I’d Rather “Make the Bacon” and Bring it Home,than cook it

Make the Bacon

Source: Cover of I Love Bacon! recipe book by Jane Rockmill

Oh Sundays. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love how you can wake up with no alarm, just laze around in bed. Enjoy a greasy breakfast (with bacon, of course) and sip your morning coffee while reading the paper or catching up on your favourite blogs (Or you can go out for breakfast, but I sometimes cringe at the thought of an overpriced breakfast. $12??!!? Are you kidding me?).  The morning seems to last forever in my opinion.  Come mid-afternoon, time seems to speed up and go by a lot faster. Then that sinking disappointing feeling sets in. Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow it is back to the grind. Back to the work week that seems to drag on like that teacher in Charlie Brown where I never understood what she was saying.

I often spend my Sundays grocery shopping, because it is just  a complete ZOO on Saturdays.  I’ll do a few loads of laundry and cook food for the week.  In the post: The Joy of Cooking…For One, I complain about cooking for one. Now I am the head chef and meal planner and am cooking for two. Oh joy. We don’t grocery shop together because  he’s not a big fan of grocery shopping. As I have mentioned before, the bf is quite handy and thus assumes the responsibility of being Mr. Fix-It.  (With an older house, there seems to be a lot of fixing things.) I once hammered a screw in my bathroom wall, so thus I assume the responsibility of trying to be a domestic goddess.  He does do some cleaning, but I usually have to ask.

I have come to the realization that I like the idea of having my own house and eventually owning it, but I absolutely hate cooking and cleaning. But I do it because we all know that eating out  all the time is a waste of money and I’m not willing to pay someone to do the cooking and cleaning for me. I know people work crazy hours and it takes a load off, but you know when they say “leave it to the professionals” for some things? You can argue with me all you want, but cooking and cleaning are not some of them. If you can read, you can cook. Dirt and dust doesn’t disappear like magic in the movie Fantasia, so clean up your mess already.

If I lived in the 50s or 60s and was the housewife,  staying at home, and only did the cooking and cleaning, I think I would have gone bonkers. Sure all that stuff passes the time, but I wouldn’t want that to be my livelihood ( I am definitely the Peggy Olson in Mad Men). Even if the bf was making a ton of money and we could live off one income easily, I still wouldn’t want to be a stay at home housewife. He, on the other hand, wouldn’t mind staying at home and cooking the bacon I brought home.  Nowadays, I know you can work from home, which does seem awesome in a lot of ways, but I like actually going to a workplace and making my money. I don’t have enough discipline to work at home. There are too many distractions and since my current  job isn’t a typical office job, I couldn’t work at home anyway if I wanted to.

Would you rather “make the bacon” and bring it home or just cook it? Anybody else had bacon for breakfast today?

 

 

Sleepless, but not in Seattle

Seattle SleeplessWhen one thinks of the basic necessities in life, food, clothing and shelter come to mind.  I would also add sleep to my personal list.  As you know, infants spend the majority of their time sleeping and as we get older, the average becomes 8 hours for adults. This may seem like a lot, but are there some days where you’ve had 8 hours of sleep and felt like you could have used more? I rarely get 8 hours of solid sleep, so consider yourself lucky if you can reach that magic number. My ears seem to become supersensitive as I try to fall asleep, thus I manage to hear every little sound and sense every little movement.  I toss and turn quite often, trying to get that perfect position to send me into the land of dreams. Although the neighbourhood we live in is super quiet, I can’t help but still wear earplugs. The bf snores here and there, so rather than waking up  in the middle of the night to block the sound or block his nose (ha ha),  I immediately put them in before bedtime.  They’re like my security blanket.

I am a very light sleeper and occasional insomniac. I am constantly tired. I am eagerly counting the days till the weekend so that I can catch up on the sleep I so desperately need.  I’m sure my earlier than a sunrise wake-up time and long hours at work doesn’t help too much either.  I have no choice but to come home and take a power nap before I rush over to my second job. You would think having two physical jobs would be able to knock me out just like that. If only it was that easy!

