How we spent more

How we spent more

It’s been absolutely dreary and cold the past week but today is a beautiful day to be outside in the backyard. Since I have shifted my mindset from “all the travel!” to “stay home!” I have made it my goal to think of the three great pool months of summer as our true vacation. Truth be told we could probably order in a nice meal every evening and sit poolside all day with drinks and still spend ¼ of what we did going to that awful resort this winter.

Behold, our wee Puddle

Mr. Tucker and I love sitting outside in the morning sun, drinking coffee, getting fresh air and just chatting about our plans for the day. We are rising early these days to log a couple of hours of hanging out together before Mr. Tucker has to go inside and start work. Of course, he will also be taking a couple of weeks of vacation this summer for maximum relaxation but why not also craft relaxing days as much as you can?

As previously mentioned, now that we have reached our investment goals, we’ve now started to add that money back into our budget to do a variety of things. There are three places where we focused, and they are: reducing friction, food, and entertainment.

Housecleaning, again: whomp, whomp – the experiment to try and get the kids to clean the house has been a miserable failure. Not because they can’t clean – they can – but because it was eating up too much of their free time on top of school and extracurricular activities. It became a hassle to figure out a time to get them to clean with our wonky schedules, so in the end I threw in the towel. I hired a cleaner again and she starts Friday. Let’s hope she does well!

Lawn care: again, the kids either have a full-time job or full time camps this summer and so we just didn’t want to argue. Also, my elderly neighbour kept asking the kids to mow his lawn at the times where we were the busiest & it sucked to have to say no. Then we found a couple of university students who do it on the weekends. They do an incredible job, they even trim the edges and you can pay them also to weed when they are done school. Also, while I knew how much Mr. Tucker hated mowing the lawn, I don’t think I parsed just HOW MUCH he hated it. Given that, it would be a steal at twice the cost.

(It goes without saying that we will be getting a snow removal service again this year. When we moved in this house came with a snowblower so it made sense to just use it. But when it died after the first snowfall of last year, Mr. Tucker was more than happy to kick it to the curb and let someone else do it. Yeah, we didn’t really get our money’s worth if you look at it from a snowfall point-of-view but from a piece-of-mind POV it was worth every cent)

CSA baskets + flower subscription: we always get a veggie CSA but I also decided to get one for eggs, cheese, fresh flowers and a sourdough bread (grown, milled AND baked locally). To be honest, it makes me happy that we can spend money on all these wonderful things. We have made our own sourdough for years (before the pandemic made it cool!) but this sourdough is out of this world and usually lasts until Sunday, so that’s nice.

We bought extra-lovely plants for the backyard: Mr. Tucker and I headed out to a local greenhouse last month and bought some really gorgeous planters for the backyard & the house. We had bought some gardening stuff from regular stores but we were unhappy with the quality of the flowers compared to their price point. So we made a day of heading to a fantastic nursery thus combining a fun date day with getting some gorgeous plants. Honestly, the prices were reasonable considering the value.

We got PWHL and Broadway Across Canada tickets: I had planned to renew our PWHL seats for the full season already but the BAC tickets were kind of a split-second addition last month. We had tickets in 2022-23 but the 2023-24 season seemed MEH to us so we didn’t get them last year. But the lineup for next year looked good so we hopped on the chance to buy some. We didn’t manage to score a box but we got some good seats.

We took a leather tote-bag making class (plan to take more classes): Mr. Tucker and I signed up for this awesome workshop at the Ottawa Tool Library. It was amazing! We still aren’t finished the bag and will head back at the end of the month for one more attempt at finishing it (we brought some sewing home). It was the inaugural class so there are a few growing pains. Honestly, it was really nice to just do something together.

We also took an absolutely EPIC trip to Costco: I usually send Mr. Tucker because he goes with a list and only gets what is on that list. The Eldest and I went with him last time and the bill essentially doubled. HAH. So while that was fun, it looks like I won’t be riding the motorized shopping cart again anytime soon! To be fair, it was super busy AND we also stressed him out and messed with the order in which he is used to doing things.

