Monday, October 22, 2018

Let It Linger

One thing I'd like to work on during my gap year is the art of lingering. This was part of The Busy Boycott Challenge, and I'm slowly getting better at it, but I used to be terrible. Being a hardcore planner, I would rush from one thing to the next, failing to enjoy the moment, because I was overly preoccupied with what happens next. I was very future focussed, and that prevented me from being fully present.

In the past month or so, I've really learned to slow down. I don't sweat the small stuff as much. I take my time, I look around, I talk to people. I am much more present now. Of course, this is a function of having more time, but I think it would have been possible for me to linger even when I was working nine-to-five. Perhaps if I worked at a job that fulfilled me. Perhaps if I wasn't stressed all the time. Perhaps if I hadn't scheduled myself so stringently. Perhaps if I didn't have so many things on my list. I rushed to experience everything, and may have glossed over some key moments as a result.

I've always wanted to linger. I often tell hubby that I wish we had time in Puerto Vallarta to relax on that secluded beach we found during our hike, or I wish we had time in London to sit and watch the parkour performance, or I wish we had time in New York to stuff our bellies with food at the Chelsea Market. The list goes on. I've never thought much about lingering in our home town, but I should, and I will.

Today was a day with almost nothing on the agenda. I took a walk in the afternoon with the intention of picking up a few things, and I lingered. I stumbled upon the World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 at Brookfield Place, and rather than passing by and heading straight for my destination, I stopped. Or rather, I passed by, paused, contemplated, and doubled back--some habits are hard to break. I ended up spending around 20 minutes looking at the photographs, reading the descriptions, and thinking about the world outside my little bubble.

In a crowd of business people, tourists, and students, I felt myself become completely absorbed into the exhibit. Some of the stories and photographs presented were disconcerting, even more so when I took the time to ruminate on them. I've seen many powerful and moving photo exhibits in the past, but my mind was usually at least partly somewhere else. This is one of the first times I've felt so present at an exhibit, and it was a humbling experience.

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2018 at Brookfield Place will be on until 6pm tomorrow (Tue Oct 23).





Sunday, October 21, 2018

Filipino Supermarket Adventures

Hubby and I ventured out to the west end yesterday to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. After a belly-bursting lunch at Congee Queen (YUM!), we took a look at the Filipino supermarket that opened last year. Seafood City Supermarket is jam-packed with delightful Asian goodies. Feast your eyes on these beautifully colourful Filipino desserts!


We went in for a specific item: nori sheets for our sushi burritos (and temaki). Success!!


I haven't had pandesal in years, so I had to pick up a package. I ended up eating two pieces last night after dinner. This lightly sweet bread, edges slightly crispy from the toaster oven, can be extraordinarily addictive to the carb-obsessed. NOM NOM. I quickly froze the rest to avoid stuffing my face even more.


Hubby is obsessed with condensed milk and went all googly-eyed when he saw these. We nearly bought them all until we read the list of ingredients. We ended up purchasing two to try (buko pandan and ube).


We wanted to try Jolibee SO BAD, but we were so full and the lines were so long. We still considered it but ultimately decided to part ways with the ever-enticing fried chicken and spaghetti--for now. We settled for a photo with the mascot to remind ourselves that we must go back one day.


We ended up buying around $23 worth of groceries and snacks, including a box of assorted mini kakanin, which we shared with our family. DELICIOUS.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Temaki

It's been almost 2 years since we made sushi burritos, so we thought we would give it another go today. They're more difficult to roll than I remember! I ended up switching to temaki after our first sushi burrito fell apart. Hand rolls are my favourite anyway, and the bonus is that they are SO easy to roll. Hubby continued making sushi burritos, since you can squeeze in a whole lot more salmon, and seemed to develop a knack for it. He preferred not to cut it in half though, so we'll never know if his would have fallen apart too.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Little Box of Happiness

