12 Days of Christmas: On the Eleventh Day of Christmas…

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

11 acts of kindness
A 9 piece Christmas felt tree
8 paper snowflakes
7 words for artwork
6 hand-made ornaments
5 gifts for L
4 festive letters
3 photo shoots
A 2 piece no-sew blanket
And a new spot for our Christmas tree

For anyone paying attention, yes, I did skip 10.  My plan for the tenth day was “10 finger handprints” and to show off one of the gift I made using the girls’ handprints.  Then I realized that the gift would no longer be a surprise because the recipient(s) read the blog!  So I decided to skip day 10 and come back to it after Christmas 🙂

For day 11, I wanted to focus on giving to others and sharing the holiday spirit.

In no particular order, here is my list of 11 acts of kindness that I am well on my way to accomplishing before the year’s end!

11. Donate blood
10. Buy gifts for the toy drive at the daycare
9. Shovel the neighbours’ snow (thanks to M for crossing this one off the list)
8. Pay for the order of the person behind me at the drive thru
7. Go through our closets and bring un-needed clothes to the thrift store which benefits various charities
6. Give gifts to the teachers at the daycare
5. Donate food to the food bank
4. Give our out-of-use winter wear to the Salvation Army
3. Buy a hot chocolate for the security guard at work who stands out in the cold directing traffic
2. Give the stack of magazines I’ve already read to the hospital
1. Donate my wedding dress to The Brides’ Project (stay tuned for a post on that in the new year!)

Do you have anything special you do around the holiday season that helps out others?


Lifestyle Diet

Can you believe it is already September?!? August was a great month for the blog and I wanted to thank to everyone who visited and helped be achieve my stellar numbers. I broke my previous record of most views in a day, my highest weekly views to date were this past month and August saw my highest monthly views so far. I still have to pinch myself that you guys are reading what I’m putting out in the world and apparently enjoying it because you keep coming back.  Thanks again! 🙂

So looking back on the summer… while it was a great few months, they were more than a little gluttonous.  Especially on the eating and spending fronts.

Moving into September and the fall season, my house (and especially me!) are going on a lifestyle diet. What does this mean? We are eating healthier, we are getting active and we are going on a budget!

I wouldn’t consider myself an unhealthy eater but my family definitely loves grilled cheese, oven pizzas and fast food. We have been eating way too much of this type of food lately and my waistline is showing it. My goal is to decrease the amount of processed and convenience foods we eat.

Here are my steps to achieving this goal:
• Limit convenience foods to once a week
• Get on board with menu planning and freezer cooking
• No buying treats unless there is a ‘special occasion’ (and Fridays don’t count)
• Get back into the habit of making homemade nutritious muffins for snacks
• Start drinking smoothies to bump up my fruit and veggie intake
• Limit work snacks (this is going to be hard… for any of my colleagues reading this: don’t let me have more than one serving snack on Wednesdays!)

When it comes to physical activity, I have been slacking. I haven’t participated in any form of structured exercise since before I was pregnant with E and the girls just don’t enjoy long stroller walks like they used to. My goal for this area is to work on integrating physical activity into my daily routine and ensure I’m getting active as frequently as possible.

Here are my steps to achieving this goal:
• Use my new gym membership 3 times a week
• Take the stairs at work (all 8 flights including the 2 down to the parking garage!)
• Walk more often (e.g., to the library, the drug store, the subway station, etc.)
• Get active with the kids on the weekends

Now for the fun one… getting our finances back on track. I love money stuff and I pride myself on all that M and I have achieved financially in the past few years. While we are usually quite good at paying off our credit cards and saving for the future, we overindulged this past summer. We have a bit of money to pay off on our line of credit plus we are planning for a $35,000 home renovation and I don’t want that sitting as debt for the next 15 years. My finance goal is to develop a reasonable budget that will allow us to live life (e.g., eat out, go places with the girls, buy new clothes) while still effectively planning for our future (e.g., RRSPs, RESPs, debt repayment).

Here are my steps for achieving this goal:
• Meet with a financial planner to develop a plan
• Get a lower interest rate for our mortgage
• Limit credit card use and spend cash
• Plan (save!) for big expenses
• Limit eating out to once per week
• Become better at differentiating between wants and needs
• Make a list (and stick with it!) whenever I go shopping

Looks like I’ll be busy over the next few months! I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated with my progress. Do you have any tips that will help me out?