Friday, May 29, 2009

enough about the cat

If you haven't stopped reading my blog already, I'm sure you're getting sick of the cat-naming saga, so I promise this is the last post. 

We had a gathering last night and busted our brains to choose a name before our guests arrived. We settled on Sprout. The key word there is settled. I wasn't 100 per cent sure, but it was OK. But then, our friend E suggested we name her Spock, which started a whole name debate and by the end of the evening, she was No Name again.

But, we checked the blog before bed and my lovely friend Al suggested Elle/Ellie, short for "L"ittle One — sold! We love it. It suits her just right, and I've been calling her Little One since day anyway, so an abbreviation of that seems perfect. And anyone who's seen them knows she'll never out-grow Scarley! So readers, it's Al that you have to thank for the end — finally! — of these ridiculous posts.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blogs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

no name no more

This is crazy. How do we expect to name our unborn children if we can't name a cat? Seriously. We're having friends and family over tonight and how are we supposed to introduce her if she doesn't have a name?

Thank you all for your great suggestions! I think we've got it narrowed down, but there isn't a clear winner just yet. What do you think? Is she a:

Ollie? (short for Olive)

[We couldn't get Little One out from under the bed for the first few hours]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

foray into the writers workshop

Describe in what ways you expect too much from your significant other. Do they deserve an apology?

Well, I think I'm pretty fair most of the time, or I try to be, so I don't think Husband needs any apologies for anything I haven't already said I'm sorry for. That said, this question really made me think. We all expect a lot. A LOT. from our significant others, don't we? How can you determine if you're expecting too much? As long as it's a give and take scenario, what's so wrong with that?

Here are some things I have come to expect from Husband:
1) He makes the morning coffee. 24/7. 
2) He's the family dish washer.
3) He'll pretty much always give me a massage if I ask for one.
4) If I can't sleep, he'll do whatever he needs to do to make sure I fall asleep first.
5) He always picks me up on time, and if I'm not ready, he'll wait.
6) He takes care of the car. I can't remember the last time I pumped gas.
7) He takes out the garbage and recycling.

That's just a few things I've grown accustomed to expecting from Husband. There's plenty more where that came from. None of these things are too huge, though. But now that I think about it, isn't it the little things that matter most? 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

and then there were four

It is our pleasure to introduce you to the newest member of our family ...

This is No Name. For now, I'm calling her Little One. She is entirely white, with three grey spots on the top of her tiny head. She was very shy when we went to meet her last night, but we knew she was the one almost instantly. 

We didn't know what to expect when we introduced her to our only child ... 

... but for the most part, they just stared at each other. That is, until I was about to leave the house for work this morning — Little One hissed and Scarley pounced. I promptly scolded the both and separated them. Husband went home for lunch though, and they seem to be playing nicely now.

Now, we need your help. What should we name her? We've got a list of ideas, but we want to know what you think before we reveal our nominations. 

three weeks on $150

This post has been 21 days in the making. On May 4, Husband and I bought $145 worth of groceries, intending to make it last for three weeks and establish a new $50-per-week grocery budget. Here's how we did:

For the sake of full disclosure, I have to admit:
* On day 5, I picked up a block of cheese. The veggie lasagna used up a lot more than I expected, and we eat a whole lotta cheese around here. So, that was about $7.
* On day 9, I picked up milk and coffee cream, for a total of $6.
* We also had dinner out twice.

That said, the total grocery budget was actually $158.

A few things to consider:
* Don't buy three weeks worth of groceries at once. It just doesn't work out. Yes, we were doing it as a budget experiment, but we found a lot of things ran out quickly, like milk, cheese and fresh fruit and veggies.
* You can't always trust that there will be enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Because Husband is a substitute teacher, he was left scrambling some mornings because he isn't allowed to take peanut butter to work on these days.
* Breakfast is really important and it can't always consist of cereal when you run out of milk. It's time for us to learn to get our lazy butts out of bed earlier on weekdays to make eggs or smoothies or other filling day starters.

