Finding my way

Our Advent spiral, December 21, 2020

It’s almost a year since they sent us home. It is impossible to sum up how much the world has changed in this past year. But I think that’s okay, because you already know.

For me, this past year has brought a lot of exciting changes, including the biggie:

I got a full-time permanent job with a pension and benefits!

I worked my butt off for 3 years, and it paid off in a great job that I love!

This was the first time in my life that I:

  • set a long-term goal,
  • identified the steps I needed to get there, and
  • crushed them one by one.

It took 3 years of hard work to get here: pep talks, staying the course, pushing myself into uncomfortable territory again and again, plus a lot of luck and, yes, privilege.

Another major part of my job journey was finding the direction I wanted to go.

I had really been lost for years, ever since I had to stop homeschooling and enter the workforce. Even before that, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

But the moment I stepped behind the circulation desk at the library, I knew:

I was home.

That feeling — that deep feeling of rightness — gave me the clarity I needed to start working single-mindedly toward my goals. Once I knew, I KNEW!

I dove headlong into everything I figured would help me along my path:

And now, here I am: Grad School Mom, working full-time, with a teen and a pre-teen, a beautiful cat, and the priceless feeling of rightness, deep in my bones, that I am on the best career path in the world.


There is a huge amount of privilege at work in every success story, and it can seem invisible if one chooses to ignore it.

I know at the same time both how hard I worked to get here, and also how lucky I am to be here. I don’t believe that if someone is struggling it’s because they haven’t worked hard enough.

I come from university-educated parents who were able to help me out financially so many times and in so many ways throughout my life. I don’t even know how many doors my whiteness has allowed me to pass through, but I know it’s been a lot. And being cis-gender and straight-presenting has also made my journey easier than it would be for so many.

I’ve spent a lot of years feeling guilty about my privilege, and I am still not comfortable with the position I hold.

I can only say that as an aspiring librarian, I am going to fight for justice every chance I get!

A Return to Frugal Living

Return to Frugal Living
“Stock Photography — Canadian Coins” by KMR Photography on Flickr

It’s been a wild ride over the last few years, and I have neglected my blog very badly. I’m so glad it is still here where I left it! Life has taken me in many different directions, down some fascinating paths, and I’ve ended up in a really wonderful place, for which I am so grateful.

I’m currently working part-time at the library, my partner is working at a non-profit within walking distance, the kids are happy at their school, and we are surrounded by family, friends and nature. And boy, have we summered hard this year! The kids agreed it has been the best summer in a long time, filled with swimming, camping, cousins, and even a quick trip to the water park!

Besides our great summer, I am also happy at work–happier than I have ever been in any other job, period. I love my job so much! It combines my life-long love affair with books, with my gifts of welcoming and service. Being part-time, it allows me to continue to spend a lot of time with the kids, and since they are in school, it means (at least from September to June) I can keep my house clean! That is something I still have not managed to figure out when the kids are home.

The other side of part-time work is the salary that goes with it. Work less -> earn less!

But I would rather this situation than a year ago when I was managing the Farmer’s Market, and then I got a full-time contract at Public Health, and THEN I got my part-time library gig! For a little while I did have three jobs, and while we pulled through, the stress took a toll on my health.

My Return to Frugal Living

One of my most useful skills has got to be my ability to “Buckle Down” when times get tough. When I am motivated–and when the need is there–I can cut spending down like no one’s business. My family kinda hates me for it, but I keep the bank accounts in the black, and I love learning more tips–for free of course!–for keeping our hard-earned money safe from overspending.

Unfortunately, to my eleven-year-old, there is nothing more eye-rollingly un-cool than a spending freeze.

Unfortunately for her, I find frugal living utterly fascinating–at least while I have to keep it up. The minute the need goes away, I usually collapse from the strain of it. But luckily while going through it, I am usually able to stay motivated to get through the tough time.

How Blogging Helps

When I first started this blog back in May, 2009, we were an apartment-living two-income family of three in Ottawa, Ontario. This blog helped me transition to the lower salary during my Maternity leave that October, and then it helped us move to living on just my partner’s salary. A couple of years later, I was able to carry out my dream of homeschooling my kids, and continuing as a one-income family.

Many pieces of luck came together, and we were able to move back to Sudbury (our hometown), and buy a house of our own. Here we have survived one-income living, job losses, appliance breakdown, as well as other transitions. While I haven’t been around much over the last few years, the skills I tested and honed on these pages have helped us achieve our dreams, and get the family through many financial ups and downs.

The Next Adventure

Right now I am days away from a really exciting time: getting to be a home-maker, and having time to write! If you read between the lines, you may understand that I am facing reduced hours at work, which requires us to tighten our belts once again.

But to be honest for a moment, beyond my current need to revisit my frugal ways, I have truly missed this space: for sharing ideas, inspiring others, and pushing my own skills and thinking beyond where they were before.

This Fall, I am planning to check in here more often, sharing my newest experiments in frugal living–bigger and weirder than ever before!–plus my insights into green and healthy living, parenting and being a person in this challenging and incredible world of ours.

I’m a Watt Killa

In case you don’t know how amazing the library is, it is incredible!  And here is just one more reason why: you can borrow a Kill-A-Watt, for free, for a period of 7 days.

Amazing, right?  These things cost, like, tens of dollars, and here we are with the ability to use one for free.  Okay, that was slightly tongue-in-cheek, but really, they’re very informative little pieces of machinery, and really, how many of us are going to buy one?  But the chance to borrow one for free could save you, well, pennies on your electrical bill.

Here are the results of my meticulous testing:

– the fan we use for white noise during our toddler’s naps uses 23 watts, which works out to about 0.1 kWh per day for the length of time we typically use it in a day. 1000 watts for one hour = 1 kWh.  We are billed 5.6¢ per kwh, so this works out to be about half a cent per day.

– my desktop computer uses 80 watts when it’s on, and 3 watts when on standby.  Over a 24 hour period the computer and the monitor sucked back about 0.22 kWh, or 1.2 cents.

– a regular load of laundry added up to .13 kWh, and the heavy load was .15 kWh, adding up to .7 cents and .8 cents respectively

– our router uses 3-4 watts at a time, the modem 3 watts, the phone 3-4 watts, all of which are minimal costs as far as I can see

So, why isn’t our energy bill like 65 cents a month??  Unless my calculations are off, there is a big energy chomping monster somewhere in our house.

After some musing, I have concluded that it just might be our stove.  Unfortunately you can’t test the stove or any other appliance that uses one of those big-ass plugs.

But I did test the toaster, and it was up around 875 watts–and that’s just for those four little elements.  An oven must use a whole lot more, and I use the oven a whole lot.

So, did the Kill-a-Watt change my life?  No.  Unless my calculations are way off (and I’m certainly not ruling that out) the appliances I’ve targeted are costing us minimal amounts per month.  But I can tell you I’m a lot less eager to use our 1000 watt air conditioner this summer (though ask me about that again in August when I’m 8 months pregnant . . .).

Now I just have to figure out how to determine my oven’s energy use.  And if that’s not the energy demon, find the actual demon that’s obviously sucking on our electrical outlets when we’re not looking.