What a year it has been! No regrets, I'm just hoping 2010 is as good to us. We have our health, each other, family, friends, and good jobs. Life doesn't get much better than this.
Thanks to all you blog followers for all the lovely and kind words thoughout the year and I look forward to reading all your fine blogs in 2010. I'm joining the daily savings club which is a great idea from Gill "That British Woman". Check out her site if you are interested in joining too.
Actually I might be doing a lot of challenges this year. Meal planning, No Drive Days and No Spend Days (ala "Saving4Later") and maybe some exercising to try to lose a few pounds would also be nice. Hopefully I'm up for all these challenges. I'm going to start focusing more on savings so we can both retire sooner. And I'm really going to start saving for one mean looking BBQ this spring. Wish me luck! Now I just have to start working on getting that raise this year.
Cheer's to you all and I hope everyone rings in the New Year safely. I'll be waiting for Granny New Years to stop by sometime during the night. It's a Scottish tradition and I'll leave you in suspense till tomorrow to explain.
Hubby gave me a hand held GPS unit so we can go geo-caching, and that's how I spent the afternoon today - looking for caches.
We found two sites easily but the log book was missing from the first site, all that was left was the pencil. So we just continued onto the next one. We found the cache, which was well hidden, and of course the rules are that if you take something out of the cache you must put something back. I took out a purple stone and put in a Canadian Tire bill which was folded up like a shirt, origami style.
I had a blast and we walked around today for a couple of hours. We took one unintended side track when we followed a set of coordinates that had been entered improperly. The weather was perfect though, the birds were singing and there were animal tracks in the snow everywhere we looked. I can hardly wait for my next outing, I just hope we don't get any heavy snow fall for awhile.
Thanks Hubby for a great gift, one which I have wanted for quite awhile, plus I'm getting some exercise and vitamin D.
I'm a day late in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas but I know you'll all forgive me. We have been so busy that it is hard to believe the day is over. :-( Hubby made his traditional Wife Savers breakfast which once again saved his ass come X-mas morning.
We opened some gifts and then talked all day on the telephone to family and friends. I didn't even open my e-mail or even have the computer on the last two days so I have a lot of catching up to do. I even missed what Google did on their main page for Christmas. Please let me know.
Today I have some boxes to break down and put away, which is good because it is Boxing Day. Then I want to do some budgeting for the coming year and see how much I can squeeze our budget so we can save for a nice vacation to see family and friends back home. I also want to make a list of items which need to be replaced such as the old chipped Corel bowls. They are going bye bye. Plus, I'm going to start X-mas shopping earlier even if I only buy one gift card a month. I have all kinds of gardening ideas I have to start saving for, too.
Already I feel I'm going to run out of time planning. As always I will keep you all posted.
Yes, it's just that close and we're just so busy that I'm only going to make this a short little post. I wanted to share pictures of my amaryllis, ain't she a beauty? The first picture was shot on the 18th and three days later the blooms are fully open, just in time for Christmas.
Oh, and the little scene below is set up on our coffee table. The goofy look on the reindeer's face breaks me every time I look at him. Poor little reindeer
We had a little get together with close friends last night for some finger food, drinks and lots of laughs. We also played a few games, crokinole and chess (the latter is so much fun after a few rummy eggnogs). We always have a great time with this group and I'm planning a games night of some sort for the New Year. I can hardly wait.
I've finished my Christmas shopping and it's all wrapped up. I'm just waiting for Santa to hopefully drop by (I think I've been a good girl). We'll just have to wait and see!
I hate feeling guilty about not posting. I know that if I want to keep my readers happy I have to say something interesting on a reasonably frequent basis but this week I think that I might have dropped the ball, or at least fumbled it a bit. My, oh my, we have been busy and I'm just now finding the time to sit down here for a few minutes to write this. Guilt be damned!
The training that I have been doing for my new position has been accelerating every week since I started it. At first I was told that I would apprentice for a year or more, maybe a year and a half, but on Friday I was told that both my trainer and my supervisor think that I have progressed far beyond expectation. They think that I am ready to receive almost full qualification.
