What Works for Me: Volunteering

Yesterday I spent several hours doing something I love to do and that is volunteer. It started out in the morning with me at my local food bank.I was there because right now they have a special project. For those of you who are in Toronto, you may remember a building collapsed on the Danforth a few weeks ago leaving 24 homeless. Well most are still homeless and are in one of the city’s shelters. I was sorting and helping one of the families that stopped by pick out a few things that they so need. For all the families the Need is great, especially for housing in East York where all want to live again. If you have towels, bedding, clothing furniture or the like and want to donate it, email me and I will let you know where you can drop it off. It fills my spirit to have chance to give what I can and for me that is time.

Last night I was again out volunteering my time at my daughter’s school where I am vice chair of the council and we met to discuss matters that needed discussion for about 2 hours.

I spend about 75 hours a month doing work for and on the behalf of others and serving in my community because I believe if we give our time we can make this world a wee bit better place. For me volunteering helps not only others but me. It helps me as a mom who isnt out in the work world right now feel like I am contributing to the betterment of my community. It helps my spirit. It works for me..If you aren’t sure about volunteering-try it, you may find you get more out of it then you give..There are many groups that always need volunteers: food-banks, soup kitchens, senior centers, Meals to Wheels, etc..the list is long and they would be glad to have your time and service.   

Well I am off to my friend Shannon’s to find out what is working for others this week.

Menu Monday- What’s Cooking?

Sorry this is so late in the day but it has been rather busy here. I have been doing alot of volunteer work lately and it sure is keeping me busy…but we cant forget to plan can we!

Monday- chicken nuggets, rice, corn    dessert for the evening as we are having company chocolate mousse cake

 Tuesday- turkey( Yes I typed turkey–got on sale for $5), so we are having turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy

Wednesday-Turkey soup, and rolls

Thursday-Breakfast for dinner-pancakes and syrup, bacon

Friday-Hot Turkey Sandwich’s, potatoes, salad

Saturday-pizza( have a $20 gift certificate to use)

Sunday-pork roast, potatoes, corn   fruit salad( having company) 

Well time to go and explore and see what everyone else has on the menu this week! So if you like to plan so you can save visit at Laura’s for lots of ideas.

Reflecting on President Hinckley

 Last night the leader ( the prophet) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints passed away, Gordon B Hinckley died at the age of 97. I have many personal memories of this man.

When I first joined the church in 1997 he was the leadership already, actually he served in church leadership most of his life and his influence has been felt in every area of the church’s life and direction. Temple building under him brought temples closer to families. There was no longer the need to put off temple work.  Under him there were two proclamations that effected members and their daily lives: one on the Family and the other on the Living Christ. He was great with the media bringing the church more and more into the mainstream of religions today. He definitely was one who brought the church forward in his almost 12 years as leader.

Personally I want to write of two times that I was personally touched by him. First was almost 11 years ago to the day. A letter arrived at the home of my now Ex husband. It was from the office of the first presidency. It was signed by him giving me and my ex permission to go to the temple for our marriage. I remember touching the ink, and thinking wow he signed this note…well the marriage was short but I do have a dear daughter out of it. So thanks Pres Hinckley for her.

The other was Roo was a baby and we first came back to Canada and low and behold who was coming to speak at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton but Pres Hinckley with his wife. I was one of that HUGE crowd that went to hear him and take in the spirit that was there. It was a good day.

 The church will go forward I am sure but President Hinckley will be missed. As Thomas S Monson is sustained in the days and weeks ahead I wonder what is instore. There is a plan for each of us, and I am thankful that I learned that at least..so good night President  Hinckley.

Getting Dental Work Done the Cheap Way.

Well today I am off for to the dentist. Since mid December I have been in dental pain and too chicken to go to the dentist. First here in Toronto there aren’t many dentists who will take an Ontario Works client. When you are poor and live in the city it is harder to access dental care at least it is here in Canada. But luckily I found one who will do the emergency treatment that I need. But for the long run she was telling about some programs that are here. Since then I have found that many major cities across Canada and even North America have options similar to this. So why not take care of your mouth?  For a long time for me it was a fear factor. Don’t know why or where it began but I feared the dentist.

So where to go here in the city first to get my teeth cleaned there are several options George Brown offers free cleaning, as do many other private colleges here in the city that train dental hygienists. So no more excuses for teeth not being cleaned, you do however have to be available for about 5 appointments.  For things like needed fillings, root canals and like there is the University of Toronto and there is a cost. The cost is 1/3 what you would have to pay at a dentist’s office.   In Hamilton they have the Dental Bus for emergencies and a local dental hygenie college so i do remember what is there.

So after many years of hating my mouth it is time that I attack the issues of poor dental care. If you are anything like me you can do it too just search out your local programs.