During my walk today, I stumbled upon a Pablo Mini kiosk right smack in the middle of the concourse in Scotia Plaza. I stopped dead in my tracks, and contemplated. I knew I'd be making shrimp risotto for dinner--would we have enough stomach capacity to eat a cheese tart? Maybe I should stick to buying just a mini or two? Who are we kidding here. A full-size original cheese tart came home with me. Our bellies are very very full but oh so happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Monthly Food Expenditure

I re-balanced my portfolio today, so I'm in a bit of a finance mood. I decided I would chart my monthly food expenditure over the years to see if I could spot any trends. I started tracking my finances in 2001 or thereabouts, but I can't seem to find the first few years of data, so the below chart shows my average monthly food expenditure from 2005 to 2017, and also for the Jan/18 to Jul/18 period. A couple of key dates:

Q4 2006: We took occupancy of our condo, so we practiced a lot of "fiscal restraint" as we wanted to pay off the condo as quickly as we could.
Q4 2011: We paid off the condo in 5 years and became debt-free. My monthly food expenditures started tracking upward steadily after that.

Note: the below charts represents my monthly expenditure only, i.e., my half of the grocery bill, my half of meals at restaurants with hubby, and my personal expenses when I go out for food with friends. It doesn't take a statistician to see that the trendline was going up.


At the height of my extravagance, in February 2016, I spent nearly $2,000 on food in one month. By this time, I was pretty much going out to eat multiple days each week and buying takeout (or ordering in) the rest of the time. I knew I needed a pattern interrupt, so I tried the eat-at-home challenge. Here's what happened when I did the eat-at-home challenge in November 2016.


The amazing thing about the eat-at-home challenge was that the effect lingered. The reduced spending continued in subsequent months. Not so much in December, because there were celebrations to be had, but January and February 2017 were relatively low. I did the eat-at-home challenge twice in 2017: in March and in November. The November results weren't as impressive, because I started getting really into wine, partly due to work stress. We ate at home a lot more throughout 2017, but we also drank more frequently--pretty much every day towards the end of the year--and that significantly impacted our "food" cost, since I track alcohol in the same category.


The good news is, despite having spent money rather excessively in recent years, I'm actually really really good at not spending money. In fact, I've lived the majority of my life being rather frugal and conservative with money. Now that I've made the ultimate pattern interrupt of quitting my job, I can get back to being myself. It's not a new normal, it's just my plain-old normal. I'll update the below chart once my Q4 2018 results are in, but I'm pretty impressed by the drastic reduction in my average monthly food expenditure in August and September!






Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dinner for One

Today I realized that meals have become really important rituals for me. I like to take care in making my food, sitting down with intention, and eating slowly with no distractions--even when it's frozen pizza! Gone are the days when I would eat while staring at a screen or eat on the run. I started eating with no distractions long before I left my nine-to-five, so it is possible to eat mindfully even when you're busy. I'm even slower and more intentional now that I have more time. We only had enough leftovers for hubby's dinner tonight, so I took the opportunity to make myself some Sundubu Jjigae (soft tofu stew, aka soon tofu at a lot of Korean restaurants in Toronto). The little bowls surrounding the soon tofu contain pickled onions, pickled carrots, store-bought kimchi, and store-bought umeboshi. I also made some steamed rice. Hubby doesn't like tofu, so his meal roughly mirrored mine, except he gobbled up the rest of the pork dish I made yesterday.


