Act 211

Give thanks with food

Tomorrow we head off from ten wonderful days in the maritimes. Destination – la belle province – my emotional home.

But before I head off, I tried to prepare a few bits and bites for my lovely hosts as a way of thanking them for their lovely hospitality.

On days like this, full of food and fondness, I’m reminded that we all have choices in life. My plan A was to build a life or career of corporate success. But love got in the way and with it came a life long appreciation of what matters most in life: family, friends and happiness. In many ways, it’s a longer path than that to physical wealth. But it pays off in ways that money can never measure.

Enjoy the people you love and remind them of it from time to time. It’s free and it’s priceless all at once.

Merci au maritimes. A bientot ma belle province!

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Act 210

Costco Caution

Went for a visit to Costco today. Keep hearing my friends rave about the savings and the choices so I thought I’d best check it out. Hadn’t been for many years and I’m glad I did.

But some things are just too big to buy no matter how big your household or your business. Take this bottle of hazelnut spread for example. It’s the size of a small child. Unless you’re in the business of re-packaging hazelnut spread and selling it in smaller jars for a mark up, I don’t see how it can be value for your dollar. But it looks impressive.

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Other items seem well worth the price but only if you can use it all and have space to store it (which I don’t).

What struck me was the sheer size of everything. Like a giant super sized market. We seem to attach value to size. The carts are bigger, the ceilings are higher, the shelves are taller – interesting to know what the psychology of that retail experience is – regardless, it must work. There always seems to be a giant traffic jam in the parking lot.

Act 209

Give your kids an allowance on vacation

This is a tip from my good friend. Good advice. Tourism operators are to be given credit for their expert merchandising techniques. Take Cows Ice Cream on PEI for example. They have retail locations at every hot spot and friendly staff to assist. The ferry, the boardwalk in Charlottetown, in Cavendish, in Summerside. I don’t know how much ice cream they sell but they sell their fair share of themed t-shirts. My boys would not do without. So long as they understood that they had a set allowance for their vacation, they chose one shirt and they chose carefully.

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At an artisan chocolate shop in Victoria PEI, my son would have bought the entire inventory if I were paying the bill. But with his budget, he chose a loonie sized chocolate for a loonie and bought one for his brother. He got the experience without emptying his wallet. It’s a good tactic. One I’ll implement from here on in.

Act 208

Your money’s not on vacation even if you are

It’s always amazed me that some people on vacation seem to take a vacation from common sense when it comes to money. Your money’s not on vacation even if you are. So today, I shopped for deals. Got the breakfast special on the ferry, chose the least expensive of three accommodation options, bought a few coupons to the amusement park rather than the wrist bands and ordered take out pizza for dinner rather than eating in. Still had just as much fun but spend alot less money.

Another way to save a bit of money on vacation is to bring your own coffee and filters so you can enjoy a fresh brew in the morning without having to deal with the yucky hotel coffee or stop in at the drive thru or worse, pay a premium price for an average brew at a hotel restaurant. It’s less convenient but convenience can be expensive. So leave it behind and enjoy what vacations are made for. Fun. And fun is not measured by how much you pay. At least it’s not for me.

Act 207

Share trip expenses with a trusted travel buddy

I’m traveling with an old friend. We’re not old (yet). We’re just good friends from a long time ago. Over the years, we’ve been away together many times and have come to appreciate the art of co-traveling. I buy fuel, she buys food, we split accommodation. We’ve logged literally thousands of kms together in many countries and we’ve always been within about 5 bucks of what either of us owe each other (because we keep track).

On this trip, we’ve ventured from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia with PEI in our sights. Our strategy remains the same, share expenses, including a motel room or cabin. Bring what you need, pick up the rest along the way. Avoid restaurants. It works. We’re here in Nova Scotia with a trunk full of groceries in an adorable cabin in Pictou County with our little travel companions. The cabin was $100 – the gas was $50 and tomorrow, the ferry to PEI will be free (you only pay to get off the island). That’s an affordable debt defying weekend to say the least.

Happy travels!

Act 205

Take a picture (it does last longer)

I’m in the Maritimes visiting friends and while it’s tempting to pick up lovely souvenirs as a reminder of our visit, I’m trying to resist. When I see something I like, I take a picture instead. This way I have the memories of the places and the things I’ve seen without having to empty my wallet in the process. And if I see something I’d really like to have, I can always order directly from the website and keep my luggage weight in check. Here are a few things I saw today.

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door mat made of fisherman’s rope made in New Brunswick

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colourful buoys

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Pantouffles Acadien (knitted slipper in Acadian colours)

There are some beautiful and innovative crafts and products in the Maritimes. Shame I couldn’t bring them all home but at least I can remember them with pictures.

Bonne vacances!

Act 204

Be the captain of your own crunch

I’m assured by my best friend that if it’s a quality morning cereal experience you’re looking for, be sure to visit your local bulk food store. Pick your favourites. Grain (quinoa, oats, flax), dried fruit, nuts and seeds, bake for 20 to 30 minutes, add honey or agave syrup, store in mason jar and enjoy. Without developing a spread sheet to determine exact cost, we are comfortable telling you you can expect to save two thirds of what you’d pay your favourite grocer. She’s my best friend, I believe her even if I’ll never eat quinoa.

Act 203

Some people will buy anything.

I kid you not. I saw this for sale in a store. Twelve empty beer bottles on sale for $11. Caps sold separately (not kidding about that either). I really don’t know what else to say. Except ridiculous.

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Act 202

Make minty fresh ice cubes

How often do you buy herbs at the market only to let them wilt on the kitchen counter. My friend had some lovely mint in a jar in her kitchen so with a pair of scissors and some ice cube trays, we made minty fresh ice cubes to embellish our beverages. Fun, Cheap. Fresh. What could be better.