Wedding Fever

I want to get married!

Well, not anytime soon (pencil me in for 2020 – a nice round number)

…and certainly not to anyone in particular (whomever fits in the tux!)

…and if you pressed me on this point, I could certainly forgo the whole ‘marriage’ thing too (who needs that stress??)

But after attending the Urban Wedding show and the Welcome Wagon Wedding show, I’ve decided what I do want is a big party dedicated to me, moi, MEEE!

Urban Wedding Show freebies

I like to tell everyone that I’m shy (I’m really not) and the ultra extravagant, once-in-a-lifetime, blow out extravaganza I’m planning in my mind would prove 2 things to everyone:

  1. I’m a liar
  2. I’m really an egomaniac
  3. I love an open bar  (Yeah, Yeah. I know I said 2 things but please refer back to point #1…)

Invited by a wedding minded friend (she’s a wedding consultant looking to make contacts with unique and reputable wedding service providers), I excitedly RSVP’d yes once she casually mentioned that there’d probably be free food samples (woo hoo!) My head dancing with lemon chiffon dreams and white chocolate butter creams, I swooned into the wedding shows and sought after my favourite things to do:

Where’s the food @?

High-End Appetizers: C Catering had beautiful food on display that I immediately fell in love with and almost as quickly inhaled. mmmmm

I want u, & u, & u too!

Apparently what I ate was:

  • Cubed watermelon, crispy prosciutto and seasoned cucumber
  • Salmon wrapped cheese with avocado (not pictured)
  • Sliced persimmon, sliced radish and creamed cheese
  • Vanilla cookie with whipped cream and shaved chocolate
    • Cost: They have a whole range of catering options but @ $35 for 14 of these tasty items, I had better start saving $$$ now

Random Booth: Finally some real cake. A shame it’s chocolate though. Pass!

Be gone from my sight, chocolate cake!

Restaurant Fare: Not a big fan of the items served here, we’re later told that this is a sampling of the appetizers provided by the host restaurant (oh dear).

I'll always wonder what was in that empty dish...

  • Gyoza (generic quality)
  • Bruscetta (I did enjoy the salsa)
  • Vegetarian spring rolls (not a fan)

Get my drink on:

V, a reception/venue located in downtown Vancouver, created the Urban Wedding Martini, made just the way I like my drinks: booze+more booze+even more booze and then a hint of juice. Hiccup. Oh and they had free samples too. mmmm.

so....what r u doing later? 😉

That’s original (or at least new to me):

  • Photo booths!  Ones that print great quality, fully customizable photo strips for attendees too
    • Cost: Rates start @ approx $600+ for 3hours
  • Online Wedding Streaming: Sick of wedding planning and want to elope to Vegas? With this service, you can. Have your stress-free Elvis inspired wedding while all your stressful in-laws get to take part just they way you want them to: far, far away via the live stream on the internet.
    • Cost: Rates start @ $500 for a basic package
  • Flipbooks! This service turns digital video clips into a stop motion type flipbook in a matter of minutes.  You have to see em to love em too.
    • Cost: Rates start @ approx $900+ for the minimum 2 hours required. This includes the flipbook system and a crew to make it happen @ your event

I think I forgot something (AKA the unforgettables):

  • Bad Photography: As an expert in this myself, this ‘photography’ booth showcased amateur photography in an unattractive display case. They also rented dresses but didn’t have pictures of the specific dresses they rent. Hmmmm…
  • How to waste your $1300 booth fee: a duo whom we think are event planners (I thought they were photographers, another friend thought they were videographers, another had no clue what they did) who simply handed out business cards and thanked us for coming to their sparse booth.
  • Fashion blows Shows: Brides, listen up. After 2000+ years, it turns out that white dresses are still in (surprise?). After a painfully boring parade of white dresses go by (ecru, off-white, mother of pearl, whatevs), I decide to wear a dress with colour to my ‘wedding’ and to put my bridesmaids in boring white (ecru, off-white, mother of pearl, whatevs).

Well not THIS one, obviously... but you get the point.

Just Married

All the food samples finished, it was the universal sign that it was time to call it a very long and drawn out day. I never realized how many options there were for a wedding or how much planning is required to orchestrate it all. I also forgot about the only other reason for even having a wedding in the first place – the exorbitant amount of high priced gifts!

