Category Archives: family

The Cheap Summer Experiment

Well here we are again at that time of year, when you want to have some summer fun yet do it on the cheap! How am I going to do it? Well after a certain meeting two weeks ago my income level is uncertain as of August 1st so I plan on doing an experiment. First I took radical steps to cut my costs: got rid of the land line because we are never home especially during the summer. So we now have one cell on a decent plan…$45and all the minutes this mom needs.I got rid of the Internet as well and will be blogging for free from cafes and the library. So after rent and bills it leaves me with $450 to go everything with. So what are my plans?  How am I going to cut costs in Toronto this summer and even have money to go away with?

The Cheap Summer Experiment

1. Take advantage of the FREE stuff to do here in the city. From public pools, libraries, and free events there is plenty to do here in town.

 We will only TTC to one event per week, the others we  can walk or bike too. The first event we will hit is Luminato.It was so worth going to last year and we had a blast! It starts June 6thand is a great way to start off your summer with a bang.

2. Use the money jar approach to spending.

Our jars are $4o for groceries per week, $7.50 for laundry, and $12.50 for other–all clothes are bought so there is no need for new stuff.

3.When shopping utilize coupons, points collection(ie SDM), and flyer shopping to get the best prices you can find.

 UsuallyI can spend $40 on meat for a month ( we eat meals that include meat about 4 times a week). Usually2 big bags of chicken pieces and a big club size of lean ground beef that I can stretch with TVP does us.

4. Have a garage sale of all that stuff you don’t need- use this money as summer fun money or use it for something you need. Other great ways are to utilize Craigslist or Kijiji to make a sale.

We are doing this and Roo especially is clearing out stuff as she becomes a preteen on a mission of a new room design which is one of our other summer projects.

By doing this well will have enough money to do what we really want late in the summer and that is take our first family vacation ever. We are headed to Nova Scotia and PEI for a couple of weeks. Roo will get to spend time with her cousins and grandma. For our trip we are using  the train to get there, and have FREE places to stay so we should be okay going with $500.  We can’t wait and are getting excited about our first real chance to travel.

Summer Vacation Planning on the Cheap

Roo and I are busy planning our summer and it looks like it may be a busy one..So far I have registered her for 1 week of sleep away ( got this for $50 because I applied early). I will be registering for one week of day camp as well and that will cost me another $50. Besides these two weeks of camp for Roo we will hopefully taking advantage of Via’s Great Summer Rates….kids go FREE! So for me and Roo to travel to Nova Scotia will cost us $349.26! It will be our very first family vacation. Roo has never been away for more then a weekend of camping.

We will stay with family so no accomodation expenses, things that are must do’s on our list:

-jaunt over to Prince Edward Island on the ferry and head to the National Park to the land of Anne of Green Gables. In grade 4 this year Roo has written about L M Montgomery and the island for 2 different projects.( Cost $70 ferry & $21 park entrance).

-Pier 21($13.50 for us 2) where Roo can learn about Canadian immigration and Citadel Hill both in Halifax (Family$30)

-The Bay of Fundy is another must hit.(free)

So we are looking at about $500 plus our train and we get our first family vacation in 10 years…

How are we going to afford it?  GST ($150), First ontario childtax credit($50), garage sale ($75?), saving $20 a check between now and then ($240), which should get us there…. so come late July we should be there, and be there for Natal Day(a Nova Scotia Holiday)….

Now thinking of summer there are lots of great Canadian spots to see. In my days before Roo I had travelling feet so what are my favorite Canadian spots or events?

  • Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia—a great spot to see the Atlantic from.
  • The Saint Lawrence Seaway–take a trip down the locks, this is a family history site as family land was taken to create these.
  • Algonquin National Park–I love to canoe the lakes here.
  • Stanley Park in Vancouver BC–you can get lost in here forever…It was here I first looked to the west and beyond.
  • Banff and Jasper are equal in great places to see in Alberta.

As for events:

  • The Busker Fest in Halifax–I volunteered at this event in its founding days and it still is a great festival.
  • The Canadian National Ex in Toronto-a family favorite!
  • Luminatio in Toronto-a new event in Toronto that celebrates the arts and its FREE for lots of great family fun.

There are lots of great ways to vacation here in Canada on the cheap. So get and enjoy this great place.

Gardening on the Cheap

 With the weather finally getting warmer here in Toronto it is time to think of gardening. On the weekend my favorite daughter Roo decided she was going to do yard work. I am really impressed how clean our garden is. It looks good for mid April.

As we look at gardening this year we will be doing mostly vegetables and fruit. We will have a few flowers though, and will be doing some herbs as well.