I am pretty happy with the things we have added back into our lives. We have basically set ourselves up for 1 to 5 family events a month until next summer. It’s a pretty busy schedule because we have other things that the kids do (band, sailing camp, skiing/snowboarding, jobs, and driver’s ed!) so I figure we will have enough of a schedule that we will barely notice the lack of a winter vacation. I can see us taking the odd weekend trip and maybe we will rent a cottage for Thanksgiving again but overall, I am happy to stay home. I think with two kids in high school travelling off-season will be a non-starter for a couple of years.

Until then, you can find me in The Puddle!

I am cutting down on blog reading & some links

I am cutting down on blog reading & some links

What I am currently reading

I have so many links in a variety of formats that I have enjoyed and have saved to make a post about. But by the time I get around to it, the links are generally older and posted elsewhere. Here is a few from this week:

“Dishabituation can be achieved in two ways. The first is to take a break—remove yourself from your environment for a period of time, however short, and then return to it without making any permanent changes…The second way to dishabituate…is to insert variety into your routines.” How to fight habituation

The U curve of happiness, is now a hump.Youth mental health declines in 82 countries

When life hands you unaffordable housing, build your own with friends.

“More chaos is coming, I fear. AI tools are making it easier and easier to manipulate images and videos. Every day, it gets easier to generate content that plays into people’s perceptual biases and confirms their prior beliefs — and easier to warp perceptions of the present and possibly even change memories of the past.” The internet peaked in 2015

Speaking of which, How to object to Meta’s AI data usage. Is it convoluted AF? Yes.

Speaking of F’s: one of the best things I have read this year is this essay: A unified theory of fucks.

I have drastically cut down on my social media usage – including the amount of blogs I am reading & youtube videos I watch. While I love to read a variety of personal finance blogs, the ratio of relevant information to ads/sponsored products has tipped over into the “not worth the hassle” category. I realized this weekend that one Canadian blogger I read has a 50/50 ratio of content to referral links. UGH. Don’t get me wrong: I am glad people are out there making their bag producing informative content for people. It just really isn’t worth my time anymore to read it because there really isn’t much new out there. On top of that, Instagram is now testing unstoppable ads. I haven’t come across them yet but it just may be the nail in the coffin there as well. I am only really posting pics to the account related to this blog because my personal account is overrun with things I can’t do much about, as I have written before.

I remember Amy Dacyczyn (of The Tightwad Gazette fame) used to compare her newsletters to Weight Watchers. Her argument was that people generally knew how to lose weight like they knew how to be frugal but the value was in the community and seeing other people do it, too. I think for a long time I consumed a lot of content based on that premise: it confirmed what I already knew and I got to read about similar people on a similar path. But now we have solidified our investment strategy, saved enough for Mr. Tucker to retire, paid off our house, saved enough for the kid’s post-secondary etc. with no plans to really change things up. Most debates that occur in the Finfluencer community are faits accomplis for me, so they aren’t really decisions that I am wringing my hands over anymore.

For example, I always joke to Mr. Tucker that when Ramit Sethi runs out of ideas, he runs a new video about owning vs. renting. Don’t get me wrong – his content is amazing – but CHRIST ON A CRACKER please save me from ever consuming any content on owning vs. renting ever again. It’s a personal finance dead horse as far as I am concerned. Do definitely read his book and watch his podcasts on Tuesdays with couples. Those things are great, especially if you are just starting out or need to change course. But I own a house, the house is paid off, and while I will happily sell it and become a renter if I need to someday, for right now that isn’t changing. (also, if you want to hear a pro-ownership argument Karsten at ERN does a really detailed one with a lot of numbers. In fact, his content is also fantastic if you like getting into the weeds)

