Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Snowy/Winter movies and Happy New Year!

The last day of 2015 where we all reflect on the year that has been and look forward to the year ahead.  Some people had great years while others will be happy to see it go but we all can say we made it through.  This week, the year ends on snowy/wintry movies so head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to see what the others have picked.  here are my 3...


I have not seen this film in a while but it doesn't mean it has not left an impact on me.  Chaplin wrote, directed, produced and starred in this classic as, of course, the little tramp. It takes place when there was gold found in the Yukon in 1896 and many, many men traveled to strike it rich. We all know the classic scene where, starving, Chaplin boils his shoe and starts eating it twirling the laces like they were spaghetti. I have a vivid, loving memory of my dad and I laughing until we could not speak, tears streaming down our cheeks when Chaplin is being chased by his prospector partner, played by Mack Swain,  around the table in the cabin. The cabin, getting closer and closer to the cliff but all that Swain sees is one huge chicken, not his friend. Of course there is the dance hall girl that Chaplin falls for and loves from afar. A gem of a film that kids could watch today and laugh til their stomach hurts.

2. DR. ZHIVAGO-1965

This is an epic romance film set against World War 1 and after, with the Russian Revolution taking centre stage affecting everyone in the most saddest of ways. Yes, the make-up and hair is mod 1960's but who cares-the romance and story is what grips us. Many may feel now that it is long winded but what I find interesting is that both my mom and her brother, who was not a film watcher at all, both stated this was their favourite film. The music is beautiful with the opening credits of the frost on  the glass. The cinematography is breath-taking. My mom and her brother endured communism after the war (They were now in East Germany) and they both stated that was when the real hell began. Starvation, the cold, lack of coal, stealing wood to keep warm-my mom and her brother did this. Their home was no longer theirs but "for the people" and so finally, my mom escaped and later, my grandparents walked out with what they could carry, leaving the door unlocked. Can you imagine doing this? This film brings this home  and more. I want to read the book since Pasternak based the love story on his own. Until the day he died, the Communist regime kept him and the woman he loved separate except for brief moments. Either he or she were considered enemies of the state and sent to the gulags in Siberia. Once Pasternak died, she asked for the letters he had written to her but the government never gave them to her.  I say, think of that when you watch this film.

3. INSOMNIA-2002

This film, I believe is not too well known but it is excellent and not so much due to the acting of Pacino but of the great acting by Robin Williams. If you are thinking Mrs. Doubtfire, think again! He plays someone very, very creepy. Pacino plays a cop ( always a cop or thug) who travels to Alaska to solve a murder of a young girl. He suffers from, you guessed it, insomnia, so is slow on his game. A cat and mouse game ensues and you wonder who will actually win. I don't want to say more because I don't want to give too much away.

I didn't pick Fargo since I have a feeling it will be popular-It is a great film. Which films would you pick? Planning to go out, watch movies, see the ball drop at Times Square or go to bed by 10pm? No matter how you celebrate, have a wonderful New Year and may this year bring all we wish for.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Holiday/Vacation Movies

Merry Christmas everyone! I have been a no-show a lot because of the season but hope to get back to the norm soon enough. This time the theme lands right on Christmas Eve which is when I celebrate Christmas so I probably will not be able to make the rounds until after the 26th.

This bloghop is hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves and the theme this week is Holiday/Vacation Movies. Let's get to it!


This is the film where the song, "White Christmas" was introduced. I enjoy this film quite a bit even though the tribute to Lincoln's Birthday (a Holiday) makes one cringe in agony. Bing sings the song in blackface but what's worse is the female lead is done up as well with those crazy pig-tails that, if it were done now, every person in the world would be riled up and for good reason. One must take this certain piece from the time it was made and remember they thought they were actually paying homage to the African Americans. This has great dancing and singing as one song actually states this very theme. It also has some great funny moments and to see Astaire dance-just amazing. Just an FYI-when Astaire practiced his dancing for the 4th of July number, he lost over 20 lbs!


Except for my hubby, who I ignore when we differ in opinion, this film is a classic! We can all relate to this since we all were dressed up by our mom's to go out in the snow but we could hardly move. We all dealt with bullies- I even did stick my tongue on a pole (Get your minds out of the gutter ya filthy animals!:)) Yes my tongue got stuck but I cupped my hands around my tongue and breathed on it until the warm...or hot air let my tongue get off that's move on. We also have all experienced one meal in our lifetime that got ruined or at least delayed. This is also a special film because it was filmed in the city I live in. Sit back and just enjoy this gem of a film but hopefully no one has a lamp like that in their home.


I love the vacation films with Chevy Chase and this is a classic. It is not an award winner but man, does it make me laugh. When the cat chews on the lights, you know the cat will not see his 10th life. The uptight neighbours, one played by Julia Louis Dreyfus, really get their just desserts. We actually have similar neighbours living 2 doors down from us. My favourite scene... one of my favourites, is the sled scene especially the banter between Chase and Randy Quaid. What is wonderful about this film and the one above, is that we can all relate to it in some way even if it is over the top, that's what makes it funny.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Family Get-Together/Reunions

I have to say...I am going nuts. I am the hazelnut amongst all the other nuts that come out this festive season. If you have not seen me at many of your blogs, I must apologize as I am busy like all the rest of you but, I guess, I just can't get it together as well as all of you. At least I am doing some blogging of my own and hope to do more cards soon enough (After Christmas).