Firmly decided on having a cash grab event love-filled wedding, I’ll happily go along with whatever my momma wants so long as I get a photo booth, the flipbook booth , tons of tiny, classy food options and whatever was in that drink. And of course, to avoid any and all stress and headaches, the big day will have to be planned out by my Vancouver, BC based wedding consultant extraordinaire @ www.weddingblingz.com

Oh ya, and I guess I’ll probably need a groom too*…

(*groom still optional)

Happy 365!

What a short, interesting trip it’s been

A year already. It’s a continuous theme in my blog posts: time flies. Now is the time to seize the day, carpe noctem, et cetera and on & on and so on and so forth.

Perhaps you’re a little confused, but in case you haven’t been paying attention (and in your defence, I haven’t been either):

HAPPY ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY!

Now THAT's an anniversary cake!

It’s been one year since I started this blog and today’s post is the first post of year two. Woo!  So technically I missed the anniversary date (September 27th) but just like in my relationships, I’m not one to pay particular attention to big dates (We’ve been together a year already? Are you sure?)  and this one-year mark is another milestone date that came by surprise.

I looked back at my first and still favourite post: the 3-way conundrum; which openly mocked the aftermath of the dissolution of a relationship. This took me more than 3 weeks to compose; it went through several different edits and rewrites and it had no accompanying photos (to protect the guilty). I had the simple goals at the time of keeping it simple, clever, clean and under 500 words (official word count: 512). Reading it again for the first time in over a year, I still like it for its brevity, hilarity, and clarity. It even had its corresponding facebook promotional post:

Going to lunch with an ex. I need to wear something that says ‘I’ve moved on”, “I’m happy with my life right now”, and “Your new girlfriend is probably a whore.” Hmmmm. I’m thinking something in a pattern perhaps? 😉

I’ll admit it’s slightly petty (and over a year later, I’m still totally okay with that), but it was also liberating at the time. It was writing therapy and I suggest you try it sometime (shake out those dusty skeletons).

Moving on, I moved on from there to write about anything, everything and all the fun little in-between activities that came along.

In the beginning

I had no real goal or direction. ‘Living’ is pretty general (just requires breathing – artificial or not) and could relate to many things. Whatever whim, activity or invitation came my way, I would quickly RSVP Y-E-S.  I may have only showed up to about half the events and arrived late to the rest of them (more fashionable that way, of course) but I have accomplished, experienced and been a part of the most random sampling of ‘living’ this side of the hereafter:

– There was my continuous, internal struggle for my love of food men manly food.

– Followed by my deep, outwardly struggle against the battle of the bulge (here’s a hint, I kicked its ASS!)

– A reason to settle for Mr. Right Now: Be my anti-valentine

– Reasons why you shouldn’t (or maybe I shouldn’t) drink and shop

Free booze + shopping =$60 cheap "gold" earrings

– How the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics took over my life. Then a second time. Then again.

-I’m telling the world: What really happens in Vegas

My second home

– Would you like to go salsa dancing with me? Great. Be ready @ 3AM to go.

– Spilling the beans on a great girl’s night out

– My limited number of good deeds (unfortunately just wanting to be good doesn’t count. Humph) Maybe giving up my car counts?

– How I joined the polar bear club (kind of like the mile high club but totally different)

– The time I became a degenerate gambler (bet you 5 to 1 and my right kidney that it won’t happen again!)

…etc, and on & on and so on and so forth. 52 weeks and 52 posts and its getting more fun by the week. I’m even considering changing to a more than once a week format but I think that kind of radical thinking should be saved for year three (crazy hippie thinking!).

Where we go from here

Year one was about trying different activities, living through new experiences, taking part in unusual events and being open minded to everything (especially this).

In year two, I still want to try new things (so much to try, taste and do!) but I’ll be going to the people this time. Confused? Perfect. That’s how I like my audience – highly expectant and in the dark.

Curious? Great! That’s even better.

Stay tuned. 😉

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.

