Maybe I can ask him to teach me again (after doing it 10 times already!) so I can download a good pattern and give it another shot! In the long run, these pads do save money. I use them with a sea sponge which can be used for months before being discarded. So I can justify this :)

My spring/summer wardrobe is now fairly complete,mostly from thrift purchases from last year and some new handmade items purchased this year. I just need to find a good big tote/purse and some funky chunky jewelry to make my looks complete. I've never been good at accessorizing and still working on it. :)

I''ve decided to make a list of things I need and keep it with me for when I go to thrift stores! Sure, I've seen tons of great purses online...for $150 but figured purses aren't one of those things to spend a ridiculous amount of money on. I'd love to find something that I can take with my on my travels next month, big enough to hold my mini laptop and other goods but not soooo big that it looks like a sloppy shopping bag. :) I have another month to find one!

On another note, my other blog is going well. I am holding an earth day contest so anyone who is interested can go check it out: Http://thefrugalvegan.wordpress.com

I'll try to post a pic of me sometime with a new spring look with all my finds! Could be fun!

 

 

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Spring Fashion
Sunday, April 12, 2009

Since nothing is open today and I don't have much to do, I decided to go through my clothes once again. I am highly disorganized and have had a lot of my clothes in a large rubbernaid bin. I usually have two bins; one for spring/summer and another for fall/winter. When I changed over last season I never ended up hanging up my clothes and just left everything in the bin. Because of this, I discovered that there were clothes I had forgotten about just sitting at the bottom of it which was disappointing but clearly my own fault.

I also went through what was actually hung up and discarded about half of it, some to go in the winter bin, some to go to charity and other things to the consignment store. I have purchased several pieces of handmade clothes lately and want to make room for a more distinguished wardrobe.

The closet looks great and I now have some tops that I can wear with some of the handmade clothes. I also discarded an entire bag of shoes and several purses which I will replace with more current finds (hopefully at a thrift store!).

I am liking the mix and match of vintage and new clothes together to make it current. I was never much of a fashionista (more like a fashion victim!) but as I grow older I am appreciating putting looks together a lot more and find it more fun. I picked up a style magazines (I rarely buy magazines so this was unusual for me) just to check out what is in and what isn't. I discovered that I already had pieces to be current if I mixed them with other things! 

Sandals:

Gladiator and /shoeswoven type sandals are back again! I had some woven sandles from the thrift store which are still good and some gladiator style sandals I purchased last year.

Shoes/sandles with wedges are also back. I love these because it means i can wear high heels without killing myself. Wedges are so comfortable and make high heel wearing a lot more stable then those scary stilettos!

Jeans:

Skinny jeans can still be worn (YAY!) with a current top, something bohemian or flowery which seem to be in fashion. Any graphic print top paired with these jeans would look great, from a halter to a tunic.

Those washed out denim jeans, slightly ripped or really used looking are back (think 90's). The term used right now is "distressed jeans". I had a few pairs back then and thought they were pretty cool. It's senseless to purchase those types of jeans when you can put a few holes and rips in them yourself or just fade them out with some bleach in several spots. Here is a tutorial on how you can update your old jeans for this season: http://www.jeans-and-accessories.com/how-to-distress-jeans.html

Looks:
The bohemian look is still in, especially with shoes and bags. Hobo bags are still big and I'm happy the bohemian style is in because that's mostly the style I wear.

High and medium waisted items are still hot too. I used to dislike tucking my shirts in but am liking it now that I can just put a belt around my waist. I usually do it with skirts that go down to my knee and a fitted shirt.

Mini skirts are in too, though I probably won't sport one myself (not sure most people want to see an almost 40 year old wearing one even if she CAN pull it off). So you can cut old skirts and hem them to make them mini and hip. Easily done!

Jewelry & Accessories:
Bracelets are in, lots of them. Almost 80's style but more chunky and beaded. Put several of them on your wrist, looks neat! To me, jewelry is a way to personalize your style if you have to go to work in a conservative outfit and want to jazz it up a bit. We can all get away with some fun jewelry no matter what look you are wearing.

Aviator glasses are the thing for spring/summer. I am sure they can be found at thrift stores because they've been around so long. (I believe they were pretty popular in the 60's). I am seeing mostly large sunglasses as well, just like last year.

Fabrics:
Any sustainable fabric is in. Anything from organic cotton to bamboo and linen are popular choices. Most of the handmade clothes I purchased are made of sustainable fabric. So discard that polyester!!

So mix old and new and with these tips in mind perhaps you can find a bunch of stuff thrift :)
Happy Fashionable Spring!

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Long Weekend Crafts!
Thursday, April 09, 2009

I am so happy it's a long weekend. I get 4 days off work because of Easter. Since I don't celebrate Easter it means that I have a WHOLE lot of time this weekend to do all kinds of crafting & spending some time doing fun frugal stuff on my own and with my sweetie (poor guy will get roped into my projects again!)

I bought some funky t-shirts at the thrift store to make my own recycle t-shirt bags. These make awesome gifts and I'll be making one for my mom & store her presents in there. I discovered a lot of cool t-shirt crafts online too, like reconstructing them to make a halter top for example. There are endless things to do with them like scarves, bikinis, skirts.....you name it! I can't wait to get more t-shirts. I'll have to enlist my partner to help me sew since I am not very good with the machine.

I also found a craft to make skirts with a drawstring out of pillowcases! I can slide into a pillowcase pretty easily so I'll probably try to make one of those too, hardly any sewing at all for these ones.

I will also continue making plantable seed paper. I made some cards out of the paper I made and stamped them and tied on some hemp cord. I packaged them in an envelope made out of an old file folder and will give these as part of my mom's mother's day presents! She can then use the tags when she gives gifts to people.

If I have time I will make some soap assuming the house doesn't get too damp (lots of rain in April!). I want to make a soft smelling soap like Lavender and colour it with some natural spices or herbs. I have some nice berry tea that could turn the soap kind of pinkish.

Last but not least, I picked up some $14 eco-recycled paint at the hardware store to repaint the guestroom. I am so excited! It's been an ugly greenish colour for 1 1/2 years now and I can't stand it anymore. I'll also have to clean up my own room which is FILLED with crafty stuff and that's where I store my clothes. Time for a clothes cleanup again because I donate them to the Diabetes Association here which picks up every two weeks.

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend.

MY BLOG: http://thefrugalvegan.wordpress.com

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Vegan Frugal Weekly Meal Plan ready to download/print!!
Monday, April 06, 2009

Hi everyone!

The meal plan is FINALLY ready! There are two recipes I didn't test but am pretty sure they are good :) I have been busy and people were anxiously awating this so I decided to post it.

Download the Vegan Frugal Weekly Meal Plan for 4 adults here: (includes: grocery list, recipes and meal plan): http://members.sitegadgets.com/scripts/download.cgi?username=freya1970&dl=5

I did a quick edit so please let me know if you find any errors in the document :)

Enjoy!

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Making my home Eco-Friendly & Cast Iron Skillet Granola
Saturday, April 04, 2009

Lately I've been trying to make my home more "green", getting rid of regular facecloths and handwowels and replacing them with hemp, using all green cleaners and body products. Lucikily, green cleaners can be made at home or bought cheaply at the stores! 

I was left with my regular deodorant and shampoo/conditioner which I wanted to change but organic alum free deodorant is about $6. At the grocery store today, I found tons of organic deodorant for 50% off from Kiss my Face so I bought 4 of them, as well as some organic conditioner for $3! I was so excited! I also purchased a large natural lemon non-aerosol bathroom spray for $4! Normally 1/4 of the size of this spray is about $6 (I know because I bought it before). I was excited to see more people using eco-friendly products in the world which means prices are getting more reasonable.

I am on the lookout for natural hemp yarn so my mom can knit me some dish cloths to replace all my other ones. I just love that hemp is mold and mildew resistant! I still can't afford big hemp bath towels but will get to that eventually :) I also picked up a recycled cotton non bleached mattress pad for the queen bed in the other guestroom. We didn't have one on there and everytime someone stayed in that bed the sheets would come off. It's nice and fluffy and was $25 at a discount store.

I spent more money than usual today but we hadn't really been spending much at all the past 6 weeks or so. It just seemed like we needed so many things all of a sudden. We finally stocked up on groceries and won't need to go for at least another month, if not longer. We only spent about $50. Tomorrow we'll head out to another bargain store which is selling 2L orange juice for $1.29! Does anyone know if these can be frozen? Also picked up 50 twinings green tea bags for $3 (down from 7) and Colgate sensitive toothpaste 2/$3!!! They are normally $4 each so we bought 8 of them. My sweetie needs sensitive toothpaste, Colgate is his favourite but I always bought the Arm & Hammer as it is cheaper...though this was even cheaper than that, so we stocked up! Tomorrow I;lll pick up my Crest Pro Health Toothpaste 2/$4. Funny, ever since I started using that toothpaste I've had no dental issues! I go to the dentist twice a year and haven't had ANY cavities since using it...so I recommend it. Preventative healthcare :D

We'll also head out to the thrift store, haven't been there in ages. Can't wait to see what we'll find there.

Made some Granola using my cast iron skillet. Only takes 5 minutes or so as the pan gets hot so fast and stays hot so it cooks the granola even when I take it off the heat. It's wonderful. I don't understand why people buy it as it's so cheap and easy to make and tastes 100 times better than storebought.

The sun is finally shinning! Hoping it will stay this way for awhile. We still have the woodstove going but happy that the sun decided to make an appearance! Have a good weekend everyone!
 

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Shoes, Finally getting paid & groceries
Thursday, April 02, 2009

After waiting 6 weeks I finally got paid!! The good news is that I was being extra frugal since my money wasn't coming in for work...darn government can take forever sometimes. When my two cheques came in my boss and I realized that they still owe me about $250 in overtime but we emailed them. These overtime cheques usually come separately so let's hope it comes in soon. I was able to almost pay off my credit card with some of the money and a few bills too. When my overtime cheque comes in, we'll be paid off on all our bills entirely and all we'll have left is the usual mortgage/car payments to make....finally! 

I was so thrilled with my money that I treated myself to a few handmade goodies on Etsy and another pair of John Fluevog shoes on sale for $100 instead of $300! I am in the midst of replacing all my discount shoes because they are just bad for my feet and arthritis. My mom was thrilled to hear that, she harassed me about my bad shoes for years and thought she was just being a typical woman but she wasn't. She said I wore special orthopedic shoes as a kid. Maybe had she told me years ago, I would have invested in my footwear a lot sooner. I used to be very frugal with shoes but sadly I can't buy at Payless or other discount stores. I do look for designer shoes like Clarks at the thrift store but have never found any...sadly. It's good to be frugal with a lot of things but for me it just can't be footwear.

I also got some special gift tags made out of handmade paper with seeds in them. You give the tag with a gift and they can plant it right in the yard! I want to learn to make these myself this summer when I start collecting seeds from my garden. I've always wanted to learn how to make my own paper. This is definitely a summer project to come!

My frugal meal plan is almost done. Should be up on my new blog this weekend. I seem to have quite a few readers right now and I suspect the stats will go up once I post the meal plan. I'm excited and hope this will help a lot of people. I'll keep giving the cooked food I am testing to the soup kitchen, they seem to really appreciate it.

I'm so glad it's Friday tomorrow. It's been a long slow week at work so the days aren't going by very fast. I am hoping to make it to yoga tomorrow night for their cheap class. There is an independent film festival here in town which I wanted to attend as they have a handful of free events. It's still fairly cold out so I haven't been in the mood to venture out.

I made a list of all the Loss Leader items in the flyers I got today. Not much on sale right now for me. I haven't done a full grocery shopping in over a month since cleaning out my pantry/fridge/freezer and using what I have on hand. It's amazing. I have replenished a few things but haven't spent more than $20 in a week if even that. I usually just buy organic local tofu and some stuffed grapeleaves at the market and a few veggies at a discount fruit/veggie store. Other than that, I eat what I have stocked up through the weekly specials. I'm going to make some more granola in my iron skillet this weekend so I have breakfast for the week. I was getting tired of hot oatmeal and needed a change. I made some last week with carob chips and will do that again...mmmmm.

I am going to check out the thrift store this weekend! I just cleaned out my closet and realized I need more shirts, the ones I had were getting a bit grungy and used looking. I need something more clean cut looking and less bohemian for work. Most of my clothes are pretty artsy/bohemian/funky looking which makes it tough to dress for work. I don't enjoy conservative clothing so I usually pair up something conservative with funky jewelry to make it my own unique look. Lately I've been doing the bohemian look at work because no one important has been in the office lately, though I have to find more spring-y stuff. All the work clothes I currently have is more for fall/winter.

