Friday, 29 March 2013

Eating well on a budget

I think I've told y'all before that Mr. Ford & I are vegetarians.

As a rule, we also don't buy dairy & only bring in the free range eggs. That sh*t aint cheap. 
And every time we go grocery shopping I am torn between what I want & whats cheap, what I feel more satisfied eating & what is cheap, what is better for me & what's cheap. Sigh.

Here is a list of tips for eating well on a budget:

Fresh options

I wouldn't suggest this is for everyone, but it's pure magic for my family.

Fresh Options is a local company working with organic & whenever possible, local growers to supply Winnipegers with a weekly, by-weekly or even monthly delivery of fresh fruits & vegetables.
They also have a lengthily list of other add-ons such as eggs, breads & even local chemical free flower bouquets.

There are 3 size 'boxes' to choose from & are somewhat pricey for a cheapskate like me, but this is one of those very few things in life that I'm willing to shell out more up front for because I feel I'm benefiting from hidden cost-savers & health benefits.

The boxes come to my house every Wednesday between 18:00 & 21:00. This means I don't have to go trekking out to god-knows-where organic market to buy them.

They also come with a varied seasonal selection. This forces me to look up recipes for fruits & vegetables that I haven't tried before or that I usually don't buy because of the price.

The last amazing benefit is having a fridge full of fresh fruits & vegetables ultimately pinches my economical nerve to making sure they all get used before going bad. I am much less interested in going out to eat when I know I have things that could potentially go bad & get wasted at home.

For my family, fresh bins are healthy, satisfying & adventurous. Everyone should at least give them a try.

Dollar days/sell-offs/10% Tuesdays

Flyers make me sad because it's such a waste of paper. I wish I could sign up to receive flyers from only the stores I am interested in...

The benefits of these flyers is taking a look at what the Safeways & the Sobeys have on sale.
My obsessive money-saving compulsions would never allow me go to a store for a sale on just a few products (unless I REALLY love these products or use them on a daily basis), but it is great to be aware of a 10% off day or when dozens of products in a store are reduced for a 'dollar days'.

Watch your price per size

Cheapskates like me first & foremost think about how that product is gonna scan at the register & how much the total bill will add up to (also how long I am at my desk working to afford whatever I am looking to buy. Down to the seconds.) This is counter-productive in some ways though because the smaller price is not always the better value.

The solution? Get out your ol' handy-dandy calculator (they have them on phones now! You don't even need to look like a weirdo-not that I care if people judge me for saving money...)

Make sure you measure out how much money you are paying per milligram, ounce, pound, whatever & don't be conned by the lower tag.

Expiry dates

This is another case of hidden benefits being more important than the monetary value.

When Mr. Ford & I started to live together, we had a problem.
He enjoyed whole grain breads & I preferred white. He also bought big loaves of local made bread & we could never eat it all before it expired & went moldy. I would buy the big named wonder-breads that didn't expire for weeks because I hated wasting.
Then Mr. Ford actually said something smart (weird I know), he asked me what I thought they put in the bread to make it last so long. Gross.
So now we compromise. We either buy buns which are nice little portion controls, or very small, local rye breads that we store in the un-insulated pantry so they preserve longer & don't get eaten-up by a bad cat.

Conclusion? Be weary of expiration dates. Make sure that you look at them so you are not spending good money on something that should have been shifted off the shelves, but also make sure you're not pulling a Rebecca & poisoning yourself with preservation chemicals & salt.

Pickle everything

Pickles confuse me. They were originally created by peasants wanting to preserve food longer throughout the winters. They are cheap peasant food, so why is a jar of pickled beans between $8.00 & $11.00 at Sobeys?

So I've taken to pickling things & intend to get more & more adventurous. You can pickle cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots, beans, peppers, onions, asparagus, eggs...& it will be dirt cheap!
You buy the jars which is a one time expense, the spices & herbs, also dirt cheap & wait for them to get delicious.