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Ok fine, here are a couple hints:

  • Gastronomic Anomalies: with so much good food out there, why do people feel the need to make this stuff??
  • Happy Sexy You
  • How am I supposed to eat THAT?
  • The bartering system: the real oldest profession

Anniversary cake image

In Vegas

I’ve got your future right here

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  So many to make and no way to know which ones are right. Not in advance at least. Sure, you can seek out expert guidance from life coaches, financial planners, money advisors, business professionals and career counselors but that can take weeks, months, years even to determine the right course of action for you. However, there is one type of person out there who has the knowledge, the insight, the foresight and even the hindsight to answer all your queries, lead you in the right direction and put you on the right path. Want to know the answer to life’s most important questions? For a price, you can get all the answers you’ve ever wanted, and more. And one lazy Saturday afternoon, that’s just what I did.

With an overly excited friend in tow (calm down!), we ventured out into the dark, seedy and scary underworld of Fortune Telling.  Turns out, it’s not so seedy or scary. Forget dark, and insert mundane as that would be the best description for the  little shop that was badly decorated in beige carpet, broken white tiles and fake wood paneled walls. The visions I’d had of heavy purple drapes and gold speckled curtains and crystal balls everywhere were quickly pushed aside by the reality of the small, old fashioned TV in the corner playing a CNN broadcast (from the future??).

We called him Ol' Nozzy for short

Going into this with an open mind we try to open the front door…only to find it locked. Hmmmm. I definitely didn’t see that coming but I guess I’m not the psychic. Calling the number on the door, we learn our Shamans were going to be 5 minutes late. (I’ll let you insert your own jokes here about how she should have known we’d be there on time) 15 minutes later they show up. My friend’s oracle was a pretty girl but otherwise ordinary looking whereas my Seer was the coolest one ever. Short spikey hair, a  raspy voice, a Romanian accent and scars of unknown origin on her face, neck and chest which just added to the mystery and to her mystic aura. Furthermore, Fortune Telling has been in her family for generations and she’s been reading people for over 25 years. Even her daughter runs a fortune telling business in another city. Fortune telling runs in their veins and is a huge part of their lives – Ya, ya, ya. Enough about you, Nostradamus. Let’s get to me already.

Leading me behind a shroud of curtains, I’m told to sit down in a back room and am immediately handed a crystal. She tells me to hold it and think of a question that I want answered. I immediately think about caramilk and the mystery of the smooth flowing caramel and snap at myself to focus. I try to pinpoint my thoughts on career and writing, career and writing, career and writing, caramilk (dammit!), career and writing.  After a few more moments, she removes the crystal from my clenched fist and my experience begins:

Crystal Reading: done to evaluate the life cycles, and how you are directly affected by what is happening to you now, what has happened in the past and what is to come in the future. (http://www.spiritedboutique.com/?p=208)

Crystal Reading/Psychic Facial Determination:

  • I’m a good person (hmmm. Define ‘good’…)
  • I try to do nice things (Ha! Wrong again)
  • I’m lonely and hurting on the inside (Whoa! Hey!)
  • I have very few close relationships and hold people back (Well now she’s just being hurtful. Wah!)

Palm reading (aka Chiromancy) consists of the practice of evaluating a person’s character or future life by “reading” the palm of that person’s hand. Various “lines” (“heart line”, “life line”, etc.) purportedly suggest interpretations by their relative sizes, qualities, and intersections. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmistry

Palm Reading:

  • She saw I had a long life line
  • A few obstacles in my past and a few to come in the future
  • I’m an independent female
  • She saw marriage in my future and 2 kids (Dammit. Oh well. At least this should make my mother happy)

Think you can read me better? Try it for yourself!

Tarot Cards: the deck represents all phenomenal experience, the wheel of life. Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the current and possible future situations of the subject. http://healing.about.com/cs/uc_directory/a/uc_readtarot.htm

Tarot Reading

Love life:

  • I had a bad breakup in the past (bad for him maybe but not for me. Hee hee hee)
  • …And there is still some connection or negativity there  (Aw man. I don’t have room for a stalker right now)
  • My love life is cursed (Sheesh. I think you have to actually HAVE a love life in order for it to be cursed…ohhhhh)
  • I had a devil card in my mix, which requires one-on-one meditation with the psychic at a future date (and at an additional cost of course). She will light candles on my behalf and try to determine what is causing troubles in my love life and then we should meet again to put me on the right path to clarity (hmmmm…)
  • I will find love in the next 3 to 6 months (with the devil maybe? Check if he’s free to date since he’s leaving his card for me everywhere)
  • I’ll find true love in the next 3 to 6 months but not in Vancouver (in Paris then? Packing a bag!)

