Monday, July 28, 2014

Simplifying Life

I have made a decision to discontinue my budget posts at the end of each month, for various reasons but the primary one is to simplify my life a bit.  I just ran out of pages in my dollar store budget book and realized I don't want to buy another one. It shouldn't be a chore to do a blog post and I am finding those posts a bit of a bore.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Freebies, Flowers and the Farm Market

Perennials in full bloom at the front of our house
Yesterday was a great freebie day.  I redeemed some of hubby's Avion points for two tickets to Alberta at Christmas (book now if you haven't already as Christmas space is already filling up - you will only pay more if you don't!).  We still had to pay $325 in air taxes and surcharges on the tickets but saved $821.  I also created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all mine and hubby's point programs.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thrifting for Clothes

Jockey shirt $5.39
Here are all my thrifting wardrobe finds from June and July.  In June I bought the dress and black camisole and this Wednesday I took Mom along and went on a bit of clothing shopping spree.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Unexpected House Guests

These rotten buggers have set up housekeeping in our back yard.  Hornets - nasty business!  Neither of us are allergic fortunately  but they shall be dispatched tonight, under cover of darkness when they are drowsy.  We cannot sit out and enjoy our patio furniture until this issue is taken care of.

In other news I seem to be having a week of making more work for myself.  First, I accidentally paid the wrong company for a bill using online banking.  The money went to an account that was closed for over a year.  I had to spend 1/2 hour on hold yesterday to try and retrieve the money and hopefully, I will get  a cheque back in 7-10 business days.  Note to anyone who does online banking, delete old accounts off the list!  I also managed to delete part of our corporate blog by accident so have techies at work as we speak to reinstall the widget I deleted.  Fortunately, they are on a year-long contract and we are due a bit of maintenance on that contract each month so likely not to cause an extra bill in the mail.

Finally, if you are interested in treasure hunting at all read this article regarding a stash of new-found treasure found in a British Cave.  Cool!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quadra Island Getaway

We just got back from a wonderful weekend getaway at a nearby island called Quadra Island.  Friday afternoon we made a short 45 minute drive then ferry ride over to our rustic cabin on the ocean.  All we wanted was some rest, ocean time, kayaking and to get away from our business for a couple of days.  We got far more than that.  It was truly a memorable summertime experience, with hot 30 degree celcius sun filled days and lots of wildlife to see and the ocean to explore.

Quathiaski Cove Ferry terminal, Quadra Island

That little ferry just rounding the bend is the one we took from Campbell River, only a short 15 minute ride away.  Part of what drew me to this resort is I was looking for someone we could go kayaking and this resort included use of them free with the stay.  We went both Saturday and Sunday for a couple of hours each day.  We were in a protected harbor made up of several smaller islands so lots of close shoreline to explore.  I left my big digital camera at home and opted for my small waterproof camera and iphone camera for this trip.  We saw a racoon, sea otters, seals, herons, eagles and lots of other creatures.

Underwater shot - starfish

A new creature spotted on this trip was a 4 inch nudibranch which happened to be swimming right where we launched the kayaks.  I have never seen one outside of aquariums or on TV.  They are very much like a snail without a shell and come in dozens of colours and shapes.  So neat to watch it swim away.

Giant Dendronotid Nudibranch spotted on Quadra Island

One of my favorite pictures this trip was when we were sitting on the dock, dangling our feet in the water to get some relief from the heat.  This spider had built a web between two boards on the dock.  That is the sun and clouds reflected off the water in the background.

This was the view to the front of our cabin.
Seascape Resort Marina

View from our upper cabin bedroom
 We only left the resort once, to check out the local farmers market.  We got there late in the day just before closing.  It was so hot, it looks quiet but was much busier earlier in the day.