Also, it helps that June has been a super busy month for us so far. For some reason we decided last minute to sort out our storage room that hasn’t been touched since we moved in and join the community garage sale. So we spent a week of evenings cleaning and sorting stuff. We told the kids that they could split whatever we made & they each made around $55. Not bad. The rest got sent to friends, the thrift store, or organized in bins to sell when the weather turns (it’s hard to sell snowsuits when its 30C out). We also happened to discover that our toilet was leaking so we had that fixed before it became a HUGE problem. So a small victory there as well. On top of that, dragon boat practice is twice a week, and The Eldest has a series of band events and job training to do. The Youngest is graduating from middle school and they also have many end of year field trips and events. So it’s a busy time for everyone – especially Mr. Tucker who is the maestro of everything. So I haven’t even really had a ton of time to read online content.

But we have been adding more fun stuff into our budget & reducing friction in our lives. More on that another day.

Credit card fraud

Credit card fraud

On of the most hilarious scam text messages I ever received was a fake tax return e-transfer from the “CRA”… sent to my Canada Revenue Agency-issued BlackBerry. I know it’s gauche but I sent a stream of HAHAHAHAHs followed by a range of insults that included many, many expletives.

My first job out of university was working in a finance department processing credit card payments and so I got very familiar with the process of submitting proof when someone claimed we charged them fraudulently. Mostly people just forgot that they had paid an invoice or set up pre-payments so they did what is called a chargeback: asking for proof of the charge from the merchant. It used to cost $5 to do it but now it’s free (probably because in the digital age there is a ton of fraud). If it was a valid chargeback, you got your $5 back. But that job really made me aware of how credit cards worked and what recourse consumers have when they see unknown charged appear on their statements. It also gave me the habit of scanning my credit card and debit charges every couple of weeks to make sure that nothing suspect was happening with my card.

Last month, there was fraud.

I looked at the list of transactions on my credit card and noticed a pile of Uber Eats charges that I didn’t make. In fact, I never even use Uber Eats. I tried to cancel online like a normal, phonephobic person living in 2024 but they only let you dispute one charge and then it cancels your card and locks it down. So I ended up having to call to dispute the other charges and request a new credit card. Mischief managed – or so I thought.

It is a total coincidence that this morning I received a registered letter from my car insurance company telling me that I had NSFd their payment this month and demanding I submit a new payment method. It was the last of the payments that I didn’t manage to switch over because I missed it (and I landed a nice $50 NSF fee as a reminder. Ouch!).

Of course, after that I hopped onto my online banking and discovered that there were FOUR FREAKING MORE UBER EATS CHARGES on my card! Again! So at this point I googled it only to discover that I wasn’t alone:

So back to the phones for me! Anyway, the man I spoke to today super helpful. I told him that I never even use Uber (let alone Uber Eats) and that I had never even updated my account with the new card! He sighed and said, “Oh. I know what’s happening here,” and he went on to explain.

Many companies put what is called a “token” on your account so when you are issued a new card – say, for example, when your old card expires and you get a new one – the payments continue seamlessly. This happened to my payments for Spotify and Netflix, for example. Some don’t do this, which explains why my car insurance payment bounced. Last month, when I had seen the original fraudulent transactions, that agent should have also known to cancel the token on my card for Uber Eats. Because he didn’t think to delete the token on my Uber account it allowed them keep processing payments. So now I am back to square one: chargebacks for the 4 fraudulent payments and going through the process of updating the new credit card info for my automatic payments. ARGH. Today’s agent and I also went through all of the tokens I had on my account. About 15 of them just said “other” so I deleted them and figured if they’re important, they will contact me.

I was speaking to The Americans* about it and one of them said that her credit card company allows her to set up “virtual cards” which I assume is similar to Apple’s “Hide My Email” feature. I think that would be helpful for suspect one-off purchases and if you plan on updating your info every time you get a new card. Otherwise, I can see the value of the convenience in the token system for revolving payments.

