Weekend

The Surprise Shed

This past weekend I was happily munching on my Shreddies when I noticed a truck drive across the neighbouring vacant lot. Shortly after, it was followed by another truck. I near inhaled my Shreddies and ducked around my back patio door to see what was going on. Lo and behold, the previous owner of my house was clearing out the shed that is sitting on the property line between my place and the neighbouring vacant lot. The lot had been put up for sale and sold in a week, so they were there to clean the lot up, including the shed. I had reached out to the real estate agent to ask about buying/moving the shed, who told me the owner would contact me, but I never heard anything more about it.

Curious as to what the fate of the shed was, I wandered out to ask. I introduced myself and once the owner heard my name, he asked me if I was still interested in the shed. The sale of the lot was closing in two weeks and he needed to move the shed (and little wood lean-to) before the closing date. I asked what he thought the 16×13 shed was worth. He said $3000. I replied I would give him $2500 for the shed and the lean-to (including the wood in it) and I would take care of moving it. Just like that, I found myself the proud owner of a new shed.

I called up my Dad and told him I bought a shed and that it would need moving sooner rather than later. Before long, he was down at my place taking a look at the shed. It’s a solid, well built shed, with a work bench and lots of cupboards in it, so it got the all important Dad approval. After the previous owners got it all cleaned out and left, Dad nodded at me, smirked and told me I worked a pretty good deal. I think my Dad is pretty proud of me for getting a deal like that, which makes me feel great, but also makes me want to negotiate everything. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Township will be willing to negotiate on my upcoming tax bill. Oh well.

Moving the shed took up the rest of my weekend. Luckily, Dad had a pile of extra gravel (it pays to let contractors doing road repairs use your land) to level off a spot in the back corner of my lot. We got the shed’s landing spot all flat and smooth and then began jacking up the corners of the shed so we could put the beams and rollers under it for the big move. It’s never fails to amaze me what a loader tractor is capable of lifting. Once we got the rollers under it, we could push the shed with the loader over the rollers. The hard part was getting the shed turned around so it was square with my driveway. Thankfully, my uncle stopped in and between the three of us, we managed to get it into position and then set it down on the cement blocks. It was hot, dirty work, but do I ever feel like I accomplished something.

 

Of course, today when I noticed my bank account was $2500 less. Not having that money sucks, but having a solid, large shed adds to the value of my property and provides desperately needed storage space. I no longer have to worry about raccoons taking my lawn mower out for a joyride! I wasn’t exactly expecting to spend $2500 on a shed, but when the lot went up for sale I figured I might ask about the shed. Thankfully, I’m a saver, so when the opportunity came up, I was able to jump on it. Had I not had the money saved up and being unable to buy the shed, I think I would be kicking myself. Take it from me – it’s good to have money saved up, whether or not it’s a last minute trip or a shed, it’s good to be  able to take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

Have you had any big unexpected purchases come out of the blue that you could pay for because of your savings? Anyone want to come paint half a shed (the other half faced the road, so it warranted some paint apparently)?

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Categories: Spending, Weekend | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Renewing my sense of place

This past long weekend I had an old friend, who now lives many many miles away, come for a visit. We had a great time catching up and laughing over new and old stories. We didn’t get up to anything too crazy, but enough that yesterday was pretty much a write off. Nothing says ‘it was a good weekend’ like needing a full day to recover from it.

My friend was pretty amazed by my little part of the world. She’s a city slicker and hadn’t ever visited southwestern Ontario until she came to see me. It was really interesting hearing her contrast her city to my country. She was amazed at how big my house is compared to her condo, how big my lot is, how quiet and dark it is at night, how many seniors there are around here, how many baseball diamonds there are and how lucky we are to live alongside a great big lake with awesome beaches.

Hearing what she thought of the area I call home was a good reminder of just how fortunate I am. All I have to do is walk 10 minutes and I’m at a great beach. Walk 10 minutes in the other direction and you’re into beautiful farm land. Of late, I’ve been taking my surroundings for granted – it’s just so easy to fall into a routine and not really see or take advantage of what’s surrounding you. I know even when I lived in the city, I never explored much – I stuck to what was comfortable and familiar for the most part, which looking back, I regret.

