Project: Spend Less, Save More

So, my hub and I are on an austerity program.     Yup, we’re on a budget.     Back in the summer we decided to track everything we spend, itemizing where it is going, and tracking it back against the budget we set annually for that particular category.      Very enlightening experience to say the least.

Have you ever analyzed every penny you spend?  And I mean every penny?     It sounds dreadful, but it is actually kind of fun, if you take it on like a project.   Yes, I know, I tend to project management everything, but it turns dreadful type activities into fun and positive activities.     Never mind, it also creates internal AND external order.      Ohhh, and how I love external and internal order.

Here are some basics from a blog I follow:   The Simple Dollar

SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN (sounds basic doesn’t it?)

Here are some of his suggested ways:

First, go through every monthly required bill. Ask yourself if you really need that service at all. Do you really use Netflix enough, or could you just rent a movie once in a while from Redbox? Do you really use your cell phone much at all, or could you just replace it with a pay-as-you-go phone? Then, go through each bill and see if there are any optional services you can eliminate. Do you really need premium cable? Do you really need unlimited text messages?

Second, keep diligent track of your spending. (we definitely have this one down pat – phew!)  Keep a notebook in your pocket and write down every expense you have. The simple process of doing this will make you think twice about unnecessary expenses. When you do have a month’s worth of expenses written down, take a careful look at them. Ask yourself whether or not each of these expenses actually contributed to the value and joy of your life. That process will offer a lot of insight for you as to where your spending is going to waste.

Third, look carefully at your routines. Watch what you do every day (or most days). Are there things you do each day that cost money? Those things are the most powerful ones to adjust, as trimming just $1 from your daily spending saves you $365 a year. Do you stop at a coffee shop each day? Why not cut down your daily order a bit, or switch to a different shop, or start making your coffee at home? Do you eat out every day? Perhaps you can start brown bagging it a few days a week. Look at every regular expense you have.

Fourth, get a better bank. The vast majority of Americans are with banks that don’t treat them very well. No interest at all on their checking accounts. Tons of fees for ATM use. Draconian overdraft policies. A tiny interest rate on savings accounts. Monthly usage fees of all kinds. All of these things are a waste of money. Switch your accounts to a bank that respects you. From my own personal experience, I use ING Direct for both savings and checking. I get great customer service, interest on my checking account, a solid interest rate on my savings account, and I’ve never had a fee of any sort.

Finally, do some one-time energy improvements around your home. Replace some of your light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs. Install a programmable thermostat. Air seal your home. Blanket your water heater. Install some SmartStrips to cut down on electricity use. These tactics will cut down your energy bill significantly, directly reducing your bills.

Check out The Simple Dollar for other great tips.     There is tons of valuable info there on his blog.

In the meantime, have I mentioned how I happy I am with my Hunter rainboots?     (we got something like 30 ml of rain in the last 24 hours in Ottawa, and broke the record for December 1st).    Oh, if only it could have been snow!!


So, what budgeting tips can you recommend?    Does anyone else track their pennies?



Filed under Life

LOVE your adrenals people

(Disclaimer:  I just read this on a message board and the contributor did not make a reference to the original author)  

I found this interesting, as I’m in “adrenal care-giving” mode right now, so thought I’d share it in case someone else may be questioning how they are feeling.


Estrogen Dominance. Today, women often have exhausted adrenal glands by the time they reach their mid-thirties or early forties due to a stressful lifestyle. Stress is regulated by our adrenal glands primarily. In early stages of adrenal fatigue, cortisol output is high as the body attempts to neutralize the stress by producing more of it. However, when too much cortisol is produced, it will have multiple undesirable effects. For example, cortisol blocks progesterone receptors, making them less responsive to progesterone. Progesterone normally produced by the adrenals comes to a halt in favor of cortisol. Insufficient progesterone production leads to an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone.
Adrenal normalization should precede hormone modulation. The adrenal glands deal with the daily stresses of life. A woman must normalize her adrenal glands in order to have a total body hormonal balance. In fact, replacement of deficient hormones alone without addressing the overall health of the adrenal gland is a band-aid approach and often ineffective in the long run. The normalization process can begin with investigating and eliminating stressors. Stressors are often chronic in nature, and can be related to lifestyle, dietary, mental, and inflammatory causes.

Common Causes Of Adrenal Stress:

Overwork/physical or mental strain
Excessive exercise
Sleep deprivation
Light-cycle disruption
Going to sleep late)
Chronic inflammation
Chronic infection
Chronic pain
Temperature extremes
Toxic exposure
Chronic illness
Chronic-severe allergies
Nutritional deficiencies

Associated Symptoms And Consequences Of Impaired Adrenals:

Low body temperature
Unexplained hair loss
Difficulty building muscle
Mental depression
Difficulty gaining weight
Inability to concentrate
Excessive hunger
Tendency towards inflammation
Moments of confusion
Poor memory
Feelings of frustration
Alternating diarrhea and constipation
auto-immune hepatitis
auto-immune diseases
Palpitations [heart fluttering]
Dizziness that occurs upon standing
Poor resistance to infections
Low blood pressure
Food and/or inhalant allergies
Craving for sweets
Dry and thin skin
Scanty perspiration
Alcohol intolerance”

I can say from experience folks, that you want to avoid Adrenal Stress/Burnout at all costs.   This is not fun, nor easy to bounce back from.    Pay attention to what’s really going on in your life – do you have unexplained symptoms? Are you tired all the time with no obvious reason why? Do you tend to run mock-2 without balance?  Do you apply on-going pressure on yourself?    Are you under continuous stress?

Just a few questions I asked myself, and low-and-behold, my low energy and crappy outlook was in-part due to Adrenal Stress.     (you can get this tested by the way).

