Happy Father’s Day!

In honour of Father’s day 2011 I’m reposting my favourite  Father’s Day post:

It’s Daddy’s Day everyone! However, I dislike it when the focus is shifted off of myself so let’s talk about something sorta father related but even more directly related to me: Daddy’s Little Girls.

Term:               Daddy’s Little Girl (DLG)

Genus:             Spoilus Brat-acus

Also known as: Princesses, little angles, precious darlings and other monikers that only add to their appeal (or repeal)

Age range: From birth till death

Telltale signs of a DLG:

If you’re looking in any bar that begins with “girls, girls, girls!” you won’t find them there. Ditto to anything offering shows for 25 cents (DLG’s would charge at least $1!) or any hotel offering ‘hourly rates’…

Click here to read the rest of the post.

 

Living in a Maternal World

A St. Bernard through a mouse hole. An elephant ramming into a chain link fence. A t-bone steak squeezed through a meat grinder. None of these are desirable to me. Is this what I have to look forward to?

Meeting up recently with a same-aged and similarly childless friend, we were happily reminiscing about the good ol’ days when suddenly she bombarded me.

Her: So how are you dealing with those maternal instincts.

Me: Maternal what now?

Her: You know, the feeling you get when you hold a baby in your arms and suddenly you get this overwhelming urge…

Me: You mean like to kidnap the baby? There’s a huge black market for-

Her (interrupting): No, no, no! (Pause). Well mostly no. What I mean is the overwhelming feeling you get of wanting to have a baby of your own. Legally.

Me (disappointed): So no kidnapping then?

Nope. No maternal instincts here. I think I sort of get what they’re supposed to be – I’ve heard the mother cub/ baby cub theory – but the only things I’ve ever felt overly protective about are the last slices of pizza (hands off!) or the first slices of birthday cake (anyone’s will do).

Now I understand matriarchal instincts, because I’ve always wanted to be treated like a queen and who doesn’t like to rule? (bow before me, child like minions!)

But maternal?

Given the choice - happy baby please!

Even when confronted with someone else’s child, I won’t let those disease carrying sugar fiends give me a kiss. I told a good friend that recently too – not sure she liked that I referred to her adorable offspring as ‘disease filled’ but if the germinated offspring fits the cold/flu carrying profile…

Oooo but I think about you cutie pie!... Are these animal instincts?

It’s not that I don’t like kids (crying babies in confined spaces, anyone?) or don’t want kids (if only I could rent out a uterus…), it’s that I don’t ever, ever think about them.

However, I do love the child like spirit. Kids and I are very much alike – we like to disobey rules, we’re free spirited (them- actually, me – wanna be) and we all scream for ice cream!

Worst case – I assume these largely fabled instincts will overtake my common sense one day and in this rare case I will accidentally pop one out. Why accidentally? Because that’s probably the only way it could happen – just ask my girl Mary.

Why I don’t like/have maternal instincts:

  1. I don’t need them
  2. I don’t think about them
  3. I don’t like overwhelming feelings taking over my life so I efficiently seal them safely away. Forever.
  4. I could care less about biological clocks and how (or if) they’re ticking (just turn if off if the noise gets to you)

Oh why couldn’t my friend mean material instincts?

Material instincts: The fanatical desire to constantly accumulate material possessions.

If it was YOU that came outta there, I'd get pregnant today!

Now those are instincts I understand.  But maternal instincts???

.

.

.

Humph. Who needs em!?

.

Kitten pic source

In a Perfect Wedding World

Braving the cold and the pouring rain, a scrappy group of faux wedding party participants came out to Vancouver’s famed Robson Street on Sunday, April 10, 2011 in support of Dress for Success Vancouver.

Proving that people don’t like to come out when it rains, the estimated dozens who were expected to attend got whittled down to an enthusiastic few who withstood the heavy downpours with big smiles and even bigger hearts.

They handed out pamphlets, informed passers-by about the upcoming Dress for Success power walk and provided donation cards for anyone wishing to make a contribution.

The organizers are trying to raise awareness for Dress for Success Vancouver, an organization that empowers low and no income women to transition into the workforce by providing them with professional attire and a small working wardrobe to get them started in their roles. They also provide other services including a clothing stylist, career counseling and an ongoing mentoring program.

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/210313–dozens-of-brides-and-grooms-swarm-vancouver

All this in support of the Perfect Wedding Show taking place this Sunday, April 17 at the Executive Airport Plaza Hotel in Richmond featuring traditional vendors offering unique wedding options for all bride-to-be’s.

And this is how the article SHOULD have appeared on all the local newspapers if I had any say in it. Oh well.  2 news outlets out of how ever many there are in Vancouver should be good enough for now.

Shooot!

Photo provided by Tempest Photography - http://www.tempestphoto.com

Healthy Halloween

Can there be such a possibility?

After Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Mondays, Halloween is yet another excuse to forgive excessive chocolate consumption. Instead of happy Halloween, maybe we should wish everyone a healthy Halloween?

I start to think about this today as I struggle to button up jeans that fit perfectly fine a week ago. How did this happen? Why does it take me 4 weeks to drop 3lbs but 5 days to gain back 6!

Its Halloween time and since before thanksgiving, there has been advertising for chocolate and candies everywhere and at greatly discounted prices. All my favourite chocolates for under $10? A box double the size for only $2 more? And they all come in cute ‘looks low fat to me’ sizes. Who can resist?

Needing to escape temptation, I travel to a friend’s house and notice several large boxes of recently purchased Halloween candy (dammit!). My friend goes on about how there used to be another box but it mysteriously vanished. At least I think that’s what she said. My mouth was already full of Oh’ Henry bars, while my arm was digging back in and seeking out the elusive bags of Reeses Pieces. We sit together munching away and try to figure out where the missing candy could have gone (Raccoons? Wayward children? Vagabonds?). No solution in sight, we crack open a second box and ponder some more. We think ourselves to be pretty bright, but unfortunately, it seems this will forever remain a mystery.

Even in the relative safety of the work office I’m not immune to sudden chocolate attacks. Staying late one evening, I’m privy to staff members placing handfuls of chocolates and treats on coworkers’ desks. They were only handing it out to one department (not mine) but after several minutes of begging them, they forced me to have a handful myself. Forced!
Munching on a Kit Kat followed by a Twix and finishing off with a coffee crisp (all minis, so low fat, right?), I ponder how anyone can have a healthy Halloween.

As I contemplate this, a dark angel saddles up beside me and, after I tell them to, they offer me one of the remaining homemade Halloween cupcakes on their tray (Halloween in the sense that they were made during the Halloween season). Devouring this iced beauty, I loosen my belt by one notch and wonder if I left these jeans in the dryer too long because they’re feeling a little snug.

Finally, Friday arrives and I vow to never have candy again. Before I make this vow official though (there was no clergy involved, after all), a co-worker shakes a big tub of Halloween candies at the group. Like an adorably cute puppy, I scamper over and dig in.

Snacking on starburst candies and mini Mr. Bigs (oxy moron?) I try to remember the last time I had seen the inside of a gym. It was only that morning and I distinctly remember being offered dark chocolate squares when I got off the treadmill….dammit!

Chocolates and candies inhaled, I once again reach out and look to above to make my ‘no more candy’ vow when I’m quickly interrupted (divine intervention?). This time the temptation is a box overstuffed with pre-packaged chocolates….and its one box per person.

Milky ways, snickers, butterfingers, 3 musketeers and Baby Ruths are the wares this gypsy is selling and I take her for all she has.

I remove the belt from my pants completely as it’s now cutting off circulation to my legs.

Healthy Halloween???

There’s no such thing.

Top 10 #GhettoHalloweenTreats from the Twitter-verse:

  1. Candy canes (leftover from LAST Christmas or early for THIS Christmas)
  2. Napkins @Its_NaeNae_Baby
  3. Peppermints w/the name of a local restaurant on ’em @ConvowithB
  4. Single crayons from the crayons pack
  5. Ketchup packets @ LWRIGHT01
  6. Chips in plastic bags @GorgeousBritnee
  7. McDonald’s Monopoly Tickets. (free small fries) @OnlineTHUG
  8. Shampoo bottle from a hotel @rappinjack
  9. Kool aid packets @Juan_Coolin
  10. Condoms @tonic_rod20

Candy photo sources

Starburst

kit kat

reeses pieces

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.

The odds have it

Thousands of dollars were on the line here. First up – an exacta box on Victim of Love, Mr. Apple Cider and Money X Change. Battle of Hastings was the favourite but the odds too low to make it worth including. I was hoping and playing for an upset. There were also a couple of place wagers on J T’s Pointe and Hopeful Blazing. With odds of 20 to 1 and 35 to 1, respectfully, the return on investment on these 2 alone could be in the hundreds. Minimum. I was too late for the Daily Double but I’m not a big fan of it either as the payout has been low in the past. For fun, I also threw in a couple of superfectas on the top 4 entrants on 20-cent boxed bets. The agent prints out my golden tickets and I hastily snatch them up and run to the course.  In a few moments time, the gun will sound and off they’ll go, carrying my monetary dreams on their heels.

Another season of Horse Racing officially kicked off in Vancouver on Saturday, April 24th, 2010. Running until October 11th, 2010 there will be 71 horse-betting days available for all gambling enthusiasts. Many waited all year for this day to come -myself included. I encourage you to grab a group of like-minded friends, head over to the track and prepare for the fastest 5 hours of your life. If done well, you leave the track with a slight buzz, a little sunburn (freckles are in!) and most importantly- a pocket full of cash.  Ideally, if you can’t win the thousands, then you want to at least make back the money you spent that day.

Look at the pretty horsies!