It makes me very anxious, more than a little nervous, to accept full responsibility for my work. Don't they realize that I have only really had about three months of training? I appreciate the vote of confidence they have given to me but surely there must be a heck of alot more to learn. Hubby is extremely proud of what I have achieved but I am just worried that someone is going to notice that the Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. I hope that I'm not going to let everyone down.
On top of that we have the Christmas holidays and all the attendant stress involved. There are presents to hunt down, crowds to deal with, wrapping, oh the wrapping, and shipping off to the big city. And then comes the baking, cookies, lots of cookies, everybody wants cookies and they need to be shipped off in a timely fashion as well. Top that off by spending a sizeable chunk of our annual income and our savings to purchase a reliable vehicle just so that we can make it to work in the winter. Sigh...
All right, enough of the whining and complaining. In spite of what I have just said I love the new truck, I love baking and the Christmas holidays, I love my new position at work, I love the challenge it brings to daily life and I love my family (what a surprise). So here are a few pictures of the cookies we are sending home. The first picture shows a couple of batches of Shortbread cookies. Some are naked, just as they came out of the oven, and the others have been dipped in Belgian chocolate and then into either crushed almonds or crushed candy canes, mmm! The other picture shows a batch of the orange flavoured oatmeal-raisin cookies that the folks back home claim to love so much. I wonder if anyone would use the recipe if I shared it? Let's find out, here it is...
Orange-Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Dipped in White Chocolate (original recipe might be from Sun-Maid Raisins)
3/4 cup raisins 3 tbsp orange juice or Cointreau liqueur 1/2 cup butter (at room temp.) 3/4 cup sugar 1 large egg 2 tsp grated orange peel 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 and 1/2 cups rolled oats 8 ounces white chocolate chips
Combine orange juice, orange peel and raisins; let stand overnight. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine flour and baking soda; stir into butter mixture. Add raisins, any soaking liquid and oats; mix well. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart; flatten slightly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely.
In the upper pot of a double boiler, over medium heat, warm the chocolate until melted. Stir until smooth. Dip one edge of each cookie into chocolate and gently shake off excess back into the pot. Place dipped cookies onto wax paper lined cookie sheet and allow 15 minutes to set completely. Chill or freeze. Doesn't matter, they won't last long anyway.
After the heartbreak of losing the deal on the 2010 truck we were indeed lucky to find this beauty last weekend. It took some real thought to decide to spend this amount of our savings on a vehicle but we think that we chose well. It took us a week to finalize the sale but Big Red came home yesterday and we think that it is just gorgeous. It is much prettier than the new truck we were considering and much better equipped. Oh yeah, and almost $20,000 less than the list price of the new one! I guess that the a__holes at the first dealership actually did us a big favour, and they probably didn't need our money anyway.
Hubby is still seething about our experience with the local Dodge dealer. Just by writing these words I can see the steam starting to rise off the top of his head. But all should calm down soon (hopefully). We dropped by another local dealer's lot on Saturday while we were out to do some Christmas shopping and we found a nice, clean, low-mileage truck like the one in these two pictures. While these are stock photos from Daimler Chrysler via off-road.com and about.com ours looks just like them.
The spec.s are good - 5.7 litre HEMI, Quad Cab, 4 wheel drive, 20 inch alloys, power everything - and the price is reasonable. It even fits into the garage, we know because we tried it out. They have offered a decent price on our old truck although they haven't seen it yet. The people we have dealt with at the dealership have been much more pleasant to work with, too. If we can agree to a couple of small things we will probably bring this home this week. Say a prayer for us!
Have you noticed we haven't mentioned the new vehicle we were hinting at earlier this week? That's because the steam has been pouring out of Hubby's ears since Wednesday and it's been kind of a touchy subject.
I guess the deal was too good to be true, but really, the flyer we got in the mail was from Chrysler Canada so how could it not be valid? First, here's what they were supposed to be offering;
* Price? $29,999! plus * 1.9% financing for 3 year PLUS * your choice of $1500 worth of accessories or $1000 worth of extended service or $750 in no charge options or $500 cash back!
