AWOL in paradise

We came home to visit the family on the July long weekend, and I decided we just had to take a trip to Manitoulin Island to spend some time on the beach. A day can seem like a week here . . .

We got here and it was sun, sand, water, puppies and in-laws who just love playing such games as “Mammal” (my 1 1/2 year old walking on all fours, sometimes carrying loads of sand on his head and washing it in the water) and “Let’s ‘tend I’m a sausage” (my 4-year-old girl lying on a picnic table inviting us to eat her) for hours at a time! How could I return to my hot apartment in the city, especially since we were planning on heading back here for 2 weeks at the end of July anyway.

So we’re playing the 1950’s family again: mom & kids at the beach, while daddy works in the city. Though probably with more nudity.

I think I’m about the luckiest girl in the world.

Oh, and if you want to take a last-minute get-away yourself, there are vacancies here! Just leave a comment & I’ll email you the details!


A little update

So, tomorrow night is pay time, and how did we do with our week and a half of minimal spending? Not so great, it turns out.

On the weekend, I had a sudden craving for the Nature, so we rented a car on Saturday and headed out to Gatineau park. It was great (except for “sharing the road” with a million cyclists in the park–why oh why didn’t someone at the National Capital Commission think to install bike lanes throughout the park???). We saw frogs, beavers, a cute cabin with a woodstove and delicious cedar scented walls. I came back refreshed and filled up with green, woodsy air.

Then afterwards we drove out to Alpenblick farm and bought some of their pasture raised meat. It was fantastic–we got to meet their ponies, goats, llama, sheep, cows, dog, cat, and pig, all happily roaming around the property. We got an education in their farming methods, which come from the Swiss Alps, and on the nutritional value of organic and pasture raised food. I recommend a visit to anyone in the area interested in pastured meat.

Then on Sunday I finally picked up my bucket of wheat from Castor River Farm at the Lansdowne Market. Yay! I now have what seems to be a limitless supply of wheatberries to turn into delicious nutritious food for my family. I was glad to still have the car to pick up the bucket because it was HEAVY!

All this ran us a pretty high bill, but apart from the car and gas (around $55), it was all food expenditure that will last us a good long time, not to mention bringing healthy organic locally raised food to our table.

One frugal decision was to pull our girl out of preschool. She loved it last year, but this year the classes are shorter, and none of her friends are there any more. She missed them so much! So we’re done with that, and will be taking advantage of the free school-board-run play group four mornings a week. The friends we missed at preschool go to play group three days a week, so we really get the best of both worlds.

At the end of the month we’ll assess everything, but I feel confident that we’re going to be doing okay with the one-income living.

Now what shall I do with my bucket o’ wheat? Stay tuned for a discussion on sprouted grain flour.

Throw out fifty things

We took a little holiday last week, back to Sudbury to see the folks. While I was away, I decided that I really really really really really want to do some de-cluttering. (I almost wrote re-cluttering . . . yikes!!!). So I picked up a used book for a dollar about de-cluttering by the host of the show “Clean Sweep”. I’ve never seen the show, but I take it the premise is that this guy helps hopelessly cluttered couples “get their lives back” by mucking out their closets, basements, attics, etc.

I wish he would visit us!

But in lieu of a fairy god-father, I guess we’re going to have to do it ourselves. He has a lot of good rational responses to typical excuses for keeping stuff, which is good for me. He really is relentless.

Besides that book, while I was in Sudbury I got myself a Sudbury library card (isn’t that amazing?!? I was thrilled!) and took out this book called “Throw Out Fifty Things” where she coaches you to do just that. You keep a list, and then you can post your list on her website. And just in case you think “I’ll just throw out these fifty dried out pens and be done with it,” sorry–multiples of a kind only count as one. Oh and by “throw out” she also means “recycle” or “give away” or “sell”. In the book there’s a whole part on “throwing out” mental garbage too, like bad attitudes, regrets, and so on, but I’m aiming for fifty real things, and I figure lots of mental things will probably follow quite naturally!

So we got home from our vacation this evening and within seconds of stepping in the door, I was already de-cluttering. I was like a parched woman finding water. Our suitcases are not yet unpacked but I have so far thrown out eight things. I’m recording my list in my sidebar to keep me motivated.

Some of these were actually kind of a big deal. For example, I threw away two old pairs of shoes. I wore them into the ground. Into the dirt. They were falling apart. And yet I have not replaced them. Why? I’m sure there are many disturbing reasons, but the fact that they are now GONE means that I don’t have to wear gross shoes any more–in fact, even if I want to, I can’t! This is important for me, and it’s only ONE THING!

Oh, what other changes are in store . . .


I love my bike. I really really love it. A friend gave it to me for free a few years ago and I appreciate that every time I ride it. It hasn’t logged all that many miles–certainly not as many as the bike I rode when I was young and carefree in Montreal and Toronto. That bike got me home from many bars, late nights at work, and other adventures across town. I loved that bike too, but this bike is different.

These days I am not so young and not so carefree. I’m in my pajamas by 8:30 most nights, and I am rarely more than a five minute walk away from my kids.

But when I get on my bike I can go farther. I can feel the wind in my hair, smell the rose bushes along the canal, admire the trees and fancy houses in the Glebe. I can bike through the Arboretum with a friend, and just get away from it all. I can go to the farther-away grocery stores . . .

I did that this afternoon with both kids strapped into the bike trailer behind me. It was great to see them just enjoying the ride.

Here’s a joke:

What do you say to make a horse go faster? Giddy-up!

What do you say to make a dog go faster? Mush!

What do you say to make a mommy go faster?

“Mommy, I have to pee!”

Confessing my sins

Garage Sale find: a crock for Sauerkraut
Garage Sale find: a crock for Sauerkraut

Well, today was the Great Glebe Garage Sale, and I definitely took a holiday from my no spending month. Here is my list of sins:

We got our bike for our girl, $30 for a Dora 2-wheeler with training wheels. It was more than I wanted to spend, and it weighs a TON, but hey, now we have it. Some better deals were some red Tommy Hilfiger running shoes for her for $1, a few dolls for $1, an old school red bandanna for $1, a Joan Didion book for 50 cents, and a crock for making sauerkraut for $2. Besides that was a plate of cookies for $10 (proceeds going to charity) and a sandwich mid-day for $5. Oh, plus one extremely packed bus ride home.

Overall, the yard sale itself was exhausting, but I’m fairly happy with what I brought home. Afterwards, my friend hosted an amazing brunch.

And now I’m home–both kids melting down and feet aching–it was a huge effort to not just go with the flow of my spendy day and get pizza. No, I chopped and whisked and grated together a little omelette for supper. Can I count that as a savings of $20 that would have been spent on pizza? Does that help atone for my spending sins???