Buy frozen over canned

For some reason or another, in this day & age the cost of canned goods is rising & the cost of frozen foods is deflating.
You can get some amazing deals on Green giant stir fries & vegetable mixes that would cost you more & would be watered-down & poor tasting in canned form. I don't get it, maybe it's the price of tin?

Ideally, buy fresh, but if that option is not possible, or if you're the kind person who would end up ordering a  pizza than cut up all the veggies for a stir fry, get yourself a nice frozen mix.

Look for sodium

Yes again, quality over price.

Mr. Ford & I were in Walmart recently looking for pasta sauce which we go through like nobody's business (Tip: canned pasta sauce is cheaper than jarred sauce, price of the container or demand for the convenience?)

I immediately chose the cheaper variety. Mr. Ford, being the new know-it-all that he is, looked at the back label. The cheaper can had about twice the amount of salt as the can that cost $0.50 more.

This speaks to me because it makes me feel like I've done everything wrong my whole life. Make sure you think about why something is sold at an abnormally low price & at what cost.

Alternative milks

Why be content with just cow juice?

I have loved exploring soy, almond, hemp & rice milks. They are noticeably cheaper & don't spoil for a year. They also offer flavored options that are not -as- loaded with sugar as the dairy varieties on the market.

Lesser vegetables

There are almost too many vegetables on the market that are not as 'all american' as their carrot & potatoes counterparts.

Some of them are even superfoods & they can usually be found at a cheaper price.
Look at the buck choys, squashes, kales & chards. They may seem scary but can usually be used in lieu of something more widely accepted & more expensive.
For example, instead of linguine, bake-up a spaghetti squash! Use some pretty rainbow chard in your stir fries & curries as opposed to cabbages.

Herbs & peppers over marinades

Have you seen the prices on packaged spices & marinades? People I'm telling you they're charging you for convenience & not for actual production costs!!! This is a conspiracy!

Lookout for cilantros, basils, dills & chili peppers. There's tricks all over the internet on getting them to last longer (if you don't want to freeze them) & a copious bunch of whatever herb is usually right around the mark of a poultry $1.50..

Pack lunches

Mr. Ford & I had a lot of trouble with this one. Our rationalization 3 years ago was that food was going to cost us money in any form, and we both so conveniently worked in a stomping ground of big, delicious,  addictive food chains.

A-Make lunches together before bed. It's a nice time to talk about our day & relieves you of having to scramble to hurry up & get something in to a bag before scrambling to catch a bus.
B-Make huge batches for leftovers. This is so simple it's genius.  You don't even have a choice when you're making a lasagna, quiche, Sheppard pie or casserole. Choose foods that make a plenty!

Write to companies you like

I'm intrigued by extreme couponers. I love that these people save so much & sometimes even make money by doing extra work, but personally, I've got a full time job, aint nobody got time for that.

What I mean is that I don't feel I could dedicate myself to the hobby to such an extent that it would be worthwhile. It also goes against all my minimalist instincts & the foods that seem to go on sale also don't seem to be foods that I would consider good for you.

What I do have some time for & believe is worthwhile, is specifically using coupons for items that I like & that are healthy. For me, that's fresh fruits & veggies as well as meat substitutes, pastas, rices, wraps  & don't see coupons for this items (as a rule) coming out in circulars.

Find the maker of your favorite food brand & write them an email to let them know you like their product. Out of the 5 times I've done so, four companies have sent me a letter with multiple coupons for their product. This is good. This is very good. I will need to do more of this.

Heck you can write out a template!
'X is my favorite brand of X. Your product is the best I've had for the following reasons:_________________________. Please give me free stuff

Thanks you all for reading & have a happy Easter!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Challenges for females in the workforce

Dude I am so slobbery after my farewell party. If this post sucks, I take full responsibility for the poor writing due to the fact that my eyes are involuntarily crossing. Hopefully writing about something serious & impassioned will clear this haze.