Okay, great! We weren't planning to buy something this expensive but what a bargain! We talked it over and decided that it was worth pursuing. So off we trundle to our local dealer and there it was! Sitting right on the lot, looking just like the photo in the ad, same colour and everything. The price on the manufacture's sticker was $39000 and change but scrawled across three different windows was "As Advertised $29,999". Hubby's mouth was starting to water now so right after work the next day he goes to the dealer's lot again. The salesman comes out promptly and right away offers to let Hubby take it for a test drive.
The test drive went great. The truck was smooth, quiet and powerful. The interior was nicely appointed and there were lots of nice toys to play with. "Great" he says and heads back to the dealer to discuss the old truck's trade-in value having already decided that he would be recommending to me that we go ahead with the purchase. We had been looking for a used truck in the $10000 range but now we were going to spend more than 3 times that amount for this vehicle.
That's when the shit hit the fan.
By the time Hubby got back to the lot it was about an hour before closing time for the dealer. When he sat down with the salesman in the office he was told that the deal that had drawn us into the store was over as of close of business that day and that there would be a new special in place the next day. This was on Wednesday, November 25. Now, Hubby was sure that the deal he had seen was supposed to run longer but as he didn't have the flyer with him he couldn't prove it. So he left for home telling himself that the salesman was probably mistaken but thinking that we should follow up together the next evening after work.
When he got home the first thing that Hubby did was to read the advertisement again and sure enough right on the back page it said "Offer ends November 30, 2009" in big bold letters. Stupid salesman, he probably wasn't paying attention in the meeting that morning. What a relief, we would complete the deal on the 26th and still be inside Chrysler's time window.
The next day Hubby picked me up from work all excited about the possibility of a nice new vehicle, happiest I've seen him for a while. We got to the dealer and found our salesman and then took "our" truck out for another drive. I liked it, too. Okay, let's do it. Or, maybe not.
So, we meet back in the salesman's office and the first thing he tells us is that sorry the lot boys didn't get that price erased from the truck's windows. That offer closed yesterday. Today's offer is 0% finacing for 5 years but today the price is $5000 more than yesterday! Wow, 0% financing that costs $5000! Who could possibly turn that down!
Hubby produced his copy of the ad and pointed out the very explicit terms specified including the price, the extras and the expiration date of the offer. There was some discussion back and forth. The manager was called in as the salesman's forehead was starting to get very shiny. There was more disscusion. "We don't like this any more than you do" says the manager in some misguided attempt to make us feel sorry for them. "Those are just Weasle Words", "Bait and Switch", "Illegal" and "We're dead in the water" says Hubby and we left with our $35,000 still in our pockets. I guess the car dealers are making so many sales these days that they don't need it anyway.
As a final note, the salesman did call us back two days later and offer to go ahead with the original deal but in Hubby's mind the sale had already been poisoned. If you're going to commit to a major purchase like this you do not want it make your stomach twist into knots every time you think about it. We will be watching for more offers from the car manufacturers and if we find a good one we will pursue it. As for Chrysler, it will have to be even better than this one was supposed to be but, under no circumstances, will it be at the local dealer. They've already proven that they don't want our money.
We have a had a very busy weekend,as you are about to see. Yesterday was a beautiful day so we took advantage of the weather and collected some greenery for decorating outside. We also drove into town to do some shopping and to visit the Farmer's Market. I really love going there and I actually spent quite a bit of money yesterday. We bought some fresh salmon portions for dinner last night and some frozen lobster meat for chowder sometime soon. We also got some beautiful small potatoes, all washed so clean that all we had to do for supper was throw them straight into the cooking pot. The homemade bread we bought made great toast for our breakfast this morning. It was even better topped with some locally produced honey. We're also going to try glazing tonight's roast chicken with some of that honey, too.
In the handicraft section I found a beautiful hand made beaded bracelet and earring set for $10.00. No, is was not for me! Hubby would kill me buying things for myself this close to Christmas. I bought this as a secret Santa gift for someone at work.
Today we cleaned the house and started to put out some of our decorations and crafts around the inside. I was going to start my cookie dough this afternoon but honestly I'm just too tired and not in the mood to start baking today. There's always tomorrow, right?
This year I seem to be a little ahead of the game, except for the baking part, which I'll try to get a move on this weekend. But the bills in Dec are crazy. I guess I should have a few items rearranged for different months of the year so that Dec. isn't such a cash cow for our creditors.