I have been a light sleeper and insomniac for as long as I can remember.  I have memories of reading books in the middle of the night just to make myself tired.  My mom is also a light sleeper. She also takes naps. She is quite sleep deprived to the point where she often takes sleeping pills to help her sleep. I haven’t gone that route yet, but as part of my quest to seek solid sleep I have recently started taken melatonin supplements.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It assists in the regulation of other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/melatonin-000315.htm/). The melatonin supplement has more to do with the timing of sleep, rather than actually helping you fall asleep. However, taken in higher doses, the side effect  can be drowsiness.  I have upped my dosage three times the normal amount and I still feel like a$$ when I wake up in the morning. According to the article Melatonin seen as a safe pill to nudge you into dreamland, the sedative like effect doesn’t seem to work on everyone. Just my luck.   The only thing I have noticed since I have started taking the supplement is that I have been dreaming some really weird dreams here and there. Even nightmares.

Prior to trying melatonin supplements, I tried the usual suggestions to help me sleep: warm milk, chamomile tea (I often have to wake up to pee in the middle of the night already) no tv or computer before going to bed, going to sleep at a normal time, listening to soothing music, exercising (not right before though).  Even counting sheep. I tried to imagine each of them jumping over that damn fence in a different way. NONE OF THEM WORK FOR ME!!!

It just boggles my mind constantly how people can pull all-nighters or thrive on little sleep. Just a coffee or two and they’re good to go. I’ve come to the conclusion that where I think drinking coffee will help and I happen to like the taste of it, it doesn’t wake me up. I like to think it will. One of these days. But it never does. It gives me that warm hug and disappoints me at the same time.  When I’ve been severely sleep deprived for a few days, all I can think about is SLEEP. I have to fight to stay awake while driving to and from work through loud music and blasting the A/C.

Whereas my mom and I are light sleepers, my dad and my sister are heavy sleepers and can pretty much sleep anywhere. They could probably sleep through a tornado. Where’s the fairness in that? I would give my right hand (it’s fine, cause I’m a leftie..ha ha) to get consistent sleep or get it more than once in awhile.

Hopefully this article didn’t put you to sleep. ;) What helps you sleep at night?

 

 

Shying Away from Success?

Shying AwayAn interesting discovery I have encountered while reading comments on other blogs, is that several of them have claimed to be introverts. When you think about it,  it makes quite a lot of sense. As Pauline from Reach Financial Independence, replied to one of my comments about relating to her as a fellow introvert, “I guess it is easier for introverts to communicate behind a screen.” While many claim that the technology revolution has decreased the amount of face time, ie face to face interaction, at the same time perhaps it has made us appreciate the live connection made when one meets up with someone for a coffee or drink.  To keep in line with the subject of this post, perhaps it has also enabled introverts to find a way to communicate effectively without fear of being judged and being criticized, seeing people’s expressions and reactions.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a shy person. My parents constantly remind me that they often asked the kids if I could play with them because I was too afraid to ask them myself.  I had a crush on a guy in high school for almost four years, but never had the guts to ask him out. Of course, it didn’t  help either that he was also shy. Although going away to university has made me open a little bit more, I still find myself feeling quite shy and awkward in certain social situations. Now the friends I have had many years would scoff at me from time to time  would insist that I’m not shy. But then I point out to my university friends, the reason I became friends with them was because they started talking to me first. I was never one to approach people directly, even to this day.  I am not comfortable approaching complete strangers or am able to build strong relationships right from the get go. This is probably one of the reasons why I was never very good at sales or at being  a social butterfly.

With that being said, does being introverted or extroverted, determine what job is suited best for you to a certain extent? My first job out of university was working in the project management department for a pharmaceutical company. It involved a lot of interaction with the external client.  I was not very good at making small talk and interacting with people I barely knew. Needless to say it was not my cup of tea. I found jobs that didn’t require a lot of negotiation and socializing were more my cup of tea. At least I think they are for the time being. I know networking is critical in one’s career, but I feel I don’t know how. I don’t know the right questions to ask or the right people to talk to.  Most of the jobs I have had, I have applied for on my own, without the help of a connection. Now I am by no means, bragging about it. Looking back at my two years of unstable employment, I wish that maybe if I had networked and had connections I may have not been in that temporary mess. Maybe I would have been a lot further in my career or in my life in general. Who knows?