My good friend Bryce (whom is currently in a worse state than I) has always been my punching bag for work rage. He has suggested that I write about the relatable & political aspects of this. Hence this list of challenges for female professionals in the workforce, or maybe just challenges for working women.

I know very few women out of school that don't work full time. This day & age you don't even see them taking much time off after having children, so with that being said, and the majority of women being in the work-force, why are there still such gender wars?

PMS & emotions

I've come to accept that my brain veers towards emotion & not always logic. I am happy to recognize this, but will not be ashamed of this. 
Women are nurturers. We care deeply, are more sensitive & are less likely to hide how we feel. This combined with raging hormones that is PMS & you've got a tornado & a hurricane.
I can't tell you how many times my work has been criticized & I've told myself internally 
"Calm yourself, this is not the end of the world. Breath. Don't cry, don't cry, OH GOD STOP CRYING!" & then old waterworks comes out to give the manager's office a sprinkling of salty despair. 
It is not for lack of wanting to contain myself, and certainly not a manipulation tool. There is nothing I hate more than trying to come across as strong, empowered & in control woman & ultimately falling apart in my emotions, but guess what, I'm not changing fast.

I would never say that all women are like me, however I do feel that more can relate to that persona than the stone-faced, fire someone without even blinking an eye power woman Marie-Claire & Elle tout about these days.  This is how we're put together, so why should we be ashamed?

I would much rather work for someone who genuinely cares for my well being than a woman who treats me like an object. Just as I would rather hire someone who is effected by my constructive criticism than someone who is indifferent to it. 

That being said, I feel that men, and those able to better conceal their feelings may have an upper-edge on us just because they are less work for their superiors & may be considered less 'high maintenance'.

The solution to this? My best guess would be to remember your fellow women as you climb up your chain of command. As you shift from employee, to supervisor to manager to director, or however your ladder works, don't always choose the path of least resistance. We need to pull up our panties & remember that people are complex & not always easy to deal with, but that doesn't mean they are not the best people for our jobs.

Women VS women competition

I for one, utter a sigh of dread as soon as I go for any kind of interview & see that it will be a women, or worse women interviewing me. 
I hate being in training/focus group with a predominantly female crowd. I am ashamed to admit that I have moulded myself in to the pattern of thinking that if a female is not paid to help me, they are against me.'Sisterly love' has turned itself in to feminine rivalry.
I don't know how this started. It's probably men's fault. they're usually to blame :p

I don't know what the solution for this is either other than to be the best people we can be.I need to give women the benefit of the doubt before expecting other women to 'earn my respect'.

Cultural differences

Crouching Ginger was once a supervisor at a job site with a brand new male employee. This employee was an immigrant to the country (he told me himself) & out of respect to the people, I don't want to say where he came from but it is an area that gets a bad reputation for religious intolerance & the treatment of women & girls. 

This person perpetuated that stereotype by talking down to me, commanding me instead of asking me & doubting everything that I said although I was his superior & had done his job for a year (before being promoted). This, Crouching Ginger does not tolerate well.

I always had to immediately bite my tongue when I was being 'commanded' because my immediate knee-jerk reaction is to respond with 'YES BOSS!' Or 'Oh is that so!?!?!" 

But that would have made me look bad. Ultimately, I left the position before I really felt forced to assert myself. But I have to pity the guy. I know the man was not a bad person & ultimately would feel bad for setting him straight because he probably didn't feel the way he spoke to me was wrong. 

I feel bad because although I was always irritated by it, a combination of fear & pity stopped me from letting him have it. In this world there are a lot of people who don't consider the situation or don't control their emotions enough to contain themselves & this poor man is going to get reamed. 

If he ever met my mother he would be lucky to get away from her unscathed.

But what's more concerning to me is people like this in a position of power. The world is unjust & as much as we'd like to, we can't tell people that their culture, religion & the way they were brought up is wrong. Most large work forces have provisions for equal opportunities, thankfully, but things still happen.

