New Rug and Tires

Bartering: Got a cotton-polyester rug for the front door, which is perfect now that it is snowing and I am marching in and out with snow boots. This was a Bunz trade that my mom helped me complete last weekend. I got a green tank top as well that fits perfectly (yay). I had given away an Ikea faucet that I didn’t end up using. Side note: The yellow ottoman is where I stash my gloves, hats and winter gear. It’s one of my favourite Bunz trades. It is collapsible and folds up!


Winter tires: I had checked my remaining tires and they seem too bald to keep. Ordered a new set of Ironman Polar Trax from a mechanic in Waterloo and should have them on by Monday morning. My mom has graciously offered to cover the tires as a mixed Christmas/birthday present. I’ll be pay for four wheels at $65/each; it would have been cheaper if I’d bought a set of 4 at Canadian Tire, but the snow had been coming on fast the past week and I was too stressed out about job applications to do the work in advance. I’ll be more mindful and better prepared in the future.

LTO list: The long term occasional list finally opened up at my school board. Long term occasional jobs posts are basically any teaching jobs that are over 10 days long; they typically cover someone’s maternity/paternity leave or medical absences. I spent the earlier part of the week reaching out and confirm contact information of old references (i.e. principals and vice-principals). Then I took Thursday off and worked on the application on and off at home, while catching up on some housework and take a break with episodes of This is Us. Interviews start November 26th so hopefully I hear next week about that.



Monthly Goals – September

  • Go to QSY 3 times (5/5): Have 3 comped classes from teaching at Queen Street Yoga. I will save these when I don’t have any paid classes. Went to 3 classes this month.
  • Try new vegan recipes (5/5): Tried making chia seed pudding, soba noodles with peanut sauce, and a potato corn chowder. At the end of the month, I also tried a black eyed peas recipe. I ended up finally trying out the Instant Pot for the first time ever and used it twice.
  • Look into additional income (1/5): I considered applying to Indigo, since I have my Teacher Librarian qualification, have a good background of reading and a new store opened up next to the Cineplex VIP Theatre in Kitchener. Didn’t end up doing this. Still hesitant.
  • Advertise tutoring on Kijiji (0/5): Didn’t end up doing this as I ended up absorbing two students through my tutoring company. Will do so next month.
  • Cancel Evernote subscription (5/5): Accidentally let the subscription lapse last year and paid another $47. This year I cancelled it well in advance so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Calculate expenses gas (5/5): This was interesting. I started it but only analyzed it from my Tangerine Mastercard. Will need to go back to the American Express and add in some more expenses.
  • Cancel American Express (5/5): Did this earlier this week.
  • Research cost of a 407 transponder (5/5): Since my extended family had immigrated to Canada is living in Markham, I know I’ll have more reasons to be driving back to Toronto on the weekends. They live close to the 407, so I was wondering whether it would be worth it to grab a transponder and zip across. I did a few calculations; it would be lovely to cut out the traffic. honestly, I don’t believe it’s worth the money for me.
  • Set up Honu in Kitchener (5/5): Set up tank and also get fish for stimulation for Honu. Bought a dozen minnow and right now 2 have survived.
  • Work on cleaning schedule (1/5): Didn’t do this but was reading about cleaning and also borrowed Melissa Maker’s Clean My Space book from the Waterloo Public Library I’ve been struggling with this goal. I should have learned my lesson and broken this into several monthly goals while making the overarching goal an annual one.
Teaching / Professional Development
  • Find connections for high school volunteering (1/5): Asked a colleague who is Trying to get the name of a teacher who might be running badminton at one of the high schools. J. hooked me up earlier this week but I haven’t gone into the school yet. Coaching is something I haven’t done much of, so it would be good for me to work on this as I continue to build my career.
  • Apply to volunteer at SHORE Centre (0/5):  I had initially considered volunteering at SHORE Centre, which is formerly Planned Parenthood. I decided against it as I feel registering for a course would be a big distraction in the upcoming months
  • Start to simplify Bunz account (4/5): Focus only on trading in Kitchener-Waterloo, rather than spending the time for Toronto trades. I have pared down quite a lot. As usual, if there are several items that are sitting stagnant but don’t get any inquiries, I will end up donating them.