Hope everyone has a frugal weekend!

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Frugal Weekly Meal Plan almost done!
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The past 24 hours I've tested 5 of the recipes for the meal project I am doing and will be taking it to the local soup kitchen this afternoon. I found out on the weekend that they take any food including people's leftovers! So I made some Caribbean Rice & Beans, Moroccan Black Bean Stew, Split Pea Soup and Lentil Chili with cornmeal muffins. The meals serve 4-6 people each so I am hoping that will help them. I will make more food this week.

I've been lazy with yoga lately but should get there today. I have a gym pass left which would give me a free class. since it's my day off, i don't have any excuses..though we do have LOTS of snow now which fell last night, pretty sad as it's supposed to be spring! :(

I'm also ready to start planting my seeds indoors soon. I will use my hubby's empty egg cartons, empty yogurt containers I found at work and some toilet paper rolls to plant them. I just need to get some soil. I bought luffa seeds and will start that for the first time this year. I thought it would be a nice addition to give with my handmade soap.

I'm trying to Eco-Green my house now as budget minded as possible. It's tough. We now have our woodstove which will save us lots of $$ each year. Next is getting a special insulation blanket for the water tank and some foam insulation for the attic. The space could be usable if we could renovate it and lots of heat escapes from there, insulating is a good start! I've already replaced all my washcloths & handtowels with hemp ones as they are mold and mildew resistant. We'll be getting a hemp shower curtain as they will last years unlikes those awful plastic ones that we end up throwing out ever so often and end up in the landfill...yikes. I've unplugged almost everything we barely use, such as some radios and lights. I've also replaced all the soaps in the guestroom bathroom with handmade stuff and biodegradable versions. I just need to get some organic shampoo and conditioner which I am having a rough time finding cheap. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes it's best to get better quality stuff because then we won't have to replace them all the time.

I did a spring cleaning of my shoes and boots and ended up with a bag full which I will give to charity. The past 1 1/2 years or so I've been buying very good quality shoes on sale only and replacing all the bad shoes I have. I can't believe how much better my arthritis seems since I've been wearing good shoes. Sadly I have to rebuy all the stuff I had before though. I'm hooked on John Fluevogs right now and found a pair on the website for $100 (usually they are almost $300). The nice thing about fluevogs is that no matter what, you can sell them. Even after 10 years of usage, someone will buy them because there tends to be a lof of collectors out there. So worst case scenario if I am done with them in a few years, it won't be hard to sell them. So I never feel too bad about buying those :) I feel bad right after purchasing them but in the end I am always happy with my purchase.

I might and wait to do laundry for another few days as it might actually get warmer. I really wanted to hang my clothes outside! Oh well..darn snow.

Hope everyone is having a frugal weekend. Looks like apart from going to the gym and dropping off food at the soup kitchen, I'll be home most of the day as the weather is terrible.

Hope it is sunny wherever you are!

 

 

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Frugal Earth Hour Activities!?
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Unless you live under a rock, you all know that Earth Hour is fast approaching!!! Most cities are having some kind of event! Mine is giving out free hot beverages (yep, still cold here!) and a few political people will give speeches. Personally, I'd love to go to a restaurant and eat in the dark by candlelight! I suggested it to my partner but then my frugal mode kicked in and I thought "Nope, let's celebrate frugally!"

Just in case you don't know what Earth Hour is, all you have to do is turn off your lights for an hour from 8:30-9:30pm your local time. That's it!! I saw a photo of a city lit at night on a normal evening, then another photo during Earth Hour. Wow, what a difference. This proves how such a small effort can make such a big difference. Our earth is sick, we need to heal and help her :)

There are so many frugal activities you can do during Earth Hour. Make an event of it, invite all your friends over and have a potluck (nothing to be reheated of course!). Pretend it's like a blackout, what do you do when the lights actually DO go out!? I am going to unplug a bunch of things, not use my computer and pretend like there really is no electricity. Imagine if we did this one hour a day how that would affect us financially and reduce energy!

I might just heat up the wood stove and have some food by candle light. Free pita bread and homemade hummus.

For more information on Earth Hour: Http://www.earthhour.org

I'd love to hear about what people are doing, would be great to get ideas!

HAPPY EARTH HOUR! :)



 

 

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Weekly Vegan Meal Plan on a Budget Project
Wednesday, March 25, 2009

As some of you might already be aware, I am VERY busy with my new blog. I am currently creating a project to feed Vegans (applicaple to vegetarians too) for one week on a low budget. It is similar to the Hillbilly Housewife one but  intented for those of you who prefer to avoid animal products. I've had some challenges with the project due to the high rising costs of food around here and have had to adapt some of my frugal recipes to make them even cheaper. I have the budget set to about $32US (40Cdn). (3 meals a day)

The plan will include Menu, Preparation, Grocery list and Recipes. The grocery list is intented for those who have nothing in their pantry aside from salt and pepper so likely this will be cheaper for a lot of you.

I also discovered that buying in bulk is always more economical so having to purchase small amounts of items was not only challenging but more expensive in the end. Some meals are fairly basic and include ramen noodles and others will be more exotic like Morroccan Stew. I am hoping to have the entire Plan posted within 1-2 weeks as I still have to test out some of my adapted recipes.

I have decided to reach out to my community and donate the tested cooked meals to a vegan/veggie family in need. Still waiting for some canditates right now as I just posted my offer on a few lists I am on locally.

The Menu will feed 4 adults and you might have some leftovers from some of the dishes, so in the end you are actually getting a bit more for your buck :) 

If you're interested in reading about it and other projects, feel free to check out my new blog:
Http://thefrugalvegan.wordpress.com

Topics:
Penny Jar Project, Meal Plan, Recipes, Budget & Finance, Bath & Beauty & more!

I will still post on here time to time, but I seem to have more readers there....sad but true! 
Hope everyone is having a frugal week!

peace.

 

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More decluterring, Fire the Grid & free stuff!
Sunday, March 22, 2009

I finally sold the old sink yesterday, which gave me $25 this week for pocket money. My friend and I went to the market but I held back on buying too much, just some stuffed grapeleaves & a small treat for breakfast which was nice, organic cinnamon bun sweetened with apples & maple syrup! mmmmmmm

We were going to an Ostara (Spring Equinox) celebration all afternoon and since there was a potluck afterwards, I made some cherrio squares with some baking goods I had left in my pantry :) It was $5 to participate all day and included workshops and also a talk from a world-famous woman who organized this event: http://www.firethegrid.com/, She lives in my area so it was nice to meet her and know what she is doing! Her message is non-denominational which was quite nice too. Nothing worse than people giving these types of messages who are judgemental of others' beliefs right? So she got a lot of respect from me. We're all human. I guess I wish people saw our similarities more than our differences sometimes. :)

 I also attended the leather working workshop (not applicaple to me as a vegan but interesting nevertheless!) The potluck afterwards was really great so basically we got a free dinner out of it too.  Some man brough some free ready made Rooibos Chai tea in large bottles for us to take for free. He said they were a bit expired but were still good to drink, so we both took two bottles of it. I love free stuff!

Today I'll be baking some fresh bread, i have lots of flour and have found some breadmaker yeast in my pantry which I haven't used in awhile. I'll also be attending Food Not Bombs to see what kind of free produce I can get from there. I am really happy with all the food I've found and made this week, cleaning out the fridge and pantry was a great idea, though now it's getting a little bare! Let's hope I get my paycheck this week to finally be able to replenish properly.

I went grocery shopping with my friend and was price comparing for a project I am doing. I don't know about you guys, but seems like prices have been jacked up in the last month. I used to be able to buy coconut milk for 99cents and now it's up to $1.39!!! How did that happen?? There is a wholesale place that sells it too for 79cents if you buy more than 4 cans and will check if they still have some. I don't want to pay 1.39! Ouch. Small bags of pasta used to be 89cents and now they are $1.29. *sigh*. Today we'll head to the dollarstore as they usually have pasta there, and if I'm lucky maybe I'll find coconut milk, I tound some soymilk last week for $1 and bought 10 of them. I was thrilled. Now I'll be stocked for awhile. Price shopping just seems a lot more imperative these days,every cent counts.

I will also head out to the Lebanese bakery to try and get some free pita. I wanted to make hummus but the pita I had picked up there last week went mouldy beacause I forgot to put it in the fridge. Stupid me.

I love spring. I see the signs of it everywhere now and with all the decluttering we're doing, I feel more refreshed and happy. We're saving money heating the house with the woodstove which makes me feel good. I've noticed our waterbill is reduced because of our front loader washer/dryer and soon the electricty bill will reduce because we'll be drying clothes outside. Our shower heads are low flow too. I would love to make my house more "green". I've received the crochet face scrubbies  to apply my facial toner, so no more cotton ball waste. Now I'm just waiting for the hemp face cloths and hand towels I bought from some money I won. Hemp is great because it doesn't attract mold and mildew and will last longer. I will put my old facecoths and hand towels in a yard sale this summer.  The guest room has homemade "eco" hand, body & face soap now too. Things are finally coming together!

My breakfast this morning consisted of a smoothie made with frozen fruit I had on hand, a banana and orange juice I had gotten on sale for cheap, and a nice cup of Ethiopian Organic Coffee. That's one thing I never cheap-out on, is coffee. I cant. I'll buy no-name EVERYTHING but my coffee has to be fair trade organic. It's my guilty pleasure. That's what happens when you grow up French....coffee and chocolate really need to be quality for some reason. My whole family is like that :)

Off to run some errands, hope everyone had a frugal weekend!

 

 

 

 

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Tomato Veggie Ramen Noodles
Friday, March 20, 2009

I had to work 2 extra hours last night at the office as we had meetings in there so we couldn't leave till the visitors were all gone. I had planned to make scrambled tofu and sweet potatoes for dinner but when I got home I was so exhausted and hungry, I didn't want to wait an hour before eating anything, let alone take 20mins to prep the food.

Since I've been cleaning out my pantry quite successfully lately, I've noticed that my choices for food are becoming slimmer and slimmer but that's ok! I need to use what's there.

I had TONS of ramen noodles (they seem to be going on sale a lot lately and I stock up) and at least 10 cans of tomato soup. I decided to cook a package of ramen noodles with a cup of frozen veggies, then add 1/2 a can of tomato soup, undiluted. I added lots of pepper as well. Boy was it good! It kind of tastes like Alpha Ghetti. I miss those canned pastas sometimes and i dont buy them because there is cheese in there. This is a perfect alternative. Cost me about 50 cents for my meal!

My sweetie took the other half of the can, made some soup and egg sandwiches. I haven't spent any money on lunches or even afternoon snacks this week. I now bring enough food to last me throughout the day at work, mostly just baby carrots and apples to snack on so I don't go running downstairs to get a fatty muffin :)

We didn't end up watching a movie last night, just talking in front of the woodstove for 4 1/2 hours about everything from frugal living to global economics. :)

Tonight my friend and I will make dinner at his place and watch a movie, another frugal night! Can't wait for that :)

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More house & Kitchen decluttering
Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's amazing how much my sweetie and I got done because the workers were coming to install the woodstove. We cleared out the living room, putting useless knick knacks in a box to give away and cleaning up. He was worried that the workers would think we were messy which is why he wanted to start cleaning. haha! 

Also with the new day bed and tv we acquired for the guest room, i'm getting rid of the 1980's tv & old dvd player that were in there taking up a lot of space. It's a small guest room and now it looks much better. I've found someone to come and pick up the electronics (they were too old to sell) tonight so it'll be out of our way! My partner will hang a small shelf on the wall where he can put the tv.

Sadly I haven't received my paycheck yet, was supposed to get that yesterday but it is being sent from the main government department in another city. I guess some paperwork got done late too. This isn't good because i've been without pay for almost 3 weeks now. In one sense, I'll get a big chunk of money in a few weeks (2 paychecks at one time) but on the other hand it's been tough as lots of payments are coming out soon. I counted on getting paid yesterday. I've had to move money from a loan which I didn't want to do. I'm being pretty forceful with trying to get this all sorted but we all know how things are when dealing with government; leaving messages on voicemails, unanswered emails and people not taking responsibilty. You'd think in these hard times that people who give out paychecks would be a little bit more "on the ball". *sigh* I might have held off on buying the used daybed had I known I wasn't getting paid. So much for relying on things these days!

