More Bunz-ing!

Since August, I’ve been obsessed with bartering on Bunz.com!

It’s been super fun, taking stuff that is completely useless to me and turning it into something else I want. Unlike selling items on Kijiji, it also gives me some satisfaction of leaving a smaller carbon footprint; you’re allowing someone to use the item and you also get something that doesn’t require new production of it.

Since I’ve moved to Waterloo, I can’t barter as much. I still set up trades for my upcoming weekends in Toronto. On Sunday, I picked up these items over an hour and a half:

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In case you’re curious as to how Bunz works, I’ll describe these three trades and the reasoning behind the negotiations, as well as why I choose these items:

  1. Fireproof safe – We had a late night fire scare a few months ago, when the compressor on the fridge heated up and we ended up calling the fire department at 3 a.m. The plastic casing had melted and while the potential for a fire was there, thankfully, we discovered it soon enough. Since then, I’d been planning on buying a fireproof safe, since the local bank does not have safety deposit boxes available. I was happy when I saw this posted a few days ago. I paid $10 for this, since I didn’t have anything in the other person’s ISO*. Normally, it would cost $36 at Home Depot.
  2. iPad case and one senior/student TTC ticket – Literally a few hours after I posted a picture of a beautiful hardcover Aesop’s Fables storybook, someone enquired about it. I got the iPad case – a lighter option if I’m carrying a briefcase to work – and the ticket was an additional freebie, which I passed it onto my grandmother.
  3. Graphic novel, Invincible – Volume 1: Family Matters: While getting rid of more books, I had multiple people ask me about an old hardcover Where’s Waldo book. In the end, I settled and negotiated for this graphic novel, even though I knew nothing of it. I read it cover to cover in the afternoon and loved it! The other person, who was a Grade 3 teacher, looking for ESL resources, was pretty happy with this trade. We agreed to stay connected, since we both work in the same profession and have similar interests.

I was happy with all of these trades. I have to say I am better at choosing items I want and need. I actually even made a list of everything that I’ve ever acquired from Bunz:

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All the highlighted items are ones that I have gifted to family and friends. Crossed out items were re-Bunzed or tossed out**; underlined items are ones that I’ve used currently or frequently. As you can see, there are still a handful of items I have not actively used yet. This feedback also gives me an idea that I need to be more careful about acquiring items. Of course, they may also be items that I can’t use yet due to other restrictions (i.e. I currently do not have access to squash courts).

The rest of my family have also been involved in The Great Purge too, which has become a shared activity the past few weeks. Lately, we’ve been dredging up boxes from the basement and going through everything bit by bit. It’s been fun to sit around and reminisce over old junk, but it’s also cathartic to know that you don’t need it anymore and are willing to toss it.

My mom has been going through a minimalism phase (while my sister and I just rotate through stuff, we are, by no means, minimalists). I know I can definitely toss more stuff out.

Have you done any bartering? Have you ever used Bunz in Canada?

*This is a list of items that someone “is [in] search of”
**The Tarte eyelash primer, I discovered, was not vegan.

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Goodbye Party at D-Beatstro

Threw a little get-together on Wednesday, just before the move yesterday. Had a few friends come out to D-Beatstro, which is a vegan cafe / restaurant and community centre by Lansdowne Subway Station. It is wheelchair-accessible and queer-friendly, and formerly the space for Bike Pirates. Read about the BlogTO review here.

OMG! I love this place! I wish I had know about it before. Enjoyed a cheez and cauliflower soup with a buffalo-tofu wrap. The iced Americano was spot on too. Altogether 7 people showed up, and a few others weren’t able to make it. It’s nice to be see friends, even if it’s only once a year, and despite the distance and time apart, I feel honoured that they would come out to see me.

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Just had a wonderful time and even got two stickers ($3/each) from the shelf at the back. They sell t-shirts, zines, stickers and buttons. This was my favourite one, so I stuck it onto my bullet journal!

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My Pusheen Box … Finally!

I loooove Pusheen the cat.

I use the Pusheen stickers on social media, bought the book by Claire Benton and last year, ordered a single Pusheen box ($42 USD + shipping*), as a treat for myself. I sent the order to my friend’s house in Albany, New York, hoping to receive it while I was visiting. However, the shipping went out later than originally scheduled and I returned to Toronto without the box.

