Thursday, April 28, 2011

Success! Two more Things completed.

This past weekend, EDP and I went to New York with my sister & my parents.  Overall, it was a pretty good time.  We stayed in a really nice hotel and walked our butts off.  But most importantly, I crossed two Things off my list - have breakfast at Tiffany's and see a Broadway play in New York.

Let's start with the Broadway play.  We saw Sister Act in the Broadway Theatre, which is located at 1681 Broadway.  I don't think it gets more Broadway than that.  It was a fun show.  It made me really want to watch the movie again.  Go see it sometime.


The other Thing I finished was having breakfast at Tiffany's.  I did not dress in my finest evening wear and the street wasn't empty but I did have a delicious apple turnover and a coffee.  And I peered in the windows looking at the pretty things just like Holly did.  It was lovely.


So now it's time to transfer $50 into the ol' TFSA and move on to something else on the list!

Thing 24: Become a homeowner

I'm not sure there's much to say for this.  It seems like a perfectly reasonable, average thing to do and I don't really see anyone could saying "Why on earth is that on your list?!"  So, if that's what you're thinking, maybe you should step back and wonder why you think that.  Really, real estate is an excellent investment, there are lots of good reasons to make the leap into owning a house.  I will miss being able to just call someone when there's a problem but realistically, I'll probably label everything related to maintaining a house "a man's job" and leave it up to EDP.  Just like I do now with cooking, cleaning and laundry. FYI, eating chocolate and sitting with one's feet up are a woman's work, in case you are wondering.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll be living in a house that's got my name on the deed.  And I suppose on the mortgage, too.

How am I doing?
Completed June 15, 2012, read about it here.

Thing 23: Cook a turkey

Here's another one of those things that is on the list just so that I can say I've done it once.  I don't plan on making this a repeat occurrence, FYI.  There's no guarantee I'll make anything else with it but maybe if I'm feeling really adventurous, I'll make a big dinner with all the trimmings.  Anyway, this Thing will cover the entire turkey-making process - buying it, cleaning it, getting it in the oven, basting it, etc.  Should be a lengthy process.

How will I know I'm done?
Well, remember that it's just cooking a turkey, not cooking a delicious turkey.  As long as I make an honest effort, I'll be happy.  So I'm done when I've got a cooked turkey out of the oven.  No one has to eat it, unless they want to.

How am I doing?
Completed October 7, 2012, read about it here.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thing 22: Talk to my mom every day for a month

My mom talks to my sister every day.  Every single day.  I have no idea what they talk about.  I'm sure it can't be much beyond what they had to eat that day or maybe about the weather?  I don't talk to my mother that often.  I prefer to wait until I have something interesting to say.  But for 30 days, I'm going to talk to my mother every single day.  I've slightly changed the title of this from "Call my mom every day for a month" to "Talk to my mom every day for a month" because I think it might be kinda rude to say "No, Mom, I will not be coming to your house for your birthday dinner because I'm trying to call you every day for a month and I won't have time to call you if I come to visit."

How will I know I'm done?
Call my mom, she'll tell you.

How am I doing?
So far, no progress.

Thing 21: Complete the 50 Book Pledge

This probably sounds more interesting than it is.  The 50 Book Pledge is something the Savvy Readers over at Harper Collins started - and it's really just a pledge to try to read 50 books this year (2011.)  This probably won't be too hard for me since I typically read close to (or sometimes more) than this in a year.

How will I know I'm done?
I've kept an Excel spreadsheet for years tracking the books I read each year so I'll just watch for this to hit 50 rows.

How am I doing?
Completed October 28, 2011, read about it here.

Thing 19: Take some kind of "Home Maintenance/Repairs for Women" class

Do you know how to do electrical work? No?  Neither do I.  But I think I should know.  Or at least do basic home repair stuff so that I don't have to pay for an emergency plumber on a Sunday morning.  I know that Conestoga offers a course like this but I'm sure there are tonnes of them.

How will I know I'm done?
I will start, finish and hopefully get some kind of pretty certificate to prove my new found skills.  If you really want to test that I've completed this Thing, knock a hole in your wall and I'll try to patch it.

How am I doing?
Completed September 2012, read about it here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thing 18: Meet 10 new bookcrossers in person

I've been a bookcrossing.com member since 2004 after Amy got me hooked on it.  I'm not on the site regularly - I flit in and out of the forum every few months but I always have a stack of books to register & release and I follow a number of BookCrossers on Twitter.  They tend to be highly interesting & entertaining people.  It would be fantastic to meet some of them in person.  Hopefully, I can get to an event of some kind but I'll settle for going to a couple of near-ish meet-ups, if the former doesn't work out.

How will I know I'm done?
Should be pretty easy to keep track of meeting 10 new BookCrossers - I'll be linking to the profile pages of the people I meet, as I meet them.  10 profiles and the Thing is done.

How am I doing?
So far, no progress

Thing 17: Try 101 new recipes

I used to get a couple of food magazines and while they were great, I hardly ever tried anything out of them.  About a year ago, I went through them and ripped out all the recipes I wanted to try.  EDP was allowed to contribute to the pile too.  Now, there's a bunch of recipes in a folder, waiting to be tried.  With this Thing, I'm hoping to empty that folder and try some of the recipes in our cookbooks that look tasty that we've never tried.  Hopefully, we get a few new recipes that we love out of it.

How will I know I'm done?
I'm going to list the name of the recipes I've tried. 

