Monday, July 26, 2010

Gone Fishing

Well, sort of.  Tomorrow I am going to camp with my work.  I get to do this once or twice a year, and it is a bracing tonic for the spirit to get out of the city and do stuff with the young people I work with.

It is also another 'offline' experience.  My cell is dodgy there and there is no internet, so I will be on hiatus.  After the week of camping, I'm taking off up north to the stepfamily cottage for 3 days of chilling out.  I am looking forward to bonding with my younger sibs who live in Ottawa, seeing my youngest cousin who is less than one year old still.  She's such a baby.  Having some face time with my wife will be amazing.  And, I'm also excited about getting to read the fourth draft of my twin's novel.

gotta run,
xo Tara

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers AGAIN

You may have heard me wax eloquent about the kindness of strangers, when a woman I have still never met gave me her Olympic mitts since I couldn't buy any myself and was going to Vancouver during the winter games.

Here goes again, where I do the same.  A fellow traveller on my recent trip to Newfoundland took a lot of pics with her very nice camera, and when I gave her my card after, she delighted me by sending me a 'smilebox' collection of our whale and iceberg watching, plus some extra snaps of Trina, me wife, and I.   Not sure I can access the solid gold smilebox collection to show a whale pic or two, but here are a few to show how we rode out the Toronto heatwave in Newfoundland style while enjoying whales and icebergs...

And a reminder that a gift of thoughtfulness meant more to me than many a gift of stuff has.  A good note to self when I am gifting to others.

Looking forward to some hardcore downtime this weekend.

xo Tara

Thursday, July 22, 2010

'Many Places I've Travelled, But This is My Home'

This is my grandmother's garden looking out over the bay.  You can see our friend Margaret's cottage just on the right.  The spot I want to carve out a piece of heaven is off to the right on a cliff also overlooking the bay, called Shoal Point.  The brown, flat mountains far left are the Tablelands, a geological wonder and part of the reason Gros Morne National Park was named a UNESCO world heritage site.  They are part of the earth's mantle risen up and apparently that is quite a big deal.  It's a very inspiring location.

Today I put in the kind of working day - at both my jobs - that employers only dream of.  I worked flat out, at both jobs, and really tackled a bunch of nagging tasks, like thinning out files and doing annoying tasks I've been putting off, in some cases for years.  There's a lot more to do, but it sure feels nice.  I feel like I'm taking some of that great clutter busting stuff to the workplace and I can almost feel the chi starting to flow.  I will sleep well tonight.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Feeling Energized

I'm feeling somewhat energized about life, money, and work today, which is nice to be able to report.  There is a slight whiff of change in the air, and I have also been focusing some attention on my goals to do with money.  I have created two ING savings accounts entitled 'Cottage Savings' and 'England Trip' to help us hone in on our goals of a cottage in Newfoundland asap and a trip to England for our Anniversary on November 22nd this year.

This evening I was inspired by the blog Consumption Rebellion.  You may recall I joined her and some others a while back for a No Spend Week.  It was a great experience and it forced me to pay attention to what I mindlessly spend money on, and to realize that by planning, you can spend a lot less.  Of course, you also might end up missing out on impromptu social events that require money when you do a no spend week, but it is a good lesson and a great way to kick start some savings or a change of habits.

This week Consumption Rebellion is doing a new challenge, which is to only spend $50 during her fortnight pay period (on incidentals, i.e.: not including bills and regularly budgeted expenses).  You can check out her progress on her blog.  I am about to revisit my budget to scrimp for ways to hammer out a few more bucks to add to the Cottage and Trip funds.  I will keep you posted on the amounts as they grow.  I only have about 4 months to save for our trip.  The cottage I want to get going on while my Dad still is strong and willing and able to wheel and deal and help build it.  Soon, I will give you an update on my financial picture and what 201 days of not buying anything new has wrought thus far.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010



I'm back in Toronto and of course am readjusting to being in a big city versus a small, Newfoundland community.  I am already full to brim on my to-do list, but wanted to share a bit of my trip with you (besides the icebergs).

These are the socks my wife bought me.  I felt good receiving this souvenir, which I mentioned before was made by our good friend Trina's aunt.  