Ironically enough,  in a couple of my relationships, including my current one, I have saved the guy grief and embarrassment, by doing the asking out myself. Why? I have no idea. I guess I felt that these guys were worth it to overcome my shyness (and indeed they were), worth getting to know better, before some other girl snatched them up. More irony  would be the fact that I teach fitness classes. Members often find it hard to believe that I am a shy person and say I don’t seem like it when I’m on stage leading the class. I still get a little nervous from time to time, but I know it’s my responsibility to be that enthusiastic, energetic motivator to the people that need it.

I actually get really nervous going to social gatherings where I don’t know everyone. I suck at those meet ‘n’ greet things.  I feel anxious and uncomfortable if I’m not in conversation and everyone else is. I never know which one to join when I’m in the middle of two at a dinner table. I just sit and listen.  I’m not a big fan of ice breaker  introductions where you have to talk about yourself.  This may sound awful, but aside from the fact I sometimes decline invitations to save money, the other reason is sometimes that I want to avoid being social. It’s especially nervewracking when I only know the host and no one else and have made the brave mistake of attending the function on my own. It’s always  handy to have a wingman to talk to when everyone else knows each other  and it doesn’t look as awkward.  I envy the people who are naturally good at being social.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert? Do you think being shy holds you back in any way? Do you feel it can slow down your path to success?

All Aboard the Inca Trail Express- Part II

Ok folks, this will be the last travel post for a while and I’ll get back to the usual random stuff. :)

So to continue from the tough second day hike, that was a 10 hr hike that just about killed me. By the time, I reached the campsite, I had barely enough energy to sit and eat my dinner. All I could think about was passing out. And that I did. But then I woke up in the middle of the night to unzip my mummy sleeping bag, which can be insanely warm, only to find the zipper was stuck. I ended up being somewhat cold throughout the night, which really sucks when you’re trying to sleep.

Day 3 was a much more enjoyable hike. For one it was shorter and two it was less steep and the terrain wasn’t as gruelling as the day before. We got to see some llamas/alpacas (Does anyone know the difference between the two? They look all the same to me) up close, which was cool, but didn’t get too close, because apparently they kick and spit. Just like camels.

Day 4 was the final stretch of the hike, the one that led us to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. We woke up at 4:00 am to line up to the entrance to the final part of the hike. There were already quite a few hikers waiting in line. The estimated wait time at the gate was about half an hour. And then off we went! In the beginning it was rainy. So being cold, sweaty and wet was not a pleasant feeling, but I was determined to get there. It’s as if I got my third wind and all I could think about was reaching the end point. Remember I mentioned a long rocky path, I forgot to mention that the walking sticks came in handy, especially for us vertically challenged folk (I’m only 5″2). Well for the final day of our hike, this long rocky path got very narrow and slippery and had a sudden drop off. There were no safety nets, harnesses or ropes.  How many times did I have to force myself to look ahead than look down and keep telling myself, ” Don’t look down. DON’T look down. DON’T LOOK DOWN!!!” After sh*tting my pants while hiking the final stretch, I finally made it!

Rather than being able to rest right off the bat, our tour guide was taking us up and down and all over the city. I honestly thought my legs would suddenly stop functioning and turn to jell-o. All I could think right then and there was food and a hot shower, two things we constantly take for granted.  So as you know, I made it back  home alive and in one piece with about 20 Peruvian mosquito bites, a bad cold and the feeling of accomplishment.

Inca Trail

 

All Aboard The Inca Trail Express- Part I

The Inca TrailThe bus left the hostel at 7 am to take us to the area where the porters were busy organizing our gear and duffel bags. They also had snacks available for us to take for the hike such as juice boxes, oranges, apples, bananas, and cookies. This was our only chance to get the snacks, so I think out of worry of getting hungry on the trail, I overpacked on the snacks, which weighed me down a bit and tired me out quicker than I expected.  We hiked over to the 82 km (yes, we hiked a hard 82 km in four days) starting point at the Inca Trail. I was full of positive thoughts and determination so far. We waved to passengers on the train to Machu Picchu. We all thought they were lazy. I’m sure the passengers all thought we were crazy.