But once again I find myself going through this process of replacing yet another credit card all within a month! I have another one I can use while I wait (it’s always good to have two for this reason). I did want to come out here and warn people that if they see fraudulent activity on their account to do a chargeback, replace the card AND make sure that the token is deleted with that merchant.

Consider it your PSA du jour.

**These are my Americans, get your own.

The unbearable weight of bureaucracy

The unbearable weight of bureaucracy

Yesterday, a friend of mine came over so I could help her work on her own disability application. I don’t want to discuss her medical concerns here but I feel that she was rejected for very poor reasons so she is currently working on contesting the decision. I sent her home with my personal forms in the hopes that they would be helpful with wording.

Four years ago, I retired permanently on LTD (vs. the STD I had been on for the 2 years prior)

Unfortunately, the barrier to many things is bureaucracy. We have a joke in our family that I am the queen of cutting through red tape. I can stay on the phone for hours, hold music is my favourite jam. The reality is that for most folks, this is an absolute nightmare. Trying to manage everything from subscriptions to telecommunications companies to (the worst of the worst) insurance companies is so daunting for folks that I don’t blame them for putting it off.

One of my most brilliant friends got so overwhelmed during her partner’s treatment that they just paid the bills rather than fight with health insurance (they are in the US). It’s a sad fact that when you are the least able to manage the stress of dealing with an administration is when you require those skills the most. They are also lucky in the fact that the company has an entire department dedicated to managing health insurance claims on behalf of the employees because they recognized that it was cheaper to pay an entire department to do the work of waiting on the phone and writing email than it was to pay their top performers/earners to do it themselves. That is how much time and energy this busy-work entails: you need to add an extra layer of bureaucracy to get what you are essentially paying a fortune for.

On the flip side, you are also paying for companies to add an extra layer of bureaucracy in terms of hiring what is the equivalent of human firewalls to essentially deny claims all day. This has been studied and often if you have the time and energy to fight the insurance companies you will often win. Now AI is involved in claim denials, so that’s a fun layer of complexity. Who doesn’t LOVE the idea that our financial stability and credit rating are at the whims of computers?

Back to my friend who was denied. She has been on this journey for over a year. She has had referral after referral and has some real, physical issues that can be seen in tests. She was still denied because unfortunately, you need to have the right people at the helm filling out forms and you need to be detailed but succinct. Long essays about emotional stress doesn’t hold as much weight as point form facts. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of things to keep in mind when you are filling out forms for a disability claim:

Don’t wait: get to work right away with tests, keep the dates and the names of who you have seen. Have a clear path showing that you are working on getting a diagnosis and improving your health.

Keep a personal record of your symptoms, the list of drugs you are taking and the tests you have had: unfortunately, you will constantly be asked about your symptoms by a variety of different health care workers. I found it easier to just keep all this information in a word document and add to it as I went along. If you have a symptom that just started to happen, make sure you note the month and year. Inevitably, when you are repeating the same information over-and-over again you will find you may forget some pertinent details. I have been told by professionals that they appreciated that I printed it all out for them so they could just copy the info they needed into their records.

Before you apply for LTD either have a diagnosis or have a clear path to getting one: when you are suffering through a health crisis the weight can make you feel like curling up on the couch and just wasting the days away. Please don’t do this. Be as engaged as possible with the process. You will be required to prove that you are doing due diligence in improving your symptoms.

Learn the lingo: it’s fasciculations, not “twitches.” It’s spasticity not “tight muscles”. When writing about your symptoms, try and use medical terminology so that you look informed.

Focus on what you can’t do, not what you can: we all want to feel capable and want to highlight the ways in which we are able to overcome adversity. But the insurance system (private or state funded) is designed to focus on what you can’t do, not what you can do. The way you word things matters! I have a friend who works for the agency that manages the provincial disability system (ODSP) and I asked him once for advice and he said the biggest thing people do wrong is that they word things in a way that makes it seem like they are mostly functional.
GOOD: I can’t get out of bed some days. I cannot button my shirt without assistance some days.
BAD: I can get out of bed most days. I can button my shirt most days.

