Thursday, October 1, 2009

1000 Acts of Kindness

This morning, I read the local newspaper which announced the 1000 Acts of Kindness challenge in the Forest City.

Upon reading this article, I imediately thought that I had to post about this on my blog. I know that random acts of kindness can lift a person's spirits, brighten a person's day, or bring about a general feeling of goodwill that can easily be regenerated. I know this because I have been both the recipient and the giver of a random act of kindness.

I have purchased the coffee and doughnut of the person in the vehicle behind me in the drive-thru at Timmie's. I have donated my time to help at a local soup kitchen that provides warm lunches to Native Elders in our city. I have knitted then donated dishcloths to the auxilary who sells them at a hospital on the palliative care floor.
I do many things for others, without wanting any recognition for what I have done, in order to keep the goodwill flowing.

Thinking back through recent years, I should say thanks to the lady who returned my purse after it had been stolen and dumped in a creekbed. Not having to replace all the identification in it was a godsend, yet I have no idea who she is. Thank you kind person.
I have had a mechanic repair a leaky tire without asking for pay; another mechanic repair my vehicle and then allowed me to make payments over a couple of months for the parts, something that seems to be unheard of in today's society.
I have had folks give me clothing for my children, new and used, free of charge, and been given baby furniture as well. Strangers hold the door for me in my apartment building, and drivers wave me through when traffic is heavy and it seems I will never make the turn before the light changes.

There are a million incidences that come to mind where I have recieved a kindness from another. Yet I still feel like I am lacking in returning those kindnesses.

My challenge for this month will be to try my best to do one act of kindness per day, however small, for someone not in my immediate family.
My challenge to you is to think about the random act of kindness that is most prevalent in your mind, and try to reciprocate by doing something equally meaningful for another person. Heaven knows we could all use more kindness in this world.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trying something new in the kitchen

Several weeks ago, I happened upon a blog that discussed making homemade Sauerkraut. I was astonished to learn that this could be made at home. I was even more astonished when I learned how truly simple it was to make. My first thought was, I have got to try that! My second thought was, if it is really so simple, why doesn't everyone do it? Then I thought, well, perhaps that other folks were never taught to be useful in a kitchen because of their parents shortcomings, much like myself. I decided to see if it really was as easy as the 'recipe' stated. If it didn't work out, I could go back to making no-cook jam.

I rounded up the things I needed:
~a large glass container with a lid (I used a 2.25L pickle jar that I had cleaned and saved)
~some sea salt, about 5 teaspoons
~two small to medium sized heads of cabbage
~caraway seeds & dill seeds, about 2 teaspoons each (bought from the bulk store for mere pennies)
~a clean, jam jar with tight fitting lid for weight

I pulled off the larger outer leaves of the cabbage, and began to cut away manageable chunks of it. Each chunk, I had on my cutting board and sliced away as thinly as my poor kitchen skills would allow. The thinly sliced cabbage was set aside in a large bowl. When it was all sliced, I was ready to make the sauerkraut. I began packing the sliced cabbage in the jar, pushing it down as hard as I could. After it measured about and inch inside the jar, I sprinkled some sea salt and a few of each of the two kinds of seeds over it, then packed more sliced cabbage in. I continued alternating the layers, until I was out of cabbage. I could have used another half head of cabbage to almost fill the jar, but I had no more, so I figured it would be fine the way it was. I laid three whole leaves that had been removed from the head of cabbage before slicing, and layered them over top of the sliced cabbage. I filled my clean jam jar with tepid water(to add weight), closed it and put it on top of the cabbage leaves. Fortunately, there was enough room in the large jar for the smaller jar to fit, and still be able to place the lid on top. I did NOT tighten it, for when the sauerkraut began to ferment, I didn't want pressure building up inside the big jar, which could potentially cause an explosion and resulting in a big, cabbage-y mess. Then I put it on the kitchen counter and left it alone.

I read and re-read the instructions on how to make sauerkraut over and over, thinking to myself that they had left something out.
It turns out that the salt extracts the natural liquid from the cabbage, which when mixed, through its own natural process, with the sea salt, caraway and dill seeds, creates a 'brine' of sorts.
I lifted the lid every day and smelled it. Honestly, it was awful. I wasn't sure what I did wrong, but I was sure I messed it up somehow. The 'liquid' rose over the sliced and whole cabbage leaves, and the jar of water kept the cabbage from floating upward.
Three weeks later, I wondered if it was anywhere near ready. I removed the jar of water and the whole cabbage leaves, which I discarded, and stirred up the top layer of sauerkraut with a fork. Then I lifted a small forkful to my mouth. Eureka! It was heavenly! Very strongly sour, and perfect in my own humble opinion. I cannot wait until next week when we bring sausages to the Sunday family dinner, and I put the 'kraut' on the table for others to try. I'm hoping for some positive feedback from them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Adding new ideas to our strategies

We've been somewhat dilligent in our strategies to reduce our spending, as so far it has worked to some extent. I hadn't been able to really pinpoint where all our money was going, but I do know we were spending way too much. Especially on things that didn't really matter. We weren't saving anything and our debt was crippling us. I developed a budget that takes consistent tweaking, but had developed general guidelines for our spending. I'm making deposits into our emergency fund, RRSP accounts, RESP accounts, car fund, christmas fund, vacation fund, and house downpayment fund. These deposits are somewhat small and irregular at the moment, but they are slowly increasing and will continue to do so as my income stabilizes.