This first stretch of the trail was our training day trail, to get us used to the long days of hiking, get a rhythm going. Aside from our own personal breaks, we did have some rest areas at certain areas in between, but sometimes I felt the breaks weren’t that long enough. There were even a few little stands at the beginning of the hike where you could buy Gatorade, water and various snacks to replenish your supply. What was really rewarding was reaching the campsites. It is absolutely amazing what the porters and the cooks can do so high up in the mountain.  Imagine carrying all that heavy equipment and having to set up tents and cook a fabulous meal for 17 people. We’re not talking just franks and beans here.  Some examples of what we ate for breakfast: crepes, toast, eggs, sausage. Lunch and dinners consisted of pasta, turkey legs, fried rice, just normal food you would eat at a restaurant.  One of the hikers celebrated her birthday during the hike, so the head cook  BAKED a cake for her. I wonder what kind of special Peruvian easy bake oven does that!

The second day was the most challenging day of the hike. This was where you really had to test your mental, physical and emotional strength. The summit was at 4200m, for those of you who use the imperial system, this translates to a whopping 13,778 ft. Say what?!?!! I was still tired from the 6 hr hike the first day, so imagine doing an 8-10 hr hike,  where the majority is a STEEP, UPHILL climb and other parts being very rocky. I would go uphill for a bit, take a break at a flat portion to catch my breath, go again for another bit and take another break, etc. I would get to what I thought was the top, go around the bend, only to find that there was another hill,  waiting for me that was even steeper. It was almost as it was laughing at me saying, you thought you were done? Yeah right! This is where the mental toughness came in. At times, it was best to not look what was up ahead because I would automatically think, that’s impossible, how the “beep beep beep beep” am I supposed to hike that. I had to break it down into chunks and focus on what was just in front of me, not several metres ahead. Even after taking some of the weight out of my backpack the night before, it still felt like a ton of bricks. Everything feels like a ton of bricks when you’re exhausted.

As I mentioned before, the weather changed constantly and your best bet was to dress in layers, in breathable and waterproof clothing.  I would get sweaty from hiking, but as I continued to hike higher up, it became much colder, to the point where I had to put on a toque and gloves. The great thing about hiking in a group was like it was sort of like running a marathon (which I have never done). You feel like you can’t go on, you feel like you’re going to die, but then you eventually see the summit and people are at the top screaming your name and cheering for you.You’re sweaty, cold, exhausted, your heart is racing, you can barely move your limbs, a little light headed. But somehow, because of all that screaming, it gave me that extra push I desperately needed to make it to the top. When I got up there, I thought OMG. I can’t believe I did that. It’s such an amazing feeling and I was just overcome with all these emotions. I took it all in, and then took a look at the really rocky downhill path to our lunch campsite. Insert another swear word here.

Are you afraid of heights? Have you conquered that fear? Do you have any other fears? (Me: scary movies, snakes, and spiders are just a few)

 Inca Trail The Inca Trail

 

“Z” You Later:The Takeover of Zellers by Target

If you’re Canadian, “Zed” you later sounds odd, but I know a lot of people from the US read this blog, so “Zee” you later is pretty fitting for the title of this post.

As I was driving into the mall last week, I happened to notice the Target sign over the former Zellers. Zellers is just one of the many stores that has been taken over by an American counterpart, with the majority of them being closed down.  I am quite excited for Target to becoming out, but at the same time sad. We are losing yet ANOTHER Canadian brand. No offense to Zellers, but I almost never got anything from that store. It was just a mere gateway to the rest of the mall and well, you can’t beat the prices at Wal-Mart for a lot of things. Zellers always seemed to be filled with more employees than shoppers. With one of the Zellers in the city I live  in, I noticed it was mainly senior citizens who shopped there. Perhaps they had a strong brand loyalty to big red Z (Zee, Zed, potato, pah-tato).

