Saturday, 30 April 2016

Adventures - Time Spent Saving Money

It was that time of year again to take on some of the monthly bills and see where I could save money (I only have the stomach for this about once per year!)

My phone 
As our American friends may not know, Canadians pay some of the highest cell phone rates in the world. Our bill, with our soon to be former provider was $130 Cdn a month (That is about $104 US). My goal was to get it under $100 (as I knew we still wanted some data).

-I called the provider of our internet and satellite - our bill would have gone up about $15 per month, not helpful.
-I called our current provider, the best they said they could do was to drop the bill by $10 a month. After 21 years, that was the best they would do (until later where they dropped it by another $10, but it was too late and not enough). 
-I called Fido, who is actually owned by our current provider, and clearly sounds like a company I should be with. We could get what we needed, including making our home phone free for a year (We are currently paying $30 Cdn for per month for it - after the year it will be $13 and include long distance which we don't currently have)  - for $93 per month. We would be saving $37 on our cells and $30 on our home, for an annual savings of $804. 

Now for the headache part. To switch phones, we have to get our phones unlocked. That cost $50 a piece and took a total of 50 minutes to get them to unlock mine because they kept trying to get me to stay (I will spare you all the details but my patience was done by the end) and 40 minutes to unlock my husband's for no real reason. I do plan on writing our almost former provider (as I type this my husband is getting his phone restored so we can switch SIM cards). We also had to pay $10 each for the new SIM cards.

The SIM Cards awaiting use
So our total cost savings - $804 plus Fido is giving us $75 after 90 days for switching (and also giving my sister that for referring us) - minus $120 for unlocking and new SIM cards means we will be up about $760 ($605 US) for the year. I think that was worth the over 5 hours it took to get all the information and get it done. 

Because I was on such a roll, I took on the house insurance and car insurance. I haven't formalized it yet as I have some more research to do, but I think I found a way save $2000 per year for the same coverage, with an excellent company. 

While the process was frustrating, I am happy with the results. Sadly it was one of the most interesting parts of my week! (Proving, I really need a life!)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Thankful Thursday - Rice

Me on our balcony at the hotel
I really struggled with this post this week.  I am feeling a little out of sorts. I can't quite put my finger on why. I have had a lovely week. I got to work at home Tuesday and Wednesday. I have been feeling fine. Maybe it is because it is unseasonably cold (hovering around 0 C - which is freezing, when it should be around 10-12 C - in the 50sF).  Maybe it is the impatiently waiting for my nephew to arrive (he is due any day). I am sure it will past.

To help inspire me for today's post, I was going through the pictures on my computer. I have about 5.5 years of pictures. I came across pictures from our trip to Bali in 2011. I came across pictures of one of my favourite places we have ever stayed in, just outside Ubud. It was a small hotel backing onto a rice paddy. The hotel was beautiful, the service was amazing and we very much enjoyed our few days here. (It was much nicer than the resort we stayed the  first part of the trip).

Now that I am no longer able to eat white potato, rice has definitely become a staple in my diet. It is funny, it wasn't until my 20s that I even liked rice. Now it is a go to food.

Today I am thankful for rice and the people who grow it!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


There is one word to describe the tomato challenge and that word is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


That is right, after 2 days of tomato, meaning 2 little slices (like pictured above), my stomach bloated, and I had severe pain. I actually felt exhausted (which I can only assume is related to this - but I am not sure if that is physical or mental). It is appearing that the "winner" of the gut wrecking challenge is the nightshades. Sigh! 

Next test, which starts today, is citrus. After that will be peppers. If peppers fail, I am not testing eggplant. We don't eat a lot of it because my husband the chef doesn't like it, so it seems a waste to buy an eggplant to have 2 slices and throw it out. My nutritionist suggested trying it in the future when I come in contact.

Fingers crossed citrus is in! 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

There Is No Good Natural Deodorant and Other Liver Facts

This week my nutritionist and I went over things that help improve liver function. As my body has been reacting a lot of things like threats, it could use a little extra help with the detox.