This week is Family Reunions/Get-Together and if you wish to see what everyone else picked, head on over to the host, Wandering Through The Shelves. He already has the new list out for 2016...anyone else want to join in on the fun? Without further ado, here are my 3 and I picked only 1 Christmas film!


Now, you know I was going to pick this movie at some point and talk about a great film! This IS my favourite film because of the message that we often take for granted. We all know the plot (I hope we all know it and if someone doesn't-tsk, tsk:)) This man, George Bailey, always wants to see the world and explore all he can but, whenever he gets a chance to, something always comes up. Christmas Eve is his crucial night when his guardian Angel, Clarence A2C (Angel, 2nd Class) comes to his hour of need to show him what the world would be like without him. Believe it or not, film noir comes into play while George ventures further than anyone else ever thought of. The ending with the entire family, blood relatives and beyond, come to his home,- makes me cry every time. Brilliant cast headed by the great James Stewart.


Westerns need some love and I love Westerns! I am a big John Wayne fan and am saddened by the negative crap that has been written about this man. He has his faults like any person but he was not a coward nor a savage right ringer ready to kill. I am going off topic, which I tend to do. This film is actually all about reunions. Ethan (played by Wayne) comes home after many years, to visit his brother and his family. You see, very early on, that he has an unrequited love for his brother's wife and she has the same for him. You can sense how tired he is and is glad to be back but it is short-lived. While he is away, His brother's homestead is attacked by the Comanche and all are killed except for the youngest daughter. Ethan and the adopted son of his brother (who is part Indian) start a 5 year search to find the young girl and reunite her with her brother and other families that will take her in and raise her as their own.... or will Ethan's hatred for the Indians make he do something horrible? It is visually stunning with a harshness not usually shown at that time but also filled with some comedic bits that just enhance the film even more. When Wayne comes to his brother's home and sees it burning, the music along with the look of pain on Wayne's face is one moment in film that I feel is brilliant.


This is a foreign film-French film starring Kristin Scott Thomas who should have been up for an Oscar for this role. She plays someone who, at first, you have little sympathy for, but as the story progresses, you heart just breaks for her. She has spent 15 years in prison and is reunited with her sister and lives with her sister and her sister's family. I do not want to reveal much more because it would take away from the brilliance of this film. Thomas's character starts off as a pariah but through the love and patience of her sister, her true nature is revealed. I was lucky to pick this film up for $2.99 because the place had no idea what kind of film this truly is...a gem!

What movies would you pick?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Joy Blog Hop

Over at Liz's Random Ponderings, To celebrate her 100th post, she decided to have a Christmas Blog Hop to talk about your favourite Christmas tradition, memory, gifts given or received, carol/song and/or why you celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas so thought this is perfect to partake in this blog hop.

I am Canadian, my father was Canadian but he always said that my mom, his wife (obviously) brought Christmas to him. Before that, he was a single man who went to the relatives and drank shots of whiskey. My mom changed all of this by bringing traditions that were handed down from her mom and her mom before her. My mom grew up in Germany-Wittenberg, Germany to be exact, where she and her siblings were always part of the Christmas play. My mom was always an angel as well as her older sister. Her one brother was the shepherd and her other brother was one of the 3 kings..a short king but a king nevertheless:)

They did not see the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve and it was decorated with hand-blown glass, candles and tinsel (lead tinsel which I have). In her province (Saxon-Anhalt), St. Nicholaus did not come with the creepy Krampus like it is done in Bavaria, but he came with an Angel. The shoes were polished up on Dec. 5th and placed out for St. Nicholas to place chocolate and candy in the shoes. If you were naughty, you got a potato.

The Christmas season started with the first of Advent where a wreath hung from the ceiling and 4 candles were on top of the wreath. Each Sunday they lit a candle until the 4th Sunday where all the candles were lit. They would have a little Christmas cookie or chocolate or Christmas Stollen which my Oma made. My mom fondly remembers travelling through the snow to go to the nearby baker to have the Stollen baked (it was too big for the regular oven). Going back home, the sleigh, my Oma pulled, had the freshly baked stollen on it and my mom and her brothers and sister could smell it and could hardly wait to get home and try a piece.

My mom's grandfather told them that St. Nicholas's reindeer would be very hungry so they would need to make sure plenty of hay was left out for the reindeer to eat. My mom and the rest would put all the hay out for the reindeer and Christmas morning, it was all gone. My mom always felt happy that the reindeer were fed. Later on she realized her poor Opa was out there bringing all the hay back into the barn.

The Christmas market in the town's square would be on during the whole season and it would be so much fun to walk and look at all the pretty stalls and see what was created whether it was something baked or something to hang on the tree.

Since my mom always celebrated Christmas Eve, that is when they received all the gifts. She always got a new dress her mother had made for her along with a hat, scarf and mittens. Each of them received a whole orange and some special chocolates that my  mom savoured. One year, my mom received a complete doll house with all the furniture done exactly like the home she lived in. Her father built the whole thing. It was one of her treasures.