I also got gifted a lot of other things.  My tote bag for Norris Point's Come Home Year (kind of like a family reunion for a whole community).  My pen/keychain for Come Home Year.  A Gros Morne tank dress.  A Come Home Year sweatshirt.  A Gros Morne hoodie.  It almost became ridiculous.  It became too easy to accept gifts from others.  I think I let my stepmother and mother-in-law do too much for me and was a bit passive about the whole thing.  A year of not buying anything new probably shouldn't result in so much new stuff.  

Some gifts I feel less guilty about are the slippers and dish cloths my nanny knit me.  I also brought home a suitcase full of things I chose to keep from my other nanny (who died in June).  Like this beat up old set of canisters and breadbox she's had my whole life that I capitol L Love.

Some highlights of the rest of my trip include spending time with family, going on the Western Brook Pond boat tour, and most of all, being able to be a part of the Come Home Year parade.  The town probably tripled in population for the festivities, which I got to be a part of the first two days only.  (It goes on until the 27th of July).  On Friday we had some opening ceremony stuff celebrating the 50 year anniversary of the incorporation of the town.  People gave speeches and there was some music.  

On Saturday was the real big deal.  A parade through town by all the families in Norris Point, each carrying a banner.  We marched with my dad, two aunts, two uncles, two baby cousins and their mom, and my nanny - finally convinced to let us push her in the wheel chair - and me.  It was highly tear inducing.  It was such a feel good event, you could not buy that kind of good will and sweetness no matter how much money you had.  It has been very tough to leave.

One of my new/old money goals is a renewed commitment to build a family cottage with my sister in Norris Point.  I will be redirecting some of my savings this year towards that cottage dream.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Wife's Birthday


I'm still in Newfoundland this week.  Since it's my wife's birthday, and in honour of that, I'm wearing a nice pink party dress all day.  She appreciates this and it is the kind of no-new-stuff gift I can give.  I'm also giving her some cash that she will almost certainly spend on 'stuff', but that is within the ground rules.

We were just given slippers and dishcloths from my Nan as an early Christmas gift and my wife bought me a souvenir (up the coast) of handmade slippers knit by our pal, Trina's aunt.  They are so well made my uncle's girlfriend swore they had to be machine knit.  I like supporting the local crafts people's knowledge and labour, but needed to rely on my wife to do the actual buying.

Here is a pic of me enjoying mother nature's gift of my first iceberg.  That was seriously cool.  And there were also lots of whales jumping and flashing tail, if you like that kind of thing :)

xo Tara

Friday, July 9, 2010

Iceberg Hunting

I've had kind of sporadic connection to internet this trip and my cell doesn't work at all on the west coast of Newfoundland, so I'm sort of enjoying being unplugged (most of the time).  Sometimes, it's a nuisance, since I get pretty reliant on my phone.  Ah well. 

I've had my two parent's birthdays since I last wrote.  Dad's was on the 6th.  I wanted to buy him a golf shirt (he's just taken it up and look more like a motorcycle dude than a golfer), but can't due to my buy nothing new year.  In honour of his birthday I slept in until 2pm and then spent a couple of hours making him a giant card with a lot of collage elements - pulling things from magazines. For Mom's birthday on the 8th, I called her and emailed her $50 to do with as she will.  I can't really buy her anything, but I did say in my groundrules that $$$ was acceptable to give.  My wife's birthday is coming up on Monday, so I will be looking for ways to help her feel celebrated without buying anything.

I'm looking forward to the rest of today/this weekend.  We are driving 4 hours up the coast to the tip of the Northern Peninsula, and apparently we may get to take a boat out to see some icebergs.  I've never seen a 'live' one before.  We'll also check out the communities along the coast, some gorgeous, and certainly a lot of them kind of barren and rugged with the tuckamore trees along the water's edge(stunted from the wind off the ocean).  We'll do some touristy things, eat too much and hang out with good friends.  I haven't bought anything but a little bit of food.  Very little.  People have been very generous about feeding us feasts of homemade seafood and other treats.  Around these parts I don't even have to buy drinks, they are liberally supplied by friends and family.  Our Dad's good buddy is the Molson rep, and he 'sponsors' our trips home like they were amphetheatre concerts.

