Thursday, October 26, 2023

Relaxing At The Waterfront

 



It was a spectacular day on Wednesday and again today. I had to go downtown on Wednesday and took a detour afterward to the beach and waterfront.  A lot of other people had the same idea because we don't get so many sunny days in late Fall and Winter. 






If you missed my frugal post, you can view and read it here. I'd love hear your tips in the comment section. I'm joining in with Skywatch Friday. Thank you for stopping by. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Hobbies & Entertainment ~ Part 1

Hello friends, 

Many of you have followed me for some time and though I describe my blog as living frugally, much of what I post about is implied frugality rather that statements about how I action frugality. 

I thought today it would be interesting to write about some of the ways I relax and enjoy myself without breaking the bank.

Like many of you, I have limited free time but I do have a few activities up my sleeve to keep me busy when I have some free moments here and there. 

Reading

One of the things I love to do and which costs me next to nothing is reading.  You may find it hard to believe, but when I started this blog back in 2007, I couldn't read an entire page. My concentration had taken a nose dive due to illness.  I also suffered a lot of fatigue and could hardly do anything which required more than a minute or so of sustained action or concentration. Though I have come a long way since then, chronic fatigue and a few other ailments still hamper what I can do and the consistency with which I can do it.  The good news is that I've been setting reading goals each year for about 15 years. In the beginning I had to force myself to read more than a page and whatever I read I didn't remember but I kept going. Today I regularly set reading goals which vary from year to year. I often say I'm going to read less and end up reading far more than I intended. It's actually a good strategy for me as it puts less pressure on me to 'perform'.

This year my reading goal was 50 books. I have reached that goal and have read 52 books to date.  My new goal is 20,000 pages which will likely be another 3 books (I'm currently at 19,120 pages) which I'll easily do before the end of the year. I got the idea of setting a page goal from my blogging friend, Jeanie at The Marmalade Gypsy.  I think it's a fantastic idea and I've used it as my target in previous years whenever I felt I could devote more time to reading. 

How I make it frugal

In times gone by I bought a lot of books and magazines to the point where the books completely filled 2 large bookcases, several drawers, covered a few flat surfaces and were stacked on the floor in parts of my home.  Obviously I had far too many books for my home and these have now been reduced during my ongoing decluttering and downsizing project.  I still have a lot more to declutter but the next bits will be harder because they are reference materials as opposed to reading novels. These days I borrow most of the novels I read through my local library.  From time to time, I purchase books from the thrift store if I really want it or it is a good price. Even the thrift store prices are getting far too high around here.  

In a bid to keep down the clutter, I also now donate the books through my local Freecycle website or donate them back to a local charity shop for resale. This works for me to ensure I don't add even more clutter as I work to downsize. I only like to read current issues of magazines I like so I don't borrow or reach them at the library. I browse the occasional magazine at the supermarket and pharmacy and buy one from time to time if I like what I see when I browse. Usually a spring or fall edition suits me.

Crochet

I taught myself to crochet from a little book that my mother owned. She didn't crochet herself but she had every intention so she had the right supplies for the day when she might make time to learn. I think The first thing I made from a pattern in the book was a doily.  I had no idea that it wasn't a beginner's project, lol.  I remember the day very well. I wasn't feeling that well and was staying home from school.  I was up by myself very early in the morning.  I sat under the dining table with the pattern book and supplies.  A blanket was draped over the dining table to make a sort of 'tent' that my younger siblings had been playing under.  We had seen this tent idea on the Mr. Dressup show, a Canadian children's show hosted by the late Ernie Coombs. My siblings and I used to love Mr. Dressup. Anyway, I was under that table trying to be as quiet as a mouse and concentrating on figuring out how to read the pattern whilst using tiny little thread, looping it with a tiny little hook. I was also being quiet so as not to wake anyone. It was painstaking work for unaccustomed fingers so my tension was tighter than it needed to be but after that project, I fell in love with crochet. I like making doilies best, but sadly most people don't really use doilies anymore. I love it when I travel to Kenya and I see that a lot of women (and men)  there that still love crocheted items. 

Here is the latest doily I've made.  I think I'll send it to a friend in England because she also loves crochet. 


I also love to crochet afghans and have made a lot of them over the past several years. All of them have been given away as gifts to family and friends.


This is a sample of one of my favourite afghans to crochet.