Here's a little break down for you; Propane: $182.00 Propane tank rental: $80.00 Car Insurance: $250.00 - Just half for now, don't forget we're driving clunkers. Donation : $300.00 - Maybe more. Christmas Baking: $100.00 Christmas Gifts: $1,000.00 - Maybe more. Christmas Entertainment: $100.00 - You know you'll have friends over and you want to buy something good to eat and drink for them. Christmas Stocking Stuffers: $15.00 - We all want to see what Santa left in our stockings even if it’s a lump of coal! Company Christmas party: $50.00 - Unless you’re having a dry Christmas. Christmas Secret Santa: $15.00 - This you can opt out of but it is fun. Christmas Tree: $25.00 Christmas Postage: $ 35.00 Christmas Gifts for the mailman and papergirl/boy: $20.00 And lots more items which I'm sure I've forgotten or are not one of my traditions.
So you can see where I'm going with this. You really need a Christmas fund or you are screwed. Unless you choose not to celebrate Christmas which would be a whole lot cheaper.
Yup, still have the November blues, but only 8 days to go.
Hubby was very busy today getting the lawn tractor ready for it's winter sleep and the snow blower for it's grand entry. I made lasangna, two full pans, for supper today and the next few days. I'll freeze the extra, which will be enough for two dinners for us or a meal for all if we have company over for supper. It took a ridiculously long time too make it all (3 hours which includes the clean-up time), but it will be worth the effort later this winter.
I guess I need to start getting ready to do my Christmas baking now. This week I'll try to get my doughs together (gingerbread and shortbread) so I can just roll them out, bake and decorate when the mood strikes me. Then I can send some off to the family in the big city.
After that, I still need to make my Cranberry/Orange loaves.
Plus my Almond Bark.
Plus the meat pie for Christmas Eve dinner.
And Hubby will have to plan and do the Wife Saver's Breakfast for Christmas morning.
Man for two people that's a lot of cooking!
Also, Hubby has talked me into going to the company Christmas party, so I'm going to have to see if I can squeeze into any of my party dresses. Maybe I'll just have to buy something new. And, shoes. There'll probably have to be new shoes!
Were am I going to find the time for all this?
Oh, and we're still thinking about a new vehicle. It might even be this...
I forgot to mention the great dessert I made to go with dinner tonight. Homemade Apple Crisp with a few chocolate chips sprinkled on top on one side just to try (ok) but I wouldn't bother next time.
Oh! And yes, Christmas Rice Krispies squares! They were kind of a last minute idea but they are quick to make and tasty, very tasty. I'm so full right now I could burst, but give me a hour or so and those Rice Krispies will be calling my name. LOUDLY!!!
The night was beautiful. It had been a warm sunny day all day on Friday here on The Witch's Island and it felt even better considering that it is the middle of November. We thought to ourselves that it would be lovely to cook a couple of big old steaks on the BBQ for dinner. So, that's what we did; pulled one last meal out of the old beast. We even took a picture or two but look at the poor thing. This picture says it all. What a shame. The meal turned out great, though. Big rib steaks grilled to medium rare with garlic bread and cheese and a side of Caesar salad. The owls where hooting somewhere out in the woods as we cooked. I was warm in Hubby's old canvas coat, even as the temperature started dipping towards real November levels.
The night was magical really. Sometimes you have to look around you and realize how very lucky you are, even with a funky old BBQ. I seem to be doing this a lot more often.
Yesterday I finished the last of the Christmas shopping for my family back home and this afternoon I finished wrapping it all. Ya HOOO!!!!! All I have to do now is mail it off and then I just have hubby to buy for. Next week I'll start my Christmas baking and then I'll be mailing another parcel home. Oh, what a busy girl I am!
Last night for dinner we made pizza and it turned out to be quite a marathon event. We bought some dough for the shells from the local bakery but when we started rolling it out we found that it was contaminated with streaks of something black. It sure looked like mouse shit even if it was something else. So, we had to choose whether to abandon pizza completely or make our own dough from scratch. We chose to do our own but, start to finish, dinner took us almost three and a half hours. Today we are making homemade baked beans and oven-baked bbq ribs. Much less hands-on thankfully. There will be lots of left overs to freeze, too. That's great at this busy time of the year.
