Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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This and That

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Well, not “beginning”, so much, as I actually put up my tree at the end of November.

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Kitties checking out the pieces of the Christmas tree before I assemble it.

Christmas Tree

I like the way my windows surrounding the tree reflect the lights. Not shown in the picture, but my big TV also reflects the lights, so it kind of looks like I have a forest of Christmas trees in my living room, all from one tree. So efficient!

But I also added a few extra Christmas decorations to the mix – specifically, I made a wreath (item #83 on my 101 list)1 and I got stockings for the kitties, since the frogs have stockings and I didn’t want Watson & Crick to feel left out.

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Watson checking out all the pieces before I assembled my wreath. He ended up covered in glitter.

My first wreath

My wreath!

Stockings

Stockings! From Left to right: Crick’s, Watson’s, mine, Copernicus the Third’s, Timbit’s, Tyrion Froggister’s, and Raspberry’s stockings.

Speaking of the kitties, for some reason they thought that the tree was delicious, and spent the first week or so that I had it up trying to eat the branches. Watson also decided that most of the ornaments were toys that were to be swatted out of the tree. Happily, he got bored of this after about a week, so my patience at taking ornaments that I found in various locations around my apartment – he liked to carry the ornaments around for a tour of the place before dropping them off in, say, the bathroom – and returning them to their rightful place on the tree eventually won out.

My big goal for 2015

So, I’ve said many times that my goal is to break the 2 hour mark on a half marathon. And then just as many times I’ve half assed my training and not met my goal. So I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe me when I said that I’m planning to break the 2 hour mark on the half marathon at BMO Vancouver marathon in May. But this time I’m really, really going stick to it. I’m good at doing the long runs in training so I can go the distance, but this time I’m going to do the hill training and interval training that are required to ramp up my speed to break that elusive 2 hour finish time. I’m emboldened by setting a personal best at the 10 km in November and I’m well past the MBA hangover that still lingered during my training for the 2014 half marathons in April and June.

Groupon-Based Fitness Planning

A long, long time ago I got a Groupon for the West Coast Hot Yoga studio in South Surrey and I loved it. I went virtually every morning before work and I was so alert after starting my day with some deep stretching and core work and so much sweating. Sadly, regular priced hot yoga is too expensive for my blood and, besides, I moved too far away from that South Surrey studio to be practical anyway. Since then, I’ve tried two other yoga studios via Groupon (or one of those other deal sites – I can never remember which one I’ve bought which deal on), both in New West, neither of which I liked. The first one to Bamboo yoga, and I didn’t really love the studio itself (it felt like being in a warehouse) or the instructors, and the second was Bikram New West (which very soon after became Hot Yoga New West) and I hated having to do the exact. same. routine. every. single. time. Plus some of the instructors were really militant, which I understand is intentional with Bikram, but which is totally not my thing. I guess it has been long enough since that experience though, because I’ve gone back to the Groupon well and got a one month of unlimited hot yoga at Oxygen yoga studio in New West. I figured that I could spend a month de-tensifying my muscles and working on core strength and balance and then I’ll be in tip-top shape when I start my half marathon training in January.

Speaking of which, I just bought a Groupon for a half marathon training clinic run by FitFirst in Burnaby, the same place as I did the running study I was in. I really enjoyed the clinics they ran for that study – the group running atmosphere is lots of fun and it basically means that I’ll always have people to do my long runs with. Long runs get very boring when you have to do them by yourself, so despite the fact that this means I won’t get to sleep in on any Sundays (as it runs every Sunday morning) from Jan 18 until BMO race day, I think I’ll be happy on the whole that I signed up for the clinic.

And speaking of good deals…

When I left my old job, one of the things I left behind was unlimited massage therapy in my health benefits plan. Being a hockey player, a runner, and a person who sits hunched over a computer all day at work, I made good use of that particular benefit to deal with my various muscles tightness and such. My new job, while amazing in many ways, has a much more limited amount of massage therapy benefits and since my 2014 limit was all used up2, I’ve needed to seek out a more affordable option to meet my massage therapy needs. Enter: the West Coast College of Massage Therapy. This school, which trains aspiring registered massage therapists, runs a clinic where students get to practice, under supervision of a fully qualified RMT, and where clients can get a therapeutic massage for a fraction of the cost. The cost is $40 for an hour long appointment – though only 40 mins of that is massage, with the rest being taken up by assessment before the massage and teaching you stretches to do at home after the massage – compared to $100 for a 1 hr massage with a fully qualified RMT. And as an added bonus, during December if you donate 4 or mor items to the Food Bank at your visit, your massage only cost $20! Everybody wins!