Both evenings after making scrumptious BBQ dinners we sat out on the dock with a cocktail and enjoyed the sunsets.  Such a lovely weekend away - days like these make you happy to be alive!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Much Needed Break

I am tired.  It has been a long week from our garage sale last weekend to the loss of our pet.      Thanks for all your kind thoughts in that regard.  I have done a bunch of grocery shopping in preparation for our weekend away and boy, do we need some R&R.  We shall kick back, relax, enjoy nature, drink lots of alcohol (yes, we on occasion do that) and kayak (definitely not in that order - only sober kayaking thanks very much).  The above picture taken two weeks ago is very near where we will be staying on Quadra Island across the water from Campbell River.  I have packed all our favorite food and munchies and we hope to have an enjoyable stress free weekend.  See you back on the other side!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Furry Tribute

We lost the little furry member of our family on Sunday unexpectedly and are coping with the loss.  So amazing how such a little creature can be such a big part of your family.  You see, my husband is allergic to most furry creatures.  As a result, we have hamsters.  Brown mouse was the 4th in a series of hamsters and likely the last.  We got Brown mouse two years ago and he lived a royally spoiled life.  Waited on hand and foot, rewarded with treats like pumpkin seeds, watermelon and his pick of veggies.  His name was meant to be temporary until we thought of something better.  The name stuck. 

He was such a good pet, very easy going and liked to snuggle (very unusual for hamsters).
He had a thing for snuggling with remote controls too.

I am crushed, he was a great pet.  He was fine one minute, eating, sleeping, all bodily functions working, the next he was gone, hopefully peacefully in his sleep.  Fortunately, we believe he did not suffer.  RIP little buddy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Garage Sale Results

So, great news, our garage sale was DA BOMB! No, it didn't bomb, we made money!  $318 of "stuff" no longer wanted or needed.  60% of it was my Mothers from her downsize.  Note to anyone out there that is having difficulty downsizing someone.  Promise to try and sell their stuff rather than giving it away.  She agreed and she sold loads of stuff!  She only took home two small items not willing to part with them.  The rest I am taking the Sally Ann tomorrow, but there wasn't that much left.

Our sale was scheduled for 9-2pm Saturday.  We started setting up at 750am.  We realized there were people milling on our street at that time so opened the garage door.  It was pouring rain and yet people just kept coming! We estimate we had somewhere between 175-200 people through in that amount of time.  I had a couple of small profits too!

I bought this Coach Leather Handbag at a garage sale for $10 last May.  Too big for me to pack around so I put it in the sale.  It is authentic, I checked the serial numbers.  I sold it  for $25 at the garage sale.  Still a great bargain for the lady who bought it, plus a couple of bucks in my pocket for the travel fund.

I bought this Italian leather silk lined purse in Alberta for $12 (Goodwill) before we left thinking I would use it.  The strap is a bit funky so I ended up not liking it. I sold it at the garage sale for $20.  

So apparently, even when the weather is cold and rainy all day, you can have an extremely successful garage sale on Vancouver Island.  Many of the sales advertised decided not to go ahead when they saw the weather.  It did not deter the salers.  I woke up at 430 am to heavy rain and was really worried we would not sell anything.  Boy was I wrong. All of the money Hubby and I made from unwanted stuff went straight into the travel fund.  We don't need anymore stuff, we need more fun!

Friday, July 4, 2014

June Budget Results

We are officially at the halfway mark on the year and all the budgets look pretty good and ahead of track on hair and clothing.  Here is how it shakes out so far:

June Grocery Budget 
June grocery was $450 plus underage of 1.90 from prior months = $451.91.  I spent $450.30 = under!  BUT, and this is a big BUT, I am out of a lot of over the counter meds and nonfood items so have a sneaking suspicion we will be blowing July's budget ($450 plus the underage of $1.61 = $451.61).  That plus the fact that it is definitely nice and warm and out so we have been BBQing most evenings which makes the meat bill go up.  I still have a partially stocked freezer though and the cupboards certainly don't look bare so we will see how we do.  The Costco membership is paying off as our business gets busier I have less and less time to source out bargains.  I did manage to save $5.59 this month in coupon savings (*technically not coupons but points ) when I received 4 litres of milk for cashing in some points at my grocery store.