In that sense this point is valid for so much more than women, but pretty much any group of people (Africans, young people, seniors, people with disabilities etc, etc).  

Solution? Raise better people with better morals & beliefs!!


It seems insensitive to make an argument for boobs & compare it to the rape arguments we are hearing so much of nowadays, but I see too many similarities.

Every workplace I've ever been in has had some sort of a dress code. These dress codes have always involved women not having too much visible cleavage (too much being an arbitrary amount decided by a manager). I've always asked myself why?

Especially since most of the workplaces I've been in are offices with no face-to-face interactions with the 'customers'. It makes me feel as if breasts are 'bad' & should be covered up because they are shameful. 

So I have to wonder what is so bad about boobs? 

I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing wrong with boobs, it's what they signify in today's culture. They're a sex symbol, and employers don't want their employees or their customers to have inappropriate thoughts that they act on. And as such, women should have their boobs covered.

Sound familiar?
If a woman is drunk, it's OK to take advantage of her, she's 'making' herself a target & 'dangling' meat in front of rabid wolves... If she's exposing herself, then clearly she 'wants it'...

We need to end the war on boobs. It is NOT a woman's fault that she has great boobs but people around her are 'offended' or 'less productive' because of them. Why is it so easy to blame a female for having a body part instead of teaching other to have control/not be offended?

Solution: We don't need to teach our daughters how to dress but teach our sons how to behave.  

Monday, 25 March 2013

Falling on ice/fragile evolution

After years of having no sympathy for people who suffer small injuries & seem to milk them for all their worth, I, Crouching Ginger, slipped on a patch of ice & fell.

I am still in shock that it happened. I am not clumsy. I am an avid walker & I was wearing my good winter mukluks.

It all started with Mr Ford (the womanizer that he is) offering to pick me up from work so we could go on a romantic date...walking the dog (on Monday we went on another romantic date to Sobey's!) We then set out in -16 weather & a wicked windchill so Luibov could get her exercise & possibly not have the energy to destroy any more of our things.

It started out being a lovely night with good talks & hand-holding... then things turned sour when Mr. Ford wanted to argue. Then he was mad & didn't want to hold hands any more. Whoa is me.

A couple of blocks later, I slipped on some ice on Portage Avenue. On a Friday. In front of all the bar-stars driving downtown to go quench their thirst for awkward social situations at Whiskey Dix.

And in slow motion (because I was trying to stabilize myself) fell on to my own ankle & sat there. Mike just looked at me. Thanks prince charming!

I said "OUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCHHHH" & then threatened to sue the sidewalk.He thought this was funny. Yeah, that's right, I could have broken my ankle & he is laughing. We'll see who's laughing when I am put on bed rest & SOMEONE has to haul the laundry up & down 2 flights of stairs & wash walls!

So now I don't know what's wrong with me. Originally, the inside portion of my foot between the ball & the heel was in pain, along with the the muscles behind my knee & my thumb. Now it's just the foot. I have never felt so fragile in my entire life. I have an new-found debilitating fear of blood clots, but I don't see any discoloration, just some puffiness in the area.

 I truly feel that I know what being a grandma is like. I had to soak my foot, take extra strength Tylenol & have husband walk/carry me to my brunch date which was half an hour walk when it should have been 15.

What I've also learned from this experience is how stupid the human body is. We've evolved to be smart enough to cure diseases, to withstand the flu & hepatitis but all of that serves you no good if your stupid body can't keep itself upright on frozen water!
What's next? You eat too much & explode & die? Poke yourself in the eye with mascara brush & go blind?God forbid I was pregnant or had osteoporosis!

This was me:

Sure foot

Friday, 22 March 2013

Gym faux pas

I can't resist anymore, I must write about further things that annoy me. Please forgive me.

I don't go to the gym anymore. I tried it. I hate it.
You shouldn't have to pay for exercise when you have floors to scrub & a dog to walk.

Plus I think gyms have shifted in to becoming a meeting ground & place to socialize nowadays. Also a good place for men to grunt & whistle & be justified in acting like primates. Allow me to entertain you with a list of why I no longer go to the gym.