Life:

  • A change in my life in the next 3 to 6 months
  • She foresaw a big move in the next few months that will be good for me (Okay finally a good one. My friends & I were discussing a move to Australia in the fall)
  • I find it hard to save money (No. It’s just hard not to spend it. Totally different)
  • Or at least hard to save as much money as I would like to (true of most people)

Career:

  • You don’t like to be told what to do or how to act (insert your own skeptical ‘duh’ face here)
  • You want to be your own boss (Damn right!)
  • I see creativity around you and in your future (Woo hoo!)
  • There will be change in profession and this change will be good for me
  • I will always have money in my life (Yes, but how much. I need dollar amounts here lady!)

Conclusion: inconclusive. To believe some of it, I have to believe all of it. Open mind or not, these generalized statements and lucky guesses aren’t enough to make me a supporter. For fun (and $40), it was definitely nice to be assured of some things that I wanted to know about. However, always needing a second source (makes it more legit), I went to my dear friend the Internet for some additional guidance.

Caution: When it comes to psychic phenomena, the Internet is the Worst. Friend. Ever.

With a million+ websites out there offering you guidance and readings for prices as low as $0.99/minute, a simple 30 minute reading can easily get out of hand and repeated visits can get out of budget.

One site even uses the trick where they ask you to focus on one card and one card only and then the site refreshes and they change ALL the cards (unbeknownst to some users) to demonstrate to the poor believer that their  ‘online psychic connection’ has been established. Humph! http://www.onlinepsychic.com/main/m_testread_c1.shtml

Still, I needed some more answers and as luck would have it, I came across a legitimate looking site offering free crystal ball readings. Just pop in your yes/no question and the all-knowing crystal ball will tell all. After learning that I was more than likely a princess in a previous life; the favourable possibility exists for me to marry a millionaire; and the chances are probable that I will travel to the moon; I had to ask the Great Crystal Ball one last question:

Aha! Close you indeed.

Question mark source

Nostradamus image source

Budgetary Restraining Order part 2: The Budget Strikes Back

The potential reward: I always like to lead with the good stuff. After successful completion of all budgetary tasks- I will get to treat myself to a trip to the City of Sin. No, not Toronto silly–Las Vegas, Nevada. The original City of Sin.

The Story So Far: Create a budget that covers the basics and limits the extras. Increase savings and limit nonsensical spending (i.e. the wonderful, delightful and sometimes booze filled extras).  Spend no more than $599/ month or $149.75/week.

What the heck are you saving for: Bigger and better things (retirement, Australia, whatever)

The Deity-forsaken Rules:

  1. Have fun every weekend (at least one night out) and plan fun, no budget/low budget activities for 2 other nights per week (doesn’t count and would be unrealistic if I became a hermit for 30 days)
  2. Host at least 1 dinner party for 6+ people…keeping the budget in mind
  3. Find money. It’s in the home somewhere. Any money found can be used.
  4. Get creative.  The best things in life ARE free. Find them.

Where our poor (literally) heroine left off: after 17 days of frugal living, the restraints of the budget were starting to take their toll in a big way. An unnecessary and completely uneconomical shopping spree was about to take place (whee!), pushing the mental and emotional boundaries of the leading lady (oh. Booo!).

Week #3: We are living in a material world…

Top Reasons People Overspend  (taken in part from here )

  1. VIP psychology: to feel as successful as or more successful than those around us
  2. Just add credit: one credit card is maxed out? Just get 2 more and keep the spending party going. Pay all the bare minimums and avoid the truth for as long as you can. If you don’t track your spending, then you can’t be overspending (this works for diets and calorie counting too)
  3. But I want it now! Aka immediate gratification. From fast food to ‘buy now pay later’ schemes, society provides easy access to buy what you want now and as quickly as possible
  4. Lifestyle maintenance: regardless of income level, once we become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it can be difficult to cut back
  5. ‘Money grows on trees’ syndrome: Spending money as it comes in with the expectation that more will come along anyway
  6. Power spending: Feeling powerful and getting an adrenaline rush from spending. Actually having the money to spend is a moot point. (This Hello Kitty overnight bag makes me feel like a powerful businessman)

    They'll take me seriously now!