How am I doing?
So far, I've tried:
  1. Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
  2. Hostess with the Mostess Cupcakes
  3. Teriyaki Salmon
  4. Banana Bread
  5. Chocolate Mousse
  6. Chocolate Zucchini Bread
  7. Key Lime Pie
  8. Cream of Cauliflower Soup
  9. Cocoa Fudge Cake
  10. Chocolate Marshmallow Fondant
  11. French Toast Muffins
  12. Classic Tomato Soup
  13. Shepherd's Pie
  14. Stuffed Green Peppers
  15. White Cheddar Cauliflower Soup
  16. The Morrow Family Favourite Hash Brown Casserole
  17. Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup
  18. Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
  19. Rigatoni with Broccoli Bake
  20. Yabba Dabba Stew
  21. Yorkshire Pudding
  22. Bourbon Chocolate Mousse
  23. Gnocchi with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce
  24. Twice-Baked Potato Casserole
  25. Crispy Smashed Potatoes
  26. Candy Bar Cake
  27. Cream of Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  28. Potato and Corn Chowder
  29. Tiny Chocolate Cinnamon Cakes
  30. Asiago Mashed Potatoes
  31. Spaghetti with Roasted Red Peppers, Plum Tomatoes & Goat Cheese
  32. Flakey Buttermilk Biscuits
  33. Spaghetti alla Carbonara
  34. Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Pie
  35. Strawberry Shortcake for Two
  36. Linguine with Roasted Red Peppers, Tomatoes & Toasted Breadcrumbs
  37. Baby Yukon Potato Salad with Shallots, Chives, Bacon & Lemon Vinaigrette
  38. Peanut Butter Pancakes
  39. Bunny Butt Cake
  40. Zucchini Relish
  41. Grilled Pork Tenderloin (with a spice rub)
  42. Grand Champion Peach Jam
  43. Authentic Fettucini Alfredo
  44. Bruschetta
  45. Tiramisu
  46. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
  47. Chicken Marsala
  48. Whiskey Marshmallow Caramel Bacon Bark
  49. Salsa
  50. Spicy Sausage and Fennel Rigatoni
  51. Chocolate Pavlovas
  52. Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze
  53. Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
  54. Red Velvet Cheesecake
  55. Chocolate Chip S'mores Cookies
  56. Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
  57. Baked Baby Carrot Gratin with Horseradish Crumbs
  58. Festive Turnip
  59. Green Bean Casserole
  60. Cranberry sauce
  61. Stuffing (yulch)
  62. Bloomin Brie Bowl
  63. Pumpkin Pie
  64. English Toffee
  65. Lemon Cheesecake Squares
  66. Butterscotch Confetti Squares
  67. Beef Barley Soup
  68. Roast Chicken
  69. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  70. French Apple Tart
  71. Turkey Soup with Rice
  72. Turkey Stock
  73. Potato, Bacon & Cheddar Soup
  74. Penne with Vodka Sauce
  75. Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken
  76. Tortellini with Pancetta, Parsley and Parmesan
  77. Ham and Vegetable Gratin
  78. Bacon Hasselback Potatoes
  79. Best Ever Chocolate Chip Muffins (they were good but I don't know if I'd call them the best...)
  80. Banana Cream Pie
  81. Devil's Food Cake
  82. Roast Beef
  83. Classic Risotto
  84. Loaded Baked Potato Chowder
  85. Sangria
  86. Pink Lemonade
  87. Cinnamon-Caramel-Ganache Layer Cake
  88. Garlic Top Sirloin Pot Roast
  89. Strawberry Sauce
  90. Caesar Salad Dressing
  91. Mayonnaise

I made my first microloan!

Just a quick update - yesterday, I made my first loan on Kiva.  I've loaned $25 to Mrs. Phim in Cambodia to help her buy raw materials for her husband's well digging business. 

If all goes well, the 98 other lenders and I will be repaid by April 2012.

Thing 48: Make 10 microloans

Yes, that's right.  I'm entering the world of high finance to be a money lender.

If you haven't been made aware of the world of microloans, the wikipedia article is pretty good (and the first one I've read for Thing 51!)  The idea has been around for ages but has really grown in popularity in the last few years.  There are a few organizations that allow regular ol' people like me to get involved, including Kiva.org, which I've known about for a while.  I think Kiva's structure is pretty typical of most of these kinds of websites.  There are lots of loans in the fundraising stage at any given time that you can choose to participate in.  You can lend as little as $25 or up to $500 (it looks like to me, anyway.)  The loans tend to be backfilled - the field partner in charge of the loan has already given the lendee the money so they can get started right away without having to wait for their loan to finish funding.  Once the loan has finished fundraising, it heads towards repayment.  The repayment terms are laid out up front so you know when you'll start to see money back.  When you do start being repaid, you can either withdraw the money or reloan it.

My plan is 10 microloans.  I haven't decided if I'll use just one site or try out more than one.  I'm hoping to focus my loans on things that will either help the entire community (so things like improving the availability of water) or allow someone to get an education they wouldn't otherwise be able to get.

How will I know I'm done?
My number of loans made will be 10.  I won't worry about the loans being repaid, though that certainly would be nice.