Talk to you soon,

xo Tara

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Boating to Breakfast

Nothing says I'm on vacation like hopping aboard my Dad's boat and riding across the bay to have breakfast in Woody Point.  It is so beautiful here in Norris Point.  I'll have to get a snap or two to share.  We took his boat over and docked it at the Legion, where the hard core patrons were already having their morning beer.  We walked along the adorable waterfront and had breakfast at a sweet little spot with a gorgeous view of mountains and water in both directions.  It's so warm I sat on the front of the boat on the way back.  I am going golfing with the lads shortly.  I won't be playing.  I'm going to the be the driver and just go along for the company, the walk/golf cart ride and the view.  And, I just spoke to my Aunt who is lending me her house for our two week trip, which is amazing.  I feel so lucky, and now I know for sure we can have a nice cheapskate holiday here, thank goodness.  I'm trying really hard to stay caught up financially, and travelling can be pricey without having to pay for accommodation.  With my Aunt's free house (she's away all summer) we get a little breathing room, can buy groceries for ourselves to eat a bit healthier and eat out less, and have just enough space to ourselves, but still be right across the street from family. 

xo Tara

Friday, July 2, 2010

Second Hand Shoes Fall in My Lap

I am a few hours into my Newfoundland trip and I already have a brand new, used pair of shoes.  I lucked out because our neighbour bought two pairs of sneakers and one was accidentally a size too big for her.  I am delighted because she charged me $6 and they fit me perfectly and have only been worn half a minute by her.  And, as you all know, and shoes are the yucky-est thing to buy used, so this works very well for me.

I was the first one out in tonight's card game.  We gamble a lot as a family.  We each put in $5 for the cards, so the pot is $45, but no one was having mercy on me although I just got home, since I just won $800 off them.  We had fresh fish (cod + cod tongues) for dinner and did some golfing in the garden.  We practiced chipping into a kind of of target basket and I got 2 balls in the basket.  I was so thrilled with myself.  I haven't golfed in about 18 years, and this is a new family thing for us.

Tomorrow, we'll be hiking the hill, trying out my stepmother's new walk-run routine, and getting some fresh salmon going for dinner.  Yay.

xo Tara

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pride Stuff

My wife's comedy show last night was so great.  A full house, a great energy, and everyone laughing and smiling all night.  Great chemistry between her and her comedic partner, Mae.  Such a nice event for my one night only Pride party.  I'm off to Newfoundland for my summer vacation tomorrow so I will be missing the big weekend with the marches and parades etc.  But, I will be doing my part to 'gay it forward' as she says, by introducing my mother-in-law (she and my wife fly to Newfoundland to join me on Sunday) to my grandmother.  We've never done a trip or even an overnight with my mother-in-law, so it will be an adventure. 

Re: No New Stuff:  I'm still doing well SIX MONTHS IN!  Nothing new bought and yesterday I wore the skirt I've been thinking of tossing, because it fit like a sausage casing about the waist, but instead I stitch ripped out half the flat pleats.  Now it sits sweetly, like a bell.  And strangers were coming up to me and saying how much they liked it.  The book 'Closet Control' my mom got me in May for my birthday has definitely been an inspiration in the playing around with clothes to good effect category.  I'm a bit bummed because I missed Monday's 30% off at Value Village and they are having another on Saturday, the day after I leave.  I still have not gone on my $200 spree to Value Village from my Laing Family weight loss challenge win money.  But, the $200 has been set aside specifically for that. 

I'm just working on packing now, and have actually put my own suitcase inside a big, old one of my wife's.  The extra one I plan to use to bring back some things from my grandmother's house.  I gathered a few practical and sentimental things that I felt I would use and did not have space my last trip back after the funeral.  I'm excited to be doing a holiday trip, but also know I'll have some sad moments when I can't go see Nanny anymore, or go to her empty house.  I should thank my lucky stars I still have one grandmother living, so that's just what I'll do.  Thanks stars.

xo Nighty Night