Ducking Debt

Duck 1

I indicated at the end of January that in an effort to continue some positive, newly developed financial habits, I’d be aiming to do an assessment of my progress at the end of each month.  So here I am, ready and waiting, eagerly awaiting my grade!  Such a little brown-noser, I know (I noted the other day that I’m a J-school grad; you never seen ANYONE grade grub in your life like a journalism student, trust.)

And I know I’m far from the most unbiased moderator on the subject, but I’ll go ahead and give myself an A++, because we killin’ it.  February was another unintended no buy of a low buy for both my husband and I.  Once again, we probably spent just $100 on the non-essentials of life between the two of us.  We’ve actually kind of turned it into a game – how long can you go without spending money?  No, really, how long can you go without purchasing something?  I think you’d be surprised at how quickly just a wee something every day adds up.  Or the problem I think we all encounter, which is we’re out picking up that wee something, and oh! while we’re out and about, we might as well stop in here, and while we’re in here, we should really grab this thing, and while we’re getting this thing, we should add this and…it’s seriously so much easier just to stay in and use that which you already have at hand!

Speaking of, another part of my accountability report was to make note of any already-owned items I finally used and enjoyed.  I made good progress melting through my wax stash this month, and by not adding to it (not hard; there actually wasn’t a single release that called to me in February) I’m starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.  Or the bottom of the drawer in the wax cupboard.

Duck 3

The wax hit of February was this pre-decapitation duck from The Melting Duck in Briarcliff, a very Fall-friendly blend of pumpkin, vanilla and marshmallow.  Demented Ducks, I think they’re actually called, but this one was insolent and kept leering at me with that one purple eye, so I off’d his head.  Still didn’t stop him from staring unnervingly at me from the bottom of my warmer as he melted into a pumpkin-scented puddle.  Like, ever get that feeling you’re being watched by your wax?  No, just me?

Duck 2

Please join me next month when I will hopefully continue to have good news for you on the spend less, use more front.  To our continued strength in the face of so much inviting temptation. 🙂


Dollars and Scents

Customs Collage

Back at the beginning of the year I indicated that owing to an overabundance of stuff and an underabundance of life, I was going to attempt to curb my spending in an effort to not only stem the seemingly endless tide of scented wax (and other treatsie-type items) slowly overtaking my home, but to also put those “found” funds towards another far-more-important-to-me experience, namely another end-of-year trip to Disney World.

People call these cut-er-off regimes “no buys” or “low buys.”  I’m not particularly fond of the no buy approach – most tend to come at them as they would a diet (“I’ll start on Monday!”) and along with that comes a nearly identical rate of failure.  It’s hard to turn off years of poor shopping and hoarding behaviour all at once – if it was easy, you probably wouldn’t have to institute a no buy in the first place, and you definitely wouldn’t be in danger of being buried alive by your candle collection.

Low buys are a far more reasonable approach to financial management and stuff assessment, as they really allow you to examine your shopping habits on a bit of a forensic level.  Absent that so-tempting-to-walk-right-across-it no buy line in the sand, is this really how you want to spend your budgeted mad money for the month?  Don’t you already have this exact candle, plus three backups in the closet?  Do you even have room to store this stuff?  And even if the answer to all of those questions is yes, yes and no, I ran out of room two years ago, at least you’re giving a bit of thought to your purchases and where they fit into the scheme of both your life and your budget.  I just find it easier to operate within the confines of a reasonable framework than to cut myself off completely – the raze-the-earth approach rarely works in the long-term, often setting off an avalanche of “zero hour” purchases that badly undermine your efforts before you’ve even begun.

All that to say I’ve been on an unofficial low buy since the beginning of the year.  And when it comes to scented wax, one of my favourite treat-myself things, I haven’t placed any orders since November of last year.  So there’s nothing coming in, although there’s plenty going out – the flip side of the low buy coin is use-up-what-you-did-buy.  I’ve been diligently melting through my wax every day, and I wager I have enough there to keep me going for the next eight or nine months.

But I’ve been doing so well (correction: we have been doing so well; Mr. Finger Candy and I are prioritizing the crap out of this trip!) that I thought it might be of some benefit to share my progress on a monthly basis.  Perhaps you’ll draw some inspiration from my attempts to whittle down my wax and be a bit more mindful of my spending in the first place.  Also, this will hold me accountable to my low buy; there’s no slacking when the blogiverse is watching!