What Works for Me Wednesday: The Good Food Box

Here it is another windy winter day and this mom is trying to keep our house as healthy as can be. One of the ways I am able to do this here in Toronto is by getting a Good Food Box. It works for me. What is a good food box? It is a communal way of getting healthily locally grown mostly veggies and fruit at a great price. Food comes direct from farmers and the Ontario Food Terminal.

In more and more communities you can find ways to be both cheap and healthy. Look for our own local community foodshare programs they are wonderful at least the one here is.

Here is  a sample of what I get in a $17 box: 5 pounds of potatoes, a green cabbage, a bag of bean sprouts, a head of lettuce, a bag of spinach, a bunch of green onions, a green pepper, a pound of tomatoes, 2 sweet potatoes, 2 pomegranates, a bunch of bananas, a bag of oranges, and a bag of apples…

First I drop off payment and pickup my box at a local spot, I do this twice a month. It really helps me to eat healthy and it is cheap too! Here is a link to our local program and if you are here in Canada and looking for a local network you can find that on the site as well..

Now I am off too see what is working this Wednesday for others today here.

Birthday Partying on the Frugal Side

 Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately..Got sick as I posted on Christmas Day and well really didn’t get better till this week. Then guess what I had to have done emergency dental work. I had my wisdom tooth pulled, and have to get two more done. Can you say ouch! Dental work here in Canada is tres expensive! I am expecting all Donations to the save Hollie’s mouth fund! With all the assessments in it will cost about $2,500 at the cheap university clinic to do the work. I have to have 3 pulled, 5 filled, and my teeth cleaned in quadrants, as well as then have dentures made for the missing spots. It will take about 12 more visits and then I should be on my way back to a healthy mouth. I hate my mouth! On a cheap note, take care of our teeth or you could end up in huge dental debt and sicker then sick besides that.

On an kinder side of things my dear daughter turned 10 on Jan 2nd, and so last Friday night we celebrated her becoming a decade old! For me it was important to do as cheap as possible.  So it was decided that she could host a sleepover! I recommend sleepovers for a cheap party. Her guests her 2 best buds came over at 6:30. I had ordered pizza (241)($21) for the girls and bought a 2 litre of soda for $.88. Decorations and games all came from stuff we had in the house. I gave each girl a new toothbrush and toothpaste($6) for a treat for them. First game was 

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1. Crazy Dress Up..the girls took turns dressing each up each other as crazy as possible within 45 seconds and I snapped a pic of their creative fashion sense.

2. We then did beauty makeovers of manicures and pedicures! Gave each girl a nail polish to take home.

3. After that the girls played the board game High School musical, they laughed all the way through this game( glad I got if for her for Christmas).

4. Then it was movie time-The Girls watched High School Musical 2( a freebie) and Sleepover.

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They were actually asleep by 12:30 am!

In the morning served them waffles and juice and the girls were on there way home by 10 am! A good time was had by all with minimal expense. Roo for her birthday did get a keyboard from me and a mp3 player from her dad. A great time was had by all even mom.

Works for Me Wednesday- Getting Free Stuff

Ok I am cheap! well frugal, I am always on the look out for freebies. So how does this cannuck do it? and how do I work the freebies to benefit my pocket book?

First I keep my eyes open to the wide variety of FREE events that happen in a city the size of Toronto. At FREE events you often find lots of samples and other freebies, which gives you a chance to try a product that you might not of.  Roo and I get to at least one FREE event a month and they are always lots of fun! Free entertainment plus free samples equals a good time out for mom and daughter.

To save money at the grocery store I coupon collect for the things we love and I know my prices, so say Royale goes on sale for $3.99 and I have a $1 off coupon I know I am getting a good deal, not quite a freebie with this example but sometimes my coupons get me things for FREE.

I also watch the forum on Frugal Shopper for sites that are offering samples. Samples can be a very good thing! Marcelle(makeup) offered up a great freebie recently fullsize lipstick and eyeshadow. It really was like an early Christmas present.

The other way to get freebies is to sign up for the companies email lists that you love: I often get emailed and snail mailed coupons to try products just released to market and this works for me.

All these ways help me stay in freebie heaven at least once a month. I love my mailbox! So this works for me. Now if you want to know what works for others go and visit at Shannon’s for all the latest of what works!

Goals for 2008

So what are you doing this first day of the year? For many of us it is a time of reflection and goal setting and YES that is what I have been doing. Last year one of the goals I had was to get by on less and this I did all year long. I had to get creative, and smart but I managed to live off $1240 a month in Canada’s largest city. I coupon collected, I contested, I looked for freebies and cheapies and I got good at it!

This years goal is to really track it! To track my freebies, to note when I really do save, and what I win. My goal is not to spend a penny for birthdays or Christmas this year and with Roo’s birthday being tomorrow here is how I am doing her special day.