-The people who leave the machine sweaty & gross

This is just blatant disregard for anyone else as well as a disregard of the rules.
The lemon wipes aren't there to wipe your bum with ... There is no fairy that follows you around to clean up your body fluids off common machines. Don't be a dick.

However, if you go & snatch someone's machine as soon as they get up & sit down while they are on their way to get a lemon wipe, then tough. The person getting the wipe should not be expected to wipe 'around you'.


If there is one way to get me to stay at a gym longer & to do more reps, it's you standing beside the machine & waiting for me to move on. Go away. I know you're looking down my top.
I know that even if I do leave, you will get on the machine so fast that I will not have time to go get a lemon wipe & then other spiteful observers like myself will judge me for not cleaning my machine.
There's half a million other machines for you to use. If you are so intent on doing whatever I am doing, or looking at my tots, use the machine next to me & make the most of your $9.00 admission instead of standing around ya weirdo.

-Weight lifting orgasm-ers

I understand controlling your breathing. I studied Tae Know Do for 4 years & am aware of the physics of breathing. I also understand exertion... but there is something wrong if you are doing your reps & grunting like a horny Johnny Bravo/wildebeest/gorilla. The louder is NOT the better. You sound stupid.


Does anyone like crying & having mascara drip down their face? Then why would you have 8 layers of caked-on make-up when you plan to sweat?
No joke, there are women who spend more time touching up in the mirrors at the Y downtown than on the machines. I imagine gym sessions for these women are like the Lavalife public meetings where they can come out & do some husband hunting. Also looks very dumb.

-Sink hair brushers

Another case of the cleaning fairies not following you around to clean up the messes you don't want to. Are they on strike?

Ladies, I understand what long hair is like. I have hair halfway down my back, I know hair comes out. So you have a choice. Either brush your hair away from the sink or freaking clean that stuff off of it. I am just instantly grossed out seeing that in a sink & it turns my stomach. Be classy, clean your sink. If I owned a gym, that'd be my motto.

-Change room freak-a-leaks

Change rooms are weird. Common shared bathrooms where people are supposed to be comfortable (or not) with other naked people around them?

One time, Mr. Ford went in to the showers to find a man sitting on his behind in the shower scraping the skin off the bottoms of his feet. Mr. dirty feet-bottoms, wouldn't you prefer doing that at home?

Another time, I walked in to the sauna at the gym & found a lady lying in there in a garbage bag. I saw her feet sticking out & thought somebody had killed her until I saw the breathing hole for her face.Oh I see this is a spa, not a crime scene, false alarm Rebecca.

So this point leaves me torn. I respect people's right to be themselves & get the best use out of these public showers ($9.00 remember!!! I'll even admit to forcing Mr. Ford to shower at the gym. Ain't nobody want to pay a high water bill!)
But I am embarrassed for them. I mean what's next? Are you going to give yourself a Brazilian on the baby changing table? Bite off your toenails & eat them? Where do you draw the line for tolerating some patrons 'interesting' rituals & traumatizing others?

-And finally (a guest point from my good friend Casey) doing 2 reps then walking around texting for 10 minutes

Furthermore, I despise cell phones in gyms for anything other than listening to music. Rebecca dated a beefcake once who likely spent more time taking pictures of his beefcake muscles than working-out.
People & their egos. But damn those people who date them are super funny... and sexy.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

How to travel on a budget

I think I'll give the attempted comedy a rest today & talk about two of my favourite things: Travelling & saving money.

Fortunately, these are not exclusive terms.
I can't claim to have been everywhere, but my travels have brought me through the Provinces from Victoria Island to Montreal. New York, New Jersey, Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, several parts of Mexico, Cuba, Thailand, England, France, Spain, Switzerland & Italy.
I feel that traveling is an education & can change you as a person.

It doesn't even have to be expensive either! Here's some advise I have for stretching your dollars & getting to travel more.