I planted my Amaryllis bulb this afternoon. It had already stated to grow inside the box so I guess it's getting a head start this year. My Christmas cactus, which has been in the family for years, has also started to bud out. I'm in such a Christmas mode I might even decorate the house next week.
"On the eleventh month of the eleventh day at the eleventh hour it is time to remember all the veterans and peacekeepers who bravely fought for the freedom we enjoy today. I think about this more and more as I get older and realize how much these men and women truly gave and believed in to make this a better country. I thank-you."
These are still my thoughts and the song below pays a great tribute to all these brave people. Did you stop to think about them today?
I often wondered why they can't make a BBQ to last. At our local dump there are always lots of dead BBQ's. Mostly cheap ones but not always. I thought for sure the BBQ that my Father bought for us as a home warming gift before we even started building the new house (you don't want to know) would last.
Why you ask?
Well it cost over $500.00 at the time we got it which is, I'm thinking, at least seven years ago. It's a big heavy thing, all stainless steel and cast iron. We thought that it would be hardier than a battleship. Well, it was, for the first year.
The first thing to go was one of the hinge pins for the lid. Hubby fixed it by replacing it with a nut and bolt and luckily he had another set for the other corner when that one broke shortly after. Then the igniter wires started burning off. That was annoying but at least there are two holes in the sides where you can shove a lighter in (almost like they knew we would need them). Then the burner control knobs went, one by one, getting stickier and stickier till we couldn't even turn one of them which means we can't use one of the 4 burners at all.
Then there was the day that the gas line going to the extra side burner melted and then caught on fire. Hubby was just able to get in to shut off the tank before it burned the place down.
Oh yeah, and the inner liner to the lid is now so rusted that we have to be very gentle when we close the lid to keep the loose scale from falling onto the cooking food. No amount of scrubbing seems to be able to eliminate the problem.
In all the time we have been dealing with this stupid thing we kept telling ourselves that it would be a shame to get rid of it because of the stainless steel cabinet and the initial cost of it. However, this week one of the door hinges has rusted through and the door is just hanging off. No way we're fixing this. It's time the damn thing goes to the dump.
The really sad point to this story is that it was the last thing my Dad bought us before he passed away and Hubby has been fixing it every time something breaks down on it just because it was from Dad.
Why can't they make stuff to last? I guess because they have us for suckers. We really don't want to be without a BBQ so I guess it will be something to add to my side bars to save for.
Sorry Dad that we have to junk it, I know you were so proud when you bought it for us.
Work has been very busy and challenging lately. Not that it hasn't always been so but this new position is even more intense. This is an industry which requires constant concentration and a keen eye to detail. The job must be perfect upon completion as people's lives could be at stake. So believe me when I say that it can get hard on your head some days. Then you have the annoying co-worker who just drives you nuts, right down to their school child laugh that an adult should have outgrown years ago. Really, grow-up!
Anyway, as you can tell, I have one of these coworkers hanging around me, though thankfully, not often enough to have driven me completely insane. A real "Klingon", and not the old Star Trek kind either. I just pity the poor guys who have to deal with him/her every day. YUK. Thanks, I just had to vent a little.
On the plus side I love seeing everyone around me wearing their poppies. Not just on their outside jackets but on their work clothes, too. With Rememberance Day just around the corner and Canadian troops on active duty overseas I think we all realize how much these men and women sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy so much today.
I hate this month, I don't know why. I guess it's because it is in your face, it's time to get ready for Christmas. I'm not a huge Christmas fan. I like to decorate the tree and the inside of our house, do some baking and a little entertaining but the commercial side of it I just hate.
I guess it gets me down having to figure out what to buy everyone and then it just comes down to a gift certicate exchange anyway. Really, why bother? I would love to live closer to my family and go shopping with them, to see what it is that really gets them exited.
Craft-wise, we can pretty well make anything out there, and it would be nice to tailor it to their decor. Shipping is always an issue for bulky or fragile stuff, too. It's not the money being spent, because we do budget for it, it's just the lack of fulfillment in what I'm buying.