I think it’s time I renew my sense of appreciation for the great place I live: I’m going to go for more walks on the beach, admire the stars at night and quiet back roads. I think I’ll visit the local museums too (haven’t done that in ages) and marvel how my ancestors carved homes and farms from the vast woodlands.

What do you love about the place you live? Have you ever needed to be reminded of how awesome it is? 

Categories: Personal, Weekend | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Thank goodness for garage sales.

Earlier this week I was informed that I’m hosting a garage sale this weekend. My Mom and Aunt have a garage sale every year and they decided that my place is an ideal location for a garage sale. It has something to do with maximum traffic exposure and the perfect ratio of driveway space to stuff to sell, or so I’m told. Whatever, I don’t mind, although I suppose if I were a cut throat business person, I could charge them a per-table rate or collect a percentage of their sales. Not being greedy, I’m willing to settle for some homemade cookies and muffins.

I don’t have anything to sell at the garage sale. I’m more at the stage in my life where I’m interested in buying stuff from garage sales. I’m hoping to get out this weekend and find some treasures – a half decent bookcase for my office, a recliner, maybe some shelves, garden tools, flower pots, an office lamp, anything that catches my eye really. Going to garage sales is a bit of a tradition around here – my Mom and Aunt have had one every year since I can remember, so I would always help out for a while and then go for a wander around the neighbourhood to see what the neighbours were offering up for sale. Through the years, I’ve managed to score some pretty awesome, and super cheap finds:

  • The scariest clown doll you’ve ever seen. I would put a picture up, but it’s far too terrifying for even the internet. I picked the clown up for $1, put it in a box, and stored it way back in my closet before bringing it out and scaring the absolutely shit out of my sister on Halloween. She still shudders when I mention that clown.
  • The ‘Silver Chief’ series of books by Jack O’Brien. I read the first book when I was in Grade 3, after finding it in a deep dark corner of the school library. The book made an impression – I think it started my love for all things ‘north’. I was beyond excited when I found the series at a garage sale for 50 cents – and I still have them.
  • My kitchen table and chairs. It’s the perfect size for my weirdly long, skinny kitchen and I got them for free! Just had to wait until the garage sale was over and the person just wanted the table and chairs gone.
  • A jewelry box. It had kittens on it. I was 6. I found out the felt lining came out and found $20 stashed away in it.

Those are my most memorable garage sale finds. Hopefully there will be some treasures to be found this weekend. How do you feel about garage sales – love ’em or leave ’em? What’s your favourite garage sale find? 

 

Categories: Shopping, Weekend | Tags: | 10 Comments

Friday Link Love

After putting in a 50 hour work week, I’m ready for the weekend. I’ve only had one evening this week so far without an event to go to, on top of some public meetings for work. I haven’t got a thing planned for the weekend, but there is plenty of work to be done, both on the home and farm front. What I really need is a rainy weekend, so I’m forced to stay inside and get some spring cleaning done. My dust bunnies are rapidly evolving into dust coyotes. It doesn’t sound like this weekend will be rainy, so I’ll likely end up going up to the farm to help clean up the tree-tops that the loggers left or picking rocks.

There were a lot of great blog posts out there this week (geez guys, way to make me feel uilty for only doing a budget post this week). Here’s some recommended reads:

Cait over at Blonde on a Budget wrote a super post contemplating why people are funny about money. I definitely recommend reading both parts. Also, if you haven’t heard, Cait is going Bold. Help her out if you can!

Cassie wrote about why she loves her beater car. I love beater cars (like my sister’s ’92 Lumina) because they are usually the most comfortable cars to drive. Driving my sister’s car is like riding a couch down the road.

Mo’ Money Houses has written 100 posts! She’s awesome and you should go read all 100 of her posts. Right. Now.

Daisy asked whether or not bloggers are writers. I’m hoping I’ll be more of writer this weekend which would likely be a good thing for the blog.

There you go, a little bit of reading for the weekend. I’m off to start transferring things off the Dellatron to the new Mac.

Have a super weekend, everyone.

Categories: Weekend | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Country Girl = Creme Egg Girl

I am pretty sure that I am 97.8% Cadbury Creme Egg right now. The remaining 2.2% is tea (green tea is a delightful compliment to creme eggs).

