The Days After

My first Christmas with family was good and all, really it was. I enjoyed time with family and my daughter Roo enjoyed her time with her teenage cousins. But more it made me ask some questions.

Christmas Day after the prezzies were all open and dinner was cooking, my sister and I took a walk. We started talking about how we feel about Christmas. In years past we were excited, we had the “Christmas spirit” but now we are actually glad to see the day behind us. No longer is there the sense that the day has meaning, or significance. It just isnt there. Infact Christmas Day we ended up at the movies because we wanted something to do. It just isnt the same anymore for me. I really dont buy into the notion that I need a special day to spend time with family, or that I need presents of any sort to enjoy life, or that I need a special day to remember Christ and his birth. So here I sit asking the question have I turned into a cynic?

The other question I am asking what is the sign of a true friend? Would a true friend at least wish you a happy birthday or merry christmas. I had what I thought was a great circle of friends in the big TO, since I moved here to Nova Scotia there has been little effort to stay in touch. I have called as my phone bills will prove yet since I moved here I can count on a few fingers the number of calls I have recieved. To be honest it has nade me a little sad. It seems these days people come and go in and out of our lives quite quickly and if you arent in the neighbourhood you are easy to forget. So how easy is it to forget old friends?

As I contemplate the end of 2008 I am feeling so many things. This year brought many changes to my life,some good, some not so good. What I feel is that I need a good kick in the pants to get some of me back. So how do I do this? I feel cynical, discouraged and plain ol frumpy. How do I get back the Hollie that loved life? How do I make the changes I feel are so needed?

Packed and Ready to go

packed As you can see the parcels and presents are ready to go.

My mom will be here in about 30 min to pick up my dear daughter Roo

Roo and mom are going to my sisters today and I will travel tomorrow after work.

This is my first Christmas here in Nova Scotia in 12 yrs!

I am excited to have time with them. So for Christmas this year there is 10 of us instead of the normal 2.  Well time to get things to the car!

Twas a Week Before Christmas

Twas a week before Christmas and in this house every creature is stirring even the mice. We are busy wrapping and getting ready for dear daughter’s first Christmas in many years with family. Literally under our tree is a box of presents ready to go. My mom and daughter will head to my sister’s on the 23rd. I will join them in the wee hours on Christmas Day. I have to work till 6:30 Christmas eve, then take the bus to Halifax. I was wishing I could get off early to go and see the Outdoor Nativity Pageant that they do every year with Roo. But at least I got Christmas and Boxing Day off where many of my colleagues are working.

This week has been busy and yes I have been dreaming of sugarplums…actually I have been missing old friends. I am sending out lots of emails this season, trying to reconnect. 

I did get to get my hair done on the frugal side of things. I love having a sister who is a hairdresser, and what makes this better she is a good one! My color cost $7! She also gave me a trim.

Roo has been coughing all week long so this mom has also been a nurse. No fever though, and no flem so that is the good side of this.

The child isn’t sleeping, she is much like I was at this age, the snoop, and the child with eyes full of Christmas wonder still, but as I wrapped my almost 11 yr olds presents this year I was thinking this is probably the last year she will ask for toys. This makes me a wee bit sad because it means my daughter has reached another milestone.

So this mom is ready for a mug of hot chocolate as I read some blogs and get caught up.

Preparing for the Holidays on a Budget

Well it is that wonderful time of the year and the holidays are upon us! This year did you realise almost all the worlds religions celebrate a religious holiday this month. In this house we celebrate two: on Dec 8th is Eid, then we also celebrate with family Christmas. So how is this common sense mom getting it together while keeping cents in her wallet?

For us it has never been about the amount of money we spend. It has been about creating time honored traditions and looking for opportunities to serve others. Our first tradition we have already done here. That is on the American Thanksgiving. We get up early have waffles and watch the Macy’s Parade. At the same time we are decorating our holiday tree. Many of the ornaments are homemade and celebrate the diversity of our family ( we have family members who are christian, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish). Other traditions include baking cookies together and delivering them secretly to whoever we decide, a new one for us this is going to Eid Prayer, another is opening pjs on Christmas eve and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas while having hot chocolate.

We also look for chances to serve. In past years we have participated in food drives and sorted food and toys at local food banks, prepared shoes boxes to send to children overseas, chosen to adopt a child from overseas, adopted animals, cleaned up a neighbours yard, and shovelled snow for those who couldn’t. There are many ways that you can find to serve and often time is the best gift you can give.