That being said, we're staying in tonight and using up some foods that need to be eaten. I have sweet potatoes and tofu in the fridge that need to be used, so scrambled tofu and baked sweet potatoes it is! We'll also watch Slumdog Millionaire which we downloaded, and cuddle in front of the woodstove, I can't wait!

I managed to score some free pita at the Lebanese Bakery again. Haven't done that in awhile. They used to leave it in packages on the side for people to take but I see that they've been forced by the city again to take them out of the plastic bags. The bakery, knowing that many of us rely on their free pita supply, has been very good at still making it accessible. They've placed the pita in empty flour bags so it's easy to take. There were at least 10-15 gigantic bags full of pita to feed an army of people. I dug in one bag and pulled out a small stack (maybe 15 large pitas). Technically they are supposed to throw it in the compost but we all know how gross and dirty that can be. I love these guys. When my friend had no money at all, he said that bakery kept him alive. A lot of local people rely on it and it's food being used, not wasted. I will turn the bread into pita chips and make some hummus to dip them into :) I also heard that if there is no pita outside for the taking and you go there in the late evening when they are baking, you can knock on the door and they will give you a bag. I love my neighbourhood, most of us are pretty laid back and bohemian :)

Sunday I'll make my way over to Food Not Bombs and see what produce I can get. I love this organization and it's nice that they are all over the world feeding people with food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Sometimes I get tofu from there too. The weather is getting better so it's easier to sit outside now and eat what they've cooked up and look through the boxes for free food. North Americans are the biggest offenders for Food Waste, nice to see people have done something good with our horribly bad habits.

FYI: I will try and post more recipes soon, i need to get rid of some cherrios and marshmallows so if anyone has good recipes using these two items I'd love to have some. Thanks!

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Prepping a guest room for vacationers
Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I am almost done prepping the guest room downstairs for future paying visitors which I hope to get from www.airbnb.com I also host people for free on www.couchsurfing.com but given the fact that my contract could end any month now I am preparing for some ways to get a little income. I understand that temp agencies (probably the one I work for too) are having trouble placing people these days. I have an advantage due to my languages but even that doesn't guarantee me employment. Summers are always slow in the temp agency world from my experience!

I just replaced the airbed with a second hand beautiful IKEA day bed with a firm foam mattress. I already sold the airbed for $50. It sells for $120 but we bought it on sale for $60 so I'm happy with the $50. It's only about 6 months old so the person who bought it was thrilled with the price knowing how much she'd have to pay in the store for one right now.!Now it looks more like a REAL room :) 

Because I collect coffee contraptions, I put the Melitta One Coffee Pod Machine in there with creamer, packaged sugars I had picked up in Spain and Holland last year, and some packaged cookies I found at the dollar store. I also threw out some old pods that expired in 2007...eeek. I need new ones.

There is an old used tv and dvd player in there but no cable as we are not tv watchers. Both the tvs in our house are really old (late 80's early 90's!!) and at least one needs to be replaced soon. My sweetie wants to purchase a projector for the upstairs lounge where we usually watch movies but since they are about $800 it's not something we want to do right now. I looked online for used Flat Panel LCD tvs (between 15-17") but couldn't find anything. This is ideally what I'd like to get because knowing us we won't buy another tv for years...even the ones we have were free hand-me-downs! We've been together 14 years and have never bought a TV! :) We discussed it and decided that when I get my first paycheck from my new contract, we'll get the lowest price LCD which we saw at Walmart for under $150. He said that we could even use that TV ourselves to watch movies in the living room (which is right next to the guest room). We just got our woodstove installed and said it'd be nice to cuddle up & watch a movie in front of the fire! Still hesitating but I think that's what we'll do. I've been looking for a few weeks for a used one and still no luck.

There is also a recycled computer with wireless internet in this guestroom. I hadn't used it myself since my sweetie fixed it up last summer but went on it not too long ago to see how it runs. BOY was it slow! When you turn it on, it takes at least 15-20 minutes to start up. We had put it together from a mish-mash of old parts (he's a big techie), but it has been used by a lot of travellers since it's updating. This definitely needs to be revisited. Free computers are easy to find. I don't need some lightning speed one, just something a bit more functional, this one isn't at all. Even to surf the web it took ages to load. I felt like it was 1994 again. LOL. So next step is to find free parts to build a new one.

This guestroom has its own bathroom so I made some eco-green body wash, shower spray with tea tree oil, vinegar and water, and some handsoap using Dr. Bronners Castille Soap, water and a foam pump. I had made some green tea facial toner last week and had lots so I threw that in there too. I will make some honey facewash to put in the shower. All the toilet paper is made from recycled paper and will put a hemp hand towel & washcloth in there which i purchased on Etsy for cheap.

I figured, the more appealing this room is, the more I can charge though I do want to keep it reasonable. I have it listed for $20 a night but will revisit that as soon as I make all the upgrades.

I will not rent out the upstairs guestroom to visitors and will keep it for friends and family. It's much bigger but doesn't have its own bathroom and I haven't finished painting it yet. Also, my sweetie smokes (just upstairs) and I don't find that it's very welcoming to guests unless people know us already.

We are lucky to have a big house and just two of us living in it but I didn't want to rent out this room to people for a long time. I discovered airbnb and thought it was perfect! Even if I just rent it out 8 nights a month (say at $35/night with upgrades) that's about $270 a month for income! :) The website takes 3%

I'm excited. Can't wait for my first visitors. If all goes well I'll be ready for April!

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Decluttering and Food Report
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This has been such a good week so far. I have been on the lookout for a bed for the small guestroom and came so close to buying new, then something in my head stopped me, plus a big part of my prefers to recycle and purchase used.

I really wanted something IKEA as I love the style but we don't have one here...sadly. Closest one is in my hometown which is 900 miles away. So I went on kijiji.ca (.com in the US) and stumbled upon an ad where someone was selling an IKEA metal day bed with slatted bed & foam mattress, a beautiful floor lamp and side table for $125. I went online and looked at the prices for everything and if I worked it out including shipping this entire purchase would have been about $400!!! I picked it up this morning and the furniture was immaculate, as was the mattress. The girl lived at home and was moving out and the house was impecably clean. It looked like she had just bought it. So I didn't even barter with her which I normally do, I just gave her the money. I had a budget of about $250 for this so I was thrilled!!!

Because I was able to now put a night table in the second guestroom (I was using a grungy old computer table covered with a blanket I had found somewhere), I can now give away the computer table. I also didn't have a lamp in that second guestroom so..voila! I needed everything.

Woodstove insert is being installed tomorrow, so we're selling the fireplace grate and screen and also selling the airbed we had in the small guestroom. We also posted our old pedestal sink with faucet which we replaced earlier this year with a nice vessel sink. So if we sell everything, we get most of the money back for the guestrooms' furniture. Gee, I was so excited about that! Spring cleaning is good for something isn't it? I realized I have tons of bedsheets and duvet covers we no longer use as well, so I might just sell them in a bundle for cheap. If I sewed I might have even used them for something. :(

We headed over to a bargain store where they had special toothpaste on sale for 99 cents but they ran out..I was there Saturday and they had run out then too. Manager said they'd get more this week but apparently they are now out of them for good at that price. Oh well. I also found 4.4lbs  bags of sugar for 99 cents so I bought three but will pick up more as I was on foot. This will get me through my jam making season. I found some ramen noodles (5/$1) which is a good price, here they are usually 4/$1 at the cheapest place. Since I had stocked up on cheap ramen noodles last month, I only bought two packages. My sweetie doesn't like them and I don't eat them often as they aren't exactly healthy. I did eat some tonight with veggies and fresh ginger. mmmmm. I had a craving for them.

I loved having a day off, felt good to get things done! Off to the kitchen to see what else I can bake to get rid of things I don't need anymore. The clutter is diminishing..finally!

 

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Is anyone else having trouble posting?
Monday, March 16, 2009

Just wondering, I wrote two long posts in the last few days and none of them are showing up for some reason. :(  I lost everything. Is anyone else having the same issue? 

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Warmth! Woodstove and free coffee
Saturday, March 14, 2009

My sweetie and I finally bit the bullet and purchased a woodstove insert for our fireplace! We had gotten all the information last year, even went as far as have them come down and measure everything too. Problem was, when we looked at our finances at that time we decided not to do it. We could have bought it then but had other priorities. :(

Thank goodness the company still had all our information. All we had to do was walk in there and tell them we wanted it. They repriced it (sadly prices go up..argh) and we got it. Since they are not busy this time of year, they said they could install it next week! Not much winter left but March where we live is really unpredictable; one day it can be sunny and the snow is slowly melting, then the next day it's FREEZING cold and we have a storm. Not that I want more snow, but maybe just one really cold day to try out the stove. This will save TONS in heating costs and we'll get our money back in no time. We're very excited.

Speaking of warm things...my sweetie was out the other night at a bar after a concert he had gone to and found one of those coffee cards that you can put money on. Usually you can register them so if you lose them you can just cancel it online. He told me he had no idea if there was money on it, but said that most people never register those things. I do! Today I went online, punched in the numbers and to my surprise it was NOT registered and there was a little over $7 left on it! WOW! I was so excited. Not only do I love coffee, but I love free things. I kind of felt bad for the person who lost it, but I did register it even though there was only $7 on it. I am not a huge fan of this coffee chain but hey, it's free coffee. I will keep it for my next trip, as where I am going there is one of these coffee shops right around the corner from my friends place so it could be useful and cut down on spending money.

I seem to be very lucky with things these days! So if you have one of those cards, you might want to register it before you use it so if you lose it or it gets stolen, your money won't be lost. Hopefully this person will learn that, though frankly, most people probably don't even care :)

Hope everyone is having a frugal weekend!

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Spring Cleaning of my Pantry & Fridge
Saturday, March 14, 2009

Today I was out all day running errands & picking up produce. I made the mistake of purchasing those premade muffin mixes (65cents each) because they were on sale and I hadn't bought them in years as I always bake from scratch. I usually cringe at the chemicals found in cake & muffin mixes and always shy away from them. But for 65cents I thought...sure why not? I haven't used eggs in years for baking and have never had issues. When I used the muffin mix, I used my usual egg replacer and did the rest as per the instructions. I ended up with 6 gooey-ish tiny flat muffins...yikes. They don't taste too bad but now I'll have to give the mixes to friends who eat eggs. Might work out better, maybe the chemicals work with the egg. haha! I should have known better..live and learn! I never have flat muffins when I bake from scratch, so I'm not sure why this happened.
 

Right now my kitchen is a bit of a disaster. I had at least 100 spices in there, some from years ago and some in bags I had bought in Morrocco and Spain last year. I cleaned them out, threw out the old sketchy ones and now the spice shelf looks normal again though I still have at least 50 spices left! :) I do love my spices! 

After cleaning the spices, I decided to take a look in my pantry, freezer and fridge to see what I should use up. I took out some older frozen bread that had gone stale (which is why i had frozen it) and will make some french toast with it in the morning. I ran out of soymilk but always keep powder on hand, so I made a fresh batch today and will use that for the french toast. I can't wait! I also ran out of maple syrup which isn't good. I can't seem to eat that fake stuff but might have to make a batch of the sugar/maple flavouring kind tomorrow so I can eat the french toast. I might also use the "Miel de Cane" which is a honey like molasses tasting syrup from Spain that I bought last year. It has lots of iron so that could be an option too.

I discovered a master mix which I had made before Christmas. I had 2 cups left which wasnt enough for some of the recipes I had but ended up making some muffins and improvising. I added two small ripe bananas I had on the counter, a little vanila & frozen blueberries. WOW! Turned out amazing, so much better than the crappy mix! :)

I saw that I had an incredible amount of lentils on hand and made some Ethiopian lentils in the crockpot. The recipe is on this website so if you look up Ethiopian it's there. The kitchen smells delicious, much like the Ethiopian Restaurant I used to go to. So now I have some meals for awhile! 

I also discovered some frozen peas I had which had been there awhile. I don't use peas alot and had probably purchased them for a specific recipe. I took them out and made some pea soup for my friend as I am not a huge soup eater when the weather starts warming up. Here is my recipe:

PEA SOUP (using frozen peas)

2 cups of frozen peas

4 cups veggie broth or water

Several dashes of thyme, rosemary and mint

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1 carrot (diced)

1 stalk of celery (diced)

1/2 cup instant mashed potatoes (or one small potato) - i find this makes soup much creamier

Throw everything in a pot and boil for about 10 minutes till veggies are tender. Blend with a hand blender, then add instant mashed potatoes and blend again. If using real potato, add with other veggies. Season with some pepper!