Her dad sent $50( not my money his for making her day good) so dad’s present to her is a keyboard($18) and I am taking her to Montana’s (her favorite restaurant for dinner$30-she loves the mini ice-cream cones that come with  the kids meal). I got her a Sankso MP3 player( just had to pay for the taxes($3)-got it FREE with my Optimum points from Shoppers Drugs) and 15 song downloads…all from icoke( another freebie). I made her birthday card and am recycling wrapping paper. On the 19th she gets to have a sleepover, at which we are going to have homemade birthday cake, and FREE pizza from a gift certificate that I won. We are going to do beauty makeovers and play board games –all things we have in the house. For breakfast we will do pancakes and syrup and OJ( and yes I have coupons for all of those). How is that for planning on the cheap?

To track freebies and wins at the end of my posts you will find a add-on where I report and track how it is going this year.

What sites tools am I using to make this an even cheaper year?

If you want to save $$$$ this year and are a Canadian may I recommend these sites:

1. Frugal Shopper Ca – I love love love this site! Kimberly the owner has provided a great forum for learning how to save, coupon, and contest all in a great community. I love the friendships I made there in 2007.

2. Shoppers Drugs– I have their Optimum card, and shop the bonus days and flyer’s..I can accumulate enough points that even with only 2 of us in this household I can walk away with about $300 in free stuff every year!

3.Pigsback-This site is new on the market here in Canada and is a shopping portal site where you can earn points. But wait you don’t have to shop only to gain points, do the daily quizzes and watch you maybe having a cup of Tims on them! So far I have 2 gift cards coming from them.

4. Contest Girl– a great site for keeping track of all my daily contests. Between using it and Roboform this gal is ready to contest.

5. Netwinner( not only for us cannucks)- but play Banko enough and you do get some great gift cards.

6. Craigslist and Freecycle and 2 sites I really rely on when I do need to buy-my as well try and get it second hand.

My other 2 major goals for this year.First to become a working mom and the other to move out of this basement apartment. Anyone know a good landlord in Toronto with a decent clean apartment in the East York area under 850? With that said and done I think that I have set some goals that I can really work toward. Now if you set health goals for yourself may I reccomend www.sparkpeople.com . It really is a great weight loss tool that happens to be FREE. May you have a blessed 2008! So tell me what are your goals or dreams for the year ahead?

Highlights and Lowlights of 2007

Well the year is quickly coming to a close. It has been a year full of many good things. But with the good comes the bad right? So what where the highlights for this cheap mom and her daughter?

First this was the year we finally got an IPRC done for my daughter, and she has had educational assts in the classroom. I really do thank God for Diana especially and her work with Roo early in the year. Roo has come a long way! She is coping well with being a spectrum child. I am a proud mom! It was the year that Webkinz became her toy and site of choice, although with Christmas bring an e-pet and a be-bratz we will have to see which will rule–but she does have as of now 8 of the Webkinz. She also went to summer camp and had a great time. She took trips to Black Creek Pioneer Village, Casa Loma, the Science Center, and High park all without mom. So they are her highlights truely!

This was the year I got both cheap and smart. I started contesting and couponing for real this year. By March I was on a lucky streak! Got to love the concert tickets, movie passes, Argo tickets,music downloads, restaurant GC’s, t-shirts, flip flops, magazine subscriptions, and attraction passes.

It was also also a highlight when I got to visit with family this summer when my sister and family came to stay and play here in Toronto for 10days. I loved having them in the city!

We also got to attend and get to many great events here in the city. One of our favorites was Luminato back in June. What a festival of the arts it was! Roo and I so enjoyed it. In July we were amongst the crush of people down at Bay and Bloor for the launch of the last Potter book. We also loved going to White Christmas in November.

For the lowlights: there were two winter storms-one on Feb14th that stopped me from seeing Keith Urban live because there was too much snow out there at that time in the morning, then in December our city saw the most snow on a day that we have seen in 44 years! I also broke my ankle in Feb and this really laid me up for about a month. This year I also did not work as I had wanted too so this made me become more creative with my money.

So what will the new year bring? I am not sure but I am sure there is an adventure ahead! So come along for the ride.

Battling the Cold

 Roo has been sick for a week now, and I really came down with it on my birthday..so for us it has been a week of battling the common cold. Battle is the right word too, and so far the Cold is winning!

Here are our attack methods for getting rid of this pest, well it feels alot more then a mere pest. Roo and I have ate more chicken noodle soup this week then we had in the last 2 months, we are drinking lots of fluids: OJ, water, peppermint tea with honey, and gingerale or gatorade for Roo. We have also been getting lots of rest. How many times can you watch a dvd? Let me tell you-too many. But so far the cold is winning…anyone have a spare lung?

Well let me get back to the comfy couch, my pillow and blanket…Oh, and have I mentioned I am tired of being sick.