Eventually, M.’s parents visited Albany and kindly hauled it back to Richmond Hill**. Since I was working in northern Quebec, I wasn’t able to pick it up. At Christmas, I ended up spending most of my time in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. At Goose (Hunting) Break***, I was trying to sort out my paperwork for the Waterloo Regional District School Board, research the Yoga Teacher Training Program and take care of my Gramma because of a fiery fridge incident.

Last night, I finally picked up my box! I was sooooo happy to see all my new toys and am really excited that I waited a year for it, since most of the stash was summer gear. In total, I received:

  • Sunglasses
  • Blow-up beach ball
  • Cup with straw
  • Beach towel
  • Iron-on patch
  • Ice cube tray
  • Flip flops
  • Duffle bag

I have to say that I likely won’t use everything. I’ve decided to give a pair of sunglasses to my best friend, B. and possibly post a few items on Bunz to trade. However, you can’t take this uber cute cup away from me!!!

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*The shipping and the US-CAD conversion combined probably meant that I paid about $65 CAD overall.
**A city north of Toronto.
***The equivalent of March Break at the native school board I was teaching at.

Using Work Travel for Rewards

Made my last travel claim with my school board. I will miss getting the money back!

Our school board always gave us the option of having the Finance department make hotel reservations for us, but I liked booking with Hotels.com and Ebates.ca at the same time for the small bonuses and working towards collecting free rewards. I mean, I am a math teacher so I like calculating these things.

Honestly, it’s not much and probably I spend way more time than it’s worth for the amount I get back – I’m not going to be delusional about this – but it’s sort of fun too.

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Also ordered some contact lens off Clearly.ca this morning. With the 8% cashback, I’ll add another $6.77 to this. Yay!

Do you collect points for rewards or use cashback programs?

*My late father would also sit around crunching points for Air Miles. I probably get it from him.

Mindset Around Grocery Shopping

Since living in the north for the past 5.5 years, I stopped paying attention to prices at the supermarket. I never spent a great deal of money, and already having a restrictive diet as a vegetarian, I wanted to make sure I purchased what I wanted and needed.

Running the credit card at the checkout without thinking about the total was pretty normal. Mind you, I did consider prices as I picked up items but I knew that if I wanted to make tacos for dinner, I was going to have to pay for peppers regardless of the price.

Yesterday, I grabbed a bunch of salad items and some veggie burgers for lunch at home. This $26 bill up north would probably be something like $40 or $45 up north. Occasionally, we’d buy online through IGA – it was delivered 7 hours away from Amos, Quebec – but even then, we rarely thought too much about the price.

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As I will be living in the city again this coming school year, I am going to be more aware of food prices and try to shop for better deals. It’s a habit I need to develop again. I downloaded Flipp to explore – an app that shows savings of major retailers – and try to make mental notes of items I purchase frequently*.

*Avocados, tomatoes and apples are staples of mine

Indian dish of the Day: Rajma

Back in January, I bought the Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook. I’ve made spiced roasted tofu and vegetables (p. 48)*, Dad’s favorite cauliflower potatoes (p.60) and easy curried green beans (p. 84). Tonight, I tried making rajma for the first time, otherwise known as kidney bean curry (p. 124).

Unfortunately, I was missing amchoor, dried fenugreek leaves and carom seeds. Several websites I found suggested that carom seeds can actually be substituted with thyme instead!

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I used canned kidney beans and canned tomatoes, since I didn’t have time to soak beans and fresh tomatoes in the north are very expensive. The preparation was fairly straight forward and the final product was still tasty; J. was a bit fan and had a hearty serving. This was a success – simple and nutritious. I could easily make a big batch of this for my workweek.

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I’ll have to retry this recipe with all the ingredients, just to see the difference.

*I made this recipe with cow’s milk yogurt as I didn’t have vegan options

 

iOS Apps: Monument Valley 2

Two years ago, I purchased Monument Valley, a beautifully designed puzzle game for the iPad. ustwo Games Ltd finally realized Monument Valley 2 ($5 USD/$7 CAD). I haven’t bought any iOS games in over 6 months – this was intentional – and had to reset my password so I could get it.