So, the plan has been revised. We're raising the budget to $60 per week, and also picking up small amounts on a more regular basis, rather than loading up on everything on a bi-weekly basis and expecting to make it last. Overall, we're pretty pleased with the results of our experiment, and we're looking forward to saving a little more in our household budget.

Monday, May 25, 2009

not me monday

A few of my fave bloggers are participating in a fun weekly feature, which originated here. I think I'll give it a go, since it's nice to get these things off your chest and out of the way once and a while, or more specifically, once  a week.

  • I, along with my co-workers, did not skip out of work at 3 p.m. on Friday to spend the afternoon, and half of the evening, on a patio instead of working.
  • I did not neglect the laundry completely this weekend, and magic fairies will definitely take care of that for me today while I'm at work.
  • I definitely spent Sunday afternoon being very productive, and did not watch three back-to-back re-runs of Private Practice.
  • I did start my running-before-work regiment as planned today, and did not hit snooze three times instead.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

ask and ye shall receive

I blogged the other day about how I should never be without a project. Don't you agree? Well, my lovely friend J heard my plea and answered my prayers with this bad boy:

No, not the Scarley cat. This toy box/storage chest belonged to lovely friend A when the three of us lived together once upon a time. Now, five years and many roomies later, dear J is moving away to another province and has cleaned out five years of accumulation in that apartment, and she gave me this. Surprise, A! I have big plans for this baby ... just wait and see. Muuuhhhahahahaha!

Friday, May 22, 2009

idea stealing

I admit it. This isn't an original thought — I totally pilfered it from someone else. I'm sneaky like that.

I was feeling a little blah about one of my own original ideas lately, until Centsational Girl posted this after photo of a recent mirror reno:

And her creative touch struck me as the perfect solution to our new bedroom accessory:

I'm not a big fan of how this frameless frame is just floating in the middle of the blank wall. So, here's the tweak:

Isn't it lovelier?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

i should never be without a project

When I was a bride-to-be, I was a member of The Knot. Once we were married, I graduated to be a member of The Nest, the subsequent site for newlyweds. One of the first things I remember reading on the site was about TTC — trying to conceive — and the message was, don't mistake your need for a project as a need for a baby. When you're engaged, your whole life becomes consumed with planning the blessed event, and once it's over and you've set up house, a lot of us fall into that, "what next?" phase.

For us, our new project is Operation Dream Home. We've met with our banker twice now and are well on our way to setting up our five-year plan and putting as much money as possible into house savings. Even though the nest egg is small so far, it's very exciting that we've got the ball rolling!

Since I can't do much to plan for the home, other than saving up the cash, I want to start being strategic about things like decor and furniture. I keep thinking about the flea market I went to with mom-in-law. There were so many cool things there.

Does anyone know of any great shopping spots for vintage/antique items and gently-used furniture? I need a project!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

for the love of grey and yellow

She came, she saw and she renovated! 

Wait until you see this awesome re-do. My crafty pal HH and her hubby pulled an extreme makeover in their bedroom over the weekend. After reading my post about grey and yellow a while back, HH was inspired to infuse these colours into her once-dark bedroom.

Et voila:

Isn't this frame collage amazing? She painted old frames she had around the house and used the fabric from her curtains and throw pillows as matting. Genius!

And here are her homemade throw pillow covers; I especially love the buttons!

Great job, HH! For more photos, visit her blog here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

a boy can dream, can't he?

Me: If you won the lottery, what's the first selfish thing you would buy? And it can't be paying off debt or buying a house or giving money to family or charity ... totally selfish.

Husband: How much can I spend?

Me: An infinite amount. 

Husband: I'd buy a golf course.

Me: Hmm ...

Husband: OH! And a date with Tiger Woods.

Me: There it is.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

so pretty

When I saw this photo, I completely fell in love with this idea.

This is definitely an up-coming project.

wedded bliss

I love being married. After more than seven months of wedded bliss, Husband and I are still having so much fun setting up our home, laughing at inside jokes, sharing secrets and forming our own special traditions.