All this, she brought with her to my dad and she created Christmas for him and for us. We would go to Mass that Christmas Eve and then, after, we opened all our gifts. We never opened them on Christmas Day. I now make my own Advent wreath, decorate my home with garlands, Santas, other decor plus, the Christmas village and the Nativity. Say what you will, but Christmas is not just for kids. I may not be religious but it is CHRISTmas and despite this holiday being taken from a pagan festival, we now celebrate the birth of Jesus who did actually exist. People can dispute whether he is the saviour or not, but no matter what, he has changed the world.  It is not about Disney characters and what the kids want. It is about peace, joy and good will to all men ( that means women too-I never take offense to that)

My Christmas tree has coloured lights (no candles-not liking a fire), a variety of ornaments from glass blown ones to the eggs my mom made and I hang the tinsel, one at a time, on the tree. I play Christmas music from traditional German carols to the Bonanza Christmas album my father bought back in 1962 or 1963. Christmas would not be the same without that album. My mom, being an OCD German, taught us well and we never (I mean we really don't) rip the Christmas paper. I cringe every time I see beautiful paper being torn up. We take time and slowly undo the paper and have a box for paper, a box for bows and a bag for some garbage. I have paper from when I was a kid! I plan to use it in a scrapbook I want to make.

Christmas is special and it does not mean to break the bank, complain about what you didn't get and gorge your stomach with turkey, it is about family, peace and love. I wish people would remember all that and not go out on Boxing Day which should be a holiday (used to be in Canada) to fight for crap and exchange things. Take another day, sit back and enjoy. I do love every moment of it while I look at a book, take a sip of wine, enjoy listening to Christmas music while I look at the tree, think of my mom and dad and gives kisses to my hubby, our 5 cats and our doggie, Wallace.

Thank you mom, for giving Christmas to all of us. You are in long term care and don't get excited like you used to for Christmas but you still give me joy.

My Nativity scene

My Christmas tree with the tinsel hung one by one

My Advent wreath that I make every year

An egg (chicken) my mom created with St. Nicholas pulling a sleigh (she made the interiors)

My Christmas village  the upper left, partly cut out, is my local Cathouse, as every village should have one. I bought these for under $3 and painted them all. The last few my hubby painted also.

Now for one Christmas song that is one of my favourites-Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mock Squid Soup Film Society-My Pick!

Now it is time for the reveal! Last week, I gave 3 clues pertaining to the film I chose and I am actually a bit tickled that no one guessed correctly:) Head on over to The Armchair Squid to see what everyone else chose for their film of the month.  My 3 clues were:

When I saw this film, it made me dream of going to Budapest (I did end up going!)

The Female Character runs into her old love and brings him backstage of the Metropolitan Opera House. While she is changing, she talks about the letters she received from him on her travels. When she mentions Budapest, she says it with such love and magic in her voice that I thought Budapest must be a place of astounding beauty. When I was 18 I had a chance to go and I did!

2. It won awards but one star broke his

The film was up for 10 Academy Awards and won 8 including Best Picture. The Best Supporting Actor(who was also up for Best Actor before the rules changed about double dipping) won an Oscar but he, later on, knocked the head off his Oscar when he was practicing his gold swing. During the War Years, they made the Oscars out of plaster instead of Gold due to the metal shortage.

3. It co-stars a famous mezzo soprano

When I heard this lady sing in this film I was in heaven! Her voice was astounding and she seemed to be the perfect Carmen. Her name is Rise Stevens (2 dots are over the E but I can't do that here). She was a famous Mezzo Soprano who made a couple of movies.

So what is the movie?


It's December so I had to pick a Christmas movie and this is a classic. Everyone knows I love It's A Wonderful Life and could talk about that for hours but this film deserves some love too. Considering the famous star and the number of awards it won I am surprised fewer people know about it. 

The film stars Bing Crosby as a young priest having the difficult  duty to help out an older priest, played by the wonderful Barry Fitzgerald (who is the man who broke his Oscar), try to bring St. Dominic's out of financial ruin.  The older priest is set in his ways and is not one for the modern way of thinking so, at the beginning, he is at odds with Bing Crosby's character.  Bing helps many people find their way in life, often through song. There is comedy and drama both played equally strong. The singing is interwoven into the plot so it is not a true musical. Crosby's character, Father O'Malley helps juvenile delinquents get off the street by teaching them to sing. He meets his one time love, Rise Stevens, who is now a celebrated Opera singer and this all creates magic that culminates on Christmas Eve. The ending never fails to make me weep like a little baby.  I love the song Too-Ra- Loo-Ra- Loo-Ral which Bing sings  in this film-simply enchanting. 

For your listening pleasure... more that she sings in the film with the kids...but it is not this version. I know, I hope you have time to listen:)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Movie set in a Hotel

Another week and we are getting closer to Christmas. Sorry that I have not posted my creations in a while but I am busy as all heck with Christmas as all of you are as well. I am finding it difficult to keep up so, if I have not visited you in a while, my apologies. I will try to get back to everything soon. In the meantime, here are my picks for 3 movies set in a hotel. You can check out what the others have chosen...or participate yourself over at Wandering Through The Shelves. Every week there is a new topic and you get to choose 3 films you feel go with that topic.


This is one of the first big-budgeted all star cast style movies which takes place in Berlin. I find it a hoot because, nowadays, it is a bit stilted but you get to see some stars at their peek in popularity like John Barrymore (who will fall from grace, literally and figuratively in the years to come) and Greta Garbo to up and comers like Joan Crawford. Everyone comes to this famous hotel and you get to see their trials and tribulations. This is the film where Garbo utters that she wishes to be alone or left alone ("there is all the difference"). I can't help but giggle that she is portraying a famous ballerina knowing that Garbo loved to wear slippers while she worked (if her feet were not in a shot of course).