Wishing you health and wellness as we head down the road of closing out 2010.

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Filed under Hormones, Life

The next outdoor-project

With the front door project completed (so pleased with that project), I’m working on my next outdoor project – in my head, as we speak (write?).

I am a HUGE fan of outdoor arrangements in pots or urns.     And this, my dear friends, is my next project.

I’ve got my husband on it, he’s received his action items, and hopefully next weekend will be the outdoor-winter-arrangement-project for the front step.

Here’s what I’m aiming for:

urn with birch 1

Mine will don accessories of some sort –if I can find them.    Hello Micheal’s!


This is our front door, before we owned it.    But I did swoon over their outdoor arrangements as we were buying this house.     Again, am aiming for something close, sans dead hydrangeas.

Wish me luck – and stay tuned for the unveiling photos.

Happy Saturday night!


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Filed under Decorating and Design, Life

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas…..

Oh this weather just puts you the Christmas spirit doesn’t?      I know, the driving is treacherous and its damned cold out, but it is sunny, and we should be grateful for that.     And, the ground is white rather than dark and muddy from the rain.     Everything is bright.      Ahhhhhhh.

Speaking of Christmas spirit, I am happy to report my front door has now met Christmas.       Ooooo, and I am happy.    Exactly how I envisioned it.     Happy.   Happy.    Even did a little inside decorating, although I had to hold of my hub as he wanted to put up the Christmas tree – there will be no Christmas tree trimming inside “the Alcohol free zone” zone.    Nope.    That is one tradition I am not prepared to give up.     We always whip up some chocolate martini’s, blare Nat King Cole, and trim the tree.      The tree can wait just a little while longer – besides it’s only November (maybe someone should tell the weather man).

In the meantime, here is our front door and a little something extra with our left over wreaths (we had 5 from last year’s decorating project).

Christmas on Eden 001

Christmas on Eden 002

Christmas on Eden 005

Traditions are good for the soul, and so is decorating for Christmas I say.   Please share -what are your traditions?   And how do you decorate for the season?


Filed under Decorating and Design

Alcohol free zone…..really?

Have you ever considered how much space alcohol takes up in your life?    I mean the sitting around sipping wine, the wine with dinner, the digestif’s, and the sometimes groggy day(s) following the night before.       Some of you needn’t consider this at all, others may.     Everyone is different.  Enough, or too much varies between individuals.

Or does it?     What is the norm exactly?  It’s an interesting debate really.   Depending who you ask, a glass of wine with dinner every night is the norm, and not at all problematic.     Yet, the next person, would consider drinking every day, completely over the the top. 

Thought I’d share with you my latest project (well I have a few going, but this is one of the latest).     I have decided to remove alcohol completely for 30 days, November 15 to December 15.

No, I’m not in any sort of program, and no I’m not in trouble – please don’t worry.       But what I am testing is the impact that alcohol (specifically wine, I really don’t drink anything else), has on serotonin levels.     Recall, I am on a wellness journey and my hormones and serotonin levels are at the forefront of my study.       I am testing varying amounts of alcohol against how I feel and my overall outlook.   And we all know that alcohol is a depressant.  Right now, my test is at “0” amounts of alcohol.       But I have to say, while the ‘no alcohol’ isn’t a big deal, the habits, routines, and traditions around alcohol are fairly deep-set.     For example, one of our traditions is kicking back on Friday nights with a few drinks, order-in pizza, and catching up while sitting around the fire.     While all of this can certainly happen without alcohol, it does somewhat change the tradition somewhat.     For me, anyway.     

So far, I am half way through, and am feeling fantastic.     I am trying hard not to make early conclusions as I really feel I need to complete the full month to have complete understanding of the project on the whole.

I am curious as to how many people have ever considered this in their life?    Certainly, I can’t be the only one.    (Can I?).       

alcohol free zone


Filed under Fitness, Hormones, Life

Frankly, I love JFK Jr.

Am cozied up tonight watching Oprah’s 1996 interview with John F. Kennedy, Jr. who I had always had a fairly serious crush on (but really, who didn’t have a crush on this amazing man?).      I even had a crush on his wife – was totally smitten with her beauty, her grace, her style – she was just lovely – Caroline Bissett Kennedy.

This man was eloquent, articulate, and graceful.     And frankly, was much more enjoyable to watch and listen to than his interviewer.      Thankfully for America, Oprah has grown, matured, become more introspective, and has decided to listen more, and speak less (she has, hasn’t she?)

JFK Jr. is 50 today.     The world saluts YOU John Kennedy!

(these are some of my favorite photos)

                      salut jfk                   


(photo via Celebrity Bride Guide)    Ohhhh, just so so beautiful.

          john and caroline laughng

jfk dog

(photo via Celebrity Dog Watcher) – Man after my heart.


(photo via Ultimate Carolyn Blogspot)    Beautiful.

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Filed under Life

Just a little profound today…….

On Tuesday of this week, my Mother’s oldest brother passed away.     I got thinking, what must it be like to lose a sibling.    I have been SOOO blessed to have not experienced this type of loss, so was imaging it through my mother’s eyes.    While he was 82 and she is 79, I thought how it must knock on the door of mortality, and if nothing else, bring on some nostalgia.

Today is Thanksgiving in the US, as we all know.    And today I am thankful for a blessed life, for the health of my beautiful sisters and the part they play in my life.

Here they(we) are.


and before my time – my sisters and our Dad while doing some fine livin’ at the cottage.

                                                      dad and sisters

and because it’s Thanksgiving, something beautiful and warm.


Happy Thanks-Giving.


Filed under Life