  7. What’s your worth?: Spending money to feel valuable and worthy to the world (think shiny new cars & big screen TVs)
  8. Yes-men (and yes-women): Some people have a hard time saying no, even when they can’t afford it. This results from a need to please and a desire to be well liked by all

Reflecting on this list on my way to the mall made me realize that #4 and #5 applied directly to me. Fine, fine. So I didn’t need to go shopping nor did I have to buy anything. Just the fact that I couldn’t and shouldn’t was enough to make it the most desirable thing in the world. (My single girlfriends and I are now going apply this same theory to men by telling them they can’t have us)

After years of spending money on the little things (gum, lotto tickets, the list goes on) and not thinking about it had become just normal daily expenditures. A lifestyle of ease-and-convenience spending hadn’t caught up with me yet but could easily explode if no action was taken (a take-out steak and lobster joint? What a great idea!). At least the financial experts were on my side and recognized it’s hard (so HARD!) to completely change your life in 2 weeks. Sighing, I turn back to my house whilst turning to my own list and immediately lock in on Rule #3: Find money. It’s in the home somewhere. Any money found can be used.

Find the Money

At home I glance at my friend’s wallet on the table but don’t think the experts meant stealing (or did they?…). As I mentioned last week, the financial recovery show Till Debt Do Us Part always encourages the participants to look through and take inventory of what they already have.

Riffling through several decorative boxes I find the following forgotten properly filed away gift cards:

–          $50 gift card to Blue Ruby (my favourite jewellery store)

–          $100 gift card to HBC stores (The Bay, Zellers & Home Outfitters)

–          $30 gift card to Lululemon

–          $20 gift card to Winners & HomeSense

–          $15 Starbucks gift card

–          $10 in stamped Kernels Popcorn cards (14 stamps so enough for 2 free small bags)

–          $130 value: 10 Famous Players movie passes

Total: $355 in gift cards/redeemable items

Wow. Lesson learned: I really need to clean more often. Oh and probably keep better track of free gifts, etc.

As I continue to peruse my own property (I own camping equipment?? What for?), I find many other items I forgot I had (3 spray bottles and 2 refill containers of Windex, 3 bottles of body wash, 3 packages of tooth brushes, 6 packs of floss and enough razors and shaving cream to de-hair Robin Williams) which should further push my need to spend back by a few months.

Week 4: The longest week ever

Food was running low. You can’t eat at Lululemon and trying to live off Starbucks’ coffees and Kernel’s popcorn wasn’t working too well either. Small daily grocery trips and only using what was already in the house definitely reduced unnecessary spending but at this point I was in need of a miracle, a date (anyone??)  or the ability to make a gourmet meal out of cabbage, mustard and san pellegrino…

Feed me, Seymour!

Final Results

After 4 long weeks, 30 long (so, so long) days and endless tallying, calculating, counting, scrimping and saving, reusing, reducing and recycling, the final numbers are as follows:

Week 1: $200.45/$149.75 = Overspent by $50.70 (Whoops!)

Week 2: $194.48/$149.75 = Overspent by $44.73 (Should have used a calculator…)

Week 3: $72.09/$149.75 = Under spent by $77.66 (??? maybe I lost some receipts…)

Week 4: $150.59/$149.75 = Overspent by $0.84

Loss total:  -$18.61 thus NO Las Vegas vacation.

Yikes! According to the strict rules, I could only book a wonderful and exciting Las Vegas vacation if I stayed on or under budget. Failing to stay under $599 for the month, a vacation would not and could not be allowed. It’s important to be strict with yourself and recognize that following the rules is so very important in life…

Ya right. Viva Las Vegas baby!

The view from Ghost Bar @ the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas

Free and fun activities (The ultimate oxymoron):

–          Window shopping: a great way to do research and to determine if an item you see repeatedly is what you really want

–          Girl’s night in: settle in with friends on Wednesday nights and watch the cat fighting bitch-fest that is America’s Next Top Model. Trust me, watching their ridiculous catty dramas is much more fun than creating your own.