OK this takes place at an exclusive chalet but it still fits the theme I think. I love this movie because I find it one of the best comedies I have seen even with Capucine (Like that Patt:)) Actually she does quite a good job in this film playing the beautiful wife of Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau. The luscious Claudia Cardinale is an Indian princess staying at this Swiss resort with her big fat diamond-the pink panther. David Niven is the cat burglar and Robert Wagner his young nephew. With great Henry Mancini music, the comedic timing of Sellers and a masquerade party that I wish I could have been at, it is golden.


Another recent film for me to choose and one, I am expecting, to be at other blogs, but I can't resist. This is a film by Wes Anderson who directed The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom. He has his very own auteur style if I can say this. This is such a unique film starring Ralph Fiennes as the man who runs this exclusive hotel. Fiennes should make more comedies like this because he is great in the way he delivers his lines. It also has Edward Norton,  Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and so on. I find the writing and acting brilliant as well as the artistic direction. Some people hated this film because it is different in its style. It is a film you will either love or hate so it is up to the individual.....which is usually the case:)

Which 3 films would you have picked?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Mock Squid Soup Film Society-3 Clues!

I can't believe it is December. In my neck of the woods it has not been that cold and that's a bummer. I like a nice snowy day to put me in the Christmas spirit. I also wish to apologize to all my blogger friends whom I usually visit. I have been busy at work and at home. With Christmas approaching I am finding it tough to get to everyone's blogs and I feel bad about that. I hope to make it up in time.

Ok, over at Mock and The Armchair Squid, they have a monthly film society where a film is picked to review. This time, once again, we pick our own film and for this post we offer 3 clues. Next Friday the film will be revealed. Let's see if you guess the film I picked for this month. Venture over to see the other bloggers' clues.

here we go...

1. When I saw this film, it made me dream of going to Budapest (I did end up going!)

2. It won awards but one star broke his

3. It co-stars a famous mezzo soprano

Can you guess??

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Con Artists

This week, over at Wandering Through the Shelves, the theme is Con Artists. Every week there is a new theme and you get to pick 3 films that work with the theme. These are my three:

1. THE LADY EVE-1941

I love screwball comedies and this is a classic. Henry Fonda plays a very rich and naive (aka dumb nut) man who has been in the Amazon checking out snakes. Stanwyck is the wicked lady enticing him with an apple because all women do these things (eyes raise up to the ceiling). The Lady Eve and her dad are grifters and Fonda is their mark. It is very witty and sexy for its day considering the major censorship rules of the time.  A true classic.


This is simply hilarious-nutty, manic, but hilarious. Zero Mostel is perfect in this part and so glad he was able to achieve fame after being labeled a Communist during the witch hunts of the 1950's. He couldn't find work for years until the 1960's. He plays a down and out producer and brings in his accountant to create the worst play ever made and become millionaires. Little did they know that their Hitler musical would make it big. Now everybody sing..."Springtime for Hitler and Germany..."

3. THE STING-1973

This is the con film of all con films in my book. I am not even going to attempt to discuss anything about the plot suffice to say that Newman and Redford made a great team especially when they are trying to bamboozle Robert Shaw.  Add in great music by Scott Joplin set during the starving 1930's and you have a priceless film. A must see in my book.

I could have picked so many more...what would be your three?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Budgeting 101

Oh, there's that word so many know and so few do....budget.

When I say the word "budget" to people, many think of this

People feel they will be controlled, have no money for fun, be under someone's thumb etc... you get the idea. I also hear "I have nothing to budget with." This time of year, people are spending like Christmas will end and never come again.,,,, um,,,, not going to happen. We know Christmas comes every year as well as birthdays, car repairs, and bad colds. Why do we decide to ignore this until it happens? When you think about it, are you in control of your money if you ignore these things? Now if you don't celebrate Christmas or birthdays, don't have a car and never get sick...then, well, OK, but I bet there are still things that pop up which can upset the apple cart.

So here are some of my tips that I hope will help you on your road to controlling your money instead of the other way around.

1.  Don't think of all the negative words when it comes to budgeting-words are powerful and they can hurt, hinder or they can make you grow and soar! All you want to do is organize your money so it works for you. If you can pay your bills on time, know where your money is going and can save then you are on the right road.

2.  Why do people say "I make $60,000 a year. I have a mortgage payment of $1,100 per month, and I spend $2.00 at Tim Horton's (coffee shop all over Canada which people would cry for years if they ever closed up)- this tells me next to nothing..why? First off do we see $60,000? Ok I don't, but let's pretend and realize, we don't see this because the tax man takes a huge portion. People give figures that are monthly, daily or yearly and this is not consistent. We need consistency so mark down your take home pay (net) for the month from all sources and then mark down all your expenses on a monthly basis even if they do not come every month. Don't forget your coffee money, bank fees, pet needs, medicine, gifts, clothing...

3. You may, after composing this initial budget, find that you are in the hole each month or, possibly, have quite a bit extra left over and wonder how on earth you are functioning. Well, you are but you are actually unsure how much you are spending on certain items. We have a pretty good knowledge of our rent/ mortgage payments, hydro, heat, insurances but I bet you are guessing with groceries, coffee's out and gifts. What to do? You must keep track! The best is to keep track of every expense but, like New Year's resolutions, it soon fades. Many people keep receipts and then at the end of the month, they spend 2 hours sorting through the receipts resulting in this...

