Monday, February 21, 2011

Cold, sunny day at the park

I took a quick walk at Rosetta McClain Gardens today to see if there was anything to take pictures of, and also to see how the tree cutting was going. They've taken a number of trees down and I noticed one tree on the west side, over the fence on a bad angle, probably due to the wind storm we had a few nights ago:

The squirrels were running all over the place, leaving footprints wherever they went:

Some glared from their homes in tree trunks:

This black-capped chickadee was very talkative and was shaking all the dead plants to get at the seeds:

The white-breasted nuthatch was doing his best upside-down act:

The fountain remains silent:

Saturday, February 12, 2011


As everyone knows, I have a serious hockey addiction problem, one that I don't intend to rectify! I was born in 1962, before expansion, and was a Leafs fan from the womb. When I was 11 1/2, I realized the Leafs would never amount to anything as the fans were seen as nothing more than cash cows, so I began the process of switching allegiances. I knew I'd be called a traitor but I wasn't going to let that stop me, and I found my new team: The Philadelphia Flyers! I loved the hard-nosed hockey they played and the tenacity of their captain, the legendary Bobby Clarke.

Since then I've lived and died with the Flyers. I also try to get to OHL games whenever possible, and attended my first of the season last night. I realized I had the evening free and emailed my friend Peter to see if he could go, so after a large meal and a ton, and I do mean a ton of laughs, off we went to Mississauga to watch the Majors take on the Plymouth Whalers.

We managed to not get lost going there, something that rarely happens, and arrived to find that the ice was pink:

It was "Paint the rink pink" night to bring awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. The Majors wore blue and pink uniforms instead of blue and white, and fans were given pink reusable bags and glow sticks upon entering.

All in all it was a good game, a bit chippy, a few too many penalties by over-exuberant refs, and with 2 seconds to go in the third, the Whalers won it on the power play. The crowd was furious because the Majors had 2 penalties called in the last minute or so and they responded with a very loud chorus of boos as well as by throwing things on the ice. I know a lot of people will finger wag at this type of behaviour but this team has had virtually no support even though they've had good teams over the years. Toronto is not a hockey city, if it isn't the Leafs they don't care about it and more often than not, OHL games in Mississauga, Brampton, and the old barn at St. Michael's Arena are badly attended. So to see the fans show some passion was a wonderful change.

Part of this may be because The Memorial Cup will be played in Mississauga this year. The host team gets an automatic bye although they still have to go through the same playoff process as the other teams in the Canadian Hockey League. Hopefully this keeps fans interested beyond this year because we've already lost one GTA area team and I'd hate to lose a second.

To complete the day, it's Hockey Day in Canada, with CBC showing all things hockey including 3 games from noon until the late game finishes. This year they're hosting from the Yukon and it's a great way to celebrate the game.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I'm not cheap, I'm thrifty!

I never bothered with coupons before because it seemed pointless to carry around a piece of paper to save 50 cents if I remembered to use it. But over the past year, I've really started paying attention to my spending habits where food is concerned and decided it was time to get serious about a few things, the first being the reduction of fast food/processed food, the second was to spend less on groceries.

I used to go to Tim Horton's way too much because it was handy and they had vegetarian products. On mornings when I don't have time for breakfast at home, I try to go to McDonald's for a coffee and muffin. The coffee is just as good as Tim's and their small is the size of Tim's medium. When you add a muffin it only costs 10 cents.

When I have time in the mornings, I make coffee and can survive on one cup a day. I get big tins of Maxwell House and add a bit of cinnamon to the grounds to make it taste better. A big can lasts over a month and I get them for sale for under $6, in fact the last time I bought them they were $4.69 a can so I bought four. I also buy Coffee Mate which lasts a long time, and make sure to have bagels, waffles and eggs with omelette filling on hand so I'm not tempted to drive through Tim's for one of their products.

The other thing I did was follow a forum called Smart Canucks. There are various discussion boards but the two I watch most are Canadian Shopping Deals And Flyers and Canadian Coupons. People post flyers a couple of days before they hit the stores so you can figure out where to shop before things actually come on sale. Coupons are also available on a lot of products, from food to pet supplies to bathroom items. The savvy shoppers on the site are quick to point out which products are at a good price and whether there are coupons available and where. Many can be found online where you can print them off, although quite a few stores won't accept them so you have to know who will and won't.

Finally, I try to only buy gas at the Loblaws gas station near my house. They are always among the lowest priced in the city and you get 2 cents back per litre that can be used in any Loblaws or No Frills store. No Frills is my store of choice because they will price match any other stores on sale items as long as you bring in the flyer and buy the same item they have in stock. It keeps me from running around to a number of stores.

I fill up my gas tank approximately every 5 days and get back about 70 cents each time. It comes to up to $5 a month, which doesn't seem like much but every bit adds up.

This is my current favourite: Special K cereal has an offer inside some of their cereal boxes with coupons inside: $2.50 off a bottle of Renee's salad dressing, $1.50 off any bag of salad and $1 off a bottle of Fuze.

I eat a lot of salad, probably 3 or 4 times a week and try to eat cereal whether it's at breakfast or at night, a couple of times a week. I got the cereal for $3.99 with two $1 off coupon to make two of the boxes $2.99 and the coupons in the box are worth $5 so the cereal was free and then some. I bought a variety of flavours so I don't get sick of it and have already picked up a couple of salad dressings and salads.

In total I've bought 5 boxes of cereal for a total of about $18 which includes the two $1 off coupons. I cashed in $5 worth of auto-cash coupons from a few tankfuls of gas which brought the cost down to $13. I have $25 in coupons to use so I came out ahead by $12. This is a great situation because I have food in the house so I'm not too tempted to spend it outside, and both salads and cereal are healthy which means I can eat an extremely fattening and unhealthy dinner like fettuccine alfredo, LOL!