But lately I've been having some longing for the wedding planning days of yore. Don't get me wrong, wedding planning is hard work, and I have no intention of planning an entire wedding ever again until my unborn children get married (with the exception of helping lovely friends with their nuptials, of course!). I read several blogs written by engaged girls though, and I feel a bit jealous when they post about picking gowns and deciding menus, choosing flowers and writing vows.

Don't get me wrong — our big day was exactly how I pictured it would be — we were blissfully happy, surrounded by family and friends, the weather was amazing, and pretty much everything went off without a hitch. 

The thing is, when you're planning, you have to choose your favourites — flowers, dresses, food, cakes, the list goes on — but there are always other cute options that you hear about after the fact that make you think, "If I could do it again, I'd have that too." So, since I've been-there-done-that, the least I can do is share some of these things with you.

iDIY is a blog I discovered after I was married. It is a wealth of information for DIYers like me, trying to come up with the most original, and budget friendly, wedding ideas. Like these super cute bridal party emergency kits:

And these simple, yet elegant, paper carnations

Another blog I love, A Cup of Jo (Joanna's also the gal behind the Smitten blog on She's headed down the aisle soon and she's constantly posting the prettiest wedding ideas, like serving pies instead of cake — oh wait, we did that!

And then there are always more dresses. I got my gown at David's Bridal, and they had soo many dresses to choose from. Mine was an a-line, halter with pearl and crystal details and rouching at the bum, and I loved it. 

So that brings me to a question for all of you already-wives out there — what did you do with your dress? 

Mine is still in our spare bedroom closet, taking up a lot of storage space. It hasn't been cleaned yet either (I know, tsk, tsk!). Did you keep your dress? Do you plan to hand it down to future generations? Or maybe you sold it or altered it to make something new?

Friday, May 15, 2009

veggie convert

My chicken-finger-loving friend HH is considering becoming a vegetarian, and has asked me for a few tips.

I don't really remember making the decision to become a vegetarian. As a teenager and found myself less and less interested in dining on the meats I grew up eating, and eventually cut it out altogether. A big part of my meat-free diet is pickiness, and to make feeding myself even more fun, I also don't eat fish or eggs. Why am I not a vegan, you ask? I'm way to cheesy to give up dairy. Ha.

Since I'm a vegetarian and Husband isn't, people often ask us how we manage at mealtime, but it's really quite simple. We don't have to make two separate meals — we simply add some chicken or meat to his plate, and leave it off mine. Husband is also happy to eat meat free a lot of the time, which makes things easier (and in most cases, cheaper too).

Veggie Tip #1: There's no such thing as too many veggies! Don't roll your eyes at me just yet. I know that sounds like common sense when it comes to being a vegetarian, but what I mean is, don't be afraid to try something you've never seen in a cookbook. I chop and mix just about any kind of vegetable into rice and pasta sauce. Experimenting is key to figuring out what combos you like most. Try broccoli and cauliflower chopped up in your pasta sauce, peas and corn mixed in your brown rice and sauteed mushrooms, green peppers and onions with garlic to top baked potatoes — I know it doesn't sound like much, but it makes ordinary sides more hearty.

Veggie Tip #2: Try to keep track of your vitamins and protein. Once, when I was in high school, our senior class had a blood drive, and I wasn't allowed to donate because my iron was too low. I wasn't eating red meat and I wasn't supplementing my iron in any way, which is especially important for women. Now I make sure to choose plenty of protein alternatives, like soy milk (the chocolate is yummy!), beans, cheese and peanut butter. I also take a multivitamin for women.

Veggie Tip #3: Beware of carbs. I do not believe in depriving myself of a delicious and frequent carbfests, but when you cut out the meat, it's hard not to automatically fill that empty place on your plate with a roll, an extra scoop of potatoes or some more pasta — and while those things feel filling at first, they aren't a substitute for filling proteins.