Here are the non-food tips she shared:
My current deodorant
  • Minimize household chemicals - We have already switched to almost all natural cleaning products. (If you want to save money, vinegar and water and steam are you best bet. I happen to purchase natural cleaning products as I think it is easiest for my cleaner).
  • Use natural, chemical free personal products - I had embraced this when I worked with my natural path 4 years ago. I have all natural lotions, shampoo, shaving cream, makeup. I got a cavity after using a natural toothpaste so switched back. I do continue to colour my hair and am not ready to give this up as I am not ready to be 100% grey. The only daily chemical I have not been able to replace is deodorant. I have tried a lot of different natural ones and none worked. I asked my nutritionist if she had a brand to recommend and she said "no" - she has not found a natural deodorant that is effective either. She even went so far as to say some make things worse! She said I could keep my deodorant for now but reduce how much I use (1 swipe is likely enough).
My $5 brush
  • Exfoliate - I am suppose to get a dry brush and before a shower slowly exfoliate my skin, starting at my limbs and working towards my centre. I admit, this seems a little "hippy-dippy" to me but I will try it. I did have a great chuckle because on the cruise, a massage therapist tried to sell my husband a very fancy brush for $80 for this purpose. (My nutritionist laughed at this and said I should be able to find one for under $4). 
  • Jumping Exercises - I am suppose to jump on a trampoline, do jumping jacks or burpees. I think I will stick to exfoliating!
  • Lymphatic massage: This is a massage given between the muscles and requires extra training. I hate a regular massage so am unlike to try this.
  • Yoga - check!
  • Walking - check!
  • Magnesium in a bath - check!  Need to add baking soda to prevent the reabsorption of the toxins. 

My question to others - has anyone found a natural deodorant that works? I am willing to try again!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Thankful Thursday - A Teacher and a Book

I hated reading as a kid. My mother tried everything to get me to like to read, but I didn't really enjoy it. I read the Sweet Valley Books because my friends did but it was a chore.  Don't get me wrong, I loved books, I just liked them being read to me. I know I was a painfully slow reader, but I don't think I had a reading disorder (unlike the spelling disorder I still live with). I am not sure why I disliked it.

Fast forward to age 17. I was in grade 12 English. (At this time in Ontario there was a grade 13 which was known as OAC, so I still had one year of high school to get through - but because I was desperate to run away from home  highly motivated, I fast-tracked and did the 5 years in 4 - which just gave me more years in post secondary education, but more about all of that another time).

My grade 12 English class was taught my Mrs. Nancy Harvey. She was the head of the English department. She was (and likely still is) a very earthy person. She was my favourite teacher of all my years of school, even though I did roll my eyes repeatedly when she would take us to the ravine to look for fairies. She was a wonderful, compassionate, loving person. She saw the best in everyone and often the potential that no one else (including the teen) saw.

Every year on the reading list she put one book that had been banned. In grade 12, that book, which was the magical book that opened the world of reading to me, was Canadian author Timothy Findley's The Wars.
My copy

Anyone who has read this book (or most of Findley's work, which I have read and own it all), would be surprised that reserved, can't handle gross things me, would fall in love with a book, an author and reading because of The Wars. The book is probably an honest look at a 19 year old sent to WWI. It is brutal, graphic and yet beautiful. I have read it more times than I can count. (I can say the same about several of Findley's work - my favourites being Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Butterfly Plague). I think I feel in love with this and Findley's work, because I see an honesty in this writing. It is only his last book (which is my least favourite, but maybe a nice way to end his life and writing life) that has anything that can be described as a happy ending. As a pessimist  realist, I am rarely satisfied with the happy ending. Life isn't like that. Life can be horrible and trying with moments of beauty. That is what I see in The Wars and Timothy Findley.

Now I read every night before bed. I read 2-3 books per month. Not bad for the girl who hated it.

Today I am thankful for a wonderful, loving teacher, who opened the pages of hundreds of books to me. Thank you Mrs. Harvey!

My small collection of books - most of what I read I donate. Most of the top shelf is Findley's complete works.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Experiment Two - Corn

After a failed attempt to bring food one, the beloved potato (I am not ready to think of a life without baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, fries and latkes yet), I was nervous going into test two, corn.

I was nervous, not just because test one was a failure, but because historically corn in the form pictured above, has not been my BFF. It has caused problems.

Day 1 - I ate that little bit of corn pictured above, chewing it really, really well. No issues
Day 2 - I ate corn in the form I really want it - corn starch in my baking powder and 4 corn chips. No issues.
Day 3 - Back to the real corn. Had it on my taco inspired salad.

The results (knock on wood) are no difference in my gut. I will try my fourth test tonight. If it goes well, corn will be back in!

