Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Greece Preparations

This is the view from the 9 room small Greek hotel we are staying at on the Island of Santorini for the first three nights of the trip.  I went to Greece about 20 years ago when I was a travel agent on a Greek Island cruise.  The few hours I spent there made such an impression that I wanted to one day take my future husband there for a few days.  Fast forward 20 years and I will be taking hubby there for his 55th Birthday!  This hotel is considered 2 star but 5 star in all its reviews.  Something to take note of - the star rating for hotels is based on amenities, not on their service.  This hotel is on the side of the cliff - caldera view and hundreds less than some of the shi shi boutique hotels there.  We still have to pay up but I did loads of research and this one is priced right, has the right view and includes a massive breakfast each day and a bottle of wine and fruit on arrival.  It also has a small kitchenette.  You only get those kind of things in family run hotels - only five months left of waiting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Electricity Crisis

Use - it - up Squares
A friend posted on Facebook today that they just received a $600 electricity bill.  They just bought their home this year and have faced the coldest weather in recent history the area has seen.  It is 2000 ft higher  than our home, we live in the valley and they live halfway up a mountain.  When we get rain they get snow.  When we get snow they get massive amounts of snow.  They have a wood stove, primary gas heat and electric baseboard heating in their basement.  She is in total shock - that amount is for two months of electricity.   I fear they may not have asked about how much previous bills were when they bought the home.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Raise

So today is payday in the living rich on the cheap household.  We officially gave ourselves a $1000 a month raise today so that more funds are paid out by the company and less corporate tax is paid.  After tax that equates to about $750 more per month in our household.  Our expenses are pretty much the same so where is the money going?  Based on our 2017 budget more into the medical fund and more into the travel fund.  Those are two areas where I truly expect to pay a few thousand more each year from here on out.  I am 47 and hubby turns 55 in June and our medical expenses including dental and vision care seem to creep up each year.  We pay $150 per month for basic healthcare and pay out of pocket for all vision, dental and pharmaceuticals.  Last year I ended up getting a crown and hubby had day surgery for something that was not covered by basic medical (we wanted a specific test) so covered those out of pocket.  As we age I expect that bill to rise.  I have done the math and no, at this point in time due to pre-existing medical conditions it would not pay to buy a premium healthcare plan as they exclude or limit most pre-existing medical conditions.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Smoothie Madness

It snowed yet again overnight, for the 8th or 9th time this year.  For somewhere that rarely gets snow we have had a cold snowy winter this year.  Buddy loves it though and took advantage of burning around in it this morning.

It only snowed a couple of inches but if you don't shovel it same day here and the temperature drops a degree or two it sets up like cement so shoveling the driveway and sidewalk was my exercise today.  Hubby was supposed to fly out to Toronto today...but when I checked him in online yesterday we saw his connecting flight was canceled and in order to get him there at a decent time today we had to have him fly out last night and overnight in Calgary.  Our client will absorb the extra expense for the hotel but at least he has now arrived in Toronto and we no longer have to worry about the weather situation fouling up flights.  It was a good thing that the flight was canceled so far in advance as his flights would not have gone smoothly today due to another storm set to hit here this afternoon.  Likely I will need to repeat the shoveling routine tomorrow. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bonus! The Good Kind of Freebies

I am doing a fast post today for two freebies I've recently discovered.  2017 is the 150th Anniversary of Canada's Confederation and Canadian Parks that are normally charged for are free all year!  You may order your free annual park pass at the Parks Canada website here.  I've tried to research to see if you even need a pass to get free entrance but that is not clear.  I've ordered mine just in case.  It does appear that foreigners are permitted to order/get free access as well.  So if you are reading this from outside of Canada consider visiting - we have a ton of great parks.  Some of my favorite parks are Banff, Jasper and Elk Island (near Edmonton) in Alberta and Pacific Rim (Tofino) in BC.  The Pacific Rim park had some of the access closed on our trip to Ucluelet and Tofino last summer so they were permitting free entrance at that time and it saved us over $50 in fees.  If you are Canadian now is the time for a family road trip for a vacation or even for the day!

***Edited to add:  Saw on the news last night you do need the park pass to gain free entrance so it must be ordered.  They are not permitting free entrance at the gate without the pass.  When you order print your confirmation out in case it takes several weeks (expect it will).