Veggie Tip #4: Trust the experts. I'm not an expert — just a veggie gal who loves to cook. There are lots of veggie and vegan blogs out there that specialize in all things tasty and meatless, like one of my faves, Happy Herbivore. Also, Vegan Dad explains why veganism is pretty normal. And he's got some great recipes there, too!

Hope this helped, HH! Good luck!

let there be light

A lightbulb burnt out in our bedroom last night and I need to buy more to replace it. So, tell me, do you use the energy-efficient kind?
I'm in favour of helping the environment in any way possible, so I'll be making the switch, but what I'm really curious to know is, does it really save money on your power bill? Come on, inquiring minds want to know.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

B is for ...

... botched project? It's really not that bad. I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. Let me me show you.

Remember when I told you I love letters and words in decor? I found a lovely white B at a scrapbooking store, and started by painting it chocolate brown.

Simple enough, right? Then I wanted to try out a stencil that I bought on clearance at Walmart for $1 ...

But I didn't hold it tight enough to the surface, and this happened:

So, I painted over it again with brown and tried again with the stencil. It took a lot of little fixes, but eventually it turned out like this:

I'm pretty indifferent on how it turned out. I originally wanted to put it in the bedroom, but I don't think the random stencils really work with any other decor. I may paint over it this weekend. It's a work in progress ...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

money money money money .. MONEY

No, no, we haven't won the lottery .. though that would be nice ..

Husband and I are going to the bank tonight to have a meeting about our financial future. For me, this means white picket fences dancing in my dreams. But the reality of the situation is that there is much planning and saving before we're even close to that carry-me-over-the-threshold moment.

It's the official beginning of the five-year plan, which includes paying down student loan debt, saving for a home and the future and starting our family.

Since we're newbies to this, got any advice? 

Monday, May 11, 2009

what's wrong with you people?

Just kidding, just kidding. I kid because I love.

But seriously, lately I've had the tune of Farewell to Nova Scotia permanently stuck in my head because many of my lovely friends are heading away to far-off places — 


Fulfilling work placements and finding new jobs:

And starting new careers:

It's going to be strange, not having them around all the time, but I'm excited for each of them and hope they have amazing adventures! Don't forget to write! xo

carpet is yucky

Subtitle: Lindsey plays with her paint program

the brown thumb gardens

Gardening definitely isn't my forte. I've had my share of failures, but I'm not a quitter! So lovely friend A and I trekked to Walmart over the weekend to pick up some budget friendly, apartment appropriate gardening supplies.

I needed to do something to bring my lone living room plant back to life. She's been looking kind of droopy ...

So I got her a pretty new pot that is about double the size. 

The old soil was looking pretty dry and dusty, but the new dirt is thick and moist.

I loved the old pot and didn't want to get rid of it, so I got another plant. Notice I just call them "plants" ... I have no idea what variety they are, which also means I have no idea if I'm actually caring for them properly ... not exactly setting myself up for success here. The new one didn't have a tag of any sort to indicate the species. I guess you get what you pay for when you buy plants at Walmart.

But at least it's lush and green:

And here she is in her new home:

Not bad for a couple hours and $25. So far, success!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

happy day

Happy Mother's Day to my Muma, 
to mom-in-law and all the other lovely mothers out there! 
Have a wonderful day! 

Friday, May 8, 2009

an ode to my boyfriend

Dear Mr. Singer,

I know it may seem like I've been neglecting you lately. I swear, it hasn't been intentional. I do not hold a grudge from the time you jammed up on me and ripped a hole in that pretty pink broadcloth. Nor have I rejected you for the time you refused to accept the bobbin I was so diligently trying to thread.

I know we've been through some rough times, but I think it's time to put our loose seams behind us. I hope that this weekend we can reconnect and make beautiful projects once again.

All my love xo

Thursday, May 7, 2009

grocery budget breakdown

*Disclaimer: This is a lonnnggg post all about grocery shopping and cooking. If neither of these things interest you, keep reading — you might learn something ;)

Laptops to Lullabies Lacey has asked me to breakdown how I was able to spend $145 on groceries this week and how I intend to make it last for three weeks.