  1. Where by “made” I mean I bought the green wreath and then attached sparkly things I bought at the craft store to said wreath. Notice the drum at the top – I picked that one because it made me think of The Little Drummer Boy, which was my Dad’s favourite Christmas song. []
  2. Since the benefits plans of my old and new employer, despite being different plans, are somehow linked up in Pacific Blue Cross’ system, so they actually counted the massages I claimed under my old plan in 2014 under my new plan, which meant that my small massage allotment in my new plan was all used before I even started my new job! []

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Cheapskates Unite!

So my brother-in-common-law is setting up a pretty cool little site that I thought would be worth sharing with y’all- it’s what he describes as “extreme couponing for the Internet”. Basically, he finds combinations of deals using different promo sites that you can add up to get really big savings. Right now, he has three deals listed on his site:

Those are some pretty good discounts. He’ll be adding more deals as he finds them, so if you are cheap like me, it will be worth checking back!

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The Suit

In case you ever doubted that women’s clothing sizes make no sense whatsoever, get this. I had some Groupons for the Le Chateau Outlet, which tickles me in the cheapness centre of my brain, because outlets are already super discounted and the Groupons gave me $180 worth of buying power for a mere $90. So off I went the other day to the outlet to see what sort of goodies I could purchase. I found a lovely suit – and since “buy a pantsuit” is on my list of 101 things to do, it seemed perfect. The suit (i.e., blazer & pants) cost was $100, and since I had my half-off Groupons, it meant I was getting it for only $50 of my own money. Score! I tried the suit on and, much to my chagrin, the size 3/4 pants were too tight, so I had to get the 5/61. Then I noticed that in addition to the blazer and pants, I could also get a skirt for this suit, making it more versatile. Add to that the fact that the skirt only cost $20 – or $10 with my Groupon – and I’d be crazy not to get it. So I try on the size 5/6 shirt and I’m swimming in it. So then I try on the 3/4 and it’s also way too big. I ended up needing the size 1/2! Now, remember, I’m not just talking about clothing from the same store being drastically different in size here – I’m talking about two pieces for the same suit! How can my lower half be a size 5/6 while simultaneously being a size 1/2?

Just to make it more confusing, the jacket is a size S. Because consistency apparently is not their strong suit2.

I would totally take a picture of me in said suit, except that it’s 1 million degrees out3, which is far too warm for wearing a suit. Perhaps that will be a blog posting for the next International Suit Up Day!

  1. Though I have lost ~5 lbs, my fat tends to stick around in my middle, meaning I have toned calves and have lost some of the fat from my arms & face, but my thighs and tummy still need work. []
  2. Did you see what I did there? []
  3. Not that I’m complaining – I’m loving this summer weather! []

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I Also Heart Coffee

Coffee Beans So, we’ve all heard that buying coffee is one of the big ways that a lot of people blow huge amounts of money without even realizing it.  Drink a coffee a day? If it’s simple $2 coffee, that’s $730 a year… and if it’s a $5 fru fru Starbucks drink, you’re talking $1,825 a year! That’s enough to cover my car insurance for the year… or almost three months rent1!!

So, how much cheaper is it to make coffee at home?  Well, being the scientist that I am, I decided to do some fancy pants maths to figure that out.  Where by “fancy pants maths” I mean counting how many pots of coffee I can make from a bag of beans.  Now, I’m a bit of a coffee snob, so I won’t drink cheap, crappy coffee.  My coffee of choice is Fair Trade Organic Bolivian from Level Ground Trading2  A 300 g bag of this deliciousness makes ~500 fluid oz of coffee.  If you divide that up into 12 oz3 cups, that’s 42 coffees.  And though a 300 g bag of beans officially costs $15, I always stock up on it when it’s on sale for $114.  That works out to 26 cents per 12 oz cup.

Let me me say that again:

  • 12 oz cup of coffee at a coffee shop = ~$2.00
  • 12 oz cup of coffee at home = $0.26!

That’s EIGHT TIMES cheaper!  Even if I paid full price for the beans, it would still only be $0.36 per 12 oz cup!  And remember, I’m not talking about some crappy tasting coffee – this is fair trade, organic and absolutely delicious!  In fact, I actually like my homemade coffee more than stuff from a coffee shop!

Given my cheapness, I’ve been pretty good about not buying coffees out since I’ve been on my budget, but even *I* didn’t realize that that making it at home was so much cheaper! Now that I’ve done the math, I have a really, really hard time buying coffees!

Image Credit: Posted by Refracted Moments on Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

  1. granted, I do have pretty cheap rent []
  2. as usual, I have no financial interest in this company.  I know it’s surprising, but they haven’t paid me off for this endorsement.  Though, for the record, I’d *totally* take a bribe in the form of free samples.  I’m just sayin’. []
  3. or a Starbucks tall []
  4. and on very special days, it’ll be on sale for $9, and then I *really* stock up! []