Soon tofu is one of my favourite things to eat, and this recipe is quick, easy, nourishing, and filling. I made a few modifications, but the result was still so tasty. I only had half a cup of dashi left (I made a batch a while back and froze it) so I added half a cup of chicken stock. I omitted the beef/pork and black pepper. I omitted the red chili pepper flakes but added a heaping teaspoon of gochujang. I omitted the scallion but added a bundle of watercress. The photo pictured above was the first serving of my meal. I went back for seconds and polished off the soon tofu. The recipe is supposed to serve two, but tonight it served one hungry pear.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Food Journal

My friend and I went to a talk this evening on gut health with Laura De Sanctis (in collaboration with Consonant Skincare), and I was inspired to start a food journal. Laura recommends tracking your mood before eating, what you eat, and how you feel after eating - for around a week or so. I thought this would be perfect leading up to my November eat-at-home challenge, so I dug up a little Moleskine notebook and will be starting tomorrow. I'm feeling rather excited about this. Do any of you keep a food journal?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Currently Reading #2

Now that I've finished the three books in my Currently Reading #1 list, I borrowed a few more from the library. While waiting for these books to arrive at my home branch, I read two other books (electronic versions) that are not pictured below. I'll update this post as I finish the hard copy books. I'm really thankful to have the time and motivation to read again.

A Tribe Called Bliss by Lori Harder
Recently, I remembered that I had started this book before I quit my job, but I didn't have enough time to finish it. I'm glad I picked it up again! There is so much in this book about self-love and finding your bliss. It's a book I needed to read, and I plan to revisit it in the future to think through or journal on the soul assignments. I'm not sure I'll be meeting with a group (tribe) to go through the tribe discussions, but perhaps one day.

The Little Book of Fika by Lynda Balslev
This was a fun little book that I read in a day (yesterday to be exact). It's full of insights, quotes, and recipes. In my search for simplicity, I've unknowingly adopted some of the Swedish ways of living described in the book, and fika is one of them. I derive so much enjoyment from my mug of hot tea each morning and evening. I also learned about the concept of lagom, which refers to moderation, simplicity, and contentment. The book defines it as "not too much, not too little--just enough" and notes that it "applies to everything, such as one's general state of being, work-life balance, and personal consumption. It manifests in many ways, including frugality, recycling, clean design, simple food, and, of course, fika." Lagom is definitely a concept I am trying to adopt into my life more and more each day.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
This book is highly recommended by a lot of different sources. I've heard it come up so many times that I've very eager to read it.

You Are A Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Another book that I've heard recommended over and over again. I'm hoping to "manifest money" during my time off. There's currently no part of me that wants to go back to a nine-to-five, despite my minor freak out a few days ago. I'm hoping a new path will reveal itself to me during my gap year and perhaps this book can provide some insight.

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski
This book was mentioned several times in Victory Lap Retirement. My definition of "retirement" has been evolving, so I'm sure I'll find this book really interesting!


Note: this post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Julienne Peeler

Hubby and I bought this 50mm Julienne Red Peeler from the Toronto Fall Home Show a few weeks ago and used it for the first time tonight. Look at our beautiful zucchini shreds! I'm in love.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Serpentine Pavilion

It's turning out to be a very artsy weekend for hubby and me! We went to #unzippedtoronto today to check out the Serpentine Pavilion. This is a travelling structure that was conceived for a client in London, and will eventually find its permanent home on the Vancouver waterfront. We've seen "unzipped" being built for months, but we hadn't heard much about it, so we weren't sure what to expect. Upon entering the pavilion, I was confused. Was this an exhibition space? Or a condominium project?


Turns out it's a bit of both. The exhibits within the pavilion focus on projects by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), an architectural firm that designs a wide variety of spaces around the world. It just so happens that BIG designed an interesting condominium project for Westbank (a real estate developer), which will eventually be built on the current "unzipped" site, and may prove to be an exciting addition to the neighbourhood.


Overall, #unzippedtoronto was an interesting combination of commerce and art that can often have a polarizing effect on people. The exhibit focuses on a narrow sliver of architectural design, but structure is pretty neat. The Serpentine Pavilion is open daily from 10am to 6pm and will be around for another month or so. There is no entrance fee, but sign up at the Unzipped Toronto website is required for entry.