I say, take 3 expenses that you are unsure about, take 3 envelopes, label them (ie. groceries, lunches/coffees out, entertainment) and every time you spend money on that expense, get the receipt and place it in the envelope. At the end of the month, since it is already sorted, all you have to do is add up the receipts and write the amount you spent on the envelope. Do this for 3 months so you have a good average. You can see, after 3 months, how much you under-estimated or over-estimated and determine whether you need to cut back or have better knowledge of how much you need  for that expense.

4. Many people will take one of their paycheques and use that for rent/mortgage and the other paycheque would be for food, insurance etc... This style may not work the best especially if one paycheque just covers rent/mortgage. The paycheque planner works better. Once you have worked out your expenses on a monthly basis, divide those expenses by how often you are paid. for example, if your rent is $800 per month and you are paid bi-weekly, set aside $400 per pay for your rent. If your water works out to be $90 per month, $45 is set aside per pay to cover water and so on. This levels off all your expenses and makes it easier to buy food and cover gas for the car on a regular basis.

5. Think about having more than 1 bank account provided your bank does not charge you extra. This helps organize your funds even more. When you review your expenses, you will see certain expenses are "musts"-if you don't pay them you will be in trouble (All housing expenses, insurances, debt payments, bank fees). You can have a savings account for gifts, clothing, car repairs and house repairs and include any goals. The third account can be your main account for all "cash" expenses from groceries and gas for the vehicle to entertainment, child needs, pet needs etc... I have 3 accounts and, each time I am paid, I place "X" amount into my "Must" account, "X" amount goes into Savings and the remainder stays in my regular account for cash items. When a bill comes in, I simply pay it from the "must" account. When I look at my regular account I know that is what I have left to use for my cash expenses. I have one regular bank fee that covers all three so I am not charged extra. Again, make sure the bank does not charge you extra.

6. Make your savings account inconvenient. We live in the land of convenience making it so easy to spend. If someone has a hard time saving the best is to make that account hard to get to. You can deposit the money in but you have to stand in line to get the money out. If you are married, you can have an account where both of you must go in and sign not just one or the other. You will find this helps with building your money up.

7. Regarding your cash expenses, some people have told me if they have cash, they spend it, debit keeps them more in control, they document it and they don't spend as much, while others have said debit is "out of sight, out of mind." they don't see the money leaving so, in this case, cash is better because they do not want to spend as much. You understand both but you know one works better for you (not easier) than the other. You need to take the route that works better for you.

8. Set up "roadblocks" as I call them. Impulse buying often upsets a budget. We are all guilty of buying something we shouldn't have so how does one limit the amount of spending? Make things inconvenient! If you go to Wal-Mart to buy something you need and Wal-Mart has the best price, I am certain you already know how much it will cost. Take out the $20 in cash, go to the store, leave your debit and credit card in the trunk of the car. When you walk into the store, you may see other things you would like to buy but you can only get the item you actually need.  By the time you walk to get the item, stand in line to buy it and walk to your car, ten to one, you will not want to go back into the store for the items you saw...your curbed your impulse! If it is a Wednesday, you have food at home, gas is in the car...leave your debit card at home. It may feel weird at first but it prevents any impulse buying.

9. One only needs 1 credit card but often people have, on average 6 cards including an overdraft, loan and credit line. If you are up to date with everything and you are doing well, you can see about consolidating your debt with the bank but please, get rid of your 21% overdraft and the credit cards with the high interest rates. If you have a bank card at 19% with a balance of $3,000 on it, it can take you 24 years to pay it off. If you have a retail card, like Home Depot, it can take you 36 years because their interest is 28.8%. We only need 1 credit card. If you don't want to use your card but you are tempted to, literally place it in a bowl of water and freeze it! You don't have ready access to it plus, if you try to microwave it, the magnetic strip will blow your microwave.

10. Any budget or change in one's money style takes time and persistence. Nothing works over night. Be patient, follow these tips and know thyself. Part of budgeting is realizing your money style and working with the strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses.

I hope some of these tips help. Yes this is lengthy but I have a passion for budgeting and I feel if you budget then you feel more in control and have a sense of freedom instead of straitjacket city!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Films about Royalty

I'm back!! Last week I knew diddley squat about Indonesian films which is a bummer but this week brings on another great topic-films about Royalty. So head on over to Wandering Through The Shelves to see what the others have chosen and maybe, you may want to join:) I was ready to pick "The King and I" and then realized I may have already spoken about this film. I was thinking about Henry the 8th to The Kingsmen (Yes! I Like that film!:)). There are some films I have seen but so long ago I felt I could not talk about them without seeing them again. So, without further ado, here are my 3....


This, I recently saw over the summer when it was playing on TV. I was enthralled to say the least. It is wonderfully acted by Anna Neagle as the young Queen who stands up to her mother and the officials who feel they know better. It is a romance that is a true romance since she did fall in love with her distant German Cousin, Prince Albert. He, by the way, introduced the Christmas tree to England and many other customs. These two were true equals and I prefer this version to the the most recent film with Emily Blunt. The Blunt film seemed a bit more .....boring because it was mainly on the Romance part whereas this film was much more well-rounded not only dealing with the Romance but with Young Victoria coming to power and why she was such a great Queen.


This is the best version of all the Musketeer films out there in my book. It has action, comedy and a high dose of treachery. Michael York plays the young D'Artagnon who is taken under the wing by the 3 Musketeers played by Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain and Frank Finlay. Faye Dunaway is evil which she plays well and Raquel Welch is quite fun as the klutzy love interest. A great swashbuckling affair that, for me, has no competition.