This is a bit tricky, since I can’t really give you an inventory of everything we already had in our cupboards, but I'll try my best. 

I usually shop at Sobeys, but if there are specials at Super Store, I sometimes shop at both. I’m a bargain hunter by nature — and that doesn’t exclude grocery shopping. 

This week, Sobeys is having a bogo sale, so we actually picked up a few things that will last us longer than three weeks, like two big bottles of Heinz ketchup.

When it comes to brands, I usually embrace store/generic brands, but there are certain items you just can't skimp on. Ketchup is one such item. Also, Kraft peanut butter, Tetley tea bags, Philadelphia cream cheese, to name a few.

Here's what I got this week for my $145:

Large can of coffee (President's Choice dark roast, which we really love)
Two conainters of Source vanilla yogurt
English cucumber
2 packs whole wheat english muffins
Bag of Craisins (for my desk at work to keep me from buying mid-afternoon cookies!)
Bag of 6 large pitas
Parmesan cheese
2 large tubs of margarine (bogo)
Frozen hasbrowns (for yummy weekend brunches)
Bag of fries
2 ketchup (bogo)
Salad dressing
Bag of chips
Bag of Crispers
2 packages of mixed veggies (decided to try because they were on sale!)
Bag of frozen corn
2 boxes perogies (bogo)
3 cans frozen Five Alive concentrate
Large block of marble cheese
2 loaves whole wheat bread (bogo)
Jar of salsa
2 cans of mushrooms
2 loaves garlic bread (bogo)
2 packs chinese rice (Husband loves it)
2 bags of baby potatoes (bogo)
2 large bags kitty litter (bogo)
Dozen eggs
6 bananas
4 red delicious apples
4 golden delicious apples
Bag of grapes
Head of broccoli
Green pepper
Iceberg lettuce
2 ltr. milk
2 packages of ribs (bogo) (I've never cooked them before — should be an adventure!)
5 chicken breasts
Pkg of lean ground beef

That's it. That's a lot when I type it all out! We didn't make an exact day-by-day breakdown of what we would eat, but here are some of the meals I have planned for the coming 21 days (I'll break it down by days, for the sake of clarity):

WEEK #1 —
MONDAY: Veggie lasagna
TUESDAY: Lasagna leftovers
WEDNESDAY: Pita pizzas
THURSDAY: Meatless chili bake
FRIDAY: Burgers (veggie for me, which I already have a home) and fries
SATURDAY: Perogies (for me) chicken (for Husband) and mixed veggies
SUNDAY: Hodge Podge (collection of leftovers/add-ons from the week — this is one of our favourite dinners to pull together!)

WEEK #2 —
MONDAY: Pasta with tomato sauce (supplies we always have on hand, though didn't buy this week)
TUESDAY: Ribs and roasted potatoes (when Husband has meat, I supplement with extra, various veggies and/or beans)
WEDNESDAY: Leftover ribs with rice and salad
THURSDAY: Club sandwiches and salad
FRIDAY: Pizza on homemade crust
SATURDAY: Perogies (for me) chicken (for Husband) and veggies
SUNDAY: Hodge Podge

[Husband's fave!]

WEEK #3 —
MONDAY: Burgers and fries
TUESDAY: Shake 'n' bake chicken, veggies and rice
WEDNESDAY: Pita pizzas
THURSDAY: Pasta with (veggie-loaded tomato sauce for me, meaty for Husband)
FRIDAY: Quesadillas and rice
SATURDAY: Ribs, veggies and baked potatoes
SUNDAY: Hodge Podge

Does this make sense? Did I leave anything out? Some of these things may sound pretty generic, but it's all about being creative — I love to spice things up with green pepper, mushrooms, onions (I love to sautee!) and lots of herbs, spices and garlic.