Just finished chapter 5 today and I am enjoying it as much as the first one. Here’s the screenshot:

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Highly recommended, if you’re looking for a light puzzle game.

 

Using Pivot Tables to Analyze Expenses

Back in February, I bought Caitlin Flander’s Mindful Budgeting planner. I hadn’t done any analysis or looked at how much I was spending yet.  I spent the first 3 months, simply collecting data, but decided to use my long weekend to do some analysis as Q1 comes to a close. This afternoon, I punch all the data points into an Excel spreadsheet and tried my hand at pivot tables and charts.

I actually have no experience with pivot charts or pivot tables, so I worked my way through a tutorial by Excel Campus off of YouTube. I found it fairly straightforward and produced two bar graphs.

Graph 1 – Personal Expenses by Category: This chart summarizes my total spending, including shared expenses for both J. and I. The Daily category includes mainly day-to-day expenses, but is comprised mainly of groceries. The Fun category includes shopping, alcohol and eating out. Transportation covers car expenses, including my financing and car insurance, but also travel. Unfortunately, I did not split the shared expenses, so the total value is slightly inflated. Here are a few observations:

  • Transport was high in Feburary as I paid for some tune-ups at the Honda service centre ($709), as well as a plane ticket to go to the job interview ($1077).
  • Health expenses are mainly Cody app plans that I purchase. There is a negative value from a refund that I received.
  • The professional category was higher in February because I had to pay my annual membership to the Ontario College of Teachers ($130) and I bought a lot of food from my own pocket to cover a few classroom parties.

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Graph 2 – Shared Expenses by Subcategory: The data source is actually the same as the first graph, but the information is filtered to show only the expenses that I share with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, there are still some discrepancies from the numbers we calculated on Sunday, specifically under groceries, but ultimately, it`s not about the details, it`s seeing the trends that is most important. Some more observations about this data:

  • We had a party in March and went out a few times, therefore spending more. We also wandered in and out of the grocery store out of boredom after work.
  • We don`t eat out very often, but I know there is at least one meal out that I forgot to mark down because J. paid in cash … I shall be more diligent next time.
  • J. pushed me to walk more to work, so we use a lot less gas now. Mind you, we only use one tank of gas in a month. It`s about $65 for a full tank up north, and you only have one gas station to go to, so you can`t be fussy about prices!

 

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All in all, this was a fun exercise. I still don’t really care to create a budget, but like observing my data. The only area that really might need to be reeled in a bit are groceries, but we cut back in the other areas that I feel like we need a bit of give there.

Anyway, I’m happy to have done this. It’ll be interesting to see how my spending will change when I go south in a couple of months!

Lotion Before Bed

I don’t have many regular rituals before bed, but on occasion, I put lotion on my legs after my shower. My favourite brand for the past couple of years has been Parkdale Butter, which is based out of Toronto. Frankly, I don’t care that their ingredients are mainly organic, but I like that there are really only 3-4 ingredients and the product is quite pure.

My cousin, A., first bought it for me a few years ago as a thank you gift when I showed her around Toronto. She picked it up at Evergreen Brick Works, which, as we all know, sells incredibly expensive artsy-fartsy hipster stuff.

But dammit, I really like this cocoa shea butter lotion! When I finished using the first jar, I waited until there was a sale on Well.ca and then picked up a new jar for $20. Sighhhh. I wish I didn’t like things that were pricey.

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Linking Yarn Together

I had started an infinity scarf with a double-crochet back in December, but had only purchased one ball of yarn. When I went for my interview last week, I made it a point to pick up a second ball at Walmart* last Saturday. Too bad each ball is $8! That means one scarf alone costs me $16 + tax, not even calculating the time to do it**.

Since I am fairly new to crocheting, I had no idea how to connect that new ball of yarn to my old one! Thank goodness it’s 2017; just go onto YouTube and you can find any information without awkwardly phoning a friend*** at odd hours of the day.

Eventually, I found a copy of tutorials that were consistently using this technique:

 

Friday after work, I gave it a go. It didn’t take the first time but it worked the second time! Woohoo! More crocheting this weekend.

*A place I have vowed not to shop at for many years, but having limited options when I drive up north, occasionally make purchases there.

**Ahhh, but it still gives me satisfaction and of course, the additional bonus of warding off mental decay …

***Old-school Google