Tag Archives: Toronto

Volunteering

Just got home and I am so very tired! But it is a good tired. You know the kind after a hard day of work that you love. Today  I volunteered at our local food bank. i am there volunteering my time and talents twice per week. It gets very busy. Between sorting food, getting bags of food ready for clients, getting things ready for a community lunch program that they ruin as well, and working with clients it can be tiring.

But volunteering my time and talents is one thing that I enjoy and it doesnt cost me a penny to do it! As well it allows me the chance to give to my community and meet new people and learn new skills. I also believe in the rule when you give you are really gaining so much more. For me it makes my day even when I come home tired…if you don’t volunteer somewhere somehow in your community may I recommend it. You will come home with a smile I can almost guarantee it.

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.

Free Dove Chocolate

 While at Lifefest recently I had the chance to sample Dove Chocolate and well feel in love with the Dusk flavor! Just last week I got an email telling me that Dove was looking for 300 Canadian women who are active on the net ie bloggers to give a mountain full of chocolate for them to share! Well today FedEx delivered a big box of yummy chocolate as well as a few freebies: a great size tote bag that will be great for trips to the library, a wine glass that I promptly filled with Dark and Milk Chocolate and gave it to my upstairs neighbour, a pedicure pamper kit, and oddles of chocolate! I receive 20 purse packs to share with friends, as well as 4 tablet bars and  3 cartons of  the bite size chocolate. Tomorrow all of Roo’s teachers and EA’s are getting a chocolate care package. The rest will go to some of my girlfriends. Don’t you wish you lived close by? Now if you live in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal they are still looking for women between the ages of 25-45 who want to sample and share. Follow this link to get the details!

Now if you want to try this yummy chocolate in a great recipe try this great mini cakes one:

Yield: Makes 8 4-ounce cakes

6 DOVE® Dark Chocolate 1.3 oz Singles Bars or 29 DOVE® Dark Chocolate Miniatures
8 ounces butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 eggs, room temperature (about 70 degrees)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour, sifted
Powdered sugar, for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Butter eight 4-ounce individual ramekins and set aside.
  3. Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and the butter. Keep it hot.
  4. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, add the eggs and sugar, and begin to whip the mixture on medium speed. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes, just until it turns lemony yellow (not pale or white).
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the all-purpose flour into the hot chocolate mixture.
  6. Add the hot chocolate mixture all at once to the mixing bowl containing the egg and sugar mixture, and whisk for 1 minute.
  7. Remove from the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Divide evenly among the containers filling up just to the top. Place on a baking pan.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the pan one-half turn and continue baking for 3 to 4 minutes more. The cakes will be firm on the outside rim and erupting in the center. Lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.

Major Changes Ahead for Ontario Works

Okay some of my readers know I receive sociall assistance ( aka welfare or Ontario Works). Not that I dont want to work I do but solo parenting a special needs child with a lack of support makes the typical job not in the cards right now.

Well today I met with my worker who presented documentation to me that will change my benefits to a huge degree come August 1, 2008!

Here is what is happening:

No longer will Ontario Work recipients who are parents receive:

BASIC needs allowance for children — a loss of $211 dollars to this parent of one child per month

No Clothing Allowances— loss of $180 per year

total losses equal $2712.00 for this mom!

What do we get to replace this?

The Ontario Child tax Credit $50

and the end of the claw back the National Child Tax Supplement  $121.76 for this parent

so a gain back of only $171.76 per month

Total gainback per annum $2055.00

Total overall losses per annum $657 overall for this mom

So basically as of August 1st instead of having a $50 positive cash flow from the introduction of the Ontario Child Tax Credit there will be a $50 per month loss with the expectation that we stretch it     further to include back to school and winter clothing expenses. As one who already lives as cheaply as I can this is going to hurt. It means getting mean and leaner then lean and I thought I was already pushing the limits of creativity but this will push me to do better.

This means that us “poorer” parents in Ontario will in no means benefit by the creation of the the Ontario Child Tax Credit.

Strike Over- Thank Goodness

Okay this cheap mom is glad that the province stepped in and ended the TTC strike here in Toronto. With the strike hitting on a weekend it really wasn’t the commuters who were effected most but those that rely on the system as there only viable means of transportation: the working poor who could not afford the taxi fare, car rental or purchase of a bike. They  were the ones left with difficult choices. I want to say Thank God for decent weather while all this was playing out. That was the one silver lining.

This afternoon I am venturing out and this cheap mom will be hoofing it. I am walking over to a friends for dinner and conversation. Roo will ride her bike. My friend Amber and I are getting together to talk Isagenix. More and more as I think of the future I think about my health and the fact I need to lose weight. Is Isagenix  the way to go? I  am not sure but after trying out the shake and mineral supplement I am doing well with a 10 pound weight loss in a week. My only problem with this is its price.

Transit Strike

Well here in Toronto our Transit system the TTC went on strike at midnight with less then one hours notice to the city, it’s drivers, and most importantly us riders. As one who was out last night. Roo and I were out at a fundraiser till 10:30 this could of really caught us off guard if we had been out one hour later.To give this kind of notice after telling us we would have 48 hours notice of a strike  well lets put it this way : it is unethical!

As one who relies on transit to get around as I do not own a car( really living in East York) there isnt the necessity for one. Who does this strike effect most? The working poor, those on disability. and those on welfare..others can quickly come up with contingency plans and even buy a bike, take a taxi etc where as two days before end of the month cheques most will be left at home or hoofing it. For me I will be walking with Roo everywhere we go till this is over. I have no choice, taxis and such are out for this mom on a strict budget. There are many of us hurting over this strike dear workers who did turn down a decent deal. As is on a North American basis our drivers are rather well paid, have a decent package overall, and a union that  works for them not too shabby.

This mom this summer is going to buy a bike for me to  get rid of my reliance on the TTC, so guess they just lost a fare…on most of my trips except long ones or ones from Jan- mar.

 As for the short time line to this strike I think there are some higher ups who are going to have to start answering a bunch of questions because drivers, subway operators and us riders were all left in unsafe places at midnight.

Now for those who do have to get around :

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Carpool- Facebook, Craigslist, and Smart Commute are all good sources to use.

2. Bike- if you have the cash to buy one, you can get an adult one for less then $200 new or the Community bicyle network has some for about $75.

3. Go Train–now they are NOT putting on any extra service so be mindful of this and be prepared to wait.

4. As for the taxis in town they will be very busy so no appointments or prebooking allowed so call at least 30 minutes before you need it.

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.