Go where you know (someone)

This may seem like common sense, or might also seem like it wouldn't save you any money if you didn't want to stay with that person but think for a second of the hidden benefits...

A friend or family member (or a friend of the family or family of a friend) could give you tips on what is worthwhile seeing, good restaurants & direct you to a good neighborhood to stay in.
Side note, a lot of touristy areas will reduce their excursion/rental prices dependent on how many people are in your group. In Bangkok for instance, Having a group of 4 paying adults could bring your price down to half what you would pay in a group of 2.
This kind of logic applies to a lot of boat excursions, walking tours & rentals (a jet ski for example).

Meticulously plan your spending

And I don't just mean hotel & airfare. I suggest really thinking about what it will cost to run your operation both at your destination & at home.

If you are going all inclusive, lucky you! Everyone should experience the gluttony of all you can eat food & alcohol. Please keep in mind though that this doesn't cover everything.

Most destinations that offer all inclusive are third world & developing countries. It is important to understand the wage standards & tipping customs in the country. You will have a lot better & friendlier service when you tip in places like Mexico & it is expected by he staff. It's important to remember that a small tip for every drink (times the eleventy thousand drinks you order because you're cheap & really want to feel like you're getting your moneys worth) adds up. Budget for this.

Also consider how much excursions cost (don't be a sissy & sit on the resort the whole time, even I'm not THAT cheap). Once you've considered that, think about how you're going to get there & produce a spending budget for transportation.

Think about what kind of a limit you want to set yourself for buying souvenirs.
When I started traveling I used to not plan for this because I don't like clutter & was not interested in buying little keychains & knock knacks for myself... I learned my lesson after traveling to Europe, and indulging in clothes, shoes, books, art & purses. Souvenirs are not always junk & in the right places, they are very useful things that are commonly more expensive at home. Plan to spend some.

Also think about souvenirs for others. If this is not common in your family or circle of friends, at least consider a token of gratitude for anyone that has helped you to get to your destination (I.E. the person who drove you to the airport, babysat your house or switched shifts with you).

Buy the lonely planet book

This goes against my natural urges to save money & to just do internet research, but trust me, these books are worth the $24.00. Plus you can read them on a plane or take them with you when sightseeing.
A lot of them also have pull out maps & phrases in the local language, plus Embassy information if you're a rowdy.
They're also pretty cool to keep as a bookshelf souvenir in themselves. I enjoy going through the books & reliving things (Ermergerd, wer were therrre!)

Become familiar with your destination's layout

And I don't mean heaving out the map when you're on street-corners... in fact I'd recommend NOT pointing yourself out as a lost, confused tourist.
Open up Google maps & take a visual tour of the major streets. Enjoy getting a sneak peak of the neighborhood unscripted & unkept. Commit to memory the places where you want to go & where they are situated in the city.

We were only in Phuket for three excursion packed days so I didn't spend a lot of time getting familiar with the city layout.

The family & I looked up an Italian restaurant (we were having stomach troubles) in the city without having any idea where it was. We hailed a cab & negotiated the prices of 200 baht (less than $7.00 Canadian but worth about an hour in a typical metered Thai taxi).

Not knowing where we were going, we got in. The cab proceeded to drive up one block & pull in to the entrance of a hotel that housed the Italian restaurant. What can you do but laugh?

There are also taxis in Vegas & other scam cities that will ask you where you're from & if you've ever been to Vegas (or other scam city) before.
Using that information, they'll take you up & down the Highways wasting time while the meter is running to jack up the cost of your ride.

Trip Advisor

An unbelievable tool that has never served me wrong. Look at the reviews for excursions/hotels. People usually have no hesitation in voicing whether they feel the excursion/stay was worth the money.

Maybe I am a racist a**hole, but also take in to account where these reviews are coming from. I tend to put more weight on reviews from people in similar modernized countries & hence (hopefully) similar living conditions; the States, Great Britain, Australia etc.