General Money Updates

Free movies: I use Carrot Rewards to collect Scene points for the movie theatre. I had racked up at least 2000 points, which is sufficient for 2 movies at regular price. There was a Labour Day bonus where each move was only 500 points, so I treated a friend to watch Searching. It was such an exciting thriller to watch and I am trying to support films with Asian lead actors.

Sign up for an AQ: Teachers are forever taking courses. Guess what – I’m taking my Part 2 of Integration of Information & Computer Technology in Instruction. Upon completion, I hope that I can get the provincial subsidy of $450 that will go towards the total cost of $685. The thing is, I don’t know how long the subsidy will be available but it’s very likely that I will eventually take the course whether a subsidy will continue to exist or not. Might as well do it while I still have a chance of getting it covered! Getting your Part 3 – otherwise known as a “specialist” – will be a nudge up on the payscale. Right now I’m still working as an Occasional Teacher so I am paid a day rate and my experience is not factored in. Investments into the future.

Cancel American Express Gold Rewards card: I will miss this Amex! It had such a sweet bonus on it and additional one-year fee waived for Ontario-certified teachers. The annual fee was $99 so I made sure to cancel it this month before the next annual fee happened in October. I used this card to get all those awesome Esso gas cards.

Convert cryptocurrency: I recently converted 5000 BTZ from Bunz to a Coinberry account into $50. I got two bonus referrals from friends, so that made it a total of $90! I still have to wait 72 hours to withdraw the money.

Summer of Bunz

I’ve started to discontinue trading in Toronto. I’ve spent a lot of time the past 12 months driving around for trades, but it does eat into my time, gas and money. Since September, I’ve started to focus more and more on the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

Biggest summer trade (Toronto): I gave away an old accordion I acquired – and had not used – for a bicycle which I gave to my cousin’s husband, P. It took about 3-4 months to get it sorted out but everyone was happy, which is the epitome of a “true trade”*! I took a silly picture of Honu with the accordion before I did the trade. Heehee!!

Screen Shot 2018-08-07 at 9.44.10 AM

Best service trade (Waterloo): I gave a 1-hour piano lesson, using a keyboard and a piano book I had. In return, I made some new connections and got a small Ikea lamp

Best trade from a donated item (Toronto): My brother-in-law gave me a high quality scanner. I ended up getting a perfect fitting pair of gold Michael Kors high heels and a window fan, which I’d been holding off on buying. Was really happy when I found the heels fit me. I haven’t worn them out yet … holding off until I have a date worthy of it!

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.02.48 AM

So far I’ve run a small event in Kitchener. I’m hoping to get more people out to build a community here. I’m not sure if it’ll happen but it’s worth a try!

*A true trade is not focused on the monetary value of the two items swapped. Both parties need the item that the other has. 

Zero Waste Strategies – Part 2

Earlier in September, I wrote about ways I’ve been reducing my carbon footprint in the kitchen. I thought I’d write about what I’m doing in the bathroom:

  1. Switching shampoos – I haven’t bought shampoo in more than 12 month! Last year, when I moved to Waterloo, the last tenant left 2 huge bottles of shampoo and conditioner. I’d been using that, or anything I picked up at my mother’s house. I also found another unfinished bottle of shampoo and took that during my recent move to Kitchener. I am starting to run low and plan on buying my first shampoo bar at Lush in the next month; my cousin, A. uses the bars and is a huge supporter of Lush. No more plastic bottles to buy here.
  2. Using a safety razor – I’ve got a couple of disposable razors left, that are nearing the end of their life. I wanted to know about safety razors and bought one at the Guelph Veg Fest on the weekend. The razor kit came with a pack of 10 new blades ($32). Watched a great YouTube tutorial on how to shave your legs (there’s even a demo with real legs) and how to keep the razors clean(rubbing alcohol). I tried shaving my legs yesterday and I didn’t cut myself! Still a bit nervous about it but I’m happy I finally switched over.
  3. Recycling makeup containers – This is something that I haven’t given much thought … yet. Most of my products I’ve got are either from Elf Cosemetics or Tarte. I sent an email to Tarte asking about recycling options but haven’t heard back yet. Sephora offers the z-palette, but I don’t think I use enough to justify one. I’m just hanging onto my current products for another 2-3 years before I should replace them for sanitary reasons. At this time, I’ll continue to research other companies that could offer biodegradable containers, such as bamboo.
  4. Reduce unnecessary purchases – I stopped using nail polish in my 20s; once a year or for a special occasion, I might go to a nail salon, but I’ll never buy polish for myself. I also have been trying not to buy or acquire bubble baths or unnecessary cleansers. I’m not cutting out purchases altogether but I only buy things if I need them. I did get a tube of lotion off Bunz over the summer, so I’m okay with using something second-hand so it doesn’t go to waste.

Screen Shot 2018-09-23 at 11.48.40 AM.png

July Updates

Yoga in the Park: Went 3 times to get my YTT hours in. Outdoor yoga isn’t my favourite, but we have to complete at least 50 hours of practice/observation in the studio. Yes, finally got this done in the first week of July!

Moving: My move to my new place has been delayed until the middle of the month. Since I’m paying half a month’s rent, I’m not in a position to argue, but it was just annoying that the landlord dropped this on me last minute. Brother-in-law will help me with his company truck.

Turtle tank: My red-earred slider, Honu, will eventually move to Kitchener, once I’m settled in. He’s been stuck in a tank that he has outgrown, but last week I picked up a slightly larger tank and a cabinet/stand for $120 off Kijiji. It’s 30 gallons and not as big as I was hoping to get, but this is what I can afford right now and at least it’s deeper so that he can have a better swim. Many of the other options were a) too large and/or b) overpriced. Just a couple more weeks until he gets a new home! I’m also hoping to throw in some guppies too for stimulation too (don’t worry, he probably will be horrid at chasing them).

Bartering: Did half a dozen trades on Bunz the past month, including some transactions that involved the BTZ cryptocurrency. In terms of my biggest trades, I gave away my FitBit Aria scale* for an old Samsung phone. I wanted a second phone to act as a back up and to use it for traveling to Oregon later this month.

The highlight, earlier this week, was that I picked up a nice pair of cute yellow wedges!** They fit perfectly and will be great for date night!


*I got sick at looking at my body fat percentage. I’ve come to terms that this number probably isn’t going down to what it was a few years ago, but I’m healthy, so why make myself miserable with a stupid number?
**Still going strong on my one-year long clothing shopping ban.

Breaking Up with Amazon

When I was younger, my family and I would take road trips to outlet malls around Ontario or across the border in the United States. For a weekend, we’d explore new towns, peek in to tourist traps, drop in on a museum and try some local family restaurants. The one destination that we were never allowed to take off the itinerary was the outlet mall.

For years, I didn’t realize how much this was a firm part of my family culture. There was  great satisfaction in having found a great deal or picked out a new outfit. We didn’t buy a lot and we tried to aim for items that we needed as a family. At the end of the weekend, we proudly shared and told relatives and friends about our newfound purchases. This was and likely is a pretty exciting and normal for Canadian immigrant families, many who may have struggled financially when initially moving to Canada. Overcoming a plethora of barriers and experiencing both financial stability and disposable income gave us a feeling of pride and peace.

But it’s 2018.