Here is another blanket called African Flower Hexagon


How I make it frugal

The cotton thread used for doilies has gotten quite expensive but you can often buy several rolls at a time in the thrift stores.  I use both new thread and thread I've purchased at the thrift store. For the afghans and blankets I've only used new yarns. Please read the frugal tips under the section on knitting below.

Knitting

I inherited a lot of knitting needles from my mom and I purchased a lot of my own from discount stores. Most of mom's knitting needs are metal or plastic and I prefer to work with bamboo needles now.  The metal ones are far too slippery and my work is always falling off the needles.  The plastic ones just don't have a good feeling when using them. I don't knit a lot except to make dishcloths. I can also knit slippers but I prefer not to since I find them very slippery on tiled floors. Eventually I will knit socks and sweaters. At least that is the plan and I've also stored up some yarn for sock making and for making more afghans and blankets.

Dishcloths all made with Walmart jumbo balls of cotton yarn

How I make it frugal

The cost of yarn has gotten quite expensive over the years so I wait for 40% off coupons from Michael's or for sales on yarn at Michael's.  The sales occur frequently enough for my needs. I also buy at Wal-mart from time to time. There aren't that many options where I live to purchase new yarns at affordable prices. If you are willing to spend more or want top quality yarns there are a few other retailers you can approach.

Other frugal options include buying yarns at the thrift store but you'll likely be limited in terms of quantity, colour, quality and thickness. Some knitters purchase knitted sweaters and unravel them to use the yarn for their own projects. I've never done this myself.  You can also get free yarns on Freecycle from time to time but again you may be limited in terms of quality, quantity and colour.  I've given away a lot of yarns through the local Freecycle website because I had a stash which was far too large for my needs. These days I buy only what I intend to use for a particular project and I do have a fair size stash for projects I know I will make as opposed to what I'd like to make. 

Sewing

I was never a good sewer in high school. I had fumble fingers and my machine stitching was never that neat. It didn't help that one of my best friends had near perfection in sewing class.  In fact, she had top grades in virtually every class but it was her sewing skills that amazed me most because she was just so naturally able to sew well.  Despite not measuring up to my friend, whatever I learned in sewing class  stayed with me throughout the years and helps me to this day. I am grateful to have had at least a bit of instruction since my late mom never had any instruction.  Mother was also a gifted seamstress through sheer determination and natural ability.  Somehow she just figured everything out on her own and I marvelled at her sewing ability. I would say she was as good as my classmate. My mom was my inspiration to keep at it though I can't say she really encouraged me with her words. She never said anything much about my sewing except to critique what wasn't quite right (she was a perfectionist after all). But I think she was quietly proud of me many years later because I had to begin making most of her clothing and she really liked whatever I made for her.   I took great care to try to make simple dresses, tops and skirts in colours and fabrics that I knew she would like.  She loved clothing, dressing up, looking good and getting compliments.  She got a ton of compliments on her outfits at the care home where she lived in her later years.

These days I don't sew that much but I'm planning to do more in future. I just don't quite know when I will begin.  I made a small start this year by making this summer top with a fabric called double gauze. It actually is a bit hard to work with due to it's fraying nature. Since I don't own a serger it means twice the sewing time to finished the seams. But I was pleased to discover that the top was really nice for wearing on a hot summer day so I went and purchased more of the fabric to make something else, possibly a dress.


A summer top for me
Pillowcases for my niece

How I make it frugal

There are many ways to make sewing more frugal.  Otherwise it can be an expensive hobby. Firstly, one needs a sewing machine which can be an expensive outlay. I have my own expensive machine and also 2 other machines, one which I purchased and one which I inherited. I do not own a serger and I'm not likely going to buy one.

I know people who want to learn to sew or they are beginners and don't own a machine. They put feelers out in the community for a donated sewing machine or they buy an inexpensive one at the second hand store or even at big box stores like Wal-Mart.

Fabric can also be expensive. I purchased a fair bit of fabric over the years and most of it on sale. I go to the main fabric store in town where they have a variety of price points.  I still have a lot of fabric on hand and most of it will be used for quilting projects.  You can also get fabric from time to time on sites like Freecycle (so the fabric is free but you have no choice of what kind or what colour). You can also buy clothing second hand and cut it up into fabric pieces. Unless you have a long skirt or a dress your fabric output will be on the smaller side. You can also buy second hand clothing and remake them into something you like better. This is called upcycling. If you are like me, you probably prefer to buy new fabric at reduced pricing, to make sure you get the colours and amounts you need.