Cheap flights

Very simply: ExpediaFlighthub (wholesale travelTarget vacations also worth a look) &  If you want to get creative, I have also had good results going to low pressure travel specialists to see if they have any advice/alternatives (Sun Seekers on Academy is amazing). I can't decide whether advance booking or sell-offs are the way to go as I've gotten great deals with both. I'll figure it out though...

Cheap hotels

Expedia & (Agoda for remote villages & guest houses).
After you've found a hotel you like, look for a coupon code! Nothing is too small.

When I booked rooms for our most recent trip I found an Expedia coupon code for 5% off the regular price of the nightly stay. This worked out to only about 4.00. This amount is small but that trip we bought two hotels rooms for 14 nights, so the $4.00 adds up to $112.00 sliced right off my bill & that I can use towards another excursion or a really, really nice dinner.

Last but not least, the controversial timeshare

No, don't buy one silly! Consider hearing about one.

This is a tough call to make as a timeshare presentation is usually between two & three hours. You really have to decide if what they're offering you is worth your time.

For those of you that have never been proposed a timeshare presentation, a hotel, a tour desk or sometimes someone on the street will propose that you listen to a presentation about property owning/sharing. They always offer a free meal, free transportation & then an incentive...which also varies.

I know this sounds sketchy...trusting some random man on the street offering you something for free, but they usually have ID cards & are from major timeshare companies that do everything in their power to make you not want to leave.

I have not been scammed in the few times I've seen a timeshare & in fact it's pretty straightforward.
They take you to a lovely hotel, you have a good free breakfast & meet up with a salesperson. They show you around some very luxurious suites & common areas, show you a video, explain how the 'share' works & offer you a sales pitch. Once you've declined, they offer you a rebuttal on another deal & you reject that too. Then you leave with whatever incentive they've offered you.

In Hawaii, we were offered an incentive of the company paying $100.00 towards the cost of a whale-watching excursion we wanted to go on.

In Mexico, they played a little more hardball. In exchange for MaryAnne & dad going to a 2 hour time share presentation, the company paid for 6 of us to go on a jungle tour valued at over $100.00/person. Ruthless. But awesome. That being said, I would have no qualms having a free breakfast & listening to a sales pitch, especially after a long night when you'd just be sitting around recuperating anyway.

Happy traveling all!

A little dose of positive

Apparently I am coming across as 'whinny' for complaining about 'first world problems'.
Please believe me when I say that I am not that kind of a person. In fact I'd consider myself very mellow. You need to be when you're as frugal as I am.

In any case, here are some of my favourite everyday simple pleasures in life.

10.Eating with chopsticks

Forks & knives are so monotonous. Does anyone else out there get bored of them?
It's nice to mix it up once in a while & have something different. Chopsticks are the cure for that. They are also good when you have food that you've seared or sauteed lightly & don't want to jab with a fork & inadvertently squish/dejuice. Props to chopsticks.

9. People who really love their job

I work in the same building as a Cole's bookstore in downtown Winnipeg. The people who work at this book store are AMAZING! They truly love books & I can give them any abstract theme or vague description of something I've heard of 8 years ago by an unreliable source & they'll know what it is! Going down there & interacting with them really makes my day. Now if only I could learn to read...

Aside from the Cole's employees, I think a positive attitude from a waiter, flight attendant, bank teller, sales associate or bus driver is infectious! I wish I could tell you about my work experience dealing with the public because BOY OH BOY do I have stories. Safe to say that it is challenging to keep your sanity. Kudos to you positive people!

8. Pedicures that stay on forever

Ladies, do you manicures stay on? Mine don't.
They will start to chip that day if not immediately. So how is it that nail polish on toes stay on forever? Whatever the reason, I don't mind. It truly makes my day to look down at my toes & see a beautiful, perfect paint job when I haven't been in a salon for a month. This not only appeals to me on an aesthetic level but is thrilling to me as a cheapskate who only has to shell out the cash & go to the chop shop to get their toes down once every 2 months.