In addition to takeover of Canadian retail stores, there is the expansion of US stores into Canada. So Canadians are being bombarded with American brands left, right and centre. I am not against American brands(I am falling so head over heels in love with Starbucks it’s not even funny. I have shares in the company),  but the introduction of more American stores, may threaten the life of our existing Canadian stores. Call me patriotic but  sometimes its nice knowing its a Canadian company and whoa, get this it’s made in Canada still??!?!(Errrr…here and there). I still think Canadian Tire money is fun!!

What doesn’t make sense to me are the new rules for duty-free shopping. Check out this article in moneyville: New duty-free rules to fuel cross-border stampede. It mentions that: The duty-free limit for stays of more than 24 hours will be boosted to $200 from $50. Limits for visits longer than 48 hours will be increased to $800. The previous limits were $400 for a week and $750 for more than a week. Now I’m no retail strategist expert or economist buff, but wouldn’t you want Canadians to spend most of their money in Canada?

Growing up, my family used to go border shopping in the outlet stores in Buffalo. This was long before stores such as Old Navy, the Children’s Place, and Marshall’s made their way to the Canadian side. I remember getting clothes and my parents telling me to rip the tags off, crinkle the clothes up and change into them in the washroom to pretend that they were old and we had worn them already coming into the US. I remember being very excited about going to the States, not so much for the deals, but more for the back to school shopping. This lessened the chances of me having the same outfits as the other kids, unless they also happened to border shop at the same store and get the exact same thing. Which never happened.

I love going on vacation, but I don’t love the idea of going on vacation to shop. As I got older and more aware of my spending when we went border shopping, I almost felt pressure to find something because we drove all this way, spent this much money on food, gas and sometimes hotel. I know some people who enjoy shopping in the US and will travel the distance just to go to a certain outlet mall. That’s fine by me, but there are so many stores right here in my neighbourhood. Best thing of all? It’s a 15 min drive away. Ok, maybe they don’t have certain brands or there are certain stores that are only in the US, but its only a matter of time till almost all our Canadian stores are gone. But that’s fine, cause bye, bye, bye will still mean buy, buy, buy.

Canadian readers, do you feel we’re being Americanized too much?

American readers, do you ever go cross-border shopping to Canada for certain stores? Are there certain Canadian brands you prefer? The only Canadian expansions (not even a takeover, just an expansion) that spring to mind are Tim Horton’s (whose coffee I think is pretty gross. Sorry) and Lululemon.

 

Remembering the DJ (Desk Jockey) Days

Remembering the DJI have been out of the office environment for over four years now.  Long gone are the days in a cubicle, answering phone calls, e-mails, teleconferences, 5 meetings in a day and preparing reports for review and approval. Do I miss it? I’d be lying through my teeth if I said yes. The only things I miss about it are the going out for lunch and waking up at a normal hour. I have always been an active kid growing up, so maybe being restricted to sitting down 8 hrs/day, 5 days/week was killing me inside. I would stare at the computer, hammering away at reports till my eyes got dry and my brain got numb. I found it difficult to sit still and pay attention to what went on in the meetings. Let’s just say my notes weren’t the greatest and I had no desire to get better at note taking.

I have to hand it you readers who do have the desk job and have had it for years. I am even more impressed if you have a desk job you actually enjoy. I don’t know how you guys do it. I’ve had two desk jobs within a two-year span and was somewhat unsatisfied with both. They were the jobs that I thought were okay for the time being.When asked during my review as to what my goals were and what is my five plan, all I thought was I didn’t want to move up in the department or the company.  I couldn’t see myself doing this long-term. So I quit. There were other reasons I quit, many of them stress-related, eventually taking a toll on my health.  Although I had applied to hundreds of jobs afterward, every job I managed to get an offer for just somehow ended up being a non-desk job. I got the interviews for the desk jobs but never the offer. Maybe I wasn’t meant to work a desk type job.

