Monday, April 28, 2014

Toot n Holler 2014

Booooo.  The weather for this year's Toot n Holler was cold and wet.  I bravely set up my tables and dragged my stuff outside but there were few buyers.  This might also be because my address didn't seem to make it onto the poster of participating homes despite the fact I had called the Chamber's office...

As it was, I made less than $100 and was left with a lot of the items I had wanted to declutter, still in my garage when the drizzle became an actual downpour and my  neighbour and I called it quits.  Here's a shot of my garage once the stuff was dragged back in.
It doesn't seem like much was gone but some of the bulkier items found new homes.  I debated keeping the items aside and trying to hold another garage sale again later in the summer but a) I will likely only have one or two more weekends off during the summer and I'd prefer not to have to spend them standing in my driveway trying to sell used goods and b) I just want this crap GONE!  I sorted through the items and packed them up again according to their destination (ReStore vs. colleague's charity garage sale vs. community thrift shop).  I'm hoping that all the items that fit in my car (pretty much everything except those leftover trim pieces on the ground) will be gone by the end of the week.

My other exciting event of the weekend was baking bread.  It didn't turn out but I have two delicious, wheat based bricks.  I think it was a combination of weak yeast and a bit too much flour but the results are edible so, in the spirit of not wasting resources whenever possible, I'm eating the bread anyways.  I don't eat much bread normally so it'll be a few weeks before I need to attempt again but I was trying to cover off my desire for bread (to go with chili and soups) without having to buy bread packaged in plastic so my heart was in the right place.

Have a great week!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Living Locally: Bistro Seven Seven in Alliston, Ontario

I'm lucky enough to work two jobs.  I'm both a Service Director (the "head Flight Attendant" on a flight) for a national airline as well as a Realtor.  To accommodate my flying schedule, although I'm licensed as a Registered Salesperson, I choose to work as a Licensed Assistant to another Registered Salesperson in my area.  He's a great boss, it's a great brokerage and loving both my jobs makes my life somewhat difficult because I DO overschedule myself.  Recently, my brokerage decided to treat the administrative staff for dinner as a token of appreciation for the work we do.

Our manager took us out to dinner at a great local restaurant called Bistro Seven Seven.  I had noticed this restaurant, located on Victoria Street East in Alliston, while driving around town and put it on my list of places to check out "some time" and of course, never got around to it.  I'm SO thankful I was given an opportunity to dine here, especially since this lovely dinner was on someone else's dime.  :)

The restaurant is set up in what appears to be a century home.  I didn't get a chance to really check out the interior since our party was seated in a private room upstairs.  I was lucky enough to score a seat next to the room's gas fireplace (the girl who is always chilly was toasty warm!!).  Eating here is definitely an experience, it's not a restaurant that you'd pop into for a quick meal.  While we conversed our tables were provided with fresh bread as well as some salmon croquettes and sweet potato fritters as appetizers.  I didn't have a chance to try the fritters but the salmon croquettes, served with a spicy mayo, were delicious.  Between the courses, we were offered a coconut sorbet to cleanse our palettes.  It was light and refreshing...a welcome addition that is often forgotten at restaurants these days.

The restaurant has their regular menu as well as a table d'hote or prix fixe option (I'm actually not sure what the english equivalents are for those terms).  I ordered the crab cakes to start, followed with their herbed gnocchi.  The food was fantastic and although it's not a cheap restaurant (for someone with my budget) it's DEFINITELY somewhere I'm going to try and hit up again if I ever have an occasion that warrants a nice meal.  I thoroughly enjoyed my evening!!

I'd recommend making reservations as, even though we were there on a Wednesday, the restaurant seemed to fill quickly.  Bistro Seven Seven was a wonderful reminder that you don't need to leave New Tecumseth to find fine dining options.  Check out their website at!

Happily (and with a very contented tummy!),

Monday, April 21, 2014

FINALLY got to use my drill today!

I had my drill and some time free between my workout and when I needed to show up at the office so I hit up the hardware store, got the wall anchors I needed and finally got it done.  :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Raising the Bar

Happy Easter!!

I've a huge fan of the blogs The Non-Consumer Advocate and Zero Waste Home and through one of their readers, just found a new blog to follow; My Plastic Free Life.  Beth's website has a wealth of resources and now I'm laughing because it adds another dimension of difficulty to the life I'm striving to live.