How am I doing?
Completed October 15, 2011, read about it here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thing 16: Buy myself a diamond ring from Tiffany's for my 30 birthday

When your birthstone is a diamond, you don't get many presents with your birthstone over the years.  My parents did try once - but they felt everything looked a bit too engagement ring-y and that wasn't really the way they wanted to go.  I have a few rather lovely diamonds now but I'd like to have a nice ring with a couple of diamonds in it.  To achieve that goal, I decided that I'd buy myself a diamond ring for my 30th birthday.  And that it would be from Tiffany & Co.  Because what could possibly beat a diamond ring from Tiffany's?  That's rhetorical, by the way - I'm not looking for any answers.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll be opening a little blue box on my 30th that I bought for myself.

How am I doing?
Completed May 18, 2012, read about it here.

Thing 15: Finish my Wreck this Journal

Wreck this Journal is a journal you are supposed to wreck.  Each page has instructions for a different thing you are supposed to do.  Instructions include things like mailing the journal to yourself, eating candy and then licking the page, and adding your own page numbers.  I bought it a while back when Amy and I were on one of our Chapters outings - it was something she already knew about and wanted to get.  I thought it was fun so I got one too, even though keeping a journal isn't something that really interests me.  Anyway, I did a few pages and then got busy and now it's been on the shelf for a while.  My plan is to finish it.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have followed the instructions on every page and completed them, no matter how much it makes me cry to purposely crack a book's spine.

How am I doing?
So far, I've made a tiny bit of progress.

Nothing new finished but lots on the go...

The last week has been productive as far as my 101 Things go.

Over the past week, I initiated my first transfer from my GSOP to my TFSA.  I've also left a voicemail about my drum lessons (note to self: follow up with an email), set myself up on MapMyWalk.com, donated some rice, set up a Kiva account, and checked out the gym with the squash courts around the corner from us.  On top of that, I have my first handwritten letter planned.  I should be able to get it written tonight and in the mail tomorrow.  Don't check your mailbox, it's not for you.  I also started on turning my handwriting into a font.  I found a couple of websites that do this and did a mock run on each of them to see which one produced the best quality.  I think I've decided which site to use but I have a feeling I'll be writing the alphabet out a lot before I get a final product I'm happy with.

I set out this past weekend to bake another angel food cake.  And I did.  This one went well - it was decent, and certainly edible.  But it was a bit overcooked and I wasn't completely happy with my egg whites.  I'm pretty sure our oven runs hot but I don't know by how much so I just kind of guess at how much to reduce the temperature when something goes in.  I need to get a thermometer before my next attempt.

So lots in progress but nothing else done yet.

This coming weekend should see 2 Things finished - my family is heading to NYC for the weekend so seeing a Broadway play in New York and breakfast at Tiffany's should be crossed off the list before long.

Thing 53: Have breakfast at Tiffany's

Now, you can't actually have breakfast at Tiffany's.  There isn't a restaurant or a coffee shop or anything inside.  And you certainly can't take an Egg McMuffin inside with you.  But if you watch the opening credits of Breakfast at Tiffany's, you'll see what I mean.  Holly Golightly pulls up in front of Tiffany's in a cab, dressed in formal attire.  She has her coffee & her pastry and checks out the displays in the windows before walking home.  And that's what I want to do.


How will I know I'm done?
I'll have had my breakfast while looking in the windows at a Tiffany & Co store. 

How am I doing?
Completed April 25, 2011, read about it here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thing 97: Turn my handwriting into a font

I'm pretty sure I saw this on someone else's list but I can't really remember.  There are a few websites out there that will help you turn your handwriting into a font.  You print out a template, fill it in, scan it and upload it to the website and then presto chango - you have your very own font.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have installed the font on my computer

How am I doing?
Completed February 27, 2012, read about it here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Thing 14: Get TBR down to 25 books and keep it under 30 for 3 months

As you may or may not be aware, I like books.  And reading.  Which is handy since those two things go hand-in-hand.  And for the last few years, my pile of books to be read (TBR) has been multiplying.  Every year, I try really hard to get it under control.  And every year, I fail.  Usually miserably.  But it really does make me sad when I pay full price for a book and then see it in the bargain section at Chapters before I get around to reading it.  It's time to get this under control.  The goal will be to get the pile down to 25 books and then keep it under 20 books for at least 3 months.  The 50 Book Pledge that I'm doing in 2011 will help with making the pile smaller but not bringing more books into the house will be tricky.

This was originally down to 10 books and keep under 15 for three months but I found I was focussing too much on this Thing and neglecting others so I've modified the numbers to down to 25 and keep it under 30 for three months.

How will I know I'm done?
This will be a two-parter.  The first part will be when the running list of books I keep in an Excel spreadsheet shows only 25 books.  Once I hit that milestone, I'll be watching for 3 months to make sure it doesn't go up any higher than 29.  If it doesn't, this thing will be done.

How am I doing?
At the beginning of the 101 Things project, there were 49 TBR books on my shelf.  At the end of December, 2012, there were 41.

Thing 13: Finish the family scrapbook I started a few years ago

A few years ago, I spent a chunk of time going through all the old photos at my parents house with the grand plan of creating a family-themed scrapbook.  I got as far as making copies of the pictures and have made no progress since.  My 101 Things project is the perfect opportunity to get off my butt and finish the pages.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have at least all the pages that came with the scrapbook completed (i.e. I won't necessarily be adding more pages to the book) and all the photos that are sitting on top of it will be somewhere in the book.

How am I doing?
So far, no progress.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thing 12: Walk 200 km with my dog

Penelope, for those who won't know, is a pug.  Pugs have a reputation for being overweight.  Penny is not - though once when I took her to the vet, they told me she was at the high end of normal and that I was feeding her twice as much as I should be. Anyway...  We go for lots of walks, which she enjoys if the weather is nice.  So, in order to keep her nice & svelte, we're going to walk at least 200 km by the end of my 1001 days.