More and more are we aware that consumer culture has had a large hand in climate change. As we’ve grown and matured, my family and I have started to explore ideas of minimalism, kicked started by shows like Hoarders and Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up. In 2017, I started bartering on and in the fall, my family and I have spent a great deal of time clearing out the basement. On top of that, the biggest challenge has been the clothing shopping ban that I started in January 2018.*

It would be laughable if anyone ever said it was easy. It has been tough for me mentally and emotionally. I’ve considered quitting many times and have had dreams of sneaking purchases without telling anyone. I haven’t yet. What’s prevented me from going berzerk is being able to acquire new pieces off of
Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 4.47.19 PM

What this ban has done is forced me to acknowledge patterns of behaviour which I wasn’t cognizant of. Yesterday on Saturday, I went to a local craft show, Stitch ‘n’ Kitch, in Waterloo and I nearly bought myself a simple black t-shirt with the print “Kitchener-Waterloo”. I completely forgot – as shocking as it sounds – that I was even on a shopping ban until I began to reach for my wallet! I’ve done this many times before: trying to acquire a thing that I don’t need.** The high you experience from the thought of owning something novel, while you perform a wondrous set of mental gymnastics to convince yourself, of COURSE I need this new hipster sweater, I don’t have anything in this colour yet.

Since the shopping ban, I’ve begun to shift my time and energy in new ways. On the rare occasion, I crave a mindless walk around the mall but don’t succumb to it anymore. And while I used to label myself as someone who didn’t go shopping frequently, I’ve since acknowledge that that’s just a boldfaced lie that I hung onto; for the better part of my life, my suburban family and I went out just to crawl the mall on the weekends.

Living in the remote north for the past 5 years also helped me acknowledge these patterns of behaviour, because I had no where to go***. However, I ended up shifting my energy towards online shopping, which wasn’t unusual, consider I had to do it out of necessity. I never really made purchases on a whim and could spend months pondering a purchase before even pulling out my credit card***.

And now I’m back in the city and on a clothing shopping ban.

I’ve spent my money this year on better things; things that I wanted to but wasn’t able to because the services weren’t available for me. I have no health benefits or an active health plan, but I’ve paid for a counsellor ($60/hour), masseuse ($80/hour), physiotherapist ($75/session) and a personal trainer ($485/month). What I’ve learned is that no one questions how you’re using your money until you tell them you’re not on a health plan.

What?! You’ve got a personal trainer? Isn’t that expensive? I only have $500 worth of benefits so I can only have two massages a year. I can’t believe you’re paying out of pocket!

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 4.45.40 PM.png

Yet people won’t question you purchasing some shitty ass clothing that’s probably produced by horrible companies such as H&M, which cuts up clothes they can’t sell, and Zara, which steals designs from independent artists.

In a single year, you’d likely absentmindedly spend the same amount on stupid shit that won’t change your life and no one will say anything. Yet trying to invest in my health and wellbeing – taking preventative measures that will ensure a higher quality of life in the future – is something the other people will scrutinize you for.

What does that say about our society?

I can only conclude that we have our values fucking backwards.

I’m continuing to search for better conversations on how we spend our money. While I have found myself going to Amazon, which treats its staff members like crap and encourages its employees to spy on and backstab each other, I decided recently that I

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 4.43.09 PM.png

am looking for alternatives.***** While I’ve been itching for a new bullet journal, I decided I’ll go back to a A5-sized Peter Pauper Press grid-lined notebook. I researched the dimensions, called the local bookstore in Waterloo, Wordsworth Book, and made an order. Since they order directly from Peter Pauper Press, it will take a couple of weeks but the price is the same as what’s listed on Amazon and I won’t be making Jeff Bezos a richer asshole.

Will I slip and buy from Amazon in the future?


Will I enjoy the indulgence of buying new clothes once I end my ban?

Duh, of course. I love clothes!!!

When I decided to get a new bullet journal, it took about 2 weeks of me mulling before I acted on it. Of course, it would have been easier for me to make a purchase online, but I know I can do better. We are all human, but part of it is just trying to be a better human.

And that’s what makes all this worth it.

*I have had self-imposed shopping bans for  3 or 4 months in the past.
**There really is no reason why I would need a new black t-shirt to tell me where I currently live.
***Unless my ex-boyfriend, J. and I would drive 7 hours down to Rouyn or Val D’Or, Quebec, just to go to the mall.
****I held off of buying Vibram Five Fingers for nearly a year. I currently own two pairs – one for hiking outdoors and one for the gym.
*****I still make purchases on Audible as I haven’t figured out an alternative yet. 