If possible, have a specialist fill out the forms: a GP/Family Doctor does not carry the same weight as a neurologist or oncologist. Get as much concrete info as possible, and by concrete I mean actual tests that show there is something wrong with you. Above all, focus on what can be seen or what you can prove. An MRI report holds way more weight than a list of symptoms. Videos also can help without just relying on your say-so.

Which brings me to the worst one…
Sadly, no one cares about mental health: I know this is going to sting but please try and keep in mind that unless you have seen active duty and have PTSD, mental health challenges are notoriously difficult to prove. Only one person I know has ever received LTD was severely bi-polar and it had affected the workplace so severely AND they had to become an in-patient at a mental health facility to get it. You may be able to use STD to go off for a period of time with anxiety and depression but at least where I live I haven’t heard of anyone getting permanent LTD for it.

I know absolutely how anxiety and depression play a huge role in physical health as well and if I ruled the world things would be different. But I haven’t heard of anyone crafting an application with a huge mental health component winning a case.

Keep in mind that the people who review your case see thousands a week: be factual, be clear, don’t use flowery language, don’t talk about your feelings too much unless it is directly related (ie: a medication known to cause emotional turbulence), check your spelling/grammar, type vs. handwritten. Above all, remember that it’s not an essay, it’s a description of your symptoms/abilities/limitations/diagnosis.

In the end, it is up to you to prove that you have a sustained, long-term disability that prevents you from performing the necessities of life. Here are a few resources for Canadians that they may find helpful:

The CPP-D information and application: even if you are on a provincial or private disability benefit that would knock your CPP-D benefit to $0, if you have worked in the past it pays to apply anyway. To be on CPP-D means that it “stops the clock” on the years required for regular CPP benefits when you turn 65. If you have children, you also get a monthly amount for them as well.

Disability Tax Credit: this gives you a non-refundable tax credit for $9428 (2024).

The Registered Disability Savings Plan: this is worth it for everyone who received the DTC. Even if you don’t put a penny in, the government will put money in for you (you must get the DTC to get an RDSP).

The CPP Disability Channel: it hasn’t been recently updated but the info is still great.

The Resolute Legal Disability forums: this is an amazing searchable archive where you can get answers – or ask questions – to almost anything disability claim-related from private to public claims as well as government programs.

It is imperative that you do due diligence in exploring the programs and services available to you. I have private health insurance benefits but there are programs to help people in my province who may not be on ODSP but who have high prescription drug costs or who require mobility aids. It never hurts to spend a day seeking out any services or assistance in your community such as Meals on Wheels who not only service the elderly, but the disabled as well (temporary or permanently). There are myriad resources available to people at the city, provincial and federal level.

The end game

The end game

We’ve been working on setting up our shared office, which is starting to finally come together

Mr. Tucker started at his current company in 2008. A lot has happened between then & now such as ownership changing hands a couple of times, some growing pains with mergers and he even left for a bit (and then they bought that company, too! HA!). Last year a larger company has acquired them and he’s has vacillated between, “I hate this, get me out of here” to “ok, well now I want to know how this will end!” He is currently very much in the second camp.

Retirement for Mr. Tucker was a stretch goal for 2024. The thing is: we have met all of our goals *except* selling the condo. It’s currently for sale but until that gets sorted, Mr. Tucker can’t quit. That’s fine, we knew that. There is a joke that people who reach financial independence then “forget” to retire*. I feel like we are kind of in that zone right now.

I get his logic though: he was at the company when they were a small start-up in the Bay area in 2009 and he wants to see what the end game will look like. Although the parent company hasn’t made large moves to redistribute staff and merge departments it should be happening by the end of this year. So while he technically can leave the working world the moment the condo is sold, he has decided wait to join me in retirement once he sees the company completely absorbed into the new one. I get that feeling: it feels kind of like seeing your kids head off to college. You’re sad because it’s the end of an era but you are also proud because your kids have grown up and you’ve accomplished all that you can.