–          Clothing Swap (thanks Aline!): the next best thing to shopping. Someone else’s shopping addiction can result in your new going out top.

Yes that’s right. I could only think of a few ideas.  Gimme a break! This was only my first month. If you can think of some free and fun activities, I’d love to hear em: nelleytimes@gmail.com

Photo source:hello kitty overnight bag from www.HelloKitty.com; Las Vegas Sign

Budgetary Restraining Order

$4600 (AKA why a budget?)

I opened my credit card bill in March and nearly dropped it in horror. After double checking to see if it was actually mine I reread the amount due. I owed the credit card company $4,600. All accumulated within a 6-week time frame. Admittedly, some purchases were for investment items that were going to pay off in time but in the here and now – yikes! Not only that, for the past few months I’ve been forever throwing out food in the fridge that gets purchased and never used. I can’t imagine all the $$$ that gets wasted via my refrigerator. While local restaurants were cashing in on my laziness, my wallet and savings were taking the hit.

Enough was enough. It was time to take some drastic measures.

Background story (AKA what’s the dilly?):

I’m a big fan of the show Till Debt Do Us Part. This show teaches couples to reduce spending, increase savings, stick to a budget, find other income sources and to get themselves out of debt.  Most couples on the show are spending up to 3 times more than their monthly earnings, are in consumer debt in excess of $50k, and have no clue about their finances. In each episode, the host, financial wizard Gail Vaz-Oxlade, cautions them: if you continue spending like this you will be $500K, $1 million+ in debt in 2 years, 5 years, etc.

While I’m not in a couple nor do I have any consumer debt- the spending less, increasing savings and sticking to a budget part sounded appealing to me (oooo a budget! How fun!). As I always mock the contestants who can’t stick to one, I felt it was time to put my money where my wallet is (or not put the money there in this instance I guess).

In any case, I have big dreams (move to France, Australia or Mexico), big plans (a website, an online business, retire at 40) so saving money now and proper money management are very important and none of those dreams will come cheaply.

Which brings us to the budget.

Calculation

Average monthly income (from all sources)

Minus fixed expenses (various savings, housing, utilities, cable and internet, transportation, gym memberships and the always important hair appointments).

Less the cost of the new things I want (maid service, a website designer & server).

(- 60%) Then slash the rest by 60% (As per Till Debt do Us Part)

What’s left: $599/month or $149.75/week to spend on the groceries, dinners out, lunches, brunches, concerts, shows, plays, shopping trips, bars, clubs, coffees, toiletries, clothing, snowboarding, rock climbing, shoes, gifts, snacks, books, taxi rides, magazines, newspapers, lotto tickets, art shows, weekend trips away, and all the other fun extras that you never put a thought to. Life if you will.

As a socially active shopper who can easily spend $149.75 in one good shopping trip or a great night out, this wasn’t going to be easy. However, that was kind of the point.

The Challenge: Get to the end of the month before getting to the end of the money

The Reward: On the show, the winners get up to $5,000 to be used to pay down their debt.  Since I have no debt, my reward is much more rewarding. If I complete all the challenges successfully, then I get to Viva Las Vegas. Up to 5 days and 4 nights to spend in the city of sin dependent on my angelic April spending.

Although I hate them, in this case they’re definitely in order. With the challenge set, there had to be some RULES:

  1. Spend  $149.75/week to a max of $599/month
  2. Beg or barter for any expenses over and above the budget
  3. Have fun every weekend (at least one night out) and plan fun, no budget/low budget activities for 2 other nights per week (doesn’t count and would be unrealistic if I became a hermit for 30 days)
  4. Host at least 1 dinner party for 6+ people…keeping the budget in mind
  5. Find money. It’s in the home somewhere. Any money found can be used.
  6. Get creative.  The best things in life ARE free. Find them. (Caveat: Once found, if you don’t like them, just ask for a refund…)

Week 1: The $10 dinner party (AKA Why spend more?)

Last time I hosted a party for 9, the cost was about $125 as I had it catered by the local grocery store’s pre-made department and included an overpriced house cocktail for sharing (composed of pricey champagne, cointreau and vodka), along with several bottles of mix (brand name pop, Tropicana juices, etc)

This time around – 8 people, BYOB (bring your own booze) and I hope, a better and healthier selection of food. All for $10 or less.