I think I should be a Creme Egg Farmer.

My Easter long weekend was busy, but fun. Thankfully, the Easter bunny (in conjunction with picky little cousins) left me a hefty supply of chocolate, which I’ll need to get through this week. Work is incredibly busy right now, with seemingly meeting after meeting. Tomorrow I’m looking at a 15 hour day, which unfortunately doesn’t leave me alot of time to get much else done, let alone write something cohesive for the ole blog. In an effort to at least get something posted this week, I’m going to do a quicky summary of some thoughts and happenings of late.

  • Jeremy over at Modest Money listed the Top Canadian Personal Finance Blogs. We Canadians love to talk about money apparently! I feel pretty special being included and thanks to those who voted for me! I think you still may be able to vote, if you care to do so. Otherwise, there’s lots of great blogs there to add to your blog roll or reading list.
  • A little while ago I posted about logging the bush lot on the farm. The loggers came Thursday and finished up today. Two hundred trees are gone, but the bush doesn’t look as thin as I thought it would. Unfortunately, there was an incident over the weekend when some boys (I shouldn’t say boys, they’re old enough to know better) got into the big skidsteer overnight and literally buried it mud. It took a high-hoe to dig it out. It was big news around here (you know you’re from the country when), I lost count of how many people were asking me about it. I don’t really care that they took the skidsteer for a joyride, I just hated the sight of the 9 foot deep ruts they put in the bush. At least the guy running the high-hoe was good enough to smooth out the ruts after he dug the skidsteer out.
  • It’s snowing. I am not impressed, but I’m glad I was too lazy this weekend to take my snow tires off.
  • Had the big family Easter dinner on Saturday. Getting together with all my aunts, uncles and cousins is always a blast. I think my favourite part of the day (aside from eating my weight in fruit salsa) was playing hide and seek with my littlest cousin. Every time he found me, he let out a big ole scream and then laughed.

How was your long weekend? What’s your favourite Easter treat?

Categories: Weekend | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Friday Link Love

This is the week of missed posts. Yikes, I apologize readers. I had all intents to go home, knock

Even the poster is hilarious!

out a post and then tidy up my house last night. About a half-hour after supper, a friend stopped over and then my sister and her boyfriend came down for a visit. We ended up having a bad-movie movie night. I love watching bad movies with friends and we watched two really bad movies last night: Double Team and Last Dragon. Double Team is a hilarious action flick starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman. It’s unbelievably funny. Just image a scene that includes all the following: the Muscles from Brussels, a baby, a tiger, land mines, the Coliseum, a dirt bike and Dennis Rodman. By the time we quit laughing, it was pretty darn late and I had to go to bed so I could get up for work. Long story short, there was no knocking out of posts last night.

Thankfully, while I was watching bad movies, other bloggers were busy putting out some awesome posts this week. Here’s my recommended reading list:

Blonde on a Budget is done making excuses. This is a very honest and inspirational post by Cait.

Add Vodka discusses change and why people need to be more open to it. She makes lots of great points, but I’m still not so sure about changing to this facebook timeline-thing.

Rant of the week award goes to Nelson at Financial Uproar for his post on people financing vacations and travelling for the sake of travelling. Travelling is cool, but not necessary to live a full and happy life and definitely not worth going into debt for.

Teacher Man discusses what teachers know about personal finance. Based on my sister’s experiences (she’s a recently graduated teacher struggling to get on a supply list, never mind full time work) they should be teaching budgeting 101 in teacher’s college.

Frugirl is headed to Boston. Look at how light she packed! Have fun in Boston!

And for those who are looking for something visual, check out the Atlantic’s ‘A World Without People’ photo album. It’s stunning and really quite fascinating.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether you partake in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations or not.Anyone have anything special planned for the weekend?

Categories: Weekend | 5 Comments

Cutting through the clothing clutter

The thing about getting a weekend wind/snow storm on the weekend is that you’re pretty well forced to stay in and get stuff around the house done. I had grand plans to go up to the next town north and visit a new tea shop there, but that fell through thanks to the weather. It was probably for the best that I was stuck at home though, because it’s much easier on the ole wallet and I actually got some chores done around the house.

