Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Playing in the dirt


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!






20 comments:

  1. I love those daisies! You're right, decent pots are a great investment, I bought a couple in the same shade of blue after visiting Yves St Laurent's garden in Marrakesh 23 years ago and they're still going strong three house moves later!!
    Mmm! Greek food. Jon loves souvlaki and gyros. I think we're going to Greece this Summer, it's been 10 years since our last visit, well overdue! xxx

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    1. I have a thing for blue pottery, also own 8 oval ones but those were dead cheap and from Vietnam but have that same look. Woohoo! I think we are going to love Naxos, no cruiseships and reasonable prices. Less tourists. I would love down the road to explore more of the little islands, so many and they are all so different. I wish we had cheap charters to Greece like you guys do....at least I got a sale though.

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. I guess I know what I will be making for dinner one night over the next couple of weeks.
    When you go to the book sale please share what you got. I am always looking for some new titles to read.

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    1. I will! It's a great booksale, they have a gigantic warehouse and even if you go on the very last day always find loads.

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  3. I just bought Death Comes to Pemberley at Ollie's(Good Stuff Cheap!). I've never read any PD James yet.

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    1. Really good British mysteries - I've read about half of what she has written now.

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  4. We just got another "fix" at our favorite garden center. Wishing you perfect weather for your weekend barbecue.

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    1. Thanks Mitchell! It will proceed no matter the weather as the BBQ is in a covered alcove on the side of the house. Good friends will make the evening

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  5. I'll be trying that chicken. Retirement savings is not one size fits all. Thanks for sharing your strategies.

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    1. Definitely try the chicken. I love the zested lemon part. If you love garlic use 4 cloves, if you don't consider using a little bit less. Even though it smells really garlicky in your fridge it tames down once you've cooked it

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  6. That is one of our favorite dinners, been making it for years, but next time I will add the lemon zest. When we go out for greek we order about 5 or six appies that we do not make at home. We now make a war wonton soup that is so good there is no need to order it at a restaurant. That helps keep the budget down.

    Our nursery opens on Friday so I will be doing my pots soon, first we better do our taxes, then my drivers licence. Hopefully the sun will shine soon. Cheers

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    1. The lemon zest really adds something, I used a fresh lemon and not bottled lemon juice. It does need to warm up some before I plant much more. That plus stop raining!

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  7. Your financial strategies are exactly what we do except for the RRSP investment part. My Hubby started to take his CPP at 60 also but I was advised by our accountant to pay till I'm 65 which is next May. We pay very little if any taxes once we have completed our returns. We do pay so much per month for the company but don't pay anything personally.

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    1. I take what our accountant says with a grain of salt, he just keeps going on and on about the RRSPs though we only really hire him to do our Corporate Taxes as we have a Canadian Corporation they are more complicated. Once I discovered that our salaries count as a company expense I increase/decrease them depending on cashflows as the hope is by the end of the year there is not much in the way of corporate taxes due except our regular quartertly GST and then year end GST reconciliation. In our case there is a large age gap between us of 8 years so we plan a little differently than others. Hubby has also seen so many colleagues and family members die young, another cousin just died at 60. He doesn't want to consider waiting on collecting what he paid into for so many years. We can always stuff that money into his TFSA if we don't need it.

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  8. Love that pretty pink potted daisy. Yes, Home Depot is a really bad place for garden addicts. I try and buy perennials and tell myself they are an investment because they come back every year. lol.

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    1. I try and limit myself to greenery and not stuff. I hear what you are saying about the perennials. I have full flowerbeds except 1 that I stuff with annuals in a different pattern each year. All our bushes are flowering so that is zero investment year after year. I usually limit spending to $60-75 a year on flowers, food plants not included (those go in grocery category).

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  9. I spent a fortune on flower pots/vases - until I discovered garage sales over here. Now I have a beautiful selection. Will be off to the garden centre on Sunday for a little retail therapy as I really do need to change things around - but I've got to get the back terrace pressure sprayed as it gets pretty mucky with all the snow we get. And thanks for introducing me to Amanda's blog. I have family coming over at the beginning of May and have been planning recipes but it will be nice to change things up a little. Anna

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    1. It gets mucky here too, that was part of last weekends cleanup as we get a green scum from snow and rain on the patio. Then we had to spray moss killer on our lawn as it is so wet moss prospers in the winter. Don't you love garage sales?

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  10. Your pink flowers making me drool. Few containers are arranged in my limited space. There were some plans to do food plants on the balcony. the cold weather is preventing me from placing anything on the balcony.

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    1. Yeah, I really wanted to plant tomatoes but way too cold yet. Will give it a few more weeks. I want to grow more food this year too - groceries are bloody expensive!

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