How I Got Rid of My Credit Debt and 23 Things I Learned While Paying It Off

Debt. Almost everyone has it, and it’s usually credit debt. (If not a student loan or two!) Mine was credit debt, and I’m very pleased and proud to say that, after almost four and a half years of (sometimes backbreaking) monthly payments, as of March 8th (International Women’s Day!), 2018, I’m officially DEBT FREE. Woot! And I finished early. Double woot!

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City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver

Mercury is in retrograde: my laptop died on Easter weekend, work’s been a bit crazy, and my left rotator cuff is telling me it needs a little more love. Aside from that, it’s been a pretty good week. But I’m definitely ready to put my my feet up and have a glass of something lovely.

I’m mostly a red wine and dark beer girl, but every now and then I like a fancy cocktail. A Gin and Tonic is usually my favourite, but I’ve come to love whisky cocktails in the last couple years. (This is what happens when you visit Scotland many, many times, and visit a fair amount of distilleries.) Continue reading “City Girl Whisky Diary: Unique Whisky Cocktails and Recipes from The Distillery Bar in Vancouver”

How to Stay Healthy & Happy While Travelling

Travelling is wonderful. But if you get sick in any way while there or right after you get back, not so fun. Some of this can be attributed to jet lag and recycled air on the plane. But over the years I’ve realized that the biggest reason much of the above happens is that while we are doing ourselves a favour by taking a break to go away (for however long), we tend to stop mindfully looking after ourselves when we travel.

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Blog Pod Fancy Tea at The Secret Garden Tea House

I love tea. I particularly love having tea with friends. I’ve mentioned the Blog Pod that I belong to a few times; these ladies have become a lovely group to get together with, and some of us recently had the opportunity to spend a hygge afternoon enjoying Secret Garden Tea Company‘s High Tea together. One day, all ten of us will be in the same room, but for this day we had me, Karlie, Emily, Po On, Melissa, and Orla.

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Six Museums You Must Visit in Seattle and a Budget Friendly Way to Visit Them

We were recently in Seattle, and coincidentally, we were there for the city’s Museum Month. What’s special about that? If you are staying at participating Downtown Seattle hotels, you get a card that entitles you to two admissions to world-class museums for the price of one… for the whole month of February. To state the obvious, it’s an excellent deal, people – #GetThrifty for the win!

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7 Budget Friendly Ways to Experience Barcelona

Winter in Vancouver is down to your bones cold. I’m in the middle of some Sunshine Coast drafts but the windy, rainy weather and the cooking shows I’ve been watching on Netflix have my thoughts straying to the dry heat of Barcelona. As close to a tropical vacation as I’ve had a while, June in this Spanish city was perfect for the girls and me after the unexpected and pelting rain in Paris.

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Happy December 1st! + #12DaysofHygge Day 1: Merry and Bright Vancouver Christmas Activities

Um, it’s December 1. What?!

While I’m gob-smacked at how quickly December came, this is one of my favourite times of year. I tend to contain my excitement until about December 5 and then let it loose; but because I’ve been planning some holiday season blog stuff since mid-October, my excitement started early. It’s partly the Brit’s fault. He sent me a link in October for a Christmas light event that was starting November 24 and it all snowballed from there…

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Purposeful Online Christmas Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us. Are you ready? have you been exploring the pre-sales? Love it or hate it this retail weekend is a fantastic opportunity to Christmas shop in a #GetThrifty manner; particularly online. This year, I’ve decided to a significant portion of my shopping from the comfort of my own home or on my lunch break. I briefly touched on online shopping in my Holiday Season Survival Guide last year, but wanted to expand on it a bit (and share some ideas and deals!). It’s a philosophy that ingrains itself more firmly for me every year – convenience, no people mowing you over to get that last pair of shoes, and it takes a fraction of the time.

But it’s very easy to get carried away because everything is on sale. Are you buying five scarves for gifts because they’re on sale, or are you buying them with purpose? It’s like grocery shopping when you’re hungry. Making a list on my phone is helpful in either shopping scenario, and keeps me on track and on budget.

‘Tis the Season Tip – Something I didn’t do this year, but I like the idea of for next year, is amp up my list by saving things to a private Pinterest board so that I can have images and links for everything all in one place.

BUY WITH PURPOSE

Here are some fun, practical, and unique gift ideas for the special people in your life. Since they all can apply to anyone, I’ve listed them in categories as opposed to by type of person.

Gifts That Give Back | Create and Experience | Capture a Memory

Create Choice | Stocking Stuffers |Travel

GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

These are thoughtful options that make an impact as a big family group gift, or if you are buying for someone with a philanthropic heart, or to honour someone’s memory.

  • Donate to a Cause – Make a donation to the person’s favourite a favourite or meaningful charity.
  • Make and Impact with WE.orgBuy a goat or a clean water well for a family, or purchase some quality handmade jewelry (made by African artisans) for the females in your life. Anything you buy has a positive social impact in Africa and other countries that WE.org works in (including Canada, because they are Canadian!), and that specific impact can be tracked online so you can see your contribution in action. I love this organization so much and did some work with them at my old company. I buy a couple goats and a time’s worth of school lunch for a child in need on behalf of my family every year, and like donating at this time of year because they double your impact. Check it out!