The next food experiment will be citrus or tomato.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Thoughts on Minimalism

The dog shelf in our bedroom
As I have mentioned, the Podcast is my savour during my long commute. I feel like I am using my time wisely. One of my favourites is The Slow Home. (You can learn more about it HERE.) This week Brooke McAlary interviewed one of the minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn. While I have heard him speak, and read some of his work before (as well as other minimalists work), I haven't really sat down and processed/thought about what is means for me. I spend some time doing that this week. This is what I have come up with.

1. I will never be a real minimalist. I like stuff. I like to look around and see reminders of trips, or special people.

Puppets from Jakarta
2. I do think I have things I am never going to use/need and I am slowly working to give those things away. The process has been going on for about a year. To date I believe I have removed at least 15 garbage bags worth of stuff (most went to be donated). I keep a box in a closet that I add to and things come up.

3. I am being much more mindful of what I am consuming. I am working really hard to only purchase needs and to bring home things that somehow add value to my life.

4. I like my stuff, but I don't like clutter and I want everything to have a place.

Misc. Things

5. By spending less of stuff, I will have more time and resources for what I really want to do, travel. (Although leaving the dogs gives me guilt because the other thing I want to do is to spend time with them).

6. I know I put too much sentimental value into items and keep things that don't bring me joy/useful. I am slowly working to let those things go.

7. I would rather have quality items over quantity items.

8. Many of the things I would like to let go aren't mine. When you share a home with someone, you must compromise on the stuff front.

Items we collected and gifts from Asia

What is your relationship to your "stuff"?

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Thankful Thursday - My Tub

When we were house hunting 4 years ago, I thought I wanted a jacuzzi tub. I was a bit disappointed when the house we ended up loving had a claw foot tub. However, I started using the tub (which is made of plastic and not metal) and fell completely in love. I am sure if we had a jacuzzi tub I would have enjoyed it, but I no longer want to replace our tub.

I love the tub so much, that I admit I haven't used our shower (which is very lovely and huge) for probably 4 months. Rather than shower, I spend my evenings soaking in the tub. I am sure when summer comes, I will go back to using the shower, but as long as this winter continues, I am going my tub!

Add to make the bath even more perfect:)

Food Update:

I had a reaction to potato. My gut hurt and bloated right out over night after day 2. This  makes think I am likely going to react to all the nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes - which I reacted to as a child with hives, peppers, eggplant). I am trying not to feel devastated and look at the fact that I can eat potatoes but now I know how they make me feel.

On Saturday I get to try corn as food two. The other nightshades will be tried eventually. We haven't worked out the order past corn. I am very hopeful that I will get to keep corn because corn chips are one of the main foods I am missing!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Exercise and a Potato

First, let me say, I have never been a person who has enjoyed exercise. I wasn't into team sports, I was always picked last in gym class, I was never asked to play on the school yard (I wouldn't have picked me),  in fact I am so uncoordinated and inflexible  I could never do a somersault or touch my toes.

As a kid, this wasn't a problem. I walked to school, I biked with friends etc. As an adult, this became more of a problem as life required me to sit more. As an adult I tried:
-archery (was terrible, they politely asked me to not come back)
-Racquet ball - I didn't hate this
-Zumba - I am a terrible dance but loved the instructor and seeing my sister
-Boxing - I loved it, but the classes were designed for athletes, so they weren't that encouraging for me
-Yoga - Completely terrible, but it always made me feel good
-Golf - am going to try and get into this if spring ever comes!

Now my daily exercise currently looks like this:
-30 minute walk in the morning with the dogs (this has been the norm since we got Hailey)
-10 minute walk (at least) as often as possible after lunch and dinner (it aids in digestion, but I don't need to go out in terrible weather which has been a lot lately)
-30 minutes of yoga at night (I can't put it into my morning and get 8 hours sleep).  I am still terrible at it, but at least in the comfort of my own home, no one needs to see me not be able to touch my toes! I am loving the webiste

I am also suppose to mediate in the morning (hasn't officially
happened yet but I do sort of meditate while walking). I need to do deep breathing before eating and I am not allowed to be on the computer, watching TV, etc. while eating. (I have not been 100% at this, but I am trying, even though it takes away at least 30 minutes of my blog time a day and I resent that).

The Potato:

This is the first food I got to introduce. If you asked me what my favourite food (besides chocolate
was), I would say the potato. I love fries, chips, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato salad . . . I think the only type of potato I don't love is scalloped.