Increasing My Step Count

Two months ago, I started checking my daily step count.

Embarrassingly, I was hitting well below 5000 a day. I drive a lot for work and am at different schools every day. Essentially, I am traveling from one parking lot to another, since I don’t live near the gym or the yoga studio. I decided that I should try to improve this aspect of my life.

Along with half a dozen other friends, I am using the Carrot Rewards app.  While I currently do not have a pedometer, the Google Fit app on my smartphone counts my steps and uploads the information to Carrot Rewards. If I hit my daily goal, I get anywhere between 2 to 6 Scene points*. I also collect points for completing surveys (~40 points) and inviting friends to join (100 points). Other friends are currently using it for Aeroplan points.

I’ve actually been doing much better the past month, being able to see how my friends are faring. Social pressure is great and works well for me (when it’s people I care about)! You can pair up with friends, complete 10 step goals together within a week and get more points of your choice.


A few of them who work downtown hit well over 10,000 each day. My daily step goal has increased to 5200 – it is determined for you and you cannot change it manually – from 3600 last month. Some nights, I have to do an extra walk to the local convenience store or a loop around the park to hit my goals**, but the fact that it’s changed my behaviour immensely is a great thing. I’m well aware that I need a lifestyle change and I’ve been working on it!

The only issue is finding a balance with carrying my phone around. I do try to set it down at home, while I’m cooking or running chores, so those steps aren’t counted. My workouts at the gym and yoga aren’t included either. I’m still trying to get my hands on a FitBit through Bunz, so this will help a lot!!

Do you use a pedometer or have a daily step goal?

*A thousand points gets you one free movie at Cineplex Odeon theatres.
**Tonight, I spent 20 minutes milling about the supermarket after dark. I didn’t want to walk through the park by myself when it’s late.

End of March Update

It’s been a great few three days in Toronto, but it’s also a huge relief that, as I was cruising up Highway 85 on Saturday afternoon, I am headed back to my home.

Toronto can feel like home in some ways and it always will, but honestly I find it stressful to be there for more than 3 days at a time. Traffic definitely contributes to it! Kitchener-Waterloo is where I live now, year-round and these days, I don’t “go home” for the summer. I finally have a place where I’ve got my own social life and independence as an adult and it’s not in the middle nowhere (sorry, Waskaganish)! My introverted self is very happy to have my own space where I can enjoy my solitude.

Here are a few end of March updates:

Financial literacy: Zipped back to North York on Wednesday night to see Dan Bortolotti, of Canadian Couch Potato fame, speak at the Fairview Library. It was pretty cool and I’m glad I was able to catch the talk as I missed it last year while living in the far north. I need to go over some of his podcasts and look at my portfolio again. Thinking of shutting down Questrade as I want to consolidate what I’ve got to just two brokerages or roboadvisors. Speaking of money …

Transferring my pension to Ontario: Trying to transfer my Quebec pension over to Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. Argh, I got a rejection as my last school board has still not filed that I resigned. Super annoying. Will have to reapply in July.

Bartering and clothing ban: Still going strong 3 months into my clothing ban. I’m actually doing quite well as I’m managing to get new pieces every few weeks or so. Yes, it’s bit more effort to set up the trades, coordinate and run around for them, but I feel much better knowing that my carbon footprint is smaller. It’s also cool to meet other Torontonians that I might not normally cross paths with!

On Friday, I picked up an Old Navy plaid shirt that I’m head over heels with. My only complaint is that shoes are harder to find, but I’ve got a pair of boots waiting for me next month. I’ve made about half a dozen trades in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, but still mainly bartering, mainly in Toronto. Got myself a beautiful metal teapot and a lidded bucket to handwash some laundry (now I can stop using my salad bowl to wash my bras). Picked up a pair of Sailor Moon leggings for a friend.