This turned out pretty nice and creamy. I stored the soup in 3 containers and will give this to my student friend who rarely has time to cook these days so his diet hasn't been great. He could use the healthy food!

I don't know what was wrong with me today, but I bought a gigantic box of Golden Grahams cereal which was on sale. I used to eat them when I was younger and loved them. I made the mistake of going to the store when I was hungry too (same time I bought that muffin mix!). I rarely buy cereal because a lot of it is filled with sugar, but I had a bowl and BOY was it good! I fear I will eat the whole box in no time and don't want to do that, so I will make some Golden Graham Smores treats for work. It'll use 6 cups of the stuff and I'll be able to use the leftover marshmallows I had bought when I made homemade hot chocolate for friends for the holidays. Marshmallows are not vegan (they are made with either pig or cow gelatin...eeek) so I won't use them myself anyway. This will be a perfect way to dispose of some of that sugary cereal and finish of the marshmallows. yay!

I'll continue my kitchen pantry cleaning tomorrow and probably cook and bake more. I have so much more food that I thought, so perhaps you might want to look around your kitchen before you go grocery shopping, you'd be surprised what you'll find. I can probably live off what's in there for a month. Really!

PS: Posting on both blogs now, so if you see duplicate content that's why. The postings are different though but could have some of the same content. :)

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Zine Making & Coffee Date
Friday, March 13, 2009

When I got home from work last night, I was excited to be spending some time alone as my partner was going out to a concert. I was feeling a bit bloated since I hadn't been to yoga in awhile (even though I had attempted to a few times!) and with the cold weather I've been eating a tad more, though not junk food, just a bit more food. I decided to have a veggie dog without the bun and almost an entire stalk of broccoli with it for dinner. Felt good!

After dinner, I worked on my zine and was getting impatient with some of the formatting. Usually my zines are very indie cut & paste type of projects but decided to make this one in Microsoft Publisher. Not sure it was a good idea because the feel of it isn't as homemade but I'm sure I'll decorate it with stickers, stamps and other things to make it look less professional :)

My friend wanted to spend his birthday money and invited me out shopping. I needed a break from writing so this sounded like a good idea, and I needed a few things anyways.

We ended up at Future Shop and I purchased a $12 bottle of stainless steal cleaner. *gulp* Honestly, I've tried everything to clean my appliances and nothing seems to work. Spring is coming and I was desperate to find something that actually works. I took a deep breath and spent the money. Now let's hope it performs!

Then, we went to the fabric store where i always check out the scrap bins for discounts. I can't sew but I like getting fabric for either wrapping or sending the pieces to my mom for her to make me little gift bags. My partner sews but he doesn't usually have much time for it. I was looking for some fleece material to make some enviro friendly facial toner and/or makeup remover pads. I had stumbled upon a blog where a woman used an old fleece bed sheet to make them. She cut a square, folded it in four and sewed the sides to make a cushiony type pad to apply her toner. I really lucked out and found a few yards of 100% undyed cotton fleece for $2 that people use to make reusable diapers. It is very soft, has that natural looking appearance to it and hadn't been bleached or anything. I needed to have these done before tonight, as my friend was coming over and I had made her some toner for her birthday bag and wanted to give her some of these pads. My friend surprised me and purchased me some really good fabric cutting scissors which were $30 but he bought them on sale for $20. Though I could have used these years ago, I never indulged because I rarely sew or cut fabric but wow...am I happy to have them! I cut out a sample square for my partner who said he'd sew the pads for me by tonight. *phew* Can't wait to see them when I get home from work.

We then ventured over to our usual coffee spot where he treated me to coffee and a piece of blueberry lemon loaf. I don't ever usually eat after dinner but I think I needed a little food after my diet dinner. :)

Apart from the fact that I didn't get much sleep,  waited outside for the bus for over 1/2 hour in FREEZING cold weather this morning and the fact that it's friday the 13th, I still think it'll be a good day!

Still working on my new blog, I did post one article on there. Will work on it more today. I am in a real creative zone lately which is why I am not sleeping..head is too busy! Will try to get some of that out of my head today.

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Finishing a zine & need help (& more travel!)
Thursday, March 12, 2009

FINISHING UP A ZINE, ANYONE WANNA HELP AND MAKE $$?

I emailed a woman who runs another frugal site and got permission to reprint an article she wrote which I loved!  I offered a copy of the zine and a reference to her website. I had a hunch she would be ok with my zines for some reason. Lucky for me she accepted and I can print it for free! (some sites want $$$ or don't allow you to reprint because of copyright issues)

I write most of my content but do take some articles from various sources sometimes. The zine is almost completed but I am trying to find someone to write a Newbie Frugal Gardening Article for me, half a page. I posted a request on ThriftyFun but it is still pending at this time. An acquaintance was supposed to write it for me last fall, i waited all winter and never go it so now I am coming to you for help! :) I'm not a gardening guru and feel it's not my place to write such things and would rather leave it in the hands of gardening goddesses & gods who have a passion for it. :) So if any of you want $5US (which i am paying via paypal) and a copy of the new zine mailed to you in the spring, please send me a green/frugal/DIY/beginner gardening article (point form is good as it'll just be half a page). I'll pick a winner!! For the record, it IS an indie zine with some punk & hippy anarchist type content  sometimes that could offend some, so make sure you really want it. LOL. I'm known for my rants sometimes, so be forewarned, though this particular zine isn't too heavy on the rants! The article must be written from your own experience & written with some type of flair, very casual and fun as my readers are generally younger alternative type of people. It's up to you what tips you want to focus on, I will pick the right one. Email me at: goddessfreya@gmail.com with your submissions and write "Gardening Article" in the title. THANKS!

For more informaiton on my other zines, click here: http://www.thefrugalvegan.tk (all my zines are anti-copyright which means people can reproduce them for free & even resell them if they wish, this way the info gets out fast and around the world!)

TRAVELLING PLANS!

I know you won't believe this, but I am already planning another trip! Mid May if I can get everything worked out. Problem is, I just found a REALLY good seat sale with only a couple of seats left to where I am going. If I bought the tickets now, I'd be saving about $150 unless the competitor decides to do their own seat sale soon. Another option for me is to fly on my friends' passes which would cost save me about $300 believe it or not. The only issue with that, is travelling standby and I know how that worked out last time!! But I am flying within the country and the airline has more than one or two flights a day which ups my chances of getting on. Still debating...do i buy seat sale or do i just go standby?

Decisions, decisions.........

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Moving My Blog to another Home soon!!!
Thursday, March 12, 2009

MOVING MY BLOG!!

If anyone reads my blog on here, I wanted to let you know that I will be moving it to a new home soon. Still ironing out a few things and trying to figure the website out; the thriftyfun.com blog is much easier to create than the one I am currently trying to use. The reason for doing this, is that I'd like to write more but realize that I could offend some people with some of my content.  

I would like to incorporate my blog with my frugal zine website (www.thefrugalvegan.tk) (which sweetie is going to redesign as I don't have the patience) and be able to write freely without worrying about the "alternative" content of my writings.

Here is the new link in case anyone is interested but I won't be posting there right away. I will let everyone know when I will stop here and start there: http://thefrugalvegan.wordpress.com/

I just find that I leave things out on this blog sometimes,  fearing that it might not be appropriate for this website (even if they are saving tips!) but I'm now realizing I really want to write about my life more and how I save and what i save on :) Make sense?

Hope to see some of you at the new blog, it's more interactive too. Wordpress has some great blogs, as do blogger.com

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Loofah Seeds & Lazy Cooking
Thursday, March 12, 2009

Looks like we're being flooded with spam blog posts in here again! How dare people? Sadly, most of us won't even read them so these people are truly wasting their time!

LOOFAH/LUFFA SEEDS

I decided to purchase some Loofah seeds this year. My florist friend suggested I grow them as they are easy and he knows I make my own bath/body stuff too. The loofahs would make a nice gift with a homemade shower gel or soap. I could even grate the loofahs and put them in my soaps to act as an exfoliator. I purchased them on ebay for $3 (140 seeds!). The man selling them has been growing them for 40 years so I'm assuming these are good ones :)

BAD WEATHER & LAZY COOKING

The weather has been quite nice lately, sunnier, a little warmer and lighter too. I was in a good mood in the morning as the sun was shining but when I left the office it was snowing hard and it got cold and dark all of a sudden. My mood just changed immediately. In the morning, i could have taken on the world but as soon as I saw that snow, I just wanted to go home and hibernate. I made myself some ramen noodles with two cups of veggies, a little soy sauce and fresh ginger. I just made it for myself as my sweetie wasn't home yet and I was starving. I RARELY cook in the microwave but told sweetie when he got home, that he'd be getting macaroni and cheese with a veggie dog which I did in the microwave in 10 minutes (I know, not that healthy but he was in the mood for it.) We had bought the mac and cheese on sale at 30 cents a box which is cheap here. He rarely eats that type of food so the food is there for emergencies, like last night when neither of us wanted to cook!

FOOD & FLYERS

For lunch I brought some Lentil Stew I had in the freezer, 2 apples (one for a snack in the morning and one for a snack in the afternoon) and some oatmeal with a banana to eat at work for breakfast since I did not have time this morning. I perused the flyers only to find stuff I never buy (meat, sugary and processed foods). Argh. So off to my fave fruit/veggie store this weekend and the bulk place to stock up on legumes, beans and grains. The only sale I found was for sugar (2kg for 99cents which is a good price here). I prefer not to use white sugar but I do buy it for making things like cakes.

EVENING PLANS

My sweetie is off to a concert tonight as his company got some free box VIP tickets. I could have gone but I really don't like this band, they play maritime type music, sort of that folky irish type stuff. Just not my style of music. He is just going because it's free and there will be free food and drinks. I'll have the house to myself and will make some Ethiopian Lentils & if I have the time, more muffins and some cocoa butter soap which I've been itching to make. If you guys are interested in making Ethiopian food that's really cheap, do a search on this website for Ethiopian, I posted tons of recipes on here with photos. EASY!

Will post more later....

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Honey Rose Facial Toner & "Green" Crochet Cotton Balls
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I just made a really lovely Honey Rose Facial Toner which i tested this evening just to see how it feels. I will keep using the green tea one i made then next week use the honey one and see which one I like best. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup rosewater (found at mediterranean stores)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (try not to use white vinegar)

1 heaping tbsp of liquid honey

Mix everything together and store in a bottle. I like this recipe because it doesn't need to be refrigerated unlike a lot of toner recipes I've come across.

Right now I am using a washcloth to apply as I do not have cotton balls and the eco-green girl in me doesn't want to purchase them so i went looking for an alternative. Beacuse I am such a fan of Etsy.com and supporting indie artists, I went there to see what I could find. To my surprise I found some awesome reusable crochet cotton type balls. 25 of them for $4!! Comes with a mesh bag so you can wash them and not lose them. I purchased them thinking this is definitely a good investment! I'll never have to buy cotton balls now :)

Here is where I got them if anyone is interested. I'm sure she'll post more: http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=14468263 These are listed in the "facial scrubies" section in her shop so if you don't see them right now just contact her and I am sure more will be posted. These are not only environmentally friendly but frugal. Great gift if you make the toner and give it with these.

If you can crochet, you can purchase a pdf file of the pattern from another seller for $2.50 to make your own!(http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=20799695

If you don't want to spend any money, you can easily use a facial scrubbie for the same purpose, perhaps you can make them smaller. I don't crochet so I am not sure how this would work, but here is an easy FREE pattern for a facial scrubbie: http://grannysquarewoman.blogspot.com/2006/02/vesy-easy-small-scrubbie-pattern.html This would be great if you have leftover cotton yarn from other projects.

I'm really getting into using natural homemade stuff. I have done this for years on and off but sometimes get caught getting stuff with pretty packaging...ugh. So back to the homemade products wave for now!

Images:
   

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Homemade Facial Products, Renovations & Birthdays,
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yesterday I had a great frugal day off! I was looking through my cards and noticed I had enough stamps for a free sushi lunch, so off I went! Then I discovered another card with enough stamps for a free coffee down the street from the sushi place...so off I went for that! Refills were only 60cents and the coffee is fair trade! I had brought my small ASUS EEE laptop with me and caught up on some emails since that cafe has free internet. I sat there for a few hours till our bank apt at 4pm.