Our regular walks won't count towards the 200 km. And I may increase the number of km if I find I reach it too quickly.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll be using using MapMyWalk to track my progress.  It's a pretty cool site that allows you to map the walks you take and track how far you've gone.  It'll keep a running total for me and once it hits 200, this Thing will be done.

How am I doing?
So far, we've walked 151.57 km.

Thing 11: Digitize all my school notes

I don't know why but I refuse to get rid of all the notes I've taken in classes over the years.  I have 4 boxes of notes that live in the closet.  What I want to do with them is scan them all, organize them and burn them onto a DVD for each program I've taken.  With 4 boxes, it'll be a bit of an undertaking so it's good I've got 1001 days for this.  Once they are scanned, I'll feel comfortable with recycling them but not a minute sooner.

How will I know I'm done?
The boxes will be gone and there will be room in the closet to store something else.

How am I doing?
At the end of December, I had finished my Project Management certificate & BA notes and have started on my BComm.

The books for Thing 1

As I've mentioned somewhere, I'm being pretty selective about who I'm asking for my book recommendations (so being cranky with me for not asking you is not allowed.) I'm going to really take my time with getting all my recommendations but I'll list them here as I get them.

Book 1:
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
Recommended by Ellen
I went to high school with Ellen.  We're pretty different but do share a love of traditional East coast music, seeing Natalie MacMaster together at Centre in the Square when we were in grade 10 (at least, I think it was grade 10.  Maybe 11.) Now, she's living my dream, working in a bookstore.  I figured she sees so many books that she'd have a good recommendation.

Book 2:
Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
Recommended by Steve 
I met Steve not long after I moved to Waterloo through a girl I worked with (who, incidentally, also introduced me to EDP, if anyone is interested.)  He's an engineer by trade but now mostly just bosses people around, I think.  We have lunch every once in a while and even though he doesn't talk about the books he's reading, he's an interesting guy so I figured he was a good person to ask.  Survivor was about the 4th title he gave me - because I had read the first three.  Or maybe it was only two.

Book 3:
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Recommended by Sarah Dowdey, from Stuff You Missed in History Class
I'm really excited about this recommendation...  A few months ago, when I was looking for podcasts to listen to while walking Penelope, I found Stuff You Missed in History Class.  It's awesome.  I listened to all the back episodes and now I'm caught up and love when I see a new episode in my iTunes.  It's hosted by Sarah and Deblina, who are thoroughly enjoyable and have a great rapport with each other.  I took a chance and emailed to ask for a recommendation and I got one!!  Neat, eh?

Book 4:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Recommended by Kirsi
When I was in school, I had a part-time gig telling ghost stories.  It was pretty fun.  I also got to work with some pretty fun people, including Kirsi.  Kirsi ran the show and always had a smile.  The guides were a pretty awesome bunch but I bet we were a handful sometimes. Anyway, she's a delight and it dawned on me that she likely would have a good recommendation.  I've heard about this book before but it's never made it onto my list so I'm kinda excited for this one to be recommended to me.

Book 5:
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas
Recommended by Bean
Don't worry, Bean isn't her real name.  It's just a nickname.  I used to work with Bean before the world of desks and meetings and corporate policies got to be too much for her and she went back to the world of academia.  One day, when she's horribly successful, I'm going to be her Chief of Staff.  Given that her background is in English, she's a good pick for my list.  She sent me a few books she's read lately and I'm grabbing the top one from the list for my recommendation list but I'm actually adding the others to my massively long list of books I'd like to read because they all sounded pretty interesting.

Book 6:
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max
Recommended by Stacey
I'm sure some of you have heard me refer to Stacey as the smartest person I know.  She's tried to debate me on that before but there's no way she can dispute that she's the most educated person I know.  This girl has two undergrads - one in Engineering and the other in Psychology.  She has her Masters in Engineering.  She's almost done her PhD in Engineering and she's in law school.  That's FIVE degrees either finished or underway.  Just on her own!  Anyway.  In addition to being ridiculously smart, Stacey is super awesome.  So she's a prime candidate for a book recommendation.  I don't really know anything about this book, aside from the fact that it's not at all the type of book I thought Stacey would recommend.  Still, it looks interesting.

Book 7:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Recommended by Danyal
Danyal is another person I met through the ghost story job. Though, back in that day, we used to call her Jack. There was already a Danielle working when this Danyal started so really, can you blame us? She was also a tour guide at Queen's with me and we did a season of recruiting for Queen's together, too.  In fact, I'd be lying if I said I don't half-expect Danyal to show up where I'm working now and announce we're co-workers again.  It would also be a lie if I said I wasn't half-hoping for it.  She's a pretty neat gal.  Anyway.  She's another one of those people that's a reader but of very different books as me. The Hunger Games isn't something I'd normally pick up for two reasons - one, it's a teen novel and two, it's now a movie and I don't tend to like picking stuff up after it's been made into a movie.  But onto the list it goes.

Book 8:
The Family Fang by Kevin Williams
Recommended by The Savvy Reader
What is that?  The Savvy Reader isn't  person?!  Okay, look, I grant that the Savvy Reader isn't a typical person but there are people behind the tweets.  And one of them has recommended the Family Fang to me.  The Savvy Reader is part of HarperCollins Canada and they tweet some pretty fun stuff.  They are also the originators of the 50 Book Pledge so it seemed like a good idea to tap them for a book.  The Family Fang is supposed to be very funny so it's a good addition to my list.