My biggest accomplishment this weekend was finally going through all my clothes. I pulled everything out of my closet and chest of drawers, organized it and piled it on my bed. The amount of clothes I own surprised even me, and any minimalists who read this blog should probably look away. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mountain of jeans and hoodies in the middle was probably the most surprising. I really didn’t think I had that many sweaters. I also have more jeans than a person needs and so, so many pairs of pjs. Don’t get me wrong, I love pjs, but a girl has to have a limit, right? That or I should devise a clever plan to institute a pj-day at work every week…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Off to the Sally-Anne with ye!

By pulling everything out of my closet, it gave me the opportunity to go through it all and weed out what I haven’t wore lately and what doesn’t fit. I do struggle with getting rid of clothes, more so than anything else. I think it stems from when I was growing up; ‘good’ clothes became ‘play’ clothes, which eventually became ‘barn’ clothes, so we never really gave clothes away or threw much out. That might be why I still have a McDonalds sweatshirt I got my aunt in grade 7 in my barn clothes pile. Don’t worry, I’m not the same size I was in grade 7, she just thought I was much, much larger than I was at the time.

I don’t know how many times when I was going through my clothes that I set a shirt aside thinking I could wear it as a barn-shirt. Of course, I already have a huge drawer full of barn clothes, so I really don’t need anymore. I also found it challenging to ignore the sentiment I’d attached to some of my clothes, like the dress that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral – I know I’ll never wear it again, but because of sentiment I’ve held onto it all these years. Forcing myself to be an unfeeling, clothes-critical robot, I managed to resist the urge to keep things. Now, I have a fair-sized pile to go the Salvation Army.

I still have a lot of clothes and I think that seeing just how much I have will help me resist the urge to go shopping. Hopefully it will help me ignore that irritating little voice that tells me I have nothing to wear. Here are my tips for tackling closet clutter:

  • Be ruthless. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. Pants won’t get magically longer in your closet.
  • If you haven’t worn it in more than 3 months, get rid of it.
  • If it’s ripped or stained, cut it up and use it as a rag.
  • If you have the same shirt in multiple colours, ask yourself if you really need clones of the same shirt. Pick the one you like best and get rid of the rest.
  • Set yourself a goal, like finding 10 items to donate.

Have you cleaned out your closet lately? Do you struggle to get rid of clothes like I do? Any tips to add for closet cleaning?

Categories: Personal, Shopping, Weekend | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

Weekend Musings

I love me a long weekend. Saturday, I went to a butterfly conservatory with my sister and best friend. It was a lot of fun – and being a butterfly conservatory it was nice and warm. It was like a taste of summer. It was busy, with lots of families (read: screaming kids), but it was still fun. We saw lots of butterflies – it’s neat because they fly around and land on your shoulder or in my case, right on top of the flash of your camera. They also had lots of other insects on display. I am so glad that my habitat isn’t shared with hissing cockroaches or centipedes. Yikes. Admission to the conservatory was $13, which seemed pretty reasonable. You could spend all day in the conservatory, if you felt like it. I think my favourite part of our visit to the conservatory was when we saw a butterfly land on the back of a turtle by the pond.

Today, I visited with my parents. They just got back from a Caribbean cruise. It sounds like they had a good trip. I love that my parents are taking winter vacations, because it’s something they could never do with 3 kids and a barn full of dairy cows. Now that the cows are gone, and my sisters and I can take care of things around the farm, my parents have been able to go south during the winter. It was interesting to hear my parents talk about the cruise – specifically how they saved money. They opted out of having tips added automatically onto their bill. Instead, they tipped the cruise workers themselves. They figured they saved about $200 by tipping just the people who helped them. They also brought their own pop and booze onboard to save money. It’s good to know that I come by my frugality honestly.

My other accomplishment this weekend was deciding on how much I’m going to contribute to my RRSP this year. I had a tougher time deciding how much to contribute this year because I have more expenses now that I’m a homeowner. I also have some renovations that I would like to do this year too, so that limits how much of my savings I can transfer to my RRSP. Here’s my plan:

  • $3000 into my RRSP (which will put me close to my goal of a $5000 contribution this calendar year)
  • $1000 into my EF
  • $2000 into my TFSA (my house fund)

I’m glad I finally sat down and thought about this. I can’t believe how fast the RRSP contribution deadline came up this year. Have you contributed to your RRSP yet? What did you get up to this weekend?