So I guess we will start putting more money into our tax-advantaged accounts and even spend a little more**? Of course, a day may come where he gets completely fed up with work and just decides to throw in the towel so it is nice to know that no matter what he chooses, we are technically financially independent now so he can make a choice and not look back.

*If that’s your plan, I know it isn’t for everyone.
**We are taking an Intro to leather working course together at the end of the month, which is exciting!

Alternative housing is – and isn’t – for me

Alternative housing is – and isn’t – for me

I love alternative housing. I soak up Tiny Home content and have for about 10 years now. I love YouTube channels who feature people who have dug homes into a side of a hill, those who have converted old churches and apartments with swinging walls, My absolute favourite are the people who live on longboats on the English canal system (The Canal Archive has the lovliest historical photos). It completely tickles my fancy to see people come up with the most creative and innovative ways to live.

I got completely hooked on Ben Fogel’s New Lives in the Wild (people outside of the UK may need a VPN). It’s a bit more extreme than living in a trailer or converting a small NYC apartment but a lot of the episodes are fun to watch. Another great show was called How to Live Mortgage-Free that even saw an inventor converting a double decker bus for his family – including elevators for his disabled wife. I love this kind of content because I enjoy seeing people flip convention on its head and forge their own paths. Does it always work? No. Would I ever do something like this? Also, no.

Here is the thing: life is already difficult enough being disabled (with an unknown future trajectory*, to boot) that I am more than happy to stay in my cozy, mid-century modern bungalow that has no mortgage. If I had less money or more energy/talent/access to a ton of free, able-bodied labour I would probably seek out other arrangements. But currently, the plan is to stay exactly where I am. While I love the idea of roughing it the reality is that I get out-of-sorts at the mildest inconvenience so we have to play the cards we are dealt: bungalow, in a city, it is.

I realize that for a lot of people these forays into alternative housing is much less fun than it is a necessity. While we cheer for the dark sweetness of the Lady in the Van the reality is probably more like Nomadland. Anyone who has been in the Bay area in the past 10 years have most probably noticed the uptick of people who live in motorhomes. Once an anomaly in most cities, even the smaller, less popular towns are seeing an uptick in people who live in vehicles. In my city, houselessness has become endemic in the core and even in my sleepy area there are folks camping in the parks and along the Greenbelt. There is a very real housing crisis since for 30 years now governments have divested from community housing**.

As much as I romanticize living on a boat it sounds incredibly difficult, especially with a child. I wonder if the savings would make it worthwhile?

Still, a friend’s father has just finished a stint plant sitting for other friends in Toronto while they were in California for the winter. House sitting is a pretty fun gig in high-COLA areas but I suspect it wouldn’t be for me.

I would like to think of the 2010s the years where Digital Nomads made their mark on the world but it isn’t for everyone. I suspect trying to balance work with relaxation just makes everything seem like work. I much prefer the idea of slow travel.

Finally, a lovely essay on how leaving home may no longer be a right-of-passage for younger folx. I honestly have planned for my own children to stay in town for University, but it may even be longer should things on the housing scene not improve.

But I do admit, I still am tickled by people who can make VanLife work:

I don’t know what the future holds for us. Will we sell and rent an apartment? Buy a condo? Will the kids live in the house and we will build an ADU? Who knows! It probably wont involve a longboat or a converted Sprinter Van, however.

Have a lovely weekend!

*Yes, yes. We all have unknown trajectories but every day is probably the best day I am ever going to have unless someone finds a cure for motor neuron diseases.

**All of them. At all levels.

Spring has sprung: a life update

Spring has sprung: a life update

I asked Mr. Tucker to buy me this for Winter Solstice & he did!