This also doesn't count breakfast, lunch and snacks. Breakfast usually consists of english muffins and/or Rice Krispies.We usually grab leftovers for lunch or have PB&J, along with whatever fruit and yogurt is on hand. I love snacking on celery and peanut butter, too, and husband likes carrot and dip. Throughout this time frame, I'll also be making a loaf of banana bread and a big batch of chocolate chip cookies — both recipes are staples in our house lately and I have all the ingredients on hand. We also got chips and Crispers for snacks, and we always have microwave popcorn in the cupboard. 

We managed to save this week as well by not having to buy cat food, dish soap, laundry soap, toilet paper and paper towel. We buy most of these items at Costco, so while it might mean spending $100 in one Costco run, those supplies usually last about six months.

Hope this has helped you figure out my logic. I'll let you know if it works out. $50 a week might be a low-ball attempt, but I'm going to do my best to make this challenge work!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

how could i forget ...

... this little lovely. I got it for $1 at the flea market!

i heart exposed brick

... but then again, who doesn't?

rubbish free for a year!

A co-worker just sent me an awe-inspiring link. This couple spent a whole year without creating any garbage. I didn't realize how big a deal it really is until I checked out their website.

The contents of the grocery bag they're holding in this photo is the entirety of the trash they created in 365 days. Can you believe that? Reading through their blog made me think about the amount of waste we create in our home each day — it's shocking. Maybe we don't need to live "rubbish free," but Husband and I could certainly be doing more to avoid throwing things in the trash. 

This story has inspired me to be more observant when it comes to recyclable packaging and energy-efficient products. I hope you're feeling it, too!

it's that time of year

The tax man reared his ugly head at us this week — and I mean U-G-L-Y. We kicked, we screamed, but all efforts were futile. 

Because I lost my job when the newspaper I worked for folded last year, I spent 10 months working freelance — read: not getting taxed. So, the evil tax man government has come to take it, so rather than the refund that I became so accustomed to throughout my university days, I actually owe. Agh. I won't tell you how much, but just remember, while you're listening to the CBC, it's thanks to me.

So now, all frivolous shopping and spending is going to have to be done vicariously and virtually. So I'm going to chronicle our saving efforts — because just as fellow blogger Lacey pointed out, what are blogs for, if not total accountability?

As you may have noticed, I love to cook, so when I go to the grocery store, I never stick to my list. I thought about it for a while, and counted on my fingers for a while, and decided that Husband and I could manage for $100 every two weeks. That said ... I went a bit over this week, spending a total of $145. So, by my math, we should be able to function for three full weeks on this much. And you should see our freezer .. it's completely packed. The big thing that changed my spending this week was planning our week's meals in advance.  

This is the beginning of some major budgeting in our future — it's all part of the five-year plan, which will hopefully include paying down some major student loan debt, saving up for a house, buying a new car and preparing to start our family. We've considered the envelope system, but we're not ready to give up our big-point-earning joint credit card just yet. Once we've accumulated the points needed for a spring getaway with B and C, we'll ditch the plastic for a more debt-free existence.

Wish us luck, and feel free to pass any tips our way!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

i tried it: fail

I'm not one to buy into gimmicky things. So, when I went to buy a new tube of mascara recently, I went directly toward the CoverGirl Lashblast — simply because it was recommended by sister-in-law C the last time I bought mascara, and I agree that it works well.
But when I got to the display, I noticed the Exact Eyelights, which comes in varying shades for different eye colours (both tubes cost the same). 

I knew about this product from America's Next Top Model. Now, I'm not saying that's the entire reason that I bought it, because I'm fully aware that the CoverGirl promotions during that show are most shameful, but I'm not going to lie, the segment on the show intrigued me. 

So I picked up the wand for blue eyes, and the results? Less than stellar. The mascara itself is tinted blue. A MAC makeup artist once told me that if you have blue eyes, you shouldn't wear blue eye makeup. Didn't CoverGirl get that memo? And while I enjoy the hint of metallic, I find it makes the mascara flake off easier, so if I rub an eye, I'm dealing with specks of colour and smudging the rest of the day. It also doesn't cover as well or lengthen as much.

Maybe you've had a better experience, but if you want my advice, skip the gimmick.