We have been eating out more now that the business is so freaking busy but we are also making more money so that helps.  I am trying to limit it to 1 in 10 days so we don't get any plumper than we are already are.  A certain hole in the wall Chinese shop that doesn't take credit cards has seen our face a couple times this month.

Hair Budget $175 per year
Spent in June - $19.50. I did get my hair cut early in the month.  I no longer color my hair and now it is 100% natural.  EEK there are a couple of gray hairs, previously unseen due to dying.    I may have to rethink that one.  For now I am plucking them out (yes, only found 3).  Left in the budget for the year = $116.27.

Clothing Budget $200 per year
$9.98 spent on a summery dress ($7.23) and a tank top ($2.75), both like new from Sally Ann.  The tank top appears to be spanks but someone cut out the tags so I am not sure. It certainly keeps all the bulges in their appropriate spots = yay!  $123.66 left in the budget for the year.

Not a long post tonight, as we are prepping and trying to relax a bit before our garage sale tomorrow.  This is what our front hall looks like (only a small portion of what is going up for sale).  The forecast isn't good, cloudy with sprinkles, but I posted the signs, put it in the paper and we put it in 3 online spots for free (Craigslist, Kijiji, and Used Buy & Sell) and said rain or shine.  Another neighbor across the street is having one as well so I was able to advertise it as multi-family which always draws a bigger crowd.  My Mom has made a gigantic pot of Chili for after the sale, now all we need is to run to the store for some liquor.  To all my friends in the USA - Happy 4th!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Another Great Day on the Ocean

We had another great day on the Ocean yesterday with our wildlife viewing tour of the Discovery Islands. The tour departed from Campbell River.  The day started out with a bit of rain but once we got out on the water the clouds parted and we experienced a lovely sunny day with calm waters.

Campbell River Marina

A pod of 8 Orcas or Killer Whales were spotted off the South-west side of Quadra Island.  They were just hanging about, not breaching (usually only do that when they are killing something for dinner).  It was really cool, they would surface for a couple of minutes and then go down for 6-8 minutes.  We just shut off the boat's motor and sat there quietly.  It was so nice to be able to hear them blow water and surface in the quietness of the bay.  We watched them for approximately 1.5 hours then went on to Mitlenatch Island which is also part of the Discovery Islands.

Transient Orcas on West side of Quadra Island

Transient Orcas on West side of Quadra Island

Mitlenatch Island is essentially a bird sanctuary which you can only access by boat.  There are University students there year round helping to protect the bird species on the Island while at the same time doing research.  Apparently the largest Garter snakes in the world live here - size due to their steady diet of bird eggs (completely harmless docile snakes commonly found in BC).

Mitlenatch Island Bird Sanctuary

There were several harbour seals spotted lying in the rocks around Mitlenatch Island.

Harbour Seals on Mitlenatch Island
The Island is home to many birds.  We spotted this Heron and her nest.  There is a Cormorant standing right next to her - apparently birds know how to live together peacefully.

Blue Heron with Nest (Cormorant beside) on Mitlenatch Island
We spotted these Cormorant's nests on the side of the cliff.  It gets pretty windy here but is considered a desert - type climate so little rain.  Seemed like an odd spot to me to build a nest but they feel very safe.

Cormorant Nests on Mitlenatch island
I love sea creatures of all kinds and am completely fascinated by jellyfish.  And yes, I have been stung by them, not here on Vancouver Island but swimming off the coast of Mexico.

Jellyfish at Campbell River Harbour

Crab at Campbell River Harbour
We also saw this neat purple/reddish jellyfish which I believe is a 1 foot Lion's Mane jellyfish (correct me if I am wrong).  We often spot these guys dead washed up on the beach.  This is the first time I have seen a live one.  This was off the dock at Campbell River.

(Lion's Mane?)  Jellyfish at Campbell River Harbour

There is nothing I like more than spending the day on the ocean and Sunday was one of those great days. We are returning to the Discovery Islands in two weeks time for two nights to go kayaking and I can't wait!