Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Grandma

Our new little granddaughter arrived this past Wednesday, Jan 23rd.  She shares her birthday with her new Mom and my Grandfather.

There may be few posts the next couple weeks as I'll be helping out the new 1st time parents settle into their new life with their new little one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Financial Challenges

At the beginning of each year I take a hard look at our finances.   I also do regular checks throughout the year, but January, after the busyness of Christmas is over, there is more time to really look at every expense thoroughly.  Its also that time of year when there are more gov't taxes taken off my pay cheque, so there is less take home pay too.

Throughout the year those regular bills creep up and services stay the same, or are reduced.    Each year I  give some of these services a call to either cut the service level to reduce our bill or ask about what the latest promotion is.  If you don't ask, they don't offer.

For instance, our local cable company called and tried to get us to switch our telephone over to them for a very attractive offer (for one year...then after one year goes to the regular price).  I said I'd think about it and then gave our telephone company a call and told them that I'd been offered the attractive price to switch, and why should I stay with you?   Right away they gave me a reduction in my current bill plus a $75 credit.  If you don't ask, they don't offer.

January is also a time when I have more time to read.  I like to read financial type books to pick up more tips on where we can save.   I've done a number of changes over the years, such as cooking from scratch, canning/preserving, shop with a list, buy food on sale, use coupons, buy used whenever possible from thrift stores/garage sales, make/take my lunch to work, do our own taxes, renegotiated mortgage to a lower rate, started a vegetable garden, collect free wood for home heating, etc.   All these changes have become the usual for us, so I'm always looking new ideas.  I have a few favourite finance books, ones which I've read a couple of times.  Each time I've re-read these I pick up a few new tips. I've also learned a lot by reading other's blogs on ideas and ways to further reduce expenses.

My favourite books include:
1)  Your Money or Your Life
2)  Tightwad Gazette
3)  Gail Vaz-Oxlade books
4)  Ultimate Suburban Survivalists Guide.
5)  Joy of Less

Reading List for this year
1)  Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money - Kevin O'Leary
2)  Money Rules - Gail Vaz Oxlade
3)  Money Rules - The Simple Path to Lifelong Security - Jean Chatzky

2013 Challenges
1)  Thoroughly review every bill to see where cuts can be made.  So far, after a couple changes I've managed to reduce a couple of bills by $150 a month, which included giving up cable TV.  Still working on this challenge to find more ways to reduce.  Every little bit adds up.
2)  Better manage our electricity use.  We are charged different rates depending on the time of day electricity is consumed.   The highest rate for us during winter months is during dinner time, when you're trying to cook a meal.   So I try not to use my oven every day, and cook more on weekends when the rate is the lowest or use the crockpot more, do laundry on weekends and avoid using the dryer, etc.
3)  Explore idea of working from home 1 or 2 days a week to reduce wear and tear on my 8 year old car and reduce fuel consumption.

What are your challenges?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ontario Bloggers

Today, Cindy from “North of Wiarton” is hosting the Ontario Bloggers day on her blog.   This is a chance for fellow Ontario bloggers to get to know each other. 

I live in a small southwestern Ontario town called Acton, situated between Georgetown and Guelph, Ontario.   There are three traffic lights in our little town.  We have one grocery store, a hardware store, two drug stores,  a new library and a number of small shops on the main street, ie wool shop, consignment stores,  Salvation Army Thrift Store, furniture store, hair dressers,  etc..   A few years ago Giant Tiger came to Acton.   Major shopping centers are 20-30 mins away, which makes you think twice before going shopping.       Acton is also home to the Old Hide House – a leather goods store.  

Acton is about 200 years old.  Tanning was the main industry starting in the mid 1800s until the 1980’s which gave Acton it’s nickname of Leathertown.    Many of the businesses during that time supported the leather industry.     Now the town is more of a commuter town – a lot of people drive out of town for work, including me. 

The population of Acton is now about 10,000 people.   It has grown quite a bit in the last few years as new housing developments are being built.     It still has the small town atmosphere and every year there is the Acton Fall Fair and the Leathertown Festival.  

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Learning to Re-Upholster Chairs

This weekend's afternoon project was to re-upholster my dining room chairs.    The fabric on the chairs as been there for almost 30 years and was staring to fray and had become quite stained.

Chairs like mine are easy to re-cover.   I flipped the chair over and un-screwed the chair pan.    I then used the chair pan as the pattern for cutting out the fabric.

I found a nice upholstery fabric at Len's Mill and because it was the end of the bolt, got an extra 15% off the price of the fabric.

I cut the fabric about 3 inches bigger than the chair pan.  Using a staple gun, I tightly stapled the fabric onto the chair pan, leaving the previous covering for added cushion.   I then screwed the chair pan back onto the chair.

I scotch guarded the new fabric after the chairs were done to help reduce future fabric stains.

Unscrew the chair pan from the chair 

Use the chair pan as pattern for cutting out fabric, allowing for about 3 inches bigger than pan
  to fold over back  and secure.

Using staple gun to secure fabric onto chair pan

Finished  Results ! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crocheted Baby Blanket

I like crocheting and find it much faster to knitting, especially for baby blankets.   I made this blanket with yarn I found at the thrift store - "Bernat baby Sport" .  The pattern is a free one from Bernat, that I found on the internet.

I used a 4mm hook and finished size was approx 43 x 57 inches.   Blanket is crocheted in 6 strips and sewn together.     I added a scalloped edge to the outside of the blanket as an added touch.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

This past Christmas each of the new babies that arrived in our extended family received a handmade / hand stitched Christmas Ornament with their names and birth dates embroidered on them.

I saw this cute idea on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.   They are made with felt and names/dates are embroidered by hand.  I cut out felt in the shapes of "onsies", embroidered the dates and names and stuffed with cotton balls and then did a blanket stitch around the outer edges to hold together.    The hanger I made with wire I found at the hardware store.

Aren't these the cutest?

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