CREATE AN EXPERIENCE

In a world where we are trying to be ‘greener’, and also trying to offset the ridiculousness

  • Guitar lessons (or any lessons that strike their fancy)
  • Tickets to a concert or a show
  • Create a date night
  • Yoga pass or a yoga mat
  • Food tour – check out Eating London and Vancouver Food Tour!
  • Winery or brewery tour
  • An excursion of some sort
  • Photo session with a photographer

‘Tis the Season Tip – To plump up what I would call an ‘envelope gift’, make some tasty cookies or other holiday treats and package them up in a cute tin. Or add a nice bottle of wine. Always a winner.

CAPTURE A MEMORY

  • Constellation Map from The Night Sky (https://thenightsky.com/) – Not quite sure my dad knows what a blog is and my step-mum isn’t on social media, so I can safely say that I just bought one of these to  commemorate the day they (finally) got married. You can choose a date and location and it makes a constellation map of what the sky looked like that night. Shipping is free (US, Canada, Europe, etc) and they are having Black Friday sale until Sunday with promo code NOVA for 15% off. There will possibly also be a Cyber Monday sale, but 15% off isn’t something to sneeze at! 😉
  • Photo Finish – Get a large print or canvas made of a special day or of the grandkids. Your local photo shop (yes they still exist!) will do large prints and possibly canvases, but there are also online canvas sites that are likely having great sales and that also do Groupon codes. I am not recommending the site I used for something last year as it was a semi-horrendous experience, but I’d love to hear if you find a great site that you would recommend!

CREATE CHOICE

I know gift cards and e-gift cards seem impersonal, but hear me out. A gift card doesn’t mean you didn’t put thought into it. Yes, there is convenience, but more so, they are great if you know where they like to shop, but don’t know what to get them and also make fantastic stocking stuffers or nice appreciation gifts for staff. We are living in a world where things are very expensive. Helping your college age sibling or your assistant fuel up their mornings with a nicely summed Starbucks card or to buy something nice for themselves from a favourite shop is pretty great.

Some good gift card ideas are:

‘Tis the Season Tip –  For how you want to package gift cards, for my 30th a couple years ago, one of my friends (who is very crafty) made me a beautiful card and it had slots for three gift cards, each for $10. I thought I’d taken a picture of it but here is something similar on Pinterest!

STOCKING STUFFERS

I love going through my stocking at Christmas. Partly because my mum makes beautiful stockings (and will one day finally let me open an Etsy store for her) that hold a lot, and partly because I like the tradition of it. My step-mum is really good at stocking stuffers.

  • Socks – I love getting socks for Christmas. About 5 years ago, my mum didn’t give me socks but gave some to my then partner, and while I loved what she had given me, my face actually fell when I saw I hadn’t gotten any, too. It’s silly, I know. But my mum has not skipped the socks since then.

Friday Sock Co.(https://www.fridaysock.co/) is my  new favourite place to get socks. They are a Calgary based company owned by a friend and her husband. They purposefully mismatched socks for adults and kids that are designed in Canada and ethically made in Italy out of soft cotton yarn. The designs are clever and there’s something for everyone. They are having a Black Friday sale with 40% of select styles – check them out! I love mine and may or may not have added a couple pairs for myself when I made submitted my order last week…

    • Accessories at NORDSTORM.com – For some luxury brands at a #GetThrifty sale price, this is the place to buy some stocking stuffers like scarves, socks, the whole gamut!
    • Gift CardsSee above.
    • Hobby Accessories – Your home-brewer, baker, yogi, builder, writer, traveller, soap-maker or whatever they are will definitely appreciate the little knickknacks  or books that make their hobby or pursuit easier and more fun!

  • Black Friday: the deals you've been waiting for!
    • A Bottle – Wine, beer, a favourite whisky.
    • Travel Accessories – Also mentioned below. These are wonderful stocking stuffers! Check out my Travel Essentials page for some great options!
    • iPhone Battery Case – So a happy traveller or someone who just uses their phone a lot or on the road doesn’t have to worry about needing to plug in to charge!

TRAVEL

You can check out my my Travel Essentials post for my favourite things, but here are some quick links for things to get your happy traveller!

  • Passport Holder – I love my red leather passport holder. It’s one of the best gifts that my mum has ever given to me. Click here for a great option for women and here for a men’s option.
  • LuggageAmazon has great luggage sets on sale right now and Away has some great sets that are good value for money. (Their carry-on has a USB outlet in it so you can charge your phone!)
  • Travel Site Gift Card – Help your traveller get a good flight, fab accommodations, or book a fun excursion! Some good options are:
  • Travel Accessories– Compression bags, packing modules, iPhone Battery Case,  travel toiletry sets, you name it, Amazon has got it. Really, you could just do all your shopping there. 😉

And that’s my download – phew!

Sometimes shopping needs to be a bit more sensory, but that’s what lunch break scouting trips are for so you can check out the goods in peace before they go on sale. Then you can purchase from the comfort of your own home or office, usually ON SALE, and in way less time and stress than in store.

And if you happen to be away from home at Christmas, or are visiting family but don’t want to take everything on the plane? Send everything there! Boom.

Good luck, everyone! May the shopping force be with you! 😉