When it comes to Christmas presents we also have a time honored tradition: it is called a cash Christmas. I have never bought on credit when it comes to presents. I set a budget for each person: then I shop with that budget in mind looking for something that they would love. For my daughter she knows that Santa has a budget after all he has so many children he needs to prepare for. She has never gone overboard on her list. Last year I was also able to give gifts that I got for free. I had collected icoke points and shopper optimum points and gave gift certificates for the movies, and bath sets that I had gotten basically for next to nothing. For my preteen daughter this year her big request is a guitar. I have found one on clearance for $30. She will also get new pjs ( bought at Atlantic Superstore for $7), a MP3 player bought for $20 at Walmart, and a itunes card for $15 that I got for free. For her stocking I will be redeeming points at Shoppers Optimum. Maybe it will be a necklace or watch, I haven’t decided this one yet.  For gift giving for the rest of my family I make sure I shop within my means and I look for quality on a budget. Here are some generic ideas that do leave cents in the wallet

  • Homemade: one year I made soup mixes and put them in old fashion canisters I got for a $.25 each, another I made hot chocolate mixes and put them in mugs I got for $.50, another I got frames and decoratedthem with buttons and other nicknack’s.
  • Cookies with recipe card attached.
  • Git Certificates you made yourself for services you can do : ie gardening, sewing, babysitting, cooking , game time, reading, really the list is endless for this one.
  • a treasure box: get a small box at craft store: fill it with treasured notes ,etc..

So for me it just makes cents to do it  with cash and creativity, that way you really can enjoy the holidays with less stress after them.

Works for Me Wednesday- Holiday Viewing

Tis the season of rush and do, so for me and Roo we like to take time outs of snuggle and view nights. We love these nights and own a pile of movies that come out only for the month of December. Then we also watch the tv listings for some of our favorite TV movies. So what are we watching this holiday season and what do we recommend:

Roo’s List of Christmas Movies She Loves

Santa Clause 1,2, and 3( we own 1 and 2 and rented 3) for a marathon night of ppjs and popcorn and cuddle time

Home Alone

Polar Express ( on tv this year)

Miracle on 34th St(own)

Charlie Brown Christmas(tv)

Shrek the Halls(tv)-Roo laughed so hard at parts of this I thought she might have an accident!

Frosty the Snowman(tv)

Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer(tv)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town(tv)

These are all Roo approved and great kid watching!

Now for my favorites:

Mr. Kruger’s Christmas- a wonderful story

The Holiday-I can so relate to wanting to get away sometimes

White Christmas-after seeing the musical on stage I am looking forward to the movie again too

The Nativity Story-this is becoming a classic in our house for Christmas Eve

Its A Wonderful Life-gets watched on Christmas Afternoon here

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Elf- we watched this on Sunday, and laughed all through it!

So in this season of rushing why not stop and sit and watch a good movie to put you in the holiday spirit! What are you watching this holiday season? This list will work well for me and Roo this year! Now if you are looking for other works for me post go and visit Shannon.

Planning Our December

Do you find that this time of year seems to be about hustle and bustle and so much of what is really important gets forgotten. For us it kind of creeps up on us and then from the beginning of December till the new year it is a time of busyness. So this year we came up with a Holiday plan…each weekend there is 1 thing that takes out of of the house besides church no more.

This weekend Roo and I will hit the mall for the last time. I have $75 in free Shopper Drugs shopping to do with my Optimum points. With it I am getting Roo some small presents and stocking stuffers. Then on Sunday Roo is singing at church–a solo, and taking part in the children’s presentation.

Next weekend we have been invited to a party so that will be fun, and on Sunday Eve we will be watching a holiday movie on tv.

Then the weekend before Christmas is about getting down to what is really important, the reason to celebrate. We will go to a live nativity pageant downtown, and to church.

On Christmas Eve it is company coming over, and then Christmas Day will be our traditional pj day..Christmas (my birthday) is the one day I can stay in pjs if I want to and I do!

I find by having a plan there is no longer the need to get caught in the bustle. Roo and I can relax and enjoy things like the pile of Christmas stories on her shelf, a Christmas special or just some time together. So do you have a plan or do you get caught in the bustle?

Save Money on Your Holiday Grocery Shops

Okay did anyone else notice that right after Halloween, not only the malls pulled out their Christmas finery but so did the grocery store!

Since when is the local grocery store the place to buy presents?

Here are some suggestions to save money in this season that seems to grab for your wallet…

 1. Plan your Dec meals NOW! Menu planning and then shopping with a grocery list of needed items only has helped me so very much. It hinders that impulse buy of that box of chocolate that is so conveniently located at the end of an aisle.

2. Bake and freeze now for your holidays needs it will stop you from the mad dash to pick up something to take or have on hand when guests stop by and we all know this is the month for visiting right..

3. Continue your flyer shopping for those loss leaders( hopefully this is something we all do), but only buy what you normally would and can and will use.

4. Shop during the week and day if you can, if you cant shop early in the am after a good breakfast. This stops the tiredness of the holiday line ups.

5. Only shop once or twice for your Dec groceries..I for some reason find December a hard month on my grocery budget so this helps me keep things in check.

6. If you can shop without kids…

7. Use what you have on hand: empty out that freezer because we all know that January brings better food prices right..

8. If you live in an urban area like I do here in Toronto I love to use certain food/treat warehouses. This too helps me to save. First I always hit the Peek Freans warehouse outlet on OConner, and did you know there is a Lindt/Lindor one now on Markham Road as well. Both of these will keep my chocolate spending in check!