So, I want to be a mindful consumer, try to lessen the waste of resources and avoid plastics as much as possible while working two jobs, attempting to improve my fitness, slowly tackling projects around my house AND taking a course?  Hell's yeah!

I mean..."No."  :(  I am willing to set these as goals but I've already mentioned I'm feeling stretched.  Things won't always be this tough...the course WILL end, the projects around the house WILL *eventually* be completed but I need to not bite off more than I can chew or else I'll simply get frustrated and give up on everything.  Although I do find Beth's challenge to be completely amazing and *do* want to try and work that in when making decisions, I'm not going to beat myself up if I can't manage it too well right now.  I'm hampered by a few things, most significantly, Bulk Barn and the other grocers in my area do not allow you to use your own containers when bulk-buying so I'm forced to use their plastic bags (which at least get reused when I clean the cat litter).  I do suspect that my desire to cut down on excess waste means that I'll be reducing the amount of plastic brought into my life quite a bit anyways.

This is just another thing to consider, this journey will be constantly evolving!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Non-Consumer Review - Plato's Closet Newmarket

If you've spent more than a few minutes glancing around my blog you'll have noticed I'm in a bit of a decluttering phase and attempting to move towards a more minimalist, non-consumer lifestyle.  I've put some time into sorting through my wardrobe and culling out what no longer fits, what is damaged/worn-out and what I just never end up wearing.  Due to my weight gain over the last year and a half (why must food be so delicious?!?) there was a lot that was pulled to the side and put in boxes marked "Sell at garage sale, unsold gets donated".  

I was talking about this to a co-worker the other day and he suggested I try taking some of my stuff by Plato's Closet.  Honestly, I've heard their radio ads and just never thought to drop by when I was out thrifting.  Apparently, there are two locations that are semi-near me.  Keep in mind, I live in a small town, there's not a whole lot thrift-wise within a 15 minute drive so it's normal for me to have to drive 30-35 minutes if I need to go clothes shopping.  Their Newmarket location was definitely within that range so I sorted through my boxes and picked what I thought *might* be accepted.  I had looked at their website so I knew my business casual wear wasn't going to cut it but wasn't so sure about some of my other stuff.  You never know until you try, right?

I hopped into my (t)Rusty Ride, Betty the Mazda3, and headed over.  The plaza (look for the plaza behind the Mandarin) was unpleasantly busy for this wannabe country girl but I am SO. FREAKING. GLAD. I finally checked this place out.  I have to give some serious kudos to the people behind Plato's Closet.  The store was tidy, the aisles weren't crammed together, the staff was incredibly friendly (shout out to Kristen who welcomed me, explained the process and cashed me out), all of the merchandise I checked out was in great shape, items were fairly priced, even the music they were playing was leagues better than what you have to listen to at other secondhand shops.  It was an amazeballs (read: great, if you don't like made-up words) shopping experience with only one itty-bitty negative.  I guess the staff forgot to write my  name on the "Your buy is ready" board so I kept shopping, wondering how long it would take for them to finish evaluating the clothes/accessories I brought in.  No biggie, since I would've gladly spent more time perusing their racks if I hadn't needed to head into work.

Plato's Closet is probably THE place to shop for budget-conscious or non-consumer girls and guys in their teens and twenties.  (I know, I know, it's not cool to be budget conscious or a non-consumer...)  For someone around my age, *cough* 33 *cough*, its still an extremely worthwhile thrift location to add to your list.  You're going to find a much better-curated selection of denim, athletic wear and fast-fashion type casual wear than you'd find at stores like Goodwill or Value Village.  I'm not knocking those stores (I shop there too!!) but there are only so many pairs of ratty sweatpants, "mom jeans" and stretched out t-shirts you can sort through before frustration sets in.  Price-wise, I haven't done much hardcore thrifting lately so my impression may be off but I found the pricing to be comparable, or even just a bit lower, than what you'd expect to find at Value Village or the Salvation Army Thrift Stores.  Considering that the items are much more current and in better shape than what you might find elsewhere...the pricing is fantastic.

As far as the bin of clothes I took in...only 11 items were purchased but I'm not surprised after seeing their inventory (my stuff wasn't in horrible shape, just not really what their target demographic would buy).  I'd likely have gotten a bit more money for those items if I had gone to a regular consignment shop but a) consignment shops seem to be getting harder to find in my area and b) you have to wait and see if the items actually sell whereas Plato's gives you cash on the spot.  I picked up 2 "new" pairs of yoga pants (actually, one pair was NWT!!), cashed out for the difference and headed on my way.  I'm actually itching to go back  (especially since there was a beaded necklace I loved and I forgot to grab, boo) and pick up some jeans and tees for spring.