Book 9:
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Recommended by Jenn
Jenn might be my soulmate.  She works with EDP and quite frankly, she's one of the best things about his job.  She's a pretty sassy girl but she does have an English degree so it could be a danger asking her to recommend a book.  I already had a pick from an English major and I don't want to weigh myself down too much but Jenn is so awesome, I couldn't not ask her.  Hopefully, her pick is good.  Otherwise, I'm going ot make EDP slowly steal all of her office supplies.    

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thing 10: Explore my square mile

I stole this off of 101 Things of A Wolf but it's a fantastic idea.  In a nutshell, Square Mile Living is similar to the whole local movement.  According to a post on a Frugal Village forum, "In Square Mile Living people try to live as much of their life as possible within a mile radius (squared off) of where they live." With recently moving to a new city, exploring my new neighbourhood sounds like a really good idea.  To be honest, I'm not sure there will be much in my square mile.  We're pretty residential with a big ol' forest thrown in there.  There are a couple of plazas around but not much.  Still, it'll be a good to explore the residential streets to have more options for Penny's walks.

How will I know I'm done?
In addition to knowing where my square mile is, I'll be able to walk anywhere in it without worrying about getting lost and have explored the shops, etc. that I come across.

How am I doing?
We've started exploring!

Thing 9: Be debt free

This is a big one and I'll probably be working on it for most of the 1001 days, though it isn't unreasonable to think I'll achieve it.  Like a lot of people, I have a car loan and some student loans - and it doesn't help that I'm still taking classes.  I'll be focussing on really bringing the balances down during this whole project.  Luckily, I have a plan.

Just for clarity, I will not be counting a mortgage in this Thing.  We don't have a mortgage now but we plan to soon and I don't imagine we'll be paying that off in 1001 days.  

How will I know I'm done?
My liabilities will have $0 balances.

How am I doing?
In June 2012, I removed this from my list in favour of tripling my net worth instead.

Thing 8: Learn to play the drums

I'm sure you're surprised to know that I don't already play the drums.  I know I look like the type that would.  But I don't.  And, I really would like to be allowed to legitimately hit things with sticks.  So far, playing the drums is the only thing I can think of that will let me pursue that.  Oh, and I think it'll nicely round out the classical piano and traditional folk fiddle I already play.

How will I know I'm done?
I don't really know how you determine if you can play an instrument or not.  For this, I'm going to say that I can pick up a piece of sheet music and play it decently after only a couple of tries through it.

How am I doing?
I've started lessons and if I do say so myself, I'm rather good!

Thing 7: See a Broadway play in New York

I enjoy musicals. I've seen a lot.  I've seen some twice.  I've seen most of them in Toronto but the odd one in Kitchener.  I've never seen one in New York City.  And that seems like something one should do.  So it went on the list.

How will I know I'm done?
This one is pretty obvious, right?

How am I doing?
Completed April 23, 2011, read about it here

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thing 6: Send one handwritten a letter a month

Letter-writing is a dying art.  Or perhaps already a lost art.  Regardless, people should do it more.  Because getting a letter in the mail is way better than getting a bill.  So I'm going to send a handwritten letter every month. This will be an ongoing Thing over the course of the entire 1001 days.  I'm going to need some more stamps.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have to keep a list of the letters I send.

How am I doing?
So far, I'm a little behind but planning to be caught up by the end of 2012.

Thing 5: Take a photo of the same place every month for a year & turn it into a calendar for the next year

This is another Thing that I saw on a lot of lists.  It seemed like a pretty cool idea so onto my list it went.  It will take a bit of planning to pick a place that has a bit of interest and to make sure I'll be able to get to the place every month.  I won't hold myself to the exact same day every month but will need to take the photo within a couple of days.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have a physical calendar with photos I took.

How am I doing?
A spot has been picked and the January photo is planned.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thing 35: Adopt 10 words

According to Save the Words, 90% of everything we write uses only 7,000 words. Save the Words is dedicated to saving the rest of the English language.  I'm going to do my part by adopting 10 words to incorporate into my regular vocabulary.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have written or spoken 10 sentences, each using one of my adopted words.

How am I doing?
So far, no progress.

Thing 51: Read 1001 Wikipedia Articles

Pretty straightforward - read 1001 articles on Wikipedia.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll be keeping track on a spreadsheet that I'll be keeping on my Google Docs.  Once I finish an article, I'll add it and when there are 1001 articles listed, I'll be done.

How am I doing?
So far, I've read 124.

*Insert a trumpet fanfare here* My first Thing is done!!

Yay me!

This morning, EDP and I went grocery shopping.  And I held my tongue about sales the entire time we were there.  It was very hard.

The pack of flyers has been sitting on the coffee table since Thursday.  Luckily, I had an exam to study for so I wasn't tempted too often.  But this morning, EDP started looking through them.  It was hard but I pulled through and didn't even peak.  We only went to one grocery store - the Zehrs around the corner where we do the majority of our shopping.  The beginning was fine because it was the fresh stuff.  We have to get that stuff whether it is on sale or not so I usually don't say much here. It's everything else that I struggle with.

The first obstacle was the ham.  Little hams are expensive.  I only ever buy them when they were on sale.  We bought one a few weeks ago when they were on sale, so there is on in the fridge.  But the sale today was REALLY good.  I had to grit my teeth and not say much for a while.  But EDP could tell there was something I had seen.  So he backtracked and eventually found the little hams.  He decided we would get one.  But it was his decision, not mine.

