Archive for April, 2012

April 30, 2012

I’m Martha Fucking Stewart

by Robyn

Well….not really. I’m more of the anti-Martha Stewart, as in I can’t cook. My past attempts have seen me forgetting major ingredients in cookies, adding way too much butter to homemade mac & cheese (that was a boiling hot buttery mess), as well as screwing up a “just-add-water” recipe. However, since I’ve started tracking my calories using the myfitnesspal app, learning how to cook is something that has been really important to me. I’m 25, it’s about time I learn to make something other than pasta or chicken caesar salads.

Last week, I was mystery gifted a slow-cooker by someone at work. Whoever gave it to me must have heard me talking about wanting one, because Tuesday morning I had gift bag sitting in my office.

So after watching various videos on youtube, I put my slow cooking skills to the test Sunday. I slow cooked myself a pork butt to make some tasty pulled pork sandwiches. Playing it safe since it was my first time, I just cut up a red onion and added a container of chicken stock, some salt & pepper and set it to a low simmer while I went to work.

Nine hours later I pulled out the pork butt, shredded it, smothered it in Dr. Pepper , piled it high onto two hamburger buns and dug in. So tasty. Definitely something I will be cooking again in the future.

My skills are still very basic. Mixing spices scare me. I considered doing a pork rub, but sadly I don’t trust myself to do it right. I also don’t think I had all the necessary ingredients, like mustard powder or cayenne. I’m more a salt & pepper, seasoning salt kind of gal.

I have been successful in a few other meals as of late. In the past month I’ve made stir-fry multiple times. It’s simple, allows me to load the dish with healthy vegetables, add beef or chicken, and choice of noodles or rice. I can also mix it up when it comes to the types of sauces I want to use, be it teriyaki, orange ginger or barbecue.

I picked up the recipe off the internet the other day for bacon wrapped chicken. This is a dish I’ll definitely be making again. It was so moist with a nice crispy. Not exactly “healthy” but it’s home cooking, and far better than me ordering pizza.

Cooking a lot more the last month has been really challenging, but also really rewarding for me. Since taking on the no spend challenge, I’ve had to be more creative because I can’t just pick up Subway on my way home from work anymore. This next month is going to be fun with my new slow cooker and I can experiment with different recipes.

Oh yea, I also cooked rice for the first time last week. That’s how I roll.

Have you ever really messed up a recipe? What’s your favourite dish to cook?

April 20, 2012

So what am I getting up to this summer?

by Robyn

With summer upon us, I’ve been busy making plans. Beyond my love for travel, I’m usually a real homebody. I like tv, internet and air conditioning. I really like my bed and sleeping in until the middle of the afternoon. When I go out to my cottage, I sit in the shade reading a book. I don’t really get up to much. Hopefully, this summer things will change.

Ever since joining the gym, and for a few months taking a twice weekly class, I’ve seen drastic improvements in my physical abilities and overall stamina. I can run for almost 20 minutes staight! I couldn’t do that 6 months ago. I was lucky if I could go 5 minutes without huffing and puffing. This summer I’m going to get off my ass, get out of the house and enjoy the weather.

Starting in July, I’m taking weekends off. Working full-time and serving on the side during the winter months, I’m lucky if I get 2 days off in the span of a month. It’s unheard of if I get two days off in a row. It’s the nature of working two jobs, and I accept that. It’s the sacrafic I make to save as much money as I do and still live comfortably. That being said, my summers are for me enjoy.

Starting on June 30th, I’m flying out to Vancouver for just over a week. I’ll be visiting my friend Scot in New West Minster (just south of Vancouver) for approximately 4 days. During that time I’ll be painting the town red (and white) celebrating Canada Day in style, challenging myself to do the Grouse Grind, and eating copious amounts of sushi. Then I’ll be taking the ferry to Vancouver Island to visit my friend Robin in Victoria. While there I’ll be taking in the sights of a new city I’ve yet to explore, hiking Mt. Finlayson and hanging out with her kick ass dog.


On August 18th, I’ll be competing in the Dirty Donkey 5K Mud run. I’ve never done anything competative in my life and attempting to run a marathon just doesn’t appeal to me in the least. This on the otherhand, I know that even if I do suck ass and quit, I’ll still have had a lot of fun. Plus, unlike boring marathons, at the end of the race I get to be hosed down followed by gorging myself on beer and food.

I’ll be capping off my summer by participating in the Terry Fox Run on September 16th. Again, this is something that I’ve never done, and for years I have wanted to do it, but for whatever lame excuse it just never happened. This year, it’s going to happen, no excuses.

As for the rest of the summer and all those weekends I’ll have off. I’m going to be at my cottage. Sometime in the next few months I’m getting my boating license. I plan on doing a lot of boating, a lot of swiming, and a hell of a lot more hiking. Up until last year it had probably been well over 5 years since I’d done a decent hike of anykind through the bushes at my cottage. I loved it and it made me realize how much I miss my cottage. I plan on catching up on a lot of lost time this summer, revisiting the old stomping grounds of my childhood and discovering new ones.


April 2, 2012

Results of the “No Spend” Challenge

by Robyn

On March 6, Krystal from GMBMFB tweeted about her 10 no spend days challenge. My February budget was blown out of the water with my trip to Ottawa and my shopping trip to Grand Forks, so March was my month to keep my expenses low. So for the month of March I challenged myself to keep my spending below $1500 and to have 10 No Spend days.

Sadly, I failed at both challenges. But I didn’t fail terribly, so for that I’m still giving myself a congratulatory pat on the back.

I ended the month having achieved 9 out of 10 no spend days, and I very likely would have completed the challenge if I had started it on the 1st instead of the 6th. As for keeping my expenses under $1500, month end I spent $1561.20, including all fixed expenses. Here is how it breaks down.

Rent: $547.00
Personal Care: $219.07
Food & Dining: $185.80
Bills & Utilities: $164.63
Auto & Transport: $145.80
Financial: $100.00 (transferred into savings)
Health & Fitness: $90.76
Gifts & Donations: $40.40
Shopping: $37.47
Entertainment: $30.25

Personal care is pretty high up there, but I’ve told myself, even if I break my budget because of “beauty,” it’s allowed. I don’t blow my money on getting my hair and nails done. The last time I had my nails done was over a year ago, and I last cut my hair in October.  Almost 75% of what was spent on personal care this month was for electrolysis, and I have no problem justifying spending that money.

Food & Dining is also pretty high. In detail, I spent $116.06 on eating out, and $69.73 on groceries. Nearly 50% of my ‘eating out’ expenses were from buying dinner at the restaurant where I work. I need to start bringing more stacks with me to tide me over during some of those longer shifts.

Auto & Transport was within budget. I spent $101.00 on gas and $44.79 on an oil change.

I’m challenging myself this month to do the same. Spend less than $1500 and have 10 no spend days. I have a few things on my “shopping” list this month, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge. Since the weather has been so nice I’m planning on getting a pair of new runners, which I might try to pick up at Value Village if I can find anything in good condition. I’m also in desperate need of a hair cut, as I mentioned earlier, the last time I had a hair cut was in October, and I’ve got a $25 Amazon gift certificate that I’m itching to use.

Have you ever stuck to and completed a personal finance challenge?