Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Week Catch-up

Neat planter seen in Cordoba, Spain (click for larger picture to see detail)

What a busy week.  I helped out at the company where I used to work three mornings this week after they asked me if I would be willing to assist temporarily a little over May, June, and July after a long-term employee moved away.  I enjoy seeing the people I used to work with and this is an easy way to help add more to our travel fund so agreed.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

March and April Grocery Tallies and Christmas Fund 2016

I am recapping both March and April grocery results as did not report due to our holiday.  Our normal monthly grocery budget which includes all groceries/cleaning supplies/toiletries/over the counter meds is $550 Canadian for two adults.  Due to overages in prior months being deducted in order to stay on annual budget, the budget for March was $524.44.  I went a couple bucks over that but so close I consider it a win.  Although we were gone for 11 days in April I still left the regular  budget in place as had to stock up after the trip to fill the fridge back up and hit upon several good meat sales so the freezer is full.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Occupying ourselves

Sun-seeker Buddy - he asked for a cold one right after this picture was taken

We have been glued to the television this week following the fate of Ft McMurray and hearing from friends who live there.  At this point in time the airport has been saved as well as most of the downtown core and the bridge that connected the two sides of the town.  Based on the huge nature of the fire it is almost unbelievable that only 20% of the structures in town have been burned down, over 1600 +.  No one has died except in a car crash on the highway during evacuation.  Pretty unbelievable and likely one of the largest successful evacuations in history with over 80,000 done in mere hours.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


This Photo was taken from a hotel in Fort McMurray Alberta.  The entire city has been evacuated and many homes lost already due to forest fire.  The hotel above is one of our client's hotels - we are unsure if it is still standing.  We have many friends in Fort McMurray and our thoughts are with them.  We were able to reach one of them last night, her fiancee is a pilot and he had been hired to move an airplane out with the owners who were evacuating - and she was able to go along as well.  One of my husband's best friends is in management in the Ambulance department at Fort McMurray - we have not heard from him but expect we won't for many days as he has his hands full right now.  Fort McMurray may be an oil town but it is so much more than that - many businesses and people call it home.

After the price of oil dropped this city was struggling to stay alive.  I am not sure what it will look like after all of this is over.  If you are outside of Canada here is a link to what I am talking about:

Wildfire rages in Fort McMurray

If  you would like to donate to the Red Cross to help these Albertans here is how you can best help:

We made a donation today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Madrid, Spain

Our last four nights were spent in the big city of Madrid.  When I say big city, I mean it.  Madrid has a population over 3 million with Metropolitan area including 6 million people.  The climate is a lot different from Malaga and Cordoba as well.  The temperature was 10-15 degrees lower and hovered around 10 degrees Celcius for our time there.  We had brought appropriate clothing and were expecting that.  By the time we reached Madrid we were kind of sick eating out every meal so took full advantage of the small "efficiency unit" in our hotel room.  It had a minifridge, two burners, a pot, a pan, two bowls, two plates and some cutlery.  With that we had all our breakfasts in which included croissants, fried chorizo, scrambled eggs, yogurt and fruit.  We also had a huge craving for fruit and veggies so made sure to hit up the fruiteria that was just around the corner from our hotel.   There were 2 grocery stores within a block as well.  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cordoba, Spain

Renfe train station Malaga

After 3 nights in Malaga we took the high speed non-stop Renfe Ave train to Cordoba which took 50 minutes and I have to say was a very clean comfortable way to travel.  If you have your train tickets you only need to arrive 20-30 minutes ahead to clear security and get to your boarding platform.  Again, we packed the lightest on this trip that we have ever packed and after seeing that we can easily survive 10 days without as much luggage as we normally take we will be packing light from here on out.  I enjoy train travel far more than air travel based on how easy it is and no checking in 2-3 hours in advance.  The only drawback to Renfe is that their online booking system is difficult to book on when outside of Spain as they only take certain credit cards and it doesn't always work.  After first trying to book tickets there I chose to book instead through Rail Europe ( in Canada and the USA) and pay a very small handling fee.  You can only book tickets 60-90 days out and have an immediate email confirmation and printable e tickets with assigned carriage and seat number.  We chose economy on all trains and it is very comfortable, no need to upgrade to first class.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Malaga, Spain

View of the Port of Malaga from Gibralfaro Castle (built 14th century)
We are home from our 10 night trip to Spain and we had a great time.  We spent our first three nights in Malaga and this post will highlight those three days.  Cordoba and Madrid will be separate posts.  I have tried to include a lot of detail for anyone thinking of traveling to Spain/Andalucia.  At the time of our trip it took 1.55 CAD dollar to purchase 1 Euro (Euros will be listed if you don't live in Canada so you can look up your exchange rate if you wish)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Only a few more sleeps!

Just a quick post - life has been speeding by this week.  I worked all weekend trying to get our huge Company project closer to completion.  Today I am about to stuff our little turkey (9.5 lbs) and then have a day of rest other than cooking, eating, drinking and watching movies with hubby and Mom (our usual holiday protocol).  We also cleaned the house top to bottom yesterday so no more housework needs done before we go on holiday other than a quick wipe.  My bedroom dresser looks like a hurricane hit it as all the stuff I am trying to pack is on top of it.

We are trying to only take the bare minimum of luggage.  I tend to over-pack and since we are taking 2 trains in Spain and need to drag our luggage on and off them I am hoping to make our bags as light as possible.  We have an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam due to an unfortunate schedule change so may be trying out something called Yotel that is right in the transiting area of the Amsterdam airport - they are designed to be like a mini-hotel with WIFI, a bed and a shower.  You can only take hand luggage as are after security but are perfect for a long layover.  No, I have no urge to leave the airport for a few hours to see Amsterdam.  We did 3 days in Amsterdam on the last trip to Europe and 8 hours is just too short to be leaving the airport for after flying all night.  I would rather rest up.  I didn't pre-book it just in case our flight is late but you can rent it by the hour so whenever we get there we will pay for 5-6 hours before our final 3 hour flight to Malaga.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spring Thrift Store Finds

Mom and I went thrifting today, me on the hunt for shoes, pants, and tops that don't wrinkle and would pack small/travel well.  I found all of the above!  Other than Mom bending over to pick up a dime in the middle of the street and almost getting run over we had a great day.

At my #1 thrift store where the regular price of a top or pair of pants is $3 I found these 3 pieces:
Ellen Tracy top $3

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Reason Why I Couldn't Make the Bed

We were a little housebound this week madly working on a gigantic company project that we are 50% to completion on.  We are trying to get most of it completed prior to our holiday so are working a lot of long days.  For everyone who thinks self-employment is such a breeze - it has lots of advantages but it is definitely not easy.  That plus the weather has frankly sucked.  Lots and lots of rain, day after day with a storm on Wednesday that blew 107 km per hour winds just off the coast near Comox.  Fortunately we saw little damage the next day other than some trees near local roads and an area where the town had to clear ocean debris off the road due to extremely large waves.  That evening we ate supper  at 4pm as thought the power was going to go out but fortunately it didn't.