Because of low interest rates right now, we consolidated a few things and ended up getting money to buy our wood stove insert for the fireplace and redo our kitchen! YAY! Wood Stove will save us TONS of money in oil costs and I have a friend who can get us free wood! Since my mom has always wanted to be an interior designer but claimed she was "too old" to go do it by the time we were out of the house, I am going to ask her to fly down and help me with the kitchen. I am a terrible decorator and not good with any home design projects. That always surprises people since I am very creative, just not good at the decorating stuff at all. My mom has a great eye and good ideas. My only concern is that money was never an issue for her when she designed her home, so as long as I stress to her that I don't want a $1000 granite sink I think we'll be ok. I remember her telling me that the custom blinds in her condo kitchen which cover a small window were about $700! She's BIG on quality stuff, though at the same time she understands that I am not made of money and I'm sure she'll find more frugal ideas for my kitchen :)

On another note, I made some home facial products that I am really liking. I made them for a friends birthday but had some leftover which I tested. These items make for a really great frugal "organic type gift for friends and family! Here are the recipes:

HONEY LAVENDER CLEANSER

2 tbsp clear honey

1 1/2 tsp Dr. Bronners Organic Fair Trade Lavender Castille Soap (you can use unscented)

1/4 cup vegetable glycerine

Combine eveything in a bowl and stir. Store in a dark bottle. Use about 1 tsp to cleanse face. Remember to wet your face/hands before applying cleanser. 

GREEN TEA TONER

3 bags green tea (steeped in 2/3 cup boiling water)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

4 drops ylany ylang essential oil

4 drops lemon essential oil

Combine cooled tea, cider vinegar and essential oils and store in a dark bottle. Use after cleansing your face. Then apply face moisturizer.

It was my friend's birthday and we ended up going to Boston Pizza as they have cheap pasta specials on Tuesdays! The dinner alone was under $20 for both of us, so definitely a good deal for a night out! We went back to his place to have dessert (the chocolate cake with peanut butter icing I made) and some coffee. This saved on dinner costs and he much prefers a homemade cake over getting something at a restaurant anyway.

Planning to make some cocoa butter soap tonight if I feel up for it. Stay tuned!

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Anyone else annoyed by the blog floods?
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maybe it's just me but i've noticed that some people are flooding the blog with techie stuff lately. Any idea who modifies the blogs? Sure, tech stuff is useful (several friends of mine are IT people)  though it seems a little excessive lately....anyone agree?

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Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's my friends birthday today and last night I made him this. He loves peanut butter so I decided to put it on a cake!

Chocolate Cake (from a zine called Don't Feed the Bears"

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup cocoa

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup cold water

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup oil (I used sunflower)

Heat oven to 350F. Put all ingredients in a bowl in order given, then stir (not too much!!!) and pour into a square cake pan. Bake for 30-35mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Easy!

Peanut Butter Icing

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup margarine

Stir everything till smooth. Ice cake when cooled.

I sprinkled the entire cake with cake sprinkles (coloured ones) and placed happy face round birthday candles on it.

  1. ENJOY!!

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Rent a room for tourists with AirBNB!
Monday, March 09, 2009

I was reading the newsletter that i get from another frugal website, and the woman who wrote the article recommended a site called Air B&B: www.airbnb.com If you have a spare room or couch in your house, you can sign up and rent out your space to travellers! The company mails you a cheque a week after the stay has been completed! You can choose how much you want to charge. I am the only one in my area who has signed up, so let's hope I'll get some guests soon!

I am also on couchsurfing.com which hosts travellers for free. I do LOVE doing this, but in this economy I could use the extra money and I have decided to also host a few couchsurfing people too, though at this time I might have to put paying guests as a priority.

It's a fun site to look through, even if you don't want to rent a room. Would be great for small business travellers to use this service, you can get a bed in New York for as little as $15! :) Neat isn't it?
 

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Banana Coconut French Toast
Monday, March 09, 2009

No one will ever know this is vegan, and BOY is it good! I bought some light rye bread from the market this weekend and know it will be stale by tomorrow, so this is a dinner I will make one evening. Breakfast for dinner? Sure!

VEGAN BANANA COCONUT FRENCH TOAST
(recipe adapted from vegetarian.about.com)

2 medium bananas (mashed)

1 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (soy, rice, almond...)

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional but yummy!)

Whisk everything in a bowl (I use a hand blender to get it nice and smooth)

Dip stale bread slices in and cook on each side until lightly browned. Top with fruit and pure maple syrup.

Images:
   

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Birthdays & Blueberry Muffins
Monday, March 09, 2009

I made some really good blueberry muffins that I found on allrecipes.com.http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Blueberry-Muffins-I-2/Detail.aspx

I used egg replacer instead of the egg, sunflower oil as the oil, 3/4 cup brown sugar instead of 1/2 cup white sugar and before baking I topped them with a tsp of raw sugar and sprinkle of cinnamon. My sweetie loved them, i gave a few to my friend and he said they were amazing. Very moist and almost cakey. I forgot to add the lemon zest even though I had some so will make more again tonight! :)

I also made a nice veggie chili for dinners/lunches this week. I never use a recipe for chili, just throw in what I have!
 

Tomorrow is my friend's birthday. I've been flooded with birthdays the past month but won't have any to worry about till June after this..haha. My friend doesn't have any other friends here, so I am taking it upon myself to organize something for him. My budget is really limited right now so I am making him some Chocolate Chip Banana Bread (everyone always requests it for gifts from me!) and some hummus which he also loves. I wanted to take him out to dinner, but I didn't want to take him out to the diner we usually go to and other restaurants he likes are too pricy for me right now, so I am making a spinach lasagna and will bring some vegan cesar salad with it and a homemade birthday cake. Good thing I have tomorrow off because I'll need to prepare all this in the morning as I have an apt in the afternoon. I just better get up early if I want to get this all done by lunchtime!

Work should go by quickly today as I have some work to do....

Hope everyone has a frugal week!

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What do we need to do to be beautiful?
Sunday, March 08, 2009

This is a bit of a rant, so be forewarned! LOL

My recent trip to Kiehl's when I was in Montreal made me realize how much money and time we spend on beauty. What is beauty...exactly? And why our constant obsession to achieve it and why are we willing to spend so much money to get there? Is there a way to get beautiful without sucumming to all these advertisements making claims for a youthful appearance? Do we have to take out a second mortgage just to be beautiful? :) Of course not.......

For the record, I do believe beauty comes from the inside, but sadly so many of us have stressed out over-worked, unhappy insides.....I mean, what do we do?

My friends often tell me I am blessed with youth and good genes. I've even had to show ID to people who didn't believe my age when I told them. I'm 39 but apparently I look 27. Most of my friends are in their mid-late twenties and tell me they keep forgetting I am almost 40. One  friend even told me there must be something magical in our water, because my sweetie who is 37 looks 25. LOL. So what gives? Why do we look this way?

Of course I laugh at all these comments and know that *maybe* genes have a small part in this but it certainly isn't because I buy fancy creams, go to the spa twice a week or have a personal chef or trainer on hand :o)

So here goes:

DIET

I had a naturopathic doctor who herself was not vegan but told me that I look the way I do because of my diet. Food can be a poison but also a healer and we all know it can make our skin awful or beautiful looking. If we eat lots of raw fruits and veggies, have enough protein and move around a little, you'd be surprised what that will do! Eating chips for a snack and burgers and processed foods for dinner isn't going to make you look or feel good, especially if it's a habit. (watch a documentary called SUPERSIZE ME) Not saying everyone should be vegetarian or vegan because there are many of us who are who don't eat well! It comes down to this:  don't overeat, don't eat processed foods too much and increase raw seasonal fruits and veggies in your diet. I am not a health nut at all (believe it or not) but i have trained my body to tell me what it wants. A friend of mine who used to live with  me, once told the story to his mom that i'd come home sometimes and eat an entire stalk of broccoli as my body was craving it. Funny isn't it? But that's how it goes with me now. I was overweight for a big chunk of my life, so i'm not one of those people who doesn't understand what it's like to lose weight..trust me i do all too well. Once we train our bodies, it's very strange what starts to happen. Believe it or not, I CRAVE fruit and vegetables. I never could have said that 15 years ago. Granted, I do crave chocolate too, but I eat eat almost everyday..just the dark 80% stuff because it's so good! Nothing wrong with some indulgence, everything in moderation right?

LIFESTYLE

Another thing that contributes to youthful appearance and energy is one's lifestyle. Now granted, we all have different choices as to what makes us happy in life so I'm not going to tell you how to live a happy life on my terms. Sometimes I think people's views are distorted as to what REALLY makes them happy. I know I'll never have a midlife crisis because I've always done what I felt was right for me regardless of the ridicule i've experienced around me. For example,  I decided at 15yrs old that I did not want children and kept that promise to myself. I knew I just had too much to do in the world and wanted more freedom than children could give me. Some people say it's selfish but in the end, it made me such a happy person (not a miserable parent with a child). I  do LOVE animals and have adopted several, these are my "children" and they make me so happy. I've actually met people who said they love their kids but regret having them, now that they know what they know now. I've heard that WAY too many times and found it rather astounding. On the other hand, my mom is the type who just adores being a mom, she is an amazing mother who wanted us so much and I am thankful for that. Having children made HER happy. Luckily she respects my brothers' and my wishes not to have any. These are the choices she made and she was more than thrilled with them. Too often I see people doing things that they feel they HAVE to do because of societal pressures. In the end, these people get depressed and miserable, go on medication and start looking terrible. Before I go on too much of a rant, the moral of the story is to do what you FEEL is right for you and what makes you happy (as long as you don't harm anyone physically of course). I am one of the happiest people I know when it comes to my life. No one should EVER tell you it's wrong to want to go live on a beach and write for the rest of your life. It's your life, do whatever you want, as long as it makes you happy. Happiness is beautiful.

EXERCISE
 

We all love exercise right? Nope! Every magazine in the world is telling us different ways to move our bodies and demonstrating different contraptions on how to make it happen more easily. Most of us dread that trip to the gym or on the treadmill at home. Some of us like to move but our lives are so busy. I admit, I am not athletic even though my body is built to be. I never liked exercise and all the times I lost weight in the past, exercise was my least favourite thing. Myself, I got lucky and discovered something I actually like in the past year...yoga!!! I have  been slim for over 10 years now but I know I didn't move enough. Walking to the corner store just didn't count :)
It took me that long to find an exercise I truly enjoyed. I had done it in my late twenties and hated it but revisited it last year and loved it. So the moral of this story is, just because you hated something years ago, doesn't mean you would now. So keep trying new ways to move your body, it's amazing how great you feel when you do. I still love walking and when I travel that's how I mainly get around in the city I visit. I never liked running, but am curious to try it again, though nothing beats yoga and meditation for me! Next year i will take my teacher training!

AND THE MORAL OF THIS POST IS.............

We need to retrain our bodies and minds to recognize what makes us feel good inside and out. Miracle creams and diets aren't going to fix us, they will only make us feel like we're being defeated. Feed yourself properly, move around and make sure you fulfill your dreams and wants in life (not your mom's, neighbours or friends!). I have never felt so good and free in my life, and I look better now than I did when I was 20...because now, i know who I am, I do only what makes me happy and I eat good grub. :) Oh, and I have LOTS of love in my life and a partner who accepts me for me....always.

Excuse the rant, i was feeling this!!

Some less serious postings tomorrow with recipes! 

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Weekend Shopping & home pedicure
Sunday, March 08, 2009

Yesterday I finally felt like I was putting a dent in chores and errands. I didn't make it to yoga (argh!) as I had too much to do during the day. Then I meant to go to yoga again this morning and forgot about the time change so technically I woke up too late! Is the universe just telling me I am not ready to go back to yoga yet? Who knows?

We ended up at the farmers market yesterday where I bought some locally made organic tofu (a bit pricier but worth it as I like to support local businesses). Also got some stufffed grapeleaves and guacamole from one seller I buy from weekly. I realize I can make my own guacamole but right now avocadoes are ridiculously expensive here so buying the guacamole is almost cheaper if not the same price.

Then we headed to the fruit/veggie store and spent under $20 for a bag full of stuff: Strawberries, LOTS of bananas, sweet potatoes, cortland apples, broccoli, frozen local blueberries and a few other goodies). It's nice to have fresh produce again as I eat so much of it usually.

For dinner I had a few stuffed grapeleaves and a few cups of cooked broccoli. It was delicious. My sweetie had leftover pizza that he had bought at the store and has enough leftovers for at least 2 more meals.