It’s hard to not think of spring and fall as seasons of transition. Spring still has elements of the winter such as the odd day of snow and fall still has days where the sun is out and it is warm and clear. Summer and winter tend to be more delineated – at least where I live – where winters are snow, darkness and blowing wind & summers are all humidity, long days, and blazing sun. We generally tend to follow the seasons here and mark each one as it transits through the year. I highly recommend books like Mrs. Sharpe’s Traditions for those of you who enjoy Victorian Americana celebrations that fall on the more Christian side of things. It’s full of crafts, poetry and information about the holidays and seasons. I read Winters in the World this year about the seasons in Anglo-Saxon England and it was also a lovely, enlightening read.

After a year of having a broken foot and two surgeries I am eager to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air. Mr. Tucker has fixed up my trike (#bless marrying a man who used to be a bike courier) and we have been going out on walks around the neighbourhood. I hate how much I miss going outside when I am forced to stay inside. Winter is an absolutely tragic season for me because when you have mobility issues it can mean getting stuck inside when it is really icy out. I actually enjoy winter and grew up in the 80s where your parents forced you outside no matter what the temperature was & I also clocked many years skiing. I am seriously thinking of investigating accessible skiing options but I am afraid that like most things for disabled people, it will be cripplingly* expensive.

But it’s spring now! As is our monthly habit, we have done a craft and games night, and because it was March, it was Easter-themed. It was, as usual, amazing. We emailed our orders into Holly’s Hot Chicken (which is great if you need a gluten-free option and/or just like delicious food!) which our friends picked up on their way over, we did some fun Easter crafts & egg decorating and then we played Telestrations. It’s sad to think that in a few short months the eldest two kids in our group are off to university! Until then, we will try and squeeze in as many games nights and pool parties as possible.

Other than that it has been just watching PWHL games, the Women’s World Hockey & I even got sucked into March Madness, rather unexpectedly when it came on right after a WWH game! I got suckered into buying a subscription to The Sports Network to watch the WWH and so I figured, why not? Well OF COURSE I was hooked and watched the final on Sunday (like almost 19m other people). It was just so fascinating! I don’t know if that means I will end up loving the WNBA but I did enjoy it!

I have such a love/hate relationship with sports, namely, hockey. I grew up loving hockey and watching it. Like many other Canadian families, my brother played it and I went to a few of his games as well. In University I lived in an apartment on top of a pub and my friends & I would regularly win tickets to hockey games as prizes on Trivia Nights. When you are a poor student you enjoy any free entertainment that comes your way! But over the years, my love for the NHL lessened. Size-wise, it is an absolute BEAST with 82 games per season for each of the 32 teams – not including the Stanley Cup. But on top of that, the last game we attended we saw them switch out the ads along the boards on the commercial breaks. That was just wild to me. I had grown up with stories of my uncle remembering when tickets were cheap and you could bring a boxed lunch into Maple Leaf gardens. Don’t get me wrong – I grasp the enormity of putting together a pro sports league it is just a shame when the cheap seats for an NHL game (standing room only) are $50 in the nosebleeds. That is just out of range for many families.

Watching the PWHL play, fill arenas and get more sponsorships is a bit of a bittersweet experience: I want this league to succeed so badly, I want them to get advertising dollars! But it also weirds me out to see a paper towel company sponsor a power play. It’s conflicting to simultaneously want them to succeed but hate the price it will take to make it work. I am not an idiot – we live in a capitalistic society, for better or for worse – and the league can’t run just on Mark Walter’s big bucks alone, in perpetuity**. That said, we’re renewing our tickets for next year.

WELP. The condo still hasn’t sold. Lots of great feedback from the viewings but it’s been up for 2 months. I know that it’s been an average of 90 days for sales of condos lately and I am sure everyone is waiting for the Bank of Canada’s rate cuts*** but I am still impatient. It feels like the path forward for us is riding on this one deadweight to be out of our hands. I’m crossing my fingers that I have a better update soon!