After that, things went okay for a bit.  The next hurdle was cottage cheese.  EDP asked me to grab a 2% for him.  Well, bless my heart - it was ON SALE!  But, they didn't have any 2% left.  Just 4%.  I didn't even ASK EDP if he wanted 4% instead, I just got a different brand and put it in the cart.

After that was the ice cream aisle.  I always check to see if Ben & Jerry's or Häagen-Dazs was on sale.  Well, I didn't today!  I didn't really look to see if the frozen entres EDP likes to take for lunch were on sale.  And I grabbed the bag of chips and put it in the cart before I saw the sale tag.  And when I did, I didn't say anything at all.  And it turns out the dirty look EDP gave me was because I wasn't getting the Dill Pickle flavour.

After that, things got a bit easier.  I think it was because I started looking straight ahead instead of at the food.  But I made it past the cheese (on sale!), the butter (on sale!) and the peanut butter (on sale!) all without pause.

But I think my biggest triumph was the ketchup.  We're low on ketchup.  We have enough to last until next week and shockingly, I haven't bought a replacement yet - it must not have been on sale.  Well, some of it was today.  But not the usual kind.  Just the low sodium kind.  Which we should probably get anyway since I'm obsessed with reducing our sodium intake.  But I thought if I suggested it, EDP would say it was just because it was on sale.  So when he pointed to it, my heart did a little jump for joy but I said it wasn't the usual kind.  But he said we should try it anyway.  And that's what went in the cart.

From then on, it was smooth sailing.  We skipped a few aisles that I'd normally drag EDP down to see if there were any good sales.  And soon, we were checking out.  All without me making a single comment about a sale.  I didn't stock up on anything today.  Our grocery bill was surprisingly low.  And there was nothing to put in the freezer or the pantry aside from that ham.

Will I continue with this lifestyle?  No way.  I think it's stupid not to buy stuff when it's on sale.  But I did it once.  And I'm sure it's been EDP's favourite grocery shopping trip with me to date.

Oh, and I already have the $25 for finishing this in my new savings account...  I had to transfer a few dollars in when I set the account up so I'm on track with Thing 101!

In other news, I decided to start working on the perfect angel food cake.  I've got the first one in the oven now.  It's definitely not going to turn out.  I started to fold in my flour and I realized there was still some egg white at the bottom of the bowl that didn't get whipped.  Dammit!

Thing 40: Bake a delicious angel food cake from scratch

From everything I've heard, baking an angel food cake (from scratch) is one of the hardest things to do well.  I LOVE angel food cake.  So does EDP.  It's super easy to make from a mix and I will admit that this is the only way I've ever made it!  But it's time to learn to make it from scratch.  Lucky for me, I have at least 3 recipes for it that I can try.  And I'll keep trying until I get it right.

How will I know I'm done?
I will have made an angel food cake - without a mix - that is "spongy, slightly chewy and sweet, with a nice hint of flavoring"  (I got this definition from baking911.com.)

How am I doing?
So far, I've made one.  It's in the oven right now but I already know it won't turn out.

What I've already learned....

I've JUST finished making my list of 101 Things.  And man, it was hard.  I have probably looked at close to a hundred other blogs and lists over the last week to get ideas.  I still have to organize it into themes (that'll make it easier for me to find things, I figure) so it might still change.

Less than a week in, I've already learned a few things that I'll share, in case any of the half dozen people who have said they are thinking about doing this decide to take it on.

First, think about it for at least a week.  Start making your list so that you can see how many things you can come up with.  My first 20 or so came with no problems.  Once I hit 40, I had to start looking around at other people's lists.  Once I hit 80, I thought I was going to end up doing 80 Things in 808 Days.  I took a LOT of goals from other people - which I'm fine with but if you want to think of them all on your own, you'll need a while.  Thinking of the list is harder than it sounds - I thought of a lot of great stuff to put on it but when I actually thought about many of them, I either couldn't measure them or there was just a huge chance that I wouldn't be done in 1001 days (which is why you won't see finishing my second degree on there - with 8 courses left, that could take me just over a year to finish or it could take another 4.)  

Second, I've seen a lot of lists that are just plain bad, for lack of a better word.  I've seen a lot of lists that are 75% movies or just giant lists of spa treatments.  I've seen a lot of lists that are setting people up to fail - like a high school student with "Get into law school" on their list.  And you have to be careful not to make too many things dependent on other things.  I have a few but not a lot.  

Third (and I'll be doing this), give yourself a couple of "outs."  I've seen at least one list where about 10% had to be taken off because the person had sustained an injury and could no longer do some of the things on the list.  So, I'm going to allow myself to sub out up to 5 Things throughout the days if I find that there are Things that just aren't going to happen.  

Finally, I realize that there's a LOT of stuff that other people want to do that I've already done.  So I feel pretty happy with myself, in that respect.  With reading so many other lists, I've come across a lot of things that I would have loved to put on my list, except for the fact that I've done it already and it seemed wrong to put things on that I've already done.  Maybe my next 101 Things will be 101 Things to re-do :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thing 4: Visit 4 provinces

First, let's be clear...  It's just the provinces, not the provinces & the territories.

Okay, I'm glad we cleared that up.  Let's discuss the provinces, then.

There are a lot of cool, diverse places and things in Canada. I figure I should see them.  My parents took my sister & I out East when I was really little but I don't remember much other than throwing up in the car and a pot of boiling lobsters.  So beyond Ontario, there's very little of Canada that I've seen.