V-neck top and skirt for mom


Round neck top and skirt for mom

I made mother's clothing by adapting various dresses and skirts I owned and making them larger for her comfort in a wheelchair and her size.

Simple dress made for mom

Quilting

Quilting is something I'd been wanting to do for some time. I finally took a one day class to make my first quilt. I wanted to make it in time for my mother's first days in the long-term care home. I really enjoyed the experience and made a few more quilts after that.

Crazy quilt (in center of photo) made for my mom (my first quilt).

Wizard of Oz quilt made for my niece

I thought working with a panel to make this Wizard of Oz quilt would be easy but it turned out to be trickier than I expected.


Quilt made from mom's fabric scraps. She used it for a lap quilt.

I wasn't free to make the patterns the way I really wanted due to lack of adequate fabrics.

A made up quilt pattern for my nephew using scraps of mom's fabric.

Another quilt made for mom. I love the sunflower fabric.


How I make it frugal

Honestly, quilting is an expensive hobby. I tried making it more frugal by attempting to use up a lot of mom's fabric stash. What I discovered is the fabrics weren't the right quality, the right weight, the right colour or the right amounts. In the bottom quilt, I really wanted the sunflower print fabric to be more prominent but the store ran out of the fabric and I couldn't get more elsewhere though I really tried. I ended up buying cheaper priced fabric and it ended up also being cheap quality so it wrinkled and warped a lot. Of course, it may have done so even if I spent a lot of on fabrics because the long-term care home uses scalding hot water to wash everything.

If you want to make crazy quilts where there really isn't a pattern you can use second hand clothing. I know people make quilts out of ties, denim, t-shirts and so on. Alternately you can keep your eyes open for discounts on fabrics though it is tricky if you want large quantities of the same fabric as in my case. You can also keep your eyes open for giveaways. There are often people on Freecycle websites trying to give away large bags of fabrics and if you don't mind picking it up and sorting through it, you may find some gems.

Well that's all I will share in this post. It got to be a rather long post so there will be a part 2 at some future point.

Thanks for reading. I'd love to know about your hobbies and entertainment and how you keep it frugal.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Skywatch Friday - Remembering August Days

Hello friends and fellow bloggers,

It's been pouring rain here the past few days and nights. It is extremely wet since Tuesday though we've actually had rain for about 2 weeks now. It made me nostalgic for blue skies.

I don't think I've shared these photos with you yet. These were taken in August when I went to the University of British Columbia (UBC). There I was participating in a study conducted by a doctoral student in Engineering. His study is looking at the use of ultrasound and MRI to determine whether these tests are effective diagnostic tools for liver issues. I really enjoyed meeting and talking with the student from China and his Canadian colleagues.  I'm not sure when the study will be completed but I believe I will receive a copy of it once it's done.

It was a beautiful day that day, not too hot and not too cold. These days it seems like our weather goes from one extreme to the next so having a beautiful, moderate temperature day is a real gift.




Happy Friday to all of you and particularly those of you participating in Skywatch Friday. Stay safe.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Tuesday 4 ~ Just Wondering

 This Tuesday 4 is from Monday December 9. 2019.

A Repeat ~ Just Wondering

1.   When was the last time you tried something new?

Hmm, I guess I don't try new things that often. I suppose I could say it was a recipe for English scones which I made last night. I've made similar baked goods before but this one was with buttermilk. I suppose it's the proper way. I just so happened to have buttermilk on hand because dear hubby accidentally mistook it for cream.  Although the recipe was for English scones, I added blueberries, an ingredient that I don't think the English use in scones. The recipe greatly understated the amount of buttermilk required. I could have added more than I did but they still taste great. (I bake rarely these days due to being a Type 2 diabetic.  Over the years I've had to change my diet but there are times when I am not so disciplined.  To be honest, I just get fatigued from thinking about it all the time).

2.   Who in your family do you compare yourself to?

No one except perhaps my mother in certain circumstances like cooking and sewing because she was so good at both. A natural talent whereas I am not, but I keep trying. Update: After reading the answers from others, I realize I didn't understand the question. I'm like my mother in very many ways: stature, resemblance except for skin colouring, some aspects of personality, work ethic, many interests and values. But I'm also like my father in several ways: build, complexion and colouring, personality & work ethic.  My mom however told me often that I reminded her of her grandmother. She was referring to her grandmother's patience. I always found this an interesting observation since I personally didn't think I was so patient though my assessment of self has since changed. I think I became more patient with age.