As I have to eat increasing amounts of potato over 4 days, my husband made me mashed potatoes, using chicken stock and a spread that meets the diet.

Day one:  2-3 bites. Ok I made it like a hundred bites and enjoyed every second.
Day two: See picture. So, so good.

Woke up this morning feeling like there was a lump in my gut. I am hoping this will pass. If not, maybe potato has to go. We will see.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

What I Learned This Week - Car Salesmen Really Will Say Anything

Let me start by saying I am not in the market for a new car. I have had mine for over 4 years and plan on driving it until it dies (and hopefully I will have it paid off by then).

On Tuesday, there was a message at home to the call dealer, I called them back so they wouldn't harass me.

The conversation went something like this (this is an abbreviated version, but you get the gist):

Rick: I have a customer who is looking for your car. I was hoping you would bring it in for a free appraisal.

Me: Chuckling - First, I love my car. Second, it has too many kilometres and I owe too much money to deal.

Rick: You would be surprised, we can blow you away with what we will offer. What if I said we could put you in to something new for the same price you are paying now.

Me: I am going to drive my car until it dies.
The car that caused all the trouble!

Rick: I don't want to go into it, but the guy who wants your model of car, lost his wife last year. This was her dream car that she never got to own. I think he wants it for sentimental reasons.

Me: I hope you find him a car. When I am ready for a car, I will get back to you.

My husband when I told him what had happened (and we stopped laughing) - "you should have called him on his BS".

My sister when I told her - "your car is fine but who has that as their dream car."

I decided to contact the dealership (email was easiest) and this was the reply.

"I thank you for contacting our dealership to inform us of the call you received from Rick. I apologize for this experience, there is no question that this call was unacceptable and embarrassing to myself and the sales department. Rick is a new member of our sales team, he has been with us for about a month now. Rick has previous sales experience, but is new to the automotive industry. This seems out of character from what I know and have seen from him so far, but this is obviously a huge eye opener. I will be speaking him this afternoon and there will be consequences for his actions. I apologize again, customer service is a top priority for our dealership and the XXX automotive group. If I can be of any help in the future I will make sure to take extra good care of your needs. "

When I shared this with my husband, he said "so you got someone fired". This was not my intent, but his behaviour was unacceptable. I am grateful that the dealership took me seriously and dealt with it accordingly. This encounter proved a deal will say anything. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Thankful Thursday - Flowers

I got out of the habit of having flowers when I was a cat owner. No matter where I put them, the cats would get them, chew them and then throw up. I was always worried someone would get poisoned and it took the joy out of having flowers.

While grocery shopping over Easter it occurred to me, we could have flowers again. I selected tulips because they symbolize spring (which I don't think ever is coming . . . .). The joy this purchase has brought is more than I expected. I am going to have to get into the habit of having fresh flowers more often.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Bonus Post - Your Questions Answered

I thought it would be easiest to address people's questions in one post.

First, I have learned if my career every fails, I can always do laundry. I love the whole process of it, the washing, folding and putting away. I generally do laundry 2 times a week, on my work at home day (most weeks I have one) and on the weekend.

Giving up food:

-It is hard. So many of the foods on the no list are parts of things I love, processed things. But I think we can all agree many processed foods really aren't that good for you and eating none/less is a good thing.

-I woke up day 4 with no gut pain. It happened so quickly, it made it easier.  I dropped an inch around my waist too.

-I had a daily chocolate habit for about well, my whole life and I had thought that would be the hardest, but after the first 3 weeks, it got easier.  I do clearly have triggers of times and places where I want it, but I say no! I gave up chocolate about 4 weeks before I started the diet. My nutritionist said if I find dark coco I can have a little of that. I think cutting out most sugar, except for 2 fruit a day helps. I have fewer sugar cravings. Fresh maple syrup has never tasted so sweet!

-Was I getting enough fibre before in my diet? Maybe not, although I have always eaten my vegetables and fruit. However, this was something more than just fibre. Increasing it alone did not help. Now 99% of what I eat is fibre lol!

My mom sent this as it reminded her of me.
Wine is something I miss the most!
-If you think you have a food issue, I would suggest talking to some sort of professional about it. It is hard, but may be worthwhile.

-The secret to success if being prepared. Knowing what you are going to eat, having the food in the cupboard etc. Sauces are one of the hardest things, so figuring out an alternative in advance is key.