Check it out! - Plato's Closet Newmarket - 16655 Yonge Street, Newmarket (905) 853-8880


**The Plato's Closet logo at the top isn't my property.  If it's yours and you'd like it removed, let me know. :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Minimalism Through Attrition is Frustrating as Heck

Hello, hello!

I've been back on call for the past few days and either nobody has been calling in sick or the airline has forgotten about me.  I can't say I'm complaining, its given me a lot of time to catch up on my Real Property Law reading so I'm basically back on track for being ready for my exam in May.  I've also been continuing to go through drawers, cupboards, boxes, etc. every so often to sort through what I want to keep and what is unnecessary.

Let me tell you...minimalism through attrition is CRAZY frustrating.  I keep finding random stuff that I actually DO use and my much-tighter-than-usual budget means I need to use these things instead of passing them on.  I've found half-pads of post-its (I use them a lot while flying), sample sized shampoos/conditioners/lotions, about a thousand tea bags grabbed from hotel rooms (as I leave to head to work and then never end up using).  There is just a lot of "stuff" that I'm choosing to organize/sort and prioritize to use before opening up new packages.  Even in the areas where I'm not finding more stuff (like my cosmetics), it seems like its just taking forever to use things up which is ironic because I *should* be trying to make things last as long as possible.  For example, in an attempt to finally use up a lipstick that was about 3/4s used, I've been wearing pretty much the same makeup look for over a month...and that lipstick refuses to die!!  I shouldn't be conflicted as a mantra I admire and actually usually try to live by most of the time is "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" but I feel as if, having decided that I don't want to be surrounded by mounds of stuff, I can't seem to get rid of it quickly enough.

Things are good though;

  • May is my last reduced flying month so I'll be back to my regular budget shortly (and not a moment too soon, based on the repairs/work around my house I'll need to pay someone to do).
  • My *final* real estate exam is May 10th and then all the really time intensive courses will be out of the way.
  • The community garage sale is at the end of the month so hopefully most of the stuff I've corralled into my garage will be turned into at least a little bit of cash.
It's not as if I'm about to enter some magical phase of my life but a few things that I have been counting down to are finally getting close to happening!!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finally, a vaguely productive day!

Hey All,

So I've booked off from flying for awhile due to an injury...I was "attacked" by a drunken friend and injured my knee to the point where I was using crutches for the first few days afterwards.  My knee had improved to the point where I could go back to work but I needed a doctor's note for my absence (thanks Air Canada for helping to clog doctor's offices with non-essential visits!).  I took a day off work at the office so I could make it to the clinic and managed to get some other errands done too.  Nothing glamorous but I managed the following:

  • dropped old kitchen sink and old pedestal sink off at Alliston's ReStore.
  • dropped off a bag of clothing at Chez Thrift
  • dropped off a bag of miscellaneous clutter at the Bolton ReUstore (to be honest, if I had sorted through it better I could have dropped it off at the ReStore or Clothes Line in Alliston)
  • had my taxes done
  • finally returned something to Home Depot
  • read my law textbook
  • moved patio furniture back outside
  • opened up all the windows to air out my house
It was NOT an exciting day but some of those items have been making me feel guilty for awhile now so it was nice to finally get them done.  My To Do list is still redonkulous (no, that's not a real word...yes, I still use it all the time) but I'm slowly getting through things.  Finishing up my real estate law course is a pretty big item on the list as is hosting a garage sale during Tottenham's 2014 Toot n'Holler community wide garage sale.

Side note:  When I first moved here and people mentioned the Toot n'Holler I thought they were exaggerating.  Seriously though, the most traffic I see in this town is actually on Toot n'Holler day and it should be considered a national holiday for those who love thrifting.

I've also picked up more paint so I can finish painting my foyer and stairwell and really need to get my butt in gear over the work being done in the kitchen.  Finally, there are just a few more steps to having my powder room completed (putty and paint the trim, re-hang the mirror/towel rack/toilet paper holder) - thankfully, it's at least functional in its current state.

I have been pretty stressed and down lately as I've been stretched a bit thin.  I'm not sure if its simply been the change in weather but things seem a bit better now.  I'm still busy to an ungodly degree but I feel like I have a better handle on things.