3.MRS. BROWN-1997

Here is a wonderfully acted film about Queen Victoria near the end of her years. This is, again, based on fact and many have speculated if the Queen and her Scottish rogue ever did have an affair or were just very close. What is known is that he spoke to her as no one else dared and she let him! Judi Dench shone in this role and came to real prominence around the world with this vehicle and Billy Connelly stood his ground when it came to acting. It is a quiet film about human frailty and that companionship is needed no matter what the age.

What films about Royalty have you seen?  Which royal family intrigues you to most? (I have a thing for the Tsar's especially Tzar Nicholas and his family).

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Wonderful World of Collection Agencies

I am writing about one of the issues people deal with on a daily basis in my Credit Counselling world and that is...Collection agencies. You may have or you may know someone who has had dealings with these beings from another world. I am speaking of the typical tactics people experience when dealing with Collection agencies plus the legislated rules that the majority of people are not aware exist. Simply put, Collection agencies and agents get away murder (well not quite but you get my drift) when it comes to collecting money owed.

This applies to Canadian rules and regulations so please look up any laws in your Country or State when it comes to the Wonderful World of Collections(please insert Disney music). When it comes to finances, have you ever felt like this:

You have fallen behind with your payments to the point where the creditor has now sent the debt to a collection agency. The Collection Agency calls and the usual banter ensues:

Mr. Hasslebastle: "Am I speaking to Jane Moneytight"
Ms. Moneytight: "Yes, may I ask who's calling?"
Mr. Hasslebastle: "I'm calling on behalf of  Bank of Money, you owe them $3,560.
Ms. Moneytight: "I know I do but it has been so difficult. You see my child got sick and I had to take time off work with no pay. The next thing is I lost my job and I am still waiting for Employment Insurance so things fell behind. I am trying..."
Mr. Hasslebastle: (interrupting) " Why don't you go to a bank and borrow the money or go to a family member? You know, If you give us $2.800 we will consider this debt paid"
Ms. Moneytight: "I tried going to the bank but they turned me down and my family doesn't have this money..."
Mr. Hasslebastle: "If you don't pay this amount owing by 5p.m. today, we will garnish your income! You better come up with this money or else!"
Ms. Moneytight: "I am trying to work with you, I can send you $100 per month?"
Mr. Hasslebastle: "Not acceptable! I better see this money or else."
Ms. Moneytight: (crying) "I'm trying the best I can. I have found it so difficult...please can you...
Mr. Hasslebastle: (interrupting yet again) " I am calling the courts to make sure we sue you.

He hangs up and Ms. Moneytight is left crying and in fear. This is typical, unfortunately, and also typical that people, like Ms. Moneytight have no idea of their rights.

What are their rights? Well here we go!

1. A collection agency must state who they are, where they are calling from and the amount you owe.

2. They must confirm they are speaking to the person who owes the debt. They can not speak to anyone else about your debt unless you give them written permission to do so. The collection agent can only say who he/she is and leave his/her number to call back.

3. The Collection agents all have registration numbers, so you can ask for their number and they must give it.

4. If all they do is call, you do not know, truthfully, who they are, they must send one of their form letters to confirm they are collecting on the debt.

5. They can call between 7am and 9pm but not before or after or on a Statutory holiday. They can call on a Sunday but only between the hours of 1pm and 5pm.

6. They can only call 3 times per week! If they talk to you, someone else or leave a voicemail, that does constitute 1 call.

7. If you give them your number but they continue to call you at work or any other number, it is considered harassment.

8. If they scream, yell on the phone, are demeaning or give misleading information, it is considered harassment.

9. They can not give excessive, undue or unreasonable pressure. (Insert laugh here since this is their norm)

They break these rules and regulations on a constant basis but you have rights! You can contact the Ministry of Consumer Services at follow the links for Collection Agencies and make a complaint right on line if necessary. The Ministry must follow up each complaint. The Collection agencies can be find up to $25,000, they can lose the license to operate and the collection agent can lose their job. The last has certainly happened more than once.

Collection agents can make bonuses on top of their regular income which is an incentive....sad but true. How does one combat these calls?

1. Document every call! Get their name, registration #, where they are calling from and what was stated in the call. If you can tape the call-Tape the call and tell them that!

2. Never promise something you can't do no matter how obnoxious they become. If all you can pay is $5 per month, then don't promise $10

3. Remain as calm and business like as possible. If you can, talk like a Robot-Data like (for all Star Trek fans out there). Talk in the same monotone voice, say ""I am"  or "I have" instead of "I'm" or "I've". Pronounce every letter ie: I am going to Toronto tomorrow" instead of  "I'm goin' to Turono temorro". Collection agents are on the phones daily so they can sense fear in one's voice-don't let them sense it.

4. If you promise a certain amount, follow the call up with a letter to them and state how much you can send, in what manner and what time of the month you can send it and then stick to it! Send the money! Almost every single time, they take the money and, if they take it, they have accepted it.

5. Place, in the letter, where you can be reached and that you will keep them posted because they can't call any other number or it can be considered harassment.

6. If you actually get court papers, you have the right to defend yourself so go to the court house and file a defense with Small Claims Court. It costs $45 but you will stop any garnishments. If a hearing is set, you can show all the information including the payments you sent to them, the judge usually sides with you. If you are on Employment Insurance, CPP or Disability, they can't garnish your income.

