March was an extremely rainy month here with temperatures lower than normal and April is looking much the same - except for Saturday. We had sunshine and hubby and I went to Home Depot (aka garden crack house). I spent $35 on a few flowers including the mini daisy above ($8 for that plant). I have owned that blue glazed pot for 20 years though, you buy quality pots and they last a really long time. I can't show all of the work we did as didn't take any pictures that day - and it is raining again today so you only get the shots of things that are protected from the elements.
My salad greens are starting to sprout - the one warm day helped (12 degrees celcius). Thank goodness for that as our local grocery store upped the price on lettuce to $5 a head and our local farm market is not open until late in May.
We had a lovely Easter weekend and although some work was done we managed to do less than other weekends. Rather than having a carb heavy traditional Easter meal we invited Mom over and had a BBQ of chicken souvlaki made from a really great recipe I found on a Rhodes Expat Blog. After marinating the chicken overnight it was so amazing! Like Greek restaurant amazing and definitely a keeper. I only left out one ingredient, fresh mint as it was not available in our grocery store. I could buy a live plant and raise it and likely will for next time. We also had a very good greek salad with feta and berries and cream for dessert. Yes, I had some. Not quite as bad as chocolate but dessert all the same. I didn't take pictures as the meal was devoured quickly by the three of us and I know I have vegan/vegetarian blogging friends who aren't interested in looking at meat :).
Here is the link if you are interested:
AmandaSettle.com - Greek chicken gyros (souvlaki is the same thing without the pita)
I also managed to help Mom file her taxes using the free version of turbotax and also finally filed ours using a paid version because of our investments. Turbotax is still a huge bargain as the free and paid versions are so easy to use and if you actually have to pay for a version there is phone/online help available. I would have filed ours a while ago but was waiting on investment slips then had to set up online banking with the government as they no longer issue refund cheques, only direct deposit. Hubby got back $59 and I got back $109. If you play the tax game right you should always aim at hardly paying or getting anything back, otherwise the government has held/is holding too much of your money. This is easily done in Canada by figuring out early in January what you owe, if anything (guestimate if you have to until all slips are in) and contribute the appropriate RRSPs. We are unlike most of the Canadian population and no longer contribute much to our RRSPs, only the minimum to reduce taxes. Our feeling is that our current tax bracket will likely be maintained until late in life, around age 80. We have large investments both inside and outside our RRSP including dividends. Dividends in Canada are already taxed at a lower percentage, 50% so you get upfront tax savings. Anything you put into an RRSP is taxed at some point and that is when you take it out. They make you start taking it out much earlier than 80, our estimated date of lower income. If your tax bracket isn't going down then likely there is no benefit to putting your money there...make sense? This only works if you have looked at the big picture but as we have zero debt, own our vehicles, house and rental property (where Mom lives) outright we have constant cash-flow, even if we had to shut down our business tomorrow. I am only posting our ideas here for those who might be in a similar situation of having monthly income similar to what they might have in senior years and no debt. Please don't think I am dishing out financial advice because that isn't the case. Hubby is 8 years older than me and is taking Canadian Pension the second he can which is 5 years from now at age 60 (reduced percentage). We can do that and still run our business, even if it is part-time at that point as you used to have to quit your job to collect but no more, those rules have changed. Just an alternate option to what every bank/accountant likes to dish out. RRSPs are not always the best option for storing investments.
I am looking forward to this weekend, we are hosting a BBQ for some friends that I used to work with, two of my very favorite people. Ribs are on the menu that day, hubby makes a mean baby back rib. I am also looking forward to a huge used book sale that runs for a week twice a year here with all money going to charity. At the last sale I walked away with a large bag of my favorite authors for $12. After getting them home I realized one of them was signed by the late British author P.D. James - completely unexpected. Apparently she signed many books so it's not that rare but as we live in Canada and not Britain so unusual for this area.
Have a great week everyone!