Wednesday, February 23, 2011

US - the home of the brave?

Mother Jones has a post right now that pictorially explains "everything that is wrong with America." This diagram is particularly shocking showing the wealth disparity in the U.S. 90% of families have an average income of only $31 k. These families would have to work for more than 36 years to make as much as the top 1% of American families make in one year - and more than 875 years to make as much as the top 0.01% -!! I did the math.

I do grumble sometimes on this site about my little predicaments, but this diagram reminds me of how fortunate I am. I don't know how the families of virtually the entire nation live on this little. Living in the US isn't cheap. Maybe this is why they call America the home of the brave.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saving for a rainy day...

I didn't know how I'd ever find the time to blog on a regular basis, but my friend over at the best part of my day has kept me motivated. It's an honour for her to be guest posting for me today.

I don’t know how people save for the future. I mean, I understand saving RRSPs and locking away money for our retirement. At our age – who’s not doing that? And the tax break helps as well. But we live in one of the most expensive cities in North America. It’s hard to just get by month to month paying all your fixed bills. Feeding yourself, buying the odd new piece of clothing, having a meal out, buying a friend a birthday gift, going away for a weekend, etc. can all add up and leave you feeling like you don’t have anything extra to actually put away and call savings. Some months are worse than others but it’s tight….

I worry sometimes that one of my appliances will conk out and I’ll need to buy a new one. Where the hell will I get like $2000 for that?? I guess my line of credit, where else? The elusive 8 months emergency fund in the case you suddenly lose your job…who the hell has that? I certainly don’t. I don’t know anyone who has that.

Well, I don’t know if I do…never really comes up in conversation with friends. People can be weird about money. What you make, what your mortgage payments are, how much debt you have – uncomfortable topics over drinks. But I know it’s on all of our minds. And so many people are living beyond their means. I can at least say I don’t have that problem. I know what I can afford. The whole “need versus want” really comes into play.

I guess worrying about it won’t get us anywhere. I try to be responsible each day when it comes to money and how I spend it. I’ll deal with the more expensive times as they come….

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Good Giada!

Giada is definitely one tasty morsel, but how has she built her own cooking empire?

On today's episode of her cooking show, she was having a friend over for lunch and wanted to impress her. She mixed jam into ricotta, added some whipped cream and called it mousse. Really?

In case you need help making an omelette, here’s an enlightening tutorial…

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The better way

How do some people manage to drive to work every day? It must be crazy stressful. I'm still a new driver, but I've never had to drive anywhere in a hurry, never had to drive in inclement weather, never had to focus before I even got to work.

The TTC is certainly not perfect but it lets me read my book, listen to my iPod or just stare out the window, which is a great way to start the day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

PB & J-eez

I'm trying to bring my lunch to work more often - to cut costs. But trying to find the time and the energy is tough.

Today, I had approximately 30 seconds and one hand to make my lunch. In the whirligig that is my morning, there is little time for perusal. I went for an old stand by - the PB & J sandwich. It was slightly upscale with flax multigrain bread and fancy French blackberry jam, but I still felt like I was 6 years old when I was eating it at my desk at work.

A few of us got to talking about old-school food choices, and my 40-something friend admitted she still ate KD once in a while.  Another friend said she sometimes ate a bag of Swedish Fish for dinner.

We can't always be adults and eat balanced meals, sometimes you need to fuel the kid in you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is it as simple as thinking big?

It's very easy to get bogged down with the excrutiating minutiae of everyday life, particularly at work There are so many menial tasks to complete, so many emails to respond to, so many documents to file, to feel like you're on top of things.

Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my day responding to emails. By the end of the day, sure I felt more organized but what had I accomplished? Fewer emails in my inbox and not much more.

This morning I read this post and felt inspired. Want big things to happen? Make big plans.

Maybe that's how some people are doing it. When you aim high, even if you only get halfway to your goal you're ahead of those who didn't try at all. Failure never looked so sweet.

Anyone got any big plans they'd like to share?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day dramas

Some holidays should come with a handbook.

I always thought there were just two camps on Valentine's day: the lovey-doveys and the bah-humbugs. I've fallen into a third camp, unbeknownst to me until a year ago - the mother f#$%$#%ers.

Before I had a child, Valentine's was simple. I could either embrace the day with my then love/like (who is now my eternal love+like) or trash it wholeheartedly with my girlfriends. Either way it was all about me. Now, I've got the pain in the ass of navigating social mores on behalf of my son. And last year, I got it oh so wrong.

I hadn't thought much about Valentine's until a bunch of Montessori Moms at my office had told me that the common practice was to give Valentines and lootbags to every child in the daycare class and gifts to the teachers too. Every Mom did this, they assured me. This seemed crazy, but what did I know? I was still new at this Mom thing.

It was 24 hours before the big day, which was about 2 weeks too late to prepare for the holiday with any sense of dignity or decorum. I had to come up with a plan, any plan, and fast. I did not want to turn Xavier into a social outcast at the tender age of 15 months.

Kids' Valentines and anything remotely festive had sold out throughout the downtown core. The smart shoppers had bought up what was available long ago. So, I hit the seedy Dollarama by my house and bought pretty much anything that was red or pink - and got creative. I made homemade crudely heart-shaped Valentines late into the night - agonizing over whether to write 'from Xavier', which sounded too casual, or 'love Xavier', which sounded too creepy. I wrapped heart-shaped post-its, crayons and animal crackers into little plastic bags. I curled ribbon, lots of ribbon.  The next morning I chucked a card and gift bag in every kid's cubby, seething with resentment. Later, I called John at work to bring a bag for all of Xavier's gifts from his classmates.

The bag proved to be unnecessary.

I had been the only Mom to hand out any Valentines at all! The Montessori Moms had screwed me! And worst of all, I'd inadvertantly become that Mom - the Martha Mom, the one-upper Mom! The Mom I never wanted to be! Parents were sheepishly thanking me for weeks.

This year I got two boxes of Valentine's cookies for the class - which Xavier proudly carried to his teacher - and called it a day. The only problem? I forgot to buy anything for my own Valentine. Oops!

Happy Valentine's Day John! And happy Valentine's to all my readers everywhere!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gasoline queen

So I got gas today for the second time in my life. I'm 36. I just got my licence a couple of years ago and we just bought a car a couple of months ago.

It never even occurred to me that the pump had to be on the same side as the car's gas tank! So of course there was some crazy manoeuvering in a cramped lot with cars going every which way, and the male drivers in those cars rolling their eyes at me. 

Some people seem to instinctively know things like this without being told - and some people don't. D'oh!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rollin' rollin' rollin'

Almost two weeks after the wheels fell off the stroller, the new ones have been ordered, arrived and replaced.

In that time, getting to daycare has been hairy. Flimsy umbrella strollers with bald, wonky tires are not designed for Canadian winters. And walking with a toddler in a snowsuit - particularly a toddler in a snowsuit who likes to poke sticks in snow banks every 10 seconds - is slower than molasses.

You know you're struggling when the crossing guard says to you, "you really need snow tires on that thing." You know it's time you got some when you have to stop yourself from smacking that damn stop sign out of his hand and screaming, "DO YOU NOT THINK I KNOW THAT?!"

Tomorrow, snow, give it your best shot! We're ready!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Special Report: Snow in Toronto

So I crapped out on Wednesday and stayed at home, even though the snow storm was overblown. Just couldn't face it.

You know how low you've sunk when even fellow Torontonians think you're a wimp.

Check out this hilarious Rick Mercer video. Feel the pathos!