Meanwhile, Mr. Tucker are working on a plan for our lives while we wait for the condo to sell. There is no point sitting around wallowing about things not going according to plan when there is so much living to do. Since spring is here and April is a wee break in-between our children’s birthdays I have asked them to not make a ton of weekend plans so that we can sort some things around the house.

Mt Tucker and I are planning some outdoor chores this month but spring is also a good time to tackle things like going through all of the rooms of your house and making a master plan on what to fix, clean, organize and decorate. We also want to plot out our garden bunkies to take advantage of what may be a very hot, dry summer. The plan is to stay home and have myriad pool parties and friend drop-in days!

We also did manage to catch the solar eclipse yesterday! It was 99% totality here which had to be good enough because we didn’t want to drive an hour south. The kids had the day off so they cleaned the house and watched the eclipse. It was a good day!

*I didn’t intend that pun but I am leaving it because it fits nicely
**I mean, he probably COULD afford it but every parent wants their child to leave the nest
***Kept at at 5% at the announcement this morning. Whomp whomp.

Much ado about a veggie tray

Much ado about a veggie tray

Sometimes the local community groups online are just a gift that keeps on giving. Currently, many people in the city are up in arms about this $44.99 veggie platter at Metro (TikTok vid). Like! Most! Hysterical! Social Media! Posts! This video is simultaneously true and also misleading.

If you put on your thinking hat, you realize that while what she is staying is correct – a 2.7KG pre-prepped veggie tray is $44.99 – a few tricks of the eye and mind are happening here. Thankfully, you can just pop online and search for the veggie tray and find it on the grocery store’s website. Here it is, with similar trays for comparison:

What people don’t seem to realize is that in our heads we all are imagining the medium tray because that is the tray that is a> most available in the stores; b> the one more commonly purchased. It also doesn’t help that they make the trays fit into the same size of square in the photos on the website, even though in person they vary. Every potluck I have been to features the medium veggie and/or fruit tray so it is the most ubiquitous and almost every grocery store sells the same one. So it is a bit of a trick of the eye which you can notice when she puts her hand down on the tray briefly: it is much larger than the medium size.

If you run the numbers, the veggie tray costs you $1.67/100g. If you look at grape tomatoes alone, they are $1.76/100g and carrots are probably the cheapest at $0.79/100g. Both of these are easy to toss onto a tray (which also costs money) unlike the celery, broccoli and cauliflower that requires processing which costs labour, also not factored into the dramatic balking at the price*.

I think the funniest part about VEGGIETRAYGATE is that if you lay out all of the trays beside each other – like I have in the image above – you can see quite clearly that you get a better selection/value of veggies, with dip, for $1.47/100g. So in my head that is the biggest scam of this entire debacle: buying more in bulk is costing the consumer more money! Along with Shrinkflation, this is one of my biggest pet peeves because it is designed to use our minds and habits against us.

It doesn’t help that Canada also has a long history of bread price fixing and a tumultuous relationship with the qu’ils mangent de la brioche Weston family that can’t seem to stay out of the spotlight for very long much to the chagrin of their PR folks, I am sure. These are their veggie trays which are very similar:

I am also not arguing that grocery prices aren’t high – after 10 years of almost no inflation we seem to have had all of the inflation in a short time span and it hurts, especially for people with the lowest incomes**. I also get that not everyone wants to drill down and do the math on the unit price – but also: the f*ckin’ unit price is right on the sticker! If you are going to be BIG MAD about something than at least be BIG MAD about it truthfully. Personally, I am more than happy to pay $24.99 for a selection of 8 types of veggies and some dip if I am pressed for time and off to a potluck event. A pre-washed and pre-cut tray of veggies packaged up for easy transport isn’t a necessity either. You can just make your own or you can vote with your dollars and just walk away.

I spend $50 easily on drinks when I am out. It seems to me that $44.99 for 2.7kg of veggies is a way better deal.

*Minimum wage is $16.55 in Ontario

**Hilariously, the OG video was taken in one of the richest suburbs in my city