Does anyone else feel this way or is it just my after Halloween blues?
Halloween was a blast. We had such fun carving our pumpkins and I think you will all agree they look simple marvelous. The night turned out just beautifully weather-wise. It was nice and warm with just a few clouds scudding past the almost full moon. We spent some time sitting out on the front lawn just admiring all the decorations around the house.
I don't know how Hubby comes up with these ideas for his designs but he outdoes himself every year. The pressure is already on for next year.
The kids had fun getting their treat bags and their parents where in shock to see the Pumpkins. Living out in the country we really don't get many trick or treaters only five this year. It looked, for a while that we weren't going to get any at all but in the last 45 minutes before curfew two cars arrived and then the kids from down the road brought their friends over to see the carving.
We had a nice roast chicken dinner and a good bottle of wine while we were waiting for kiddies to show up. I made some Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese icing for dessert. Quite a feast!
I also got very spoiled and received a very special Halloween gift. She is so cute. I'm one very lucky girl and Hubby really lets me know it. I hope you all had as great a time as we did!
It's almost here... I can hardly wait for tomorrow to see how our pumpkins will come alive!
I made some Devil Seeds (pumpkin seeds with some olive oil, salt, and a little paprika to give them some colour and heat). I put them in a pretty Halloween bowl and they look and taste great. They're full of fiber, too.
I want too wish my little sister and my sister-in-law both very happy birthdays. Lucky girls, I always wish that I was born at this time of year but no such luck. Anyway, we love you both lots.
Enjoy the pics. and wait till you see what the finished pumpkins look like.
One of Hubby's computer monitors died this week, just like that, without any warning. So off we went to spend our dough, the Dough-Nuts! I don't know where this saying came from (It came from a cartoon of some sort that tried to teach financial responsibilty to kids and it was from a long time ago. I think that the whole sequence went "Off they go, to spend their dough, without their common sense, The Dough-Nuts!" ed.) but I love it and thought it was the right space to incorporate it. Anyway, Hubby did find a monitor at a good price and seems happy as it is up and running. It's a substantial upgrade as he went from a 15" flat-screen to a 23 incher to partner the 19" he got a couple of years ago. He has dual monitors cause he is "special". Actually, he is very special to me and the dual monitors he needs for work purposes. (Yeah, right! ed.)
I also spent some money on myself as I needed a down-filled jacket for work. It can get very cold at my work station and it's not even winter yet. So after much searching I bought one, on sale of course, half price, but still $100.00. I didn't get down-filled, either, just fibre-filled. The down ones weren't on sale anywhere and were more like $300.00 and I just couldn't justify it. I did check my favourite boutique,Value Village, first but they didn't have anything suitable. The jacket I got is light weight so I can wear it while working away and it looks good on me so I guess it was worth the price.
As I said, it can get very cold in my work area and this chicky-poo doesn't plan on freezing her booty off. I also bought myself a small heater for under my work table. I can handle the heat in the summer but not the cold in the winter. So I'm as prepared as I can be.
I'm gearing up for Halloween. This Friday Hubby and I have the day booked off and we will begin to carve the pumpkins. I'll probably make some kind of cookie or cupcakes and roast some Devil Seeds (spicy pumpkin seeds). I love to bake near Halloween. Maybe it's just the cooler weather but for some reason it just brings out the creative side of me.
Oh, the IT Department finally got some sidebars up for me. I still haven't decided what they should show yet but at least they're working although only in a testing format.
Hope you like the pictures and I'll try to post again before Halloween.
Right now there is a delicious apple pie cooling on our kitchen counter just waiting to be served up with a piece of cheddar cheese as a side kick. We're also cooking a nice beef stew as I type. We used carrots and onions from our garden, and well, the potatoes where a free gift of sorts. You don't really want to know the details, but all the farm fields are being harvested around here. The laundry is all done as well as the house cleaning and I'm wondering why we can't have three day weekends every week. Really, it's getting hard to do my household chores and blog. Oh, my! Don't worry I'm not giving up blogging. It has been a great stress relief and I do enjoy visiting other blog sites so much. I'm going to update my sidebars with new sites soon. Hopefully, anyway.