Last night I had the house to myself, so I made a Citrus Honey Beer soap, some honey sugar body scrub and some pedicure stuff (rose geranium foot soak, tea tree & juniper foot cream). I have been tempted to go get a pedicure. I used to do it every 6-8 weeks but haven't in almost 5 months! I almost went last week but because of my big spending in Montreal, I stopped myself and did it at home last night. Here is what I did:

AT HOME PEDICURE

1.Fill a large basin with warm water & fill bottom with flat stones (this massages the feet). Then add 1/2 cup of sea or epsom salts, a few drops of rose geranium (you can also use lavender, tea tree, peppermint...) & some dried or fresh rose petals (2 tsp). Soak for 10 minutes.

2. I then used my professional foot file and took off the dead skin & rinsed in the foot basin.

3. Then, take a foot scrub (I used my honey sugar one). You can make your own by using 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 Tbsp sea salt & 1 tsp olive or jojoba oil & 1 1/2 tbsp honey. Mix together, wet hands and scrub on feet. You can also just use a combination of sea salt and enough oil to make it pasty. Add some tea tree or peppermint if you have it on hand.

4.After that, I cut my nails, dried my feet and added lots of cream on them and placed plastic over my feet, then socks to keep it warm. I walked around like that for awhile and when I went to bed I took my socks off to find lovely soft feet!! I didn't polish them as I am not really good at it, I find the natural looks nice anyway right now :)

Since I missed yoga this morning, I will cut my honey beer soap and make some blueberry muffins. Off for coffee with my friend later this morning and I plan to cook and bake the rest of the day so I have lunches prepared for the week.

More tomorrow!

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Frugal Fridays!
Friday, March 06, 2009

Boy am I glad it's friday. Not that my job is stressful but I feel like I've been on the go now for 3 weeks.....Dominican Republic, then 1 week very ill and bed ridden then I had to gather enough energy to make it to Montreal for another 5 days..got back late from that trip and was back to work early the next morning. *Phew* I feel like three weeks have evaporated entirely and that I haven't had much time to myself. I don't know how people with children handle things sometimes, I need SO much time alone and can't imagine life without a lot of solitude. *sigh*

I've been holding the fort at work which means extra hours and being on call (though really no one ever calls). There are two other people in the office today which are apparently leaving at noon. That means I'll be alone from 12-5pm to finish up a few extra things. I brought a show I downloaded to work and will watch it on my computer later this afternoon.....yes, it's NOT busy at my job these days. Hurray for the government :)

When I got home last night, I discovered a box from Proctor & Gamble full of samples: Crest Advanced Whitenening Strip, Head & Shoulders Shampoo & Conditioner, Olay Night and Day wrinkle cream, Dental Floss, Fusion Men's Razor, Gillette Hair & Body Wash & Pantene Shampoo and conditioner packets..WOW! I was running out of samples to travel with so this came at a good time! The Fusion Razor will go in my friend's birthday gift bag, he loves those razors but apparently they are expensive so he'll be thrilled! YAY Free gift :)

I also discovered $200 in my travel savings account. I took money out before I left for the dominican and didn't think there would be anything there. Amazing how $25 every two weeks adds up! I am planning a May trip to Toronto so this money will come in handy.

Dinner last night was a big hit. The only setback was having to throw out 1lb of tofu. I had it in the freezer (I usually freeze tofu for a better texture), then when i defrosted it and unpacked it it smelled SO bad. I've rarely had tofu go bad on me but this was an asian kind i had picked up for cheap, the kind in lots of water. Lucky for me I had two more packages in the freezer of other types! My tofu scramble and sweet potato fries got made and we gobbled it  up. I have leftovers for lunch which is always nice.

I ordered some Protea seeds for my close friend who is a florist. His birthday is next week. I found a website in South Africa (that's where the flower comes from) which had TONS of varieties. http://www.finebushpeople.co.za . For about $6 I got him 3 types of seeds. The nice thing is that you can just order a couple of seeds instead of a package so I bought him 5 seeds of three different easy growing varieties & some type of smoke primer to help with growing. I thought that price was worth it, all including shipping and ALL the way from south africa! Sadly he'll get his presents late....this won't come in time and i have to send it along...good thing he's patient!

Last night I spent hours posting freebies on a website I contribute to: www.pricenetwork.ca. You get points for contributing and since joining I've received $75 worth of giftcards. I ordered tons of freebies I found (tourist maps, shampoo....) I go through phases where I sign up for tons of freebies, then i stop for awhile. So in 6 weeks my mailbox will probably be filled with goodies!

Tonight it's a home cooked dinner & watching a video with a friend. I suggested that to him since we're both trying to be frugal and he has a huge exam today and could be stressed. He'll need the relaxing evening. My dinner will resemble last nights: Tofu Burgers and sweet potato fries with broccoli. haah. I love tofu and sweet potatoes so i am not complaining.

Tomorrow I'll get to sleep in, go to the farmers market and FINALLY have time for a little yoga! Boy do I miss classes! My body needs a little rejuvenation.

Hope everyone has a frugal weekend, I know I will!

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Time to save & make money
Thursday, March 05, 2009

Now that my travels are over till at least May (yes, I am planning another long weekend trip already!!), it's time to start saving and making a little money.

I went on my Etsy.com shop and posted a few new things...a frugal zine I had made for friends as a gift, which I saved electronically and selling for 50cents. I posted it twice within 12 hours and already sold two. Even if I just sell 10 of them, it's a few dollars in my pocket for work that I had already done. They charge 20 cents for the listing and probably another 5 cents or so when I sell it so I only end up with half of the money but that's ok! I also posted some handmade vegan soaps because I have tons right now!

Another way I will save money is start my penny jar. I have been meaning to do this for awhile now. I am starting a penny jar and will save pennies for a year, then buy a gift card with what I have accumulated! My sweetie started something like this too back in January but using all his change and already has $155 saved up in less than two months! Change really adds up!

We're going to the bank next week to talk about our mortgage and how to better pay off some debt. Right now is a good time to do this and we're confident our payments will go down afterwards :) People tend to be afraid of banks (I know I am!) and all that financial mumbo jumbo. Personally I think we're doing pretty good, as our credit cards should be all paid off within a couple of months, even with my big spending habits when I travelled last week :)

Went out to dinner last night. We hadn't done that in awhile...I tend to go out to dinner with friends sometimes but not often with my partner. We went to the new bistro we like because on Wednesdays they have pizza/pasta night for $10. VERY good quality food. I had a pad thai with tofu & I splurged and got sorbet for dessert but we both shared it and drank water. Tonight is tofu scramble & Sweet potato fries night..I can't wait!

I looked over the sales flyers today as they come out every Thursday in the paper at work. Sadly, no good sales. I don't buy a lot of processed foods or any animal products so unfortunately I won't be doing a whole lot of grocery shopping this week. There seems to be a lot of meat on sale right now...yikes.  We'll just eat what we have and I will replenish the produce at our favourite produce market.

I received a late birthday parcel from an online friend. Wow, does she ever know me! Anyone who knows me, knows that my guilty pleasures are dark chocolate and coffee. I received some Ethiopian Fair Trade Coffee beans and Fair Trade organic dark chocolate! Now I have coffee beans for another two weeks which will save me money! yay! My chocolate supply was running out too, i always have dark chocolate on hand. I got two bars from another friend and one is almost done (I eat a square every few days). I also received some lovely Protea and Dwarf Sunflower seeds! Am I spoiled or what?
 

I will be testing out the warm honey body wrap i made this weekend and if it is successful (my partner will be my guinea pig), i will post the recipe and instructions....stay tuned!

Peace.

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Back from travelling & Spa Experiences
Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Phew...all this travelling has made me tired but the last trip (in Montreal) was very rejuvenating! On the downside, I spent WAY more money than I wanted to, but luckily everything I bought was heavily discounted apart from the products at Kiehl's.

My Montreal trips are usually filled with shopping trips, because where I live they are still pretty behind with a lot of things so I stock up on clothes (end of season), herbs and other new-agey stuff that is not available here.  Breakfast was included with our accommodations and my friend and I were frugal with other meals. We went out one night for a nice dinner which cost about $40Cdn for both of us. It was an indian restaurant and included lots of veggie dishes, rice, naan and dessert. It was worth the money! I also picked up an Eco-Green coupon book for $20 (Similar to the Entertainment Guides but a more new agey version) and included lots of 2/1 restaurant /cafe coupons. I only used 5 coupons during my trip and already got my money back. There are about 10 yoga coupons (free) which I will use when I go back in May.  Since I go there 4-5 times a year and the coupons expire in December, I'll definitely get my money's worth: www.conscienceverte.ca

I also booked two services at a holistic spa and was glad I did. I was still sick with a bad flu when I arrived and the massage I received really made me feel  better. I purchased my services here: www.spaandtravel.com which saved me about $50. I also had a coupon (code: wholelottalove). For example, I got a Warm Honey Jasmine Wrap which they list for $75 on their website. On Spaandtravel.com it's $60 and with my coupon code I saved another 15%. I saved about $30 on the service. If you rate your experience, you get another $5 coupon! Also try www.wayspa.com for more spas. Since I enjoyed my honey wrap so much, I am in the midst of creating a concoction similar to it and will post the recipe when I've perfected it. In the meantime, here is a nice Chocolate Body Scrub recipe:

Chocolate Body Scrub

Mix together:
1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white or cane sugar, 1/2 cup canola oil & 1/4 cup cocoa (organic if you have it on hand). Scrub  your body and rinse well. 

I got a free facial at Kiehl's (www.kielhs.com) (we all know they do this to sell products) but I was surprised that they didn't push me into buying anything. I loved the men's scrub, foaming face wash and some eye concentrate so much that I did splurge. Because they knew I had a limited budget and that I expressed interest in other products I couldn't afford, the woman threw in tons of samples for me, one which is an eye cream I liked. She told me to poke a hole in the sample pack, use a tiny bit and it should last me a year!! I wanted to get something for my friend's birthday but really all I could afford was the small tube of handcream...the woman again threw in tons of samples for my friend of other expensive products I was looking at for her and wrapped it all beautifully in a box. So for the $15 I spent on the handcream, she's getting tons of goodies! I was pleased :)

Since there are no fashionable men's clothes in my city, I shop for my sweetie too. I ended up at Mexx and they had 75% off  alot of their winter clothes. I purchased two pairs of pants and a shirt for him. I also ended up at Banana Republic and bought three things for $30!! A tie that had been marked down from $75 to $9.99 and two white t-shirts for $20. My sweetie keeps his clothes a long time so I always buy quality stuff that is heavily discounted. He was so thrilled and loved everything. I must admit, I prefer shopping for men's clothes than women's!

On a good note, I am now earning twice the money i used to make as my job hired me on separate from the temp agency till the end of July. So with all that money I spent, I should be able to pay off my credit card bill with one cheque, so things could be worse!

So being  back home, I am tightening my belt. My boss is gone for a week so I am getting extra hours as well. I purchased a transit pass so I don't have to limit my bus trips as well.

Stay tuned for more :)

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Fighting a Flu & Preparing for another trip
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I've been back from Puerto Plata almost 6 days and I am still sick with a  really bad flu. I was in bed Friday and all weekend but had to come back to work Monday even though I was a mess and not feeling great. Saldy, I can't afford to take off work. After work last night I took a nice hot bath, had dinner (pizza my hubby ordered, with extra sauce and no cheese for me!) and went to bed at 8pm.

Feeling a little better this morning at work but still coughing and tired. Unfortunately I have to get back on a plane Thursday for the weekend to spend some time with a friend, something that was planned almost 2 months ago. Not sure how I will do but I imagine if I get enough rest the next two days I might be alright. I wish I could postpone the trip but he's already purchased his tickets too and is leaving a day before me to meet up with another friend.

The plus side of being sick is that i haven't been shopping or even been much on the internet to buy things. We're living on groceries I purchased a few weeks ago which is good news, but sadly i'm not eating much. I've been off coffee for about a week now because I just can't stomach it for some reason, really funny for me as I am a coffee addict and love the taste so much! I'm surviving on gemai green tea and water right now which is better for me anyways.

I don't have much money saved up for my trip in a few days which means i'll have to do things very frugally. Luckily I have a ride to the airport and a confirmed seat (no more standby! yay!) so things should go smoothly. I spent two days there 1 1/2 weeks ago so I already have 2 bus tickets i can use to get downtown once I get there.