Categories: Family, Weekend | Tags: | 5 Comments

Curling is for cheapsters.

I spent Saturday curling in a local bonspiel. I’ve been curling for years; I used to curl competitively, then coached, but now I usually just curl in local bonspiels for a chance to win cheese and/or meat (apparently, I’m only competitive when food is involved). I love curling, because it’s such a social sport and distinctly non-competitive at the level I play at. It’s one of those sports that anyone can play and be relatively good at. Some of the best curlers I know come out of the hack all curled (hah) up, are 70 years old and hardly ever miss a shot. It’s amazing. Oh yeah, and being able to have a beer while you play makes for an awesome sport.

This weekend, I paid $35 to play in the bonspiel. For that fee, I got to play 3, 6-end games; got a roast beef lunch and a sandwich supper; a cheese basket for a 4th place finish; plus I won two door prizes, a big ole bag of peat moss and a bird feeder. Not bad ‘eh? Truth be told, I was really excited to win the giant bag of peat moss –  it will be so handy when I start my gardens this year. After the bonspiel, while I was soaking my sore sweeping muscles, I got to thinking, curling is probably one of the cheapest winter sports out there. It requires very little equipment and the fees to play are usually pretty nominal.

What you need to curl:

  • Shoes – sure you can buy curling shoes ($90-$120), but you really don’t need to. All you really need is a pair of clean running shoes. You can use duct tape on the bottom of a shoe for a slider, or buy a slider slip on ($20-$35). Most clubs have slip on sliders you can borrow too.
  • Broom –  new brooms cost anywhere from $45-$100, but every club I’ve ever been to has club brooms that everyone is welcome to use for free.
  • Ice – renting a sheet of ice costs around $60, split between 8 people (4 players per team), makes it $15 a person. Of course, fancier clubs might charge more, but that’s the going rate at many rural clubs.

That’s it, that’s all you need to curl. Pretty cheap huh? Just another reason why I love curling.

Do you curl? What’s your go-to winter sport?

Categories: Spending, Weekend | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments

Tackling the wood pile.

I wrote my very first guest post ever for Money Rabbit this week. You should head over there and check it out. I won’t tell you what I wrote about, you’ll just have to head over to her blog and see for yourself. I was pretty darn excited when Money Rabbit asked me to write a guest post, because I really admire her. Hopefully my post keeps up with her excellent standards.

I fully intended to have an amazing post done for today. Really. It was going to be smart, witty and thought provoking (for a change). I usually do most of my writing on the weekends and I had all sorts of plans to spend my weekend working on kick ass blog posts, but my weekend was totally hijacked by wood.

This was my weekend

Saturday morning, my Dad called and asked me to come up and split wood. Ok, I  figured, I could spare a couple hours to split a load of wood. It was -15 C, so I layered up and headed up to the farm. We hooked the hydraulic splitter up to the tractor and headed around to the back of the barn, where the wood pile was waiting for us. We split wood until lunch, took a quick half hour lunch break, and then headed back out to continue splitting. We filled our big dump box three times before we decided that was enough for the day. Of course, we’d only managed to split about half of the wood pile.

Sunday morning my phone rings at 9; Dad is ready to split more wood. I wolf down the rest of my breakfast and drive up to the farm. We decided to finish splitting the rest of the wood pile. Of course, we’re closer to the bottom of the pile by now and the pieces of wood seem to be getting bigger and heavier. Some of the pieces have to split six or more times. Ugh. But we did it, we split the entire wood pile, finishing around 5 pm. Goodbye weekend.

That’s my excuse for this post. I spent my entire weekend splitting wood, and today, I can barely lift my arms up. There’s a little fire burning between my shoulder blades, but at least I managed to accomplish one of my goals: split 2 cords of wood. I think we actually did closer to three, so I have enough wood for next winter and then some. Also, by cutting my own wood, I saved myself $240 (average price of a cord of wood ~ $80 x 3 cords = $240).

Not an exciting weekend, but at least I can look at the pile of split wood drying out in the shed and feel some strange sense of accomplishment.What did you do this weekend? 

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Weekend | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

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