Friday, October 12, 2018

WATERLICHT

Hubby's feeling much better (yay!), so we ventured out after dinner this evening to check out a new exhibit. WATERLICHT is an immersive light installation that simulates a flood to draw attention to rising water levels. Designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, WATERLICHT can be viewed at The Bentway this weekend only, from 7:00pm to 11pm. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area -- the exhibit was fascinating and much more stunning in real life.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

To Job or Not To Job

I did a strange thing today. I applied for a job. Not a fun one either. Nope, I applied for a full-time office job. A nine-to-five.

Finding a new job has not been on my radar; however, I met up with a former coworker (and friend) for lunch today, and she told me about a job I might like at her sister's organization. I took a look out of curiosity, texted my friend, and decided to apply. I'm not sure if I applied out of fear of not working, or because I was bored, or because I needed to feel like I was doing something productive, but I went through the motions of uploading my cover letter and resume. On the application, I entered a desired start date in 2019, as I figured 2020 might look silly. I'm not ready to go back to work, but I figured I might not get it anyway. If I do, I can decide what to do later.

That was about 45 minutes ago, and I feel a bit weird now. Almost like I betrayed myself, because maybe I did.

All the evidence points to me having another moment of fear today. The negative self-talk got through, and I feared never being able to get a job again. I feared being unhireable. Because who cares that I don't want to work right now. It scares me that no one would want me.

Dang you, fear!! I'm shaking my fist at you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cold Prevention Mode

I've been in cold prevention mode since last Friday, when hubby first showed signs of feeling under the weather. What we thought was a small case of the sniffles turned into full-on energy-zapping bronchitis, and hubby's had to stay home from work for the past couple of days. Fortunately, he is starting to feel better! I've gotten off easy so far (knock on wood) with only a bit of a sore throat yesterday and a scratchy throat today. Here's what I've been doing to battle the germs:

Gargle with salt water. My former coworker swears by gargling with warm salt water at the first sign of a sore throat. I tried it yesterday morning as soon as I woke up, and it seemed to help! I diluted 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt in about a cup of warm water. I took little sips and gargled multiple times until I was done the entire cup. Gargling with this solution brought out all kinds of phlegm I didn't even realize I had.

Drink lots of fluids. I don't drink coffee or black tea when I think I may be getting sick. Instead, I drink green tea in the morning, and then I load up on herbal infusions for the rest of the day. I've been loving steeped ginger with honey and lemon lately, but I typically rotate through different types of herbal infusions. I also drink a lot of water. On a typical day when I'm feeling healthy, I drink 8-10 cups of fluids per day. In cold prevention mode, I drink around double that.

Get plenty of rest. I'm horizontal a lot when I feel like I'm getting sick. I stay home as much as I can (when I was working full-time, I would take a sick day as soon as I thought I was getting sick, which allowed me to heal up more quickly and minimize my number of sick days), I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep, and I nap whenever I feel sleepy. If I don't feel sleepy, I'll often just lie in bed and read a book or play a game on my phone.

Do some form of mild exercise (but only in the morning). My energy levels are usually highest when I first wake up, so if I want get something done during the day, I need to do it in the morning. I've been trying to take at least 10,000 steps every day during my gap year, and I've been successful so far. Even though I've felt a bit sluggish for the past couple of days, I tend to get progressively more tired in the afternoon and evening, so I know I need to get the majority my steps in the morning.

Eat a lot of food. I'm probably in the minority with this one, but I eat A LOT when I'm sick. My appetite is voracious, and I'm not strict about how much or what I eat. Anything goes when I'm feeling under the weather. I used to eat a lot of junk, but I've been healthier since I left my job, so I've been eating loads of nutritious food lately. We've had a lot of leftover turkey, and I made turkey noodle soup in the Instant Pot yesterday.

Stay comfortably warm. I get cold easily when I'm feeling under the weather, so I'll typically throw on a cardigan or snuggle up under the covers. If I start sneezing or sniffling, I immediately cozy up with something warm.