What is planned to go into ours: Tomatoes(both full size and cherry), strawberries, lettuce, red peppers, pumpkin, green onions, and for herbs we will do cilantro, basil, and parsley. Really a very basic garden for Toronto. How do I do it and do it on the cheap?

1. First I start everything almost from seeds, that is of what I buy. The only exception is what I get from friends  and that will be started strawberries and tomatoes. Seeds are a cheap way to go and your children get to watch the whole growth cycle.

2. Water in the eveing or morning only, and water roots not leaves. First it is the roots that need the water, not the leaves, as well by watering in the early morning or on in the eveing it takes longer to absorb and is better for the soil and plant and you dont end up wasting water. It is also good to do it at this time to save on the pocket book.

3. I also keep my tools on the minimum and to be honest I got them all for free or from the Dollar store. There is no need for expensive tools.

4. NO chemicals…most of the things you need to fight pests,etc can either be done organically or by using your compostable stuff. For weed killer try PULLING them. Just think of it as a workout.

Well it is evening here and with the weather being so nice a perfect eveing for a walk. So here is hoping that some of you are getting your gardens ready just like me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Earth Hour Fun

earth-hour-002.jpgearth-hour-005.jpg Well we did our part last night and participated in Earth Hour. Roo loved it. We used candles and flashlights for the 3 hours that we turned out the lights. Everything in the house was unplugged except for the fridge.

Monopoly was the game of choice, and then we read by candle light and our finale was a walk in our neighbourhood where we found 60 houses that were participating! We could even see the stars and that is rare in Toronto..It really was a fun time and a real reminder that we can still do much to go green.

It’s Party Time!

solo.jpg

Over at 5 Minutes to Mom they are hosting a blog party!!! It is a great  way to find some new fav reads and maybe win some prizes too!!

Welcome to my lil corner of the neighbourhood, and my blog! Well actually I hvave two this one and The Lucky Cannuck. Can I offer you a cup of hot chocolate or perhaps a cup of herbal tea? Would you like a chocolate? or perhaps a maple cookie? These are some of my favorite food and I really want to be a good hostess! Come on in and sit for a bit.

I am Hollie, a solo mom. I am cheaper than cheap! I have to be. I live on less then $1300 a month in Canada’s biggest city. I have been blogging for years now. I had old blogs on both MSN and blogspot. I really like wordpress!

I write about things cheap frugal. On Mondays I try hard to Menu plan, and post my plans here. I also like to participate in What Works Wednesdays. I also write  about my lil girl who is a unique talented child who walks the Aspergers/ADHD line. Sometimes I will even do an opinion piece if something is on my mind.

I have months of archives here for you to browse…and this week I will introduce some of my favorte blogs and my must reads for help. So glad you came to visit, hopefully you will come back often.

New Family Member

For the past number of days I have been following a friend who has been blogging from Africa about Compassion’s work over there. The pictures and videos spoke to my heart and my daughters as well . We see how very lucky we are. How even though by Canadian standards we are considered poor by many we are actually very wealthy by world standards. We made a commitment to sponsor a child…her name is Chelsea and she is now part of our family! For the cost of a can of diet coke or a cup of coffee and a muffin a day you could really help a child and their family become self sufficient… I couldn’t help but think of something that was recently by a very wise man.. “we live in a knowledge based world, and the best way to become self sufficient is through eduction”…so my hats and prayers are with the bloggers who went…they really showed us how blessed and lucky we are!

What Works for Me Wedesday: Valentine’s Day For the Frugal Parent

Yesterday over at The Lucky Cannuck I wrote about Valentine’s day and being lucky in love even though I am a solo parent. Today for me a cheap frugal parent there are lots of ways to make tomorrow special for my daughter and me….I think this year I spent $5 for the day.

1. First shhh..but she will wake up to her favorite breakfast of waffles and at her spot in the table she will find a wee present from mom —I used a left over clay pot, filled it with jelly beans and heart shaped lollipops both bought at the dollar store..it looks like a plant! Also from the dollar store was the cutes lil heart purse so she is getting that too. I made her card.

2.For dinner we will actually be doing something different then I had planned on the menu. We are having one of OUR fav meals —Lasagna.

3. To take care of me and show me some love–after she goes to bed well it is ME time..a nice bubble bath, and a good read are in store.

There are lots of ways to celebrate the day and be frugal at the same time and include the kids. One of the themes we are doing all month so we can really see the love in this house is to document it on our LOVE WALL. When we catch each other being loving and kind we cut out a read heart and write a note sharing what we saw..we then put this up on our love wall( we have one wall dedicated to hearts).

So how are you celebrating tomorrow? Don’t forget that ecards are a great way to show lots of people a little love!  Now off to Dont Try This At Home to see what is working for everyone else today.