The second freebie is a grocery app called FLIPP that my friend Jane over at Crabapple Landing clued me in on.  It has all your local flyers and you can put in any grocery item on your list and the flyers that have that item listed will show up with the price.  It also recognizes if there is a coupon to be used for that item (*not all coupons will show up, only certain ones like P&G).  I used it for the first time on a shopping trip yesterday and it was so much easier than the way I've been using flyers up until now.  It is available both in USA and Canada.  I used my iphone to download the app but it appears they have android apps as well.  I didn't try it but if you google FLIPP you can likely access the same information on your computer if you don't have  a smart phone.  I found the  cheapest place in town for items like toilet paper, ground beef, and who had a sale on bread.  It works in cities and small towns like mine.  Now I can make my list for items I actually need to buy and if I am near that store can pop in and pick up those items.  It takes a lot of the work out of saving money!

Other than working like dogs this week for our business Buddy rolled in something really gross right at bed time last night and the best we could do is wet him down with a cloth so we could all go to bed.  On the agenda today is a bath - ironically he just had one on Tuesday when he went to the groomers so not something I was planning on as we usually only bath him once a week.  Why is it that dogs like to roll in smelly things!?!

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 - A Clean Slate

Although I don't make New Years resolutions and January 1 is just another day I always feel like the new year is full of possibilities and like a blank chalkboard ready to be filled with adventures.  We had a lovely but tiring Christmas and I am ready to get back to our regular life groove.  Today is our last day of sleeping in and tomorrow appointments start up again with clients.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


We were supposed to be taking this week off from the company but that didn't happen due to the large amount of clients we have right now.  I feel blessed that we don't have to worry about cash flow for the next 6 months but would have liked a little more down-time.  We cleaned the carpet in the bedroom and office, not because we are having company but because it needs to be done and this is the very best time to do it.  We share a carpet cleaner with Mom (wouldn't have worked on our area rug as too heavy and large to find somewhere to dry it) and it comes in so handy.  Yesterday I cleaned the bathrooms and today I will do a final vacuum/swipe down of the rest of the floors in the house.  Our fridge, freezer and cupboards are incredibly full - why do I feel like I have to have hoards of food in the house at Christmas?  Yes, we have 2 kids coming but they don't eat that much, even though they are adults now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Back at Home - Even More Snow

We are back from our trip to Alberta working like crazy to get caught up with life and work before the kids fly in.  The photo above was taken today in downtown Comox - one of the largest Holly trees I've ever seen, absolutely beautiful with its bright red berries .

My hummingbirds are fine, they must be a tougher variety because there are quite a lot around town who have stuck out the cold snowy weather.  Mom said they made special announcements on TV and radio to ensure that people put feeders out if they don't already have them and to bring them in at night so they don't freeze.  Mom took care of both her birds and ours while we were gone so I didn't have to worry about them.  It was touch and go as to whether I would make it to Edmonton on my flight out as another storm dropped 6 inches of snow that morning  and I had to shovel out our driveway just to go to the airport.  All flights had been cancelled  right up until my mid-afternoon flight as they had a heck of a time getting all the snow off the runway.  After we left town another foot of snow dropped.  Thankfully, Mom experienced no power outages and our neighbors kindly shoveled our driveway otherwise she would have been snowed in.  We are having very odd weather, it was minus 8 here this morning, but beautiful and sunny. It won't be getting any colder and it should be like this for a couple of days.  The snow is likely going to stick around for a few weeks but tis the season so we will not complain and enjoy it as it is so much more bearable than the prairies.  It has never been so cold or snowed so much here since we moved so I guess we have been spoiled.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The "We Got Snow!" Edition

Yes, after a 2 year hiatus snow has once again graced our yard.  I was a bit nervous about it interrupting our travel plans as hubby flies out to Alberta this afternoon and I on Friday but roads and runways are clear so we can relax.  Normally I am not that concerned about snow, living for 30 years in snow laden Alberta - but our Pacific coast snow is completely different.  It falls extremely wet and fast, it can snow several inches in a half an hour and therefore it breaks trees and causes power disruptions.  It often freezes quickly like cement so unlike Alberta where it is relatively easy to shovel it often has to be chipped off pavement or salt poured on it so that you can drive or walk on sidewalks and roads.  I tried to buy some salt but every where in town is sold out so I chipped most of it off the sidewalk yesterday.  People don't know how to drive in it and many here don't buy appropriate tires for their car thinking it won't snow.  We just bought snow tires about a month ago so are good to go.  Not cheap but worth the cost for peace of mind.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Christmas Stuff Found Edition

I promised this post a while ago so without further delay here is the Christmas Stuff Found Edition - all found at the thrift store except the elf that Mom gave me.
Holt Howard Candle Holder $1
 My Holt Howard collection has grown to 3 with the addition of this little candle holder.  I found two but one was chipped so I sold it (for $3 - even chipped).  They are worth about $15-20 on the resale market but this one is a keeper.