Without going too much into detail about my job, I’ll narrow it done somewhat for you. I work in the public sector, along with thousands of other public servants, who are responsible for a certain type safety of Canadians. I wear a hard hat, uniform and safety shoes. I have a badge, which I must admit is pretty cool and I do enjoy showing it when asked to provide identification. The only time I’m at a desk is during my breaks checking emails and the odd day I’m assigned administrative duties. They encourage job shadowing for different job positions to find out what your potential interests are, so there’s always an opportunity to learn and grow. How great is that?

It took me almost four years to get this job.  I’m not a very patient person to begin with, but I guess good things come to those who wait. I’ve finally landed a job within an organization that a meaningful purpose and is a place where I see my career developing into something worthwhile. I’m actually motivated to work hard and learn as much as I can.

I still have a part-time desk job though. Except the YOU’RE the one reviewing  my report. I hope I have your approval.

 

The Joy of Cooking….For One

 Cooking For OneWe all try to grocery shop and cook meals at home because we know how eating out can be so expensive if you do it often enough. It takes a bit of time and effort to plan your meals, make the list and cook the meals. I try to base my meals on what already exists in my fridge and pantry  and whatever is on sale at the grocery store. I’m not a big fan of those meals that require a lot of prep work and have 20 ingredients, some ingredients which I most likely will never use again unless I make that particular dish. Once in a while I’ll do that type of meal, but that’s usually reserved for the weekend.

As of now, my bf and I do not live together. Whenever I make a big batch of something, I make my bf come over and eat some of it during his lunch (His work is a 5 min drive from my place. Why don’t we live together you ask? We have completely different schedules. I start work at 6:30 am and he starts at 8:30 am. I live in a one bedroom apartment. Would YOU want to wake up mon-fri at 5:15 am, knowing that you actually don’t have to get up until 7:45 am? Exactly).

I try to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner for several days, but I can only do that so many times. I need a little bit of variety. I could cook more than one type of meal to have that variety though…just never got around to doing it. I don’t really like cooking, I prefer baking. It’s probably due to the smell of it and the fact you can decorate them. Now you ask, “MTB, why don’t you just cook every night or every other night?”  Between my full-time job and teaching group fitness classes several times a week, there isn’t enough time to make a meal. Once I get home from class, I’m pretty exhausted (My full-time job is physical as well) and the last thing I want to do is cook. I have just enough energy to take the food out of the fridge, pop it into the microwave and shove it down my throat.

So I spend either a chunk or my saturday or sunday grocery shopping and cooking for myself. Grocery shopping for yourself is a bit of a pain.  Not to mention lugging those groceries from your car to the elevator and then to your apartment. Its my extra workout. My produce sometimes rots faster than I can eat it.  I was so excited yesterday when I managed to get through an entire container of strawberries and not one was close to rotting. But now I am sick of strawberries and will not buy them for a while. Maybe I should look into buying frozen fruits and veggies. Or just freezing the fresh ones. I know its cheaper to buy in bulk , but bulk doesn’t really work out in your favour when you are just one person.  I know smaller servings aren’t cost-effective,  but its more definite that I will eat it and it won’t go to waste.

The joys of cooking for two: you can make meals, go grocery shopping and eat together. Or you can alternate making meals or going grocery shopping but still eat TOGETHER. The biggest thing of all: you’re not the only one always cleaning up. I hate doing dishes and I don’t have a dishwasher. :(  It seems I use a lot of cookware and dishes when I cook….and I make somewhat of a mess. :)

 

Rockin’ the Potluck

Pot LuckWe all know eating out is expensive. But its easy, hassle-free, something to do and no cleaning up involved.

Ever since I started cooking and baking more, I find eating out to be such a luxury now. I look at the menu sometimes and think I can make more of that for way less. Sometimes the portion isn’t very much either and I’m still hungry! I have two trains of thought when I go out to eat: I try to get something, I wouldn’t normally make at home or I get something on the cheaper side like a sandwich. The second thought pretty much contradicts the first thought, cause clearly I can make a sandwich at home! So eating out can actually be a hassle! Interesting.

I try not to eat out unless it’s a special occasion, but even then if it’s a special occasion, why do you have to eat out? Why not a potluck? I love potlucks! They’re a fun, great way to get together with friends. I had a potluck party for my birthday last year and it was a hit. There was a ton of food. I didn’t have to do much cooking and my sister helped with the clean-up.