The plan – I had to base my menu on whatever I had in the fridge/cupboards/pantry and freezer.

You’re invited to dine Chez Nellé

It would take place on Day 4 of 30. Everyone was invited to my house for dinner.  Afterwards we would split a cab and go to a concert at a club nearby.

APPETIZERS

  • Microwave popcorn (ghetto, perhaps but it’s what I had in the cupboard and who doesn’t like buttery popcorn with extra butter?)
  • Homemade trail mix with dried cranberries, almonds, chopped dried apricot slices, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • A sliced rustic looking chicken & spinach pizza I found in the freezer. I then added parmesan cheese, sliced tomatoes and sea salt & pepper (to give it a homemade look, hee hee)
  • My personal invention: mini cranberry and roasted turkey wraps. How they tasted in my mind, 10/10. In reality I’d rate them a 6.5/10.

Roasted turkey, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, cream cheese, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts

Cost: $3.26 for roast turkey from the deli. Everything else was sitting in the fridge (cream cheese, whole wheat tortilla shells, spinach leaves, etc.)

MAINS

  • Veggie fried rice
  • Baked sole with garlic butter
  • Fresh baked coconut bread (supplied by a party goer)
  • Garden salad with spring mix, feta cheese, pumpkin seeds, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers

mmmm. you know you want some of this

Cost: $2.58 for 2 packets of fried rice seasoning (my favourite). I had a huge bag of rice in the pantry, sole fish in the freezer purchased months ago and an unopened package of feta cheese from a few weeks back. Veggies are always on hand in my house. It was nice to use them for a change versus just throwing them out every few weeks and buying replacements to eventually throw it. It was a vicious cycle.

DRINKS:

A bottle of cola and diet cola as well as a selection of soda I keep in the fridge (I refer to soda simply as ‘mix’)

For ice, instead of spending $3 for a bag, I started filling and freezing ice cube trays on Thursday night so I had a full bag of ‘homemade’ ice for Saturday’s festivities.
Cost: $3.20 for the 2 bottles of soda

DESSERT

  • I think I mentioned this before but BYOB. 😉

The results: Empty plates and full and happy bellies! (It also helped that they all arrived hungry, heh heh heh)

Total cost: $9.04, woo!

My #1 tip for success: Using what I had on hand. My other option was to make a pasta dish as I had frozen meat in the freezer, a couple jars of tomato sauce in the pantry and a years’ worth of whole wheat pasta in the cupboards. This wasn’t about luckily having tons of food in the house, this is about using whatever you have in the house. Look in your own kitchens, with minimal purchases, can you host a cheap night in with friends?

Week 1 one went by in a blur. My fridge was still full from previous shopping expeditions and with no new shopping on the horizon, sticking to the budget was fun and eating the food in my house was easy. Week 2 however, was where it started to hit me. Friends would go out for dinner somewhere out of my budget and I would have to say no. Other friends wanted to do some cross border shopping but I had to say no. Go out on the town twice in a weekend? With $149.75/week for everything, there was no way to make it happen without being forced to eat mac ‘n cheese for a week (one box=3 meals). No, No, NO!  It was something I had to get used to saying. As was tradition, on Friday some coworkers went out to lunch and invited me to go along but as I had already packed a lunch for that day there was no reason for me to spend more $$$. N-O. I felt like having sushi for dinner but couldn’t justify the expenditure seeing as I had enough food in my house to make a healthy meal before it went to waste. Gimme an N and an O. NO!

On day 16, frustration hit its breaking point. Friends were showing me their newly acquired purchases (so cute!) and I was annoyed that I didn’t go with them. I need new stuff too. What was the point of the budget anyway? I could see the money in my bank account. It’s just sitting there, why not use it? I’m all about doing what I want and a budget is all about the very opposite of that. Shopping brings me pleasure. I’m bored and I want to spend some of the hard earned money that I earned and dammit, no one’s going to stop me. Not even myself.

With that thought in mind, I picked up my keys, dusted off my credit card and went out the door to the nearest shopping mall.

Happiness, thy name is mall.

**Did I let the budget get the best of me? Find out how I fared thru weeks 3 and 4 in the sequel – Budgetary Restraining Order Part II: The budget kicks back.