Not much else to report for now. Perhaps I'll have more once I am feeling better and after my second trip is completed :)

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Back from Vacation
Thursday, February 19, 2009

I never thought I would be so happy to get home after a vacation. Flying standby is stressful too and sadly I got a bad flu which left me in bed the last two days of our 5 day trip.  I managed to save money while we were there because I didn't eat much as I was feeling rather ill most of the time there but mostly just the last two days where I couldn't leave the bed. I definitely don't need to lose weight but I think I lost 5lbs in a week's time. When I arrived home, my sweetie said I really needed to eat. I had tried to eat but wasn't happy with the food there (I'm not even really picky!). Being vegan there was next to impossible too, so my choices were limited and i mostly just went to the grocery store to get rolls and fruit to eat.

Got first class on the way back too which was very nice. Because I was ill, the flight attendant served me some hot tea and gave me a blanket; gotta love that first class service! I tried to eat some of the hot meal they served but couldn't get through it, so my friend ate it for me.

Since we arrived last night, I didn't get a chance to cook anything and I went straight to bed since I couldn't afford to miss work today even if I do have the flu. Lucky for me, th cold medication was on sale for $4 at the drugstore so that's keeping me going even though I am usually opposed to taking that kind of stuff. I'll have to venture out for a cheap healthy lunch and make sure I have food for tomorrow.

I never thought i'd say this either but it's nice to be back in the cold. I never really did like the heat! A few days of sun was enough, now I will be happy to cuddle in front of the fire with a nice cup of hot tea.

More travelling next week but luckily not standby! I won't have much cash for this other upcoming trip but luckily I have a free place to stay. Stay tuned!

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Quick Report from the Dominican
Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hi everyone!

Well, I never made it to Mexico. After two days of trying and 4 failed attempts, my friend and I ended up in Toronto to see if we had more success getting a flight there. Long story short, mexico wasn't an option anymore so the airline rep told us to go look on the departures board and see where else we wanted to go. Since it was already 3pm, most of the departures were for Europe, one for Peru and one for Puerto Plata. Peru would have been great but since we only had a few days it was a bit far to go and the trip would have cost more since there are SO many things to do in Peru. We entertained the thought of going to Europe but I've lived there and been there many times and right now the weather isn't great. We asked what our chances were for Puerto Plata...she said there were 5 seats left and 5 standbys including us so we were in as the flight was boarding in 30mins. So the Dominican it was. I got a first class seat, my friend let me take it and he sit in the back of the plane. I sat next to a friendly girl and we laughed about our first class experience. She had never been on first class and I had (we lucked out on our Montreal-Toronto flight) so technically this was my second. We were treated like gold, had a nice free hot meal, chocolate and all kinds of other luxuries. Oh, how the other half live! :)

When we got here, I spoke to the rep for the company my friend works for. Luckily she is french too so she helped us out and bartered with the cab driver to give us a deal into town. Normally the price was $35US, we paid $20 canadian...woohoo. My spanish is ok, but not good enough to barter. Cab driver took a liking to us and took us to a reasonable hotel in Sosua which includes breakfast, internet, pool access and walking distance to the beach. We spent $80 a night as opposed to the $35 a night I had booked in Mexico but sadly this place is touristy and even the rep said we'd be lucky if we got anything under $100 last minute. I've been a bit sick since we got here but have managed to do the beach thing and a little shopping.

My friend and I shop at the grocery store for either lunch or dinner, we only eat out once a day but find the cheapest spots around and end up ordering appetizers.

When we got here, my friend was worried about getting back and I also had to get back to work. Luckily, there is a flight tomorrow which is only once a week back to where I live!! THere are 6 first class seats available, which means another luxury ride back and the time zone is the same so no jetlag either. My hubby will pick us up at the airport at 7pm and I will get a good nights sleep & back to work Thursday.

Stay tuned for more............

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Off to Mexico, no blog for a week!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The day has finally come! I am off to Montreal this evening, then Mexico in the morning assuming we make it on the flight with our standby passes. *crossing fingers*

I will be mailing a letter & gift card to my sweetie so he can get a nice surprise while I am gone. I also made a sale on etsy.com and have to ship that out today as well.

After work, I will head down the street to pick up my paycheck and send the mail, then off to go home and finish up packing.

I will be making a nice sit down dinner tonight, probably a veggie sheppard's pie which is easy to prepare. No time for baking so there won't be dessert but I do have some dark organic chocolate on hand!

Hope everyone has a frugal week, I will try to report back with some good frugalt travel tips upon my return, assuming I stick to a strict budget while I am gone (still planning to cook in the communal kitchen where we are staying!)

If you're going anywhere in the world, try this website for cheap accommodations:
http://www.hostelbookers.com (I get a free $5 international phonecard when I book on there)

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My trip & etsy clothing
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I just spent 30mins writing my blog and it disappeared! mmmm. I've never had that happen before. darn...

Ok, one more day til I fly out to Montreal, then hopefully if we get on the mexico flight thursday i'll be sitting in the sun thursday afternoon! *crossing fingers*. My friend showed up last night to spend a few days here before we head out. I can't wait! Still having issues packing because I dug out my summer clothes and can't decide what I want to take. We're not checking luggage so I'll have to make some decisions and I also need a few cold weather outfits just in case we get stuck in Montreal for an extra day. We'll stay at my mom's tomorrow night and she'll drive us to the airport Thursday morning! My friend will purchase some pesos at the bank today...

I just received the skirt I bought on Etsy.com. Sometimes I kick myself for buying handmade clothes because it's a luxury, but then when I receive it, I'm always so pleased. I'd much prefer buying a few pieces here and there from indie clothing designers for a fair price, then to purchase the same item for the same price from a big corporation (ie: Esprit, Gap, Banana Republic...). I only buy designer stuff from big corporations when I find it at the thrift store. Otherwise, I like to give my money to people trying to make a living doing what they love. Choices right? I included a picture of my latest purchase which was taken from the listing of the seller. It's made of hemp muslin and silk screened & dyed with enviro friendly inks. She also included a lovely piece of obsidian stone with my order and it was wrapped so beautifully too. I wish I could sew! Perhaps this is why I appreciate handmade clothing so much as I realize how much work it is. I was thinking of taking a beginner sewing class, just to learn the basics because at this point I can't even sew a button on! :)

Tonight I'm off to get some sushi with the gift certificate I received for my birthday. I can't wait as I've had a craving for it for a few days now.

I'm tempted to get a mani-pedi after work. I used to get a pedicure every 6 weeks but haven't done that in 4 months now so I could save a little money. I've been trying to do it myself. I'm not very good at it (especially the polishing part!) There is a cheap place down the road from my office. Not sure if I will do it yet, will check finances first! :)

Still can't believe i'm 39 now. I still feel so young. I'm already planning my 40th celebration in San Francisco! (saving those pennies!). I think we're only as young as we feel. People never believe how old I am because of my free spirit (the bright red hair helps too!). I wonder why free spirited behaviour is associated with youth. I think if we were all TRULY happy and followed our hearts, we'd all look  young. I have a lot of freedom in my life and a lot of joy and abundant amount of love around me. No one stops me from doing what I love. I can travel alone or with friends.....my sweetie supports everything and anything I do. I am the luckiest woman in the world!

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Birthday Report, Making Candles & Soap
Monday, February 09, 2009

Well, I must say my birthday turned out so much better than expected! My friend picked me up from work and drove me to my NMT apt which went well. He also gave me 2 AMAZING dark organic chocolate bars (my other obsession!).

My sweetie picked me up when I was done my apt but I was feeling a bit down (Not sure if the treatment brought out emotional stuff but it's possible!) - I was missing my dad too. So I told him I wanted to go straight home. When I got home, he had decorated the dining room with garlands and a happy birthday sign (he has not ever done this since I've known him!), then I see three presents on the table which had been set with candles, placemats, plates and cutlery. He had also purchased some blueberry squares from the bakery as he could not find a vegan cake :) I opened the present, only to find something I had been looking at for a few years! A Keurig coffee machine! You see, I collect coffee contraptions. I have a Saeco which is the main deluxe machine in my house: (http://www.everythingkitchens.com/saeco-RoyalProfessional.htm  (we got it free about 10 years ago), I also have one of the pod  machines:http://www.buyasseenontv.com/images/melita-pic.jpg ,a few french presses and various stovetop contraptions but I don't own a "regular" coffee machine because it doesn't make good coffee :) He bought the carousel to go with it to hold the k-cups and to address my frugal/environmental mind, he also purchase a separate filter so I can put my own grinds or tea! WOW! I put the Keurig in my room upstairs (I have my own separate room with all my crafty junk). Now I can hang out in my room and drink coffee and tea! I also got a few calls, emails....and my friend came from out of town (1 1/2 hrs away) to hang out the next day and take me for lunch. I had a blast! I didn't go out though, I was feeling rather relaxed and wasn't in the mood for any kind of bar scene, plus I'm leaving in a few days and need every cent I can get :)

Sunday I spent almost the entire day making soap and beeswax candles. I bought beeswax in bulk at the farmers market (the size of a 2L milk container) and used almost all of it. I also made Lavender Patchouli Soap and Carrot Orange Soap (I used some organic carrot juice from the market). Both turned out amazing! I did hot process soap so I was able to cut them and package them the same day. I used tiny paper bags and some leftover stickers I had. Looks really homemade! I also used craft paper to wrap around my beeswax pillars. These will be for birthday gifts throughout the year! Now I just have to make some bath salts :)

After shaving the two batches of soap to make the bars smooth, I used the shavings with a little water and let it soak for a few hours, then i melted it down for a few minutes and poured it into a container. This gave me another 6 bars of soap, just from scraps!I I will call this one "Mystery Soap"

I liked the way it turned out, so if anyone out there makes soap, here is my recipe for the carrot one: (this can be done cold process but I used the hot process method as I wanted it to be ready in a week)

Carrot Orange Soap

10oz Palm Oil

16oz Coconut Oil

8oz Olive Oil

1 oz Shea Butter

1 oz Cocoa Butter

10oz cold liquid (I used 8 oz organic carrot & 2 filtered water)

5.4oz lye (sodium hydroxide)

15ml orange essential oil

Hope everyone had a frugal weekend! My friend is showing up tonight for a few days then we'll go to Mexico! Will make a nice dinner tonight, possibly some veggie sheppard's pie. :)

 

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Birthday!
Friday, February 06, 2009

Well, today is my birthday and sadly it started off a bit shakey...woke up late, realized that "ms.monthly"  decided to make an appearance (gee thanks!), no time for breakfast, late for work, label machine broke at work (but was later fixed) and I almost fell on ice...but that was just the first hour this morning! I told myself not to get disgruntled about it and put out some positive energy hoping nothing else would go wrong.

You see, I have little expectations on my birthday even though I do love it. I've just had bad luck with it most years; people forgetting, not getting any calls or emails, no presents, having to make my own cake, the day going by without anything good happening.....but still each year I hope for a good one. Last year was good but my dad had died a few weeks earlier and I was in a sour mood. My friend had organized a surprise party with a few close friends that lived in town and i had a homecooked dinner. I just remember not feeling festive, even though the idea was wonderful. Needless to say, even though in the back of my mind I hope for greatness, usually that's not the case on this day. LOL

A few astrologers said 2009 would be a great year for Aquarians and a few intuitives told me the same thing at a personal level for myself....so why not believe in good news? When my boss showed up, he handed me a gift certificate to my fave sushi place. I know he paid this out of his own pocket and not "company" money so this meant so much more to me! I logged into my email at 8:30am and I already had about 10 messages on facebook of birthday wishes, increasing to about 20 a few hours later. Then my phone buzzed a few times....two friends and mom wishing me well on my birthday. It was before noon before all of this happened and to be honest, I was a little perplexed. Why ,all of a sudden is everyone remembering?

I know my friend is going to show up here anyime now after he writes his exam. Not sure what he's planned, but he's really good with things like birthdays so I'm excited to see what he has up his sleeve. My sweetie tries really hard, he knows how much this means to me, but he also knows that I don't like gestures that are unoriginal: let's just say I am very anti flowers/jewelry/perfume and I know he loves me that way (his mom is the same!). I am by no means a typical woman! I've actually been referred to as a "femi-nazi", my dad used to call me that and found my radical antics amusing and I could tell he was proud of himself for raising a strong woman with even stronger opinions. haha 

I like feeling special, but not by someone giving me expensive silly gifts. I don't know how women can be happy with a dozen roses as a gift...that's just too darn easy to do, just whip out your wallet and fork out some cash. The only people that are/were allowed to give me flowers are my parents...or my friend who is a florist because he designs the bouquets himself. I'm also not fond of chivalry, i just want to be treated normal :) So imagine knowing all this about me, then trying to figure out what to do for me? hahaha. It's a challenge, I know.