Usually people go out to eat at restaurants for special occasions, especially birthdays, but I find it so hard to enjoy it. You’re stuck at one spot and you can’t really converse with everyone. You’re trying to talk to someone across the table, but it’s almost impossible  to hear them with all the other conversations and background noise in the air. With potlucks, you have the freedom to move around and mingle, while stuffing your face with the great variety of delicious food. It’s like your own private buffet. You get to share recipes and end up with a TON of leftovers. Have a lot of margarine/yogurt/sour cream containers handy so your guests can take home some food as well. I hate wasting food and you should too!

You can’t cook? Sure you can. If you can read, you can cook. If you’re not a very good cook or just starting out and don’t want to risk poisoning anyone or you don’t like cooking period, you can still contribute to the potluck. Bring drinks, cutlery, plates, napkins, fruit and veggie trays or any store bought stuff . One of the best things about potlucks: You don’t have to go through the agonizing exercise of how to split the bill “x” number of ways (THAT is one of my biggest pet peeves for eating out. I often ask for separate bills, because a lot of the times they won’t give it to you separately if you don’t ask. Sometimes people don’t carry enough cash and sometimes people prefer to pay with credit card) so people don’t overpay or underpay, which I find always happens in a big group. People don’t have change, don’t feel like asking for change and just throw down a few $20 bills.

With the popularity of celebrity chefs, cooking shows, recipes available at the click of a button and an entire tv network devoted to food, one would think potlucks should be at the top of everyone’s list for fun entertainment. The next time you are planning to go out to eat for whatever occasion, why not suggest a potluck? You can’t go wrong with good food, good convo and good company at a decent cost.

 

The Mall Can Be A Temptation Island

Shopping at the mall

Let me rephrase that. The Mall IS a Temptation Island. It beckons you with all your favourite stores, the sales, and fun, bright displays. Of course, it has a Starbucks too! Stores tempting you to cheat on your bank account and max out  your credit card.

Have you noticed how all retailers have merchandise displayed at the check out? Impulse Buy Central. Last minute purchases to add on to you what you are already buying. They are something for you to look at and examine while you wait in line to pay. Hey, I could use an extra pair of socks. I’m always losing them in the dryer. Or, this hairband will go great with my new outfit. Wal-Mart and Winners are a couple of stores who have created  what I like to call an Impulse Buy Line Up. As you are waiting in line, the impulse buys are lined up right beside you before you are at cash. As you move further along the line, you are still constantly looking at merchandise.  I didn’t think I needed gum, but now that its right here in front of me, I can add it to my cart.  When I go through these lines, I usually try and block it out of my peripheral vision.

When I walk into a store, I often make a beeline for the sale rack., which is often at the back of the room. That means you have to manuever your way through the tempting new arrivals priced at regular price Again, block it out of your peripheral vision and focus on your target. The red sale sign.

Just like they say never shop for groceries when you’re hungry, that saying should also go for when you go to the mall. Since I shop like a guy, I try to be in and out of the store as quick as possible. But sometimes the satisfying your craving monster takes over. I can understand if people are in the mall for a couple of hours, they can get hungry. The food court is there for them and also the people who work in the mall. There are just too many added food temptations. Smoothie bars, pretzel stands, coffee shops, frozen yogurt. This post is making me hungry! I sometimes try and bring a granola bar and water bottle with me to tie me down till I get home. I can’t justify paying for water when I know I can get it for free. There should be more water fountains available in the mall.

When it comes to the mall, I would suggest a plan of attack. If possible, arrive at the mall with a full stomach.  This may seem like too much effort, but do your research. Almost all retailers nowadays have an online website. I tend to browse the sites before I go to the mall to get an idea of what they have, how much they cost. Like grocery shopping, come with a list and stick to it. Buy only what you need. Call me a shopping  drill sargeant, but maybe you need to whip your finances into shape. How many times have you or someone you know has said they walked into the mall with the intention of buying only “blank”, but ended up getting “blank” and a whole crapload of other “blank, blank, blank, blank, blank?”