What do you do to prevent colds? Do you have any go-to home remedies if you do get sick?




Tuesday, October 9, 2018

40 of 40

It's official... I'm near the end of my Invisalign treatment! My treatment plan included 40 sets of aligners (each set worn for two to three weeks), and I can't believe I'm on 40 of 40 already. I switched to my last set of Invisalign aligners this week and went to see my orthodontist today. She took the buttons off my back teeth, and I will have a follow up appointment in December. At that time, she'll take the buttons off my front teeth, and we'll put a plan in place to transition from my last set of aligners to my retainer, which I'll need to wear overnight indefinitely. Overall, the treatment plan was very easy and relatively painless... but I'm happy I'm almost done. :)

Monday, October 8, 2018

How I Prepared Financially for Quitting My Job

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians and Happy Columbus Day to my friends in the U.S.!

As promised, I am posting a video on how I prepared financially for quitting my job, and I wanted to put together a corresponding blog post with some additional details. One word of warning: there is nothing groundbreaking in this video. In fact, I posted a video on How to Save Money in 2015, and a lot of the tips I shared in that video are echoed in this one. It may take time (for me, it took 18 years to become comfortable with taking the risk of quitting my full-time job), but with some financial discipline, you can reach your financial goals.


Note: I am located in Canada so some terms in my finances videos are Canada-specific.

Here is how I set myself up financially to quit my full-time job:

1) I became debt-free.

I've always advocated paying off your debts as soon as you can. Many people use leverage (i.e., taking on debt) to build wealth; however, I am risk averse and I've never been comfortable with owing money, so I preferred to go the debt-free route. Below is my experience with a few of the more common types of debt:

Credit cards: I moved out when I was 18 years old, and I got a rude awakening when I found myself with credit card debt. It wasn't a substantial amount, but it was enough to get calls from collection agencies, and I found the whole situation very stressful. As a result, I cancelled all my credit cards, and started paying cash for everything. Eventually, when I graduated from school and started working full-time, I re-applied for several credit cards. Since then, I have always paid my monthly balances in full. Credit cards can provide useful perks like cash back, rewards, insurance coverage, etc.; however, I do not recommend using them if you cannot pay the entire balance each month.

Student loans: I was fortunate to come out of school without this type of debt; however, hubby had substantial student loans to repay. We were still dating at the time, but I encouraged him to pay off the debts as soon as he could, and he did! That helped set us up for future financial success.

Car loans: Hubby and I don't own a vehicle, and we have never had this type of debt. I don't drive, and hubby (when he had a car) bought an inexpensive used car and was able to pay cash.

Mortgages: I purchased this condo around 12 or 13 years ago. Hubby and I were dating at the time, so I took care of the down payment and closing costs. We knew we were going to get married at some point, so when we moved into the condo, hubby started contributing to the mortgage. We took advantage of all our privilege payment provisions and paid off the condo in 5 years. We have been debt-free since. This is the area where many people intentionally take on debt to purchase investment properties or rental properties. This can be a financially advantageous strategy; however, it's not something that hubby and I were comfortable with. Could we make more money if we purchased a rental property? Perhaps, but this isn't something we are currently interested in doing.

2) I met my annual savings goals and invested my money to generate passive income.

If you follow my goal setting videos, I usually set an annual savings target. I meet my savings goal by doing the following:

(i) Paying myself first - when I was working full-time, I contributed to the employer-sponsored RRSP, which included matching up to a certain percentage. My savings rate always meets or exceeds this percentage.

(ii) Transferring out all funds in excess of the minimum balance required in my chequing account to waive the monthly fee - since my primary chequing account pays zero interest, I would transfer these funds to other financial instruments like high interest savings account, GICs, stock accounts, or mutual funds.

(iii) Making lump sum payments to my RRSP to max out my contribution room - this typically resulted in me receiving a large income tax refund, and I would then take this money to repeat step (ii) above.