-Having a husband who adores cooking and sees all of this as a challenge, is also a key to my success:)

-Self-control. I am blessed on two fronts with this. First, I have spent the last 13 or so years in the behaviour change business. I can apply the principles to my life. Secondly, I am stubborn determined. When I make up my mind about something, I just do it!  I plan on only doing this diet once in my life, so let's do it right!

Wait until you read about the exercise that goes with this diet. It is a miracle with the diet, exercise, and work, that I get anything done!

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The Elimination Diet - Day 18

Thank you to everyone who stopped by yesterday and left invaluable feedback. Blogger wouldn't allow me to add follow me by email on the weekend when I set up this blog, but it seems to have sorted itself out and I have added that. It's a work in progress and I will eventually work out all the kinks.


Most of my life my gut has hurt. In fact, until I removed gluten almost 4 years ago, I didn't know it wasn't suppose to hurt. When gluten left, I felt better for several years, but slowly over time the hurt came back.

I have also had some known food sensitivities since I was a toddler and environmental allergies my whole life. Basically my immune system hates me.

The Cross Roads:

I have no idea why I picked this time, but I decided, enough was enough, it was time to figure out what was causing the pain, because it just getting worse. So I started playing with my diet. I removed oatmeal and saw modest improvements. I cut out dairy, a food I have known for 23 years I shouldn't eat much of but have a love of cheese. I drastically reduced my sugar intake and took out chocolate (a food I have eaten almost every day of my adult life).  I was starting to  think what food to take out when my husband suggested I work with a professional. I did a Google search and found a nutritionist who specialized in gastrointestinal issues. I completed questionnaires (I love surveys, the could easily be a hobby), we met and we came up with the plan.
A soy free Ramen - created by the Man

The Plan:

To removed all gluten, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, nightshades (white potato, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants), chocolate, citrus (except lemon and lime), strawberries and peaches (the fruit is because of the chemical load). This was to be done for at least 2 week. Eventually each food (except the sugar) is added back one at a time to determine what the heck is causing the pain in my gut.

FYI - Soy, corn, potato starch and sugar hid everywhere. I had thought gluten and dairy were sneaky, but then I expanded the no list and was shocked! 

To add  7-9 servings of veggies, increase nut/seed consumption, drink at least 8 glasses of water (which I did), increase exercise, take flax oil (I can't do fish oil, it upsets my stomach) and a probiotic. Track it all to determine the next step.

Sometimes happily and sometimes while having a big pity party for myself I embraced this diet for 17 days. On day 17, I had a follow up with the nutritionist.

The New Plan:
Continue this fun diet for another week, then start reintroducing food. I will start with potatoes. Eventually we will reintroduce gluten!
Increase consumption of raw garlic, raw onion, ginger, turmeric, and sprouted foods.
Get a fish supplement as I don't eat fish.
Get oil of oregano and take it.
Substitute pineapple or papaya for banana in morning smoothie.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

A Brief Introduction

Attempt two at a personal blog. After 5.5 years of a fairly successful dog blog, I would like a blog that is more focused on the other parts of my life that just aren't about my dogs.  My first personal blog failed as I didn't have a plan. Now, I think I have a plan. I want to create more and consume less and take time to reflect on all the things I am learning.

The inspiration for the blog title came from a podcast Straight and Curly. They were discussing the values of having non-computer based hobbies. Which made me reflect on my hobbies.
Our unfinished laundry room

In no order my hobbies:
-blogging (reading and writing)
-walking my dogs
-reading (primarily fiction)
-listening to podcasts
-baths - I love a long soak, in love light (especially in the winter)

Yep, I am the type of person who loves to do laundry. Vacuum, I hate and pay someone to do, but laundry I adore.

Here is my plan for this blog:
I am aiming for 3 posts a week, focusing on positive/useful information, no complete bellyaching (whining is allowed if it is followed by a plan!).

Tuesday - To start will be looking at diet and exercise. I am week 3 of this elimination diet, which sort of sucks is a challenge.

Thursday - My least favourite day of the week (no good ever came from one), so I  will make it thankful Thursday. I will share something non-dog related that made me happy/I am grateful for. (Ok, it may occasionally be dog related)

Sunday - Things I learned and other life adventures

Let's see where this takes me . . . . . . if a personal blog fails again, I can always find some laundry to do.