With all this said and done hopefully we can keep some of our loonies and toonies in our wallets where they belong! Consider this my Christmas tip of the day!

Today I am thankful for a sister who I love to call my friend who is turning the big 40 this week!

The Grinch Who Loves Christmas

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Can you believe that a mere 42 days( yes that is 6 weeks from now) many of us will be done unwrapping presents? Melanie over at Don’t Try this is hosting a Holiday Carnival..Question up for grabs is this! What are you giving? and where will you shop?

I am the Grinch who loves Christmas! So you all know that I have $175 budgeted for Roo( and I am the only buyer–everyone sends cash.I then have to put names to the presents), right so here is how that is being spent. She will get 2 tops(one bright pink, one orange) from my local consignment store that were new with tags on for$6, black leggings$9, socks from Value Village(free because of the gift certificates won-buy the way at Christmas they have a great new tag section that lets you find stuff on the cheap. Her wow gift from Santa is a Barbie Mp3 player (49.99 at Walmart), it is interactive with their new website Barbie Girls (she is loving this site). She gets pjs every year$16.97 at Walmart( this year she is getting high school musical ones as we are going to see High School Musical on Ice). She also will get the Reindeer Webkinz. I will also hit Indigo   ( right now you can get a book for $1 for the next 3 days, but be quick cause they are limited and they have FREE shipping if you spend over $39)to pick up a great book, their outlet section is a favorite place of mine. She is also getting from me a keyboard that I found for $19.99 ( For me this and Roo is a great match because every time we go to church she seeks out a piano!). At Starbucks I found a great game for under $10, It is part of the Cranium family so that too will be under the tree. In her stocking are going to the High School Musical on Ice tickets that I won. So as you can see I am under budget and she is going to have a good time under the tree.

So do want to know what this Mom would love? Just in case you want to send me anything? Pajamas, socks, Turtles, and of course bling in the form of a lil pink computer that well right now I am trying to win. See that Dell link! If you are up here in Canada you can win one and a trip for the family too! Wouldn’t that make a great present under my tree!

Now My Christmas Tip for today from the Grinch who loves Christmas is this: All they need is this…a wow from Santa, something to read, something they need, and something to grow with. Children don’t need to see oddles of hard earned dollars under the tree for what will that teach them but greed.

Today I am thankful for a temp job even if it is only for today. I am babysitting and the $40 earned gets to go into my birthday fund…or maybe I will splurge on me in December and go and see Keith Urban in concert( he is coming back to Toronto).

World’s Largest Stocking and Tom Brown

World RecordPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday at the Sony Center on Front street, we took part in the making of the world’s largest Stocking! Roo and I went out and bought a couple of large unwrapped toys this morning(thanks alot GC’s). Then it was time to head down to the Sony Center. We got there at 11 and already there was a line! I think this speaks volumes to the generous hearts of Torontians. All the toys are headed to the Salvation Army to help families here in To have a better Christmas. When we got there, cookies and hot chocolate was offered up to all of us waiting our turn…Then it was a quick dash inside where Roo struck up a conversation with Tom Brown, yes the CTV weatherman. She ended up doing the lunch time weather with Tom and then they both had there picture taken. Then they both made a mad dash up the stairs to where they could both put toys in the 9o ft  stocking. Soon I had my daughter back and we stood in line for a quick pic gifted to us by the fine folks of Sony and then we headed up the stairs where Roo put our second gift in the stocking. She was so excited that she was on tv. It was funny because when we got home there was a message from my aunt saying she saw her on the news. It was great fun to be part of the action today and all for a very good cause and at 4 pm it was annouced that we had the record!

Christmas Tip#7- Before in with the New, think recycle and get rid of the old. I have Roo clean out her toys boxes and we give her toys that she no long plays with to the local shelter here. As well I use this time of year to get rid of things that no longer fit. You have to have room for the new stuff right!

Today I am thankful for a fun day out with Roo that taught all the right stuff!

Works For Me Wednesday- Backwards Day

  Over at Rocks in my Dryer, she is hosting another great Backwards Day. What is a Backwards works for me Day you ask? It is when I get to ask you a question that I really want to know the answer to… so we all know I am cheaper than cheap right? We also if you are a reader of mine know that I am in the Christmas spirit early. What is you favorite cheap or frugal Christmas tip? I may feature your comments as Christmas comes closer and I feature a tip a day. I of course would give you the credit.

Christmas Tip#6..Start your Christmas Card List now. Getting it done know helps with mail time. Check your country for mailing deadlines. Some of these are fast approaching if you are mailing overseas. Also think outside the box when it comes to your list. Do you really have to mail 100 cards out? Can you maybe do a Christmas Email or Blog?? Think about it…

Today I am thankful the ability to move and feel. This morning I woke up sore and stiff and had to think at least I can feel my limbs and move them all on my own esteem.