Since I don't plan to work for the next year or so, I won't have an annual savings goal for 2019; however, I still plan to track my expenses and set goals in this area.

3) I stopped wanting stuff and reduced my expenses.

Those of you who follow my YouTube channel know that hubby and I like to treat ourselves. I went through phases where I loved spending money; however, I always made sure I saved money first. Our disposable income increased significantly once we became debt-free, so we definitely indulged a bit. I went from spending a lot of money on camera gear, to handbags, to makeup, to clothing, to dining out at restaurants, to travel, to alcohol - sometimes I spent money on multiple categories at the same time. Thankfully, the lavish spending eventually got old. I got tired of all the clutter and all the excess. Growing up, I was never one to spend a lot of money, and I didn't feel like I was being true to myself when I was spending so much. I started setting annual goals, participating in monthly challenges, and doing mini experiments to see if I could live more simply and with less stuff.

I did the makeup inventory and started decluttering. That led me to not want to buy beauty products (or other stuff) anymore.
I did the capsule wardrobe challenge. That led me to not want to buy clothing anymore.
I did the eat-at-home challenge. That led me to not want to go out to restaurants anymore.

My expenses reduced dramatically. For the first time I can remember since becoming debt-free, I didn't want anything in terms of material goods. The only thing I wanted was more time. I reviewed my finances over and over again, and the math made sense. That was when I knew I could leave my job. Once I left, I wanted even less. Now, I don't even want to travel or drink. I didn't know it at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight, I think I was using all the stuff as pacifiers. I felt like I should reward myself because I was unhappy with work.

Three other notes.

These are personal factors but they definitely contributed to me feeling comfortable with my decision to leave my job:

a) Although I am no longer working full-time, I still have some form of income: passive income from interest and dividends, potential for capital growth from stocks and mutual funds, active income from project work. I'm also thinking of taking on "fun" part-time jobs here and there. These would be jobs I might have wanted to try, but never really considered because I simply didn't have the time when I was working full-time.For example, I'm toying with the idea of working (or volunteering) at a film festival during my time off.

b) Hubby is still working full-time, and this is a huge security blanket. We have health and dental benefits coverage from his full-time employment, which is also definitely a plus. That being said, I am not expecting him to cover any additional expenses as a result of me quitting my job - I will still be paying my half of our shared expenses. Hubby continuing to work full-time provides me with peace of mind in case I don't pick up work immediately after my gap year.

c) Once we realized we wanted to build a life together, hubby and I had "the talk," and we mutually decided not to have children. While the decision involved more than the just money aspect, it of course had a huge impact on our financial situation. I realize not everyone makes the same decision we did, but I wanted to mention it because it is a major factor in how we met our financial goals.

That's it for today's long-winded post! I plan to do a lot more videos on this type of topic, so please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend

It's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada! We've got a small turkey roasting in the oven, and we'll be spending the rest of the evening cozied up in the condo. Poor hubby caught a cold at work last week, and he's been sick all weekend. I'm in prevention mode, which basically means I'm drinking lots of tea and water, while also making sure I get plenty of sleep and rest. I plan to do a little gratitude journalling tonight - I am thankful for so much in my life, and I want to keep it all top of mind. There is so much noise in this world, and Thanksgiving weekend has always been one of my favourite times to take a step back and remind myself of what truly matters. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Chuck Norris Flosses with Barbed Wire

Hubby and I purchased a Groupon recently for the Krav Maga Academy in Toronto. We went to our first class today and had so much fun. The class was informative and useful, and it was a great workout as well. I wore a muscle tee (a hand-me-down from hubby) that proclaims, "Chuck Norris doesn't have tiger blood. Tigers have Chuck Norris blood." Upon seeing this, the instructor quipped, "Chuck Norris doesn't do push ups. He pushes the earth down." He alerted me to a shelf of free books just outside the studio, and I took home this gem. I'm going to flip through it and return it when we go to our next class. Because, clutter.