The only thing I REALLY like to have on my birthday is a cake, and i usually have to make it myself because I don't know anywhere that sells vegan cakes (sometimes I wish I lived out west or in a bigger city). My sweetie buys non-vegan ones and I usually have a small piece  because I know he means well. Knowing work has been overly busy and hellish lately for him, it's doubtful that he'll run home at 3pm and start baking. I'm actually curious if he's going to do anything, but I'm not counting on it. I have a doctors apt at 4pm and he said he'd pick me up afterwards. My guess is that he'll ask me where I want to eat (or what I wanna eat if we decide to do take out) and that's usually what happens. But I am determined to have a cake...like every year! So even if I have to bake it myself, that's ok :)

It's only 3pm here now and I'm getting ready to leave work soon! Will let you all know how the rest of the day/evening goes. Oh, and I treated myself to lunch out ($3 indian food!). Even on my birthday, I like to  be frugal.... :)

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SPCA, Food & Making Non-Dairy Milks
Thursday, February 05, 2009

I didn't make it to yoga last night as my friend wanted me to come to the SPCA to pick up his cat with him! I was delighted! While all the paperwork was being settled, i danced with the kitty to Ella Fitzgerald which was playing on the radio at the shelter. I conversed with the other kitties, making sure they were all getting a little attention :) It was nice to see how busy it was, i can't imagine why people would get an animal from a breeder or a petstore considering there are so many unwanted and abandoned animals out there and who wants to give money to the  puppy mills??  If I had money I'd run my own shelter for sure. I never wanted chilren as I've never had that instinct to have them or be drawn to them at all,  but I've always had a soft spot for animals, I will always have them in my life. As my friends know, i'll stop for every animal I see on the street and pet them or talk to them. LOL. I would love a few more cats but my sweetie cleans the litter and he said two is enough..darn :( I am hoping when I retire, I'll be living in the country and I'll have lots of animals then.

I didn't spend any money yesterday, not even a dime. woohoo. I get paid today and will put more money on my credit card, it's coming down fast! I also found out that I won't be a temp anymore as of the end of this month. My job is hiring me casually for a few months with a REAL salary ($10 more an hour than what I make now!). So my bills will be getting paid off a lot more quickly. :D So that's good news. I dont like getting used to extra money sometimes because this contract will most likely end in the spring. Let's hope I'll get a good contract in the summer. I finally feel like bills are coming down and we're making headway. I have two trips this month so I have to make sure not to overdo it financially. The good news is that the two friends I am taking these trips with need to be frugal too :)

I've read a little about soy lately, i suppose too much of it isn't good for you (seems like nothing is good for you these days!), so I decided to make my own nut/seed milks for my oatmeal in the morning instead of using soymilk. Right now I have cashew milk in the fridge, i just soaked 1/2 cup cashews for several hours then put them in a blender with 2 cups of filtered water. mmmmm. After tomorrows breakfast I'll have none left, so my next project is sunflower seed milk! Same idea, 1/2 cup soaked then two cups water. I don't sweeten it as I use mine for oatmeal but you can easily add a tsp of honey and a pinch of salt to it. I only make small batches as the milk won't last more than maybe 5 days.

Tonight we're having corn pasta (gluten,wheat free & so tasty!) with pesto that i made using organic basil, rice parmesan, olive oil, and walnuts. I can't wait. I'm going to throw in a chopped  up tomato in the pasta as well.

I still have my free birthday Boston Pizza pasta leftover which I will eat for lunch (might even be enough for two lunches!). mmmmm. Tomorrow is my actual birthday, so let's hope I can find some good freebies in town!

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A few Valentine's Ideas
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Since my sweetie and I don't do the whole Valentine's thing but I DO like to write about it in my zines, I constantly do research to find fun and easy things to make and do for those who do celebrate. I do like to give fun gifts to friends though a few have told me not to because they are very anti-valentine even though I do something for fun. haha. Oh well! (most of my friends are male anyway!)

I stumbled upon a few ideas, not necessarily Valentine's themed but I thought this would be nice to give to female friends (or male friends who like a little colour on their lips! sure why not??) Petroleum Jelly is not vegan but they do sell vegan petroleum jelly at healthfood stores so you may use that as well.

Coloured Lip Gloss

2 tbs of petroleum Jelly
few shavings of beeswax
10 drops of food flavouring (not extract, make sure it's flavouring)
1/2 stick lipstick for color. (I like to use a more neutral one like a peach or lightish pink, not everyone can wear really dark colours, you can use one you don't wear or get one at a dollarstore)

Melt the jelly, lipstick and beeswax on low in a microwave and make sure not to overheat. Stir and pour into (preferably) tiny glass jars or even a recycled film canister (yes they still exist!, I get mine at walmart) The dollarstore also has small containers in their craft section. Let cool, then label! You can also use chocolate chips instead of the lipstick, i saw a recipe like this somewhere, this makes a nice chocolate gloss..mmmm

Mailing a Love Letter, Snail mail!

All anyone seems to get in the mail these days are bills, junk mail and flyers. Who gets old fashioned hand written letters anymore? We all email each other these days!  I came up with this idea beacuse I am going to be away with my friend Jake in Mexico for Valentines day. Again, sweetie doesn't care about that day but I know he'll miss me so here is what I did: I wrote him a letter, then made a fun list of 10 things I love about him (some were funny and cheezy because that's how we are). I will purchase him a gift card for his favourite pizza place (he tends to forget to eat all the time..he's slim but loves pizza!) and wrote that I didn't want him to forget to eat which is why I included the gift card. Of course you can include anything like a photo, calling card (if you are not in the same city) or anything relevant. I will be mailing it Wednesday (as I am leaving Wed night) to his workplace (he rarely checks the mailbox  at home so sending it to his work insures that he'll get it!) Most people don't expect a handwritten letter in the mail, so this could be fun and inexpensive.

Rose Plants planted in Heart Shaped Thrift Vase.

I had a friend a few years back who gave me this great idea which is included in one of my earlier zines. He was a starving student at the time and purchased a tiny rose plant he found at the grocery store (I think he paid $3 for it), then went to the Thrift Store and found a small heart shaped vase for 25 cents. He planted the rose in the vase and if I can remember correctly he may have even put a ribbon around the vase. Too bad his girlfriend at the time didn't appreciate it though (she was a little materialistic). Personally i thought it was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I always tell people to purchase plants instead of flowers. They last longer! Right now I am seeing tulips in pots at the grocery store, that would be great too!

Make a Fun Cinnamon Latte

This is something I came up with once. We're lucky because we have a fancy machine that frothes milk and makes espresso but you don't need one to make this. Get a to-go cup ready, Steam some milk maybe 2/3 cup (any kind: soy, rice, almond...) you can do this in the microwave or on the stove. If you have one of those frothers (i've seen these hand ones at the dollarstore, tiny thing that frothes milk) use that. . Pour one ounce of espresso (or VERY strong coffee) at the bottom of the cup, then pour the milk on top and drop a few of those cinnamon candies inside. You can also sprinkle with red coloured sugar (sugar and food colouring), cinnamon sugar or red sprinkles. Makes a great gift if your honey has to work in the morning!

If I think of more ideas I will post them :O)

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Free birthday stuff, NMT and a failed dinner
Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The weather was so terrible here yesterday that i got to leave the office at noon! Only problem with that is that I don't get paid for hours don't work. My boss knows this so he put me on call to give me an extra hour of work. *thanks boss!!!*

I decided to make that casserole using the crescent roll package but apparently i messed it up. My sweetie got home late so I wasn't sure what to do and improvised. I failed to roll it out and just stuck the pieces in the casserole as a crust. I put in 4 cups of frozen veggies, a small package of soy ground and some pizza sauce I had leftover from pizza making night. I baked it for about 30mins at 350F. I didn't really like the taste so I only had a few bites of it, then decided to eat guacamole and a few carrots for dinner instead. My sweetie ate it but we both agreed not to make it again. LOL. I just think i could have spiced it up better or perhaps added a sauce. For dessert, I cut up one of the apple pies we purchased (3 for $2.39!!!!) in 4 pieces (this is a really small pie, maybe 6 inches around). We both just had a small piece and I took another piece with me to work. I think the pie is meant for two servings but 1/4 of the pie was enough for one serving I found.

I got my free coupon from Boston Pizza for a free  birthday meal. I got it several days ago and i have a week to  use it (last day I can use it is my birthday which is Friday). When I saw the food come, I couldn't believe the portion!! That's how much pasta i'd make for 4 people!! So I had about 1/4 of it and packed up the rest to take with me for lunches. So I got a $15 meal free which will also turn into a few free lunches! It was a nice liguini with sundried tomatoes, spinach and pomodoro sauce. I rarely eat pasta because it makes me feel really bloated. Thank goodness I have yoga tonight!

My NMT treatment seems to really be working even though you're not supposed to see too many changes after one session. My allergy cough that I always have really badly in the morning was maybe 70% less than it usually is and I am not clearing my throat as much either. My arthritis is acting up a bit but nothing out of the ordinary.  I go back friday for another treatment and will probably need 6 in total which will cost me about $400. Insurance won't cover it but she's giving me a discount. *phew*. If this works, i'll never have to take allergy stuff or get surgery for my arthritis. Well worth the money investment! I don't understand why people don't try alternative medicine first, it is much less invasive! I never let doctors give me pills or inhalers for anything. Usually our bodies are just not balanced because of trauma or emotional issues which bring on disease. I'll keep everyone posted on my healing process, wouldn't it be great if my arthritis and allergies were gone for good!? I could finally attempt to wear stiletto heals which i have never done! :)

I was going to make pesto pasta for dinner tonight as I made a nice organic pesto with rice parmesan "cheeze" and walnuts. Boy does it smell good!! But given the fact that I had pasta today already, I will opt for something lighter, maybe soup.

Hope everyone is having a good week, work is quiet so I am doing a lot of writing and research for my zine.

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Dinner Ideas & Holistic Cat Food
Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Last night I made a wonderful Sweet & Sour dish with TVP chunks and rice. It was easy and took me about 30 minutes from beginning to end (as tvp needs to soak for 10 mins when you rehydrate it). I defrosted one of the mini apple pies we purchased at the fruit & veggie store but forgot to make it. It's now sitting in the fridge and have no idea how long I'm supposed to bake this thing. No instructions on it but it looks like it was baked and just needs to be warmed. Maybe tonight! :)

Tonights dinner is actually my honey's idea. I guess his dad used to make this back in Holland when he was a kid. We bought  a name brand crescent roll tube, I think it was about $1.50 (to make your own). He said all we have to do is carefully roll it out into a casserole pan, then stuff with veggies and whatever else we want to put in there, then fold the extra dough over and bake. This basically makes a gigantic croissant filled with yummy stuff! I suppose if you don't put spices in there, you could pour gravy on top of it. I will be using a mix of frozen veggies and some soy ground, as well as a few spices. Will try to post a recipe tomorrow.

My friend and I ventured over to Walmart, I had to purchase some holistic cat food. They have a cheaper brand there than at my grocery store and it's made in Canada so it's nice to to know I am supporting smaller companines :) I've been feeding my cats holistic food for a long time and they are never sick. One of my cats is almost 14 years old and apart from the fact that he moves a bit slower, he's very playful and full of life. My 7 year old cat still acts like a kitten and is full of energy. He's never been sick. I've heard that good pet food is imperative for animals, so even when money is tight we still buy it because it's like health insurance for our cats. Once we switched when I wasn't working a couple of years ago, and my older cat deleloped crystals which are very painful. The vet said that bad cat food can do this, and this is what happened. Boy did i feel guilty! So if you can, feed your animals holistic food and you'll avoid a lot of vet bills and will have a healthier animal. It's like humans, if we eat junk and bad food that is not nutritious and healthy, we will develop things like diabetes and other diseases. if we fuel our bodies properly, this highly reduces our chances of being ill. Of course we have to take care of our minds too, so taking some time to ourselves and being happy helps :) Here is a list of cruelty free pet food: http://www.iamscruelty.com/notTested.asp scroll down a bit to see it. You can also click to get the UK version of this list.

The weather is pretty bad today, so I might be able to go home from work earlier today *wish my luck*. If I get to go home, I'll start a batch of soap!

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Author:
freya1970 (Contact)
Halifax, NS Canada
About Me:

I am a 39 year old woman living with my sweetie of 13 years and two cats. I love photography, yoga, indie film, vegan cooking and baking, making all kinds of things like zines, soap, candles... I love to create using recycled materials as well.

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