Bartering has become the equivalent of shopping. I don’t buy much these days but I love locally-produced sticker art. They’re affordable for a few dollars and this is a great way to support local artists. I picked up two stickers from Cry Wolf Clothing on Ossington, between Dundas and Queen West. One is a racoon, a.k.a, “trash panda”, sitting in a garbage can that says “City of Toronto”; I adhered it to my very banged-up Macbook Air. The second is “Turonno” in Blue Jays font, which I happily stuck to my bullet journal. You can take the girl out of Toronto, but you can’t take the Toronto out of the girl!


Practice teaching: Still need to practice teaching a full yoga class. Hard for people to commit the time … sigh. Mainly been doing short lessons on hips, glutes and quads with friends and family. Last night, I even did a Skype session with my friend. It was a little awkward but hey, I wanna pass on what I can as I care about my friends’ health!

Not needing my therapist: If you followed me on Instagram earlier in the fall, you’ll know that I took on a counsellor/therapist. I was seeing her about once a month and we had a lot to discuss and sort out, especially how I approach my relationships. At this time, I’ve decided not to return to her. Our last session was good, but it made me realize how much more mentally strong I am since October. I don’t really have many stressors these days. I haven’t “broken up” with her or anything, but I haven’t booked any future appointments.

Family time: I made sure to spend some time with each of my family members. On Friday, my mom had lunch together. We do this about once a month. Took her to Golden Turtle off Ossington. I enjoyed some vegan bánh xèo, which is a Vietnamese crepe served as an appetizer. Looks like egg, but it’s not!

IMG_20180330_115959920_HDR (1)

March Madness

Just enjoyed my first week of March Break in Ontario! It was nice to take a work break and spend a little time in Toronto. Here are some of the highlights:

Fitness: Subbed in for high school friends’ indoor beach volleyball league on Monday. I’m happy to say I’m finally starting to spike this year! Went bouldering on Sunday with some of my yoga teacher training crew. It was nice to have fun off the mat.

Reconnecting with people: Went to check out the pussy hut last weekend with B., whom I have not had a chance to hang out with for a few weeks. Got to see J., whom I haven’t been able to chat with for nearly two years. Normally, I see his wife a few times a year, but sometimes you gotta squeezep in the other half! Went to a baby shower for K. this weekend. Oof, having friends all over the place is tough because I’m constantly driving everywhere. However, I’m not complaining. After living north for 4 years, I’m thankful to be able to visit friends so easily. And on St. Patricks’ Day, we had a small high school reunion on the Danforth and enjoyed Greek food.
Family: Celebrated my mom’s birthday with my sister at our favourite Italian restaurant, Il Fornello. It was a belated birthday celebration because I wasn’t able to see her on her actual birthday; I had another YTT 3-day weekend and was mostly in the studio. Had a nice Thai lunch with my Gramma too.
Taxes: I have a super Mom! She helped me get all my papers in order and we filed my income tax. This time in Ontario. Goodbye, Quebec … I ain’t ever coming back. Also in the process of moving my pension back to Ontario with OTPP.

Books: Finished Caitlin Flander‘s The Year of Less, after purchasing it on Kindle for $1.99. Still struggling to finish Tiny Little Things. It’s such a heavy book that screws up so many emotions it’s not easy to read. I’m soooo close though! Will start on The Lonely Hearts Hotel soon.

Getting organized: In between, I managed to vacuum my room and wash all my bedding. I need to do this more often, ugh. I do not have a schedule! Also managed to clear our a couple of Bunz trades that had been pending since December. I picked up a blackboard/whiteboard, some eyeliner, a pair of turquoise Uniqlo jeggings, a well-loved Kate Spade wallet, a Somersby cider and a couple of Gap t-shirts. Super happy with my recent acquisitions! It always feels lighter when you clean out items you no longer use and get what you need and want.

Food: Check out this amazing vegetable pie I had at BarHop! I haven’t been taking as many photos these days. Trying hard to be present and always thinking about the Note to Self challenge, because it’s important to experience where you are and not just document. I had to snap this gorgeous looking pie though!

Great week over all! Working in Cambridge tomorrow.