Without getting into specific numbers, I did very, very well this January, purchasing absolutely nothing of a discretionary nature.  Seriously, not a thing.  That’s ever so slightly less impressive when you remember that I am coming off a rather pricey Christmastime trip to Disney where I treated myself just fine, but all the same, I avoided FOUR pre-orders from favourite wax vendors, as well as about a half dozen movies I’d like to purchase and some DLC updates to favourite video games.  I estimate that my husband and I spent just $50 this month between the two of us on the non-essentials of life, a trend I’d like to continue for as long as it possibly can.  Building up a bit of momentum in the early stages of anything is key, let alone when you’re trying to correct years of cruddy financial behaviour, and marking off those huge initial strides is super motivating.

I also like that the other side of the low buy (the “use it already!” buy) forces you to actually use the things you’ve already bought.  So much of this fragrance and beauty and home decor stuff is limited edition, and the urge to stock up on and hoard the things you know you’ll never be able to buy again can be quite overwhelming.  But there’s really something to be said for actually using the things you bought, and deriving every bit of enjoyment from them while they’re in your possession.  Somewhere Tyler Durden has a bullshit, machismo-laden take on the things you own owning you, but who needs that walking set of abs anyways? 😉

This will also provide me with a great opportunity to share with you any beauty hits or scent slam dunks I discover over the course of the month – you just never know what gems might be languishing in storage.  Gems such as this custom loaf and half-and-half pie I nabbed from Sniff My Tarts during a quickie Thanksgiving sale.  All three are AWESOME – I may just be getting the hang of this custom blending thing. 🙂

Apple Cider Latte/Ice Cream Scoop Bread/Vanilla Waffle Cone

Apple Cider Latte Custom

I was super pleased with all three of these scents when I received them a la carte in one of last year’s customs orders.  Apple Cider Latte is the absolute ideal of an apple fragrance – crisp, juicy, tart, sweet and lightly, slightly spiced.  Coffeephobes need not turn up their noses at this wonderful fragrance either – that latte note is a deceptive one, hovering lightly in the background, providing just the barest hint of bitter to support all that sweet.  In combination with Ice Cream Scoop Bread and Vanilla Waffle Cone (a favourite “base blend” of mine that I like to pair with juicy fruits such as blackberries) it’s a total slam dunk – I think it smells EXACTLY like a warm, cakey apple fritter.  And now I want an apple fritter!

Mango Sorbet/Coconut Cream Pie/Vanilla Waffle Cone

Mango Sorbet Custom Pie

Vanilla Waffle Cone makes another appearance in this fantastic, sunny blend, which I created during my first customs order last year or maybe even the year before.  I’m very nearly finished that gorgeous decorated sheet cake, so it was time to re-up my stores of a fabulously fragranced favourite.  A scrumptious, fruity, creamy treat.  Holy gosh, is this blend ever yummy!  The only scent in my years of custom blending that I’ve seen fit to duplicate.

Starbucks Vanilla Latte/Vanilla Butter Fudge

Coffee Custom Loaf

And finally, one for Mr. Finger Candy, who loves coffee in all its varied forms (we stood in line for half an hour on Christmas Day at the Main Street Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom so he could get a keg-sized mega cold brew, the same keg-sized, apparently open-topped mega cold brew that later denied us entry to the People Mover after we had waited in line for half an hour for it as well.  WHAT THE HELL, MAN?!)  Hmm, I’m suddenly wondering if my husband even deserves such an adorable little loaf! 😉 I’m not totally sold on coffee scents, but this is a nice one.  SMT’s Starbucks Vanilla Latte fragrance is seriously decent, bearing none of the acidic bitterness common to coffee blends.  Nor does it smell like one of those appallingly powdery Swiss Miss concoctions – nothing here but a lovely creamed coffee scent, not too sharp, nor too milky.  And now I want a latte.

And with that, I close out January.  I’m proud of myself for sticking to my spending guns (again, proud of us) in the face of so much post-holiday temptation.  But I’ve got my eye on a much larger, hopefully more fulfilling, prize, the mere thought of which takes a lot of the sting out of abstaining from my favourite things.  Please join me again at the end of next month, when I hopefully have continued good news for you on the low buy front.  Until then, let us all go out and use the things that bring us happiness, and enjoy them for no more complicated a reason than simply because we can.