3.   What lesson in life did you learn the hard way?

Sometimes you will stand alone in life so you must learn to be strong and have strong faith in God.

4.   What can you do today that you weren't able to do before?

I don't think there is anything I can really point to except perhaps walking. I thank God I could always walk but some years back (I forget what year it was), I was suddenly stricken with osteoarthritis and couldn't walk for many months. I was in excruciating pain and gained a lot of weight. I tried getting better by diet, supplements, acupuncture etc. Finally, I learned about something called rehab poles for walking. They are a lot like like Nordic walking poles.  I started using those and going for short walks. I also learned about whole body vibration (WBV) and started using WBV machine every day.  It took well over a year but I was finally able to walk without agonizing pain. Now the arthritis did not go away and from time to time and I still suffer on a daily basis but nothing like I did several years ago.  Also,  I can still walk. I take at least one pole with me every time I leave the house.  It helps me go farther and keeps me upright. I did have one big arthritic attack last year and that was difficult but the recovery didn't take as long. I had the benefit of physiotherapy and my poles to help. I'm happy to say I lost the weight I gained due to sitting so much.


Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Tuesday 3 ~ October

October

Welcome to Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4 hosted by Annie at Cottage by the Sea.

Here on the sea coast the weather is very chilly.  We are in the low 50s by night and the low 60's by day. Leaves are turning and will be falling soon.

1.  What does this picture make you think about? 

It makes me think of beautiful and peaceful  days away from the hustle and bustle of the city and all the things that keep us busy. Fall colours in particular also make me think of a particular period of my childhood between the ages of 10-14 when we lived in a quiet neighbourhood not far from a walk through the forest. There I would enjoy the fall colours. At the end of the trail there would be a slough where horses and their riders would take a break and the horses could drink. My family members and I would go there often for walks.

2. If you could spend a week in that cottage would you do it and who would you bring along with you?

I would gladly spend a week in that cottage. I would bring my dear husband but if there is enough space I would also like to bring other members of my family so we can spend some quality time together.

3.  What kind of meal do you think represents October best? How about cookie or cake or dessert?

When I think of October I always think of a turkey dinner. It's probably because I live in Canada and we celebrate Thanksgiving in early October. In fact, we just celebrated Thankgiving this past weekend. A turkey features prominently in the traditional holiday meal though these days a lot of people don't roast one or don't know how to do it. Cinnamon and pumpkin are common ingredients in treats around here at this time of year. I would say pumpkin spice cookies or coffee cake to go along with coffee would be my pick.

4.  Thinking of October, what song would go well with the month? What song would go well with this picture?

Now that's a more difficult question. October where I live is usually when we start getting much more rain. In fact it rained very heavily overnight and into today. My pick without thinking about it too much  is "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" by B. J. Thomas.  The song that goes well with this picture is "Autumn Leaves" by Nat King Cole. Here it is for you to enjoy.



Sunday, October 1, 2023

Tuesday 4 ~ Television

It's time for  Toni Taddeo's Tuesday 4.
A Family Affair

Television has become a large part of people's lives so it might be nice to discuss it and it's impact on our lives.

1.  Do you have a TV in your home or perhaps more than one?

Yes we have a large television (55 inch smart television) in the living room and another large television (55 inches but not a smart television) in the bedroom. The one in the bedroom is never watched or used. It is basically being stored though it is set up for viewing. When I got the new television some years ago I tried to give away the old one but there were no takers and that's why I kept it.

2.  Which programs do you like to watch?

I tend to favour news, news magazine type shows, family shows and criminal or spy movies. I also like a good Christian program but with basic channels it's hard to get good, solid Christian teaching on television.

3.  Could you do without your TV or is it on most of the time when you are home?

It really depends on my energy level and other activities. I've been so busy that I really haven't had time for too much television except late at night. I switched to basic cable for that reason.  I watch more television when I'm low energy, sickly or just not that busy with other activities.

4.  Is there a TV character that stands out in your mind for any reason at all? Maybe there is more than one or maybe there is a cast of a show you found memorable?

There are a lot of TV characters that stand out in my mind for no particular reason other than I enjoyed watching them when I was a child. Those were the days when everyone only had 2 channels and the same programs. I think it was far easier in those times to become invested in particular shows and characters. Some of them I remember fondly were Canadian shows for children:  The Forest Rangers and Adventures in Rainbow Country.

Sales, Promotions & Stocking Up

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, How are you today? I'm writing this on Saturday and I'm feeling very tired.  I even slept in unti...