I learned so much today.

- When ghosts go camping, they sit around the fire and tell stories about Chuck Norris.

- Chuck Norris uses entire books as bookmarks.

- Bigfoot owns a grainy video of Chuck Norris.

- Chuck Norris never retreats. He just attacks in the opposite direction.

- When Chuck Norris gives you the finger, he's telling you how many seconds you have left to live.

- There is no chin behind Chuck Norris's beard. There is only another fist.


The rest of the book is too offensive for this blog.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Happy Color

This wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted to colour more, but this colouring by number app is oddly addictive. It's a bit mindless but very relaxing. In the past week or so, I coloured all these. I'm kind of hoping I get bored of it soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Going It Alone

A lot of my time off has been spent watching shows and concerts. Over the years, I've brought dragged my husband to a number of shows with me. Half the fun is watching him trying to stay awake. I love it. Hubby, not so much. I've pretty much always gone to shows with another person, whether that person be my husband or a friend; however, now that I have so much time to myself, I have no issues going to shows and concerts on my own.

My friend recently told me about the Free Concert Series at the Canadian Opera Company, and I went to "Glancing Back, Looking Ahead" by myself today. Students of the University of Toronto opera program performed a series of excerpts from various operas, and it was a lovely way to spend the lunch hour. If you are interested in going, doors open at 11:30am and you'll want to arrive promptly. I got there at 11:35am, and fortunately got a seat, but it was behind the performers. Standing room is also available if all the seats are taken.


Recently, I rediscovered the Soulpepper Theatre Company, and I plan to watch a few shows by myself. I'll likely try for rush tickets, so I don't have to commit to a date... or pay full price.


Hubby did join me at a few productions recently though, including Come From Away. Such a good show, and hubby ended up really enjoying it too! But that didn't make him any more willing to come with me to other productions.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

August & September 2018 Empties

It has been so long since I've done an empties post on this blog! Since I am trying to make my empties videos more succinct, I thought I would go into more detail in a corresponding blog post. Without further ado, here are all the products I finished up in the past couple months.


Hair care: Nothing too exciting by way of hair care products. We finished up a lot of travel size products from various hotels. The only brand that stood out was the Le Labo shampoo and conditioner - I love the Rose 31 scent! I also finished up two canisters of dry shampoo spray; however, I prefer powder dry shampoo because there is way more product for the price and it seems to work a little better in my hair.


Bath & shower: We finished three mini bar soaps and 6 travel size bottles of shower gel or body wash. All were from various hotels, and again, nothing too exciting except for the scent of the Le Labo Rose 31 shower gel.


Bath & shower (continued): The Body Shop Shower Gel is a staple in my collection. I've repurchased it many times and will continue to do so. I'm a big fan of fruity scents, so I love both the satsuma and pink grapefruit shower gels; however, I'm eager to branch out and try a few other scents. I love that this product comes in a large 750ml bottle, which lasts me around 7-8 months.


Bath & shower (continued): This huge container of epsom salts is now a staple as well. I notice a big difference in my relaxation level (muscles and mood) after a nice long soak. I dissolve approximately 1.5 cups in a tubful of water, and I try to take an epsom salt bath once a week. I'm now on my third 5.5 kg container. My first container lasted 7.9 months and the one pictured above lasted 7 months. I purchase this product from Costco at $8.99 plus tax and it's worth every penny.


Bath & shower (continued): I've been trying to use up my mini fragrances. I save the ones without a spritz top to use in the bath. I typically add up to 1 vial to each bath and the scent is noticeable but not overwhelming. Once I'm done with all my full-size perfumes and perfume samples, I won't be repurchasing this type of product. I found I was developing some scent allergies, so I don't really reach for my fragrances on a day-to-day basis anymore.