Always be careful when someone calls saying they are a collection agent as there are many fraud cases out there who claim to be Collection agencies and they are not. I have had clients who have paid only to find out that the so-called collection agency is an empty lot. Make sure you have something in writing from their agency first before sending any payments.  Remember, too, that there are always wonderful services like our non-profit agency that can help and assist.

This is lengthy but I felt the need to write this information since so many people are dealing with financial stress. Collection Agencies can become a real stress to many, many people. The more knowledge you attain, the better prepared you are.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Inspired by a....Bowling Ball!

Alphabet Challenge- Tis The Season
52 Christmas Cards-Green and Purple(closed now-missed it-dang!)
Craft Your Passion-Anything Goes
CHNC-Anything Goes as long as it is Christmas
Eclectic Ellapu-Pink Team-Balloons, Banners or Bows
Simon Says-Christmas
Sparkles Christmas Challenge-Christmas Decorations
Whimsy- Anything Goes-Holidays

So, a couple of weeks back, the lovely Jo at Jo on Food, Life and a Scent of Chocolate, who can't wait for bowling each week had a picture up of a bowling ball. I am not sure if this is her own Bowling ball but I bet it is. I loved the swirly look of white and purple on the ball and immediately thought of a Christmas card. Yup, her bowling ball was my inspiration. Also I had seen a beautiful card, over at 52 Christmas cards, created by one of the design team members, Fabiola, who I just had to mean emulate:) I think her card is nicer but that is just me. I must take in the Insecure Writer's Support Group motto by not doubting.

I enjoyed making this card by, first, sponging shades of purple and green on a white background. I took purple distress ink, wet it down and, with a brush, made the swirls on a cut out circle, added white sparkle and the silver stickles. I stamped a bough branch a couple of time plus added stickles on the branches. I used pop up dots to have the ornament hang from the branch and added a silver string and made a bow! I then mounted it on green and purple cardstock. I hope you like it Jo:)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

No Thursday Movie Picks this week

Hello all! So I am not participating over at Thursday Movie picks this week because the topic is South East Asian films. Um......I know nuttin' 'bout this. I will enjoy seeing what other bloggers have picked but I am 0 for whatever when it comes to this theme.

I decided to discuss a few flicks I have seen. I have seen quite a few actually but I am just going to talk about a few. Some are good, none are great and one is horrible. Oh and they are all new!


This  is a post World War 1 film so not a true war film. It is actually more about love, journeys and forgiveness. It takes place in Australia where a father finds out his 3 boys are missing and considered dead. His wife, beyond grief, commits suicide leaving the man to travel to find his boys and bring them home. Russell Crowe is my hubby's favourite modern actor and I enjoy him also ( the actor...and my man but that is too TMI). He not only acts in this film but he directed it as well. It is flawed and it is not a great film but it is a good movie. I especially love how honorable the man is to his wife's wishes and his determination to find his sons. A worthy watch.


My hubby and I just watched this film last night. We heard wonderful things about this film and Blythe Danner's acting performance. Blythe Danner was in a M.A.S.H. episode playing a nurse and Hawkeye's love of his life. She is in Parenthood and happens to be the mother of the stick, Gwyneth Paltrow. Anyways, she plays an older lady, stuck in a rut, enjoying her wine a bit too much who sees her friends often to play cards and golf. Her life changes when she meets the very hunky man, Sam Elliott (I always had the hots for him) and we watch her on her journey. It is a small film with good names in the film like Rhea Perlman and June Squib. It is a comedy drama and I found it enjoyable but, like my hubby, I thought another actress would have played the lead better, like Jessica Lange. My favourite scene is when the 4 gals decide to enjoy some "Woodstock" memories ending up buying lots of junk food at the grocery store. Another movie worth seeing-not great but nice to watch.

3. SPY-2015

Comedy is tricky because what one finds funny another finds rude or boring. My hubby and I laughed so hard at this movie. No it's not going to win any awards but who the Fluck (see Pat Hatt:)) cares? It is a fun take on the Bond movies and I love how they mess with the characters Jason Statham usually plays. It is funny and we had a fun night watching it. It is over the top as it should be.


It should be called "Hot Mess". Lousy flick. Blechhhhh Can the people who make these posters photoshop these gals any more? Witherspoon overacts her by the book naive numbnut character while Vergara is sounding more and more like Charo. There are a few scenes where we laughed...a little but mainly groaning. If someone said to watch this film again, you will see me pursue my ass in the other direction.

I will be back next week with my usual picks. Have a fab day!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mock Squid Soup Film Society-Mr. Holland's Opus

Another month has passed-I can't believe it's not butter!  Oops sorry, I can't believe It's November already and soon I'll be baking, decorating, shopping, gift wrapping and going crazy. Typical for all of us:)  Anyhoo, over at Mock and The Armchair Squid, we get to choose, from a ever-growing list, a film that another member has already written about. I chose.....


I saw this film in the theatres, Holy time warp Batman!, 20 years ago. I thought it was time for a revisit. Richard Dreyfuss (of Jaws fame) carries the film. He is, basically, in almost every shot. It starts off in 1964, which is a great year (I was born that year), when this would be composer decides to take a teaching job to pay the bills. He is reluctant to teach because his love is composing but, over the years, he invests so much of his time and heart into his job and to his students that his life changes in many ways- he inspires his students and is inspired by them. It is a feel good picture.

Dreyfuss was up for an Oscar because he carried this film but he had some great competition and I am actually glad he did not win since he was up against Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas (He won) and Sean Penn for Dead Man Walking. My favourite character is the phys-ed teacher and coach played by Jay Thomas(whatever happened to him?).