The next steps for our family will be to incorporate a few small strategies to see if we can make them work for us.

1) The $5 Envelope; I will be keeping an envelope with my budgeting envelopes that will only be labled as $5. When I break a larger bill and am given a $5 bill amongst the change, I will take this $5 bill and put it in the $5 Envelope. At the end of the week, the contents of this envelope will be deposited into our chequing account in order to make an additional payment on our debtload.

2) Freezer meals; Due to the inconsistency of my work, I often find that there are days that I am not able to make a supper meal from scratch. When I make a meal, I will double up once per week, and make a casserole or other freezer friendly meal that will be reheated on one of our busy nights.

3) Kitty litter alternative; Let me just say first that we don't have a feline in our home. However, I tend to spend money on two very nice cats who share an apartment with our oldest daughter and her roommate. They have very limited incomes right now, and often, kitty litter doesn't make it onto their budget. I loathe to think about the clay-based litter, full of kitty by-products, placed into a plastic bag, tightly tied, ending up in the landfill to sit for hundreds of years without ever breaking down. How sad. so, I've resolved to research some bio-degradeable, earth-friendlier alternatives that my budget, the girls and the kitties can live with.

4)Thinking ahead to Christmas; Our family celebrates Christmas, although we are not religious. For most of my lifetime, I have dreaded this holiday as it conjures up bad memories from my past, and I certainly have never been happy with the consumerism that the holidays bring. Any parent who has ever heard the words, "Is that it?", from an over-indulged child knows the heartbreak that all the pressure from advertising can cause. I plan this year to have a family discussion regarding holiday expectations. Ideally, I would like to see our family develop more holiday traditions like baking and singing carols together instead of spending our time cruising the malls, looking for that perfect 'gift'. I would also like our relations to spend their time, instead of their money for gifts for our family. This won't be met with alot of resistance from outer family thankfully, due to the nature of their respective beliefs and postions in life.

Much to do this week, and I've yet to start working on accomplishing a goal that is way overdue.

Until next time....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Learning the basics of home cooking

I read an interesting article today about how to save money on your grocery budget by meal planning, buying in bulk and making the majority of your meals at home from scratch. I have always liked this idea, but lacked the basic kitchen knowledge in order to make the easiest of things like bread, soup or stew. My kitchen knowledge has always been very limited, and attempts in the past to learn to cook were met with ridicule from my former partner.

More Month than Money: Tightening Your Food Budget While Feeding Your Family Well by Tracy Rimmer is a downloadable document that may serve as a basis for me learn things that I had always thought were outside of my abilities. I used to think that making bread was an enormous task, and that making stew that was delicious and thick was next to impossible. Rimmer provides basic recipes that one should learn when trying to feed a family of any size.

She also provides a sample of weekly meal planning, accompanied by weekly and monthly grocery lists, as well an annual grocery list to illustrate the idea of planning similar weekly meals and purchasing in bulk could save you money on your grocery bills.

To view the downloadable document, visit New Century or

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Aboriginal Day in Edmonton, Alberta

We attended Aboriginal Day celebrations at the Alberta Provincial Legislature Building grounds yesterday. Although I am unsure of who was the host for the day, we had a fantastic time. There were alot of activities for children, and there were many informational booths for First Nations persons who were looking for resources for school, work, health and just about anything else you could imagine. There was entertainment, art, and things to do and learn about. I was however disappointed with the lack of authentic food or gift/craft items available for sale. Somehow I thought that in a city this size, with a large First Nations population, there would be alot of concession tables.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Last night, I got to thinking that perhaps if I ever want to accomplish something in the field of writing, then I have to start somewhere. I have some writings in a folder on my desktop, but no one other than me has ever seen them. I started writing a story sometime ago and let a couple of people see it, but it hasn't gone any farther. In order to think of myself as a writer, I must write. I think that right now the easiest way to do that would be to blog.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I am a 37 year old mother of 3 wonderful children; a 19 year old daughter, a 10 year old daughter and a 1 year old son. I am in a commom-law relationship with a wonderful man who has shown me that life is for enjoying.

I have many interests including reading, writing, personal finance, simpler living, knitting, creating, and travelling.

I have so many ideas floating around in my head that I want to talk about, discuss, and expand on that I feel some days that I will never run out of things to say.

In the next few days, our little family is leaving on vacation (or is it stay-cation as we are not leaving the country) for two weeks. We will be driving from London, Ontario to Edmonton, Alberta to visit family, and seeing a bit of our wonderful country along the way.

until next time...