Motivation Manicure: A Dieting Story

Motivation Manicure Fingers

Or “How to Persevere with Your Long-Term Health and Dietary Goals When Your Motivation is Beginning to Wane.”  Except that is WAY too long a title, so Moti-Mani it is!

Regular readers and casual dropper-byers alike may remember that I’m now four months into a rather major overhaul of my family’s general health and wellness.  As in we possessed neither of those things, and I was inching dangerously close to a pit that had nothing at the bottom but razor sharp rocks.  Also diabetes, stroke and heart attack, but I thought the pointy rock thing was apt.

So I hitched up my pants (hahahahahahaha, there was no hitching, silly!  I couldn’t even get my pants BUTTONED) and decided to do the only thing I hadn’t yet tried – make a real, concerted effort to save my own bloody life.

Nearly four months in, I’m pleased to report that I’ve shed a little over 40 pounds and four dress sizes.  Better yet, I now sleep through the evening (or at least as long as my cat will allow.)  I don’t get winded walking up a flight of stairs.  I no longer wake feeling like a UFC match took place in my stomach during the night.  My skin is bright and (mostly) clear.  I have lots of energy.  I no longer sweat while eating.  Or breathing.

And while those are all FABULOUS side effects of a healthier approach to diet, exercise and general wellness, remembering to appreciate those seemingly minor gains for the major motivational milestones they actually are is a trap all of us fall into at one time or another.  We have a tendency – in all aspects of life, really – to dismiss the mundane inanities of everyday life in favour of THE BIG SHOW.  We live for those big moments, and that includes the things we feel passionately about, the things that motivate us.

How that tends to manifest itself in the dieter’s mind is a fixation on a major, end-of-diet treat (an expensive vacation, a crossed-off item on the bucket list, a five-star tour of France where you do nothing but eat cheese for 10 straight days, I don’t know your life!)

For me, that major treat is a ludicrously expensive, long and splashy trip to Disney World, one of my favourite places on Earth, and a spot I’ve been avoiding since gaining ALL the weight.  I think about that still-very-nebulous vacation every day as I’m thumping away on the treadmill, imagining that each on-the-spot step is actually me hauling nimble ass towards the Haunted Mansion for the first of the day’s 13 straight rides.  It’s wonderful motivation, an achievable big dream I can almost reach out and touch.  It also sort of has a smell (popcorn, Dole Whip, propane and chlorinated It’s a Small World water, in case you were wondering.)

And that’s what this manicure is, the nail art representation of a beautiful dream that I’m taking much-needed steps towards making a reality every single day (me standing on the Hub grass of the Magic Kingdom waiting for one of the evening’s innumerable fireworks bonanzas as the sun sets in a pastel sky behind Cinderella’s castle, but of course.)

Motivation Manicure Bottle

But plans of dream vacations will only take you so far, as being so far off in the distance themselves, they can begin to feel unattainable – gigantic dreams turned pipe dream. With a long, hard slog ahead and no clear horizon in sight, it’s just far too easy to give up altogether, particularly after suffering a (completely normal and unavoidable) setback.

So I’m choosing instead to also celebrate those little, in-the-middle victories – the increased energy, the improved mood, the sleep-filled nights.  Because it’s good to always keep your eye on the big prize, but it’s also worth checking in every now and then with the smaller successes as well.  They’re the real motivators, and the real reason to continue doing just what I’m doing – because it feels good, and because I feel good. Nothing more complicated than that. 🙂


Succulent Strawberries Sun

I’m preparing for a great Saturday night just lounging around at home with my fella – Indian takeaway in the kitchen, Stranger Things on the TV for the I’ve-lost-count time and this sweet strawberry manicure adorning my fingertips.

Facebook recently informed me that three years ago I combined motivation and some not-long-simmering interest in nail art, and out the other side came about 1,500 manicures, and indeed this very blog.  Self congrats aside, for all of the people who have ever been kind enough to comment that I’m quite good at nail art, and they could never turn out, say, strawberries as fine as mine, YOU CAN.  It just takes a bit of practice and a whole lot of patience.  Because you’ve seen where I started out, right?  I mean, check out these lumpy berries!  Sloppy work, terrible photography, and did you even know I had a right hand? 😉


Point being, we all start the things we eventually go on to be good or great at from a place of pure suck. Nothing sexier to be done about it than just keep moving forward and aim to improve, but that’s just good life advice, period.

Now off to my Stranger Indian Food Things. 😉

Succulent Strawberries Shade