I changed this to only 4 provinces part way through my list because visiting all 12 provinces was a bit too $$ intensive, which was in conflict with some of my other Things.

How will I know I'm done?
A visit means a bit more than just crossing the border. In order to consider a province visited, I'll have to make a point of actually visiting a specific thing in the province.  And to finish the entire Thing, I'll have visited something in each province.

How am I doing?
Well, I've seen a lot of Ontario - mostly because I live here but also from when I was doing recruitment for Queen's.  And in the summer of 2011, we drove out to Nova Scotia where I was able to cross off Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, leaving one province left for me to visit.

Thing 3: Pay for someone's order in line behind me

This is one of those things that I've always thought of doing but never actually get around to.  Because how do you pay for someone's order behind you if you don't know what they are going to order?  I still need to work this part out.  I figure the easiest thing is to use a drive-through line.  I don't go through a lot of drive-throughs, though, so we'll see what happens.  There is a Starbucks drive-through around the corner from us so that's a likely target.

How will I know I'm done?
I will have paid for the complete order of someone behind me in a line.  Here's hoping no one is picking lattes and muffins up for the entire office.

How am I doing?
Completed November 4, 2011, read about it here.

Thing 74: Go grocery shopping with EDP without saying "But it's on sale" or any variation of the phrase

"Oh, look – cereal is on sale, we should buy some!"
"We already have some."
"But it’s on sale."
"We have 7 boxes of cereal at home already."
"But it doesn’t go bad so we should get it now when it’s on sale."
"But we already have enough for 2 months.  Let’s eat some of what we have and then you can buy more."
"But it might not be on sale when we need more.  And why would we buy it at full price when we can get it on sale?"
"Cereal will go on sale again sometime in the next two months.  You can get more then."
"But what if it doesn’t?"
"Trust me, it will."
"But what if it doesn’t?"
"Fine, buy whatever you want."
*Colleen puts four boxes of cereal in the cart*
"Oh, look – tea is on sale, we should buy some!"
"I hate grocery shopping with you."

I'm sure it will shock you to find out this conversation happens every single time EDP & I go grocery shopping.  Over and over again from the minute we walk into the grocery store to the minute we pay the bill.  

Wait, that's a lie.  It starts before that.  It starts in the car when I remind EDP what's on sale at the stores we're going to.  It starts when I'm making the grocery list and tell EDP that Metro has a good sale on laundry detergent so we should go there to get some. It starts when I sit on the sofa, surrounded by every single grocery store flyer, determining which stores are worth going to.  

I firmly believe, that wherever possible, you don't buy anything unless it's on sale.  Why wouldn't I buy as much laundry detergent as my arms will carry when it's on for half price?  It doesn't go bad, I'll definitely use it and I can use the money I didn't spend on laundry detergent to buy some delicious Häagen-Dazs.  The club pack of ground beef is on sale?  Great.  Let's buy it, divide it up into smaller amounts and freeze it until we need it next.

EDP certainly does not agree with this philosophy but I have worn him down to the point that he just doesn't bother arguing anymore.  It's not that he's against sales but he thinks if you don't need it, you shouldn't buy it just because it's on sale.  Maybe buy it if you are running low but he typically prefers to wait until something is actually needed before buying it.

So for one of our weekly grocery shopping trips, I will suppress all of my natural instincts and refrain from insisting we buy something when it's on sale and conversely, refusing to buy something that isn't on sale (because it works both ways...  if it isn't on sale, I won't buy it. Which is why there wasn't any club soda in the house when I spilled coffee on the sofa two weeks ago. But don't worry, it was on sale last week so we're stocked up again.)

I won't even talk about what's on sale on the way to the store.  Or make a list of what is at each store.  Or even look at the flyers.  

I do, however, retain the right to refuse to pay $3.99 a pound for green peppers.  

How will I know I'm done?
I will know I'm done when the ER doctors are explaining I had a minor heart attack, as I'm sure that is what will happen if I have to walk by the egg noodles for 50 cents off and not put a package in the cart.  Alternatively, I will have arrived home from our weekly grocery shopping trip without having touched a flyer and having walked by all the little sale tags without commenting on a single one to EDP.  And I suppose I will also have to refrain from just piling the stuff on sale into the cart unless we actually are running low - and I'll use EDP's definition of low, not mine (which is less than a 6 month supply.)

How am I doing?
Completed April 10, 2011, read about it here


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thing 64: Inspire/Encourage at least 1 other person to set up a 101 Things in 1001 Days list

This is another one I've seen on a few lists.  I toyed with whether or not to include it because I really don't want someone to start this unless they really want to.  But, I also think it is a really cool idea.  I opted to include it because in the first couple of days of talking about my Things, almost everyone has said something along the lines of "what a great idea" so I figure with that kind of reaction, surely, in 1001 days, someone will at least attempt it.

How will I know I'm done? 
This one is a hard one to decide...  But I think I'll consider it done when someone posts a link to their own list that has one Thing completed on it.

How am I doing?
Completed May 2, 2001, read about it here.

Thing 46: Donate a million grains of rice

This is one I've seen on a few other 101 Things in 1001 Days blog.  It seems pretty easy, though probably time consuming.

The Freerice.com concept is fairly simple.  Answer questions.  For each question you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to United Nations World Food Program.  1 million grains of rice will mean 100,000 correct answers.  See, time consuming.