Hastings Racecourse – Racing Basics

  • 9/10 races per day
  • Races take place mainly on Saturdays and Sundays, with all summer holidays, some Fridays and a few random days in between (check the schedule)
  • Approximately 30 minutes between each race
  • You can place your bets via the teller, automated machines or online
  • You can also bet on horse races at other race tracks and in other countries
  • There’s plenty of expert information available aimed at helping you make informed decisions (although it sometimes just serves to make your head spin)

Betting is fun. Losing your life’s savings – not so much.  It should be a relatively clear line between gambling enthusiast and degenerate gambler. Not sure where you fall? Here are a few clues:

You can’t wait to spend a little money and have fun with your friends = gambling enthusiast

You hope to make enough money to pay off your rent/mortgage/previous gambling debt = degenerate gambler

When your horse loses, you yell out “Glue! Glue! They should turn your ass to glue!” = degenerate gambler

Your horse doesn’t win, place, or show. You think ‘oh well’ and move on to bet on the next race = gambling enthusiast

You’re happy your friends are winning and plan to copy their bets for the next races = gambling enthusiast

You’re happy your friends are winning and plan to rob them of their winnings after the race = degenerate gambler

You’re more concerned about getting your next drink (“Where’s the beer wench!?”) than getting in your bets for the next race = gambling enthusiast (and potential alcoholic)

I planned to get to the racetrack in time for the 1st race @ 1:40pm. Arriving promptly at 3:25pm, I’m just in time to place my wagers on the 5th race. Going on instinct alone, I throw out a lot a guesses and a lot of money. Bets placed, I set forth to locate my cronies. Sitting in heated booths at the top I find them all with faces aglow from their recent wins ($116, $73 and $60 respectively) and I suspect from the many empty beer cups on the tables. Looking to catch up with my happy friends, I signal to the waitress to order a mixed drink only to get horrible news: this bar only serves beer, wine and coolers to this section. This would unfortunately turn out to be my first, of many, losses for the day. Annoyed, I sit back and watch the race on the TV screen in front of us.

Nelley’s simple guide to having fun @ the track:

  • Set a budget and stick to it. You can place bets as low as 0.20 cents so balance out your cash wisely
  • If you’re serious, do your research in advance and get to the track ready to place your bets
  • Rent a booth/table. There are plenty of free seats available but these heated tables with bar service are worth the $5 (per person) price tag
  • Bring a lunch – save your money for the horsies
  • Or, try the weekend brunch buffet. For some, this might be the only sure bet – a full stomach
  • Where’s your drink? Mint Juleps are historically the drink of choice at these events
  • Have fun. Odds are, you probably won’t leave with thousands – but you COULD! Therein lies the fun.

In the end, I’m up one good time but down in actual cash.  My biggest wins were the hot dog with fried onions (yum!) and a few of the best spicy Caesars Vancouver has to offer.  I came, I saw, I lost but I had a great time while doing it.  Also, the Kentucky Derby is coming up (May 1st) giving me another chance to win back some losses.  Plus I could use the week to calm down because as we watched the 9th and final race of the day and my long shot horse continued to remain a long shot by finishing in last place, I think I may have heard myself inadvertently yell out:

Dammit! Glue!They should turn your ass to glue!

…………………………..

The Basics of Wagering

WIN A horse bet to win must cross the finish line first.

PLACE A horse bet to place must cross the finish line either first or second.

SHOW Any horse bet to show must finish either first, second, or third.

EXACTA The object is to correctly select the first two horses across the finish line in the exact order. For example, if you placed a “2-3” exacta, the #2 must win the race and the #3 must finish second. This is more difficult than any win, place or show wager but will reward with a higher payoff. Exactas can be BOXED or WHEELED

TRIFECTA The trifecta is basically just an extension of the exacta. The object of a trifecta is to select the first three horses across the finish line in the exact order. An example trifecta would be “2-3-6”. The #2 must win, the #3 must finish second, and the #6 must finish 3rd in that exact order. Trifectas can be BOXED or WHEELED.

SUPERFECTA A winning superfecta must select the first four horses across the finish line in the exact order. Superfectas are one of the most difficult wagers to hit but routinely pay hundreds and often thousands of dollars. Superfectas can be BOXED or WHEELED.

DAILY DOUBLE The object is to correctly select which horses will win two consecutive races. Take for example a 6-3 daily double placed in the first race. The #6 must win the 1st race and the #3 must win the 2nd race. Daily Doubles can be WHEELED.

PICK-3 Correctly select the winners of three consecutive races.

WHEELED: Wheeling a selection in an exacta bet means wagering that selection with all other betting choices in order to cover all possibilities of finish. If the selection is the winner, the wheeled exacta bet is a winner. The greater the number of betting choices, the greater the cost of covering the wager.

– Want more? Go to the source: http://www.hastingsracecourse.com/racing/learntoplay/basics/

– Mint Julep source