The music is excellent since you go through the 1960's all the way up to the late 80's (I think). It makes me think about getting the CD (yup I still buy those). The kids  go from looking sweet and so well dressed to...not, but the kids are all pretty nice. Something that is not realistic.

His final piece, the piece that he has been working on for 30 years finally is heard and lasts all of 2 minutes-Hahahaaaa. If I was his wife I would be smacking him with my purse thinking "After 30 years that's all you came up with you idiot!"  but he is able to showcase something that he loves to the school and kids he grew to love. It is without doubt sentimental and schmalzy but that's ok. I forgive  the schmalz since we all need this from time to time.

In the end, if you love music and love a nice movie you will like this one and, let's face it, we all wish we had a teacher like this. Some of us have been lucky to have had one.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks-Films about Music

So, this week over at Wandering Through the Shelves, the topic is films about Music/Making Music/Musicians (no Musicals or bios about about real life Musicians). Oh I am skipping next week's entry since it is about films from South-East Asia...I know nadda, nyet, nuttin about those films. No Clue so I may just write about something else:)

I had to think for a bit on this one and let me tell you, some brain cells were sacrificed in this doesn't take much. Here are my 3


A silent movie!? About music?? Yup and a great one at that, thanks to the legendary performance of Lon Chaney (Snr). This film has been remade countless times with various changes in the plot mainly, making the actual phantom more of a victim. The reason? Lon Chaney's performance that's why! The phantom hears the beautiful operatic voice of a young lady whom he deems must be a star and quite rightly. He eventually kidnaps her and brings her to his underground lair under the Paris Opera. The scene when Mary Philbin unmasks Chaney still sends goosebumps. Chaney went through horrible pain to achieve the effects he wanted for his film roles as well as try to be as close to how the book described his characters. In this film he inserted wire in his nostrils and uptilted his nose with fishskin pulled up. Yikes!


I stumbled across this movie when I was a young teen and fell in love with it. It came on TV quite frequently and I watched it every chance I could. It is all about a young delinquent who, by the power of music, changes his life forever. He is brilliant with the violin and finds a home in a place dedicated to music. Of course the home has a cash shortfall and may be closing. The great violinist, Jascha Heifetz is centre stage in this movie. It resonated with me because no one listened to the boy and he had to struggle but the power of music got him through the toughest of times.


Hold the phone! Yes I am showing a recent picture. I have not fallen off the stool but was really impressed with this movie. I don't think I am cheating either because, even though it shows people that actually existed like the great Etta James, it is more about the struggle to keep this music label alive featuring African American Artists. The record label was started by a Polish man of Jewish decent and shows the struggles of the label and yes the people behind it. OK If I am cheating...only slightly, don't yell....I am just bending the rules a bit and for a film that deserves more love than it got. As with any film based on something historical, you know things will be omitted or twisted, but the acting is quite good and the singing is excellent.

What films would you pick?  I omitted one I could have picked but will talk about it on Friday:)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Day to Remember....

Craft Your Passion-Always Anything Goes

Today is Remembrance Day...a very humbling day. Canada really showed themselves to be a nation in World War 1 and the poem, "In Flander's Fields" represents that. My mom's first name is Elfriede. (El-free-deh). Her Grandmother named her-Elf, in German, means 11 (11th month of the 11th day of the 11th hour) and Friede means Freedom.

My Dad fought in World War 2 and was wounded near the end of the war. He was part of the liberation of Holland. He always made sure to have no one come in for work on November 11th (we owned a sawmill). He was an avid reader of history especially the Wars. This card is for my dad, who died when I was 23 and too young to ask him questions about his war time experience.

This card is also my inspiration from the recent Battle of the Bands. The song is "I was only 19" and one can find this over at Mike's Ramblings.  I had no poppy stamp so I used roses which I stamped in black, on watercolour paper, and embossed in a black sparkle. I used my tombow markers and did some watercolour effect. I stamped the angels on glossy white and coloured them with Tombows as well. I chose sombre colours trying to reflect the angels we see at cemeteries. I embossed the black card and used perfect pearls to highlight around it.

To all the brave souls past and present-I humbly bow my head in deep respect.

Glitter and Sparkle-Use some red
Happy Little Stampers-November Sketch Challenge
Crafty Creations-Make it colourful

This is more upbeat obviously. I had some fun with alcohol....alcohol inks, cuddlebug, sizzex machine and some crystals. The picture makes the base colour look orange when it is, in fact, red. I started to drink actual alcohol trying to make the blasted bow:)

Christmas Cards All Year Round-Christmas Trees
Crafty Hazelnut Christmas Challenge- Bright and Sparkly
CASE Christmas-Case their card-be inspired

This was fun! I stamped the white cardstock with this deer image in a blue (Me use blue? Who Knew? Oh,) I adhered it to the light blue cardstock. The trees were cut from sparkly white paper using the sizzex machine and placed on the card with pop up dots and I added the red bow and stickles to the trees in the centre..

Crafty Hazelnut Christmas Challenge 2-Always Christmas Anything Goes
Whimsy Stamps Challenge-Fall Colours or Christmas

Why not white! It's bright. Shimmery white pearl paper, The cuddlebug and sizzex machine to create the embossing and poinsettia and finish it off with pearls. Obviously, I went Christmas themed here:)

Happy hump day...not humping day...Hump (oops the devil made me write it)