How will I know I'm done?
The Freerice website allows you to sign up and track your total number of grains donated.  When my total reaches 1,000,000 grains, I'll be done this Thing.

How am I doing?
I have started answering questions.  So far, I'm up to 136,000 grains of rice donated.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 1 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days

I promise I won't post every single day.  But it seems like I should post on the first day.  If you are expecting an exiting announcement of finishing a Thing on my first day, please lower your expectations of me.  But I've started the ball rolling on a couple of Things and am continuing to work on getting all 101 Things set up.

I have asked a couple of people for their book recommendations for Thing 1.  I'm walking a very fine line between the people who I know will recommend books because they think I'll like them and the people who I know will recommend books because they will "expand my horizons" (yes, EDP, I'm looking at you.) Expanding my horizons is almost as bad as building character.

I've also started setting up the TFSA account I need for Thing 20 and have poked around to find out who has the best interest rates for a savings account for Thing 101.

My list of Things is growing but it is going very slowly now.  I'm looking at a lot of other 101 Things in 1001 Days lists and finding a bit of inspiration on them but I still have about 45 more things to think of.  Suggestions are welcome.

Thing 20: Contribute $10,000 to my TFSA

The government kindly advised me that I have $15,000 of contribution room available in my TFSA.  I found this interesting as I don't have a TFSA.  How can there be room in something I don't have?  But I really should have one.

At work, I participate in our GSOP program, which allows me to buy stock in my company with the company matching a portion of what I contribute.  I participate and have since I started there a year ago.  But they don't offer the GSOP program through an RRSP or our RPP or a TFSA.  So my plan is to transfer some of my stock out once a year into a TFSA.  This is where the bulk of the $10,000 will come from.  The rest will come from Thing 101, which is putting $25 into a savings account for every Thing I finish.  This savings account will also be a TFSA.

I've tweaked this slightly to read "Contribute $10,000 to my TFSA" from "Reach a balance of $10,000 in my TFSA" because my eggs are all in my company's basket and with the current interest rate environment, our stock keeps falling since low interest rates are bad for us. So, I'm going to contribute $10,000 instead of worrying about having a balance of $10,000. 

How will I know I'm done?
I will have contributed $10,000 in whatever TFSA account(s) I have.

How am I doing?
So far, I've made a $6,800 contribution to my TFSA by transferring shares from my company GSOP program and I have contributed $950 to my 101 Things TFSA. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thing 2: Spend a week with no computer or TV

I spend a lot of time on my computer, mostly on the internet.  I spend a lot of time on my phone, mostly playing games and tweeting.  I don't spend a lot of time watching TV but I'm throwing it in anyway. For a week, I'm going to give it all up. No twitter, no gmail, no online newspapers, no Skype, no compulsively checking my bank balance, no new episodes of Grey's Anatomy or How I Met Your Mother. This one will have to happen over a summer where I'm not taking a course.

How will I know I'm done? 
Well, I'll have gone 168 hours without turning on my netbook, my desktop, the TV or using my phone for anything other than a phone or an iPod or to play Angry Birds.  Using a computer for work won't count against me but there will be no personal use at all during that 168 hours.

How am I doing?
So far, no progress.

Thing 1: Get a book recommendation from 9 different people (and actually read the book)

This is a Thing that I saw someone else doing. Well, I think what I saw was to get 10 books.  I’m going to do 12 because that works out to 1 a month for a year and that seems like a reasonable amount of time to take for this.  This would be a really easy one for me to do if I picked the right people. But I’m going to make it more of a challenge by picking the right people.  You know – not the people who are reading the same books as me anyway.  The people who will give me titles I’ve probably never heard of, let alone already have on the shelf.

This was originally 12 books but I've changed it to 9.  12 books was a little bit too much in conflict with  Thing 14.  

How will I know I’m done? 
Easy.  I’ll have read the books that will get listed here.  There will be no negotiating titles, unless I’ve already read the book.  Once I get the title, it’s set in stone.  No tradesies.

How am I doing?
Completed October 14, 2012, read about it here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

Thing 101. Save $25 for every Thing finished, including Thing 101

This one is easy enough, in theory.  For each Thing I finish, I'm going to put $25 into a savings account.  By that theory, it will be the last Thing I finish and I'll finish it off by putting the last $25 into the account.

How will I know I'm done?
I'll have $2525 in a savings account (well, a little bit more - I don't imagine I'll put it into a 0% interest account.)

How am I doing?
So far, I'm on track.

Taking on the 101 Things in 1001 Days project!

I've decided to take on the 101 Things in 1001 Days project.  Without realizing it, today was a good day to decide to do this - if I start tomorrow (April 5), my end date will be December 31.  Seems like a good day to end.  I don't think I can have my list of 101 Things done by tomorrow but I have a couple in mind and I think I'd rather get started now & finish off the list later than start later with a full list.

I'm going to blog about my Things instead of using the 101 Things in 1001 Days website because I want to do something similar to what one of the people I follow on Twitter  does - write about how I'll know I've achieved each Thing and talk about finishing them.  She also writes about why she's chosen each of her goals but I'm pretty sure my explanations will consist primarily of "Cause it'd be cool" so I won't bother with that.  If you think you might want to do 101 Things in 1001 Days, too, check out her blog, cause it's amazing.  Or just visit it to read about a lot of cool stuff she's done.  I did set up a page on dayzeroproject to have a checklist of my Things but I can't figure out how to change the date on it.  Once I get my Things finalized, I'll add them all to there.