7. Turning the heat up

Did I mention that I am cheap?
We keep our thermostat at 20 degrees when we are home & 18 degrees when we are not. I also keep us on a monthly metered hydro bill instead of a 12 month payment plan because I like to know exactly what we're consuming & get a better idea of what the old house is siphoning away.

As if there isn't anything better than getting home after a cold jaunt outside, I THOROUGHLY enjoy cranking that furnace up a whole two degrees! BAAAAALLA!

6. Waking up before your alarm

I have a debilitating fear that I have forgotten to set my alarm & that I am sleeping in for work.

I also recognize that I am obsessive compulsive & haven't been late in two years. That being said I will roll out of bed just to check my clock & appease the paranoid little spazzes in my head. There is nothing better than being worried that you're late, but finding out that you still have an hour to sleep Ahhhh...

I ran this by a friend at work who disagrees because as soon as he gets up to check his alarm, he can't get back to sleep. The poor, pathetic sap.

5. Doing laundry in a house

This one is for all my friends in apartments.
I know your pain. I lived in a 3 story walk-up with laundry machines in the basement & it was brutal.
Up & down the four freaking flights of stairs. Once to bring down the two loads (separate trips, as with groceries, are for newbs), one to change the load and one to bring them all back, and that's assuming the machines are available.
All of this also has to be perfectly timed lest you go too late & disturb people or lest someone else be waiting to use your machine & moves all of your clothes.

There is light at the end of this tunnel. The light is in buying a house. I know have a 2 & 1/2 story house with laundry in the basement, but these stairs are considerably shorter. I also now having the luxury of potentially getting up at 3:00 am to put the laundry in & no one gives a crap. I can leave shit in the dryer for a week.

For the record though, when the machines break I can't call a service line & forget about it. Yeah, that's a downer.

4. Nailing a new recipe

I usually bomb something the first time I try to make it. Such as the pumpkin cheesecake I tried to make last month that just turned in to pumpkin flavoured sludge with cream cheese balls.

But occasionally, you try something new & it is just about the best thing EVER. This is especially wonderful when it's a recipe with complicated ingredients that you had to go out of your way to get.
If you are bored one day, you should take a look through some of the pages out there dedicated to Pinterest fails (including cooking):

Huffington post

3. Accidentally leaving the gate open & the dog doesn't leave the yard

This has never happened in my household so I couldn't comment. I'm sure it's awesome to have a good dog though.

2. Uploading new songs on your I-phone/I-pod/MP3 player

Ever get in to one of those funks where you get so tired of the bazillion & one songs on your playlist & just end up listening to 'What makes you beautiful' on a loop for an hour? Enough said.
A new & revised playlist just makes me wanna break-out in to dance on my walk to work on Portage Avenue, it's OK though, I'll fit right in!

1. Coupon codes

Mother-effer-jones I love me some coupon codes.

I'm a believer in delayed gratification.
If I see something I want, I wait to see if I still find it amazing after a couple of weeks. After that I tell Mr. Ford what I want & wait to see if he is opposed to it or can talk me out of it. I then go through flyers and/or look online.

Usually you can find a better deal online (given you've checked shipping & handling & duty fees).

I'm usually feeling proud of myself at that point for restraining myself,comparing prices & having found one with reasonable (or preferably no) shipping costs. You must then go searching for a coupon code.

It's as simple as pulling up google & typing in 'X Coupon code' or 'X promo code'.
There is inevitably more sifting to do to find a decent code. The coupon value will never reduce the price drastically but I will usually knock off any shipping I've committed to or get anywhere between five & twenty percent off. And in my books, there's no shame in doing ten minutes of research to save $20.00.
 It would rot my soul to have to shop online without looking for a coupon code. If you haven't ever looked for a coupon code, START. I've saved money on everything from hotel rooms, to airfare to NHL gear to furniture. If you don't care about saving money...well then, I don't even know if we can be friends...