Body moisturizer: Another couple of products from The Body Shop that have made it into my regular product rotation. My favourite lotion to use after a bath or shower is the one pictured above. There are several different varieties (Gel-Lotion or Body Puree) and I like all the fruity scents - the vineyard peach was the latest one I finished and it smells incredible. The texture is light, yet the lotion does a good job moisturizing my skin. It takes me around 2-3 months to use up a 250ml bottle. I also love the Body Butters! I use this product to moisturize my hands and feet before going to bed. The blueberry scent is really nice. It takes me around 2-3 months to use up a 200ml tub.


Facial skincare: I finished so many products in this category!

The Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser has a really nice texture, as well as a pleasant but light scent. It does well at cleansing my skin and doesn't irritate my eyes; however, it takes a little effort to remove waterproof mascara with this product. Overall, I still prefer the Tatcha cleansing oil.

I received the Skinnygirl Detox Face Mask in a swap a few years ago and I finally used it up. The product is very spreadable so I was able to get a lot of applications from this tube. It is a clay mask but contains oil so it doesn't really dry out your skin. I enjoyed trying this product.

The Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner didn't really work for me. I found it a bit drying.

As you may know, I like to rotate through different serums by The Ordinary. The Argireline Solution 10% is a staple. I use it in the morning and also in the evening. I've found that this product has made a difference in the way my skin looks - my fine lines seem to be a bit diminished. I tend to go back to the Buffet serum every now and then but I don't really notice a difference when using this product. It's a bit more expensive than some of the other serums, so I may take a break from this product for a while. I also tried the Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%. This is a significantly more expensive product in The Ordinary's lineup and I didn't notice any difference with my skin. I won't be repurchasing this product.

I was really enjoying the Hylamide HA Blur until I noticed some clogged pores around my nose. I've since taken a break from using this product and my skin improved. I'm working on using up my last tube, and I'll probably only use it 1-2 times a week until it's finished.

The Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen is my favourite at the moment. It's non-greasy and one tube lasts me a long time.

I finished up two trial sizes of facial moisturizer and some blotting papers. None of these products really stood out for me.


Makeup: Two empty pans!! These contained brow powders from my Benefit Brows A Go-Go kit that I depotted ages ago. It took me a long long long long long long time to finish up, but I'm glad I finally did!


Dental care: Dental care has been such a big part of my life since getting Invisalign. Can you believe I'll be on my last set of aligners in a week or so?! I really love the Smart Mouth mouthwash but I believe this particular 2-bottle set is discontinued. I no longer use mouthwash for rinsing, but I do use it to clean my Invisalign aligners once a day.

The Eco-Dent tooth powders are my go-to product. I switch between the Original Mint and the ExtraBrite (pictured above).

My favourite dental flossers are the unflavoured ones from Life Brand (Shoppers Drug Mart's private label). I finished up 2 packages in the past couple of months. I floss a lot!


Miscellaneous: I purchase the Fluffs cotton pads from Dollarama and I love them because they are the perfect combination of soft yet affordable.

Hubby and I finished a bottle of Poo-Pourri in the Royal Flush scent. I love the Poo-Pourri products, but I wasn't a huge fan of this particular scent.

There were a bunch of mosquitos when my friend and I went to Grail Springs, so I took that opportunity to finish up the Life Brand Insect Repellent that I had kicking around for ages. I came back relatively bite-free.


Miscellaneous (continued): Last but certainly not least, we finished another 946ml bottle of Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap - a definite staple in our household. We use this mainly as hand soap, but I also use it to clean my makeup brushes and my Invisalign aligners. Each of these bottles lasts us approximately 5 months.

That is it for this set of empties! I forgot how long these blog posts take to put together - I've been working on this one for over 2 hours. Time to get ready for dinner and the Leafs home opener!!! You'd think we were going to the game with how stoked I am, but nope. We're watching the game at home. I've been excited for days. Months even. I'm totally off on a tangent now, so I better go. :)

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